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Gourmet Girl in Blackburn is a tiny little restaurant in Laburnum/Blackburn, situated close to Laburnum Train Station. Frequented by many of the locals, and it certainly piques my interest. Gourmet Girl by day serves your typical breakfast, brunch/lunch affair. Toasted sandwiches and Focaccias, salads, wraps, pies and pastries as well as a wide selection for breakfast such as pancakes, eggs, muffins, toast and of course your big breakfast. Variety is there and it’s certainly its strong suit and of course they serve your typical hot and cold beverages as well. By night they have a tapas menu with wine for an enjoyable evening out.

We ordered the Smoked Salmon topped with red onions, and served with scrambled egg with toast and a side of greens and tomatoes. It certainly looked inviting, the smoked salmon had a nice smokey flavour to the fish, but not over powering. The scrambled eggs however were on the bland side, and lacked any sort of pepper or salt seasoning. However, I guess the saltiness from the salmon is supposed to carry the dish so you are not overloaded with salt, but unfortunately the eggs did not have any richness to it, nor did it taste like eggs. It was honestly disappointing. The bread was also leaning on over toasted as well (the edges are slightly dark brown) and almost had a burnt taste to it. Care and attention to detail is key and it’s what made this a real letdown.

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The “Canadian” Focaccia that we ordered was also a Smoked Salmon dish with cream cheese, capers, red onions, avocado spread and mayonnaise served with a lightly dressed garden salad. Again you can see it was burnt on several parts of the bread, definitely over toasted. The bottom of the Focaccia was also visibly dark brown unfortunately. Flavour wise (apart from the burnt-ness), was decent. Although, on this occasion too salty. The capers and smoked salmon add the saltiness but there is nothing there to really balance it as you also have the richness of the mayonnaise and cream cheese. The avocado attempts to provide a milder flavour to the dish but the avocados here also lack fragrance.  The garden salad was basically a small pile of rocket and sliced cucumber with a huge chunk of grated carrot, with a generous drizzling of dressing. Presentation is not their strong suit. Again, I was not impressed with how this was served, lacking in any consideration and served blackened that definitely should not have gone out in any decent cafe.

Impressions

Gourmet Girl, leaves a bad taste both literally and metaphorically in my mouth. The customer service at Gourmet Girl was one of the bad experiences I’ve had to sit through. They forgot one of our orders (which was served to another table that came after us), which I admit can happen when its busy and I do understand. When we finally received our order after more than half an hour of waiting, what we received was above, a charred sandwich (as mentioned above). The kicker, no apologies made when they informed us of their mistake nor when actually providing the dish to us. They even asked if we would like to order drinks (to pay for) while we are forced to wait! Absolutely amazing.

I know this sounds like a rant, but good or even mediocre service can go a long way in providing a satisfactory dining experience. One poor (or many in this case) experience can ultimately damage any good will the place as brought with its dishes. Which unfortunately, in this situation it did not generate any.

To top everything off in our visit to Gourmet Girl, they misplaced our entire order when paying. So having to repeat ourselves of what we ordered, we were questioned on our one coffee. In which, the staff leaned over the counter to check the number of cups on our table. You know, that coffee we ordered while having to wait. That one. Served by three staff during our time there, none was positive and that’s not a good sign. Gourmet Girl certainly is a popular place but I’m unsure if its as a result of desperation for a decent coffee around these parts or if my situation was out of the ordinary.

Overall, I cannot overlook the poor service over the sub-standard food served. It would be dishonest of me to recommend this place to someone, but I do hope that if you do dine here that your experience is wonderful and pleasant and unlike mine. I do although prefer Red Cup Cafe which is minutes away by car over Gourmet Girl (both in service and quality of food).

Gourmet Girl on Urbanspoon

Gourmet Girl
21 Salisbury Ave
Blackburn VIC 3130

 
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Gelato Messina in Fitzroy is another popular Ice Cream and Gelato shop in Melbourne. Originally from Sydney, they have opened their doors down in Melbourne in outer rim of Melbourne’s CBD. What attracts people here is of course their interesting selection of ice creams but having a great depth of flavour as well.

One of my highlights was their Lychee and Coconut gelato. The Lychee flavour is fruity, flavourful and not artificial like you’re eating Lychee essence. The dessicated coconut that weaves through the ice cream, gives it added texture and complements the Lychee well. Tastes fresh, rich and yet not overwhelming with sweetness as some ice creams would be.

Their Hazelnut ice cream is similar to most other gelato stores such as Il Dolce. I would have preferred a bit more nuttiness with chopped hazelnuts, but the flavour of it was quite good.

The interesting other flavour was their Yoghurt & Berry which I’ve never had previously, with poached raspberry and blueberry coulee. The actual ice cream is more milder in flavour but with the berries which bring the sweetness and a tad of tartness, it does make for a great combination.

Their signature flavours (from the website) are listed below:
(G) Contains Gluten, (N) Contains Nuts, (E) Contains Egg, (A) Contains Alcohol

Gelato
Apple Pie (G)(E) – real apple gelato with our own house made apple pie throughout
Banana Split (N) – caramel and banana gelato with chopped peanuts and whipped cream
Bounty – coconut milk gelato with desiccated coconut and choc chip
Caramelised White Chocolate
Choc Mint – real fresh mint gelato with chocolate chip
Milk Chocolate with Choc Peanut Fudge (N)
Chocolate Fondant (N) – a rich decadent dark chocolate (contains traces of nuts)
Chocolate Chip – light cocoa gelato with chocolate chips
Coconut & Lychee – coconut milk gelato with lychee fruit
Coffee – made with real espresso coffee (seriously)
Dulce De Leche – an Argentinean caramel made by reducing milk until it becomes a sweet jam.
Gianduia Bianca (N) – white chocolate & hazelnut gelato with hazelnut praline
Gianduia (N) – chocolate & hazelnut
Hazelnut (N) – made with fresh roasted hazelnuts from Cortemilia in Italy
Italian Nougat (N)(E) (A-traces) – honey based gelato with roasted nuts, egg whites and Italian nougat
Pear & Rhubarb – fresh pear gelato with our own poached spiced rhubarb
Pistachio (N) – made with freshly ground roasted pistachios from Bronte in Italy
Poached Figs in Marsala (A)(E) – baby figs poached in Marsala (a fortified Italian cooking wine)
Salted Caramel and White Chocolate – salted caramel gelato with white chocolate chip (our biggest seller!)
Tiramisu (G)(A)(E) – egg, marsala and mascarpone gelato with lady finger biscuits soaked in espresso coffee.
Vanilla (E) – made from fresh Jersey Milk
Pannacotta with Fig Jam and Amaretti Biscuit (G)(N)(E)(A-traces) – pannacotta gelato base.
Yoghurt & Berry – yoghurt gelato with poached raspberry and blueberry coulee
Yoghurt & Caramel – yoghurt gelato with dulce de leche

Sorbets (all dairy free)
Salted Coconut and Mango Salsa
Blood Orange
Chocolate Sorbet
Lemon
Lychee Martini
Mango
Pandan & Coconut – Pandan is a green asian leaf used in asian cooking.
Passionfruit
Raspberry
Strawberry

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Impressions
They have a plenitude of flavours to choose from, and in addition to their specials that change regularly. I’d definitely recommend giving it a try when you’re out about in Melbourne, or in Sydney for that matter.

Once you do give it a try, you can see why it remains popular to this day. With queues even during the evening.

Gelato Messina Fitzroy on Urbanspoon

Gelato Messina
237 Smith St
Fitzroy VIC 3065

Opening Hours
Sunday to Thursday: 12pm to 11.00pm
Friday and Saturday: 12pm to 11.30pm

 
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Having wanting to make Spanish Baked Eggs after being exposed to it here and here.  It really does seem like a simple, yet delicious breakfast, brunch or even lunch dish that you can whip up yourself in minimal time. I found this recipe from Ms I-Hua which looked so inviting that I definitely had to give it a try. After making some tacos, I had left over corn and capsicum which I just added in and came out quite well might I add.

Spanish Baked Eggs & Chorizo (Recipe by Ms I-Hua)

Ingredients:
4 mid-large Eggs (room temperature)
1 mid-sized SpicyChorizo (sliced diagonally)
1 can (400g) of Diced Tomatoes
1 can (400g) of Cannellini Beans or Butter Beans (washed and drained) – I used mixed beans
1/2 can (200g) of Sweet Corn Kernels
1/2 Red Capsicum (diced)
1 French Shallot (diced)
2 Garlic Cloves (diced)
1/2 tsp of Smoked Paprika
1/4 tsp of Ground Cumin
1/4 tsp of Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp of Parsley Flakes
1 Tbsp of Ketchup
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp of Olive Oil
Handful of Mozarella or Cheddar cheese shredded

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Method
1. Preheat your oven to 200°C (degrees Celsius).

2. In a pan, heat olive oil on medium heat and add in diced garlic and French shallots. Cook until fragrant but careful not to burn them.

3. Add diced tomatoes, cannellini/butter beans, chorizo slices, capsicum, smoked paprika, ground cumin, cayenne pepper and ketchup. Cook for about 6-8 minutes till it reduces slightly. Add in the chorizo slices (Ms I-Hua’s recipe suggests you can add them in now or just before placing the dishes in the oven)
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4. Turn heat off and add in parsley flakes with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Transfer into individual cazuelas (terracotta dish) or baking dishes.
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6. Make a well in the middle and break an egg into each dish. You can add some cheese on top as well before placing in the oven.
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7. Place each dish into the oven and cook for 8-12 minutes depending on how you want the yolk (oozy or solid). It will take longer to cook if the eggs are straight from the fridge.
(Ms I-Hua Note: It’s best to keep an eye out on the yolk as different ovens and baking dishes/cazuelas (flat or tall) may vary in cooking time)

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8. Once the baked eggs are done, take them out of the oven carefully (it’s hot!) and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh chervil or parsley and some cheese if preferred. Serve with a slice of sour dough bread
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Impressions
I loved this recipe. It’s especially fragrant and the right amount of spices. I kinda used this recipe to use up all my other leftover ingredients which suited the recipe here actually. The cheese gave it an added richness but you can always do without it.

I must admit I over cooked the eggs, but it still came out pretty well in the end. I’d also prefer more diced tomatoes in the mix, to give it a bit more sauce though. Would definitely recommend this recipe to others, you’d be amazed at how the simplest spices of paprika, cayenne pepper and cumin (in such small quantities) can really burst out in flavour and create a genuine crowd pleaser.

 
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