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Gastronomical ramblings

Food adventure @ Rochford Winery Restaurant (Isabella’s)

With its location not too far from the CBD, Yarra Valley provides the perfect escape for Melburnians without the need of spending too long on the road. Gourmands visiting this region have more than their fair pick of wineries and gourmet destinations to choose from, with one such venue being Isabella’s at the Rochford Winery. The lovely Peach-water received an invitation to dine at the restaurant courtesy of Rochford Winery, and I attended as her guest. 

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The weather was downright miserable, but the slap of rain against the floor to ceiling windows coupled with the crackling fireplace created a comfy vibe that made me feel right at home. That and the food coma that kicked in afterwards… 

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The bread’s crust packed much crunch and the bread itself was quite soft, with an elastic, doughy texture. Paired with a sensationally creamy butter, I had to exert much self-control to prevent myself from filling up on the bread! 

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Crab cakes - Blue swimmer crab and potato cake with lemon aioli & watercress. 

The crab cakes were comprised of a blend of creamy, soft and herbed potato mash with slivers of crab flesh mixed throughout. The crab flavouring was further compounded by whatever flesh you could fish out from the claw and the contrast provided by the cleansing taste of the herbs. 

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Blackmore’s wagyu tartare - Peter Blackmore’s full bred Yarra Valley wagyu tartare with quail egg yolk. 

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Food adventure @ Man Mo, WTC

Depending on which side of the Yarra River you’re on, riverside dining options are either scant or plentiful. A recent addition to what I refer to as the quieter side of the river is Chinese/Malaysian and seafood-orientated restaurant, Man Mo, at the World Trade Centre. I was invited to attend a dinner at the restaurant, and I would like to thank Man Mo, Asset 1 and Harvey Publicity for this opportunity. 

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One minute, you’re walking along the bank of the Yarra towards Man Mo, take a step through the doors and before you know it… you’re in China! With the black and red theme well defined by the darker wooden tones and hanging traditional lucky charm tassels, the sleek outfit of the restaurant screamed oriental. 

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Scallop & egg lettuce leaf.

With the crispy rice flakes and silky egg pieces forming the backdrop for the fresh and well-cooked Western Australia scallop, all wrapped in a lettuce cup, the dish essentially tasted like a scallop fried rice in san choi bao form!

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Baked crab shell - Blue swimmer crab meat with onion, bacon and mushroom, with a sprinkle of crumb and shredded cheese. 

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Food adventure @ Supernormal

A little while ago, the lovely Peach-water and myself met up for a super spontaneous food adventure at Supernormal. So spontaneous was this adventure that we didn’t even know we were going to dinner until the eleventh hour! 

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Fortunately for us, we were able to score a table easy peasy at 6.30pm on a Wednesday evening. Not so much the case for those arriving later, with the expansive space all filled up from about 8pm onwards.

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Moonlight Flat Rusty Wire oyster.

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Creamy and fresh - everything you would want in an oyster! 

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Smoked beef, mustard leaf and clam mayonnaise. 

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Food adventure @ La Svolta Pizzeria e Trattoria, Prahran

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Want to experience the authentic cuisine of lovely Tuscany without leaving Melbourne? All you have to do is get yourself to La Svolta in Hampton on the 18th or Prahran on the 25th of this month. In celebration of both spring time (I for one will be happy to see some of this miserable weather go!) and the owner’s Tuscan background, La Svolta’s Once Upon a Tuscan Spring dinners will immerse guests in an authentic 7-course Tuscan menu with matched wines. I recently received an invitation to attend a preview dinner, and I would like to thank La Svolta and Little Big Marketing & PR for the opportunity to attend. 

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The interior. 

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Antipasto Toscano - selection of Tuscan delicacies on a tasting plate (meat and cheese board). 

It wouldn’t be authentic italiano without some antipasto. The menu kicked off with a tasting plate comprised of venison salami, pancetta, chicken liver pate, lardo, olives and pecorino. The flavours of both cured meats were quite pronounced without tasting overly salty. I had braced myself for gaminess in the pate but it never came - instead, my taste buds enjoyed the velvety smoothness of the pate that paired wonderfully with the crunchy bread. The lardo was rich while the herbaceous nature of the rosemary oil provided quite an aromatic presence, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat more than a bite given its main ingredient. The pecorino was sharp; definitely one for the cheese fans! 

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Torta Di Ceci - chickpea torte. 

Made from chickpea flour, the natural smoky-like flavours of the chickpea really came through in the flat bread-like torte. The pieces of bread were paired with a eggplant and hummus dip. The inclusion of eggplant made the dip less grainy and more smoother than the typical hummus, while the garlic and herb presence enriched the flavouring. 

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Fritto Di Paranza (fisherman’s basket) - deep fried seafood selection. 

The calamari batter was delicately light and just melted, while the calamari itself was soft and tender. The prawn was juicy and quite fleshy, as were the pieces of white bait. 

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Matched wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano. 

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Food adventure @ Coburg Drive-In Food Truck Festival

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Teaming up with the Australian Mobile Food Vendors Group to form the Drive-In Food Truck Festival, the Village Cinemas’ Coburg Drive-In cinema experience just got a whole let better! The once-a-month event sees a congregation of some of Melbourne’s top food trucks in the cinemas to provide moviegoers with a delicious food experience to pair with their movie viewing. That’s a combo that can’t be beat! 

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I was invited to attend the August 27th event (along with two guests), and I would like to thank Village Cinemas and Twenty3 Sport & Entertainment for the opportunity to attend. 

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Cross your fingers for clear skies to make the most of the gorgeous set up. 

And now, the food: 

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Pork belly slider - 12 hour slow roasted pork belly, with tomato relish, asian coleslaw, lime kewpie and coriander. 

I had previously tried WGCT’s pork belly slider during my first visit, and my second encounter was definitely just as tasty as the first! If not more so…

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Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge Cocktail Evening

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Instigated in 2007, The Dilmah Real High Tea Challenge allows both professionals and consumers to explore the versatility and craft of tea in their contemporary high tea creations. Think Masterchef meets Dilmah tea. I was invited to attend a cocktail evening that took place last month in which the results of the Victorian state finals of Dilmah’s Real High Tea Challenge were announced, and I would like to thank Dilmah and Horizon Communication Group for the opportunity to attend the exciting event

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Prior to announcing the winners, guests were captivated by warming and inspiring speeches from Dilmah founder, Merril Fernando, and his son Dilhan Fernando. 

Other than sharing in the celebratory atmosphere of the entire evening, guests were also treated to a selection of tea mocktails and canapés.

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The fragrant tea presence in each mocktail was well pronounced and balanced by the zesty sweetness provided by the fruits. 

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Launch Party @ Five Plus Smoothie

The health craze is well and truly alive, or perhaps it is just something that I have taken more notice of as my body realises it can’t scoff down junk in the same way it used to anymore. The recent opening of Five Plus Smoothie, from the owners that brought us Pho Bo Ga Mekong, Hot Star Large Fried Chicken and Gong Cha, fits right in with the health scene. I was invited to attend their launch, and I would like to thank Five Plus Smoothie and Harvey Publicity for the opportunity to attend.  

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Designed with the input from a nutritionist, Five Plus Smoothie’s menu features a selection of balanced smoothies that are each prepared with fresh ingredients and absolutely no additives. 

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With their vibrant colours, the smoothies were inviting, while its taste really awoken the taste buds to get you out of the zzz zone. Or so I felt anyway after my 6.30am wake up! 

Some of the smoothies on offer:

The Perfect Date - oats, almond milk, almond, banana, dates, cinnamon and ice. Benefits: muscle, brain, skin, energy and weight management. 

Smooth Skin - spinach, almond milk, banana, mango, mint and ice. Benefits: skin. 

The Good Life - kale, almond milk, bananas, pineapple, mint, lime and ice. Benefits: energy and fatigue, nail, skin, hair and immune system. 

New Leaf - spinach leaves, coconut water, cucumber, celery, parsley, mint, ginger, lemon and ice. Benefits: immune system and liver detox. 

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Choc Mint - spinach leaves, almond milk, avocado, dark chocolate, mint, dates and ice. Benefits: brain. 

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Peanut Butter Cup - oats, almond milk, homemade peanut butter, banana, dates and ice. Benefits: muscle development.  

Slightly more indulgent but still fitting in with the healthy criteria, there’s the peanut butter or choc chip smoothies. Who said healthy had to be boring?

Guests were also treated to a selection of healthy bites (catered by Healthy Byte), but my three smoothie samples were surprisingly filling (and actually kept me full until lunch time!) and I didn’t end up touching any of the food. 

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Sandwiches. 

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Muesli (how adorable are the jars?)

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Vego rice paper rolls. 

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Crumpets with berries. 

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Five Plus Smoothie provides a refreshing and delicious take on the healthy smoothie bandwagon. And for the not so healthy inclined, there’s always the choc chip or peanut butter options. It doesn’t taste healthy, I promise! 

Disclosure: the opinions expressed in this post are based entirely on my experience and observations made during the time of my visit. 

Five Plus Smoothie on Urbanspoon

Five Plus Smoothie

265 Little Lonsdale St,

Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.

www.fiveplussmoothie.com.au