February 27, 2011

Duchess of Spotswood

87 Hudsons Road
Spotswood, Victoria
03 9391 6016

duchess of spotswood

Pork and I have a love/hate relationship. I love it to bits, but for some reason it hates being in me. Despite the tummy aches and some common sense I still order pork at every opportunity possible, so visiting the Duchess of Spotswood is a bit of a no brainer. The Duchess has been on my radar for a little while, especially since it received a fair bit of attention from printed media and the blogging world late last year. As an extra treat for Daz's birthday last month we went to the Duchess for breakfast before spending the day at Scienceworks. Before you judge me for going to Scienceworks, its actually a whole heap of fun. You get to act like a kid again discovering that hand/eye coordination is severely impeded when one sense is taken away from you. My particular favorite was a sperm race, before you freak out - it was all computer simulated. Two sperms are pitted against each other, in a race to see who gets to the ovum first. It was literally Pacman replaced with a sperm, we had three attempts and Daz won every round, lets face it sperm racing is not my forté. Ah hem...back to the Duchess.


Before I go on, I have to tell you I loved it!! My only regret is not ordering myself two sets of breakfast! The place is usually packed on a weekend, but service still remains prompt and courteous. So many other places just fold under the pressure, but they seem to take it in their stride. I ordered the Duchess of Pork - Crispy pig's jowl with fried egg, rich truffle sauce and sourdough toast. I was in pork heaven. It was just gorgeous, what was promised on the menu was well delivered. The outside of the pork was so crispy it was beyond sexy, but that crispy outer layer gave way to some seriously rich and juicy flavorsome meat. The jus and truffle just brought one more layer of flavour complexity. Not to mention the soft yolks of the egg that drench the whole lot in an egg gravy. I'm in love with this breakfast!

duchess of pork

duchess of pork close up

Daz ordered the Prince of Wales - House smoked salmon fillet with potato pancake, poached egg, and sourdough toast. Again another winner. You have to admire a busy cafe that takes the time to smoke their own salmon fillets, the care and attention definitely translated to the plate.

prince of wales

As a breakfast destination, this may well become one of my regular haunts. If you haven't already tried the Duchess get yourself down there. I know its on the other side of the West Gate, but with some fine weather you can make a day of it by visiting Williamstown beach and even grabbing yourself an ice cream on Nelson Place for and afternoon refresher.

Duchess of Spotswood on Urbanspoon

February 22, 2011


Dining Date: October 2010
Rating: 36th, 2 Stars
Chef: Teage Ezard & Sharn Greiner
Location: 187 Flinders La, Melbourne, VIC, (03) 9639 6811
Website: www.ezard.com.au

I’ve been putting off writing this post for a very long time, since October last year to be precise. The exact reasons why I’ve been putting it off are varied, mainly because I didn’t have a great experience at Ezard, but I know that loads of people love the place and that generally it’s an establishment with pretty high standards. For some reason I thought I was being unfair giving it a bad slant considering I’ve only been there once. But then again we have to all understand that a majority of restaurants have once only customers, and an unhappy experience tends to stick in the brain.

We decided to go along to Ezard in October to experience the signature eight course tasting menu. A menu comprising some of Ezard’s most popular and distinctive dishes, crafted over 11 years of business, some of which have even made it to immortalisation in Ezard’s cookbook…Ezard. Daz and I were pretty excited, in our mind there was no better way to experience a restaurant than a selection of their very best. We had already made up our minds - we were going the full hog and prepared our stomachs for the onslaught…but that wasn’t to be.

As soon as we were handed the menu we were talked out of having the eight course degustation, it seems that we had an early booking and that 8 courses would take too long, so we were steered towards our choice of 5 from the eight on offer. To say I was a little disappointed would be an understatement…but in the end it was probably a blessing. I’ll probably get shot for this, but the food wasn’t that great and the service was bordering on rude. We were ignored for a good part of the night, and the only smile we got from the waiter was at the very last course, probably because we were about to vacate the table.

Bread is one of those things that is a hit or miss. In some places you get wonderfully warm and fresh bread with possibly some good quality olive oil, in others it might be day old leftovers with cold hard butter. Ezard stepped their game up, beautiful soft bread, good quality olive oil and some flavoured dust to accompany your bread consumption. This was seriously good, there was a rosemary and Parmesan, a red pepper and I don’t remember what the last one was, but nonetheless….I could have eaten an entire loaf of bread covered in these “dusts”, the best thing about them was that they were replaced quite often.

bread dust flavourings

Also to start we had a small shot filled with foam to kick start the meal, I missed the description of this but thought that I should add it for posterity sake, I think it was cucumber and prawn. Sadly the foam quickly collapsed so the photo looks a little sad. But it was quite pleasant and was getting us in the right mood.

starter at ezard

Asparagus, Persian fetta and witlof salad with poached quail egg, soft herbs and hazelnut dressing. This was nice, light and tasty. The veggies were still crunchy so it was a real sense of eating spring, the soft quail egg acted as its own little self saucing device.

starter 2

Oxtail wonton dumpling in sweet and sour tamarind broth, lime, chilli and shaved coconut. Unfortunately this dish was more on the sour side than sweet. The tamarind and lime both attacked your palate, it was a little bit of a killer but the flavours were all there. The oxtail dumpling was pretty delicious – the soft gelatinous meat inside the thin skinned dumpling was really well done, I just wish the broth wasn’t so sour. I actually have a copy of this recipe, so I’ll give it a go myself.

starter 3

Crispy skin barramundi with Chinese broccoli, yellow curry dressing and baby cress salad, give me a massive bowl of that curry and plain rice and I’ll be in heaven. Like the oxtail dumpling, there were elements that stood out clearly above the rest and the yellow curry was the winner for me. There was nothing wrong with the barramundi, its just that the curry distracted you, in a good way, from everything else on the plate.

starter 4

Five spiced bangalow sweet pork belly with shredded apple and coriander salad, ginger wine glaze. When something is placed in front of you that has a perfectly positioned piece of crackling, you know what you’ll put in your mouth first….bye bye crackling. The pork was soft and juicy and you cant go wrong with the combination of pork and apple, but the glaze once again was a little on the sour side. I completely understand the pairing of ginger/sourness with this dish, but by this stage I was totally over the whole sour element in every dish – sourness from the dumpling broth, sourness from the yellow curry, and now the sourness in the glaze…it was becoming a little repetitive. If I had any of the dishes on their own they would have been great, but as a combination and one after the other – my stomach and tongue were taking a beating.

starter 5

Open Wagyu beef burger with brioche bread and soft centred quail egg. Daz loved this one, and any wonder really, he’s a man and a burger was place in front of him - he was bound to love it. For me, it was good but not great.

starter 6

Banana parfait, cinnamon tuille and passionfruit syrup, the flavours were all there….a winning combination……except, the parfait had massive ice crystals in it. Sigh. But how can I be mad with a dessert which comes out with a banana and basil hat?…..how cute is that!

ezard dessert

Overall, it was a bit of a fizzer. To be honest sometimes service plays a big part in your experience, the food was bad per say, but it could definitely be made better with a smile and some finesse from the wait staff. I’ll be back at Ezard, I really don’t think it fair to judge the whole affair on one off night - there were some elements there that really sparked my interest, so they do deserve a second chance.

On a completely different note….Daz has started a whole NEW blog. This time it’s about interesting stuff, sorry babes but only a select number of people are into android development. This time he’s started a blog covering his thirty before 30 challenge. As a 29th birthday present I’ve given him 30 challenges to complete before the big three O smacks him in the face and he’s going to chronicle them in blog form. The challenge will last 12 months and he is duty bound to complete them all, the catch is that he’ll find out what the challenge is only a week before he completes it. So head on over to the Thirty before 30 blog to check out what he’s up to.

Ezard on Urbanspoon

February 11, 2011

Rabbit tortellini, Jerusalem artichoke Puree and Rabbit Broth

rabbit tortellini2

To be honest, I made this recipe a little while ago. After eating at Sarti I was inspired by the flavours in their rabbit tortellini with Jerusalem artichoke puree, so of course me being me I decided to recreate the dish. I actually made the dish back when Jerusalem artichokes were in season. They grow in my garden and at the moment the plant is well above my head ready to burst out into its floral prettiness. Anyway back to the dish, since its Chinese new year and it’s the year of the rabbit, I thought what better time to post this recipe than now.

jerusalem articoke plant

Jerusalem Artichoke plant

I love all the flavours in this dish, the nuttiness from the hazelnuts, the richness from the broth and the subtle gamy flavour from the rabbit all work so fantastically together. I’m actually very proud of my effort, and without tooting my horn too loudly I actually think my dish turned out better than the one I had at Sarti.

rabbit tortellini

The whole recipe is pretty straight forward, the only difficult part is folding the pasta so it looks pretty, I’m getting better but by no means am I perfect yet. As a kid, my mum never had the patience to fold all her tortellini properly, they were usually plain half moon shaped so I’ve had to learn the art of tortellini making as an adult. The other piece of advice I would offer is to really invest some time and effort into producing a good quality rabbit stock, it’s really the star of the dish and any hard work put in the preparing stage will pay off when it comes to the eating. So without any further delay, here is the recipe.

jerusalem articoke puree

Rabbit Tortellini Filling

1 medium sized rabbit
2 egg whites
2 small golden shallots, peeled cut in half
2 cloves garlic, peeled cut in half
2 tablespoons of double cream
Salt and pepper


1. Debone the rabbit, make sure to remove as much meat from the rabbit as possible. Set the bones aside, you will need these to prepare the rabbit stock.

2. Roughly cut the rabbit meat into small pieces and place in a food processor. Pulse the meat until it has been roughly chopped by the food processor, this step helps to get the whole process underway.

3. Add the shallots and garlic and processor further. Then add the eggwhites and cream, not forgetting to season well with salt and pepper, process the mixture until you get the consistency of sausage meat. Once this is achieve place in the fridge until needed.

Rabbit Broth
This can be flavoured any way you want. If you like it plain it can be just the rabbit bones and some simple white wine, if you like it herb infused you can go mad with plenty of different herbs. I’ll give you the ingredients that I used which resulted in a subtle but rich flavour.


1 rabbit carcass (left over from rabbit tortellini filling)
4 golden shallots
4-5 garlic cloves
100mL dry white wine
2 bay leaves
4-5 large sage leaves
10 whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon butter
Olive oil


1. In a large stock pot add a splash of oil olive and heat over medium heat. Add the rabbit bones and sear until the rabbit bones and any meat left on them turn a deep golden colour. This is a very key step, a big portion of your flavour will come from the browning of the bones, so take your time here. Don’t do it too fast because you’ll just burn your bones and add a bitter flavour, however a nice golden colour will add a caramelised flavour.

2. Add the shallot and garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan. Cook until the alcohol in the wine has evaporated, 2-3 minutes. Add the bay leaves, sage leaves, pepper corns and enough cold water to cover the bones, and a little salt to season. Allow the water to come to a simmer and leave it to gently simmer for at least 45 minutes. The longer the better.

3. Allow the broth to reduce down to a ¼. Once at this stage strain the bones and transfer the broth to a small clean saucepan. Add the butter, check the seasoning – adjust if necessary and set aside until needed. Before serving, reheat the broth.

Jerusalem Artichoke Purée
500g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled
500ml whole milk
30g butter
One small potato, peeled
1-2 tbsp double cream

1. Cut the Jerusalem artichokes into pieces along with the potato, ensure that all the pieces are roughly the same size so that they cooked evenly. Place in a pan with the milk. Bring the milk to a simmer and cook the artichokes for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft.
2. Remove the artichokes and potato from the milk, do not discard the milk as it may be required later. Place the artichokes and potato in a food processor bowl.
3. Add the butter and process until a puree is achieved, you may need to add some of the reserved milk to achieve the right consistency. At this point you may be left with a few lumps in you puree, to remove the lumps pass the puree through a fine sieve. Transfer the puree to a pan and add the cream and season well with salt and pepper. Set aside for later, before serving re-heat puree.

Spinach Pasta with Semolina Flour


1/4 cup very finely ground semolina flour
3/4 cup plain flour
2 egg yolks (room temperature)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups of spinach leaves

1. Remove stems from spinach leaves and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove from water and rinse in cold water to quickly cool the spinach. Squeeze as much water out of the spinach leaves as possible. In a blender or food processor, blitz spinach to get a smooth puree.

2. In a food processor, combine the egg yolks and spinach puree and mix until combined, this will only take a few seconds

3. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until a firm dough is formed. If the mixture seems a little dry then add a few drops of lukewarm water until the mixture comes together.

4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for a few minutes, just to make sure that everything is incorporated evenly. Wrap the dough in some glad wrap and Put aside to rest for 10-20minutes.

5. After resting, roll the pasta out thinly and put together the rabbit tortellini. Since I always have trouble with my tortellini (sometimes they get a little soggy before I get them into the boiling water) I give my self a little insurance. As I make the tortellini, I place them on a freezer tray and snap freeze them. That way they stay exactly as I made them and are easier to handle come cooking time. This also means I can make my pasta well in advance. Just make sure to adjust your cooking time according to the state of your tortellini.

6. Cook tortellini in boiling salted water until the pasta is al dente. I won’t give a cooking time because it depends on too many factors, thickness of your pasta, the temperature of your tortellini, the quantity of tortellini that go into the pan and so on. The best way to judge is to taste test, always an excuse for a sneaky nibble right?
To garnish -

A few spinach leaves
A few roasted hazelnuts
Place a big tablespoon of puree on the plate. Add a few of the tortellini and sprinkle the spinach and hazelnuts on top. Spoon a few tablespoons of the broth over the entire dish and enjoy.

rabbit tortellini4

February 1, 2011

Josie Bones. Meat + Beer = Full

Josie Bones
98 Smith Street
03 9417 1878

naked rabbit

Look! Its a naked rabbit *giggles*

When Conor from Hold the beef was in town recently to watch a furry little yellow ball getting smashed across a tennis court, Agnes from Off the Spork suggested Josie Bones for a catch up, I was more than willing to join in on the meat and beer fest. If you’re not familiar with Josie bones, thats ok – neither was I. It was only on the morning of the planned dinner that I realised that Josie Bones is actually run and owned by the guy who came third on the first season of masterchef, that's Chris Badenoch and Julia Jenkins from the same show. Josie Bones open in the last quarter of 2010 and it looks like they are doing a roaring trade. That aside, I was totally intrigued by the notion of a speciality beer place that serves small plates of mostly meat inspired dishes, sounds like its completely up my alley. To all my vegetarian friends, I love spinach but I’m sorry meat is what makes me tick.

At the time, the weather in Melbourne was a little on the fresh side. Now that the temperature has really ramped up, it would be a great spot to get some friends together – have some crackling of the day and slowly make your way through the long list of local and imported beers. And when I say long, I mean LONG. But back to the crackling of the day, that was GOOD! We ended up with chicken crackling and pork crackling. My preference was the chicken crackling. Slightly on the salty side and really packed a crunch. The pork crackling was almost teeth shattering. A great way to get the stomach juices flowing. Although by the end of it, I wondered where they got all the chicken skin from. There was a distinct lack of chicken on the menu. I envisioned a flock of naked chickens roaming the country side getting seriously sunburnt.

crackling of the day

We ordered a variety of dishes to share amongst us. We’ll start with the trotter fritters and romesco sauce. They were really crunchy on the outside with a soft juicy pork center. They were darn good until I got to the other end of my trotter square. One side had loads of soft meat and chopped up skin, while the other end was a big chunk of pork skin. Slightly disappointing, but sometimes these things happen. I was the unfortunate one to cop it.

pigs trotters

Next we had the lamb tartare, radish and mint and wheat beer brioche. This was a first for me, I had never eaten raw lamb before, so wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I imagined a fatty mutton tasting hunk of meat that would be really chewy, luckily this wasn’t the case. The lamb was really lean and tender. The cute quail egg sitting ontop added an element of lusciousness, just like a good traditional tartare. I threw a good smothering of mustard on my portion, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

lamb tartare

Hmmm, this is a blogger fail so bear with me. We order a special which was rabbit terrine with prunes soaked in some alcohol (which I cant remember) along with...I think...onion jam. I’m sure someone will correct me. I really liked this dish, the rabbit was really moist and the whole terrine was light on gelatine. Daz hates gelatinous dishes, so this was a hit for him too.

rabbit terrine

So far have you noticed the distinct lack of vegetable matter? Well to counter act the protein overload we ordered Baby Nicola potato salad. It was creamy and a pretty decent potato salad. It served its purpose to introduce some fibre into our meal, well the small amount of fibre that resided in the skin of the potatoes.

potato salad

Next we had octopus and bone marrow cigar with green mango salad. I’m not going to lie, I’ll give it to you straight. This was HORRIBLE! I wanted to love it...I really did. I love bone marrow and the whole notion of it being paired with octopus sent me into imagination overdrive, but sadly the reality of the taste bought me crashing back down. It was just a fishy oily mess, I think that is enough said.

octopus and bone marrow cigars

Thankfully the second special we ordered saved the day. Pork belly with pickled peach and a creamy puree of some description (Help anyone??). This was good. If I see pork belly on a menu, I more than likely to order it. The skin was crispy and the pork had just enough of fat to make it juicy and moist. I enjoyed the pickled peach with the pork and I’m definitely going to steal that idea for myself.

pork belly

Last we had Grain feed beef meat, thrice cooked chips and horseradish hollandaise. When I saw this on the menu I had flash back to the thrice cooked chips I had at the botanical. Sadly, to me, these didn’t stack up. They were nowhere near crispy enough for chips that have been cooked three times. You can tell from their pale appearance that they weren’t going to be quite right. Dont get me wrong I still enjoyed them, but it was a little bit of a let down. What was the most interesting moment was that Conor actually had some of the beef....shocking huh?

beef and thrice cooked chips

What I will say about Josie bones is that it has exceptional service. The staff are all so friendly and extremely willing to help on food, wine or beer selection. It was a great way to put you in a seriously good mood, so some how the beer tasted that much better. After we gorged ourselves on meat from a variety of animals, we braved the walked to Cutler and Co in an attempt to score a spot for some dessert. We failed. We ended up at the crepe place across the road, which seems to be fast becoming my backup dessert destination. Everyone has one right? Check out the uber cuteness of our bill patron....bahhh

small sheep

Josie Bones on Urbanspoon