November 26, 2008

People are like eggs.....

....they break when you throw them against something.

I'll be taking a miniature break for a little while. Daz recently had a motorbike accident and he'll be out of action for a little while. Once things settle down, I'll be back to bloggin 'bout food!

Thanks everyone for coming by, and please keep hitting that refresh button.

November 22, 2008


Dining Date: November 2008

2009 Rating: 63th

2009 Star rating: 1

Chef: Frank Camorra

Location: 1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne

Being a Melbourne local is a little bit spoiling when it comes to good food. We have ample options to pick from, not only in number, but also in diversity. MoVida has been a corner stone of great Spanish cooking for some time, and once I had read their entry in Gourmet Traveller, I just HAD to eat there.

I had heard that getting a table at MoVida was a little bit difficult, so when I called to make a reservation I was expecting some advance planning. Even with having this piece of information, I was still surprised to learn that the earliest I could get a table was 8 weeks from my first call. Of course, I did not hesitate, if I procrastinated about it I probably would have had to wait a whole month longer, and I was already hungry!!

Having this very long build up could have resulted in two outcomes, I could build such hype and anticipation around it that I would be deeply disappointed at the end or all my expectations would be fulfilled. I am glad to report the latter scenario was true.

Image from MoVida website

Daz and I got ourselves ready for the night. From time to time we like to make ourselves look presentable, not always the norm, but I was very glad we did in the end. Even though the atmosphere at MoVida is very laid back and informal, on this particular night it was Derby day. And it being spring carnival in Melbourne, there were scary high heels and feather fascinators everywhere! It was an added bonus though, it was highly entertaining to see all the pretty ladies in beautiful dresses, walking down the street very drunk and shoeless. Sorry, I correct myself they did have shoes, they were just not on their feet. Classy.

Anyway, back to MoVida. We were seated at a table towards the middle next to a wall, with a view of the bar and obscured view of the kitchen. As soon as I sat down I noticed something horribly wrong. My chair was wonky!! This must have been the most unlevel chair in all of Melbourne. I begun to stress and worry, how could I enjoy my meal if I was going to be sea sick. With much complain and whining Daz finally convinced me to say something to the waiter. It was only at the very second I had mentioned the problem to the waiter did I realize that the floor was a brick paved surface, and a slight shuffle to the left completely fixed the problem. Can anyone say drama queen?? We ordered some drinks and the embarrassment was behind us.
We ordered Sangria to have with our meal, it came in a lovely ceramic jug. It was spicy and sweet without being too overpowering. A great way to wash down the tapas dishes. Unfortunately we didn’t take photos of all the dishes we had. But I do have a list of the ones we tried.

Croqueta - Fried silky croquette flavoured with leek and mahon cheese
Pimiento de piquillo con ajoarriero - Piquillo pepper filled with salt cod and potato
Vieira, jamon y espuma - Half shell scallop oven baked with jamon and potato foam
Costilla con sobrasada - Roasted lamb cutlet encased in a Catalan pork & paprika pate
Cigarillo - Baby leek wrapped in Brik pastry served with a chicken liver parfait
San Jacobo de Cordonice - Hunter Valley quail, partial boned, crumbed, and filled with jamon and mahon cheese

Cecina - Air cured wagyu beef thinly sliced with a truffle foam and poached egg
Mejillones en gazpachuelo - Mussels steamed and served in a warmwhite gazpacho sauce

Flan con pestinos - Creme caramel served with spiced sherry pastries
Ganache caliente con turron - Hot chocolate ganache pudding with vanilla bean ice-cream and nougat

I'll only talk about two of the dishes, as they were all sublime and there would not be enough words to discribe them all with justice.

The cigarillo was a great tapas dish. When they say baby leek, this was a real BABY leek. It was tiny, it must have only just sprouted out of the ground before they harvested it for this dish, and thank goodness they did! Wrapped in the crispy pastry it was wonderful to dip into the rich parfait. My mouth is watering just remembering the taste. Before having this dish, Daz was not a real fan of anything with liver in it, not to say the least anything pate like. Since that experience I can safely say he will eat anything that is pate-esque. It amazing to see an event or in the case and taste experience that can change someone’s opinion so dramatically. We loved this dish so much we had to order another before our dessert came out!

Air cured waygu with a truffle foam and poached egg

For a racion dish, Daz ordered the air cured waygu. I'm not the biggest fan of waygu. I can understand why some people are and I do agree that it is a unique flavour, but I'm not MAD for it. Daz on the other hand is a crazy fanatic. The whole reason he ordered it was because 1. it had waygu in it, and secondly because it had truffles in it. There's only one thing that beats waygu and that’s truffles, but that’s a whole other story. But boy was I glad he ordered it.

The waygu was thinly sliced almost like a prosciutto, but 1000 times more tasty. The egg was slightly cooked, so that once you burst it the creamy filling of the egg poured all over the meat. Once you picked up a slice of the meat you could drench it in a healthy covering of egg and a dollop of foam. The warm egg and oily meat worked wonders together. I almost find it impossible to describe. Other than to tell you to make a booking now and save your stomach over the next two months for this delight.
Front door of MoVida on Hosier Lane

On the way out of MoVida, I thought it would be a good idea to take a photo of the outside. That’s when I noticed the mural of the 'pimping cat'. If you look at the cat closely, he's wearing a red top hat, has a walking stick and a very long colourful coat on. I must say, he looks ultra cool and I can't help to wonder if his "girls" are just around the corner.

November 20, 2008

The End of Interlude

The owner of Interlude, Robin Wickens, has decided to close his Fitzroy restaurant after 4 years of service. They plan on opening a new restaurant in the CBD and think it only best to invest their time and efforts into that venture.

At the moment, Interlude stands at position 40 in the top 100. I did not get a chance to eat at this establishment before it closed its doors on 25th October 2008 and I am deeply disappointed. Interlude has been highly recommended by people who have dined there, and has been a high performer for sometime. Robin Wickens has been compared to some of the molecular gastromy greats, I feel like I've been deprived of something special. My aim is to experience ALL 100 restaurants, I didn't think my task would be made easier by candidates disappearing into thin air.

All in all, I look forward to Robin Wickens' new venture and anticipate its entry into the list, even though I missed out on Interlude.

November 18, 2008

Results - Nicoise Salad

For my first attempt at preparing a nicoise salad, I was pretty impressed. Hopefully I respected the recipe and the results show.

Nicoise Salad


To start with, and this might be a bit silly, but the recipe called for kipfler potatoes. For those who are unaware of what kipfler potatoes look like, there is an image below. They are smallish slim potatoes with a waxy texture. Combined in this recipe they add a unique texture to contrast the crisp beans and tender fish, I used King fish.

The humble Kipfler potato

Shannon Bennett's recipe is superb. Great mix of crunch and soft, salt and acid, it was very pleasurable on the taste buds. My presentation is something I will pickup from the start, and can definately be improved. I arranged the croutons underneath the fish, but I think I should have arranged the potatoes ontop of the croutons, so that when I sat the fish on this bed it would have stuck out a bit more prominantly. In its current state it looked a little washed out by all the things around and ontop of it. I could have then arranged the beans a little more tightly and made the fish the star of the plate.

The view from the top

Other than that critism, I really dont have anything else to add. The fish went very well with the saltyness of the capers and olives. And even though my egg was overcooked the richness of the egg was well matched with the lightness of the fish. When I try this recipe again, I will definately make those changes to the presentation. But overall it is a perfect meal to have on a summers night.

November 13, 2008

Nicoise Salad

Restaurant: Vue de Monde (Victoria)

Recipe from Chef Shannon Benette (appears on Vue de Monde's website)

2009 Rating: Number 4, 3 Stars

As Vue de Monde's is one of my favourite restaurants in Melbourne, I thought I would try one of Shannon Benette's recipes, and why not try the classic nicoise salad. So here is the recipe.


1 small baguette (1–2 days old preferably)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 large eggs
20 green beans, trimmed and tailed
4 small tomatoes (fresh, semi-dried or confit)
4 small kipfler potatoes, boiled and sliced into discs
4 teaspoons small capers
1 red onion, cut into 5 mm (1/4 in) rings
50 g (2 oz) olives
200 ml (7 fl oz) olive oil
40 ml (1½ fl oz) sherry vinegar
4 x 100 g (3½ oz) fish fillets (tuna, red mullet or kingfish)
4 tablespoons baby rocket
1 lemon, halved


• Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350°F). Slice the baguette into 1 cm (1/2 in) thick slices and lay on a flat baking tray. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 5–6 minutes, then remove from oven and rub slices with the garlic clove

• Put the eggs in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Take out after 6 minutes, when the yolks will still be soft. Set aside and keep warm

• Place another pan on the stove, fill with 2 litres (5 pints) of salted water and bring to the boil. Add the beans and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove beans and refresh by placing in iced water for 2 minutes, until cold

• In a stainless steel bowl combine the croutons, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, capers, onion and olives, season well

• In a separate bowl or jar, mix the 200 ml olive oil and sherry vinegar well

• Preheat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Season the fish and brush with more olive oil. Reduce heat low, place the fish skin side down in the pan and cook for 2–3 minutes. Turn fish over and cook for a further minute

• Toss the salad together with the dressing

• To serve, set out 4 flat bowls or plates and place a fillet in the centre of each. Arrange the salad neatly around the fish. Peel the eggs carefully, cut in half, season them and arrange on top of the salad. Scatter baby rocket over and serve with a wedge of lemon on the side

Once again, stay tuned for the results!

November 6, 2008

Getting a Reservation at elBulli

The reservation process for 2009 has already been done and dusted. On average 2 million people request a reservation at elBulli, of those 2 million, only 8,000 are lucky enough to dine there each year. So if you attempted to a get a table there, you effectively had a 1 in 250 chance of being lucky.

In 2009, the season runs from 16th June to 20th December. For the first time in my life, I decided to join the throng of people attempting to win the elBulli lottery. After sending my email, I only had to wait 2 weeks to get my response. And of course, I was unsuccessful! Here is the email I sent:

Dear Lluis and Juli,

First of all I would like to say congratulations on being part of team that runs such a respectable and reputable establishment. Well done to all of you.

Secondly to Lluis, I do not envy your job. Having to go through millions of emails and pick out a few thousand diners who are lucky enough to experience elbulli is not an easy task. I definitely admire you, if only for the fact that you can read 2 million emails on the same subject!

Now onto my request to be one of the lucky 8,000

I have never dined at elbulli before, and would love the opportunity to try it with one other guest (2 people). I have no preference for time of year or time of day. Where ever there is a space available, I would be happy to take it.

It would be wonderful to come all the way from Melbourne (Australia), where Ferran is at this very moment in time, to experience the Costa Brava and the wonders of elBulli.
Thank you for reading my email and considering my request


And here is the generic email I received from elBulli informing me that I needn't pack my bags and get excited.


The demand that we have received at the first moment has again surpassed our limited possibilities for one season and we regret not to be able to full fill more reservation requests.

We thank you sincerely for all your interest and we will be at your disposal if you wish to revise the situation during the season, near your available dates as we must confirm all the reservations 10 days in advance.

Tel. +34 972 15 04 57 (during the season - after 3.00 p.m.)

2009 Season - Open from June 16th to December 20th

Only dinner service 7.30 – 9.30 p.m. except on some Saturdays of September-October-November and December that we will be open for lunch (1.00 – 2.30 p.m.) and closed for dinner.

normally Monday and Tuesday closed

SEE EXCEPTIONS OF OUR 2009 CALENDAR AT (see reservations)


We do not have information about 2010 season at this moment but we never start the management until we have finished the season before.

You will find information at see reservations) in December 2009.

Sincerely yours,

Luis Garcia


Cala Montjoi - 17480 Roses
Tel. +34 972 15 04 57
Fax. +34 972 15 07 17




Only about 2 days after I sent my initial email to Luis Garcia did I do any research on securing a table at the famous restaurant. Probably a huge mistake on my part. ElBulli is renowned for being extremely difficult to get a table, and the process in which diners get tables apparently has no set criteria. But here are a few hints I've come across;

- The obvious, include your name, email address, and telephone number

- The reservation process is split into four categorizes. Those who have dined there before, those who are first time diners, those who are locals and those who come from overseas destinations. I'm not sure if each category is equally weighted, but I would assume that if you are a previous diner or a local it would be much easier to get a reservation, simply due to the fact that there would be less competition for these tables.

- Write you email in a "dumbed down" version of English. Keep in mind that the person reading your email possesses English as a second language. (not too sure about this tip) Or write your email in Spanish or Catalan.

- Make your email personal. Add in a request for a special occasion diner, such as a honeymoon or birthday. Talk about what a dinner at elBulli would mean to you. When I was at Ferran Adria's talk in October, it was suggested to mention the fact that I had seen him on his tour and that this connection would give me an edge. But I'm not too sure about this, Ferran has talked at length about his dislike of making special conditions for powerful people or friends, let alone someone who saw him during a tour he has done.

- Send multiple emails from different locations. This makes sense, if you buy more lottery tickets, you are more likely to win the jackpot.

- A tip from Ferran himself, be nice. Luis has to read all the emails, and the nice requests are going to succeed over the nasty ones.

- Be incredibly flexible with dates. State a preferred date, but make sure to stress that you are flexible and would take any opportunity to dine there. Requesting a table on the 1st Saturday in August with no exception is not going to help your chances. Being flexible means that they can slot you in where ever there is a free spot.

- Send your request in at the exact moment the reservations open. Apparently it is judged on a first come first served basis. Now this can be particularly difficult as the season changes from year to year. This year the season ended in September and the reservations were taken in the middle of October. The 2009 season ends in December, and as it has been stated many times, they don't start taking the following years reservations until the current years services have ended. So I assume the reservations for 2010 won't be taken until late December some time. But then again i could be completely wrong.

- And the best tip of all, if you don't succeed, try try again.

So I guess I'll try again next year.