Archive for May 21st, 2008

The death of SOS (the supposed vegetarian restaurant in the upper levels of Melbourne Central shopping centre that focused on sustainable seafood) and the birth of it’s little sister, 100 Mile Cafe (resurrected in the same exact locale) have created quite a buzz in our household. Anytime we read about it in the papers or passed by it’s mysterious, seemingly non-penetrable exterior we vowed to have a meal there. That was of course, when our budget was non-existent and our bank balance was hovering at ground zero, anything beside a glass of tap water and a bowl of olives to share was out of the question. With both of us earning decent wages we’re able to actually venture out to places NOT gracing the pages of The Age Cheap Eats and dabble in The Good Food Guide from time to time. We paid the 100 Mile Cafe a visit on an unsuspecting Tuesday when I was released from work at a decent hour.

100 Mile Cafe is a concept restaurant that aims at doing it’s part to reduce food mileage and leave a light footprint where ever it should step. The majority of the menu items are not from more than 100 miles of the restaurants jurisdiction. The menu seems to change often, as the menu online just 2 weeks ago has already been replaced with one that has heaps more vegetarian options! When the restaurant first opened the vegetarian option was a sushi plate, when I went it was sukiyaki. When we dined there, the pizza oven was out of commission that that eliminated some options. We opted to share a serve of spelt bread with olive oil and Geelong sea salt while we waited for our mains. I remember having to choose between a lentil dahl and vegetarian sukiyaki, not whole wheat spaghettini, house-made vegetable dumplings, or zucchini flowers that are now on the menu. I opted for the vegetarian sukiyaki over the lentil dahl and don’t quite remember the world crashing down around me it was so good. The spelt bread was light and tasty, but it was more like pita chips with the olive oil and sea salt already baked into the product so there was absolutely no dipping or sprinkling permitted while we were enjoying a bottle of pinot gris (which was excellent at $40 for the bottle). The only difference between the sukiyaki here and the one I usually get at the Japanese Ramen House down the street is the absence of a thickening agent in the sukiyaki sauce. Although it was delicious, the vegetables didn’t taste fresher, the rice didn’t feel fluffier; the only notable difference was the price. My partner had fish for his main and while that was good as well, he was not impressed.

For around $100, give or take, we enjoyed a good-tasting, yet unremarkable meal, with a nice view, great staff and zen-like interior. The hype created by the media didn’t match our dining experience, which is unfortunate, as the place has a lot of potential.

100 Mile Cafe

Level 3, Melbourne Central, 211 La Trobe Street, Melbourne

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It’s late Wednesday morning, and even though I have to show up at work later this afternoon, I’m here tying an new entry in my abandoned food blog. Since leaving school I have felt free and liberated, but somehow I keep feeling like my 2 days off aren’t enough! That might be a universal feeling…

I’ve been cooking every week, going out to eat every week and sometimes even taking photos of the food I make — the photos never make it off my computer! Yesterday was an exception, as I got out of work at 3pm, and when I arrived back home I spied a new magazine on the table. When I ripped off the plastic I saw it was my monthly issue of Delicious. I’ve been really keen to cook cakes, biscuits and pastries every week so that I can get the most use out of my brand new cake stand and immediately decided on this delicious sounding little cake make with olive oil and white wine. Two of my favourite food ingredients. In about an hour and a half a I had this beautiful cake with a missing wedge perched on my cake stand calling my name every time I passed by. A slice of this cake straight out of the oven offers a delicate, crunchy crumb due to the addition of polenta. The day after, you get a bite that’s more firm, yet still delicate with a more uniform mouth feel — the polenta seems to have absorbed some of the moisture of the cake and made it easier to slice (read: too easy to eat).

If you want something a bit different, with a smooth mouth feel that’s not lent to butter than this is your cake. I can practically hear it beckoning me to life the cake dome and have another slice. It’s not even mid-day and I’ve already had two!

White Wine, Olive Oil and Polenta Cake

2 eggs

250 g castor sugar

150 ml white wine (like a sauv blanc or riesling)

150 ml olive oil

1 tps vanilla extract

the fine zest of 1 large lemon

175 g plain flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

85 g polenta

icing sugar, to dust

your favourite ice cream, to serve

Preheat your oven to 160 . Grease and line the base and sides of a 24 cm springform cake pan. Place the eggs and sugar in a clean bowl and whisk until the mixture is thick enough to form ribbons when you trail the surface. Next, gently beat in the white wine, olive oil, vanilla and lemon zest. Sift over the flour and baking powder. Finally, using a metal spoon (I used wooden…), fold in the polenta until just combined. Pour your mix into the cake pan and bake for about an hour until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cook for about 15 minute in the pan before removing it from the springform and transferring it to your serving plate or glorious cake stand. Dust your slice with icing sugar for effect and enjoy with ice cream for happiness.

Stay tuned for review of Gill’s Diner and 100 Mile Cafe…

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