Silo by Joost

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I’ve already outed myself as a card-carrying member of the Joost Bakker fan club, after visiting the Greenhouse in Perth in 2011, and then hanging out daily at its temporary cousin at the Melbourne Food and Wine Fesitval in March this year (see here) so it will come as no surprise that I’ve been waiting eagerly for his latest project ‘Silo by Joost’ to open its doors on Hardware Street. 

Silo is setting the benchmark for a waste-free sustainable cafe model – there are no bins, milk is delivered in bulk, flour is milled on site for all their baking needs, and of course all the suppliers are local, organic and seasonal. 

The kitchen is headed up by Douglas McMaster, who holds the Young British Foodies award for ‘Most Irreverant Chef’, and you can watch him at work as the kitchen and communal table are all part of the same space, giving you an up-close and personal introduction to your meal.   Currently on the breakfast menu are coddled eggs with mushrooms, house-made muesli, porridge, toast, shortbread, and yoghurt, not to mention some sensational chocolate treats (breakfast dessert, anyone?).  Silo are also doing evenings from Thursday to Saturday, with salads, grains and soup, and a nice selection of good local plonk including beer, wine and cider.

Silo is run by the irrepressibly enthusiastic Danny Colls (ex Cafe Racer, Postal Hall, Liaison, Federal Coffee Palace etc). If you happen to catch Danny at Silo he’s more than happy to give you a tour, and the passion he has for this latest venture is infectious.  It was also lovely to see the same staff who worked so happily at the Greenhouse at MFWF this year, serving up breakfast at Silo the morning we visited, every bit as excited about this beautiful new venture as I certainly am.

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One hot mama – Mama San, Bali

Anyone who’s been following me on Twitter or Instagram of late would have noticed that we spent a week in Bali recently, getting some well needed R&R, and some respite from the freezing Melbourne winter.

Being a huge fan of Will Meyrick, the ‘Street Food Chef’, and the man behind the ever-popular Sarong Bali, I was excited to discover that he’s opened a second restaurant in Seminyak, called Mama San.

A man after my own heart, Will is constantly travelling and exploring, gaining inspiration from all over Asia. His blog is full of the most glorious photographs and tales from his culinary journeys, bringing to vivid life the towns, villages and cities he visits, and then returning with the best souvenirs of all – new recipes and ingredients to work into his restaurant menus. 

The Mama San menu is bursting with flavour, colour and variety, with influences from Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, China, India and Malaysia.

We went for lunch, and tried the steamed barramundi with ginger and shallot, which was tender, sweet and simply gorgeous, followed by the beef and bamboo dumplings with chili and hot bean sauce. These little fellows packed a steamy punch and we wished we had ordered more of them. We followed this up with the La Lot vietnamese mince pork belly wrapped in betel leaves with nouc cham dressing, and the pork and prawn seiw mai with chilli sauce and ginger. Clean, fresh, perfectly balanced incredible flavours, enhanced by lovely but unfussy presentation.  We finished on the Chatuchak crispy pork ribs with green mango, peanuts and Nam Yam dressing. Talk about going out with a bang. This was truly delicious, the crunchy salty ribs being offset perfectly by the fresh juicy green mango, and the acidity of the Nam Yam.

The interior is described as  ‘colonial Britain in Shanghai during the 1920s’ which in this case means dark wooden floor boards, exposed brick, arty old framed travel pictures, lamps and leather couches. You wouldn’t know you were in Bali, except for the smiling hospitality of the staff.  It’s enclosed and fully airconditioned (also a rarity in Bali) which means it’s good to go all year round. Situated at the top of Jalan Oberoi, it’s the perfect place to stop for lunch if you’re enjoying a spot of shopping in Seminyak, or a quick cab ride from just about any hotel or villa in the area. Sadly it’s not closer to Melbourne, because I have a feeling if it was, I’d be there an awful lot.  Will, if you’re reading this, let me know if you fancy a stint Down Under! And bring those amazing cocktails with you. Especially the passionfruit one.

  

Out and about in Radelaide

I worked out whilst mid-flight to Adelaide (henceforth knows as Radelaide) that this was my first trip back to the City of Churches in over 10 years, so basically when we arrived it was like having never been there at all. I could remember little from my previous trip apart from Rundle Mall and Glenelg, neither of which was on the itinerary this time.

First stop was dinner – we chose Assaggio, because it was located at the end of the street we were staying in, off King William Road in Hyde Park/Unley (and it was recommended by the gorgeous lady at Vincenzo Cucina Vera which we’re hitting on our next trip). The staff at Assaggio (and now that I come to think of it, everywhere we went in Adelaide) were EXCEPTIONALLY nice. I mean, super friendly, accomodating, and helpful.

We started off with some breaded scallops, which were excellent – plump and juicy, and served with a spumante zabalione, which was well executed, but perhaps just a little too sweet for my taste. The stuffed zucchini flowers with gorgonzola and pinenut ricotta mousse were HEAVEN, the ricotta a perfect foil for its bitey cheese counterpart.

We also tried the grilled salmon wrapped in speck, served with asparagus, and a spinach, pine nut and pea pesto, and the ragu of pork, fennel and chilli sausage with persian lentils. Beautifully presented, bursting with flavour, perfectly cooked and simply delicious.

Finishing off with dessert, Assagio hit a home run with the ‘fiore di latte cream with white chocolate and crushed pistachios, espresso and hazelnut syrup. Bellissimo.

We visited The The Pantry on Egmont for breakfast the next morning. You’ll find this quaint yet hip little place on Egmont Terrace, which runs along the railway line in Hawthorn. Filled with the sort of knick-knacks your nana would have treasured in 1973, it’s homely and funky at the same time, and our waiter was one supremely cool cat, freshly-inked and full of morning pep. Coffee was excellent, and the french toast was a work of art. Lovely vibe and great service.

After breakfast we had to make a detour to Bar 9, since I’d heard great things (from an Adelaide ex-pat buddy in Melbourne). The place was packed with people waiting for a table, and for takeaways. Good sign. We ordered some coffees to go, and returned the next morning for breakfast. Again, the joint was pumping, but we were seated quickly and the staff were delightful. I had the breakfast special of home-cooked baked beans with chorizo and a side of avocado. These were quite easily the best baked beans I have eaten in my life. Spicy, tasty goodness. The coffees were consistently fabulous. Definitely on the return list!

An unexpected gem we stumbled across on the way to elsewhere was Cafe Troppo. Apparently newly-opened, sitting across from a large expanse of green on Whitmore Square, this place was so inviting with its recycled timbers, flowerboxes full of orange blooms and outdoor seating that we pulled over and stopped for lunch. A more gorgeous roasted pumpkin, spinach and risoni salad I’ve never tasted, and the coffee, if a little weak for my taste, had a great flavour.

Radelaide was full of delicious and delightful surprises. The Central Market is a haven for great local organic produce, the beautiful sandstone architecture everywhere is ridiculously photogenic, and we encountered great coffee and service everywhere we went. Can’t wait to come back!

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