Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Blogging for Dummies

The Sydney Morning Herald thinks I'm opinionated. And guess what? You can be too. All is revealed in Helen Bradley's blogging for dummies article. Very nice of Helen to use the Breakfast Blog as her case study. Now it's over to you. My tip? Go for the ridiculously over-specialised niche blog. I've decided breakfast is too broad. A better topic would be Breakfast Wines, or maybe The Porridge Blog.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Gold and Noone, Clifton Hill

You might call it The Milk Bar: Reloaded. Or maybe The Latte Bar. Stick an espresso machine and a George Foreman grill in an old milk bar and, hey presto, another cafe is born. In fact, you could stick an espresso machine in pretty much any dilapidated structure and turn it into a cafe these days, but that's a story for another day. Today's story is Gold and Noone, on the corner of... you guessed it... Gold and Noone Streets, Clifton Hill. With a very nice view of the old shot tower, aka munitions factory. Now there's a place with cafe potential. Double Shot Cafe, coming soon...

gold and noone

I went with the bacon and eggs special, with a sun-dried tomato and walnut pesto, avocado, spinach, poached eggs and relish. Apparently they do the bacon on a George Foreman grill, which seems to produce a limp, steamed effect with no crispiness. Not ideal. But otherwise it was an enjoyable brekky.

Eggs seem to be a weekend only affair, and it's strictly poached. This may make life easier for the proprieters, but it calls into question their commitment to breakfast. Mid-week choice is very narrow: toast, croissants, muesli and poached fruit. At $3.50, the toast is pretty good value. But don't come here looking for a fry-up.


The paint job on the outside wall was quite impressive. Very creative. A daily dose of breakfast and art in one hit. It's a wonder this place hasn't been taken over by the black skivvy crowd.

12/20 "only deserves bronze"


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Fritter Upgrade at Replete Providore

The old fritters were very good. The new fritters are better. Even better than Mart 130. The battle for fritter supremacy is heating up. In the somewhat-famous words of Anna from Big Bother Six: Game on mole! (You can take the girl out of Frankston) It's gonna take some special culinary magic to top this. Did someone say breakfast dish of the year?

asian corn fritters

First, Replete is now using fresh sweet corn. Second, they've raised the bacon bar to vertiginous levels with a superb, thick cut, deliciously tasty slab of honey-soy marinated bacon. Third, they've pulled off an inspired piece of fritter-fusion with an excellent sweet chili sauce. And finally, with po-mo flair, they crown the dish with an excellent pineapple salsa. It's almost as if the fritters are possessed by the spirit of a hawaiian pizza. Pig and pineapple. It's a match made in heaven.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Langton's is Back

For a while there breakfast was off at Langton's, 61 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Tel +61 3 9663 0222. Which was a pity, because it's too nice a venue to leave empty in the morning. But now it's back. So, this morning, having recovered from the excitement of watching John Howard leap around in a fluffy green tracksuit at 6.30 am, I decided to have a celebratory brekky in honour of Harry and the boys. Except Kalac. Nothing to celebrate in his performance. Something to investigate, maybe. But no cause for celebration.

cavapcicci snags

I toyed with the idea of ordering the boiled eggs and soldiers, if only because it came with "Murray River salt flakes" and I was curious to see how that was different from "salt". But in the end I went with the scrambled eggs, and it proved to be a winning move. Not so much for the scrambles (which were good but not spectacular), as for the extras. The grilled cevapcicci sausages were tasty, skinless little chaps. But the smoked tomato was the real star. Soft and mushy with a smokiness you'd normally associate with cured meats, it was an excellent complement to the snags. Rounding things out was a big pile of "smashed" kipflers, proving that spuds are an acceptable alternative to toast.

Service at Langton's is still superb, and the Winter menu seems to have something for everyone. Toast and jam at $4.50. Muesli with poached quince, yoghurt and "warmed" honey at $8. Toasted brioche, passionfruit curd and creme fraiche at $8.50. Or Tom Cooper's smoked salmon, poached egg, lemon and shallot butter sauce on sourdough toast at $14.50. My big scrambled brekky was $16, but it was good value nonetheless.

16/20 "smoked tomato"


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Return to Syracuse

Peel back the velvet curtains and settle in for some excellent poached eggs, bacon and wilted spinach on toasted sourdough at Syracuse. Breakfast in style. I think they flame grilled the bacon. Whatever they did, it was very good.

This place has a special style. Part bric-a-brac store. Part refuge for old wine bottles. And a dinky collection of mis-matched wooden tables, chairs and antiques. They even have a special little table just for the salt and pepper grinders. The perfect solution to table cramp.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Croque Madame du Grocer Vert

Hmmm... with the Australia v Brazil world cup showdown looming I should really have eaten a Brazilian for breakfast. But who can resist a croque madame when she shows up on the menu? Not me. Not today. And not when it's as good as this. Another impressive performance from the Green Grocer in North Fitzroy.

Unfortunately, the Croque was a special, so there's no guarantee you'll be able to get one. But it was one of those dishes where the food actually lived up to the blurb on the menu... a buttery toasted sandwich of free range naturally smoked ham, mustard, fresh horseradish and cheese, with a fried egg and tomato sauce. Sounds good. Looks good. Tastes great. And now for the money shot...

Mmmm... you can't beat quality ham. I would have liked a bit more kick from the horseradish, but otherwise this was faultless stuff. Even the tomato sause was home made (or at least not mass-produced).

Oops I Did It Again...

...as Britney would say. Forgot my camera, that is. Damn. Rest assured, I have not been bludging off doing nothing. In fact, yesterday I doubled-dipped, first with a fine serve of scrambled eggs, lamb snags and Boston-baked beans at RHCL (which seems to be doing a booming trade despite high prices), and second, with another Las Chicas winner... toasted carrot and date loaf with pistachio ricotta under a blanket of cinnamon sugar. Carrot and date loaf. Now there's a dish Roy and HG could have some fun with.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Pancakes at Sweethearts

"I had a lumberjack for breakfast this morning..." How's that for a conversation starter? Actually, I had a very nice stack of spinach, corn and ricotta pancakes with tomato relish and a side of crispy bacon. The lumberjack was too sweet and fat for my tastes, smeared with hazelnut butter and drizzled with maple syrup. If pancakes you crave, look not further than Cafe Sweethearts, Coventry Street, South Melbourne.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Wall 280, Balaclava

It's more than a wall really. They do have an interior space at Wall 280, somewhere in behind 280 Carlisle St, Balaclava, Tel +61 3 9593 8280. Not so much a room as a rabbit warren. But an interior space, nonetheless. I'd be more impressed if it was just a wall. That would be cool. Even more impressive would be a cafe that didn't even have a wall. Just a Mr Whippy van, a nice big Wega Orion, and some old milk crates to sit on.

nice wall

But I digress. Back to Carlisle Street and the cafe that first made Balaclava cool.

The coffee is excellent. Silky smooth and strong without being overpowering. And my baked beans with bacon bits was also very good. Even the toasted Turkish worked well. Not chewy like the stuff I had last week at Parkdale Kiosk.

nice beans

The only real problem is the lack of eggs. This is not so much a breakfast venue as a pide bar. You can have just about anything you like, as long as it can be jammed inside a toasted pide. You want eggs? You can have a toasted pide with ham, egg, tomato, rocket and mustard aioli. That's it. And if you don't want toast? No problem, you can have muesli.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Conservatory at Crown, Southbank

Lucky I'm not a high roller. Because fake hollandaise, underpoached eggs and fresh-from-the-freezer hash browns is no way to spend your winnings after a big night at the tables. As eggs benedict goes, this was an absolute disgrace. I expected much better from the Conservatory, Crown Towers, Level 1, Southbank, Tel +61 3 9292 6895. Apparently the beef congee with ginger, spring onion and Chinese doughnuts was much better.

I can't begin to describe how much I hate fake hollandaise. This one had a nasty skin forming on it, too. Bonus. It's like someone sqeezed the atherosclerotic plaque from a cadaver and bottled it. Hollandaise may well end up lining the inner walls of your arteries. But it should taste nice on the way down.

To make matters worse, they served a surprise side of rock hard seared tomato. Ignoring for one moment that I think (and this is a strictly personal view, I admit) tomato should be well and truly cooked (as in soft, rich and mushy) or completely fresh and raw (as in a salad), what the hell is a tomato doing on a plate of eggs benedict? It doesn't belong. I didn't order it. I won't eat it. What next? Tomato garnish on a slice of chocolate cake?

One thing I will say about Crown... it's very spiffy. Fancy silverware. High ceilings. Excellent views across the river to the city. Maybe if you avoid the benedict and go the buffet it's worth a visit?

9/20 "a world of disappointment"


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Beach Cafe and Kiosk, Parkdale

Last week I sampled the banana toast. This week I came back for the eggs. What I remembered was the Turkish toast. Two bits stacked on top of each other (never a good idea) with tough chewy crusts that were virtually impossible to cut. Almost as chewy were the leathery caps on the mushrooms. Not what I'd hoped for on my return visit to the Parkdale Beach Cafe and Kiosk, Beach Road, Parkdale, Tel +61 3 9580 3377. At least the eggs and bacon were good.

Are Bloggers Liable for Anonymous Posts?

No, we're not. Not under US law, anyway. In DiMeo v Max, US District Judge Stewart Dalzell sided with bloggers and free speech in deciding that a self-described "asshole" called Tucker Max should not be liable for the content of anonymous posts to his blog www.tuckermax.com, however "coarse" or libelous they may be. By coarse, I think the judge means filthy, perverted, crass, etc, which seems to be Tucker's thing.

The posts in question slagged off at Anthony DiMeo III because the booze ran out at a $100-a-pop New Year's Eve party he put on at Philadelphia's Le Jardin (which, incidentally, seems to have a very nice brunch menu, including truffled eggs benedict).

This decision doesn't protect those of us who might occasionally be tempted to slag off at someone on our own blogs. But if we happen to drop an anonymous comment on someone else's blog... well, it's not their fault.