Bella Vedere – Fresh Produce from the Yarra Valley

Bella Vedere Sign Post
Bella Vedere, I learnt Italian when I was in high school and I definitely know Bella means Beautiful. With “Vedere”, I mistakenly thought it was Verde which is the colour Green in Italian so I had to look the word Vedere up. Google says it means ‘to see’, ‘to look at’, ‘meet’, ‘visit’, etc…

So If I put the two words together, “Bella Vedere”, I would say it means something like Beautiful To See. But I went further and consulted Google Translate and it told me it means Nice To See.

OK, enough Italian for today. Lets talk about Bella Vedere. Gary Cooper is part owner and head chef of Bella Vedere and has maintained a one hat Michelin rating for Bella Vedere three years in a row. I can’t believe I ate there and didn’t realise he was in the kitchen cooking my lunch (If I paid more attention I would of taken a photo with him).As you drive in, you’re greeted with a lovely town house building with some grape plantation on either side. The grapes were covered, most likely to protect the grapes as it was a week before harvest time when I went.The front is welcoming, with a small section on the right dedicated for wine tasting and on the left is the Bella Bakehouse for when you walk into the restaurant you are drawn in by the freshly baked bread.As you walk past the small bakery, you see a wall of local produce. Did I mention, Bella Vedere is known for using local produce that make up their menu and the menu always changes from season to season or available stock.In the back, they have their own garden where a number of their vegetables and fruits are sourced from. You can also see their neighbour from the garden which from memory was Oakridge Vineyard which looked spectacular.On the left hand side of the corridor directly after the jars of local produce you are tempted with freshly baked cakes and dessert. I think the first dessert pictured below is tiramisu. If you duck your head and have a peek inside the kitchen, the chef’s are very welcoming and are happy to say hello. The restaurant is nice and cosy, white clothed tables, dressed with cutlery for a three course meal, freshly baked bread and fresh flowers and produce from the garden. There’s also a bar and an open kitchen for all to see.The waiters were very helpful and polite and offered water and wine as we settled onto our table. There were 7 of us for lunch and we heard great things about this restaurant so we weren’t about to hold back. We started with entree…scampi…Ox Tounge salad…Thickly Cut chips with egg and another one with some special sauceWhile we were waiting for the food, some of us went outside to look at the garden and as everyone walked back in Miss J, casually started a convo with one of the chefs. Who convinced her to order some smoked or grilled eel that he was preparing. Later on we realised she was speaking to Gary Cooper. The eel’s skin was quite rubbery but was warned by Gary to take off the skin. I think the eel was grilled but it had a real smokey flavour to it which I didn’t mind.
Not onto the lunch mains…don’t let the pictures deceive you, these dishes were a treat and I would recommend all of them but then again, when you visit the restaurant, the menu most likely would of changed or there would be a slight variant.
Half a duck, looks small on photo but looked fairly large on the plate.Next we have quail. The entree serves one quail and the main serves two. If you’re not hungry I suggest just the one will satisfy you.A thinly slice minute cooked steak is next on the list which we though was going to be a small dish but it was fairly sized and filled up the two that ordered it. It looks thick on the photo, but it’s actually a thin slice of beef ontop of mash potato or vegetables.My favourite was probably the rabbit dish which I scabbed some off Miss J. The dish looks small on the photo but it was a generous serving of rabbit.Two of us were game enough to try something that sounds pretty disgusting but as foodies, we were up for anything. And that dish was “LAMB BRAINS“!!! I’m not pulling your leg, look at the pictures below. It was pure lamb brains with a nice tangy sauce.Here’s a close up of the lamb brains with the outer layer peeled off. YUMMMMM!!!I have to admit, it did get a bit sickening after the 5th piece. It would of been nice with some rice, in my opinion.

We made sure we made some room for dessert. A bit of tiramisu, strawberry cheesecake & a rich chocolate ganache cake with a biscuit casing.

I came with little expectation and an empty stomach and either way I definitely enjoyed the dishes, the setting, the service, the company and the fresh air of the country side. Make it a day trip, there’s definitely plenty to do in the Yarra Valley area. Make sure to visit some other places around the area such as Domaine Chandon, Little Creatures Brewery, The White Rabbit Brewery, Healsville Sanctuary and so much more.

Location:874 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream VIC 3770
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FOG Bar & Restaurant – Great Buzz In The Heart of Prahran

 

FOG is a classy restaurant in the heart of Prahran, serving for brunch, lunch and dinner. It’s down Greville St with a nice credible selection of great Cafes, Bars and Restaurants that I’m keen to review soon.

Ms J works close by and one night when I went to pick her up, we ended up having dinner with her boss and his wife. Great company! There was no intention of a “proper” night out so we were all dressed quite casually and started to feel very under-dressed that Friday when the herd of party people started to rock by to the cocktail birthday out at the back deck (around 6:30pm). Whoops! Others frocked up quite nicely as they came by for  drinks to kick start the weekend. With smiles all round, we didn’t care. It was a lovely start to the evening.

I’m not usually a wine drinker but the bottle that we picked was to my liking, (sorry I didn’t pay attention to the name of the wine) but I did take notice of their wine glasses (above photo)

Fog is participating in the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2011 (March 4th-14th), see here for more details.

For entree we shared a tasting plate of dips, crackers, cheese, olives & sun-dried tomatoes.Sashimi too…And I can’t forget the Thai Style Seared, Rare Beef Salad which was a delight to try and came with some crispy shallotsTasmanian Salmon which sat ontop of some black sticky rice and a bit of greens. Looks like black balls.Ms J tried the Braised Veal Ragout, I tried some too and the veal just melted in my mouth.We also picked on a salad that tasted fresh and went well with my main.My main was the Rangers Valley Angus Rump with creamy mash and some asparagus.
The food was great, the atmosphere was buzzing with lots of chatter and laughs and the service was top notch. I highly recommend trying this place out. www.fog.com.au

Location: 142 Greville Street, Prahran VIC 3181
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A festive family feast on Christmas Eve

This year my family decided to have a fairly traditional westernized Christmas feast as much as possible. My mum decided to have ham, turkey and duck. Can you believe that? A bit overkill with the meat but you know what? It turned out well…let’s start off with the meats…

My sister prepared the turkey with some baked potatoes (great work with the turkey and potatoes). I don’t usually like turkey but I enjoyed this one…

My dad prepared the duck! First he boiled it, then placed it in the oven…

I told him that doesn’t look cooked, then he told me, “it’s only half way there”. I saw him brushing it with his marinade, then cooked it in the oven for a bit longer and the next thing I knew it was ready and boy did it taste good!!!

Everyone, meat my leg of ham!

That’s right, I cooked the leg of ham and everyone loved it. I felt quite chuffed!

Poked a bunch of holes into it to let the marinade seep into the ham and then marinated it in pineapple juice for 2 days. Before I placed it in the oven I brushed maple syrup all over the skin then every 5-10 minutes I brushed it with my pineapple and maple syrup mixture to keep it nice and moist.

It looks like the pig’s head but really, it’s pork leg…

I know I’m working backwards here but I can’t forget the wonderful entree we had…

Like Joseph’s restaurant @ The Harvest Picnic we prepared a maple syrup and walnut crushed sauce to drizzle on the oysters and of course some lemon and pepper sauce as well…I know a sweet maple sauce on oysters doesn’t make sense but you gotta try it…it’s delish!

Dad also prepared some fruit cheese with some juicy red currants for entree (nice for entree and after dinner)

Then my sister spoilt us with her array of desserts from leche flan (popular filipino dessert…which I’m determined to attempt and ace soon!), a rich and creamy choc ripple cake, beautiful pavlova and some sweet beans (often used for halo halo a filipino crushed ice drink…I’ll do a post one time)

OMG!!! What a feast!!! There were a few other things we had, such as salad, a creamy potato egg and corn salad and my mum can’t go without rice so we mixed up some fried rice for her…okay I admit I had some too.

Meet my family minus myself, as you can see we were all in the Christmas spirit and wore Christmas colours. My little nephew had a little elf outfit on. So cute!!!Then you have Miss Jen as a dorky christmas reindeer…Then me with dorky christmas reindeer!!!

I hope everyone had a fun filled Christmas with lots of joy, laughter and presents and my family and I wish everyone a great and awesome year

Lemon Mustard Chicken Salad Recipe – Easy, Fresh and Delicious

Keeping it fresh for the sunny days we have been (momentarily) blessed with in Melbourne, I was inspired by a new recipe I learnt while researching at an Electrolux oven demonstration at Harvey Norman in Sunshine.

This dish was a perfect fit for what I wanted. Here’s the recipe:

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Lemon Mustard Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

– 3 Chicken breast fillets skinless (I used chicken thighs with the skin on because I like the juicy taste of it but if you have a well circulating oven you can achieve moist breast fillets)
– 3 kipfler potatoes (thinly sliced, about 1/2cm thick)
– 1 avocado
– 3 roma tomatoes
– 200g baby lettuce leaves
– 50g spinach leaves (optional)
– cracked pepper

Marinade and Dressing
– 4 tsp Dijon mustard (you can use more)
– 4 tbsp lemon juice (i used cumquat because we have a fruitful cumquat tree)
– 8 tbsp olive oil (you can use more)
– 2 cloves garlic (crushed)

Method:
– Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and whisk together. Reserve half the marinade to use for the dressing.

– Trim the chicken. Wash the potatoes and thinly slice (about 1/2cm thick). Marinade the chicken and potatoes for at least 30 mins.

– Preheat oven on fan grill function (if you have that option) at 200°C

– Cook the chicken and potatoes for around 15-20 minutes (depending on your oven cooking time may vary)

– Wash, dry and arrange baby lettuce and spinach (spinach optional) on a serving platter. Cut tomatoes into quarters and slice avocado and arrange on top of lettuce.

– Place potatoes on top of the salad and slice chicken and arrange on top of potatoes. Drizzle dressing over salad and season with freshly ground cracked pepper.

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Here’s a few tips:

Scoop out your avocado and keep it intact so you can slice it up and not have it all mushy…

Plate up some baby lettuce leaves on the bottom of the plate (this looks really good on a long rectangle plate but I just used 2 square plates). I kept the baby lettuce leaves the way they were for the bottom then cut up smaller pieces of baby lettuce and spinach, then dressed it up with the lemon mustard dressing…

Place the tomatoes, avocado and potatoes on top of the baby lettuce (I forgot to place the potatoes underneath the chicken but it was too late so I placed them on top)…

Slice up your chicken, as mentioned in the recipe I used chicken leg with the skin on but if you have a good oven it’s probably better to use skinless chicken breast but that’s up to you…make sure to drizzle more of the dressing on top of the chicken and potatoes…

There you have it, it’s not that difficult to pull off an easy summer dish for the family….and in my case a Christmas Summer Dinner!