Tag Archives: review

Review: Making Caramels at Savour Patisserie School

Having totally failed to review the last Savour School course I went to (which is a crying shame, because it was the Decadent Chocolate Biscuits course and it was *amazing* and I loved every minute of it), I thought I’d better make a point of writing about the Caramels course I went to yesterday before I forgot about it.  (My life is such that I currently have five half-written posts on various topics that I haven’t managed to find time to finish – let’s hope that this one doesn’t get added to the list).

I’ve wanted to do a proper caramels course for a while, to get a bit of theory rather than playing around blindly with all my non-dairy milks, but also just because I love caramels.

And this is good, because I now have a lot of caramels.  Oh yes, I do…

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There was actually another entire box of assorted wrapped caramels, but we had dinner guests last night, and dessert was caramels, and then we sent them home with more caramels, so this doesn’t even represent all the dozens and perhaps even hundreds of caramels I brought home after class yesterday.

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Review: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Rather Long Chocolate Review

I have never seen so much chocolate in the same place in my life.  In fact, I may never have seen that much chocolate over my entire life to date, though this is harder to judge.

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When Hannah first started talking about chocolates from the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie a few months ago, I was intrigued.  For one thing, the flavours sounded fascinating.  For another thing, I’ve never been to a chocolaterie before.  And for a third thing… didn’t my former chiropractor move to the Yarra Valley and start a chocolate business?

Yes, yes he did.  (Hi Paul!)

The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie is a really gorgeous space in a really gorgeous location.  It’s situated in Yarra Glen, which seems to be a bit of winery area in the Yarra Valley, and they are working on growing more of their ingredients, so there is a budding orchard on the long hill leading down to the dam.

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Review: Mule Café

One of the pleasures of this time of year is getting to catch up with friends who normally live overseas but are in town to visit family for Christmas.  My friend K is currently working and studying in Japan, and was staying in Parkville for a few days.  She’s vegetarian, so I suggested we go to Mule Café and then have a wander up Sydney Road, which has gone very veg-friendly in the five or so years since she left Melbourne.

Mule Café has been around for about three years, but I’ve only discovered it in the last month or two. It’s a small, quiet sort of brunch place, with a courtyard out the back, and a standard sort of cafe set up at the front.  The menu is excellent – I am going to have to overcome my tendency to fixate on one thing I like and actually work my way through it, because it is full of fascinating combinations that take your standard brunch dishes and give them a lovely twist.   It’s so appealing that I very nearly ordered a tofu dish today, something I have never done before and would not have imagined I would want to do…

In fact, I am hereby proclaiming that next time I go there, I  *will* have the corn and sweet potato cakes with guacamole and salsa and poached egg, and that the time after that, it will be cajun tofu and no excuses.

But I digress.  Monday’s choice was the potato and pumpkin rösti with poached egg, grilled tomato, beetroot relish and zucchini, coriander and feta salad.

I mean, can’t you just about taste the colour and freshness just from reading that sentence?  This is why I keep ordering the same dish when I go there.  It’s irresistible.  The potato and pumpkin rösti is fairly plain, but the beetroot relish is earthy and sweet, the egg is perfectly poached so that the yolk runs all over everything when you pierce it, and the zucchini and feta salad is fresh and light and gorgeous.  It’s pretty much the perfect breakfast.

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My friend ordered the french toast with poached pears, walnuts and mascarpone, and that was pretty amazing, too.  The french toast tasted like a really good pancake, the pear was boozy and the mascarpone and walnuts were the perfect complement.  Also, it was gorgeous to look at.

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In terms of the menu overall, it’s very veg-friendly – I wasn’t analysing, but I’d say it was at least 2/3 vegetarian, and there were a fair number of vegan options.  There were a lot of gluten-free dishes, too – definitely a café which is aware of these dietary requirements.  It’s also pretty inexpensive – we had two meals, a fresh orange juice and coffee, and got change from $40.

I also want to comment particularly on the customer service, which has been exceptional every time I’ve been there.  The staff are very friendly and helpful – the first time I went there, I was in a rush, and they let me know which dishes could be served up most quickly, and got me fed and back out the door within about twenty minutes.  The second time I went there, there was a mix-up with my order (due to two similar items being on the menu), and they had no more roesti left; the chef came out, apologised, and asked what he could do, and when I explained that I don’t eat bacon and was really after the salsa and salad, I wound up with a meal that had all the best elements of both menu items.  And then they gave me my drink for free and charged me for the cheaper of the two items.

I actually felt quite guilty, because it seemed to me that I’d ended up with, in fact, the meal I would have liked to order if only it had been on the menu, and yet they were apologising to me… And the thing is, mistakes happen.  That’s just a fact of life.  But making your mistake into something better than the original is pretty impressive, if you ask me.

Mule Cafe
146 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC 3056
Tel: 9388 8933
Visit their Facebook page

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Two years ago: Recipe: Baked Ricotta
One year ago: 2013 in Review

The Deli, Coburg, or why I can’t be trusted alone in a gourmet food shop

It all started so innocently.  I thought it would be nice to get some good pasta, and maybe some spicy sausage for carbonara.

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The rigatone and orecchiete were, of course, sensible pasta options, and I can never resist giant shells when I see them, because you can’t get those at the supermarket.  And really, giant squid ink pasta tubes are an *invitation*, don’t you think?  Already I find myself dreaming of inside-out tuna casserole.

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Review: German Cookie Baking and Decorating at Gewürzhaus

And auf Deutsch, too. *And* I could mostly understand it!

Let’s just start by saying that this was a whole world of fun, and that if you speak some German and like spiced cookies and mulled wine, you should definitely plan to attend the course when it comes back in November or December this year.  And if you like spiced cookies but don’t speak any German, give the English language version a try, because the cookies are delicious and Ina is lovely.  Also, you should just go to Gewürzhaus, course or no course, because their spices are *amazing*.

Having said that, though, I do recommend the German conversation course if you’ve ever studied German, even if your German is patchy and out of practice, because I think you’ll be surprised by how much you can understand and follow.  I’ve hardly spoken German since high school twenty years ago, and was never remotely fluent, and I understood enough to have a ball.  True, I was uncharacteristically quiet, it being easier to listen than to form a useful sentence which had actual German words in it (my grammar, oddly, has stayed – my vocabulary, not so much), but I did manage to ask questions about the things I wanted to know, and even understand the answers.  Ina was very good about stopping periodically to make sure people could understand her, and I’d say that while half the class had German as a first language, the rest of us were definitely out of practice German speakers, there to brush up on some language skills while eating cookies.

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Review: McGee on Food and Cooking

My copy of McGee on Food and Cooking arrived yesterday.

It was, as I had understood, the revised version.  Indeed, it is quite heavily revised, because a lot of things changed in the 20 years between 1984 and 2004.  The new version is very useful.  It has entire sets of ingredients that weren’t mentioned in the original.  One of these ingredients is agar agar, so you’d think I’d be very happy.

And I am, sort of.  This book is very well-organised and, I suspect, of a lot more practical use than the 1984 version.  I’m sure I’ll find it very handy.  But just at the moment, I’m a little bit disappointed.

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Review: Wild Sourdough: The Natural Way to Bake, by Yoke Mardewi

As I type this, my sourdough starter has been living with me for eight days, and it is not dead yet!  On the contrary, it’s sitting on a bench in the kitchen, looking hopeful, because tomorrow is baking day.  I fed it just a few minutes ago, and it really likes that – as soon as the water hits it, you start getting big yeasty bubbles, which subside a bit once you mix all the flour in, but come back with enthusiasm over the next eight hours or so.  This will be its third outing, and its fate on this occasion is a fruit bread – so far, it has featured in an orange, fennel and currant bread, a rye and spelt casalinga, and a sourdough chocolate cake.

It’s a great starter, full of flavour and vigour, and it makes tasty, well-textured bread.  I would recommend Mardewi’s starter to anyone in Australia who is thinking of adopting a sourdough culture – not only is it good in its own right, but she takes great care to ensure that it arrives in good condition, and with a couple of backups in case anything goes wrong.  In short, it’s an excellent product.

Her book, however, leaves me feeling a bit more ambivalent.

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