Saturday, 31 October 2015

My crazy, insane, crazy, psychotic chicken experience.

Crazy Wing. It's been on my 'to do' list for a long time. I finally had the opportunity to head back there for lunch by myself, and seized it with both hands.

Last time I went there it was with the Khocolateman and a few friends. We can all hack the spice pretty well but it challenged even us, and the guys at the table next to us were reduced to heavily sweating, asthma suffering wrecks by the end of theirs. I wasn't going to make the same mistake they did, and ordered a soy milk and a coconut milk before I ordered my chicken.

Thusly set, I ordered a set of crazy wings, one of curry wings, and one of honey spicy wings - but because it was a Wednesday I got a second one of those free. All I can say is I'm glad it was those and not the crazy wing.

The curry wings were pleasant enough - a little bit of the smoky, salty taste of curry powder - but not anything super special. The honey spicy ones were definitely my favourite of the three - sticky, sweet, and a little bit of a kick to them. Neither of these were too oily or too crispy - they were definitely well cooked.

crazywing
Left: wing of death. Right: wings of not death.

I was so proud of myself for getting through two crazy wings, as they didn't taste as hot as I remembered them being. I had the added smugness of watching a table full of high school students DIE from the spice. I admit, I smirked quite a bit.

My smugness was very short lived. I felt great for about an hour or two afterwards but oh dear GOD the reflux afterwards. It would appear that the chicken for the crazy wings was marinaded in chilli oil of Death Sauce proportions. My stomach proceeded to punish me for my pride well into the night.

The moral of the story? Never gloat over your ability to hack chilli until you've safely made it out of acid reflux zone! Bad idea! Aside from that, Crazy Wing is a great idea as it's cheap and quick, and they do have lots of things on their menu aside from wings if they're not your thing. Bring cash, or bring friends, as they don't take card for anything under twenty dollars. Crazy Wing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 25 October 2015

10 Week Challenge - Week 2

This is a little late, but it's been a busy fortnight! Week 2 of the challenge went quite well, despite the Eat Drink Blog conference being smack-bang in the middle of it. I did my best not to over-indulge, and think I did pretty well, even resisting the temptation to gorge on fried chicken procured by the Khocolateman as his lunch for the drive home. The EDB trip is another post unto itself, so without any further ado - Week 2 of the Lite n Easy 10 Week Challenge!

Week 2 LitenEasy
Top, L-R: Tasmanian salmon risotto, crispy noodle salad, omelette with ham and tomato
Bottom, L-R: Cafe style eggs with tomato and spinach, eggs benedict, lamb wrap with cucumber and tzatziki

Top Breakfast: OHHHH this was hard this week! There's the omelette, which I FINALLY got right in the microwave (as in, it was cooked all the way through and not too dry around the edges - go me!), and the eggs benedict, which sends EVERYONE in the Facebook Lite n Easy support group into a total frenzy and I swear must generate more photos on social media than any other dish they offer (this is total conjecture, by the way. No joke that everyone loves it to tiny bits and pieces, though).

Top Lunch: The crispy noodle salad. I love that - it's a party of textures on a plate, with the crunchy noodles competing with the fibrous greens and my accidental garnish of squishy cheese (which was meant to go with my snack of lavosh crackers... whoops). To top it off, the drizzle of dressing gave the dish a delicious fish sauce and corianderesque kick. Great choice now the weather is getting warmer.

Top Dinner: This surprised me this week - my pick would have to be the Tasmanian salmon risotto, which I ordered from the mini meal menu. The salmon was balanced with peas and a hint of dill, and while I have a nasty habit of drying rice out when I microwave it, this was so well mixed with cheese that it came out as well as if I'd made it in a pan.

Feeling so far: Pretty good! Loving the convenience of not having to think so hard about what to eat, or worrying about the calories. I'm aware of the difference I felt after the weekend by comparison to how I felt after two weeks straightof Lite n Easy so I figure it must be doing something good for me. I'll be away this weekend too, but after that I have a good few weeks where I can go hardcore during the week and eat in more moderation on weekends. Bring it!

Okonomiyummy, takoyummy, in my tummy!

The Khocolateman was having dinner with a friend in Fitzroy, and I had commandeered his car for the day, so I continued my Japanathon at Shoubu on Smith Street in Collingwood before picking him up.

The interior felt like I'd stepped back into a little piece of Japan. It was decorated with tatami on the ceiling (?!) and sliding windows on the walls. Murals of Sakura trees were painted on the walls, and there was a small display of tea sets and ceramic dishes near the counter. J-pop ballads played quietly in the background, creating an ambience perfect for having stepped in off the busy street of the evening.

shoubu
Almost identical...

I ordered two of the dishes I used to eat a lot when I lived in Toyohashi - takoyaki, or octopus balls, and seafood okonomiyaki, or seafood pancake. The takoyaki came out very quickly - and as a very generous serving of about eight or ten! I used to have six as part of my lunch on Saturdays when I indulged in a bought lunch. I liked them so much that when I travelled to Osaka later in the year I made a point of navigating the subway all the way to the end of the line to go to the takoyaki museum. I was not disappointed. It was amazing. And, to be fair, these takoyaki were pretty amazing too. Hot but not burning, not too runny in the middle but not too tough on the outside. They were dressed with that yummy barbecue sauce and mayo combination with bonito flakes on top. I love the way they twist and curl when they're on top of something hot!

I had okonomiyaki for my main. It's a seafood pancake, a bit like the Korean dish, haemul pajang. I was okay at making this by the time I left Japan as I used to make it for breakfast. This was much better! Okonomiyaki comes from Hiroshima, and I remember eating it there, as well as in Toyohashi, where we found a great back alley place that did beef, pork, chicken and seafood varieties. This one was nice and thick, with peas, corn (?), diced cabbage and mixed diced seafood set in thick batter, once again with the barbecue sauce, mayo and bonito flakes on top.

YUM.

I ended up asking for a takeaway container to take the rest home as it was VERY VERY BIG and VERY VERY FILLING. But all of this was for less than $25 including a drink, so total value for money, and I was definitely impressed. I will try to get back here one day, next time with reinforcements.

Shoubu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 11 October 2015

10 Week Challenge - Week 1

So you might notice a bit of a shift in the content I bring you for the next few months. In an effort to bring some happy healthy changes into my life and reduce my likelihood of doing my back again.

I've posted before about my forays into Lite n Easy, and am using their meal plan (five days a week, breakfast, lunch and mini meals for dinner) to keep my calorie count nice and low. I've also joined a support group on Facebook, and started an event - the '10 Week Challenge' - which now has some seventy odd people participating! To boot, I've started using MyFitnessPal for Android to log my food, exercise and water.

Today, though, I'll be posting my top picks from this week's meals.

lnew1
Top L-R: Mexican chicken stack, beef burger, savoury breakfast mince.
Middle L-R: Chicken spaghetti, Chinese dim sims, pizza.
Bottom L-R: pikelets with fruit compote and yoghurt, bagel with bacon and egg

Top breakfast: the pikelets with fruit compote and yoghurt. The fruit compote is fig-based, and warmed in the microwave. It is YUMMY. Not too sweet, nicely textured, and served in good proportion to the other parts of the meal. The yoghurt is probably the pick of the LnE yoghurts (some are a bit runny on top or too solid and jelly-like).

Top lunch: by a narrow margin, the pizza. I like to split it in half and fold it like a calzone (I've never actually HAD a calzone, but I imagine that's how they look, feel and taste). The base is soft and squishy after being microwaved, and the filling is full of yummy veggies. There's just enough cheese sent out with it to make it all stick together without going rubbery.

Top dinner: Mexican chicken stack. It doesn't look like much, and the Khocolateman thinks it smells awful when it's being microwaved, but I swear the flavour is great. Lots of beans and diced veggies in a TASTY tomato-based sauce, sandwiched between lasagne-type carby stuff.

Feeling so far: pretty good. Not hungry like lots of people report, and finding it very cruisey meal-prep-wise. Will report on actual losses at the end of ten weeks. My bank account is hurting a little as I am still shopping for the Khocolateman and Dalek, as well as paying for Lite n Easy, but we can manage.

Stay tuned for next week!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

The Austen Tea Room, Essendon

austen crockery

So my high tea buddy from the Fancy Nance experience - Sally - recently celebrated her birthday, and I wanted to shout her to high tea to commemorate the occasion. We hit up The Austen Tea Room in Essendon (yes, literally the opposite side of the city) for their sweet and savoury high tea over the holidays (having friends who are teachers is AWESOME).

We were seated in a beautiful little room with a table all set for two in pastel purple lavender themed crockery. The walls were decorated sparsely, with prints from the 1996 BBC Pride and Prejudice series (which I adore). The perfect setting for high tea!

The servings were almost laughably big. We were served tea in a giant teapot, matching our crockery, with as much milk as we wanted, and over the course of two hours were served two cake stands of food - one savoury, with sandwiches and hot food, and one sweet, with petit fours, scones and cake.

austen tea room collage
So. Much. Yummy. Food.

The sandwiches were lovely - my favourite was the curried egg, while Sally liked the turkey and cranberry. They impressed me with their hot food selection, especially their party pies, which I'm not usually a massive fan of, but these were crispy on the outside without being too doughy, and generously laden with gravied mince meat. Yum.

The sweets were good, too, with my favourite addition being the macaroons. Each of us had a macaroon and a fairy cake, two scones (one plain and one fruit), two pieces of cake and a tart. We ended up taking the scones, some of the cake, and the tart home as it was a bit much to finish all at once!

I was absolutely impressed by the whole experience. It was a tres Austen experience, which pleased both of us, and inspired me to go home and finish Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I had downloaded to my kindle but not finished. I'd recommend booking as they only have one sitting each day (12-2) and we definitely got the pick of the rooms by getting in early (a trio of ladies walked past our room several times, with one bitching audibly about how she had wanted where we were sitting, and thought she had booked it, but they gave it away, and how dare they - awks).

High tea ran to $40 per person, and we were asked to pay a deposit when booking - I gave them my card number but they didn't process it until after our tea.

The Austen Tea Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Don Woori (don't worry, it's awesome!) North Melbourne

Don Woori in North Melbourne was part two of my Koreapalooza after Meega.

I have a friend from uni who works in the city, and while our paths rarely cross we are lucky to have the kind of friendship where we can just pick up where we left off last time. Chris is awesome, and I only wish we could see more of each other. Maybe next year!

We finally found an evening where both of us were free and, with a coworker of Chris' and one of the coworker's friends, we hit up Don Woori in North Melbourne for an evening of Korean food goodness.

Don Woori is opposite the Queen Vic Markets on Victoria Street, just up from the Elizabeth Street intersection. I remember that strip being derelict and rather blah when I used to live in the Western suburbs, but now it's a hub for Korean food joints and a couple of pubs. In short, if you have a Korean restaurant there, it'd better be good, or you'll be out of business quick-smart.

donwoori
Mmmmmmm meaty, soy beany, pancakey, banchany goodness

I was not disappointed in the least. We ordered two of the sets (A and C), edamame and a kimchi and seafood pancake which was just enough for the four of us. They served it with plenty of side dishes, which they refilled for us without us needing to ask (especially the kimchi which was pretty good). Interestingly, no lettuce or sesame leaves were served in which to eat the meat.

The staff did the barbecuing for us, including swapping the grills over when they got a bit charred. We were given a selection of beef and pork. Some of it was marinated, some of it wasn't. As a favourite, I was definitely a fan of the bulgogi - it was sweet, and a mid-thickness cut that cooked up nicely with a bit of a crunch on the outside after being cut up. At the other end, the samgyeopsal was a bit bland by comparison, even when I ate it with the side dishes.

The pancake was YUMMY. It had the flavour of kimchi without the kick, and was nice and crispy instead of being floppy and insipid which many here in Oz are. The kimchijiggae and the sundubujiggae were good too - I mixed mine with the rice and together they were a great accompaniment to the main meal, and very filling too.

Don Woori, I'll be back! Well done satisfying four people so well!

Donwoori Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, 5 October 2015

The Green Refectory

greensrefectory2

The Green Refectory in Brunswick is amazing. I met up with my Prism Palace roomie, ex-derby-spouse and study buddy (all wrapped up in one package known as Anna) to catch up over their brunch on a Sunday morning.

When you walk in, you're faced with a MASSIVE line in front of a glass counter and cabinet both packed to the brim with yummy looking things - salads, cakes, sandwiches, raw foods, biscuits, fruit, plus about a hundred other things I haven't remembered. The line worked out to be for the best, because I got a chance to look and think about what I wanted to order. I got the breakfast stack and an organic chai, then later (we ended up staying for three hours) a piece of lemon baked cheesecake and a lemongrass and ginger tea, and a juice.

The breakfast stack was good. A poached egg perched on top of wilted spinach, bacon, cooked tomato and haloumi. All of that was amazing - the cooked tomatoes, in particular, had amazing flavour and really hit the spot. The only exception was the 'potato' which tasted suspiciously like Deb instant. My cheesecake was so huge I couldn't finish it, but the texture of the crust and filling were in perfect relation to each other, and the lemon curd on top was lovely and tart.

Of my three drinks I'd rate the carrot and ginger juice the highest - freshly juiced and full of flavour, it was refreshing and cleansing after food. Next I'd rate the lemongrass and ginger tea - a lot of herbals are a bit insipid, but this one tasted as good as it smelt - and its aroma was GOOOOOOD. Then the chai - definitely not a packet one, and strong enough to make it a vibrant and full mouthful with each sip. All of the drinks were great, and rating them was definitely hard.

The setting is all higgledy piggledy - they have tables wherever they can fit them, so we sat outside in a little lane way-shaped courtyard. You get given pictures instead of table numbers when you order, which is cute. They don't do bookings, and they don't do card, so you need to be quite organised when you arrive, especially when it's busy, like on weekend mornings.

Definitely one for the books! I'll be back to this stand-out.

Green Refectory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Walawwa - NEVER AGAIN

Walawwa. Oh boy. They don't have a listing on Zomato, which is probably a good thing, because if they did, it'd be well and truly in the red on ratings. Facebook reviews are a pretty good indication of this.

It was my father in law's birthday and a friend of the family said we should go to this place in Noble Park for dinner, that they did a Sri Lankan buffet and it was meant to be good. We didn't know of this place, and didn't have time to search for it before we left... if we had, we might have gently suggested somewhere else.

We arrived, and were ushered into a small room. They seated us at a table and gave us one menu (laminated, still smeared with food from a previous patron). One menu among six. When we asked for some more, they begrudgingly gave us one extra.

We did find biryani and kotthu roti on the back side with the drinks, but no buffet. Ba-boww. The Khocolateman ordered the kotthu, his mother and the family friend ordered special fried rice, his brother and I ordered a Parma and his father ordered the Mongolian Special. Ordering drinks was definitely interesting - I asked for a white wine and orange juice, which apparently they'd never heard of before. "You want them... In the same glass? That's not on the menu!" was the response.

We did wonder at one point whether we were on Candid Camera or something similar - the service was so confused, and the music was so weird (renditions of everything from 'Henry the Eighth' to 'Ave Maria' played over the speaker, then silence when the CD ran out and then got played again). It kind of felt like we were on the set of Fawlty Towers.

Okay so it took forty minutes, but the Kotthu, fried rice, and my Parma arrived. Nothing for my father in law, nothing for my brother in law. Then I found a hair in my Parma. Oh dear Lord no. Oh HELL to the no, I'm not eating any more of that thanks.

This was the point at which the birthday boy decided he'd had enough. Did I mention he still hadn't had anything to eat? He summoned the waitress, who summoned the person from the front desk, who summoned the manager to discuss a) the length of the wait, b) the missing food and c) the hair in my Parma. They weren't particularly apologetic, and the manager got quite defensive, which wasn't brilliant behaviour given the circumstances. We were still charged for three of the meals plus all the drinks which ended up being over $70 - fairly outrageous considering how awful the food we did get served had been.

We left fuming. I now have an actual baseline for when to rate a restaurant a zero (if I could do such a thing). This would be it. Not one thing was done properly - not the table setting (no serviettes!), not the staffing (two VERY confused waitresses and a very arrogant manager), not the food (SHORT CURLY HAIR IN MY PARMA, DID I MENTION THIS?? GAGWORTHY plus two people in our group not being fed half an hour after the rest of us), not the pricing ($18 for fried rice that quite frankly would have struggled to be worth half that).

Avoid this place like the plague. I can recommend at least three other Sri Lankan places within a ten minute drive that are immeasurably better! Hit me up if you're tempted here so I can show you the photo of the hair, and direct you to somewhere else.

This is one of the few posts I've ever done with NO PICTURES. Yes, I took some. No, I do not think you need to be subjected to the nature of my hairy food. Please forgive me.