Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Bed Who In? Kitchen

A desert dwelling Arab group - I had to look this up you see as I struggled to verbally tell my friend where to meet me for dinner. I thought I had got away by texting the name and address but she dam well called to confirm. I fumbled my way through the call 'it’s near the corner of Barkly and Grey St' but knew that I would have to figure out how to say the word (prof; Bed-Doh-Win) is the closest I have got.

The door into Bedouin Kitchen looks to be stolen from Rupunzels palace it sets the scene for an Arabian Nights style interior that is now looking a little dated. I have heard that this place is packed in the weekends however on this Tuesday night it was dead. While this did impact on the atmosphere of the place I am pleased to say that all the food tasted freshly made.

There was a mix of wine available by the glass and bottle. The waiter explained that it was a sharing menu and suggested for the two of us three starters (mezze) and one hot pot. We took his advice (on board) but went against it. In the mood for picking we went for:

- Tabouli; fresh, flavoursome and not bitter as can sometimes be

- Fish fingers; lightly crumbed fish fried and served with labna

- Falafel; as expected, not to oily, held together well, delicious

- Lamb Kofta; a little bit bland and dry

- One more dish...

I have not described anything in much detail because what you get at the Bedouin Kitchen is good honest Middle Eastern food. It is delicious, filling and fresh it is not the best out there but for $66 for two and a glass of wine each I can't complain. Give it a go.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Easy as One, Two, Three

Serves 3 - 6

A perfect dessert when you have very little in the cupboards, feel like something a little decadent but are already feeling guilty for thinking of wanting dessert.

Take 3 pears (ideally Bosc) peel, then cut in half and take the core out.

Poach (no sugar in the water necessary) until tender throughout but still holding their shape well. Once done leave to rest. a heavy based small saucepan add 300gm brown sugar, 100gm of butter and 100ml of cream and stir over a low heat. Once all the ingredients have combined and the sugar has dissolved you are ready to plate up.

Place pears in the centre of the platter, drizzle over caramel sauce, (pear stranded in caramel sauce...awesome) then sprinkle over crushed gingernuts.

Serve with vanilla ice cream

Monday, May 11, 2009


345 Barkly Street
St Kilda
p. 9531 3078

A slightly improper habit, but one that is hard to shake is my knack for sniffing out free things. It's called being an opportunist and it is only those pessimistic types that see it as being scabby. Don't take this incorrectly I am more than happy to pay my way, hell I will probably invite you around for tea singing “leave that cleanskin at home will yah?!” I just find it somewhat wasteful purchasing things when someone is already providing them for free.

So when I go out for my Saturday morning coffee I would be lying if I said it doesn't cross my mind that by enjoying my coffee out at a cafe I am saving on the cost of purchasing the daily rag. I acknowledge that enjoying a free paper is not exactly eureka material it's almost considered improper itself for a cafe not to offer free reading.

But with exploitation comes the realisation that you have no say, no ownership, no credible voice. I now know that if I happen to sleep in a little longer my paper will have been slaughtered with limbs spread across tables, on chairs and possibly in the bin after a baby chuck episode.

Coffee at Jerry's doesn’t have that problem, a milk bar by name, a cafe (and milk bar) by trade it retails all your publications with a great coffee to boot. Offering a selection of childhood sweets in little glass bowles, milkshakes (that are a little on the thin side - ice cream please) and breaky there is something there for every Tom, Dick and Jerry. It does come at a price though...but at least your guaranteed the front and back page with everything in between.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Roast With No Meat

Last night I experienced my first vegetarian roast. Are you thinking, 'ok, so they made a lamb roast with all the vege's on the side but someone ate the meat so that leaves you with a plate of roast vegetables'. A very logical answer and probably true but not the truth I discovered last night.

For those new to the concept of a vegaterian roast it goes a little something like this;

1 peeled carrot
1 peeled onion
1 celery stick
200g unsalted raw mixed nuts (I used just almond meal but experiment if you will)
2 tablespoons vegemite
2 free range eggs
2 tablespoons mixed herbs
Salt & pepper
Dried breadcrumbs (for coating the tin)
**Prunes (optional)

Set oven to 190°C.

Line a 450g loaf tin with a strip of non-stick paper, grease well and sprinkle with dry breadcrumbs.
Put all the ingredients into a food processor and process until vegetables and nuts are chopped into chunky pieces.

Mix with remaining ingredients.

Spoon mixture into tin** and level the top and bake uncovered for 45 mins until set.

My friend put half the mixture in then layered soaked prunes, followed by the rest of the mix. It added a wonderful sweet juiciness to the roast which it otherwise lacks.

Give it a go, you will be surprised how addictive it is, particularly if you pair it with a creamy mushroom sauce.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Galleon

9 Carlisle St
St Kilda 3182 VIC
p. 03 9534 8934

I have delayed reviewing this ‘shrine’ for fear that I will not do it justice. Just off Acland Street this cafe is a sanctuary for the urban bohemian population of St Kilda. The interior flaunts all that was cool until it became one big cliché in cafe culture. Mismatched Formica tables, walls that adopt the role as your Melbourne gig guide come display gallery for the local nude drawers of St Kilda.

With no shortage of customers The Galleon manages its patrons- in-waiting via a brown paper bag stuck to the door which you put your name on. Once everyone above you gets allocated a seat then it’s your turn. You normally do not have to wait too long and on rare occasions I have got a table straight away, however, if you’re after a quick caffeine hit and something to get your chompers into you may not want to risk it. Furthermore communal tables are a go-go here so if you want to share scandalous gossip with your companion I again would not risk eating at The Galleon – unless you’re looking to spread the gossip...

If everyone that eats here holds it in the esteem that I do (which I think they do by the level of regulars) then it would not surprise me if the staff let it go to their head. But they don’t. They are natural, efficient, friendly and helpful. Hell, they even forgave their 10% surcharge on Good Friday to give it to charity. Now how about that?

Typically at this point in my Galleon experience I am quite relaxed, I flick through the paper, I have ordered a fabulous coffee and am sipping that, while simultaneously reaching out for my boyfriend’s chai sipping that too all while having a small mental breakdown about what to order. I had been recommended the Sweet potato fritters. I trusted my advisor and ordered. Arrived were two handsome plump fritters. They were flavoursome and moist without the deep fry taste or the worse still, soggy inside. It came with a poached egg and house made relish - A fabulous (and low GI) twist on the potato hash brown.

If you’re looking for a sweet option the French toast with bacon, bananas and maple syrup is sure to please. Heavily doused in the egg mixture it is substantial and you can bet that when you cut into it you are not going to find ‘raw’ white bread. I hate that. There is a generous breakfast menu that I will not leak today, I suggest you go and discover it yourself. Just before I depart I will do a plug for one more dish...the Haloumi, chickpea and sweet potato salad. Yahum. A lunch dish that is served warm – the three main ingredients teamed with walnuts and baby spinach and good lashings of dressing making for a memorable salad.

The doors of the Galleon are open every day with service starting at the crack of dawn.


  • I will go back to The Galleon (already have)
  • I will recommend The Galleon
  • I would put it on my must-eat-at list, not because it is groundbreaking but just because... because it’s solid and good.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


213 Barkly St St Kilda,
VIC 3182
ph. (03) 9534 1282

The logo looks like it belongs to something on Southbank, the interior looks like it belongs to Smith Street (pre Anada and Gigibaba). So what is a diner to expect when they walk into the St Kilda Claypots?

Firstly, it is highly likely that the restaurant will already be full, unless you’re dining on a Monday or Tuesday. They will suggest you have a drink in the side bar which again will already be full. The side bar is an intimate space with panels along the side of the wall which they call seating. We were on a forty minute waiting list for a table and the appeal of sitting in what really is a thoroughfare was not particularly pleasing however others seemed quite happy there. The bar man noticed us walk out and commented “if you have to wait for a table you’re spos’t to drink here to kill the time” – the truth is so refreshing sometimes!

Forty minutes later I get a call from the restaurant to say a table is ready for us. We get ushered to the front of the restaurant. The place is divided into two dining areas, one at the front that looks out to Barkly Street, and one at the back that looks out to not much. There is a chiller display in the centre that showcases the catches of the day – behind this is the kitchen. The seating is a mix of square tables, circular tables and booths. If possible I would suggest you request a seat at the front as it has a bit more atmosphere and better lighting.

Noticing the wine we bought in ($10 BYO) we were promptly provided with glasses, complimentary breads and taken through the menu which is on two chalk boards. One with a variety of dishes predominantly fish/seafood focused, the other with the claypots. The waitress happily talked us through the menu although was a bit brief on explaining how much would really be needed for a party of three. On the contrary, my friend went in the following night and said their waiter was very helpful.

We did pick up from the waitress that dishes are made to be shared. Our first course was the king prawns, one prawn per person. They were huge and exceptionally meaty so I did feel like I was getting my money’s worth. The prawns were cooked in a hot Asian oil dressing and presented sitting in the pan with bread wedges sitting half in the oil. This acted as a perfect sponge to mop up the gorgeous flavours. The freshness of their seafood was evident.

Two claypots were ordered, Malay Tagine and Moroccan Tagine. This was the perfect amount for three people – if you were with big eaters though I would suggest one each (that is, if you were going light on entree). The Malay Tagine was set on sticky rice and then topped with bok choy, chunks of fish and mussels. It was well drowned in a stunning sauce that had a great kick to it and can best be compared to a green curry. There was enough fish and mussels in the dish to not have to secretly scoop an extra few out when no one was looking. The Moroccan Tagine was a blueprint of the Malay Tagine except rice was replaced with medium sized couscous and egg plant was the main vegetable. It sat in a tomato based sauce again, with fish and mussel. What I liked about these two pots was that they arrived in the claypot itself which stayed warm as you slowly picked your way through the contents. The serving was generous but not ridiculous and there were plenty of juices and flavours right to the bottom of the pot.

All claypots are priced at $20 and the fish dishes range from $18 to $45 from memory. One prawn followed with claypot goodness, washed down with a couple of glasses of wine and I was well satisfied, totalling a recession friendly $23 each.

- I will go back to Claypots
- I will recommend Claypots
- I would not put it on my must-eat-at list

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Choux Pastry - the how to guide

1989 we are in the car; I have a glass plate on my lap with chocolate éclairs on it. The once glossy icing has now muted and cracks are starting show, this is ok though, because unlike our modern day oh-so fancy ganache, this won’t stick to the cling wrap.

Fast forward to 2009 and I am looking through Karen Martini’s book ‘Cooking at Home’ and bam! It’s an éclair! While I had long since buried éclairs into the ‘that’s so old fashion mum’ pile, Karen has done an outstanding job at bringing this 80’s icon into the modern day.

Often one to interpret the ‘now to make the pastry’ as ‘now to pull the pastry out of the freezer’ I was surprised to see that I was subconsciously doing a stock take on my pantry to see if I could indeed make this. I did, and I suggest you do to.

Below is the recipe, straight from Karen (via me) to you. A couple of things to note that you old pastry hags may scoff at but I wish someone had told me;

Only EVER put one tray in the oven at once – don’t stack them unless you have a tried and tested fan oven that will distribute the heat PERFECTLY...

  1. Cook them a little longer than you think, they develop a lovely golden tan and if undercooked, they really do taste like uncooked pastry
  2. If you have a kitchen wiz use it, the result is just as good as hand mixing and twice as easy
  3. Get jiggy with the fillings, try stewed apple with a caramel sauce and crushed pecans OR custard and nutmeg...
  4. And when you brag to your guest that you indeed made the pastry yourself be sure to correct the uneducated that it is shoe...not chux

Choux Puffs with ice cream and hot honey sauce

As mentioned above, roam free with the fillings although this is a good one to start with. Left over puffs should be stored in the freezer as they will mould quickly otherwise.

Serves 6-8 (one per serve)

100ml water
100ml milk
80gm unsalted butter
1 teaspoon castor sugar
1 teaspoon salt
120g plain flour
3 free range eggs, lightly beaten
6-8 large scoops of vanilla bean ice cream (or flavour of your choice)

Honey chocolate sauce

200g dark chocolate
100ml pouring cream
3 tablespoons honey
25g cocoa powder
4 tablespoons water
25g unsalted butter, chopped
½ teaspoon vanilla essence

To make the honey-choc sauce, place the chocolate, cream and honey in a small saucepan over a low heat and stir until smooth. Place the cocoa powder and water in a bowl and stir until smooth. Add the cocoa to the chocolate mixture and stir constantly until almost boiling. Remove from the heat, add the butter and vanilla essence and stir until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 230dg. Line two or three baking trays with baking paper.

To make the choux puffs, combine the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until boiling. Add the flour and stir quickly with a wooden spoon over low heat for about 5-8minutes or until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Transfer to an electric mixer and using the paddle attachment, slowly add the beaten egg, mixing well. Alternatively, slowly add the beaten egg and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and elastic. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate.

Place tablespoons of the mixture on the baking trays and bake for 6-8min or until puffed, then reduce the temperature to 185dg and bake for a further 15minutes or until cooked inside.

To serve, cut the choux puffs in half and place a scoop of vanilla ice-cream in the centre. Replace the tops and pour hot honey chocolate sauce over the top. Serve immediately.