November 30, 2011

Suzuki Night Market

Date visited: 20th January 2010
Queen Victoria Market
Melbourne, VIC
(Enter via Queen, Therry or Peel Streets)
Food: Hawker style food stalls - European, Mediterranean, Caribbean, African, Asian and Australian

It's that time of year again. As summer approaches, the days become longer and warmer - perfect for immersing oneself in all the glory of food markets and festivals. One of these being the annual Suzuki Night Market, held at Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne. It runs every Wednesday night, 5:30pm-10pm, from late November through to the end of February.

Upon entering, expect to be greeted by the sound of live music and a great sea of people - sampling food from hawker stalls, browsing through locally designed and hand-made goods and even relaxing down at the end where massage therapists are.

A plethora of food and drinks are offered, from barbecued meat, wood-fired pizzas, steamed dumplings and hearty stews; to crepes, slushies, fresh juice and sweet desserts. A great inspiration of flavours can be experienced from countries like Mauritius, Africa, Acadia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Nepal and Malaysia.

This place is for you if you love the excitement and hubbub that comes with night markets and am not fussed with quality of food or value for money. The only time you won't be waiting for what seems like an eternity in line to order your dish will be if you arrive at 5:30pm - when the market opens its doors to the public. After that, hungry patrons swarm in by the hundreds (slight exaggeration) and it will be difficult to score a table, or any horizontal surface for that matter, to devour your food on.
Here is a snapshot of my previous visit:

BBQ skewered Persian style chicken with rice

Banjo's BBQ : Kangaroo patty (sweet, but was grilled to the point where it became tough and chewy), Emu sausage (a great idea to turn emu meat, naturally quite lean, into a sausage, resulting in a very juicy snag!) and Crocodile tail (similar texture and taste to pork)

Gozleme - savoury filled Turkish pastries

Salami Pizza

Spanish Seafood Cazuela

Northern Indian Aloo Mutter (potatoes and peas) and Butter Chicken

Spanish Sangria

Traditional Lemonade

The infamous Dutch pancakes - with lemon, butter and icing sugar

Churros - Spanish donuts

Honey dumplings - sickly sweet crisp doughnut-like pastries with a moist, chewy centre

November 29, 2011

Bar Lourinhã

Date visited: 23rd September 2010

37 Little Collins Street
Melbourne, VIC
(03) 9663 7890
Food: Tapas/Bar dining, Spanish, Latin American

Nestled in amongst boutique shops, lavish apartments and chic eateries is this funky little bar that dishes out the most amazing grub one could ever want while sipping away on a glass of Spanish Syrah or Italian lager beer. If you haven't been here before, Bar Lourinhã is the place to visit when you don't want the chance to be disappointed - it manages to deliver on food, service and atmosphere every single time. The place might be a little hard to recognise though, as there isn't a distinguished sign out the front - just a thin, fancy script along the window.  We were only able to spot it because there was a great big number "39" in front of the place next door.

Bonus points go to our waiter, a friendly, chirpy and cool fellow who was very knowledgeable about the menu items. On arrival, there wasn't a table free, but he managed to have us seated at one of the high share tables within a few minutes. I have a pet peeve with places, especially tapas-style restaurants, which fail to inform their customers that the kitchen is about to close and when it comes to trying to order more food, be told "Sorry, only dessert is available at the moment."  In this instance, we were grateful to be told that last orders for savoury food were being taken, and happily obliged for another serving of juicy, grilled lambs tongue. There's nothing worse than still feeling a little peckish, and not being able to order that one more dish to satisfy your cravings!

Upstairs - the entrance to the private dining room, aptly named "The Chapel"

Fresh rye bread

Yellow tail kingfish 'pancetta' & lemon oil - deliciously slippery and citrusy

Grilled Crystal Bay prawns 'a la pancha' - with a touch of chilli that lingers on the tongue. We used the rye bread to mop up all the tangy juices at the bottom

Grilled lambs tongue & pimenton sauce - the tongues had a bitey texture, but were still tender and very flavoursome. The slight gamey note paired well with the sweet capsicum and creamy potatoes.

Cabra Chanfana - Portugese style; Goat that is slow-braised with dry sherry, onion and sweet paprika. The meat pulls apart ever so easily and just melts in your mouth. All that slow cooking has broken down the tough parts and created some seriously delicious fat and intense juices.

Shredded cabbage and mint with labne - with bits of radish, red onion, parsley and fennel fronds. Raw, crisp and slightly sour (from the labne), this salad lent some freshness and cut through the richness of our accompanying dishes.

Iced chocolate & chestnut trifle - layers of what appeared to be a thick chocolate mousse and Chantilly cream, with chestnut cake pieces at bottom that had that freshly baked taste to them.

Pomegranate crema & pistachio praline - in a spoonful, you are first wooed by the smooth and creamy panacotta-like base, then are hit with crunchy bits of pistachio and bittersweet toffee and finally bursts of tart pomegranate come through.