Barramundi with Chorizo, Beans and Homemade Rocket/Basil Pesto
Richmond, Victoria, Australia
Originally written in 2012 whilst working at an NGO in Cambodia… Enjoy!
Cambodia… the food is not what I expected.
So we have been in Cambodia for just over two weeks and I can not say enough good about this country. I love Cambodia. This place is so fascinating and never disappoints. Wonderful little surprises are around every corner. I came here expecting similar food to what one would find in Thailand or Malaysia, but I must admit that it has over-exceeded my expectations a thousand fold. I have never in my life been exposed to such high end gourmet cuisine for such affordable prices.
Cambodia has a rich French history and was a French colony for almost 100 years with independence coming in the 1960’s, so there are still strong ties to the old colonial way of life. Phnom Penh is littered with beautiful French architecture, European style gardens and the food, oh my god, the food. Let me tell you about it.
To eat and live in Cambodia is extremely affordable, with the average yearly income around $750USD, you can get a damn good meal for about $2 and because of this fact, my partner and I have fully indulged in culinary delight. Since our stay here we have been to no less than 10 excellent restaurants and have a list ready to attack for the remainder of our stay.
It is common culture here to eat out every meal because it’s so cheap and most people don’t have the means for personal food storage at home, so we are trying to fit in culturally. Go on, bend my rubber arm to do so, I don’t mind.
We have experienced some truly incredible meals here. This city is built around excellent restaurants and we have been to some of the best. The prices have ranged from $4 to $20 per meal, and they were all great and I’ve tried the full range.
So, to start at the bottom and work our way up. I ate a bug. Yes, you heard it right. In Cambodia the locals regularly eat bugs ranging from small squishy larva (this is what I tried) to large crispy tarantulas. I can’t really explain how it tasted because I just tried to swallow it as quickly as I could. I just wanted to say I did it. My partner wouldn’t even take a nibble.
We also ate at a couple of restaurants that have taken street children and use the restaurant as a training center to teach street children the skills needed to work in the service sector. It was traditional Khmer food and it was excellent. Great atmosphere and the proceeds were going to a good cause.
In the ways of fine dining, we have been to four top end restaurants. Three French places and one Khmer joint. They were Armand’s, Mallas, Topez and La Residence. All were 5 star restaurants with beautiful modern decor, impressive service, stocked wine lists, elegant plate display and excellent food. At all three places we had 3 courses with drinks and coffee. I had foie gras, stewed lamb, roasted duck breast, creme brûlée, and escargot to name a few of the dishes. It was comparable, if not better than any restaurant I’ve ever eaten at. I thought I was going to come to Asia and loose weight; it’s not the case. It’s really nice that we can afford to go out for really extravagant meals here, because back in Australia this would not be possible.
We have also tried some of the local seafood. This past weekend we went to the beach and stayed on Bamboo Island for a night. On our way back we were fortunate enough to try Cambodian grilled lobster, served to us on the beach. We bought 7 of them for $5 and they were mouth watering. They were right out of the sea and you could really taste the freshness mixed in with lemon and garlic salt. Eating a bucket of them on the beach with a pint of draft was heavenly. We then ventured to a place called Hoppa where I got a seafood platter for $7, which consisted of grilled fish fillet, huge prawns and tender succulent squid.
If you ever make it to this country make sure you indulge in the culinary delights Cambodia has to offer. You will not be disappointed. This place is a food freaks paradise.
This weekend a group of friends and I decided to eat at 11″ Pizza located in Equitable Place, just off of Flinders Lane in Melbourne’s CBD. This turned out to be a great little eatery with good food. The menu is primarily made up of pizza, but you can get salads, garlic focaccia and most importantly – beer. The pizza menu is fairly extensive displaying an array of gourmet, thin crust pizzas to please those of any taste or preference. The beer menu is simple and satisfying – Peroni. That’s it. That’s all there needs to be.
The restaurant is located down a little quiet alley with an open front and people sitting on long tables together. It’s hidden away just enough so that you have to look for it, just like anything worth checking out in Melbourne. The place was heated by gas heaters and it had a truly relaxed ambiance to the place.
Now on to the food. We ordered 5 pizzas, a garlic focaccia and a round of beer. This was for 6 hungry adults and turned out to be ample food to feed us all. We ordered one of each of the following:
- Zucca – Sauce / Goats cheese / Roasted pumpkin / Spinach / Pinenuts / Sundried tomato paste
- Pollo – Sauce / Fior di Latte / Chicken breast / Artichokes / Peppers / Pesto / Provolone
- Nightly Special – Onion/Sausage/(other things which I can’t recall)
- Melanzane – Sauce / Fior di Latte / Chicken breast / Artichokes / Peppers / Pesto / Provolone
- Patata – Potato slices / Balsamic shallots / Gorgonzola / Rosemary / Fior di Latte (Personal Favourite)
The pizzas came out quickly, even though the restaurant was busy and the service was prompt. The food was good, I mean really damn good. Pizzas were hot, ingredients were of highest quality and the beer was cold. What more could one ask for in a weekend dining experience. My personal favourite was the Patata. This pizza had the subtle hint of that strong blue gorgonzola flavour that we love, yet it wasn’t overpowering. The potatoes were cooked tenderly throughout and the rosemary did a great job in tying the flavours all together. Not taking anything away from the rest of the food, but this pizza in particular really stood out.
Overall 11” was a great dining experience. They payed attention to detail and had just the right amount of love and care put into their food. The price was right ($21 for a pizza and beer), staff attentive and food good. They did initially forget our garlic focaccia, but as soon as we informed them what they missed, they quickly fixed their mistake.
I would recommend 11” for anybody downtown Melbourne and looking for good Zaa and a restaurant with a cool vibe.
353 – 359 Little Collins Street
(03) 9602 5333
Food Quality 9/10
Dom Pérignon 00 & 03 with fresh Nova Scotian Atlantic Lobster, Live Atlantic Oysters, Homemade Caesar Salad, Warm Potato Salad and Homemade Buns.
Antigonish, Nova Scotia, 2013
One of my best meals of all time!
Dom with lobster
Lobster for all
Fresh Atlantic Lobster straight from Nova Scotia
Product of Nova Scotia, Canada
Traditional Lobster Boil
Freshly Shucked Atlantic Oysters
Dom Dom Pérignon 00 & 03
This will be a platform to explore the world that is food in all walks of life. I’ll eat, drink and travel, and if all goes well, I’ll write about it. I’d like to share my passion for good food made with quality ingredients and cooked right. In my ongoing search for inspirational food and people doing it right I will write and critique as I go.