Pea and Spinach Risotto

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Recipe adapted from The Healthy Chef

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1L stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 500g green peas (frozen or fresh)
  • 4 large handfuls baby spinach leaves
  • Parmesan
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon juice

Method:

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan and saute onion and garlic until softened.
  2. Add the rice and stir through for about a minute.
  3. Add 2 cups of stock and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until absorbed. Continue adding stock and then water, 1 cup at a time, waiting for the liquid to be absorbed before adding more.
  4. Blanch the peas for 1 minute in boiling water and then drain.
  5. Add half the peas into a high performance blender or food processor and puree with half the spinach until smooth. Combine the pea and spinach puree along with the whole peas and spinach into the risotto and stir through.
  6. Add parmesan, salt, pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice to taste.

Overall:

I don’t think I’ve ever made a risotto this green before! This risotto was creamy and light, and tastes almost too good to be healthy.

Hinoki Japanese Pantry

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I finally tried the sushi bar at Hinoki Japanese Pantry the other day after buying groceries from here in the past.

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Hotate (scallop) and Salmon Aburi

★★★☆☆

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Nosé Maki and Hoso Maki

★★★★☆

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Small Sashimi

★★★★☆

Overall:

Our order took a little while to prepare but when it was finally ready, everything tasted fresh and was of fantastic quality. The grocery store section at Hinoki Japanese Pantry is impressive with a wide range of products ranging from Japanese curries and ramen to sake and green tea Kit Kats. This simple orderly store is a good place to head to for your Japanese grocery needs, as well as for delicious sushi and sashimi. Note that limited seating is available so getting takeaway may be necessary during busy periods.

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Hinoki Japanese Pantry

279 Smith St, Fitzroy, VIC

(03) 9417 4531

http://hinoki.com.au/

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Aunt Billies Cafe

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 Backyard Brekkie

(eggs anyway, garlic and thyme mushrooms, pumpkin, haloumi, kale, bean ragout)

Hearty and satisfying.

★★★★☆

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Billie’s Bowl

(cauliflower, freekah, kale, avocado, seeds, almonds, grains, currants, poached egg)

 A substantial salad that could have been improved with a wider variety of textures.

★★☆☆☆

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Roasted Mushrooms

(mushrooms, kale, toasted hazelnuts, goats fetta, lemon, and a poached egg on grain toast)

★★★☆☆

Overall:

Solid dishes, down to earth staff, welcoming and cheery atmosphere. No wonder this little suburban cafe was packed when we went. Note that this place takes bookings.

Aunt Billies Cafe

184 Surrey Rd, Blackburn, VIC

(03) 9894 7774

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Misuzu’s

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Crispy Chicken Maki

★★★☆☆

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Roasted Dengaku Eggplant and Tofu with Sweet Miso

Enjoyable but super salty and had to be eaten with rice.

★★★☆☆

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 BBQ Salmon Belly Nigiri

 ★★★☆☆

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Spicy Miso Beef

(stir fried scotch fillet and vegetables with a chilli and red miso sauce)

★★★☆☆

Overall:

The food was good, but not good enough to justify the prices. Service was ordinary and the red lighting that bathed the dining area reminded me of being in a darkroom.

Misuzu’s

3-7 Victoria Avenue, Albert Park, VIC

(03) 9699 9022

http://www.misuzus.com.au/

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Fancy Hank’s BBQ Joint

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As soon as we looked at their barbecue meat menu, we knew that we wanted to try one of everything. Unfortunately the kitchen had already run out of the Beef Short Ribs, but what we sampled included the Angus Beef Brisket, Andouille Sausage, Beer Can Chook, Pork Ribs, and Pulled Pork. We also sampled their Potato Salad, Coleslaw, Corn Bread and Mac & Cheese. Sad to say, the meats tasted average and we enjoyed the side dishes more.

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I love second hand books and managed to walk away with two books at $2 each. Bargain!

Overall:

The great thing about Fancy Hank’s BBQ Joint is that you get to choose exactly how much meat you want to eat. It’s a shame that none of the meats particularly stood out. Perhaps we went on an off night. In any case I would be more inclined to come here for drinks and to hang out rather than for the food.

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Fancy Hank’s BBQ Joint

456 Queen St, Melbourne, VIC

(03) 9348 9998

http://fancyhanks.com/

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The Grand Hotel – Richmond

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The Grand Hotel in Richmond recently celebrated their 130th birthday and I was lucky enough to be invited along to take part in the festivities. The party started with drinks at the main bar and a quick glimpse at the Grand Dining Room. It is impressive to note that The Grand has been a winner of The Age Good Food Guide’s Chef Hat award nine times over the last decade, and is the only pub in Australia to consistently hold such a prestigious accolade. The Grand Dining Room is well known for their simple authentic Italian food which is served up by Michelin trained head chefs Federico Frigato and Mattia Aloisio.

Grand Hotel Richmond

After a while we were guided upstairs and encountered a smaller bar and three rooms. As we chatted, some enticing canapes came around. The first canape we sampled was cured ocean trout with citrus and berries, the second was poached veal tongue crostini with salsa verde and the third was tomato and basil bruschetta. All were very delicious!

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We were soon led into the Nesso room and was informed that the kitchen was down a chef and that we had to make our own dinner!

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So we each put on a T.Serafina apron, grabbed a rolling pin and began to roll out some clay.

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We then each received a beautiful piece of fresh Cone Bay barramundi and were told to be as creative as we liked in terms of flavouring this fish dish. I decided to go with potatoes, cherry tomatoes, garlic, olives, braised leeks, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Fish

Head chef Mattia Aloisio then instructed us on how to wrap up our barramundi so that it could be baked for our dinner. This whole process was so much fun and I couldn’t wait to taste my creation! We were then led into the Como room which had been stunningly transformed by event stylist The Three Piece Suit with stationary styled by Lauren Skorsis. And it was here where the incredible feasting began!

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Pepper Crusted Venison Carpaccio with Goat Cheese Mousse and Beetroot

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Agro Dolce Quail with Porcini Mushroom Puree, Brussel Sprouts, Quail Egg and Black Truffles

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Broad Bean, Pecorino and Mint Risotto

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Mortadella Cappelletti in Brodo

Fish Cooked

This was the moment we had all been waiting for! We made good use of our rolling pins and had a blast smashing these little terracotta parcels open!

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The result? Perfectly cooked barramundi that was delicate and moist, and had a beautifully intense flavour. And as it turned out, the ingredients I added tasted fantastic in combination with the fish so I had a little bit of a ‘phew!’ moment after having my first bite.

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Caprese Palate Cleanser – basil, tomato, buffalo mozzarella

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Lemon Delizia – lemon parfait, almond crumble, limoncello gelee, candied lemons

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Candy Buffet

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A big thank you to Zomato and owners Barnie, Tiur, David and Katie for organising such an amazing night filled with spectacular food!

And finally if you sign up to become a Grand VIP member (which is free), you will receive a complimentary six course degustation dinner for your birthday! How amazing is that?

The Grand Hotel – Richmond

333 Burnley St, Richmond, VIC

(03) 8658 3459

http://www.grandrichmond.com.au/

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*Disclaimer: I dined as a guest of The Grand Hotel.

Axil Coffee Roasters

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Red velvet pancakes with cream cheese ganache, raspberries and black sesame ice cream

A must try for all those with a sweet tooth! These glorious pancakes had fluffy centres and crispy edges, and were almost cake-like. The cream cheese ganache and black sesame ice cream were delicious accompaniments, while the raspberries provided some lovely tartness to this overall sweet dish.

★★★★☆

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Beechwood smoked duck breast with fennel, blood orange, pistachio and vincotta

Well cooked duck breast served with a fresh zesty salad.

★★★☆☆

Overall:

An excellent place to head to for good food, friendly service, and of course quality coffee.

Axil Coffee Roasters

322 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn, VIC

(03) 9819 0091

http://axilcoffee.com.au/

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