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Adventures in home cooking, baking and eating out mostly in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. A bit of travelling, shopping, and having a good time.

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Fridge Magnets

Chana Masala (Coconut Chickpea Curry)


Chana masala (or as the Doctor calls it, “chickpea stuff”) is an absolute staple at Redfort that gets requested at least once a month.  Not bad for a recipe that I randomly found on Reddit! It’s rich and creamy, with a good amount of heat.  The onion-mustard-coriander topping adds texture, and it’s drizzled with too much ghee for it to be “healthy”, even with all the spinach.

On the other hand, it’s because its so delicious that we always have chickpeas, coconut milk and frozen spinach in the house.

Keep reading Chana Masala (Coconut Chickpea Curry)…

Shakahari, Carlton


I’ve wanted to go to Shakahari for years, but since it’s juuuuust on the other side of the city, it’s too close to make a special trip, but too far to just randomly drop in.  So when the Doctor and I were invited to go with a bunch of friends recently, including a very special visitor from New York, I jumped right on it!

Isn’t it embarrassing when people who live in a different country have been to a “local” restaurant more times than you?

Shakahari Vegetarian on Urbanspoon


“Legendary Shakahari Satay” – tofu and seitan skewers, pickled vegetables, turmeric rice and mild peanut sauce $21

Even before I knew we were going to Shakahari, I had been craving tofu satay.  This version included seitan as well as fried tofu, which was a nice contrast.  Unlike Chinese-style mock meat, the tofu and seitan didn’t taste overly greasy.  The rice was nicely chewy, which stood up well to the quite sweet satay sauce.  Chilli-head that I am, I would have liked it to have more heat.


“Laksa Hebat” – udon noodles, mushrooms, bean sprouts, tempeh, tofu, seitan and herbs in coconut stock $21

The Doctor’s laksa was also lighter than what you would get at a more “authentic” place.  If I could make laksa like this, we would definitely be having it more often!  (Wait, is that a good thing??)


“Cassava and Sago Kuih” (kueh) – layers of steamed cassava, coconut and sago with pandan, in gula melaca and coconut cream sauce $14.50

I was so excited to see kueh on the menu.  I often buy kueh lapis for a friend with gluten issues, but I never think to get it for myself since I grew up eating itin Singapore.  The taste and texture were wonderfully familiar, and not overly sweet.  However, I tried to ignore the mint.  While it had a nice scent, it overpowered the pandan.


The Doctor loved the crumble so much, he immediately asked me to recreate it at home.  Fair enough – the topping was both flaky and crunchy, and the fruit below was molten hot.  I was amused by the waitress asking if he wanted cream or yoghurt on the side, considering how much the rest of the menu was promoting vegan and non-dairy options.  I suppose they know not everyone eating there is necessarily all the way left of centre :)

The current menu seems to be either straight South East Asian, or at least Asian-influenced. I really loved how they managed to stay light so we didn’t feel overstuffed.
I would have called the place dark… until we went to Spice Temple.  So now I rate it “gently lit” :)
The front of the restaurant is yellowy-brown, but it looks like every other terrace building around the area.  We nearly walked straight past it at dusk.
Parking in inner city Melbourne is all about luck, but there is paid parking around the corner on Drummond Street.  Trams are all around the place too.
As expected for a restaurant of this standing (fast, efficient and polite).  We thought it was weird that they only offered soy sauce as a condiment when asked for table salt… especially since the dish was a Italian-syle pasta.

Disclaimer: Sefie and the Doctor visited Shakahari on Sunday 18th January, 2015 with friends.  Meals and drinks were paid for by the group.  This review is unsolicited and not sponsored. 

2015 - Let's Try This Thing Again

I knew that 2014 was going to be a difficult year for me to keep up with blogging.  With both myself and the Doctor striving to achieve our shodan (he got his in July, I’ll be going for mine in … 19 days…) it wasn’t so much a matter of spending time, but energy and dedication to a goal.  I don’t regret how the year went, blogging or otherwise, but I am definitely looking forward to a much more active 2015!

I saw a wonderful review post by Into Mind, a lifestyle and fashion blog I started following during the year, so I thought I’d give it a go :)

Keep reading 2015 – Let’s Try This Thing Again…

Mixed Mushroom Pasta


One of my resolutions with this blog was that I shouldn’t apologise for any of my posts – after all, I’m writing it for me.  But, since I only intended to post these pictures as an Instagram collage, I didn’t really take very much care with taking them.  You should get the idea well enough though!

I’ve been getting my hair cut at Maison Tsumiki (then Tsumiki Hair Design) for a couple of years now.  They moved to the Cullen Hotel just opposite Prahran Market a year ago, which means that whenever I go for an appointment now, I also get a bonus gourmet shopping trip!  Coincidentally, they’ve just opened another branch at Emporium in the CBD, but my hairdresser is currently on a tour of Europe, and I just can’t trust my hair to anyone else.  And since it’s winter, I turned to Damian Pike, the Mushroom Man and the Fresh Pasta Shop to make an indulgent mushroom pasta dish for dinner.

Keep reading Mixed Mushroom Pasta…

Burnham Bakery and Piggery Café Opening Weekend – Sassafras

Burnham Bakery and Piggery Café Opening Weekend – Sherbrooke

It was a slow Friday at work so when I saw this update on Shannon Bennett’s work at Burnham Beeches, I was interested but not too optimistic.  It’s very damp in the Ranges during winter, so their statement of “we just need a few dry days for the carpark to set” got a comment of “guess we’ll see them in September…”.  But I still faithfully checked their Facebook and Twitter accounts in the morning, and when it was confirmed that they really were opening, the Doctor and I bundled up and got going!

Piggery Cafe on Urbanspoon


We got there around 11:30am, and were politely warned that there was a “very long wait” for food as we entered.  Fair enough – it’s opening weekend and media coverage has been pretty extensive.  That being said, the carpark wasn’t 100% full, and most of the other guests seemed to be families and hikers.  I only saw a couple of other people with cameras, so I guess the blogger contingent had already been and left.

There were lots of tables outside, a few indoor benches in front of the takeaway counter, and a larger back area where the main kitchen and bathrooms were.

Back Eating Area

All of the benches had fresh salad greens, herbs, a toaster and an insert for cutlery, condiments and napkins.  Eating in gets you table service, but there’s a separate takeaway counter for pastries, coffee and bread.  We’d arrived during the cut-over from breakfast to lunch, so we just ordered some hot chocolate, a croissant with boysenberry jam and a lemon meringue tart.

The chocolate was thick and suprisingly dark – I’m guessing about 60% cocoa.  It was more fruity than sweet (sorry Celina) and delicious.  The croissant was buttery and flaky (as expected), but it was a bit difficult to spread jam on it when they only had steak knives available.  The meringue of tart was full of suprises, from the touch of honey to the oh-so ooey gooey marshmallow texture.  The lemon curd wasn’t too sour, but the meringue was definitely the star.

The decor is minimalist, but surprisingly cozy despite the polished concrete floors and walls.  I especially love the branch shaped coat hangers!  We were impressed with the water jugs and salad planters as well, recognising them as a brand that is made with biodegradable materials.

Counter Display and Takeaway Area

I’m not sure how often they will change the pastry offerings, but was a pretty varied selection.  Most of the bread had already sold out, and the coffee machine was roaring non-stop.  As I was lining up to buy bread to take home, they were setting out the salad choices for lunch.  Apparently you get a choice of salads when you order a lunch main – all of which are sourced locally or grown right in the vegie farms at Burnham itself.

My pick – if it’s still there when we go back – the broccoli and sweet chilli salad with garlic oil and crispy garlic.  It looked and smelled amazing (and contains 3 of my favourite things)!

The loaf we took home was their seed bread.  Unlike other seed loaves, the seeds themselves were very flavourful (Doctor mentioned just the bread itself smelled like peanut butter) and soft, so they don’t stick in your teeth.  I served it lightly toasted with olive oil, tomato slices, smoked sea salt and crumbled fetta.

Final verdict?  That I am very thankful that it’s close enough to be considered a “local” place that we can just head over to on a whim.  Because I see that happening.  A lot.


We didn’t order very much, but loved everything that we had.  Two out of three items were pleasantly surprising (you know how hard it is to surprise me with pastry?!), so I’m intrigued to try more.  rating-rice_thumb4rating-rice5_thumb2rating-rice5_thumb2rating-ricehalf
Light, bright, warm and cozy.  The aesthetics totally match my tastes, except they could use a few more “soft” surfaces.  I’d still live there if I could.  rating-rice5_thumb2rating-rice5_thumb2rating-rice5_thumb2rating-rice5_thumb2
Literally “up the road” and less than 15 minutes away.  Cannot wait for the “proper” dinner style restaurant and other facilities to open!  rating-rice5_thumb2rating-rice5_thumb2rating-rice5_thumb2rating-rice5_thumb2rating-rice5_thumb2
Big props to them on a massive opening weekend!  I suspect we might have been forgotten as a couple of “extra” takeaway hot chocolates found their way to our table.  All of the staff looked hurried, but had a smile for everyone (even the toddler who kept getting in the way).  I was also chuffed to get to say hello and congratulations to Shannon Bennett himself (!!!), though he was busy enough that I didn’t feel right asking for a photo with him.  Next time, maybe!  rating-rice5_thumb2rating-rice5_thumb2rating-rice5_thumb2


Disclaimer: Sefie and the Doctor visited Burnham Bakery and Piggery Cafe on opening weekend, June 14th, 2014.  They paid for their own meals and drinks, except for two complimentary takeaway hot chocolates that were offered as “extras”.  This review is unsolicited and not sponsored. 

Natural Mathematics – Blue Lotus Water Gardens, Healesville

Blue Lotus Water Gardens, Yarra Junction

I tempted our little blogging group (Celina, Violet, Tobias and Jimmy – with the Doctor as bag boy) to come out to Innocent Bystander by promising them a photography trip to the Blue Lotus Water Gardens in Yarra Junction.  I have no idea where or when I first heard about them, but surely it was somewhere on the internet.  The first day of the Labour Day long weekend was clear and sunny, so we trundled out east in search of flowers and lunch.

Blue Lotus Water Gardens, Yarra Junction

Keep reading Natural Mathematics – Blue Lotus Water Gardens, Yarra Junction…