What We Ate This Week- Pasta, Melbourne, Tennis and More!

So you may want to grab a cup of tea before you start reading, while the East Coast of the US has been freezing under a blanket of snow, we’ve been eating.  In the last 10 days, we’ve been eating and drinking- A LOT- and it’s all been pretty amazing.  So make yourself comfortable, this is a longer than normal post.

We’ve been in Melbourne for the last few days watching tennis and trying out the local restaurant scene- and the food down there is amazing!  I can honestly say in the last week, I’ve had two of the best meals ever- one in Sydney and one in Melbourne.   It’s been a great food week!

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January 17th– I made a Butternut Squash and Kale tart (pastry included) from the cookbook, A Modern Way To Eat.  While we were in Melbourne, I discovered that Anna Jones has a new cookbook out that looks absolutely amazing, A Modern Way To Cook.  Both are vegetarian cookbooks but A Modern Way To Cook divides recipes by how long it takes to cook them, fantastic for planning weekday meals based on what time I expect to get home. It is now on my top 3 most wanted cookbooks.  The tart turned out well, it was well worth making the pastry, but it was definitely a Sunday afternoon activity rather than a weeknight meal.

January 19th– Jamie Oliver’s Summer Vegetable Lasagne from his 30 Minute Meals cookbook.  It was absolutely delicious but a 30 minute recipe it was not.  Last time, I tried to make one of his “30 minute” recipes, it was one of the most frustrating experiences in the kitchen.  I loathe the way he writes and his recipes are not 30 minutes.  The Lasagne was delicious but it was nearly 43 minutes to prepare plus another 8 minutes of cooking time.  I’m pretty handy in the kitchen and I got all the pans out ahead of time and I followed his incoherent directions as closely as possible- but I am not a magician, and I was not able to conjure up this recipe in 30 minutes.  It tasted really good so I will try it again, but I’m not sure how to cut out 20 minutes of cooking, cutting, layering and baking.  Perhaps I need a sous chef/kitchen minion to help.  Maybe one of you out there can try the recipe for me and tell me how long it takes you.  Maybe I’m just slow….hmmmm.  Oh well, we enjoyed a lovely 2015 Piggs Peake Silk Purse Verdelho with it.

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January 20th– Moonlight Cinema- We saw Room and only got rained on a little bit.  Excellent movie, even better book.  We ate popcorn and chocolate covered raisins.  The Runner ate wasabi peas too.

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January 21st– I made Crispy Salami, Crushed Pea and Ricotta Pasta from the new issue (#85) of Donna Hay.  It was very easy to make but nothing extraordinary.  We had a Tintilla 2014 Sangiovese with it.

January 22nd– We went to ACME, a pretty awesome restaurant in Potts Point.  Why is it awesome? The music is great, the service is friendly and flawless and the food is absolutely incredible.  If you haven’t been yet, go.  Stop reading and go right now.   The mains were pasta based but they weren’t traditional.  The desserts had more Asian-style flavours.  They were all delicious.   Really helpful and knowledgeable sommelier as well.  It was voted as #88 on The Australian Financial Review’s Top 100 restaurants in 2015.  I would rank it higher, and I feel qualified to make this sort of judgement.  In Melbourne, we ate at two more restaurants on the Top 100 (#15 and #22) and I would rank it amongst those- but that’s just my opinion.

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January 23rd– We went to Melbourne for the tennis!  Hooray!  It’s my favorite of our “family” traditions and this year didn’t disappoint.  The tennis was ok but the food was….Wow.

Saturday night we at at Lucy Liu’s Kitchen.  Asian fusion in the heart of the city.  It was a great first restaurant to get our palates ready for the rest of the trip.  It wasn’t life changing but it was tasty.

January 24th– This was the happiest food day of my life.  Seriously, I had my two best back to back dining experiences- EVER.  For brunch we went to Top Paddock.  Normally waiting 45 minutes for a table for breakfast would make me hangry, but this place came highly recommended and we didn’t know where else to go.  Wow.  This place was a game changer, I’m not a big breakfast person but this was the best breakfast I’ve ever had.  It looked beautiful and tasted even better.  If you find yourself in Melbourne, go.  Be prepared to wait but the wait is well worth it!

During the day, we went to Prahran Markets- one of the reasons I would jump at the chance to live in Melbourne.  Prahran Market is a foodie heaven with beautiful produce with great prices- nothing in Sydney even comes close!

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For dinner, we went to Saint Crispin in Collingwood.   Again, wow.  Really clever and unique Modern Australian cooking.  I had the beef, and it was one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten.  Actually, the whole meal was in my top 10 restaurant experiences.  Beautiful food, understated setting but the food really speaks for itself.  Saint Crispin is #22 on the Fin Review’s top 100, but I think it should be much higher.  After dinner, we went to The Rum Diary and The Black Pearl for a couple of drinks to finish off our date night in Melbourne.

January 25th–   We started the day at one of our all time favorite breakfast spots in Melbourne, Bowery to Williamsburg.  It’s a New York theme cafe and although I’m not from New York, I do love the American touches on their menu.  And they give you Hershey’s kisses with your coffee!  I was a bit disappointed that it was Monday, so they didn’t have brunch.  It was breakfast only when we were there- at first I was sad.  But after the tasty latkes I felt much better and not disappointed at all!  Delicious!  We spent all day at the tennis and ate sandwiches made from the ingredients we bought at Prahran Market the day before.

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There were latkes there at some stage- but they were too delicious to not eat all of!

For dinner, we went to Movida.  Don’t shoot me but I was underwhelmed bordering on disappointed.  After years of wanting to go and not being able to get a table, after going to the Sydney one and hearing that the Melbourne one was “so much better”, I was kind of meh about the whole thing.  It wasn’t bad, there was nothing wrong with it.  Everything we ordered was good, but it just wouldn’t be #15 on my list of 100 restaurants in Australia.  And it didn’t live up to the years of hype and expectation.  But, I can cross it off my list now and I’m glad.  After dinner, we went to Cookie for a drink- it’s not one for the indecisive.  Their wine menu is a tome.  I think it could be over 100 pages, legal size paper, 10 pt font.   It’s challenging but worth seeing with your own eyes.

January 26th– We celebrated Australia Day by having burgers- twice.  We sat in the sun at the Australian Open Festival and visited the Gelato Messina pop up- for breakfast.  I had the “burger”- two brioche buns, chocolate “hamburger” patty, white chocolate “cheese”, and a marshmallow and passionfruit gelato “egg”.  I had to try it, and it was fun.  I was a bit jealous of The Runner’s strawberry trifle type thing but I was glad I tried it!  Our second burger of the day was from our favorite Melbourne burger place, Huxtaburger.  Overall, I was quite pleased with our double burger antics today.

So there you have it, it’s been a big food week for us, you can see all of our restaurant meals on Instagram- #herunsicookweeat.  I have a feeling that next week will not be nearly as delicious as this one, this week will be pretty hard to top!  Time to start planning our next trip to Melbourne, we haven’t even scratched the surface of the tasty treasures there!

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