Monday, September 28, 2009

Little Ox

452 New Street Brighton, Vic

Some friends of mine had a beautiful baby this year and their nickname for him before they he was born was "Little Ox." So, when I heard about a cafe of the same name in Brighton, I had to check it out. The cafe, is straight out of Real Living magazine. Whoever put this place together knows their stuff when it comes to interior design. Clean white walls, with a colourful country vibe. Just my cuppa tea. Bright yellow ladders, replica Eames chairs, amazing yellow rimmed Bribe glassware, bright orange tea pots and milk bottles with flowers in them. This place is farmhouse cool!

We arrived the day after the AFL Grand Final and unexpectedly the place was packed at 9.30am! I was sure everyone would be in bed, still nursing hangovers. This place is fairly new from my understanding, but when something is this good, word spreads fast!
Despite a bunch of people waiting at the door, the oh so beautiful staff are not only gorgeous, (apparently the guys aren't too bad either) they are good at their jobs, despite their post Grand Final Hangovers. Instead of keeping us waiting for a table, since it was raining outside, they bought in an extra table and chairs for us - happy days.

There were so many tasty choices on the menu which made it hard to decide, but since it was a freezing Melbourne morning, we decided to go with the Baked Beans $13 with poached egg $3. This isn't your typical Baked Beans as a side to some eggs. The Baked Beans are the hero here topped with a perfectly poached egg. The beans are big, smokey and delicious! Comfort food at it's best. They're served in a bowl, not on toast. You're not even served your standard sliced 'toast' here. You're giving a big chunk of delicious proper toasted bread, which is perfect for ripping apart and dipping into your beans and egg.

Drool.... drool... drool!

Bang! I have a new favourite cafe! If only it was closer to home. However, it's only a couple of blocks away from my girlfriend's house, so it looks like she might get her way and we'll be spending more nights at her house instead of mine. That way we can get up and have breakfast at the Little Ox.

I was however, a little disappointed by the lack of tea choices. They have your standard choices and nothing too exciting on there. Admittedly their English Breakfast was top notch, however, I'd love to see some Russian Caravan or French Earl Grey on their menu.
I'm predicting that you're going to be hearing a lot more about the Little Ox, it's a fantastic little place, the food is homely, produce driven and coffee is great (well, so Em' says - i don't drink the stuff). The staff are fantastic, friendly, fast, professional and of course beautiful.
So, not only do the people of Brighton get to drive fancy cars, live in big houses and have very healthy bank accounts, but they also get to enjoy one of the best cafes I've visited in Melbourne right around the corner from their house.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Angasi, Binalong Bay, Tasmania

The internet is a brilliant tool for lovers of good food, especially when on holidays. A recent holiday in Tasmania took us to a beautiful place called Binalong Bay on the North East coast. This is an area known for it's amazingly clear water and bright red/orange rocks in an area appropriately named Bay of Fires.
When searching the internet for somewhere to have dinner around Binalong Bay, the same name kept popping up, again and again- Angasi Restaurant.
Named after a type of oyster, Angasi is apparently one of the best places to eat in Tasmania. Well, so they say. A quick browse of their website, we noticed that they do breakfast as well as dinner. Considering it seemed quite pricey for dinner, we thought we'd check it out for breakfast and make sure it was up to scratch before lashing out the big bucks for dinner.

We sat out on the balcony, which has a simpy amazing view over Binalong Bay- probably one of the best views i've seen from a restaurant, ever! Even if the food is terrible, at least we had a nice view.

Em' and I both ordered the Angasi Breakky, which consists of eggs, bacon, tomato relish and sourdough - pretty standard breakfast fare. The meal itself was also very standard. The bread was toasted solid and difficult to chew, even with your back teeth! The poached eggs were stringy and average, the bacon was ok, but nothing special there. Nothing on the plate was inspiring me to come back for dinner, but we were still open minded about dinner.

That was until we heard a conversation between the waiter and a customer. There was a table of 3 girls and 3 guys, sitting just behind us. The guys all ordered fried eggs, the girls all ordered poached. The waiter served the 3 guys their scrambled eggs and 2 of the girls their poached eggs. He then spoke to the third girl who had not been served her breakfast - it went a little something like this:
Waiter: "Would you mind if your eggs were fried, instead of poached?"
Customer: "Why's that?"
Waiter: "The chef is just having trouble poaching your eggs, he keeps trying but they just won't poach. You know when the eggs JUST WON'T POACH? It's one of those days."
Customer: "Umm... Ok, I'll guess I'll just have fried eggs then.

The customer then waited another 10 minutes for her fried egg, while her other breakfast companions finished their meal. What the hell??? How can a chef not be able to poach an egg? Fair enough you might stuff up an egg or two, but you can get it right eventually. How can you just go back to a customer and tell them that the chef can't poach your eggs - yet he managed to poach the eggs for the other two customers on your table?? That is terrible!

Needless to say, after hearing that, we didn't go back for dinner. My recommendation- if you're in Binalong Bay, cook your own breakfast or head into St Helens to one of the cafes there.

Homemade Duck Bresaola

I've been getting into homemade cured meats and preserves of late. I was inspired by a Duck Prosciutto I had tried at Bottega in the city. I found a recipe by local chef Tobie Puttock online and thought I'd give it a go myself.

The whole process is really easy and just takes patience more than anything else.
If you're planning on following this recipe, I would recommend getting the meatiest duck breasts you can find, this will maximise the amount of finished product you get and it will also minimise the salt that the meat absorbs.

The recipe doesn't mention it, but when it comes time to hang the breasts, I would rinse off the mix and dry it with a paper towel, before hanging. Again, this is to minimise the salt absorbed by the meat.

As you may have worked out, my final product was quite salty, but still very edible. I would suggest maybe keeping them in the salt mix for a shorter amount of time. Maybe 2 or 3 days. However, my Duck Breasts were quite small, so if you get larger ones, it might be worth keeping them the full 4 days in the mix.

I served mine with some Blue Cheese, Sour Cherry Conserve, Crackers and Quince Paste. Yum!