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Monday, May 25, 2009

Melbourne Day 3 - Monday 18 May

Monday morning brought with it the standout dish of the trip.

We decided to check out a restaurant that my googling of Melbourne restaurants had highlighted a few times - Cumulus Inc. on Flinders Lane. It was a bit of a trek for us hungry lasses, so our expectations were high once we made it up the other end of Flinders. Perusing the menu, I knew quite quickly what I wanted to try. I was feeling a little egged out following the previous two day's breakfasts, so although I was very curious about trying the 65/65 egg I decided to go with the "sardines with parsley, tomato and lemon on grilled sourdough" ($13). Luckily my sister was feeling like some egg action, so she went for the "smoked salmon, 65/65 egg, sorrel, apple and dill" ($17). Happy with our decisions we placed our order, only to be told that they were waiting on a tomato delivery and thus my sardines were not available. Wah! After much indecision I then chose the "Turkish baked eggs, spiced tomato, dukkah and labne" ($16). The sardine gods must have been looking down on me however, as the tomato delivery arrived during my indecisiveness, and thus I was able to get my precious sardine dish afterall. Hooray for little fishies!

Cumulus Inc. - Smoked salmon, 65/65 egg, sorrel, apple and dill

65/65 egg in all its mysterious glory

This is no ordinary egg. Apparently it is slow poached in its own shell for 65 minutes at 65 degrees. This begs the question of how it is shelled after this process without all the hard work being ruined in an oozy mess? My sister was a little concerned when the egg first came out, as the outside was a bit goozy, but cutting into it she discovered it was the perfect consistency all the way through. It really was amazing. And whilst the mixture of apple, sorrel and dill with the egg and salmon sounded a little strange at first (especially for my sister who is ordinarily not a fan of dill), the flavours all worked together beautifully to produce a refreshing, filling dish full of great textures.

Cumulus Inc. - sardines with parsley, tomato and lemon on grilled sourdough

Once my sardine dish came out I realised why they were unwilling to let me have it without the tomato! It was essentially a sardine bruschetta, and like my sister's dish, was really flavoursome and refreshing with the addition of the lemon and parsley. It was funny, as my sister doesn't normally go for dill, and I don't normally go for parsley, but we both enjoyed our meals so much. We were a little concerned with the dishes came out, as they looked a little small, but both ended up satisfying us very nicely.

Another reason why we enjoyed our Cumulus Inc experience so much, apart from the great food, great coffee, and fantastic toilets (with fancy pants soap) was that we saw what is quite possibly the most fashionable family on the face of the earth. They were mesmerising, like they'd just stepped out of the pages of a Parisian magazine. The mother was wearing a really interesting layered dress, the father was wearing a three piece suit with ribbon up the sides of the pants, and the two children were terribly well behaved and incredibly well dressed. One of the little boys seemed to be a bit poorly, as he had a bit of a cough, so they included a cape with his outfit to ensure he kept nice and warm. A custom cape. As we walked past them to pay, my sister also noticed the sick boy was keeping himself amused by reading Roald Dahl. Bless.

A bit of shopping in the CBD followed our breakfast, before we headed up Lygon Street, Carlton, finding ourselves in Little Italy around lunchtime. Of course I totally forgot that I wanted to try out Brunetti, so we just ended up checking out a few menus and going for one that looked half decent and had a few other diners. It was called Stuzzichino, and offered the usual Italian suspects apart from pizza. My sister chose the pesto (basil, pine nuts, garlic, white wine and cream) gnocchi ($16) and of course a Limonata, and I chose the Mediterranean risotto (eggplant, zucchini, artichoke, semi dried tomato, mushroom, olives and rocket) ($15.50). The gnocchi was very nice, but as overly rich as anticipated and thus could not be finished. The risotto had some great flavours, and although rice was a little underdone I still managed to polish off most of it!

Stuzzichino - Pesto gnocchi

Stuzzichino - Mediterranean risotto

Writing this now, I can only hope that the semi dried tomatoes in my risotto haven't given me hepatitis A. I just asked my friend sitting next to me if I look jaundiced and apparently I'm no yellower than usual so I guess I'm in the clear.

Although we had stuffed ourselves with tasty tasty carbs, our separate gelato stomachs were put to good use after leaving the restaurant, and provided us with enough sugary sustenance to see us through an exploration of Brunswick Street. A few clothes and a toothpick bird purchase later we found ourselves back down the Greek part of town and in search of some baklava for dessert that night. We bought our treats from International Cakes (185 Lonsdale Street) as theirs looked particularly gooey and delicious, my sister choosing the standard pistachio baklava while I was unable to go past the chocolate covered version. We packed our goodies away for later, hoping the gooey deliciousness did not dribble into our Brunswick Street purchases.

As we had walked everywhere this day, by this stage we were feeling quite weary and decided to give the restaurant at the hotel a go for dinner. After having a little rest in our room we headed down and started off with a drink - a cocktail of some sort for my sister, and a glass of red for me - Aerin's Vineyard Single Vineyard Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre. It was a great wine, and I hope I'll remember to hunt for it next time I'm at the bottleo. It is apparently a mellow and supple interpretation of the classic blend of Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre but seeing as I am pretty sure I've never even heard the word Mouvedre before I can't comment on this.

For dinner my sister chose the Thai beef salad with mesclun, bean shoots, green mango, spring onion, coriander, mint and nam jim dressing ($19.50) and I chose the 5 lamb cutlets with a red wine jus, roast capsicum couscous (written on the menu as "cous cous", tut tut) and panache of vegetables $32). The beef salad looked really good, and apparently tasted pretty damn good too. I was impressed with the amount of beef it contained - although it is difficult to tell from the photograph there was a lot of beef hiding under the mesclun. My dish was a bit of a paradox. The lamb chops were great, full of flavour and cooked very nicely to give a nice crunch on the outside whilst retaining an inner tenderness. Whilst associating the word "panache" with the vegetables was somewhat of an overstatement, they seemed fresh and were nicely cooked with a good bite to them. The couscous however was like a black hole of taste. It looked quite tasty, but was stone cold and completely devoid of any flavour whatsoever. Completely unseasoned, it even failed to taste of the capsicum that it contained. I then found a hair in it just to top things off. Luckily a waitress happened to walk past at this stage to ask how everything was, and after hearing my reply of "really good apart from the terrible cold, bland couscous and this hair I just found" she brought me some mashed potatoes. Perplexingly, the potatoes were so incredibly filled with flavour that my sister and I almost licked the bowl. We couldn't put our finger on why it was so good. It didn't seem to be buttery, or filled with cream, and we never got to the bottom of the flavour apart from (hopefully) joking that perhaps Vegeta was to thank.

Sirocco - Thai beef salad

Sirocco - Lamb chops with red wine jus, roast capsicum couscous and panache of vegetables

We didn't dilly dally in the restaurant as we were both very much aware of the baklava awaiting us upstairs. It did not disappoint, being deliciously wonderfully sweet and gooey and sticky and fabulous.

International Cakes - Pistachio baklava

International Cakes - Chocolate covered pistachio baklava


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