Sunday, 3 August 2014

EARL Canteen, Emporium - Better off getting bahn mi...

The Pork Belly sandwich - gluten free wrap option / $13.50

Pork sandwich delivered crispy crackling and tender meat, however $13.50 is seriously too much to charge for 3 slices of pork, a glob of sloppy coleslaw and few strands of silverbeet.  Other than the salt from the pork there was not much flavour in the other elements.

Gluten-free wrap was rather dry and crumbly but that seems to be the way these wraps go; I won't hold it against EARL Canteen.

Maybe it would've tasted better with the standard turkish bread roll, however I think you will get more flavour, texture and substance in a banh mi for 1/3 the price.

Munch-marks: 3/10 unimpressed

Earl Canteen Emporium on Urbanspoon

Friday, 11 July 2014

Flora Hill Bakehouse

If we're going to make this food-blog-friendship thing work, there is something I need to share with you guys.

I have a bit of an obsession... with vanilla slice.

Call it a snot block or whatever you want, but nothing can deter me from hunting down my perfect rendition of flaky, custardy goodness.  And recently I think I may have found my vanilla slice champion.

Flora Hill Bakehouse is a little neighbourhood bakery located in a suburb of Bendigo.  Known mostly to locals for its award winning pies, it has also received gongs for its vanilla slice, including taking out the gold medal in the "Professional Innovative" section of the 2011 Great Australian Vanilla Slice Triumph.

Indeed, folks, vanilla slice is serious business.

Vanilla slice, being eaten as god intended - on its side / $3 (approx)
And this slice is as good as gold.  Wonderfully flaky crisp pastry encasing a light and fluffy custard that is still substantial enough to give a nice smooth creamy rich mouthfeel.  The custard is not too sweet, making room for the sticky icing on top.

Ticks all the boxes for all the elements (pastry, custard, icing) - cracker of a slice!

With regards to the bakehouse itself, there is a sum total of 2 chairs + 1 table inside, but plentiful seating outside (shaded).  It was enjoying a roaring trade in takeaway pies and pastries when I was there on a weekday lunchtime.  Not really a place you would linger over a coffee and cake, but with vanilla slice this good, who cares for fancy atmosphere?

Munch-marks: 10/10

Flora Hill Bakehouse on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 5 July 2014


Yes I like cake, I think that's pretty clear.

After a scary job interview in the South Yarra neighbourhood, decided to reward myself with a coffee and sweets at LuxBite.  I had known about the tempting desserts at this patisseire cafe since last year, but never found the opportunity to try it.  Weak excuse I know - as if you need a reason to eat cake!

Brought along Mama Munchalot, who as a hardcore asian parent is naturally suspicious of anything slightly branded as "fusion".  Which is what LuxBite prides itself in - fusing French pastry techniques with Asian flavours.

For example the Banoffee Opera style cake we had included a layer of sichuan pepper chocolate crunch, while the Meringue Monster featured a green tea sponge base.  Their macarons also had a South-East Asian twist, with kopiko and ribena flavours available (not in the same macaron!)

Nabbing a seat in the small cafe required a bit of a wait, but staff were very nice and apologetic, even fetching spare stools for us to sit on while waiting.

Mama and I amused ourselves by pouring over their menu and closely inspecting all the cakes in the fridge.  Nice to see the Asian flavours shine through in the cafe menu as well.

Banoffee OpĂ©ra style cake: Hazelnut sponge, banana ganache, Sichuan pepper chocolate crunch, salted toffee buttercream / $8.50 (iirc)

The sichuan pepper in the Banoffee was not immediately noticeable, but the numbing feeling did come on a few minutes later.  I really enjoyed the merger between the sweet indulgence of cake with the zing and numb of the peppercorns; as a spice-lover this was a great taste sensation for me!  The cake itself is wonderfully textural with its layers of light sponge, rich and dense ganache, and crunch from the pepper layer.  A real treat to savour - party in my mouth!

Meringue Monster (Signature cake): Green tea sponge, pistachio, watermelon yoghurt, sour strawberry mousse, meringue (Gluten free) / $7.50
Contrasting textures was not as prominent Meringue Monster, as all elements of this cake were light and soft.  However their individual flavours did pack a punch, especially the watermelon and strawberry components.  These distinctive flavours worked well together to form a light dessert, again not too sweet thanks to the sour strawberry mousse.

Much to Mama Munchalot's surprise, she really enjoyed both cakes.  She was also very interested to find out that the co-owner and head pastry chef Bernard Chu hails from Kelantan, Malaysia.  She was definitely proud of the achievements of her fellow Malaysian.

Both cakes were memorable for me.  The sichuan pepper in the Banoffee really made an impression, while what the Meringue Monster lacked in texture it made up for in flavour.  However I don't know if I will be back in a hurry - there are a few other cake shops I would like to try first...

Burch and Purchese here I come!!

Munch-marks: 8/10

LuxBite on Urbanspoon

Monday, 30 June 2014

Hammer & Tong

High expectations..... met?

Arrived 10:30am on a very chilly Saturday.  Busy bustling and noisy, but with a energetic buzzing atmosphere.

As they don't take bookings and don't seat tables until all diners have arrived, I stood around for about 15 minutes whilst waiting for my tardy friends to turn up!  Tram troubles, they blamed, but who knows what shenanigans they had been up to the night before?

Anyway, once our group of 4 were all accounted for, we were seated quite promptly.  Kudos to the front of house staff for keeping us regularly updated regarding our table-situation.

Coffee orders taken - my poison of choice is cappuccino and this was a lovely one.  No pics I'm afraid, you'll just have to take my word for it!

Front: rye and shallot bagel w smoked rainbow trout, kale, pickled carrot, poached egg & nori-hollandaise / $18
Back: buttermilk lamb, goats cheese panna cotta, onion rings, eucalyptus & apple gel, frisse / $22
While I usually try to order something a bit out of the ordinary when brunching, couldn't resist getting the bagel after spying it on another table.  Turned out to be a winner - a twist on your usual eggs benedict.

For one - bagel.  Who can go past the lures of a bagel?  Not me.  I was even given a special pointy knife with which to attack my bagel.

The kale was lovely and crisp, nice change from usual damp or soggy-ish spinach.  Smokiness of the trout was quite heavy, just they way I like it, and they were quite generous with the portion.  Eggs poached to perfection (as we spoilt Melburnians have now come to expect!).

But what really impressed me was the pickled carrot, which provided a nice tart and refreshing contrast to the rich nori-hollandaise.  Great combination.

My friend was quite taken by the sound of "goats cheese panna cotta"on the menu, and who can blame her?  Goats cheese...mmm...  Her dish looked beautiful and the goats cheese was beautiful creamy decadence.  Not too sure about the apple gel, though.  It had a strange texture, not unlike glue, but was refreshing on the palate.

My other two pals both got the signature soft-shell crab burger ($12), which they found more than satisfactory.

A consistent remark from my other 3 diners was that they found the food tended towards the salty side.  I personally found the nori-hollandaise in my dish quite salty, but this saltiness was nicely juxtaposed by the other elements of the dish (namely pickled carrots).

All in all a worthy brunch destination, especially considering the well-designed menu which offers creative options different from your usual brunch joint.  Wouldn't have expected any less from an ex-Vue de Monde chef.  Look forward to returning to try the other dishes (ducks egg and brioche soilders anyone?), and also the dinner menu.

Munch-marks: 8/10

Hammer & Tong on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Savoiardi for tiramisu (gluten free)

My birthday is coming up and I always celebrate with my favourite dessert - tiramisu!

Having started a wheat-free diet, I could not use the savoiardi sponge fingers that you can buy in a packet.  Boo...

But that gave me the motivation to make my own!

I used the recipe used by The Daring Kitchen for its February 2010 Tiramisu challenge, which was based on one from Le Cordon  Bleu at Home, substituting gluten free flour for cake flour.  The method is very similar to making the lemon delicious pudding as it relies on whipped egg whites for much of its puffiness and structure.

Savoiardi sponge fingers (aka. Ladyfingers)
Recipe from Le Cordon Bleu at Home, via The Daring Kitchen.
Makes around 35 2cm x 8cm fingers

3 eggs, separated
75g sugar
95g gluten-free plain flour (I use White Wings brand)
50g icing sugar

Preheat oven to 175C.  Line 2 baking trays with paper.

In a clean, grease-free bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Gradually add the sugar and keep beating until the egg whites become stiff, glossy and smooth.

In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks with a fork.  Fold the egg yolks into the egg white.

Sift over the flour and fold in gently until just combined.

Fill a piping bag/ziploc bag with the batter and snip off the end to create a 2cm wide nozzle.  Pipe 8-10cm strips, leaving about 2cm of space in between each strip to allow for the fingers to expand.

Dust half of the icing sugar over the strips, wait for 5 minutes (the sugar will become moist and glisten) then dust with the remaining sugar.

Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes, rotate the trays, then bake for another 5 minutes or until the fingers have puffed up and become light brown.

Take the fingers out of the oven and cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack.  The cooled biscuits can keep in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks.

(Note: This makes soft biscuits.  If you want the crispier sort, turn the oven down to 120C after the 15 minutes and bake for a further10-20 minutes until hard and crispy.)

Made two batches - one with icing sugar on top, and one without (I forgot!)

I will post the recipe for tiramisu later.


I am submitting this (again!) to Little Thumbs Up for the Egg-themed month of August!  Just a coincidence that I have been making egg-based bakes.

Little Thumbs Up has been organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Little Favourite DIY, and is hosted this month by Baby Sumo of Eat Your Heart Out.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Lemon delicious pudding - sour story with a sweet ending

I was initially planning on making this for a friend who is very fond of lemons.  But our meeting fell through at the last minute and I found myself looking sadly at my separated eggs and zested juiced lemons.

I ended up making this anyway and enjoyed it greatly with my family.  The lemon is balanced by the sugar while retaining its lovely tang.  Paired with a generous scoop of ice cream, it makes the perfect pudding for a cold winter's night.

Lemon delicious pudding
Adapted from My Darling Lemon Thyme

40g butter, softened
140g ground raw sugar (I found that this was a little too much, might reduce it to 120g or even 100g next time)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
80ml lemon juice
250ml milk (I used "light" 98.5% fat-free milk)
Icing sugar, to finish
Ice cream or cream, to serve

Set the oven at 180 C.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl until light and fluffy.  Add lemon zest and egg yolks and beat until combined.  Sift over corn starch and baking powder and beat until combined.
Add the lemon juice and milk and stir - it will become a rather runny batter.

With clean beaters and in a clean, grease-free bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Delicately fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites until just combined.  This is a time for gentle hands!

Pour into a greased baking dish (I used a 1.6L casserole).  Create a bain marie by putting the baking dish into a deep roasting tin and filling the tin with boiling water until it comes halfway up the side of the dish.  This is infinitely easier if you pour in the water after the tin has been placed in the oven!

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until puffed and risen and golden on top.  Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve warm with a big dollop of the good stuff.

(Can be made in small ramekins for individual serves - don't forget to adjust the baking time, though!)


I am pretty excited to be linking my first real food post to Little Thumbs Up for the Egg-themed month of August!  Little Thumbs Up has been organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of My Little Favourite DIY, and is hosted this month by Baby Sumo of Eat Your Heart Out.

Inaugural greetings

Hello hello!

I hail from Melbourne, Australia, so this koala is quite apt for a first post.

And the fact that I only have default Windows pictures on my computer.