JP & Juice. I heart food.

NOTE. I have not consumed any solids today so this blog may not make sense at all. Although most of them don’t make much sense, so please continue. But I warned you.

So today I embarked on my first juice cleanse. This was the first day I haven’t ‘eaten’ …since I was born. As soon as I could I started eating, and well, haven’t stopped since. Hence the portion control issues. Put it this way, I had major jaw surgery and managed to cut up spag bol into teeny tiny pieces so I could just throw it down. Nothing was going to stop me from doing my favourite thing. Until Finn Cold Press came along and with some very convincing marketing, I decided to give the colourful bottles a crack.

Working from home and no exercise on the agenda seemed to be the best time for me to do it as I had no idea how my bod would react with no foodies! And yes, looking at everyone’s food photos on insty all day did not help! The cooking shows that were on in the background at home also did not assist. Damn you Matt Moran and your braised brisket.

It’s now the end of the day and I’ve consumed my last juice. Admittedly, at not one point throughout the day was I hungry. Very surprising. Those juicy juices sure did fill me up. It was more the need for solids that got to me! So below you can read my ramblings throughout the day of my first juice cleanse.

8.30am

Woke up about half an hour ago. Pretty sure I dreamt about bacon, surprise surprise. My body was just reminding me that I wouldn’t be allowed any porky goodness all day. Or any animal for that matter!

Just had the warm lemon water as recommended by the Finn team. Although I really wanted to squeeze that lemon on avo and feta toast….I resisted.

product-rainbowBLUEBERRY, MANGO, BASIL, AVOCADO, MAQUI BERRY, ACTIVATED CASHEWS, COCONUT BUTTER, LEMON, CHIA, HIMALAYAN SEA SALT, ALKALINE WATER

9am

Just sipping on the first drink of the day. Pretty damn good! Just like a berry smoothie, with a light consistency, not too thick which was good. Rainbow is the first of 7 juices I am to consume today. I’m pretty skeptical about this whole thing but hey, my tummy needs a break. Really craving breakfast. Working from home usually means awesome Shakshuka or poached eggies and avo on sourdough….today – juice. Bring it on.

Lots of ingredients in that smoothie and surprisingly I could taste banana….but there was no banana in it….but I did get my morning serve of Avo which was good….’cept it was pulverised with ten other things into a juice. Ah well, I got myself into this!

10am

Finished Rainbow probably too quickly. Checked Insty and saw everyone’s yummy breakfasts. Bad move. There should be a disclaimer on all the juice cleanses – avoid social media – it will make you want food. If anything, this cleanse is making me realise how many mini-meals I have. If this were a regular JP day, I would have had breakfast, second breakfast and morning snack by now. Yehh I have issues.

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CARROT, BEETROOT, MINT, APPLE, LEMON

11am

Time to start the vegie stuff. Big hit on mint on the initial sip but you get used to that. Wasn’t a huge fan of this one, but finished it. Must admit, I thought I would have been uber hungry by now, but still alive! Woooo. (Speak to me later….)

You’re told to try and ‘eat’ the juice. I tried that and it almost came out my nose. Obviously doing that wrong. Will try different ‘chew’ method on next round….

MIDDAY

I made it half way through the day! OK kinda….not really but sort of. Bravo Jess. Pat on the back.

12.30

Benefits of working from home

  1. Working in your pj’s
  2. Being closer to snacks

See the issue here!? I buy way too many snacks at grocery time on Sundays and that is coming back to bite me today. I can almost smell the snackies in the fridge. Admittedly, still not hungry, but I am rarely hungry. Yeh that’s probably a bad thing. Wow this juice cleanse comes with free therapy. There there JP, it’ll be over soon.

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CARROT, TURMERIC, GINGER, ORANGE, LEMON

1.30pm

Really want a burger. Not hungry. Same thing as before. Just want FOOD. Don’t get me wrong, the juices are yummy but having a juice with a meal would be preferred. Throwing in some water and rooibos tea to break up the juiciness of the juices. Still want food.

Sipping on the Golden Sunrise drink at the mo. Pretty good! Probably my favourite so far. Primarily carrot, but nice orange tang. Been so surprised that I’m not hungry. Or hangry for that matter (angry hunger). Bit tired. Been to the bathroom about 12 times. Almost watched big brother for 2 whole minutes – ah! Luckily that moment passed.

2.31pm

First tummy rumble. I hear ya big fella.

product-goji-elixirGOJI BERRY, GINGER, LEMON, CHIA, COCONUT NECTAR, HIMALAYAN SEA SALT, ALKALINE WATER

 3.30

Ok new favourite. Stop. Goji Time. Do do do do do. Ok yep this lack of food thing is getting to me now.

I’m just a tad over the liquidity right about now. Even some toast! I just want some toast! With avocado, and goats cheese, and an egg. And bacon. Always add bacon. Oh lordy I am salivating.

4.15pm

Ok my tummy does not like this lack of food situation. Honestly, don’t feel hungry but I just want some fooood. A burger in particular. But I’ll manage. Geez this is hard. I have a sad obsession with food. I feel like I am going through the 7 stages of grief. Been content with the fact I have no food, then disappointed I have to wait until tomorrow for bacon…and the list goes on. I’ll make it.

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KALE, NETTLE, CUCUMBER, SPINACH, APPLE, LEMON, GINGER

6pm

Greeeeeen time. Never been a huge fan of the totes hipster green smoothie, but today was the exception! Would definitely have the Botanica again. Very aromatic on the first taste, but after that, awesome. That was the 5th of the 6 drinks for today. All I can think about is what I am going to have for breakfast tomorrow. Hopeless. I am Jessica and I am a foodaholic.

Let’s just face it. I want food. The juices have been great but gah, I want something elseeee. Anyone would have thought I have been doing this cleanse for a week. And I am currently making Spag Bol for my fiance. Yep. What a catch I am. I really want to put my face straight into the sauce.

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ACTIVATED ALMONDS & CASHEWS, RAW CACAO, COCONUT BUTTER, VANILLA, SLIPPERY ELM, COCONUT NECTAR, HIMALAYAN SEA SALT, ALKALINE WATER 

8.45pm

Final juice gone. Last one was super disappointing! I shook it and shook it and shook it like a polaroid picture (yeh i’m going loopy) and in the end it still tasted very watery. Probably because its main ‘ingredient’ was alkalised water. Oh yes, not regular water. I was secretly hoping it would taste like the salted caramel Connoisseur icecream….but sadly it didn’t. Booo.

AND THAT’S IT.

Done and dusted. I have been to the bathroom about 232150820 times today and I think I do feel ‘better’ BUT at the moment, whilst fiance sits next to me eating spag bol, all I want is a big feast of fooood!!

Worth checking out Finn Cold Press though.

wwww.finncoldpress.com

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Amsterdamage in Melbs.

Cmac and I ventured to Nieuw Amsterdam a while back for a quick work lunch. As soon as we walked in, we were planning when we were going to come back for dinner. The whole place is just damn cool. The music, the decor, the bar thats open till all hours. It wants you there. All day every day. Hyundaiii (couldn’t help myself).

Ventured here on Friday night with fiance, Cmac, Whitney & MonMon. Yep everyone gets an odd name. It’s a thing now. Look it up. It’s trending.

Being one of the only good places in Melbs that you can book is definitely a bonus but if you aren’t super organised and obsessed with foodles like myself, you can easily wait in the bar downstairs and make your way through their award winning drinks list. Did someone say Negroni menu? Ooh yeh.

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Dranks.

I was on menu duty, so did what any food lovin’ kid would do. Order pretty much everything. With Fitzroy Iced Tea in hand (Yep, see what they did there?)

Ok I admit it. I had almost memorised the menu from drooling over it for days before our reservation. Anything on there just looks so good. All I can say is, go now. Right now. They’re open and they’re freakin delicious.

First up was the pork trotter and ham hock nuggets. I didn’t even get a photo of these, they went that fast. And fiance is usually so well behaved in no touching foodies until foodie takes a photo. That’s how good these little babies were. So crispy, juicy meat, so much love for these little pieces of heaven. I want to go back and order them and them alone. But then I think about everything else we ate and I want that too. Drool drool drool. Burnt onion jam too. Drool again. Next!

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Broccoli & Cheese Profiteroles with Broccoli Sauce

Now I will try everything once, but broccoli has never been one of my favourite things (when the dog bites…when the bee stings…..sorry got distracted). Ahem. Until now. No idea why I even ordered these crispy profiteroles but oh so glad I did. The filling was fantastic and the shell was fantastic. We were all just sitting there raving about everything. Even the chairs were awesome! Bravo Nieuw.

In case you haven’t worked out how this ends, SPOILER! It is easily one of the best meals I’ve had in Melbs. Fantastic food. Every little morsel.

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BBQ Scallops, Mango Gazpacho, Avocado & Chili

I want you to read those ingredients and tell me that wouldn’t taste good. Go on, I dare you. I order scallops whenever I see them. Coz. They’re awesome. This dish was great! Def have to say it was trumped by the nuggets but the scallops were incredible. Cooked to perfectttttion. Mhm. Masterchef words. I’m sorry.

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Grits Fritters, variety of sweet corn & heirloom beeties.

I had been advised on numerous occasions, “If you go to Nieuw, have the grits”. When I was looking at the menu, must admit they didn’t reallllly appeal to me, but hey all those food lovers can’t be wrong! And they weren’t. They were oh.so.right. They were like baby clouds for the soil. I am pretty sure I ate most of these. Could be due to the fact I hid the plate from the others. Ma bad. You gotta do what you gotta do!

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Dutch potato fries with Sriracha mayo. 

I’m just going to let that phrase sink in and you can enjoy the photo. First up. We ordered two of these. Luckily. This bowl disappeared in record time. This chippies are chockers full of potato goodness. The sriracha mayo. Well it’s Sriracha with Mayo. Freakin amazeballs.

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Smokey Beef Brisket with carrot remoulade

Another cracker of a dish. Must admit the remoulade didn’t resonate but the beef brisket was just melt in the mouth ridiculousness. Amazing meat. The boys def rated this as their favourite of favourites.

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Pork Belly Chops, Sauerkraut, Apple Sauce and crackling

If you read that and said, nah not for me….well i’m sorry we can’t be friends. It’s pork belly. As a chop. With sauerkraut. Mhm. Very rich flavour but hey, it’s pork belly. Deal with it!

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Slow Braised Lamb Neck, hand rolled spaghetti, turnips and manchego.

Even reading the menu makes me drool over this little fella. I’d seen this dish do the rounds on Insty so it was a no brainer to order it. Another melt in your mouth meat, a favourite with the team and the spaghetti was cooked al dente, al dente, al dente. Phew. Bit of a pasta snob (like to pretend I’m italian) so was happy to see that. Brilliant food. Ermagherd.

Then it was obviously time for the important stuff. Dessert. We were so full but still went for 3 desserts to share. Yep. It’s what you have to do when the choices look like these.

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LEMON MESS
Ginger crumble,
cream cheese sorbet,
lemonade granita

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PEANUT BUTTER WAFFLE
Salted Peanut Caramel,
Raspberry Sorbet

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PUMPKIN DONUTS
Kentucky bourbon cream

All of the above were freakin delicious. The lemon was super fresh and just what we needed after the heavy meaty dishes. But in saying that, the rich Peanut Butter Waffles were just what the doctor ordered. But only in moderation! ….Ok I’d eat half of it. Or maybe the whole thing if you forced me.

But the crowning dish were the pumpkin donuts. I’d been waiting forever to try these babies. I had had a pumpkin donut at Circa which had disappointed but luckily this was flew sky high. The bourbon cream was a great addition too.

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Close up of those mighty fine donuts. Ahhh. Want it again. and again.

Overall, a brilliant night, with great peeps, fantastic service from the top bun clad gentlemen and I can’t wait to go back and have plates of nuggets, donuts and chips. Yep balanced diet right there.

A million out of 10.

Drool. Go. Now

Nieuw Amsterdam on Urbanspoon

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20 and still punching on.

Ok I tried with the title. Can’t you tell?

Recently one of my faves in Melbs has turned 20! The big 2-0. A big congrats to Punch Lane. Located near…Punch Lane. NO way, I know. Martin and his team create a fantastic vibe and the atmosphere is perfecto for that winter night. Or Summer night. Or Spring or Autumn for that matter.

When everywhere else is trying to be uber hipster, different, or just plain cray cray (oh yeh I said it)….Punch Lane do what they love, and do it oh so well. I feel like I need Ron Burgundy to describe the rich mahogany furnishings, and the wallll of wiiiiine. (cue angel music)

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Oh that’s not even a 50th of it. So many wines and for a red wine lover like me, it’s rather freakin’ awesome. The wine ‘bible’ is available to peruse or you can just try in the brilliant Punch Sommelier and that’s exactly what we did. I ventured here with ma Fiance and my parentals for yet another engagement celebration. I mean why not! It only happens once!

So whilst we sipped on some vino (with another bottle in a decanter, I should add) the menu was consulted….numerous times. Yeh, I’m hopeless with decisions. Gah. And, as menu perusal is such a difficult task, we decided we needed a charcuterie board to get us through. And omg. It was so amazing. Among the best I’ve had. So much goodness. I could have just had that for dinner. Ha that’s a lie.

 

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Look at that baby. Pate, popped corn, a million different meats, cornichons….drool! In case you were wondering, this was demolished. Ahh yuuuum. I wish I could get this take away all day everyday (hyundai….ahh brain fart…)

So the meals came a rollin’ in and it was some of the best food I’ve had in aaaages. No fancy smoke and mirrors, just brilliant produce cooked oh so well. Bravo Punch Laners.

 

IMG_1615Golden Confit Chicken, Carrot Escabeche and Coriander.

This was mine. Excuse the blurry photo. I had to rush because prying forks were trying to get a sneaky taste. Delicious meal. Light enough for an entree but packed alot of flavour. I always avoided ordering chicken, because hey, anyone can cook good chicken. Nope, that’s a lie too. Anyone can cook chicken, but it takes an art like this to cook it so you want to make angel noises whilst eating.

 

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Roast Baby Snapper, Chorizo, Fennel and pickled Rhubarb.

My main man. Sorry Fiance, you were second to the food for a few minutes…This dish was superb. Ah sorry for the lame masterchef words but geez it was so good. The fennel was a great match with the snapper and hey, all dishes are improved when chorizo is involved.

 

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Pumpkin, Sage and Hazelnut Risotto

Fiance’s main of the evening was the risotto. His choice surprised me as he’s usually goes for the biggest, meatiest thing on the menu so he turned all dainty for a while and ordered the vegetarian risotto! And he was so, so glad he did. He probably could have eaten a tub full of it. Beautiful pumpkin flavour with the right texture from the hazelnuts. Hazelnuts. Chocolate. Mmm Nutella. Ok not related. But how good is Nutella.

 

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Baby Flounder with Lemon.

My mother dearest is hopeless at stealing food from my dad’s plate (probably where I get it from)…so he breathed a sigh of relief when they both ordered the same thing. Not gonna lie, as great as mine was, I had a littttle bit of food envy. But I wouldn’t have swapped my snapper, I would have just eaten them both. Mhm. Portion control issues.

 

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Chips worthy of a chippy slap.

These chippies definitely deserve a mention. They were ACTUAL potato. Always a good start. Perfectly fried (prob had a second sesh in the fryer). Oh so good. Definitely returning for the chips alone! There were alot of chippie slaps going on as the bowl dwindled.

Due to the ridiculous amount of food, we didn’t have dessert. I know! No dessert. My 2nd and 3rd stomachs were even full. Fantastic evening with brilliant service to boot.

When most people turn 20, they are still getting their shit together and wondering hmm what am I going to be when I grow up?? But Punch Lane have got it going on and on and on.

Martin, I will be back oh so soon.

Cheers to you Punchers! Can’t fault you.

10/10

Punch Lane on Urbanspoon 

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Circa. Cheer-kah. Yep you got it. Kinda.

As if I needed another reason to eat more food. Well when hunting for reception venues, and with food as a priority (derrr), that had to happen. So sounding like a spoilt brat, I wanted the best of the best when it came to food. Ridic produce, melt in your mouth satisfaction. Mhm. I knew where to go. Circa, St Kilda.

Whilst inspecting The Deck at Circa, we of course decided to stay for lunch and eat more food than any human needs to consume. But hey, this is my version of the wedding diet. Fiance and myself ventured there with my parentals and his parentals for an afternoon of brilliant food, delish wine and oh so much cheese.

The service was fantastic and he even put up with my “hmmm….what’s better X or Y?” questions for each course. Yep, I’m one of those people. But hey, they know the food, so why not ask! I would eat a piece of cardboard so it’s a pretty safe bet that  I will finish whatever is put in front of me.

First up was entree. Oh yes, I had to say entree came first in case you got confused for some reason and though entree came last. Wow it’s only Tuesday and my brain is having a moment. Ignore that ramble on focus on the food, JP.

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Smoked quail w. parsnip, vanilla + barberries 

Papabear and I went with the same quail dish and I would have had massive food envy if I hadn’t ordered it! Quail was cooked to perfection. Ha sorry really bad Masterchef call there. Wasn’t sure about the vanilla flavour initially, but it worked really well and definitely could have eaten the rest of the flock.

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Spanner crab w. black barley + crayfish emulsion

Fiance umm’d and ahh’d and finally went with the spanner crab with black barley. When it first hit the table, he seemed to think he’d ordered the wrong thing. But the dish that disappeared in about 30 seconds said otherwise! And in case you were wondering, the spanner crab is buried under the black barley. This dish also looked incredible on the black plate. Totally want black crockery now, but then I think I would have to put squid ink on everything to make it look perty….imagine.

Papabear was in charge of the wine bible and he did oh so, so well. Beautiful red throughout the meal. Bravo sir.

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BBQ King Prawns with…hmm…I can’t remember

Very sorry but I can’t remember what accompanied the King prawns on this dish as it was a special for the day and not on the usual menu. Mumma, Mumma-in-law and Papa-in-law all chose this dish and what a cracker it was. I had a teeny taste and yep, somehow it had that fantastic BBQ flavour with the light accompaniments. Mhhhm. Those prawnies had it goin’ on.

The conversation was flowing through all the wedding talk and I’m sure Fiance and the other gentlemen at the table were super enthralled in the flower colour discussion and the secret talk about the dress that will all be revealed next year. Woop woop!

Mains came rolling through and I had been promised one of the “best steaks you’ve ever eaten”, so the bar was high. Like Aaron Sandilands high. Ha bringing in the footy ref to food. Oh yeh, that just happened.

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Robbins Island short rib w. celeriac + lovage 

And there she is. What a beauty. Salivating and I have just finished dinner. Duah. Second dinner, ahoy! Papabear and I ended up choosing the same main as well and boy did that pay off. Absolutely amazing. Ermagherd. Just had to push the knife on it and it you could slice through. Bloody beautiful. And yes, we had no idea what lovage was either. Fun to say though.

In case you were wondering, it’s a herb. Lovage Levisticum officinale, is a tall perennial plant, the sole species in the genus Levisticum in the family Apiaceae, subfamily Apioideae, tribe Apieae. You get that? Ok to translate…

The leaves can be used in salads, or to make soups or season broths, and the roots can be eaten as a vegetable or grated for use in salads. Its flavor and smell is somewhat similar to celery.

Now I am one of those people that only thinks celery takes good when you have a bit of celery with your Peanut Butter….mmm….but it was a great compliment to the rich steak and celeriac puree.

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Wagyu hanger w. burnt onions + truffle mustard

Mumma bear was super impressed with her hanger too. I think she had a bit of food envy about our melty short rib, but her burnt onions lifted the steak so nicely. mmmm. steak. *drool*

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Roasted duck w. pear, chestnut + red endive 

Circa seemed to like hiding their protein, oooh peak-a-boo its a ducky! The roast duck dish that Papa-in-law ordered looked like it was going to be packed full of flavour and it game through with the goods. Big fan of endive or radicchio in everything as well, so that got bonus points from me.

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Murray Cod w. pine mushrooms + jerusalem artichokes 

You don’t often see Murray Cod on a menu, so Mama-in-law jumped on this delish dish. And although it wasn’t the most visually appealing dish initially, the flavour was fantastic and she was raving about it. Listening to everyone rave about their food just makes my foodie choices for ze wedding so much harder! gah. NO CLUE. 1 of everything? yehhh.

So once again, it was time for the 2nd tummy to kick in and one word had caught my eye from the beginning of the meal. Doughnut. Mmmm. Homer Simpson tendency is apparently hidden in my belly.

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Pumpkin doughnut w. buttermilk, pepitas + chestnut 

When it came to the table, I was the luckiest girl in St Kilda. It looked spectacular and definitely deserved the 20 or so photos I took with my camera…and then the extra 20 I took with my phone. Pfft, yes, this was definitely Insty worthy.

UNFORTUNATELY, the flavour didn’t live up to the appearance. The pumpkin puree inside was delicious and well seasoned but the doughnut itself lacked a lot of flavour and was a little too heavy. Very disappointing. But then again, lucky as I probably would have put it on the wedding menu, and it won’t be going on there now.

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Chocolate mousse w. strawberry + toasted meringue 

Fiance and his mother dearest both went with the chocolate mousse dish and it looked and tasted oh so, so good. Had major food envy after my doughnut that didn’t taste like a doughnut. Mm I want that chocolate mousse right nowwww.

So…because we hadn’t had enough to eat already (pfft), we had to choose some cheese from the ridiculously beautiful cheese display. Just take a look at it. It was sooo good. Except I didn’t really like the little oat cakes. Not my bag.

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Cheesus. 

Overall a brilliant long, long lunch and although the doughnut didn’t stack up, the rest of the food was oh so amazing. I cannot wait to have our wedding there. I might just have my dress made bigger so I can fit more food in. Yep, that’s my style.

Circa. You awesome.

9.5/10.

 

Circa, the Prince on Urbanspoon

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Uniting at Union Dining

So when you pack up your life and move interstate, it’s always a reason to celebrate with the fam comes to visit. A few weeks back, two of my sisters decided to venture to the land of the flu and indulge in their body weight in food. Plus more.

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One of our stops was Union Dining in Richmond. I’d ventured here once before and had high hopes. Firstly, amazing service. Our lovely waiter looked like the perfect grandma. Not commenting on her age! But I could definitely see her bringing fresh baked cookies to your place. And when you’re eye height with someone when you’re sitting down, and she’s standing up, you can’t help but say ‘nawww’.

‘Twas a very busy night in the restaurant and the place was buzzing which is always a great sign. With the brilliant Nicky Reimer at the helm, we knew we were in good hands. Well, I did anyway. The other 3 had no idea who that was and I just looked like a sad, sad foodie when I tried to see her by peeking through the pass…..awkward. moving on.

Bread. delicious. Obsessed with bread. Ate too much bread.

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Look at that crispy/fluffy goodness. mmmm.

First up, I ordered Cobia. A kingfish-like fishy that I hadn’t tried previously so thought I would give it a crack. Unfortunately the taste of the fish wasn’t my bag, but the accompanying radishes and celeriac remoulade was delish.

IMG_1589Cured North Queensland Cobia, celeriac remoulade, radishes & grissini.

Not sure what it was about the Cobia that didn’t take my fancy, but unfortunately it did deter me from the dish.

Ma fiance/AT, being the crazy seafood lover, went with the King Prawns that made your mouth water as soon as they hit the table.

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Sauteed Mooloolaba King Prawns, Roast Vegie deliciousness.

Visiting sister numero uno, BP, had been waiting to have fresh pasta for a couple of days and so she couldn’t go past the pappardelle. My have type of pasta. As long as it’s done well and cooked to perfection. And yep, they did it oh so well.

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Pappardelle, Flinders Lamb shoulder ragu, olives, ricotta salata.

Had definite food envy over that dish. Looove italian food. Ok I know, I love all food. But italian food, spesh good pasta has it’s own special plate in my heart. Ha good one, JP.

AP, the youngest of the diners, not sure why that’s important, but hey, let’s go with it, had never had steak tartare so that was her pick. And it did indeed look like a good one.

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Steak tartare, watercress, pickled cauliflower, capers, potato gaufrettes.

Aside from the Cobia, all meals were demolished in record time so that’s a pretty good indication that something was working! Our lovely pretend-relative of a waiter was brilliant all night and she was a great help when choosing mains.

Unfortunately a little kitchen glitch left us waiting….and waiting….and waiting for mains, and when another waiter accidentally gave our wine to another table, it did create a bit of a speed bump. But once mains arrived, we were all back on track. and hungry.

At relative-waiter’s recommendation, I went with the snapper and it was delicious. AP totes copied me. So we were the food envy of the table. High five. Crispy skin, delicious flesh and clammy clams that I could have eaten a bucketload of.

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Bay caught snapper, diamond clams and pearl barley with an escabeche vinaigrette.

Fiancé/AT went with the duck, roast leg and breast and I think he was wanting to eat the entire flock after demolishing his main. Only negative would probably be the portion size. But then again, I have ridiculous portion control issues and so it’s a safe bet that my fiancé suffers from the same issue.

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Roast duck leg and breast, picked Medjool date, juice, glazed turnips.

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Fancy photo with backward writing. ooooh.

Unfortunately have no snaps of the BP’s main meal. Assume that is because she ate it too fast. That is a likely outcome. She’s related to me. It could happen.

As a “sorry we made you wait for ages” pressie, we each got a blackberry sorbet. Which was…well….super sweet. So sweet in fact that not one of us finished. Oh wait, fiancé finished his. And mine as well.

Dessert time. Yep. Once again that different stomach had it’s role to play.

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Cheesus. Twas ridic. Ah yum. Drooling.

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The. Apple. Frangipane Tart. With butterscotch sure. Get ready to drool.

So the sisters and I managed to convince Fiancé that he wanted dessert, specifically the apple frangipane tart. Thus letting us look like the three who would just have a bit of cheese, but secretly wanting to demolish the tart instead. I’m sure he got at least one bite of his dessert. Maybe. Fantastic way to finish.

Overall a great night with the fam and fiancé. Few hiccups with the wine mixup and the longgg wait for mains. So, Nicky & Union, I’ll give you a 7.5.

Apparently the sunday lunch is the deal of the century so I will def be back to give that a crack.

Nice work Union.

7.5/10

Union Dining on Urbanspoon

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Cecconis. Bortolotto Brilliance.

Mio dio, mamma mia, uffa. Ridiculous italian food. I have found you. (Sound that angel noise).

So yes for those who have read ma blog a bit, italian food has a special place in my stomach. It probably has a special stomach all for itself. Yeh that’s a thing.

Since moving to Melbs a few years back now, I was yet to be blown away by delicious italian food. I mean, I’ve tasted the best in Italy (yep sorry for the knob-ish comment…) and now I have found it in Melbs. Fantastic news for me. Not so good for the expanding waistline that needs to wear a wedding gown in less than a year. Ha oh yes I through in the recent engagement note into the blog right there. Don’t worry, I don’t know what a diet is, so I will continue to eat. ALOT. prior to the big day. ANYWAY let’s get back to the food of the moment, Cecconi’s.

I was invited by the lovely Maria and her family to sample the foodie goodness in their Restaurant on Flinders Lane. And no I will show no bias in this blog. They really are THAT good.

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Photo of the menu…so arty. naaat.

So on this, freaking freezing, Friday Night AT/Fiance and I were seated at a fantastic table with a great view of the pass (foodporn ahoy!). We had fantastic service the entire evening. Right from the get go they wanted to please, create a great atmosphere and make sure everyone dining would have a brilliant evening.

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Arty beer shot by AT. Cool label.

I was attempting to practice my italian with the waiter but his english-italian was just so damn distracting! In a good way. I’m now trying to teach fiance how to speak english with an italian accent. Saaa adorable.

IMG_1525Olives. Bread. Olive Oil. Staple diet.

After perusing the menu I was torn between about 16 dishes….ok I wanted the entire menu, but after the waiter’s recommendation I went with the rabbit ravioli and ermagherd/mio dio, I am OH SO glad i did. Hands down. The best pasta I have had in Melbourne. Hey, probs the best pasta I’ve ever had. Al dente, beautiful filling…ahh I am salivating right now thinking about it. The smell as soon as it hit the table was perfection. I know I sound like a Masterchef judge using random descriptive terms, but you should try it. Trust me.

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Rabbit Ravioli, Cime di rapa, Creme Fraiche, Chives & Parmesan

Ridiculously delicious. I can’t think of any other words to describe the party that was going on in my mouth with that amazing dish. Bravo bravo bravo.

Fiance was finding it a little harder to choose as like me, he wants it all. Our lovely waiter from Puglia (sorry sorry can’t remember his name, but I hope you get treated to his lovely service when you go!) described the few specials and they won over fiance. So along came dish numero uno for him, Duck & Mushroom Risotto.

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Duck and Mushroom Risotto.

Apologies for the blurry photo. It was the only chance I had to get in there before he attacked me with his fork. It tasted so smooth and was everything a risotto should be. A whole lot of YUM.

I started with a great Prosecco and  fell in love with the glasses as well. And as you can see below, the drinks trio of the evening was a pretty sight. Pinot, Prosecco and my good friend San Pellegrino. P party! You’re invited.

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The three P’s.

It was soon time for the main attraction and I was once again led by the waiter’s recommendation as my (lack of) decision making skills were in full swing that evening. I went with the, rather large, Veal Cotoletta with an Apple and cabbage salad which complimented it sooo well. I could have had a massive bowl of the salad. The Veal was cooked very well with delicious crumb. Gah, I’m salivating again.

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Check out that bad boy. Veal Cotoletta with Apple & Cabbage Salad.

Safe to say, I demolished that thing without hesitation. Juicy meat, crispy crumb. Mhhhm. The lemon was also appreciated. Coz hey they’re a match made in heaven. Just like Kanye West and his love for Kanye West. Ok I can’t claim that as my own. Saw it on insty. But hey, brilliant work by that person.

Fiance was once again swayed by the specials and went with the Lamb Shoulder with Lamb belly…I think. Let’s just say it was a lot of lamby goodness and he was in hog heaven.

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LAMB. Enough said.

I tried a little morsel of this perfection and it was just melt in the mouth. I am pretty sure fiance was daydreaming about this for a few days. Fantastic dish and he wants on the menu permanently! I also can’t speak more highly of the service throughout the night. I’ve had many a good night dampened by bad service and this was just impeccable. Bravo. Again.

So yes we had both pigged out ridiculously but pfft it was dessert time. (cue the ‘hhhoooraaay!!’)

So many delicious options on the menu, so naturally we wanted as many as possible, so the dessert tasting plate was the go. Let’s go for the close ups!

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Walnut Pavlova, Lemon Custard, Caramelised Nuts & Apple Sorbetto

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Caramel Mousse, Shortbread, Pecan Butterscotch, & Brandy Gelato

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White chocolate & Early Grey Pannacotta, Blondie & Fior Di Latte Gelato.

Fantastic desserts. As expected after the other brilliant meals. I think all three had disappeared before the lovely Puglia waiter had put it on the table. For another angle for you, check out the dessert boards that could compete with the best of the best.

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The dessert tasting plate.

Overall such a fun, enjoyable, fantastic evening and I will definitely be returning to Cecconi’s as soon as my stomach is ready for another feast. I have also purchased their cookbook La Tavola Della Famiglia and I am so excited to get my italian cooking on!

Grazie mille Cecconi’s. Era una sera meravigliosa.

10.5/10.

Cecconi's Flinders Lane Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Altair-iffic. Oh hi-larious.

Ok that title wasn’t my best, but hey, it’s a tricky word to work with!

I’ve lived out in the eastern suburbs for about 6 months now and when I’ve wanted a ‘fine dining’ experience, I’ve automatically ventured into the city and surrounding ‘burbs and not thought to look in my own backyard. Until now!

Friday night a couple of weeks ago, work googling directed me to Altair in Warrandyte. Service from my initial email was brilliant. Best I’ve had in a very long time.

AT and I arrived for date night a little later than planned, due to the brilliance of the Melbourne taxi services. This was not a problem at all and we were seated right away. Previously part of Elwood’s Sails on the Bay team, Michelle and Kelvin Shaw have created exactly what we  eastern suburbians needed. Nope I don’t think that’s a word either.

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OH yes I took the big camera. That means decent photos. Hai Five!

A brilliant restaurant with quality produce and nothing too pretentious. Ah my type of place. This was evident upon the arrival of fresh, FRESH bread with local olive oil. I could have just eaten the bread all night. Sourced from a close bakery, this bread was perfection. I have a sad obsession with bread. But often go for the gluten free variety to be nice to my tummy. But that night, that wasn’t happening.

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Another great point about Altair is that it’s BYO ($10 corkage) so if you have a particular vino that you want to bring along. Go right ahead. We had a lovely Tarrawarra red for the meal ahead. But of course, the cocktail menu sounded ridic so had to try one of those first! I went with the Eastern Mojito, and although not usually a fan of the muchos mintos mojito, this was so refreshing and a great start to the night. AT went with the Pimms mixup which was demolished in about 2 minutes so I am going to safely say he enjoyed his too.

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‘Pimms Cup No.1 with Kaffir Lime’ and the ‘Eastern Mojito’

Although I had perused the menu numerous times prior in an attempt to not be so indecisive on the night….when the tasting menu option was presented to us that threw a spanner in the works! Another great point about this place (no I don’t work there, it’s just THAT good) is that not everyone at the table needs to do the tasting plate, although after indulging in it, you would be silly not too! It was decided. We were going to take on the tasting menu. AT, like me, has severe portion control issues. So we were ready for the challenge. Once we had ordered, we were given an amuse bouche which was perfection in a tiny little jar. Yep, I’m going to run out of vocab by the time I finish this post.

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Blue Eye Cod Mousse.  

The mousse was rich yet light and the salmon roe on top with the micro herbs broke it up perfectly. Was just the right amount as well. Wham. Flavour already and we hadn’t even started the menu. AT’s direct quote – “It tasted like….like YUM”. Oh yes. He is very intellectual.

Just in case there wasn’t going to be enough food in the tasting menu, we ordered a side of olives. WELL aside from the fact they were probably the best olives I’ve ever consumed (also locally sourced), it was probably the biggest ‘side’ of olives ever seen. I could have had a meal of olives. Maybe.

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Olives, olives and olives. Oh my!

It was a great atmosphere in the restaurant that Friday. A few couples and a larger group, with enough noise to create a buzz yet not overpower everyone. We were discussing world issues…probably food….coz that’s all I really talk about….At breakfast time I discuss lunch options, lunch time I toss up dinner choices…yada yada yada.

First up was ze tofu dish. I wasn’t expecting too much from this dish as I have never been wowed by tofu. Until now. I should have remembered, anything fried is delicious and tempura tofu is no exception. The tofu came with toasted grains, roasted pumpkin (in two textures) and shitake mushrooms and the combination was delicious.

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Tempura Tofu, Toasted Grains, Roasted Pumpkin, seeds and Shitake mushrooms

It was clear from this dish onward that so much care was taken in creating and plating each dish. I must apologise as my photos don’t do the food justice. The micro herbs also lifted the flavours and well yes. This was probably my favourite savoury dish of the night. For this carnivore, that’s a BIG thing for me to say.

If I ever see scallops on the menu, ordering them is usually a done deal. I’ve had some damn good scallops over my many years and years of eating. And as you may have guessed, these were no exception. Delicious. Perfectly cooked. again.

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Seared, cold smoked scallops, asian herbs and miso soup

The scallops were delicious and the crisp fried lotus root was a great texture addition. The miso was lovely when eaten with the scallops and herbs although probably a tad too salty for me when tasted by itself.

I am definitely one of those patrons who love to people watch and listen to conversations that I’m not meant to be partaking so we spent the night little while discussing the issues of people around us. Always so entertaining. And then the conversation probably went back to food and how obsessed I am with bacon. I was also probably wondering what I would have for breakfast the next day. It happens.

Next up was rabbit done 3 ways, or maybe 4. Either way, the chef was just showing off! A very gamey meat I found with rich flavours so this was probably the least preferred dish for my palate but AT loved it and it was definitely full of flavour.

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Braised Rabbit, truffled apricot, wakame and radicchio

When combined, this dish was the stuff of legends. The sweetness of the apricot, the radicchio, the rich rabbit. Oh lordy. Delish. As I said it was very rich so a smaller amount would have been fine for me, but AT demolished his, so I definitely recommend you try it.

I am very lucky I am dating a fellow portion control issued individual otherwise he would have thought I was a human trash can for powering through this menu. Even if you felt full, the flavours were just so delicious, you couldn’t stop eating! Go on, try it.

Soon after Bugs Bunny, we were served a very fancy pork and apple dish. Pork Jowl. Tick. Pancetta. Tick. Boudin Noir Coulis. Tick double Tick. Once again this was another rich dish and the pork jowl just melted in the mouth. The crackling was quite chewy which was disappointing but the moist meat made up for that and then some.

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Pork Jowl, Boudin Noir coulis, yoghurt, pancetta, Chinese apple, cider jus. 

Pork and apple, obviously a match made in food heaven. (Gah apologies for the oh so masterchef-y comment…but you know it’s true). Bravo chef man on this dish. Everything together was a fancy partae in my mouth.

So yes, you can imagine the stomach was indeed creepy towards capacity at that time. We had tried about 12 different proteins. But the last savoury dish was one which we were both salivating over from the get go so it was game on.

I give you. Black Angus Scotch Fillet. Oh hellll yeah. Accompanied by creamed potato, horseradish and a Bordelaise jus. Want me to repeat that so you can get the imagination going? No need here’s a couple of brilliant snaps by moi so you can share the experience.

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Black Angus Scotch Fillet. Enough said. I wanted to drink the jus. Ok I admit, I did drink it.

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Close up. He wasn’t camera shy. Melted in the mouth. Gah I’m salivating again.

All night we were served by Michelle Shaw and she was lovely and answered all of my silly foodie questions and gave us the low down on the place, the food, the suppliers and THAT night when THE Larissa Dubecki came in for a review. I’m sure she is just as nervous about my review as she was Larissa’s. We are pretty much on the same level….Larissa has about a million readers….I have…my mum. See? The same.

It was time for the dessert tummies to do their thang. Sticky date pudding has a special place in my heart and so when I saw that on the al a carte menu, Michelle was lovely enough to trade the tasting menu dessert (which AT had) with their Sticky Date. Salivating again.

SO the tasting menu dessert was a dream for dark chocolate lovers, so it was a big deal for me to swap it out for the sticky date. Dark Chocolate ganache to be exact.

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Dark Chocolate Ganache, Bergamot orange, kumquat, rice pudding sorbet.

I have no idea how I got in to take a photo of this before AT came in, guns blazing. This was gone at lightening speed and he had this ridiculously satisfied look on his face the whole time. Just look at it. It’s so perty.

My sticky date was by far the best I’ve ever had. That’s saying a lot. A 70 year old family friend named Betty used to hold that title and unfortunately she’s been superseded by Altair. As I said to Michelle, it is great to seeee the dates in the sticky DATE. Take note other restaurants, we like to SEE the ingredients.

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Sticky date pudding, dulce de leche, spiced ginger icecream, pecan and butterscotch.

I’m now wondering whether Altair is open right now and whether they will give me this. right now. It was incredible. Beautiful rich flavours with a great balance of every foodie word I can think of. Didn’t think I’d be a fan of the spiced ginger ice-cream but it went with everything so well. There was not a morsel left on that plate. Luckily surrounding diners had left by this point as I was scraping the bowl trying to get to the very last morsels of the b’scotch sauce. YUUUUUM.

Because we clearly had not eaten enough, the lovely Michelle brought over a special treat from the kitchen and when you see it, you’re going to want to go there. right now. I warned you.

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Cinnamon and Ricotta donuts with a Kiwi jelly

These little babies were off the chizang. I don’t even know if that makes sense but the brain goes numb thinking about these delicious balls of goodness. Perfect example of #cleaneating #naaaat. Try to look at that photo for more than 2 seconds without salivating. I’m tempted to go into the herb cupboard and just eat cinnamon….sadly I don’t think that will be the same thing.

Overall. A fantastic experience and we will definitely be back asap. Thank you to the team at Altair for such a brilliant night and they well and truly went above and beyond our expectations.

11/10.

Go there. now. Eat. ALOT.

 

Altair on Urbanspoon

 

79%?? Fellow voters. You cray cray.

 

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