While looking for Italian restaurants in the east side of Melbourne, I came across Il Birrificio. Located on Toorak Road in Camberwell, its far away from the hustle and bustle around Camberwell Station as this little gem is actually quite close to Burwood. What Ill Birrificio does well is its Wood Fire pizzas but their pastas, starters and desserts aren’t neglected either.
Their Salsiccia & Scamorza pizza was very tasty. I loved the cheesy topping with the meat and the fresh tomato base on a thin, crisp crust.
Il Birrificio has a few specials, on the night we dined they had the Fettuccine Gamberi which has this zingy lemon taste to it, with the fresh thyme flavour coming through.
While an Antipasti board isn’t what I would typically order, the cold meats with the rosemary and sea salt focaccia made for a pretty good starter.
I am not certain if they always have the Grapefruit beer on offer, but I do recommend trying it if you have not had something like this before. I loved the grapefruit flavour, and while the combination might be a bit odd on first looks it’s actually one of my favourite fruity beers.
The Biramisu is another winner from Il Birrificio. The beer flavour comes through well, and it’s not too rich or sweet. A great twist on the classic tiramisu.
This hidden gem has fantastic Italian dishes on offer in a very chilled environment.
1385 Toorak Road
Camberwell VIC 3124
On our last night in Quebec City it was absolutely freezing so we dared not venture too far out at night. Luckily, right across from our hotel is Bistro Le Brigantin, a Italian restaurant on the corner block. We weren’t that hungry as we had soup and bread from Baguette & Cie in the arvo. It’s a lovely little restaurant that for some reason didn’t seem to be that popular. It might be because most of the visitors were in the city centre and not near the bayside.
We ordered a Tomato based Penne Pasta with parmesan cheese on top. The pasta was perfectly al dente, and the tomato flavour was so flavourful and yet not oily. Adding a bit of chilli flakes just makes it delicious. I was really quite surprised of this gem of a restaurant that seemingly was mostly empty at night. Top notch.
Their salmon baked pizza was also just divine. Crisp and crunchy bottom, with a very cheesy and fresh salmon on top with cooked onions and herbs. It isn’t like your typical pizzas with a crust and a thick bread bottom, this instead lets the toppings come alive. For something that may seem small, it packs full of flavour and is actually filling even though it was shared between three.
It might have also been because we ate a lot of the bread as a starter. You really can’t go wrong with bread and butter, their airy bread is light and fluffy inside but with a very crunchy crust. Love it.
I loved this Italian restaurant, I never would have imagined Quebec City to have great Italian food. Colour me surprised and very glad to have dined here. Fantastic, flavourful food, with excellent service.
Bistro Le Brigantin
97 Rue Du Sault-Au-Matelot
Quebec QC G1K4A6
One of things I’ve realised from making a nice tasty homemade pizza is that it doesn’t really come cheap! Unless you make huge batches it won’t necessarily be budget friendly but of course this depends on the ingredients you use. On the plus side these pizzas were worlds apart from the fast food pizzas such as Dominos. They really can’t compare to a homemade pizza at all.
I’ve taken this recipe from Jamie Oliver‘s website, which I believe is in the Jamie At Home cookbook, and I have now made pizza a couple of times with this recipe so for me, it works quite well, and is very easy to do. Here is the recipe I’ve used below.
Makes 6 to 8 medium-sized thin pizza bases
1kg strong white bread flour or Tipo ‘00’ flour
or 800g strong white bread flour or Tipo ‘00’ flour, plus 200g finely ground semolina flour
1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
2 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
1 tablespoon golden caster sugar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
650ml lukewarm water
1. Sieve the flour/s and salt on to a clean work surface and make a well in the middle.
2. In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.
3. Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
4. Now remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it around a bit to push the air out with your hands – this is called knocking back the dough. You can either use it immediately, or keep it, wrapped in clingfilm, in the fridge (or freezer) until required. If using straight away, divide the dough up into as many little balls as you want to make pizzas – this amount of dough is enough to make about six to eight medium pizzas.
5. Timing-wise, it’s a good idea to roll the pizzas out about 15 to 20 minutes before you want to cook them. Don’t roll them out and leave them hanging around for a few hours, though – if you are working in advance like this it’s better to leave your dough, covered with clingfilm, in the fridge. However, if you want to get them rolled out so there’s one less thing to do when your guests are round, simply roll the dough out into rough circles, about 0.5cm thick, and place them on slightly larger pieces of olive-oil-rubbed and flour-dusted tinfoil. You can then stack the pizzas, cover them with clingfilm, and pop them into the fridge. (I made the doughs in the morning and let them sit in a warm area for most of the day so it could rise to it’s maximum size)
With these pizzas the toppings are all up to you and the beauty of it all is you can add as little or as much as your want!
I halved the above recipe and used semolina and it made two large(ish) sized pizzas so you can take that into consideration. I’ve listed the ingredients I’ve used below.
Pizza Tomato Base (I’ve used Leggos, but anything is fine)
Jalapenos (From Woolworths are absolutely amazing on a pizza – be warned though they are not that cheap!)
Pizza Cheese (Cheddar/Mozarella mix)
Here is a recipe from Taste.com.au which you can use to go by for oven temperature and general how to.
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 pita pockets
2 tbs tomato tapenade (see note)
125g chorizo sausage, thinly sliced
60g (1/3 cup) bought roasted capsicum, drained, thinly sliced
100g baby bocconcini, drained, halved
40g (1/2 cup) shredded parmesan
50g baby rocket leaves
1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
2. Place the pita pockets on a large baking tray. Spread with the tomato tapenade. Top with the chorizo, capsicum and bocconcini. Sprinkle with the parmesan.
3. Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until the parmesan melts and the base is light brown and crisp.
If tomato tapenade is unavailable, use tomato paste. Shopping tip: Look for tomato tapenade and bottled roasted capsicum, sometimes called fire-roasted peeled peppers, in the antipasto section at Woolworths, near the olives. Swap it: For a different flavour, swap the tomato tapenade for bought basil pesto and swap the chorizo sausage for coarsely chopped ham slices.
I really liked the Jamie Oliver pizza dough recipe, it works wonders. However to be honest, I haven’t tried any others when this one worked well for me. It has a nice crunch on the outside and it lovely and soft inside, plus if you cook it long enough the base crisps nicely and it is just fantastic.
Basically you leave it in the oven at roughly 200 degrees fan forced if you have ingredients that don’t need much cooking (or really none at all). If you do have toppings that may need to be cooked, please pre-cook them to be safe, and so the dough is well cooked while the toppings aren’t overly over cooked.
It’s a great recipe that I’ll be using more regularly from now on!