Saturday, April 28, 2012

Breakfast Club Meeting - Numero Uno @ Proud Mary, Oxford Street, Collingwood

Recently, some of my workmates and I realised that we share a passion (yes, passion is the right word to use here) for trying out new breakfast places around Melbourne. The natural next step was to (OBVIOUSLY) form a Breakfast Club. At that time, I was unaware of the fact that this was the name of an 80s movie that was apparently quite big in the 80s... Not that I would know.. The DVD is still sitting on my desk waiting to be watched (courtesy of fellow Breakfast Clubber, DS).

So anyway, back to the subject matter of this post: Armed with a copy of The Age's Cheap Eats Guide, we decided upon Proud Mary as the venue for our first ever Breakfast Club meeting. *Life changing moment* (Not really... but kinda a little bit...) So on one slightly gloomy, slightly chilly Saturday morning, me and my fellow Breakfast Club Buddies (BCBs) trudged down to Oxford Street for the exciting event that was our inaugural club meeting!

Proud Mary is housed in a very cool industrial-looking building, on the corner of a misleadingly quiet street just off Smith Street. Being the tram-ride junkie that I am, I kinda got carried away daydreaming on the tram and missed the stop and then had to struggle with the annoying GPS on my phone to direct me back to the correct street! (My brain was faster than the GPS... That's how slow it was :p)

There is something about that area that I took an immediate liking to. If you want to get a table quickly, you HAVE to go early. Even then, quickly may well be a 10 minute wait... The good thing is that, there is plenty of off-street parking for those who drive.

Our waiter was very enthusiastic and animated and happily bustled about serving us our drinks to start. I ordered a chai latte and was slightly upset that it wasn't served in a teapot. But still, it was good chai - I can't complain. The others had the coffee, which is apparently pretty good. So after my chai, I had a weak flat white. I can appreciate that the coffee was good (well-roasted, good source? I have not idea how to describe good coffee apart from saying that it tasted good..) Despite it being a weak flat white, it was still too strong for me. Talk about unnecessary energy... and no outlet for it...

My Chai Latte
MK was running late but still managed to get there before our food was served. She ordered her heirloom tomatoes, avocado and feta on toast, and it was served before all our orders, that we had put in a good 20 minutes before she'd arrived! After picking each and every piece of tomato out of the amalgamation of vegie and cheese, she finally commenced her eating. I was slightly upset that our super-efficient and dedicated waiter cleared her plate so quickly that I didn't get the chance to eat the tomatoes that were left in a neat pile on her plate!

Avocado, heirloom tomatoes and feta on toast
My other 3 BCBs - BL, DS and EP - ordered the potato hash, a dish that is one of the most popular at this joint. I opted not to order it for my meal because it was served with a sauce called "bagna cauda" which is made from garlic, olive oil, butter and anchovies. I'm a bit very fussy about anchovies... The only ones I eat are the deep-fried salted and dried anchovies called "ikan bilis" in Malay. To be fair, I tried a bit of DS' bagna cauda and found it to be quite tasty. Just not really my thing though. It kinda reminded me of the unfortunate time that my mother had made ikan bilis soup (blegh!) and I had no choice but to consume it... :s But the others really enjoyed the hash and everything it came with - so it was obviously a winner! Another dead giveaway as to the quality of the food was the fact that our whole table was silent when the food arrived - being the foodies we are, we were just revelling in the haze of awesome tastiness that was the dish that had been placed in front of each of us. (That, and also, we were absolutely famished!)

I ordered the pork belly sandwich instead. It was pretty darn tasty! Loved the flavour combination of the sweet and smokey paprika, with the slightly charred pork belly, and the salty and slightly tangy aioli. The sandwich bread was also very, very yummy. So gooood :) It filled me up from 12pm all the way to 7pm!! (Yes, I have a fairly small stomach. I know.)

Overall, a very good start for the Breakfast Club! I think it's fair to say that everyone really enjoyed the meeting, company and the food (and coffee). Success!! :D

Stay tuned - a post about our second BC meeting is coming soon!! :) :)

Potato hash, poached egg, bacon, spinach and bagna cauda

Pork belly, smoked paprika relish and aioli

Proud Mary on Urbanspoon

Melbourne Through Fresh Eyes #2

Burch & Purchese, Chapel Street, South Yarra

We trekked down to Chapel Street to visit Burch & Purchese because I insisted that my sister just HAD to try their desserts (and also, it was on Masterchef!).

My sister apparently doesn't like ginger in desserts (amongst other things), so we couldn't have the awesome-looking green-themed piece of (dessert) art that I so badly wanted to try, the COCONUT | GINGER | PASSIONFRUIT | MINT - coconut mousse | passionfruit curd | coconut caviar | passionfruit jelly | salted oat & ginger crumble | white chocolate mint wafer | ginger macaroon | brilliant white chocolate spray. To be fair, I've tried it before, but wanted to have it again! Another time then.

Instead we tried the more conservative chocolate, mandarin and salted caramel "dessert thing" (Burch and Purchese never actually say what the dessert is, only what flavours are in them...) and the RASPBERRY, WHITE CHOCOLATE, HONEY, LYCHEE - white chocolate & raspberry mousse | raspberry & lychee jelly | museli & honey nut sponge | raspberry & hibiscus jam | honey lychee syrup | exaggerated raspberry cream | chocolate velvet spray.

See what I mean?

Funny :p

Had our desserts at the Alexandra Gardens in true Melbournian fashion. Both were very good, too much to have together in one meal though. But that's just me and my moderate (eating) ways.

Sorry for the lack of photos - my sister has them and she's not the best at sharing them! :D Go to the Burch and Purchese website to see their photos instead.

Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio on Urbanspoon

Melbourne Through Fresh Eyes #1

I love showing people around Melbourne - taking them to my favourite food haunts, chilling in my favourite parks, ogling at my favourite buildings. And that's just what I did when my sister came to visit last week - we literally ate our way across the city, and spent the rest of the time either digesting all that food we'd eaten or absorbing the ambience of all the wonderful places we had visited.

Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch at De Clieu, Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

First food experience! I've personally been wanting to properly sample De Clieu's food properly since the last time I was there, I was too full to have anything more than a cup of coffee. So naturally, it was the perfect opportunity to kill 2 birds with one stone, so to speak - show my sister one of Fitzroy's most famous cafés and get a chance to finally sample their food for myself :)

Caramelised pork neck and fried egg on roti - how pretty does it look?!

Heirloom tomatoes, avocado and buffalo mozzarella on toast
 We managed to get a spot inside, right by a large window, with lots of sunlight shining through and a cool breeze keeping us nice and fresh, countering the heat from the sun.

The food was amazing - simple, fresh, and oh-so-tasty. One of my friends had the cured kingfish on toast, I had the tomatoes, mozzarella and avocado on toast, and my sister had the pork neck on roti. I liked how all their dishes were light and fresh - perfect food to have in the stiffling heat on that day! We all left De Clieu feeling just the right amount of full, and very satisfied with our experience :)

De Clieu on Urbanspoon   

Vegie Bar (I LOVEEE VEGIE FOOD), Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

We then adjourned to the Vegie Bar on Brunswick Street for some good 'ol vegetarian/vegan/gluten free smoothies and desserts. We shared the sticky date pudding with vanilla ice cream - it was a mound of soft, golden pudding, drizzled generously with caramel sauce and perfectly complemented by 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream.

I had to try the Raw Shake (cacao, agave, and almond milk) - it was interesting... All the health food freaks out there would absolutely LOVE it. I found that the almond bits were a bit annoying - they kept getting stuck in my throat, but overall really enjoyed how healthy the shake tasted. It is probably the most guilt-free drink I've ever had in my life (apart from good ol' H20)!

I would love to go back and try their other food someday - it sounds like my cup of tea :D

Vegie Bar on Urbanspoon

Melbourne Through Fresh Eyes #3

The South Melbourne Experience - Brunch at Dead Man Espresso, followed by Dessert at Chez Dre = BLISS

Meal #1: Brunch @ Dead Man Espresso

Deadman's was the setting of probably one of my first few brunch experiences in Melbourne a good 4+ years back. I love the setup of the place, and the outdoor dining area at the front of the cafe with the high stools and wooden counters facing the street.

To be completely honest, the dish I had ordered (pork sausage et al) didn't really stand out for me - it was good, but was just missing something (I'm not entirely sure what). Having said that, the grilled bread was amazing. I love bread, and I love grilled food. Thus naturally, I loved the grilled bread. (There's some simple mathematical logic for you!) And the heirloom tomatoes were very yummy. I think the let down for me was the pork sausage that could have been a bit more exciting in terms of flavour..

JWT had the pork belly BLT which is apparently always superly duperly finger-lickingly, lip-smackingly good. And the gazpacho is apparently equally tasty. I trust his verdict - we have similar standards when it comes to food :)

My sister had the herbed rosti - she seemed pretty content with it, so I think it's safe to say that it was probably pretty good, but not mind-blowing. Too harsh?

Apparently the coffee here is amazing, but I wouldn't know - I had the chai tea :D JWT had a glass of "Magic" that was apparently quite magical..

Herbed rosti with poached egg, avocado and bacon

Pork belly BLT with gazpacho

Pork sausage, tomato, basil and poached egg on grilled bread
Dead Man Espresso on Urbanspoon  

Meal #2: Dessert @ Chez Dre

After our delightful brunch experience, we strolled down to Chez Dre. (I love how the two places were close enough to permit us to literally "stroll down" from one to the other).

I absolutely love looking at the desserts on display at Chez Dre. They really do make them very pretty, and display them very well.

Sooooo many desserts, soooo little space in my tummy!

Eye candy - pun intended

I also love the fact that it's a converted warehouse, and has an outdoor garden-style dining area.

The interior of Chez Dre

The gorgeous outdoor dining area at Chez Dre

My sister and I shared the salted caramel eclair and the jasmine tea crème. Both were truly amazing. I'd heard pretty good reviews about the desserts here, but never allowed myself to form any expectations until I had a chance to sample some of them for myself. And boy was I impressed!

Everything about each dessert was perfect - from the presentation, to the textures, to the flavour combinations. *Sigh*. I was in dessert heaven. The salted caramel eclairs were salty, sweet, soft, crunchy and gooey all in one! It had walnuts in it. Yum. The jasmine tea crème was a fondant-shaped chocolate mousse structure with a jasmine tea flavoured cream centre. Who would have thought that jasmine tea and chocolate would go so well together. My sister and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

All in all, I would highly recommend Chez Dre if you are looking for a place to have amazing dessert, in an equally amazing setting.

Chez Dré on Urbanspoon