Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Babbo Steak Sandwich

Oh my.


For those who may not have heard, Mel and I get our work-time coffees from a place called Espressino (now renamed Babbo - but it's still the same crew). Every Thursday and Friday they serve pasta for lunch. We've christened Wednesdays "Surprise Day", as they've started serving up something special.

Today was (it sounds much fancier in Italian) steak sandwich. But this is no ordinary steak sandwich. Oh no, this is far, far more.

Imagine this: perfectly cooked minute steak topped with lettuce, tomato, caramelised red onion and a horseradish dressing, in a crispy ciabatta roll. Uh huh. My powers of description quite probably don't do it justice, but this was one amazing lunch. Unfortunatley I didn't even take my phone with me to take a pic (BAD blogger!), but this thing looked the goods, smelt the goods, and dammit all, it WAS the goods.

I'm hoping it will make a return appearance one day at Babbo. If I wasn't full, I'd have had another one!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Soupy Goodness

For the last week and a half I've not been well. I don't know about you, but when I'm sick I crave soup.

The hard thing about blogging soup, though, is that it's hard to get a picture of it that DOESN'T look kinda yuck. I made a really great lentil, split pea, barley and ham soup the other week, but I won't disgust you with the pictures I took.

These are the pics I WILL inflict on you.

This is a sweet potato and ginger soup. I also added just a little bit of turnip and parsnip. And a fair shake of Vegeta while it all cooked. I thinned this out by adding water, but if I hadn't used the Vegeta I'd have used vegie stock. I've almost finished my stock of this, I think I'll have to make some more.

And here we have a plain old pumpkin soup. Again, a fair shake of Vegeta in with a cubed butternut pumpkin while it cooks in a little water, then I blended through nearly a full can of light evaporated milk till it was the consistency of, well, soup.

If I do say so myself, I brewed up a couple of yummy soups. And they were perfect for warming up a sick body and soothing a sore throat.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ploy Thai

Shop 1, 102-104 Watton Street
Werribee 3030
P: 03 9974 1872

I really really wanted to enjoy my meal from Ploy Thai for several reasons:

One was that the restaurant was well lit without being garishly bright.

Two was the cutlery - it looked fairly authentically Thai.

Three was the staff. They were SO incredibly cheerful and pleasant.

And four was that I LOVE Thai food. I'm hard-pressed to think of a cuisine that I enjoy more.

I'm so glad things worked out.

Following on from my investigations into dining out options, mainly in Werribee, I skipped next door to Crown of India to see what was on offer at Ploy Thai. Again I decided to get some takeaway to eat in the comfort of home.

I had a tough choice deciding what to have as an entree. Right up until I opened my mouth to order I thought I was going to have vegetable spring rolls with plum sauce, but when I spoke I found myself saying "one serve of mini toast, please".

Mini toast is quite possibly NOT good for you. I don't care. If I may paraphrase the menu, it is "Thai style fried toast topped with marinated chicken and bacon served with sweet chilli sauce". Even though by the time I got it home and served up it was a little cool, this entree was just delicious. Obviously it would be even better freshly dished up out of the frypan.

I have a very hard time passing up a masaman curry beef when it's on the menu, and this time was no different. Thankfully, they were missing a key ingredient for the masaman, so the girls suggested I try the Chiang Mai Chicken Curry instead.

How incredibly lucky for me. When I'd perused the menu I'd marked this dish as something I'd try in the future, so it was no hardship for me to order it now. And it was sooooooo good. A beautifully flavourful mild creamy curry sauce, with the most tender cubes of chicken that fell apart with a little coaxing from my spoon, and chunks of potato and carrot with a smattering of cashews. So really, it wasn't all that different to a masaman, but this was so good that I can hardly wait till I get to have a crack that.

Oh yeah, I'm going back.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Crown of India

Shop 3, 102-104 Watton Street
Werribee 3030
P: 03 9731 0177

I've always bemoaned the lack of, well, if not "fine dining", then "good" or even "adequate" dining in the outer western suburbs.

There is, in fact, a tiny section of Werribee that at least looks the part. It's not a very big section. In fact, it's not even a handful of establishments. It's at the (snigger) Cultural Centre end of Watton Street. But still, I have high hopes of a little success.

Last week I decided to try Crown of India. I have to admit, I don't like it when restaurants keep their lighting so dim that you have trouble seeing. But hey, as I walked in the door the smells certainly grabbed me. I decided against dining in (I'm not a huge fan of eating out alone), so ambled up to the counter to look over the take-away menu. Interesting... If you can't find something here to tempt you, then you are far too fussy.

Entrees cover the usual suspects of samosa, pakoras, onion bhaji, but with a choice of 19 entrees, you can imagine that there is a fair choice available. You'll also find plenty of old friends over the rest of the menu. There are plenty of meat options, and a fair variety of vego dishes too.

I decided to order some vegetable samosa, and butter chicken with roti. I figured butter chicken is still quite edible even when it's not quite how I like it.

But this... this was great. A lot of butter chicken dishes are SO sweet, with no punch of spices to chase each other around your mouth. Not so this time. There was that little bit of sweetness that you might expect from butter chicken, but oh wow, the other flavours were fabulous. The roti were ok, but I have had better. The samosas were lovely. I think I'd happily eat at Crown of India...

... except the service wasn't so great. I was greeted with a smile, but when I said I wanted to order some take away suddenly nearly all friendliness disappeared. It's something I've experienced at other places before, and it baffles me. Is my money not as good as that of someone who dines in?

In any case, I was happy with my meal. Score one for the outer western suburbs!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

I can't remember (and I'm too lazy to search) if I've mentioned this before, but I try to practice at least one Random Act of Kindness every day. It doesn't have to be a grand gesture. It could be something as simple as holding open a door for someone who has their arms full. Or saying "bless you" to someone who sneezes. Or admiring those FABulous shoes/blouse/skirt the lady in the lift is wearing and letting her know. So it's really not a big impost to do one act per day.

Something I've discovered is that, sometimes, an act you don't even think about is perceived as a huge kindness to someone else. Take this morning, for example.

Myself and other passengers were patiently waiting on the train platform when, three minutes before our train was due, we received the advice that the service was, once again, stuffed: "Please board the next train, change at Newport for a bus service to North Melbourne, then change for a city-bound train". Um, no thank you. So I looked around the group of people near me on the platform (most of whom I see nearly every working day) and said "I'm not gonna do that. My car is here, I'm driving to the CBD - does anyone want a lift?"


I know that, while I see these people most days, we're still strangers. But is that really an excuse to look at me the way a lot of them did? The looks on their faces were... well, I could perhaps understand if I was dressed like a derro, with a big lugey hanging out of my nose, and offered to murder their dog while I was at it. Which I wasn't, and didn't.

As it was, only one person accepted my offer, a lovely lady originally from Bulgaria. She had to get to work, and these transport issues would have made her REALLY late. So once she understood what I'd said, she came along for the ride. It was no big deal to me, I was driving to the city, I just took a little detour via Flinders St station. But this lady was so happy to be able to get to work on time. We had a great chat during the drive, and it certainly livened up my trip - much more fun than being by myself and listening to the radio.

Since I got to work today, I've mentioned the train problems and what I did to a few people, and discovered that a lot of people wouldn't have offered others a lift, or even thought to. Which of course they're absolutely entitled to do. Of course!

But am I really so strange?