Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Anglicare Dinner with Angels 2016

Disclosure: I was invited as a guest 

It’s always said that prevention is better than cure, but it’s often the harder of the two. However for Anglicare Victoria, it’s one of their three guiding pillars, prevent, protect and empower, as everyday they look to protect the futures of children, young people, families and adults. They do this by providing services such as foster care for children in negative home situations, offering gambler’s help for families and providing residential care - amongst many other services.

 photo dinner-with-angels-1155_zpsaynoywg4.jpg

Earlier this month, I had the great pleasure of joining in on Anglicare’s biggest fundraiser for the year, at the Dinner with Angels gala dinner. At this dinner, Melbourne’s top chefs donate their time, produce and experience, to help raise funds for children living in foster care. 

 photo dinner-with-angels-1161_zpsbsg3hurq.jpg

Held at the Peninsula in the Docklands, the setting was lively and it’s always great fun to arrive and try to guess which table you might be seated at. All while sipping away on some beautiful Dalzotto Prosecco (one of my favourites) and browsing the silent auction items - they had digitised the silent auction this year which made it quite entertaining as we watched the bids go up on the screen through the course of the evening!

 photo dinner-with-angels-1167_zpsbievssvz.jpg

This time, my friend Caryn and I were lucky enough to be sitting at the Merricote table!

 photo dinner-with-angels-1221_zps74jah8je.jpg

But before that, some light entertainment, and speeches from the CEO and chairman, who reiterate the importance of the evening and share some of the enlightening experiences they’ve had, and some of the amazing success stories as well. 

 photo dinner-with-angels-1252_zpsw6wmdt92.jpg

But before long, the main event was served to our table - starting with individual entrees. The Merricote table started with absolutely stunning ocean trout pastrami with cultured cream, blood orange and rye. The colour of the cured ocean trout was just amazing, so vibrant and rich in colour, but so sweet and refreshing in flavour. The cultured cream was amazingly moreish, and added a nice richness to the dish. 

 photo dinner-with-angels-1275_zpswwzdb5k5.jpg

 photo dinner-with-angels-1279_zpsgcorovar.jpg

Mains are a sharing affair, Merricote serving up a beautiful pork dish with the most beautifully noisy crackling, with poached red wine pair - I adored the sweetness with the richness of the pork. Classic, but for a reason! The pork was paired with gorgeous dutch carrots with almonds and raddichio salads as well. 

 photo dinner-with-angels-1282_zpsn2a5dvkm.jpg

 photo dinner-with-angels-1287_zpsphamauql.jpg

Following mains, the live auctions start, which is probably one of my favourite parts of the evening - one day I’ll get to join in…! Always get a couple of laughs, and amazement about how generous people are.

 photo dinner-with-angels-1308_zpsgsrh6rmi.jpg

 photo dinner-with-angels-1322_zpsijemkkrc.jpg

The chefs also line up for their group photo, and it’s really a best of the best in Melbourne - where else are you going to get this many of Melbourne’s chefs, from some of the best restaurants all cooking at the same time? 

 photo dinner-with-angels-1344_zpstpmnki2u.jpg

To cap off the night, a modern take on apple crumble (which I devour) and some live music and dancing before we call it a night. 

An enjoyable night, incredible food, and all for a good cause. There’s something for everybody, but most importantly, support and resources being made available to the work that Anglicare Victoria do to help prepare and empower the people they work with. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

St. Hotel

Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest

The last time I was at the St. Hotel in St Kilda, the gorgeous old building (which has been in the neighbourhood since 1915) was packed rafter to rafter with people, lining up for Asian bites from St Hotel and a range of other restaurants as an event. 

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9268_zpsgtwlqxg6.jpg

Although it was fun, it was hectic, so when I had an opportunity to revisit the St. Hotel to try their new European bar and dining menu, I was certainly keen to check out what head chef Ben Isaacs had to offer. 

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9272_zpsndprmyzl.jpg

The St. Hotel is so Melbourne when you walk in, retaining a lot of the old world charm - rough brick walls, and accented with new timber floor finishes, polished concrete and black steel. Rather than one big open space, the restaurant/bar is an array of dining spaces so if you want to grab a quick drink you can, or if you want to sit in a cosy corner with a date…you can do that too.

Or if you want to have dinner with 20 other bloggers, that’s totally doable too!

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9280_zpsebx2yoiz.jpg

The ‘bite me’ neon has to be one of my favourite pieces of neon in Melbourne - talk about getting straight to the point!

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9292_zpswnboiuhl.jpg

We started with an array of nibbles, with the crumbed pacific oysters with tartare sauce and lemon the first to come out. Although usually I do favour my oysters natural, these were done exceptionally well. Golden, and crispy batter beautifully protected the juicy and sweet meat inside which exploded into a delicious textural delight. 

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9300_zpsszlxjwxf.jpg

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9296_zpsnx3wegse.jpg

Smoked ocean trout rilles and Yarra Valley caviar on rye crisp were also vibrant and bright in flavour - I adore trout - and the rye crisps were crispy as advertised and the parmesan gougeres with truffled gruyere sauce were to die for. Light choux style pastry on the outside, stuffed full with cheese goodness on the inside - I was definitely eyeing the plate to see if there were an extras left behind…

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9307_zpsbckiavt8.jpg

Our wines this evening were selected and matched by Red + White - one of my favourite wines for the night had to be this La la Land Pinot Gris - so fruity and bright. 

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9315_zpscxkeetlo.jpg

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9316_zpsdwtzfpbs.jpg

Our next dish, would could have been our main for it’s heft in flavour and weight, was the wood roasted jamon wrapped buffalo mozzarella with mild mushrooms and bitter leaves. Woah. Big plate. One of these each. Totally okay with this! The mozzarella was creamy, and deliciously oozy from being roasted - on a cold night, was there anything better really? 

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9323_zpsc2jre61a.jpg

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9325_zpsxha2qeot.jpg

For our mains, we shared (fortunately) a couple of plates. The wood roasted chateaubriand served a la bourguigononne style was a winner with the group. It can definitely be tough to get red meat right for a big group, but St. Hotel delivered the most tender and perfectly cooked piece of meat we could ever ask for. It just melted in the mouth. 

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9331_zpsrtr1jroo.jpg

I was a little less excited by the wood BBQ wild barramundi with wild mushrooms, burnt butter and sage - I’m personally just not a huge fan of barramundi - but I did not stop picking at the pine mushrooms that came with the dish. Meaty and just a match made in heaven with the burnt butter. 

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9335_zps1emqwukp.jpg

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9357_zpsawe96nii.jpg

Cauliflower and gruyere mac and cheese is everything you want it to be. Need I say more? 

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9364_zpstmzvn5vb.jpg

 photo st-hotel-zomato-9367_zpshmalajxm.jpg

To finish our evening, we all enjoy an elderflower panna cotta with blueberries and lemon - which I just adore. After a big meal, the dessert was light and refreshing. A lovely mix of textures from the crumbly meringue to the soft and creamy panna cotta. Well balanced - one that even Brad finished! 

I’m definitely selective when it comes to dinner, more so because I want to make sure Brad will enjoy the food as well. St Hotel ticked all the boxes for me and my man for hearty, filling and just really well executed dishes. Although I’m not ever really in St Kilda, St. Hotel will definitely be on my list to recommend that side of town! 

54 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda

St. Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Bistro Morgan Pop-Up

Disclosure: I was invited to a preview of the pop-up prior to opening

What were you doing in high school? I for one, was simply a quiet nerd (read: loser), who spent lots of spare time reading, playing video games and drawing.

 photo bistro-morgan-1827_zpsrfgisgex.jpg

 photo bistro-morgan-1863_zpspunjxqqf.jpg

Not Morgan Hipworth though, boy genius behind Bistro Morgan. He’s making doughnuts, and running a doughnut wholesale business! His doughnuts are handmade, and hand-dipped, and supplied to a few cafes around town on the weekends (after he’s done his homework!) 

 photo bistro-morgan-1853_zpskg3tlvcv.jpg

 photo bistro-morgan-1830_zpsjbwmmsbo.jpg

But just for this week, until Sunday the 25th of September, instead of wondering what flavours will be available at Kitty Burns or Two Birds Cafe, you can get them all in one spot - at the Bistro Morgan pop up!

 photo bistro-morgan-1848_zpsaajjunyo.jpg

Open from 10am, doughnut and sugar lovers can get their fix at 190 High Street, Windsor. I personally really enjoyed the couple of flavours that I tried, the white chocolate with raspberry jam was one of my favourites - enjoyed the tartness of the raspberry and that the doughnuts were not heavy in sugar. They’re actually really well balanced.

 photo bistro-morgan-1855_zps0t4dzqk8.jpg

The Ferrero Rocher doughnut is also a winner, topped with the namesake chocolate and absolutely filled with nutella. It’s lush. 

But really, how can you go past the golden gaytime? With salted caramel by the syringe full. Heaven right? 

190 High Street

Open from 10am daily until the 25th of September.

Bistro Morgan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Bedford St Collingwood

 photo bedford-st-collingwood-0999_zpslmdymsop.jpg

It’s amazing how fast change can happen. For many years, maybe even five or more, my bus route that takes me in the city drives along Johnston Street and I’ve often looked out the window, and have said that one day I’ll make it into that Czech restaurant near the corner of Smith Street.

 photo bedford-st-collingwood-1036_zps9cmjo2iz.jpg

 photo bedford-st-collingwood-1034_zpsrb1al0t1.jpg

Except that never happened and the next thing I know…it’s a brand spanking new place! When did that happen?! 

 photo bedford-st-collingwood-1030_zps1t9o4g5x.jpg

Bedford St. is a new edition to Collingwood, from morning with coffees and breakfast fare through to dinner with plenty of fried chicken and wine on the menu. Whilst the Czech restaurant always looked dark and black from the outside, Bedford St has kept a raw and slightly industrial feel to the place, but let all the light in - so it’s absolutely lovely during the day. 

 photo bedford-st-collingwood-1010_zpsbsujvl70.jpg

 photo bedford-st-collingwood-1004_zpsl3umm7hr.jpg

The chai is from Chailalai Chai, a small chai brewery in Brunswick - my first time trying it. 

Goodness! If you like chai with kick, this is your chai - perhaps almost too strong for my liking with absolutely all kick, that you cough on because it surprises you, but it’s so warming. Once you adjust, it is quite nice - provided that’s your thing. 

 photo bedford-st-collingwood-1025_zpsxk60ilgt.jpg

 photo bedford-st-collingwood-1022_zpswksmfxfv.jpg

Roast broccoli salad with chilli and garlic roasted broccoli, house made soft cheese, mixed grains, puffed rice and herbs is one of the most divine ways to eat broccoli. I love the char, the crunchy of the puffed rice and all the textures throughout. Plenty of green herbs bring freshness to the earthy flavours.

 photo bedford-st-collingwood-1016_zps0ywbphb7.jpg

Brad got the fried hot chicken sandwich with BBQ slaw and thick cut white bread which is total monster of a sandwich. My photo does no justice to exactly how big this thing is. It’s terrifyingly delicious. The chicken is one of the tastiest fried chickens I’ve come across, with a super crunchy batter, a little bit sticky and sweet, juicy and tender meat and that slaw? Yum. It’s BBQ with a bit of punch - so much flavour. 

I so badly wanted to have the apple pie waffles too, but found myself a bit too full after munching through almost half of Brad’s fried chicken (so much for trying to be healthy with salad huh?) - always have to leave something for next time though!

11-13 Johnston Street
Collingwood 3066

Bedford Street Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato