Monday, March 24, 2014

Flavour Exchange, Fed Square

A quarterly event I hadn't heard of until I got an email at work looking for more people to go so we could enjoy a 10 person discount.

Read more about it here:

Sometimes you go to something like this and you quickly run out of tokens, but I ended up giving 1 away at the end so obviously picked good ways to spend them. It seemed like you were supposed to get a certain number of food and certain number of drink tokens but I was just handing out tokens that all seemed to be the same.  Probably just as well as I spent more than 4 tokens on food.

So it's set up under cover but outside next to the Atrium in Fed Square, with a bunch of stalls offering a variety of food and drink.  I was a bit slack in taking photos so don't have everything that I tried photographed.

First off was a wine tasting at Indigo Vineyard at Beechworth.  Their Pinot Grigio was quite refreshing on a hot afternoon.  They also had a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon Sangiovese.  Of the two reds I probably preferred the Sangiovese.  1 token for a tasting, and they were generous sized tastings. Also enjoyed a bit of the history of the vineyard from someone at the stall.

Next up was cheese. I'm guessing it was Goldfields Cheese based on the stall listing (forgot to grab a photo).   First up was an ash (I think) coated cheese served on bread which was enjoyable. They had a white mould cheese (I think the pyrenees view) which was nice.  They also had a cheese they described as being a blue cheese without the blue (and that had a decent kick to it). Plus two blue cheeses.  The one that was more darker (more orange) in colour has a really nice kick to it.  I'm not usually a blue cheese fan but would eat that. Maybe the St Barbara? But would have to go taste them again.

Next up Coopers Handmade Pies for a wagyu beef and beer pie. It was just a small pie but very tasty.  Looking at their website you can order online and get pies delivered.   You can even join their VIP club for free.

From there someone wanted to head to the stage area where they were about to do some kind of presentation, so we moved along the stalls to where a small area was set up for presentations.  Whilst queueing for pasta I heard a bit about Pinot Grigio/Gris and saw what the grapes looked like.  There was also a cooking demonstration but I didn't notice too much about that.  Smelt good though.

The pasta was from The Natural Pasta House.  Was a decent wait as they would cook a dish at a time (ie. they finished the spaghetti and meatballs before I got to the front but then had lasagna ready).  1 token for the spaghetti and meatballs (and gnocchi with bolognese sauce which I went back for later) and 2 tokens for the lasagna.  Best lasagna I've had in ages, pasta was so tender, and the sauce a nice balance of meat and cheese. The meatball was also really tasty, and the gnocchi nice consistency with the yummy bolognese sauce.   Looking at their website you can register and purchase online as well.  Or alternatively head to their store in Westmeadows.

It was good heading to this event with a group of 11 people as we split up to go try different things but you'd easily spot someone to queue up with so you didn't get bored (plus it's more fun to do tastings with people you know :)).

After that did a tasting at Medhurst Wines, a winery based in the Yarra Valley. It was a token for tasting of all the wines or you could enjoy a larger glass of just one.  So I opted for all the wines. I liked their Chardonnay (which is a bit surprising as I usually prefer a Riesling to a Chardonnay).  They also had a nice spicey shiraz, and the cabernet was enjoyable too.

After that we got told to go try an amazing chocolate salted caramel tart. So so good. Louise Morris Cakes had tarts, macaroons and I think something else caramel based.  The lady also had a bunch of sauces and preserves.

Off to do another wine tasting at M Chapoutier Australia.  With grapes coming from the Pyrnees and one bottle from Heathcote.  The people in front of us were chatterboxes and we almost decided to move along but thankfully stayed.  We got to enjoy a couple of whites, and a bunch of shiraz.  I ended up liking their easy drinking $15 Shiraz and their most expensive one!  The guy was great at keeping track of what we were up to, with two of us sampling all the wines, another person sampling the reds, and another group arriving after we had started.  He was even nice enough to write down what I liked - so when I went back at the end of the evening had a 2 pack box ready to go for me.

A bunch of people headed off for a smoke so I caught up with part of the group that had wandered off.  One of them told me to go try the Coldstream Brewery cider. It was enjoyable - not too sweet from memory (and I think things were starting to get a little hazy from this point on).

 I then convinced the people I was with to go try the wines at the M Chapoutier place.  Whilst they got served I decided to go grab another pasta (this time the gnocchi), and then when I was done with that (and the tasting was still going) headed off to find another cider.  Caught up with another friend at the Endless Cider stall (It's the STRIPY ONE!).  They had a pear and apple cider on offer so for a tasting you got either a double tasting of one, or a generous serve of each one.  They had put a lot of effort into their Pear Cider, made using champagne technique.  I really enjoyed both but the pear was a favourite for me.  It is a sweet cider - but I enjoyed it.  With 3 tokens left I grabbed a double tasting of the pear one, to enjoy more of that.

With 2 tokens left I joined up with the remaining people in the group and convinced them to join me at the Pana Chocolate stall where I spent a token on a tasting for me and a tasting for someone else (as I was pretty satisfied with what I'd had). I'd first tried Pana Chocolate at the Wanderlust yoga festival.  I was pretty skeptical about vegan chocolate but despite being dairy free it tastes creamy.  It's very filling and flavoursome so I find a square of chocolate will go a long way to hitting the spot.  I ended up getting a few bars of those.  Raw, organic, homemade chocolate!

From there we were done and I made the slight mistake of heading next door to Beer Deluxe (who have these very cute, very tasty mini burgers) .  A few ciders and lychee sour cocktail later and it was time to head home after a very fun night out.  Would definately do it again, but maybe not on a school night next time!  And maybe a few more food items :)

Here's what I sampled:

Indigo Vineyard, Beechworth

Goldfields Farmhouse Cheese

Coopers Handmade Pies

Natural Pasta House

Medhurst Wines, Yarra Valley

Louisa Morris Cakes

M.Chapoutier Australia

Endless Cider

Pana Chocolate

Monday, March 17, 2014

Brisket, Bevvies and Blues, POD dinner event

POD Cafe is a little cafe set up inside a post industrial design shop in West Footscray.  They do breakfast and lunch and on occasion a special dinner event! I think there might be plans for 6 throughout the year? I'm very glad I spotted their sign up sheet in the cafe.

Here is the menu for the evening:

There's Fiona, one of the owners. I liked the industrial style aprons they had on.

There were quite a few large tables, and the bench seat (where we sat looking out onto the street)

First course - the oysters!  I'm not a big oyster fan but with the salsa they tasted ok, I'm sure someone who really liked oysters would have enjoyed them.  I was determined to try everything though :)

Nothing related to food - but really liked this dress a lady was wearing!  She looked amazing in it.

The blues for the night provided by Oscar Lalor.  I was a little iffy about the blues concept, not being a major blues fan, but I really liked what he was playing. It also wasn't obnoxiously loud so you could choose to focus on the music or enjoy the conversation around you.

The entree - lamb and okra pie.  The fruit complemented it well whilst having a little bit of spice.  The okra wasn't too over powering either.  I noticed a few people discussing what okra was (I didn't know). Also how pretty is the plate?!

This was the view from our seat.  My very nice light Allies Mornington Pinot Noir.  Our water jug even had quite a unique doily over it.

Here's Jess who is another owner of the cafe giving a bit of a spiel about the night.

Applause for Paul the meat guy.

There was also a lady from the Rowdy Sheila beer makers talk a little about the beers available for the evening and what they had planned for their beer lineup.  She was in the Hoppers Crossing area so was nice that they found a local.  I felt a bit guilty for not trying their beer but not being a beer fan was enjoying the pinot noir.

Next up a palette cleanser of Raspberry and Champagne granita.

Next up the main course. By this stage we were still pretty peckish but it hit the spot nicely!  Here are the sides of blacked eye bean braise, and pickled vegetables (slaw, beetroot, pickles and carrots). All very tasty.

The piece de resistance.  13 hour brisket done with salt and pepper with an amazing flavour, including some awesome tasting bark bits.  Sourdough Corn bread (tasted more soughdough than corn).  Fried tomatoes with a sweet and spicy dressing.

Here's my plate loaded up.  The bean braise in particular worked well with the bread.

In preparation for dessert I ordered a mint julep.  It packed quite a punch but tasted delicious.

Alison was a bit more artistic with lining her dessert up for a photo for me (but it's a little blurry sorry!! I blame the mint julip).  Dessert was a mango parfait, with roasted peach and macadamia tuille.  There was also something white under the parfait.  Not sure if it was a little bit of ice cream or something.  But it all tasted great so was glad had saved room for it (passed up on the extra offers of more meat, sides and bread). I was a little skeptical as I wouldn't describe myself as a big mango or peach fan but nothing was overpowering.

Here's my dessert with julep :)

Apparently Jess had guitar skills too!  So he teamed up with Oscar once dessert had been served.  They sounded great.

I look forward to future events at POD.  If I had to make a suggestion it would be to try to bring out the starter earlier as we were pretty hungry by the time the food started coming out.  But that's only a minor thing and overall we both enjoyed the evening.  The fact that it was on a Sunday night I think influenced a few people to leave at 10pm after dessert had been brought out. So didn't get to enjoy the music of the combined guitarists for too long.  I really liked that drinks were paid for separately and it was a smooth process to finalise payment of those at the end of the night.

I've now made myself hungry in updating this blog post and looking at all the photos again. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Paperboy kitchen

I went in search of a cafe I'd read about on the Internet and passed by this place on the way. Checked out their menu online and decided to eat there instead.  Good choice!


They sell 4 (main) menu items with the option of roll or bowl. As well as selling vietnamese iced coffee (other drinks), and I think snacks.

Their menu:

I went with the Panko fish bowl - lightly battered fish with Asian Slaw, Carrot-Daikon Pickle, Sriracha-Mayo and Coriander, which also came with a side of spiced popcorn. The bowl had a bit of spice to it (but I find mild things spicey :))

I also got the vietnamese iced coffee - which comes in a drip cup setup so it drips down into the glass of ice and condensed milk.  Awesome!!

It's very small with limited seats (two tables of 4 and a bench with open windows to the street that I think had 5 seats at). There was funky music playing and the food tasted excellent.

I also liked that instead of table numbers or anything you got an animal figure.

Paperboy Kitchen
320 Little Lonsdale Street