Drink this: beers from a Lievita X Fury & Son collaboration

Last week, husband and I attended Lievita’s MEET THE MAKER Pizza & Beer Degustation night. Pizza and beer… clearly didn’t take much to get us there!

Fury and Son Brewing Company are relatively new on the scene, and have been working with Luca from Lievita over the past 12 months or so on their beer range. They decided to celebrate the launch of their new American Red Ale in style, with an exceptional menu of insane pizzas matched with the range of beers they stock and sell. I’m not a beer drinker, so I’m letting husband step in here, to tell you a bit more about the liquid gold…

 

ROUND 1
Pizzas:
* Baccala marinated with lemon & garlic, and chickpea cream
*Smoked salmon, stracchino, shitake mushrooms and dill (one of my favourites!)

Beer: Pilsner


Was really nice. A lot of pilsners just taste like mass produced lagers that don’t have a lot of flavour, however this one did. Plenty of flavour but still easy to drink. Keen to get my hands on a slab ASAP.

 

 

ROUND 2
Pizzas:
* Fontina, onion, white anchovies and hot chilli
* Coppa, roasted eggplants, roasted peppers and stracciatelle

Beer: Pale Ale


Was said to be full of flavour but I found it to be a bit lacking in that department. Stock standard pale ale, nothing too exciting, no different to other pale ales on the market, a sentiment echoed by Chicago Steve (also present – friend of Jess’s dad, fellow beer lover).

 

ROUND 3
Pizzas:
* Slow roasted eye fillet and potato (my other favourite!)
* Slow roasted pork belly, box choy, pickled red cabbage and fig jam

Beer: American Red Ale


I’ve only ever tried two red ales; this and the one from Beechworth. I thought this one was heaps better than Beechworth’s. Strong flavour, suited to the winter months, would stay away from it on a summer day. Yet another one I’d be happy to part with a bit of cash for.

 

 

ROUND 4
Pizzas:
* ‘Pizza fritta’ fried mini dough balls with salted caramel sauce and macadamia nuts

Beer: Scotch Ale


The pick of the bunch and my personal favourite (Jess liked this one too!) but be warned – at 7.5% alcohol, it packs a punch. One or two of these watching the footy at home on a cold night would be perfect! Really strong, malty flavour.

 

 

It was great to see so many people there to support both Lievita and Fury & Son, which in turn means supporting local producers, and that’s something we all need to be doing a bit more! And more great news – when you drop in to pick up your pizza, you can also take home some beers with you; their range is all available to take home as well as enjoy in store!

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Eat here: Lievità V.2 – bringing in a new menu

Lievità
298 High St, Northcote
http://lievita.com.au/

I couldn’t have been more excited to get an email from the lovely Luca at Lievità a few weeks ago with an invitation to the showcase their new menu and toast the people who’ve supported their mission to bring pizza al taglio from the streets of Rome to the streets of Northcote.

Ok, so they’re bringing in a new drinks menu, but as any Italian will attest, the drinks are just as important as the food. And the pizza menu changes regularly anyway, because Luca’s a clever man with the Italian way of cooking front on mind – use what’s fresh, local and in season. Ingredients change, as does his menu, which is the way it should be.

On the new drinks list you’ll find that classic Italian aperitif, the Aperol Spritz, as well as a new pre-dinner drink, the Lucchetto – 2 parts Amaro Montenegro, 2 parts soda, a dash of orange bitters and a slice of fresh orange. Highly recommended.

They’ve got their own beer now, too – the Lievità Pilsner (4.8%), but I’m not a beer drinker, so you’ll have to wait for the husband’s verdict. That said, they were going down pretty quickly, so I’m guessing its a good brew!


Enoteca Sileno are bringing the wine to the party, with their DOC and DOCG wines (menu below)- I like a nice red, and I love a good white, but my favourite is always a cold bubbly Prosecco. The Umberto Luigi Domenico Prosecco gracing the menu (from the Veneto region, where my mum’s family is from) was amazing, and will henceforth be my choice of bubbles there; perfect for a hot summer night to accompany trays of pizza!

Food and drink aside, this was also an awesome opportunity to see how things really work behind the scenes; Luca managed to leave a successful corporate career and turn his dream of a pizza place into reality, and after meeting and speaking to his family and friends, it’s easy to see why. Not only is he clearly incredibly talented and pretty determined, he has the most amazing support network behind him. In true Italian style, the whole family was there to celebrate his success; being an Italian girl myself, knowing what the family culture is like, and seeing just how much love goes into this operation makes the pizza taste even better.

 

Disclosure: I was kindly invited to this event as a guest of Lievità, however the opinions contained herein are completely based on my own experience. If you need further proof, here’s the first post I wrote about them 18 months a several trays of pizza ago 🙂

My favourite Chicago eats

I had fun mentally re-eating all the good stuff I had in New York… let’s do it again!

This week, I’m going back to Chicago. Initially, I only agreed to add it to the itinerary because husband wanted to go; I really didn’t know much anything about the city, other than it’s home to the Chicago Bulls, and as children of the 90s/the Jordan era who both grew up playing basketball, that’s obviously our NBA team of choice. Other than that, it was a bit of a blank city for me.

After spending almost a week there over Christmas, though, my opinion changed completely; I loved that city. I can’t tell you why, either – it was just one of those places that felt good to be in. Beautiful buildings, the gorgeous river than runs through it, friendly people, and amazing food. The food scene reminded me a lot of Melbourne, actually, which may be one of the big reasons I loved it so much! We ate a lot in that week, and it was hard to narrow it down to the favourites, but here they are….

 

1. Do-Rite Donuts (donuts)
The food: A traditional buttermilk glaze
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The memory: Ohh I loved this place! Our first day in Chicago, it was cold like I couldn’t believe, and it was Christmas Eve! We were on our way to the Christkindl Christmas Market, and noticed a giant donut pointing the way to a cute little store. We grabbed a donut and some hot tea, pulled up our hoods and sat out the front in the cold to take it all in… a kindly old man sitting on the table next to us struck up a friendly conversation, and it was the most wonderful welcome to any city we’ve ever had!
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2. Au Cheval (diner, burgers)
The food: The Au Cheval cheeseburger with a fried egg; same thing everyone else was ordering!
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The memory: The wind was like little frosty daggers this day, and after a morning of sight-seeing, we couldn’t have been happier to get into Au Cheval and escape the cold! After much pre-trip Googling, Au Cheval’s fried egg cheeseburger seemed to be the must-try burger for Chicago, and it didn’t disappoint. We were lucky enough to get a seat at the counter where we watched the most well-oiled machine out together the most spectacular looking (and smelling) food for the Saturday lunch crowd; it was mesmerising, and really made us think of Chicago as a proper food city.
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3. Portillo’s (hot dogs)
The food: A Chicago dog. Obviously.
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The memory: Another day of walking and walking and more walking, we finally found ourselves in the neighourhood of a Portillo’s, and it was finally Chicago Dog time. I remember sitting on the second level of the restaurant watching over all of the happy people and families with their tables of dogs and fries, and thinking how lucky we were to have made it all the way across the world to enjoy something as simple as a hot dog, which so many people would completely take for granted!
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4. Billy Goat Tavern (burgers)
The food: Double cheezborger. No fries, CHEEPS! No Pepsi, COKE!
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The memory: This was another exciting one – we love watching travel shows, especially the ones that are food heavy. And on all of the travel shows about Chicago and food, the Billy Goat Tavern shows itself. We sat there in the crowded sub-street level diner with our burgers re-hashing the Bulls game we’d been to the night before, and talking about how long ago it felt that we were sitting on the couch watching this place on TV wondering if we’d ever actually get there…
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5. Lou Malnati’s (deep dish pizza)
The food: The Malnati Chicago Classic – sausage, cheese and vine-ripened tomato sauce. Simple.
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The memory: I know that “real” Chicagoans don’t do deep dish pizza, but to enjoy it, you just need to not think of it as pizza. It’s a quiche pizza hybrid. A quizza, if you will. This was one of the deep thoughts that was discussed over dinner, sitting at a high bench table, finally out of the -15°C cold. Sometimes we just act like kids…
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6. Rubi’s Tacos (street food – tacos)
The food: Pork tacos – amazing!!!
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The memory: Market and street food are two of my favourite things, and when we came across Rubi’s with a massive line, we figured we should probably join it – I remembered reading somewhere they did the best tacos. When we realised no one in the line was speaking English and there was no real menu, we figured a) we were definitely in the right place for breakfast and b) it was lucky I knew how to order pork tacos in Spanish. Sitting among the crowd, we stood out like green elephants, and really enjoyed feeling so out of place – that’s what travel is all about!
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7. Doughnut Vault (donuts)
The food: A vanilla glazed raised and a buttermilk old fashioned
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The memory: A tiny little place with the delicious smell of fried dough in the air and nowhere to sit – it felt just like being back in Melbourne! Another freezing day, we got there nice and early, grabbed our donuts and enjoyed them outside – I remember my butt being freezing against the cold concrete sidewalk we were sitting on, my fingers being sticky as all hell, and the two of us giggling like we were two kids who’d stolen a piece of birthday cake. Good times in Chicago! 🙂
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Eat here: Pizzaly, Melbourne (pizza)

Pizzaly
132 Wood St, Preston
https://sites.google.com/site/pizzalypreston/

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When your head pizza maker has recently been crowned Australia’s best pizza maker at the annual World Pizza Championships, you know you’re doing something right.

Mr Silvio Serpa holds that title now, for his margherita pizzas, which he’s producing by what I imagine must be the truckload at unassuming little hole-in-the-wall Pizzaly, tucked away in Preston. Being an Italian girl who grew up around the family business which was based in Preston, I was feeling proud as punch that this couple from my family’s homeland were doing so incredibly well, even though I don’t actually know them 🙂

Pizzaly, to me, is a real pizza place. No Hawaiian, Aussie, Americana crap here. It’s real, proper, Italian pizza, sticking with that golden rule of less is more, providing it’s all quality. And they have San Pelegrino Aranciata Rossa soft drinks, which is basically the taste of childhood to me. Good start!

They have around 20-odd pizzas on offer, half on traditional tomato bases and half on white bases (AKA no tomato sauce base), and picking one or two out is not easy. Made even harder was our seat right by Silvio’s counter, where we watched him fire out pizza after pizza, completely unassisted. Watching him was like watching poetry in motion – he was in a pizza-making trance, and it was incredible!

Eventually we decided on the margherita ($15.00), obviously, and a prosciutto crudo e rucola ($20.00) which was a white base with prosciutto, rocket, and mozzarella.

The margherita deserved the title. I’m sure this won’t make a lot of Melbournian’s happy, but I liked Silvio’s margherita a lot better than the other award-winning margherita from 400 Gradi. That dough is unbelievably thin and light, and the simplicity of good quality tomato, cheese and oregano is pure magic.

The prosciutto was equally impressive, again because of the freshness and quality of the few ingredients on there. The prosciutto was sliced thin enough that you could have held it up and seen through it, there was just enough of everything to balance; it was just the way pizza should be.

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They were actually not super filling (despite the large plates they came out on) because of the thin bases, so I took that as a green light to get dessert. The window counter out front was filled with deliciousness, but under a mesh cloche, I spied an old favourite – crostata. Basically, it’s just a tart shell filled with jam and topped with lattice pastry, but it’s a traditional Italian dessert and one that I absolutely LOVE to eat. I had a piece of the raspberry one, and it was the perfect end to the meal.

I had to stop on our way out to thank Mr Serpa for the magnificent pizza, because it really was. And not only the pizza, but everything about Pizzaly – it felt like dinner at Nonno’s house out in the suburbs; comfortable, warm, unpretentious, inviting. That’s how Italian food should be. And seeing as it’s not far from home for us, I think we’ll be eating there a lot more often now!

 

 

Pizzaly Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: D.O.C. Pizza & Mozzarella Bar, Melbourne (Italian) – V.2

D.O.C. Pizza & Mozzarella Bar
295 Drummond St, Carlton
http://docgroup.net/

Following on from Friday’s not-a-Valentine’s-Day post, I thought I’d keep going with lunch. While we often go out for lunch or dinner on weekends, it’s usually pretty simple and inexpensive stuff; a bowl of noodles from a local Vietnamese place or a burger off the back of a truck, or maybe a nice little breakfast or brunch.

We don’t really spend money on extravagances – I couldn’t tell you the last time I bought full price clothing, let alone designer stuff, I paint my own nails instead of getting a $40 manicure every week, I work out at home instead of paying for a gym membership, and I’ve happily had the same car since my 21st birthday. We’ve learnt recently that we put a lot more value on experiences rather than material stuff, and we’ve been a lot happier since we started really prioritising that. And with all that saved money going straight into our travel fund, every now and then, we don’t feel too bad about treating ourselves. Last Sunday (and yes, it was Valentine’s Day!), we decided to treat ourselves.

After a lovely morning tea and coffee stop at Juno & May, followed by a good trawl through Camberwell Market, we  made our way into Carlton. I always like to drop into the Reading’s book shop when I visit Lygon Street, so we stopped by there and picked up another few travel books. When I blogged about our first visit to D.O.C, I mentioned that I had some crazy travel ideas floating about in my head. Like the fact that I’d already plotted out the next few years worth of travel in my head. The thing to know about me is that while I’m not at all a competitive person, I am incredibly stubborn and head strong. If I decide I want to make something happen, it’s happening. Like the Egypt/Europe trip. And the 6 week USAdventure. A logical, reasonable person might have thought hey were impossible tasks; challenge accepted. The next big trip is going to make those two look like cake walks. We have a few smaller trips between now and then, but, as per our last discussion at D.O.C., this next big one is going to involve a good chunk of time in Italy, a hire car, and some little towns that I visited many years ago and want to go back to. Towns like Asolo. Bassano del Grappa. San Gimignano. Lucca. Vinci. Cittadella. Oh my God. I CANNOT WAIT! So, with our travel books and dreams in hand, we enjoyed another amazing D.O.C. lunch while taking another step in turning this next “dream” into reality.

Lunch was amazing, though, as expected. First up was the mixed antipasto platter, with all of my favourites, including bresaola, artichoke, rockmelon with prosciutto (if you’re not Italian, this is going to sound weird, but I promise it works), grilled fix stuffed with gorgonzola, … all of the good stuff! It was a perfect starter to share, and deceptively filling.

When it came to picking a pizza, it was the San Daniele, again. Because it’s the perfect pizza for us. The perfect pizza dough topped with sweet San Marzano tomatoes, melt-in-your-mouth San Daniele prosciutto and those incredible chunks of mozzarella, drizzled with oil… Can’t get better than that! We also thought we’d throw in a salad (not realising how big or filling the antipasto board would be) and went with the pesto smothered baby spinach with pine nuts, bocconcini and cherry tomatoes. Perfect match with the pizza.

It’s places like this that combine friendly service and the absolute best produce in a simple way that make me so proud to be Italian  : )  I’m also really thankful to have found someone who loves and appreciates my heritage, too. It’s something that’s a big part of me, and I really feel honoured to be able to share it with my husband in ways as small as sharing a meal like this, and in ways as big as being able to travel with him to the beautiful country where so much of my family still live. If you’re looking for a little taste of Italy this week, it’s probably time to visit D.O.C… And if you can recommend any other places that do “your” food particularly well, please share!

Eat here: Universal Restaurant, Melbourne (Italian)

Universal Restaurant
139 – 141 Lygon St, Carlton
http://www.universalrestaurant.com.au/alacarte.html

TGIF! After a few long weekends in a row, it was tough facing a full week at work this week. Harder still to be the only one in my team doing so and keeping the ship afloat solo while the others are still on holidays. But I made it, and if you have too, now’s probably the time to start thinking about how to unwind. I find pizza with friends is usually a good way to do that.

Being a proper Melbournian Italian, I spent a lot of Sundays lunching along Lygon Street with my parents and grandparents. The best places aren’t the fancy pants gourmet ones, they’re the stalwarts and the stayers, the ones that have been around since I was a kid and continue to operate today. The pizza plus the memories plus the soul of the place is what makes it good, not the amount of high-brow ingredients on the menu. My favourites are places like Papa Ginos, Il Gambero, Mercadante, Cafe Corretto, La Spaghettata, Cafe Cavalino and the like. So when we booked a table at one of those favourites for a NYE dinner with some friends and arrived only to be seated outside in Melbourne’s searing 39 degree (Celsius) heat, we decided to take a punt on something off the list where we could be seated inside with air conditioning. Enter Universal.

It’s a big space with great air conditioning, prompt and friendly service, and a diverse menu. Our friends started on the bruschetta with fresh tomato, feta and homemade pesto on a pizza base, and husband and I went with the Dal Terra (from the land) antipasto platter – basically, heaven for me. prosciutto and sorpressata, marinated Mt Zero olives and artichoke hearts, mozzarella-stuffed arancini, a mini loaf of super-soft bread and a dish of ricotta doused in more of that homemade pesto. Lactose intolerance be damned, that was AMAZING!! All of my favourites on the one platter (with a very generously sized glass of wine by my side), I was already swimming in happy, woggy memories…

Next up were the mains. Mostly pizzas, because they looked awesome on everyone else’s plates. Our friends had that monster you can see in the top left corner, The Lot without olives I think it was, and the smaller one next to it, the I Am Angus – tomato, cheese, grilled beef strips, roasted red capsicum, onion, jalapeños & a drizzle of garlic mayo. Nice.

We went with an AJ’s  pizza without mushroom (tomato, cheese, olives, prosciutto & rocket) and a serve of the calamari. Don’t know why, but I felt like calamari and was hoping I hadn’t made a silly mistake, because looking around, I didn’t see anyone else with seafood. Worries unfounded – they were easily the most tender calamari either of us had ever had. And the pile of fried goodness seemed to be everlasting; no matter how many we ate, the mountain didn’t seem to get much smaller!

We had every intention of ordering dessert when we arrived, much to the amusement of our waitress who told us she’d be impressed if we even got through dinner, and she was right. Pizza was piled into a take away box as we hung our heads with shame and rolled out the front door. Not being one of the “old” places, I was a little hesitant to start off with , but couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised by the end of the meal. The prices were incredibly reasonable considering the enormous serving sizes, and the quality didn’t suffer at all with the quantity.  Universal is now officially added to my “favourites” list for Lygon St, and we’ll without a doubt be heading back for another antipasto platter and bottle of wine!

 

Universal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

If there are any other Melbournians out there, please feel free to share your Lygon Street favourites, too – new suggestions are never a bad idea!

Eat here: Grazie Woodfire Pizza, Melbourne (pizza)

Grazie Woodfire Pizza e Ristorante
541 High St, Preston
https://www.facebook.com/GrazieWoodfirePizzaAndRistorante

Holy wow it’s December tomorrow. When the hell did that happen?! I feel like every year, once my birthday hits, the few weeks that follow leading up to Christmas absolutely fly; its been two weeks today since my birthday, and it feels like it’s only been a few days! To be fair, we’re also nice and organised this year – our Christmas gifts are already purchased, wrapped and under the tree (which we traditionally put up the day after my birthday, because why the hell not?), Christmas parties are starting to take over weekends, and the general holiday mayhem is in full swing. I feel like it started a little earlier this year; knowing that things were about to get crazy and after the unexpectedly massive weekend that preceded my birthday, I wanted nothing more on that Monday night than to sit at home on the couch in my PJs with my boys and relax with a few pizzas. Fancy pants birthday dinner. That’s how I roll.

I’m a little bit in love with the Menulog app in terms of how easy it makes it for me to be lazy when I so feel the urge. This is actually incredible rare; I grew up in a house where mum had a hot, fresh, home cooked meal on the table every single night. We got McDonald’s four times per year only (once each school holidays), and the only time we ever had take away pizza was at sleep overs or friends’ birthday parties. The idea of ordering take away on a Monday night instead of cooking a good dinner was as likely as Freddie Mercury strolling through the front door and cracking out a delicious rendition of Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy. Generations of good Italian women have ingrained in me that you buy fresh ingredients and cook dinner with them each night, and that’s that. So when I decided that I wanted take away pizza for dinner on my birthday, I felt like a cheeky child instead of a fully grown now 30 year old woman.

But I wasn’t going to be a complete disgrace and order anything too plebeian – it was my birthday, after all! I still wanted a good pizza, wood fired and thin crusted, not too oily or using crappy ingredients. Enter Grazie, opened only a few months ago in June, a welcome addition to the High Street pizza scene in Preston. A lot of the existing ones are same same kinda places – margherita, Hawaiian, capricciosa, meat lovers, vegetarian, and the “special.” There’s nothing exciting there. Grazie’s menu caught my eye immediately – prosciutto instead of just plain shredded ham, buffalo mozzarella instead of the regular supermarket stuff, grilled eggplant and fior di latte cheese and pancetta and artichokes – fantastic!

We ordered the margherita di bufala – napoli sauce base with buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomato and fresh basil. This is one of the two benchmark pizzas against which all others should be measured – if you can’t get something so simple right, you shouldn’t be making pizza. They nailed it.

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The other benchmark pizza for us is the prosciutto – this one came with fior di latte cheese, prosciutto di parma, basil pesto, fresh tomato, shaved parmesan and rocket. It also usually comes with a napoli sauce base, but we opted out of that, because it’s better without it. This was a really, really good pizza . They were clever enough to put the parmesan cheese and rocket in a separate tub when it was delivered so we could add it on when we received it, instead of getting half melted parmesan and wilted rocket, which was much appreciated! Quality prosciutto and plenty of it, too!

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For a little neighbourhood pizza place, Grazie was such a pleasant surprise; the bases were deliciously light, and at the same time perfectly crisp underneath – no soggy bottoms. The ingredients were fresh and of great quality.  They weren’t the slightest bit oily, which meant we weren’t heavy or sickening at all. The delivery was bang on time, and the prices are pretty reasonable considering just how good they are. If you live out in these parts, I’d really highly recommend jumping on Menulog tonight and ordering yourself a pizza for dinner. Go on, it’s Monday, no doubt the next few weeks are about to get hectic for you, too, and cooking dinner means you’ll just have to do dishes… be a little bit naughty (don’t tell mum) and treat yourself to a bit of a gourmet dinner tonight 😉

 

Grazie Woodfire Pizza e Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato