Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Hey Boo!!! An afternoon spent with Atticus Finch

Ok ... there's nothing quite like Sunday arvo drinks ... unless of course you're a real nanna and have to rush off to do your washing or something like that. Anyhoo, we met up with our culinary partner in crime and intrepid fashionista P for drinks and nibblies at Atticus Finch.

Lygon Street East Brunswick is already well established as the alternative Fitzroy (well lets face it ... Fitzroy ain't fitzroy anymore) - relatively untouched by the homogenising effects of the larger "slash and burn" chain stores ... but then again as rental and housing prices start to soar, the inevitable will happen. So lets enjoy it while we can.

We were early enough to score a booth here but considering that it was such a wonderfully sunny day, we debunked outside and enjoyed the better part of an hour in warmth before the weather turned.

Sharing a charcuterie selection plate and nursing a: G&T for P, Indian Pale Ale for M, and a decidedly camp Shadygaff (which is half lager, half ginger beer) for yours truly. The selection of cold meats provided ran the gamut of spicy Salami, petit saucisse seche (i.e. sausage), capocollo (which is a cured meat very much like prosciutto) and pistachio ham. All of this served with some pickled green chillies that packed a mean punch, red capsicum and yummy triangles of sourdough bread.

As afternoon turned into evening, we moved onto wine with a lovely Gerwutz blend from France - Hugo Gentil 2008 which will be my new Summer Fav as its crisp and light and a very drinkable white.

As the mercury dropped, we moved inside and started on a red from ... wait for it ... CANBERRA!!! Who would have thunk. And it wasn't too bad. The first mouthful was slightly underwhelming, but after a chance to breathe, it quietly picked up. The wine we had was a Tempranillo from the Lake George winery ... apparently Lake George is the leisure playground for the cashed up academic/civil servant ... well I'm going on the assumption that P spent a number of summers sailing on Lake George ... and I guess you can't get more posh than him!!!

To accompany this surprising drop, we had Cheese Kransky with mustard and saurkraut, as well as a couple of serves of fried haloumi. I was hoping that we could have shared a few more and had a bit of variety but the Cheese Kransky ... ohmygod ... the kransky ... the reaction I got when I simply broached the possibility of sharing .... you would have thought they hadn't eaten for decades ... someone was absent from kinder on the day they has the lesson on sharing!

It was an all eating and drinking weekend let me tell you ... and my favourite blue shirt is pulling at the seams now so I am on a high fat protein alcohol comedown ... which will last until my next  ... ooh M!! Fish curry! Don't mind if I do ....

PS - the chick who was manning Atticus that afternoon was amazing!! She kinda reminded us of Raksha from Time Team. She singlehandedly prepared and served all food and drink ordered that day ... all by her lonesome ... she even had time to nick out for a delivery!!! Amazing!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Supersizers go Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen

Ok ... it was a lovely spring night perfect for a barbie, and we took the road well travelled and opted for someone else to sweat it out over hot coals for us. So we headed down to Flemo for a spot of Chinese Spicy Barbie at the newly minted ... erm ... Chinese Spicy and Barbie Kitchen ... does what it says on the tin peops ... what it says on the tin!!

We're the Johnny come latelys where this joint is concerned. Eugooglelize this and you will see blog after blog waxing lyrical on this cafe's spicy and smoky delights. And it well deserves the accolades and star ratings.

The restaurant has the quaintest wooden tables with these wacky plump little chairs which are surprisingly comfortable, although I noticed a couple of skips doing some crazy arsed back stretches at a table nearby. So maybe not for everyone.

You're spoilt for choice with the menu here complete with the usual mispellings and descriptions that are well and truly lost in translation (dried banes anyone??). But first things first - straight to the back page and choose from the various BBQ skewers (or strings ... don't ask thats whats written on there ) on offer.

We opted for the lamb, chicken skin and baby squid. The first to arrive were the chicken skins.

A thin coil of chicken skin thread through tiny metal skewers like the ends of sparklers (perhaps string was an apt decription after all), not quite crispy but heavily spiced with cummin and pepper.

Next up was the lamb. No surprises here, although they could have been less heavy handed with the bicarb.

To accompany all this grilled madness, we had a cold dish of jellyfish and radish which was divine, but played havoc with my sensitive teeth. I've always looked forward to the jellyfish component in the starting cold dish of every decent 10 course chinese dinner (do people still do this?). I like the crunch and the sesame oil flavour. And I like this particular dish very much.

We also had something called Chilli and Beancurd, which was actually beancurd skin cooked in a clear broth with sliced green and red chillies. This was delicious and the perfect foil for the richness of our other menu choices.

They brought our bbq baby squid last. And I'm glad they did. It was pretty much the same marinade as the rest of the skewers but with the spice and chilli notes dialled up to the max. It was the best way to finish what was an extremely satisfying meal.

Another recommendation!!

PS ...  I could eat Giles Coren in whatever period he wishes to supersize himself in!!!

CBA at Phu Vinh - Tried and tested

Ok ... first time in ages we have tried somewhere new/old on a CBA Friday night. For the past few months in a pique of introvention, we have clung onto the comfort that familiarity brings. But now as the afternoons turn balmy/cold/balmy/freezing again, its time to blow out the old cobwebs and seek out pastures anew!!

Well in this case, an old hat with new trim ... Phu Vinh on good old Hopkins Street.

Everytime we try something new on Footscray's own L'Avenue des Champs Elysées (ok perhaps only in my head) we feel a sense of guilt at not having taken our business to Lucky Star. But man cannot live *insert stale platitude here* and custom should not indeed stale her infinite variety (ok I've twisted this saying round rather unsuccessfully ... but you get the drift).

So we decided after much furtive glancing to walk into Phu Vinh and sample its delights.

In the same way we have our test dishes every time we try out a new Malaysian (i.e. rendang, sambal kangkong and Hainanese Chicken), a new Vietnamese must traverse the following benchmarks:

Crispy Fried Flounder

Its quite rare to find Fried Flounder sold at market prices ... Its not like they fish it out of a tank!! But you can always ask for a rough quote and at Phu Vinh, the fish is round about the $20 mark. It was, simply put, delicious. This has to be one of the Top 10 seafood dishes ever! And Phu Vinh's version is worth coming back for. And I liked the fact that there was no final sprinkle of msg.

Fried Rice with Salted Fish

A slightly plainer version that I have had at other establishments, but not in any ways less scrumptious as a result. In fact, I prefer not to have shards of slimy iceberg lettuce wilting in the heat, or an overload of grey bits of chicken. Apart from the salt content, Phu Vinh's fried rice is clean and fresh on the palate and feels rather healthy!!

Kai Lan with Garlic Sauce

Again, a much fresher version without too much salt and with the requisite crunch and colour. My only complaint - too many stems not enough leaves.

Our meal started with a plate of Goi Con and here at Phu's, you each get your own bowl of sauce. Big Tick. They have one of the better sauces round the traps in my opinion. Just the perfect balance of sweet and salty. But of course this is a matter of taste.

In summary, I would recommend Phu Vihn and certainly look forward to a return visit.

Don't forget to check out the crazy wall print ... non-descript vaguely botanical swirls with a subtle leitmotif of clapsed hands dotted with a leaping man in a suit and hat carrying a briefcase ... answers on a postcard peops!!

PS - don't forget to ask for the kick ass chilli oil!!! And careful ... its smoking!!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Lights! Camera! Action! Sweetie!

Ok ... I'm probably going to get into trouble for this but I recently participated in a photo shoot for a friend's entry into a design competition ... well I say participated, I was more hanger-on sticky-beaker than anything else, although I did move some furniture and get coffees ... oh and I got my friend her photograper who was an absolute star. Perhaps my new career as Producer/Fashion Agent awaits somewhere in the never never!

Anyhoo, I was expecting something slightly on the amatuerish side of a backyard laboratory, but as people and equipment arrived, I had to revise my ill-conceived and uneducated opinion.

Even as K blossomed from cold ravaged sleep deprived fashion student into smoky-eyed high heeled and high haired diva under the filtered lights, I watched in wonder as my little presh transformed into a pocket rocket of lotharic charm behind the lens, teasing and cajoling sultry and playful looks in wild abandon. And through it all, my friend J, designer hands posed just so looked on with natural confidence as if to say "World! I have arrived!!" And I'm honoured to have been a part, however small, of that journey.

PS - Dench's really have nice bread.
PPS - oh and I can't really show you the final product ... IP peops IP!!
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