Monday, August 31, 2009


60 Hampden Road, Battery Point, TAS
P: 03 6224 7124

Another Tassy trip for work. I can admit that I look forward to the food as much as the chance to get out of the office. We were after somewhere new to try in Hobart, so a colleague in the office there suggested Spanish food at Francisco's. We enjoyed it so much our first night in town, we went back again on the second! Both times we ordered a selection of tapas to serve as entrees, and... well, I'll tell you about the mains later.

I can't remember all of the names of the dishes we ate, but I'll do my best to give you a run down.

This. Was. Brilliant. Hands-down my favourite tapas dish (and we ordered it both nights too). Oh-so-tender bites of fish covered in a spiced batter and perfectly deep-fried with a garlic aeoli on the side and a wedge of lemon. Every bite was a flavour explosion in the mouth.

Imagine a Spanish take on antipasto. This is Jamon: pancetta, artichoke hearts, semi-sundried tomatos (hm, could have been capsicum... memory is failing me), olives, and salad leaves. Very nice, especially the meat.

Imagine the salsa you buy to dip corn chips in. Now imagine it WAY better, and with slices of chorizo in it. Yeah. This was really great, but I would have liked some bread or something to mop up the sauce.

The spinach parcels were quite nice, with some tzatziki on the side, but were probably one of the least enjoyed dishes.

When we arrived on the second night we were given some bread to share with our tapas with the most fabulous garlic aeoli you could imagine. Yummmmm. We had the fish again the second night, but then had these different plates:

This was Cevice (sp?). Not really to my taste, but still very nice. Cured strips of white fish dished up with... well, you can see what was with it.

Grilled octopus - cooked on skewers - then scattered through a bowl of salad. It was quite nice, but not a whole heap of octopus, and for some reason I was expecting it to be warm - I don't know if it was meant to be or not. But still, I'd eat this again in a heartbeat.

I don't remember how the mushrooms were cooked, but they smelt great and tasted the same (which is why the picture only has the last few pieces). Which is quite an admission from me as I usually don't eat mushrooms (the texture grosses me out). I had a few and really enjoyed them.

And now... the mains.

While we ordered the same mains both nights, the first night the plates had a potato tortilla instead of the roasted vegies, and both were great accompaniments. In fact, I don't know which I preferred. But yes, those mains...

There's a nice range to choose from for mains, including a paella that I saw on another table that looked tasty. Also on the menu is a plate of meat that 2 people can share, at $30 each. There were four of us in the team. Yep, we ordered 2 plates. Both nights. The first night when the plates were brought out we were a little shocked at how much was on them, and didn't quite finish our greens. The second night we were more prepared.

At 8.01pm I took this picture of one of the plates (remember, we had TWO of them). What you see here are the roasted vegies, then meatballs, chicken skewers, beef skewers, beef fillet, chicken fillet, pork fillet... I might be getting my red meats mixed up here... on a bed of salad leaves, with dollops of mustard, tzatziki, and something like an eggplant dip. And a few other things you can see.

At 8.24pm this is all that was left - some greens, and half a meatball (you can just see the other plate on the top left... we moved all the leftover leaves to one plate). You can also see Ross flying the white flag signifying our surrender.

But then, we started picking at things, and by 8.30pm it was all gone. Yep. ALL GONE. We are gluttons. I know I, for one, went vegan over the weekend until a little bit of lasagne last night.

Look, in a nutshell, Francisco's is a great place. It was pretty quiet on the Wednesday night we were there, but we did get there a bit early, the weather was terrible (cold, windy, rainy), and Wednesday's are exactly renowned for their popularity for dining out. Even so, by the time we left a few other people had come in.

Thursday night was a dramatically different story - the house was fairly well filled. Service was a little slower, as you might expect, but still it was a great dining experience, with really great food, and Maria provides great friendly service.

I know I'll be heading back the next time I'm in town.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Guilty Little Secret

I'm going to share a secret with you.

I know it's not right. I know it's even maybe a little bit disgusting. I hope you won't think too badly of me once you know what it is.


... Easy Mac.

This stuff might tout that it has no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. It might say that it's a source of calcium. It might claim that you can have it ready in 3-4 minutes. It might even be right about these things. But I just can't believe this stuff has anything good for you about it. I mean, it's powdered cheesy flavour that keeps forever in the cupboard, and that you mix with hot water and pasta and eat. Reading the ingredients list, frankly, scares me.

But yes, despite the voice of reason in my head telling me "DON'T EAT THAT!!! GOD ONLY KNOWS WHAT IT'LL DO TO YOU!!", I just can't help myself when I get a hankering for a little mac-snack.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Think you've had a tasty sausage in a roll?

Think again.

Yes, it's Wednesday, and Babbo didn't disappoint.

This week showcased "Ciabatta con Salsiccia" or, in Dino's words, "sausage on a roll". Well yes, technically, that is correct. But this isn't some slapped up snag 'n' onions on a somewhat-stale hot dog roll you get from Bunnings. Oh no, when Enis is in charge, things are a little different.

Start with a lovely ciabatta roll. Spread on some tomato and chilli relish, a smattering of crisp sliced lettuce, slices of lovely Italian sausage, and top it all off with some caramelised red onion.

Seriously, folks, if you're up this end of town at lunchtime on a Wednesday (or Thursday or Friday for pasta), stop in and have a look at what's on offer.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cafe Vue June Cocktails... only a little late!

430 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
P: 03 9691 3888

I am a bad, bad blogger. Yes, it's taken me THIS LONG to blog my birthday cocktails. We had those on June 19 (you can see the July offerings here).

You'll have to forgive me... I'd already had several wines by the time the cocktails started coming, and I was finishing off a fair portion of Sarah's cocktails too, so the pictures are of varying quality, and I don't remember much at all about the later offerings... but that's a combination of a bad memory as well as all the booze. If you know me on facebook you can see a few pictures of the evening. But anyway, on to the post.

June at Cafe Vue was "The world of Brandy". Mmmm, brandy.

The above pic shows "Jerusalem artichoke three ways" and presented in a little shot glass, with Vue's take on a Contessa. So very drinkable, and sweet, and I think it had lavender flavoured foam on top. I wasn't sure how I'd react to that lavender foam, but it was heavenly.

The next course was a tuna taco. This was so cute. The taco shell was like some kind of butterscotchy snap. Sorry folks, the commentary really will be quite sketchy...

With the tuna taco was served a Cobbler's Dream. Another yummy sweet concoction, although I think I'd have been happier with a half-serve of this one, it ended up being just too sweet.

Ahem. This is actually the BEST picture I have of the Mini egg and pork pie with pea floater. It was alright, but it was definitely on the lower end of the enjoyment scale for the evening.

This was served with a Hop Toad. MmmmmMMMMMMMMMMmmmm. Citrussy, and that foam on the top was luscious. I could have slathered it all over myself, but I was in public. This is something I would love to make my "usual" drink, if only I could remember how the hell they made it...

This course was an interesting one... the Whipped Brie profiteroles were fantastic, far and away my favourite food of the night (but hey, give me hot, gooey cheese and I'm happy). These were fabulous. They were teamed with a Palinka, which I believe is a type of European peach or apricot brandy... a Romanian friend with me on the night said she knew it from her country. Not sure how authentic this one was, but either way I didn't enjoy it - just too strong. A lot of people agreed, so Mike ended up having a few extra helpings!

Last dish of the night. By this time, well, I was ready to either party on hard, or curl up and snooze. The menu says this was Warm Ameedci chocolate mouse with powdered orange segments and pear carpaccio... I have NO idea if this is what we were actually served (can anyone from the night help me?!). The drink was a "Flip off the Devil". I'm sorry, I can't even remember what this was like... but I know I enjoyed it.

Oh dear, I sound like such an alco... I'm not really! If I'd written this post a day or two after the night, or even a month ago, I'd have done much better! Let that be a lesson to all - if you're gonna blog a meal, do it really bloody soon after.

The cocktail menu for this month looks good... I can feel a few more of these coming on...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Banana Cake

I was a little rushed this morning, so didn't get around to taking a picture of this cake. And sadly, I have none left to take one now! I get a real buzz when people enjoy the food I make although, frankly, I thought this offering had a little room for improvement... however people's stomachs don't often lie!

With some suitably squidgy bananas sitting on the cupboard I had decided last night to bake a banana cake this morning and take it to my old workmates at Lavvo Market (and of course drop some in to my hard-working guy and his family). The recipe I decided on gave me a lovely soft, moist cake that apparently had the fans clammering for more (my guy reported that he and his bro-in-law tried a piece each, then the rest I'd given them went the same way in short order).

I think future modifications to the recipe are adding some ground cinnamon, or maybe substituting the sugar for honey... I did find another recipe for a banana-peanut-butter cake (yes Mel, you read right... want the recipe? hehe) which I'm thinking I'll have a go at too, soon.

Banana Cake (as it appears on pg216 of The Margaret Fulton Cookbook)
125g butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 ripe bananas
1 1/2 cups S.R. flour
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 cup milk
icing sugar, to dust

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 23cm fluted ring tin or a deep 20cm cake tin. Cream the butter, and then beat in the sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Mash the bananas and add to the creamed mixture. Fold in teh sifted flour. Dissolve the soda in the milk, and then stir into the mixture gently but thoroughly. Turn the mixture into the tin and bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Serve with a light dusting of icing sugar and, if liked, a little whipped cream.

Now, I didn't bother with the icing sugar or whipped cream, but I drool to imagine this cake, still warm from the oven, with a little sugar and cream.

Pear and Ginger Oat Slice

I think I've mentioned previously, last christmas my brother and his partner got me a "Cookie a Day" desk calendar. Sometimes the recipes aren't exactly "cookies".

July 30th showcased "Berry Oat Bars", with the next day offering a variation using dried pears and ginger instead of mixed berries. I thought of my mum straight away, but figured I should make it first, to make sure it was worth posting the recipe up to her (and the dried fruit, which may be hard to get in Georgetown).

I think I can say, this slice was a big success. I was thinking I must've done it wrong when the top cracked like you see in the pic above when I cut it, but then I took another look at the pic with the recipe, and I feel a lot better now!

This is rich, so moist... very, very nice. I've Aussie-ified the recipe below from the American version in the calendar, and included the little differences I made. Because the ginger has such a strong flavour I increased the amount of pear and decreased the ginger instead of using the same quantity of each (duh), and I think it worked well.

This is such an incredibly simple recipe to follow, I can't wait to try the other variations my calendar suggested.

Pear and Ginger Oat Slice
110g butter, melted
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats

1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup self-raising flour
1 cup dessicated coconut
160g dried pear, chopped
80g ginger, chopped

Preheat the oven to 190C. Grease and line a slice tin.

Base: Mix the ingredients for the base together, then press into the base of the pan.

Topping: In another bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Fold the flour, coconut, and chopped fruit into the egg mixture, then spread over the base.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden. This apparently keeps in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

As you'll notice, you don't pre-bake the base at all... I think next time I might give it a quick 5 minutes in the oven before throwing the topping on (or reduce the heat to 180C). While it was all cooked, I just felt that the topping was done when the base could have had a touch longer.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Best Friends...

calvin and hobbes
see more Lol Celebs

Damn right.