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Friday, August 31, 2007

Dinner @ Fenix

Due to a rather fortuitous change of plans we've been able to take time out and enjoy ourselves at Fenix.

Pink must be the in thing as we start off with a glass of Devaux Rosé

Devaux Rose

It's a soft and lightly fruity style - a lovely way to begin.


Pan seared gnocchi with fresh borlotti beans, bacon, baby artichoke, bay leaf foam and various micro herbs
Wine: Outlook Hill Chardonnay

A new dish to begin with and it's an immediate wow. Paalo described it as "refined rustic". The flavours are those that you might encounter in some lovely little spot in Italy. The gnocchi are wonderfully small and sautéed until slightly golden. It's the type of dish where you could easily have a second bowl.

salt cod

Salt cod, salt cod and celeriac puree, two types of crumbled pistachio cake, nasturtium puree
Wine: Dr Loosen Kabinett

This is classic that I just don't think you can improve on. All the elements are there working in harmony, the food and wine just matched perfectly.


Scallops with leek terrine, leek puree, bacon crumble, hazelnut foam

leek terrine

Here's a better look at the leek terrine.

There's been a little change from our last tasting, the addition of crisp strips of bacon that straddle the large pieces of scallop.


Sous-vide and lightly Smoked Salmon with pine needles, fennel and pink fir potatoes, apple puree, pine nut clay, pine nuts and black sesame seeds
Wine: Eagle Vale Fumé Blanc

I don't think I mentioned last time how well the wine matched this dish, especially working with the soft smoked flavours of the fish. Once again, the fish can't be bettered, it's soft and succulent and just melts in your mouth.


Dehydrated Vegetables and Bone Marrow with Beetroot Dust

We haven't had this for a while - the bone marrow was especially good, there seemed to be a crisper crust which caused the inside to just dissolve as you ate it. The vegetable were also a litter firmer than usual.


Sliced Lamb Rump, Jerusalem Artichokes, olive dust

Served perfectly pink, the meat had such an intense lamb flavour, it works well against the earthy flavours of the Jerusalem artichokes.

toast and marmalade

We really couldn't have a meal without this dish - Confit cumquat, Burnt Orange Cream and Pressed Macadamia biscuit.


Pumpkin Ice-cream, gingerbread biscuits, coffee crystals, caramelised pumpkin cubes

With only slight changes in presentation, the combination of flavours and textures still work.


Petit fours accompany our coffee


We especially like the new salted caramel truffles!

The details:

Fenix can be found at
680 Victoria Street Richmond
(03) 9427 8500

Tuesday - Sunday for Lunch: 12pm-3pm
Tuesday - Saturday for Dinner: 6pm-11pm


Monday, August 27, 2007

The Age Good Food Guide 2008

The Age Good Food Guide 2008 is released tomorrow and I'm sure there's going to be some head scratching going on:

"Vittoria" Restaurant of the Year:
Rockpool Bar and Grill

Best New Restaurant of the Year:
The Press Club

Chef of the Year:
George Calombaris (The Press Club)

Young Chef of the Year:
Adam D'Sylva (Pearl)

Wine List of the Year
Circa, The Prince

Best Short Wine List
Bar Lourinha

Outstanding Achievement Award:
Jacques Reymond (Jacques Reymond Restaurant)

Professional Excellence Award:
Ronnie Di Stasio (Café Di Stasio)

Service Excellence Award:
Ari Vlassopoulous (Pearl)

Awarded 3 hats:
Jacques Reymond

Awarded 2 hats:

First Timers:
Rockpool Bar and Grill
The Press Club

Attica, Becco, Botanical, Cafe Di Stasio, Circa the Prince, Donovans, Ezard, Flower Drum, Grossi Florentino, Interlude, Lake House, Matteo's, Pearl, Range, Simone's Restaurant, Stefano's, Stokehouse, Taxi Dining Room, Three One Two and Vue de Monde

Awarded 1 hat:

First Timers:
The Argo
Delizia Cucina
Dining Room at the Flinders
Mirka @ Tolarno Hotel
Outpost Retreat
Royal George Hotel
Tempura Hajime
Wardens Food and Wine

Abia's, Annie Smithers Bistrot, Bacash, Bella Vedere, The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel, Cecconi's Cantina, Cicciolina, Comme Kitchen, The Court House, Da Noi, David's, Farmers Arms Hotel, Fenix, France-Soir, The Graham, The Grand, Healesville Hotel, Hotel Lincoln, Idea Fine Food & Wine, II Bacaro, Kenzan, Koots, Ladro, Longrain, L'Oustal, Maisonette, Maris, Melbourne Wine Room, Merrijig Inn, Middle Brighton Baths, Montalto, MoVida, Ocha, Oyster Little Bourke, Pettavel Windery and Restaurant, Punch Lane, Red Emperor, Shiranui, Shoya, Teller, Verge and Yu-u

Friday, August 24, 2007

Lunch @ Vue de Monde

It's a bit of a different atmosphere at lunch compared to dinner - there's a mix of clientele, those with time constraints and those without, couples and groups, friends and colleagues. What stays the same though is the quality of the food.


We begin with glasses of Ruinart Rose.

salt cod fritter with curry sauce and celeriac soup

followed shortly after with our amuse - a salt cod fritter skewered by a curry sauce filled pipette sitting atop a celeriac soup. You can fill the fritter with sauce or drizzle it over the top, the choice is yours. A flavoursome way to ignite your tastebuds.

light rye roll olive roll

Paalo chooses a light rye roll and I opt for the olive roll - it's warm from the oven and freshly baked.

soft shell crab

Soft shell crab - it's been coated in a spiced salt, a sample of which sits on the plate. Compared to our recent soft shell crab at Rockpool, I put this one easily above it - the flavour is better and there's way more crab meat inside the shell.

cauliflower couscous with tarragon mousse and frozen parmesan in osso buco sauce

Cauliflower couscous with tarragon emulsion, frozen parmesan snow and osso buco sauce - it comes to the table contained in it's tube.

cauliflower couscous with tarragon mousse and frozen parmesan in osso buco sauce

A remarkable dish - the sauce has an intensity of flavour, complex and rich, which plays against the incredibly simple cauliflower couscous, it's just cauliflower cut to resemble couscous. The frozen parmesan snow looks just like regular grated parmesan but the reaction in your mouth is eye opening. Our bread vanishes as we savour the sauce.

jamon and goat cheese souffle

Soufflé de Fromage aux Jamon - Grand Reserva Organic Jamon with goat cheese soufflé and carrot purée and fresh peas

jamon and goat cheese

The Jamon has been aged for 4 years and once again it has such a strong taste of nuts, this time there's even a spiciness to the meat. Combined with the cloud like soufflés that offer a little tartness from the goat cheese and the sweet elements of pea and carrots, it's a beautifully balanced dish.


Quail and Foie Gras Pie served with Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar and Rhubarb Dust


The pastry is fabulously flaky and the combination quite luxurious.


The theatre of Bouillabaisse - it arrives in this vessel, a simple stock in one pot and crayfish shell, saffron and herbs in the other. The burner is lit and the two vessels are joined.


As the stock heats it is pushed into the upper chamber and much like brewing a tea, the stock is infused with those wonderful flavours. As this is happening the second part of the dish is set in front of us.


Tartare of kingfish, crayfish and Sterling caviar wrapped in a Buffalo milk skin, finished with aromatic herbs and saffron rouille.

After a short brewing time, the flame is doused and the stock falls back into the lower chamber, it's colour changed and the air filled with those wonderful aromas. It's then poured over the skin - the heat causing it to melt. They have done it this way as the buffalo milk adds a creaminess to the soup.


It's a dish in which the spectacle is equal to the end result.

tomato essence

A little cleanser of Tomato Essence and Dry Ice - you must wait for the dry ice to fizzle away before drinking.


Lamb, two ways - one simply seared to millimetre precision and the other a reconstructed confit cube.


Rack of Rabbit, Rabbit Sausage, Pommes Anna, Sage Butter


I just love the look of these tiny rabbit racks, it's a bonus that they also are so tasty.


The lovely tulips that are on each table.


Cheese Course - inside these pastry domes is Roquefort. The dish is served hot from the oven and as you cut through the dome, the cheese oozes out. It's an intense flavour and a novel way to present cheese.

blood orange and campari jelly frozen lollypops

Blood Orange Lollypop in Campari Jelly


Sudachi Soufflé - Sudachi is a Japanese citrus and in this dish it's been combined with coconut.


There's a quenelle of sudachi creme sitting behind the roasted coconut mousse filled tuilles


Coconut and Sudachi Soufflé - I'm always impressed by the Soufflés served here - they stay incredibly puffed yet are so light, they are a perfect way to end the meal. This combination of flavours proves to be utterly moorish.

petit fours

The petit fours selection - on the skewer: choc coated pedro jimenez ice cream ball, peppermint chocolate, coffee macaroons, pistachio cakes on a toffee base, white chocolate and gold leaf cups

petit fours petit fours

mint sugar

A little experiment to go with our coffees, it's a take on an after dinner mint. This looks a bit like coal but it's a blend of sugars subjected to differing temperatures, a touch of a natural dye (squid ink perhaps) and peppermint oil. Very refreshing but you have to contain yourself as they are basically sugar.

At the end of our meal as we go to exit, we're surprised by a treat

chocolate box

A box for both of us - a most pleasant way to end the day.

chocolate box

The details:
Vue de Monde
Normanby Chambers
430 Little Collins Street
Phone: 03 9691 3888

Lunch: Tuesday - Friday Bookings:12.00pm-2.00pm
Dinner: Tuesday - Saturday Bookings:6.30pm-9.30pm

Breakfast @ Café Vue

It's not really a breakfast as such, merely a little something to tide us over until our lunch at Vue de Monde.

Cafe Latte

With our coffee, Paalo can't resist the escargot


and I just had to have the lovely Pistachio Cupcake.

Pistachio Cupcake

The details

Café Vue
Normanby Chambers
430 Little Collins Street, Melbourne

Monday-Friday: 7am-4pm
Friday Cocktail Night: 6.30pm-9.30pm

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Melbourne Cheese Show Winners

cheese show

The full list of results for the Melbourne Specialist Cheese Show 2007 have been released and the winners are as follows:

Grand Champion Cheese
Milawa Gold

Fresh Curd: Matured
Red Hill Paradigm Log

Fresh Curd: Marinated
Meredith Dairy Goat Cheese in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fresh Curd: Soft
Meredith Dairy Ashed Pyramid
Udder Delights Chevre

Fresh Curd: Textured
Capra Cheese Allegro
Capra Cheese Mountain Ash

Blue Mould
King Island Dairy Endeavour Blue
Jindi Blue

Washed Rind
Barambah Organics Gold Hawk
Milawa Gold
Woodside Cheese Wrights Pompeii - special Commendation Chief Judges Choice

White Mould
Udder Delights Adelaide Hills Brie
Red Hills Misty Valley

Semi Hard Cooked Style
Heidi Farm Raclette
Woodside Cheese Wrights Figaro

Hard Cooked Style
Donnybrook Farmhouse Cheese Pasterello

Ashgrove Cloth Matured

Monday, August 20, 2007

Australian Gourmet Traveller 2008 Restaurant Guide


Australian Gourmet Traveller has just come out with their yearly restaurant guide and much has been made in the press about the composition of the top 10.

Since I'm in Melbourne I'll be parochial and focus on Victorian restaurants.

These is how the state faired in the Top 100 list
4. Vue de Monde
12. Rockpool Bar and Grill
16. Circa, The Prince
18. Jacques Reymond
19. Three, One, Two
21. The Botanical
22. Stokehouse
23. Pearl
24. Grossi Florentino
26. Stefano's
29. Ezard
31. Café de Stasio
32. Interlude
33. Becco
34. Lake House
40. Donovans
43. Flower Drum
50. Red Emperor
58. Attica
59. Verge
64. The Press Club
69. Taxi
73. The Argo
74. Comme Kitchen
76. The Court House
87. MoVida
90. Simone's Restaurant
92. Longrain
94. Range
95. Melbourne Wine Room

AGT also ranked our top Regional Restaurants as follows:
Lake House
Simone's Restaurant
Wardens Food and Wine
Annie Smithers' Bistro
Farmers Arms
Merrijig Inn

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Lunch @ Rockpool

Since we were in Crown we decided to take the opportunity and finally visit Rockpool.

On the way to the dining room you are greeted with this lovely sight, makes a change from those live fish tanks.

dry aged meatmeat

Settled, we start with a bottle of 2003 Chandon ZD.

The menu is quite extensive and after a lot of thought we decide to share our entrees

ham and salami tasting plate
Ham and Salami Tasting Plate ($35)
From top to bottom, Joselito Iberico, Jamondul Gran Reserva Serrano, San Daniele Proscuitto, Chorizo (from Sydney)

I must say the Joselito Iberico was amazing, the fat actually tasted like nuts, it's the first time I've experienced that and now I understand the fuss people make over the Iberico.

soft shell crab
Soft Shell Crab Salad with Cos Lettuce ($26)

I think the crab could have been a little more crisp, perhaps we should have eaten it first.

four tastes
Four Raw Tastes of the Sea ($26)
From bottom to top, kingfish with cos and tea smoked oyster dressing, ocean trout with harissa and lemon, tuna with coriander and ginger dressing and scampi with ceviche dressing

I'll have to agree with the consensus this is a fantastic dish, we'd gladly have one of these to ourselves.

butter steak knife

As Paalo, Al and I are having steaks we get these quite lethal looking knives. We also choose a Ripasso to have with our mains.

lobster salad
Elle's Main: Lobster, Avocado and Zucchini Salad with Hazelnut and Lime Foam ($38 entree)

dry aged grass fed beef rump
Al's Main: Dry Aged Grass Fed Beef - Rump 400g/41 days ($39)

dry aged rib eye
Dry Aged 36 Month Old Grass Fed Beef - Rib-eye on the Bone 750g/43 days ($90 for two) - Paalo and I shared this dish - this is just my portion of the dish, lucky me got the bone!

The steaks are served with sauces to share - Horseradish Cream and an ultra-light fluffy Béarnaise.

onion rings
Side dish: Onion Rings ($6)

Who knew Onion Rings could taste this good?

sauces brussel sprouts
Sauces to Share: Horseradish Cream and Béarnaise and Side dish: Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Onion and Burnt butter ($8)

mac and cheese
Side dish: "Mac and Cheese" ($7)

It tastes even better than it looks.

With our desserts we order a half bottle of Vietti Moscato d'Asti ($45)

chocolate cake

Al's Choice: Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with Pedro Jimenez Cream ($16)


Elle's Choice: Passionfruit Pavlova ($16)

apple tarte tatin

Paalo's Choice: Apple Tarte Tatin ($16)


My Choice: Praline Millefeuille ($16)

puffed wheat

Served with coffee - a glass of fantastic caramelised puffed wheat.

The details

Rockpool Bar and Grill
Crown Complex
Phone: +613 8648 1900

Lunch: Sunday-Friday: 12pm -3pm
Dinner: Every night: 6pm-11pm