Saturday, July 08, 2006

Piadina Slowfood, Melbourne, CBD

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Type: Epicurean Café

Address: 57 Lonsdale St (Rear )Melbourne 3000 VIC

Phone: (03) 9662 2277

Open: Monday to Friday 6am -5pm

Piadina Slowfood in Adjectives
Warming, home style/traditional, comforting, eclectic, fresh, fucking scrumptious.

Being a city office worker, you become familiar with the limited menu choices offered to you by the cafes surrounding your office. It is the blight of your concrete dwelling existence that you are reduced to consuming hard ciabatta rolls filled with fried schnitzels and arugula; or substandard sushi with tuna that doesn’t taste fresh nor in fact tuna like at all.

And please, let us not get into the discussion of juice bars either. I’ve eaten hamburgers that are far healthier then some of the beverages these juicers churn out to the masses under the guise of well-being.

And the particular menu item mentioned above honestly did say arugula instead of rocket/roquette in what I can only assume was an attempt to distance its own replicated menu from the other 986 other cafes frequented by the workers of the city of Melbourne.

So it came as a pleasant surprise to me the other day when I stumbled across a small review in one of the weekend newspaper supplements about a café called Piadina Slowfood that was but a short stroll from the place where I work.

This same Piadina Slowfood review mentioned meatball stuffed piadina’s with shaved Romano cheese that were so extraordinary; the reviewer continued to go back daily for his lunch. Also, this particular reviewer was a chef at one of the finest dining establishments in this fair city. A decent review, if I have ever read one.

But before we continue, please read this again.

Meatball stuffed piadina’s with shaved Romano cheese.

Did you feel that?

You did?

Don’t be frightened of that feeling, it’s just your tastebuds asserting themselves and making you feel culinary aroused.

Now, as an office worker who has been denied the gastronomic pleasures of good fucking lunch food, the idea that someone could create superior lunches for the office packs whilst still maintaining affordability and variety was a revelation to me. I have truly missed that feeling of awakening that only good food can bring.

And no one knows like an office worker that the only thing you have to look forward to in your day is your lunch break.

So today I was pleased to become financially replenished with my pay deposited into my bank account and a long overdue catch up with a dear friend to inspire me; we decide to hit Piadina Slowfood for lunch.

Piadina Slowfood specialises in just that; piadinas (Italian flat bread not unlike pide/pita) and dishes keeping with the slowfood philosophy such as currys, stews, bakes or as I like to call slowfood “grub that takes a lot of time and a lot of love”.

My chum had the pleasure of eating at Piadina Slowfood previously and had suggested that we get there earlier as seating is sparse.

Heading west down Lonsdale Street, about 200 metres from the Spring Street intersection, a small pedestrian alley way on the left will lead you to your new favourite lunch spot.

At the rear of No. 57, glass windows steamed by the tagines, pots, pans and coffee machine welcome you to this positively tiny establishment. We take a step down into the café to see only 2 tables, crammed with people eating hot lunches with the look on their faces of contented satisfaction. Was it the look of relief? Comfort even? Who cares actually, these people looked happy just because they were eating something real and I already knew I liked this place.

And then the smell hits you. The sweetness of cooked onion and basil mixed with the pungent pull of curry, red meats and tomato.

I looked at my companion and mouthed the words “Oh. My. Lord” as the heady aroma of cooking smells hits my brain. She just smiled at me and said “I told you so, didn’t I?”

As the coffee machines hisses and pans clang in the minuscule open kitchen, I look around at the surrounds and at the windows facing onto the laneway. Sitting below the windows are rows of fresh vegetables lined up to be used in today’s lunch pot. One window was crowded by butternut pumpkins while the other surrounded by cauliflowers. A tower of Italian pomodoro tins separated the two. It reminded me of the provincial delis and market places I have visited in Europe where you can see and touch what you will eventually eat.

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The wait staff, who all have kiwi accents and are all ridiculously gorgeous offer us a small table outside. Although the middle of winter in Melbourne, I take consolation in the fact that I am wearing a coat and I am about to indulge in some wintry comfort not unlike that of those that crowd the tables inside.

A chalked menu is pointed out which is written on the side wall of the building. I am told that the menu changes daily so if you order something today, you may never experience it again.

But what to order? There are only 12 things on the menu but each one is exactly what I feel like eating this very day. Such as the Japanese Curry or the pasta bake with provolone. Or the vegetable soup of the day or maybe the stuffed capsicums filled with risotto. There is a range of pre-made sarnies on the front counter but what I really came here for was the hot piadina’s.

I order a piadina with prochiutto, leek, tomato and cheese which I believe was mozzarella. I was delighted that the bread wasn’t so crisp that it would snap if I cut it or graze my inner cheek if I bit it. It was grilled nicely leaving the contents of the piadina warm and soft; the cheese melted but still firm enough that it didn’t slide off my cutlery. The tomato base was marinated in garlic and basil which left a delicate after taste.

My companion ordered the sausage curry pie which was presented as a hearty slice from a larger pie. The crust was crunchy and golden whilst the contents of the pie were robust and not overly liquidy with gravy. The sausages appeared home made.

Coffee followed after lunch and I was delighted to find that the drop was a cut above. Someone in this place knows how to make a real cup o’ jo! Add to that my joy at stirring my cup with a Charles and Diana commemorative wedding teaspoon and my lunch bill tally being a measly $11, my splendiferous dining experience was complete.

I can’t specifically tell you what it is about Piadina Slowfood that pique’s my interest so. Sure, the food is completely unbelievable and reminds me somewhat of the creations made by my ethnic ancestors and I do adore a tiny laneway secret that Melbourne hides so well within its walls.

I think what I find is so enchanting about it is that it is a lunch time place, a venue where you can shut away the mundane for 30 minutes while you enjoy a moment of soothing indulgence. And they say food is a massage for the soul, and the clock watchers of the world need that more then anything.


Another Outspoken Female said...

Sounds delicious. Great review.

Husky Nutmeg said...

Felt like I was walking with you. I'll definitely be heading there.

elaine said...

This is my favourite lunch place.

I love places where I can nick out from my office and discuss current events with the (hott) staff and use c-words (because I have a potty mouth) while they make my coffee.

Lunches are normally vexing. It pains me that sometimes I wish there was a pill I could take at lunchtime that will deliver the necessary nutrition and make me full because Lord knows I love to eat.

That I can chat up the staff at Piadina Slow Food AND get a tasty lunch that costs LESS than the disgusting excuses for lunch food that make up this end of the city pleases me entirely.

Anonymous said...

Please, apostrophes. Piques. Piadinas. It's really not that hard. Try remembering that apostrophes either mean something has been shortened (don't) or it belongs to someone (Ukulele's review).

Anonymous said...

Gee, thanks for the pedantry, but it's not a spelling blog, it's a food blog. And although excess or missing apostrophes irritate me too, it actually *isn't* all that easy - otherwise people wouldn't keep getting it wrong.

As an aside: are you asserting that the apostrophe in "it's" is a possesive? If so, may god show you hi's mercy :-) See, anyone can be a language pedant.

Ukulele said...

Anonymous #1, thank you for taking the time to declare your vexation at my lack of acceptable grammar in this post.

I must give you credit where it is due and admit that you have indeed succeeded in making me feel like I am incredibly stupid which I can only assume was your motivation when you commented to begin with.

How pleased you must be.

To everyone else, I have never professed to be an expert in grammatical nuances so if you so wish to continue reading anything else I write, please be expecting more pronoun and verb confusion mixed in with mystifying placements of apostrophes and semi-colons.

Anything can happen, people. You've been warned.

Husky Nutmeg said...

Well said.

sublime-ation said...

I didn't realise grumpy English teachers/editors/food critics? read this blog. Perhaps they need a good feed?

This is a very exciting sounding place, Uke. Your post made me want to go their immediately.

But way more disconcerting than pesky spelling errors that we all make was the GIANT FONT. Whassup with that?

Anonymous said...

I'm neither an editor, nor an English teacher. I just don't see how hard it is to get basic grammar rules right. It got on my nerves; what can I say.

Fair enough making little typos like it's/its confusion, or slipping up and making a they're/there/their error.

But apostrophes. I just don't understand why they are so baffling to some.

And yes, it's not a writing blog, and I don't expect all spelling to be correct, and all grammar to be spot on, but as I say, it's a very, very simple thing to remember.

I don't want to make a big thing out of this, so let's not have hysterical rebuttals from people wanting to score points, eh?

sublime-ation said...

I don't think anyone's getting hysterical, Anon, you just came over a little abrupt, is all. No one's looking to score points, either. And sorry if you reminded me of my Year 10 English teacher who hated me and my grammatical abberations.
We all know the many errors prevalent on Melbourne's menus, for example.
But I find them funny, not rage-inducing, mostly.

I know it's frustrating how the world seems to be losing its (its' ???) ability to speak properly.

Last night I heard the non-words 'insuperior' and 'niggering' on Big Bother.

Now THAT is something to get up in arms about.

Chai said...

Holy canoli... me walk past ristorante every morning to work. Maybe me try to eat there soon. Me think I like place very plenty a lot. Review also is very good.

jenjen said...

hello, im glad to have found another Aussie foodblogger!

sheriff of nothing said...

What a review - I want to go there right now!!! Pity I am at the other end of the city.
Nice review Ukulele!

Another Outspoken Female said...

I feel sorry for grammar nazis. I really do. The internet is a cruel place. It will taunt you at every turn with misplaced apostrophes and just plain awful sentence structures.

I, personally, am an atrochious speller and have a thing, for commas.

But at least I use my nick and don't hide under the guise of an anomymous post.

Perhaps just stick to reading real journalists online or even better only hard copy. The world of bloggery will just cause an aneurysm.

Anonymous said...

i discovered this gem not so long ago also. it is amazing how neglected the cbd is for good tucker.

fluffy said...

I wish I was up the Piadina end of the city tomorrow lovely Ukulele, but as you know I'm up the Elizabeth St. When will there be time for slowfood? I really must work out how to set the self timer on my oven. But there's never enough time. *sigh*

PS apostrophe nazi - go edit youself please.

Chai said...

I took the guys from work there and couldnt find it. Not too bright, eh? Didnt think to look round the side of that "blue" good mood food place ie. #57 itself. Next week I try again, assuming this is not a gag!

Ukulele said...

It is not a myth Chai, I promise you.

Walk up the lane way next to 'Blue Bag', I believe. It is at the rear of the building.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but a different anonymous here - in response to anonymous #2, who thinks that "it's" is possessive. You wanker.
It's = contraction of it is
Its = possessive, doing the same function as his or her... it's a real whole word (like his - nobody puts an apostrophe in it, NOBODY!)
I can deal with people making mistakes, but I can't deal with people compounding them or defending them in the smug manner that some people here are, as if language doesn't matter.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous #3, Anonymous #2 here. I think you might have missed the point of my post. Read it again, slowly. My "it's" example was illustrating how Anonymous #1's simplistic assertion didn't really help clear up the confusion people often have with the apostrophe in its/it's - which one is possesive, and which is contracted. Hence the reductio ad absurdum of "hi's".

You're pretty quick to accuse me of being a wanker, and it doesn't say anything good about you. Read it again, I think you'll see that you've misunderstood.

Anonymous said...

I, anon#3, misunderstood anon#2, and hereby sign up for the following activity: This is all that I'm good for. I was wrong.

sublime-ation said...

But what did you think of the actual FOOD?

Or can't you see the forest for the apostrophtrees?

(sorry couldn't resist)

Anonymous said...

Shaved romano cheese? Sounds too much like something named after a sitcom character. And what's wrong with a bit of arugula as opposed to rocket/rocquette, apart from their being the same thing? I want to find some real examples of the anti-piadina set up at the beginning. Coffee sounded good, but. (I can do conjunctions at the end of my sentences, but. And at the beginning. But muck around with apostrophes and I misread everything, white noise pound in my head, and I bite bums.)

sublime-ation said...

Perhaps I shouldn't have asked...

MelbourneGirl said...

why oh WHY did i miss all this grammar excitement??? that'll teach me for not checking all the blogs properly.

hi everyone.

great review, made me hungry. which is what it's all about, isn't it? sharing the hunger for good food things.

Chai said...

With renewed determination, I dragged 2 others from work and we actually found the place. It was pretty good. Nothing spectacular I thought (I had the curry chicken pie) but was tasty and the (very small) place had a nice buzz about it. Would I go back? Probably. The other guys mouthed positive stuff too.

Susanne said...

Ukelele- I am an English lit honours student and I still fret over my placement of apostrophes. I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Anna said...

Mellie just showed me this place yesterday: guess where I'm headed for lunch today! Of course working right across the street helps :-)

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