Friday, 27 November 2015

Dexter - Meat & Buns @ Preston, Melbourne

On a recent quick visit to Melbourne, which was all about friendships and catchups and celebrations, I knew I would have time for only one meal out.  But how does a foodie choose just one restaurant in a city that has a plethora of amazing places and one I never get to visit very often?
As I was staying in Preston, a quick search on the area led me straight to Dexter (just up the road from my hotel). 
Minimal signage. X marks the spot.
Brothers Sam and Tom Peasnell along with friend Adam Goldblatt, who collectively have careers that include infamous Pitt Cue and Homeslice, both in London, Chin Chin, Movida, Auction Rooms and Three Bags Full and they have collaborated to bring  this 'non-traditional meatery' (their words) to Preston, a North Melbourne residential melting pot that is on the up and coming.
Once inside the space is well lit with sky lighting and lots of light wood and white walls.  There is a communal table/bar running the length of one side with tables and bench seating on the other.  There is also another space out back past the open kitchen.  I love this minimalist, airy, light fitout.
So, let's talk all things carnivore first up.  Dexter is all about the meat.  Southern style American BBQ in fact. Here the guy's choose optimal cuts of protein suitable for smoking, low and slow braising, sous vide and chargrilling. 

Their lunch menu is a condensed version of their dinner menu but still plenty of meaty goods to choose from.

The menu has me drooling and a serve of scratchings  is needed to start (because well as you know crackling is my crack!) and a Pickle Back.

it was a 'I need a moment to myself' moments

What the hell is a Pickle Back you ask?  The perfect aperitif!  A 30ml shot of Makers Mark bourbon and a shot of Pickle Juice (house made by the way).  The bourbon is truly a remarkable drop and the house made pickle juice is sweet and savoury all in one.  I was close to ordering a second!

There may be buns on the menu but definitely no burgers or meat patties here.  Brioche buns are made in house to accompany the pulled and smoked meats.  There are so many delectable offerings but I go with the most popular choice.  The Pig's Head Bun.

A slow braised pulled pigs head meat rolled into a croquette and deep fried topped with pickled pineapple, vinegar slaw and pickles. Soft chewy bun encases this crispy delight.  The rich jowl and head meat is tender and juicy and comforting. The pickled pineapple is juicy and tangy and the vinegar slaw is tangy. 
I cannot pass over a side of the Bone Marrow Mash.  Yep!  A swirl of super smooth mash floating in a bowl of light gravy with gelatinous dots of delicious bone marrow.  Topped with a gremolata.

This is decadent and rich and so inspiring.  I mean bone marrow in gravy on mash...I'm lost...
As a side note, I did have a small slight issue with something but the boys and their staff handle it perfectly as expected.  They are friendly, welcoming and clearly passionate about what they do and what they are producing in the kitchen.  That enthusiasm rubs off a little on me.
Couldn't have had a nicer lunch!

Although I was already bursting to the brim with meaty goodness, I was kindly offered up a taste of another popular side. The KFC.  Kentucky Fried Cauliflower.  A spicy, nutty batter coating pieces of cauliflower.  Perfectly dipped in siracha sauce.  These were so fabulously delicious! 
I understand that Dexter is a welcoming place in the neighbourhood and as I make my departure I am already planning a return for dinner.  Their night menu offers a larger range of meats including short ribs in caramel sauce and  pork ribs and trays of meats plus yet another popular item, the meat donut!  Burnt brisket ends stuffed inside donuts and laced with icing sugar.  HELL YES!
Thanks for such a great meaty lunch Dexter.  I will be back next time I'm in Melbs. 
Dexter Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Annie's Provedore @ Barwon Heads

On my recent trip to the Bellarine Peninsula we visited Annie's Provedore in the coastal town of Barwon Heads for a spot of lunch.

This quaint gourmet provedore/deli/café with an Italian twist is packed to the rafters with fresh and gourmet produce, a extremely large selection of cheeses and cured meats, baked goods and a selection of wholesome, loving take home meals.

Entering the café your senses are fully assaulted with the wonderful smell of baked goods and coffee, baskets hanging from the rafters overhead and salamis are swinging off their strings airing from the roof. Every bit of space is utilised for produce or décor. 


Tubs of fresh bread adorn the tables and tubs dotted around the cafe. 


There is garlic and herbs and onions bulbs handing from the rafters too along with dried flowers.

Sauces, jams, pasta sauces, olives and preserves line the shelved walls.  There is just so much produce that I want to explore.

I also love that there are a couple of communal tables here that make you feel like you are in the family kitchen spending time with friends.

The glass counter is full of wonderful cheese and cured meats.  My eyes are not really sure where to start looking, there is so much to take in and explore.

The best part is that you get to sit amongst it all.

The counter is full of baked goods, homemade sweets and a friendly barista bustling to get the coffee orders out. Lots of eat in or take home options include slabs of  quiche, wedges of frittata, huge sausage rolls and posh mac and cheese squares.  There are a selection of grain salads too and casseroles and stews

We place our orders at the counter and take a seat. Our coffees arrive and the roasted aroma is pleasing.  When our meals come out I realise just how big the portions are.  My friends fruit and nut muffin is nearly the size of your head!

My beef, bacon and maple syrup pie served with a fresh slaw with peas and broccoli is huge.

They also supply some fruit and vegetable  like giant asparagus, applies and tomatoes.


.............and check out those jumbo bullets on the counter!

Annie's Provedore Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Toast to the Coast - Day 2 - More of the Bellarine Peninsula wineries

Sunday is bright and sunny and we are feeling surprisingly chipper and spritely, all things considered.  So why not back it up with another day at Toast to the Coast.  You can read all about Day 1 over here.
Getting a jump start ahead of the shuttle buses (the only down side to the shuttles is that they don't arrive at the wineries until much later than cellar door opening) we get a lift from friend (remember the bottle of wine bought as wooing/bribery/thank you gift yesterday?!!!) and head to our first winery of the day Bellarine Estate.
First up at the Barn out front there is a local produce 'market'.  Lots of jams, sauces, coffee and Portarlington Bakery goods.
Guess who are the first visitors of the day?
We head into the restaurant for tastings so that we can look over this view.

The winery also has a Vintage Car display too, with some fun rally cars.  Unfortunately due to the rainy weather they don't have all the vintage cars on display.
Starting with bubbles and moving through the whites and the reds, I find that I really like their Shiraz.
Screaming Seeds are also here tasting their products.  I really like the unique blends of herbs and spices that Screaming Seeds offer and I stock up on Rainforest Mix (a mix of lemon myrtle & Dorrigo Pepper), Virgin Island Mix (a blend of celery seeds, garlic & herbs), Moonlight Dreaming (a blend of coriander, garlic, fenugreek, Murray River salt, onion, lemon tea tree, ajowan Seed, fennel, mountain pepper, peppermint gum, black peppercorns) and a traditional gravlax cure for salmon.
The restaurant offers sweeping views over the vines and I can't help but stop by to explore this old pick up out front!

The first shuttle bus drops off for the day so we jump on and head to Terindah Estate.  Lovely views over the vines with Port Phillip Bay in the distance, it's a lovely sweeping view.

It's here that I discover the best Chardonnay.  You may recall that I went off Chardonnay years ago and although Chardonnay is making a comeback I just can't palate it.  Well, Terindah Estate Chardonnay was gorgeous.  Even Miss N, who is normally a red drinker, really liked it to.

So we purchased a glass to enjoy sitting on a hay bale outside soaking up the sun.
Manzanillo Grove is also tasting their olive oil range at Terindah Estate.  The estate produces 7 types of olives.  Cold Pressed extra virgin olive oil is produced on site along with a range of flavour packed oils and of course olives.  Their orange olive oil is particularly refreshing! 
Cheers to a lovely day and a crisp cold Chardy.

Scotchmans Hill turned out to be a favourite for the day.  We had a lot of fun tasting the wines and bantering with the staff.
The two ranges of wines being tasted today are Swan Bay and Scotchmans Hill.  I find that the Swan Bay range is more acidic and tangy.

I am very partial to the Scotchmans Hill range.   Again I am surprised that my palate is enjoying the sweeter wines and I come away with a bottle of the new release 2015 Scotchmans Hill Late Harvest Riesling.  Definitely looking forward to enjoying their wines and to coming back here next year.
Mobile Pizzaria is on site serving up some very tasty pizzas.  We ordered the BBQ chicken pizza.  It had a crispy base and a good covering of ingredients and the BBQ sauce is tangy and perfect on top of the pizza

Obligatory amongst the vines photo

Onwards to Flying Brick Cider House with guest winery Yes said the Seal.
Starting with wines, the bubbles and creaminess of the Reserve Blanc de Blanc is delicious.  The savingnon blanc is lovely too.
Moving onto the ciders.  We have the 3 main ciders, Original, Draught or Pear.    The original is crisp and fresh and an easy drink.  The Draught is a little more depth and complex but both have a great strong apple taste.
Enjoying a glass al fresco while waiting for the next shuttle (we may have missed one).

But we didn't mind.  The cider house is a lovely spot to soak up some atmosphere, take a break and sit back and relax.

Do you have to ask where our last stop was?  Yes we ended back at Leura Park Estate.  Of course this is the shuttle hub for the North and South routes of the Bellarine Peninsula, so it goes without saying that we would ultimately end up's just that the party at the end of the day is so much fun!
Tasting our favourite Ms Flamingo & Associates 2014.
Guest wineries Finesse Wines and Jack Rabbit Vineyard.  So I did some tastings at Jack Rabbit Vineyard.

The moscato was lovely a cool and fresh and the pinot grigio was a lovely drop.

It was time to have some more food.  I am amazed on how hungry you can get when you are hopping from winery to winery!
The salt n' pepper calamari looked very tasty and I was not disappointed.  A cone full of crispy, hot tender calamari tendrils.
It was party time.  Test Pilot Molly were playing again as they jammed out songs from the 70's, 80'sand 90's

 Here's to an amazing weekend in the Bellarine.  Spending time with my bestie is always fun and exploring the wineries during Toast to the Coast has offered an insight into the area and all it has to offer.  We didnt' touch on the food aspect of it that much (surprisingly) but hopefully in months to come I will be heading back to do some more exploring.

Cheers to friendships, love of wine, lovely produce and great times!

Bellarine Estate
2270 Portarlington Rd, Bellarine

Terindah Estate
90 McAdams Lane, Bellarine

Scotchmans Hill
190 Scotchmans Road, Drysdale

Flying Brick Cider House
Cnr Swan Bay Road & Bellarine Highway, Wallington

Leara Park Estate
1400 Portarlington Road, Curlewis