26 June 2011

the best way to start the day

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, well it's true and it's one of my favourite meals too. It's hard to pass up a great breakfast especially when it's coming from the kitchen of Bridget Davis (@bridget_cooks), The Internet Chef and brand new owner of Montgomery Street Cafe along with her partner Mahei (@iconic88)

Bridget has worked in kitchens all over New Zealand and Sydney including Bills, the iconic Sydney cafe known for serving a truly beautiful brekky. But I'm not here to talk about Bills because @mostreetcafe you will receive more than a delicious meal. The setting is gorgeous, @mostreetcafe is in a stunning building on a quiet street in the southern Sydney suburb of Kogarah. Thank goodness for a new cafe in South Sydney! This takes no time at all for me and my Mr to get to and this new cafe is a welcomed new addition to our side of town. 

Montgomery Street Cafe 
As soon as we walk in the friendly staff seat us and quickly get started on our coffees, which we are extremely grateful for. Coffee can make or break a breakfast experience, especially when it's the first cup of the day. I look forward to the rush you get from the very first sip, yes a lot rides on this cup. We're pleasantly surprised to receive our strong Campos blend piccolos.

Campos piccolo's
Drinking our coffee's gives us plenty of time to take in the gorgeous interiors in this cafe. Not only do they serve a great brekky but they also serve light lunches and will soon do cooking demo's. Is there anything that @bridget_cooks can't do? 

The light filled room
We've finished our coffee's and like clockwork our breakfast arrives, we share more than a few of our favourite things. How can you resist a meal that starts with "the best mo fo scrambled eggs"?

The best mo fo scrambled eggs with toasted sourdough, smoked chicken rashers and soy, mirin and ginger braised mushrooms
The best mo fo scrambled eggs with a house cured salmon crostada, sustainable caviar and spiced roasted tomatoes with fresh ricotta and mint
These eggs really are the best you can get, creamy fluffy and what I love is there is no need for salt and pepper, they are seasoned perfectly. On another note, I was excited to have found a cafe who serves wholegrain sourdough, I'm a little biased, it's my favourite kind of bread but it is better for you right? The Mr comments that they are two pretty large slices of bread and he's relieved that for once he has enough bread to go around (I've mentioned before he's Italian right?)

The great thing about  @mostreetcafe is the way you build your brekky. You start with your choice of eggs, scrambled or fried and then you add on all the sides you would like. The mushrooms have a beautiful flavour with their mix of soy, ginger and mirin, they are slightly sweet and well-cooked. The smoked chicken rashers are a welcome change from the usual bacon as they are just as smoky and even more delicious. The tomatoes are roasted and almost dried and I love the combination of spices  including crunchy fennel seeds with the fresh mint and ricotta. Lastly just a little bit of indulgence for the start to your day, the house cured salmon and caviar with a conscience. 

Brown butter griddle cakes with a lemon honey butter, mojo syrup and seasonal fruit
These should be called "banging brown butter griddle cakes..." they are absolutely dreamy. We weren't sure what seasonal fruit we would receive but we excited to see a mix of apple and rhubarb on our plate. The acidity from both fruits worked so well with the sweet buttery goodness of these cakes. 

Just in case you wanted to see that mojo syrup
The lovely @bridget_cooks from www.theinternetchef.biz
If you haven't taken the trip down to Montgomery Street Cafe, it's definitely time you did. They have the formula down pat, a beautiful setting, friendly staff, great coffee and really really really good food. Could there be a better way to start your day?

52 Montgomery Street, Kogarah

15 June 2011

my radelaide adventures pt 1 - Andre's

This long weekend I managed to dodge the ash cloud and take a trip down to the city of churches. Being in a job where I am surrounded by all things South Australia, I thought it was time I discovered Adelaide for myself.

I consider myself a bit of a planner (possibly a control freak) so the weeks leading up to my weekend away were spent researching restaurants, wineries and all the foodie things to do and as it turns out, SA is a foodie's paradise.

Andre's Cucina & Polenta Bar was the first restaurant stop on my carefully detailed itinerary. First impressions last and my first ever introduction to polenta wasn't great. Before Andre's I had never had good polenta plus I always thought of it as "Northerner food" which you can blame on a Sicilian upbringing. I grew up with the steadfast belief that Southern Italian food is just better and it is in most cases (you can't take Sicily out of the girl) but I consider myself an open minded Southerner so I booked Andre's in the hope of being converted. 

Andre's bar
We have quite an early dinner booking as we want to make it in time for the opening night of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. The greeting at the door was lovely when it eventuated, it seemed as though the restaurant wasn't quite prepared for us as it took quite a few minutes for someone to seat us. After being seated the waiter was lovely and suggests we choose a few starters, entrees and two mains to share as the food is made for sharing. 

Fritto misto di mare
We start with a bit of a crowd pleaser, delicately fried seafood with lemon aioli. It came with battered calamari, whole baby prawns and sardines (a personal favourite). The frying really was delicate, not over oily and super crispy especially those whole baby prawns.

Piattata di salumi misti
If you aren't drooling at the site of this delicious plate of antipasti, there is something seriously wrong with you (in the nicest way possible of course). To me, nothing is better than a plate of fresh Italian salumi, you know you're Italian when the sight of this is more appealing than a plate of chocolate. This plate was a mix of prosciutto crudo, mortadella, salame, porchetta, cacciatore, bresaola, lombo and guanciale finished with a drizzle of notably great extra virgin olive oil and fresh bread (another weakness of mine). 

Swordfish carpaccio with zucchini lemon, grapefruit and chives
This swordfish was as pretty as a picture (although my picture doesn't do it justice). The uber fresh swordfish was wrapped around zucchini and finished with a light lemon and grapefruit dressing. It was a great way to finish off our entrees because it was so fresh and easy to eat amongst some of the heartier dishes. 

Polenta with duck ragu in bianco and roasted chestnuts
Now onto the polenta, I will admit I was skeptical but this was genuinely delicious. The polenta was smooth, creamy, and not even the slightest bit grainy and the duck ragu was cooked beautifully so that the duck was soft and tender. I love chestnuts and they were a beautiful addition to this. I haven't had them in a while and soon as I tasted them  there was instant memories of eating them warm on a Winter's night after my nonno had roasted them outside.

SA prawn and bug meat ravioli with cauliflower, beetroot and pancetta
Now the lovely ladies I was dining with commented on the serving size of this dish and it was quite small if you are sharing. The pasta was al dente, the filling was so meaty and genourous and I loved the cauliflower but the beetroot was a little confusing, I'm not sure how well this worked with the dish. Apart from that, the ingredients were noticeably good quality.

We didn't get to order dessert as we grabbed the bill, payed and rushed out the door in time for the festival. I would definitely return to Andre's when I'm back in Adelaide, it was home style Italian food done exceptionally well. Plus I can now say I have been converted, Andre's polenta has changed the mind of a stubborn Sicilian. 

06 June 2011

a little wait for Billy K

Call me crazy if you like but I have been known to wait 2 hours for a table at a restaurant more than a few times.

This night was not unlike those times. I've tried to get a table at Billy Kwong on a Saturday before but unless you are there lining up from before 6pm, it is highly unlikely you'll be eating before 10pm. So this time I committed to the wait from the very beginning. We lined up from about 6pm to be told that we would get a call in two hours for a table. I can't believe I haven't been to Billy Kwong, it's always been on the list but something else always comes up.

We jumped across the road for a snack and a drink at the nearby pub and waited. We were starving, so yes we ate twice, don't judge.

After perusing the menu and trying hard to read the specials (they are hand written in running writing) we decide on our first meal.
Pork belly pancakes
I love DIY pancakes and this pork belly was soft and tender but our favourite was the tamari sauce, it was sweet and sticky, a truly beautiful combination of flavours.

Pork sung choi bow with chilli and fresh herbs
What's not to love about sung choi bow? This version ticked all the right boxes, tasty pork mince, bean sprouts not to mention a fresh chilli paste and a handful of fresh herbs. I especially loved the fresh dill and mint it took the dish from ordinary to a-mazing!

Steamed prawn dumplings with organic brown rice vinegar
If you've ever been to Eveleigh markets on a Saturday morning, you have probably seen Kylie Kwong at her stall making fresh omelette's and serving up delicious dumplings. If you haven't been, cancel this Saturday's plans and get yourself down there, two words...foodie mecca! I've had these dumplings before at the markets Her prawn dumplings are incredibly soft and I love them with the brown rice vinegar. These came late to the table and when we asked if they were still coming, they wiped them from the bill and brought them over. Amazing service, no question about it. 

Stirfry with clams, pork, cuttlefish and blackbeans
The description of this dish reminded me of one of my all time favourite dishes at Longrain, the squid and speck stir-fry with chilli and black beans. I love the combination of pork and seafood. This one had some of my favourite ingredients too. The cuttlefish was cooked perfectly, as was the pork but the clams were quite gritty and we struggled eating them, if they hadn't been in there it would have been a perfect dish.

Mushroom stirfry with oyster, shimejii, shitake and swiss brown mushrooms
This definitely wins dish of the night for me. How can you not love mushrooms, the mix of all these varieties was delicious and they were cooked perfectly. The crunchy Asian greens were a nice touch too, I wouldn't normally order a vegetarian dish but this was hearty enough to rival any meat dish.

The question was then asked, did we want to order dessert? We were both so full but I'm convinced I have a separate dessert stomach because I can always fit it in.

Poached pears, almond praline and double cream, come on would you say no to that?

Poached pears, almond praline and double cream
Next time I go to Billy Kwong I would get there just a bit earlier to be seated straight away and I would study the menu a little further, you're so hungry by the time you're seated you order the first meal you look at.

It's such a go, go, go restaurant - noisy, fast and a little uncomfortable but with incredibly good food.