26 February, 2014
From the outside, Twenty & Six Espresso isn't the most exciting thing ever. But of course I had been eyeing off this place for god knows how long, so I knew exactly what was behind those doors. And you know what, I'm just going to casually throw in a little life lesson - you shouldn't judge a book by its cover anyway.
Iced Coffee and Mörk Iced Chocolate
At first glance, we found the menu here at Twenty & Six Espresso rather small - but a proper read through later, there is really something for everyone. From the Brioche french toast, Roasted chicken picnic sandwich to the Lemon house cured salmon tartare, the small yet exciting menu caters for all. The small menu also allows them to change it up seasonally.
JJ and I, like always, were on the same wave length and we both chose to have the Seared Tuna. Flash seared to perfection, the tuna had a deliciously meaty flavour - a rich, buttery texture that was packed with protein. In contrast, there were a handful of punchy flavours, from the sweetness of the asparagus spears, herbed infused roasted tomatoes to the salty white anchovies nestled within. The kiplfer potatoes with salsa versde went well here, adding another dimension of texture. To top it all off, we were also graced with the most perfect wobbly oozy slow cooked egg.
The other two were instantly drawn to the fried polenta - with braised mushrooms, crunchy asparagus spears, slow poached egg with ricotta and salsa verde. No complaints here as both dishes were wiped clean.
With such great vibrant food and fresh flavours, the girls and I were certainly impressed with the creative take on brunch Twenty & Six Espresso had going. The only gripe we had was that we were seated outside where it was far too hot. But hey, that's not Twenty & Six's fault - I'm blaming Melbourne for that.
Twenty & Six Espresso
594 Queensberry Street
North Melbourne, VIC
23 February, 2014
The South Melbourne Market has to be one of Melbourne's most popular markets. And it's not hard to see why - over 133 unique businesses all under one roof. And in my mind, The South Melbourne Market triggers two things - quality fresh produce and the famous South Melbourne Market Dim Sims.
South Melbourne Dim Sims can be found just along Cecil Street - a simple hole in the wall among the energy and excitement that the market brings. Sure, you may not notice the signage at first, but you would have to be blind to miss the line of devotees waiting eagerly to sink their teeth into a dimmy or two.
Service here is fast - to cater for the hungry masses, it's really the only way. In the line we go, and out we come with their famous dim sims (steamed and fried) and a spring roll.
The dim sims were not only noticeably bigger than your average fish n' chip dim sim, the same can be said for quality and freshness. Have your pick, either straight out of the steamer, or piping hot out of the fryer, these dim sims are the perfect pick me up before, during, or after your shopping trip.
At $1.80 a pop and guaranteed yums, there's really no need for second thoughts - only second helpings.
confessions of a little piggy was invited as a guest of South Melbourne Market Dim Sims
South Melbourne, VIC
19 February, 2014
Yo-zen. [yoh-zen] - noun. An altered state of consciousness reached only when body, mind and yogurt become one.
Just a hop skip and a jump away from Camberwell station, this self-serve froyo can be found smack bang in the middle of the hustle and bustle that Camberwell brings.
We were warmly welcomed in by the team behind Yo-zen. As a family run business, the close-knit bunch of passionate froyo-goers are all about making the best of the best.
After sampling all 8 flavours (they're more than happy for you to try before you buy!), we were ready to choose.
For me, from the moment I tried the Macadamia and the Toasted Coconut, I was sold. Swirls of silky, buttery, nutty macadamia froyo, then twisted with tropical toasted coconut (with actual coconuts bits !). The frozen yogurt was satisfyingly creamy, with none of that icy business. Crowned with various fresh fruit, my cup was a perfect balance of nutrition and flavour.
T also enjoyed Macadamia and Toasted Coconut, and also adding in a generous helping of rich, melt-in-your-mouth Salted Butterscotch. Of course, she had to have some Asian marshmallows (mochi) in there too.
For the fussier eaters, you've not been forgotten - with French Vanilla as your go to flavour. Made with soy bean and vanilla bean, it's 98% fat free, gluten free and lactose free. Interesting flavours like dragon fruit also made an appearance, and I cannot wait to see what other flavours they plan to bring out in the future.
With loyalty cards and infectious smiles going all around, its hard to how you wouldn't become a loyal smiling customer yourself.
confessions of a little piggy was invited as a guest of Yo-zen
736 Burke Road
16 February, 2014
This is a Product Talk by Nuffnang
Just recently, I was so lucky to receive a sample pack of Pepsi's newest line - Pepsi Next.
Of course, the fist thing I did was pop it in the fridge to get it nice and chilled. Because, there really is nothing like spending a Sunday summer afternoon in the backyard, reading a book (which seems to be never-ending) with a nice chilled glass of Pepsi Next. And then of course the next feeling of returning to the fridge to find that my brothers have pinched a couple of them !
So what makes Pepsi Next different ? Taste wise, I couldn't really tell the difference at all. But, I guess the important thing is what is happening behind the scenes - naturally sweetened with Stevia, and contains 30% less sugar than the average cola.
Pepsi are now inviting people from around Australia to take part in a fun blind taste test of Pepsi Next vs full sugar Coca Cola to see which taste they prefer.
Check out their Facebook page to see where the Pepsi team are hitting up next, and you too can join in on the fun !
12 February, 2014
Hinoki Japanese Pantry is pretty much all I can think about these days. And let me tell you why, Hinoki is far from your average sushi bar. Not only do they serve up amazing sushi, it's also a Japanese grocery store too - making life just easy peasy Japanese-y.
Nosé Maki Mix
Suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out), I chose the nosé maki mix which allowed me to have a little bit of everything.
Each maki roll was packed with the most perfect grains of rice - plump and vinegary, hugging fine shreds of carrot and cucumber, and then adorned with the freshest ingredients. In order, there was salmon with ailoi and tobiko; tuna with spicy mayo; and king fish with yuzu kosho and yuzu tobikko.
Let's not forget about the seared salmon with a nutty sesame dressing; and the nasu dengaku !
I particularly enjoyed the nasu dengaku - grilled eggplant glazed with a sweetened miso. The Salmon Aioli was also memorable, with the salmon so lovely and tender, creamy aioli and bursts of tobikko.
No doubt about it, Hinoki has left a deep impression on me, and I find myself day after day dreaming of their sushi. I do think I may have it figured out though - the secret to their sushi must be the ridiculously fresh produce, great variety and of course, all wrapped with love. I cannot wait to go back.
Hinoki Japanese Pantry
279 Smith Street
08 February, 2014
Founded by the boys from The Pantry, The Royale Brothers sneakily opened their doors on the 19th of December, but any hopes of a soft opening were soon dashed. Only within days, The Royale Brothers were quickly garnering attention from all. Think elite international sports stars - Harry Kewell and Ana Ivanovic. Of course I had to go in to see what all the fuss was about.
Royale with Cheese
From the fluffy milk bun, juicy patty to the cheese that oozed into every crevice - each ingredient worked extremely well together. But they were also stand out elements on their own: the sharpness of the onion, the freshness of the lettuce, the crunch of the pickles, the spice of the mustard, and the creaminess of the mayo and Royale sauce.
I also had my eye on the Crispy Fish burger - crispy lightly-battered fish, creamy avocado, melty cheese and house slaw slathered with coney island cocktail sauce. We did find that this burger was a tad too creamy for our liking though - with the combination of avocado, cheese, mayo and coney island cocktail sauce.
But it was the Baby Chicken that stole the show - with chicken so tender and juicy. It was a messy affair with the sexy cheese dribble and thick rich tomato sauce, but one that was welcomed bite after bite. It was really hard to fault this burger at all.
Royale Spiced Chips
Between stuffing our faces, we also nibbled on Simply Salted Chips and Royale Spiced Seasoned Chips which were crispy on the outside and pillowy on the inside - insanely addicting.
The burgers are better at The Royale Brothers - cheesy grins guaranteed.
confessions of a little piggy was invited to dine as a guest of The Royale Brothers
Rear 1 Church Street
05 February, 2014
Loud and busy, with kids running around playing dodgem cars with steam trolleys. Cluttering and clashing of plates, tea pots filled every minute and what seemed like a never-ending flow of dim sum. Yes, I am talking about Yum Cha - and the above was exactly what Shark Fin Restaurant in Keysborough was.
Football dumplings / Deep Fried Prawn Beancurd Roll
Curry Taro Puffs / Deep Fried Prawn Rice Paper Roll
The Football Dumplings were good, a thick mix of pork and mushroom buried within a satisfying chewy and slightly sweet skin. The Deep Fried Prawn Beancurd Roll's delicate skin encased planty of lovely bouncy prawns. Whilst the feathery Curry Taro Puffs were okay, the aunty in charge had neglected to inform us that these were curry flavoured - if I had known, I would have probably given it a pass. Very similar to the Deep Fried Prawn Beancurd Roll, the rice paper roll version was served with mayo, but was not as well received as the former.
Chinese New Year Special / Chicken Feet / Black Bean Pork Spare Ribs
In celebration of Chinese New Year, - there was a special of chicken feet, prawn mince, mushrooms and black moss, which was quite popular among my grandparents. The ubiquitous Chicken Feet also made an appearance, though was not quite as loose or melty as it could have been. Black Bean Pork Spare Ribs were also ordered to nibble and gnaw on.
Sui Mai, Prawn Dumplings & Shanghai Dumplings
The typical dumplings were up next - Sui Mai, Prawn Dumplings and Shanghai Dumplings. There is no doubt that Prawn Dumplings were to be ordered - plump prawns encased in a beautiful translucent skin. We did find that they were noticeably on the smaller side. The Shanghai Dumplings were incomparable to Din Tai Fung, however were still liked by all.
Spinach Dumplings / Tripe / Ginger Prawn Dumplings
These bright green Spinach Dumplings were gobbled up with heapings of chilli oil, whilst my grandpa enjoyed his Tripe. The Ginger Prawn Dumplings were generously sized and covered in a thick fragrant ginger sauce, garnished with ribbons of ginger and spring onion.
Steamed Prawn Rice Paper Roll / Steamed Chinese Donut Rice Paper Roll
These are a must have at Yum Cha, either one or both. Luscious prawns wrapped in a warm, slippery yet smooth rice noodle, with sweet soy. The same noodles also hugged slightly chewy, slightly crispy chinese donuts and studded with sesame seeds. These were ordered to ensure that they were fresh and piping hot out of the kitchen.
On this particular occasion, a number of our dim sums were absolute delights, but a handful were a touch disappointing at the same time. In the end, the most important thing was that my grandparents enjoyed the food and had left with smiles whilst simultaneously rubbing their bellies.
Shark Fin Chinese Restaurant
328 Cheltenham Road
02 February, 2014
Jinda Thai, located just off Victoria Street has made itself home in a beautifully furnished heritage-listed building - high ceilings, exposed brick walls and eye catching light fittings. The restaurant has a great vibe and is very hip and happening.
The menu here is quite substantial - there are appetisers to nibble on, soups, rice, noodles, stir-fries, curries, salads, and a whole page dedicated to soft shell crabs (win). The menu is never-ending.
Cha Yen & Ka-Fe Yen
With our tongues feeling like sandpaper, we ordered drinks to help beat the heat. Both the Cha Yen (iced Thai milk tea) and Ka-Fe Yen (iced coffee), enhanced with condensed milk were refreshing, aromatic and pleasantly sweet.
Upon request, we were also brought a tray of condiments and sauces to play with - just like in Thailand.
Moo Ping Sticky Rice
The first dish of the night were 3 succulent skewers of marinated bite sized pieces of grilled pork. The pork was tender, bouncy and had a great char on the outside. Dipped in nam jim, we gobbled these down with sticky rice. This dish was extremely well received by my brothers - setting the bar high as this was only the first dish.
Som Tum Soft Shell Crab
A harmony of sweet, sour and spice arrived next - with the freshness of green papaya, carrots, snake beans and cherry tomatoes, the kick from the chillies, the sweetness and crunch of candied nuts and cashews, and tang from the dressing. The soft shell crab was satisfyingly crisp, and the overall favour was bold and tasty.
We also ordered a serving of Pad Thai - chewy, translucent noodles which were accompanied with a wedge of lemon and a handful of fresh bean shoots.
Grilled Beef Salad
Medium rare grilled beef on a bed of salad leaves, bright red cherry tomatoes, red onion and herbs that added a bit of zest and acid - all dressed in a lemongrass and chilli dressing that left our tongues tingling. This was gingerly scraped up to the last spot of chilli.
Green Curry Chicken
Chicken, bamboo, Thai eggplant, and baby corn all smothered in a thick and flavourful sauce. It was rich in coconut milk with just a mild hint of lurking heat.
Also known as Kuai Tiao Ruea, these noodles were originally served from the floating boats at the market, hence the name. We opted for the traditional beef broth with glass noodles. The soup was dark in colour, complex and rich in flavour, and highly aromatic. The slippery glass noodles had a good bite to them and swam among tender beef slices, beef balls and golden curls of pork crackling.
My mum absolutely adored this dish and said that they were just as she remembered having them in Thailand. Again and again, as she was slurping these noodles down did she mention how authentic and delicious they were.
Jinda Thai promises good food. It's a comfortable space, where you can sit back, relax and enjoy authentic food that sure packs a punch - they're certainly not shy with chillies. Though it might take you a while to flag down a waitress for menus or your order to be taken, your patience will be well rewarded.
1-7 Ferguson Street
Abbotsford, VIC 3067