Lisa eats Robe – South Australia

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Cruise along the stunning Limestone Coast in South Australia and you will soon find Robe, a tiny beach side town full of  historic charm and character. Located on Guichen Bay, 350 kilometres south-east of Adelaide, the former thriving port has transformed itself into one of South Australia’s leading holiday destinations. There’s something special about Robe which keeps holiday makers coming back for more each season.

Whether you’re looking to swim, fish or simply kick back, relax and watch the world go by, there is something in Robe for everyone. Even fussy foodies won’t be disappointed in the seafood, wine and fresh produce on offer.

The Sights

Walk along Main Road and marvel at its many historic buildings made of paddock stone. Here you will find Customs House – one of the oldest buildings in Robe, the Old Gaol and Karatta House – the Governor’s former summer residence.

But the real treat in Robe is the nature. Around every corner there are countless places to swim, surf, fish and hike. A great place to start is the picturesque Long Beach, a 17 kilometre stretch of white sand and glistening blue waters. Long Beach is one of the few beaches in Australia where the sand is firm enough to drive on.Take your car down to the access track and go for a spin along its sandy shores before watching the sun set.

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If you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous, head to the Little Dip Conservation Park and do some off-roading on the rocky tracks.

The Food

With a population of only 1,500 people,  Robe has a surprising number of food options. There is The Pizza Project for casual dining, Sails for something a bit more formal and Robe Bakery and Coffee Lounge for hearty Ned Kelly pies and sausage rolls. Or for the sweet tooths – the Sweet Gallery and homemade ice cream store.

Often referred to as Australia’s rock lobster capital, Robe is home to some great quality seafood. A popular haunt for locals and tourists is Polly’s  Fish and Chips on the marina – a no frills style establishment with a rough and ready service policy.

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The fish was well seasoned and had a great crispy batter on the outer, but unfortunately it was a little overcooked, giving it a tough texture. Next time I will try Robe Seafood and Takeaway on Main Road.

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But we still managed to have our fair share of fun eating fish and chips in the boot of the car.

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We then listened to the waves gently crash on the shore, watching the sun go down…

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The Drinks

The historic Caledonian Inn and the Robe Hotel have been old watering holes in Robe since the 1800s. Affectionately called “The Cally” by locals, the Caledonian Inn on Main Road was built in 1858 with many of its original features being maintained. The old-fashioned pub has a fun and friendly atmosphere and the rear beer garden is a perfect spot to enjoy a beer or two while watching a live band. When it gets chilly, retreat indoors and sit in the cosy surrounds by the crackling fire.

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For the budding wine connoisseur, head to the Mount Benson region, known as “Terra Rossa by the sea”.

The Coffee

Venture off the main street, to the semi industrial, often forgotten, part of town and you will find Mahalia Coffee – an award-winning specialist coffee house.A family run business, Mahalia prides itself in its profile roasting – each coffee origin used in their blends is chosen for its own integral flavour qualities and unique flavour profile. The cafe is also a great spot to pick up some cute tea cups and saucers and unique gifts.

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If you are looking for something a bit more mainstream, head to Robe Providore on Main Road – a brunch magnet for locals and tourists alike. The spacious cafe  has a rustic, homely feel to it with its recycled timber tables and mismatched coloured chairs. You can expect traditional brunch classics like eggs benedict and smashed avocado and feta on sourdough. There is also a beautiful array of freshly made cakes and pastries on display on the counter. Think raspberry and almond danishes, lemon curd cupcakes and pain au chocolates. Although they looked perfect, unfortunately the pastries didn’t quite hit the mark. Perhaps the end of Easter weekend meant the bakers ran out of butter because the pastries and croissants were an oily mess and lacked the airy, flaky pastry that croissants aspire to.

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If you’re looking for a relaxing pit stop between Adelaide and Melbourne, Robe makes the perfect spot. Perhaps try to go earlier in the season when the weather is warmer and the service is friendlier. I got the impression that Robe was well and truly ready for the break.

10 of my favourite foodie finds in Melbourne this week

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1. There’s a certain mystique around Hi Hou, a Japanese bar/restaurant on Flinders Lane. Make sure you have a booking, ring the doorbell at the unassuming entrance and wait patiently for the maître d’ who will whisk you up a flight of dimly lit stairs. Here you will find a beautifully designed bar with a cosy, romantic ambience. If you’re lucky, you can sit in the traditional style cushioned booths. The buckwheat crepes and seared tuna come highly recommended, as does the great range of warm and cold sake.

Hihou on Urbanspoon

2. There’s not many locations so close to the city which are as picturesque as Abbotsford Convent and the Collingwood Children’s Farm. On a sunny day, take a picnic and graze beside the sheep and horses on the green pastures. Alternatively, head to the Farm Cafe, a quaint cafe on the fringe of the Children’s Farm. Initially starting as a coffee and pancake stall in 2005, it has transformed into an idyllic cafe, serving delicious, wholesome and sustainable food of a high quality.

Farm Cafe on Urbanspoon

3.Just a stone’s throw from Camberwell train station, Collective Espresso is the perfect pit-spot for a pre-work coffee or a caffeine injection post Camberwell market. The coffee is exceptional here – they use Five Senses Coffee as well as rotating a few single origins.

Collective Espresso on Urbanspoon

4. The Premises, a quaint pavement style cafe in the heart of leafy Kensington. The cafe is the most popular in the village for good reason – the food is great. Unfortunately for locals, it is hard to get a seat. You can enjoy creative takes on brunch classics like lemon cheesecake french toast and kenso eggs with beetroot slaw and tahini yoghurt.

The Premises on Urbanspoon

5. Venture to the backstreets of Collingwood and follow the crowds to Proud Mary – a hip corner side cafe. Coffee is a true art here – you can’t help being impressed by the six-group custom-made Synesso espresso machine. And the brunch and lunch options are great too.

Proud Mary on Urbanspoon

6. Bar Americano is the brainchild of Matt Bax, the cocktail bar extraordinaire behind former Der Raum in Richmond. Cool and sophisticated, this tiny bar has no real seats – so it’s standing and leaning room only. This only adds to the charm of this Italian style bar.

Bar Americano on Urbanspoon

7. The latest addition to casual dining on Flinders Lane is Fonda Mexican. “Fonda” is used by Mexicans to describe a local house with an open kitchen in an atmosphere which is warm, familiar and relaxed. Fonda Burritos are made with freshly pressed tortillas, using the famous ‘Fonda Press’ which takes just 1.8 seconds to press your tortilla. Fonda has over 200 covers so, like other counterparts on Flinders Lane, you won’t have to wait for long.

Fonda Flinders on Urbanspoon

8.Von Haus is one of Melbourne’s hidden treasures. It’s a tiny, rustic space with only 20 covers so expect to get cosy with your neighbours. The bar has a great wine list which is complemented by a small dinner menu, consisting of only a few specials scrawled on the blackboard.

Von Haus on Urbanspoon

9. If you’re a fan of creme brulees, you may want to follow the latest location of The Brûlée Cart - a mobile dessert van which travels to festivals and farmers markets around Melbourne. While there are rotating seasonal flavours every week, the classic French vanilla is a strong staple.

10.Jimmy Grants is a modern style souvlaki bar off Smith Street. Owned by George Calombari, this is old-fashioned Greek cooking at its best. Think succulent souvas, oregano and garlic seasoned fries and sweet treats from Burch and Purchese. I’m getting hungry just writing about it.

Jimmy Grants on Urbanspoon

What have been your favourite foodie finds this week?

 

Restaurant of the Week: BangPop South Wharf

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Out with the old and in with the new. It seems that casual dining is still hot on the lips of every Melbourner  and fine dining is out – at least for now. The street food trend, which created a storm in London, continues to hit Australia at full force. Diners are looking for good authentic food in a casual atmosphere, without the fine dining price tag.

BangPop, a Thai street food inspired restaurant in South Wharf, has quickly cottoned on to this trend by offering customers a casual communal dining experience. Head chef, Kam McManamey (ex Dandelion Elwood), brings a sense of refinement to typical street food offerings. Hawker stand staples like grilled pork neck and chicken spare ribs take centre stage on the menu as do larger plates and salads designed for sharing.

There’s no questioning the authenticity of the street food offering at BangPop. These guys have done their research – even bringing in the experience and expertise of Yaigum, a long term Thai street food stall-holder, to consult on the menu.

Why the name?   In Thai, the word ‘bang’ means a village situated on a stream, while the ‘pop’ element encapsulates the bold flavours, vibrant colours and larger-than-life personality of this Yarra-side restaurant.

It’s a super sleek fit out. Gaze above to the high ceilings and you will find a tangled mess of wires and dangling industrial filament globes. The mood is fun and creative, with splashes of colours surprising customers in every corner, from the bicycles on the terrace to the lego studded bar which has survived since the Sharing House. The long communal tables are perfect for neighbourly gossip and sharing. BangPop has managed to recreate the energy and excitement of Bangkok’s hawker stands to a tee.

The service is friendly with no pretension. If you have trouble deciphering the menu, just ask them for their recommendations – they are more than happy to help.

The Gaeng Daeng Phed (Red Duck Curry) ($28.90) is slow cooked to perfection, eagerly falling apart from the bone after the tiniest of nudges. An infusion of coconut milk, red curry paste, Thai basil and fresh chilli bathes the duck superbly. In fact the sauce was so good I could have started drinking it from a straw. The roasted coconut on top of the dish provided it with a beautiful texture and a touch of sweetness. If, like me, you don’t mind a sweeter and rich sauce, this dish is perfect.

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A sizzling bowl of lanna style beef curry (Gaeng om nua-lanna) ($24.90) was equally good, full of greens like snake beans, kaffir lime, galangal and dill. A small bowl of sticky rice was perfect to mop up the succulent sauce and offset the spicy flavours a little.

The dishes were served with a selection of dipping sauces and aromatic condiments. For me the flavours were bold and well-balanced enough to need any extra kick, but this is a nice touch so patrons customise their own flavours according to their individual palates.

A tapioca and pandan pudding ($10.90) was beautifully executed, topped with a mango sorbet and lemongrass syrup for a touch of sweetness.

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BangPop has a great personality – it’s fun, vibrant and full of energy. In true Thai fashion, the dishes are spicy, fierce and full of flavour which is just what I love about Thai cuisine. If Bangkok street food is as good as this, I will be on the first plane tomorrow. 
 
The Damage?
 
Approximately $80 for two people including two mains, dessert, wine and service.
 
Food: 8/10
Service: 9/10
Atmosphere: 8/10

10 of my favourite foodie things in Melbourne this week

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Photo credit – Martin Fisch Flickr ‘Strawberry Fields’

1. If you’re looking for a great coffee option on Smith Street, think no further than the Place Holder pop-up at number 9.This hole in the wall type establishment churns out coffee to the local hipsters and weekday corporate types by the dozen. Expect quality blends from Seven Seeds and Small Batch as well as special rotations from Market Lane and Top Paddock.

2. Mamasita on Collins Street for its tasty mexican food and cocktail list. The food is fun, creative and perfect to be shared. And the best news? It’s authentic! Think moreish chargrilled corn, fluffy soft shell tortillas and taste bud tingling chorizo quesadillas.Tequila fans will be impressed by the decent range of tequila on the menu. Just make sure you line your stomach first.

Mamasita on Urbanspoon

3. There’s a reason why Arcadia is one of the originals on Gertrude Street and has lasted the test of time. This is my go to place for a healthy pit stop for lunch.  The salads are to die for and large enough for a small army. The bright, airy space is also lovely for a spot of breakfast with a paper and morning coffee.

Arcadia on Urbanspoon

4. Meyers Place is one of my favourite Melbourne lane ways for quality bars and restaurants. It may not be a new bar as such but Loop Bar has a new rooftop, and it’s looking mighty cool! If you’re feeling fit, climb up a few flights of stairs to reveal a hidden sanctuary full of exotic plants and panoramic rooftop views. The drink list isn’t bad either.

Loop Roof on Urbanspoon

5. If you haven’t been to New Gold Mountain yet, then add it to your Melbourne bar bucket list – this place is epic! Don’t miss the Champagne and Blintz pop-up on the glitzy red level upstairs during the month of April.

New Gold Mountain on Urbanspoon

6. Three Bags Full Cafe in Abbotsford for its epic brunch menu and quality coffee. Their coffee is supplied from iconic roasters, Five Senses, with a  range of single origins and seasonal signature blends on offer. It’s a great space, styled in typical industrial chic decor with quirky design elements like stools made from ‘men at work’ recycled road safety signs taking centre stage. If it’s your first time going here, it won’t be your last!

Three Bags Full on Urbanspoon

7. Viet Star in Hawthorn for its Vietnamese cuisine. This no frills restaurant is always busy and extremely popular with the locals around Glenferrie Road. The prawn cold rolls come highly recommended.

Viet Star on Urbanspoon

8. Porgie and Mr Jones is a cute characterful cafe, nestled in the leafy suburb of Hawthorn. Famous for its brunch classics like smashed avocado on toast, the menu at Porgie and Mr Jones definitely packs a punch.

Porgie and Mr Jones on Urbanspoon

9. For the ultimate Easter treat, venture to La Belle Miette, a small French patisserie specialising in macarons. Speckled Easter Egg macarons are filled with a beautiful Cacao Barry milk chocolate couverture, egg shaped and hand painted.

La Belle Miette on Urbanspoon

10. The latest Lisa Bakes – an impossibly simple recipe for Melting Moments.

What have been your favourite foodie finds this week?

Lisa Bakes: Melting Moments Recipe

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When it comes to biscuits, I must admit, I can be pretty lazy at baking. Why spend hours elbow deep in flour and butter when you can pick up some sweet treats at the supermarket. Melting moments are a different story however – they need to be baked fresh. Whenever I go to the country or a local farmers market, I always bypass the other sweets to the cute wrapped bags of melting moments.

This is one of the best and simplest recipes for melting moments you will find. Two buttery shortbread biscuits sandwich a luscious layer of creamy, zesty icing. If you haven’t already, add this Australian country classic to your baking list. When unexpected guests arrive, it’s a perfect treat for afternoon tea.

Makes about 24 biscuits

For the biscuit – you will need

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 200g of plain flour (sifted)
  • 90g of icing sugar (sifted)
  • 100g of custard powder

For the icing – you will need

  • 120g butter, softened, extra
  • 220g icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 160°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

2. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Fold in the flour, icing sugar and custard powder. The mixture will be quite dry and crumbly at this stage.

3. Roll small balls of the dough in your hands and place on the baking trays. Flatten the biscuits slightly using a fork dusted with flour. Bake in oven for 12 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven to cool completely.

4. For the icing, beat the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lemon rind and juice and beat until well combined. When the biscuit is completely cool, spread one teaspoon of the icing sugar on the flat side of one biscuit and use another biscuit to sandwich together. Repeat for remaining biscuits.

Enjoy!! xxxx

 

10 of my favourite foodie finds in Melbourne this week

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Photo Credit: I am Flickr ‘Luwak Coffee’

1. Cumulus Inc – a beautifully converted eating house and bar on Flinders Lane. This is my go to place for a quality brunch in Melbourne’s CBD. You can expect creative twists on typical brunch classics like potato and cheddar waffles with smoked brisket. For a classic brunch option, you can’t beat the Cumulus Inc Breakfast for $16, consisting of a boiled egg, toast, preserves, organic orange juice and coffee or tea. In the evening, venture upstairs to try their new cocktail and wine bar – Cumulus Up.

Cumulus Inc. on Urbanspoon

2. Axil Coffee Roasters – one of my favourite coffee haunts in Melbourne. In typical industrial chic fashion, the cafe on Burwood Road never has a problem pulling in the crowds. The coffee is exceptional and so are the food options. Brunch lovers will be at home here.

Axil Coffee Roasters on Urbanspoon

3. Fatto a Mano in Gertrude Street for their delicious range of organic baked goodies. Think organic breads, gourmet pizzas and  palate popping sweet treats like chocolate brownies and coffee scrolls. Vegans and gluten-free customers will be well looked after here. I can’t wait to return and get my hands on some of their hot cross buns for Easter.

Fatto a Mano on Urbanspoon

4. Marquis is the latest bar to hit Fitzroy’s Johnston Street. Housed in the former burlesque bar, Marquis is a sultry drinking den with a marked French baroque influence. Work your way through the cocktail list starting with ‘The Libertine’ – a devilish concoction of house-infused jalapeño Olmeca tequila and Libertine sauce, topped off with tomato juice, celery and olives.

Marquis Bar on Urbanspoon

5. There’s so much to love about the Morrocan Soup Bar in Fitzroy. The $20 banquet is an absolute steal and is a real treat for the senses. The serves are generous so be prepared to come with your second stomach. Don’t expect to be served any alcohol or non vegetarian cuisine here.

Moroccan Soup Bar on Urbanspoon

6. 1806 is the year that the word cocktail was first defined in print. Named after this iconic date, 1806 in Exhibition Street is about all things of the cocktail variety. The drinks menu is epic, so don’t expect to leave this drinking den after just one.

1806 on Urbanspoon

7. Chez Dre in South Melbourne for its beautiful pastries and all day breakfasts. It’s definitely worth seeking out this pastry lab, nestled in an unassuming alleyway off South Melbourne market. Expect to be delighted by the largely French inspired treats like macarons and madeleines. They also serve an all day breakfast.

Chez Dré on Urbanspoon

8. At last a speciality tea shop in Melbourne! Storm in a Teacup is an absolute must for any tea connoisseur, or even tea drinker for that matter. Whether you like your tea black, green, white or oolong, there is something here for everyone. I know where I’ll be coming for my next tea fix.

Storm in a Teacup on Urbanspoon

9. Black Pearl Bar on Brunswick Street for its great cocktails, good vibes and quality service. With an atmosphere and cocktail list like this, it’s no surprise Black Pearl is voted as one of Melbourne’s best bars, year after year. If you’re looking for something a bit more subdued, check out the Attic upstairs, where its table services and places are limited.

Black Pearl on Urbanspoon

10. Jamie Oliver’s Lemon Drizzle Cake – a perfect treat in the afternoon, or morning for that matter. Check out my latest bake here. 

What have been your favourite foodie things in your city this week?

Lisa Bakes: Jamie’s Lemon Drizzle Cake

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If you’re looking to bake a lemon drizzle cake, you can’t beat Jamie Oliver’s old fashioned tea cake recipe. Even his nan was impressed. The addition of ground almonds and poppy seeds provide this cake with a beautiful texture. My favourite part is pouring the  lemon syrup on the cake while it is still warm so it oozes into every crevice. The result is a super moist and flavoursome cake which your family and friends will just love. And the best news? You can bake it in just four easy steps! Enjoy!

This recipe is from ‘Cook with Jamie’

For the cake- you will need

  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 4 large free-range or organic eggs
  • 180g ground almonds
  • 30g poppy seeds
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 125g self-raising flour, sifted

For the lemon syrup – you will need

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 90g lemon juice

For the lemon icing – you will need

  • 225g icing sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Grease and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm springform cake tin with greaseproof paper.

2. Using an electric whisk, beat the butter with the caster sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs one by one, beating each in well. Fold in your ground almonds, poppy seeds, the lemon zest and juice and the sifted flour. Spoon the mix into the prepared cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until lightly golden. You can check to see if the cake is cooked by poking a cocktail stick right into the sponge. Remove it after 5 seconds and if it comes out clean the cake is cooked; if slightly sticky it needs a little longer, so put it back in the oven. Allow the cake to cool on a rack.

3. Make your lemon syrup by heating the sugar and lemon juice in a pan until the sugar has dissolved. While your cake is still warm, make lots of little holes in the top with a cocktail stick and pour your syrup over.

4. To make your icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the lemon zest and juice, stirring until smooth. When your cake is almost cool, put it on a serving plate and pour the icing carefully over the top. If you pour it on to the middle of the cake, then let gravity disperse the icing down the sides, you get the ‘drizzle’ effect! Give it a helping hand with a spoon if you want.