Friday, September 28, 2012

Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew

This write-up (I'm reluctant to call it a review), is actually based on my visit. No, I'm not sure how Brad puts up with me. No, I'm actually not over exaggerating how I talk (too much). No, I don't know how I managed such in focus photos, in the dark, while tipsy. Yeah, this is probably more entertainment piece than typical blogger write-up, but y'know. We all got to have some fun right?

Wednesday night. 8pm, no dinner yet. 

Brad's friend's book launch that we were late for. Nevermind, free booze anyway.

A short walk down to a pub where Brad's friend decided to get some dinner and continue drinking to celebrate. A couple more glasses of wine. 

9:30 pm. Hungry. 

Brad drive.

Me drunk. Me want potatoes.

New burger place, Brother Burger and the Mmmmuuhhh….something something on Brunswick. Where that Man, Woman place was. 

Oh look, easy park awesome! 

Is this place even open? It looks so dark, oh neon sign is lit up, it must be open!

Do we push or pull? Oh I see, push. It's so dark.

Wow, they've really done up the place a bit. I don't get this black barrier wall thing, though, makes the place seem kinda small. 

Let's sit behind it though.

Aww, no gluten free buns oh well. Bread it is. (Although on the new menu there does seem to be a gluten free bun, will have to investigate.)


Let's look at the options…vanilla and bourbon…strawberry and tequila…chocolate and marsh….CHOCOLATE AND MARSHMALLOW VODKA. BRAD CAN I HAVE THIS? CAN I HAVE IT? 



Mmmm. So yummy. Can't taste vodka. DRINK FASTER. GET MORE DRUNK.

Plain beef burger, lettuce, pickles, mayo and sauce. Ooh shiny…toasty…soft…fluffy bun! Yum! 

Brad's Fair Dinkum…oh wait, that's his burger, not him. 

Nomnom, I like the burger. Kinda tastes…clean, y'know Brad? Not too oily or fatty, tasty and not like, loaded with shit on it. Really fresh and clean. 

You think Grill'd burgers are still more seasoned? I guess. These are a bit more expensive too. BUT THESE ARE WAGYU! So that's like, cool and stuff right? The buns are also baked daily, so in house and extra costs that Grill'd wouldn't have right? 

Still yummy. I like it.

Shut up and eat your burger. And I'll drink milkshake. ALL THE VODKAS.


Fries so good.

Mmmmmmm. Fries so good.


I'm so full Brad. Brad. Brad. I'm full. But chips.

One more.

Oh my god Brad, I'm so full. Brad. I can't finish my milkshake. I'm so sad. I think I'm drunk.

Pull me up Brad. I'm so sleepy now. Oh my god. All the vodkas. All of them. I love you I do. No I mean you Brad, not the vodka. 

Imma sleep in your car now okay? That was yummy. 


413 Brunswick Street

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Henry and the Fox

So I've bumped into Michael Fox and his fine cooking a couple of times. Once at the Stroke Foundation 'Food for Thought' dinner and at the Electrolux 'Whet your Appetite' dinner…but I had never gotten around to actually visiting the restaurant.

Which left me quite pleased when after giving Mr. B my list of places I would like to visit, he ended up being most keen with Henry and the Fox. Easy!

And so, on a Tuesday night, I found myself marching myself at full speed from a launch at Virginia Plains to the other end of town, after just missing a tram and deciding it would take too long to wait for the next. 

Mr. B was quite chuffed that he was the first to arrive for a change and that I was late! 

Henry and the Fox, located at the business end of Little Collins, is fresh, bright and friendly…also quite noisy! I was surprised to see the place so busy and bustling on a Tuesday night! Acoustics were a little bit of an issue, but Mr. B had wisely gotten a table a little away from everyone, so we weren't too bad off. 

I loved how friendly the staff were, it was all polite, but chilled out as well and they helped make some great recommendations for drinks and food. 

Mr. B and I terrible with ordering though. We sit down, open the menus and then catch up with how our lives have been going. And tend to neglect the menu. Oops. 

It was hard to decide what to have at Henry and the Fox, the menu is quite extensive! But we found it hard not to start with jamon and manchego croquettes, a bit longer than the typical, but fully delicious. Really cheesy and full of flavour, I reckon they are some of the best croquettes I've had! 

Our mouths watered as the seared scallops with apple and celeriac remoulade, caper and raisin puree and toasted pumpernickel were put in front of us. Smelling of buttery, delicious promises, it did not fail us. The scallops were cooked perfectly, smooth, buttery and just…sigh…sigh…happy sighs! The apple and celeriac remoulade were perfect on the side as well, to take the edge of the richness. 

We're both pretty big advocates for parfait, and I loved the presentation of the chicken liver parfait here at Henry and the Fox. It's a pretty healthy serving, and although not the best parfait we've both had, it would be pretty hard for me to say no if someone offered it. Loved the crispy, crispy croutons. 

I don't know about you guys, maybe it's just cause I'm a girl and an Asian and really suffer when I stupidly decide to mix up my alcohol (as I did this night, beer, wine, then gin, what was I thinking?!) and then I have trouble eating meats which are quite rich or fatty. My body just goes 'TOO RICH TOO RICH I'M BUSY WITH THIS ALCOHOL STUFF'. Is that just me?

Which makes me a bit sad as this braised lamb dish was absolutely delicious, with jerusalem artichoke, shallots and pearl barley, with meat that was falling apart, layered with flavour, juicy and just…just…beautiful and I couldn't get myself to eat as much of it as I wanted. Le sigh. Fortunately Mr. B was more than happy to wipe up what I struggled with…

On the other hand, I was so glad we ordered this garfish (I think), with the onion, parsley and caper salad on the side, as it was the biggest contrast, light, refreshing and zesty, which my system seemed to appreciate a lot more. Didn't take me long to devour one of the fish by myself…and isn't that colour just gorgeously intense?

Our baby brussel sprouts with ham hock made for a pretty darned delicious side dish as well.  It was an incredibly generous serving, I'm not sure if we even got through half of it!

And to wind up our night, sweets had to happen and after singing praises to the dessert I had had at the Electrolux dinner…well, it had to happen. 

Warm gingerbread, caramelised banana, coffee ice-cream. You've read about it here and you'll read about it again. With a cake that is dense and moist, aromatic, perfect for mopping up the rich ice-cream with and caramelised bananas for that extra hit of natural sweetness…there's really nothing wrong with this dessert. Nothing wrong. It's still probably one of my favourite desserts that I have come across I think…big claim…but possible! 

So far, when Mr. B and I have dined out, we've always had pretty good hits. With great food, great company and conversation about food that spans until the closing of the restaurant (we were the last to leave….again), Mr. B and I had a great meal at Henry and the Fox. And it was surprisingly more affordable than I had expected it to be, both of us parting with around $65 for the food and drinks. 

Again, my only complaint about Henry and the Fox would be the noise level, so I wouldn't suggest it for that hot romantic date, but a bunch of rambunctious girlfriends on a girls night…? Could be a hit….

525 Little Collins Street

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Lord of the Fries + Giveaway!

Disclaimer: I was invited by Keep Left PR to have a complimentary meal at Lord of the Fries and give my opinion. 

"Brad….I want potatoes."

The above utterance is often heard, from me obviously, usually after one too many drinks, if we're wandering around the city or…well, most of the time really. I love them potatoes deep fried and salted honey. Mmmhmm!

But despite this love, I had never been to Lord of the Fries. How can this be? I guess when it has come up in conversation between Brad and I, he's had so-so opinions of them, as he's tried them once or twice before, and I guess it's easy to become creatures of habit and instead of trying new things, end up at the same places that satiate the cravings.

But when I was asked if I would like to try some of the fries and gluten free goodies at Lord of the Fries, how was I to say no? It's always great to find more places (especially fast food type places) that have gluten free options. 

So Brad and I rocked up to the Lord of the Fries on Chapel Street to check them out!

What makes Lord of the Fries different, and well, more royal, than other fries? They're fresh, not frozen, made from aussie potatoes, without trans fatty acids and fried instead with sunflower and cottonseed oil. So all in all, fries that should make your digestive track a fair bit happier in all it sounds like! 

But not just chips, burgers, hot dogs and nuggets too…albeit with a slight twist…the entire store is vegetarian, halal and kosher too. So them patties ain't beef, but actually a soy and textured soy protein. What I found interesting as well, is that since there is no meat involved, it's supposed to be eco friendly, which would make sense, although I haven't been able to find further information on that.

Anyhow! Sure, it's great that the potatoes are healthier and the 'meat', meatless, but does it taste any good? 

We naturally started with a bowl of medium fries. Now, I've always been an advocate for golden, crispy, crispy fries, although I totally understand that this effect, cannot be achieved without a little…assistance. So I guess for me, Lord of the Fries fries, didn't get me totally excited. But, we still ploughed through the whole bowl, as they are still quite tasty, even if the crispy texture that I adore is not quite there. 

For sauces, we went with an American, smooth southern BBQ sauce and the Asian sauce, with belgian mayo, thai satay and onion. In hindsight, I should have realised that satay is not the same as curry ketchup, and I found the flavour profile a bit weird, satay sauce is made for my satays after all. I absolutely adored the American BBQ sauce though, rich, smokey, hearty, everything you expect!

We also got some onion rings, as I have grown a fondness for them (but it's not hard to grow a fondness for anything deep fried really), which Brad and I totally loved. Totally delicious and lightly crumbed, they were just so super crunchy, some of the ring were more dome shaped (assumedly the ends of the onions etc), but these were easily the best bits as they were juicy on the inside. JUICY. YUM. ONIONS. YUM.

The Original burger was loaded with a Lord of the Fries patty, cheese, pickles, onion, lettuce, belgian mayo, mustard and ketchup…which I also got with the gluten free bun. I think my first impression, looking at it, was that there was a whole lot of bun, but not a lot going on in-between. The gluten free bun though, was pretty darned nice, fluffy and nicely toasted. And whilst I did generally find the bun to filling ratio a bit out of proportion, the patty was absolutely delicious and quite well flavoured. I probably wouldn't have guessed straight away that I wasn't eating meat if I had eaten it blindly.

I wonder if the bun to filling ratio might just be because of the gluten free bun, as I saw a few other burger orders go to other tables and noticed that the proportions were looking a bit healthier on them. Still though, I would probably go for a double burger in the future (which means two patties), just so that there's a bit more bite to the burger in general.

I could have also gone for more cheese…but I could always go for more cheese!

Brad got one of the mini burgers, which are about half the size of a regular burger and are so cute. Unfortunately they don't have gluten free versions of this, but I had a nibble anyway. We chose to try the Guru, which came with a guru veggie patty, tomato, onion, lettuce and a green chilli sauce. 

Um, yum! The guru was small, but spicy! I loved the nice kick of heat in there and the overall flavours were great, although we found this patty got a little bit mushed as we dug into it!

Brad also tried the Chicago hot dog with mild peppers, tomato, onion, pickles, celery, salt, relish and mustard. Again, I initially thought that looking at it, the bun to filling ratio looked a bit off, but the bun was quite soft and fluffy and compacted up nicely. It was also surprisingly tasty, and I really would not have guessed I was not eating meat if I had not known! I thought the hot dog really looked like an actual frankfurter and was quite impressed with the texture and how well it held up. 

I think it's great what Lord of the Fries aims to do and I think generally, they've done a good job with the food, to fill in such a tricky little niche. 

I think one of the biggest dilemmas I have with Lord of the Fries, especially for me, is that aesthetically, I find the food a little lacklustre to look at. It doesn't pack the wow factor that a bag of golden, herbed chips or a very tanned and toasted bun, stacked with the fillings has. I am very visually orientated (obviously) and as they usually say, you eat with your eyes first, so the first impressions I generally get a little bit 'eh'. I feel like, if they could make the food a bit sexier to look at, maybe they'd get a little more attention. 

Sex sells honey!

Although, as they also say, you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover and I was quite genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed the taste of everything. 

So I may have to make a conscious decision every now and again now, to pop by Lord of the Fries after a night out (since they do generally open fairly late), so that I can have a little bit more peace with my body the next morning….

…and you can too!


Keep Left PR has kindly offered 3 meal deal vouchers to give away, which will let you try one of the meal deals at Lord of the Fries. So you could have a burger or a hot dog, with fries, a drink and a sauce! Oh yeah! Fries for everyone! 

So how can you score a cool lil voucher? Just leave a comment on this post and like my Facebook page (if you do already, you've saved yourself a step!) and I'll draw 3 names out at random on Monday the 1st of October, which gives you a week! Make sure you leave me an accurate email address so I can contact you or the voucher will have to get passed on to someone else...

Easy peasy, so what are you waiting for? 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Phnom Penh - The fun, the sad, the educational.

Cambodia, nestled between Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, was unchartered territory for both Brad and I. 

Our first stop was to be Phnom Penh, and I honestly did not have any expectations before arriving, but my gosh, did I want to do a whole lot of reading after I left. 

We were quite fortunate that my dad had a friend who lived in Phnom Penh, who picked us up from the airport and drove us to the hotel (we stayed at the Blue Lime hotel, great little place!). She was an expat who has now lived in Phnom Penh for about 6-7 years and it was fascinating listening to her observations and insight, to hear what the psyche of the locals were like, after the aftermath of the horrible years under the Khmer Rouge.

Driving around, I was impressed and saddened. It was easy to see a lot of development was happening, which is good, and that this was a developing country, but there is something depressing about seeing that the newest shiniest and biggest buildings are the president's offices or housing. What about the hospitals? Schools? It's amazing to think how much growth and development could be potentially be missed out on, since the doctors, the scholars, the thinkers, the politicians were pretty much all killed under the regime of Pol Pot. I would try to give a summary into the history of Cambodia, but I'm no historian, so here's the wiki page!

Having arrived on a Sunday afternoon, the riverside was lively, there's not much to do in Phnom Penh, so Sunday the locals come out, have dancing (or exercise maybe?) classes, hang out and play. 

Our host took us to dinner at a lovely restaurant called Malis, which apparently means 'jasmine' in Khmer, the local language. An unexpected oasis on a wide empty looking road, serving up a fine dining version of Cambodian cuisine. 

Green mango shakes are appreciated, anywhere I am, and at Malis it was a delightful end to the day. 

Refreshing green mango salads, fish amok (which I found quite similar to Malaysian otak otak), and an absolutely delightful beef and rice, wrapped in a lotus leaf were amongst some of the savouries we devoured. The beef and rice must have been one of my favourite things ever. 

I had to try their dessert, with the Malis signature pannacotta being on the top of my list. Infused with jasmine, I loved the light, sweet and well, aromatic flavour. I was one of those kids who would pick jasmine flowers, nip of the ends and suck out the nectar….so yeah. Totally my thing. 

After rolling out of Malis, we had a quick drive around the newer part of Cambodia called 'Diamond Island', where casinos and other such corporations were setting up. Again, an interesting contrast and a bit of an odd juxtaposition to the rest of the developing city.

We finished our night with 50 cent beers at a bar near our hotel. I know! 50 cents. It was actually a surprisingly decent beer as well for the price!

Brad was so impressed he actually instagrammed! So proud!

I didn't take any pictures of our hotel, the Blue Lime hotel, but it is quite cute. The whole place is done up a little more urban, with concrete furniture and what not, than your typical hotel. You do have to go down a bit of a narrow and obscure laneway to get there, but there is a security guard outside the gate and tuk tuk drivers who hang around outside, so I think it's generally pretty safe. Only thing I was really bummed about was not getting the opportunity to use the great looking pool!

The next day, our first stop was the Tuol Sleng Suicide Museum. If you plan on visiting guys (which I highly, highly recommend you do), bring your tissues.

It's a heart breaking place. A former high school that was turned into a prison during the Pol Pot regime, an estimated 17,000 people were imprisoned here during it's operation as a prison. It could house 1000 to 1500 prisoners at any one time, who were repeatedly tortured to give names, or admit to being a spy, before getting sent off to be killed at the killing fields. 

Tuol Sleng is left very raw. They've come in, cleaned the place up and left it as it is, which is what makes it as striking as it is. It's one of those places that you walk into and feel the weight of the atmosphere sit on your shoulders. Building A, saved for high ranking politicians and other more important prisoners, had rooms that were bare, but for a rusty bed frame, a set of clamps/chains and a picture on the wall of a tortured body. It is quite harrowing. 

The other buildings are wrapped in barbed wire, to keep the prisoners from escaping and committing suicide. To stop prisoners, who they were probably going to kill, from committing suicide. I don't know about you guys, but i just found that incredibly tragic. 

Mug shots of prisoners are put up, like a neat little catalogue. Not just some, hundreds, including children, women, young men, old men, no one was exempt. It's incredibly uneasy looking at these pictures and having hundred of eyes bore their way into you. What could have they all possibly done to deserve being here?

I honestly did not expect to be there as long as we were, but it's easy to get caught up looking into every room, looking at every photo, reading of all the horrific deeds that happened, and wonder how people could do what they did to their own countrymen. Over what? 

Brad and I didn't go to the killing fields straight away after that. I actually hadn't planned to at all originally, so we took our heavy hearts and made our way to the national gallery and the royal palace, to get a bit more of the history and culture that wasn't so brutal. No pictures allowed at the national gallery, but I did quite like it, with an extensive collection of art and sculptures from various different eras. 

The royal palace as well, while nice, after having been to the one in Bangkok, not as impressive. But still worth a sneak peek if you're in town with the time I think.

We ended up taking a tuk tuk to the killing fields towards the end of the day, which actually worked out quite well as the sun had started to fade, and it was quite a bit cooler and breezier. 

I think I had been reluctant to go earlier, as I was a bit afraid of what I might see, and wasn't sure if I was ready to stomach what I envisioned in my head. 

But you know what? I really hadn't needed to worry and I was so glad that Brad was insistent enough that we go. 

The Choeung Ek Genocide Center/Museum/Killing Fields was a surprisingly serene spot. With a tall and elegant shrine built near the entrance, where the skulls from the famous skull map are now kept, the mass graves have been all grown over with grass, which made it feel like a very serene and relaxing place (except for the odd piece of bone or material sticking out of the ground). And at the end of the day, it makes sense, of course the Cambodians would only want their people to be resting in the most peaceful way they can. 

But that still does not detract the sadness, make sure you remember to pick up your audio guide, which comes with your entry (we didn't realise at first), as it's incredibly well done, very informative and really enriches your experience there. 

There are a couple of mass graves which have a little roof constructed over them, one of the saddest being a mass grave that belonged to over 100 children and women, who were mostly naked. But visitors had put bright and colourful friendship bracelets around the grave, which I thought was just beautiful and added a little big of light and joy that they should have had. 

Originally we were just going to do one night in Phnom Penh, but then figured there was probably enough to do that we could justify two and am I glad we did. I've met quite a number of people recently who've said they've been to Siem Reap, but not to Phnom Penh, and I would definitely say that it's worth checking Phnom Penh out. It's got a completely different vibe to Siem Reap and gives you a completely different perspective on the history. 

Our one full day in Phnom Penh was incredibly educational, heart breaking, insightful and at the same time hopeful for the future for this country. And after such a long day, I was hanging out for a wind down, which we did in style.

Everyone I met who had been to Cambodia, kept saying you'll be hanging out at the 'FCC'. And although I kept asking what it was, no one would tell me. So we of course had to go check it out….

…for happy hour!

Apparently FCC's generally are private and member only, but in Cambodia, they are, obviously, open to public. With a view over the river, the FCC, or the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Phnom Penh, is the little hip place that all the expats and tourists love.  And with everything alcoholic, half price during happy hour, why wouldn't you? We had two cocktail jugs for just $15! $15! My brain!  My brain couldn't comprehend!

Whilst the drinks and atmosphere at the FCC were great, albeit a little hot with no air con, the food I found a little bit so-so. Not bad, but not great either, just okay. And also a bit stingy on the portions in comparison to some other places. 

But still, a perfectly enjoyable evening where we could make merry, but also reflect on what we had learnt and seen and discuss what we might anticipate from Siem Reap. Phnom Penh leaves me with mixed feelings after my first visit. There is hope, there is development and growth, but there's still and edge to the place, a slight uneasiness to me. For me I found the streets were a little bit too empty and a little bit too dark, fairly early in the night, but maybe that's just cause I'm a girl too.

We headed back to the hotel early, to get ready for the 6 hour bus ride we were going to take to Siem Reap the next day….

136 Norodom Boulevard
Phnom Penh 12301

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42, Street 19z (off street 19)
Phnom Penh

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363 Preah Sisowath Quay  
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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