I’ve had (and made) some pretty amazing food last month. Anything food related is bound to make me happy, hungry, inspired or all three at once. Be prepared for this is going to be a long post (it’s mostly visual so if you hate words, then hooray!).
I’m the type of person who thinks about food all the time. Last Saturday while I was out with R, I asked him if we should try the Indian place near his apartment for dinner. R looked at me in disbelief and said: “But we just finished lunch!”
I like walking around the city, discovering new places and dishes to eat. I used to stick to specific types of food; the ones that will leave me feeling satisfied and happy. But at some point I realized that I’m clearly missing out! From then on wards (I think I was about 21 years old), I’ve decided to order food/drinks that I’ve never tried before. And if I revisit the same restaurant, I should order a different dish every time I do so.
And you know what? So far I don’t think I’ve been disappointed with my choices.
On October 1st, R and some of our friends from the Tae Kwon Do club organized a pizza party at his place so we could watch the AFL grand final together. I think only two or three guys from the group were big fans of the game. Nevertheless, we all had a great time preparing food and eating together. Can you think of anything better than guacamole (avocado is finally in season!) & corn chips, homemade wood fire pizzas and berry nice cream?
We didn’t follow any recipes when we make the pizzas (except for the base). We improvised and put together ingredients that we think would work well. Replications of the Hawaiian Chicken, Vegetarian, Pepperoni and Meat Lovers were expected at any pizza party. We also attempted to make “fancier” pizzas topped with prosciutto, anchovies, sun dried tomatoes, blue cheese and Gouda. And let me tell you, they were fantastic!
If you crave good pizzas but don’t really want to spend, just make your own! Trust me, it’s not that hard and it’s worth the effort.
As usual, we bought more ingredients than we need so R and I ended up making more pizzas on the very next day. I think all in all I had about 10 slices in two days.
Breakfast this week consists of granola and toast. Having the same thing every day is boring so I like to switch things up between oatmeal, muesli, granola and toast on a weekly basis.
I like to top my breakfast bowl with nuts, raisins and coconut shreds. I hate the taste of full cream milk so I mainly drink soy or oat milk. I’m not sure how I develop such preference, considering I grew up drinking full cream milk!
I don’t have much time to cook during the weekdays. I start work at 9 AM and finish by 3 or 4 PM. Most of the time I’ll take a 30 minute walk towards Flinders St. to catch the tram in the free zone, get down at Queen Victoria Market and walk for another 15 minutes before I reach home. If I take the tram from my workplace, I usually get home in 30 minutes. Not much of a difference so I rather get some exercise in and save money.
After work, I either do Pilates, jog or both (depending on how I feel), have dinner, shower, catch up with my hobbies and then hit the sack by 11.30 PM. As you can probably tell, I don’t have the time to cook every single day. The solution? Cook in bulk!
I was craving for Vietnamese food at the start of October. And since I still have some rice paper rolls left from last time (R and I made these at the beginning of the year), I thought why not make rice paper rolls for dinner this week? My version of rice paper rolls was a bit funky. I was just going with what I want to eat or intend to use up (for instance, you’ll normally find vermicelli in your rice paper rolls but I used soba instead). Adding spicy tempeh to my rice paper rolls is surprisingly delicious! I also really like the dipping sauce I came up with (I combined Miso paste with Go Chu Jang [Korean sweet and spicy sauce]).
For lunch I opted for something filling: fried brown rice with peas, corn, sliced onion, chicken breast stripes and chili flakes. Meals without gravy or soup are easy to carry around. Sometimes I’d really like to have noodle soup for lunch but the containers I own just can’t seem to keep the contents from leaking. I had my share of disasters and I wouldn’t want to go through the same scenarios again.
Weekends are my favorite! I get to spend time with R, try out new places and eat out. I really cannot imagine having home cooked food every single day.
I first discovered Tsujiri while I was on my way to work. Two weeks later, R and I finally had the chance to give this place a go as it was a warm and sunny Saturday in Melbourne. We got the signature Tsujiri sundae (left) and the Shiratama Matcha sundae to share (right).
Between the two, I prefer the signature sundae. If you know me well, you know that I like chewy and crunchy things. Besides the Shiramata balls, the signature sundae also has a layer of crunchy Japanese brown rice. The combination of these different textures made the dessert so much more enjoyable! The Matcha ice cream was pretty good but I prefer the bitter version. The price point for something this size is pretty high (about $9 AUD). Maybe because the Matcha is imported all the way from Uji, Kyoto. I would come back for more but only on very special occasions.
R and I prefer to stay in on Sundays. Sometimes we’d cook but most of the time we’ll walk to Newmarket (about 20 minutes from his apartment) to have lunch. We came across Gogi Gogi while we were shopping at an Asian grocery store in September. The lunch menu looks decent (price is between $10-12 AUD) so we promised each other that we’d visit this place one day. From far Gogi Gogi looks like a Korean restaurant but it’s actually run by the Chinese. So if you’re looking for the real deal, give this place a pass.
R had the beef bibimbap lunch set while I had the spicy pork with rice lunch set. All lunch sets come with a free soft drink but I didn’t get mine. Since I don’t really like soft drinks, I didn’t make a big deal out of it. The portion size is huge and worth every penny of it. R said the bibimbap was alright but the spicy pork dish was a little bit on the sweet side and could be spicier (I love spicy). This place isn’t the best and I probably won’t come back if I have a craving for Korean food.
For dinner I made myself some nice cream (I used frozen strawberries and mango) and topped my bowl with some toasted muesli. I had to wear a sweater and cover myself in R’s fleece blanket while I dig into this bowl of yumminess.
For the past month I’ve been devouring content produced by jenny mustard. I decided to try one of her recipes this week and it turned out great. The only adjustment I made was I substituted whole-wheat spaghetti with spinach fettuccine. I also didn’t have any kimchi with me so I had do without it.
Since I mostly eat vegetables when I cook for myself, it is important to make sure that my body gets enough vitamin B12. One way to get that is through nutritional yeast. I know the name doesn’t sound appealing but it adds a nice flavor to your dishes. Apparently some people substitute cheese with nutritional yeast (for pasta dishes) but it’s just not the same!
Ahh scrolls. Who doesn’t love them? When I was younger, my parents used to get hot cinnamon scrolls from a shop at Mid Valley (if I’m not mistaken). It was so long ago I don’t even remember the name of the shop. All I know is that they taste great! So while Oregano is having a temporary pop-up store in Melbourne Central, I had to get my hands on one.
There are more than 10 flavors to choose from. I couldn’t decide between the original, peanut butter and the red velvet. In the end, I went with red velvet (remember I said I like to try things I haven’t tried before? I haven’t even had a red velvet cake) and I was utterly disappointed. The topping/ icing reminds me of cough medicine and the dough is a bit hard and dry. I didn’t warm it up in the microwave as it’s broken. Maybe the dough will be fluffy when it’s warm? I’m not sure.
Just last week, R told me his friend bought some to share. Surprisingly he said they were good (Especially the caramel one! Oh God, the caramel one is sooooo good!). Maybe I’ll give Oregano one more try in the future. I’ll make sure to go for the original or peanut butter. Perhaps the caramel one as well.
I’ve mentioned to R that I’d love to have brunch with him some day. So you can imagine my excitement when he suggested that we have brunch together before he goes off for a quick meeting at the university.
As usual, I had a hard time deciding. In the end, I made a last minute decision to go to 1932 Cafe & Restaurant. This place is tucked inside the Arcade building along Collins St. It has a nice cozy ambiance and the staff is friendly and attentive. I had my eye on Mushroom Ragu but unfortunately for me, it was sold out. I ended up ordering the same dish as R -the 1932 Eggs Royale, which consists of house cured trout, poached eggs, sautéed spinach, lemon hollandaise.
Doesn’t it look gorgeous? I love the lemon hollandaise! It’s creamy and tangy and it goes really well with the trout and bread. The trout is really fresh and it has a hint of smoke flavor to it. I’m not sure what the brown thing is but we think it could be fried trout skin. Although the portion looks small, we were really full after the meal.
I would definitely revisit this place and I’ll make sure to come in early so that I could try the Mushroom Ragu dish.
Since we had an early meal, we decided to have dessert at Sweetie & Moustache Dessert Lounge after R’s meeting. I wanted to try their signature mille crepes but their (ridiculously) gigantic bread dessert also looks very appealing. We took the “Go big or go home” quote to heart and ordered the latter.
The toast cubes were crispy and warm when served. I would probably only add half of the honey and custard sauce but R poured everything before I could react. Needless to say, it was too sweet for me. Even though we had some space for dessert, we couldn’t finish it. The dessert is aesthetically pleasing but taste wise it’s average. Not great but not the worst either.
I’m still curious about their signature mille crepes though.
It’s important to make sure you’re eating from every category on the food pyramid. For lunch I opted for something quick and easy: pan fried chicken breasts (seasoned with paprika, turmeric, salt and pepper), kale and eggs and some stir fried cauliflower.
On Saturday, R and I dined at a new burger place called Goody’s Burger House. I got the Classic Philly Burger (with a side of fries) simply because it has cream cheese in it. I don’t think I’ve ever had a burger with cream cheese before. R wanted to get the same but went with Texas BBQ instead. The first impression I got when I unwrap my burger was that it looked miserable and beaten up. Aside from that, the cream cheese goes really well with the bacon. The overall taste was alright and the portion size is decent. The burgers have the same price as those from New York Minute and Royal Stacks but at least they serve hot and good looking burgers. Not something that seems to be left on the side for hours. Given the choice, I won’t be visiting Goody’s Burger House in the future.
Once every month, I’ll cook something for R. Since I have some spinach fettuccine left from last week, I have decided to make a simple pasta dish with mushrooms, carrots and chicken stripes. I then mix everything with fresh tomatoes, garlic and brown onion. Simple yet so delicious!
I also made some peanut and almond pralines on Sunday. I know, I know…they look nothing like the ones in the recipe and here are the reasons why:
- There wasn’t enough peanut butter and I didn’t bring enough dates.
- I messed up the consistency of the dark chocolate by pouring hot water onto the chocolate squares.
- The recipe requires that I heat up the peanut butter first then mix in the vanilla essence and maple syrup. But I heated all three ingredients together instead. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the mixture cooled while I was still shaping the pralines. Hence, I had to heat it again after I’m done and that changes the consistency of the mixture.
I ended up borrowing D’s (R’s hosuemate) Nutella to coat the rest of the pralines and added water to the oats, almond and dates mixture (it was loose because of the lack of dates) to make everything “stick”. We also nearly broke our front teeth because the maple syrup turned hard under constant heating. This definitely wasn’t the best but I’m determine to do better next time.
On Tuesday, me and my friend from high school visited European Bier Cafe for a 2 for 1 lunch deal. I ordered the panko calamari while M got the spaghetti alla amatriciana. I think that it’s ridiculous to charge $21 for 5 rings of calamari on a bed of salad (a bag of mixed salad costs about $5). Needless to say, I wasn’t satisfied. I wouldn’t recommend eating here but if you’re looking for a place to drink and chat, this is actually a decent place to do so as I’ve been here for drinks once.
After lunch, we decided to walk to Exhibition St. to get gelato. I’ve tried Gelateria Primavera before but this is a first for M. Since they offer very unique flavors, you can expect the gelato to be on the expensive side. I got cardamon & roasted pistachio, yogurt, rose & acai and sheep’s curd, rosemary & honey. They were all good but the second flavor tasted like regular strawberry yogurt. The first and the third flavor were amazing.
I feel in love with Bun Bo Xao (Vietnamse Lemongrass Beef Noodles Salad) the first time I had it at a Vietnamese restaurant. I like that it has a little bit of everything: fiber from the vegetables, carbohydrates from the rice vermicelli and protein from the meat. I try to reduce my intake of red meat so I added chicken breast to the mix. And tofu! It’s not only good for people with high cholesterol but it’s also a good source of protein.
Oh I remember this day. It was a glorious sunny Saturday. The weather was so warm that I could actually wear mini shorts and a see through lace top. I told R I wanted to go to the beach and we did!
But before that, we had lunch at a new location called Torasan Ramen. This place offers typical Japanese food -ramen, rice with beef/spicy pork/fried chicken and more. I opted for the salmon don while R went with the waitress’s suggestion and ordered their signature Tonkotsu ramen.
I was surprised that so many things came with my salmon don (and it only costs $12 AUD!). There were fresh fruits, a side of fries and fried potato cakes, a small bowl of Miso soup and kimchi. The salmon slices were fresh and everything else was great. I tried some of R’s ramen and it was delicious too! If you live in the city, give this place a shot!
Saturday was one of the best days I had. Good food, good company and a good movie. It was a long day so we decided to take Sunday slow.
The first time R and I had lunch at New Somali Kitchen, we concluded that the dishes were delicious, plentiful and cheap. I was excited for our second visit and we weren’t disappointed. Instead of ordering our own dishes, we decided to share the NSK combo so we could get the “full taste of Somali fare”. We also got a side of Bajeya, which is a Somali-style falafel made from ground black-eyed peas, ginger, garlic and coriander. I’m glad we did because they were awesome. After we devoured everything, we even made plans to come back for the Worker’s Lunch in the near future.
And there you have it! I hope you enjoy my longest post yet. I may write two food posts in a month so that it’s more manageable for me. But I’ll see how things go.
Happy a great week ahead and take care!