Wednesday, November 25, 2015


When I hear the word ‘Mammoth’, I don’t usually think pastel pinks and pops of saturated blue.

But I love that’s how the team at the cafe in Armadale have. It’s also the kind of place I would not have touched with a ten foot pole for at least a couple of months, just due to all the hype and excitement it was getting, but when Brad and I are up at an ungodly hour on a weekend to go to an event, only to get a flat tire on the way…where else is there to go at 7:30am in the morning but to a cafe that you know will be absolutely bonkers at 9?

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Located in the lofty and leafy neighbourhood of Armadale, Mammoth is gorgeously light and bright when you walk in. Designed by Techne, the space is simple, but with some absolutely gorgeous details (that I’m probably appreciating more now that I work with interior designers). It’s kind of like Scandinavian design, meets a touch of prep, meets spring time colours. 

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The menu is simply fascinating. Not sure there’s many other ways to describe it! Don’t expect anything traditional at Mammoth; instead, it’s all pushing boundaries and trying out new things. With Melbourne’s continually raising expectations of breakfast, Mammoth certainly pushes out right to the edge of those expectations. 

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Except for the drinks maybe. Fortunately my chai is as I like it, they get theirs from Chai Boy (one of my favourites) and the coffee looks smooth, beautiful and creamy. 

But then we get onto the matter of food and things take a bit of a different turn.

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Brad gets the North Shore, smokey ham hock hash with flame grilled pineapple, tabasco, jalape├▒o popper and poached egg. It comes out looking beautiful, if not a little edgy for breakfast, with each element separate, almost deconstructed. Now I didn’t really try everything on Brad’s plate, and although I enjoyed my mouthful of ham hock, this tested Brad a bit, I mean where do you start? What goes with what? He found the pineapple not quite seared enough for him, and therefore a little bit too juicy; which he didn’t really enjoy with the ham and the egg. 

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I got the Benedict, a duck sausage with an orange and corn blini, pickled onion, fried egg and smoked maple hollandaise. Although this again looked amazing, I didn’t find all the flavours were there for me either personally. The orange and corn blini was lovely and fluffy, but the orange flavour was quite strong, overruling all the savoury elements for me. The duck sausage was quite lean for me as well, perhaps if this was a little fattier, it might have balanced out the sweetness a bit better. 

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I do however adore the egg and bacon popcorn, not so much egg flavour, but plenty of bacon, which I pretty much devour in few handfuls (why share bacon with your boyfriend?)

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After seeing a few other tables order it, I also cannot resist giving dessert a go and order a serve of the Golden Gaytime panna cotta, with honeycomb, sable biscuit, chocolate and popping candy. Whilst this is an absolute visual treat, and turns the heads of the girls sitting next to the pass as it comes out, I just didn’t love this as much as I absolutely wanted to. The panna cotta was quite firm and dense, without the wobble that I’ve come to love. Perhaps too much gelatin? I did very much enjoy all the toppings though. Honeycomb and chocolate yum. 

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So where does that leave me? I still enjoyed my time at Mammoth, and felt that for all we ordered, it was surprisingly reasonably priced. I personally enjoy seeing places push boundaries, and giving new things a try. Although I didn’t feel our dishes all the nail on the head, it was certainly still an experience. If though, you’re just after some hearty scrambled eggs or Benedict, look elsewhere! 

736 Malvern Road
Armadale 3143

Mammoth Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Surviving the Night Noodle Market

Disclosure: I dined as a guest of Sugar Prawn 

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It’s amazing to see how much the Night Noodle Market, as part of the Age Good Food Month, has grown in just three years. I’ll admit, I didn’t go to the first Nigh Noodle Market in 2013. I could see the crowds, I heard the stories of queuing for hours…and well, that just doesn’t sit well with me.

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Now, the Night Noodle Market takes up three huge areas, it takes quite a bit to walk all through, and has copious amounts of eateries to choose to eat from…with a week left to enjoy it, where to begin?

Sugar Prawn, it’s their first year the Night Noodle Markets, invited me down to check out their hawker style fare, and although I wasn’t there long, here are a few suggestions for making the most of the market in the coming week.

1. Start early. All the queues are manageable when you get there at 5:45pm on a weeknight!

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2. Do a lap! Don’t get stuck in the first area, cause some of the best stuff is further in (ie. Chin Chin group, N2 x Black Star Pastry, Wonderbao, Sugar Prawn!). You'll have a better idea of what you want to get and spend your money (or just be completely overwhelmed like me). There are three main areas to explore and it can take a bit of time to walk around, but it’s alright, at least you’ll be working up an appetite!

3. Share tables with people! There’s quite a lot of seats and tables this year, and I noticed that they turned over quite quickly. But if you don’t see an empty table, see if people are happy to let you use the spare chair or three on their table. 

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4. Get to the big hitters straight away (once you've done your lap and sussed out your options), I noticed these lines build up from 6pm - Hoy Pinoy, Wonderbao, Mr. Miyagi. Surprisingly N2 x Black Star Pastry was moving along very reasonably

5. Have loads of fun!

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6. Get stuck into Sugar Prawn’s crispy school prawns with tom yum salt, so crisp and light, I particularly loved the strong kaffir lime flavour from the salt; and the soft shell chilli crab. Holy crap, this was way better than I thought it would be, the flavours reminded me completely of Singapore chilli crab, and the easy to munch on soft shell crab is a far easier to work with since you’re not peeling shell everywhere.

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7. Don’t question what ‘Malaysian Bacon’ is. Just eat it (Malaysians/Singaporeans will know what’s up...Travis (or Sugar Daddy) makes his bak kwa with Hennessy!)

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8. Leave space for dessert! #Limeinacoconut is a collaboration between Luxbite and Sugar Prawn, with coconut and lime sorbet with sticky rice, gula melaka, pocky stick and a salted caramel macaron…all my favourite Asian dessert things (just missing pandan I guess)! Perfect in the evening, especially on a beanbag near the fit centre. 

Birrarung Marr, Melbourne
Until November the 29th

Monday– Tuesday 5pm–9pm,
Wednesday 5pm–10pm
Thursday-Friday 5pm–11pm,
Saturday 2pm–10pm,
Sunday 2pm–9pm

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fitzrovia Dinner & Saba's Ethopian Restaurant

Disclosure: I was invited as a guest to the following restaurants

2/155 Fitzroy St
St Kilda 3182 

Fitzrovia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

With longer sunny afternoons and more gin and tonic inducing weather, it’s lovely to see Fitzrovia sneak out of hibernation and extend their service out to a couple evenings a week. I’d been before with Brad and absolutely loved it, so couldn’t wait to revisit when I was invited to!

I think Fitzrovia describes the food that chef and co-owner Paul Jewsen does perfectly, luxe comfort food; big flavours with rough edges, and I love it. 

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Let’s start with the hot and sour crisp salt and pepper calamari with green papaya salad, Asian herbs, rice noodles, lime and cashews with a roast chilli dressing. Wow. Absolutely packed with flavour, this dish was vibrant, with sweet, aromatic citrus, a bit of heat and a bit of crunch. Could have easily eaten a whole bowl for this as a meal by myself!

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Chickpea and organic black quinoa falafel with turmeric roast cauliflower and smoked eggplant caviar, sumac spiced lane, minted pine nut dukkah and pomegranate is also deliciously done, wholesome but also quite light and clean. 

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The free range chicken breast saltimbocca with crisp prosciutto, sage and taleggio, soft mascarpone polenta and crisp fried leeks was simply comforting flavours; I’m not usually a huge fan of chicken breast but Paul looks after it well here. Tender and juicy, deliciously seasoned with the prosciutto. 

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Every time I go to Fitzrovia, or know of people going, I simply rave on about their signature polenta chips, made with three types of cheeses and topped with truffled parsley and parmesan. Oh my goodness. Isn’t it a feast for the eyes? Big generous jenga style chips, which are soft and fluffy, but so rich in cheese flavour simply slays me. You just need two of these to have a meal really, they’re so darn rich! 

I’m hardly in St Kilda as often as I’d like to be, but would always be more than happy to make the journey down if someone wanted to try! 

328 Brunswick Street

Saba's Ethiopian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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I was quite surprised when I discovered how tasty Ethiopian food was, although my only experience with it had previously been at Little Africa. So when I saw that Saba’s Ethiopian Restaurant had opened up, I was excited to have something a little closer to home for me (or at least not in the CBD). 

Saba’s is opened by 25-year-old Saba who migrated to Australia 16 years ago, and the restaurant is now a bit of a family affair, with mum working her magic out back and sister helping out with front of house. 

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What’s unique about Saba’s is that it uses teff flour in it’s injera (the brown flat bread), instead of regular flour, which apparently most other restaurants use, as teff is a bit more expensive and a bit harder to acquire. Fortunately Saba has been importing the flour since 2014, which is gluten free and native to Ethiopia, meaning you’re getting Ethiopian food that’s closer to what you might actual find in Ethiopia! 

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Now, Ethiopian food is not very photogenic, but it does have some other great and redeeming features. Firstly, it’s damned delicious. From the meat dishes, vegetarian and vegan stews, and even the salads. From chickpeas, to a chicken dish covered in a red sauce that reminded me very much of sambal, the flavours at Saba were vibrant and hearty. 

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I was surprised how different the teff flour injera was, although we demolished many, many, many, many servings of it, by the end of the meal, I didn’t feel bloated or even overly full, despite all the eating we did. It felt really clean. 

The second redeeming feature about Ethiopian food, is how fun and interactive it is. Out come the great big woven baskets with the injera on top. The different stews and dishes are then poured in over the top…and off you go at it! Fingers and all, my favourite way to eat, especially this kind of food!

Saba’s food is definitely made with plenty of heart and I can’t wait to bring Brad back to try it together; the food is made for sharing, so make sure to bring a party! 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Singapore - Eating like an Expat

Eating in Singapore can be such a polarising experience. On the one hand, you can eat dirt cheap, from the hawker centre’s that I featured in my last post, from colourful plastic crockery surrounded by families and the awesome badass seniors who just hang and chat to whoever’s around. 

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On the other hand you can also spend an absolute fortune in Singapore on food (especially with the current exchange rate!) and go hit up all of the restaurants serving new and modern, with Western influences, that with no doubt cater to the more affluent and a lot of the expats. 

So from pennies, to bills, here’s a short round up of the more upmarket places in Singapore I enjoyed in my last visit in August. 

Tiong Bahru

56 Eng Hoon Street
Singapore 160056

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As mentioned in my last post, Tiong Bahru is the upcoming hipster central of Singapore, with an independent heart and a love of unique. Although I loved the hawker centre, and the market below it, I also very much enjoyed visiting Tiong Bahru Bakery across the road from the market. 

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This bakery (from my understanding) really helped to put Tiong Bahru on the map, where it’s distinctly western, however, with Asian influences littered through the branding. It’s bright and airy, but warm and welcoming as well. It gets a bit cosy, with lots of tables squeezed into a relatively small space, but the nice thing here is that you can walk in, be given a table and only then go and order, knowing you have a space to come back to later.

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It’s the kind of place where young and pretty Singaporeans pop in for a little nibble, and where expats and tourists are found aplenty. It’s the kind of place where a very charismatic silver haired expat (in very good shape) attempts to pick you up, but then sits down with you to have coffee when he finds out you’re not single to talk about relationships in general. Good way to pass a couple of hours as Singapore’s scattered rain blows through! I loved that they just let me keep topping up my tea with hot water all through that time and didn’t hurry us out!

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But back to the more important things. You kind of want to eat everything, with a tempting display of sweets and savouries, there’s something for everyone here. I’m sorely tempted by the matcha croissants, but I’m here for one thing. The Kougin Aman’s. They were all out of the classic flavour when I first arrived, so I tried the chocolate version. Lovely and flaky, but a little dry. I returned another day to find the original’s were in stock, and enjoyed those much more, which were more flaky, and a little more sweet from the honey involved. Lush. 

Orange Thimble
56 Eng Hoon Street
Singapore 160056

I missed the Orange Thimble completely the first time I visited Tiong Bahru. I returned a second time to meet a friend and popped into this gorgeous little cafe, which just neighbours the bakery. 

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Not quite as new and shiny, but definitely a little more genuine and rustic at heart. It’s a great space to wander through, where you order at the front (where there are plenty of tables), but creep out to the back and you’ll find a little pocket with cosy couches, and a lovely little courtyard out the back…but being in Singapore, it’s hard to be out there for long!

They have a delectable selection of ice-cream, and the earl grey and fig flavour is absolutely to die for for any tea lover. 

1D Yong Siak St
Singapore 168641

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Plain Vanilla is a gorgeous little bakery, with a sumptuous selection of cakes, cupcakes and all other treats (was sorely tempted by a brownie), with a cute communal area out front. 

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I didn’t actually end up eating anything here (because I was far too full!) but I just wanted to share this spot because it’s so gorgeous, and I hope anyone else visiting Singapore might be able to pop by and let me know what they think!

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I mean how do you not love that swing at the front of the store? So cute.


38 Tg Pagar Road
Singapore 088461

Although I would have liked to indulge in more schmancier meals, with the current exchange rate (pretty much dollar for dollar) I was feeling the pinch, so limited myself to one nicer meal by myself. 

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And I could not have made a better decision than to pop into the Tippling Club.

It’s casually located on the side of a main road in Chinatown. However, take a step in, and you’re transported somewhere completely else. 

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On a Monday at lunch time, I had no issue walking into the contemporary, yet soothing space, and getting a seat for one up at the counter. The counter is a beautiful space, especially if you are a solo diner, as despite the size of the restaurant, which is surprisingly big, you feel like you’re in an intimate and cosy space, peering into a beautiful green tiled laboratory of flavour as chefs work precisely and neatly. 

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I opt for the three courses, where you’re given a menu to choose one dish from each section, and then commences with three snacks prior. 

I loved that the chef’s served you your food, it really felt like they were taking ownership of the food. 

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The tom yum curry, with tempura coriander and desiccated coconut simply takes my breath away when it is first presented. That bowl, the delicateness of it, have you seen such a pretty interpretation of curry before? The curry was like a foam, but denser, buttery in the mouth with a real hit of flavour. I loved the crunch from the coriander to break things up a bit.

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The smoked and charred pepper with soy wasabi dip might not have been the most beautiful dish, especially after the first snack, but my goodness. The batter around the pepper itself was almost unbearable light, it was hardly there it was so delicate. The sweetness of the pepper I felt was lost, once you dipped it in the miso, but my god, that miso was amazing. It seemed to be lightly aerated, and totally packed with umami that almost blew your brains out. Rich stuff, but delicious. 

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The last snack was an olive oil, basil oil and tomato gazpacho, looked like a lava lamp, but totally surprised when you shot it down in one go. It was so light, with plenty of smooth sweetness from the tomato, but with a jolt of contrast with the intensity of the basil. Kind of felt like drinking a caprese salad!

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On to the meatier stuff, my first course of my three was the Nymphes A L’Aurore (minus all the accents in the right places); frog legs, chicken oysters, a garlic emulsion, garlic chips and savoy cabbage. Possibly one of the prettiest dishes I’ve come across all year. The frog legs were lovely and delicate, the garlic emulsion, obviously combined with herbs as well made for a beautiful combination together, very French. The chicken oysters had a slight chew to them, reminding me of gizzard, and adding some contrast in texture to the dish. Well balanced, and so easy to eat!

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I had brought a book with me to the Tippling Club, fully looking forward to having some time to catch up on reading…but between taking pictures of my food and eating, there was really no time! I was so impressed with the rhythm of the meal, not a single beat was missed; by the time you finished one dish, the next one materialises in front of you in a matter of minutes. It didn’t feel rushed at all, it was just right.

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Second course was the slow roasted Mangalica pork collar, with a scattering of chanterelles, mozzarella milk skin and black truffle puree at the bottom. Goodness. What a rich little bowl of deliciousness. I don’t recall having pork collar before, and I have to wonder why; such a gorgeously muscly piece of meat, but with just enough beautifully rendered fat around it to give it that slightly oily lip licking goodness that we love. Whilst I didn’t find the truffles as aromatic as I thought they would be, I did love the chanterelles which were really very flavoursome. 

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How do you not ooh and aah when dessert comes out? The Cherry Ripe souffle with a cherry and chocolate mini magnum on the side was executed to perfection, so perfectly risen. I was surprised at how rich the flavours were, definitely chocolate and definitely cherry, but so light in texture. The mini magnum also made me squeal (on the inside) with delight; they must have used so many cherries to make this ice-cream as the flavour was so rich and concentrated. Whilst rich, it was also very refreshing. 

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Petit four are adorable and delicate, ranging from yuzu and black sesame tulle to a maple pannacotta and something chocolatey and delicious at the end. 

By the end of it all, I was very impressed with how filling the meal was, you can’t possibly leave hungry and by the overall experience. It was theatre watching the chefs, the waitstaff were friendly but so professional and the setting just beautiful. Highly recommended, even if you must go by yourself…or more like, especially if you have to go by yourself! 

Dempsey Hill 

130E Minden Rd
Singapore 248819

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My last dinner in Singapore was at the relatively new Open Farm Community, a sibling restaurant actually to Tippling Club, so expectations were high!

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Open Farm Community is a lot more casual, but still quite beautiful, surrounded by gardens of fresh produce, which get used in the making of their dishes, obviously! 

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The menu is quite contemporary but approachable as well, with some clever tricks which remind me of Tippling Club, but also just some well executed and simple to enjoy food. 

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Take the carrot tartare for example, this was possibly my favourite dish of the evening, finely shaved carrots, which you combine with egg yolk and a variety of condiments. Sweet, surprisingly smooth and yet decadent at the same time. 

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Pasta is kept simple to let the produce shine, like this hearty dose of truffles, which simply smell like heaven when placed on the table!

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My pan fried barramundi is cooked to utter perfection, smooth, silky and well supported by a hearty ratatouille. 

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The main thing I was personally a little let down by was the desserts and cheese platter. Whilst perfectly nice, they lacked the wow factor for me. The presentation of the chocolate brownie just did not excite me, and the mille fiuelle whilst beautiful, just wasn’t delicate enough for me. 

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Regardless though, I think Open Farm Community makes for a lovely and pretty relaxed meal, and I would love to return for lunch, to see what the space looks like in the day with beaming in through the large windows.