Wednesday, April 6, 2011

So it was a very busy month in March. First, let me explain the photo above.

Our good friend Anne-Marie had a birthday party (one of the important ones) and so we went to Melbourne to attend. As you may be able to work out from the photo- a 70's theme was declared; I grew a beard and man-scaped down to the Lemmy seen above, Zoe went onto TradeMe and found the kaftan for $10. All set.

And of course visiting Melbourne means visiting other friends as well - and eating. Of Course.

So we arrived on the Wednesday afternoon and headed to the Melbourne offices, then out around the corner to a little place called Pekopeko (181 Wells St, Southbank) where Zoe had got takeaway from on a couple of occasions. They were full but would hold a table for us in 20 minutes. No problem, after a flight, shuttle and sitting in the office a brisk walk would be good. So we wandered for the 20 minutes picking up a Yalumba Viogner at the local IGA on the way.

Seated and menus in hand, I was spoilt for choice, a very large list of options all looking great. A quick check with the waitress and she suggested a 2nd option to my choice as that one was crisp fried in a flour batter, and we started with Gyoza. Large and yummy with a good chilli sauce to dip into.

My box meal of honey chicken came as below (sorry photo taken on the IPhone) with a side of steamed broccoli in a peanut / chilli sauce (I was told the chef there created this and won't share the recipe) steamed rice and a nice sized chunk of tofu, beautifully cooked chicken pieces and I wiped the compartments clean and attacked Zoe's meal as well.

Finished off with the green tea icecream on a black rice pudding

Day two we met friends at St Ali - a super cool cafe down a side alleyway, one of those ones you find in Melbourne with the cobblestones and interesting little workshops etc. It was close to lunchtime so I went with the dish that seems to have become a staple of the Melbourne cafe scene, steak with a green salad or variants of that.

The St Ali version is decent sized sirloin, cut slightly thinner than standard served with a mixed greens salad with a mustard dressing. Perfect protein boost for midday along with a couple of long blacks and got to meet Julie and mark's new son, Wilbur while their first climbed under the roller door into the street and got chased by his aunt.

Both Julie and Angela enthused about a restaurant they thought may be close to where we were staying, called Los Latinos which serves a mix of South American dishes, a mix of Mexican, Chilean, Salvadorian, and Costa Rica.

Later that day when I went down that street there it was, barely 500m from our friends house and perfect for dinner that night. This place is amazing, tucked into a slightly dingy strip of shops of the side of a busy street is a bright and shiny and little cafe that when we arrived was almost full with a large very obviously South American family all the way from grand parents down the very latest addition to the family.

A table for two though - no problem and in minutes after a quick consultation with the waitress we'd ordered the nachos as a starter and I'd ordered the Pupusas as my main; these are hot round discs made from maize flour, stuffed with deep-fried pork or refried beans or two cheeses (or a combination of all three fillings) and cooked on a hotplate.

They're served with pickled cabbage (curtido) and tomato salsa and are mighty tasty. I asked for and got a mixed plate of four - that for $10 and was more than enough though I made sure I finished the plate. Zoe had the tacos which she told me were very good indeed!

Lunch the next day was with Julie and Angela and their folks - refugees from Christchurch who had taken up the Air NZ chance to get away and also visit the new baby. The Cafe up the road - Le Chien is their local and we wandered up there for lunch. Again the steak option was there and this time with a side of a potato and beetroot dauphinoise, something I'd not considered before. I'll have to take a shot at this at some stage.
Then after a quick bite to eat we headed to the big party! I'll deal with that in a separate post.
Saturday we visited more friends, Mark and Lynne adopted three Indian children late last year, two sisters and a brother so we went and had lunch and a wine or two there, then went to AAMI stadium to watch the Melbourne Storm thrash the Titans.

The kids, are fabulous with the youngest (only 4 and she re-programmed my IPhone for me) likely to rule the world at some stage.
A very late dinner at China Bar was next on the list.
Again Zoe was the instigator, this place is one of those Melbourne eateries where the basics are done well, very well. A rapid fire menu, even faster service and bare floors, formica tables etc. and lots of options. Braised brisket with rice arrived inside of 5 minutes of me ordering, obviously simmering away in a huge pan out back this was moist, spicy, sweet and perfect, followed it up with the seafood fried kueh tiaw with extra chilli sauce while others around me had all sorts of mixed dishes along with custard buns to finish.
After all of that it was back onto a plane early the next morning and back to Wellington - a great mini break away, enough new foods to spark up the cooking juices and get me going again, so here's to travel and friends, the best excuse I've found to eat a lot in a very short time frame.
cheers all.

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