Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Afrobev's Guide To Eating Out: Christophe's Dublin

This is what you want for your money!

Phil and I stopped off at Christophe's when we visited Dublin earlier on in the year and to say we were impressed was an understatement. It was the type of food that we live for, it was as home cooked and delicious as you can get at an eatery and where I am usually quite fussy with my grub and the service, I left satisfied with a full belly and a feeling of wanting to return as soon as possible.

Located directly opposite the Jameson Distillery tour entrance, Christophe's is definetly highly recommended by yours truly if you decide to tour Dublin and if you hop on the Dublin Tour Bus it is well worth a stop off for food (You can hop off and hop on again at the Jameson's Distillery Stop). They have an extensive menu with such home cooked delights as bangers and mash, lamb shank, sheperds pie aswell as a huge range of desserts. I personally opted for the bangers and mash while Phil went for stuffed Chicken. It was proper food cooked like only the irish can cook it and the service was outstanding. Friendly and efficient is not always something that comes hand in hand but they certainly impressed these two Welsh foodies.

I also found the pricing to be very reasonable for what you were getting but I think what impressed me most was the very high standard of food that was available in a cafe that is open mainly around lunchtimes and in the afternoon. A big, big thumbs up all round really!

Afrobev's Ratings:
Food- A+
Ambience- A+
Waiter- A More counter based than waiter service but the service was outstanding
Presentation A+ I haven't seen anything like it for a lunchtime offering
Overall- A+ I am not easily impressed but I liked it...A lot!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Movida Spanish Restaurant

Located in Hosier Lane off Flinders Street and next to Swanton is Movida Spanish Restaurant. You would never guess there was a high rating restaurant there judging from the outside appearance. The restaurant sits in the lane opposite some very interesting but rather macabre graffiti.

Above: Some rather macabre graffiti opposite Movida

Inside, Movida has a comfortable feel to it. The room is buzzing with noise and the rich aromas hit me immediately as I stepped inside. The bar is filled with numerous bottles of Spanish wines. Some patrons are seated at the bar eating their tapas and racion (larger servings) while others are dining in the small adjoining room.

Above: A nice relaxed feel inside the restaurant

My friends and I had been waiting a month (it is an extremely small place and fully booked every weekend) to eat at Movida. The reputation, anticipation and expectation were high. I'm glad to say that Movida totally lived up to all three and was a wonderful dining experience.

After we were seated, the waitress immediately got us menus and water. I like restaurants that serve you water immediately, I think this should happen everywhere. She also gave us the wine menu and some time to decide what we wanted rather than ask immediately what we wanted to drink. All the wines were Spanish and we had no idea what was what. So we decided on the house wine and got the Pansanau Ceps Nous 2003 Red Wine. It turned out to have a very nice grape flavour and was very smooth.

Then we started to order all the different tapas and racion we wanted. The waitress was very professional while not being cold. She made a few jokes to lighten the mood but was very efficient as well. She was attentive without being overbearing and interrupting us all the time. Recently at one place, this waitress (she looked 15) interrupted us about 5 times with "So how is the food". How many times and ways can you say good? Experience really shows, with good establishments hiring experienced staff who make the dining experience so much better.

The Pulpo a la Gallega, Galician style octopus with kiphler potatoes & Spanish paprika was the first dish to arrive. The octopus was very tender and the potatos soft. The flavours on the octopus was very rich and it was very good.

Above: Pulpo a la Gallega, Galician style octopus with kiphler potatoes & Spanish paprika

The Tortilla de Patatas, Confit potato & onion omelette was nice and fluffy but wasn't too special. I have tasted better tortilla with more flavours.

Above: Tortilla de Patatas, Confit potato & onion omelette

The Embutido, Spanish smallgoods, including Angel Cardoso's jamon & salsichon was enjoyable. The salami type meats were nice but the ham was quite ordinary.

Above: Embutido, Spanish smallgoods, including Angel Cardoso's jamon & salsichon

The salted cod (I forgot the Spanish name) with blood orange and salad was a little too salty for my liking. The cod had a good firm texture and was cooked very well and when eaten with the blood orange gave a salty and sour burst in the mouth.

Above: Salt Cod with blood orange and salad

The Patatas a la Pobre, (Poor mans potatoes) slow cooked nicola potatoes with peppers & garlic was divine. I never knew pototoes could taste so nice. The potatoes were slightly crispy on the outside with the inside very soft. The potatoes also had some sort of sugar coating which made them a little bit sweet. Added with the sweetness of the roast peppers and the garlic flavours, it was a very tasty dish.

Above:Patatas a la Pobre, (Poor mans potatoes) slow cooked nicola potatoes with peppers & garlic

The Paella, seafood, chicken and calasparra rice was another triumph. The seafood in the fish, calamari, prawns and mussels added their rich sea flavour to the rice, which already had other flavourings in it that I couldn't identify beside the tomato flavour. The pan fried chicken added another dimension to the usual seafood paella dish. The rice was cooked to perfection, not still hard and lumpy like at a few other places I've had.

Above: Paella, seafood, chicken and calasparra rice

The slow cooked lamb (again, forgot to note the Spanish name) with vegetables and mint was beautifully done. The lamb literally fell apart and we used a spoon to break it up. It was juicy still and had a fairly strong lamb flavour without being overpowering.

Above: Slow cooked lamb with vegetables and mint

The two best savoury dishes of the night had to be the beef. The first dish, Cecina, Air cured beef thinly sliced with a truffle foam and poached egg was spectacular, even in small portions. The beef was wonderfully rich in flavour and the truffle foam so delicate in texture but strong in flavour. The slightly undercooked egg when broken oozed out like a volcano. Having a mouthful of the three flavours together was totally delicious. I don't know if I can do it justice with my description. This is a must have dish if you go to Movida.

Above: Cecina, Air cured beef thinly sliced with a truffle foam and poached egg

The seocnd beef dish was the Bistec, chargrilled grass fed moondarra wagyu porterhouse served on crushed garlic potato. We asked for the beef medium to well since some people didn't like to eat raw beef. However, unlike some places, the beef was cooked to perfection. The crispy exterior gave way to melt in your mouth soft meat inside. It was served simply with just potato, but as commented by everyone, the potatos were so delicious. Movida certainly know how to cook potatos. Quite a few dishes we ordered had potato but not once did the potato taste the same or was boring and there just to fill up the plate. The potato was always used to enhance the dish.

Above: Bistec, chargrilled grass fed moondarra wagyu porterhouse served on crushed garlic potato

For dessert, we all wanted to try everything so that's what we did, got every dessert and shared them. I have placed my personal preference for the desserts from least liked down the list to most liked.

The first dessert was the Churros, Rich hot drinking chocolate and Spanish doughnuts. The chocolate was rich but not too sweet so went down well. However, the Spanish doughnuts were not too good and tasted almost stale in my opinion.

Above: Churros, Rich hot drinking chocolate and Spanish doughnuts

The next dessert was the Apple cake (again forgot to note Spanish name. I think I should bring a note pad next time and take notes hahaha). The cake was ultra rich and sweet. It was also a bit dry and crumbly, which I didn't like too much. There was raisins and dates in the cake I think.

Above: Apple cake

The Helados de la Casa, Homemade ice-creams served with an almond biscuit was very good ice cream. The three flavours of ice cream were fig (top), honey and saffron (middle) and boysenberry (bottom). My favourite was the fig ice cream. The figs were dried and provided a strong flavour to the ice cream. The honey and saffron ice cream just tasted like honey ice cream. The slightly sour flavour of the boysenberry ice cream helped to break it all up. The chocolate almond biscuits were dark chocolate so again help to contrast with the sweetness of the ice cream. The sour cream foam thing though didn't work well for me. The sour cream just didn't blend well with the ice creams. I think just using nice rich regular cream would have been better.

Above: Helados de la Casa, Homemade ice-creams served with an almond biscuit

Fighting for my favourite dessert of the night but just narrowly losing out was the Ganache Caliente Con Turron, Hot chocolate ganache pudding with vanilla bean ice-cream and nougat. The pudding was crisp on the outside but rich smooth chocolate flowed out when it was broken. Eaten in one mouthful with the ice cream and nougat was such a taste sensation. The different textures and flavours swirled around in the mouth, but the chocolate pudding was definitely the star and you could taste the hot melted chocolate.

Above: Ganache Caliente Con Turron, Hot chocolate ganache pudding with vanilla bean ice-cream and nougat

So this brings us to my favourite dessert of the night. It was the Flan Con Pestinos, Creme caramel served with spiced sherry pastries. Creme caramel I hear you say, that's boring isn't it? Not when it's done well is what I say. Usually the caramel sauce is so overpowering that it spoils it. I'm not a big fan of caramel but this time it was subtle. The creme caramel itself was such a smooth texture and the right consistency. The egg flavour was very strong but there was some other flavour as well that I couldn't work out. I loved the creme caramel so much that I didn't even try the sherry pastry. I ate the majority of the creme caramel but everyone was very understanding as they know my love for a good dessert.

Above: Flan Con Pestinos, Creme caramel served with spiced sherry pastries

As you can guess, from my very long and extensive review of this restaurant, I thought it was excellent. For once, reputation and expectations were met. It might be a little restaurant located in a dark laneway, but no wonder people still know about it and book for weeks to come and eat. When the food is this good, the service done well and the atmosphere enjoyable, it's definitely worth waiting for. The price is also very fair for the quality of food you get.

Overall Rating: 17/20, The food and service were excellent. I'll definitely be going back as soon as possible.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

MoVida Bar de Tapas on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Afrobev's Guide To Eating Out: Merolas

Blimey we seem to eat out an awful lot!

Wednesday night date night is upon us again and for this occasion we chose the Theresa special...Merolas! It was very much a last minute decision as it often is with us and to be honest we only opted for our favourite little Italian restaurant because it was only up the road( by car at least) to where we live.

But I think we were both very glad that we did! We arrived at the side entrance, rang the doorbell and stood well back as it advised us on the door. We were warmly greeted by the man that Phil and Theresa fondly call 'Mr Merola'. A real character with kind eyes and a Super Mario Bros moustache whose only drawback is being a Manchester United fan. We can't all be perfect.

I must confess to being a little bit biased in this blog as Merolas is one of our favourite haunts and we are very often ringing up for a takeaway, cue the banter between Mr Merola and myself about opposing football teams. He sat us down at a table near the radiator so that Phil (my forever freezing cold girlfriend) could warm her back before taking our order. We then relaxed in the cosy little Italian setting as we sipped soft drinks and admired the Garlic hanging from the wall whilst staring longingly into each others eyes! Okay so maybe it wasn't quite like that. In reality I actually got caught up in a debate that Mr Merola was having with another customer about whether or not Alex Ferguson should be sacked as the Man Utd manager and their failing youth policy, but after a few stern looks from Phil, I was pulled back into realization that this was date night and that any talk of men kicking a ball around a pitch was strictly off limits.

The food, as ever was exceptional. We both had Penne Vegetarian Pasta with Chilli, Chippy things (that's what Phil calls them so I must stay true) and a hefty side order of Garlic Bread (some topped generously with cheese). We thanked Mr Merola for our feed (we paid him as wasn't free or anything) and then we skipped off down the road to our car with a spring in our step and a joyous beat in our hearts!

Actually we were both moaning that it was bloody freezing and then we picked her mother up from Bingo...

...I think I preferred my version!

Afrobev's Ratings:
Food- A+
Ambience- A+
Waiter/Mr Merola- A+
Presentation A+
Biased Opinion Of Blog Author- A+
Overall- A Very Positive Thumbs Up For Merolas Restaurant, Clare Road, Cardiff- A+

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Exotic Drinks

Thai Style Tropical Drink
Lately, I've been drinking this Thai Style Tropical Drink a lot. I absolutely love it, the flavours are so intense. So I thought I would write about some other slightly more exotic drinks that I like. They're probably not exotic to Asians but will most likely be to Westerners. The photo on the left is the Thai Style Tropical Drink. It's extremely easy to make and consists of durian, jack fruit, water date palms, lychees and jelly strips all mixed in with coconut milk and crushed

If you have never heard of a durian, it looks something like the photo below left. It is an extremely pungent fruit, and people who don't like it describe it as smelling like a rubbish tip. For lovers of durian, such as myself, the smellier the fruit is, the better. There are actually a number of varities of durian but since it is not grown commerically in Australia yet, we only get the one type known as the Golden Pillow imported from Thailand.

A jack fruit, pictured below right, looks kind of similar to a durian. It's usually very large and also has very sweet flesh. While a durian is extremely creamy in texture, jack fruit has a texture that is slightly crisp and slighty chewy. More people tend to like jack fruit as the flavour is just sweet and clear, rather than pungent.

The flavours of all these exotic fruit mixed together create a drink that is different with every bite. You can always put in other fruits and leave out things you don't like. Its up to you what you put in it, but I do find these flavours are very nice together.

Bubble Tea
Another drink that I have grown to love is bubble tea, otherwise known as milk tea with sago pearls. This drink is extremely popular in Asian countries. Traditionally it's red tea mixed with milk and sugar and then with black sago pearls added to it, like the one pictured on the left. However nowadays, there are a million and one combinations of flavours. I really love the honeydew melon tea with coconut pieces. The drink is red tea again, but with added honeydew flavourings. Then there is the milk but instead of sago pearls, I like to have coconut pieces that have been soaked in sugar. The coconut pieces has a nice crunch to it and adds its own flavour.

Milk tea with sago pearls is very easy to make at home. Just get your regular Lipton tea bags and make yourself a cup of tea as usual, then add your milk and sugar to taste, then go and buy a packet of sago pearls from your local Asian grocery store, cook them as instructed and add those to your tea. Add lots of ice and drink away. For something a little bit different, add a cup of milk coffee to your tea. It's a very interesting mix, and if you get the right amount of each, makes for an extremely nice drink. Milk tea mixed with milk coffee is known as "Ying Yang", as in the black and white circle you always see since it a mix of two very different things.

Avocado Milkshake
Finally, there are the exotic milkshakes. You've probably had a banana milkshake or even a strawberry one, but how about an avocado one. I've been mixing these for years and only until recently did the Chinese cafes around my area start to sell them. An avocado smoothie is made by blending avocado, milk, condensed milk and ice. If you want it a little bit richer even, add a spoon of vanilla ice cream. Trust me, its delicious, so give it a try.

Want even more exotic than an avocado milkshake, how about a durian milkshake. Same ingredients as the avocado one, but omit the avocado and substitute with creamy pungent durian. In fact, any tropical fruit can be substituted. I've tried lychees, jack fruit (another good one), custard apple, longans or even red or green beans.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Life Of A Krispy Kreme Doughnut

My name is Glazy and I'm an Original Glazed Doughnut from Krispy Kreme. I start my life at the Krispy Kreme store in Fountain Gate Shopping Centre, the only store so far in Melbourne. People from far and wide come and queue to see me and take me home.

I am made by first mixing the special Krispy Kreme ingredients with water and yeast. I am then passed through a high pressure "extruder". Depending on what has been decided for me, I will either have a hole or not. It turns out I had a hole in my centre. My friends who don't have a hole will be filled with custard, strawberry, raspberry or cream. After I am extruded, I take a ride up and down in a humid escalator so that I can "proof" and rise to my full potential.

The next stage in my journey is where I get a nice hot bath in vegetable shortening. I then go through a water slide where I get flipped over and bathed on the other side.

Occasionally, the slide doesn't do a proper job and a friend will not get bathed on the other side. This means they are still all dirty and white still. The doughnuts that are not properly cleaned get teased badly by the other doughnuts and called names such as "whitey" or "lumpy". Usually a staff member will protect the "whitey" doughnut and take them to another place to play with all the other "whitey" doughnuts.

The rest of us continue our journey to the fun part of the whole process, the waterfall. I just love that part. The nice warm waterfall covers me completely in a sweet sugary mixture. I get a nice smooth feeling all over and smell so nice. My shiny exterior attracts many people, who I see appreciating my new coat when their eyes light up.

After my relaxing waterfall experience, I get packed neatly into a box ready to go home with my new owner(s). The other doughnuts that keep going on the journey get filled with all other wonderful ingredients to make them even more attractive.

On this particular day, I am taken home by an intelligent looking guy who I get to know as Thanh. He has also taken home another 47 of my friends. We chat amongst ourselves happily in the car ride home. Occasionally some of my naughty friends let off some gas. Through the crack in the box, I can see Thanh lifts his nose and do this weird stiffing action when a friend lets off some gas.

When we get home, all of us are lined up neatly for a photo shoot. We get photographed from all angles. My friend Jammy and I even get solo close ups. I loved being the centre of attention and felt very proud.

Finally I was hand picked first by Thanh and fulfilled my destiny in my short but spectacular life. I was loving consumed by my owner and the joy that I provided made my journey into Doughnut Heaven all the more fun.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


I decided against going out last night and instead opted for staying in and watching crap on TV and had a Large Ham and Mushroom Domino's Pizza and a share size bottle of coke...Mmmmmmm!

It was probably for the best as I neither felt well enough or in the mood for socialising last night. The only regret was not being there for my mate Hicksy's birthday but he understood when I text him and I think there were plenty of other people out to help him celebrate. Phil went to her brother's birthday barbecue with her family in Newport and came back about 8ish.

A bit of peace and quiet for the day. Just me in my pad watching The Simpsons, football or basically anything I wanted to watch with mmmmm....Domino's Pizza!!!

What more can you ask?

Engagement Party

I went to my friend Upneet's engagement party on Saturday. She was going to get married to Dhawal later in the year, congratulations to them. The reception started off with finger food of chicken, fish and mushrooms and an open bar.

Above: There was a variety of cocktails and I tried the a few of them and they were very nice.

Entrees consisted of two options, something for the carnivores and something for the sheep, um I mean the vegetarians. There was only one vegetarian on our table so the rest of us helped him eat the vegetarian food because we were all pretty hungry. The vegetarian entrees were Hara Bhara Kebab, Paneer Tikka and Alool Bharvan while the meat entrees were Fish Amritsari, Chicken Tikka and Seekh Kebab.

Above: Half eaten meat entrees. I was too busy eating and forgot to take a photo until later on.

Dinner was lots of different curries and vegetable dishes. Dinner consisted of Chicken Nilgiri, Lamb Kesari, Prawn Chilli Fry, Palek Paneer, Daal and Bhindi Masala with side dishes of Naan, Rice and Garden Salad. The Naan was very popular and our table finished ours very quickly and get a second serving.

Above: From the Naan going clockwise, Palek Paneer (I asked someone on the table and they said it was Spinach), Bhindi Masala (Lady Fingers cooked and were suprisingly delicious, I generally don't like vegetables), Chicken Nilgiri, Lamb Kesari, Daal and Prawn Chilli Fry in the centre.

To help wash all the food down, I had the Rosemount Estate 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was very smooth and went down well with the food.

To finish off the meal, dessert was Cassata (I thought that was Italian) and chocolate cake. The Cassata was nice but the cake was extremely dry and lacked any flavour. All in all though, it was a great night of entertainment (lots of Indian dancing, see More Thanh Words for details about the dancing) and great food. Thanks to Upneet for inviting me and here's wishing her a happy wedding.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A State Of Delayed Shock

Definition: Shock which appears some time after the trauma.

The McDonald's Drive Thru down the road from me closed a couple of weeks ago and it's just hit me...It's gone forever!

It wasn't as if I used it very often (and if that's the general attitude then that's probably why it closed) but I knew it was there anytime I fancied wandering five minutes down the road to grab something 'terribly bad for you' to eat. I always thought to myself that on one Weekend morning I would get up early enough to nip down the road and get myself a McDonald's breakfast or a Sausage and Egg McMuffin with a Hash Brown and a regular coffee.

I could really go for a Quarter Pounder With Cheese and Large Fries right at this very moment...

...But I guess that ship has sailed! Goodbye McDonald's Drive Thru and I am sorry I didn't make enough of you!

Anyone fancy a Jacket Potato?

Afrobev's Guide To Eating Out: Sushi at 'Zushi'

With my blogging friend Thanh starting his new food blog soon 'I Eat Therefore I Am' and with all of us fellow bloggers adding our food experiences to the blog. I thought I had better get back in to the swing of it by posting one of my World famous Eating Out Guide's.

However, Philomena opted to go for Sushi (yuck). Sorry but I'm not loving the sushi!

Phil, Theresa and I couldn't decide where we wanted to go to eat last night and after a lot of "umming" and "aaahing", Phil turned around to Treez and said "Do you like vegetarian sushi?". Neither of us were that enamoured to be honest but as Phil had been working so hard all week and we had been out on a relaxing jolly all day we decided to let her get her own way (which happens more often than not if it's just the two of us so why change the habit of a lifetime?). So the three of us headed off to the sushi bar in town - 'Zushi'.

I have never been to a sushi bar before and have only ever seen it on american cop shows but it all seemed a bit surreal upon arriving. Just lots of little different coloured plates of raw fish and rice going around a conveyor belt type thing all around the restaurant, whether you were sat at the counter or at a booth. That along with some really spaced out music made it feel like you were dreaming of food going around you. Although if I was dreaming about all that food going around me I am pretty sure I would dream about something other than rice wrapped in seaweed, like cakes or ice cream or something. Mmmm Ice cream!

The colour coded plates meant that they were priced differently and you could just help yourself to anything that takes your fancy. Phil was in her element and was picking out mini plates of sushi with avocado and cucumber in it while Theresa and I sat there bemused and she looked decidedly green around the gills. I must confess to trying a fair bit of Phil's numerous plates and dipping it into soya sauce but I just wasn't really enjoying it to be honest and neither was Treez. The only way I can describe the taste is when you are abroad and swimming in the sea and a high wave hits you in the face and all you can taste is the salty ocean.

For our hot plates the girls went for noodles while I had a curry with chicken in breadcrumbs and rice which was quite tasty and very well presented but again I wouldn't go overboard and say it was the best thing I have ever tasted. The breaded chicken with the sauce was nice though. Overall, the service was friendly and the establishment was very clean and I suppose the food was good if your taste buds actually like sushi, but I am afraid that mine don't very much and unless there was nothing else to eat in the World I doubt that I will be doing the sushi thing again. I am quite sure a sushi lover would have a different opinion altogether as Phil thought it was delicious so I suppose if she likes it she can always either go with Leanne (another sushi lover) or she can get one of the take out boxes that they do.

Still, you have to try these things!

Afrobev's Ratings:
Food- B- (the rating is for the chicken in breadcrumbs with curry sauce. The sushi is just not me but I am sure a sushi lover would have a different opinion)
Ambience- B (certainly different and I did like the food going around but the music was at times a bit unsettling)
Waiter- A- (the male waiter was very helpful and efficient. Especially as we told him it was our first time at a sushi bar)
Presentation and Price - B (Phil had about four plates of sushi and we each had drinks and a hot plate and the total price was £33.50. Not bad for three of us I suppose)
Overall- B- (I am sorry that it's not more and I really wish that I completely fell in love with the whole sushi experience but I'm afraid I didn't at all. I can completely understand those who do love it but for one reason or another it's just not my bag baby!)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Philomena Cakes

I am sure Miss Meep won't mind me stealing from her blog. But these are the delicious cakes she made Philomena for her birthday.

Thanks Emma xxx

Penang Char Kaoy Teow

This recipe is actually from Choo, who has asked me to help her post it.


*1kg of fresh, fine koay teow
*half kg of fresh, medium sized prawns
*30 gms of chives
*half kg of fresh, bean sprouts
*3 Chinese sausages
*8 fresh eggs
*32 to 40 fresh cockles
*200 gms of fresh garlic
*oyster sauce
*a dash of salt
*fresh ground chillies
*a dash of sugar
*cooking oil


1. Peel the prawns.

2. Chop garlic finely.

3. Cut the sauces into fine pieces.

4. Cut chives into about one to two cm long.


1. Heat a little oil in the wok.

2. Add garlic and stir fry till slightly brown.

3. Throw in the sausages.

4. Add in half to one teaspoon of fresh chillies.

5. Fry all the above till fragrant.

6. Add in a handful of koay teow.

7. Add in one egg.

8. Add some cut chives.

9. Add a handful of beansprouts.

10. Stir fry quickly and fry till fragrant and serve.

11. Repeat procedure, plate by plate.

PS. This is one dish that can be cooked to order. Make your guest feel importnt
by asking for his preference, eg. more beansprouts, less chilli, etc. Some may
be allergic to prawns or cockles, etc. Even if you have ten guests, it is vital that the
koay teow be fried plate by plate. To put it more poetically, every strip of koay teow must have the chance to kiss the wok. Then the flavour will be just great!

Afrobev's Guide To Eating Out: La Marina

At Lunchtime today Philomena and I opted for the 'Custom House' otherwise known as 'La Marina' Restaurant on Penarth Haven's Marina. It was a good choice...a very good choice as it turned out.

Even though I had been there once before at a lunchtime it was not as good as this and I think the fact that last time I had Venison sausages and mash didn't help as I felt like I was eating Bambi or something. This time Phil and I took a relaxed approach to eating out and she went for the Salmon (which was mouth-watering and delicious according to my fellow diner) while I decided on Fillet Steak. Yes it was a tad expensive but we have decided to go for quality over quantity from now on with regards to eating out. So no more Pizza Hut and a lot less Nando's from here on in...But definetly a bit more of this thankyou very much! Or maybe not as the case may be as the wallet might take a bit of an unwanted hammering.

The service was very good and of a good standard on the whole while the basket of french bread we received before the main course always gives the establishment brownie points from me. But in truth the food was pretty damn suberb and it was probably one of, if not THE best steak I have ever had. Admittedly though I have said that about a lot of steaks so don't go by that. I am a bit fickle when it comes to eating steak dinners. There were a lot of garlic mushrooms on the side too but that didn't matter because I am such a fun guy (fungi! Get it? I belong on the stage!).

Still excellent though and a big thumbs up from me. We shall definetly be frequenting the establishment for further tastings but not too often as there is a limit on my lunchtime spending. Here's the official word...

Afrobev's Ratings:
Food- A+
Ambience- A
Waiter- B- (Could have been a bit friendlier but you can't have it all)
Presentation A+
Overall- A (fungi, fun guy! It's a play on words you see and... Oh never mind!)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Waterfront At Station Pier

Waterfront Restaurant is as the name suggests, located on Station Pier in Port Melbourne. It is right beside the dock where the Spirit of Tasmania ship leaves each night. The restaurant looks very stunning from outside with the modern architecture. When you step inside, it is equally classy and elegant. There are marble floors that lead you past the sushi bar onto wooden floors where large tables are surrounded by equally large cane chairs. I thought the chairs would be uncomfortable but turn out the be the exact opposite. The plates and cutlery are of high quality and I was especially pleased that the glasses were not all scratched. The dim lighting and strategically placed candles made for a very nice atmosphere. It was surprising noisy in the restaurant with a buzz generated by a fairly packed place.

Our waiter for the night was very professional and did his job very well. Somehow though, I felt a little uncomfortable around him. I just felt that he was very cold and putting up this upper class attitude and didn't really want to serve a bunch of loud, fairly casually dress young adults. We just wore our casual clothes like what we would to any other dinner but some older folks around us were dressed up in their long dresses and suits. This made me feel a little awkward since I just wore my jeans and knit jumper. I guess when you're rich, you have to dress the part. Or even if you aren't rich, when you go to a nice place, you want to look the part. Maybe when I'm older, I'll start wearing a suit too, but that's just not my style at the moment.

The food itself was ok but not great considering the price. We ordered Natural Oysters and Salt and Pepper Calamari for entrees. The oysters were very fresh and sweet. The choice of two sauces, chilii one and lemon one, to go with the oysters made them even nicer. However, for nearly $30 for a dozen oysters, I thought they were a bit overpriced. They were tiny Tasmanian oysters that I have bought so many times freshly opened by the fishmonger for only about $7 per dozen. About $18-$20 is fair for a dozen oysters I think. The Salt and Pepper Calamari was nice and tender.

For mains, most of us all decided on the Roast Rib Eye Steak with beef farce, gratin potato, glazed shallots and Port wine. The Rib Eye Steak itself was cooked medium as I had asked, but despite still being pink in the middle, it was very chewy in some places. It did not melt in my mouth and some pieces I just couldn't break and had to spit out in the end. The Farce was nothing special and Gratin Potatos were like any other potatos. I did like the Port Wine sauce, with its sweet flavour going nicely with the Steak. Overall though, the most important part being the beef did not live up to the price of $34. I've cooked a better Steak myself at home where the meat was much more tender.

The friends who didn't order the Steak got fish dishes. One ordered the Roast Whole Baby Snapper with preserved lemon, roasted red chilli lime spring onion pickle and parsley oil. Another ordered the Steamed Whole Baby Barramundi with mirin ginger soy. The Barramundi dish also came with a bowl of steamed rice, very much looking and tasting like the way Chinese restaurants do their fish. A third friend ordered the Seared Swordfish with green olive polenta, vine cherry tomato, baby squid and red capsicum sauce as shown below. The serving was very small but the fish was very nice. I tried a bit and the texture of the Swordfish is so smooth, it literally melts in your mouth.

With our dishes, we had red and white wine. I will say now that I know nothing about wine but am slowly learning. I do know what I like though. The red wine was a Penfolds '96 Vintage and even to my amateur taste buds, it was absolutely delicious. Only later did I find that the bottle costs $100 (my friend had picked it). I forgot the name of the white wine but it was also quite nice. I liked the red wine more though.

Overall I thought the restaurant looked good and the service was also good. However, the food was not of high enough quality for the prices they were charging. I would go back, but only for special celebratory occasions where food was a secondary issue and having an atmosphere was the most important part.

Overall Rating: 13/20, Food ok but not good enough for the expensive prices being charged.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Afrobev's Guide To Swedish Home Cooking

Philomena made me Falun Sausage stuffed with Cheese courtesy of 'Ikea's Real Swedish Food Book'(again the picture doesn't do it justice). Despite Phil's reservations that the sausage was just a swedish version of Polony, it actually tasted really nice. She's quite the chef you know? When she wants to be.

We went to Ikea down at the Cardiff Bay Retail Park on Sunday to get the ingredients but they didn't have most of it so we improvised and bought different cheese and an alternative form of mustard. In fact the only thing we actually got on the list that was supposed to be there was the Falun Sausage.

However, she did a fantastic job and it tasted delicious.

Here is the recipe and the ingredients (if you can get them)

150G "HERRGARD CHEESE" (Good Luck with that one, any form of cheese will do however)
4 LARGE TOMATOES (Phil only used the one)
8 SMALL ONIONS (again one will suffice)
2 TBSPS SWEDISH MUSTARD"SENAP" (Wholegrain Mustard was good)

Skin the sausage and cut it into cm thick slices, but not quite all the way through. Cut the cheese into thin slices and spread with mustard on both sides. Insert the cheese between the sausage slices. Peel and parboil the onions. Carefully place the "larded" sausage in a well-greased, oven-proof dish together with the onions and the tomatoes, whole or halved. Sprinkle with the spices and add a few knobs of butter (a little garlic on the tomatoes makes a fine contrast). Roast in the oven for about 25-30 minutes at Gas Mark 6-7 or until the cheese has melted and the whole thing is a nice colour and thoroughly cooked. If it looks dry, pour on a little more stock or water. You could serve with rice or your preference of potatoes.

That is Afrobev's Guide To Swedish Home Cooking (My thanks go to Philomena the chef and also to Ikea, despite their severe lack of ingredients). There is a lot of love in my kitchen!

Tiramisu Cake

This is my first food post especially written for this blog and not taken from my other blog. It's also my first attempt at food photography. Hopefully I have made the cake as enticing and mouth watering as possible through the photo.

I love to eat Tiramisu, and if Tiramisu is available at any restaurant as a dessert, I will order it. This particular Tiramisu cake was bought from Bread Top. Bread Top sell lots of cakes and other desserts. The quality of most of the cakes and buns are very good. It is a bit pricey but I think it's worth it since it tastes nice.

According to Anna Maria Volpi's website A Passion For Cooking,

Tiramisu is one of the latest additions to “traditional” Italian cooking. Unknown until about fifteen years ago, when it is believed to have been invented in the town of Treviso in northern Italy, in merely a decade it has become a world-renowned dessert, extremely popular from the United States to Japan.

It is considered a semifreddo (a dessert served cold, but not frozen). This dessert has many variations, with the only constant ingredient the mascarpone cheese.

This particular Tiramisu contains a layer of cocoa powder on the top of layers of cream, mascarpone cheese, and sponge cake partially soaked in coffee. It also has a thin shell around the edge made from chocolate. This tiramisu from Bread Top is quite good, but not excellent. It need some alcohol in it and the coffee flavours need to be stronger but otherwise is still nice.

I've tried some other Tiramisu's that were quite different. The Tiramisu from Brunetti has a much stronger flavour and is more to my liking. The alcohol really makes a big difference in my opinion. Another different Tiramisu is available at Chapelli's on Chapel Street. Their Tiramisu is much more "solid" and cake like. The sponge cake is heavier and the mascarpone cheese stronger in flavour. They serve theirs with chocolate on top and a nice full dollop of very smooth cream. One serving is definitely more than enough and usually I can't finish it since I'm full from dinner most times I go there, but my eyes and nose can never get enough. Hahaha :-)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Afrobev's Guide To Eating Out: The Madeira

Last Wednesday night was another date night for Philomena and I and as usual we took about an hour of the night trying to decide on where to go to eat. We parked up in the NCP next to Toys R Us when Phil decided on the old reliable. Where would Leanne go? Leanne is Legendary in the World of eating out and we know that if she likes a place then it must be good.

So we headed off down the road to the Madeira Restaurant. It looked like it had everything. A good menu, a relaxing atmosphere and it looked to be quiet (it was Valentine's day the day before, so we assumed we'd be okay).

My first impression of the staff was not a good one however. Phil asked for a table for two and the man was a bit short to say the least. Im not talking about his height either, he was about six foot and he made us feel about as welcome as a fart in a lift.

"Have you booked?" He said, looking us up and down.
"No, we haven't" Phil said. Phil and I looked at each other with the intention of telling him to stick his Portuguese Restaurant up his Portuguese bottom, then took a peak at a virtually empty restaurant apart a table of four women who looked like the cast of The Golden Girls. One even had a Blanche hair do. He looked really put out now and with a stern look on his face and obviously trying to maintain the exclusivity* of his establishment, he sighed and said "I can give you a table at the back of the restaurant, but I can only give you two hours, is that okay?"

*Is that a word?

We agreed but I was bemused at this point and wanted to walk out and go to one of the other hundred eateries in town, but we were here now and I couldn't be bothered to argue. He then proceeded to take us to a table right at the centre of the Restaurant(you really are a very strange man). The grim reaper ahem...I mean waiter came over again and seemed to be a bit friendlier(that wasn't too difficult mind you) when he took our drinks order. Phil seemed to think that it was a Portuguese trait to come across as rude and that I shouldn't take any notice and that I should just relax and enjoy myself. I was easily won around though when they came out with a basket of crusty bread for us to feast on and things improved further when our starters came. Phil had the soup and I gambled on the Scampi. Yep, things were definetly looking up.

The Restaurant filled out with some more people who obviously had the common decency to book their tables before arriving and I had started to relax and enjoy the night. I was even more pleasantly surprised when the main courses came. We both opted for Chicken Piri Piri and the results looked promising. But the best bit was the extra veg they brought out. Cauliflower in batter, Peas and wait for it....Chipped Potatoes! Now that's what I'm talking about. Mr Miserable Portuguese Git...Your previous transgressions may have been forgiven, I'm a happy man again with a full belly.

Phil said after that she enjoyed it but found the food to be too salty for her tastes and that the Chicken Piri Piri wasn't as spicy as she would have liked and I think she probably had a point. I had allowed my hunger to lead me into being too easily pleased and I expect we'll go to Porto's on St. Mary Street next time we feel like a Portuguese meal for two. If only he'd been a little bit friendlier when we came in it would have made our overall dining experience a far nicer one. Still, Phil bought me a remote controlled Dalek from Toys R Us afterwards and we saw Bryn Terfel outside the Madeira looking at the menu. Phil recognized him straight away but I didn't unfortunately. If I had I would have asked him to sing the Songs of Hiawatha. Shame!

Afrobev's Ratings:
Maitre De- C-
Food- B
Ambience B-
Waiter- C
Presentation A-
Seeing Bryn Terfel Outside The Restaurant- Priceless!!!
Overall- C

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Patchi Chocolates

This is an old post from my other blog More Thanh Words which I have decided to group here as it is about food.

I've already done a post on chocolates before but I love them so much I thought I would do another one. The other chocolates were from Koko Black and were quite nice. But these chocolates are from Patchi, located in Melbourne Central.

The Koko Black chocolates are thin shells of chocolate with different centres. Most of the centres were too sweet and not that good. You couldn't really taste the quality of the chocolate. These chocolates from Patchi are just pure chocolate, milk and dark, with different nuts or creams made from nuts. They're extremely expensive, $110 per kilogram, and I always flip flop between thinking they're not worth it and then thinking they're worth it. The chocolates are so smooth and rich without being sugary and overpowering. At those moments when I'm eating them, I think its money well spent, because one or two a day will satisfy me. However, when I'm not eating them, I think that spending about $1.50 - $2 for a tiny piece of chocolate is such a waste. I could do so much more with that money, I could nearly buy a whole block of Cadbury chocolate. Oh well, I guess we have to indulge ourselves every once in a while. It's not like I'm eating these chocolates all the time. Just every month or two when I go and buy them.

Above: Little bars of silver and gold chocolate bars from Patchi.

Pet Hates At Restaurants

This is an old post from my other blog More Thanh Words which I have decided to group here as it is about food.

I was talking to my friend Justin about a bad lunch I had at Bo Bo's in Pinewood. This brought up the topic of what we hated at restaurants. Well here are of few of my pet hates at restaurants.

* Waiters not bringing you ice water - Even after you ask for it many times, some always seems to "forget". Its not a case of them just forgetting I think. They are probably told by their bosses to sell as many drinks as possible since that is where easy profits lie, but if a customer wants water, they should get it. After asking quite a lot of times at some places, I think its all a conspiracy. Whats worse is when you have ordered drinks and they still don't bring you water.

* Restaurants not giving change - Some places seem to assume that if there is a few dollars extra, its tips for them. NO, this isn't the case. By law, they need to return the change and then its up to the consumer to decide whether they want to tip. I always tip if service is good but don't need to be forced to tip by not getting my change. At one place I had to ask why they didn't give me my change and they just said they made a mistake. Yeah right, when it happened again the next time, I knew this was a dodgy tactic they used since some people may not ask for their change back since its so little.

* Restaurants charging ridiculous amounts for tea and corkage - In regards to tea, I'm mainly talking about Chinese restaurants. Although it is customary at most Chinese restaurants to bring you tea immediately and its free or they charge a small once off fee for the whole table, some places charge by the PERSON. This is utterly ridiculous since they ask you immediately what tea you want and since you haven't had time to look at the menu yet, you don't know they will be charging you by the person. Places that do this without letting you know beforehand won't be getting my patronage again.

With corkage, charging up to $15 per person is too steep. The corkage is probably there to discourage people to bring alcohol but what if the restaurant doesn't have the wine that you want. If you don't want to let people bring their own alcohol, why not just say BYO is unavailable rather than have people bring their own only to discover how much the corkage is. And what exactly are their options, just leave their wine under the table and not open it when they were all ready to drink it.

* Waiters not double checking your order - Which means that after everyone's meal has arrived, one person at the table is left without anything to eat because the waiter forgot their order. This means that if everyone else waited for the missing meal, their own meals would get cold. If everyone else went ahead and ate, that person will be sitting there watching everyone else eat and then vice versa.

* Restaurants that don't let you split the bill - Whats with this. How hard can it be to let each person pay separately. Aren't we in the age of technology now where all places use electronic registers. It can't be that hard to punch out a few separate bills.

* People not washing their hands after going to the toilet - This one isn't about the restaurants but instead the customers. For example, yesterday night I saw a guy go to the toilet and then just walk straight out. UUUgggghhhh. I'm no germ freak but why wouldn't you wash your hands. You're about to go back out into an environment with lots of food, touch lots of places with your dirty hand as well as eating your dinner with those hands. No wonder those lab studies always find urine and faecal germs on people's toothbrushes even.

These are a few of my hates that I can think of now. As usual, please disagree if you like. Leave comments on what some of your pet hates are.

Kimchi Grandma Korean Restaurant

This is an old post from my other blog More Thanh Words which I have decided to group here as it is about food.

Kimchi Grandma has a few stores scattered around the place but the particular one I'm reviewing is the one located on Whitehorse Road in Box Hill. The small glassed store front leads into a very long and large restaurant inside, with a small side ajoining room that looks out on the pavement. Its a bit dark in there for my liking but when the ceiling is like 10 metres high, it is pretty hard to light the place adequately.

Dennis, Paul and I ordered quite a lot of food since we were all extremely hungry. For entrees we got the Seafood Pancake, with one slice still left on the left photo below. I was so hungry I forgot to take photos of everything until after we had nearly finished eating. The Pancake is a nice chewy texture with pieces of seafood and when dipped into the slightly sweet soy sauce, works quite well. Accompanying the entree was the assortment of side dishes that Korean food is famous for. They vary from time to time depending on what they have. My all time favourite side dish tasted a bit like abalone, but I doubt they would give that since its so expensive. It was probably squid marinated in some way. Anyway this time, we got six side dishes consisting of pickled white radish, kimchi (pickled cabbage, my other favourite), jelly in soy sauce, marinated eggplant, egg rolls and pickled bean sprouts. You can see all the empty little dishes in the left photo.

For mains we had the good old Beef Bulgogi (left dish on right photo), which is thinly sliced beef in a garlic, soy and sweet bbq like sauce served on a hot plate with various vegetables. Kimichi Grandma's Beef Bulgogi is quite good and I've tried quite a few Beef Bulgogi at different Korean restaurants. We also got another hot plate dish in the Beef Ribs (left dish in left photo). It is also a sweet bbq type flavour and the beef ribs has its own distinct flavour. The last dish we got was the Seafood Hot Pot (right dish in right photo). It is a spicy soup mix with lots of different seafood such as mussels, clams, calamari, prawns, tiny octopus and vegetables such as mushroom, radish and various types of Asian green leaf type vegetables.

The service at Kimchi Grandma was good. We were seated quickly and brought tea immediately. We were also asked what drinks we like first. The orders were taken and confirmed, also checking whether we wanted entrees first or everything at once.

The atmosphere at Kimchi Grandma depends on the night. On crowded nights, such as Friday when we were there, the noise level is quite high and there is a general buzz around the place typical of many Asian restaurants. Its make for a happy mood even if you have to shout a bit to be heard.

Overall Rating: 14/20, Food and service good and not too expensive.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Ying Thai

This is an old post from my other blog More Thanh Words which I have decided to group here as it is about food.

After two not so Thai food experiences in the past two weeks, I was going to give Thai food one last try. I went to Ying Thai located on Victoria Street in Abbotsford with Patrick and Dennis. Dennis had suggested it and said that it was not too expensive and quite good. This turned out to be very true and has restored my faith in Thai food.

Ying Thai is very small restaurant with a nice comfortable feel to it. The bright orange walls and colourful murials make for a pleasant happy feel. The atmosphere inside was busy without being overly noisy so that you had to shout to be heard. The service was good. We were brought ice water as we sat down and the waiter was friendly and efficient, reading back our order to make sure it was correct. The food and drinks arrived promptly and without fuss.

The Papaya Seafood Salad (left in picture) was my favourite dish. It was extremely hot and had yummy crisp papaya and carrots mixed with seafood and tangy lime and fish sauce dressing. The Red Curry Duck (middle in picture) was also delicious and a bargain at $13. The serving was much larger than last weeks one at Poppy’s Thai Restaurant and it also had a lot more duck in it as well. The curry was nice and creamy and went extremely well with the Thai Beef Fried Rice (not shown in picture). The rice was cooked nicely so that it had that “wok” flavour I love. The Pad Thai Chicken (right back in picture) was a much better one than that at Tantawon’s Thai Restaurant. It was still a little bit sweet for my liking but at least the noodles were all fully cooked and separate. Finally the Fish Fillet with Special Chilli Sauce was again very hot. The fish in batter was nice but the chilli sauce was a bit too salty. For drinks we all ordered the Thai Milk Tea, which was orange in colour. It tasted a bit like green tea ice cream as Patrick noted. This might sound strange but trust me, it was very nice and helped to cool the mouth from the spicy hot food.

Overall the food and service are of a good standard. The fact that the dishes were so cheap made it extremely good value for money, as usually Thai food is quite expensive.

Overall Rating: 14/20, Food and service good and value for money.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.

Poppy's Thai Restaurant

This is an old post from my other blog More Thanh Words which I have decided to group here as it is about food.

After last week's disastorous Thai food experience, I thought I would try it again so organised to go to another Thai restaurant with my friends Patrick, Dennis, Kevin, Candy and Michael, who I hadn't seen in ages.

After a bit of browsing around on the internet, settled on Poppy's Thai Restaurant in Burwood. As I've said, restaurants that have a website with the menu tend to entice me to go as I can see what is available.

Poppy's is located quitely along a strip of shops on Burwood Highway next to Subway and some grocery stories. It's not much to look at outside but once inside, the surroundings are very warm and inviting. The two storey high ceilings and wooden floors give it a nice feel. The tables and chairs are solid dark wood and the table arranged nicely, a good first impression.

For entrees, we ordered the Mixed Entree and Roti Bread with Peanut Dipping Sauce. The Mixed Entree is listed as "A splendidly tempting platter with chicken satay, spring roll, Thai fish cake, vegetable samosa & prawn roll" and guess what, thats what you get, one of each. I thought there would've been at least two of each considering those items are very cheap and they are charging $13 for the dish. The Mixed Entree is your standard fried fare and the Roti bread was ok but the Peanut Sauce was good.

Mains was famous Thai Red Duck Curry (middle dish in picture), Mango Chicken (left dish), Mor Tok (seafood curry), Phuket Platter, a seafood salad (left dish in picture) and Pineapple Fried Rice. The food arrived promptly despite the restaurant being very full. Our drinks also came quickly before the actual meal, so they get points for that. Overall the standard of the food was high and all very nice. The Duck Curry was how curry should be, nice flavours that aren't overpowered by just loads of coconut milk. The Mango Chicken was ok, with the batter of the chicken a bit too heavy and the mango puree tasted like it was from a can rather than fresh mangos. The Mor Tok seafood curry was a nice mix of seafood with strong coriander and chilli. The Pineapply Fried Rice was nicely done with that strong "wok" flavour as I call it, where its just about to burn on the wok but hasn't yet. The dish that I actually liked the most was the Phuket Platter, a seafood salad. The dish was ultra hot, broken up with sharp lemon and coriander flavours and the seafood mixed in between.

Overall, Poppy's food and service is good, but its downfall is that the serving sizes are way too small for the prices. I know quantity isn't everything but when you need about two dishes to fill you up, well thats just not right, considering the dishes cost between $15-$30. After we had finished eating, we were all still very hungry so headed off to Pancake Parlour where everyone had a large dish of pancakes for dessert.

Overall Rating: 12/20, Food and service good but serving sizes way too small.

Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.