Sunday, March 1, 2015

Mamasita, Melbourne

With popular restaurants these days, it is not uncommon for them to not taking bookings.  This means it is first in, best dressed, and everyone else must either queue, put their name on a waiting list, or take a seat at the bar, depending on the establishment.  Mamasita is a very popular Mexican restaurant in Collins Street in Melbourne, and any day of the week, you will see a large line snaking its way from its unassuming entrance down the street. 

Tim and I had tried to go to Mamasitas once before with two other friends, but despite arriving at 6.30pm on a Saturday night, the wait time for a table of four was two hours, so we decided to go somewhere else.

However, on a recent weekend movie excursion, we decided to give Mamasitas a go with just the two of us for lunch.  Mamasitas opens at 12.30pm, and we were second in line, so we easily got a table.  On entering Mamasitas, you climb a narrow staircase into the restaurant, and are greeted by a bright wooden minimalist interior:  

To kick off proceedings, I ordered a Mexican Sol beer ($9):

The menu is designed for sharing, like a Mexican style family feast.  We ordered enough dishes for the two of us, which came out in no particular order. 

The first dish to come out was the Ceviche Verde ($8.80), consisting of lime-cured market fish, green tomato, jalapeño, cucumber, avocado and spring onion:

The ceviche was served with corn chips for scooping it up.  It had a lovely kick to it, not too overpowering, and was a great way to kick off our Mamasita exeprience.

Next up came the Tostadita de Frijoles (4 for $13.20):

This was a dish of dried tortilla chips topped with black beans, sweetcorn, roasted tomato and queso fresco (cheese).  They were very tasty, and I am a fan of black beans.

Next up came a dish we ordered out of curiosity, Plátanos machos ($7.70) - crispy plantains, cucumber, salsa and queso fresco:

Plaintains are not readily available in Australia, so I had never tried them before and was keen to do so. Tim had never heard of plaintains, so he had to rely on my description of "like bananas".    We enjoyed this dish - the fried plaintain was an unusual alternative to corn chips to scoop up the filling on top.
Our next dish was de Arrachera Taco ($6.60) - grilled flank steak, guacamole, tomatillo salsa and red onion:

What's not to like here - for us, the flavours were familiar, and this dish didn't disappoint.

Our final dish was the Quesadilla de Chorizo ($16.50) - wheat tortillas filled with chorizo, potato and queso fresco with jalapeño crema:

I really can't remember much about this dish, but needless to say, it can't have been bad because we polished it off.

The service at Mamasita was efficient and friendly, and the atmosphere was party like but you can easily chat with your dining companion.

Mamasita was a winner for us and we'd go again. 

11 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: 03 96503821 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Salted milk chocolate brownies

Are you attracted by unusual flavour combinations?  I know that any flavour combination that sounds a little off the beaten track instantly gains my attention and makes me curious.  So it was with Ruby Tandoh's Salted Milk Chocolate Brownies, the recipe for which is online here.

Salted caramel has become commonplace, but salted milk chocolate is new to me, so I decided to give these brownies a burl.  I wanted to make sure that they were gooey in the middle but not too gooey, so even though my photos show that the brownie tops all cracked when I cut them, the filling stayed steadfastly in one piece, and was delightfully fudgy.  I count this as a win.

The salt and milk chocolate (Cadburys, in my case) complemented each other well, making for a brownie with a twist.  I would definitely make these again.

Friday, February 27, 2015

FFWD - Riviera Fish Soup

This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe is Riviera Fish Soup.  It is a tomato based soup made from fish pieces and with flavour added from the fish head.

I bought a whole fish before reading the entire recipe and the reason behind the request for a whole fish (in case you were wondering, it was so you could boil up the soup with the fish head).  In retrospect, I should have just bought fillets.  I am not sure that the head added that much, and descaling and dissecting a whole fish was a pain in the butt.  My fish fillets were sadly ragged, and I ended up cutting them up with the kitchen shears because it was easier.  I made a half batch of soup only.

I find with Dorie's soups that my versions always end up too thick, and this was no exception.  It is so thick that it is visually unappealing.  I ate half the soup, and even though mentally I had logged that it tasted OK, I couldn't bring myself to eat the rest of this claggy concoction.  The very look of it put me off.  The fishy smell was also disconcerting.

To see what the other Doristas thought of this soup, visit the LYL section of the FFWD website.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

EwE - Grilled Tandoori Chicken Breasts

For Eating with Ellie this week, Glennis chose Grilled Tandoori Chicken Breasts from Weeknight Wonders.

This dish as super easy to prepare, super quick to cook, and tasted wonderful.  The yoghurt coating kept the chicken moist and tender, and the flavours were everything that I like.  I served my tandoori chicken with stir-fried frozen veg.

To see what the other Ellie cooks thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WWDH - Pasta with pumpkin and sage brown butter

For our weekly Wednesday catchup with Donna Hay, Margaret chose pasta with pumpkin and sage brown butter from p18 of Off the Shelf.

This dish was as tasty as it was simple to make. The recipe called for different pasta to mine, but I don't eat heaps of pasta and I had pasta shells in the pantry, so that is what I used. The toasted sage and brown butter were the crowning glory of the dish.  Just remember that you need 30 minutes beforehand to roast the pumpkin first.  I seasoned my pumpkin before roasting and sprayed it with oil to give it some flavour.

I really enjoyed this, and enjoyed it again the next day for lunch with a can of tuna mixed through it before reheating.

To see what the others in our group thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the Wednesdays with Donna Hay website.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

TWD - Pink Grapefruit Tart

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is one of the most exquisite desserts that I have ever tried, and features the  unlikely ingredient of grapefruit.

The recipe is for a Pink Grapefruit Tart, inspired by a dessert that Dorie saw at Victor & Hugo in Paris.  You fill a shortcrust tart shell with a thin layer of almond cream and top it with a pink grapefruit flavoured custard, and the top of the finished tart is decorated with pink grapefruit sections:

As you can tell from the description, there are quite a few steps to make this tart, with lots of waiting time in between (for the pastry to rest, for the custard to set, for the constructed tart to set), but the end result is worth it.  As I stated above, this dessert is exquisite - it is one of the  best desserts I have ever had.  And I don't even particularly like grapefruit!

To see what the other Dorie bakers thought of this tart, visit the  LYL section of the TWD website.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mr Banks Cafe, Melbourne

Mr Banks Café is a treasure that was right under my nose, and I would never have found except that my colleague, Justine, mentioned it to me.   It is hidden in the Fulham Place laneway off Flinders Lane, and is marked by a cheery red logo of a man on a bike in a bowler hat, inspired by Mr Banks in Mary Poppins. 

Mr Banks is a café specialising in fabulous gourmet style sandwiches, which are served with home-made potato crisps and a salad which varies depending on the type of sandwich.

On my first visit to Mr Banks, I wisely went with their signature sandwich, the Mr Banks ($13) - pulled pork, fennel slaw and candied bacon on a brioche bun:

This is still my favourite sandwich of all.  The pulled pork is tender and spiced just right, and the candied bacon is a delicious and inspired touch.  Behind the sandwich there is a gherkin, which adds a sour kick that goes well with the sweetness of the sandwich.

On my next visit, I ordered the roast chicken wrap with stuffing and gravy:

This one is my least favourite of the dishes I have tried so far.  It was a little dry and bland, and I probably wouldn't order it again.

Back on the plus side, I liked the  Gai Guong - chicken and prawn pattie on a brioche bun:

I quite liked this, but I found the fried pattie a little on the heavy side, compared with the lightness of the pulled pork.

Most recently, I tried the Sherlock Holmes - a cold sandwich served on Turkish bread with beef, pickles and salad (I asked for it to be sans the raw red onion that comes as standard):

I really enjoyed this sandwich, and it is my second favourite.  Then again, I do love beef and pickles.
I have always found the staff to be friendly and helpful, which adds to making for a pleasant lunch experience. 
If you are in the vicinity of Mr Banks, do yourself a favour and drop in for lunch - the menu changes all the time, with only the Mr Banks being a constant.  There is always at least one vegetarian option.
Mr Banks
Fulham Place (off 347 Flinders Lane)
Melbourne VIC 3000
 Ph:  03 9614 5732