Tag Archives: gourmet sandwiches

and there you are

Squee, another guest post! This one is from my fave zinester Beck, of ‘Macarons Are Not Macaroons’ fame. I asked her to write this post because there was a conflict of interest regarding the place reviewed below (full disclosure: I did work there very briefly). I also asked her to write a guest post for the blog because reading writing in her voice makes me laugh my arse off.

The first time I went to Elevenses I almost didn’t go at all. As a trade-off for dragging Miss G to my end of the CBD – Degraves – the first time we met, it was suggested that she should get the next pick for our cafe-rendezvous. It was unfortunate then that, as it is at the start of all new friendships, it is hard to gauge the other party’s concept of time based on only meeting them only once before.

our wildebeest friend

Never having been to Elevenses before, hell, never having ever even been to traipse Little Collins Street before – let alone trying to find a cafe there – put me on edge and I found myself there about half an hour before we were meant to meet. As luck wold have it, Miss G was then about half an hour late – or more perhaps – I remember thinking I should bail so it could have been more but I think she was having a Why Is Metro So Unkind? moment, so I was sympathetic. The point is that she did turn up in the end, even if she was late. Once we walked through the doorway of Elevenses I was well glad I had stuck around.

Upon entering Elevenses you’re stuck with a sense of walking into someone’s “this is the amazing little place I only take people I really like to” hide-away. It is all high ceilings and warm bricks, a mix of natural light and soft lighting, original artworks, old fashioned furnishings, a repurposed pool table, a side-board filled with a very fitting selection of music and Scrabble.

Scrabble at Elevenses

repurposed pool table!

It is one of those places you walk into and immediately think ‘my brother would really like it here‘ even if you aren’t the kind of person who has a cafe-snob for a brother.

The story goes that Tom and Shanny originally opened Elevenses in Kensington, but after some terrible storms and a really awful landlord, they had to close and have, as such, moved on to Little Collins St. I had never been to the original Elevenses but if you watch this video you get a really good sense of the kind of place the original shop was like. Now if you can imagine taking that vibe and squirreling it away into a space in the business end of the city…

To be honest I didn’t think such a warm and homely place could exist on any kind of Collins Street, but there it is, and there you are.

retro stereo cabinet

Tom and Shanny run the place themselves and you can tell that it is their baby more than it is just their business. The cooked food is made from scratch in their kitchen – the menu runs from breakfasty-type things;  fruit toast, muffins and pastries, to rather high-end sandwiches which include the gamey likes of rabbit and kangaroo (Rooben rye pictured below)…

Rooben rye sandwich

…as well as the more humble varieties such as pork.

pork belly sandwich

And the coffee, well, it’s not made from scratch per se – they stock Toby’s Estate, for the record, and it is quite delightful – but Tom will overextend himself for you and make you your coffee just the way you like it, even if he doesn’t pretend to understand why you would want your latte made with cold milk at all.

Elevenses is more than a coffee place, it is a cafe experience that is few and far between in these modern times – it is the kind of cafe you would call home; where Tom and Shanny become your coffee-based-family and you can very easily lose a couple of hours there if you are not careful, and you do find yourself taking your cafe-snob siblings there and find that you do not have to force them to fall in love with the place because it is a very easy and natural thing to do and you find yourself alright with that because now there is finally a place you can agree on.

Elevenses Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

je ne suis pas un traiteur*

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I am an idiot.

But you probably already knew that, so let me be more specific. Before work, I decided to pop into Earl Canteen for the duck baguette I’d yet to salivate over. Despite living in Melbourne for twenty years and spending at least ten in the city, I managed to hop on the wrong tram and thus be whisked away far from Earl.

Serendiptously, I was near the brand new Le Traiteur. Rather mussed up (due to rain) and amused (due to having to walk past a strip joint), I went in and squinted myopically at the menu, pondering what baguette to take away.

They had just started making them when I’d arrived, and not being able to wait long, I told them what appealed and they could give me what was ready. Thus, I met the salted beef, organic Emmenthal, gherkin and mustard mayonnaise baguette.

salted beef, organic Emmenthal, gherkins & mustard mayonnaise

I’m a massive gherkin and mustard fan, so this was guaranteed to satisfy. But the beef! So tender. The baguettes are very soft, which is great for me as sometimes I struggle to chomp the crustier versions. It didn’t quite fill me up and left me wishing I’d chosen a pastry as an afternoon tea snack.

Under much less idiotic circumstances, I found myself invited by Penny, Billy and Tristan to have breakfast at quite the anti-night owl hour and got my transport shit sorted – Le Traiteur is a two-minute walk from Flagstaff station. Coffees and tea were ordered as we strategically selected our breakfast choices. I liked that there was an unwritten agreement that everyone could take photos of each others’ dishes and that the staff were so cheerful and accommodating about photos of the premises and them at work. Suck on that, Stuart White!

I chose one of the simpler, heartier dishes on the menu – the semolina porridge with poached fruits quatre épices. You should have seen the look on my face when I bit into that glorious confit cumquat. This is as close to Ready-Brek as I’ll ever get in my adopted country – nourishing, not too sweet and fortifying. I felt ready to be bundled off into the cold after this. There are lots of ‘sexier’ breakfast options on the menu, but don’t neglect this because it sounds plain – it isn’t.

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Partner in crime Tristan got the pikelet stack with Calvados apples and crème fraiche. Having anything with Calvados so early in the morning has got to be labelled decadent!

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Billy had the croque madame. This would make a great takeaway breakfast. Feel free to pick it up with your hands and eat it like a sandwich!

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Penny chose a dish I would normally choose (I seem to prefer savoury breakfast or brunch dishes to sweet) – the confit eggs, cured trout and fromage frais on seeded loaf. The confit egg piqued up everyone’s curiosity as it is poached in warm oil. That’s right. And yet, its edges look so crispy, as if fried…Penny vowed she would experiment in her kitchen. As for myself, I can barely poach an egg…can’t quite slide them out properly so they look pretty. It’s most likely that if I ever went to a Masterchef audition, they’d just see me and laugh. They’d know.

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Not much to add, really. The staff are very friendly, the food’s great and I want to go back. I’m very likely to duck in again for a meal before work even though it’s not at all on my way – would you not agree that that’s a firm endorsement?

If you’d like to read my fellow breakfasters’ reports on this lovely place, head on over to Half-Eaten and Addictive and consuming. Aside from being ace food blog wanksters, they are consummate company for pre-work city breakfasts. Hope we can do it again, guys!

Le Traiteur on Urbanspoon

*Fr. I’m not a caterer

the not-so-humble sandwich

I admit it, foodies on Twitter chirruping incessantly about Earl Canteen, a new cafe in the CBD, led me to check it out. Peer pressure, yep. It was those damn lunchboxes – the offer of a sandwich, a small salad, then a sweet morsel, all for $13.50 and freshly made. I very rarely have lunch out but figured it’d be worth checking out with fellow food blogger Alex from the Melbourne Social Guide.

It’s a bit tricky to find at first – if you enter from the swinging doors at 500 Bourke St, then go through to the back and you’ll get to a courtyard and find it below Movida Aqui. Alternatively, despite its actual address, you can enter from Lt Bourke St, nearest to the corner of William St. Believe me, you’ll thank me for these elaborate directions!

There wasn’t much in the way of seating inside and it was all taken. Thankfully, Melbourne decided to grace us with a gorgeous autumnal day, so we sat outside in the courtyard. While I waited for Alex, I scoffed down two salted caramel macarons, brand new to the macaron line-up. Should’ve bought four more…Damned delicious. Alas, these beauties are no more. For now.

*News flash, Fuku-san! They’re back! Wheeeee! 

Earl Canteen macaron, detail

Whilst scoffing down my macarons greedily, I had the very unexpected pleasure of bumping into Claire of Melbourne Gastronome fame. Coincidentally, I finally got to give her a copy of a macaron zine I’d been holding onto for her. Naturally, we gabbed about food, macarons and serendipitous meetings. It was pretty lovely of her to make me not feel like that weirdo from the internet.

Alex then arrived, and serious business could then begin: the eating of the magical lunchbox. On the day we went, there was a salad of sweet pumpkin, a berry friand, and a baguette inspired by the Waldorf salad – chicken with a creamy but light dressing, with walnuts and finely chopped Pink Lady apples. Sadly, I have decided I am hopeless with baguettes. I know they’re supposed to be crusty, but my mouth and jaw has to work far too hard to chew the bread for it to be enjoyable. This makes me a sad foodie. I might ask if they can make up their sandwiches with a softer bread because I’m so lame. The only thing that made me feel better was that Alex couldn’t eat his salad on account of not liking pumpkin or sweet potato. Sorry chum, I outed you. Win for me – the salad was delicious and I love both pumpkin and sweet potato.

Earl Canteen lunchbox

I returned for another ‘research’ trip and to have lunch with good mate Luke. Whilst there, we were joined by Steph (who is a consummate ‘cookie-foodie’ – check out her personal blog for the requisite evidence) and Lindsey who both made me give in to peer pressure – yeah, I had the pork belly sandwich. No, I had no regrets. Led by Jess, Lindsey and Steph all yelled at me for eating it incorrectly. I truly didn’t realise you can eat a baguette incorrectly. My crime? Attempting to use cutlery. The correct method of cramming the porky goodness into your mouth is to: shove the pork deep into the baguette, close baguette tightly and squeeze down, and then place into mouth and NOM (vb. intransitive). Consider me suitably chastised. No more impromptu sandwich parties for me!

pork belly baguette

Luke had the sticky lamb baguette and very kindly let me snap a shot of it. I am sorry to report that there was a sliver of bone in it – apparently due to the fact that lamb neck is bony. Poor Luke had pork belly lust as we all tucked into our sandwiches. There’s always next time, chum!

lamb baguette

Of course I needed more macarons. This time the rose and coffee ones. Thanks Steph for letting me get a quick photo.

macarons

There has been some consternation about Earl Canteen’s prices and I have to confess I’m a bit over it. Earl Canteen have explained their philosophy and quite frankly all you haters can suck some (meat)balls. I say meatballs because there’s a wagyu meatball baguette on Earl’s menu (it is alas mythical to me at present but fellow EDSer Ryan has tried it). Yes, Earl is a little pricey. I’m not particularly affluent but am not at all bothered because the prices reflect supporting a specific food philosophy somewhat antithetical to fast food culture (not that I’m above the occasional fast food burger…). Will it work? Ask the horde of regulars Earl have attracted in the short time they’ve been open. When possible, that’ll include me.

EARL Canteen on Urbanspoon