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Gastronomical ramblings

Food adventure @ Otsumami

Otsumami has been on my to-visit list since 2012, but given its location in Northcote and how little I frequent that side of Melbourne, it’s taken me quite a while to get around to visiting. The opportunity came up recently whilst deciding on a meet up venue with Dr M, who happens to be working practically around the corner. Huzzah!

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Salmon Harumaki - salmon, cheese and nori spring rolls, served with wasabi mayo. 

The spring roll wrapper sported much crunch, but it was quite tough and chewy in texture and lacked that delicate crispiness you look for in wrappers.  The salmon itself was overcooked and the distribution of cheese was uneven. The bites with all elements, however, really highlighted how well the flavour combo worked. That hint of wasabi and sweet teriyaki sauce were particularly enjoyable. 

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Kani-age - soft shell crab marinated in soy, mirin, ginger & garlic, deep fried and served with chili mayo dipping sauce. 

No complaints from either of us with the soft shell crab. The batter was crispy and delicate (unlike those spring rolls!) and also well seasoned without being overly salty. The flavouring from the creamy sweet chilli mayo accompaniment really rounded out the dish.  

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Sweet potato gyoza (left) and tori niku gyoza (right). 

The combination of sweet potato in a gyoza was intriguing, so we decided to give our taste buds the chance to explore something different. Fortunately, it wasn’t all sweet thanks to the addition of chive, giving it a savoury sort of taste. The blend of sweet potato was silky smooth and just melted in the mouth. The wrappers for the chicken gyozas were quite wonton-like. The tender chicken filling was aromatically sweet, and further sweetened by its pairing with a tangy soy and chilli vinegarette sauce. 

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Hotate - scallops pan seared in soy, butter and balsamic, with bonito flakes. 

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The scallops were gorgeously cooked, translucent in its colouring. Its flavour profile was defined by the fishy bonito flakes, subtle wasabi presence and creamy potato mash. It was quite different to what I have encountered with other scallop dishes but oh so delicious. 

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I had been looking forward to Otsumami for quite some time, and the real deal did not disappoint. With only one negative in one of the dishes and big positives encountered with the rest, I would happily drive out of my way for a return visit at some point! 

Otsumami on Urbanspoon

Otsumami

257 High St,

Northcote, Victoria, 3070. 

(03) 9489 6132

http://www.otsumami.com.au/

Food adventure @ Cafe Trutrack

During one rather unproductive work day (this was looooong ago… oh how I wish for those days when I wasn’t running around like a headless chook) a few lab members and myself decided to walk the somewhat short distance of 15 minutes for lunch in the North Melbourne area. We were foiled by our attempts to visit two of North Melbourne’s most popular cafes and after a stroll back towards the uni, we came by Cafe Trutrack. With an enticing selection of sandwiches, we decided to lunch there. 

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The spacious interior. 

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Hot chocolate for JP. 

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Caesar salad - with cos lettuce, bacon, toasted ciabatta and caesar dressing. 

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Grilled Mediterranean veggie sandwich. 

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Smoked salmon with cream cheese sandwich. 

As with most smoked salmon dishes, the ingredients were wonderfully balanced. The tang of the capers, light smearing of the cream cheese and bite from the red onion contrastingly accentuated the smoky and natural flavours of the salmon. 

There are no gimmicks at Tru Track - the food is simple but it makes for a quick and tasty meal, not to mention inexpensive. 

Cafe Trutrack on Urbanspoon

Cafe Trutrack

52 Leveson St,

North Melbourne, Victoria, 3051. 

(03) 9328 8753

http://www.cafetrutrack.com.au/

Smoked salmon sandwich. 

Food adventure @ Cobb Lane

"I knew I loved you before I met you." These words from Savage Garden’s 1999 hit describe my love (or rather, immense like) for Cobb Lane even before stepping foot into the cafe. Having tried one of their AMAZING coffee custard donuts from Church of Secular Coffee at Rue and Co, Cobb Lane jumped right to the top of my to-visit list. 

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Thehouseofem and I found some time one Saturday afternoon to fit in a brunch session. Given the tight space and its popularity, it was understandably busy, busy, busy. We were fortunate enough to arrive just as a table was vacated.

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Soy latte. 

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Pizza Smack Down @ Yak Italian Kitchen & Bar

On the evening of June 30th, chefs from eight of Melbourne’s leading restaurants gathered at Yak Italian Kitchen & Bar to compete in Yak’s inaugural Pizza Smackdown. These chefs included Florent Gerardin (Silo), Jerry Mai (Pho Nom) and Pierrick Boyer (Le Petit Gateau), all of whom had no prior pizza-making experience. Which meant we were all in for a unique treat… or ‘experience’ depending on the pizza topping! I received an invitation to attend the event, and I would like to thank Yak Italian Kitchen & Bar and Tomato Media for this opportunity. 

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Yak Italian Kitchen & Bar’s spacious interior. 

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Food adventure @ 8bit.

The westside’s first brioche burger venue (think of Melbourne’s greats such as Huxtaburger and Mr Burger), with extras including hot dogs, gems and shakes, has landed in Footscray. And as with any first of their kinds in Melbourne, you can expect queues and long wait times. Sporting a winning combination, 8bit draws on the popularity of casual American grub with a nod at some of the iconic video games we have grown up with and loved. 

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Seating is somewhat limited, and the venue is probably filled with more people waiting around for their takeaway orders than seated patrons during their busiest hours. 

We were fortunate enough to find two seats but still had to wait a good 45 minutes before our food was ready. 

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La Tavola Della Famiglia Book Launch

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Olimpia Bortolotto, the matriarch of Melbourne’s award-winning Cecconi’s Flinders Lane restaurant, has recently launched her first cookbook. While there is no shortage of cookbooks on the market (especially when it comes to the Italian cooking section of any book provider), La Tavola Della Famiglia manages to stand out from the crowd. Translating to The Table of the Family, the more-than-just-a-cookbook cookbook shares with readers warming tales of Olimpia’s heritage and journey, laying out the pivotal inspirations and backdrop behind the recipes that have been cooked over decades past.

“A great dish is the result of carefully selected ingredients combining together in perfect harmony. Like cooking, this book is the culmination of years of special memories shared with family, friends and food.”

I was recently invited to attend the book launch for La Tavola Della Famiglia, and I would like to thank Cecconi’s Flinders Lane and AMPR for both the opportunity to attend this event and a copy of the gorgeous book.

Some snap shots from the event:

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The lady of the hour, Olimpia Bortolotto. 

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Freshly squeezed orange juices and Spicy Virgin Marys.

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Spiced fruit compote, granola & yoghurt. 

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Freshly baked muffin - quince, cinnamon & mascarpone. 

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Crispy bacon & sausage skewers. 

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Crab brioche. 

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Truffled egg cone. 

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Salami and fontina toast. 

Much like Cecconi’s Flinders Lane relaunch event from earlier this year, the book launch event was filled with great food and merriment. Given the tasty delights of both visits to Cecconi’s, this blogger is looking forward to taking some of Olimpia’s recipes for a spin! 

Southgate Moveable Feasts, 15 June - 4 August 2014

What’s better than dining at one restaurant? Being able to dine at three restaurants, one after the other! Embracing the concept of the restaurant crawl, Southgate has recently launched their version that goes by the title of Southgate Moveable Feasts. The series involves several prominent Southgate restaurants, including three recently-opened venues. I was recently invited to attend a moveable feast with restaurant trio Artusi, Amarok and Bluetrain, and I would like to thank Southgate and Fuller PR for this opportunity. 

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Artusi on Urbanspoon

Artusi

Southgate UR1 Upper level,

3 Southgate Ave,

Southbank, Victoria, 3006. 

(03) 8199 1033

http://www.artusi.net.au/

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Our feast kicked off with the entree course taking place at Artusi. 

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Sun-dried tomato bread. 

Their house-made bread is baked fresh daily, and this freshness was evident in the taste and texture of the bread we were served. The encounters with the sun-dried tomato added a pronounced sweetness to the bread, while the other bites were dominated by the olive oil. 

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Mezzelune ai broccoli e parmigiano - broccoli filled potato parcels, bagna cauda butter & parmigiano reggiano. 

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