Sweet thoughts

Sometimes people know you better than yourself. A wonderful friend of mine lovingly created a hamper of delicious things from around my hometown for our wedding gift. So sweet!!! Man I love her creativity, look at those little leaf hearts! Thanks a bunch sweet poppet @rebecca.therese.scott 
#wedding #gift #hamper #food #foodie #pokolbin #cooking #homemade   

A simple breakfast at Fox and Bow

I was meeting a friend for a catch up breakfast at Fox and Bow; the sun wasn’t really shining but the cafe was lovely enough to provide blankets. My meal choice might have seemed odd but we were later heading to a market where I thought I’d be eating most of the time so I tried to go with a lighter brunch option.

 

The ginger short bread smiley face is a really cute addition to any hot beverage.El macho pineapple, pear, lemon, cinnamon, vanilla and nopal cactus ($7.90). Sour dough toast served with butter and Lynwood strawberry jam from Collector ($6.00) plus a side of bacon ($4.00?). For something so simple, I was surprised how delicious it was and I would happily order it again. The bread was super tasty, the jam was perfect and they served it with Pepe Saya butter which is incredible. I added bacon for a savoury finish.
Old mate Stephanie Alexander’s ricotta gnocchi recipe, slow cooked lamb shoulder and mushroom ragout ($16.90). I could not believe how soft these pieces of gnocchi were, although I felt that the ragout needed a bit more salt as it was on the bland side.
It is always lovely coming here, the service is friendly, the menu names make me giggle and the food is delicious.

EQ Cafe and Lounge

TimmyC and I were taking advantage of our weekday break and headed towards EQ Cafe and Lounge in Deakin for brunch before the near by workers came and swarmed the place. I was really surprised how big it was and how it extended to another area as the ‘EQ bake house’.Lots of space inside and out; a really nice atmosphere.Eggs Benedict two soft poached eggs on toast with hollandaise sauce and bacon ($18.00). TimmyC said he really enjoyed his eggs benedict even though it wasn’t the best he has ever had.Coffee TimmyC said he has never had a bad coffee here and they are pretty consistent.House-made potato rosti stack with herb roasted mushroom, gruyere cheese, hollandaise topped with crispy poached egg ($18.00). I don’t know why but I’m a sucker for crispy potato so I ordered this for my brunch. I must admit, I don’t think I read much beyond ‘rosti’ so I was surprised it was served on mushrooms and topped with an unusual crispy poached egg. I really enjoyed the big juicy mushrooms but I found I had to add some salt to the dish as a whole because there wasn’t a salty aspect; a stronger sharper cheese might have helped.Two huge juicy mushrooms made this dish rather quite filling.Melted cheese, oozing egg yolk and dripping hollandaise, it looked like a very sexy breakfast.EQ juice orange, apple and passionfruit. I really enjoyed this juice combination and it is apparently a popular juice choice.I couldn’t help but grab something from the EQ bakehouse  as a takeaway.Do you want a juice to go? EQ Bakehouse has you covered!So many options!I really liked the creme brulee tart ($6.00) even when the top wasn’t hard.Home-made sausage rolls ($5.00). I was drawn to the size of their sausage rolls but I have to say that didn’t enjoy this sausage roll at all. The smell was rather potent of lamb(?) and it just had a really odd taste that I couldn’t put my finger on. Has anyone else tried it?I could not believe how attentive and fast the service was, it really impressed me. I also really liked how they have a sit down and enjoy type of menu at the cafe and an ‘on the go’ type of food from the bakehouse side and both sides had loads of variety. Now I know I have another option to get not OTT (in price and sugar) cakes and tarts in the south side.Venue: EQ Cafe and Lounge

Address: Equinox Business Park ,70 Kent Street, Deakin, 2600

Phone: (02) 6161 1666

Opening hours:

Monday – Thursday 7:00am – 4.30pm
Friday 7:00am – till late
Saturday 7:00am – 2pm

 

Pasta at Duxton

My friends and I abosolutely loved the oceania linguini from Delissio and we were super sad when they had closed both locations; we have been chasing that pasta dish ever since.
Fast forward over a year later and I was casually meeting up with a friend at the Duxton for lunch. I always find it hard to choose a meal in a pub setting because I’m usually torn between a steak or a schnitzel but I found myself ordering the linguini.

Prawn and chilli linguini with fresh rocket, chili, lemon & capers ($24.90). It isn’t identical to the oceania linguini but it was similiar, surprisingly super tasty and I would happy order it again. 
Check out Duxton’s lunch specials for $10 bucks 12pm – 3pm Monday – Thursday

Venue: Duxton

Address: corner of Sargood and Macpherson street, O’conner, ACT

Phone: (02) 61620799

Website: http://www.theduxton.com.au/

XO

If you haven’t heard about the latest restaurant opening in Canberra called XO you would have probably mistaken my subject as a post about dried scallops or something about Gossip girl. XO is a trendy new restaurant located in Narrabundah (where the Artisan used to be), which reminded me of a mash-up between AKIBA and 86 with the trendy decor, sharing style dining and Asian influence in the food (and maybe also the price range).
The huge beautiful mural at the front making XO easy to spot from the street.
Kent Nhan, one of the owners and running front of house (his Uncle owns Griffith Vietnamese) gave us a warm greeting and set us up with menus and drinks. We were seated on the big communal table which was an extension of the bar, it made it easy to get attention from the staff and order more drinks. I didn’t have problems with the seats but TimmyC had to get up several times throughout the meal as his bum was getting numb.

 

Not knowing how long the food was going to take, we ordered starters almost immediately as we knew we wanted a bao each and I desperately wanted chicken wings. A serve of chicken wings had 6 pieces but Kent was nice enough to make it for 7 so I didn’t have to gouge out someone’s eye for some wings (and readers would know I luuuuurve me some chicken wings). It didn’t take long for food to arrive and even though I ordered small plates and large plates not long after, Kent was happy to play it by ear to see how hungry we were and order as we went.

 

The big communal table is an extension of the bar made from cement.The wine list show cases a number of local wines; I love the way that they have displayed them.The chopsticks are handmade by a local design firm.

One of my friends ordered a hobo beer, complete with a paper bag! Doss Blockos pale lager Prahan VIC ($8.00).Lemonade ($5.00). Even the lemonade is fancy here.Starters~
Shangtung bao twice cooked pork belly with cucumber, pickled daicon and ginger ($8.00 each). I was surprised it looked more like a ‘slider’ but the bao texture was still there. I thought that the braised pork belly was a generous serve as it breached the perimeter of the bao but I also thought it was a tad salty until I realised all the sauce that was probably meant to balance out the salty flavours had smooshed out the other side of the bao. The pork itself was very tender and not too fatty.
  
XO FC (fried chicken) wings marinated in butter milk and kewpie mayo ($12.00 for 6 pieces). Every bit of the surface area of that chicken wing was super crispy and crunchy without being overly oily. I used this opportunity to use XO’s modified sriracha sauce (sriracha, dehydrated Vietnamese mint and vanilla extract) and mixed it in with the dollop of mayo for a winning combination to dip my chicken into.A handy condiment on every table.
Small plates~
Sexy squid fried baby squid with sweet chilli salt ($16.00). Squid needs to be either soft and tender or crispy and not oily and this was exactly the latter; so in my books it was extremely sexy. Delicious on its own or even better with either a squirt of lime or mixing it into that sauce that you just made from the chicken wings (mayo+modified sriracha). I would order this again in a heart beat (and perhaps not share).
Drunken chicken cold cut in aged rice wine with wood ear mushroom ($15.00). I felt that this dish really missed the strong Chinese wine taste that makes this dish earn its name. For me it was just some cold chicken with some wood ear mushrooms, very underwhelming and I wouldn’t try it again.
Asian bolognaise stir fried udon in XO chicken ragout with a 60C egg ($16.00). One of my classic comfort foods is a bowl of steamed rice with a sunny side up egg and some soy sauce; puncture the yolk and mix it through the rice with the soy sauce and I’m in heaven. This reminded me a lot of that with the perfectly cooked egg and the salty flavours and I think that is why I loved this dish so much. I really enjoyed the texture of the udon noodles, it was so chewy and thick, I might start using it as my ‘pasta’ too! My only gripe with this dish is that it was too small for my liking (and I had to share this with two other people).
Xui mai slow cooked Vietnamese meatballs in tomato sugo ($15.00 for 6). Oh my word! Pass me a crusty piece of bread and I could eat this every day for the rest of my life. Don’t imagine Chinese xui mai, think Italian meat ball with a rich thick sweetish tomato based sauce that would make any Italian Mum proud. I ended dumping some of this sauce with the Asian bolognese and it went together so well. It makes me smile when I think about it again.Larger~
Char sui roasted pork neck with pickled cucumber and ginger chilli relish ($28.00). Forget your Chinese char sui, this is something completely different; instead of a sticky glaze the meat had more of a dry rub with strong Asian marinade. I didn’t find this dish very interesting in comparison but I did like snacking on the pickled cucumber.
Beef rendang slow cooked black angus chuck reduced in coconut milk and spices ($29.00). The curry was really nice although the texture of the dish didn’t have much ‘sauce’ and what was stuck on the meat had the texture of something similar to desiccated coconut. Despite the curry being very nice, I found that there was no stand out component that made this dish unique to XO.
Vit Tiem confit duck leg with shitake herbal broth ($28.00). I must say we really hesitated ordering this dish because we all loved confit duck leg but none of us were sure about the ‘herbal broth’. The sauce wasn’t completely runny, there was some thickness to it and it didn’t taste ‘herbal’ at all. The duck was very tender and although there wasn’t too many intense flavours to this dish, it was probably good to order this amongst other dishes as more of a palette cleanser. I found the Asian greens as a refreshing refuge for my mouth as the all the meals so far were rather meat heavy without many vegetables (OMG I think I’m getting old).

Crispy lamb ribs tossed in a sticky plum sauce ($29.00). This also came as a serve of 6 but Kent made it for 7 so fights wouldn’t break out. I was the last to try the lamb rib and I was super surprised to hear that my friend who doesn’t even usually like lamb said that this was the best dish of the night. I thought that is a big call but in fact most of the table thought it was the best dish of the night. There isn’t a dainty way to eat this, just use your hands and let the plum marinade stain the side of your mouth. The lamb meat was rather tender and despite the heavy marinade you should still taste the lamb meat but it is quickly followed by a rush of sticky sweetness.Sides~

Chilli Kumara fried sweet potato with smoked paprika, garlic and chilli ($10.00). My friend said it perfectly when he said that this tasted better than it smells.
Steamed rice ($6.00 a bowl).
Dessert~ 
I was super excited to try XO’s desserts and because there were only three options, I was going to get all of them even if no one wanted to share with me.
Chrysanthemum tea soft serve (cone or cup $5.00). If you’ve ever had the chrysanthemum tea popper and loved it, then you’ll love this soft serve. TimmyC never grew up with these flavours and pulled a face when he tasted it. It is hard to describe the taste but it has a very subtle bitter after taste. My Asian foodie friend said he would come back for just this soft serve alone, when we asked Kent if we could do take away he said stop by any time just allow him to warm up the machine.
Pandan panna cotta gula melaka syrup and sesame tuile ($12.00). I really enjoyed the pandan flavours as it wasn’t too sweet if you limited your syrup intake. A nice light way to finish your meal.
Black rice pudding coconut ice cream, golden honey comb and lime meringue ($14.00). I found that all the flavours when eaten together really complimented each other and your mouth explores a whole range of textures. It was nice but still probably my least favourite out of the three desserts.
I love the contrast of colours on the pretty blue plate.
The atmosphere definitely appeals to the younger crowd; it was like they stole my playlists of 90s + RnB songs and turned it up a notch. It was borderline too loud and I found myself almost yelling to my dining companions during some parts of the night. I found the service to be prompt and friendly and the night flowed smoothly as food came out at a fast constant pace.
It is a fine line between over ordering and not getting to try enough of each dish with a table of 7, but I think we managed pretty well as everyone was full and it only came to around $60 pp and people had drinks while others had dessert; I was expecting the bill to be a lot higher.
I am so keen to try it again that I’ll be back there tonight!

Venue: XO
Address: 16 Iluka Street, Narrabundah ACT
Phone: (02) 6295 9696
Opening hours:
Lunch Tuesday – Saturday 12:00pm – 3:00 pm
Dinner Monday – Saturday 6:00pm – 11:00pm
XO Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

What’s in season: November

In season: November

 

Vegetables

asparagus, Reed and Hass avocados varieties, artichokes, Asian greens (bok choy, kang kung, etc), asparagus, beetroot, broad beans (peak of season), broccoli, collard greens, corn, cucumbers, green beans, kale, lettuces, shiitake mushrooms, okra, onions, red/Spanish (first of the season), peas, sugar snap, potatoes, pumpkin (Jap variety), silverbeet, spinach, witlof, zucchini, zucchini flowers

Herbs, spices and aromatics

basil, chillies, coriander, curly parsley, dill, flat leaf parsley, Italian Purple garlic, ginger, mint, oregano, rocket, spring onions (aka green onions, aka shallots – not eschallots), thyme, watercress

Fruits, berries and nuts

apples – Pink Lady, Fuji, Granny Smith, Sundowner, apricots (just starting), bananas, blueberries, blood oranges (end of season), cherries, grapefruit, kiwifruit, loquats, mango (beginning of season), mangosteen, mulberries, oranges (Valencia), papaya, passionfruit (panama variety), pineapples, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, watermelon