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 mel@rightnow.org.au to book your ticket now and support a good cause!

--
Longrain Restaurant & Bar
44 Little Bourke Street
Melbourne
http://www.longrain.com.au

Let Them Eat Cake
147-149 Cecil Street
South Melbourne
http://www.letthemeatcake.com.au

Little Cupcakes
#7, 250 Flinders Street
Melbourne

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

5 comments:

Victoria said...

Hey, I was just wondering if Let them Eat Cake has any gluten free options? Crabapple doesnt, sadly. =(

Mel. said...

That's a good question, Victoria. From what I recall, I didn't see any of them on display in the shop itself. That being said, I am sure they create gluten-free options for those who order it. As for the cupcakes though, I doubt the ones you can buy over the counter are gluten-free.

jfox said...

mmm, cupcakes!
i agree, the Little Cupcakes cupcakes were a bit dry. haven't tried Sweet Source but i'm sad that you are going to bypass the crabapple bakery. their cupcakes have a beautiful texture and heaps of flavours from which to choose (i'm not associated w them or anything, just a fan ;) )

there was an article in the age newspaper a couple of years ago which lists a few more to try:
http://www.theage.com.au/news/epicure/storm-in-a-cake-cup/2005/11/28/1133026374158.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap2

you might be able to get some more sampling in before deciding.

[and happy birthday!!]

ilingc said...

Oh! The Little cup cakes shop is opened? N.E.E.D T.O G.E.T T.H.E.R.E!!

I've been hankering to go since I saw the coming soon sign. The red velvet and cream cheese chocolate sounds delicious. I have to say though, Crabapple is still the best that I've had around. (psst..*whispers* even better than Cupcakes on Pitt!) My favourites are the jaffa and white choc & raspberry mud.

I too agree that Longrain is very good and much better value for the price that your paying for the meal compared to some of the other restaurants in Melb. The last time I went, we ordered a swordfish green curry dish that was absolutely delicious. I went with 2 of my girlfriends and plus wine and 4 dishes we ended up paying about $50 each. Still very good considering we paid the same at Money Order Office (M.O.O) and the food was super disappointing and overly seasoned.

Oh and I just love the cocktails they have at Longrain.. ;)

Hope the cupcakes hunting goes well :)

Sarah said...

Hey there!

I just tried Little Cupcakes for the first time today, and had the red velvet! I agree it was a big dry, but I loved the frosting. Yum yum. I loved the wooden plates and the cute knife and fork they give you.

I actually like them better than Crabapple because I like the softer icing. Crabapple's icing is just like Magnolia's - 8 cups of sugar for 24 cupcakes! *A-hem!*

xox Sarah