Food Babies of June – Part 2

Welcome to ‘Part 2’ of my food adventures to celebrate a very special week in June that is my birthday. This year, the fiesta seems to be never-ending. It’s like the Queen has come to stay for the week and we are seated at a self replenishing banquet table, which we are not allowed to leave from (not that anybody is complaining).

All the photos that I am posting up, are only the meals I could remember to take photos of. Majority of the time, I’m so excited to see the food that I want to see it disappear (into my mouth) as soon as it hits the table. So for this, I’m sorry that I’m not able to share with you the whole banquet.

My ‘food baby’ continues to grow in Rutherglen. An adorable, neat country town that consists of one strip of bistros, cafes, op shops and handy-marts, all surrounded by acres of green grass and tall mountains sitting on the horizon.

We had just come from Beechworth after a lovely breakfast and thought we’d check out the neighboring towns. As we walked down Main Street, food was not the first thing on our minds but I can assure you that it’s never far off. I stopped outside a cafe window and proceeded to stare at a woman eating lunch with her friend (or so my friends thought). In fact, what I was staring at was the plate in front of her, which contained what looked like the most crunchy calamari rings I’ve seen in a while. Upon further inspection, I discover that they’re coated in panko crumbs and not your average crumbs from day old bread.

As I was uploading the photo of the calamari, the upload percentage bar read “crunching”… haha ;D.

We were definitely not hungry but we definitely needed proof that the calamari was as crunchy as they looked. So into the cafe we went and ordered ourselves a plate of Panko-crumbed Calamari with Beer Battered Fries and Salad. Turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made on a whim, not to mention inexpensive…ahem…hmmm… that’s a little awkward.

Fried calamari for me is a hit and miss thing. Some restaurants do it really well and some restaurants leave you unsatisfied not to mention suffering from food envy as you watch your friends eat yummy food, while you’re stuck with soggy, chewy calamari that’s not as salt and peppered as it should be.

This calamari had me wishing I was hungry enough for another plate, the meat was still juicy and tender and the panko crumbs did it’s job like a pro. Everything on that plate was perfectly seasoned and although the salad resided on the same space, nothing was soggy!! I vow never to eat fried calamari rings ever again unless they’re panko-crumbed (cue dramatic quote music). NOM NOM NOM!! Wish I had another plate of it in front of me now.

Back at the Bridge Road Brewery in Beechworth, we enjoyed a sunny (but fresh) afternoon sipping on pale ale accompanied with Pizza Funghi, Pizza Apple and Blue Cheese and Pizza Salami (Yes, we are eating our pizza with knives and forks like weirdos).

My favorite was the Pizza Salami with taleggio, EV olives, Hungarian salami and red onions, it was like a flavor explosion in my mouth. Might be slightly biased because I have a soft spot for Hungarian salami and taleggio cheese.

Pizza Funghi and Pizza Apple and Blue Cheese was our half/half pizza topped with roquette and almond salad. The Pizza Apple and Blue Cheese was surprisingly good and the blue cheese wasn’t as strong as I thought it would be. As for the Pizza Funghi, you’ll love it if you love mushrooms because that’s pretty much all there was to it.

The first thing I saw on the menu at Bridge Road Brewery was the American style BBQ pork ribs braised in Chevalier Biere de Garde, herbs and spices, served with house made dipping sauce. One word, YUM!

Fifteen dollars will buy you a wooden board heaped with BBQ Pork Ribs that are falling off the bones and a dipping sauce, so rich, tangy and smooth it could give you a headache… and they call this a snack!! NOM NOM NOM

This here concludes my country Victoria stint. I look about four months preggas right about now but I loved every bite of it. Chiltern, Beechworth and Rutherglen, you have been good to me. I look forward to visiting again one day. If anyone is visiting Beechworth, visit their bakery! It’s how all bakeries should be… and such lovely savoury breads.

Special mention to my beautiful boyfriend Aleks, who is the mastermind behind the whole trip. Thank you for all your driving and wonderful restaurant suggestions… and I commend you for your patience, waiting for me to take the perfect photo before digging into the food.

That’s all from me for now but I shall be bringing you ‘Part 3’ very soon, when I’m back in Melbourne but still eating and maybe a little cooking as well. Look out for my new chicken pie recipe plus more restaurant reports as well.

Trip to  country Victoria gets 5 nomnoms out of 5. =)

NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM!!!!

..Definitely worth every calorie… and the food baby.

Love Lee Lee

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It’s been awhile…”Food Babies of June” – Part 1

It really has been awhile since I’ve posted. I’m not proud of it and I’m sorry. The guilt is as bad as leaving really good food on the plate because you’re too full to put that one mouthful in your gob.

To redeem myself though, I’m happy to report that I’ve spent the last month eating my way through country and metro Victoria and now I’m proud to present to you my “Food Babies of June” (appropriately titled because my birthday is also in this month).

The food baby starts to grow in the buzzing, little town that is Beechworth, famous for honey and good beer. My first stop is “The Provenance”, an old-fashioned, high ceiling restaurant with a door bell to ring on arrival and polite staff to greet you. (So adorable)

Our first course of the degustation menu is “Pickled, raw and cooked vegetables, puffed rice with congee sauce”.  I’m ashamed to say that I have no idea what “congee sauce” is… even now. I’ve had congee before but what the hell is congee sauce!? Will someone please educate me!? And then inform Wikipedia, because they don’t know either. Whatever it is, it made the dish. All the ingredients were bound by this mysterious sauce.

This delightful dish is “Roasted broccoli, white bean puree, confit garlic, lemon, anchovy custard and bacon”. Everything on this plate is a winner. Roasting the broccoli gives it a nutty, charred taste that is surprisingly pleasant and gives the broccoli character. Perfect second course in a six course meal.

I’m always suspicious of seafood that is “twice-cooked” because majority of the time, it’s overcooked by my standards. This one wasn’t horrible but I felt the squid was a little mistreated. Although it wasn’t chewy, the texture of the squid was grainy. Even though the fennel salad outshone the twice cooked squid, I ate every last bit of it up like an obedient child, without complaining… until later.

“Braised Berkshire pork belly, mushrooms, daikon in soy milk miso broth”. The concept is appealing but I would’ve preferred the pork belly to be roasted with a crunchy crackling. In braising the pork belly, a lot of the fat wasn’t rendered down, and there were a few mouth full that were a little too indulgent. The broth was beautiful but I felt the whole dish was quite one-dimensional. It needed either something sweet or tangy to cut through the fat and the dairy, like pickled daikon even.

My favorite dish of the night. “Dry aged grass-fed Wagyu flat-iron steak, braised short rib, grilled spring onion, smoked tofu dressing, konbu no tsukudani”. Enough said.

Dessert was refreshing and a great finish to the degustation. I can still taste the vibrant, tropical flavor of the pineapple. My only criticism is that the chrysanthemum jelly was lost amongst all the bold and tropical flavors.

Although it may seem that I’ve disliked this menu more than I’ve enjoyed it, I walked out of The Provenance satisfied. The staff was friendly, the menu read well and the food was good enough for me to want to give the restaurant a second visit, which is precisely the objective of a degustation. The next time I’m in Beechworth, reservations will be made and this time, being more acquainted with the menu, I look forward to trying the “Roasted Milawa quail breast” and “Blue eye” amongst other things on the menu.

I give “The Provenance”, 3.5 nom noms out of a possible 5.

*NOM NOM NOM NO*

…almost worth every calorie

Love Lee Lee

P.S More food babies coming soon. Tune in for Part 2. =)