Meatballs

Victorian Cider and Pork Festival 2016

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Over the 2016 Australia Day Long Weekend, the Yarra Valley hosted the inaugural Cider and Pork Festival – the first ever to be held in Victoria. Set amongst the scenic vines at Rochford Wines,  the two day event celebrated the humble pig and the crushed apple.

The festival showcased more than 60 mouthwatering pork dishes from locally sourced produce  from leading Melbourne restaurants and food trucks that included Fancy Hanks, Blue Bonnet BBQ, The Rib Joint, Pulled Kitchen and Pig On The Spit. The festival also showcased some of the best cider from around Australia that included St Ronan’s Cider, Napoleone Cider & Brewery, Willie Smiths Organic Cider, Batlow Cider Co, Hills Cider, Custard & Co, Daylesford Cider Co, Flying Brick, Sidekick Cider, Granite Belt Cider and many more.

We arrived late in the afternoon and by this stage the lines for the food trucks/stalls were INSANELY long. Not only that, quite a few places had run out of food which was very frustrating, particularly if you had been waiting in line for a long time. Here is the result of my hour long wait:

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BBQ and Rice Noodle Salad

Spanish Meatballs, Chorizo and Pickled Octopus

Both of these were delicious and complimented the cider that I sampled nicely.  Now the mood at this festival was very laid back with everyone relaxing and having a good time eating and drinking. This was indeed a fun event, and hopefully the food shortage and long waiting time issues are resolved by the next Cider and Pork Festival.

*Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of Tyrell Publicity & Promotions.

En Izakaya

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Seared momen tofu and oven baked miso infused eggplant

A great combination of flavours and textures made this dish very delectable.

★★★★☆

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BBQ calamari with white miso and vinegar coated rocket, served on Yamagata soba noodles

The calamari was seriously amazing; it was smoky and tender, and some of the best I’ve had in a while. Unfortunately there were only a few pieces to enjoy as the majority of this dish was rocket.

★★★★☆

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Salmon and broad bean tempura fritters with a Tasmanian salmon cream dipping sauce

The batter was extremely crispy however the salmon was slightly dry.

★★★☆☆

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‘Son in law’ tsukune – pork, ginger and chilli meatball with a soft steamed egg and sweet soy

Underwhelming. I suppose I was expecting something bigger and something more unique tasting. This was just a average meatball with an egg on top.

★★☆☆☆

Overall:

The dishes here were delectable and well presented. Our waitress recommended 4-5 dishes to share between two people which turned out to be just the right amount. Service was attentive and the decor sleek and modern. I must return one day to sample their $17 lunch set menu.

En Izakaya

277 Carlisle St, St Kilda East, VIC

(03) 9525 8886

http://enizakaya.com.au/#/home

En Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Panama Dining Room and Bar

Level 3/231 Smith St,  Fitzroy 9417 7663

 

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Salmon rillettes served with herb salad and toast

= Not bad

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Spiced wagyu beef and prosciutto meatballs

Full of flavour, great balance of meat and breadcrumb, lovely rich sauce

= Good

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Fried cauliflower with ras el hanout (spice mix from North Africa), golden raisins, fromage frais and argan oil

Deep frying pretty much anything will make it taste better

= Good

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Slow cooked Western Plains pork scotch fillet with Jerusalem artichokes, grilled pine mushrooms, parsley puree and buttermilk

Tantalisingly tender pork with a wonderful combination of ingredients

= Good

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Steamed broccoli with Mt Zero black lentils and pecorino (left), Green salad with buttermilk, tarragon and shallot dressing (right)

= Not bad

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Yellowtail kingfish fillet with confit fennel, grilled saffron calamari, fennel puree and saltfish croquette

The Yellowtail kingfish fillet was extremely salty, while the calamari and croquette were unmemorable

= Not bad

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Chestnut gnocchi, pumpkin and parmesan puree, morel mushrooms, spinach and salted ricotta

Delicately light gnocchi that had a mild chestnut flavour, complementing the other ingredients of this dish fantastically. If only the portion size was bigger!

= Good

 

Overall:

If you manage to survive the arduous journey up two very steep flights of stairs, you will encounter an unobtrusive grey fire exit door with a small blue ‘Panama Dining Room and Bar’ sign above it. Enter these doors and you will find a funky bar, a pool table, lots of casual seating and a formal dining area. We went on a busy Saturday night and the bustling atmosphere made it very difficult to talk (I found myself yelling throughout the whole night and left with a sore throat). Service was friendly however the food took a little while to come out. I think I would prefer coming here for drinks as opposed to dining here in the future.

 

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