Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kamel, Albert Park

In Australia, we are in the middle of winter, and the last week seems to be telling us that winter has only just begun.  As the Northern hemisphere is cold at Christmas time, Aussies like to celebrate a second "Christmas" in July so that we too can comfortably enjoy all of those wintery Christmas treats that are wholly inappropriate when the sun is blazing and it is thirty plus degrees outside.

To celebrate Christmas in July, a group of ladies from my work went to lunch at Kamel in Albert Park.  Kamel serves Middle Eastern and North African inspired mezze dishes - right up my alley.

Our table was right beside the cosy fireplace:

The interior of Kamel in the room where we were sitting is lined with shelves of books, which patrons can read if it takes their fancy:

Here is our merry band of ladies, waiting in anticipation for our feast: 

I started the ball rolling with a fruity fez fizz - vodka soaked blueberries in sparkling wine ($9.50):

The vodka certainly packed a punch!

With seven of us, we decided to go for the $42 banquet menu.  For starters, we were served marinated kalamata olives:

and pistachio crumbed goats cheese, fig paste & turkish bread:

The pistachio crumbed goats cheese was  revelation - I loved it.

Next came baked saganaki prawns in spiced tomatoes, spanish onion & red capsicum:

I was not such a fan of cheesy prawns, but it was OK.

However, I was a fan of the warm moroccan salad of cauliflower, red & white quinoa, pinenuts, chickpeas & feta:

I cannot begin to explain how devine this was, and it was a hit with everyone at my end of the table.  I laughed when my friend Sandra happily dug into this salad, but fished out the cheese (as she doesn't like dairy).

On came the main course - first up was chicken breast stuffed with dates & pistachios on roast vegetable couscous :

I just had to read those ingredients to fall in love.  I like meat and fruit together, and to have dates, one of my favourite things ever, feature in the dish was a treat.

Next up came honey & fennel pork belly with fennel, orange & black olive salad:

I thought this was OK, but I liked the chicken better.  People were incredulous that I did not want the crackling - but just the thought of crispy fat makes me shudder.

On the side, we had patatas bravas with roast baby onions & aioli:

As you can imagine, these potatoes were addictive - so addictive that we had to ask the staff to take them away so that our heaving bellies could fit in some dessert.

And the dessert was worth the wait - a platter of turkish delight, baklava, turkish fairy floss, halva icecream and turkish delight icecream.  I adore Turkish delight, and there was no competition for either the cube of rose flavoured  or vanilla flavoured Turkish delight - so it was all for me!

The Turkish delight icecream was a favourite of everyone at our end of the table, but the little baclavas were a tad dry.

Everyone unanimously voted the food spectacular, and that it was a fabulous way to celebrate Christmas in July.

When you are finished eating, if walking does not seem too impossible after all of that food, there are lovely little shops near Kamel.  In a pet accessories store, Sandra and I met a gorgeous miniature schnauzer named Mimi who happily took all the attention we could give her.  There is also a fine bookshop and some lovely homewares stores, not to mention an organic grocer.  Accordingly, a visit to Kamel is a great opportunity for an all round outing. 

19 Victoria Avenue
Albert Park, VIC
Ph: +61 3 9696 1386


Kari said...

I was convinced about this place with the opening references to books and a fireplace...but that Moroccan salad really sold it to me! What a great meal :)

The Caked Crusader said...

pistachio crumbed goat's cheese? Yes please!

Cindy said...

I have had a couple of meals at Kamel, though it was years ago. I thought it was terrific and it looks like they've kept their standards up! Especially for dessert. ;-)

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I love doing Christmas in July too! I guess I'm so used to seeing roasts and warming foods with Christmas that it makes it that more fun :) I love crackling and would have offered to eat yours ;)

Kayte said...

Christmas in July, what a deal...and what a feast! All that looks wonderful, and fun. You even wore a red Christmas-like sweater. All of you ladies look so pretty! :-)

Margaret said...

What fun to share a wonderful meal with friends. Looks tasty.