Mr Earl

Hollla to all Aussies and especially Melburnians! As I grew more interest into tea during my stay in Melbourne, I believe there are some other people who do too. Sometimes it’s not easy to choose tea for ourselves. Chances are, we don’t know where to buy or we are not quite sure which tea to buy besides those on the supermarket’s shelves. You can feel me, can’t you?

Few months ago, I was contacted by Emily through email when she also introduced Mr. Earl, a new Australian’s tea business. I decided to have a look on their site and captivated by the premium vibe of the brand. Mr. Earl offers a unique tea shopping method by sending monthly tea box subscription. Every single month, you will get a box full of surprise since you don’t know what’s inside! The subscription box offered in three different pricing of 1 month/ 3 month / 6 months ( $ 20 / $ 45 / $ 78 ). Mr. Earl team will carefully select, arrange and deliver three different teas from various premium tea vendors to our doorstep month by month. We may get something that we wouldn’t buy ourselves or never tried before and here we got the chance to  savor it.

Gladly I could receive their very first January tea box, filled with three golden pouches contained around 50 grams of teas including product information card. The card is a guidance of what and how to enjoy the tea right. The January box went classic, simple yet sophisticated with the royal No. 7 French Earl Grey by Deitea, aromatic Fresh Mint from Informal Tea Co and Premium Matcha from Kenko Tea. I’m excited to ascertain more tea brands such as Deitea and Informal Tea Co while Kenko Tea is a brand that I’ve been familiar with.

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Mr. Earl also provides a tea community where tea lovers can stay updated from blog posts, rate and make reviews for teas they have tasted. This is a wonderful thirst quencher for any tea drunkard in Australia-wide who always challenged to try out new different teas but agitated by large quantity tea packs in the market.  

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The royal No.7 French Earl Grey from Deitea

Deitea’s No. 7 French Earl Grey is a beautiful blend inside-out. It does look so pretty, smell good (a little bit too fragrant I reckon) and taste pleasantly fruity. 

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The aromatic Fresh Mint from Informal Tea Co

 

Fresh Mint is green tea blended with herbals such as peppermint, spearmint, rosemary and lavender. I had this tea iced with some sugar drops.

“Because life is too awesome for average tea” Well said, Mister.

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The Updates and New Year Greetings

I never feel burdened to make blog posting as I’m doing this to sum up my most favorite things all at once : writing, tea and foods. But I realize that I am a little bit off lately for some reasons…

I have been told by my coffee geek bf that once I come back home, many things would be different. I would have less time to do everything that I use to do in Melbourne. And it is going on right now, I can’t believe it.. I hate to say this but I need to write something behind the minimum updates, the postponed blog posts and the late replies I made. These past 1,5 months have been awesome yet awkward for me. I love to be back and close to my love ones (of course) here in Bandung, but I kinda hate the loss feeling. I miss my abundant me time when I lived just by myself and I miss Melbourne already, like so much!

December is much more hectic than what I thought it would be. I have to go to a physiotherapy session twice a week due to my back pain issue, I helped my dad doing some of his projects while taking care of my own project, the Christmas preparation at home that always be hectic every single year and in addition there was a cake expo where my bf’s coffee shop quite suddenly joined and made me spending some whole-days there. I also had my final month and exams of the Tea Master certification this month. I just finished it last week and am so happy for this. Being a Certified Tea Master is the best Christmas and let’s say birthday gift for me this year! Woohoo..!!! All of those things pretty much have successfully kept me occupied.

The year of 2013 has been very awesome and full of surprises and I believe  2014 will also be a great year. I really hope all of you enjoy the holiday season and have a wonderful upcoming year of 2014!

Love,

Neysa behind foodandteatraveller


Greek Food at Stalactites

Stalactites will come across Melburnians’ choices when it comes to Greek food in CBD. Located in the heart of Melbourne city, on the intersection of Lonsdale-Russel street and famous for the yummy souvlaki are enough saying why this restaurant is always packed. I went here on weekday before the lunch busy buzzing time and comfortably found it wasn’t very crowded.

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Stalactites “hanging” on all over the ceiling

The nice and friendly waiter directed us to a nice corner seating close to the big window. We went simple and basic in Greek food selections, a platter of lamb and chicken giros, pita bread, Greek salad and mix dip platter.

Greek Garden Salad

A bowl of freshness full with mixed leaf lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, thinly grated carrot, Greek feta cheese & kalamata olives also sprinkled with oregano and vinaigrette. DSC00107

Mixed Giros Platter

A platter of marinated spring lamb and chicken from the spit. I was expecting something spectacular more on the lamb than the chicken. However, it was a pygmallion effect happening since chicken giros did stand out all by itself. The lamb was somewhat dry and barely seasoned whilst the chicken very flavorsome and tender, really nice to have it with squeezed lemon juice and chopped herbs on top.DSC00113AU$ – 16.50 small, AU$ – 29.00 large *Small portion is perfect for two while large would fit up to 4 people.

Pita Bread
Pita bread is a Greek originated flat bread, it’s thin and compressed if compared with any regular white bread. Best to eat pita bread while it is hot since it will be tougher as it getting cold. The hot and fresh pita bread came down to our table in a very inviting fashion; hot , fresh, fragrant and fluffy!
DSC00106AUS 1.70 each

Dips

Besides eating the pita bread with giros and salad, we went for something really Greek style which was having it with variety of dips. The mix platter dips consists of tarama, melitzanosalata, tzatziki & hommus. Tarama is Stalactite’s homemade caviar & lemon dip, Melitzanosalata is eggplant & garlic dip, Tzatziki is yoghurt, garlic & cucumber dip and Hommus is chickpea & sesame dip. Which one tastes best? It really depends on everyone’s preference even so, I always like Tzatziki since forever. Like it for the freshness of cucumber balance the creamy texture of the dips. Major love.DSC00109                                         left to right : Tzatziki, Melitzanosalata, Tarama and Hommus

AU$ 8.50 – Small, AU$ 11.50 – Large

**Place desired amount of vegetables and meat then whip your favorite dips on top of the pita bread, roll the bread and eat by hand. The nature and urgency of eating by hand is quite unbearable for such thing. But trust me, your tummy will thank you later! Ha!

Despite of the pros and cons I’ve ever heard about this place, I myself found my visit was pleasant. Nice ambient, attentive waiters, quick service and most importantly the foods were good too. It’s not pricey since we got appropriate portions for every single dish. Stalactites is a worth visited Greek eatery in Melbourne in any time since they are 24/7!

Stalactites Greek Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Theic Tea Bar

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It was on a rainy Thursday afternoon when I came visiting Theic for the 3rd time.  I never really like rain but I must say it was a really perfect weather to sit back and sip a cup (or maybe cups) of tea. My journal and books were waiting on the table, ready to accompany me throughout the tea time. theic-tea-bar-14

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Not my cup of tea, literally. It was somebody else’s but I really caught by the beautiful presentation and tea wares.

Benifuuki latte and chia porridge with granola started my escapade to be a full time tea-drunkard that day. Benifuuki has that bad-ass kick to keep a person stay wide awake and re-energized. The latte made with soy milk and panela sugar, had a strong kick of matcha flavor, silky texture and mild sweetness. It’s not the kind of green tea or matcha latte you may find in many other places that usually are strongly sweet and milky. I love how the teflon milk-jug and double walled glass have been very helpful keeping the temperature warm.theic-tea-bar-27

Benifuuki Latte – AU$ 5.50

I basically love chia seeds and use them for many purposes but never had a thought to make it into porridge! The chia porridge was served cold along with refreshingly sweet blueberries and grated toasted coconut with additional granola too. The taste was sensational. Every component stands out but also complement each other. The sweet-smooth yet crisp chia seeds, savory crunchy coconut, sweet and sour blueberries combined with crispy-sticky-sweety granola. Trust me healthy foods can be so good!theic-tea-bar-11

theic-tea-bar-12Chia porridge – AU$ 6.00 plus additional granola AU$ 2.00

I went for another tea after finishing my previous two treats, a pot of Japanese green yuzu. I enjoyed the moment of watching the tea was prepared in the right temperature, timing and later impeccably presented in front of me. This is a very pleasant selection from the refreshing aroma of citrus and tartness of yuzu in flavor while the green tea characteristic is still there too. The first infusion gave me sweet, sour flavor of yuzu combined with herbaceous profile from the green tea which was lovely. The second infusion told another story of thicker, silkier body, sweeter and stronger green tea profile instead of the citrusy flavor.theic-tea-bar-19Major love for the wet leaves’ appearance. It’s just so vibrant in color!

theic-tea-bar-18Japanese Green Yuzu (2) – AU$ 6.50

I also got to try this Wen Shan Bao Zhong Oolong at that time. It was quite surprising when Kayla came to my table passing the glass on and opened the conversation  “You said you like Wen Shan Bao Zhong yesterday, so this is for you..enjoy!” Well, it took me a while to remember that I just wrote on Instagram the day before about this and this is what I got. How can I not fall for this place? You tell me!theic-tea-bar-13Floral aromatic, creamy, silky and sweet Wen Shan Bao Zhong has always been one of my favorite when it comes to Oolong! One of the lovely choice from Chamellia Reserve Selection teas.

I just heard that Theic is now having new menu selections already and I’m excited to know or read the reviews! I’m now thousand miles away from Melbourne and couldn’t help myself not to miss it too much. Hopefully I am going to make another visit and I believe there will be much more new delightful surprises of tea and healthy treat at Theic!

Theic Tea Bar on Urbanspoon


Theic Tea Bar Launching Night

I have the urge to (again) underline my excitement of living in Melbourne as the enthusiasm towards tea is (said) as the hippest in this continent! My excitement doesn’t stop here as there’s a new tea place in town, Theic Tea Bar by Chamellia. If you read my blog, you probably have been familiar with Chamellia by Somage since I made some blog posts about their teas previously. Located in the trendy suburbia of Collingwood , Theic is uniquely also merged with INSITU furniture design showroom.

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Theic, means “tea drunkard; one prone to the immoderate consumption of tea“. As a tea-drunkard myself, I am so glad to attend the launching night on 30th September 2013 with many other drunkards. It was an amazing launching night with great people in a great place while enjoying great teas. Couldn’t ask for more.

Meet Nathan Wakeford, the man behind Theic, Chamellia and Somage Fine Foods. In addition he is also the current President of AASTA (Australasian Specialty Tea Association). Nathan uses the special H2O from Mount Donna Buang which he takes himself every single week in order to get all of the best any tea can taste!

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Nathan had a “mini presentation” and opening speech which much showing his love, passion and dedication for tea!

All the guests were spoiled with some great selection of teas such as the refreshing iced tea, some Reserve selection brews and also the warming chai latte. I really enjoyed the white persimmon leaf  from Korea and the Taiwan GABA Oolong.

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The contemporary yet epic and attention-grabber tea bar area is ready to serve some of the very best teas!

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For the bites, they serve raw, vegan and organic foods such as the famous snickers ball, fig&mesquite ball, savory muffin, chia porridge and Theic tasting (dips) platter.

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top-bottom : fig& mesquite ball, snickers balll and mocha fudge brownie

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Wishing all the best for the newly-opened Tea Bar and hopefully its presence would bring brighter and stronger tea atmospheric in town! Who knows there will be more people converted to be a theic, right? 🙂

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I was well-sated (I might be drunk of tea), full of excitement and went home happily. On my way home, I knew already that I need to make another visit to Theic. So see you again, Theic! real soon I reckon…


Proud Mary

A sudden brunch appointment made between me and my best food strolling partner, Celi. We were assuming it’d be a good time to visit Proud Mary on Monday and hoping it wouldn’t be too crowded.

We had to bite our fingers to the fact that this coffee shop located in Collingwood industrial complex was full house thus we had to wait for a while to get a table for two. Celi and I chose the outdoor area rather than sitting on the bar stools. The friendly and attentive waiters/waitress came down to our table with the menus and some explanation regarding the coffee selections. Coffee is really not my thing, but Celi is a sucker of good coffee. She normally has double shots espresso whenever we eating out.

Potato Hash was Celi’s brunch, homemade potato hash brown, grilled bacon, spinach, poached egg with bagna cauda sauce. Bagna cauda is creamy Italian style sauce of anchovy and garlic. The thinly grated potato hash was super lightly seasoned, but went very well with the salty yet strong bagna cauda sauce. We both really liked the sauce! The grilled bacon was a little bit too dry for me but Celi preferred it to be even crispier. Ha!

DSC00098AU$ 16.50

I had Roasted Mushroom, which was medium to big size flat mushrooms and chipotle butter over a brioche, whipped goats cheese and a poached egg. For me the mushrooms were so perfect, nicely seasoned, tender and juicy combined with spiciness from chipotle butter. Chipotle butter really reminds me of Twiggy stick flavor (it’s a kind of salami stick). Another food-struck component on my plate was the aromatic goat cheese, I reckoned it was mixed with parsley, dill and lemon juice. The Fluffy and soft brioche, mushroom, goat cheese and runny poached egg on stack was a really beautiful combo in my mouth!

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Celi had 2 different espresso, the first one was Kenyan single origin and the other one was a missing story. We forgot to re-check as it’s not on the menu but from the ipad instead. She loved  both of them but preferred the Kenyan one. Me myself, had a Chai Latte and still can’t believe that I’m now so in love with chai.

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The hype of Proud Mary is not something overrated, it’s a kind of place that potentially visited in regular basis rather than a one time trying. Apart from the notorious coffees of theirs, I really enjoyed the all day breakfast and lunch here! So give it a go when you’re in Melbourne and let me know your thought!

Proud Mary on Urbanspoon


Sushi Hotaru

Sushi Hotaru is a famous yet almost hidden Japanese restaurant on Bourke street. Its reputation as an “affordable and yummy” sushi place is well known especially to those living around Melbourne CBD. It was my first time visiting Hotaru and really fueled by the hype my friends gave about this place. The three of us managed 18 plates at the end, not bad huh?

When we arrived, there were some people sitting down at the regular tables area so we were directed to sit on the bar stools. I am not very keen on sitting at the bar area since forever but we had no choice. Later on we realized that those people sitting on the regular tables are the bosses (we reckoned) and some staffs having their break. Oh geez!

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All the order are made using the provided touch-screen pad therefore we can order anything in anytime without calling the waiters. Efficient!

My favorite was the scampi nigiri sushi which came per 1 piece for each plate. The plating was interestingly incredible by putting the whole scampi over the nigiri. I love how fresh and sweet the scampi was with a pleasant chewy and smooth texture. This is worth to try and highly recommended!

sushi-hotaru-6Soft-shell crab hand roll was also our favorite and yes it was soooo good!  My friends excitedly insisted to order this and I have to thank them that we did. Well seasoned and crunchy soft-shell crab rolled by rice and crispy nori was just perfecto! The size of the hand roll was quite big too, such a real deal for the AU$3 price!

sushi-hotaru-5-1Wagyu beef Tataki was the first plate that disappointed us. You can even see from the picture that those sliced wagyu were dry, not juicy and or even tender as we expected!sushi-hotaru-4Scallop and salmon sushi was also a light up, divided into 4 sections and the burnt on top was the  crucial touch that make the dish scrumptious.sushi-hotaru-11Jelly fish sushi was quite good too in sweet-savory and refreshing after taste. The mix of crystal jelly noodle with the jelly fish was really nice to add more texture.sushi-hotaru-8 Agedashi Tofu and crispy soft shell crab was pretty nice. As Sushi Hotaru has a really good fried soft shell crab, the combination with fried silken white tofu served with tentsuyu sauce was a good match.sushi-hotaru-10Who doesn’t love snacking crispy salmon skin? I myself is also a fan of salmon skin but if there is anything to add, I would like to have crispier and thinner salmon skin for sure! The salmon skins were really escalated because of the lemony soy sauce (shoyu).sushi-hotaru-7The service at Sushi Hotaru can be considered prompt but not very friendly. I don’t really mind as long as they do the service quickly. I mean, for affordable eating where most of the menu merely cost you AU$ 3, good service is kinda bonus! Too bad we didn’t get that bonus from Sushi Hotaru though.

We spent around $60,00 for three people, sated and happy as we ate many different dishes. Everything is in balance regarding the price and what you get. If you are strolling in the city craving for affordable Japanese eatery OR if you are a student study around the CBD, this place is not a bad choice to dine in.
Sushi Hotaru on Urbanspoon


Gypsy & Pig

Kurobuta time! Eh, do you find it sounds catchy like  I do? It’s such a novel word for me until yesterday. Kurobuta is a  Japanese special breed pig, even also said as the most highly prized pig in Japan!  The ones from the pure Japanese Kurobuta (or Black Berkshire) are considered as the highest quality pork in the world but there is some of them are breed here in Australia too. Yeayy!

Honestly I have never heard about this fancy pig pork before having lunch at Gypsy & Pig recently. A failed attempt to hit the restaurant on time previously, had brought me and my friends here again this week. The small cafe is located on Little Lonsdale st, a neighbor for many other eateries in that area. This place is all black, simple, clean and has modern yet warm ambient. The little space is efficiently spared as open kitchen,  bar seating areas and 2 regular tables area.

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What really caught my eyes on my foremost steps was those nicely seated pig stuffs all over the room. Let’s mention there were piggy magazines, books, figures and pictures! Uber cool since I was once a fanatic pig-stuffs collector back then! Could I bring them home, please? Lol.

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Left to right : The most left pot is Tonkatsu sauce and the most right is garlic salad dressing. Both of them are essential in enhancing the flavor for the pork and cole salad

One of my friend, Ansen went here before and he knew what he wanted straightaway, the Pan-Grilled kurobuta belly in Japanese BBQ sauce which is one of their special menu. Then me and Celi decided to have Mix Grill and Tonkatsu set. All of the lunch set comes with rice, miso soup and salads on a spacious wooden tray. Miso soup at Gypsy & Pig was one of the best that I’ve ever tried! It’s rich and full of flavor, darker in color than any regular miso soup with generous filling of tofu cubes and seaweeds.

Ansen’s meal was looking so darn good and such a superb attention catcher. A bowl of grilled kurobuta bellies with raw egg yolk on rice. It couldn’t be more inviting than that. Additionally, he also got fried kurobuta eye fillets with his set menu. That thinly sliced bellies were so tantalizing as it melted in your mouth! There is a good balance of sweetness and savory melting pork belly, tasted even silkier and richer with the egg yolk. It really deserves a “to die for” tag!

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AU$ 25,00

Mine was the Tonkatsu set, traditionally crumbed and deep fried pork fillet. As a katsu dish, the Tonkatsu tasted good but I wouldn’t say it’s great. I found some of the pork slices were not very succulent, quite dry and kinda tough instead. Even so, it tasted good especially poured with the in house tonkatsu sauce that successfully enhanced the flavor.

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AU$ – 20,00

Celi’s choice was the Mix Fry set, a various deep fried seafood and kurobuta. She got prawn, squid, pork eye fillet and pork hamburg steak. The hamburg was very tender and juicy, but it just tasted too mellow to bland for me. The prawn was so so good and all those deep fried and crunchy stuffs went very well together with the homemade Tar-Tar sauce.

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AU$ 25,00

Fresh Lime Soda was Celi’s drink, came uniquely as you’ll have to squeeze the lime on your own. I love the vibrant colorful presentation but it tasted kind of dominantly bitter with a tinge of alcohol notes that I am not very fond of.

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AU$ 9,00

In terms of price, I found Gypsy & Pig is quite pricy even I know, we pay the price for quality not for quantity. In terms of my lunch set, yes it’s just too mediocre for that price but, I have to say that the Pan-grilled kurobuta belly set is an exception as I would definitely pay the price for it! If you claimed yourself a pork lover, hurry go and give kurobuta belly a shot! 🙂

Gypsy & Pig on Urbanspoon