Friday, June 1, 2007

Brioche by philip & Eugenie's French Cake Shop, Commercial Road

Payday can be a good thing AND a bad thing. The good thing is, I have money to spend on food and go out to eat; the bad thing is, I usually spend most of it almost too quickly. But enough said, I've always walked by this store (Brioche by philip) on Commercial Road but never had the opportunity to pop in and peruse their selection. The man (Philip Chiang) who owns it used to have a store right in Daimaru when it was still in Melbourne. Taking the chance that I've just got paid, I walked in and took note of the buns & breads they had on offer. An impressive range of buns, breads & pastries, all well-presented and definitely looked gourmet-y. Most of them generously portioned. A funny looking bread "Big Brioche" stood out, as it looked like a huge round bun with a pox growing on top of it (pardon my really bad metaphor). Other delights includes a smaller version brioche, almond croissant (i heard this is really good), read bean an pan, raisin loaf, orange loaf, blue cheese brioche, chocolate sourdough with hazelnuts and sour cherries, etc. Opting for a pick-me-up having had lunch just awhile before, I picked the red bean an pan ($1.50). The bun had freckles of grey sesame seeds, nicely scattered over its smooth shiny top. The top, though slightly toasted which gave it a brown tinge, was soft, while the bottom was stark white with a doughy texture. I don't know if that's how it meant to be, but it made me question the outcome. After getting home I decided to pop it into the oven to toast it a little. 5 minutes in, took it out and took a bite. It did taste better after being toasted - the top was crusty and the whole bun was warm. However, there were a few things about the bun that I couldn't decide whether it faulted. The bun was a bit salty and gave out a little bit of a 'meaty' smell (maybe it could've just been me?). The dough was thick which made the red bean filling scarce. And the red bean filling was also not very sweet. All in all, the presentation was well-done, but the overall taste is very disappointing. I would probably buy it if it was a meat bun. But I would never get myself to buy the bun again.

Red Bean An Pan

While waiting for the tram, I also spotted another cake shop/bakery (Eugenie's French Cake Shop) and popped in to grab something (anything!) Made a bold decision and went for something I wouldn't normally get - orange cake. Honestly, I was kind of attracted by the way it looked. When asking how much it was, was surprised to know that it was rather pricey ($5.50) since the cake was pretty small (palm-size). But I paid for it anyway, because when it comes to food, you can't really put a value to it, unless you know for sure that it's not worth paying for. But then again, that's subjective on each person's opinion. I felt it was sorta worth it because the cakes they sell are authentically French, though I have yet to have a taste of it (will do tonight!) Hopefully, this cake shop will leave me with more to desire from. And just to tantalise ur tastebuds ...

Orange Cake

Brioche by philip
208 Commercial Road,
Prahran (opposite Prahran market)
Tel: (03) 9525 1966.

Eugenie French Cake Shop
192 Commercial Rd,
Tel: (03) 9510 2415

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Lazzat & Il Dolce Freddo & Brunetti, Lygon St

Missing home food can really kick the cravings in, so what better way then to seek out the next best option: asian takeaway. After doing some research online (and from faint memories), I decided to check out Boba Pearl, which serves authentic Singaporean/Hokkien food. Also, not to be missed are their delighful 'boba cha' (bubble teas), which I heard are way better than the bubble tea stalls in the city. After giving myself much reason to travel all the way to the other end from where I live, I trudged on to Lygon St while backing in the breezy Saturday afternoon. When I arrived at the address that I found online, I noticed that Boba Pearl had closed down! And in its place, a Thai restaurant called "The Original Thai Restaurant" was there. For a second there, I honestly thought I must've gotten the wrong address. But after checking & rechecking the shop number, there was no doubt that this Thai restaurant used to be Boba Pearl. While preusing the menu, I kept thinking to myself whether I was in the mood for some Thai food. And I was, but I knew if I were to have good Thai food, i'd get it next door at Ying Thai 2. But looking thru the glass windows of Ying Thai 2, it looked as if everyone had the same idea of eating there today. So being as hard-headed as I am, I decided to walk a little further in hope of finding an eatery serving some other Southeastern fare. And to my content, I spotted Lazzat (meaning "tasty").

A small but homey eatery serving Indonesian, Malaysian & Indian food. The menu was extensive enough with the usual suspects such as chicken rice, mee goreng, singapore noodles & laksa, plus some other interesting dishes like mee bandung, roti milo, pecel leleh (spicy fish), as well as the trusty alternative of picking out what you see you like from the bain-marie. You can be sure this place is authentic enough when you see that the huge table in the corner is filled with youngsters speaking in Malay or Indonesian; and the servers eat with their hands (traditional Malay way of eating). Since the bain-marie looked rather inviting, with many curry dishes to choose from, I made my pick of fish curry, lamb rendang and tofu, for only $6.50. ($5-$6 for takeaway) A bargain? I'd say so, considering the amount of food you're being given. The taste isn't too bad either. Actually, I'd say that this is probably one of the better bain-marie places if you were to compare this to other places that serve bain-marie (i.e. Nelayan in Glenferrie, Sophia's in Prahran, Indo Sari in Glenhuntly, etc) from the Cheap Eats/Foodies Guide.

The tofu (middle) was juicy having been drenched in the soupy sauce that tasted like laksa; the fish curry, which I assume is assam (left) was fragrant, spicy and sour as I'd remembered it to be back home; while the rendang (right) was tender though slightly chewy, and did not have that pungent 'lamb' smell at all. Paired with a nice packet of Teh Botol ($1), I couldn't have asked for a more satisfying meal, plus it's easy on your wallet too. A great place to have some quiet lone time, or when u're on a budget.

And what better way to cleanse the palate by stopping next door at Il Dolce Fredoo for gelato? My favourites: Mango, Pandan, Passionfruit, Tiramisu, Cookies & Cream, Lychee & Matcha (Green Tea) - $4 for 2 flavors. This is also the only place in the whole of Melbourne (the world?) that has durian gelato, not ice cream, gelato, AND jackfruit. So it's no wonder international students crowd around this store during the warmer days.

Yes, that is a quartered durian on top of the gelato at the top right corner and they had jackfruit too ! (bottom right)

My picks: Lychee & Pandan

And what would strolling along Lygon be without checking out Brunetti's? Got myself a slice of heaven of course ;) (Yes, I went for the WHOLE experience, minus the Italian food though)

From Brunetti

OMG, I can't start to gush about how decadent this cake is. At first I didn't think it would measure up to Brunetti's other cakes, since it was one of the less expensive ones, plus the fact that it was a generous portion. Since I'm not a chocolate person, there was only a limited amount of choices for me to choose from. As I browsed through the window display, I made sure I watched out for the more popular requests made by people over the counter. The cannoli as I noticed was one, and so were the chocolate type cakes. As I sauntered from one end to the other, I noticed a lonely cake sitting by itself, gleaming under the fluro light of the window display. It seemed to be calling out to me. Watching as there were others waiting behind me, I hastened to grab the waitress' attention that I wanted the Ricotta Strudel ($3.80). Obviously, in my mind I was still thinking whether I had made the right choice. It was risky, I know, coz sometimes a lone cake can be misleading. After paying for it, I made very sure I didn't destroy it as I made my way home. And after dinner that night, it was finally time to unwrap and unravel the delightful sight of my ricotta strudel.

Ricotta Strudel

As I couldn't resist, I grabbed a fork even before it reached the table, and took a bite out of the strudel. The strudel was better than I had hoped, way better. The pastry, though not crunchy, had a part soft, part chewy texture that matched well with the ricotta. It reminded me of Lattice biscuits, which by coincidence, are my favourite. The thin sugar glaze over the pastry that made it glisten was just right, without being too sweet but just enough to let u take in the pastry on its own. And the ricotta, how do I even start commenting about the cheese. It was like eating custard, only airier and had a stickier consistency. Though I admit it did taste a bit like a vanilla slice, but because of the light cheese and it didn't taste too sweet, it definitely didn't feel like I was having a coffee hub version. Another thing I liked about it was the fact that it didn't make me feel like it would do damage to my hips or thighs (haha), and when I had finished the cake, the only thing in my mind was, how much I'd love to go back and have another...
112 Lygon St,
Carlton VIC 3053
Tel: (03) 9639 5951

Il Dolce Freddo
116 Lygon St,
Carlton VIC
Tel: (03) 9639 3344

194 Faraday St,
Tel: (03) 9347 2801

Also at:
214 Flinders Lane,
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9663 8085

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Antica Gelateria del Corso

OK, I know i should really have pics, but gawd don't u just hate it sometimes when u dont have a camera handy? (okok, next time i'll glue my camera to my bag) lol. Anyway, today wasn't exactly the warmest of days, but strangely enough, I had a dire need for some ice cream. So walking along Glenferrie Rd, just before class, I was deciding on whether I wanted something "milky" or "sour". Walking past Trampoline (not even taking a second look), I spotted Antica Gelateria del Corso right across the street. Now, ur gonna wonder why I didn't even give Trampoline a chance...well, let's just say it's too commercialised, plus the fact that I've had it in the past and there wasn't anything there that I've gotten excited about. Antica on the other hand may be small, but they have a great range of gelato too, such as bloody orange, strawberries & cream, rum & raisin, coconut cream, pineapple punch, chocolate kinder surprise, etc. There's actually A HELL LOT of chocolate options (for choc lovers), but I got myself a Baileys cone ($3.50), and OMG, loved it! Reminded me of Cafe Grecos' Bailey's cheesecake, only colder and not as rich & not too sweet, and it went well with the waffle cone. I think I ate it in 1 mins flat. I wouldn't mind having a cone the next time I go around...that's if I don't finish my money on buns next door @ Browns. ;)

Btw, I found out that there's another Antica on Collins St...and apparently one of the ex-chef from Brunetti's actually work there now. Would probaby make the effort to check it out when I have the time after my exams. :D

Antica Gelateria del Corso
681 Glenferrie Road
Hawthorn Vic 3124
Telephone: 03 9815 1798

Also at:
Shop 5/161 Collins Street
Phone: 03 96545338

Shop K3, 1341 Dandenong Road
Chadstone Shopping Centre
Telephone: 03 9568 5205

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Flogger Alert!

A newbie in flogging, but an old-timer in food tasting, this blog will document all the tastes and smells of food I have, will & shall encounter around Melbourne (and maybe beyond). Not to blow my own horn, but I been known to have a very potent keen sense of taste when it comes to picking out the "nice" foods. Feel free to leave any feedback or recommendations, as I'd love to hear from all u other bon vivants out there.

<3 Jess

Victoria Market

Is it just me or do I not see how good the brastwurst at Vic Market is? Highly-acclaimed and published twice in newspapers, The Brastwurst store left a little to desire. Sure, there were lots of people standing around, but I realise not all, or even half of them were there to get a hot dog. Being the adventurer that I am, I had to know whether it was as good as it claims itself to be. Just to make sure I got the right hot dog, I briefly read thru the article cut-outs of any notable mentions. Asked for a spicy Brastwurst with Onions & Cheese, paid the (increased price of) $6.10, and walked away with my hot dog craddled between my palms. As I took the first bite out of the hot dog, I realised my spicy Brastwurst wasn't spicy at all. Maybe that's as spicy as it gets, I thought to myself. Took a couple more bites, and felt uncompromisngly dissatisfied. The cheese had a slight powdery taste ( I like my cheese sharp), and the bun a bit tough to chew. Dissappointed, I had expected more from this piece of delicacy which had been haunting me in the last few days. I made it my point to never go back there for another hot dog, instead, I would probably stick to the one I used to frequent that serves just as good (or maybe even better) hot dogs for $5, including toppings.

What's Victoria Market without the full experience? So, I decided to fill myself up with the other two worthy mentionables that are also available there:

The American donuts ($4.80 for 6/$1.25ea)
- Sure, they're hand rolled, and hand filled. But anything else from this little novelty idea, there isn't much to say about the taste. They're still just deep-fried balls filled with a dollop of jam.

The Spanish donuts ($6 for 7/$1ea)
- Always as good as I remembered them to be. Long skinny sticks of deep fried dough laced with chockful with icing sugar. Crispy and not too sweet. Scrumptiously naughty. If only they had cinnamon sugar, that would have made me love them even more.

After getting what I needed - dips, nuts, cheese, fruits & veg, biltongs (good hot chilli ones available), I took the liberty of buying a particular cake a friend had recommended. I don't recall the name of the shop, but it's around the corner just in front of the Brastwurst Stall selling biscuits, cookies & cakes. She had told me that the blueberry & raspberry cake ($3.50) and the banana surprise cake ($3.50) was nice. I was craving for something banana, so I went and got the banana surprise cake, which delightfully had a piece of fresh banana right in the core of the cake. I also made a note to come back for the other cake the next time I visited.