Matcha Puff

Basically a profiterole pumped with matcha cream. From the Kyoto Cafe in the “town square” (ie, the outside bit) of the new Eastland. Four dollars.

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It looks all smoothed out with a knife because I dropped it on the platform at Ringwood Station while trying to take this pic.. and since the previous one of these I bought I also dropped on the platform I was not going to be denied my Matcha Puff. So I licked it smooth since the germy bits are surely still on the ground?

Anyway. It was awesome. The profiterole part was perfect, not sweet or obtrusive just doing its job as a vehicle for the matcha cream. The cream itself was strong matcha flavour. All very lovely.

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Cordial

So it seems everyone was in a rush to publish the news of cordial’s death, though Cottees denies that any such a thing is happening. What surprised me most about this little drama was that it seems that up until reading these articles I had completely forgotten cordial existed. I cannot remember the last time I saw anyone drinking it much less had it myself, it’s easily over a decade.

Cordial is disgusting and apparently even  more disgusting than I remember as it now comes super concentrated and full of aspartame. What I do remember is the first times I was served cordial. I did not grow up with it and my mother would have viewed it as Satan’s own drink because of the food colouring. The people serving it to me favored No Name cordial, Bi-Lo or Franklins or whatever was the absolute cheapest. There was orange and green, glowing like traffic lights and the DYE from this stuff actually stained the glass you drank it out of. They liked it very strong. It was truly awful.

 

This evil whiteness

American marshmallow fluff.  Bought in the american section of Victoria Gardens Coles, Richmond. This stuff is SCARY. It’s bright white, sticky but more than sticky.. you could seriously use it as glue. Scraping it off your clothes (I’m messy) is like scraping off gum, only gooier. The whiteness is utterly creepy, it’s as white as liquid paper.

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So. the best tasting thing I found to do with it is to spread peanut butter thinly on one slice of white bread and the fluff thickly on the other, this makes a nice sandwich. But while you eat it you know this isn’t like smashing up some marshmallows  onto bread, it’s like smashing up a synthetic play version of marshmallows.  It seems  most like a product you would find in a craft store to make things with.. non-edible things.

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Oh and that Victoria Garden Coles has some nice stuff in their aisle of other countries. There’s a NZ section next to the American one with lots of NZ chips, drinks, marshmallow fish. And there’s varying euro and UK things as well. And, marshmallow fluff.

 

Compulsively trying all flavours

I have almost stopped doing this with chips. It has to be really interesting to get me to go there now.  And I need to resist the lies of specific chillie flavoured things because most of the time it’s total rot. And this time it was also total rot.

John West now has tuna flavoured with chipotle, jalapeno and something called intense chillie. The chipotle was an oily orange vaguely spicy affair that had no character and and zero smoked flavour. It was not FIERY as the can proclaims (did I really think it would be?) I will probably cave and buy the others even though I have a vat of jalapenos in my fridge and adding them to plain tuna would be far more satisfying in the chillie needs department.

BUT I can tell you a good way to eat canned tuna especially the flavoured ones. Get some cos lettuce, separate the leaves and put a spoon of tuna on a single leaf. Fold and wrap. It’s delicious and makes that little tin feel like a meal.

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Last night I woke up with “The Fish John West Rejects” in my head, a Melbourne band whose posters were plastered everywhere 25 years ago.. it stuck in my head then because the name was odd and then it disappeared from my head and now it’s back.

 

 

I need a papaya case, like a camera case, only for papayas

Yes, that is what I need. A special, cushioned, protected case or better yet specially designed backpack just to carry papayas. Because my nearest “super” market (it is absolutely not super) doesn’t sell papayas I must take public transport to hunt and gather them. They are heavy. I need to buy several at a time since I am not walking past a papaya seller every day.

Bad things happen to them [crying face]. Last time I was in a hurry and I shoved a bottle of wine on top of them which was very stupid and they were slightly crushed by the wine and then crushed each other in turn. I had to eat them quicker. They go almost gelatinous and a darker orange when crushed. On other occasions people have fallen on them on the train, I’ve dropped them or a heavy food item placed under the papayas in the backpack has mysteriously managed to move on top of the papayas and, disaster.

Papayas come with their own protective purple sheaths. They need BUBBLE WRAP. These sheaths are mostly for the stacking of papayas in the market, so they aren’t sweating all over each other.

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If I buy just one papaya I carry it in my handbag, like a found kitten.

Thanh Ha 2

OH I love this place! Anytime I’m staying in the area (I am on catsitting duty) I  go to lunch here, especially if I can get a crowd to come with me. It’s a big diverse menu and the place is lively and cheerful with quick service. If it’s really full, which it often is, you get to sit next to other people  and ask them about their food, I’ve had several happy conversations about what treasures are on the menu. Last time I went I discovered there was an entire upstairs section with separate rooms! This is no pho palace, there are all kinds of things you should try.

Mi Quang Soup

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Full of yellow rice noodles, pork, prawns, crushed peanuts, quail egg.. this stuff is very tasty and very pretty. The crackers are a kind of sesame rice cracker that soak up the soup without dissolving. It’s tangy and warm and full of surprises, who knows what is in there? You never know what your spoon might come up with next.

Banh Cuon,  steamed rice paper cake with pork shredded pork filling

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The cakes are a fermented rice batter poured into the pan and folded over with prawn or pork in them, they are soft and simple and inside there is crunchy goodness. What looks like a falafel on top is a mung bean cake and the meats are Vietnamese cold cuts. The pink one is Nem Chua, fermented pork. It is sour and salty with green peppercorns,   very bright tasting. The white stuff is Cha Lua, a bland pork sausage reminiscent of chicken loaf. The whole plate is very fun to eat!

Seafood in XO sauce hotpot

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Miss Sushifish must always have seafood and this was an attempt to steer her away from her beloved seafood soups. It was perfectly good and surprisingly big.

Banh Hoi with beef wrapped in betel leaf

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The Banh Hoi is the mats of rice vermicelli upon which everything else is placed. Soak them in that delicious Vietnamese dipping sauce. Use them as wraps for your betel leaf. Make a little sandwich with the cucumber and sprouts and some fresh chillies.  The point of this has always been the beef sausages in their distinctive leaves which while not the best ones I’ve had are generous in portion. And comes with mats!

Banh Khot, coconut pancakes with prawn

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Be sure to dip them in the sauce. So colourful.. like so many Vietnamese dishes.

Bun, with grilled pork

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I love Bun and it’s my go to dish anywhere with no interesting options. I have kind of failed at Bun here though. The grilled pork is fatty sausage but a table neighbour told me it was perfect and how it was supposed to be? Perhaps the sliced pork I’ve had elsewhere wasn’t the original dish. Other than this the bun is large, full of crunchy veg and very good. Next time I’m having the Bun Mam which is fermented fish and more of a soup, at least so the pictures tell me.

The inevitable “Seafood Soup”, Rice Noodle Soup with Seafood

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If you didn’t order a vegetable plate this will do you nicely because it is full of delicious, crisp, green veg. Wedged underneath are some fish balls and prawns and the usual flabby bit of squid. The broth is good, the rice noodles are perfect and it’s absolutely enormous.

Stuffed Duck with Prawn and Mushroom Sauce

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From the chef’s recommendation. I don’t personally recommend it, the duck is a kind of mince sausage of duck? I don’t know. Nothing was very compelling and we consoled ourselves that at least we had broccoli.

I recommend sticking to the front part of the menu and the soups and giving the meat and veg with a sauce at the  back part a miss.

Banh Xeo, coconut pancake with pork and prawn

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The picture does not do it justice. I swear they are as big as half the table. Full of mung beans, carrot, prawns and pork.. wrap chunks of this up in leaves and dip!

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The remains..  so full.

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Thanh Ha 2 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Cellar Door

There.. down there.. the door.

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This isn’t your teenager’s Ringwood. Eastland has been completely transformed in a way that will gobsmack you if you’ve yet to see it and remember the old Eastland.. down the ramp, past the top hat busker, into the increasingly empty and tattered shopping center. No more! And to go with the soaring spaces and designer everything there are some excellent places to eat.

The Cellar Door features Yarra Valley cheeses, made in house salumi, an excellent wine selection, beers on tap you have not tried before and multiple spaces. Upstairs is a rooftop bar which I have yet to sit in as my first visit it was closed because of “wind”, my second visit it was 40C and they had no shade cloth and my third visit it was raining. They still seem to be feeling their way with their varying rooms you can do this but not that in.  There’s a dining room to order the large meals, but not the tasting plates, and you can’t order the large meals in the area you order the tasting plates and yet these spaces are right next to each other with no seeming difference other than that the dining room is quite ugly and looks like a 1985 hotel buffet. The first time we went we were told you couldn’t order anything from downstairs brought to the roof but apparently that has changed? It is frustrating to navigate seemingly arbitrary rules like this, especially as you are walking past things you want to order without knowing too many steps in one direction means you can’t!

But forget all that. Other than the dining room the whole thing is  lovely with a farmhouse bistro feel.

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The first three times I went we got a 3 cheese tasting plate for around 16 to 18 dollars and a small salumi plate for similar and we were very happy. The last time we went the small salumi plate had disappeared and been replaced with a 30 dollar only one and the cheese plates were not listed at all. We were assured the latter was a mishap and the menus weren’t finalized and we were able to order as we remembered. I do hope that they return the smaller meat plate as an option, I would rather spend twice as much on cheese with the meats as a side than the other way around.

You can pick the cheeses if you wish, which of course we did.

First visits cheese tasting plate:

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Second visits cheese tasting plate:

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The buffalo milk blue is fab!

Third visits cheese tasting plate:

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Cheese size remains similar but the accompaniments are sparser, particularly after the wow factor of the first visit.

And onto the meats.. these platters were I believe between 16 and 18 dollars.

First visits  meat tasting plate:

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This was very impressive with both terrines and the duck  quite interesting.

Second visits meat tasting plate:

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Very similar, but with smaller duck and without the ham.

Third visits meat tasting platter:

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It’s great to have different things served but this was markedly smaller than the other tasting plates, with no ham and only one terrine. It was the “small” one that no longer exists on the menu. In addition to getting that we got the large 30 dollar meat tasting plate which is on the menu.

The 30 dollar meat tasting plate:

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meh, there are some extra bits but when compared to what we got with the small plate for our first and second visits this feels like a disappointment and almost double the cost.

The salamis that they make themselves were very impressive, there’s a mushroom one, a fennel one.. and of course some chillie. Everything you see you can buy to take home and I have bought quite a lot of the salami because it’s so good! Hopefully next time I’ll take a photo of it before inhaling it.

Staff are friendly and like doing the whole tour thing where they want you to appreciate the  Yarra Valley produce.  The menu could do with more variety but it’s found its own style with pork loins and hocks and other things I probably won’t  order but which will be nice in Melbourne’s winter.

And finally I recommend the Sangiovese which is not sweet but bright, green noted and perfect on a quiet afternoon with good company and tasting plates.

The Cellar Door Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

 

 

Thwarted

Planning family lunch. I was deep into my trawl through Box HIll’s  restaurants on Zomato, drooling over crabs and curry and pipi’s in xo sauce. I was in charge of suggestions.

Then SUDDENLY we are going to The Cellar Door at Eastland. The new schmancy Eastland which is literally 1000X better than the previous Eastland and The Cellar Door is lovely but after staring at all those pipis I’m in pain.

I had to fix that hole with this particularly fab ramen. A ramen I’d never seen before or since and which I have a dwindling supply of.

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MUSTARD GREENS and omg so much of it..

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They are  sour and delicious.. the white stuff is a peppery thing.

If you ever find this piece of art don’t leave too much water in it. You want a bunch of fab intense noodles. It’s better with peas, or rather it’s good with peas. It’s great, great ramen no matter what nutrition you add or don’t add.

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I bought every packet in the discount section I found it in after sampling.. and I’ve been up and down Victoria street and haven’t seen it since. So now it is precious.