Hell of the North, Fitzroy

Awhile back, Alex surprised me with a fancy night out to celebrate completing my first semester of grad school. He didn’t tell me where we were going, and instead led me up a dark alleyway off of Smith Street to a large, yellow door. Inside was a dark restaurant, built around a large bar in the center- I still had no idea where we were, or what this places was called! It was only when we sat down at the bar for a cocktail that I discovered the secret that is Hell of the North, a Euro-style restaurant with French inclinations, focused on seasonal ingredients. After a few fantastic cocktails, we settled in with a bottle of wine while perusing the menu. To start, we simply could not overlook the Roquefort croquettes; Alex ordered a french onion soup and we also split a Cheese Soufflé- there were just too many delicious things to choose from! The awesome Roquefort croquettes had a thicker coating than expected, however it paired with the strong funky cheese interior really well. Alex’s french onion soup was “absolutely delicious”- which is high praise coming from a boy who supposedly doesn’t like soup! Finally there was the cheese soufflé- I’ve somehow never had a soufflé before, and this was an amazing introduction! The soufflé was fluffy and light, and paired perfectly with the piperade; a spicy tomato-pepper sauce that originates in the Basque region of France. For mains, Alex had the Lamb Navarin, while I had the Snapper Quenelle with Sauce Nantua. The navarin- a stew from Normandy which combines lamb, turnips and carrots, was rich without being too heavy, and filling without any carbs on the plate. I decided to be adventurous and try the snapper quenelle- oh boy, was it an adventure. The quenelle was like a spongy, fish cake/dumpling…I’m doing a terrible job of describing it, but it was like nothing that I have ever eaten. The texture, the taste, the mouth feel (I can’t believe I actually just used that word not as a joke)- it was all completely new to me, but really delicious. The nantua sauce was a rich, buttery lobster-based sauce- totally indulgent and yet perfect for the quenelle. I am not used to eating food as rich as this, and it took me quite a long time to get through, but I ended up really enjoying it. For sides we had pommes frites and endive & orange salad- the pommes frites were crunchy and delicious, and the salad provided a much needed freshness to cut the richness of our mains. Finally, we ended with a canelle with honey ice cream and honeycomb. The canelle was moist and paired divinely with the rich honeyed ice cream. We left Hell of the North fully satisfied, and pushing our limits in terms of butter and cream consumption (in the best way possible). I hope that all of you can make your way to the beautiful yellow door off of Smith Street, and be equally delighted with what lies inside.

- priya

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cocktail

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cocktails on cocktails- they were fresh and delicious

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Roquefort Croquettes

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Reypenaer Cheese Soufflé, Piperade

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French Onion Soup

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Pommes Frites

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Navarin of Lamb

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Endive & Orange Salad

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Poached Snapper Quenelle, Sauce Nantua

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Canelle, Honey Ice Cream, Honeycomb

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Roasted Chicken Maryland w/ Fennel, Dukkah & Pearl Barley Risotto

So, if you haven’t noticed – WE. COOK. A. LOT. OF. CHICKEN!  Being limited in choice with old Priya floating around the house means I’ve gotta think up new and wonderful ways to make chicken exciting. This dish, leveraging off that delicious nutty, seedy, spicy blend – Dukkah, is both tasty and simple to make.

And don’t worry about standing over the stove, stirring and adding stock.  Barley risotto, just pour all the stock over the barley and you’re in the money.  Don’t feel limited to chicken either (shhh Priya doesn’t need to know), but you can easily substitute any protein – this dish would go particularly well with some medium rare lamb or beef.  I’m going to give you the recipe minus carrots, as you can check out the recipe here if you want to combine forces.  The key to perfect chicken is to liberally salt the skin, cook it on the bone (keeps it nice and juicy) and makes it (almost)impossible to overcook. Happy cooking.

-alex

IMGP6967Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups pearl barley, rinsed and drained
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced – save fennel fronds for garnish
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • olive oil
  • 2 chicken Maryland, skin on
  • 2/3 cup parmesan cheese grated
  • salt and pepper
  • dukkah to garnish

Method:

Remove your chicken from the fridge and season generously with salt and pepper, set aside.  Pre-heat oven to 180°C.  Heat large saucepan over medium heat, add a lug of olive oil, saute onion, garlic and fennel for 3-5 minutes or until opaque.

IMGP6901Crank heat up to high and add rinsed and drained barley.  Toast barley until golden, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Add thyme, bay leaf.

IMGP6903Add wine and reduce by 2/3.  Add stock, bring to boil, reduce to medium/low heat and simmer. Leave to cook, stirring occasionally, approximately 25-35 minutes or until chewy, if all moisture is absorbed prior to completion, add a dash of water. Meanwhile cook your chicken.

IMGP6904Heat a non-stick, oven friendly pan over high heat.  Add a Tbsp or two of olive oil, when oil is just before smoking point place your chicken, skin side down (the outside of the leg).  Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until skin is crisp and golden. Turn chicken, cook for a further 2 minutes and transfer pan into oven. Bake for approximately 30 mintues, or until cooked through.

IMGP6906When barley risotto is cooked add Parmesan cheese, pepper and salt to taste, stir through.

IMGP6931Serve risotto, topped with chicken, sprinkled dukkah and garnished with fennel fronds. Good times.

IMGP6966roasted chicken maryland w/ fennel, dukkah and pearl barley risotto

Chilli & Ginger Glazed Chicken w/ Vegetables- featuring Roza’s Gourmet Sauces!

Earlier this week, we were lucky enough to receive some sauces from Roza’s Gourmet Sauces- a family-owned company based in Brisbane that makes all-natural, gluten-free delights. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a lover of all things saucy- dips, marinades…the list goes on. So I was delighted when Roza’s gave us their Chilli Ginger Chutney to try out; since it is winter, I wanted to create something warming but also reasonably healthy, with plenty of veggies. During winter it is far too easy to fall into the trap of eating rich, comfort food day in and day out- this recipe utilises comforting flavours with fresh, light ingredients. For this recipe, you will need the following:

For the chicken:

- two chicken breasts

- 1 teaspoon soy sauce

- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

- 4-5 tablespoons Roza’s Chilli Ginger Chutney

- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated garlic

- 1/3 lime, juice squeezed

For the veggies (this serving will serve two easily- however we doubled the veggies and used the leftovers for veggie dumplings the next day):

- 8 or so shiitake mushrooms, sliced

- 1/2 capsicum, thinly sliced

- 1 bunch chinese broccoli, chopped in half

- 1 bunch choy sum, roughly chopped

- 1/3 zucchini, thinly sliced

- 1/2 small can bamboo shoots

- 1/2 can baby corn, corn sliced in half

- 2 birds eye chillies, thinly sliced

- 1 tablespoon ginger, either sliced into batons or shredded

- 3 tablespoons soy sauce (more to taste)

- 2 tablespoons sriracha

- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (more to taste)

- 1/3 teaspoon honey

sesame oil

salt & pepper, to taste

Begin by creating a marinade for the chicken breasts. The Chilli & Ginger Chutney is a wonderful base for a marinade- it is quite sweet, with a lingering spiciness and a hit of ginger that comes through at the end of each taste. Combine all of the ingredients (from the chicken section) in a bowl, and taste before adding the chicken- balance the flavours to your liking- maybe a bit more salt, a bit more spice…it all depends on one’s personal taste. When happy with the marinade, thoroughly coat the chicken, and leave it for about twenty minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 C.

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While the chicken is marinating, chop the vegetables. Place them all in a large bowl, sectioned off, so that they are easy to add to the pan one by one later on.

IMGP7384Place a non-stick, oven-friendly pan over medium heat, and add sesame oil and a dash of cooking oil. When the oil becomes fragrant, add the chicken- simply brown on each side. Once the chicken is just barely cooked through on each side, spoon the extra marinade on top of the chicken, and pop it in the oven (for maybe 10-15 minutes) to fully cook through. Ok, I have a confession to make…I mayyyyybe sliiiightly overcooked our chicken breasts for this meal. However, I decided to go ahead and not ignore the fact that I screwed up, because sometimes these mistakes are a reminder that even though we have been doing this for almost three (!!) years, we still can do things as basic as overcooking chicken breasts!

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While the chicken is in the oven, start the veggies. They should cook quickly on a high heat- start by toasting a glug of sesame oil. Once the oil is fragrant, add the green stems and sauté quickly, before adding a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar. If using vegetables that differ from ours, follow this simple rule: add what cooks the slowest: first, and what cooks the quickest: last. Once the green stems are softened, add the remainder of the veggies. Sauté them, and add soy sauce, sriracha and ginger. Taste and subsequently balance with honey/rice wine vinegar/soy sauce etc., as you see fit.

IMGP7388 Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven and leave it to rest.

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Finally, it is time to plate up! I served the veggies and chicken with our Simple Sesame & Garlic Noodles- it would also be nice with brown rice or even without a carb.

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Garnish the dish with a bit of cucumber, coriander and a little squeeze of lime. Done! When plated up, this dish is beautiful and full of flavour- and easy to adjust based on whatever is in season. The chicken glaze is truly what makes the dish, and we could not have done it without the lovely people at Roza’s!

- priya

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Chilli & Ginger Glazed Chicken with Veggies, featuring Roza’s Gourmet Sauces

Simple Sesame & Garlic Noodles

Here at Boy Meets Girl Meets Food, we love a good noodle dish. However, I often find that they can become quite heavy and drowned out with sauces, so yesterday I set about making a light and simple noodle dish (to accompany a special recipe coming tomorrow!). For this dish, you will need the following:

180 grams noodles of your choice- I used ramen but soba would work nicely as well

1/2 cucumber

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2-3 birds eye chillies

1/3 of a lime

1×1 inch chunk of ginger, finely chopped or shredded

4 tbsps sesame oil

1/2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted lightly

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To begin, bring a large pot of water to boil. While the water is warming up, finely slice the cucumber into thin matchsticks, as such:

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Next, heat 3 tablespoons of sesame oil in a non-stick pan. Once the sesame oil is toasting (you will get that lovely fragrant sesame smell) add your garlic and chili. The water should be boiling away, so chuck your noodles in and keep a close eye on them- our ramen only took four minutes to cook! I took them out at 3:30, just because they were going to cook in the pan for a bit as well.

IMGP7378By the time the garlic is softened and cooked through, the noodles should also be done. Toss them in with the garlic and chili, and add the diced ginger. Mix so that the sesame-garlic oil is evenly spread throughout the noodles, and add a bit more sesame oil if necessary (I found that it was necessary at this point). Season generously with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, and hit the noodles with a squeeze of lime. I like serving these noodles slightly chilled/below room temperature, so I put them in the fridge to cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

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Just before serving, remove the noodles from the fridge, and top with the cucumber slices and a bit more of fresh chili. I sadly realized that Alex accidentally broke our sesame seed container this past weekend (and conveniently forgot to tell me), so we had to pass on the seeds, but I would definitely top the noodles with toasted sesame seeds at this point as well for some added crunch.

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And there you have it! A super easy, simple noodle dish that is the perfect accompaniment to saucy stir frys or a medley of other dishes. Enjoy!

- priya

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Simple Sesame & Garlic Noodles

Top Paddock, Richmond

Top Paddock holds the kind of brunch notoriety reserved for LA’s top West Hollywood spots- which made it the perfect spot for a reunion with my old LA work manager! When we arrived on a Sunday morning the place was practically bursting at the seams with eager eaters, waiting to be seated. After an extended wait (over an hour) and a blunder with the tables, three of us were squeezed into a small spot normally reserved for two; thankfully I had visited on a Tuesday a week earlier and taken photos, because there was definitely no room at our tiny table for a giant DSLR! We started off with some drinks- a flat white for one of the boys and mimosas for the ladies. The blueberry & ricotta hotcakes are easily Top Paddock’s most-renowned dish on the menu, and we all decided to split them as a starter and get our own various meals; after being told that the hotcakes would take 20 minutes, we opted for them as dessert instead. One of my co-workers ordered the Top Paddock- chorizo, pickled onion, peppers, basil, bacon, green tomatoes, poached eggs and relish on toast- while another went with pan-fried snapper with a chilli-fried egg, avocado, lime, tomatoes and a corn tortilla. I went sweet with sticky black gingerbread, drunken berries and chocolate ganache. The Top Paddock was beautiful, hearty local fare, that completely satisfied my British companion. The pan-fried snapper and its various counterparts fell a little flat for me- I found the components to be a little too simple, and thought that it would have been greatly improved with a wonderful salsa. The sticky gingerbread was also a slight letdown- I was expecting something gooey and carmelly (after all, it did have the word ‘sticky’ in the title), but instead had a thick slice of normal (albeit delicious) gingerbread. That being said, the drunken berries were AMAZING, and one of the highlights of the entire meal. The chocolate ganache was also lovely, although I think that a vanilla cream or ganache would have been better paired against the rich gingerbread. Whatever small disappointments I felt with the latter two dishes in our meal completely disappeared when the hotcakes came into play. First off, they are GORGEOUS. Covered in edible flowers, seeds and a dollop of double cream (sprinkled with violet sugar, I might add), it truly makes an impact upon arriving at the table. And the taste absolutely lives up to its striking good looks, and all of the hype- they were fluffy, moist, and bursting with fresh pops from the blueberries, balanced with the creaminess of the ricotta. They were, in short, heavenly. Normally when I order sweet items I tend to regret them because they are so heavy and sweet, but these were light and not at all too sweet. While not all of Top Paddock’s food lived up to the hype (and the hype is super intense), the hot cakes more than made up for any other shortcomings. My advice? Go during the week if you can, and definitely order the hot cakes! To share or to keep to oneself- well, that’s up to you to decide.

- priya

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Flat White

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Mimosa (topped with an overexcited champagne bubble)

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Top Paddock- Chorizo, pickled onions, peppers, basil, bacon, Adelaide green tomatoes, poached eggs and relish on toast

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Pan-fried local snapped, chilli-fried egg, avocado, tomatoes, lime

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Sticky black gingerbread with drunken berries and chocolate ganache

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 Blueberry and ricotta hotcakes with berries, seeds, flowers, double cream and violet sugar

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400 Gradi, Brunswick

In April, 400 Gradi exploded onto the food scene after taking home the top prize at the Pizza World Championship, held in Italy. Everyone in Melbourne was flocking to try and get a bite of the world’s best pizza, and one Wednesday evening Alex and I were lucky enough to get seats at the bar to sample it ourselves! We started with some glasses of wine and a caprese salad- ok pizza aside, I would seriously come back just for this caprese! It was easily the best one we’ve ever had outside of Italy. The mozzarella di bufala was rich and creamy, almost like a burrata, while the tomatoes were bursting with freshness. The simple EVOO, salt and pepper dressing was the perfect complement to the simple yet amazing ingredients on the plate- what Italian food is all about. Next up were the two pizzas- we ordered a Toscano pizza (a sauce-less base with fior di latte, mushrooms, rocket and goats cheese) and of course, the award-winning margherita. The pizzas were, unsurprisingly, wonderful. The margherita was my favourite (as it tends to be, when done properly), and had a robust san marzano base that paired nicely with the generous amount of mozzarella di bufula that topped the pizza. The crust/base was doughier than a lot of traditional Italian pizzas that we have seen, but it still maintained a lovely light and airy composition. Finally, there was dessert. We went with a honey panna cotta, and it was one of the best desserts we have had in recent months! The panna cotta itself was light, with the honey flavour coming through beautifully. Accents of sticky vincotto and pistachio crumb went perfectly with the panna cotta- the vincotto was sweet and robust, while the crumb provided a wonderful texture and addition to the flavour profile (Josh, that one is for you). The pizza at 400 Gradi was some of the best that we have eaten outside of Italy, while the starters and dessert were incredible enough to seal the deal for us. We definitely recommend 400 Gradi, hype aside, for a beautiful, traditional Italian meal.

- priya

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 The wine selection at 400 Gradi was extensive

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Caprese- fresh tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, basil, EVOO

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Toscano- bianco pizza with fior di latte, mushrooms, rocket & goats cheese

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Margherita Verace- san marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, basil

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sitting at the bar gave us an awesome view of the pizza oven

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pannacotta al miele- honey pannacotta with sticky vincotto, pistachio crumb

Kong BBQ, Richmond

When Rue & Co (the popup eatery on Collins Street featuring Kong, Jimmy Grants and St. Ali) first opened up, I meandered over to Kong for some chicken wings and never looked back. So I was delighted to head over to Kong the full restaurant in Richmond earlier this week, and needless to say, it did not disappoint! The service was smooth, fast and efficient- Chin Chin’s little sister left me incredibly impressed, especially since Kong only opened on May 30th. Upon being seated, Alex was taken aback by how bright the lighting was, however I didn’t mind it- to each their own! We started off with wine and some cocktails- both cocktails were suggested by the bartender and ended up being delicious. Next came a little trio- two types of kimchi and some house-pickled vegetables. One of the kimchis (left in the photo) was deliciously rich and spicy, while the other one just didn’t do it for me- the pickled veggies however were great, loved that they went with shiitakes and baby corn instead of more typical pickling veggies. Next Alex and our friend Kate split two buns- one with smoked brisket, ssamjang and kimchi, and the other with soft shell crab, salted duck egg relish and coriander. While Alex officially deemed them ‘tasty’, he also said that they seemed overstuffed and that he prefers the buns at Shop Ramen. Next out were the peanut butter chicken wings, topped with pickled celery…omgz THESE WERE A DREAM. I’m a sucker for peanut sauces, and this one was creamy and delicious, and perfectly paired against the pickled celery and tender chicken. The chicken wings got some fierce competition from this next item for dish of the night- wood roasted salmon with crispy skin, seaweed salad and kimchi. Alex has been trying to convert me to a salmon lover for years, to no avail- but I would have happily had this entire dish to myself! The salmon was perfectly cooked, while the crispy skin added a nice bite and salty satisfaction to the dish- all balanced out nicely by the bright salad and sauce along the bottom of this dish. We also had the spicy enoki and charred tofu fried rice to go along with the meal- as expected it was quite simple, but awesome paired with the gochuchang sauce at the table. Finally, we finished out the meal with a spectacular dessert- walnut & apple tart with miso butterscotch and Japanese whiskey ice cream. Guys, this is the stuff dreams are made of. Rich, gooey, crunchy, creamy- this dessert was so simple and SO effective- another dish I would’ve happily eaten up myself! The line at Kong (they follow the annoying Melbourne ‘no reservations’ trend) is massive, but with good reason- the food absolutely lives up to the hype, and I actually enjoyed our meal there far more than when we ate at Chin Chin a few months ago (maybe that’s why the review is still in the blog queue?). The line goes quickly, so don’t let that stop you from checking out the latest addition to Richmond’s ever-growing food scene. As they say, Kong for happy life! Or at least a very, very happy stomach.

- priya

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loved their wine glasses

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 cocktails were quirky, inventive and delicious

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 Trio of Kimchi and Pickled Veggies

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 Soft Shell Crab Bun with duck egg relish and coriander

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 Smoked Brisket bun with ssamjang and kimchi

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 BBQ Peanut Butter Chicken Wings with Pickled Celery

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 Wood Roasted Salmon with Crispy Skin and Seaweed Salad

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 Enoki and Charred Tofu Fried Rice

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 Apple & Walnut Tart with Miso Butterscotch and Japanese Whiskey Ice Cream

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