Dining

Lunch at the Collective Espresso, Camberwell

When you go a 2 hour round trip just to go to a cafe, and you do that twice within the last 2 months the place must be pretty special.

The below review is over our last two visits, with the most recent one last Saturday!

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This is exactly how I feel about Collective Espresso in Camberwell!

The Cafe is the perfect size, nice and cosy but with an outdoor area for your pooch. It is opposite Camberwell Train Station so easy to get too, plus it has plenty of street-parking.

The BAM ($7.50) was the perfect way to start the meal, and especially after my morning hike.

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The BAM is a Blueberry, Apple & Mint Slushie – so good! This is going to be so refreshing come summer – the perfect way to cool down.

While Collective Espresso is serving up delicious coffee from Undercover Roasters, the team in the kitchen are creating and making some absolutely amazing dishes.

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Quite possibly the most Instagram worthy food photo around, the Gravity Waffles ($18.50) are extremely popular. You can see why, how cool is this! I wasn’t kidding when I said the team in the kitchen were creative.

The Gravity Waffles  come with vanilla and white chocolate, whipped cream, kiwi fruit, strawberries, salted caramel & popcorn.

The waffles were a great size and I love the fruit component, I would have loved a little more syrup however.

I was feeling like something substantial so ordered the Sweetcorn & Zucchini Fritters ($19) and added a side of Salmon ($5). I was so happy I did as the whole meal was so tasty and well put together!

The Sweetcorn & Zucchini Fritters were made with sweetcorn, cumin seed & zucchini. It was served with a poached egg, whipped goats cheese, lemongrass & tomato chutney. The Fritters were quite fluffy, and full of flavour, I was hoping for more whipped goats cheese as it was more a smear to hold the fritter in place – I certainly savoured what I did have though – yum!

I love how softshell crab is finding its way into brunch dishes. What a better pair than crispy soft-shell crab and Mac n Cheese – oh lordy, I was in heaven!

The Crumbed Mac & Cheese with Crispy Crab ($18.50) is one of those dishes you eat slowly, so you can fully appreciate the flavours. The tempura soft-shell crab is beautifully presented on a Mac & cheese croquette with, green cheese sauce & ranch dressing.

It was so satisfying – I’ll be having this again for sure!

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Last but not least, the burger to end all burgers. The Double. Does it even need an introduction – ha! You can maximise the cheesy goodness of The Double ($20) by making it a Beast ($5) which includes double beef, double cheese, double pickles, bacon, lettuce, a Mac & Cheese croquette & fried egg on a brioche bun. It is served with shoestring fries, relish and trufflenaise (go just for this, it is so yum!).

Yup, it’s a beast of a burger!

If you love creative food, and love taking pictures of your food (let’s be honest we all do ha!) then pop Collective Espresso on your must-try list.

A big thank you to Collective Espresso for inviting us both back (@chefjordanbird). We thoroughly enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Renee
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Dining

Lunch at Sault Daylesford

Daylesford is one of my favourite places in Victoria, I love the town that is always bustling but still maintains the small-town charm.

Two weekend’s ago, we returned to Sault Daylesford after dining there nearly two years ago when Chef Santiago Fernandez was in residence.

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Sault is located on the most beautiful properties with Lavender bushes scattered with a path leading to a stunning chapel overlooking the lake.

The restaurant itself, is a charming cottage and as you enter you are welcomed by a delightful fire and seating before you turn to your left and the big windows overlooking the property catch your eye.

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By coincidence we were seated at exactly the same table we sat at previously, which worked for me as I wanted that brilliant natural light for my photos.

I had emailed several days in advance to request seating by the window however didn’t hear back.

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We decided to have the Winter 2018 7 course tasting menu for $110 per person with the optional cheese course which was an additional $10 per person.

Freshly baked bread was swiftly delivered to the table and was served with the most delicious ricotta butter. I think one of my favourite things about eating in a fine dining restaurant is the butter. I never normally eat this at home so love having it as a little treat when out.

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First – Heirloom beetroot, Holy Goat piccolo cheese, basil, Pedro Ximènez glaze

This was a stand out dish that excited me for what was to come. The cheese had a different texture to it but once you cut through it, the delicious creamy Holy Goat piccolo cheese was utterly dreamy.

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Second – Cured Kingfish, finger lime, wild rice, truffle, lemon

The Cured Kingfish was a standout, I loved the generous serving size and the use of the finger lime as the citrus. Those little bursts of tart were heaven. Unfortunately, I could taste the truffle at all.

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Third – Trout, potato crisps, fennel ketchup, nasturtium berry, leaves

The trout was cooked to perfection and melted in my mouth. The crispness of the potato matched the dish perfectly. I found the flavours subtle which was perfect as the trout really was able to shine.

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Fourth – Quail breast, pancetta-wrapped quail leg, sprouts, black barley, quail egg, pickled walnut, quince aioli

I found this dish delicious but very common. Most fine dining places do something similar with quail, and while it’s not the easiest to work with I’d love to have seen a little more creativity. The black barley was a good choice to add some texture to the dish.

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Fifth – 48 day house-aged beef sirloin (served medium rare, peak whiskey mustard, baby onions, beef jus

Another great serving size, the beef melted in my mouth. The beef jus it was served with was flavoursome and the peat whisky mustard was perfect. Sometimes the dish can be simple, and in this instance simplicity was all that was needed.

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Optional Cheese Course – Fromage d’Affinois, caramelised onion and bee pollen ice-cream, Waldorf garnish

I’d be lying if told you I didn’t order this because of the reference to bee pollen. One of my favourite dishes I ever had was at Marque in Surry Hills, Sydney. It was so simple with honeycomb and I thought maybe this would be similar – I don’t know why ha!
This was something else though, I loved the caramelised onion and bee pollen ice-cream, savoury yet sweet and went perfectly with the Fromage d’Affinois.

The Waldorf garnish was cute too – I liked how they did that!

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Sixth – Granny Smith apple sorbet, poached rhubarb

Classic flavours that work perfectly together to cleanse the palette and prepare you for what will undoubtedly be a rich chocolate dessert. The sorbet wasn’t too tart which was great and the rhubarb had a great amount of sweetness to it.

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Seventh – Chocolate, white rum ganache, chocolate coffee crumb, poached pear

This was an extremely decadent dish which unfortunately I couldn’t finish – purely because I’m not a big lover of chocolate desserts (however my Husband loves this!). I really enjoyed the chocolate coffee crumb, a great technique was used here and it tasted great. Peat was a great choice to help break through the sweetness of the chocolate and white rum.

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No petit fours were served which was disappointing however it didn’t put a dampener on the meal.

What I love most about Sault is that you never leave hungry. Serving sizes are generous and I find the menu affordable for such great food.

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After lunch we took a stroll around the property to walk off lunch, it is incredibly relaxing to be surrounded by such beauty and fresh air.

You can find more about Sault, including menus here.

If you are in Daylesford, Sault is where you should dine at. I’d happily go back in a heartbeat, I’m serious – put this on your list of must do’s.

Renee
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Food Photography, Recipes

Chilli Crab with Squid Ink Linguine

I absolutely love seafood and carbs. Hands down, they both rock my world. I was walking through South Melbourne Market and spotted some amazing looking Squid Ink Linguine from The Fresh Pasta Shop.

My mind started ticking, what would be perfect with this dish?

After some serious deliberation with my Husband we decided that chilli crab would go well with it, especially with a little heat from the chilli on these cold Melbourne nights.

We also picked up a yabbie, because I thought it would look good on the plate – I’d never actually tried yabbie.

Ingredients, serves 2

  • 2 serves of Squid Ink Linguine, ours is from The Fresh Pasta Shop at South Melbourne Market
  • 2 long red chilli
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • Meat of 2 Blue Swimmer Crabs
  • Grampians Olive Co Chilli Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Method

  • Dice onion, garlic and chilli separately
  • Bring two pots of salted water to boil
  • Place the crab and yabbie into boiling water, cook the yabbie for 10 minutes and the crab for 15 minutes.
  • Once cooked, place the crab and yabbie into an ice bath to stop the cooking process
  • When the crab has cooled, pick the meat and discard shells
  • Place Squid Ink Linguine in the second pot of water and cook for 7 minutes or until ‘al dente’
  • Heat oil in a pan and saute off onion and garlic.
  • Add chilli and the crab meat to the pan and mix well. Add additional Extra Virgin Olive to create a sauce
  • Once the pasta is ready add to the sauce, zest a lemon and add chopped dill.
  • Add some of the pasta pot liquid to the pan to help emulsify the sauce
  • Plate to create height and use the yabbie to garnish.

What you will create will be sure to wow your guests, we served this dish on a light blue bowl which made the Linguine and the yabbie pop!

Anything else you would recommend for this dish?

Enjoy!

Renee

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