Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Is this thing still on?

Another year, another failed attempt at blogging! My last update was posted pretty much this time last year, in which I was astonished that my last update before that was pretty much a year before. There seems to be a pattern here. Hmmm...

A heap has happened in the last 12 months- I got married, spent a wonderful 6 weeks travelling through Europe, was made redundant from my job after 7 years with the company, have been to some of the best restuarants in Australia, and the world... all of which would have made perfectly interesting posts, but here we are instead with nothing to show for it. So sue me, I'm hopeless when it comes to blogging. I really will be better this time- third time lucky, and all that

Friday, March 21, 2008

Has it really been a year already?

So, having just looked at my last post for mqff 07, and having spent all LAST week going to movies for mqff 08 I realised that it really has been a year since my last post (give or take a week or so)!

So much has happened in the last year- we've well and truly settled into Melbourne, I have a new job, we've got lots more art, have been to lots more great restaurants, concerts and events, and I'm engaged! many things, that I can't really even begin to explain them properly.

So, as I 've done on several occasions, I've decided its time to cut my losses, forget about blogging on the last 12 months, and start anew in 2008. Part of the motivation was Kit deciding to start a Wedding/holiday there'll be heaps of news and stuff going on there, and who knows? I may just find the motivation to write in mine too.

Anyway, thats it for now..I will wait until there's something worth writing for my next blog..but in the meantime checkout for all the updates on our Huge European Wedding Bonanza!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

i heart mqff

One of the things I'm loving about living in Melbourne is all the stuff thats going on. A customer from Perth came into the store yesterday and, not just to make conversation, but in total honesty, I directed him to Federation Square, because EVERY single day since I moved here two months ago, there has been something going on in the vicinity. Be it a Thai culture festival, the Food and Wine festival, the FINA championships, there's always something going on nearby. Last week, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, which backs onto Fed Square, played host to the annual Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and Kit and I made sure to get ourselves tickets. I would have loved to get a Golden Toffee Pass, which would have let me get into any session, but alas, real life, in the guise of work, had to cut in at some point, so I was only able to go to..*shock horror* 10 movies. I guess one of the benefits of being the boss, is that I could work my roster around the films I wanted to see *s* We tried to split our movies between arty intellectual and cheap and campy, and I think we did pretty well, all in all.

We started with Whole New Thing, which I thought was a really sweet film. Unlike some festival films, this wasn't "all about the gay", but rather a film about characters that happened to be gay. The main character Emerson, had a really sweet innocence, borne from growing up outside of "normal" societal mores, and the whole film kind of left me feeling nice and gooey.

In contrast to this was the demurely titled Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds, which thankfully was actually better than its prequel (and title) would suggest. Sure, the acting was pretty bad, and there was far too much gratuitous nudity to take it seriously (not that thats entirely a bad thing *S*), but the writing was snappier, the chemistry between characters was better developed, and the whole thing felt a bit more complete that the last attempt. Sure it was cheap and campy, but it was a bit of fun.

El Cielo Dividido (Broken Sky) was our attempt at being arty, which went horribly awry. True, the concept is noble- making a very "art" inspired take on a gay love story- longing glances, minimal dialogue, beautiful cinematography, but unfortunately there was really no substance or story behind it to justify the 2 1/2 hr running time. About a quarter of the audience left at some point during the movie, and I think most of the others were thinking "this should have finished an hour ago"

I had an idea what to expect from The Dying Gaul, and I wasn't too disappointed. Yes, it's always good to see a "gay-themed" movie that doesn't revolve around the gay ghetto and doesn't even mention a club or drugs, but there was still something not quite right about the whole thing. The story was interesting enough, the performances were good, but I still leftr feeling like I'd been watching some kind of tele-feature ala The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.

Aahhh.... Veinte Centimetros (20cm)... where do you begin explaining a film about a narcoleptic pre-op transexual prostitute who lives with a midget small-time hustler, and dreams her life is a technicolor musical whenever she sleeps? Hmmm...actually, I think that pretty much sums it up.

I felt a little guilty enjoying Boy Culture, but maybe that might have something to do with the cute boys. Then again it definitely knows its target audience. Any film whose opening words are (and this is my recollection of them) "the smart ones among you would have guessed I'm a prostitute....I'm gay, and they made a movie about me- try to keep up" surely isn't taking itself too seriously, but there was still some kind of story there. Sure it didn't dig as deep as it could have into the life the hustler with morals, but it was written by Q. Allan Brocka (of Eating Out, and Eating out 2 fame) so we can't expect too much.

On a whim, we decided to wait around for last release tickets to Dead Boyz Don't Scream, and we got what we expected. There was a definite shift in the movie, about halfway through when you could tell all the cast suddenly realised "actually, this movie is the biggest pile of crap ever created...lets stop taking it seriously, and actually have some fun". This is one of those movies thats so bad its good...trying to take the piss out of other movies but failing miserably; drawing a modelling photo shoot out over 10 mins just to get another few gratuitous naked-boy shots in there, and the whole time I was trying to work out- either these guys are the worlds worst actors taking this seriously, or the worlds best actors playing the worlds worst actors...I'm still not entirely sure either way.

A "Citizen Kane" for our time and community as it was lovingly described by Saj, Another Gay Movie can best be described as a gay-themed spoof of American Pie, Porky's and other teen gross-out comedies. Knowing this full well, I wasn't actually expecting to enjoy it. Sure, its been given HORRIBLE reviews, all decrying the raunchy, puerile humour...but GOD, anyone who sees this movie knows EXACTLY what its about. Underneath the stereotyped characters and bodily function jokes however, there was actually and endearing movie. Funny, hey?

The Line Of Beauty is based on the Booker Prize wining novel of the same name by Alan Hollinghurst. It was put to film as a BBC miniseries (think of it as Pride and Prejudice for the gays), and shown as one 3hr production for the festival. I think I would have enjoyed it more had i not have already read the book, but there just seemed to be something missing. I know that film-makers want us to "connect"to the characters, and feel sympathy for them, but to be honest I found the protagonist, Nick Guest too sympathetic in the BBC production. Part of the twisted appeal of his character in Hollinghurst's novel is that you can see he's just as flawed and insidious as the characters he interacts with, even if he doesn't; but in the film adaptation, even while he's snorting coke, and having random sex, theres still a sense of naive innocence about him. I'm not really sure how to feel about this one overall- something in my gut tells me not to like it, but when it was over I still ended up walking away happy ebough, if not completely satisfied

And finally...... Go West, a tale of two lovers trapped in war-torn Yugoslavia. In order to escape the religious slaughter, Serbian Milan convinces his Muslim lover Kenan to dress as his "wife" while they escape to Holland via Milans home town. I found this tale very moving, as it looked into the religious persecution and racial tensions within the Serbia/Bosnia/Herzegovina area. Yet while these hostilities are open, violent and obvious, there is also the continuous underlying hatred of homosexuals which prevents Milan and Kenan from escaping to freedom. Despite visiting his hometown, where he is popular and welcomed, Milan must pretend to have a wife to gain their support. Even to his friend who knows of Kenan's gender and religion, Milan can only ever talk of his partner as "his friend"for fear of reprisal. The only things that I dind't like about this film were the god-awful subtitles (I read a story recently about English subtitling being outsourced to India...I think this is a perfect example of this), and the ending. Invisible cello in front of a strange French Joan Rivers lookalike, isn't the way to finish off a poignant film.

Anyway, all in all it was a great festival. The only problem is theres now quite a few mainstream movies we want to see, but I don't think either of us want to sit in a theatre any time soon, after over a weeks worth of solid movie-going (kind of the same as the dessert hangover, i think)...still, I can't wait til next year. I might even volunteer, and see if i can get some free tix :)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Dessert Degustation!

After a month of chopping, mixing, organising, baking, stressing, buying, freezing, arranging, tasting and planning, it finally happened! And with the exception of a few last minute cancellations, it went off without a hitch. In the end we ended up with eight lovely guests, which kept it a little more intimate, and gave us a bit more time to spend with everyone. The downside...and I think this is only time having a fridge and freezer full of dessert would ever be considered a downside...we still have SO many left-overs. Even if Kit and I both eat dessert EVERY night (which we normally don't), it will still take us more than 2 weeks to get through all the food, and considering how the sight of sugar made us feel the next day, I think it might be a while before we can safely tuck in again. We're thinking of having a reprise some time this week, with some of the epople who couldn't make it to the original, and hopefully that way we won't have to eat pure sugar for a fortnight!.

We started off with the best intentions to photograph everything, but by the end we got a bit forgetful. So theres pics of most of the first course, but it trails off towards the end. We also realised once we'd eaten everything we could, that in all our enthusiasm to take pics of the food, we didn't actually take any people we'll have to rectify that next time.

We started with yoghurt panna cotta served with rose scented plums which were really nice and light and creamy. I always love the colouring when I make this dish- the soft white panna cotta against the vibrant pink plums. It was a really good match with the blackberry and lime champagne cocktails that we gave everyone as soon as they arrived..or at least I think it would have been, if any was lieft by the time we started eating. Every dinner party needs to start with champagne, so most of the cocktails were gone by the time we got to the table, but at least thats a sign they were popular! Next was a chocolate and rosewater marquis which we garnished with raspberries, blackberries and almonds. They look tiny, but given that they consist mainly of chocolate and cream, they were more than enough. I've made this before and the rosewater really overpowered the dish, but it worked out really well this time.

To cleanse the palate after such a rich creamy dish, Kit created a really refreshing tart sorbet of red grapefruit and raspberries. Looks good..doesn't it? Next up was kulfi has a pretty high profile in our house. The last time I cooked it for Kuka it ended up turning into a Roadkill Reunion and this time, truth be told, the dessert degustation was just another excuse to eat kulfi. As usual, it didn't disappoint. It was just a pity that they had to be so small, so we could fit the other 7 courses in. We served them with a hot apple and sage toddy, which despite being too hot to drink for a while were a really good foil for the spice and sweetness of the dessert.

Next up was the "main course" of the evening, our strawberry streuselkuchen. I'm always worried when I make this cake, because it always looks as though it
s going to end up a total mess, until you finally pull it out of the oven. The first pic here is exactly how it looks before it gets topped with the streusel and baked. The first time I made it, I'd spent ages trying to get the sticky, lumpy batter to spread over the strawberry filling, to no avail. In the end i just thought "Stuff it" and baked it anyway, and it turned our perfectly. Apparently, this is how its meant to look before its baked, but it still doesn't stop me from being momentarily anxious every time i cook it, that its going to end up in a mangled heap by the time its finished. This time around was no different, especially considering I was using gluten-free flour in the recipe for the first time to accomodate a GFree guest. I shouldn't have worried though, because in the end it worked out perfectly, and was even better topped with some creme anglaise and fresh berries macerated in balsamic vinegar. I think i underestimated the might of the streuselkuchen because we needed to take a breather for while before moving on to the spiced chocolate pots. Again, these seemed like tiny little serves, but considering the amount of food we'd already eaten (and what was left), they worked fine. The spicy flavours in the chocolate (cardamom, bergamot, chili, cinnamon and cloves) mixed really well with the dippables (biscuits, strawberries and turkish delight). When we thought of the original dessert party it was in winter, hence the choice of serving spiced mulled wine as the accompaniment. In the end we made the spiced wine, with the traditional mounds of lemons, oranges, cloves and cinnamon, but let it cool, and lengthened it with some soda, which made it something closer to sangria...but not quite. Either way, they matched really well, and looked really great too- lots of vibrant red, pink and chocolate colours all along the table.

After this point, as I said before, we got a little lazy with the pics, so theres no more to see...but the last few courses, worked as well as we could have hoped. The lemon, basil and mascarpone sorbetto was another nice palate cleanser, and the lemon flavour linked really well to the citrus flavours in the crema catalana. Unfortunately, we completely misjudged the quantities for the sorbetto, so we now have a HUGE bowl left to tide us over for the next month. We ended the evening sitting on the couch with coffee, and Koko Black chocolates, and I think it was the first time in history of the world that a plate of Koko Black chocolates sat there untouched. By that time I think most of us were struggling just to sit and digest, without adding any further stress to the system!

So, all in all, it was a GREAT night, and we had as much fun organising and hosting it as we did just eating the food. Who knows, maybe one day we might put on a repeat performance with a whole heap of new recipes..(or we might cheat and find some other friends and just use the same desserts *S*)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

T minus two hours, and counting

Its done... with two hours left until guests arrive, all the cooking has been done- all the cakes, brulees, sauces, and everything else is complete!
I've taken a few more pics since last time, but I'll post them all later. For now, I have to start the clean-up..and setting up.
Not long to go now

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I spend all day slaving over a hot stove...

and this is what I get...

I'm slowly getting there with the cooking. I figured if I could get as much as possible done today, then it would leave Saturday free to just do the last minute things, which I can really only make a few hours beforehand, like the Chocolate Pots, mulled wine and sorbetto.
So after several hours in the kitchen, the checklist looks a bit like this

Yoghurt panna cotta

Scented Plums

Chocolate and Rose Marquis

Grapefruit and Raspberry Sorbet


Orange Syrup

Strawberry Streuselkuchen

Spiced Chocolate Pots

Sorbetto of basil, lemon and mascarpone

Crema Catalana

They're still works in progress in some doesn't really all come together until they're turned out, plated and garnished, but heres a sneak peak of how its all looking:

One of my all-time favourite desserts, Kulfi, is currently sitting patiently in the freezer (right), waiting to be covered in a tart orange syrup and pistachios, and devoured.
I'm writing this while my crema catalana is in the oven, so I'll have to wait to take some photos of the finished product, but this (left) is how it starts its life- just a pile of cream, citrus and spices. I'm not exactly sure how we're going to fit everything in the meantime, because as you can see, our fridge is chock-a-block full of chocolate marquis, panna cotta, plums, orange and booze.
OK....the oven just went off, so my cremas catalanas are ready to be taken out. Fingers crossed they've turned out...its been a while since I've made them. After they're safely stocked in the fridge, I'll make a start on the Strawberry streuselkuchen so with any luck there might be another update later tonight. Til then....

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Countdown to deliciousness...

Not much to report for the last few days....working hard as always *S*..and it seems to be paying off, as the store is doing fantastic business at the moment. 4 weeks ago (my second week instore) the store had a record week...and we've beaten the previous weeks' sales every week since then. We're now officially the 2nd busiest store in Victoria, and pushing top 5 in the country! Thats the boring brag bit out of the way, now onto more interesting!

Ages ago, while we were still in Canberra, we talked about having a dinner party for friends, based entirely around desserts. We talked and talked, and even set down some tentative dates, but alas, it never eventuated...until now, that is! This weekend is our official housewarming, and we've decided to combine it with the much-speculated-about Dessert Degustation. We figured this would be a good mix, because being a sit-down affair we couldn't really invite too many people, and this fits in perfectly with the fact that we don't actually know too many people in Melbourne yet. We finally settled on 8 courses, some matched with appropriate booze, plus coffee, tea and petit fours. Heres a sneak peak at the menu....

yoghurt panna cotta with rose scented plums
served with a cocktail of champagne and blackberry,
or verjuice and soda with blackberry

chocolate and rosewater marquis

fresh ruby-red grapefruit and raspberry sorbet

orange and pistachio kulfi
served with a sweet sage, cinnamon and apple toddy
or apple tisane with sage and cinnamon

strawberry streuselkuchen

spiced chocolate pots, with sweet treats for dipping
served with spiced mulled wine

sorbetto of mascarpone, lemon and basil

crema catalana
served with orange muscat and flora

petits fours
served with coffee and tea

What do you think?

Only a few more days to go, so i have to start cooking...EVERYTHING is being done from scratch, so its going to be a pretty big undertaking, but it will definitely be worth it. Lots more pics to come after the big day. Wish me luck! :)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Koko Black

When I told Saj and Es on the weekend that I still hadn't been to Koko Black, they exclaimed dramatically that they'd failed me both as a friend, and as a Melburnian. I'd heard similar glowing descriptions previously from other people, and had been meaning to see what all the fuss was about on our previous visit to Melbourne, but had never quite made it....until last night. Thanks Kuka for reminding me :) After I read your blog, which mentioned Koko Black opening one of its salons in Canberra, Kit and I decided to base our next dinner out around a trip to the esteemed Melbourne chocolatier. We thought we had a few venues to choose from, but store opening times quickly narrowed down our decision for us, and we made the trip up to Lygon St for dinner. When in Rome, do as the Romans do...and when on Lygon St, do as the Romans do, and eat Italian (it still boggles me how Thai restaurants do well on this patch of Lygon St...who goes to Lygon to eat Thai?!)

We had dinner at Il Gambero, which was mostly a forgettable affair- reasonably priced, but really no differnent to any other place along the strip...and because we were specifically trying to avoid the hawkers we didn't even get a free bottle of wine. Then again, dinner was really just an excuse for us to feel less guilty about eating chocolate, so when our waiter offered us dessert, we politely made our excuses and quickly got up and made our way to the real destination of the evening. We decided on the Belgian Spoil special (which admittedly, sounds like it should be on the menu in a massage parlour, but still...) which consisted of two Koko Black hot chocolates, a shortbread, chocolate mousse, chocolate ice-cream, chocolate cake and 2 handmade Belgian chocolates to share. While we were waiting for our order I got up to have a look at their merchandise cabinet, and noticed their "take home" hot chocolate pack, which explains their inhouse recipe of chocolate, full-cream milk, and cream all steamed together to perfection. Even knowing that in advance, I was only barely prepared for the rich, creamy hot chocolate which waited for me on my return. The ice-cream was to die for, and the handmade chocolates were so good, I ended up buying 16 more to take home (I'll give you the low down as I go through them). Even Kit, who moaned about being "chocolated out" before he could take more than a sip of his drink still managed to finish it all...though even the mention of chocolate for the next few hours made him look a bit squeamish. All in all...DEFINITELY worth the wait, and we'll definitely be going back, if only to try the chocolate mousse martini which we saw devoured on the table next to ours, and to make our way through the wide range of handmade chocolates to try at home.

Chocolate Checklist: all gone!

Wow! Creamy, decadent and delicious. Delicate and fluffy hazelnut mousse, topped with a whole hazelnut and coated in a crisp white chocolate shell. Yum!

Orange Segment
Jaffa, the way it was meant to be. Real orange, covered in perfect dark chocolate. Tart and sweet, firm but yielding... I want another one already!

Chili Truffle
I didn't know what to expect with this one- a full mouth-warming heat, or a sharp chili hit? Neither were true, but nevertheless I wasn't disappointed. A crisp crackly shell, dusted in cocoa, and filled with a smooth ganache with just a soft chili taste. The sublety in this one actually works though, and leaves a mild lingering heat at the back of the mouth to remind you of the taste for minutes after

74% Couverture Ganache
The coating and ganache in this chocolate seem to meld together perfectly, and its hard to know where the coating ends and the filling begins. Rich, dense, and dark..just the way I like 'em.

Dark Java
Hmmm...not bad. By itself its a really good chocolate, but compared to some of the others we've tried, it doesn't really stand out. As always, the texture is great, and the coating if beautiful, but the actual Java part is lacking

Cinnamon Ganache
When people have told me about Koko Black, THIS is the chocolate they've always mentioned, and it certainly lives up to the hype. Spicy and exotic, covered in a delicate chocolate frame. It tastes EXACTLY like my homemade chocolate pots...if they were covered in another layer of chocolate

Dark Chocolate Chai
I'm sure if I tried this before I tried the others I would have loved it, but as it was I left decidedly underwhelmed (note to Kuka: can you ever just be whelmed?) Don't get me wrong, its a VERY good chocolate- great texture and taste, but I had very high hopes of the chai-ness, and this was a bit too subtle for my liking

Caramel Ganache Swirl
A Caramello Koala for grown-ups. Dense but still fluffy- a cross somewhere between ganache and mousse, the caramel centre is a perfect mix of sweetness and depth, with the usual delicious chocolate coating to bring it all together. This one is definitely up there in the favourites list


#8: Dark Chai
#7: Dark Java
#6: 74% Couverture Ganache
#5: Chili Truffle
#4: Manon

in the event that our winner is unable to fulfill its duties, our runners-up will take the crown. They are....

#3: Orange Segment
#2: Caramel Ganache Swirl

and the winner is.....

#1: Cinnamon Ganache!
A worthy champion if ever there was one, I'm sure you'll agree

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

One Art, please

I thought we were about due for a new Art, seeing as its been a few months since Kit and I made our Marimekko hanging for the wall, so we now have a new addition to our home. I like how it manages to fit in with the rest of the tones in the apartment, but then brings a really vibrant splash of colour as well. As much as I love my chocolate furniture and dark wood, sometimes you need something to birghten the place up a bit.

The colours actually remind me a lot of the view from my airplane window when I was flying between San Francisco and Seattle. I'm not sure what we were flying over, but the landscape below was a patchwork of these interwoven strong metallic hues, ranging from bronzes and golds to the most vibrant blues and greens. The first time I saw this painting in the apartment, I had to run my hands over it to make sure it was only on a canvas, because from a distance, the colours and textures make it look like its been painted onto a sheet of metal.

We're slowly filling our walls now, which is good, because the place can feel a little bare without it. A former employee of mine painted me something as a going away present before we left (right), so that's now got pride of place in our entry hall, and when we went to the hippy markets on the weekend with Saj and Es, Kit found a small framed print which he loved, so now we just need to find somewhere to hang it.

Hopefully they'll all have found homes by the time you can come and visit us

Friday, March 02, 2007

So very St Kilda

Having been given a Melbourne Lonely Planet guide for Christmas, we had several ideas of places to start our culinary journey through the streets of St Kilda. One concept that caught our attention was Lentil as Anything, which aims to be a community eatery where the amount you pay is determined solely by your conscience. It is obviously an idea that speaks to the masses, because for the first 3 weeks we were in St Kilda, every time we went to see what it was all about it was completely packed out, or had run out of food. Having been thwarted on one such occasion, we decided to try somewhere else and ended up two doors further down Blessington St at a completely different type of restuarant, Lola Tapas Bar (pictured, right).
Lola is an interesting beast- inconsistent, sometimes illogical, but nonetheless, satisfying. Things didn't get off to the greatest start when we were seated by the waitress, and left for about 15 mins with no water or menus. When I finally got up to get some menus myself, the same waitress who had seated us stopped me from getting menus, asking "Sorry, but have you been seated?". It seemed the table behind us had the same problem, and had already been through a bottle of wine between two without having their food order taken. Still, despite the rocky start, things did improve from there. The menu is limited, but what they do, they do pretty well. We decided on patatas bravas, gambas al ajillo, chorizo a la plancha, and beans served with almonds and parmesan (i've forgotten the spanish for that one *S*), and for the most part were pleasantly surprised. The patatas were beautifully crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and were topped with a deliciously piquant sauce that, thankfully, was nothing like the stodge that can be found at many other tapas bars (*cough* Legends *cough*). The chorizo was perfectly cooked, and the beans were good enough to inspire me to go home and try to make a cheesy, nutty, crumbly vegetable topping of my own. Only the prawns were disappointing- a tiny serve, drowned in oil. However, any previous disappointment was quickly forgotten with the generous and delicious serve of churros and hot chocolate, which we washed down with a glass of Pedro Ximenez sherry. My only regret is that it was so hot outside that I couldn't quite let myself drink the remaining dunking chocolate, which I'm sure in winter would be a perfect end to any meal. As with any tapas bar, prices are deceptive. The thought of sharing a selection of $10-15 plates between two people seems like a perfectly cost-efficient way of doing things, but when you need 4 of these, plus dessert and wine to complete the experience the bill can quickly add up. Nevertheless, as a way of spending a few hours on a balmy evening, Lola is a great diversion.

Not being one to give up, we again decided to try our luck with Lentil as Anything (left) earlier this week, and finally managed to get there at a time when there was a free table. The interior pretty much tells you the feel LAA is going for- with old furniture, tight spacing, indian silks, bare brick walls and locals' artworks hanging on the wall (or "gallery space", if you believe the website) it very much has that bohemian, community, hippy vibe working for it. The menu reflects this attitude as well- all items are vegetarian, with most being gluten/vegan friendly as well, and contain such favourites as malai kofta and okonomoyaki. We decided to try as much as we could and opted for the curry platter, which let us sample the pea and potato curry, beetroot curry, and Indian curry and dahl, served with red rice, yoghurt and some kofta for good measure. Alas, while the food and ambience get the best of the hippy vibe, the service seems to take "laid back" to new levels. While we were there, EVERY table had some kind of issue with their orders, whether it was getting the wrong food, waiting for over an hour for it, being completely forgotten, or some combination of the two. It was only when the cook looked up and noticed us without food, that he realised the waiter hadn't put our order in at all. So after an hour, we finally got our curry platter, which was definitely sizable, and tasty...not sure it was quite worth the wait though. When it comes to paying, its done on an honour system. The "Magic Box" sits at the front counter, and unless you specifically ask for change you can put in as much or as little as you like, and no-one is the wiser. I'm sure there are those who take advantage of it, but more often than not, I'd say feelings of guilt would overwhelm any momentary stingy impulses...or maybe thats just me. Overall, the concept is great, and the food tasty and generously served, but the execution seems to need a bit of work. Then again, that could just be me not fitting in with that mindset, considering the first thing I thought about when i got home was...I wonder how it functions for taxation purposes, given that there's not record of income?, which seems a bit at odds with the ideals of the restaurant to steer ourselves away from an imposed economic system

Lola Tapas Bar
Bottom line: $100
We tried: 4 tapas plates, 2 glasses wine, 2 desserts, 2 glasses dessert wine
Value for money: Average
Food: Traditional Spanish inspired tapas
Atmosphere: Dark, intimate, velvety inside, or open more communal outside

Lentil as Anything
Bottom line: thats between me and the Magic Box
We tried: Curry platter- red rice, 3 curries, kofti and sides
Value for Money: That ones up to you
Food: Hearty vegetarian fare, lots of curries and stews
Atmosphere: St Kilda hippy chic, laid back to the extreme