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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Red velvet...if you please

A wee while I ago I had the immense pleasure of visiting fellow Tasmanian food blogger Steve Cumper at the Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet, with Melbourne food blogger Ed Charles, of tomato along for the ride.

I even felt a little B grade celebrity after bumping into Rita and having my evening snapped and blogged about.

Mostly, we drank, talked, laughed and ate. I took not one single note, so I cannot tell you exactly what we ordered. Although I am hoping that Steve will be kind enough to share with you all in the comments what these dishes were, as he did cook them for us.

I do remember that we drank this beautiful D'Meure Pinot, and as Ed was the designated driver, I drank more of it. This is why I don't drive. Less driving, more drinking. The mark-up on this bottle was incredibly small.

What follows below is a collection of photographs taken of our meals. I could not fault a single one of them. But I am biased. So this is not a review, I am just sharing my experience.

This one was a surprise. There were brains involved I recall. Offal makes Ed happy.

This was my main. Slow cooked duck, so tender it fell off the bone. It pains me even now that I could only eat half of it because I eat like a girl. I would give anything for another shot at the other half...

This was Ed's dinner. Veal maybe? He only turned around for two seconds and I had nicked it for a photo. That's what happens when you eat out with other bloggers. Every man for himself.

We only asked for "some cheese." We did manage to put a fairly good dent in it, but oh my, what a lot of cheese. All Tasmanian produced, one of which was from a new producer whose name I don't recall, but I would like to find out more about her.

So there it was, my first meal at the Red Velvet Lounge. I'm very much looking forward to the next one.

The Red Velvet Lounge is fully licenced and open from 9am to 5pm 7 days a week. Breakfast until 12pm daily. Open for dinner on Friday & Saturday evenings from 6pm, bookings are advised.

24 Mary Street, Cygnet
03 6295 0466

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tasmanian food-types on Twitter

This post was edited on November 28 2009

I'm a little twitter obsessed. Part of what makes the experience of Twitter fun for me if the food. No, you can't eat it. But gee it makes me hungry.

Even as I write this a group of Melbourne food-types-tweeps-bloggers are eating out at a restaurant I would dearly love to go to, posting pictures and comments about their experiences. But most of the Tweeps I follow about on the interwebs are on the mainland. So I thought I would list a few (no particular order) of my favorite Twitters in Tasmania, to try and encourage a little more take up.

New to the blogging scene, Hazel is the author of southern Tasmanian thehutchronicles.

Victor is one of the finest chefs to have ever cooked for me in real life (not in a restaurant, oh, if only he still had a restaurant). Blogger.

With a blog named after her adorable children, Michelle writes food, craft and country. Creator of marvelous cupcakes and keeper of happy chickens.

Colette, who I have not had the pleasure to meet in person, runs Perth (as in Perth Tasmania) eatery Ut Si Cafe, which also has its own blog.

QC and self confessed food tragic who drives a very large and shiny car. Excellent blogger.

A lovely couple from review-based website, who unwittingly gave me a wine tasting at Wursthaus the other day without my realising who they were. Sorry, I'll come back!

Chef. Dad. Writer. Creater of many blogs, currently working with The View From My Porch, and newly added contributor for The Punch.

Chef, photographer, all rounder and elusive local. everyone has met Luke but me. But apparently, he's back in town from a stint cheffing overseas, so its only a matter of time.

Rodney Dunn of sustainable farm-based cooking school in Tasmania, former food editor of Australian Gourmet Traveller Mag. It's good to see a business based Twitterer using the service to communicate with others as opposed to just blatantly spruiking their wares.

One half of high-flying supper club Das Zimmer, Sean Beukes. Like the Agrairan Kitchen, Sean also generates good conversation, sharing his hospitality wisdom and bitching about shit martinis.

And then of course, there is me. But you will have to ask me nicely first. I will probably say yes, especially if you are not my boss.

So who else is out there?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Baby elephants walk for socailly responsible tea

Like a cereal box toy for grown ups, Dilmah is giving away tiny terracotta elephants in specially marked boxes of tea to raise funds for a Sri Lankan elephant conservation.

Dilmah, in partnership with the MJF Charitable Foundation, have launched new promotional packets of green tea, english breakfast and earl grey tea, proceeds of which will go directly to villagers of Mankada, in south Sri Lanka, to help residents create a sustainable livelihood and continue their ongoing efforts in elephant conservation.

Mankada is situated on the border of the Udawalawe National Park, home to hoards of endangered Indian elephants and the thrid most visited national park in Sri Lanka. Dilmah and MJF have provided pottery facilities, equipment for a new arts and crafts facility and training to the residents, who use their traditional artistic practices to produce artwork that can be sold for the benefit of the whole region.

Three elephant figurines, hand crafted by the villagers of Mankada, are included in every marked pack of Dilmah tea. Three seems an odd number. I'm sure just one would have encouraged me to change brands of tea. But hey, why not?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Toby's Estate - Brunswick

I quite fancy coffee. And I quite fancy the idea of helping our third world countries while I am drinking it. It's a kind of trade off for my bourgeois lifestyle. Although I'd at least like to do it on a clean table, this isn't actually Africa.

Located in residential Brunswick, Toby's Estate is coffee house, tea emporium, training ground for wannabe baristas and coffee retail outlet, and is the first of (probably) many Melbourne venues, if their Sydney success is anything to go by.

This fair trade coffee conglomerate is kind of turning into a sustainable, "eco," Starbucks. To be fair, it's not quite that dire, but there are Toby's Estate cafes popping up all over Sydney. Although, I've never been to another one, so I don't know if they all look like corrugated iron sheep sheds, or if it was just this one.

First step, order coffee. It didn't go too badly, our waitress was fun and enthusiastic in a good way (considering she was run off her feet) and the wait wasn't too serious for 11am on a Sunday - notorious for being a coffee dead zone anywhere in the world. But I'd prefer to wait an extra five minutes for a decent cup. I had two, they were average. Not bad, but no where near the level of quality achieved by other Melbourne cafes.

Breakfast was reasonable. Good sized menu, lots of vegetarian options (this is Brunswick after all). I carried on with my almost disturbing habit of ordering beans every time I eat out, these ones came potted with eggs and nice buttery toast soldiers. I approve. $9.

I was repeatedly distracted from my meal, from a nice conversation with my friend, and from taking notes for this post, but a rather small child who screamed repeatedly throughout our stay which was not unlike a dentists drill. This is what happens when a cafe puts out a basket of toys for children. Lots of people bring their kids. If you don't like screaming children, don't come here on a weekend morning. Pick a more grown up cafe to nurse your hangover in.

The floor plan leans towards big groups, or providing a number of communal tables. Funny, whenever I sit at a communal table, there is always one really loud and obnoxious knob who ruins it for everybody. Or maybe that's just me. I wasn't to keen on the flimsy plastic kindergarten chair I was given to sit on either. There was also no leg room under the table. I don't appreciate having to eat a meal side saddle.

But, all in all, I didn't mind my visit. Might have had something to do with the company, but after the shit seating arrangements, and the screaming children, and the not so awesome coffee, I'd still give it another go. Why not. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Toby's Estate
Phone: (03) 9009 5462
29 Weston St
Brunswick VIC 3056