Dani Valent – Writer. Eater. Traveller. Cook.


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Perfect Cheesecake’s Secret Ingredient

Life goes better with Basque cheesecake, a lockdown #2 love affair. I became obsessed with this cake about five years ago when I ate it in San Sebastian at La Viña pintxos bar. It was perilously wobbly and jiggly, somehow both light and rich, creamy white and custardy within but with a bitter edge from the dark, caramelised perimeter. I mumbled, “It’s a miracle,” and I meant it.


Mums Day Post Montage(3)

Mother’s Day Menu

Mother’s Day doesn’t have to mean burnt toast in bed and bad soap from school stalls. If you are a mum, you can steer the family towards these menu suggestions, and if you have a mum, please enjoy these suggestions for Mum-friendly dishes and tasty gifts that keep on giving.



Zhoug Salmon Salad(edited)

Zhoug & Salmon Salad

I love a big meal-sized salad! Flavoured with green chilli paste, this steamed salmon salad is healthy, flexible and easy to prepare

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  • Westwood review
    You don't need to look hard to find the joy and beauty in restriction. It's there in haiku poetry. It's integral to sports from triple jump to dressage. And it's on display in Westwood, a four-year-old wine bar with a tiny open kitchen, a set menu…
  • Fridge raid: Inside the home fridges of four young chefs
    Years ago, when Shannon Bennett's star was rising at Vue de Monde, I went to his Melbourne home for a photo shoot, during which he was to cook a meal for friends. Of course, the food was pretty and delicious. What didn't make it into the story was…
  • The striptease that made unlikely friends of Todd McKenney and Shane Jacobson
    Dancing with the Stars judge Todd McKenney, 57, met Shane Jacobson, 52, when he choreographed the actor’s televised striptease. Despite their differences – bubbles v beer, greyhounds v kelpies – they immediately clicked. Todd McKenney (right) and…
  • The striptease that made unlikely friends of Todd McKenney and Shane Jacobson
    By Dani Valent July 29, 2022 — 3.59pm , register or subscribe to save articles for later. Dancing with the Stars judge Todd McKenney, 57, met Shane Jacobson, 52, when he choreographed the actor’s televised striptease. Despite their differences –…


Al Dente launched in April 2020 as a lockdown pasta hustle. It's now a highly accomplished restaurant, anchored in Italian tradition but questing, creative and contemporary and in that sense an archetypal Melbourne dining experience. Every time I visit, it gets better. I won't ever review it, because we're mates, but it's an easy 16 in my estimation.

It's been a privilege to stay in touch with @vigna.liandrea over this part of his journey and to experience the evolution of the business he's built with @bonadiman_davide, @michellebad_ and their team.

Andrea was on a temporary worker visa when the pandemic started. Visa workers were excluded from support, throwing people like Andrea into an instant crisis, amplifying the uncertainty of those early COVID months when none of us knew what was going on. It's the reason he started making ravioli at his kitchen bench, turning a bad situation into a spur for positive action.

As soon as he could, Andrea started supporting other visa workers, getting them in the kitchen and on the road doing deliveries. Now, the business is even sponsoring overseas workers. It's incredibly moving and heartwarming.

The food is great, the story is rich, the feeling is warm. Highly recommended.

And you can still order @al_dente_enoteca pasta for delivery or pop into the enoteca to buy it to take home. But dining in is pretty spesh! More in my stories / highlights.

Oh yeah, and it was my birthday dinner :) Thanks for the gorgeous cake, guys!

Props to @cookaborough @coopersinnmelbourne @guygrossi for being incredible supporters of Andrea along the way too.

Fridge Raid: What do chefs keep in their home fridges?

Cover story in today's @goodfoodau featuring @hughsallen sprung with a pear, shot by @kristofferpaulsen 👏👏👏

Also opening their doors & revealing their s(h)elves: @charliesatlas @alkitchen94 @taystychef

TLDR: miso & kimchi!

Link in bio 🙂

Baghali Polow Ba Mahiche (Broad Bean Pilaf with Lamb Shanks) is one of the majestic main courses in Salamati: Hamed's Persian Kitchen, the upcoming cookbook by @hamedsfood, co-written by me.

It's a gorgeous book! Hamed's food is delicious and soulful and his story is compelling.

📷 Photography @armellehabib
🍲 Styling @lee_blaylock
📚 Publisher @janemorrow.

Preorder now at @booktopiabooks: link in bio!


Melbourne, this is for you! ❣️

Fifteen epic lasagnas to choose from.
Order by Monday night.
Delivery on Thursday.
World Lasagna Day on Friday*

*Every day is good for lasagna

Supporting @fareshare_australia with every purchase.

Link in bio!

Or cookaborough.com/lasagna-love-in


Small Axe’s breakfast pasta is the upshot when bacon and eggs on toast take a trip from Melbourne to southern Italy and back again.

Maccaruni - a slinky twist of pasta - stands in for toast. It’s tossed with crisped guanciale (cured pork jowl, subbing for bacon), peas and mint, then topped with salted ricotta and a slow-cooked egg.

The diner destroys the egg, prompting the yellow lava flow, then tumbles the elements to create a sticky mess of carbs and salted pig, simple indeed yet sublime for sure.

Today's Sunday Age review @theageaustralia

#brunswick #melbournefoodie
#melbourneeats #melbournecafe #melbournecafes #melbournerestaurants

This might sound strange but when I heard recently that Flinders Lane's @gimlet.melbourne had been voted onto the annual @theworlds50best Restaurants list at an exciting (if innumerate) 84, I thought immediately of @cumulusinc, the dining room further up the hill.

Both restaurants are part of @traderhouse_, the restaurant and provedore collective owned by Melbourne chef @chef_andrewmcconnell and his wife @jomcgann. (Cutler & Co, Marion, Meatsmith, Morning Market, Supernormal and Builders Arms Hotel are the other venues.)

Gimlet, which opened (closed, opened) in 2020, deserves accolades: the grand corner dining room makes an event of the merest slice of bread, and the offering is sweeping, confident, celebratory. It's just that Cumulus Inc feels to me like the spry stayer whose shoulders Gimlet stands upon to preen and shine.

Read my full @goodfoodau review via link in bio...I loved writing it.


People often ask me what the point of restaurant criticism is these days. I think it's about context, accuracy and the craft of writing. It's journalism - in the most serious (& joyous) sense of the word - applied to restaurants.

It's about respecting the art and industry of restaurants, the investment and appetite of diners and the time and trust of readers. It should always be anchored in place. It's my opinion and perspective, sure, but it's not about me.

That's what I'm aiming for, not saying I get there, but that's the goal. I welcome all the voices. They help me strive to do better every time I sit at my desk.

#melbournerestaurants #melbourne #melbournefoodie #melbournefood #melbourneeats #fridayreflections

Pic @earlcarterstudio

EPIC final menu for Lasagna Love-In is GO 💥💥💥

Order from

Every order supports @fareshare_australia 💞

Orders close Monday night.
Delivery pickup Thursday July 28.
World Lasagna Day Friday July 29.

Delivery is 12K from Abbotsford. We also have lots of pickup depots around Melbourne ❤️

Powered by @cookaborough

Link in bio or cookaborough.com/lasagna-love-in


Martabak mesir, spiced beef rendang tossed with egg then squished between roti and grilled.

Golden crunch gives way to rich, braised coconutty meat and scrambly softness. It's among the most delicious morsels I've eaten this year.

They have a chicken version too.

Get it at @dalelapau_therendangspecialist. More in my stories/highlights.

#minang #padang #rendang #westsumatra #Bukittinggi #camberwell #melbournerestaurants

Pandemic Leave $750 isolation payment will be reinstated. Applications reopen Wednesday. Link in bio.

Eligibility for the payment will be backdated to 1 July 2022, to ensure that anyone unable to work owing to isolation requirements in this period, without access to paid sick leave, is supported.

Access to these payments will commence from Wednesday 20 July, with existing eligibility requirements to continue.

Vic businesses: ventilation grants have reopened. Link in my story. Keep staff and customers safer by cleaning your indoor air.

This cheese-obsessed indoor-outdoor cafe is in an industrial park in Melbourne's northern suburbs. it's a place to showcase cheese made on site, as well as a heartfelt expression of hospitality.

“We want to treat people like our friends, as though they are coming to our house,” says owner Giorgio Linguanti. That’s the vibe, for sure, but the food offering goes way beyond the domestic.

Must try:
- antipasto
- panini
- porchetta
- cannoli 💯💯💯💯💯💯

#melbournefoodie #melbournefood #melbourne #melbournerestaurants #melbournecafe #melbournerestaurant #cheese #cheeselover #cheeselovers

Leonie Upstairs is a lounge-y sake bar that also serves temaki (cone-shaped sushi hand rolls) and other snacks. It's such a cool place: poised, cosy and spirited.

This is their spin on Mont Blanc, a French dessert named after the mountain. In its traditional form, chestnut puree is extruded to build vermicelli-like squiggles into a peak; whipped cream "snow" is piped atop.

Leonie Upstairs makes its mountain ($19) out of mochi (sweet glutinous rice cake) and pavlova, taking Mont Blanc to Mount Fuji and then swooping to, I don't know, Mount Hotham, perhaps.

The chestnut is piped at the table in a theatrical flourish so that the threads have the pleasing lightness of just-fallen snow.


Read my full @goodfoodau review via link in bio.

#melbourne #melbournefoodie #melbournefood #melbournerestaurants #melbournerestaurant #japanesefood #sake #sakebar

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