A while ago I visited the original Rustica Canteen in Fitzroy with the other half, for breakfast. We were both rather impressed with the food and so, when my girlfriends wanted to organise a girls brunch sans boys and kids, I quickly suggested the Rustica branch in the CBD. Like many cafes, Rustica don’t take bookings for weekend breakfasts, but I was assured that the wait for a table on a Sunday morning wasn’t usually more than 15 minutes.

I had already checked the menu and it seemed that there were lots of common items across the two outlets, and given that I had massive food envy on my Fitzroy visit, I thought it would be a good opportunity to sample some other things.

Like most groups of more than 4 women (we were a group of about eight or nine) we ended up arriving one at a time for about half an hour until we all got there! Rustica were kind enough to not make us wait for the full group before they sat us, and instead gave us a big high table at the back of the café which we all joined as we arrived. However, they also took our order as we arrived, which meant that our food was arriving at all different times, and chaos ensued.

I chose to order the chilli scrambled eggs on their infamous Rustica sourdough but minus the bacon. I had ordered almost immediately after I sat down, and about twenty minutes past before I had received my drink or my meal. As I looked around, I realised that people who had arrived after me were having their meals served, so I flagged down a waiter and asked him if my order had been missed. I think he might have been knew, because he took my query to another waitress, there was some discussion between them, and then he came back to tell me my food was on its way. Fast forward another ten minutes and the senior waitress comes to me and tells me that my order has been mixed up and to confirm what I ordered. I tell her that I ordered the chilli scrambled eggs and she tells me she will be back. This time she returns quickly with my meal, chilli scrambled eggs, but with bacon. When I tell her that I had specifically requested for the bacon to omitted, she looked really confused. I did eventually receive my correct meal, but it was about an hour after I placed my original order. Don’t get me wrong, the food was delicious, but I could have done without the delay and confusion!


Luckily I was the only one on our table who had a mix up with their order. Everyone else’s food arrived on time, and correctly, and everyone loved their meals. As expected, the bread was the highlight, but equally important were quality ingredients and punchy flavours.

Rustica Canteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
I have often said that eating breakfast out is a huge indulgence. A meal which normally costs about $1.50 a home, can often increase to over $20 when you eat out. But admittedly, the options you receive at a café far outweigh the bowl of weet-bix I would ordinarily be having. So when you receive a message on a busy Saturday night asking if you want to catch up for breakfast on Sunday, it’s an offer I rarely turn down. After all, how can you say no to indulgence?!

A bunch of us met up in Middle Park with no clear plans of where we were given. I was happy to take a back seat and let someone else do the organising. Given how windy it was, there was a general consensus that we should avoid the beach and instead strolled along Armstrong St trying to find somewhere that looked exciting. We were a group of 7, so we needed a place that had a free table that was large enough for all of us, and we came across the Victorian Wine Centre.

At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that this was a bar, or a wine shop, but it is infact a café or restaurant that takes their wine very seriously. However it was only 10am, and it would have most likely been frowned upon if we started our day with a champagne so we stuck with the traditional approach and ordered coffees.

Run by Italians, the Victorian Wine Centre clearly take pride in their coffee. Between us we ordered a variety of coffees including a flat white, a latte and a macchiato, and everyone was impressed.

The menu was heavily focused on eggs, with a few sweet options, but as usual I was in the mood for a savoury breakfast. In the end I chose a breakfast wrap. When it arrived, it looked huge! It was definitely not a wrap I could pick up, a knife and fork was essential.

Whilst the wrap was nothing exciting it was still nice. There was eggs (duh), cheese, salsa, and a dollop of sour cream. The serve of eggs was super generous but the cheese was not as apparent. The salsa was described as spicy, but it was fairly limited with the heat. Despite this, it was still an enjoyable breakfast, but nothing spectacular.

The other half chose to have house eggs. Served on a slice of sour dough was slices of tomato, spinach, feta, and two poached eggs. The plate was dressed with pesto and there was dukkah sprinkled on top. The dish was a flavour hit however it was deemed to be a little on the small side. However, we have big appetites, so perhaps it isn’t fair to use us as benchmarks!

Our morning at the Victorian Wine Centre was a good one. The company was great, the food was good and the coffee was excellent.

Victorian Wine Centre Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
June is so full of birthdays for me, which means that a lot of meals are consumed at restaurants outside the kitchen. This is great because I love eating out, but it also means the potential of leftovers is significantly reduced which is a problem because leftovers are my staple food for work lunches. I spent the bulk of this weekend cooking up big batches of food that I can freeze to last a little while.

I made these infamous fake sausage rolls that I have blogged previously. I made a double batch of the filling, and froze half of it, so I can pull it out when I need it. These sausage rolls are always a hit with vegetarians and meat eaters alike, and are pretty healthy too. I can’t go without crediting Where’s The Beef, which is where I originally found the recipe, and years on, it is still a staple dish in my kitchen.

Winter has well and truly started in Melbourne, which means that winter vegetables are in season. I picked up a couple of heads of broccoli at the market. I had plans to make Ottolenghi’s broccoli and gorgonzola pie, but I didn’t have some of the ingredients, so instead I decided to make a big batch of pasta. It’s a pretty easy recipe, and was a bit of a crowd pleaser.

2 heads of broccoli, cut into small florets
500g of pasta, I used spirals, but I’m sure you could use anything
A generous amount of olive oil, say about 60ml
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 chilli (or more if you like the heat), sliced
About 60g of parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

1.    Put the broccoli in a big pot of salted boiling water, and cook for about 3 minutes. Once tender, remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2.    In the same pot, cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet. Once the pasta is cooked, drain, reserving about ½ cup of the water.
3.    Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet.
4.    Add the garlic and chilli, and fry off.
5.    After a few minutes add the broccoli and fry off for another few minutes.
6.    Add the pasta to the pan, and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7.    Add the remaining olive oil, the water you had set aside from cooking the pasta, and almost all the parmesan. Mix well. The parmesan should melt and coat the pasta.
8.    Serve into bowls and sprinkle with remaining parmesan.

My batch was enough for about 4 serves, but bear in mind we eat large serves. You probably could have easily made it five serves. You could also add a few extra flavours like capsicum or wilted spinach. It’s a great way to incorporate more veggies into meals, which is something I am quite conscious of doing.

I found this amazing Connoisseur Murray River Salted Caramel and Macadamia Nut ice cream. This is usually quite a pricey ice cream, definitely reserved for special occasions, but I managed to find it on a super special, and we’ve been devouring it after dinner almost nightly. It is bloody delicious and I might have to stock up the next time I see it on special.

This post is part of the In My Kitchen series hosted by Maureen from the Orgasmic Chef. Head over to her blog to see what is going on in other people's kitchens!
China Town is generally the go to place for Asian in the CBD, but unless you’re having dumplings, these places aren’t usually very vegetarian friendly. As a result, we decided to venture down to Swanston St so see what we could find. We were going to go and see The Sound Of Music, so we were on a strict time schedule, and only had about an hour for dinner.

We had no plans of where we were going, but instead hoped that we would stumble upon something that appealed to us. As we walked along, we came across Rice Paper, which was unrelated to the very popular Rice Paper Scissors where it is close to impossible to get a table on a whim!

With a sign that said they specialised in Vietnamese street food, and a menu that had vegetarian options, we decided this was the place for us!

Rice Paper had an ordering system that was very similar to Pappa Rich. There was a menu for us to peruse, and a note pad and pencil on every table where we could write down our order. I made a quick decision and settled on the vegetarian spring rolls with vermicelli. This is usually one of my go to dishes when we go to Springvale for lunch, so I was keen to try it out somewhere different.

The service was super quick, and our dishes arrived in a matter of minutes. The serving sizes were generous, and my vermicelli came with a side of flavoursome nuoc mam sauce which I drizzled over the top. I was impressed with the ratio of spring rolls to vermicelli which is always my first concern. But I was equally impressed with the flavours and freshness that the dish contained.

My dining partner ordered char grilled pork on vermicelli, which some additional chicken spring rolls. Whilst she enjoyed her dish, she did comment that the pork didn’t have the authentic charred taste that she was hoping for which was a little disappointing, especially when you can usually count on street food for smoky, charred flavours.

Nevertheless our dinner was an enjoyable one, and I will definitely put Rice Paper on the list of quick dinner venues in the CBD.

Rice Paper Vietnamese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato