In search for the perfect pizza…

Searching for the finest pizza joint is a difficult mission. There are soo many pizza places around these days, it’s quite the challenge to find an unrivaled favourite.

When trying a new pizza place I usually test the waters first and opt for a margarita. This will give you a general idea of what standard of pizza you’re dealing with.

I listed the characteristics a pizza needs to possess in order to leave a lasting impression. For quality assurance I put together a systematic checklist on how to evaluate which pizza is right for me.

Pizza Checklist
1. Dough – melt in your mouth?
2. Tomato paste – flavoursome and evenly spread?
3. Cheese – stretchy and not too oily?
4. Crust – barely visible due to generous topping?
5. Toppings – only the freshest of the fresh utilised?

If the answers to these questions are yes yesitty yes yes yes then bingo! Pizza suitability is high.

The margarita pizza I ate from New York Pizza Deli on Fitzroy st was smashed in seconds. It fulfilled all of my pizza needs. Granted it was fresh out of the oven so it already had a major advantage. But it was everything I dreamed a pizza would be and more. The dough was light and fluffy like a cloud sitting in my stomach cuddling me from the inside out. The tomato paste was tasty and evenly spread as not to bar the surrounding flavours. The cheese stretched from my bite to a full arms length. The crust is usually not my favourite part of the pizza but when it’s covered in crispy cheese my opinions veer to the contrary.

Pizza must be fresh. Beware…Some restaraunts that don’t specialise in pizza actually have frozen pizzas that they just heat up and serve. That is not on, you hear me! You know who you are. Anyhow in these circumstances to ensure you’re getting a freshy, you may have to go out on a limb and throw them a curve ball to check their pizza sincerity. To check if they make it fresh you need to be a little bit sneaky. Here’s what you do…Ask for a random topping combo for example ‘can i have a pizza with just olives and pineapple?’ If they say no, respond with “ah ha! your pizza’s are frozen, shame on you!’ If they look at you weird and politely say ‘sure we can make that happen’ you know they make it fresh then you can quaintly change your order and let them know what pizza toppings you really want.

Sometimes on the hunt it’s a hit and miss situation. You find a fave local pizza place and it’s ace every time. You feel so strongly about the pizza you want to share it with others. You invite a friend over, hype up the pizza’s greatness and introduce them to the pizza (assuming your local pizza will be awesome, which in turn makes you awesome). Then of course, on this one-off occasion the pizza isn’t up to its optimum standards. Sigh. You should not have to bear the brunt of embarrassment for choosing an unreliable pizza place, you should reign in the glory of chosing a location close by an amazing pizza place.

Mapping out your pizza goal is a lengthy process, but once you understand what you’re searching for, it becomes much easier to find.

Olives x

The Food Crew…

Everyone plays an important role at the dinner table. Here are some definitions of the members of a food crew, thou who shall not be named, you know who you are…

The Indecisive – The question is simple, what do you want to eat? The response is complicated. “I don’t know, maybe, I usually like that but not today, hmmmm, just wait don’t order, you order first, wait wait, I don’t know what I feel like, ummmm”.

The Hygenist – The person who wipes down all of their cutlery with the inside of their serviette before eating (the inside of the serviette hasn’t yet touched the dirty table), then reaches for their bottle of hand sanitizer out of their bag after touching the dirty menu.

Beverage control – This person orders a bottle of wine for the table and beers where necessary. Your glass of water seems always full because they are consistently topping up your drink, they know the importance of staying hydrated and want to share the gift of water. As you take the last sip of your beer, they have already ordered you another of the same.

Glutton – Their eyes are way too big for their stomach, they insist on ordering everything on the menu and lots of it. Suddenly when the food arrives they’re ironically not that hungry anymore. They usually instigate dessert when everyone is soooo full they’re already on the verge of barfing.

Custom Made – This person always orders something that is not on the menu. They see a dish on the menu and create their own rendition to suit their needs. They are big on extras and exclusions, mix and match sauces and ingredients included but on the side. These characters are easily identifiable when water can not, and will not be consumed without a fancy slice of lemon.

The Vegetarian – To hell with meat! they protest. They are ecstatic when the choice of venue is Veggie Bar on Brunswick street and disinterested in attending dinner at Steakhouse in Port Melbourne. No meat? No thankyou! I say, but each to their own. However some like to repeatedly mention that you are eating a once live animal whilst engaging in your meal of choice. I know it’s factual but denial is a happy place.

Garbage Disposal – When everyone is full to the brim, this character eats the food that is left over so people don’t feel bad that they’ve wasted all this food when there are starving children in third world countries.

The Financier – The person who grabs the bill when know one wants to look at it and rounds up the monies for our departure. There’s also the dude who likes to pull out their iPhone to calculate the cost per person right to the very cent.

What often goes unnoticed is that the peculiar imperfections of each character create the circus of madness you need for a memorable meal. So appreciate the net of balance you’ve unintentionally chosen to join your table in life.

Olives x

Somewhere over the rainbow lies vanilla icecream…

Ever since I can remember, I have disliked vanilla ice cream because it was bland, uninteresting and didn’t have a strong appeal next to all of the other ice cream flavours. Why have vanilla when you can have honeycomb, rocky road, boysenberry, peppermint, ultra mega triple chocolate attack etc.? my favourite flavour of all time is rainbow ice cream from Wendy’s…or so I thought.

Just the other day I went to Wendy’s to buy the usual tub of rainbow ice cream when it dawned on me. What is this joyous flavour of rainbow I am so fond of? My curiosity led me astray and I chose to ask the lady at the shop front the question. The answer of which I would later on dread for years to come. What flavour is rainbow ice cream? I ask. As soon as the words left my mouth, I felt an instant feeling of regret. Before I could stop her she announces… Behold! the flavour you have spent so many years building a valuable relationship with is in fact plain jane vanilla ice cream with rainbow colouring.

I couldn’t believe it. Is this a dream? Is she joking I contemplated? then for the first time I looked closely at the ice cream description and there it was, in black and white, it said ‘rainbow COLOURED ice cream’. I watched my rose-coloured glasses fall on the floor and shatter into a million pieces. I was confronted by the painful reality of deceit. My most hated ice cream has been charading as my favorite ice cream all along.

In retrospect the colours of the rainbow tasted something like pink fairies, blue baby unicorns and yellow morning sunshine. Now when I try to imagine these magical wonders of the rainbow, my thoughts are tainted by vanilla bean meanies controlling the lands. Sort of like that care bare episode where everyone is the colour grey and miserable because someone stole the colour from their world. You know the one.

This particular rainbow ice cream was vanilla, but fear not! It has been scientifically proven that not all rainbow ice cream is vanilla, recent research shows that there is an exception to the rainbow paddlepop and some ice cream parlours sell bubblegum with rainbow colours…another misconception.

Oh the shame! In conclusion, what ice cream charades has taught me is to not be fooled by the pretty packaging of life and find out what your actually consuming.

Olives x

Out Cupcaked…

So I had this brilliant idea to make these magical cupcakes, that when you took a bite you were lifted into an unknown world of imagination, where you forgot who you were and who you wanted to be, and just for a moment were completely immersed in the wonders of the most wonderful buttery comfort that only an A-mazing cupcake could provide. You then open your eyes and the cupcake has been eaten with only the remnants of sponge crumbs on the front of your T-shirt. Oh my! What a cupcake indeed.

So I got a bakin’ and sure enough I had produced what I thought was a good reflection of my visualised concept. Hmmm where could these cupcakes of freedom make their debut? I pondered. It was my nieces first birthday party on Saturday. Perfect opportunity!

I walk in and place my plate of cupcakes on the food table, to my distress, my cupcakes were sitting alongside another plate of cupcakes which were inadvertently forcing my cupcakes into battle, or submission it seemed.

The enemy cupcakes were superior, they were basically sitting on stallion horses, wearing handcrafted amour with an ancient warriors blood sprinkled on top for decoration. My cupcakes were, well lets just say they were not as impressive in comparison. I watched as people took one glance at my cupcakes before being strayed away by the blinding light of the enemies edible glitter. I decided the guests were hypnotised by the cupcakes of betrayal at the time and meant no offence.

Sadly I took home five of the twelve made, which would have been a success had the cupcakes not been eaten by only my mum and dad who claimed they were the best cupcakes they’ve ever tasted.

It didn’t work out, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s the vision of the magical cupcakes that counts right? My vision was strong, my failcakes were a stepping stone and im sure one day with determination and persistence I will no doubt make the cupcakes I envisioned.

Olives x

Best Dumplings Ever…

Best Dumplings Ever!

If you love dumplings and are yet to visit Hutong Dumpling Bar on Market Lane in Melbourne, you have not tried dumplings! ATTENTION: you have not tried dumplings!

As soon as you walk in you can see the dumpling specialists hard at work through the glass window, slaving away to make the best dumplings known to mankind! You can see them making the fresh dumpling outers, filling the fresh dumpling outers with fresh dumpling insides, then steaming the fresh dumplings for maximum yumm…dumplings dumplings dumplings. Remember where these talented individuals are located because later on when your floating on clouds and looking for someone to hug, you know who to share your gratitude with.

The dumplings look like little teepee huts residing in a steam basket. These delicate delights are soo tasty they change the whole dumpling heirachy. They make your favourite dumplings taste average and your average dumplings taste less than average.

They have a variety of dumplings available on the menu, but the ones you want are the “Shao-long Bao”, which apparently means little dragon in chinese and boy are those little dragons delicious! These soup dumplings are pork so if you dont eat pork i suggest you prentend its something else and just try them…because they really are super!

There is a particular way the dumplings like to be eaten so if you follow these five steps you will experience the dumplings at thier potential best.

Step one: grab the top of the dumpling with chopsticks
Step two: dunk the dumpling into vinegar
Step three: break the outer and sip the soup
Step four: eat the rest of the dumpling
Step five: smile and nod your head in recognition of its greatness

A quality dumpling is hard to find but when you do, it consumes you unexpectedly, and every dumpling you ever loved becomes insignificant for this dumpling walks effortlessly with you on your journey. Now that is a dumpling well worth waiting for.

I heart Hutong Dumpling Bar!

Olives x

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