Eat here: Gontran Cherrier, Melbourne (pastry)

Gontran Cherrier
140-144 Smith St, Collingwood
http://www.gontrancherrier.com.au/

Around 7 months ago, renowned French patisserie king Gontran Cherrier brought his buttery operation to Melbourne. The bloggers and foodies flocked in droves; I personally couldn’t justify waiting in a line for half an hour to get an over-priced croissant. I finally visited for the first time a few weeks ago, and upon tucking into a golden delicious almond croissant, I finally understood what the fuss was about.

Eager to try more of the beauties in the display window, we made our way back last weekend for breaky. Rolling in for a late breakfast (for us) just before 10am on a Sunday morning, it was pleasantly quiet, with only a few tables occupied – muuuuuch better than the initial rush when they opened!

We ordered a few bits and pieces; husband chose the a quiche Lorraine studded with bacon and Gruyère cheese; I didn’t take a photos of it, but for $8.00, it was a little on the small side. Which was a shame because it was one of the nicest quiches either of us have ever tasted! We also went with a Croque Monsieur – again, not the cheapest toastie at $12.00, but, again, probably the best toasted ham and cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. Buttery and golden, crispy crusts and super soft bread, and that ham and cheese were magic.

I also spied a beautiful long piece of bread spread with Lescure butter and covered in some very pretty, colourful tomatoes. I added that to the order on a whim, not really expecting the husband to be too into it, but turned out he loved it, too. There’s something incredible about a simple bread, butter and tomato dish, when they’re all of the freshest and highest quality.

Those three dishes and a coffee for the husband set us back around $40 – not bad for a Melbourne breakfast, ridiculously over-priced for most other cities, but no regrets here; good food is worth paying more for, in our opinion.

 

We also couldn’t go past a sweet, and took a chocolate croissant home with us to tuck into with some tea and coffee. Nowhere near enough chocolate, but my goodness that pastry is something else. We’ve had the almond croissants there, too (we have a tendency to order an almond croissant whenever possible), and that was pretty spectacular.

We were a little sad that there weren’t any almond croissants left by the time we were leaving… the chocolate one wasn’t a bad back up option, though. Now that the crowds have died down, it’s probably time to head back a bit more often – it’s the perfect spot for a Sunday morning breakfast or coffee session; maybe not every weekend, but definitely those weekend you feel like being a little bit fancy and treating yourself 🙂


Gontran Cherrier Boulangerie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Eat & shop here: Duck Duck Goose & Larder, Kyneton, VIC (café)

Duck Duck Goose & Larder
17-19 Piper St, Kyneton, Victoria
http://www.duckduckgooseandlarder.com.au/

The hipster apocalypse is nigh. They’ve even made it out to Kyneton! Country Victoria has hipsters! If you’d told me I’d be able to find something like this in Kyneton, I wouldn’t have believed you, but there was Duck Duck Goose, a cafe, larder and providore.

A family business run by mum, dad and daughter, Duck Duck Goose is located in a beautiful old building on Piper Street in Kyneton, and does it all. The cafe is located at the front of the building, with a larger area through the doors and out the back containing their larder and providore, stocked full of artisan breads and biscuits, fresh and locally sourced fruit and veggies, beautiful ceramic tea cups and milk pourers, baskets, cookbooks and lots more.

Despite the strong hipster vibe, the food is actually pretty good, old-fashioned country fare – soups, stacked sandwiches, and pastries, like the sausage roll and pie that caught our attention. The sausage roll was massive, and very tasty – unfortunately the pastry wasn’t as crunchy as I’d have liked (partly because it was half sitting in the salad it came with), but the filling was good.

The pie was magic. It was a chicken and leek number, with the most tender, juicy chicken you could imagine. The pastry was golden and crunchy, and layered like you wouldn’t believe. Hands down the best chicken and leek pie I’ve ever had, and to steal the title away from the Beechworth Bakery is no mean feat.

So, the food was good, but it wasn’t cheap; $12.50 per dish for a pastry + salad was a bit much. We also decided to grab some cookies from the counter on our way out, and were shocked at the price tag of $4 each, for a pretty standard sized chocolate chip cookie! Don’t get me wrong, they were delicious, but not $4 delicious. It seems to be a difficult line to tread at the moment between good, local, home grown produce and reasonable pricing, but at least places like Duck Duck Goose are making a start on it by offering such good stuff to the public. And being the only place of the sort in Kyneton, I can see why they’re so popular!

 

Duck Duck Goose & Larder Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Treat yoself: The birthday edition part 1, Fitzroy – iPhoto tour | Rustica | Glitz & Glam Nails | Rice Paper Scissors | Tattoo Magic | Slowpoke Espresso

So, as promised, here’s the first round of suggestions on how you can bring a little “treat yoself” to your day/week/weekend…

First up: go for a walk around the suburban paradise that is Fitzroy.
Walk slowly, be curious, peek around corners and deviate off the main streets…

 

 

Next up: brunch at Rustica
402 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
http://www.rusticasourdough.com.au/

Look, if we’re honest, there’s no such thing as a bad choice here; everything is amazing. However, I’d highly recommend one of the golden, flaky pastries, like this particularly magnificent matcha strawberry cronut. Countless numbers of pefect, crisp pastry filled with silky smooth matcha cream, and a bit of tangy strawberry jammy glaze on top. And a matcha marshmallow. Golden…

 

Then, get pampered at Glitz & Glam Nails
355 Smith St, Collingwood
https://web.facebook.com/glitzandglamnails.melb/

I’m not a girly girl. I don’t fake tan, I don’t get my nails done, I don’t even colour my hair. I take terrible care of my nails and feet, so I thought a little mani pedi action would be a nice treat. That said, I didn’t want to spend an absolute fortune and end up thinking “I could have done that myself at home.” Enter the ladies at Glitz & Glam – only $50 got me a relaxing hour of nail care (with a billion odd nail colours to choose from, including what looked like the majority of the O.P.I catalogue!), and they did a fantastic job 🙂 They made me feel right at home, and the massage chair they set me up in while my nails dried was the best thing that happened all week! If you need a little low maintenance girly pampering time, I’d highly recommend them!

 

Time to eat again, at Rice Paper Scissors
307 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
http://www.ricepaperscissors.com.au/

This place felt like the fancy home I wish I had from the moment I walked in – an amazing space that was just the right balance of laid back and too-gorgeous-for-my-life. The staff were all lovely; every single one of them on the floor and behind the bar made an effort to speak to me at one point. The menu is up around the same special standard, using an Asian hawker food model to produce a menu that’s street food at the heart, but way sexier. I got me a mango, coconut, mint crush to get started…

… followed by some delicious pork belly bao and the day’s special: crispy duck with Asian herb salad, chilli jam & coconut dressing.  The photos basically speak for themselves; the bao buns were pillowy soft with magnificent chunks of perfectly tender pork belly. And the salad was a bowl of flavour – the duck was amazing, and the herbs were fresh and punchy – this is one of the only salads you wanna be making friends with.

 

You’ve been tenderly pampered and fed, so now’s a good time to go and get tattooed at
Tattoo Magic
100 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
http://www.tattoomagic.com.au/

I was reading my book on the tram and realised that the design on my Lillytales bookmark was exactly what I wanted to add to my airplane tattoo on my right forearm. After my morning noms and pampering, I made my way to Tattoo Magic on Gertrude St, spoke to lovely lady manning the front desk – 10 minutes later I was sitting with Sean Jackson, working out sizes. 20 minutes after that, I was freshly inked, for the… eleventh, I think, time. $130 all up for the book and tea cup, superstar bloke, gorgeous shop, awesome experience, highly recommended!

 

And now that that’s all done, time to kick back for one more cup of tea at
Slowpoke Espresso
157 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
https://web.facebook.com/Slowpoke-Espresso-221714874514535/

There’s nothing like a hot pot of tea and a chocolate chip cookie to end the day, and Slowpoke does a bloody good chocolate chip cookie. Those little black specks on top are salt flakes, and they’re like fairy dust on top. The cookie is soft and chewy, which was a massive relief to me (I hate dry, chalky, crunchy cookies). And the chocolate was super sweet and creamy. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my day!

Eat here: Heart Bread Antique, Tokyo, Japan (bakery)

Heart Bread Antique
3-4-17 Ginza | OPTICA 1F, Chuo 104-0061, Tokyo
http://www.heart-bread.com/shop

I came across this place in Ginza after arriving at Cha Ginza, only to find out that their tea house actually opened an hour after their retail store. While I was wandering the streets killing time, I realised my stomach was audibly grumbling, and resolved to stop at the next cafe I found; a few meters later, I looked over my right shoulder to see a giant glass door with what looked to be giant donuts stuck to it..

I still can’t say with absolute certainty what exactly Heart Bread Antique are purveyors of. Absolutely mammoth wheels of pastry, approximately the size of a small tyre (or almost the height of an iPhone and with a circumference of a standard dinner plate) were lined up and collected at surprising rate by customers flying in and out the door.

A quick walk around uncovered a small rack of “minis” – curiosity got the better of me, so I grabbed one to fuel myself with until the tea house was ready for me…

… Wow. Basically, a croissanty, puff pastry donut, layer upon layer of crunchy golden goodness, with chocolate chips and walnuts tucked in there. I still don’t really know what it was, technically, but it was DELICIOUS!! And the crazy amount of people filing in and out of the little store purely to pick up the giant versions as they passed through the otherwise quiet street made it pretty clear this place was popular with the locals, too.

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If you’re in the neighbourhood, definitely worth a visit! And if anyone gets into one of those mega ones, tell me what it’s like!

Cook this: from scratch beef & bacon pie

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Flaky, golden pastry. Tender, soft chunks of beef. Crispy bits of bacon. Gooey, melted cheese. And that punch of red wine and thyme that you can smell from the next room. As if you need any more convincing! Home made pies; yeah, they’re a little time consuming, but if you’ve got a few hours to kill over the weekend, I promise you that the end product will be MORE than worth your time and efforts! Husband and I were both craving some good, old fashioned meat pies, so I needed a good, no, a great recipe to satisfy; I needed help from Donna Hay for this one. Well, for the filling anyway; I’d like to think I’ve already got pretty solid pastry skills.

So, first things first – get that pastry going. It needs to rest in the fridge before you even think about turning the oven on, for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 or 3 hours. You can use my recipe for pastry right here, making it from scratch, or if you’re a little short on time or patience, feel free to buy some from the supermarket! If you’re going the whole hog from scratch, I doubled this recipe to make 4 pies that were made in Texas muffin tins (read: giant cupcake sized).

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While the pastry is chilling in the fridge, get the filling going. I used a recipe from an old Donna Hay cookbook as a base for my pies; here’s the recipe with my changes!

Ingredients:
– 800g chuck steak, cut into bite-sized chunks
– plain flour, for dusting
– olive oil
– 4 rashers bacon, diced
– 1 small brown onion, diced
– 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
– 1 cup red wine
– 1½ cups beef stock
– 2 tsp thyme leaves
– sea salt and cracked pepper
– 1½ tbsp plain flour
– 3 tbsp water
– 4 tbsp grated manchego cheese

Method:
1. Once you’ve made the pastry and popped it in the fridge to chill, place the steak in a large bowl and dust with plain flour. Make sure all pieces are well coated. And, preheat the oven to 180°C while you’re at it!

2. Heat a large pot over high heat and add a generous amount of olive oil. Add the meat, in batches if need be, and cook for 3 – 4 minutes until well browned.

3. Remove the meat from the pot, add a little more olive oil, as well as the onion and bacon. Cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes, until the bacon starts to brown. Then add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute.

4. Return the meat to the pot, along with the red wine, beef stock, thyme, and as much salt and pepper as you like. Bring to the boil, then simmer, covered, for half an hour.

5. While the filling is simmering away, take the pastry out of the fridge and roll it out. Personally, I like my pastry a little thicker, but each to their own! Cut out larger circles of pastry for the pie shells, and smaller circles for the tops. Spray your pie (or Texas muffin) tins with cooking oil, and fit the pastry in, pressing firmly around all edges. Prick a few holes on the bottom of each pastry shell, line with baking paper, and fill with pie weights or rice. Put the tray in the fridge until the 30min of covered simmering time is up.

6. When that 30 minutes is up, take the tin out of the fridge and put it into the oven. At the same time, remove the lid from the pot and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. When that time is up, take the pastry out of the oven – it should be a light, golden colour.

7. Mix the flour and water together in a small bowl, and add it to the pie filling. Bring the mixture to the boil again, and stir until it thickens up to a consistency you’re happy with.

8. Fill your pie shells with mixture, add a little grated cheese on top, then place the pastry rounds on top, carefully pressing on the edges. If you need a bit more stickyness to help you, brush a little water around the edges of the rounds. Make one or two small slits in the tops, and pop them back in the oven for another 20 minutes, or until golden (For added golden-ness, I like to brush a little melted butter on top first).

What’s gonna come out of the oven and onto your plate (let them cool for a few minutes first, or you can kiss your tongue goodbye!) is probably not going to be the most beautiful pie in the world. Mince certainly weren’t. But you’re going to have a crispy little golden shell filled with soft, tender beef, and the subtle melty cheese which adds the perfect touch to balance out the rich, strong flavours of the filling.

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I was so stoked with how these pies turned out, with the fabulous Ms Donna Hay once again coming to my rescue! Who else has a stock pile of her cook books that never let you down?!

Cook this: Manchego and chorizo quiche

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I’m in the “any-excuse-for-pastry” camp and really believe that there aren’t many foods that can’t be improved by wrapping them up in the good stuff. And it really wasn’t until a few years ago when I learnt to make my own pastry from scratch that I started finding reasons to use it in every day cooking. Buying it from the supermarket can get kind of expensive, and it seemed like a lot of work to make it myself. What I didn’t realise then was that making pastry from scratch requires only butter, flour and water, takes a few minutes, and can sit in the fridge until you need it. I also think it tastes a hell of a lot better than the store-bought stuff, and sounds really impressive when you tell your dinner guests that you made it yourself (they don’t need to know it isn’t hard).

I made this quiche last week after our weekly visit to the Preston Market for groceries – they have the most unreal produce from just about every ethnicity you can think of; this time, the chorizo and Manchego stood out, so I went with a Spanish-style quiche. It was actually really easy to throw together and keeps well in the fridge in an air-tight container for a few days, so you can always double the ingredients for a bigger quiche or make two, and take them to work for lunch with you during the week if you feel like a change from sandwiches!

Ingredients (makes one medium quiche)
– 1 portion of pastry (see below)
– 1 small chorizo sausage
– 1 cup grated Manchego cheese
– 1 large tomato, de-seeded and diced
– 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
– 4 eggs
– ¾ cup milk

PASTRY:
– 100g plain flour
– 100g butter, super cold and diced into small pieces
– ice cold water
– pinch of salt

First, you’ll need to make the pastry…
It tastes freakin unreal, it always comes out golden and crumbly. Also, if you substitute the salt for a little sugar, it makes a killer sweet pastry too!

1. Combine the butter, flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and rub them together to form crumbs. Try to work quickly, as the pastry will turn out better if the butter stays cold.
2. Once rubbed together and formed into rough crumbs, add 1 tbsp ice cold water and mix. If you need a little more to bring the dough together, add another tbsp. Bring the dough together with your hands, gently forming it into a ball (trying not to over handle it). Wrap it in cling wrap and pop it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using it.

Once the pastry has rested…
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease a 9 inch quiche tin, roll out the pastry and fit it into the tin. Prick it with a fork so the steam has somewhere to escape, lay a sheet of baking paper over it and fill it with pie weights, dry rice or dry beans.

2. Bake the pastry for 10 minutes, until the edges just start to brown, then remove it to be filled.

3. While the pastry is in the oven for those 10 minutes, prepare the filling. Slice up the chorizo into chunks the size of your preference and fry them up on a non stick pan. Don’t bother oiling the pan, because a ton of oil will come out of it.

4. Once it’s all brown and crispy and smelling irresistible, throw in the tomato and cook it all up for another 2 or 3 minutes over high heat. Then, set the pan aside to cool a little

5. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a large bowl, add in the chorizo, tomato, parsley and half of the cheese, as well as a little salt and pepper. Pour it all into the pastry crust, sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and throw it back into the oven for another 20 minutes, or until set and golden on top.

 

 

No, it’s not the sexiest quiche in the world, and yes I probably could have taken more care with the crust and prettied it up a bit. But I’d rather my food taste amazing than look perfect, so I’m pretty happy with this! I was also surprised at just how quick and easy it was to make, which is bad news for my waist line, because that means I’ll be making more. Ah well, life’s too short to say no to pastry..

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