I love everything about winter – the clothes, the fires, the blustery days, but most of all I love the food. With the days getting shorter and nightfall creeping up on us earlier and earlier, I have spent the last few weeks putting on my ‘winter coat’ with the help of some lovely food, in anticipation of when the real cold hits us in Melbourne.
What better place to start my winter fattening up, than a trip to Boire. Boire is a relatively new addition to the Smith St scene and a rustic little trip into the French countryside. Owned and operated by Frenchwoman, Catherine Chauchat, the focus is most definitely on wine. Catherine trained as a viticulturalist in the south of France and regularly trips back there to choose the wine, all of which are exclusive to Boire. With Arna McCabe (ex-Cumulus Inc, City Wine Shop and L’Oustal) in the kitchen, the menu perfectly supports the wine. Each evening, Arna presents two main dishes, one vegetarian and one stew, and range of rustic entrees and desserts.
The night that I went to Boire, our group started with some shared entrees. First a chunky, rustic pate served with crunchy, generous sized croutons and cournichons and second, the most divine salad of blood orange segments, little leaves, a smear of goat’s cheese and a smattering of hazelnuts. Unfortunately for the rest of our table who had snuck outside for some ‘fresh air’, my friend and I polished off that whole salad before they had even seen it!
I am still thinking about how wonderful my main was. Two large field mushrooms stuffed with a bready mixture of herbs and goat’s cheese on a bed of earthen lentils. So simple, but so divine. After all that food, the table decided it was to be a shared affair and we polished off a couple of serves of a pear tart with ice cream.
Next stop for fattening up is Lau’s Family Kitchen in St Kilda. I still can’t believe it has taken me so long to experience this place. My friend ‘S’ suggested it for a girly catch up night, and knowing she has impeccable taste, it had to be good. Little did I know that she is friendly with the Lau brothers, Jason and Michael! This proved the winning ticket on the night as we were treated to a stream of amazing food.
We began with satay seafood encased in a crispy, wafer thin shell on a bed of iceberg lettuce. Next came the dumplings…an exquisite seafood parcel with juicy little prawns and a pork and mushroom number that was just as tasty. Next was the calamari, lightly battered chunks served with a side of special salt and soy. But my favourite dish of the evening was the eye fillet of beef served with a rich, pepper sauce. You could take the quality of the stock used in reduction, with definite flavours of mushroom giving depth to the simple dish. I couldn’t say no to dessert and having shown I wasn’t scared of the deep fryer, ordered a banana fritter. Perfect.
So since then I have been surviving on a diet of water with a side of air. But this morning I broke out of that unsustainable regime and discovered a ‘new’ little café in my area (even though they tell me they have been there for 11 months! Oops.). The Final Step on Murphy Street is the little coffee nook I have been looking for. Barista Ben was chatty and friendly and the coffee hit the spot. They use a St Ali blend and, while I am no coffee expert, it wasn’t bitter and tasted lovely and creamy. Wow, what a technical explanation! For an expert’s opinion, you could read this.
It’s time to hit the Tan again, but this time I am not allowed to stop halfway for coffee and cake at the NGV café like I did last lap around. Must focus, no more food for a little while and much more exercise!
Much love, The Airloom. xx
Boire, 92 Smith Street, Collingwood, no bookings.
Lau’s Family Kitchen, 4 Acland St, St Kilda, definitely book on 8598 9880
Image of my little bluebird friends from http://www.dheiser.myncblogs.com