Last month I was lucky enough to travel to Germany for the first time, and spent an evening staying with friends in Berlin. I had a terrible cold, but was determined to try some authentic German cuisine, so they took me out to their local pub. This isn’t a trendy, on the foodie-map venue (there are no English menus), but it was exactly what I wanted to try. Seated in the nautical-themed space, I ordered the Berliner Haxenpfanne (EUR 12.99) – hello pork knuckle. The plate was huge, and packed with both meat and sides. The pork had been stripped off the bone, and whilst a bit tough and dry on the outside, was beautifully tender and tasty on the inside. I was particularly excited by the large portion of saurkraut (one of my favourite things), and found it pretty much the same as the sort you get in Australia. The small amount of lettuce and tomato in the middle was a nice relief from the heavy dish, because the next thing on the plate was semmelknoel, a kind of bread dumpling that, in this case, resembled roast potatoes. The dumplings had a fun, spongey texture and were nicely seasoned on the outside. Perfect for a freezing Berlin night.
Marinehaus, Märkisches Ufer 48-50, 10179 Berlin, Germany, https://www.marinehaus.de/
#parillaweek continues! Palermo is a foodie paradise, and on my first day in BA, I found what was one of my favourite restaurants of the whole trip – turns out it’s a favourite of my relatives there too! Parilla Miranda sits elegantly on a street corner, and is one of the few parillas with a sleek, modern interior. I had no idea about portion sizes, so ordered the mollejas (sweetbreads) as an entree – one of my favourite childhood treats. Oh. My. God. Firstly, the plate was HUGE, but secondly, they were by far the most delicious sweetbreads I’ve had in my life (sorry Dad). Slightly pan-seared to form a crust, and drizzled with fresh lemon, each creamy mouthful was heavenly. If you haven’t tried mollejas before, this serve would be a large but friendly introduction to this delicacy. Foolishly, I’d also ordered a main, a steak served with potatoes, roast capsicum with a baked egg inside, chimmichurri and a small salad. I was a long way from finishing it, but the beef was perfectly medium-rare, the capscium sweet and the potatoes rich. I dined here twice on my trip, and expect it will be my first stop should I be lucky enough to return. Go. Please, go.
Miranda, corner of Costa Rica y Fitz Roy, Palermo, Buenos Aires, http://parrillamiranda.com/
‘Closed door’ restaurants (hosted in private homes) are hugely fashionable in Buenos Aires at the moment, so when my friend highly recommended Steaks by Luis, I booked right away ($79 USD for a set 5 course menu). The real fun is that it’s an asado (traditional Argentine BBQ), and you share the table with the whole restaurant (about 30 people). We started with an explanation of the cuts and the importance of salting the beef ahead of time. We then enjoyed empanadas, cut chorizo, salami and bread with a glass of sparkling to start, and had the chance to meet other beef-lovers. Next up was a fresh salad of lettuce, tomato, onion and apple – definitely needed ahead of the first hot course. The platter of assorted offal was delicious, with my childhood favourite of sweetbreads a highlight (so plump and tender), along with the intestine, pork and beef sausage, and ribs. If that wasn’t enough meat, then came our 350g bife de chorizo cut – mine was medium-rare, and it was perfection. Tender, incredibly tasty and very, very filling, this was a perfect introduction to Argentine cuisine. Finally, we managed to fit in a sliver of dulce de leche cheesecake, which was pure decadence. Every course was perfection – fasting ahead of time recommended!
Steaks by Luis, Palermo address provided after booking, https://steakbuenosaires.net/steak/
Westside Acton is an ideal place for a quick lunch in the sunshine, and Dad and I made the most of it on a warm weekday afternoon. I wanted to try something I haven’t had before, so went for the beef tacos from The One ($6.50 each, or $12 for two). The food was ready quite quickly, and I was pleased to see how packed the tacos were! The real attraction here is the sous-vide beef, pulled, tender and well-seasoned – there was a good amount piled on the top and I found it more than met my expectations! I completed loved the mixed salad underneath (think bean sprouts, coriander, cabbage and onion), not to mention the pickled slices of cucumber on top (more please). The whole thing was wrapped in a fresh tortilla (no hard taco shells here) and with a drizzle of the lime wedge provided on top, it was a lively, tasty lunch. I was quite hungry, so managed to get through both, but next time I’d want to try two different ones to mix things up a bit. Dad loved his Cubanos too (yes, it was as good as I remember). Love this place!
The One, Westside Acton, 3 Barrine Drive, Acton ACT
I’ve been a fan of Swedish meatballs for a long time now – I make them at home fairly often, but hadn’t tried them at the Canberra Ikea store. On a visit to pick up some bowls, I stopped by the restaurant and joined the queue for lunch. I must say, you need to be prepared to wait. The food here is great value, and you get your meal served canteen-style when you reach the front of the line, but it’s very popular, especially on weekends, and the queue can be very long! I was tempted by the cakes (smart product placement of cake first!) but stuck to my guns and ordered the Swedish meatballs (serve of 10 for $7.99) and a piece of garlic bread ($2). The portion is quite large – the meatballs come with cream sauce and a huge scoop of creamy mashed potato (lingonberry jam is self-serve). The plate doesn’t look that appealing, but the flavours are great – the meatballs are tender and filling, and come to life with the sauce and jam. The mashed potato was so rich and lovely – the only thing missing was a side of pickles. I really enjoyed the large garlic bread too – not to crusty, but not mushy either. Just right, and incredible value.
Ikea, 1030 Majura Road, Majura Park ACT, http://www.ikea.com/au/en/store/canberra/
I knew I had to eat here when I saw the Instagram pictures of the hedgehog dumplings – could something so cute really be edible? Could it really be delicious? Yes, and yes. My friend and I ordered both serves of the cute dumplings – the Snow White Rabbit Dumplings ($13.80) and the Manga Dumpling (‘Hedgehog’) ($12.80), plus a serve of roast duck with plum and basil ($25.80). Firstly, this is way too much food for two people – we couldn’t finish the duck. The rabbit dumplings were packed full of prawn (yay, my favourite!), asparagus, bamboo shoots and homemade creamy soup, with a chrysanthemum-infused dough. I found the flavour of this dumpling to be much better than the hedgehogs, although the skin was a little bit thick for my liking. The Hedgehogs had a surprisingly sweet flavour from the baked dough skin, which overpowered the subtle flavour of the various mushrooms inside. Whilst both were cute for the novelty factor, for quality they don’t have a patch on Lotus. We absolutely loved the duck, though – tender, incredibly tasty and fun to eat, I would order this again for sure. Overall the food was nice, but a little overpriced for what you get.
Luyu & Yum Yum, 196 King Street, Newtown NSW, http://luyu.com.au/
On a chilly Canberra night, there’s nothing like stepping into a packed, pumping restaurant with good heating. Molto was just the right place for my friend and I, and we settled in and chose one of the many delicious-sounding entrees. We ordered the roe dip (sorry, I didn’t catch the name/price) with lemon and flatbread. This was utterly divine – the delicate roe flavour was perfectly articulated in the creamy dip, and the zing of drizzled lemon on top brought the whole dish to life. We could have happily enjoyed two more plates. Instead, I ordered the main of the day (the meat changes depending on the day of the week), which happened to be lamb ($28). The cut was served with a pistachio crumb and on a bed of celeriac puree, and came out looking divine. The lamb was cooked perfectly and was incredibly tender – it really did just melt in the mouth. The pistachio really made it something special, and being a big fan of celeriac, I found the puree added great flavour. The only downside was that the sauce was quite fatty, and it started to congeal a bit as the dish cooled, but otherwise it was a perfect dining experience.
Molto Italian, Element Building, Eastlake Parade, Kingston ACT, http://moltoitalian.com/
My friend and I had been meaning to go to ‘that new hot pot place in Acton’ for a while. We went on a quiet Monday night, only to discover it was actually a BBQ place. Moving right along… We were seated and told that the endless BBQ is $35 per head, so off we went (we found out later there’s an a la carte menu too). We started with a range of BBQ skewers, which each have fairly small portions of meat on them, but were delicious nonetheless. My favourite was the first I tried – the lamb, which was dusted in what might have been cumin (?). It had a fabulous flavour and I went back a couple of times for this one. The crab was battered and reasonably ok, and we both tried the chicken hearts, which were ok, but could have done with a squeeze of lemon. I was particularly taken with the sides – my favourite was simply described as “potato”, but it was more like a sliced salad, with fresh, crunchy and slightly pickled vegetables plus a hit of corriander. The handmade rice noodles with sesame sauce were fabulous too, with a great kick of heat. Overall, we decided the meal was overpriced for the quality, but it was certainly enjoyable.
Yummy Chinese BBQ, 1 Childers Street, Acton ACT,
I jumped at the chance to eat at The Latvian Lunchroom in the Adelaide Central Markets for something completely different. Dad and I shared two meals, starting with the Latvian Snack Plate ($12), which included three pirags (soft pastry filled with bacon, onion and pepper) and our choice of three Smalk maizītes, or open sandwiches. My favourite by far was the deviled egg with anchovy – topped with tiny bubbles of fish roe, the anchovy added a pop of salt to the creamy egg and the dense, flavoursome bread. The smoked salmon with horesradish cream was equally rich and luscious, but in comparison the sausage with mustard was a bit bland. I ordered the Beef Kotlete and Mushrooms ($14) which was incredible value – my plate was piled with sauerkraut, beetroot vinagrette, potato salad, a large beef kotlete (rissole) and some of the tastiest mushrooms I’ve had in a long time, not to mention gherkins. The kotlete was tender and wasn’t dry, and went perfectly with the tang of the sauerkraut. I honed in on the beetroot vinagrette, spiced up with dill and celery it was heavenly. There was so much food and all of it was amazing. I feel a trip to Riga coming on…
The Latvian Lunchroom, Adelaide Central Markets, Adelaide SA, thelatvianlunchroom.com.au/
Avesta has opened in the space previously occupied by Pheast, adding a meat/smokehouse and Kurdish flavour to the menu. We had a group of 12 booked for lunch, and were told to sit anywhere (no table prepared for us), so we gathered the outdoor tables and set up to enjoy the warm afternoon. Things here are still a bit new – staff are still getting to know the menu and the register system, but after a long ordering process, the food came out quite quickly. I ordered the Qaisy ($25.50), a Kurdish beef and apricot dish served with almond and raisin garnished rice. The portion was the perfect size for lunch and I really enjoyed the plentiful, tender pieces of beef. The apricots had leeched their flavour into the sauce, leaving their hydrated forms with little more than texture, but the sauce had a lovely depth of flavour (but no heat). The rice was perfectly cooked and I liked being able to dip my spoon of rice into the sauce, rather than having it all in one bowl. The almonds and raisins added great texture and I would have happily added more on top. The food was slightly pricey for what it is, but everyone enjoyed their meals.
Avesta, 2 Furneaux Street, Griffith ACT, http://www.avesta.net.au/