Posts By dtra

TGI Fridays

TGI Fridays: Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale

TGI Fridays: Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale

Had dinner last week at TGI Fridays Melbourne Central, which is an American themed chain restaurant, I think I’ve been to one before quite a while back but don’t remember what I had. Anyway, we were there for a friend’s birthday, it was probably a good thing we didn’t mention it to any of the staff as they have a strange custom of a embarrassing birthday celebrations by announcing it to the whole restaurant and then singing and screaming some song. It took us a while to decide and even longer to order (pretty busy on a Saturday night), but Emmy went with the Scotch Fillet, and persuaded me to get the ribs (I probably would have just gone with a burger otherwise) because most reviews online say to get the ribs (Jack Daniels glaze).

TGI Fridays: Scotch Fillet

TGI Fridays: Scotch Fillet

The wait for food wasn’t too long for a busy night, can’t remember how long, but it didn’t seem too bad, even though it was late and we were hungry. Emmy ordered the steak medium (because she isn’t supposed to eat the juice) and to everyone’s surprise it was actually, probably medium, even a little juicy (red) in parts, so it was actually cooked pretty well, it came with a side of the Jack Daniels glaze sauce. It doesn’t come with salad but does come with chips which I didn’t rate very much. But, the steak was cooked well, nice and tender, so thumbs up for that.

TGI Fridays: Ribs

TGI Fridays: Ribs

My ribs, at 42$ are a bit over priced I think, they’re not as big as the ones I had at the grill place in Queenstown, come with a side of chips and coleslaw (lol), I’m not sure if I’d call the coleslaw a side, it was like a thimble size. As far as ribs go they were good, but to be honest, ribs don’t really do it for me, it’s just meat with a glaze on the bone. There’s a good amount of meat but overall, the flavour is not enough to justify the billing. Ribs as a shared dish makes more sense to me, as a main it doesn’t have enough by itself. I’d stick with steak or a burger if I ever went back.

I had a Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale to keep my thirst quenched, it was not bad, I’m enjoying these craft beers more and more lately. They didn’t have any darker beers so I just went with a pale ale which was pretty good.

I don’t think I would ever take Emmy to TGI Fridays by ourselves, maybe they only really shine on an actual Friday?

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Suga

Pork Pancake: Suga

Pork Pancake: Suga

We had lunch at Suga on Saturday, this is our closest Korean restaurant that we know is definitely pretty good (apart from Caveman 1961 I guess) just down the road in Chadstone. It’s our second time eating there (we also got take away a couple times I think) and it’s always a bit too much haha. I thought that I did a blog about this one already but I couldn’t find anything so I guess this is it. They pretty much do all the regular Korean offerings which can make it a bit daunting because unless you’re craving something in particular, there’s so much to choose from, I do believe that tofu is their specialty.

Knowing that, we didn’t order any tofu haha, we went with a pork pancake (can’t remember what it was called) which was a bit like okonomiyaki (with the mayo), a half fried chicken (original), and a spicy beef stew. The pancake was pretty good, I think we ordered the seafood pancake last time, this thing is really big and filling so don’t be put off by the price and don’t be surprised by how full you are after one slice. While I didn’t notice it being spicy at all, the menu says it has chilli paste in it so be wary if you have little ones.

KFC: Suga

KFC: Suga

Next up we got some KFC to make sure that Oscar had something to eat, we got half a chicken because we had other stuff to eat too. This is not on par with the other KFC places that we’ve been to though, the original flavour comes with a small salad and some mayo dressing. The dressing would be good if there was more of it but it really only covers the salad so doesn’t seem like a sauce for the chicken. The chicken pieces are a reasonable size and crunchy enough but apart from the flavour of the skin, the meat is quite dry and lacking (as you would expect from chicken). If ordering the chicken here I would definitely recommend getting one of the flavoured varieties.

Spicy Beef Stew: Suga

Spicy Beef Stew: Suga

Finally, we had a spicy beef stew, we were already both pretty full by this point, and even though the stew is spicy it wasn’t enough to melt all the food in our tummies already. This one I’m not such a fan of, the spicy tofu stew with silken tofu is definitely my preferred Korean soup (and we’ve had it at Suga before and it was really good), this was a bit bland for me, I’m not sure if it had any tofu in it, the menu didn’t say so but I thought I tasted some, but any way it wasn’t as good as the regular spicy tofu stew XD.

For two and a half of us, I reckon just two of the mains (with rice) would have been enough, we were super full and we didn’t finish the soup. So a couple of (kinda) misses today but there are plenty of other options at Suga to try, live and learn, until next time.

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La Tortilleria

La Tortilleria

La Tortilleria

Continuing on from last week, we still had some Mexican cravings, so headed to La Tortilleria in Kensington for some tacos, and other assorted delights. It was a good chance to compare the two restaurants as El Sabor was still fresh in our minds. It’s the second time we’ve been (last time we’d already eaten so we didn’t try much more than tacos), it’s a funny little place on a quiet street seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It looks reasonably spacious from the outside but the interior is quite snug, I’m guessing due to the food preparation area which seems to take up half of the restaurant.

The menu isn’t too big (which is good) which certainly is favourable for me as I don’t like having to choose between too many options. We went with chilaquiles, a few tacos, a mushroom tostada (for Oscar), and a Pirata Carlos, before dessert. There were a few things that we had to leave because there just wans’t room, but the Volcancito (beans, beef, cheese on top of a fried tortilla with salsa and guacamole) is definitely something I want to try next time.

Chilaquiles: La Tortilleria

Chilaquiles: La Tortilleria

The chilaquiles are similar to nachos but as they say on the menu, more saucy, they were pretty good but as a direct comparison, the nachos at El Sabor were maybe a bit better, the totopos seemed to retain their crunchiness a bit better.

With our appetites properly whetted the tacos, Pirata Carlos, and tostada arrived. We ordered four tacos (which cost 5$ each, so this pricing is obviously a thing in Melbourne), this time we went with carnitas, pescado (fish), al pastor (pork and pineapple), and pollo horneado (chicken and pickled red onion). The tacos here are pretty small (smaller than El Sabor I think), sorry no pictures for comparison but they come with two tortillas which makes them slightly easier to hold, but you can still expect your hands to smell good afterwards :D.

I usually steer clear of al pastor because it comes with pineapple which I prefer by itself or cooked only in a very delicious Vietnamese soup, it was okay but I prefer the carnitas. The carnitas here was pretty good and definitely on par with El Sabor while the pollo horneado was a pleasant delight, with the pickled red onion and a bit of limón squeezed on top this is definitely a keeper along with carnitas.

Also on this board was the Pirata Carlos, beef and melted cheese with some nopales (cactus) between a couple of tortillas is simple and tasty. The grease content on all this is pretty high I would think, so if you have high cholesterol, you’ve been warned. I think we live too long nowadays, so I’m not going to hold back when tasty food is there for the eating.

Chocolate Flan: La Tortilleria

Chocolate Flan: La Tortilleria

We were pretty full already at this point but apparently you can’t go to La Tortilleria  without trying the vanilla flan, so we ordered that. Unfortunately for us, they’d run out for the day so we went with the chocolate flan. It’s pretty much chocolate mousse which I’m not enamoured with (I prefer iced cream to mousse for sure), it was okay if a bit dense, Oscar enjoyed it though XD.

Mexican Hot Chocolate: La Tortilleria

Mexican Hot Chocolate: La Tortilleria

There is also a traditional Mexican hot chocolate on the menu which was quite intriguing as it had chilli and other spices in it. It’s vegan (I didn’t see it on the menu) but was noticeable as soon as it hits your mouth, one wonders if it is possible to order it with milk but maybe that would defeat the purpose of it being traditional. It’s more like tea than a normal hot chocolate for that reason, which was surprising at first until I realised that it was vegan.

So ends another Mexican tasting session, and I can’t wait until the next time, there seems to be a quite a few places I haven’t tried and I’ve made sure to make a mental note and mentioned it to Emmy so will take the next opportunity to hit up for some more Mexican delights ASAP :D. Got some Korean coming up soon so keep your eyes peeled.

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El Sabor by El Cielo

El Sabor

El Sabor

I’ve had Mexican on my mind for a while now and El Sabor has been on top of the wishlist in that regard since Los Amates closed down. We had dinner with some friends on the weekend, an odd couple where one eats mostly meat, and the other veg so we thought Mexican would probably serve them well as there are a lot of meat options as well as lots of vegie dishes too. So we headed out to North Melbourne for some delicious Mexican tucker.

El Sabor: Queen of the Night

El Sabor: Queen of the Night

According to my lovely wife (credit for most of the foodie photos btw), there are actually a bunch of other Mexican restaurants all over Melbourne worth trying so I guess we might have to start up our Mexican flavour tour, how apt that we got back on the horse at El Sabor (the taste for those non-Spanish speakers :D). I’m sure even our (picky) son will find plenty of food that he will love.

El Sabor: Nachos

El Sabor: Nachos

We started off with some nachos to share while we were waiting for our friends as Oscar was super hungry and needed something that he could actually eat and that we could share later. They’re covered with melted cheese (can’t go wrong with that) guacamole, and beans, we went with the salsa roja (I think salsa verde might be spicy?), the “chips” are yellow (as you would expect) and also brown (not what you would expect) but I couldn’t really discern the difference as I made sure each one was drenched in the flavourful sauces, yum.

El Sabor: Mushroom Quesadilla

El Sabor: Mushroom Quesadilla

Next we had some tacos, pollo pibil (chicken), pescado (fish), carnitas (pork), and a mushroom quesdilla. I didn’t get a picture of the tacos, but to be honest, apart from the carnitas they weren’t that memorable (and at 5$ a pop, a bit insubstantial). The mushroom quesadilla turned out to be the majority of Oscar’s dinner, it was different to what I expected, more substantial and packed. It was for Oscar otherwise I would have ordered a chicken or beef one.

El Sabor: Elotes

El Sabor: Elotes

Our initial order finally consisted of the elotes, sweet corn on the cob covered in the cheese and chipotle mayo. Corn is always one of my favourites, this one probably could have done with a bit more mayo (hehe) but was pretty tasty. Having seen this I knew we needed to order some more food, so we went with something new (I think), and tried the Enfrijoladas and kept some room for dessert too.

El Sabor: Enfrijoladas

El Sabor: Enfrijoladas

It was either enfrijoladas or tostadas but the choice was made and we ended up with the slightly fried tortillas filled with chicken, topped with (an absolutely delicious) bean sauce, cheese, cream, and onions, guacamole, also with a serve of rice (fried with tomato paste?). This was my favourite dish of the night, I was a little unsure at first but after a taste I couldn’t get enough, and it hit right spot and filled me up good. You can see from the picture I completely forgot to take a picture and ate half of it before I remembered to take a snap. Maybe that can be the theme of my foodie posts, the foodie in-progress.

Everyone got in on that one (except maybe the vego) and we wrapped it up with some churros for dessert (with chocolate dipping sauce). I’m pretty sure the churros were out of a box or something as they were very “perfect” but they were at least freshly fried. I’m not sure that they needed to be covered in cinnamon sugar but I will never say no to churros, that’s a guarantee.

Overall, a good return to some authentic Mexican food, and certainly thumbs up from me (a bit pricey though) and here’s hoping to more yummy Mexican food in the near future.

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Caveman 1961

Caveman 1961 exterior

Caveman 1961 exterior

I had a hankering for some Korean Fried Chicken near home, and Caveman 1961 seems to be pretty new to the Mount Waverley area. I should rebrand this blog as some kind of suburban eats thing at this rate, I’ve got another foodie post coming after this one but it’s in North Melbourne so not so suburban. It’s located in the Pinewood shopping centre which has a lot of restaurants so there must be some pretty stiff competition. However, the other places in the area seem a bit more conservative and probably not catered to the same kind of crowd so Caveman 1961 definitely has a chance.

Caveman 1961: Cave salt chicken wings

Caveman 1961: Cave salt chicken wings

The menu is pretty simple, there are some sides, fried chicken, and drinks, that’s pretty much it, there are some other things (traditional Korean dishes) but we didn’t look into those. We ordered a cheesy corn grande, which is sweet corn kernels and cheese served on a sizzling hot plate, a soft tofu pot (spicy Korean soup with silken tofu and an egg), and 15 chicken wings (ten with signature cave salt, and five with sweet lava which is basically sweet chilli), which are actually wingettes.

Caveman 1961: Sweet lava chicken wings

Caveman 1961: Sweet lava chicken wings

Interestingly, the wings can be ordered from five pieces up to 150 (given that they’re not big, but that’s still a lot of chicken), they’re a little different from the other KFC places we’ve been to. The chicken is deep fried I’m pretty sure but either with no or very little batter (perhaps just a dusting of flour), so they retain the crispy texture but without the bloating batter. They’re quite good if a little pricey for what they are, we actually used their facebook promotion to get ten of the wings for free.

Caveman 1961: Cheesy corn grande

Caveman 1961: Cheesy corn grande

The cheesy corn grande was pretty sweet, not sure if they added anything or whether the corn itself was that sweet but it went well with the savoury cheese, I mean corn and cheese just go together don’t they.

Caveman 1961: Soft Tofu pot

Caveman 1961: Soft Tofu pot

The soft tofu pot was an under the radar star though, the tofu was very soft and smooth, and the soup (while tending a little too spicy) was a good offset to the sweet corn and the sweet wings, we also had some pickled radish which helped too.

I think I’ll happily go back to eat the chicken again next time I have a craving for KFC, considering how local they are (just five minutes drive) and the lack of quality food options nearby. So while the price is a little on the high side (compared to regular take away options as opposed to normal eating out) it’s definitely worth a look (or taste) down in the south eastern suburbs.

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Lights in the Attic for breakfast

We had a very early start in Hawthorn last Saturday so skipped breakfast at home, so after getting our errands out of the way we ducked into Lights in the Attic in Hawthorn for brekky. It has a Korean vibe and decor, they even have a KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) burger on the menu which I would have tried had it not been 8am in the morning.

Breakfast: Sweet Benny

Breakfast: Sweet Benny

The menu is quite varied and looks to have a lot of good options, although maybe not too many for pregnant women! I ended up going with my usual eggs benedict (Sweet Benny), although this one with a twist, the salmon and poached eggs (perfectly done) sit on top of a couple of sweet potato hash browns with pea puree on the side (pea sauce lol). It was pretty good (but I probably have to needlessly add that I prefer regular potato to sweet potato), the eggs, salmon, and crunch of the hash browns work really well together.

Breakfast: French Toast

Breakfast: French Toast

Emmy had the french toast (apparently her only reasonable option ;)) which is not normally something she would order, considering it’s usually dripping with sweet stuff. Surprisingly, she praised it mightily, calling it the best french toast she ever had! The bread, I’m not even sure you could call it that, it seemed almost like a sponge cake was soft and fluffy and all the elements together.

It was a cold morning and I was still recovering from a cold so I went with the can’t fail lemon and ginger tea. Emmy tried the hot chocolate which I think was a bit sweet (for her), it doesn’t seem to be on the menu so it’s probably not some 90% dark chocolate blend? All in all, for first thing in the morning breakfasts, they were quite filling and got us through to lunch time easily and flavourfully.

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Throwback Thursday: Mexico 2008: Veracruz – Papantla, El Tajin, and Xalapa

Throwback Thursday

This was originally posted on 12th May 2008 on dtracorp.com. For lack of regular new content, I’m going back and grabbing some stuff that has gone missing since the demise of dtracorp.com to repost here. I don’t think that I will follow any pattern, most likely will just be looking for some cool stuff and post it chronologically each Thursday. I’ll only post stuff that I can still find the pictures for, which means my original trip to NZ did not make the cut (unless I can find them again). I’ll also be re-formatting slightly and fixing up any grammatical errors or (mostly lower case everything text) to suit the new theme.

Veracruz

Veracruz: El Tajin

El Tajin

We left Mexico City on Thursday morning to go up (north west) to Papantla in Veracruz state, from where we would pay a visit to the El Tajin ruins, and then onto Xalapa to visit the anthropological museum there. we arrived in the afternoon and immediately found it warmer than Mexico City (more tropical), wandered around and finally settled on a hotel, that was worse than we expected (more later). the plan was to visit el tajin on the Friday, leave for Xalapa Friday afternoon, and do the museum on saturday.

That was the plan, and that was how it turned out, although Alf and Ozzy had some issues in Xalapa. Papantla was quite a nice town, smallish but with a nice vibe. Cars (some of which were pretty cool) were driving the circuit after dark, and lots of people wandering around the square. It’s a hilly town, seemingly higher in the south than the north.

Veracruz: El Tajin

El Tajin

After an amusing bus ride to the El Tajin site arriving about 10am, we wandered around the site for a couple hours. There were some very impressive ruins there, it wasn’t on my itinerary initially, but Ozzy wanted to go, so i think I took a day out of Mexico City or something, I certainly wasn’t upset, it was a cool site. It was more popular than Teotihuacan, but that could’ve been because there were lots of school groups there. After the ruins, we wandered out to see the flying Totonac voladores, traditional to the area. These guys seemed to charge before performing, we each handed over twenty pesos.

After that, we weren’t sure what to do regarding the bus back to Papantla, we waited at the ruins entrance for a while, before walking out to the highway, eventually a bus came, it went down to the ruins before coming back to the highway. on the way, a bunch of school kids got on, and started hassling Alf and Ozzy, in broken English, and Spanish, they loved it.

Veracruz: Volador

Volador

Next was an afternoon bus to Xalapa, it arrived around 8-9pm, in a very busy city (the capital of Veracruz state). Ozzy was to get sick, and Alf was soon to follow, we didn’t get up to much (Friday night!!), but had a big dorm room all to ourselves.

The next day we went to the impressive (and fortunately not so big) anthropological museum, with a load of giant Olmec heads, and other relics from the region, it was a pretty cool place (although it pretty much drained me of my museum visiting interest for the rest of the trip) despite not having anything (?) in English.

Giant Olmec head three is the near one, i’m not sure what the other one is, but Alf is standing there for a bit of perspective, there were definitely bigger ones, I think there were seven total, plus one in Mexico City.

Vereacruz: Colossal Olmec Head 3

Colossal Olmec Head 3

Ozzy was really feeling crappy at this point, and after the museum, we had a bit of a wander looking for a view of the city, but gave up cos we didn’t have enough time before the bus to Puebla. so a kind of rushed time in Veracruz state, and Xalapa especially, but I guess that’s what happens when you add something to the plan later on, and also when people are sick.

Veracruz: Voladores

Voladores

A picture of the voladores sitting on top of their pole, ready to jump off and swing about upside down (tied with ropes) till they get to the bottom, the guy standing up plays a flute-like instrument while the others swing. Note: I changed the picture here so the line preceding this doesn’t make sense 😉

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Mum’s Burger Kitchen

Mum's Burger Kitchen

Mum’s Burger Kitchen

We finally had our end of basketball season dinner, and at our captain’s insistence it was at Mum’s Burger Kitchen. This is not the place I would normally frequent (due to location mainly) as it is in very remote Boronia :D, Which is pretty much a regional area of Victoria, way out in the eastern suburbs. This place has been getting a lot of publicity in recent months, as one of those favoured new burger joints, but also to some self promotion as well.

We’ll get straight to the business because that’s the type of food we’re talking about here. I had the Trent which is a pretty standard burger, patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, beetroot, bacon, and sauces. I didn’t take a picture of it but it was pretty tall for what is included. I got Oscar a kid’s meal (pictured) which was supposed to be a bao with chicken filling, but it looks more like he had a slider to me (I won’t complain because captain is friendly with the owners so we probably got the better deal anyway), a side of chips and a drink.

The chips were ample for a kids meal that’s for sure, and even though Oscar didn’t finish his slider, he had a good go, getting almost half way through and not complaining (that’s a very good effort for him). On the side we also had onion rings, more fries, some bigger chips (like wedges but not wedges), and even chicken wings (spicy). The sauces were good so the burgers had good flavour, and the sides (which were possibly on the house and overflowing) were greasy and crunchy.

I definitely rate them quite highly and would recommend them to anyone in the area (doubt that they need it, since the lines were out the door), it’s a bit cheaper than Grill’d so the value is better and I’d have a hard time choosing between them if location wasn’t an issue. Maybe they’ll open a franchise in Mount Waverley, I can dream. I wouldn’t go unless I was already in the area (we rarely venture out that way) as I’m not that into burgers, but for a greasy, fatty meal, I don’t think you’ll find much better. Oh, and if you care, service was perfectly good considering how busy they were.

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Puffing Billy

Puffing Billy

Puffing Billy

We went to ride on Puffing Billy last month for Oscar’s birthday and forgot about it until yesterday, it wasn’t unforgettable haha, but it wasn’t forgettable either, a nice time was had by all. We booked the 10.30am departure which turned out to be a bit of a rush (since they tell you to be 30 minutes early or something), we didn’t get there by 10am (more like 10.20am) but it didn’t matter, they didn’t leave till about 10.35am anyway. A lot of late comers strolling on so we certainly didn’t feel too bad about not being early.

We left from the starting point of Belgrave and headed for Lakeside, which is the main stop as there are picninc grounds and a small lake to spend time at (and some nearby play grounds). It takes about an hour with a couple of stops along the way, there is a nice view toward the city near the top around 45 minutes in and a fun atmosphere the whole time. The train meanders across Mount Dandenong and stops traffic at many junctions where people seem to enjoy the spectacle of a passing steam train.

Puffing Billy view

Puffing Billy view

We arrived at Lakeside at about 11.30am and quickly got out and ate our packed sandwiches by the lake. We had a short walk around and discovered that the next train back to Belgrave (after the 12.30pm train) was not until after 2pm, which we were not prepared for. So in a rush we headed back to the train station and boarded before setting off back to Belgrave.

Puffing Billy

Puffing Billy

So unfortunately we didn’t get to spend a relaxing time up at the lake but at least we had a peaceful ride on the train back. As the weather was quite cool (but sunny) it wasn’t so busy so we got to sit comfortably and also dangle our legs out the window whenever we liked. We got to Belgrave and were pretty hungry so we had a quick look in the gift shop before checking out what food was on offer along the main street.

It’s a good experience but we definitely could have done better by being more prepared, being May it also wasn’t the best time to spend outdoors in the crisp air of Mount Dandenong hungry. Next time maybe we’ll go when it’s a bit warmer so that we can enjoy the lakeside activities a bit and spend more time up there (and also prepare more food!). All in all it’s a fun trip and the trains are pretty cool to see, puffing out all that steam makes for some interesting pictures, there’s also that part where the train goes over an elevated section of track that would look pretty cool from down on the side of the road. It’s not cheap (54$ per adult) so definitely worth it to prepare and plan out the trip better than we did.

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Crown Range Road Panorama

We took the Crown Range Road from Queenstown to Wanaka, there’s a very nice lookout at the top of the road (Arrow Junction Lookout point), we stopped here and I snapped an eleven shot panorama with my FA43 (portrait mode). These panoramas always end up being ultra wide because I don’t take the second layer of pictures on top to get more resolution. Due to the massive resolution of my K-1, this picture is probably somewhere in the region of 180MP at full resolution, I didn’t process it at full resolution due to the ridiculous size I’d have to work with, and the fact that it will probably only be displayed here.

Crown Range Road Panorama

Crown Range Road Panorama

The drive up the road is fun, and the view is amazing, it’s probably even better when you get to the top of the road (Crown Range Summit), there’s a lookout point that seems a bit hairy to get to (just on the shoulder) but well worth it, actually looks like there’s a walking track there too. And with that, I think I’m done with posting my pictures from this visit of New Zealand (I’ll be adding to Flickr for a while still though), I was going to post another Throwback Thursday this week, but it’s probably a bad thing if the only content here is archived news, so I’ll save that for next week.

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