Sunday, November 29, 2009


295 Drummond St, Carlton
Telephone: 03 9347 2998

There's a song in my head...everytime I eat a pizza.

I'd like to tell you that it's a song I used to hear on the streets of Rome. A song which would play while I strolled the afternoons away in an understated black dress - Valentino, of course -and as I strolled I would thoughtfully nibble a light pizza rustica, crafted from the most beautiful and earthy ingredients by a brilliant but lonely old chef whose artiste hands were destined to suffer a most untimely death by rheumatism.

Unfortunately, it's actually The Fast Food Song.

And as a consequence of having
  1. Spent the first 18 years of my life eating many 'a-Pizza Hut' creation (to my knowledge, none of them are on the verge of disappearing from existence), and
  2. Lived around the corner from Lygon for three years and thus suffered through many 'completely authentic and be-yooo-tiful pizzas',
I actually have great disdain for pizzas in general.

It's nothing personal. It's just business. Well actually, it isn't, I just wanted to say that (I really am annoying today). It's just taste really - you can only have so many bad pizzas before you want to run down Lygon shrieking "No I do not want to come in, and no I'd prefer not to accept your generous offer of a 20% discount for me and me only that's only valid tonight!"

If there's anything more embarrassing about being the first customer for dinner service, it's being the customer getting caught taking pictures of the prep for dinner service.

This is what you get at DOC - a mozarella and pizza bar (Yeah I spell it m-o-z-z-a-r-e-l-l-a too but I'm guessing Matt Preston knows better?) that does what it does well.

Small, but seating is squeezed together so it's not usually hard to get a table. It does get hard for the waiters to squeeze around you though!

I wonder if Sicilian salt tastes any different to Australian.

As you may observe, we decided to take our pizzas away (there's something a little eerie about being the only customers in a restaurant - all eyes are literally on you).

This Pizza al Porcini (with wild mushrooms and truffle oil(!)) is my absolute favourite pizza here, and probably one of the only savoury meals I have ever voluntarily opted to have that doesn't incorporate some kind of meat/fish (terribly sorry vegetarians!):

The pungency of this pizza is quite incredible, and I can't help comparing it to my other recent meal of melted-mushroom-with-cheese - I know it seems unfair to compare, but this definitely wins in the 'pure essence of mushroom' department. And of course a little truffle oil never hurt either.

Pizza Al Porcini ($22.50)

My beautiful and understated friend A had a beautiful and understated Pizza Margherita with Marzano tomato and fresh basil. And for a woman who is usually very careful with her figure, she finished the whole pizza by herself. If that isn't an advertisment, I don't know what is.

Pizza Margherita ($14.50)

I've also had the Pizza San Daniele (with San Daniele Prosciutto) and the Pizza Tiger Prawns on previous visits - the latter runs a close second on my favourites list but that's just personal choice, both are quite fantastic!

Here is part of the menu for your perusal.

And finally, I snapped this picture of a really gorgeous hollowed-out cheese. I'm sure the more knowledgeable of you can tell me - what is the name and origin of this handsome hunk? I googled 'huge cheese that looks like a melon' and nothing came up! Fancy that. Google failed me.

I'd like to add a little last note about the service here. I've read complaints that it can be less-than-friendly, to say the least. My two cents? It's not the 'warmest' place in town, and it's definitely not somewhere I'd take my parents because I don't think they'd be too comfortable with the too-cool-for-school buzz, but it is somewhere I would go again and again with friends. And I've heard stories of slow kitchen output as well, but to be fair I've been here quite a few times and they're always pretty efficient! In short, the service is adequate, but only perfunctory.

Oh and in case you were reading The Age's review, D.O.C no longer has a no-bookings policy! Now let's see Cumulus Inc follow suit, please.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Magnum Sandwich

Magnum Ice Cream
Convenience stores, supermarkets, etc.

Shameless. First a post with 0% nutritional value and now this - blogging about a commercially-prepared ice cream that has been around for eons.*

*(The definition of 'eon' by the way, is an 'immeasurably long period of time' - which seems befitting)

So excuse me while I discredit myself of being anything of a food aficionado.

Because I like Magnums. I like them so much that during the period in which you could trade-in a Magnum wrapper for a gold class upgrade, and 7-11 concurrently launched a Two-Magnums-for-$6.00 campaign (I live opposite a 7-11), I must have bought dozens (no exaggeration unfortunately). The horrible irony is that I never did get to the movies during that period and instead had to ply friends and family with my wrappers so they didn't go to waste. I still have an entire paperbag full! I've put it away on my highest shelf so as to not remind me of my secret shame (I don't have the heart to throw them away).

Anyway *brightly*, I was in 7-11 today again looking for some mid-exam comfort and discovered this:

A Magnum Sandwich! Now those of you who are fellow Magnum fans will know that they consistently release new flavours every few months (the most recent of note being the 'Big Choc Bikkie' - a very rich and cloying chocolate ice Magnum and the 'White Chocolate' - which I quite enjoyed, and was released suspiciously around the same time that Tim Tam came out with White Choc Tim Tams...where will this madness end?!). As far as I know, however, this is the first Magnum 'sandwich' that's been released. I also got quite excited because it's a 'Magnum Sandwich with almonds' and regular readers will know how I do adore my nuts...

First peek!

And on closer inspection, I realized that the ice cream within isn't the same as the usual Magnum kind, it's actually flecked with these black bits looking enticingly like a cookies-and-cream ice:

Tasted different too! I was hoping that they were vanilla bean flecks (what a hope!) but I couldn't taste any 'more' vanilla than usual, so I think they were probably just 'put in' to match the look of the obvious incumbent, Maxibon, as closely as possible:
Cartoonish advert of the kind that always sports a 'Serving Suggestion Only' disclaimer

What a let-down! The ice cream was mushy and tasted 'cheap' (and even more artificial than ever), and the nut bits weren't even as big, tasty or crunchy as the ones in the classic Magnum Almond (when I was a kid, this was the only alternative to the Magnum Classic - how times have changed!)

Verdict: I guess the only draw is that you get two 'textures' in one ice cream, i.e. the cookie sandwich bit and the faux Magnum Almond bit. Other than that, it doesn't compare at all with the normal Magnums. Let alone 'proper' ice-cream. How disappointing!

Back to the drawing board with ya! And back to study for me!

Before I forget, I must get my hands (...and lips! Oh yes!) on some Ben and Jerry's real soon. What did y'all think of the recent 'Rolling' invasion?

*Restaurant review soon I promise - don't give up on this blog yet!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Food-Irrelevant: How to Circumvent Amazon USA Restrictions!

It seems a bit cheeky to disappear for two weeks and then return unceremoniously with a completely non-food related post. Examinations, to me, are a transitionary period during which I only ever feel partly alive - much like Juliet in her tomb - but I am quite keen to share this with the world before I forget. I figure if my readers are anything like me, you not only scour the World Wide Web for food bargains but also shopping ones as well.

Long story short, it was my dad’s birthday earlier this month, and my sister and I decided to procure him a portable DVD player.
The reason for this is that dear old Dad flies to Melbourne to visit us about four times a year from Malaysia with zero in-flight entertainment because he takes the low-cost airline Air Asia.

Therefore, the DVD player would have to meet the following requirements:

a. Light (to comply with the restrictions of carry-on luggage);
b. Branded (so my dad believes it’s ‘good value’);
c. Long battery life (Nine-hour flight);
d. Extremely easy to use (this being a present for the man who demanded to know why I lied to him when I said I’d shut down the computer because the monitor light was still blinking); and
e. Reasonably-priced (no duh)

The result: There is NO such item for sale in Australia. Apparently portable DVD players are being phased out everywhere and the ‘good’ ones available on the market are VERY expensive and extremely inadequate.

For example, this Toshiba one, which has only 3 hours playback is the cheapest I could find at about A$340 including shipping;

while this Panasonic one, with an impressive claim of 13 hour playback (though I've read that it's only about 6 hours on normal settings) is $469 and out of stock everywhere I tried.

Infuriatingly, the only ‘place’ that still sells DVD players of the sort I was looking for is Amazon and experienced shoppers will know that Amazon does not deliver any items to Australia besides books. So I was at a bit of a wit’s end until I came across Price USA.

(Before this starts sounding like an advertisement, I am not being compensated whatsoever and will in fact only be informing the owners of Price USA AFTER having published this blog post.)

Price USA
is a very clever service. Basically, if there are any items being sold in the US or via US websites that won’t post to Australia, you can place your order via Price USA; they’ll give you a quote for shipping and their US agent will purchase the item and post it to you, much like an American ‘friend’ who charges you 5% for the service (which you’d probably have to pay an actual friend in the form of a nice thank-you/Christmas gift anyway).

So I decided to purchase this (Sony 9-inch with 6-hour playback - first player shown above); and filled in all the necessary details using the standard online form provided on their website. Within two hours I was sent a quote for A$264.47 including the service charge and shipping via FedEx (you can pick which shipping method you want, by the way – I chose FedEx because time was obviously of the essence and also it was only about $6 more expensive than the next option). I then paid via direct bank transfer (after a long mental toss-up between direct banking and Paypal, which is obviously more secure but for which you’ll be charged a premium).

The payment transaction took place on 04/11/2009. My order was processed the same day by their USA agent and I was e-mailed as such.

On 13/11/2009, I was sent a FedEx tracking number for my package.

Needless to say, tracking became a very addictive exercise.

And my item arrived today (17/11/2009)!

So altogether, a turnaround time of 13 days (just under 2 weeks!).

This is particularly impressive when you consider that I also placed a direct book order to Amazon on the 1st of November, paid for expedited shipping (which is the next most expensive option), and that also arrived today. Total turnaround time: 17 days.

Gift for G, also non-purchasable in Australia (by which I mean Borders)

So clearly, I’m a happy camper today and really pleased that everything arrived as described!

Next stop for this well-travelled baby - Malaysia! (Or rather, multiple MEL-MY routes)

Let me know if you’ll be trying this service or if you’ve had a similar experience with trying to buy something overseas and being ‘discriminated’ against because we live in Australia! (The other example I can think of is USA TV-streaming, e.g. ANTM; Grey’s Anatomy, etc. Then again, apparently Masterchef Australia is not available to outside Oz-dwellers, though I can’t say that’s any loss since you can watch the whole series on Tudou!)

Next post will be yummy I promise – a chilli oil extravaganza at Hutong!