Sunday, April 24, 2011


Wordless Wednesday! (ok i know it's Sunday, but I went there on Wednesday arvo... Plus, we were way too busy enjoying ourselves eating to talk)

LuxBite on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Things I know

Another week done and another link in with Yay for Home!

So here's what I know this week -

*  Home made pie is always a good idea!

*  Bananas are the most precious food in the house at the moment.  Wish I had a banana tree.... or else a secret source of bananas that don't cost a million $$$$

*  Putting a bit of sweet corn in your pancakes might not make the childrens happy... but I liked it!

* I know I've said it before, but coconut ice-cream is just soooooooooo delicious!   Can't get enough!

Fish Tacos

A few weeks ago we discovered the Melbourne Taco Truck!  and it is AWESOME!!!!!!!!

The Taco truck roves about and posts its nightly location on its Facebook page.
I highly  recommend that you LIKE them and if they happen to visit your neck of the woods, go treat yourself!

Their Fish Taco is totally delicious!!!!  so much so that I had three of them in one sitting!  It's crunchy, tasty, spicy and awesome!!

Last night I really wanted fish taco, but couldn't get out to the taco truck, so I made my own version.

My version is grilled Pink Ling, some cabbage salad, a bit of vegan mayo and some green chilli sauce.    YUM!!!!!

Not as good as the Taco Truck, but I'm still happy with it.

Taco Truck on Urbanspoon

Stratus 233

233 Union Road
Ascot Vale, Vic.

 My mum is visiting so my dear Husband and I took a rare chance of a babysitter to go out for a meal together.  I didn't really want to go too far from home and coincidently, we had discovered a few places in Ascot Vale that we really wanted to check out.
The short list included Italy528Philhellene and Stratus 233.

Because I'm tired and ready for bed by 8pm, we headed out at 5.30pm in the hopes of grabbing an early dinner and being home in time for the childrens bath time.  Both Italy528 and Philhellene are on Mt Alexander Rd and at 5.30pm it is pretty busy with peak hour traffic around there.... and it's a clearway til 6.30pm... so that sucks!

We drove past Italy528 and because it was so early, it was totes empty and didn't look very fun.  PLUS I've kinda promised to go there with another group of friends so we decided to leave it for another day.

Philhellene, on the other hand, looked warm, cozy and inviting.  There even was a parking spot at the front door!! Hazaar!!

We parked, got out and as we were headed towards to door, we noticed that we had in fact parked in the clearway and it was going to be a clearway for another 40 minutes.  Ok, so usually a clearway is pretty obvious but there was another car parked in front of us before we got there and I was more focused on food that street signage.  But we were just heading back to the car when a police car pulled up behind us with lights flashing.  EEEKK!  The cop jumped out of the car and was heading over... he looked kinda pissed off.  Thankfully I had the keys in my hand already and just started telling him that we just noticed the clearway signs and were heading off.  Honestly, in moments like these, being mega preggas helps!  He seemed happy with our response and started over to the car in front of us.
Just as we were pulling away, a young man ran over from across the street to the parked car and was trying to drive off before the cop could talk to him..... but he had no such luck. busted!

We drove around the block a few times and the traffic was insane and the parking was non-existant and I was hungry..... so we decided to leave Philhellene for another day.

At the time, the easy parking of Union Rd was just going to be another reason to try Stratus233.

We did find parking super easily, and again right at the door.  Gotta Love Union Rd!

We walked in and as it was only just after 6pm, we were the second table seated.  It gave me a chance to take a pic of the interior.

As you can see, the mood lighting makes the place look cozy and romantic, but doesn't do much for my already pretty pissweak photography skills.

The decor is rather pleasing.  Clean, neat.... plus I have a thing for wallpaper and theirs is kinda pretty.  The opposite wall (not in photo) is all horizontal wooden batons with fairy lights threaded through them.  I thought it looked really cute.  The space is not big and I'm guessing that is why they chose to have a bench seat running along the entire length of the room (the side with the wooden batons and fairy lights).  It allows for more tables, but the bench seat was really uncomfortable. It wasn't very wide, and I felt like I was in a half stand, half seated position.  Made my legs hurt.  poor me :(  

The staff were friendly and attentive and we were seated quickly and given menus and the specials of the day.

There seemed to be a descent wine list, but as I'm not really boozing it up these days, I didn't pay much notice to the details.  I did notice that they had a few shots listed though.

The food at Stratus233 is described as Modern Australian.
The actual food menu was not extensive,  maybe 12 entrees, about 18 mains options and about 6 desserts.  It seemed to have a bit of everything.  A few steaks, a few pasta/Italian dishes and a few Asian inspired dishes (Some Vietnamese, Thai, Balinese and Chinese style dishes).

We chose two entree (saganaki and pork spare ribs) and two main dishes (Balinese duck and Squid ink linguine with prawns).

Because we had missed out on Greek food at Philhellene, we decided to get the Grilled saganaki, black olive tapenade, lemon oil, parsley, red onion salad for entree.

It was... ok.... ish.
The cheese was over-cooked for my liking.  It had a rather thick and had a very crispy crust on both the top and bottom of the slice of cheese.  This would have been ok if the cheese in the middle was still soft and stringy, but it wasn't.  It was tough and chewy.  So once you sawed through the crust, it was like eating a salty eraser.  The olive didn't really do much for the dish either.  It would have been better with some actual whole olives, but the parsley worked well and was the redeeming feature of the dish.

The second entree was Twice cooked pork ribs, sticky soy and palm sugar glaze, fried shallots, Thai basil, bean shoots. 

It would have been a great dish but for a few things. The pork was tender and falling off the bone but it was a dry and in desperate need of a bit more of a sauce, even if it was just a bit more of the sticky soy.  Overall the flavours in the dish were good.  I found the Thai basil flavour to be a bit unexpected, but it was a pleasant surprise.  The main fail of the dish was the bloody bean shoots.  If you had a bite with a bean shoot, all you could taste was bean shoot.  It totally overpowered the whole dish.  They did provide an element of crunch and texture to the dish, but for me, the bean shoots were just a bit diabolical.  

I have to say that the service was really quite good and there was not much of a wait before the main dishes arrived.

Da huzband ordered the Squid ink linguini with tiger prawns, roasted cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, white wine and parsley.

I only had a few bites of this dish and found the flavours to be very subtle.  Just a very gentle garlic and tomato flavour.  I couldn't taste any of the squid ink, which is disappointing because I actually really love squid ink.   I didn't have a prawn, but apparently they were well cooked, juicy and delicious.

I ordered the Balinese style slow roasted duck with wild rice, herb salad and pineapple pickle.  I was really looking forward to eating duck.  I LOVE duck!!!   I was intrigued by this 'Balinese style' duck and was excited to taste it.  It sounded really tasty and I was imagining it would have some amazing Indonesian spices and flavours..... but it didn't!  In fact it was rather awful.  The duck meat was overcooked, dry and tough. Even though the dish was slow cooked, I was hoping that the skin would have a bit of crispness to it, but it didn't.  I'm not sure what made it Balinese, because it really had not flavour profile at all.  It was bland.  Really bland.  The only elements on the dish that had any flavour at all were the Vietnamese mint, those bloody bean shoots and the pineapple pickle.  The mint was refreshing, though I'm not sure it added anything to the dish. It definitely wasn't enough to lift the flavours or redeem the dish. The bean shoots were just awful on the dish...again another dish ruined by the diabolical bean shoots!  The pineapple pickle was actually not too bad, but in order to make the rest of the dish palatable, I was going to need a lot more than they gave me.
Even the wild rice had no flavour!  In fact it wasn't til i checked the menu again that I even remembered it was on the dish. 
I only could manage a few bites of the dish. It really was awful and I just couldn't bring myself to eat anymore. 

We were planning on having dessert, but after my failed duck dish, I was still really hungry and just wanted to leave.  There actaully were a few interesting looking desserts on the menu, so I was a bit bummed to skip dessert, but I was just way too pissed off at how bad the duck was that i just wanted to leave.  I really have no patience for places that ruin food.

By the time we left, just after 7pm, almost all the tables were full.  I recognised a few locals having a meal, but it seemed like most of the room was full of larger groups celebrating things.  We were probably the youngest people eating there at that early hour.  

I'm not sure I will go back to Stratus233, but if I do it will be to try the desserts.  The local word on the street is that it's a win and a local treasure.  I'm not sure I'm buying it.  Shame tho.

I think the worst thing about going out for dinner and having it be a fail is that you still have to find something to eat somewhere else.  Thank goodness for good ol' Pazza Pizza at the other end of Union Rd!  we picked up a pizza on the way home, so at least I got to eat something enjoyable that night.

next time.... I think we will just wait til the clearway is over and try Philhellene! 

Stratus233 on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 8, 2011

Things I know

Another week has flown by and I'm linking in with Shae from Yay for Home! to share the things I know this week.

* The last few weeks of pregnancy are problematic because you want to eat and eat... but not cook and cook.

* Even though I've been baking our own bread for the last 5 years, every loaf fills me with the same giddy joy as the very first time I made my own bread.   It really is the simple things...

* The very rare days when you have just baked a fresh loaf of bread AND you're opening a new jar of vegemite AND starting a fresh tub of Nuttlex (Kosher Nuttelex is the best vegan butter substitute in my opnion) are some of my most favourite days!  It's like a little food miracle right in your own kitchen!
Today's loaf is Crusty White.... because sometimes you just want some white bread.

*  Having a 5 year old who can whip up a batch of muffins on her own is soooo cool in so many ways!

*  I'm having a mashed potato revival!  after not having made it for like a year, I've made it twice this week!  and it was good.  Very good.

 *  making some stewed apples and pears at the end of the week is even better when it seems like no-one ate any apples all week, coz then I get to eat LOTS of stewed apples!!

*  stewing the apples in a bit of coconut cream, instead of a bit of water, makes it even better!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bratwurst Shop - Queen Vic Markets

spicy beef & pork bratwurst with seeded mustard, tomato sauce and sauerkraut.

Sometimes you just have to stop what you are doing and make your way to the Vic Markets for a Bratwurst.

go on.  


go now!  ! 

Melbourne Bratwurst Shop on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam
293-295 Racecourse Road,
ph: 9376 0228

I used to live a mere stones throw from Racecourse Road and have been eating there regularly for the last 10 years.   It's the kind of place that is always changing and yet always the same.
 Places like Vy Vy, Chop Chop and Laksa King seem to have been around forever and they will always provide you with some great, reasonably priced food.

In the last year, however, it seems like the Malaysian food places are starting to dominate in Flemington.  That's fine with me.  Malaysian food is probably my favourite cuisine.  Oh who am I kidding.... it totally is!  Love it. Can't get enough!  But here is my disclaimer - I'm an Australian-Italian, I don't really know much about the intricacies of Malaysian food... and there seems to be a lot.... So I just know that I LOVE the flavours and that given the chance, I would choose it over any other cuisine.  So if you are an expert, please excuse my lack of knowledge and please feel free to fill me in :)

  So with the new re-vamped Laksa King opening up on Pin Oak Cres, and then Chef Lagenda opening up next to Laksa King,  I was kinda surprised to find that yet another Malaysian place was opening up less than a block away.

One of my dear friends was flying into Melbourne on Monday night and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out this new Malaysian restaurant.

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam opened up in a space that was formerly Fringe Bar.  Fringe was a weird little bar that existed for way longer than it should have.  It was also a place that, back in the olden days before kids, we went to a few times to take advantage of their very cheap parma and beer nights.

In preparing for our meal at Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam, I found a few reviews on some other food blogs and I have to say that their reviews made the food and drinks look so good that we were both excited to get to dinner.

The  place seemed bigger than I remember Fringe ever being.  It has a very open, happy and inviting look about the place.  The exposed steel beams, the bright red walls and original wooden floors make it look neat and contemporary while still feeling like a place you could bring the whole family and not feel like it was going to upset anyone. The staff were attentive and friendly we were seated at a table near the central bar and looking out into the street. 

As my friend and I had decided we were going to starve ourselves all day and then order big, we were both super keen to get ordering and eating.

Our first decision was what drink to order.   They have a massive drinks menu and we were keen to try the milky teas, the milo drinks and the Ribena Lychee drink.

We both decided we would start with a Milo drink.

I had the Milo Godzilla (a cold Milo drink with ice-cream and stacks of Milo) and my friend had the Milo Dinosaur (cold milo with a metric shitload of Milo in it).
All their drinks are served in jars.  They are big and chunky and somehow drinking out of a jar just makes it all taste even better.  I so want giant jars to drink out of at home now! 


 Once we had ordered our drinks, we got busy with the food menu.

The menu is set out quite cleverly.  You have the 'small eat' section with the entree style dishes, then the main dishes are available as either 'individual' sized dishes (usually with rice included) or you have larger portions for 'sharing' without rice.

From the 'small eat' section of the menu we ordered the Char Grilled Satay (in both the chicken and lamb), Chicken Lobak, Roti Beef Rendang and Achar (a side dish of mixed, spiced, pickled veges).

Now for anyone that knows me, you will know about my deep LOVE LOVE LOVE of satay and more specifically the peanut sauce.  Satay sauce is always different everywhere you go... sometimes it's awesome, sometimes it sucks and when it's good, I can eat it by the bucket!
When it came out it looked like the kind that I don't like.  It looked too smooth and too much like the stuff you find in a bottle at the supermarket.  But it wasn't too bad. It was definitely a smoother style peanut sauce, but the flavour was good.  Not the best I've had, but certainly not the worst.  A big win was that the dish also came with some decent red onion and cucumber. Honestly, I think the onion and cucumber is as important as the actual meat, so when you find fresh happy, vege and not sad,  stodgey crud that is always a good thing.  I'd be happy with just the onion and cucumber with the satay sauce.
Chicken and Lamb Satay
The Chicken Lobak was also really tasty.  Considering it is  a deep fried dish, it was not oily at all.
Chicken Lobak
 The Achar was really good.  The vege were spicy, refreshing and crispy.  There was also a good mix of vege. 

 The Roti was tasty.... but when it came out I thought it looked kinda pov.  I was expecting at least a few pieces of roti or at least one really big piece and not just one piece that looked like it was a slightly failed attempt.  But presentation aside, it did taste good.  The Rendang was also tasty.  The beef was super tender and though I am used to having the kind of rendang that is a bit more saucy/wet, this drier style was really good and we certainly didn't leave any behind. 

Roti with Beef Rendang

Sotong Sumbat - squid stuffed with spices
For mains, we had big eyes and tried quite a few things.  A mixed Vege Char Kway Teow, Hainanese Chicken with rice,  Salt and Pepper Chicken Spare Ribs with coconut rice, Salt & Pepper whole prawns and Squid stuffed with spices.

 The squid stuffed with spices was...umm.... interesting.  I think I was expecting something quite different and that's why this dish kinda threw me a bit.
Having said that, if I didn't have pre-conceptions, I probably would have enjoyed the dish more.

I'm not exactly sure what the squid was stuffed with, but it tasted like a spiced lentil/dahl kinda of thing.  It was actually really tasty.
The squid was tender and well cooked too.

Salt & Pepper Whole Prawns

The Salt & Pepper prawns was probably the dish I enjoyed least and probably wouldn't bother with again.  It tasted fine.  I mean it was the same flavours as the salt and pepper chicken ribs, but I just couldn't be bothered with the whole prawn shell thing.   I know you're just supposed to eat it, but it just wasn't 'soft shell' enough for my taste.  Also, the poo line was still the prawns and that just turned me off.  If you ever feel like prawns in the shell,  go to Blue Sky cafe in Chinatown and have their Hong Kong style prawns instead.

Char Kway Teow - mixed vege (one of my favourite dishes)
The Char Kway Teow was my favourite dish.  I have a thing for green beans at the moment and this dish had lots of really fresh, crispy green beans in it and as far as non meat CKT's go, this was a really good one.   We were kinda full after ordering so many dishes, so I took the bulk of the dish home and had it for breakfast the next day.  Even a day old and cold from the fridge it was still really delicious.

Salt & Pepper Chicken Spare Ribs with Coconut Rice
The Chicken Spare Ribs were pretty good.  Nice flavour mix in the batter and the fried garlic/onion/chilli it was served on were good too.  The spare ribs were also well sized.
We eat at laksa King pretty much very week and we always get their Chicken Rib Rice, so  I couldn't help but compare the two.  Though the Chicken ribs at Chillipadi etc were good, I think I prefer the Laksa King ribs.

The Hainanese Chicken was REALLY good!!  I thought it was some of the best I've ever had.  Tender, well cooked and just super delish.
Hainanese Chicken with Rice

Three layer tea - palm sugar, condensed milk and milky tea!  FTW!
 When we first ordered drinks, we probably should have started with something less filling than those giant Milo drinks.
We should have started with the drinks we finished with.

I just couldn't leave without trying the Ribena Lychee drink and my dinner mate had the 3 layered tea (Teh C Peng).

The 3 layered tea was actually really amazing.  I've never tried it before, and I think i will have to get my own next time.
The three layers consist of palm sugar on the bottom, then condensed milk and then the tea layer on top.

My advice is to save the Milo drinks for dessert and start with a tea or a fruity drink.  The Milo was awesome, way too filling to have at the start of the meal.

Ribena Lychee drink
 The Ribena Lychee drink was Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo   good!!!!

I do like Ribena anyway, but the addition of lychees is GENIUS!

It's possible that I'm now going to have to buy some of those way cool Fowlers  jam jars so I can make my own Ribena lychee drink on a regular basis.
I so loved this Ribena Lychee drink that I went and bought some Ribena and lychees on the way home :)

I really enjoyed our meal at Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam.  I will definitley be going again and would happily recommend it.

I still really want to try their Laksa, Nasi Lemak, Nasi Goreng and some of the Roti with sweet toppings so I don't think it will be long before I venture back.

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 1, 2011

Things I know

Well it's Friday and I'm linking in with the lovely Shae from Yay for Home! for this weeks
Things I know!

So here is what I know this week:

* When you are busy nesting and preparing for the arrival of a new babe, maintaining your new blog kinda falls by the way a bit.

* Having a friend over for dinner makes cooking, even a simple meal, a bit more special. It's also one of my favourite ways to show some love when life is busy and catching up more often is not always possible. 

* Going out for dinner with a friend and bonding over a shared love of a cuisine is also pretty cool! 

* Being invited to lunch and having all your dietary requirements taken into account, having someone take the time, care and thought to prepare a dish that the childrens will enjoy and have it all be DELISH!   That's just how you know you are loved!

* When one of your childrens is a bit obsessed with vegan fish-style fingers, and you can't figure out how to make a version of them at home.... well you just have to kinda suck it up and roll with it and hope that the phase passes soon before we go broke from spending crazy amounts of money on a squillion packs of vegan fish fingers every week!

*  Making coconut cream based ice-cream is a total winner! 

Freeze dried strawberries in coconut cream ready to be blended and poured into ice-cream maker

* Akta-vite  is my new favourite discovery.  Why did I not know Akta-Vite was dairy free before now???

*  Chips and gravy is sometimes the best thing EVER!!!

crispy, greasy, salty -  SO GOOD!!!!!!!