Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Weekend Getaway in Melbourne!

Last weekend I was lucky enough to have an exciting, whirlwind weekend in Melbourne! I was joined by Mr Duckie and my sister-in-law Anita. Our main reason for going was to attend an event as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival, but of course, food also featured heavily during our stay!

We flew in on Friday night, so by the time we got to where we were staying it was nearly 10pm – unfortunately there wasn’t anywhere near us that was open, so we ended up getting pizza delivery from Dominos for dinner!

The next day fared much better on the food front. For breakfast, we headed down to Loading Dock Bar. Inside there was a light and breezy cafe feel, with arty prints and paintings hanging on the walls. There were already quite a lot of people there having breakfast, along with their dogs and babies!

Feeling a little bit greasy from the previous night’s pizza overload, I opted to have the muesli for breakfast, which was served with natural yoghurt and some very prettily sliced fresh fruit. The muesli was very tasty and actually very filling – there was lots of oats, puffed crunchy grains and seeds, macadamias and dried fruit.

G-Lux Muesli, $11.90
Mr Duckie, ever the sweet tooth, ordered the French toast with caramalised bananas. The French toast was perfect - crisp on the outside and eggy and soft on the inside. The highlight though was definitely the caramalised bananas, which were so fragrant, sweet, and melted in the mouth.

French toast with maple syrup, $9.00, and caramelised banana, $2.00
Anita went for the ricotta pancakes, which came as a humungous serve! The pancakes were lfluffy and soft, and best of all were drenched in delicious maple syrup (maple syrup makes everything tasty)!

Ricotta pancakes with maple syrup, $11.90
I also ordered an Earl Grey tea, because breakfast of course is never complete without tea!. I thought I would post a picture of how it was served up as it looked so cute – I love how the tea bag came in its own separate plate for me to add in and brew to my taste! And a cup of tea was definitely needed, as we were all so full after our huge breakfast!

Earl Grey tea
After breakfast, Anita and I went to the L’Oreal Paris Beauty Workshop, held at the Central Pier, Docklands, which we had signed up for as part of the Fashion Festival. When we got to the pier, we saw a queue leading into a room in which there appeared to be many make-up artists and guests. We were a bit confused on where to go, so we thought that joining the queue would be the best thing to do. As it turns out, we were in the wrong place!. The queue was for the L’Oreal Paris Boutique, and the make-up artists were doing colour consultations and some lipstick trials! Luckily we got in the queue early, so we managed to be seen by the make-up artists, before we hurried along around the corner to where the workshop was actually being held!

Outside the Boutique, where we mistakenly lined up!
The workshop itself was very useful and interesting. I am not really make-up proficient, so I learnt a lot of practical tips on different makeup techniques, such as flawless foundation, winged eye liner (which is apparently very trendy right now), colourful eyes, and matte lip colour.

The stage set up for the Beauty Workshop
I was quite inspired to try some of these techniques, so I bought some new products after the show at the Boutique (everything was 25% off!). I got a "Butterfly Wings" mascara, a very cool eyeliner that looks kind of like a felt-tip marker, so hopefully should be easy to use, and a nifty eyebrow pencil that has the actual pencil on one end, an eyebrow wax on the other end, and a small comb on the cap to help keep your eyebrows well groomed!

New make-up!
Best of all, we received some very generous gift bags, filled with loads of hair and skin products!

So many goodies!

Now onto lunch! Mr Duckie had been quite busy and was feeling quite tired by the time afternoon came around, so Anita and I went out in search of takeaway to bring back to eat. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of our lunch, but believe me it was very tasty and again incredibly filling! We ended up going to Hooks At The Yarra, and got a huge serve of fish and chips, served with salad, tartare sauce and aioli, as well as a seafood risotto, and an olive and rosemary focaccia. Although we only got two mains between the three of us, we were so full that we couldn't even finish all the food! I have to especially mention the chips, which we thick cut and chunky, and perfect for dipping in the sauces. This may sound a bit lame but I always have lots of fun bringing food back in to eat – sort of like having a restaurant in your own home!

Dinner was delayed somewhat that night after our huge day of eating. We went to a nearby Japanese restaurant, Zen Izakaya (previously called Kinya). The restaurant had beautiful décor and an intimate atmosphere, with very friendly and attentive service.

Despite still being full from lunch, we managed to order (and eat) heaps! We started off with takoyaki topped with bonito flakes. Mr Duckie had never seen the effect of heat on bonito flakes before, which makes them wave about in the air, and he stared mesmerised at his takoyaki before finally eating it!

I also ordered a miso soup as I felt rather in need of something warm and wholesome (it had been a very cold and rainy day!). This was indeed a very rich and flavoursome miso soup, with silky chunks of tofu bobbing throughout. Mr Duckie, who had never had miso soup before, decided to try some, and liked it so much he ended up drinking half the bowl!

A rather funny incident happened with the drinks. I had ordered a green tea, and Mr Duckie had ordered a raspberry lemonade. But for some reason when the waiter brought out the drinks, he assumed I had the very pink raspberry lemonade, and gave Mr Duckie the green tea!

Miso soup and green tea
Anita ordered the tempura udon. The udon was beautifully presented in a blue stone bowl, and was topped very generously with a wide selection of tempura prawn and vegetables and some shiitake mushrooms. The broth was also very warming and was the perfect antidote to the cold weather.

Tempura udon
Mr Duckie and I shared a teriyaki salmon. The salmon also came on a very pretty blue green plate. The fish was cooked just right so that it was firm but still very moist, and was covered with a rich, sticky and flavoursome teriyaki sauce. Mr Duckie is a huge salmon lover (like a grizzly bear!) so he finished most of this in no time!

Teriyaki salmon
More food was still to come! Mr Duckie gets a bit excited with ordering, especially when there are interesting items on the menu like these king crab gyoza. Luckily, I have the appetite to match, and these gyoza were so tasty that it was not at all a problem to eat them! The gyoza were generously filled with sweet crab meat, held together with a creamy and very savoury sauce, flecked with orange tobiko. On the side was a very tangy and citrusy ponzu sauce which nicely complemented the gyoza.
King crab gyoza
We also ordered the dragon roll (without avocado, as Mr Duckie and I don't like avocado - yes, that does sound strange!). Our roll had tempura prawn in the filling, and was topped with grilled eel and tobiko. Unfortunately by the time I got round to eating this the eel had gone cold. But it was still a very tasty sushi!

Dragon roll
And yes, we did find space for dessert, which was a scoop each of green tea, black sesame and red bean ice cream. These ice cream flavours are always solid favourites! Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of these - I think we were all rather too interested in eating our dessert!

The next morning we woke up rather late, so we only had a short amount of time for breakfast before heading out to the airport. We went to the Mad Duck Cafe for breakfast - of course I immediately loved the name! The staff were very helpful - we informed them that we had to be out in half an hour, and they managed to get all our food out to us so quickly that we did manage to finish within that time!

I again started off with muesli, this time served with natural yoghurt and a deliciously sweet fruit compote. There was an extra thoughtful touch with a small jug of skim milk served on the side. The muesli had a good mix of oats, pepitas, sunflower seeds, bran, as well as almonds and macadamia nuts, and currants and dried cranberries.

Muesli, $6.90, with yoghurt and fruit compote

Mr Duckie ordered the Eggs Florentine, which was two poached eggs served on lightly sauteed spinach and toasted English muffins. The eggs were perfectly poached, with the yolks oozing out when cut into. The Hollandaise sauce was also very tasty - I normally find Hollandaise too rich but this one was quite light, and had a slight tanginess that helped to cut through the richness.

Eggs Florentine, $14.90
Anita had the pancakes with strawberries and ice cream. Again the pancakes were huge! They were soft and sweet, with lots of maple syrup drizzled on top (yay!), and the tangy strawberries and creamy vanilla ice cream made the pancakes extra special.

Pancakes with strawberries and ice cream, $13.90
And again, I had an Earl Grey tea with breakfast. The tea was served with a very thoughtful touch - an extra little jug of hot water on the side, to top up the teapot in case extra tea is needed! Unfortunately we were running out of time, so I didn't get a chance to use the extra water!

Earl Grey tea
Then it was off to the airport to catch our flight home! Overall it was a very fun (and food) filled weekend, and it was certainly nice to have a mini-getaway and explore a new city. Thanks to Mr Duckie and Anita for a fantastic weekend!

Loading Dock Bar
70 Lorimer Street, Docklands
(03) 9681 8289

Hooks At The Yarra
50 River Esplanade, Docklands
(03) 9043 4221

Zen Izakaya
70 Lorimer St, Docklands
(03) 9646 2400

Mad Duck Cafe
92 River Esplanade, Docklands
(03) 9681 8882

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