Friday, 26 September 2014

Eat Now - McLaren Woodlands - McLaren Vale - September 2014

Eat Now is one player in a fairly hotly contested consolidated online restaurant ordering market. 

Eat Now offered me a test run of the service, including a $50 voucher to use.

The first test - are there any eateries part of the service in McLaren Vale or Willunga? 

Test passed. 

There are indeed two restaurants that are part of Eat Now, including a new Indian restaurant I had been meaning to try. 

Second - an occasion where I don't feel like cooking. Bingo!

Time to log onto the Eat Now website and place my first order. 

McLaren Woodlands is a new Indian restaurant, which also offers 15% off your first order if you use Eat Now. 

Ordering is a breeze. The menu is online and you just click "add" next to anything you want to add to your order. You can even choose the spice level of your curries. If you make a mistake, you can remove it again. Handily there is a running total so you can keep an eye on your budget.

Screenshot of ordering on EatNow

Once you place the order, you get an SMS confirmation with either a time of delivery or time before your meal is ready to be picked up. 

In our instance, it estimated that our meal would be ready in 30 minutes for pick up on the way home from work.

Order confirmation page.

Woodlands is the new restaurant in town. Classy dark colours make it look inviting from the street.

Streetfront McLaren Vale. Photo: Mr Wino

Inside is a nice lounge to wait on near the entrance and classy dark wood tables and chairs. Cheery fresh flowers adorn the counter and tables. 

Inside the restaurant. Photo: Mr Wino

Staff are friendly and polite. The order is ready almost exactly 30 minutes from when we ordered. It's handed over in a large bag as well as a milkshake cup for the mango lassi.

So much food! Photo: Willnga Wino

When we get home and unpack the order, we realise, wow, it is a large order and quite a spread!

Dinner is served. Photo: Willunga Wino

Everything was well packaged, the samosas and naan in foil liked bags, one had helpfully been labeled Potato Naan, and the balance in take away containers which were full to the brim, again one of which had been labeled to help you when you unpack. 

A rainbow of curries. Photo: Willunga Wino

The samosas ($4.50) had a nice crunch on the outside and were a deep golden brown colour. The filling was nicely spiced (but not chilli hot) and the accompanying mint sauce smooth and cool. 

Potato filled naan bread ($3.50) is also great for mopping up the mint sauce, and it was well charred by a proper tandoor oven. The potato filling wasn't highly spiced. 

Daal Makhani ($8.50) was very creamy and as a result was the most indulgent curry in our order, and also the mildest in flavour. It was too much cream in one dish for my taste, but I imagine kids would like it.

Malai Kofta ($8.50) was in a rich, sweet, tomato flavoured sauce - my equal favourite of the night. Well spiced, flavoursome, and with two huge dumplings. Dried fruit & peel was included in the mostly potato, but still firm and delicious dumplings. 

Clockwise from top: Samosa, Naan, Dahl Makhani, Malai Kofta, mint sauce. 
Photo: Willunga Wino

Eggplant Masala ($9.50) was also a sweetened, rich tomato base, with the added flavour of smokey eggplant. There were also large pieces of cooked onion and capsicum making this a hearty and chunky curry - my equal favourite. 

Prawns Jalefrezy ($13.90) were in a slightly creamy tomato sauce with herbs and capsicum and a good spice level. There were plenty of large tender prawns that had good flavour and were nice and fresh.

Vegetable Biriyani ($8.90) was a rice dish with a savoury salty flavour that helped to balance the slightly sweet curries. Fragrant and richly spiced - watch out for the cloves they should be removed before eating - this dish was delicious. It was studded with peas, capsicum, and herbs and the rice was coloured with saffron.

Clockwise from top: Eggplant Masala, Mango Lassi, Prawns Jalifrezi, Vegetable Biriyani.
Photo: Willunga WIno

For afters, we even had a mango lassi ($4.50) that was a huge size, and decorated on top with saffron syrup which was a thoughtful touch. It was delicious with that slightly fizzy lassi taste.

A delicious if rich meal due to the sweetness, creaminess, and use of ghee that we both enjoyed with gusto. 

Using the EatNow service made ordering a breeze - no reading your order out over the phone and trying to be heard in a noisy restaurant! 

After your order, EatNow send an email inviting you to do a quick review of your experience which is published on the EatNow website.

Competition Time!

Vote for your favourite meal for a chance to win a foodie holiday by clicking on the image below.

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Rating : 3.5 Glasses 
Price: $$
Menu: Curries, biriyanis, tandoori, and snacks.
Meal Size: Very generous.
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Neat, smart casual, welcoming.
Standout Dish: Malai Kofta ($8.50), Eggplant Masala ($9.50).
Service: Friendly, table service.
Online Booking: Online orders via EatNow
Restaurant Details and Location:
146 Main Road, 
McLaren Vale 5171
Tel No: (08) 8323 9202
Opening Hours: Lunch: Monday to Friday 11:30am to 3pm; Dinner: Monday to Sunday 5pm to 10pm.
Access: There is on-street parking nearby.

Woodlands on Urbanspoon


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Quick Sip - Felton Rd Pinot Noir - September 2014

Sipping this brings back fond memories from 2011 when a flirty wine cat at Felton Road stole our hearts. 

Glossy and richly purple hued, this young Pinot is young, but is very drinkable now. 

I look forward to cracking more bottles of this vintage as the years roll on and seeing how it grows and changes.

Plums and blue fruits give way to French undergrowth and if you hunt for it, you might pick up a hint of the wild thyme that grows in Central Otago.

Cherry fruit is balanced with spice. 

Tannins are there but are only softly drying, and it finishes juicy.

Felton Rd Bannockburn Pinot 2013. Photo: Willunga Wino

Region: Bannockburn, Central Otago, New Zealand
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Stelvin
Price: $61.05 at Dan's
Tasted: September 2014
Rating: 5 glasses
Food Match: Seafood, snack crackers, risotto.
Available: Bottle shops, direct from winery.

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Yelp Cooking & Shopping with Joyce - Adelaide CBD - September 2014

Yelp is an international consumer review website that invites frequent reviewers to be part of an Elite group who are invited to tour local businesses and sample their services and wares. Reviewers are encouraged to also run their own events.

Joyce in Adelaide was one of the first local reviewer initiated events, an Asian supermarket tour followed by a cooking class at a local community centre.

A good number of participants signed up so that the event filled up and quickly went to waitlist only.

On the gloriously sunny Sunday, we gathered at the Thuan Phat supermarket along California St (North),  adjacent to the Adelaide Central Market. Joyce introduced herself and explained that she would take a tour through the supermarket, we would all shop together for the ingredients but were welcome to pick up anything that caught our eye separately. After shopping, we would head to the community centre with our loot and commence the cooking class. All up the event would run from 10am - 2pm, and we all tipped $10 into the ingredient kitty.

Time to shop!

Joyce walked us through aisle by aisle in what was a different and slightly confusing layout (curry pastes and curry spices seem to be spread throughout the shop!). 

There were interesting options in the oils.

Prickly Oil, anyone? Photo: Willunga Wino

Sauces also held unusual choices.

It's a tomato sauce emergency! Photo: Willunga Wino

I've never seen pistachio's described as "fashionable, aftertaste without end, unable dispute, hot sell the good taste" before!

Undisputed pistachios. Photo: Willunga Wino

Snacks were unlike those I've tried, the "potato tenacity cracker" caught my eye for it's stick-to-it've-ness.

The chip that keeps trying. Photo: Willunga Wino

There were also seasonal treats, like Moon Cakes, which I learned are made with lard and two egg yolks in the centre - not my cup of tea having tried them in my pre-vego days, when I found them a curious mix of sweet, savoury, dry and crumbly.

To the fresh produce. Unique vegetables, fruits, herbs and chilled products with cheap prices were stocked. 

Someone's happy to see me. Photo: Willunga Wino

There was a variety of fresh, bulk tofu in water - just pick out the piece you want. There was also sweetened tofu pudding and brown sugar sauce - we grabbed one of those.

Shopping complete, we took our loot to "The Box Factory", a community centre on the east side of town. The kitchen was surprisingly large and well set up for cooking demonstrations and classes.

We arranged our mis-en-place into four. 

Firstly a dumpling preparation area, split into two for vegetarian and pork dumplings.

Dumpling filling ingredients. Photo: Willunga Wino

Secondly, a Malaysian laksa preparation area, again split into two between chicken and vegetarian.

Laksa ingredients ready. Photo: Willunga Wino

Chloe RM - "The Yelp Lady" - bright spark that she is picked up some delish Chinese tea made with roasted rice for us to sip on as we worked, plus groovy "Like A Version" tunes, a delish brown sugar pandan cake-slice, and a rice parcel with pork in the centre and wrapped in a bannana leaf for snacking.

Snack, sweet and tea. Photo: Willunga Wino

Much washing, chopping and cleaning ensued, starting with the dumpling prep. Once the ingredients were chopped, they were fried off in two batches, vegetarian first followed by pork. 

Cooked dumpling fillings. Photo: Willunga Wino

Joyce even gave us a demo of how to make our own dumpling wrappers - as Poh says, the trick is in the rolling of the dough, which you do inwards, not outwards, to get even circles. 

Joyce reaches for the soy. Photo: Willunga Wino

Time to fill and fold. 

Joyce gave us a lesson in folding, the aim is to start in the middle and make three folds to the left and three folds to the right, resulting in a flat bottomed, fringed dumpling perfect for frying as a potstickers.

Fold fold turn! Photo: Willunga Wino

Filling and folding commenced in ernest, some of us having more of a knack for it than others!

Then into a hot pan to creat the pot sticker effect, followed by some water and a few minutes to steam.

The finished product. Photo: Willunga Wino

We dipped the potstickers into the special soy based "dumpling sauce" we bought at the supermarket. Yum! they were fantastic and much more flavoursome than I had expected. 

The ginger sung through and the sauce had a nice sourness from vinegar. I wasn't sure about the black fungus strips, but it added a nice chewy bite and was much more palatable for me than the fresh mushroom (too seaweedy in texture!)

Tasty inside and out. Photo: Willunga Wino

Make your own laksa time. All of the blanched veggies, herbs, proteins and chilli sauce were laid out so we could make up our own perfect bowls with the broth. A great idea that is different to how I do it at home (everything in the one pot!).

Laksa spread. Photo: Willunga Wino

 The results speak for themselves. Not only did it look beautiful, but it also tasted delicious. The Barry Beach Organics curry starter gave it a beautiful base flavour and yellow colour, with a real lift from fresh herbs.

Laksa for the win! Photo: Willunga Wino

Pudding time - and we were all so full that we just had a taste of the sweet tofu pudding with brown sugar and pandan sauce. It tasted a lot like savoury tofu, and the same texture, just with the hit of caramelly sweetness from the sauce.

We all pitched in and cleaned all the pots, plates and work surfaces so it was cleaner than when we had arrived! 

What a fabulous event, many thanks to Joyce for organising it and Chloe from Yelp for her support too.

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Monday, 22 September 2014

Eclectic Tastes Cafe - Ballarat, Victoria - August 2014

Melbourne has long been thought of as a hub of sophisticated coffee culture, and this has spread quickly into regional hubs, and indeed across Australia.

Eclectic Cafe is housed on a corner in a unique wedge-shaped building.

Welcoming sight. Photo: Willunga Wino

It reminds me of a miniature New York City Flat Iron Building, one of my favourite pieces of iconic New York architecture.

Unique building. Photo: Willunga Wino

Choose to dine inside by the tempting cakes cabinet, or outside in a sunny, pet friendly courtyard - water bowls provided for furry family members.

Four legged friends welcome. Photo: Willunga Wino

Help yourself water station for two legged patrons is a nice touch for those dining in the sunny courtyard. 

Help yourself to water. Photo: Willunga Wino

On this weekday morning we are soon joined by a friendly waiter, perhaps the owner, who takes orders and shares a chat. I've read mixed reviews about the service but have been here twice and never had anything but good service.

A happy sign. Photo: Willunga Wino

 A specials blackboard is located near the door and on this visit appears to have cupcakes on special!

Cupcakes on the menu. Photo: Willunga Wino

 The building itself is adorned with ever changing street artworks well worth taking a wander to admire.

Gorgeous street art. Photo: Willunga Wino

 Coffee is supplied by Espresso di Manifredi, it is a nice dark roast with strong flavour profile. The piccolo double shot latte is up to Mr Wino's standards.

Lovely tableware. Photo: Willunga Wino

Soy cappucino allows the coffee to shine and has a generous chocolate sprinkle topping.

That's good coffee. Photo: Willunga Wino

It's a sunny little corner which is a great stop after a spin around the Lake for a coffee.

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Rating : 3.5 Glasses 
Price: $
Menu: Bunch, sandwiches, cakes, coffee.
Meal Size: From coffee & cake to to full meal size.
Atmosphere / Ambiance:Artistic, fun, friendly.
Standout Dish: Coffees.
Service: Friendly, table service.
Online Booking: No, bookings by phone
Restaurant Details and Location:
2 Burnbank St
Lake Wendouree
Tel No: (03) 5339 9252
Opening Hours: From 9am monday to Friday until afternoon. From 8am weekends until afternoon.
Access: There is on-street parking nearby.

Eclectic Tastes on Urbanspoon


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Quick Sip - Krinklewood Wild Red 2013 - September 2014

From one of my favourite HV producers on a beautiful biodynamic farm in Broke. Peacocks strut, chooks invite themselves into the tasting room, and you can grab a cheese plate and sit in the stunning wisteria covered courtyard and enjoy the serenity. It's oh so close but oh so far from glitzy Pokolbin.

To look at this drop has a ruby edged purple hue.

Lifted nose of rasberry sherbert, with not much oak influence suggesting use of old oak or steel ferment.

Sweet fruit palate, mildest tannin, and gentle acidity make this great for a beach picnic, lightly chilled.

Krinklewood Wild Red 2013. Photo: Willunga Wino

Region: Broke, Hunter Valley
Alcohol: 13.5%
Closure: Stelvin
Price: $20 at cellar door
Tasted: September 2014
Rating: 4 glasses
Food Match: Cracker paired with creaminess.
Available: Direct from winery.

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Bodhi in the Park - Hyde Park, Sydney - August 2014

Some zen in the heart of the city is a rare find. Down a short flight of stairs on the eastern forecourt of imposing St Mary's Cathedral, waits Bodhi.

St Mary's Cathedral. Photo: Willunga Wino

Huge, ancient Moreton Bay Fig trees create a green grove, twinkling with fairy lights. 

This is one of the most charming & delicious outdoor yum cha locations in the world. 

You will share it with the local, and very forward, pigeon population at brunch and lunch time though. But don't let that put you off. 

Outdoor dining. Photo: Willunga Wino

On a not-so-balmy winter's evening, the dark timber, red and grey interior beckons. Buddha heads help set the mood at modest table settings. 

Simple, classy setting. Photo: Willunga Wino

Asian 'tapas' dishes made for sharing are the signature at Bodhi.  All food is made to order, and in keeping with a Buddhist philosophy, is 100% vegetarian (despite some of the names of dishes), with an emphasis on Australian and organic produce. Youthful and smiley unobtrusive  waitstaff are apologetic that the betel leaf starter we ordered is unavailable. Not to worry. There are plenty of other choices.

Spanning Chinese yum cha dumplings and steamed buns, Thai salads, Japanese edamame, the starter & tapas menu suits all tastes. In the mains, heartier sized portions The offerings all have a twist making them quite unique and better than run of the mill Asian offerings.

The compact wine list cheekily lists only the 'Bodhi' own-label wines by the glass. Generous serves of the Chardonnay ($7.50) are crisp, but struggle to shine against the more flavoursome and fully spiced dishes. Some more aromatic options would be welcome.

Sharing the spread. Photo: Willunga Wino

Edamame ($4.50) arrive first, a good sized portion with a little bowl each for the empty pods. Nicely salted and hot, as they should be, they made for a tasty snack.

Spinach dumplings ($7, 3 dumplings) are fat with filling and deliciously simple in their translucent-thin wrappers. 

BBQ steamed buns ($7, 3 buns) have their chunky but modest sized filling sweetened with raisins, and have a soft fluffy texture in the bun.

Peking duck pancakes ($23) came with a mountain of crispy skinned slices with nice chewiness. Five pancakes, some cucumber sticks (no soggy seeds), a chilli and a hoisin sauce completed the dish. Then it is over to those sharing to fill & roll their own. Smooth and springy pancakes hold up well - even when excitedly overstuffed by Peking duck amateurs like me!

"Duck" pancake ready to roll. Photo: Willunga Wino

Red curry ($21) comes loaded with sweet roasted pumpkin, and your choice of 'chicken' or 'prawns' (+$3).  The sauce is intriguing and morish, being absent of cream and sugar which ruins many a curry, and is instead loaded with fragrant spices that yield a medium heat. 'Prawns' are plentiful, squeaky textured mildly flavoured.

"Prawn" curry. Photo: Willunga Wino

Some small details are missed, like cutlery to eat our shared curry, and that it comes with a single roti that is tricky to share. However the overall impression is positive. A wonderfully peaceful location in the heart of the city matches well with the philosophy of the restaurant, and the menu. Which is completely sans-animal products. Non-vegetarian friends and and family have dined with me here in the last and not realised that it is not a 'regular' restaurant.

My suggestion, every resident and visitor to Sydney should make a point of dining at least once in the leafy courtyard for a yum cha brunch, with steaming baskets of endless variety offered fresh from the kitchen. Don't miss the Dim Sum.

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Rating : 3.5 Glasses 
Price: $$
Menu: Asian share plates (tapas).
Meal Size: From snacks to full meal size.
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Serene, classy, in nature.
Standout Dish: Red Curry with "Prawns" $24, and Spinach Dumplings $7.
Service: Friendly, table service.
Online Booking: Phone or email bookings.
Restaurant Details and Location:
Lwr Mezzanine,
Cook & Phillip Park
2-4 College St
Sydney, NSW 2000
Tel No: (02) 9360 2523
Opening Hours: Yum Cha 11am-4pm 7 days; Dinner 5pm-10pm Tue-Sun.
Access: There is St James train station nearby, otherwise parking stations under St Mary's Cathedral and in the Domain.

Bodhi in the Park on Urbanspoon