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Monday, May 25, 2009

Melbourne Day 4 - Tuesday 19 May

Prahran Market

Although not as massively impressive as the Queen Victoria Market, I really loved the Prahran Market. If you were throwing a dinner party you could just pop down here, spend a bit of cash, and the job is done. Fresh fruit and veg, fresh dips and antipasti, fresh pasta, any meat or seafood you could possibly require, and quite possibly the most impressive homewares shop I have ever seen (with the exception of the restaurant wholesale place I went to in Montreal that had saucepans so big you could cook a whole person and their little dog too).

Naheda's Choice - Dips and yumminess

After a bit of a peek around the place we decided some breakfast would be required before a proper inspection of everything. Most of our breakfast fair was purchased at Naheda's Choice, where we chose some smoked salmon wrapped goat cheese, feta stuffed baby capsicum, marinated mushrooms, sardines and also some dried figs stuffed with a mascarpone mixture that also included crushed nuts and other tasty things I couldn't remember when I ate let alone now. We also bought an interesting spinach and ricotta bread 'thing' that looked tasty, from a different stall. Buying some coffee, we sat ourselves down at a wobbley old plastic table and tried to drown out the construction noise with our chewing and exclaimations of delight at our breakfast.

The bread thing seemed to be made of pasta dough, and could easily have served as a tasty breakfast in itself. Not for us gluttons though, as we followed it with the delicious smoked salmon and goat cheese parcels. These really were tasty, and yet so simple. Just chunks of good quality goat cheese wrapped in good quality smoked salmon. Both my sister and I decided to make these ourselves at home, though thought we'd jazz them up a little by adding something to the goat cheese. Perhaps some of those tiny baby asparagus we saw at the Queen Victoria Market the other day.

The stuffed baby capsicum, mushrooms and sardines were all very good as well, but I really liked the stuffed wild fig. It was a little sickly after all the gorging I had just done, especially as I had already reached my daily cheese limit, but I couldn't help but finish off a whole fig. They were pretty big too. I wish I could recall what was in the mascarpone mixture that filled them, as I'd also like to try recreate these myself. I guess I'll just have to experiment.

Prahran Market - goat cheese wrapped in smoked salmon, baby capsicum stuffed with herbed feta, spinach bread thing, marinated mushrooms, sardines, mascarpone stuffed dried figs

After stuffing ourselves (with no less than four different types of cheese) we then went for a bit more of an exploration of the market, discovering to our dismay that freshly shucked oysters were on offer and we were now too full to enjoy any. To my delight however we also came across a Crabapple Cupcakes stall, the people behind the fabulous cupcake book that my carrot cupcakes are from. Our final stop in the market was at the aforementioned giant kitchenware store The Essential Ingredient. Stepping into this place, I felt a strong urge to stimulate the Victorian economy. I held myself back however from walking out with a KitchenAid stand mixer, the perfect vanilla slice tray and dried morel mushrooms and only purchased some of those little tongs for $2.75. Actually, we bought four of them between us, so I guess some stimulation occurred.

As we were waiting in line to pay, we eavesdropped on the conversation the woman in front of us was having with the cashier. Her membership card was a bit old and was not being accepted easily by the system, so her transaction took some time, and when I looked over at her card I saw that it said "Better Homes and Gardens TV"!!! Now, I don't actually watch this show as I get too annoyed with Johanna Griggs' ridiculous voice and that blonde woman buying perfectly nice things and turning them into shabby chic monstrousities, but sparked my interest. Turns out she was buying things to make a chocolate and macadamia tart, and she also had a huge bag filled with fresh mozzarella and a bunch of yellow flowers. What a cool job, though I think I'd rather be doing the cooking than buying the ingredients (and buying nice things only to have them ruined).

After lots of walking and a little bit of shopping down Chapel Street, which was actually a bit disappointing as it seemed largely to have chain stores that we also have in WA, I realised some lunch should be eaten before it got too late and our dinner would be ruined. We thus headed into Globe Cafe and found ourselves being served by Sam Simmons' doppelganger. My un-hungry sister ordered some raisin toast off the breakfast menu while I chose the "fried calamari salad with green paw-paw, cucumber, chilli, lime and cashews". The raisin toast looked nice and thick and fluffy and tasty, and apparently it was all of these things. My salad was a nice mix of refreshing flavours but some of the calamari was actually undercooked and translucent, which I guess is better than being overcooked but nonetheless was not entirely pleasant to eat.

Following our lunch, a large purchase may possibly have been made at Sole Devotion before we headed back for a little rest at the hotel, then a disappointing visit up to DFO, then another little rest at the hotel before meeting up with a friend (who I hadn't seen since she disappeared off to the bright lights of Melbourne last year) in ChinaTown for dinner. Following her recommendation we went to eat at Ants Bistro at 7 Corrs Place, picking up a bottle of sparkling on the way. We ordered dragon buns ("steamed mince meat buns, do not miss this" $4.80), salt and pepper calamari ("lightly battered and deep fried" $7.80), Szechuan duck ("fried duck meat (boneless) wrapped with crepes, served with plum sauce, similar to Peking duck" $24.80), stir fry vegetables with mushrooms and also some steamed rice. Everything was very nice, although I do prefer my crepe-wrapped-duck when it comes with little slivers of spring onions. The duck was great though - generously portioned, not overly fatty, and of course expertly served! It is amazing to watch them wrap the little crepes up using spoons.

Ants Bistro - Dragon buns

Salt and pepper calamari

Stir fry vegetables with mushrooms

Szechuan duck

After a most enjoyable evening catching up with my friend we made our way back to the hotel to finish off the rest of our baklava. Thank goodness for my separate dessert stomach.


Kel May 29, 2009 at 8:16 PM  

bloody hell, I just watched Better Homes and Gardens, hoping to see if any of the produce was being put to good use, but alas, the blondie was "jazzing" up an outdoor dining area and she was using mosaics and construction adhesives!

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