Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tuckshop take away (Caulfield) 08/2013

* Click on the pic's to enlarge them.

A rose is a rose is a rose is poetry when said by Gertrude Stein but the same could not be said of a hamburger is a hamburger is a hamburger. Whilst true, this under rates both roses and hamburgers. When all is said and done they are not simply what they are.  The varieties are almost infinite  The defining characteristic of a hamburger is a meat pattie sandwiched in a bun. What distinguishes them is the 'extras' and how they are prepared and presented. There is the bun, the meat, which may be beef, lamb, chicken, turkey pork or whatever but is rarely ham, the cheese, the lettuce, other additions might include bacon, tomato, egg, onion, pickle, cheese and condiments such as mustard, mayonnaise, tomato sauce and relish. It is the quality of these and the way in which they are combined that makes the difference between a hamburger from McDonalds or Hungry Jacks or one from Rockpool or the Tuckshop. 
No not the school tuck shop in this case but a tiny eat in or take away place on the corner of Hawthorn  and Glen Eira Rds.  
This place is very much a product of the Melbourne food scene. Diners are adventurous here and entrepreneurs are willing to take risks with new approaches to culinary innovations.
Tuckshop has a menu which is dominated by the 'in things'.  It's up on a blackboard 

and there is a one page printed take away version. As far as possible everything is hand made. Chips are hand cut, they're really good too, crisp and tasty just the way we like them

tomato sauce is made in house, milk shakes, made from Timboon whole milk are original flavours. They are proud of their coffee and small range of teas too. 
Pastries are a specialty and made in house. Prices range from $7 for a scrumptious chocolate ganash with a crunchy base

to $2.50 for a donut.

There are a variety of other small cakes.
The proprietors Clinton and Corrine have an enviable pedigree have worked in some of the great restaurants. Corinne as a pastry chef has had experience at the French Laundry, Charlie Trotters and The Fat Duck apart from a number of Australian restaurants while Clinton has worked in front of house at one of Heston Blumenthal's restaurants and more recently at Attica. They are young and enthusiastic.
The place is very small, a couple of counters, a couple of tables and chairs. 

You can eat in if you wish. Tiled walls display an over head black board with the menu and a couple of clocks showing different times.

If you want to go to the toilet you have to cross the road to the public toilets!!
They have three sizes of burgers. We lashed out with the lot and they were pretty good. The overall impression was excellent. Large, well filled with good meat and ultimately very satisfying. 

As such it would be churlish to criticize individual elements but we did feel the buns, which had been toasted on the cut side, were too cool and not everyone would like them being slightly sweet. It's rare to get a burger as good as these anywhere. 
Score: 13.25/20

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pho Cali (Springvale) 08/2013

When one thinks of Vietnamese food and especially Pho, one thinks of Victoria Street on the edge of the city but the demographic centre of Melbourne is about 20 km away near Springvale. There is an incredible market there dominated by Chinese and Asian shops and supermarkets, This is where you can find chicken testicles, beef spleen, lung pigs caul, sea snails, Bailer fish, as well as exotic vegetables and funghi. There are also a variety of inexpensive restaurants serving all sorts of Asian food including excellent pho. We wandered into a cash only small very clean Vietnamese Noodle shop on Springvale Rd. advertising pho. Don't look for their 'phone no. in the phone book, although they do have one, as you can see from their sandwich board.

Not only do they serve pho but they also have a very large menu of traditional Vietnamese dishes, almost all under $18 and many under $10. There are plenty of photographs both in the menu and on the wall to help too.
 Cutlery, chopsticks and condiments are on the table and a thermos of hot tea was presented as soon as we came in. 
The place impressed with it's obvious cleanliness and simple, no frills set up.

They are community spirited too.

We had a serve of crisp pork spring rolls with a sweet chilli dipping sauce and lettuce and cucumber. They could not have been better. 

After a serve of very crisp spring rolls with the usual adornments, which were excellent
We then tried a couple of pho soups. Both dropped pigs trotters, which was actually slices of roast pork with soft noodles
 and pork with glass noodles were served in very tasty bouillon.

They were big serves with more than enough to eat. 
Service was pleasant, efficient but unhurried and we left with a very nice feeling about the place. We'll be more than happy to go there again when we visit the market.  
 Score: 13/20

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Circa (St.Kilda) 08/2013

It's truffle season
Paul Wilson
designed a particularly good menu for about 35 guests last week. Five courses and dessert accompanied by interesting wines from the old and new world made a taxi home mandatory. 
In place of bread we had a lovely creamy, smoky egg plant concoction with sea weed crisps, like a dip. It looked interesting and the sea weed and the smoky tastes combining well.

A nicely presented dish, warm Rotnest Island scallops 'En Croute', smoked sea weed butter and Yarra Valley salmon caviar was an excellent start to accompany a NV Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin which tasted all the better from lovely, fine Veuve Cliquot glasses.

Next came a signature dish of Manjimup truffles with slow cooked organic farm eggs, aged Reggiano & Piedmontese polenta With or with out the 1967 Domaine Leflaive 'Les Folatieres', Poligny-Montrachat, which was excellent and the New Zealand 2006 Kumen River 'Hunting Hill' Chardonnay, which I found had too much bitterness, this is a fantastic dish 

Crispy soft shell Sichuan peppered blue swimmer crab, nameko mushrooms and caramelized suffered from the very strong tastes of the accompaniments making it impossible to appreciate the delicacy of the crab.  The 2008 Willi Schaefer 'Graacher Domprobst' Mosel Reisling and the 2012 Best's Great Western Reisling  were a good distraction from the spicy dish and well matched.

Crispy rare breed McIvor suckling pig with native quandong marmalade, fragrant salad and steamed bun was superb. Quandong is a native Australian bush fruit with a slightly acidic tangy flavour and an interesting addition to this dish. Here a French Beaujolais 2011 Thivin 'Les Sept Vignes' Cote de Brouilly was offered with a  2012 Circe Yarra Valley Pinot Noir.

Mayura Station lost no friends with an outstanding cote de boeuf bordelaise, porcini, truffles & faro risotto. This was a dish to die for. Superb texture, wonderfully tender ans rich it was waghu at it's very best. The sauce was also excellent and truffles added that little bit extra to make it very very special.
Two reds a 2000 Edo Altare Barolo, La Morra from Piedmont and a 2009 SC Pannell Nebbiolo from the Adelaide Hills came with the waghu. Nebbiolo is a grape the originally came from Piedmont so we could be said to be drinking two Italian wines.

Dessert, quince Queen of puddings, rhubarb, elderflower sorbet was very sweet and needed a sauterne for company. A 2010 Michelton 'Blackwood Park' botrytis reisling did well enough and I preferred it to the German 2010 Keller 'Westhofen Morstein' Auslese from Rheinhessen.

Score:16.5 /20

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Attica Once More (Elsternwick) 07/2013

On rare occasions I find myself at a loss for words. Here I have recorded the menu and accompanying pic's. At the end of all that there are a few more photo's I took at the time.

Amuse bouche, forespeizers, preliminary taste delights, you name it, served with smoked olive oil, butter and salt.

 Oysters, crumbed and deep fried



Roasted cauliflower

 Crab, Lettuces from Land and Sea 
Brundelmayer 'Berg Vogelsang' Gruner Veltliner 2002-Kamptal, Austria
Marron, Sorrel, Sauce of Onions and Pork Fat
 Giaconda ;\'Estate'  Chardonnay - Beechworth, Victoria
 A simple dish of Potato, cooked in the earth it was grown, a signature dish.

Cucumbers, Holy  Flax, Sauce of Burnet

King George Whiting in Paperbark

Flinders Island Wallaby, Scorched Macadamia, Ground Berry

Fresh Curd Ice Cream and Preserved Blueberries

Plight of the Bees

 A post dessert dessert, look very real but they are chocolate.

Score:17 /20

 A few more pic's
A little bit of their garden

Toasting marshmallows in the garden to go with cider.