Cherries and inappropriate watermelon*

(* We had summery fruits at the end, namely cherries and watermelon. We’re good at sculpturing body parts out of watermelon–with a spoon. Most of them looked like ovaries or eyeballs.)

First of all, happy birthday! You know who you are. If it happens to be your birthday too, happy birthday to you too.
Secondly, mexican food is on the agenda and has been for a while. This post will be very much like this post, with copious amounts of food photos. I’ll warn you now it’s not purist mexican, but it is damned tasty and closer to mexican food than most ‘mexican’ restaurants in Melbourne. Most things are kind of mexican?

On the menu:

  • Tortillas
  • Cornbread
  • Mashed avocado
  • Black beans (frijoles negros)
  • Coleslaw
  • Green chilli
  • Pulled pork
  • Pork crackling
  • Spicy cumin prawns
  • Salsa verde
  • Skirt steak
  • Tomato salad
  • Fetta cheese made from goats milk
  • Cherries
  • Watermelon

Table full of food/ Always more dishes than space/ The best table size

There’s a lot to get through. Hope you’re feeling hungry.

TORTILLA

Straight from a packet/ Vehicle for mexican/ Better when heated

CORNBREAD

Corn meal in bread form/ Good with stewed black beans/ Or in buttermilk

While corn is one of staples in Mexico, cornbread is not a mexican food. However, it is an important part of soul food in the southern states of the US. I find cornbread a tad dry and plain to have by itself, but it is very good with mashed avocado or beans.

MASHED AVOCADO

Mashed avocado/ Basis of guacamole/ Good in sandwiches


A bowl of mashed avocado with some chunks for texture. Though, if you did want guacamole, you all had to do was eat it with tomato salad.

BLACK BEANS/ FRIJOLES NEGROS

New fav'rite bean dish/ Rich in folate and iron/ As well as protein


Black beans (phaseolus vulgaris) in a tomato based sauce. In addition to being nutritious (lots of folate), it is also delicious. It’s slightly sweet from the tomato, a bit acidic from tomato and a bit of vinegar and naturally savoury since it’s a bean. In no way is it bland. This can be a meal on its own. It was particularly good in a soft taco with pulled pork, mashed avocado and tomato salad.

COLESLAW

Not your average slaw/ It does not swim in dressing/ Still tastes like cabbage

While coleslaw isn’t mexican, there is a similar dish called ‘curtido’. According to wikipedia, it is a “type of cabbage relish, lightly fermented. … In Mexican cuisine, curtido consists mainly of pickled carrots mixed with onions and chile [sic] peppers” (as an addition to pickled cabbage).
This coleslaw has cabbage, carrot, red onion and red capsicum, lightly dressed with homemade mayonnaise. It is sour, but not quite pickled.

GREEN CHILLI

For those chilli buffs/ For more burning sensation/ Complete with the seeds

Not a dish on its own, but a condiment. I enjoy filling up these posts with pictures.

PULLED PORK

Ingredient list/ Spices, oil and good salt/ Pig not pictured here

First, obtain your pig. Season with powdered corriander seed, cumin seed, chilli flakes and a cinnamon quill. Olive oil, and some salt. Add some water too.
The water is what separates this dish from other roast pork dishes. It will make the meat more tender (increased moisture content, but not so much that it boils the pork) and increases the crunchiness of the surfaces. The same trick is used for french baguettes for the characteristic crust.

It has a name: Pig./ But not 'Some Pig', that'd be sad/ Charlotte's Web ref'rence

Pulled pork for the win/ 'Pulled' meats are generally good/Sign of tenderness

The result is roasted pork so tender that its meaty fibres are easily prised apart with a fork.

PORK CRACKLING

Well-salted crackling/ Crisp, buttery and salty/ Waste no part of Pig

Pork crackling needs good salt. Preferably salt flakes. Salt flakes sound fancy, but it does yield a much superior result when making pork crackling. It tastes different too. For me, sea flakes are essential for two things. Pork crackling and sea salt caramels.
Pork crackling was great with pulled pork, or just by themselves. It was so good that the room fell quiet and not a peep could be heard… ‘cept for the -crunch!- of pork crackling.

SPICY CUMIN PRAWNS

Marinade and prawns/ Leave in fridge to absorb stuff/ The worst waiting game

Get your prawns and de-vein them. It’s not the most glamorous job in the world, but it’s well worth it. Marinate with olive oil, salt, juice of  lemon, juice of  lime, red chilli (however much you want) and cumin seeds. Let it sit and soak in delicious marinade for at least 30 minutes.

End of waiting game/ Soon, there will be chilli prawns/ Always a winner

Heat up your pan, and put all the prawns and marinade in. Let them sizzle, let delicious smells waft through your window, and earn well-deserved food envy from your neighbours.

Hey, is it a bird?/Not a plane, not bowl, nor plate/ A measuring cup

We didn’t have any bowls, so a measuring cup will do.

SALSA VERDE

Spicy green chillis/ Finely diced green capsicum/ Don't confuse the two

Green salsa is green/ No surprise, made from green things/ Add ALL the green things

Green salsa was made with canned tomatillos (never seen a fresh one, and the canned ones were disappointingly mushy), but tomatilos can be substituted with green tomatoes. We used raw canned tomatilloes and 2 green chillis. We also used a food processer. Salse verde is good with pulled pork, and prawns. Looks like it’ll be good as a dip too, like regular salsa.

SKIRT STEAK WITH CHILLI AND LIME

Big chunks of skirt steak/ Simple, flavoursome beef steak/ How can it go wrong?

I don’t even know where this came from. (presumably from a cow) One minute there wasn’t a steak to be seen marinating, or grilling or frying up in a pan, the next there was a steak being carved up. Steak well rested, and served medium.

TOMATO SALAD

It is near Summer/ Time for tomato salad/ Wish I had some now

Plain and simple. Good tomatoes, red onion (invisible in photo. They are sitting on the bottom) and parsley. Something to freshen up your palate after spicy food and meats.

Here’s a folded taco. Don’t fold them to make a ‘double taco’, the fold will just rip and be messy to eat. It contains pulled pork, pork crackling, mashed avocado, black beans and tomato salad. There is some coleslaw and tomato salad in the background.

Too much stuff inside/ There is only one problem/ Taco won't stay closed

An artists' palette/ Colours to mix together/ Where 'colours' is food

Here’s a plated up version of different things (Taco deconstructed?).
Back row (left to right): Coleslaw, tomato salad
Middle row (left to right): Whole prawn, half-eaten prawn, frijoles negros, mashed avocado
Front row: Goats fetta, skirt steak

Absent: Tortilla, cornbread, salsa verde, pulled pork, pork crackling, sliced green chilli

CHERRIES

Cherries are pretty/ Yet another summer fruit/ Best washed and served plain


WATERMELON

Watermelon face/ Addition to carrot face/ Faces everywhere


Some people see a watermelon. Some see a face too. Others see it crying tears of juice (and seeds).

Enjoy. (Recipes will be up when I get them. Most items above are just about preparation and adding enough spices as desired, but some dishes don’t have an obvious ingredients list.)

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Vons

Name: Vons
Location: 78 Hardware Ln. Melbourne, VIC 3000
Prices: $25-35 Main, but $18.90 express lunch special
Cost rating: 3/5 for lunch special
Taste rating: 8/10 lunch specials
Overall rating: 8/10

Shiny red letters/ Captivates my love of red/ As well as shiny

We found Vons at roughly 3pm, still looking for a place to eat lunch. There will be 2 instances of eating at Vons, but condensed into one post. The second time we ate at Vons, it was at roughly 3:30pm. Luckily, Vons still did lunch specials at that time. The lunch special if $18.90, and includes a choice of 2 items from a condensed menu divided into entrees, mains and desserts.

LEMONADE, LEMON & LIME BITTERS

Your standard out-of-a-bottle Lemon & Lime Bitters, in a glass with some ice. Also, a straw.

PASTA MEDITERREAN
Taste: 7/10
Would I order this again? No.

Tomato pasta/ Does not contain crustaceans/ Only green olives

It does look good. But it is a bit bland. Or let’s call it simple seeing as it is a vegetarian pasta with a few ingredients in it. Some days I do feel like a simple pasta, and this would have been great for one of those days. The olives help break up the otherwise droll pasta sauce. Delicious piquant salty olives. But for most of the time, it would be too plain. I suppose you could crack some salt over it too.

LAMB SHANK
Taste: 8/10
Would I order this again? No.


Lamb shanks should be falling-off-the-bone and flavoursome. The meat was tender and fell off the bone along the natural grain of the shank, but unfortunately it needs more flavour. It could have done with some bay leaves, or something to bring it up to something flavoursome/delicious. The tomatoes were savoury, and delicious, which is why I was disappointed with the shank. If only the shank was as good as the tomatoes. There’s also mash, which I found to be dry but I expected that. It’s not a bad dish, but I have been spoilt for shanks. (Shanks slowcooked for a day, anyone?)

CHOCOLATE TART
Taste: 7/10
Would I order it again? No.


I was expecting a dense, baked chocolate tart, not a pastry shell filled with chocolate mousse. But that can be tasty too. Pastry shell is buttery and short, chocolate mouuse is cold with a mild chocolate taste, topped off with fresh strawberry and a sprig of mint. For some, this could be great. I have a thing against cold mousse-like textures in pastry, including fridge-set cheesecake or  fridge-set biscuit base. To me pastries should be hot, or at least warm.

CREME BRULEE
Taste: 10/10
Would I order this again? Yes


Creme brulee is where it’s at. A real custard, with a thin sugar crust that audible cracks when tapped with a spoon, with a bit of berry potage on top. Magic.

Vons Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Cafe Greco South Yarra

Name: Cafe Greco South Yarra
Location: 560 Chapel St. South Yarra, VIC 3141
Prices: Mains $15-25, $9 desserts, $10 lunch special
Cost rating: 2/5 for non-lunch special, 4/5 for lunch special
Taste rating: 6.5/10
Overall rating: 6.5/10

We ordered two of the lunch specials and a dessert to share. Fairly average fare for mains, but for $10 it isn’t bad compared to other prices in the area. The dessert was delicious though! There have been some bad reviews for their desserts, but I liked the galaktoburiko.

Vegetarian pizza ($10)
Taste:6/10
Would I order it again? No.

Vegetarian/ Disappointing when it's bland/ Awesome when it's not

In hindsight, ordering a vegetarian pizza in a greek eatery was a silly idea. There is tomato, eggplant, zucchini, mushroom, basil and cheese. The topping is fine, but nothing special. The base is a let-down. Instead of being crispy, light, with the right amount of chewiness, the thin crust pizza was slightly soggy, dense and stale-tasting.

Meatball napoli pasta — entree size ($10)
Taste: 7/10
Would I order it again? Yes

Storybook pasta/ Giant meatballs and red sauce/ Shaved parmesan

Pasta sauce is thick and tomato-y without being watery or too acidic. Generous portion of meatballs, predominantly flavoured with garlic and cummin. If this is entree size, I imagine the ‘mains’ size to be roughly the size of a wash basin. Afterall, this is a greek place, so a wash basin may not be an exaggeration.

Galaktoburiko ($9)
Taste: 9/10
Would I order it again? Yes.


Galaktoburiko is a Greek dessert, usually served warm (and preferably with icecream). It is a custardy pastry with puff pastry at the bottom and top, and doused liberally with honeyed syrup. I like it a lot. It reminds me of baklava, which is a dessert without custardy centre but a mix of pastry and nuts soaked in honey. I can never get through a portion of baklava because it is so rich. Make no mistake, galaktoburiko is also rich but there’s respite in the creamy custardy centre. Yummy.

 

Café Greco South Yarra on Urbanspoon