Eat here: Umami Burger, LA

Umami Burger
The Grove – 189 The Grove Dve, Suite C-10, Los Angeles

Arghhh my stomach is driving me mental! I’ve been sick all week and weekend, everything is aggravating it, and that sucks, because I JUST WANT TO EAT A BURGER WITHOUT BEING SICK!!! But I can’t, so I’ll blog about a burger instead. Totally not the same thing, but that’s as good as I can do right now :(

Do you remember a few years ago when this “umami” business was going crazy in the food world? Everyone was talking about this “new” flavour (well, not new, just branded), this savouryness, a taste that wasn’t sweet or salty or bitter or sour. It was big news for a while, and a clever man called Adam Fleischman capitalised on it in a big way with his Umami Burger chain.

The story goes something like this: he was eating at In-N-Out while thinking about a term he’s read in Heston books – “umami.” Many years later, after experimenting with umami ingredients like cheeses, seaweed, soy, he opened his first Umami Burger store in LA. A few more years later and you can now find Umami Burger not only all over California, but also in NYC, Vegas and Chicago. Happy days!

But you’re not here to read about that stuff. You want to know about the burgers. And whether or not they live up to the hype. Yeah? Thought so.

I ordered the name same Umami burger, bottom left (parmesan frico, shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelised onion, Umami house ketchup) because any time I try a new burger place, I always try the namesake burger first. It’s just the rule.

Husband chose from the special menu, which is often his downfall, and got The Manly, bottom right (beer-cheddar, bacon lardons, onion rings, ketchup and mustard).


So, what usually happens when husband and I go out for a meal, is that I order something awesome that is delicious and wonderful, and husband orders something maybe a bit out of the box and then regrets it when he finds its not as amazing as it sounded on the menu, spending the rest of the meal staring longingly at my dish, with food envy in his eyes. For one of the first times in our decade long relationship, the food envy was reversed.

Let me clarify firstly though – my burger was delicious. The pattie was magnificent, cooked medium rare, crumbly and soft meat, clearly of high quality. The parmesan crisp was a nice touch for something different and signature, though it is hard to beat soft, melty cheese. All in all, a really good burger, and would smash most of the opposition on any other day.

The Manly was another level of burger, and any time we discuss our top 5 burgers ever, The Manly is ALWAYS up there. Just think about it – perfectly booked pattie. Brioche bun. Crispy, golden onion rings. Chunky bacon cooked in fat to bring out a bacon flavour I didn’t know existed. And melted cheese. Seriously. Nothing more needs to be said about this burger; it’s as close to the perfect burger as I think I’ve ever had. Those bacon lardons… omg…

We weren’t sure what to expect from Umami – the hype had all come and gone so long ago, and the food scene changes SO quickly. But I can honestly say that even though they’ve been forgotten about now that the hype has died down, the burgers are phenomenal, and should be on everyone’s list if they’re visiting a Umami-friendly city. That Manly Burger though… I still dream of it…


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Sunday dreaming… Old Fisherman’s Village Night Market, Koh Samui, Thailand

Old Fisherman’s Village Night Market

Koh Samui, Thailand


I can’t remember how this came up, but husband and I were reminiscing about some of the best markets we’ve visited on our travels, and this one was close to the top of both our lists. If you find yourself in the very fortunate position of being in Koh Samui on a Friday night, do yourself a HUGE favour and hail a tuk tuk, and ask your driver to take you to the Old Fisherman’s Village Night Market. They won’t need an address, just that name. If you’re staying somewhere along Chaweng Beach like most visitors to Koh Samui do, you’ll find it a pretty quick 10 – 15 minute ride away, in the Bophut area of the island, and it’s the absolute best way to spend a night!

The market is incredible, full of the best street food on the island, which you’ll be wanting to wash down with a freshly mixed cocktail, which you can sip on while you’re shopping for little trinkets and souvenirs. There’s occasionally live music and heaps of little bars and restaurants you can stop at if the heat and crowds get a bit too much to deal with, as well as super easy access to tuk tuks when you’re done and ready to head back to your hotel. Remember to bring cash (notes in smaller denominations will serve you best), comfy walking shoes, and an appetite to try some strange but delicious stuff you might not ordinarily see on the restaurant menus!




Eat here: Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs, Coney Island, New York – Happy 4th of July!

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs
1310 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, New York


So, it’s not a thing here in Australia (duh), but for all the Americans out there, Happy 4th of July! And yes, I know I’m a day early for the Americans, but it’s the 4th here, so I’m gonna roll with it! While we were in New York in January, we took a trip out to Coney Island (gorgeous!), and when we got to Nathan’s, husband was pretty excited to point out that we were at the home of the famous 4th of July Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest! We were hoping to try one, but being the middle of winter, we weren’t holding our breath – turns out we were in luck, and hot dogs were still happening! Happy days! And a delicious hot dog it was, too. I reckon on a good day I could probably polish off 10, don’t think I’d ever be able to get near the recorn 69 hot dogs polished off by current champion Joey Chestnut. In 10 minutes. Wow. If you haven’t seen this guy in action, follow this link and prepare to be amazed/impressed/horrified/all of the above. If you’re in NYC for the 4th of July and get down to the contest, tell me all about it!! Otherwise, I hope everyone gets to enjoy a delicious hot dog of some description anyway!


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Eat here: Small Victories, Melbourne (brunch)

Little Victories
617 Rathdowne St, North Carlton, Melbourne



Wednesday morning. Just got to work. Feeling a bit down and flat. And remembered it was only Wednesday. Shit. Computer on, diary checked, to do list consulted, emails loading, phone bleeps: “Hey lady, how you doing? I want to check out Small Victories for breakfast on Saturday, care to join me?” YES!!!


This girl is great. We’ve only been friends for like 5 years or so, starting work as travel consultants in the same store a few weeks apart, but I feel like I’ve known her forever. We got to be better friends after a few days in Christchurch together (see above) and bonded over a shared love for eating, cooking, photographing and reading about food, as well as a mutual understanding that most people are morons most of the time. She also has this uncanny knack for always texting me at the exact time I need to hear from someone not full of sunshine and lollipops and “oh yay, be happy, life is great!”

Anyway, breakfast at Small Victories. It’s a cute little place, designed to be clean and simple, and tucked into a little strip of Rathdowne St amongst a few other cafes. The menu is gorgeous, and hard to pick from, but in the end, @jessicavee (if you need a delicious new Instagram account to follow, this is it) went with the buttermilk waffle, candied pecans, gingerbread ice cream, toasted vanilla marshmallows, pumpkin custard, maple syrup ($17.00), which looked magnificent and I believe wad quite delicious!

I went with the poached eggs, ricotta fritters, roast pumpkin, walnut purée, brown butter, 18 month ages prosciutto and crisp sage ($17.00): amazing! Eggs were poached perfectly, the sweet roasted pumpkin and ricotta fritters were delicious against the salty prosciutto, and the walnut purée, though not nearly enough of it, was a great addition.


While the service was a little cold and impersonal, the food was fantastic; I spied a few other dishes rolling out of the kitchen that I’d be keen to try, too. They’re open all weekend, too, so if you need a reason to get out of bed before lunch time tomorrow, scroll back up to those waffles and eggs, and call a friend!


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Stay here: Novotel Toronto Centre, Toronto

Novotel Toronto Centre
45 The Esplanade, Toronto

Happy Canada Day! Well, it is in Canada – in Australia, it’s already July 2nd. But, keeping in the spirit of it, I thought I’d re-visit the place I called home for the week I was in Toronto over new year period – The Novotel.


I was absolutely stoked when we turned up here. The hotel, recommended to us by a friend who lives in the city, was about as central as we could have hoped for! In true Novotel fashion, the service was fantastic from the moment we stepped through the front doors to the morning we left; very friendly and attentive.

In terms of amenities…
– very spacious room with a very comfortable bed
– work area/desk
– TV with a ton of channels
– hair dryer
– coffee making facilities
– mini-bar fridge
– complimentary toiletries
– heating and cooling
– bar and restaurant on site
– car parking (extra cost)
– complimentary wifi
– room service
– ATM at reception
– fitness facilities – gym, sauna and pool

In terms of location, the street it was on had a mini-mart, a few pubs and restaurants, and constantly had cabs passing by, so transport wasn’t a problem. It was also very easy walking distance into the main CBD hub of the city, and easy to get to public transport from as well. It was a perfect home away from home and a really lovely stay in the city!