Saturday, October 20, 2007

D.O.C. - Denominazione d'Origine Controliata

After a long week of studying with a few more weeks of study, essays and exams ahead of me, I've taken to getting up early in the mornings to get to the library first thing in the morning so I can work all day and afford to take nights off. So when B asked earlier today if I was free on Sunday morning for brunch, I asked whether he was free tonight for dinner instead. Fine by me, he said. After a failed attempt at convincing a few more friends to join us, I met him at 6.30 and headed down Lygon Street in search of a good feed.

We had planned on the un-original yet reliable Tiamo 2, but seeing the masses of people milling around the entrance on this comfortably cool spring night, we decided to search elsewhere. Stopping at the corner of Faraday Street, I suddenly recalled the new restaurant that Cindy and Michael, as well as Claire, had recently reviewed. Intruiged by the sound of a pizza and mozarella bar, I slyly suggested we try it out (as B, like most, don't know that my ulterior motives for trying out new restaurants is so I can come home and blog about them!).

D.O.C was still only half-full when we got there, so getting a table was the easy part. Perusing the menu, we were informed by the menu that D.O.C was named after the phrase used by various agricultural government bodies that set and oversaw the standards of some Italian foods, such as cheese and wine. The menu plugged "simple Italian food", and that was exactly what we got. B and I decided to go all out, and ordered something from the Mozarella Bar, which we thought was an entree, but turned out to be a main instead. B ordered an Assagio Di Salumi, an assortment of cured meats, and I went with the Bresaola, air cured beef. Both were accompanied by a ball of Australian Fior Di Latte mozzarella cheese and salted biscuits. B later mused that the mozzarella personally wasn't all that spectacular for him. I grudgingly agreed; though I was very enamoured by the idea of a Mozzarella bar, I had to admit perhaps my tastebuds weren't quite up to speed as to be able to appreciate the mozzarella for what it really was. Nonetheless, the cured meats were truly mouthwatering and eating a mouthful of mozzarella with melt-in-your-mouth meat on top of a chunk of the savoury biscuit was really an experience.

The pizzas, however, were on a whole new playing field themselves. B ordered the Pizza ai Porcini with wild mushrooms, truffle oil & mozzarella in bianco, whilst I went for the Pizza Soppressa with tomato, mozzarella, salame, provoloine, pesto di casa & olive. The toppings themselves were good, but the pizza dough and crust really stole the night. Though just a tad salty, they were crispy on the crust whilst satisfyingly chewy on the base. The greatest thing about them is how thin they are. Though B and I could only finish about half our pizzas after having eaten our mozzarella and meats, we ruefully looked back at the table when we were leaving to look at our half-eaten pizzas, a bit reluctant to leave them, but really just unable to ingest any more.

My only complaint about D.O.C was that service seemed a bit haphazard. For some reason, my pizza came out at the same time as the mozzarella "starters", which meant that by the time we got to it, the pizza had gotten cold. What showed how truly impressive the crust was, however, was that the coldness didn't detract from how good it was one bit. It was a bit hard to attract attention after our food had arrived. I couldn't figure out whether it was because we were seated in a nice cornered nook. Plus the price was a bit steep - the bill came to $40 each for two people. That being said, I would recommend it for the experience. And as B wisely said, you can judge how good it is by the number of Italians there were, and there were a lot of Italians. Not sure if I would go again in the near future - mostly due to the indentation it makes on my wallet - but worth another shot definitely.

295 Drummond Street, Carlton
No Bookings
Open 7 nights and Sunday lunch

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A taste of Spring (and a few bites of Winter too)

Spring is here. I can smell it in the nippy cloudy days where leaves are tossed down the street and into my face as I attempt to make my way to wherever I need to be. It's cold and very windy, but it's not quite the biting chilling cold of winter. Flowers are blooming, the nights are getting slightly warmer. That being said, winter is still lingering. It seems the cold fronts keep returning and Melbourne, and we along with it, are subjected to the short, periodic cycles of the days getting warmer, then colder, then warmer again. This little bee has been very busy in all the other aspects in her life, but very very slack in updating the blog. That being said, I've definitely been thinking about food - and this blog - quite a bit, and have eaten many things for the sake of writing about them later (he he).

The first thing that springs to mind is The Phantom of the Opera at Princess Theatre a few weeks ago. Those of you who have been thinking about it but haven't done anything about it, go and book your tickets now. I guarantee you, it will be a breathtaking experience, especially if you happen to have the privilege of catching the marvellous Anthony Warlowe as the Phantom. In fact, I want you to go see it so much, I'm willing to tell you that I cried. Three times. It was that good. The second best part of that experience, however, was that we had the chance to visit Longrain, which was just around the corner from the theatre. S had pre-booked, letting them know we needed to eat within an hour in order to mawwke the 7pm show. Arriving at 5.45, the place was empty and we were seated immediately. S, C and I ordered a drink, whilst R stayed on the water wagon. It being so long ago, I can barely remember what I drank (and the Longrain website doesn't help either), excepting for the fact that it was REALLY good. Like, orgasmically so. All I remember is that there was watermelon slivers in the glass, and they were very very good at the end after I'd had the alcohol, as they were infused with alcohol by then. Mmm. As for the food, we ordered 2 dishes and rice for the 4 of us. We barely managed to finish it all, as though the prices were steep, the portions were mighty generous. The caramelised pork hock with five spices and chilli vinegar was excellent, though we did have to pry the fat off the meat - but boy, was there a lot of meat. The second dish of beef ribs of some sort was similarly excellent. Both dishes were hearty and filling, especially with rice, and were just the things for ravenous little moi after a day of fasting in anticipation. Hee. We got to the theatre in time and enjoyed an excellent show.

I've also been on an ongoing hunt for cupcakes to cater for my upcoming birthday. I had originally planned on Sweet Source, who does vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with a variety of pastel-coloured icing piled high. Though they were a bit expensive, in my opinion, at $3.80, they were cute and individual and best of all, delicious. The first time I made enquiries, I was told delivery would be possible (as I don't have a car) to the venue, which was great. However, when I was putting in the order, I was then told delivery wouldn't be available. Hmph. After doing some online scouting, I decided to check out Let Them Eat Cake in South Melbourne (eliminating the famous Crabapple Cupcake Bakery for the sake of convenience, since they're so far away from Carlton). South Melbourne turned out to be a delight, despite the blustery and eventually rainy day. Let Them Eat Cake was a little bit of a disappointment. Their cakes, though highly reviewed and apparently recognised for its contribution to 'Cake' by Vogue Entertaining, Gourmet Traveller, Harper's Bazaar and our own Epicure, didn't really take my fancy. They just looked over-iced and over-hyped, and not at all the classy, simplistically decorated little cakes (like from Sweet Source) that I've come to prefer. Though I've never tasted LTEC's cakes or other items, I just wasn't all that taken by their presentation. Perusing the newspaper and magazine articles stuck up on the window outside, the wedding cakes did look nice - all iced white and pretty. Still... I just wasn't taken. Oh well. After talking to the lady for a bit, who informed me that to order cakes specially for my event would cost me $8, I was ready to hit the road and take my chances elsewhere, despite my lack of other options. Oh well, I thought.
Heading back into the city, I recalled seeing a cupcake shop opening on Degraves Lane just off Flinders Road and decided to check it out. Stepping into Little Cupcakes, I was enchanted to find a cosy little cafe with rows of beautiful little cupcakes providing a feast for my eyes. The prices seemed quite reasonable - $3.70 for a single regular cupcake and when ordering over 50, $3.20 each. I settled down to try out their $5.50 cupcake and coffee deal. Though the Red Velvet cupcake was just the tiniest bit dry, the creamy icing definately helped it go down easy. I was sold. Their flavours are Red Velvet, Creamcheese Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Mint, Banana, Strawberry and Teddy Bear (with a little bear biscuit sitting on top of the icing). They are relatively cheaper and though they could probably work on their recipe to make them just a tad more moist, they are perfect for what I need them for. I'm just itching for an excuse to try out the rest of the flavours. Has anyone else tried out this relative newcomer to the cupcake scene?

Speaking of South Melbourne, I took my first jaunt around the market when I was there last Friday afternoon. Because it was cold, I looked around for a snack to pick me up and after hearing so much about the famous South Melbourne Market Dim Sim's, I scoured the place looking for it. There was a bit of a queue, but the line moved along quickly and 5 minutes later, I was holding two large fried dim sims with a bit of soy sauce. I'm not the hugest fan of dim sim usually, as growing up in a Chinese family quickly makes you a bit of a snob when it comes to pseudo-Chinese food. Yum Cha and authentic dim sum is usually more my scene. Dubiously, Ibit into the dumpling, nearly burnt my tongue and experienced somewhat of a food epiphany. It was... good. Really good. It was piping hot on the inside, great for a cloudy, rainy day, and though I couldn't exactly discern what most of it was aside from the pork, cabbage and strangely enough, a pea, all I could think that it was just really REALLY good. If you're ever around, seriously, do yourself a favour and get yourself one. It may be deep fried and not necessarily very healthy for you, but surely one won't hurt.

One last thing. I'm holding a fundraiser for the magazine I do some work for, Right Now Human Rights Law in Australia magazine at the Moroccan Soup Bar on Sunday, 28 October. Right Now is a student-run magazine, which publishes submissions from members of the legal community, students and human rights advocates about current human right issues. The fundraiser will include a banquet feast typical of the gorgeous Moroccan Sup Bar food, as well as many prizes like wine, basket of goodies, movie tickets that you could win simply by turning up to support us. Tickets are $25, so if you're interested in human rights, or simply in tasting really great food, email me at to book your ticket now and support a good cause!

Longrain Restaurant & Bar
44 Little Bourke Street

Let Them Eat Cake
147-149 Cecil Street
South Melbourne

Little Cupcakes
#7, 250 Flinders Street

South Melbourne Market Dim Sim's
#96, South Melbourne Market
South Melbourne