Himachal Chronicles: Palampur and around

Earlier this year, we made a family trip to Palampur, to celebrate my husbands grandfathers 90th birthday. 90 years, can you imagine! And nanaji is a legend, if I may say so. Hale and hearty, and ready with glorious stories of his past, it’s always a treat to spend time with him. For his 90th, he wanted to visit his village in Palampur, the place where he grew up and went to school as a boy,  and his home where he had countless memories of play and family.

Continue reading “Himachal Chronicles: Palampur and around”

Farzi Cafe : DLF Cyberhub

Everyone in India has been raving about Farzi cafe, and this year when I visited India for my annual vacation it was on my must-visit-and-be-gluttonous list. Weeks went by and we got so busy with family functions, friends, etc etc that the Farzi dream seemed to be slipping away. And then the younger brother came-a visiting along with his adorable girlfriend. No more reason was needed. Husband, me, brother and girlfriend made our way there on a wonderful Saturday afternoon and sat down to eat.

And eat we did. With our eyes, hands, and minds.

Continue reading “Farzi Cafe : DLF Cyberhub”

Saigon Street Eats

Food-Tastic Find: Poached Chicken Pho
Serving Size: 2 health freaks returning from the gym
Price: $10 for a medium bowl, and $12.50 for a large bowl
Taste: 5 – hit out of the ball-park food-tastic 

Sometimes I am just glad I come back from work late. Because that’s when I step out and discover the lovely eating joints on the street I live. Remember Las Chicas? Right next to my house and what a delight. And so just the other day, when I got back from work at around 8 pm (sacrilege in the city of Melbourne, I say!) and the choice was between a quick  bowl of Indo-Mie (instant noodles), or ordering pizza, I voted no for both (am quite the authoritarian in food choices at home :) ) and we stepped out on to our friendly neighbourhood Carlisle Street.

We reached Saigon Street Eats, situated on the far end of Carlisle Street. Guests are seated on a sharing basis as the place is popular and space is sparse. The menu is displayed on a blackboard, you decide what you want to eat, and place your order at the cash counter. From the counter you get a view of the open kitchen where you can see the cooks working away merrily. There are sounds of chopping, some laughter, and wonderful smells pervading all through. The menu itself is quite simple.

Saigon Street Eats Menu (Google Images)
Saigon Street Eats Menu (Google Images)

Main course options were:

  1. Rice Paper Rolls with fillings like grilled salmon, grilled beef, Vietnamese omelette, grilled chicken
  2. Pho (pronounced Fur, with the r silent) – medium or large bowls of Vietnamese broth with rice noodles, and bean sprouts, and you could chooses toppings like shitake mushrooms with fried tofu, chicken/prawn/beef spring rolls, poached chicken, poached fish, poached chicken with quail eggs.
  3. Bun (pronounced boon) – Vietnamese salad comprising of vermicelli, bean sprouts, finely grated fresh vegetables like carrots, lettuce, cucumber, and a small handful of mint leaves. The dressing was a mildly sweet and zesty lime and chilli sauce served separately. And for the toppings you could choose between fried tofu, grilled chicken, grilled beef, chicken/prawn/beef spring rolls.
  4. Banh Mi Rolls: Multiple filling options served in freshly baked French baguette bread rolls

We knew were going to have a bowl of Pho for sure and while I really wanted to have the mushrooms and tofu combination, the mister loves his chicken soup. So we went for a medium bowl of poached chicken pho. I ordered the prawn spring rolls bun, hoping it was more zesty than sweet. And coz I wanted to have some salad for dinner and feel good about myself (especially after the decisive no to noodles and pizza)

What He Ate

 

 

What She Ate

The service was delightfully super-prompt, and the food came in super-big-bowls. And the taste did not disappoint. The bun  was extremely light and zesty, with the right amount of crunch and flavour. Fresh salad for a sticky, hot summer day. And the prawn spring rolls were so crisp. Super yummy and so flavourful. The bowl of pho however was simply awesome. It was served with a small serving of bean sprouts on the side with a wedge of lemon and chilli oil. Mix it all up together and we were in Saigonese heaven.

The tagline says food like how our mama makes it and I have to completely agree. Thank you, late work nights. And thank you Saigon street eats for introducing me to the subtle flavours of Vietnamese home food.

Saigon Street Eats on Urbanspoon

Groove Train

Food-Tastic Find: Spaghetti Alla Groove
Serving Size: 3 hungry souls/2 hungry hippos
Price: $19
Taste: 5 – hit out of the ball-park food-tastic for me
Spaghetti Alla groove

 For the love of the perfect pasta dish, I could eat as many carbs at dinner time as my body could take. And then some more.

In most of the mainstream cafes which serve global food offerings, I am mostly

~ disappointed by red sauce dishes (less garlicky, less salt, less flavour, mostly tomato-ey)

~ over-stuffed by the super heavy white sauces that make me think am consuming a bowl of cream or cheese for dinner

~ reminded of Maggi noodles with the only oil and garlic pasta dishes.

But at the Groove Train this week, I had a completely scrumptious and taste bud-delicious pasta dish which is going to make me keep going back for more.

I ordered the Spaghetti Alla Groove which is described as spaghetti served with a creamy pesto sauce served with chicken, avocado, spring onions, and shavings of parmesan cheese. And seriously, what is it with the food portions in some of these places. The dish came in this mammoth sized bowl, big enough to serve 3 semi-hungry people, and 2 SUPER-hungry people. Man, there goes my calorie count for the day, I am thinking. One bite of the pasta and I just shut down the calorie counter. All systems down.

It was this lightly cheesy yet smokey flavoured sauce. I just couldn’t get over the smokiness. Plus that subtle hint of the pesto, coupled with chunky bites of avocado and chicken. Slurrrrrrrrp. I really wanted to know how the chef had cooked this dish but didn’t bother asking. Maybe on my next trip.  Right now, I was totally shoving the dish down, it was so tasty.

Have any of you tried this dish before? If you have you know what I am talking about. Isn’t it just yumm-azing?! Let’s meet up for a spaghetti alla groove hogathon night at Groove train one of these days.

Till then, happy dreams of food y’all.

Groove Train on Urbanspoon

Buddhas Belly

Food-Tastic Find: Roti Stack
Serving Size: 3 hungry souls/2 hungry hippos
Price: $14
Taste: 4 (Scale of 1 to 5 peeps, where 5 is hit out of the ball park good, while 1 being a complete food flop)

Stepping into Buddhas Belly for a weekend brunch, I was initially a little hesitant. A loungy bar on Chapel Street, we had always visited this place for weeknight happy hour wine. But my food-tastic moment happened when I had this dish called Roti Stack. Essentially a fusion take on Eggs Benedict, this dish is made up of scrambled eggs, sautéed mushrooms and spinach, covered in hollandaise sauce, stakced in 3 layers of roti (flat breads made of wheat flour, more like an Indian paratha than the Malaysian roti chinai). My first bite of this instantly sent my taste buds back home because it felt I had taken a bite of parathas served with Amul butter. (Oh, Amul butter, how I miss thee! No other butter comes even close).

The stack itself is a simply wowsome. With each bite, you get some egg, some mushrooms and that super smooth and creamy hollandaise sauce. The only thing I did not like was the tomato relish that it gets served with. Kind of like a tomato chutney it was slightly sweet, with a sprinkle of cinnamon. A little too sweet for my liking.

The portion size being quite generous, I gobbled up the healthy stuff (eggs, spinach, mushrooms) but just couldn’t’ finish all the rotis. This is a dish that can be easily split between two not so hungry people.

We ate a ton of other things at the bar, chicken parma, big breakfast, veg burger, plus had the usual round of cappuccinos, milkshakes and iced coffees, all of which made me rethink my earlier opinion of Buddhas Belly being just a drinking joint.

But the roti stack ~ what a dish.

Buddha's Belly on Urbanspoon

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Magnum Popup Store : Melbourne

The destination was clear. The last mile was near. The journey, oh dear dear.

What am I going on about? Not anything remotely heroic I am afraid, but more glutton-oic! There was a Magnum pop-up store in town, and it was going to shut the doors (or pull down the shutters) on its yummy offering, come August 10th 2014, and I still hadn’t tried and tasted. *Shudders* No, that won’t do. So come last Friday evening, you would have found me (and the husband) among the many hopefuls standing in the mile-long line at the Magnum Pleasure pop-up store.

The funny thing is that every time we visited Emporio and seen the crazy-ass long line of Magnum hopefuls, we had always scoffed and proclaimed to ourselves, you will never find me standing in line for that… well, never say never. We absolutely stood in the line, and for close to 80 minutes (YES!!) to devour this….

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Mine : Dark on Dark with pistachios, blackberry chips, coconut flakes and vanilla crumble

and this…

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His: Milk on Dark with ginger crumble, oreo chunks, pistachios and honeycomb pieces

For those of you who know, and for the benefit of those who don’t, Magnum is a super-yummy ice-cream similar to Choco-bar, or Feast (remember those?). How the Magnum pop-up store builds on the ice-cream-on-a-stick concept is that it lets you construct your Magnum from scratch, and completely bling it up with toppings galore to choose from. I am talking almonds, pistachios, cashews, vanilla crumble, cookie chunks, mocha chips, blackberry chips (my new food discovery, so yummy), honeycomb pieces, coffee beans, crackling candy, and even rose petals. The Melbourne store didn’t have any crackling candy which was a tad disappointing but it was on offer in Sydney and Singapore.

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Picture taken from http://www.foodisourreligion.com

So how do you go about it, simple:

Step 1: Select your base, vanilla or chocolate

Step 2: Select your coating: Milk, White, or Dark Chocolate

Step 3: Select 4 toppings

Step 4: Select the drizzle: Milk, White, or Dark Chocolate

Step 5: Devour!

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Picture taken from http://www.foodisourreligion.com

It was so sinful.  I had told the husband that let’s split one, but his man-logic was like, If I wait in line for an hour or so, I am pretty well going to have one all by myself.  Fair enough. We did have one each, but mid-way, it got too much. But did we give up? hell, NO

El finito was fantastico.

What a Magnum Opus it was for us; one-time pop-up pleasure.

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Magnum-acious!

 

 

Las Chicas – Carlisle Street

Every time the husband and I come back from a meal outing, we cross all these interesting looking cafes close to our house, and we always make a solemn vow, ‘We have got to explore our streets more often‘, yet we never do, except for the planned grocery and unplanned ATM trips. But this Sunday, after a lovely swim for me, (and a football session for him), we were hungry, I didn’t want to cook, it was a sunny day, and all the pieces just fell together. Although I have eaten at a few places behind our house, this was our first meal together in a cafe on Carlisle Street, and we visited Las Chicas. The cafe has a nice vibe, and you can choose to sit inside or outside. No big booths or large tables here. The whole seating arrangement gives off a cosy feel. The menu also has a decidedly brunch-y feel to it, with a majority of all day breakfast options; eggs in different ways, big breakfast, pancakes (am hankering after the pecan and banana pancakes the next time I visit), smashed avocado on toast, and the like. They also do alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. As always, I was crazy hungry and perused the food items on the other diners plates, and am pretty sure I kind of pissed off the girl sitting next to me. She was sipping on something that looked super delicious, and instead of asking her what it was (like any normal person would do), I kept alternating between glancing, and ogling at it. Sheesh. Continue reading “Las Chicas – Carlisle Street”