Exploring the Greek Cuisine with George Calombaris + David Tsirekas

The bustling Hellenic Republic forms part of The Press Club Group, a burgeoning conglomerate of restaurants. Apart from the association with celebrity chef George Calombaris, these restaurants, have at least one other feature in common – their almighty banquets which give diners the opportunity to indulge in mammoth quantities of delicious food. 
Gastrology recently joined David Tsirekas and George Calombaris at Hellenic Republic where the pair took guests on a journey exploring Greek Cuisine.
The Greek inspired dinner featured Travis McAuley and Hellenic’s two head chef’s, Alex Xinis and Arron Lynch alongside David Tsirekas and George Calombaris. The result (as expected) was a mouth-watering banquet gastronomical proportions.
Tarama churros, lathalemono - David Tsirekas

The Tarama churros were addictively good. The rigid-edged doughnuts had a nice outer crunch and were appreciatively not drenched in oil. 
Ouzo cured ocean trout, Jerusalem artichoke, Cucumber - Aaron Lynch

The cured salmon which was wonderfully complemented Jerusalem artichoke was a vibrant dish which showcased fresh flavours that were light and appetising. 
Smoked bone marrow, beetroot, feta, horseradish - George Calombaris

The Smoked bone marrow was a well formulated dish of bold and vibrant flavour combinations showcased the culinary potential of Greek cuisine. The luscious bone marrow paired exceptionally well with the creamy feta and slightly tart beetroot and earthy horseradish to produce perfectly balanced flavours. 
Kefalograviera saganaki - Alex Xinis

One of Hellenic Republic’s signature dishes and understandably so. The marriage of salty pan-seared Kefalograviera - a robust sheep milk cheese originating from Greece - with sweet caramelised figs was an unbeatable combination. With the added textural kick from the chewiness of the cheese, this dish was a highly addictive appetiser.
Sheftalies, tahini, yoghurt, caper leaves - Travis McAuley

The Sheftalie was amazingly rich in flavour and was perfectly counterbalanced by the tartness of the yoghurt and the freshness of the caper leaves. 
Seafood kokoretsi, skordalia - David Tsirekas

The eye catching Seafood kokoretsi’s  combination of the crispy kataifi pastry and the fresh tender seafood was a textural delight.
Tartare of tuna with all its frills, prawn crackers - George Calombaris

The tuna was decadently spiked with a tart mixture and served with refreshing herbs. It was a pleasant and innovative variant of the classic tuna tartare. 
Melizanosalata - Alex Xinis

A celebration of eggplant which made use of the differing textures of eggplants. Most notable was the melitzanoslata dip which boasted a beautiful smokiness which was further enhanced by the ample use of garlic.
Duck and quince - David Tsirekas

The slices of duck breast were cooked to perfection, allowing the rich flavour of the duck to transpire.  The sweet and sticky quince provided the crowning element of luxuriousness to a wonderful dish.
Wagyu tongue and flat iron kalamaki - Travie McAuley

The skewers were sufficiently seasoned and flavoursome, and boasted a lovely outer charring.
Lahanosalata  - Aaron Lynch

Aaron Lynch’s take on the Lahanosalata, a traditional, classic winter salad in Greece was outstanding. Full of flavour and robust textures, it was a delicious accompaniment to the proteins. 
Touloumba, warm rosewater custard, honeyed walnuts - David Tsikeras
“Magnamopolous” - Greek yoghurt ice cream, caramelia, mastic, fruit - George Calombaris

Our dinner concluded on a decadently sweet end with a duo of desserts. The Touloumba was traditional and heart-warming while the “Magnamopolous” was a modern take on the humble ice cream stick. Both were superbly made and absolutely moreish.  
An exciting night featuring 5 outstanding chefs, the evening was certainly a memorable journey through the exciting paradigms of Greek cuisine. 

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Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Made Establishment.

JD's Burgers

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of JD's Burgers.
JD's Burgers fuses the flavours of Asia with the mighty burger.

Showcasing a range of signature flavours and sauces, the burgers are interesting and most importantly, the flavour combinations work! 
The menu boasts an exciting array of Asian Fusion Burgers but our absolute favourite was being given the option of making our very own. Beautiful Indonesian satay sauce on your beef burger? Luxurious Japanese curry on your chicken schnitzel burger? Yes please! 
We loved the generous serve and had no trouble putting it away. Each of the burgers we created were cooked with love. Our protein was cooked to perfection and treated with respect and all our deliciously fresh ingredients were sandwiched between perfectly toasted buttery brioche buns.
JD’s Burger chips are another must-have - beautifully crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
JD's Burgers is on a mission to source the distinct flavours from each country and bring "All of Asia, in One Place" in an “Australasian Fusion Style”. The result is a unique selling point which is drawing in the crowds. 

Location: 85 Willsmere Road, Kew
Phone: 03 9853 5771
Cuisine: Burgers, American, Asian

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Circa 900 Pizzeria Napoletana

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Circa 900.
While pizza aficionados may not be familiar with Circa 900 yet, chances are, they soon will be.
Circa 900 recently opened its doors in Kew and is named after the 900AD time period when Pizza was first created in Naples. 

The restaurant boasts traditional  Neapolitan style pizzas that are baked in an 800-degree wood-burning oven for around one minute. 

This truly authentic approach has led to Circa 900 being formally certified by The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (APN) association. The APN is a non-profit organization founded in Naples, Italy in 1984, with the mission to promote and protect the Neapolitan pizza craft in Italy and worldwide. 
Highly lauded throughout the pizza community, this certification requires pizzerias to adhere a number of quality standards, including using Italian ‘00’ flour, extra virgin olive oil and fresh mozzarella, along with strict regulations regarding preparation and cooking.
Circa 900 is owned by Marco Capparella and his partner Anna Siniscalchi and, apart from delicious pizzas, also serves a range of Neapolitan cuisine. 
Being from Naples themselves, Marco is a 3rd generation pizza maker and Anna has many years’ experience in the kitchen, proudly bringing recipes from her nonna’s kitchen to patrons of the restaurant.
Ricotta fritta

The ricotta fritters were a lovely start to our meal. The light and crispy breadcrumb coating contrasted beautifully with the subtle light, creamy interior.
Tagliolini ai porcini homemade with white wine, parsley & truffle oil

Tried and true rustic Italian cooking, the home made Tagliolini was silky and al dente and served with generous amounts of delicious porcini mushrooms. The mushrooms were bursting with flavour and complemented by a sprinkling of truffle oil.
Bufala pizza - san marzano tomatoes, fior di latte, uncooked prosciutto di Parma, uncooked buffalo mozzarella & truffle oil

Quite simply, the Bufala pizza was sensational. Sat atop a thin layer of tomato sugo were generous dollops of delicious buffalo mozzarella, lashings of prosciutto and a sprinkling of rocket leaves. These ingredients did justice to the fantastic pizza base which was thin, light and flavoursome.
Nutella Ricotta Calzoncino

Our evening concluded on a sweet note with a Nutella and ricotta calzone. The sticky Nutella and ricotta combined in the oven  to form a decadent concoction. Simple but also simply beautiful, this dessert calzone was a great end to the meal.
The Circa 900 team have quickly established themselves as maestros of the Melbourne pizza scene. Customers of Circa 900 are rewarded with high quality, traditionally crafted Neapolitan wood fired pizzas packed with garden fresh ingredients. If you are in search of some of Melbourne's best pizzas, this eatery should be at the top of your list.

Location: 321 High Street, Kew
Phone: (03) 9853 5155
Cuisine: Italian, Pizza

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‘MATCHED’ @ The Boulevard

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of The Boulevard and Cake Wines.
Cake Wines recently launched ‘MATCHED’, a celebration of kitchens that don’t live in the limelight.
The campaign runs through-out July-Aug-Sept and is about celebrating “kitchens that don’t live in the limelight”, hearing stories from the chefs that run them, and giving some much needed love, and exposure, to the restaurants, cafes, tapas/wine bars and gastro pubs that sometimes get drowned out by the celebrity driven food world.
Cake Wines is a newish, contemporary winery from the Adelaide Hills made up of a couple of young wine makers and young wine lovers. Working with over 50 venues nationally, Cake has approached chefs / venues / owners to match their favourite dishes to any one of Cakes’ existing wines. Cake will dedicate their social media network to sharing some of these inspiring food and wine stories across the 3 months.
As part of the ‘MATCHED’ campaign, Gastrology were privileged to visit The Boulevard. A unique venue which offers beautiful views of Melbourne’s skyline and the local Studley Park precinct, the Boulevard is located a mere 10 minutes from the CBD. 
The menu features modern Australian cuisine which showcases the finest ingredients carefully selected from local and imported suppliers.
Whipped goat cheese with onion compote, house made dukkah and toasted olive sourdough

This was a scrumptious start. We enjoyed the prominent tartness of the goats cheese which was complemented by the sweet onion compote. 
House made gnocchi with mustard butter, fried sage and shaved grana padano

The beautifully pan fried gnocchi was wonderfully light and captivating with its fragrant sage aroma and lingering rich grana padano flavour.
Crispy skin barramundi with king prawn, sautéed spinach and prawn bisque

The quality of the barramundi was exemplary. The skin of the fish was perfectly seared to be very crisp while the flesh was delicate and moist. It was a dish that allowed the natural subtle sweetness of the fish to be enjoyed. The prawn bisque boasted a decadent depth of flavour and was the perfect accompaniment to the fish, king prawn and melt in your mouth spinach.
Slow braised beef cheeks in a red wine sauce, white bean puree, caramelised onions and crispy pancetta

The slow braised beef cheek was excellent – a memorable dish combining flawless texture with equally superlative flavours.
The matching wine, the Cake Wines Pinot Noir 2012 was the perfect match to the slow braised beef cheek. A supple and approachable wine, the summer fruit flavours and subtle spice notes complemented the earthy braising sauce and the sweetness of the onions. 
Banana and sticky date pudding with butterscotch, organic vanilla bean ice-cream, walnut praline

Consistent with the preceding courses, the banana and sticky date pudding was well made and decadently coated in copious amounts of rich butterscotch sauce. It was a lovely rendition of a classic dessert.
With a lovely relaxed ambience, cheerful wait staff and award winning Modern Australian cuisine, The Boulevard is an ideal venue to laze away the afternoon.  

Location: 121 Studley Park Road, Kew
Phone: 03 9852 8144
Cuisine: Modern Australian, Coffee, Breakfast/Brunch

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Fairtrade Chocolate Masterclass @ Xocolatl

Gastrology bloggers visited Xocolatl as guests of Fairtrade.
Easter indulgence had subsided just in time for an evening of chocolate delight and an experience of a different kind.
This week, Gastrology was invited by Fairtrade to attend an evening of tasting, talking and cooking with chocolate.
We were joined by cocoa farmer Esther Mintah Ephraim from the Fairtrade Kuapa Kokoo cooperative in Ghana who shared her insights on growing cocoa and how chocolate makes its way to our cupboard or fridge.
We also learned the art of chocolate making from Christos Partsioglou, an experienced chocolatier and owner of Xocolatl and enjoyed plenty of tastings.

What you need to know about Fairtrade...

What is Fairtrade?

Fairtrade is the only certification scheme that sets out to tackle poverty and empower farmers.
Buying product with the Fairtrade Mark means farmers and workers in developing countries get a better deal for their product and improved terms of trade. This helps them to improve their working and living conditions, plan for a better future and create brighter opportunities for their families and local communities.

How does Fairtrade work?

The Fairtrade certification scheme provides farmers and workers in developing countries with a fair price (the Fairtrade Price) for their produce, helping protect them from damaging fluctuations in world market prices. They also receive an additional sum of money (the Fairtrade Premium) for investment in social, economic and environmental development in their community, such as educational and medical facilities.

Today, more than six million people - farmers, producers, workers and their families — from 70 countries benefit from the Fairtrade's independent system.

The Power of You

Fairtrade's The Power of You campaign encourages people to make a difference to the lives of farmers by purchasing ethically sourced product that carries the blue and green Fairtrade Mark. Fairtraide are launching this campaign during Fair Trade Fortnight, 2-18 May.

Fairtrade is calling on everyone to choose and change the world one purchase at a time. www.thepowerofyou.org.au

For more information visit www.fairtrade.com.au.

Images courtesy of Lucia Rossi

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