Friday, June 22, 2012

Oddfellows Restaurant

My friends have always exemplified me as someone who's a bit quirky. Maybe more in aesthetics than personality, as I will often be shopping with a friend and they'll see something that's bright, colourful and ridiculous and go "That's so Ashley". Most of the time they're not too far off. 

Which is maybe why the Oddfellows Restaurant in Colac appealed to me so much. A little mixed grab bag of cute retro pieces, taxidermied deer, local memorabilia, all wrapped up in a rather slick and shiny interior. 

I think I'll call him Charles.

I stopped by Oddfellows on the way to the Great Ocean Road with my cousins in May, when we went for an overnight stay down that way. It was a great little spot, just off the main thoroughfare, for a bit of driving relief! Stepping in, you immediately felt welcome, it is quite a large, lofty space, filled with autumn sunlight. Just a charm!

I absolutely adored just running around for a while, taking pictures of everything that caught my eye here. There was so much to look at! The whole place had a bit of a 'dandy Englishman' feel to it, as if we were in his sunroom with all his collectables around him!

What a wonderful name for a book!


The menu was simple, smart and cheery, with a couple of lunch specials for just $15!

I ordered a chai latte, and found it had a bit more of a vanilla hit than I usually like. The milk was very well frothed though, lovely and silky. I actually found for the rest of the time we were out down the Great Ocean Road that the chai's were generally a bit on the sweeter side, compared to what I am generally used to getting in the city. Not that I overly minded, but thought it was kind of interesting.

How cute are the different teaspoons we each got with our coffees?!

We got a plate of wedges to share which were a little surprisingly, incredible. I know, I'm easily excitable, but these were just awesome. I dubbed them a cross between a chip and wedge. Wedge in shape and colour, but there a bit thinner than your average wedge. What I loved most though, was just how crispy they were! Crispy, oily and delicious. Who needs more?

I just went with a simple salad, with a bit of smoked salmon in it. I was hoping for a little more salmon than I got, but it was light and enjoyable overall. A lovely mix of textures, from the fresh crunchy leaves, to the creamy dollops of avocado and the smooth cool salmon. Quite enjoyable!

One of the pizzas my cousins had. I didn't try any, but it smelt great and the crust looked to be just the way I would personally like it....

Before we left, I introduced my cousins to the great Australian classic that is the lamington. They went nuts for it. Yay!

I also fell in love with this little print on the way out. Am dying to find it so I can hang it up on my wall!

Oddfellows Restaurant
43 Gellibrand Street 
ColacVIC 3250

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pei Modern

The last time I had seen Mr. B was when we went to dinner at Boire….back in February. Oops. 

So before I hopped off to Asia for a month, I sent Mr. B a note that I needed to borrow 'The Perfectionist' (which I've almost devoured in a week, excellent read for anyone curious about the haute couture food culture in France) from him and that we needed to get a meal before I disappeared again. 

Pei Modern was decided on and we agreed to meet on Friday night (as Monday night, our original choice, was fully booked out for a Gourmet Magazine event). 

I had taken the tram in a bit earlier than expected, so I decided to whet my appetite for expensive goodies and strolled around the Parisian end of Collins Street, alongside the Asian tourists touting 3 or 4 designer bags each, popping in and out of each boutique like travelling salesmen. 

I had just done a double take at the Prada shop, eyes glued to a gorgeous square denim tote, trimmed in a brilliant orange leather, when Mr. B snuck up on me, having taken the tram in as well, and, with a smile, walked me into the shop to satisfy our curiosity of how much the bag was. 

Naturally we left bag-less (much to the relief of my bank account), and we strolled up into Pei Modern, where the bar was bubbling away at 6:45pm and the dining room quite a bit quieter in comparison. 

Pei Modern's bar and dining area are quite surprisingly different in atmosphere, the bar, lined with wood is warming and inviting, especially with the nip of May winds. The dining room we found, at least upon first entry, was a bit cool and sterile with it's white tables, white chairs on a white floor. However, I do have to say, as the night went on, and the dining room filled out, there was a very comfortable buzz and the dining room was much more inviting to be in afterwards! 

There's also something I really liked about the all white theme as well, I felt everything put on the table was really showcased and highlighted, since the surroundings were so subtle and neutral. Table turned easel? 

Mr. B and I spent some time drooling over the menu. The food is explained simply, and with items such as lamb sweetbreads, beetroot tarts, pork jowls and hanger steak, the menu was just small enough to be in love with, but a little too big to order everything in one sitting. Curse you Mark Best for making me need to visit again!

"I'm starving"
"Me too."
"Ashley, can we just pig out?" Mr. B asked me. How could my response be any thing else than an enthusiastic: "Yes!".

We ended up going with…I can't remember what they called it, but essentially a 'chef's menu', 7 courses, picked out by the chef. All for an easy $90. 

We limbered up with a few drinks, a delicious gin and tonic for me, gin from Seven Winds and tonic form Fever Tree. This pleased me greatly, as I had only recently gone to the Fringe Food Festival's gin tasting event and been introduced to these products. 

I easily convinced Mr. B to get a treacle, an old favourite cocktail of mine, which he thoroughly enjoyed, and we tucked into some of their sourdough bread. Made with the same 14 year old starter which they use in Sydney, the bread was to die for. I don't usually munch on too much bread, I have been a little more lately, but after a few bites, I completely and wholly gobbled up two slices of the stuff. It was absolute perfection in terms of bread, the crust crisped away to reveal a soft, pillowy dough that was heaven with the butter at the perfect density for spreading. 

Mr. B also noted, how there was only one butter knife between us, and of course, no bread plates. Although I've always been a big advocate of sharing, it wasn't until he pointed it out, that I sort of felt that sharing the bread knife created more of a…community feel to the meal. We had to be engaged in what each other were doing and thus, more interaction. I also personally loved eating straight onto the tables. If you've left a mess, surely it means you've enjoyed your meal right? And after all, why not? 

We were introduced to our very sleek Perceval knives, made and imported from France, they stayed with us the whole night, even whilst other cutlery was used, removed and replaced. We were told that they were supposedly, the perfect knife to go with every protein, and they were indeed, a nice table side companion. 

Our first course was the almond gazpacho with blue swimmer crab. Whilst gazpacho's are usually light and refreshing, Pei Modern's version was creamier and richer, with a slight nuttiness. Uh. Yum. Yet there was still a balance, and a lightness to the dish, compliments to the grapes and sweet, sweet crab, making it a brilliant first dish.

Following on the fresh theme, our next plate featured a beautifully bonito, a gorgeous dark rouge, with a sprinkling of mustard seeds, green rhubarb and a fat dollop of foie gras mousse, teasing seductively with promises of good things. It didn't fail to deliver. Beautifully fresh, and I loved how a typically rich and heavy ingredient (foie gras), was given a bit of a lighter makeover. 

The dishes at Pei Modern were paced perfectly, as we finished dish, it was promptly cleared away, along with the forks and spoons, but not the knife of course, and our next course wasn't more than 5 or 10 minutes away. 

A big fat bullhorn pepper, in it's full glory, with grilled ox heart and harissa. The pepper, although rather intimidating, was fortunately not spicy, and had a really lovely flavour with a touch of sweetness. Fairly polite, enjoyable, but not incredibly memorable for me. And I apologise I really don't have as much to say about this dish…as the next dish is what the whole meal was all about for me.

Say hello to the dutch creams. In the dimmed evening light, the dish didn't look as exciting. I sort of thought it looked like a porridge initially, however, it did smell fairly intoxicating. And my gosh, with one bite, I was hooked. The dutch cream potatoes, that melted in your mouth, swam in a decadent and creamy potato foam, laced with mojama, coffee and bone marrow. This was a dish for comfort, definitely not for the weight conscious (although they should shove the diet books to hell and eat this anyway). Mr. B commented on how it brought him back to a Polish potato dish his mother would cook when he was younger. 

But sigh. Sigh! I dreamt of these potatoes for the next few days! You should ask Brad how often I brought them up. Along with anyone else I came into contact with for a few days after. Borderline obsession!

To get our protein fix, we were served up hanger steak with pine mushrooms and charred cucumber. Having also just come back from the Fringe Food Festival's mushroom foraging event, I was ecstatic to have pine mushrooms, which did not let me down. Meaty and wholesome, I did make the comment that they kind of stood out more than the steak to me! Although to be fair, the hanger steak was enjoyable in it's own right, gorgeous and rosy, I really enjoyed the char on it. 

It was then that Mr. B and I bid farewell to our Perceval knife (somewhat thankfully, don't know how much more savoury we could have taken!), which was instead replaced with a rather cute cheese knife. We both loved the wooden handle on it. 

Our cheese course was big and bold and I do admire Pei Modern for unquestioningly presenting it's diners with a blue cheese. And not just any blue cheese, but a big, heavy, smelly and rather intense blue cheese. Although it was totally my thing anyway. I had never had fresh honeycomb with cheese before and absolutely adored the mix of ever so sweet with…well…blue cheese. They neutralised each other out so well! I could quite easily see my mum freaking out though if this was presented without question to her...!

After all the richness and boldness of our meal, our sweet ending was a little bit toned down and easy to digest. I can't remember exactly what it was, but along the lines of chocolate ice-cream, with dehydrated chestnuts, some poached fruit (which I've forgotten) and pieces of chocolate cake. Pleasant, but not overly exciting. Which was more Mr. B's comment than mine, but I do have to agree. 

When making the booking, Mr. B and I were initially told we would have to be out by 8 or 8:30, but we happily stayed on until closer to 10pm. The waitstaff were charming and so friendly, and the food overall so enjoyable, it was so easy to lose track of time. I felt here, the ingredients really came through, the dishes were for the most part, actually fairly simple without too many complicated flavours. A very comforting meal indeed.

And so we popped on our coats, and rolled out the door, he went home and I trained down to Hoddle Street to watch a friend's gig. That I missed. Not that I'm complaining!

Pei Modern
45 Collins St 
MelbourneVIC 3000

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Thursday, June 14, 2012


Hey guys! It's been a little bit! I hope you've all been doing well!

I've been a little absent lately as I'm currently on a month long South East Asia Extravaganza with Brad! Thus, by the time I'm back in the hotel room after a long day, by the time I've answered work emails and dumped photos on my computer, I've wanted nothing more than to pass out on my bed!

We've spent a week in Bangkok, eating, drinking, riding elephants, as you do, went through Phnom Penh and currently we are in Siem Reap, drinking in the beauty that is Angkor Wat and the many other ancient Khmer temples. Only another 3 weeks to go! I'll eventually get around to sharing pictures!

I have missed writing and I have missed the blog though, so I just thought I'd put up a little something from the backlog to tide me over!

Before my cousins visited me in May, Serena sent me a message via Facebook. She wanted to check if I had a gym I went to, or if I could at least take her jogging, as she was determined to stay in shape whilst eating away like crazy. When you hang out with my family, it's kind of hard to avoid. 

So I took her to my gym in the city, but after, we decided we were hungry and wandered around trying to figure out what we wanted for lunch.

We ended up at Cookie. 

We were lucky to have a burst of sunshine in the midst of the cool weather we were having and settled ourselves on one of the mini balconies, ordered ourselves some beer and picked a few things out of the menu.

I have to say, I've been to Cookie for drinks before, but was surprisingly impressed by their Thai inspired food as well!

The green curry was surprisingly flavoursome, not too spicy naturally, and quite creamy as well. Just perfect for drowning rice in…! Very moreish indeed and probably one of the better Thai green curries I've come across in Melbourne (thus far, still have a lot more to try out yet!).

This roast pumpkin goodness was thick, creamy, dense and delicious. Not so typically Thai, but an incredibly filling side dish!

I am now a fan of the pad thai from Cookie. The mix of flavours just hit the spot for me. The lime on the side, peanuts, sweet, salty, crunchy, just gorgeous! The texture of the noodles was lovely too. 

All in all, we both enjoyed the food, completely negated any work we did at the gym and sat in the sunshine playing Monopoly Deal. Cookie has a great quirky, but laid back feel to it, which really makes it such a nice place to drop in at anytime of day for a little time out. 

252 Swanston St 
MelbourneVIC 3000

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Percy's Aeroplane - brunch time!

Hey guys! By the time this post is published I should be on a plane, or just about to land, or just about to get on another plane! Which is kind of appropriate, since I'm covering some of the new(er) brunchy goodness that's at my local, Percy's Aeroplane!

When Percy's Aeroplane opened, they were solely a Monday to Friday affair, catering to the work crowd, which seems to be working for them pretty well. Every time I'm in there for a takeaway chai, often at off-peak times, there's always a small line of people waiting for takeaways too!

But I was quite excited when Wesley informed me, after a regular dose of pestering, that they were going to be open for Saturdays soon! So being the bit of a nerd that I am, I popped the date in my diary and set about getting some bloggers together to join me, since I had always raved on about the place!

I nearly got the full Fake Photography Society out, but our dear Chairman Crabby (I-Hua) was unfortunately unavailable :( It's been too long since a proper congregation! 

I had never gone further into Percy's Aeroplane than the front, foyer space, so was a little surprised to find an additional room that was quite cosy but neat. And how cute are the little paper aeroplane motifs?  

With Dr Boo Radley, Bryan Boo, Fakegf Jo, Ravenous Allan and myself, Hungree Ash (oh my gosh, we're a super hero team!), it was coffees, chai lattes and food abound!

I loved my chai latte as usual, I thought the lattes and piccolos though all looked quite good too, with a nice dark colour. Bryan and Jo commented they would have liked their coffees a bit stronger, but I suppose you will have to wait to hear from Bryan for a full analysis! 

I was excited to try the full brunch menu, previously the menu didn't have as much typically eggy, brunchy stuff….but with this new menu? Eggs galore!

Allan and I both got the corn fritters with avocado salsa and a tomato vinaigrette. I loved how colourful they were! And wait for it…..THERE'S POPCORN ON MY PLATE. POPCORN. How had I never come across this before?! They were quite delicious and I more than happily chowed them down. The avocado was really fresh, the tomato with a bit of zing. Quite enjoyed these!

Brad went with his usual brunch fare and got the Pilot's Breakfast, fried eggs, bacon, chorizo, mushrooms, spinach and roast tomato on toast. Protein heaven, with perfect yolks! 

Jo got the thyme infused mushrooms on toast, with smashed avocado with lime dressing, dukkah, creamy goats cheese and a poached egg. Whilst I have had my fair share of mushrooms and avocado for brunch, Percy's Aeroplane version had a bit of zing and excitement to the flavours. I think there was balsamic on the plate as well, which really just made it so delicious! 

Bryan went with the tortilla rancheros, surprisingly not served with a tortilla, but was a baked dish with chorizo, white bean stew and poached egg! Whilst I'm typically used to seeing baked eggs being kinda saucy, this one wasn't as saucy, if that's your thing. I think Bryan still quite liked this though…this meal was a little while ago, so I can't remember exactly….

To wrap up, in our Allan-style-brunching-gluttony tradition, we got the french fruit toast with spiced blueberries, mascarpone cream, almonds and maple syrup. Um…yum! 

It was sweet, but surprisingly, not too sweet, the spicy blueberries and almonds alleviated some of the richness and sweetness and I absolutely loved the flavours. Came together quite nicely. 

All in all, I'm still frankly quite excited by the brunch menu at Percy's Aeroplane. I've returned once with my cousins since this visit and enjoyed the filling and delicious food (in which everything is either made in house or sourced locally), smiley service and relaxed atmosphere as much as the first brunchy visit. Be sure to check out the changing chalk cartoon drawings on the blackboard outside and in front of the counter! 

Next step....? Convince them to get onto Twitter....

Percy's Aeroplane
96 Denmark Street
Kew, VIC 3101

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