Wednesday, 24 June 2009

In search of palatable goods

One of the things that I love most in life is eating. Anywhere I go, I try to find good food that also comes easy on the pocket. In Melbourne I was able to do just that - no matter how busy our trip went, and regardless of the amazing home-cooked meals my lovely aunt prepared for us during our stay.

My cousin recommended for me to go have lunch at least once in Pellegrini's Espresso Bar. It's an Italian restaurant on Bourke Street, and it's actually been there for decades. In fact, it is also in Lonely Planet's Melbourne Encounter book. The place makes you feel like you're in Italy:

Dining here doesn't come expensive, but it does come really good and in very generous amounts. Also, while waiting for your meal you get warm sourdough bread with butter. It comes well in handy if you choose not to get antipasti.

I obviously indulged on this one.

Anyway here's a rundown of what we had for lunch:

My aunty's seafood marinara: I like the fact that the noodles were cooked perfectly and the flavours left a nice aftertaste but the sauce was a little bit too watery, and the mussels tiny.
I wonder if they're the canned kind... Hmm.

My gnocchi: It was absolutely lovely. The presentation's obviously not the best, but once you bite into the gnocchi pieces, ah, it will just make you smile. The sauce was nice and thick and the flavours were just very well balanced. Apparently, Pellegrini's makes their own chewy-yet-melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi once every week.

My friend Nadine's risotto: one of the 2 things I wasn't able to taste but she sure looked happy (not to mention quiet - a sign of enjoyment, in my opinion) while she was eating this.

My friend Erick's bolognese: okay, honestly, who can go wrong with bolognese? It was divine. I'd have to say it had the best sauce among all our dishes and it was made to perfection. :-)

It's funny how I didn't even get the chance to photograph my friend Brenda's ravioli but she told me it was really good! For taste I'd give Pellegrini's a 4.5, 3 for presentation (we could all do with more appetising plating!) and 4.5 for price. All the mains we had cost only about $12-14. Not too bad for a generous amount of authentic Italian food!

Pellegrini's is open daily from 11am-11.30pm. Bookings aren't necessary.

As I have mentioned in my previous entry, The Tea Room in NGV is also an amazing place to have a nice, sit-down snack or just a cuppa, whichever you prefer. I didn't expect to find a food haven inside an art gallery, but I'm thankful I did!

The Tea Room is an extremely busy humble-sized cafe. I was able to take this photo just before my camera died on me and just after a large group of more than 10 left:

My friend Nadine & I each had a plate of Smoked Salmon, Cucumber, Dill, Crème Fraîche ($8):

One of the best sandwiches I've ever had in my entire life. The smoked salmon tasted just as I imagined, and the dill gave it such a nice flavour. The best part is that it was layered with crème fraîche! I can eat this all day - especially with the very light bread they used (I reckon it's light rye). Very very yummy! It was simply divine.

On the other hand, my friends Brenda & Cathy got Salmon Gravadlax, Vol Aux Vent, Cucumber Spaghetti, Dill Mayonnaise (termed simply: salmon marinated in herbs, cucumber spaghetti and dill mayo in really light but savoury puff pastry - $11):

I had a lot of Brenda's food because she didn't like it so much, but boy oh boy, did I enjoy myself! The salmon was fresh as anything! It's deceiving because at first it tastes bland but after quite some time, it bursts with flavour in your mouth. The herbs in the salmon & the butter in the pastry just mesh so well that I wish I'd order a whole thing for myself!

Last but not least, dessert! Nadine and I made a deal that we'd definitely get scones ($8) after our sandwiches. It was well worth it:

The scones were lightly dusted with caster sugar, and these things just melt in your mouth so beautifully. Especially with a dollop of cream and jam! Phenomenal stuff I must say, and it totally went well with my rich Italian hot chocolate (pictured below)

It came in a nice shiny cup :3

A drink worth trying though, is their chai tea latte ($5)! I'm absolutely raving about this one. It had the most amazing blend of cinnamon, cloves & ginger. If the chai tea latte I had in Badde Manors was good - this one will definitely blow you away. Honestly I've never had such a good brew of chai before.

And it comes in this quaint little tea pot!

The Tea Room feels so homey with its good food and drink and its wonderful staff. The African guy's definitely one of our favourites! Discovering this place was like finding sugar cubes, warmth and happiness all in a little jar.

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