Monthly Archives: August 2012

Nice To Meet You – Gardiner and Field

It seems like new cafes are always popping up in Melbourne and even though I go out for brunch a lot, I don’t seem to be able to catch up and my ‘wishlist’ just keeps growing! But that’s not necessarily a bad thing hehe because I love trying out new places and it’s an added bonus when I’m meeting new people!

Through blogging, I have been so lucky to meet up with so many other bloggers and it’s always nice to meet my ‘kind’ of people and finally put a face to a blog! I’ve been following the blog Brunch Addict for quite some time now, they’re reviews are always honest, informative and accurate :)

There are two contributors on Brunch Addict, Mr LB and Ms SL, they’re such a cute couple ~ after lots of conversations through Twitter, we finally decided to meet up ~ Ms SL is the brunch queen, so I left it up to her to choose the cafe she wanted to check out. She chose Gardiner and Field, the brand new cafe that opened up just last week in Armadale :)

Owners Nick and Jess

Even though Gardiner and Field is new to the cafe scene, owners Nick and Jess are definitely not new to the cafe industry, Nick had previously worked at The Maling Room, while Jess had worked and 30 Mill Espresso before starting their own cafe ~ Having said that though, it probably wasn’t the best idea to visit Gardiner and Field on their first weekend of opening.

Homemade jams and sauces ~

We had organised to meet up at 11:30 am, I got there just before that time and found there were already quite a few people waiting outside, I immediately, placed my name down on the list and waited patiently. Ms SL and Mr BL arrived shortly, we thought a table of 3 would be relatively easy to find. However, the cafe had small fittings inside and only had a few tables available, they did have a strip of seats outside facing the road. Staff were genuine and friendly, but this did not help with the wait, eventually we waited for one hour before we got a table for 3 outside facing the road. It was a little weird sitting outside facing the road and not enough other, but we weren’t going to complain because by then we were hungry and simply wanted to sit down :)

Double Espresso $3.5AUD

Service was a little slow to start off with, where we waited for another couple of minutes before someone gave us the menu and take our orders for coffee. But once the order was placed, it came out in a timely manner ~ Ms SL started off with a double espresso :) which she seemed to enjoy ~ while Mr LB lived up to his name and ordered a Long Black, sorry forgot to take a photo of it, but he also seemed to like it :)

Mocha $3.5AUD

I got my signature Mocha ~ however, was a little disappointed, it was very watery and weak, I could barely taste any coffee or chocolate… I would have liked it a lot more if it had more pronounce flavours.

Left – Cherry Ripe Milkshake, Right – Snickers Milkshake $5AUD each

Ms SL made a little squeal when she found the milkshake flavours they offered – Cherry Ripe, Snickers, Maltersers and Bounty! I immediately flipped the menu to the last page and couldn’t help but grin! I simply HAD to order one of these milkshakes! I was tossing between the Cherry Ripe or the Maltersers, but decided to go for the Cherry Ripe as it was more unique hehe. I think they nailed the taste quite well because it really tasted like Cherry Ripe and most importantly it didn’t have that horrid cough syrup aftertaste, some cherry drinks do. Ms SL immediately knew she wanted the Snickers milkshake and was so kind to let me try it :) and it was amazing just like drinking Snickers and the best part was the little peanut bits in the milkshake ~ I’m definitely coming just for the milkshakes! I want to try the Bounty one next time :D

Spiced Lamb Burger $16.50AUD

Moving onto the food, they had a nicely sized menu with the specials on a different piece of paper, it was a little unique though with dishes like broad bean, pea, mint and feta mash or pulled lamb flat bread ~ this was quite exciting as it can get a bit boring to see the same or similar dishes served at different cafes., Mr LB ordered the Spiced Lamb Burger served with chips, I was a little surprised to see two sliders instead of one large burger, as I saw another customer have the large burger. We later found out, it was because they had run out of burger buns and were forced to use mini ones. Even though, servings were a little small, both Mr LB and Ms SL really liked the lamb burgers :) I don’t eat lamb so didn’t try the burgers but the chips served were soooooo fresh, crispy and amazing! We think it may have even been double fried ~ YUM! Would like to say a special thank you for Mr LB to take this photo.

Baked Rhubarb and Strawberries rolled in French toast tortilla with orange, mint and granola $14.50AUD

Ms SL and I had our eyes on this dish :) but I didn’t want to order the same thing because it would be nice to try more things, so Ms SL decided she’ll order it as she felt like something sweet ~ The use of a tortilla provided it an interesting texture that was slightly chewy and denser than crepes. I’ve actually never had a sweet tortilla in my life hahaha and this was the first time :) and was really surprised at how well everything goes with each other ~ I think I’m gonna have this as dessert next time I come for brunch ~

Spiced Quinoa, pumpkin and chickpea fritters with yoghurt and poached eggs $16.50AUD

I felt quite adventurous that day and decided to get something totally unusual for me :) Spiced Quinoa, pumpkin and chickpea fritters served on a pice of tortilla and poached eggs. I think another reason why I got this dis was because I have been craving quinoa and didn’t want to make it myself, so this was the perfect chance ~

The fritters were a little hard to eat, as they were quite soft and when you put your fork in they would crumble, despite that they were full of flavour and the cumin provided strong Middle Eastern flavours ~ also served on a piece of tortilla or was it flatbread? LOL I can’t tell the difference sometimes :P

My verdict – it was super nice to meet Ms SL and Mr LB in person and I would love to do it again :) it was also nice to try a brand new cafe, but there are definitely areas that need to be worked on. But I believe once Gardiner and Field works these issues out they’re gonna flourish and may become the next ‘IT’ cafe :P

Hand made sweet goodies

I’m going to give it a couple more weeks or even a month before I return to give them time to ease into things and work out some of the issues ~ but I’m definitely coming back for the milkshakes and want to try these hand made sweet goodies!

PS. They only take cash, so remember to go the ATM before coming here :)

Gardiner and Field on Urbanspoon

Alphabakes – Tomato Soup Cupcake

Once again another Alphabakes post – Thank you Ros (The More Than Occasional Baker) and Caroline (Caroline Makes) for hosting it each other. This month it is a relatively easy letter ‘T’, there are options like tarts, toffee, trifles and tiramisu. They were all great options… but I really wanted to make something more quirky :P my dear Readers will know by now how weird I can be :P

So once again…jumped on Dessert Stalking, my all time favourite website and found Tomato Soup Cupcakes! I was shocked that anyone would try these cupcakes but hhahaa it sounded interested enough so I decided to head out and buy myself a can of condensed tomato soup.

As weird as this combination sounds, it tastes very much like carrot cupcakes especially when paired up with cream cheese frosting :) as a matter of fact hehe it was really moist when I tried mine maybe because it was still slightly warm. I was worried that Mr Bao wasn’t even going to take a bite, because even though he likes his savoury food, I wasn’t sure if he’d like it in a cupcake hahaha

Turned out quite alright….he doesn’t love it hahaha but he said it’s quite fluffy and moist :) I’ve also shared these with some of my regular testes Julz, Lianne, Julie and Loukia and so far the feedback has been better than I expected PHEW! So nervous!

Not sure that I’ll make them again anytime soon, but they were definitely one of the weirdest things I’ve made so far hehe if you like carrot cake, give this recipe a try!

Recipe – Tomato Soup Cupcakes adapted from Tiny Test Kitchen

Yield – 12 cupcakes or 24 mini cupcakes

Ingredients
Cupcake
1 cans Condensed Tomato Soup, preferably low sodium
1/2 teaspoon Baking soda
255 grams (1 3/4 cup) plain flour
3/4 teaspoon. Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
85 grams Unsalted butter, at room temperature
115 grams (1/2 cup) caster sugar
100 grams (1/2 cup) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs

Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from The Cake Mistress
300 g Icing sugar, sifted
50 g Unsalted butter, room temperature
125 g Cream Cheese, slightly softened

Method
1) Preheat oven to 165°C (325°F) and line your cupcake tin with cupcake wrappers.
2) Open and empty the can of tomato soup into a bowl and sprinkle baking soda, stir well and leave aside.

3) In another bowl, sift together, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
4) Using a hand held mixer or stand mixer cream your butter and sugar until fluffy, approximately 3 to 4 minutes on medium speed.
5) Add one eggs at a time until just combine. Scrap the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is mixed evenly, turn the mixer onto a low speed, slowly add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the tomato soup. Just make sure you start and end with the flour mixture.

6) Mix until combine, and using a ice-cream scoop fill cupcakes until they are 2/3 full. Do not over fill cupcakes.

7) Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes, and test with a cake tester or skewer until it comes out clean, if undercooked bake for another 5 minutes.

8) Allow cupcakes to cook in pan before turning them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

9) In the mean time, make the cream cheese frosting. Place the sifted icing sugar and unsalted butter into a bowl and using an electric hand held mixer or stand mixer, beat until it becomes a sandy consistency.


10) Dice cream cheese into cubes or just use a spoon like me, turn your mixer to a medium speed and slowly add the cream cheese, making sure it is well combined before adding the next piece. Once all incorporated, turn your mixer to high and beat for another 5 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.
11) Once cupcakes are cool, frost and decorate your cupcakes as you wish :)

New Nest – Two Bird One Stone

For all Melbourne Readers, I bet you must have heard of the new café Two Bird One Stone that recently opened up in South Yarra . I know many Melbourne bloggers have blogged about this café, so please bear with me if you have read many reviews about this new exciting café. To give my overseas Readers an overview, Two Bird One Stone is actually the new location for the owners who previously owned the renowned café, Three Bags Full in Abbotsford.

I actually recently visited Three Bags Full not knowing that the owners have changed, they have sold their business and opened up Two Bird One Stone probably a month ago. I go to South Yarra quite often as there are other cafes and eateries around that area, however, Claremont Rd is a quiet road off the main street, in between the office buildings. It is very easy to drive past it, as they don’t have any distinct signage ~ 

I’ve been meaning to visit, Two Bird One Stone since it opened hehe especially since so many blogger friends (Ms I-Hua, Bryan, Lianne and Brunch Addict) have all visited and raved on about it ~ So once again, I dragged Mr Bao during one of my lunch breaks and we rushed over on a busy Friday morning. I was really surprised to see the cafe so busy, at 11am on a Friday ~ I purpose went on a week day as I have heard that it is quite hard to get a table on the weekends, and I didn’t want to have to wait outside since it’s been so cold :P

Upon walking in we were immediately greeted by multiple staff members, they were very nice and offered to a nice table at the back of the cafe, however, we had to leave in 45 minutes as the table was reserved for a table for 4 at 12pm. I was rushing during my lunch break anyway, so it worked out perfectly for us.

Mocha $4AUD

Quickly started off with the usual coffee, yes I am incredibly boring :P because I got another mocha hahaha it had a strong floral notes and did not have an overpowering coffee taste ~ definitely helped wake me up hehe

Latte $3.8 AUD

Mr Bao ordered a latte, he made notes that it had a strong milk flavour, low acidity and had a mild sweetness to it lol gosh he’s getting even more and more technical as we explore more cafes :)

Two Bird One Stone has a comprehensive menu serving both breakfast and lunch all day and also their specials for the day. I did have trouble deciding what I was going to order ~ but we ordering from the breakfast menu and to make things even easier Mr Bao ordered the ‘Two Birds’ and I got the ‘One Stone’ :D

Two Birds – bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, tomato, mushroom, spinach served with sourdough $18.50 AUD

So let’s start with Mr Bao’s ‘Two Birds’, its their take on the big breakie and I think they’ve done a great job because Mr Bao was so happy scoffing the food down before I could even try it! We particularly liked the pork and fennel sausage~ it was full of flavour and we really like the texture it wasn’t too soft or greasy :) Reminds us of the Pacedon sausages we picked up at the farmers market a couple of weeks ago SOOOO YUM! The scrambled egg was also smooth and silky ~ gosh I wish I could make scrambled eggs like that at home >_<

One Stone – poached egg, mushroom, spinach, smoked corn, grilled haloumi cheese and relish $17.50 AUD

The waiter that took our order was a little confused when I said “he’ll like the Two Birds and I’ll like the One Stone” hahaha my bad, I should’ve said it separately and properly :P I don’t know why but I didn’t feel like ‘meat’ that morning and wanted to try and be healthy so this hearty vegetarian breakfast was perfect.

Perfect poached egg!

I love ordering poach eggs when I go out for brunch, because I never seem to be able to poach an egg properly :P this was the perfect  poached egg ~ was soon as I cut into it, the glorious egg yolk just rushed out ~ and best thing was, there wasn’t that vinegar taste some poach eggs have as the chef used vinegar to quickly cook and seize the egg white.

Twice cooked marmalade French toast, oranges and vanilla mousse $16.50 AUD

Now it wouldn’t be brunch without something sweet to end it would it? :P Another reliable source you know who you are ~ repeatedly told me to ‘HAVE’ to get the French toast, so I couldn’t leave without trying it! And I’m so glad I took her advice because this was definitely one of the best french toast, I’ve had in quite a while.

The toast itself was so fragrant with a strong marmalade taste ~ then the orange wedges and vanilla (I think mascarpone) mousse was matched so well. Even Mr Bao liked it and had more than I thought he would :P not happy~ as there were only three pieces hahaha

Cappuccino $3.80 AUD

It is my habit to get dessert after brunch, while it’s Mr Bao’s habit to get another coffee after his meal, this time he got a cappuccino which he seemed to enjoy more noting that it had a mild floral aroma, richer body than a latter and a hint of mandarin notes which is the closest thing he can use to describe the flavour he could taste hehe ~

Lianne also recommended the ‘carrot cupcake’ and I knew I’d need an afternoon sweet treat so I bought a carrot cupcake takeaway :)

Carrot Cupcake $4.50 AUD

I love carrot cake and even though I don’t think I’m an expert ~ I have had my fair share and I can tell you, this was an AMAZING carrot cupcake, it was sooooooo moist, with pieces of raisins and I think walnuts through the batter :) Then topped with cream cheese frosting that wasn’t grainy nor too sweet! Once again…I had to share with Mr Bao ARGH I’m SICK of sharing :P I think next time I’m just gonna come here by myself and get the apple and pistachio crumble :D

Two Bird One Stone has definitely lived up to its name and seems to have settled into their new nest very well ~ I am looking forward to coming here again and try out their other dishes, but will still avoid coming on the weekends as it simply gets too busy :)

two birds one stone on Urbanspoon

Craving Crabs – Omah’s

Happy Saturday  everyone :) So glad it’s the weekend! Finally get some time to myself and do what I love most BAKE and BLOG hehe I’ve realised since my whole family is in HK and working full time… I find that I don’t have much time to myself anymore :P and as much as I LOVE seeing Mr Bao everyday… I miss my girls night out hehe

That’s why I was SUPER excited when Julie (I Dream In Chocolate) suggested an all girls crab feast at Omah’s Malaysian Restaurant in Hawthorn. Being a Melbourne food blogger, I am a little embarrassed to say,  but I hadn’t heard of Omah’s before and didn’t know they were so well known for their CRABS! Anyhow, so through a few email back and forth ~ four hungry food bloggers (Julie, Lianne, Peach Water and me) got together at Omah’s on a wet and cold Friday night hehe

Omah is actually the Malaysian way of saying ‘Grandmother’ and they have definitely tried create a traditional and homely-feel to their restaurant, with the red lanterns and the wooden chairs and tables ~

LOL I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw that Omah provides all customers with a paper ‘bib’, so customers don’t get sauce all over their tops :) Very considerate and the girls and I did have the conversation that we would NOT go crab eating on a first date :P

Salted Egg Crab $49.50 AUD

Julie is so organised, she has called before-hand to preorder two crabs but she did have a request lol she WANTED the Salted Egg Crab. I was glad she wanted the Salted Egg Crab because that was one of the crabs I wanted too ~ and it was SO delicious! It was a relatively large crab and all parts of the crab was coated in this glorious salted egg mixture! Sorry if I’m exaggerating, I haven’t had salted eggs for a long long time, as they are harder to find in Melbourne hehe :)

Chilli Crab $49.50 AUD

The next crab we got was the Chilli Crab :) Which seemed the most appropriate since Omah’s is a Malaysian restaurant and I know from my Malaysian friends (you know who you are QQ ~) that they love their chilli! And I do too, I use to be able to take much chilli, but I’ve really grown to like spicy food and now it’s the spicier the better! Once again the Chilli Crab didn’t let us down, the crab was served in this an abundance of chilli eggy sauce. It wasn’t as spicy as I expected it to be, however, given that we are in Australia and I know not every can handle the heat it was the right amount hehe

Balecan Kangkung (Water Spinach) $14.9 AUD

We then ordered some veggies to make it a more balanced meal ~ what more authentic than to get the Balecan Kang Kung hehe for those are not familiar with balecan it is a spicy chilli prawn paste and kang kung is also known as water spinach. It was stir fried together, providing a spicy and fragrant smell :) YUM!

Because we left the boys at home, we didn’t really need to order any more ‘carbs’ and totally filled up on protein in the crabs :) but just like Julie, this time I requested hahaha actually more like DEMANDED that we HAVE to get dessert ~ so glad the girls agreed hehe

Mixed Dessert $18 AUD choose 3 types of desserts

We went with the Mixed Dessert for two, as you were given the choice of 3 types of desserts from their menu, once again we went for the more Asian desserts – coconut crepes, tapioca pudding and the pandan sago served with vanilla ice cream.

Coconut crepe

The winner of the three~ the crepes were nice and soft, and the toasted coconut filling just made it the most coconutie flavour :)

Tapioca Pudding

This was an unusual tapioca pudding, I’m pretty sure it was steamed, and gave it a unique chewy yet spongy texture ~ it was a little bland for my liking but Peach Water really liked it and wants the recipe for it :)

Pandan sago

I’ve always liked pandan sago pudding, but I think the sago was overcooked and hence, was a little too soft, and the palm sugar syrup lacked some flavour. Unfortunately, not the best pandan sago I’ve had in Melbourne.

Definitely a great night with the girlies and really enjoyed the crabs here at Omah’s it’s an added bonus when there’s a voucher in the Entertainment book hehe thanks Lianne for letting us use hers ~ would recommend anyone who’s craving crabs to try Omah’s for their affordable and yummy crabs!

Omah's Malaysian Nyonya Cuisine on Urbanspoon

All Bagels – Manchester Press

Are you a bread person? Do you like starting your day with some toast? As a child I always liked the plainsoft white sandwich bread for breakfast ~ spread heaps of strawberry jam or Nutella over it yum! But growing up, I’ve fallen in love with the artisan breads like sourdough, ciabatta and Panini bread hehe. Then there was the ‘bagel’, I didn’t particularly like it…I always found it too dry… dense and rubbery…but it ALL changed when I went to NYC in January this year.

Breakfast was included at the hotel and they had an unlimited supply of ‘bagels’, so I decided…I might as well give it a go since I was in NYC, gotta eat what the New Yorkers eat right? :P So one morning Mr Bao grabbed a bagel and’toasted it and brought it back to the table, I had no idea what to spread over it lol so I grabbed some Philadelphia cream cheese and took a bite…within seconds I had gone to heaven and back ~ sorry I know I can exagerate sometimes but hahaha it was so so so delicious with the unique bouncy texture!

Anyhow, coming back to Melbourne…I kind of forgot about bagels lol they’re simply not as common, but then last week on training my colleague Ms A kept buying bagels for breakfast ~ and that got me thinking of them…so coincedently on Friday morning, I dragged Mr Bao to Manchester Press where they only serve BAGELS :)

It’s actually the second time I’ve visited Manchester Press, but somehow, I don’t remember them being the bagel expert hehe ~ the whole menu it was just full of bagels – baked eggs served with bagels, scrambled eggs on bagels, salmon on bagel, everything on bagels!

It made me very happy cuz I’ve been having bagel cravings ~ but I had a huge feast the night before, so I was feeling good… and decided to order the very healthy Bircher Muesli for breakfast that day :)

Homemade bircher muesli with yoghurt and mixed berries $10AUD

Even though many people think I’m very unhealthy as I practically live off desserts :P I actually have a thing for meusli and oats and think it’s actually quite hard to find good muesli or porridge. I didn’t mind this bircher muesli, however, found it to be a little bland but did like the coconut pieces they had through the muesli. I just think it would’ve been more flavoursome, if they had added some more dried fruit or fresh fruit and maybe some yoghurt on side would have been perfect too ~

Baked eggs with pesto and cherry tomatoes with Salmon $16AUD

Mr Bao ordered the baked eggs with salmon, I was so excited because I really wanted to try their bagels :) It was a bit of an unsual combination with the salmon, eggs and tomato but very tasty and the tomatoes really gave it a nice tangy flavour ~ the bagels didn’t disappoint me, it was toasted perfectly, put some butter on it then dip it into the runny egg yolks sooooooo YUM :D

Magic Mocha

Manchester Press is also known for their coffee from 8 oz roasters ~ they’re relatively small and only sell at two cafes, here and Loco Coffee in Elwood. I ordered my usual mocha to start the day, it was quite weak and had stronger coffee notes than chocolate. I would love this coffee on a Sunday morning, but for my last day of training, I just needed something a little stronger hehe

Latte

Mr Bao ordered his favourite latte,

BLT with basil mayo and avocado $12 AUD

I was so impressed with the food and bagels here, I couldn’t help but take one away with me and have it as lunch later hehe ~ I had so much trouble choosing which bagel…smoked salmon bagel sounded sooooo good but then I decided to get the BLT bagel with basil mayo. Best choice of the day! I couldn’t help but take a bite out of it as soon as I got it, it was AMAZING! It had a generous slab of avocado, then a slice of bacon, tomato and aoili mayo, classic example of simple pleasures :D

Yup…I have officially jumped back on the bagel bandwagon ~ hopefully I’ll be able to make some of my own homemade bagels soon ~ I definitely recommend Manchester Press for breakfast or brunch :) They’re food is simple but tasty and using only bagels really give their cafe a NYC feel ~

Manchester Press on Urbanspoon

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