I got my hair cut at Dr Follicles today, and had a coffee from Birdman Eating, which I have earlier written about. The Bird Man has got his liquor licence up and running nicely, and has a drinks and tapas thing happening of an evening — though he was kind of distancing himself from the ‘tapas’ concept (despite the menu saying ‘Evening Tapas’) in favour of the small meals to share concept. You can have green beans for $7.50, zucchini and fetta fritters for $8, grilled ox tongue with beetroot, capers and horseradish for $11.50, shanks for $14.50, crispy duck for $16.50 or go the hack with a sliced hunk of steak covered with a piquant salsa for $28.50. This guy’s saucy: I love the attitude associated with ‘Black pudding with eggplant kusundi and leek croquettes.’ I’m going there for drinks one night, because he’s also dishing up Milawa Gold Washed Rind cheese with apple jelly, and hot cinnamon doughnuts with chocolate sauce. My coffee was truly memorably good, which either means Matt Preston, who also gave the Bird Man a great review in today’s Age, was wrong, or the Bird Man has taken the critcism to heart.
Reviewing is a difficult art. There are certain constrained forms I particularly like. The obituary. The chess column. The restaurant review. All so constrained by the necessaries, requiring clever use of what little room there is for the decorations. The English tend to do them best. Zia Mahmoud does the most with the least with The Guardian‘s bridge column. Haiku fascinates me. The very word puts me on edge. I hate haiku about as much as shakuhachi music, but at the same time I love it about as much as a good egg breakfast, a short speech, photos of Japanese taking photos of cherry blossoms with unbelievably expensive cameras (snap thanks to a great photographer, Mark Alberding), and the way sacred cows get in the way of traffic in New Delhi. Short is good. Less is more. Small is beautiful. Metre is a useful discipline for the poet’s natural tendency to ungrammatical excess. Some of the most elegant writing going around today is to be found on this website. I particularly like: Continue reading “Cavallero, Birdman Eating, Lentil as Anything reviewed; Beer haiku”
The Age‘s John Lethlean gave Lentil as Anything the thumbs up the other day. Now that same journal’s Michael Herden has given Cavallero on Smith St a decent plug. I’m dying to try the place: the assiduous Breakfast Blogger got there almost a month ago, and he’s got the whole of Melbourne to cover. He wasn’t totally convinced, but I’m calling it teething problems: I want to like the place. Mr Herdern calls Smith St a “psychotically eclectic strip”. Too many interior decor shops already I reckon, but there’s room for a few more Cavalleros (snap). According to the folk who supply their coffee, the Cavalleros have “a shiny new chrome 85 series two group”. That’s a cofee machine.
Pastry Art Design, at 280 Smith St, next to Gluttony, is a strange old bakery I’ve never quite been able to categorise. It has a two for one loaf deal on Saturdays and Sundays, so I picked up a white sourdough cobb and a fruit loaf for $3.50. They do very good pastries, good cold pizza squares and focaccias, as well as bread which is good without ever being outstanding. Certainly, it is a cut above Baker’s Delight. But the exception to this goodness was an inviting but dreadful loaf of olive bread: the olives were those tasteless unripe green olives dyed black by being soaked in lye and pumped with oxygen (a revelation to be found in Stephanie’s Cook’s Companion) found on poor quality pizzas. As indication of how olivy it wasn’t, consider that I took a piece of the stuff and ate it happily with lemon buter on top. I think there are too many laws already, but there should nevertheless be a law against such fraud.
The Age has helpfully identified “10 of the best” — I like the modesty of these words in a best of list — inventive cheap eats. Southern Richmond’s Pearl gets an honourable mention for $16 eggs on toast (keep it real, Cheap Eats), but I have to admit it’s one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to, and you can go there for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a drink. Then the Builder’s Arms on Gertrude Street Fitzroy comes in at number 3 for a $14 “3 mint pea soup with smoked paprika butter with steamed prawns” which sounds rather good. And Replete just down from MLC in Hawthorn, but metres away from being Kew, gets another gong at #6 for $12.50 ricotta hotcakes with lemon curd and strawberries. Thanks to Flickr’s Spin Spin for the photo of an uncommonly unpopulated image of the Builder’s Arms.
It was time for a mop chop at Dr Follicle’s again this week (actually it was well and truly time last week, but it just didn’t happen) and on the way I popped my head into Roundhouse Roti (don’t you think it’s amazing that no Melbourne Malaysian restaurant has called itself Koala Lumpur yet?), finally open, Rose Chong’s gift to her son of part of her emporium turned into an innovative eatery, a place that specialises in roti channai, a Malaysian specialty of really good roti and chicken curry, where you break the roti into pieces and into the curry and eat the combination. A girl was swinging around from the stove when I explained that “I’ve just popped in to check you out”. I realised at the same moment, as she swung into view, that she was a gorgeous vamp with beautifully defined eyebrows, and a nanosecond later that she was almost certainly Rose’s daughter in law (or daughter outlaw, depending on the marital status of the union which produced the child harnessed to her bosom). I quickly added in the direction of he whom I deduced to be Rose’s son “Well, not you personally”. I immediately liked the place. I want to go there now and eat roti channai, but it’s closed. Can’t tell you any more than that, but when you go, please leave a comment for all our benefit. Lee, son of Rose, is going to add roti pisang to the small little menu just as soon as banana comes down in price. That will be the day, ooff yeah. Maybe, in time, we will see durian cendol added as the ultimate in authenticity, and God! give me some nasi lemak.
I popped into the first Slow Food Market at the Convent today, arriving just in time to hear a politician give quite a short speech. It was that old Melbourne Grammarian who ended up as the Member for Broadmeadows but has never lived in the electorate, the Minister for Regional Development, the Treasurer, Mr John Brumby. Here he is having a chuckle with Maggie Maguire, the Convent’s CEO. Unbound by any code of ethics whatever, I nevertheless deleted the photograph of the treasurer flanked brilliantly by a toddler because the bastard blinked and looked kind of goofy. So you know now you’re reading a quality broadsheet. Continue reading “Inaugural Slow Food Market at the Abbotsford Convent”