The Kicciboo Tales, Chapter 1
A Week In Melbourne
I recently had a foodie friend visit from Singapore. Let’s call him kicci. Together, we covered heaps of Melbourne eateries within a week.
I’ve decided to put all of them into a chronological whirlwind of a compilation post, split into two parts. I will blog this first half, and kicci will guest blog the second half at a later date. So you get to see Melbourne’s food scene through different eyes. First through mine (as the host), then through kicci’s (as a visitor).
I don’t intend these write-ups to be as comprehensive as my “bread and butter” blog posts, hence the playful name ‘The Kicciboo Tales’.
“the opening bid” two poached free-range eggs on sourdough toast 9 (add avocado 4.5 + kaiserfleisch 4.5)
el salvador magic 3.5
We started our week-long food expedition on a Sunday. I thought taking kicci to this ‘giant’ in the brunch industry would be a good start.
As predicted, food and coffees were good (although I thought they could be more adventurous with the beans). Kicci liked his constructed brunch dish, and he was pleased to note that the avocado was served with a squeeze of lime, not lemon. The poached eggs, however, were overcooked.
maple-glazed kaiserfleisch served with grilled sourdough & poached eggs in a white onion soup 18
candyman piccolo 3.5
I went adventurous with a dish where standard brunch ingredients sat swimming in a creamy onion soup. And guess what? For winter, this concept worked! The kaiserfleisch was like a slab of maple-glazed pork belly with the flavour of bacon, and they so generously gave TWO slabs, of which I donated one to kicci.
My eggs were perfectly poached and when broken, the liquid yolk and the onion soup made for a surprisingly delicious and decadent combination.
I think kicci was pretty satisfied here, overcooked eggs notwithstanding. Truth be told, I’ve been to Auction Rooms several times now but have no clue why I have not blogged it properly. The café has expanded their hours to serve lunch, tea and dinners too. I plan to try their dinner menu sometime and maybe blog that as an individual post.
L’atelier by Monsieur Truffe
531 Brunswick St
03 9380 4915
I next brought kicci here for hot chocolate, mainly because I wanted to impress him first with the café’s bold-yet-mysterious, unmarked entrance…
… only to be further ‘wowed’ by its dream-like, whimsical and colourful interior!
And such a busy café it was that Sunday morning. The interior looked like part gutted-out warehouse, part Willy Wonka-esque chocolate factory and part Chinese bamboo forest… it oozes a slightly bewildering, magical feel.
So did my cunning plan to impress kicci work? Haha.. I don’t know, he just said nothing. But either way, we were ushered into corner seats to read the menu and choose our drinks.
Red Choc Mint $4.00
A rich, creamy and luxurious blend of fermented Rooibos combined with cacao beans and peppermint
After that crazy-rich onion soup with kaiserfleisch and eggs at Auction Rooms, I became a granny here and got myself tea. Yes… I ordered tea in a café specialising in chocolates, ha ha! The decorative floral pot and cup seemed to add on to the mockery.
But it was a nice, mellow drink with hints of mint candy, spice and bark… and a very nice cocoa earthiness.
65% Brazil Hot Chocolate $5.40
Fortunately, kicci had space for hot chocolate. Monsieur Truffe has many blends and single origin chocolate drinks on offer. But on previous visits, I found the 85% African blend too strong even for me (…and I normally like my chocolates dark). So this time, I’m glad kicci chose sensibly with a Brazilian 65% hot chocolate.
Delicious! I could taste deeply earthy notes and a slightly floral flavour reminiscent of hibiscus. Sipping kicci’s drink reminded me of how I can pull apart tasting notes in coffees, only now it’s with chocolate!
Kicci did not comment on this drink, so I’m not sure whether he liked it as much as I did.
While were were having our drinks, kicci started playing with (and loving) my dSLR. Hence the copious amounts of photos for this café.
I seem to only visit Monsieur Truffe for their sweets and chocolates. But they also have a handsome-looking brunch menu, and I spied yummy looking dishes arriving at neighbouring tables. I’m keen on coming back for a proper brunch visit, complete with delicious hot chocolates, and take home bars of single estate chocolates!
Update: I revisited in Dec 2012, read here to check out L’atelier’s delicious brunch fare.
Yarra Valley Truffle Degustation
Our first day of eating ended with a very nice 5-course Truffle Degustation in Yarra Valley, organised by Fringe Food Festival. Pictured above, a monstrously big 310g truffle harvested in Yarra Valley this winter. I’ve already published a blog post about this dinner, and you can enjoy it here.
Pacific Seafood BBQ House
8 / 240 Victoria St
Richmond, VIC 3121
03 9427 8225
Half Roast Duck
The next day, I met up with kicci after work and we feasted on Chinese comfort food. We ignored the fact that it’s also a seafood place and zoomed right into the the roast dishes.
I’d previously boycotted Pacific House and all its branches because of an incident with a waiter in the Toorak branch 4 years ago. He was unimaginably, incredibly rude to my dad. A Chinese person should never be rude to their elders.
However, my chosen alternative (BBQ House a few doors down) was closed on Monday night. So we had no choice.
Mix Roast Two Kinds (BBQ Pork, Soya Sauce Chicken) | Spicy Eggplant With Pork
All that said, this meal was very good. No matter how much fancy, expensive food I eat, I will always find myself coming back and loving simple Chinese food more than anything else. This meal totally hit the spot.
And service was acceptable during that meal, so I think I’ll lift my 4-year boycott against Pacific House. Anyway, that roast duck was too shiok shiok shiok (Singlish: uh-maa-ziiing) delicious to miss out on any further, even if it’s just out of principle.
323 Lennox Street
Richmond, VIC 3121
03 9428 0000
Tuesday’s my rostered off day, that only meant one thing: a whole day of eating! I vetoed all of kicci’s brunch wishlist places that morning so that we could explore this recently opened café in Richmond with Fakegf and Kelly.
Cheerio is a cosy little operation with a small menu and cute fittings. I liked the patterned floor tiles in particular.
They use Seven Seeds beans here. For piccolos, I thought they were a little bit milky and could afford to be stronger.
porridge, roasted rhubarb, raspberry, toasted macadamia nuts, b/sugar 9.5
toasted briont (brioche + croissant) with house made lemon curd / jam 7.5
The girls went for the lighter brunch choices, of course. Fakegf thought her porridge tasted light and good, no complaints there. Kelly thought her briont would’ve been more enjoyable if butter was served alongside with the other spreads. The lemon curd was delightfully sharp, that amount of tang would’ve tasted marvellous in a lemon tart.
pancetta, winter greens, poached eggs, hollandaise w toast 15.00
A blog travesty was committed here… kicci and I ordered the same dish!
Haha… I’m kidding. These days I don’t care as much what my companions order, as long as we order things that we know we will enjoy.
We both agreed that this was a surprisingly heavy brunch dish. Even the bread used was quite dense. I was amused to see kicci struggling, he said “it feels like I’m eating creamed spinach”. I guess the hollandaise sauce served was intended as a tangy counterpoint, but that wasn’t enough to lighten the dish.
So kicci had a taste of how Tuesday mornings are normally like with me and Fakegf, discovering new and different cafés all across Melbourne.
Dead Man Espresso
I can’t remember how it happened, but a few hours later, kicci and I found ourselves in South Melbourne, where a second brunch happened! So much for a heavy, creamy earlier breakfast holding our bellies at bay…
One thing about me, I try to limit myself to one coffee a day. But if I’m at a reliably good coffee place, I WILL order a coffee. That day, I tried for the first time, a long macchiato. It tasted like a pour-over with a spoonful of milk added. Not creamy enough for sure, but because it was a Market Lane guest blend, I still enjoyed the flavour profile in the drink.
BLT – pork belly & spinach puree on brioche w side of gazpacho 16.5
From his research, kicci figured that Dead Man’s pork belly sandwich is a food pilgrimage that Melbourne visitors (of carnivorous ilk) shouldn’t miss. And this picture says it all, it was amazing! Pork belly is all the rage in Melbourne currently, but of all the variants kicci has had during this entire trip, Dead Man’s pork belly sandwich wins hands down.
He mentioned that the brioche bread’s fluffiness, along with the green spinach puree and piquant-spicy gazpacho very effectively cuts out the richness of the dish, making it wonderfully light and delicious.
Rockpool Bar & Grill
We paid Rockpool a visit Tuesday evening to try their steaks and charcuterie meats. Since kicci is more knowledgeable about steaks and cured meats than myself, I’ve convinced him to guest post for Rockpool. It has been published and you can enjoy it here. And let it be known that, expensive as the place is, it was a flawless meal.
197 Smith St
Collingwood, VIC 3066
03 9417 2438
Over here, you assemble the peking duck rolls yourself, choosing which cuts of meat and how much condiments you want. I folded my rolls so neatly here for photography, but you should’ve seen the way kicci hastily scrunched up his rolls and gobbled them down, it was like watching an impatient gorilla eat!
The Peking Duck here is roasted to the point of almost looking like it’s been deep fried. And unlike those typical elegant Chinese restaurants serving Peking duck, you get a lot of duck meat with the skin. giving you a much juicier and robust, fleshier mouthful. The meal satisfied kicci’s carnivorous palate perfectly, he gave it 10/10.
Old Kingdom’s Peking Duck comes as three courses…
Course two consists of an umami-laden bean sprout stir-fried with duck meat dish, normally eaten with steamed rice ($1.80 per person). And course three is a simple salted vegetable with tofu and duck bone soup. A nice way to cleanse out the oils.
For $55 per duck, you get all three courses. You call and book in advance, advising how many ducks you want. Two persons can finish off a whole duck easily. You don’t even have to order any of the supporting dishes in the menu.
Aaah… we seriously wreaked maximum duck carnage that evening. The tabletop was so dirty after we were done. :D
This dessert visit marked the end of this chapter of ‘The Kicciboo Tales’, as chronicled by me. Kicci wanted ice creams after Old Kingdom, so I took him here for Patagonian jaujas. That’s my 80% chocolate in a cone, and his hazelnut flavour is in the cup. He liked it so much he bought a takeaway tub back home.
You may also want to read Chapter Two of The Kicciboo Tales.