Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Discovery XIII

Mayhem, mud and Metro were the themes of our trip south to Carnegie for Discovery XIII. 7&7 is just over the road from Carnegie station, making it potentially very easy for Mr 30 to travel from the city. The rest of us arrived by car, after negotiating the dark and mysterious back streets of Glen Iris and Malvern East and parking conveniently next to a muddy nature strip off Koornang Road.

First surprise was the menu. I had been expecting to sit by and watch everyone indulging in Korean barbecue meats while I nibbled on kimchi, but the menu had lots of vegetarian options. But no sooner had we settled in with a Coopers pale for a serious consideration of the offerings, than a message came through from Mr 30. His train had been waiting at Malvern station for 10 minutes and there was no indication of a departure any time in the near future.

The next pleasant surprise was the arrival of the mystery surprise guest, a former neighbour and now local resident, who informed us that there was a train stuck at Carnegie station. So back to the muddy nature strip I went, for the mercy dash to Malvern.

A surprisingly short time later (after once more parking next to the muddy nature strip - you'd think I'd learn) we were back in the warmth of 7&7, where the others were already tucking into an entrée of seafood and pancakes.

An even shorter time later more dishes arrived. I enjoyed my spicy kimchi, tofu and rice while watching in awe as the others demolished mountains of food, culminating in an extravaganza of meat and vegetables cooked in simmering broth at the table.

Korean soup
After we could eat no more it was time to leave and we emerged from the restaurant to be greeted by traffic chaos in Koornang Road. The boom gates were stuck down and we watched in horrified amazement as some car drivers decided to drive around the gates and across the tracks, rather than turning around as most sensible drivers were doing. Mr 30 and the surprise guest videoed some of the action before it was time to head back down the Princes Highway and Orrong Road en route to Camberwell via the round trip to Richmond.

A train sped through the Grange Road intersection as we passed nearby on Dandenong Road. We could only hope that the Koornang Road level crossing was clear as the train passed through.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Discovery XII

The last time I went to a Hungarian restaurant was probably in nineteen seventy-something. And the restaurant in question, Transylvania in Greville Street Prahran (with thanks to Jane Clifton for her evocative memoir of Melbourne dining way back then) was probably not even Hungarian, being named after a region in Romania. The only vegetarian dish on the menu was deep-fried crumbed mushrooms served with rice and tartare sauce. This was fine by me as they were absolutely scrumptious.

So when it was proposed that we try out The Hungarian in Bridge Road Richmond for Discovery XII, it seemed too good to be true. Except that sadly the crumbed mushrooms (and the Monsterschnitzel) are not available on Mondays or Tuesdays.

Luckily there were other vegetarian dishes to choose from and I opted for the crêpes - one with mushroom ragoût and one with potato and cheese. Nice tasty comforting food. As an alternative I could have had 'Veganoff' (vegetarian stroganoff with broccoli and green peas) or the mushroom ragoût served with nokedli. Definitely a more wide-ranging choice than at the dear old Transylvania, and something to look forward to next time.

The rest of the party went carnivore with pork knuckle (with chips rather than the traditional mashed potato), and stuffed cabbage. Again, tasty and comforting rather than innovative.

The real discovery of the evening was Dreher beer. We could also have had Hungarian shiraz direct from the barrel, a quirky feature in the corner of this very pleasant, unassuming, red-and-white-checked-tableclothed little neighbourhood restaurant.

Picture of Dreher beer at The Hungarian restaurant
Dreher at The Hungarian

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Discovery XI

Cherating is a town in Malaysia. According to the Wikipedia article, it "houses a cultural village and a turtle sanctuary. The turtles lay their eggs between July and August."

Too late for the turtle eggs but closer to home is Cherating restaurant in Kew East, at Harp Junction. We have high hopes of the Harp of Erin hotel over the road, but it turns out to be a soulless place that has been overrun by gaming and betting. After a very quick VB and Bulmers (not a Harp in sight), we head back across the road to the charming Cherating.

Cherating has a dim and streamlined interior and is quiet and comfortable. There are not many people dining out in this corner of Kew tonight. We are made to feel welcome and the service is friendly and attentive.

We start with beancurd wraps and curry puffs. The beancurd wrap is not the thin crispy parcel we are expecting, but a hollowed out piece of beancurd stuffed with beanshoots and other crunchy slivers of vegetable, with a brown peanut sauce and sesame seeds. The dish has a pleasant contrast of flavours and textures but proves to be almost identical to the gado gado I have for my main course. The gado gado does however come with egg slices and pappadams for a bit of contrast.

The carnivores share a couple of dishes from the extensive specials board: black pepper scallops and Mongolian beef, with Sambal spinach for a green accent. The black pepper scallops and the spinach win the votes for the most interesting dishes of the night.

Another chapter in the Discovery narrative closes with a trip down High St and Church St to Richmond, then back to the city of Boroondara via Riversdale Road. The roads are almost as quiet as Cherating.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Discovery X

On the twenty-eighth day of the eighth month in 1930, a little girl was born in Ararat. On the twenty-eighth day of the eighth month in 1984, a little boy was born near Warburton.

On the twenty-eighth day of the eighth month in 2012, the little boy turned 28 and his grandmother turned 82.

To celebrate this beautiful set of numbers, a large family group gathered at Dumpling King in Box Hill. Discovery X was absorbed into a joyous family birthday party.

The lazy susans on two tables were kept busy spinning supplies of dumplings, rice, tofu, szechuan prawns, squid, Asian greens, sweet and sour pork and chicken satay. There were sparkling wines and crown lager and the even more sparkling company of a host of cousins.

Award winning dumpling
The award winning dumplings were the food highlight of the evening. But getting the family back together for super discovery X was just brilliant.


Discovery IX

Fiorelli in Hawthorn East is the scene for Discovery IX. An elegant Italian restaurant with classic Italian food. A very convenient location just a step away from Camberwell junction and across the road from the Rivoli. A table so far away from the door that we feel not a trace of the winter chills and breezes. Attentive waiters and Little Creatures pale ale. A Toolangi pinot noir.

Our food choices are: veal medallions with mushrooms, snow peas and roasted potatoes; gnocchi with olives, tomato and basil; blue eye with potato pureé and spinach; and duck with polenta and spinach. Beautifully cooked and presented.

For those of you who can read Flash websites, here is the link to Fiorelli's website. Alternatively, here are the Urbanspoon reviews.

Picture of the interior of Fiorelli
We had no particular demands on our time and enjoyed a leisurely meal, but if you are planning to see a movie at the Rivoli, you could do much worse than try Fiorelli. It was a great treat to sample such an elegant spot in our discovery tour of local restaurants. If the rules of discovery allow (perhaps when we get to the end of all the discoverable restaurants in Boroondara?) we'll be back.