Salted and Hung, Purvis Street

Can’t quite remember the last time I put something in my mouth, masticate briefly, smile, and nod across to a similarly happy dinner companion:”Why, yes. This is exactly right, isn’t it?”

Drew Nocente, Salted and Hung, Purvis Street, Singapore
Drew Nocente, Salted and Hung, Purvis Street, Singapore
Drew Nocente, Salted and Hung, Purvis Street, Singapore

Salted and Hung (12 Purvis Street. facebook) though, totally hit the spot.

Was, frustratingly, delayed by complications related to flexible capacity systems. So the spherical ice-cube in poor VH’s cocktail was already sweating badly by the time I rushed in.

Nevermind the slightly schizophrenic grungy-modern decor mix of Ralph Steadman and Aussie cafe. Under the pink neon sign that read “Obey your tongue/Taste everything”, we made a tentative foray into some fat:

Lardo (truffle honey and chilli). Drew Nocente, Salted and Hung, Purvis Street, Singapore
the lardo was melty slivers of pork fat drizzled with truffle honey and sprinkled with chilli, a combination I’ve used on smoked salmon on blini. I thought the combination just about worked, though still thought salty cured fish made for a more robust interaction.

Veal sweetbreads (with fermented cabbage, granola, saltbrush), Drew Nocente, Salted and Hung, Purvis Street, Singapore
“I was thinking…sweetbreads?” ventured the very patient VH.

Definitely, said I, not in a conciliatory fashion, but thinking fondly of the absolutely tasty thymus last summer at the Hotel du Louvre. Salted and Hung’s came breaded, on a spicy fermented cabbage foil, topped with crunchy granola and crispy saltbrush leaves (?). A study in texture.

kangaroo ceviche, with pickled beetroot, blood orange and juniper. Drew Nocente, Salted and Hung, Purvis Street, Singapore
We ordered the ‘roo on the back of these, because a man who can handle sweetbreads can surely be trusted with kangaroo ceviche/tartare. The acidity of these tender chunks was well-balanced, the blood orange not numbing to the tongue as is usually the case when the cook is both zealous and nervous.

scallop with apple, samphire, lardo. Drew Nocente, Salted and Hung, Purvis Street, Singapore
The scallops were properly-seared and the interior cooked just right. Sweet, juicy and delicious alone, so even the lardo (yes!) and samphire seemed extra, not to mention the apple puree. But it was fun alternating between slightly saltier (with the samphire) and slightly sweeter (with the apple puree).

cauliflower with burnt butter tahini and piccalilli. Drew Nocente, Salted and Hung, Purvis Street, Singapore
A chef with a Josper grill either means business or has made a major investment in hipster-ness. Since Nocente had so far shown himself to be more of the former than the later, and since it is a rare chef who does vegetables well, we went for the cauliflower (roasted, slathered with burnt butter tahini – very very good, with a dollop of piccalilli),

kale (nori, cheese, nuts, burnt butter). Drew Nocente, Salted and Hung, Purvis Street, Singapore
kale stir-fried with nuts (pine nuts and chopped macadamia) accompanied by a quenelle of cottage cheese and nori (I think) – a triumph of taste and texture,

black mash - squid ink and charcoal. Drew Nocente, Salted and Hung, Purvis Street, Singaporeand wait, umami in mash potatoes? This black mash had it by the spadeful – squid ink (and is that muscovado sugar?) for the umami, and charcoal for that comforting stick-to-your-ribs quality. We scrapped the flower pot clean.

squid - yuzu, wakame, ink. Drew Nocente, Salted and Hung, Purvis Street, Singapore
After seeing one too many squid get whisked past, we ordered the sotong too. Nocente does love playing with his fruit acids. Laced with yuku and seasoned with wakame, with plenty of Josper-grill-hei, this firm and tender creature was a fantastic end to the main part of dinner.

roasted pineapple with rum, coconut ice-cream, pistachios. Drew Nocente, Salted and Hung, Purvis Street, Singapore
peanut butter tim tams - with chocolate ganache, bergamot, chocolate ice-cream. Drew Nocente, Salted and Hung, Purvis Street, SingaporeAnd boy did this chef have real pride in his food. For many meat places and nose-to-tail outfits, the dessert course is an after-thought. A necessary evil. So you get offered a dry brownie or a lacklustre cheesecake. But not here. Both the peanut tim tam and the roasted pineapple (that was rustled up for the gluten-intolerant) were a joyful medley of flavours.

Anzac biccie - bacon and salted caramel. Drew Nocente, Salted and Hung, Purvis Street, SingaporeAnzac biccie – bacon and salted caramel

VH and I managed to taste all this through stuffy noses and a heavy cold. How much more amazing they must taste with clear nasal passages.

After I dropped VH off and went home to work on a Bible Overview, I thought too that as mind-blowing as our glimpse of what God’s plan for humanity and what he has been doing and is doing in the world is (from what our puny minds can gather from Scripture), we are but seeing through a glass darkly. How much more dazzlingly glorious a full view of reality must be!

A Birthday at Burnt Ends, 20 Teck Lim Road, Keong Saik, Singapore

Burnt Ends, 20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore
Burnt Ends, 20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore

We rocked up to Burnt Ends (facebook. 20 Teck Lim Road, Keong Saik) on a Saturday evening, foolhardy, without having made a prior reservation.

One last table was available outside where we could watch couples out on dates and the Potato Head valet slot cars atop double-yellow lines.

Beef marmalade and pickles. Burnt Ends, 20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore

Toast, Tomatoes, and Lardo. Burnt Ends, 20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore
Started with beef marmalade and pickles on toast, and tomatoes and lardo also on toast.

Burnt Ends Sanger (pulled pork burger with coleslaw, chipotle aioli, brioche bun), Burnt Ends, 20 Teck Lim Road, SingaporeThe Burnt Ends’ sanger (pulled pork with coleslaw and chipotle aioli in a brioche bun). Cheesy bit was suspiciously reminiscent of the melted yellow cheezwhiz slathered over nachos at the bowling alley that used to occupy the grounds of Orchard Cineleisure.

rump cap, burnt onion, and bone marrow. Burnt Ends, 20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore

Would have liked a little more char on the rump cap with burnt onion and bone marrow. The marrow also needed a tiny pinch of salt and pepper to perk it up.

With such a promising yet lackluster meal, we marked another year of a dear friend’s existence.

There’s nothing like a spot of catching-up to render one fully cognisant of the futility of one’s well wishes. I wish my friend had had a happier married life in the past year – not spending time in the same flat in different rooms engaged in separate activities; not failing to pray together or read the Bible together as if they were strangers to a common faith; not staring into a future of continuing to be not-quite-wedded…

…with us helplessly spectating…

Burnt Ends, 20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore

Perhaps, only prayer…

Some Nibbles and Meals in Melbourne

After hanging out at Rose Street Market for a bit, we headed over to Hammer & Tong 412 (facebook, rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy) Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, MelbourneThere was a slight industrial-scavanged look going on, with old irons holding up the menus in the shopwindow, pepper and salt in lab beakers, and the occasional mis-matched furniture.

We were there for the soft-shell crab dog, with black sesame dog slaw, coriander and sriracha sauce mayo, but could not resist trying the miso corny ice-cream dessert (miso and sweetcorn ice-cream with toasted sesame). The ingredients in both worked very well together. A good little pick-me-up before dinner.

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne - soft-shell crab dog, with black sesame dog slaw, coriander and sriracha sauce mayo

Hammer & Tong 412, Rear 412 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Feast of Merit (facebook, 117 Swan Street, Richmond) was in the next suburb. What it had going for it was an even more industrial-distressed look – bare brick walls and rafters and naked hanging bulbs, and a very good conscience – a social enterprise YGAP restaurant.

Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne

Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne

 Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne“What would you recommend?” I’d asked two people who’d been there for a birthday celebration. “Anything’s good! Everything’s good!” they’d replied,”But remember to book, and remember there’s a second seating…”

Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne - ox tongue (grilled ox tongue, res el hanout, sour milk, baby radish)

We decided it was a good time as any to have ox tongue (grilled ox tongue, res el hanout, sour milk, baby radish) to start – delicious tender, flavourful pieces of meat. A good sign.

We continued with the eggplant (roasted eggplant, smoked yogurt, harissa oil, pinenuts, parsley), carrots (heirloom/ common carrots, honeyed tahini, soft egg, dukkah spices), and a beef shank on celeriac mash: Feast of Merit, 117 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne - eggplant (roasted eggplant, smoked yogurt, harissa oil, pinenuts, parsley), carrots (heirloom/ common carrots, honeyed tahini, soft egg, dukkah spices), and a beef stewAll absolutely delicious – good flavours and textures. Thus fortified, we headed back out into the windy winter night.

Hot chocolate was on the agenda another cold winter afternoon. One of our party refused to cross Collins Street to the Koko Black salon because of an apparent suicide she’d experienced the day before along that very street (it turned out the man survived). So we ended up at Lindt Chocolate Cafe (271 Collins Street, Melbourne CBD):

Lindt Chocolate Cafe, Collins Street, Melbourne

Lindt Chocolate Cafe, Collins Street, Melbourne - signature drink - chocolate and espresso

Lindt Chocolate Cafe, Collins Street, Melbourne - hot chocolate The hot chocolate was a little too sweet – I’d have preferred more cocoa content, but the signature drink of espresso and chocolate was terrific – a good complex taste.

Coffee and Late Breakfast and Brunch in Melbourne

Brunch and coffee spots, said several Melburnians, were all the attractions we needed to pay attention to in this city. To aid our quest,

Broadsheet – Melbourne

The Urban List – Melbourne

Concrete Playground – Melbourne

City of Melbourne – Winter Guide 2015

Hidden Secrets Tours Melbourne

Smudge Eats

In Love With Brunch

Thus informed, our mornings became a week-long pilgrimage. This isn’t a buzzfeed list of Melbourne’s “top ten cafes you must visit before you die!”, but some favourites that we managed to get to. Of course, any casual review is profoundly subjective, affected by the weather that day, my mood, the interaction with the people I was with etc:

The Kettle Black

Instagram-worthy? Tick.

Design-savvy? Tick. Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black (50 Albert Road) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black (50 Albert Road) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black (50 Albert Road)

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne The Kettle Black (50 Albert Road, facebook)’s classic but fresh interior design was courtesy of Studio You Me (Kestie Lane, Hana Hakim). A real delight to the eyes after all the faux-industrial cafes we get in Singapore. Cafe design is truly a thing in Melbs and the rest of the Antipodes – there’s even the Eat Drink Design Awards to highlight this.

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black - hotcake, crayfish burger, beef steak burger

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: hotcake with ricotta, blueberries, pure maple, double cream and seeds

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black - fresh crayfish in an ash roll, with purslane and local leaves, lime and yuzu mayo

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black - Cape Grim fully-traceable beef with house-made mustard, seasonal fruit relish and leaves on the Kettle black bun And even the plating of the food was excellent. Festooned with edible flowers, a riot of colours, you might be forgiven for expecting that brunch that looks this good must be without substance. But these (especially the hotcake and beef burger), like math-teacher-male-supermodel Pietro Boselli, exceeded expectations.

Above: the hotcake with ricotta, blueberries, pure maple, double cream and seeds; Cape Grim fully-traceable beef with house-made mustard, seasonal fruit relish and leaves on the Kettle black bun; fresh crayfish in an ash roll, with purslane and local leaves, lime and yuzu mayo.

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black (50 Albert Road)

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: The Kettle Black (50 Albert Road) - flat white, latte, hot chocolateSquare One Coffee Roasters provided the house blend of 50% Ethiopian Wote and 50% Guatemala Santa Isabel. The chocolate-toffee notes were strong in my cup – interesting how un-citrusy it was, especially given the African-Latin American blend.

Manchester Press

On the other side of the Yarra River, down a little alley, there is Manchester Press (facebook, 8 Rankins Lane).

Flat whites and brunch in Melbourne: Rankins Lane, outside Manchester Press

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne It’s housed in one of those spaces off Little Bourke Street that was once an industry useful in the last millenium – a printing press. Some might call this gentrification, but that is perhaps too narrow a view; perhaps this changing use of space indicates the succession of generations, as observed by John Adams:

The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Manchester Press (Rankins Lane)We are of the cafe-hopping generation, with the luxury to indulge in whimsical fancies. But soon, as the circle of history turns, our children might have to study politics and war.

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Manchester Press (Rankins Lane) - chia seed and coconut pudding with passionfruit coulis, topped with toasted oats, dried cranberries, and fresh berriesFor now, we can indulge in chia seed and coconut pudding with passionfruit coulis, topped with toasted oats, dried cranberries, and fresh berries, and edible flowers;

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Manchester Press (8 Rankins Lane) - Texas BBQ style pulled pork, slow roasted for 14 hours, soaked in BBQ sauce, and topped with homemade slaw and pickles in a bageland Texas BBQ style pulled pork, slow roasted for 14 hours, soaked in BBQ sauce, and topped with homemade slaw and pickles in a very good chewy bagel;

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Manchester Press (Rankins Lane) - toasted blueberry bagel with whipped raspberry mascarpone, fresh strawberries, and crushed pistachiosand toasted blueberry bagel with whipped raspberry mascarpone, fresh strawberries, and crushed pistachios;

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Machester Press (Rankins Lane)

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne:Manchester Press (Rankins Lane)and talk about how good the flat white is here – 8oz Coffee Co. providing the house blend that tasted so much like rich chocolate milk, I had to check that no one sneaked a cocoa dusting into my cup. Delicious.

Brother Baba Budan

Just out Rankins Lane, on the corner with Little Bourke Street, is Brother Baba Budan (twitter, 359 Little Bourke Street), named for the chappie who smuggled 7 coffee seeds out of the Middle East, thus breaking their hegemonic powers in the caffeine world, liberating the oppressed etc.

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke Street)

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke Street) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke Street)

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke Street) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke Street)

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke Street) - latte and flat whiteThis cosy cafe with its distressed walls and chairs hanging precariously overhead is a Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters outpost. I didn’t know if the blend was too light to come through the milk in the flat white or if it was a barista error – a decent cup, not a destination cup. The latte-drinker liked his milk drink much better than the one he got at Manchester Press though.

Captains of Industry

And then, just on the next alley off Little Bourke, Captains of Industry (facebook, Level 1, 2 Somerset Place) – describing themselves ironically (i think) as “The practitioners of Captains of Industry are Practical Men of Wide Experience offering the Good, the True and the Beautiful in traditional men’s outfitting and dining.”

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Captains of Industry (Level 1, 2 Somerset Place)It was a nice experience, sitting in a darkened space with naked bulbs hanging from a high ceiling, sharing the old table with an old sewing machine, or perched on the chairs looking out at fat little balls of sparrows flitting over Elizabeth Street.

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Captains of Industry (Level 1, 2 Somerset Place)

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Captains of Industry (Level 1, 2 Somerset Place) The flat white was what a reasonable gentleman might like on a cold blustery day after having given the morning’s sermon on Luke 10:25-37:

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Axil Coffee Roasters

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in MelbourneFlat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Axil Coffee Roasters Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne

A little further to the east, there was a long line for brunch at Axil Coffee Roasters (facebook, 322 Burwood Road, Hawthorn) on the Queen’s Birthday (8 June). We sat outside braving the cold, warming in the winter sun.

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Axil Coffee Roasters (322 Burwood Road, Hawthorn) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne: Axil Coffee Roasters (322 Burwood Road, Hawthorn) - Queen's birthday cake

The birthday boy bought me brunch and I bought him the Queen’s birthday cake. It was so lovely to catch up with the old boy over a seemingly-healthy (and paleo) breakky. Was encouraged by his singlemindedness and thankful for the great situation that God has put him in – to be working under a pastor who too loves the Word and trusts VK to do the job without needless overbearing oversight. We reminisced a little about MY and the people we met during our time together in London. Lurve-ly.

Dr. Jekyll Cafe

Near St. Kilda Beach with the scary clown mouth of Luna Park, is Dr. Jekyll Cafe (facebook, 107-113 Grey Road, St. Kilda).

Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda) - avocado and Meredith feta mash, with mint and lemon on rye toast, with a poached egg Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda) Flat White Coffee and Brunch in Melbourne - Dr. Jekyll Cafe (107-113 Grey Street, St. Kilda)

Met an old friend there whom I hadn’t seen in decades (wow, I’ve always wanted to be old enough to say that without exaggeration!). I had the avocado and Meredith feta mash with mint and lemon on rye toast. Not being a great fan of that fatty fruit, I was under instructions to try it out on toast at least once in Melbs. Not bad actually!

HM quickly got to summarising the years that passed since our last meeting. She wanted to know how I became Christian, knowing that I was very much against it in school, and not being of the personality to follow trends. God’s grace, I said, worked out in:

  • how after investigating all the hypotheses found in philosophy, science, literature, politics, psychology etc., the Christian faith proved to have the best historical veracity of claimed facts, and the best internal consistency in the historical texts compiled in the Bible;
  • the Spirit working in my heart and mind so as to understand therefore, the dire state humanity is in because of our rebellion against God (by, fundamentally, not acknowledging him as God) and the gracious salvation offered by God’s son – if only we repented of our rebellion, turned, and acknowledged God as God, and Jesus as his son, who is able and will pay for the sins of the world.

She told me how she herself was getting on – wished I’d more words of assurance to offer, but those words would be empty ultimately. What she needed was God’s assurance – found, not in some whisper in the darkness, but in the comforting words of Scripture. God himself assures us about what reality really looks like, where this world is ultimately headed, and what the purpose in our life is. And so we do not despairingly “eat and drink for tomorrow we die”. Rather, we enjoy God’s gifts of food and drink and laughter in this creation, with thanksgiving to the Creator, fuel for the work to be done on earth, looking forward the new creation to come.

Traveller Tips for Melbourne

I’m compiling this for our trip this weekend, so it’ll be updated as I find new stuff. Any suggestions very welcome!

Getting from Melbourne Airport to accommodation in the city

Skybus

Getting around Melbourne city

35 City Circle aka tourist tram (map) (free)

bike share

Mobile phone and data plan

amaysim (with handy data calculator)

Food!

The Age’s Cheap Eats 2015

top 10 meat pies

best fish and chips

top 10 burgers

cheese lover’s guide

truffle fix

best yum cha

top 10 turkish eats

best new cafes 2014

Coffee!

Melbourne Coffee Review