Andrea Kift, Author at Dani Valent

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So far Andrea Kift has created 352 blog entries.

Ned’s Bake

Ned Radojcic didn’t get the memo about South Yarra being a gluten-free suburb and he somehow accidentally opened a bakery here. In come the locals, shimmering in their activewear, bemoaning the problematic and pesky presence of flour. Radojcic, a Yugoslav aircraft engineer who arrived from Belgrade in 1989 with $238 in his pocket, begins his ‘breaducation’.

Panama Dining Room

It doesn’t matter how many times I lug myself up the steep stairs to Panama Dining Room, I’m always made at least as breathless by the city views as I am by the long staircase that got me there. This is a quarter-acre-block-sized bar and restaurant, so large that the billiard table and booths look like dollhouse furniture. Enormous windows face east (to the burbs and hills) and south (through plane trees to town). In a town of bolt-holes and boutique hideaways, it’s nice to take a turn in a place that has room for dozens of cool cats to swing, swig, swagger and dine.

Estelle by Scott Pickett

Sometimes a restaurant’s trappings are so many layers of distraction. At ESP, they serve to shine an ever more focused light on the food. Yes, there’s crisp service and excellent, interesting wines. Yes, you’ll be cosseted in a gleaming, comfortable dining room replete with gorgeous furniture and tableware. And yes, these accoutrements are all profoundly enjoyable. What you don’t get is smoke and mirrors. This is a chef’s restaurant and the trappings are there to support the sublime efforts of the kitchen.

Brother Shota

When Han Kim was a boy in south Korea, his father insisted he get up at 5am to come to the fish market. There Han had his first lesson for the day, choosing seafood for the family’s Japanese restaurant before heading to school. By the time he was 16, Han was working alongside his father, on track to take over the family business.

Highline

It’s 2009. You’re a young chef working at a hot restaurant in London. You’re charged with a serious duty – making the bread sauce that’s served with partridge. Overtasked and distracted, you make a terrible mistake: you leave the sauce too long and instead of being smooth and silky it becomes sad and sludgy. The bollocking rings in your ears for days.

Oakridge

I’m eating compost for dessert and I couldn’t be happier. Shiraz lees (a yeasty debris of the wine-making process) have been repurposed as a heady purplish granita. Grapefruit peel is blitzed into a powerful citrus paste. Coriander stems and roots are the flavour base for an insistently herbaceous ice cream, and egg whites are whipped and baked into crisp shards of meringue. It’s a curious, pretty, highwire balance of sweet, tart and fragrant. I’d love it even if it wasn’t an environmental statement.

Code Black

I’m eating duck waffles for brunch and I’m thwacked over the scone by a thought: geez, Melbourne is good. I’m in a well-loved four-year-old Brunswick cafe and the food is so plainly at the standard of a very good restaurant that I blink a few times, take a bite break, and look around.

Pigro

I walked into Pigro on a Friday night and instantly knew I was in a good neighbourhood restaurant, the kind of place real estate agents might reference at local auctions. The place was busy but a waiter saw us straight away, smilingly acknowledged us even though she was busy, and arranged a table with swift cheer. It set the right tone.

Vadouvan Mussels – blooper!

I do everything perfectly the first time in my videos…NOT! In the interests of keeping it real, here’s a little blooper that occurred as we shot the Vadouvan Mussels. Why am I always flinging my measuring cap around!?!

Anchovy

You know you shouldn’t lick the plate. You know it’s not okay. But you’re also sure it would hurt a lot to watch a plate of delicious shellfish butter be taken to the kitchen to be scraped into a bin. Then, while you’re weighing up two evils, a waiter asks a question so insightful and timely that you’re not sure whether to answer or merely weep. “Would you like some sticky rice to mop up that butter?” Yes. Oh yes. Make it happen.

Dear Abbey

‘Dear Abby’ is a US advice column known since the 1950s for its crisp wit and no-nonsense wisdom. It’s also a tortured John Prine ballad from the 1970s (“Dear Abby, Dear Abby, My fountain pen leaks, My wife hollers at me and my kids are all freaks…”) And, since late 2016, it’s also a magnetically appealing cafe opposite the Moonee Ponds Woolworths carpark.

Tenpin

There’s something to be said for jumping before you’re pushed. In a series of bayside ripples, Middle Eastern restaurant Mr Lawrence has decamped the about-to-be-redeveloped London Hotel. It’s now in the two-storey premises previously occupied by pan-Asian chow house Tenpin, which has the same owners and executive chef. Tenpin has bowled itself down the road to a corner spot once taken by Mon Ami bistro. Got it?

Anchorage

It’s always a pleasure to see an undercapitalised neighbourhood landmark given new life. Built in the 1940s as a boatshed and rebuilt in the mid-noughties when the adjacent floating marina was constructed, Anchorage always toddled along but the dining rooms were a little stuffy and the food somewhat staid. The view carried it: sparkling water, sleek swans, big skies and the sweep and swoosh of the West Gate Bridge are easy to love and, because it’s the west, cranes and shipping containers are part of the tableau too.

Zhoug – blooper!

It might just be me but I honestly laugh every time I see this. What do I think I’m doing? I kind of remember… I wasn’t sure if the second camera was watching me put the snow peas in the Varoma and then I guess I thought if I put them in reeeeaaalllly slowly, like about as fast as it took to grow them, maybe that would somehow fix it. Or not.

Woodland House

I was sitting in the grand dining room at Woodland House, sunset bathing my padded table in a luxurious golden glow, nibbling on a fried duck tongue, wondering if this kind of restaurant matters anymore. Fine dining has been buried a thousand times. I’ve written stories declaring it dead myself. People want casual. They want to get in, get fed and get out. They don’t want to spend.

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© Dani Valent 2018