Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Suwan Thai Restaurant

Level 1, Galleria 33
Salamanca Place HOBART
P: 03 6224 4618

After our meal in Launceston the stakes were raised pretty high for our eating in Hobart. On the recommendation of the lovely Rebecca in our hotel bar we found our way to Suwan. Don't let the entrance fool you, this place is worth a visit.

First entree was goong nang mai, or BBQ prawns with hot chilli garlic sauce. I'm not a big fan of prawns, but these were apparently very good.

Second entree: goong hom pha. Also known as deep fried king prawns wrapped with golden brown pastry served with sweet chilli sauce. These were also, apparently, very good.

Another entree - satay beef strips. I found the satay to be VERY mild, but the flavours were lovely, the meat was moist, and I'd happily have had a meal just of these.

B ordered the yum nur a salad of sliced rump beef cooked in lime juice, cucumber, tomato and chilli) as an entree. This was lovely, but so incredibly spicy!

On to mains. We all ordered our preference and shared - it's the best way to eat. B ordered this gem, which I think was pad talay: stir fried mixed seafood with garlic, spring onions, chilli and sweet basil leaves. I left the seafood along but sampled some of the vegies - lovely.

Of course I had the massamun. It came out in a cute little pot with a tea light candle underneath to keep it bubbling. The beef was in tender strips rather than the chunks I'm used to, and there wasn't much potato. It was a little too mild for my taste, but still had good flavours. While this isn't the best massamun I've ever had, it was still very nice.

One of the specials on the night was duck curry with lychees, grapes... I don't really remember the dish exactly, but it was surprisingly good. Again it was a very mild dish.

The beef with cashews was exactly how I like it - good simple flavours, tender beef. Yum.

We washed this down with a rather good bottle of red (a 2006 grenache shiraz mourvedre, "The Stump Jump" from McLaren Vale).

We each ordered an entree and a main, and yet we barely made a dent in the options available on the menu. My writing this evening really doesn't do the meal justice. I'll blame 2 days of training and 2 exams for my lack of verbal flair.

If you're in Hobart and want some nice Thai cuisine, head for Suwan. But you might want to make a booking - this place seems to be VERY popular.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Northern Club

5/61 Cameron Street
Launceston TAS 7250
P: 03 6331 3568

When we walked into the front bar of the Northern Club I thought "hm, do we REALLY want to eat here?".

Oh me of little faith....

Let me state, right now, that there was nothing WRONG with the front bar. It just didn't appeal to me, that's all. Wooden walls, funky furry wallpaper feature wall, wrought iron and timber bar stools with the establishment's initials on the backrest, velvet curtain across the door, aloof bartender... it just seemed, to me, to be trying a little too hard to be trendy.

(edit: Annette informs me that it's modelled on the original decor, from when it was an exclusive men's club)

Through the bar to the dining room, however, was another story. And it was a good one. The room had a lovely ambiance, the tables weren't crowded, and the music was a muted jazz-feel collection. And the menu!

Monday and Tuesday nights have two menu's to choose from, not including the specials. On Mondays and Tuesday NC offers a $12 meal menu, and the range on it is impressive. You also have the standard menu and if you can't find anything to eat on that, then you're a little too picky. The wine list is also good. I sipped on a particularly nice Mauta Valley sauvignon blanc (can't remember the year), while others on the table shared a 2005 Grant Burges cabernet sauvignon and agreed that it was quite good. But on to the food!

The two R's both ordered the angus porterhouse with watercress and chunky cut fries from the main menu. I very nearly ordered this one for myself. The verdict: VERY nice.

B ordered grilled pink ling fillets with prawns, asparagus, cherry tomatoes and capers, also from the main menu. She enjoyed this immensely.

As two of us were already eating the steak, I decided to branch out and try the fish and chips from the $12 menu. On hearing that the fish that day would be gemfish I figured what the hell, I'd give it a go. I am SO glad I did, this was just amazing.

I'm not sure the pictures do the serving sizes justice, but each dish we ate was a great size - enough food that we were satisfied, but not so much that we left any on our plates (which is SUCH a waste).

That being said, I was the only person glutton enough to order a dessert. There was a crème brulée on the menu that cried out to be tasted. Oh boy. The shell on top was superb, the "crack" as my spoon broke through was perfect. The poached raspberries on the side were (I'm pretty darn sure) from the freezer, but were still SO yummy.

Total bill for the night was a fraction under $175. For four people, including a round of drinks in the bar beforehand, I think this is quite reasonable. The food was fabulous, and I'd eat here again with no hesitation. Wait staff were also helpful and pleasant. All round it was just a lovely dining experience. I'm not in the habit of rating places, but if I were then on a scale of 1 to 10 this would rank as freakin' awesome.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Melba Restaurant at The Langham

1 Southgate Avenue
Southbank VIC 3006
P: 1800 641 107

So where do a bunch of women who are sick of dealing with the scum of humanity go when they want a nice night out with good food? We heard the Melba Restaurant at The Langham should be just the thing. We booked ourselves in for a $69.90 buffet on Sunday, got ourselves all dolled up, piled in the car, and off we went.

I won't go into the minute details of the evening: it's sufficient to say that there was a lot of laughter, a lot of chatting, and a LOT of food. I will elaborate a little more on the food, though.

The buffet is set out basically into six or seven islands:

1) breads and cheeses
2) anti-pasto-style foods
3) roasted joints of meat and vegies
4) this is the bit I can't remember if there's more food there or not... I missed it
5) indian-style food, including a little man who'll make your naan on request
6) seafood. Oysters, mussels, crab... lots and lots of it all
7) the most important: dessert

We kicked off with a couple of cocktails. I had the one pictured. I can't remember the name, "Vanilla" something... vanilla-infused vodka, passionfruit, caramel, and possibly one or two other things. Don't let the ingredients put you off, if you ever go to the Melba you have GOT to try this baby.

Hits of the night included the bread and cheeses, anti-pasto, naan, seafood, and most of the desserts.

Misses were the creme caramel (well, I assume that's what it was meant to be) and the service, which was a little hit-and-miss. When we ordered water the sparkling water arrived, but still water had to be requested again. When we ordered cocktails two arrived, but we again had to request the third (mine) once more. We had ordered a birthday cake and they did bring it out when we asked... however we then had to ask for a knife... and then some plates.

Overall I really enjoyed the night, but that could have been largely because of the company I was in. I did enjoy the food (particularly the cocktail, fresh-made cheese-and-garlic naan, a tropical-pandan-sponge with yummy jelly on top, and the chocolate mousse with a drop of chilli-chocolate ganache) but I'm not sure I'd go back... but hey, you should definitely give it a go!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Melbourne City Romp

I forgot to mention...

Tomorrow I'm going in the Melbourne City Romp, with my brother's girlfriend, Mel and Dan, and Michael (and maybe one more person, currently anonymous).

I can't wait, it's going to be a great day. All funds go to the Burnet Institute, and you can sponsor out team at our profile page.

I know times are tight for many, but any $$ you can spare to sponsor our team would be truly appreciated! I'm hoping to throw up some pics of the day soon.

Treacle 'n' Ginger... a match made in heaven

I can hear what you're thinking. You're thinking "what the HELL is that, and what kind of creature shat it?!" But this little beauty, picture above, is sooooooo incredibly good I've had to put it and its mates away, otherwise I'd be sorely tempted to eat them all up.

This funny looking little dude is a ginger snap. Butter, sugar, treacle, a little bit of flour, and some ground ginger. The recipe is here. You'll notice that it says to use golden syrup. I left that at work (hey, I was having crumpets there one day!), so substituted treacle, which I prefer anyway. These will end up topping a banana split tomorrow evening. Mmmmm...

And while we're on the subject of ground ginger, this year I decided to give the kids in my neighbourhood a break for Halloween, and find a compromise somewhere between lollies (which I refuse to give them), and apples (which I have given them in the past!), so I went looking for a simple gingerbread recipe. Have you ever noticed that for every somewhat involved recipe that tastes brilliant, you can often find a much simpler recipe that still tastes pretty good?

I have an old family recipe for gingerbread in an old exercise book on the shelf, but didn't feel like going to that much effort. Instead I went looking and found this easy-peasy alternative (I substituted treacle for the syrup again). I figured I'd give the recipe a trial-run and bake a batch of bikkies today while the mood took me, so that at the end of the month I know what's happening. And if the little bits of dough that I sampled, both before and after cooking, are anything to go by, these will hopefully be a little better received than those apples XD I might even decorate them!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oh WoW

Well, after a couple of days of firewall issues, I finally have the latest patch of World of Warcraft downloaded and installed.

I just fired it up. I got as far as the credits. I got chills just watching them.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Honey Oat Muffins

I've always like grabbing a copy of recipes+ or Super Food Ideas on my way through the checkout, when I remember. And I never seem to throw them out. And every now and then I'll pick one up off the bookshelf and have a little flick through.

Today I was flicking through my August '07 copy of SFI, and then had a craving for a muffin. This was probably because I was looking at an article with 10 different types of muffin, and each looked good. The only trouble was deciding which to make: cappaccino, cheese and tomato, banana, chocolate cherry, caramelised onion, chilli corn (oohh it was hard to pass this one up), sticky date, lemon, doughnut or honey oat. The honey oat called loudest.

These little sweeties are soft, moist, and so so yummy. And the SMELL when they were baking... oohhhh.

Honey Oat Muffins
(from Page 80, Super Food Ideas, August 2007)
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/3 cup sultanas
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup honey
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
90g butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly grease a 6-hole, 3/4 cup capacity muffin pan.

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the sultanas and 1/2 cup rolled oats and stir to combine.

Make a well in the centre. Combine the milk, egg, butter and honey in a jug, then pour into the well.

Using a large metal spoon, stir until just combined - but don't over-mix.

Spoon mix into muffin holes until about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the remaining oats on top. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean. Drool over the aroma.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Somewhere to Avoid: King Kebabs

A friend at my weekend work gets a lamb kebab every Sunday for lunch and raves about them, so yesterday I gave in and got myself one... Oh. My. God. This thing was fkn (excuse me) AMAZING! Oh wow... succulent meat, garlic sauce, fresh crisp lettuce, juicy tomato: I'll be having another one this weekend just to make sure it wasn't a fluke. If you ever go to the Rubble and Riches Market at Laverton find your way to the outside of Shed 2. Stand facing the shed. You will see a caravan selling sweet corn on the cob to your left (which is also VERY nice), and a hot-food caravan to the right of it, the name of the business escapes me. I often get lunch from this caravan and, even with my wussy stomach, I have never been sick. You can get hot dogs, lamb or chicken kebabs, hamburgers, salad rolls, chips... your typical hot-food-van fare. Give it a go. Or go and say "hi" to Helen and Igor inside Shed 1 between the hot donuts and the ice cream van and grab something from them. Lovely people. And while you're there in Shed 1 turn around and stock up on nuts and nibbly things from John and his family - they really are lovely people. And their honey-roasted almonds are positively sinful... but this is not an advertisement for the market - they don't pay me enough for that. And I've gone WAY off topic. But for those who have heard me tell horror stories of working at the market - it's not ALL bad, see?

So anyway, today I found myself with a craving again. One of the guys from my M-F job (oh wow, I just realised that could be mis-interpretted... I meant "Monday-to-Friday job") recommended a place on Russell Street as having good kebabs. So M and I decided to try it.

The menu listed a chicken kebab and can of coke for $9 between noon and 2.30pm. M grabbed a can, ordered the kebab and also a (big) slice of baklava. After she'd paid her money she realised that things didn't add up... when she queried the guy behind the counter about it he said that deal wasn't "available today". Ahem... WTF? Strike 1.

I gave my order (chicken kebab, 600ml coke), $11.50. I hand over $12.50, telling him it's $12.50. He puts the money in the till and... closes it. I had to ask for my $1 change (and to think what I go through on weekends to get $1 out of people...). Strike 2.

M and I sit down to await our kebabs. Then we realise he didn't give her the baklava. Never mind, we'll get it on the way out, we say (and we did).

Our kebabs arrived, they certainly looked the part. But...

  • But the flavours were barely there.

  • But they were just so damn greasy (you expect a certain amount of grease, sure, but this was ridiculous).

  • But an hour or so later found me becoming quite well acquainted with the loo. I was NOT impressed.
  • Strike 3 (and 4 and 5).

    Now, I KNOW we're not talking about fine dining, but there is a certain standard I don't like to dip below in my food. I did that today.

    King Kebabs (not 100% sure on the name) is on Russell Street, between Bourke and Lonsdale in the CBD, just down from Hungry Jacks. I overcame my initial misgivings because the place had been recommended. I should have listened to myself.

    Or maybe they were just having a bad day. I'm not inclined to find out.