Quite nice food I’ve had lately (and not so lately)

Apparently this is the fifth of these I’ve done (try hereherehere and here, for previous editions). It’s quite overdue since I visited a lot of these places ages ago (and some just last week), but the whole baby thing means I just haven’t had time to write about the lovely food I’ve been having out and about.

Mostly I’m finally finishing this long-drafted post NOW because I’m having surgery next week and, in case I DIE, I want you to all know how nice these places are and that you should go. I want to go back to every single one of them (and often have, much to the dismay of my bank balance).

Top Paddock in Richmond (this is from quite a while ago, sorry)




Storm in a Teacup in Collingwood


StormInAteacupDino StormInAteacupLunch StormInAteacupMenu StormInAteacupReadingMaterialPlusBigCats

Daniel Son in Murrumbeena

DanielSonDanielSonDominosLuxBite (their Toorak store is just STUNNING, look at it!!!! Their tiny CBD shopfront is so different)

LuxBiteLightFittingLuxBiteStripesLuxBiteStillLifeLuxBiteCakes2 LuxBiteCakes3LuxBiteLollyBagCakeLuxBiteIceCoffeeLuxBiteCakes

 Tivoli Street Bakery in South Yarra

TivoliStreetBakeryYum(Mmmm, slaw. But get the doughnuts. SERIOUSLY)

The Black Squirrel in Sandringham

Black Squirrel Burger They do their own cold drip coffee and it’s lovely

Black SquirrelClement at the South Melbourne market (god, those DOUGHNUTS)


The new Mork cafe in North Melbourne

Mork shopfront Mork plants Mork hot chocolate My friend ordered the smoked hot chocolate and I was jealous.

Mork smokes chocolate Mork Cakes

Sierra Tango in Cheltenham, where they have handsome men playing atmospheric gypsy (almost tango-like, you might say) music on Tuesday nights (and Saturdays as well, I think they said)

SierraTango SierraTangoDessertThe Kettle Black in South Melbourne (I went before Christmas but dream of going again)

KettleBlackKettleBlackMushrooms KettleBlackCakesYum. YUM.

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Food tour of Melbourne the second

Because we couldn’t manage to finish my very long list of places in the city and surrounds where I wanted to eat on our last visit, my friend F and I decided that we really had better go again and stuff our faces some more, before I went back to work.

Have been too busy to post this so it’s whatever the blogging equivalent of a #latergram is (is there a word for that? there should be). Anyway, we managed to make it back to Short Stop and it was bloody worth the trip. Yum.

They are so unpretentious, I love it. They’re not pretending to be anything other than a doughnut place. The coffee comes in black or white (and is good). The staff were lovely. The flavours are interesting. The shop is nice.

Brilliant. Yum.

Then we went up to Lygon Street (we both went to Melbourne uni so the tram ride felt nicely nostalgic) to visit Pidapipo‘s new permanent shop (the previous one was a pop-up). Much like Short Stop, we had attempted to go before and they’d been randomly closed. Much like Short Stop, it was so bloody worth the trip back.


Cute tables!!!!



They just rated a mention as one of the best gelato places in Melbourne, which they have well earned.

They have a nutella tap. Really.

We had a wander in Readings and Gewurzhaus, spent too much money (as usual) in King and Godfrey, then went back to the CBD for lunch only to find the place I wasn’t too sure about eating at was… closed. It looked shit anyway, to be honest, and so we grabbed something to eat somewhere else and since we were right near Madame Brussels by that point and neither of us had been there for years, we went “fuck it” and climbed on up.


Bloody good way to while away a child-free afternoon.

I was back at work the next week, but I had ticked Pidapipo and Short Stop off my list and spent another lovely day with my friend so all in all, I went back happy :)

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My chicken stock; a tired and rushed recipe post

I’m going to start with apologies; I’m vaguely sick and definitely exhausted but I promised a friend I’d write her up my stock recipe and a bunch of tips AGES ago so I decided today to just write up SOMETHING. I suspect it is less helpful than it could be and will try to clean it up later.

My partner’s on the low FODMAP diet. So we make a lot of stuff from scratch. Stock is one of the things I often made myself anyway; when his diet changed, I just needed to tweak the recipe a bit.

This is kind of hard to write because I never measure anything when I make stock, but basically, for a nice tasty stock, I find you need four things: meat, veggies, herbs/spices and salt. Well, and water, obviously.

With regards to the meat, I use leftover bits and bobs, including a lot of bones, because my grandparents raised me not to waste perfectly good food. I keep a couple of one-litre containers in the freezer and whenever we roast a chook, the leftover bones and skin all go in there for the next time I make stock, rather than just chuck them in the bin. Same goes for the bones and gristly bits after I slow-cook lamb shanks for stew (YES I SOMETIMES PUT LAMB BONES IN MY CHICKEN STOCK I ADMIT IT), as well as any fatty/gristly bits off the side of steak or chicken breast that I cut off before cooking.

That way, when we need stock, I just pull these containers out of the freezer and I usually have enough. For instance, this is two roast chickens worth of bones, skin and gristly bits, from the other night, in a 1.75ml container, about to go into the freezer:


Not the most attractive pic I’ve ever posted, but illustrative enough

If I don’t seem to have enough, I add some chicken wings, necks and/or carcasses from the organic butcher. I always add a bit more salt in this case, since they haven’t been pre-seasoned or roasted.

I’ve tried making stock just using a whole raw chicken, which is what a lot of cookbooks recommend. I found this pointlessly expensive and not as tasty. So there.

With regards to the veggies, I try to add about half as much of them (in terms of volume, just by sight) as chicken. Pre-low FODMAP, I used to add a few carrots; a whole garlic clove, cut in half if I could be bothered; ditto an onion; and leftover celery bits, like the base and the tough outer stalks and the crappy pale inner stalks, plus all the leaves — basically all those bits you don’t normally use when you buy a whole celery (again, I used to freeze these when they turned up in my fridge, along with any bendy carrots and half-used onions that I had no plans for, so I’d have them for stock-making when I needed them).

Post-low FODMAP, celery, onions and garlic are all out. Instead, I add three carrots or so and the green part of a bunch of spring onions. It isn’t as good but it’s fine and I try to make sure to add asafoetida and a lot of chives to any dish I use the stock in, to add some garlic/onion flavour.

With regards to the herbs and spices, I add about a cup of herbs from the garden when I have them — it tends to be a mix of oregano, parsley, marjoram, various thymes, rosemary and a couple of fresh bay leaves. Basically, whatever’s there. I don’t bother chopping them and I include stalks. If I don’t have enough fresh herbs, I use a good amount of dried stuff — say, three tablespoons worth?

I also add a big chunk of ginger (this I do cut up, but not too carefully), some whole cardamom pods and a couple of anise stars. The end product does not end up tasting exotic because of these last few additions; they just sort of help round out the flavour.

Then I just cover the lot thoroughly with water — about four litres — and add maybe three tablespoons of salt (it’s really not that much considering it’s going into four litres of water) and about two tablespoons of whole mixed peppercorns.

A bone-based stock should cook for four-six hours to make sure you get as much protein and flavour out of the bones as possible. I’ve read a few people on the internet insist that you soak the bones beforehand to help with this, or even that you should add vinegar to help them break down. I don’t do either of these things. It seems counterintuitive to me to soak the bones of a roast chicken and then discard all that lovely roast flavour along with the water; and I don’t think vinegar would help with it either. But go ahead if you like.

Something else I don’t do is watch the stock like a hawk to make sure it never boils. People do this so that the stock stays clear but frankly, I don’t care if my stock is cloudy. I prefer to set and forget. So, I stick everything in a big stock pot, crank the hot plate up to high until the water boils, reduce to a simmer and go do something else for four-six hours.


So, here is something approximating a “recipe” version of all that:


Chicken bones like carcasses, wings and necks – about two kilos worth
Veggies (for low-FODMAP version, this is three carrots and a bunch of spring onions, green part only; for normal version, this is a head of garlic, an onion, two carrots, and three stalks of celery)
About a cup of fresh mixed herbs, including stalks
A two-inch piece of ginger, chopped roughly
Two whole star anise
Three or four cardamom pods
Two tablespoons of whole mixed peppercorns
About four litres of water (enough to cover everything and then some)


Put everything in a big stock pot. Bring to boil and then reduce to low-ish heat so that it’s still simmering a bit.

Put the lid on and go do something else for four-six hours. Check on it occasionally and give it a stir if you really feel the need.

Turn off the heat and give it at least ten minutes to cool down a bit so that you don’t need to be terrified of burning yourself horribly.

I’m not joking about that last point, the pot and its contents will be very, very hot. Please be careful. Taking out the bones now with a slotted spoon will help it cool down a bit faster, as will sticking the whole pot in an ice bath.

Once you’re comfortable with the temperature of the pot and its contents, strain the stock through muslin or a clean tea towel on a strainer. I don’t recommend skipping the cloth and just using a strainer; you’ll get a lot of sedimenty bits from the bones and the stock is heaps better without those.



I never do this any more but this is the point where you would taste it to make sure it’s not bland. If it is, it’s not the end of the world — just tip it back into the now-empty stock pot, add a couple of pinches of salt and maybe some more herbs, and boil it until it tastes decent. Next time, add less water or more stuff.

But whether you boil it down or not, one step you probably aren’t going to want to skip is letting the stock sit in the fridge overnight so that all the fat can rise to the top and solidify. Then it’s an easy task to just scrape it all off with a spoon.

Let me know how you go!

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Sorry. I was trying to be funny but I was being a jerk

I wrote a post, just over a year ago, about a particular trendy food business that I’m not a fan of. I think their food is fine — nice, even — but that they’re overhyped; and I found their tie-in cook book incredibly frustrating for a couple of reasons.

I wrote a post expressing that, and it was boring, so I re-wrote it and turned it into a completely over-the-top, ridiculous ranting thing with a lot of caps and swearing, to be funny. And a bunch of my friends, who are used to me doing this, did think it was funny. And I never really thought about it again.

Then this week, I got a comment on it, which was odd enough because I get so few comments (pretty much only my friends and a few followers read this blog; I’m not exactly going to end up on the “most influential bloggers of 2015″ list). But then it got odder, because it was from one of the owners of said trendy business.

The comment was quite long. He was confused as to why my review was so “nasty”, and seemed to be trying not to be angry about it, and said that I was ill-informed and reached out to me, inviting me to come meet with them.

I’m still baffled by this, since I would think they would be far too busy with their enormously successful business to try to win over nobody bloggers, but either way, I went back and had a look at what I’d written.

In amongst the post, I’d called them assholes and wankers and told them to get their heads out of their asses. Which was not great and which I never would have done to their faces, obviously.

I’ve been so used to living in my tiny little internet nook and assuming nobody was coming to this site since I’m happy if I get more than ten hits a day (and most of those are just people looking for things to do with unripe watermelon), that I let go of the number one rule: the internet is real and anybody can read what you’ve put up there, including public figures and real people behind the brands you might randomly heap shit on in a disappointed, cranky moment.

I don’t want to go inspect their business. But I do want to make up for calling them names, because that was an asshole thing to do and I hate the idea that it might have bothered anyone.

I was going to approve their comment, and reply, explaining that the post was supposed to be a ridiculous rant about not much, and outline properly the criticism he disagreed with — but that doesn’t really stop my assholery continuing, since those words continue to be out there.

So I’ve taken the post down. I have no idea how they even found it — I’ve just googled the business name and I don’t come up on the first page of results (or even the fourth page (I gave up after that) — but it was contributing nothing to the universe. Sorry everyone. I’ll try to be less mean next time.

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Food tour of Melbourne

I have a few weeks off work but the toddler is still booked into childcare (you have to pay whether they go or not). I spent the first precious work-free, child-free day getting over gastro (as previously mentioned I have been constantly sick sick sick bloody sick) but then last week, on day two of precious me-time, I went into the CBD with a friend.

I never go into the CBD any more, so it’s become sort of a treat. When I do go, I usually have a long list of places that I want to go. This time around, they were ALL FOOD, and since my friend also loves to eat, it all worked out quite happily :)

First stop this time was Lux Bites at The Archway, which is a new foodie concept thing, in an old building that’s been done up to help invigorate that part of the CBD. Except it turns out that even though The Archway was supposed to be finished already (at least, their website and some of the press I saw about it gave me that impression), it isn’t. Lots of brown paper going on to hide the building works inside:


Ah well. I can’t blame them for not rushing to get this ready, given that that part of the CBD is not really ready to be invigorated — heaps of the blocks around The Archway are development sites, new office towers and blocks of apartments, etc.

But Lux Bites was lovely.

Archway ArchwayArchway


As you can see, this new Lux Bites store was as attractive and as full of goodies, as their Toorak store, if super tiny and with nowhere to sit (you’re apparently welcome to eat your cakes at the cafe next door, where they will also make you a coffee).

We decided to just buy some treats and head to the next place on my list, which was the Cacao Lab at the new Strand redevelopment.

We had very lab-like iced coffee and crazy eclairs — I had a bubblegum on with some clever pikachu-related name and my friend had something related to caramel popcorn…

CacaoEclaires  CacaoIcedChoc

Gorgeous store…

CacaoFloral   CacaoWindow

We nipped into Wunderkammer while we were more or less in the area because I hadn’t been there for years. Terrifying and awesome.

Wunderkammer WunderkammerDevilFishWunderkammerPerfectEnema WunderkammerSkeleton

Then it was off to search out some doughnuts at Shortstop… Except that they’d closed already for the holidays :'(

ShortStop ShortStopEmpty

But it wasn’t all a loss because you know I have a thing for street art, and those laneways are little secret treasure troves :)

McLeanAlley McLeanAlley2 McLeanAlley3 McLeanAlley4

And we found this amazing little place, Krimper, hiding away nearby, where we had lunch. It used to be a furniture manufacturing place, and they’ve left little hints of it everywhere, it was really cool.


And to finish off, gelati at the Spring Street Grocer. I had “panettone with Strega” and it was AMAZING.SpringStreetGrocerGelatiI bought stinky cheese, too. Yum… :)

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Have been sick for the last two months. Caught a month-long virus from my boss, who got it from our receptionist’s son. That turned into two weeks of tonsillitis quickly followed by a new virus, which lasted one week, then another new one that started up literally the next day with different symptoms.

Or possibly it was all just the one virus that showed one lot of symptoms, then morphed into something else, then let you feel like you were getting better before turning into something else, then did it again. Just to be a jerk.

Hate being sick.

I have actually not been well for an entire seven days in a row since my child started childcare. I think the record was five days. And when I wasn’t sick, my partner was.

The bug I have right now is mostly just showing itself as a supremely blocked nose that bursts out with green snot intermittently. I can’t actually taste my food at the moment, so I’m learning all sorts of things about food texture. I ate some quite strong blue cheese yesterday that I couldn’t taste at all, but it had this amazing creamy texture. Meanwhile the cheddar, which would normally be my staple cheese, was all knobbly and gritty.

Hey, at least I’m learning something…

PS Yes I know I have whinged before that I hate being sick. But all those times I was trying to be positive. How can I be positive this time? I HAVE BASICALLY BEEN SICK FOR EIGHT MONTHS

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A Sharpie is just a texta and never believe anything on Pinterest

I’ve been kind of disappointed in my Porcelaine pen. It’s a bit hard to use and while it did a great job on the ceramic pots I painted using it, my attempts it re-marking the measurements on a worn-out old Pyrex jug washed off and moved and went wonky after a few goes in the dishwasher. Not that it’s actually meant to be used on Pyrex, so it’s a bit unfair, but still.

And I had seen on Pinterest that you can totally just mark ceramics using a Sharpie. So I decided to try this whole thing out. 


On the left, we have a mug written on using the proper Porcelaine pen, and on the right, using a Sharpie. I baked them both as per the directions from the manufacturer/Pinterest, and yes, I stole that design from mugs I’d seen on Pinterest.

And the jury has come to a decision; the suggestion that you can draw/write on ceramics with a Sharpie and get just as good a result as with a proper porcelaine pen is absolute nonsense, both with coverage quality and longevity.
TheresAchanceMugcomingoffAfter just one day’s light use, the sharpie-marked mug looks like exactly what it is: a mug someone took a texta to. As you can see. 

Pinterest fail.

Ah well. I’ll just go over it with my Porcelaine pen… :)  

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