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My name is Kit Fennessy, and I've been writing this blog with your help for eight years, and there's over a hundred recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours. I hope you enjoy it, and please send me any feedback or suggestions about what you'd like to see herein through the feedback link at the bottom of posts.
A big thank you, as always, to my sponsors at Blue Vapours (use them for all your design and advertising needs), and without further ado, let's launch into it.
Now, what's on the bill of fare today?
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
+61 3 8620 2434
This article is about going out for something to eat when you’re at the NGVi… you know, the international one, which is the old one on St Kilda Rd? Grey cinder blocks with the big arch window? The window with the waterfall on it that you used to stick your tongue on when you used to go there for excursions as a kid?
Look, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, move along, I don’t want to know you anymore. Oh go on, come back then, there’s hope for you yet. At least you’re keen!
Jane and I went there relatively recently for the Vienna exhibition. It’s pretty good, BTW (that means “by the way” – I’m one of these hipsters*). You should go while it’s still on:
But it is loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong (the exhibition, that is). You’ll probably find when you’re half way through the tour that you need to go and get something to eat. But I had absolutely no desire to go to one of the obvious caf type nosheries on show around the gallery.
Never one to shirk talking to complete strangers, I asked one of the security guards where the best place was to go for a meal. Who better to ask than “the man on the ground” (though you’d think he could at least have sat on a seat as a matter of decorum).
‘What kind of lunch are you looking for? A sandwich?’ he asked, blinking up at me from the floor through milk bottle glasses.
I used to drive trucks for Peter Rowland catering, so can tell you a thing or two about their chicken sandwiches, but they just didn't seem to fit the bill.
‘Nah. Something with a couple of courses, sit down, with a glass of wine.’
He nodded affirmatively, cracking his head lightly on the cement floor. ‘In that case go to Persimmon. You can walk to it through the sculpture garden.’
The day was sunny, the garden looking tip-top with bits of sculpture (hence the name), and we walked in to be seated by a waitress in a corner in the sun looking out at the Concert Hall. Our waitress was studying opera and was extremely theatrical, so I felt right in my element.
The clientele, much like the gallery as a whole, is predominantly female and well turned out. Jane suggested that going to the NGV is a great place to research what you might like to look like in your autumn years and pick up a few fashion tips. Well, if the men are anything to go by, it’s either a biliously large gay theatrical producer with a comb over, or a skinny Asian guy in a tight t-shirt for me.
The food was great! They had a bunch of themed dishes to go with the exhibition, so you could tuck into schweinfleisch and knock it back with a chilled glass of Osterreich riesling. Ist gut, ja?
We got steered toward the lunch special by our charming waitress, two courses with a glass of Saloman Gruner Veltiner each for $40. We shared the chacuterie of Austrian cured meats which I followed up with the fish – I think it was Rainbow Trout with mash – while Jane enjoyed the Otway pork chop. Can I just say, what an absolute surprise the quality of the food was, and ultimately not bad value for money.
So next time that you’re feeling arty,
Spoil all your senses and add a food party
(thank goodness I didn’t have to resort to using the rhyme farty).
“So, what will be tentacle score?” I hear you ask with baited breath (you do know it’s supposed to be bated breath, don’t you?... and please remove those worms from your tongue – you’re putting me right off). I’m going to give it six and a half tentacles for the restaurant, view and service, with an extra half a tentacle because it’s located in a top cultural institution. Seven tentacles!
(*No you're not - Ed)
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Monday, August 1, 2011
300 Smith St, Collingwood VIC 3066
(03) 9417 1377
So, where do you go when it’s the end of financial year AND you’ve finally sent out the email about your new website? (I speak, of course, about bluevapours.com, you silly person! If you haven’t seen it, go there and check it out… NOW!!).
Well somewhere in Fitzroy, close to work, obviously. But we’ve been everywhere. Wabi Sabi? Nah, done it to death. Half the joints were shut, including Huxtable and Easy Tiger. Even the Chinese joint that’s never ever open was shut (what a surprise!). Press on. But wait a moment! What’s that tune I hear rising from the chorus line? Ah yes:
‘I’ve been undressed by kings
And I’ve seen some things
That a woman’s not supposed to see (a king’s penis?)
I’ve been to paradise
But I’ve never been to Cavallero.’
Cavallero. Bar. Brekky. Brunch. Lunch. Dinner. C’est cool man, and nestled on the mean streets of Collingwood. But what is it? Cavallero? It means horseman in Spanish. Do they serve horse? And there’s a quote from Wind in the Willows on the menu. What is going on? Let’s take a look, shall we?
Cavallero is nestled at the Johnston St end of Smith St, between the artist formally known as Safeway and the one hour photo developers that sells the cheap picture frames. Hardly the top end of town, but discretely far enough from drunky’s corner (near the TAB) to prevent any blatant change begging or general groping as you walk in the door.
I know the bar as the habitué of one of my television working confreres, who has his morning latte there as he reads all the newspapers before going to work. Well, the Herald Sun, anyway. They know him by sight and just make the coffee without him saying anything.
There’s a bar along one wall, with a large antlered deer head looking down at you dramatically over bottles of spirits. There’s a large communal table at the rear, if you miss out on a booth, high ceilings and an arched window that looks like it might have been an archway to the stables back in the olden days.
The shop floor is industrial, the ceilings high, the walls white, like so many places in Fitzroy; a converted shop that may be a hundred year old factory space or warehouse and subsequently a rooming house, gambling den, brothel, butchers and haberdashery in all its various manifestations.
The glass narthex at the front, a kind of recessed door from the original shop, lets tonnes of light into the space and is the architectural highlight.
But what is it? A bar, a breakfast club, a light noshery for brunchenette, a tea time swank-a-thon? Surprisingly, it’s all of the above. As the day progresses, the staff and the offerings change, to make it more of an “every moment of the day we’ve got you covered” kind of feeling.
Breakfast and lunch dishes, ‘Brunch’, are served till five, and then a dinner menu starts at six.
First stop, the bar. Beers on tap, including a very nice porter / dark beer that was highly reminiscent of chocolate. And for the ladies? Bubbles ahoy! We (I managed to sneak a glass) enjoyed a Prosecco, which is a dry sparkling wine from Italy (prosecco means dry, apparently, in Italian – who knew?). And affordable at around thirty bucks and would give many French champagnes a fright.
Truffle infusions seem to feature prominently on the menu, and I wonder if they get them from Tasmania? I bet they do. Hey! No horse on the menu. Gah! What did we have ,and was it any good? Short answers: Food, It was.
It was excellent. Drool-able. I am now wiping down my keyboard.
Jane had the chicken and coleslaw sandwich; they apparently knew about super tasters and which buttons to push. But not just any chicken and coleslaw sandwich: “Herb & parmesan crumbed free-range chicken breast with dill and yoghurt coleslaw.” Enviro, humane, kind of boom-shanka, almost guilt free.
Simone? The tasting board which came with olives, dips, risotto balls, salad, and the most delicious looking terrine.
Me? I had the pan fried barramundi that sat on a bed of hummus (the texture was heavenly), and a parsley, sumac and pomegranate salad. Yum!
Dessert? Cue internal dialogue:
Ring the bell!
Cor, someone is going to end up the size of a gorilla.
Do you have to ruin everything? Just eat it and enjoy it and don’t mention the “f” word.
Saturated fat – oops!
I had the pistachio frangipani tart with crème anglaise – a bit like a crumbly and slightly overcooked muffin (meh!), Sim the candied walnut and chocolate genache tart (hers looked better)… and Jane just had a black coffee because she is good, and pure, and doesn’t like having the nice savoury tastes washed out of her mouth by the cheap prurience of sugar.
So the judgement? Go! Go there soon. It’s a jeans more than a suit place, but they take anyone. If you go for a meal, try and arrive early or late, because it’s just not the sort of place that seems to take bookings. I’m sure you can, you’d just feel like you were overcooking it a bit by making one. Tentacles? Let’s call it a six; it’s not fine dining but casual grazing, but none the less a fine experience for all of that.
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