Dal-ing, may I check your pulse?

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Until very recently, the happily growing number of years we have spent in our current abode have found us – well, me actually – falling into slothful habits when it comes to food storage.

Thus it became routine when a new bag of pulses, beans, lentils were acquired from one of the Indian groceries in Barkley St, to fling the opened bag in a corner of our kitchen where it joined many others.

I was a little more careful with grains – rice and oats and so on.

But still, it was a sloppy look and it had to end.

The mice made sure of it.

I was finally spurred into action one recent night when I heard, while trying to fall asleep, a bunch of the little buggers obviously not just eating … but having a grand old time, a real party, as well.

I found four of them, immobilised and trembling with fear, behind one of our chopping boards.

They looked small and pitiful. But I knew, too, they were the party animals I had heard, for they were all wearing shades.

I did what I could that night, vowing to get some food container action going at the first possible opportunity – probably on the coming weekend.

In the ensuing few days I discovered, however, that while mice may prefer other goodies, when push comes to a shortage of yummy grains, they will indeed consume pulses.

In this case, they turned to a bag – yes, an opened bag – of those small, dark chick peas.

They were dragging them out of the bag, shelling them with paws or teeth and scarfing the innards.

The dark shells were washing up in the benchtop corner.

The resultant detritus reminded me of a bar near where I used to stay In New Orleans, in the days when I travelled there regularly.

O’Henry’s was not the sort of place in which me or my Crescent City friends frequented, it having none of the funky music or food we were into. It was a sort of burger ‘n’ beer place, and I only recall spending time there to watch major league sports events.

What they did offer patrons was an unlimited supply of peanuts in the shell, consumed in vast quantities along with equally vast quantities of beer. The peanuts were, of course, pristine but the shells were salted – meaning thirsts were inflamed.

By closing time, the shells were damn near ankle-deep throughout.

Happily, our storage woes were solved in a single stroke by Peter from Yoyo’s Milkbar, who provided us with two boxes of plastic containers that formerly housed Gum Balls.

I read somewhere a while ago that archaeologists examining ancient human remains can tell whether any given corpse is from the upper classes or the peasant class simply by amount of meat (in the former case) or pulses (in the latter) they have eaten.

We eat meat, but we’d like to think we keep the pulse count up very high.

Of course, it’s the norm that peasant/working class food traditions sometimes work their way up the, ahem, food chain.

Hence the ongoing use of puy lentils in some of your pricier restaurants.

Our minimal exposure to such food – and the use of lentils and other pulses therein – leaves us no doubt that for us such food is a bit flaky and unfulfilling when compared, say, to the recent foul meddammes I had at Al-Alamy.

Nor does it do the job, or have the same oomph, as the many pulse-based dishes we make at home.

We have red beans and rice, New Orleans style, made with a ham hock, ham bone, bacon bones or – at the very least – bacon fat.

We have southern-style backeyed peas the same way. Nice and smoky even without the porky bits!

We use red beans, too, in dal makhani with black lentils, channa dal and perfumed with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, garlic and chilli powder.

We have all sorts of other dals, using mung dal and many other varieties, most often with roasted cumin seeds, ginger, lemon juice, fresh green chillis and fistfuls of fresh coriander.

White beans – sometimes canned – go into minestrone and other thick soups and stews.

Ever since reading many years ago a very evocative passage in a crime book set in the Florida Everglades describing a simple lentil soup/stew heady with cumin, I have been trying to recreate the same.

With only limited success, it has to be said, as the more roasted ground cumin I use, the more bitter becomes the flavour. Generally speaking, Bennie likes the results more than his father.

But my most recent pulse project involved the simplest, and in many ways best, concoction of all, the result of a little ongoing whisper in the back of my mind banging on like a mantra: “Red lentil soup, red lentil soup, red lentil soup …”

Onion, garlic in olive oil, throw in a mashed can of good tomatoes, a cup of red lentils, water, salt, freshly ground pepper.

So simple, so very tasty – with a tangy flavour attained without the use of lemon juice – and so incredibly cheap.

We love our pulses!


Al-alamy

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Al-alamy, 51 Waterfield St, Coburg. Phone: 9355 8866

Since making  a mental note of this intriguing, fantastic joint while checking out the adjoining Wang Wang Dumpling, a fair bit of time has elapsed, during which we’ve ascertained that Al-Alamy is something of a magic foodie hotspot.

And not just for those, bloggers and more, who love to blather on about food in the cyber world, either.

In the hour or so I am in-house for a Monday lunch, an endless stream of savvy regulars comes and goes – young mums with tots, workers in suits and shorts, grandparents with tots, larger family groups, singles such as my self, content to hunker down with their chosen lunches and a newspaper/magazine/book.

There are a number of reasons for the intense popularity of Al-Alamy.

The prices, for starters.

A plain zaatar pizza costs $1.50, dressed with onion and tomato $2.50.

The rest of the usual lineup of pies and pizzas range from $2.50 up to $4.

For about the same price, you can have one of the saj pizzas, in which saj bread is stuffed with fillings and then draped over a spherical heating plate. Different!

The dips platters cost $7.

Outside of the pay-if-you-want Lentil As Anything outlets, could be this is the cheapest of cheap eats in Melbourne.

But that, of course, would mean nowt if the food wasn’t as spectacular.

It is, well based on my magnificent foul meddammes ($7) anyway!

This perfect little spread is cheap, healthy and likely to set a template in our house for lazy don’t-feel-like-cooking summer days – vinegary pickles, olives, pita bread, dips/foul, what could be better?

The plate of pickled cucumbers slices and pink turnip, beautifully fresh tomato chunks and wrinkled, chewy olives is the perfect foil for its lunch companions.

It might be thought all the zing and tang would come from them, with the beans playing straight man, but that’s not the case. Yes, the beans (and a few chick peas) have some of the pasty blandness I expect and desire, but there’s an undertow of lemon in there, too.

What an incredible feed!

A few tables over, I see a couple of blokes tucking into a spread that has the same bits and pieces as mine, but with awarma (scrambled eggs with minced meat, $8.50) instead – and that looks so fine, as well.

My cafe latte is hot, strong, sensational and another bargain at $2.50.

Al-Alamy is one of the enlightened, sensible places that will feed you and sell you stuff to feed you and yours at home. Think Mediterranean Wholesalers, La Morenita or Little Saigon Market.

So obvious on one level, such genius on another – and a potent alternative to the supermarket for shopping, restaurant for eating out syndrome.

It’s been open for about five years, but feels a lot more homely and lived in than that – in a positive way!

I only wish it was closer to home – the traffic hereabouts is a mess just about all the time, and on my way across town I made the killer mistake of joining Sydney Rd WAY too early in the piece.

On the way home I do better by a mixture of Bell St, Moreland Rd and Pasco Vale Rd.

Before departing Al-Alamy, I buy some eggplant and beetroot dips to go, pita bread and half a dozen pieces of a wonderful sweetie that is part marshmellow, part nougat, each piece studded with a piece of Turkish delight.

I truly love this place – how can I not when it’s an establishment that has a head-scarfed female staff member placing my lunch on my table with a cheerful, “There you go, mate!”

Al Alamy on Urbanspoon

Philippine Fiesta

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Melbourne Showgrounds Grand Pavilion

Having missed the previous year’s Philippine Fiesta through illness, and having only heard about this year’s bash the previous night, and having somewhat lethargically got myself out of the house and into the rain, it’s a pleasure to be striding towards the showground’s Grand Pavilion, where – happily – the entire proceedings are taking place.

My pace picks up as I hear the music and inhale the tantalising aromas caressing my nostrils.

Inside, the entire pavilion is hazy with smoke from barbecues.

Sweetness!

Who needs dry ice?

The fiesta has been going a good few hours already, will continue quite late into the night and on into the following day, but there is a good size crowd on hand already.

There’s all the commercial stallholders you would expect – travel, insurance, immigration services, real estate and more.

But your blogger, of course, heads straight to the food section.

It’s not as big as I expect, but more than big enough, with all the stalls – maybe about 10 in all – all doing a roaring trade.

Except the Spanish paella folk, who seem to be suffering from attention deficit disorder. Such a shame, as their goodies look the goods.

As if almost in an unintended rebuff to them, I start my afternoon’s eating with a serve of paella and chargrilled chicken from one of the Filipino stalls for $10.

The rice is good, the chicken better – chargrilled to a crispy outer and juicy as can be, although pretty much unseasoned.

All the tables adjacent the food area are packed, so I make do with some plastic storage containers out the back of the coffee caravan set-up. Despite its deliciousness, I leave much of the chook uneaten in the knowledge I’m up for some serious grazing.

By far the most popular food item are the barbecue skewers – there are at least four places selling them.

I grab a pork number for $4 and feel a bit shattered.

It looks insanely delicious, but it’s SO fatty. In this sort of context, such a thing would not ordinarily disturb me. But in this case, the fattiness is as much a textural thing as it is flavour or health related. That I don’t like pork belly – at all – may give you some idea of my dismay.

I see people all around me happily consuming skewers – pork, chicken and beef – that appear to be meatiness defined in a way mine is not.

Oh well!

It’s time for time out from food, it’s time to take in some of the more cultural aspects of the fiesta.

At the entertainment stage, I quickly surmise that it’s mandatory for female Filipino pop singers to wear dangerously elongated high heels.

Gwen Zamora (pictured above) sings two songs, the first pleasingly close to the sunshine pop so close to my heart.

However, as the entrants in the Miss Philippine Fiesta of Victoria and Charity Quests and the Mrs Philippine Fiesta of Victoria and Charity Quests strut their stuff, I quickly learn that vertigo high heels are pretty much the all-round go.

Except, maybe, for the wrestlers, none of whom appear to be Filipino, be they male or female.

High heels may be part of their private lives, but they put on a good show anyway.

Even a sport fan and pop culture creature such as myself normally finds “wrestling” of only the most passing interest.

But it’s surprising how visceral, loud and – yes – violent it seems when you’re standing a few feet away.

More food!

I order a serve of callos.

It’s only when the deal is done that I fully realise the contents of what I am about to consume.

Thus this, of all places, becomes the first time EVER I have tried tripe.

I don’t like the tripe; I don’t really dislike it, either.

But a lifetime of wariness is a big hurdle.

I push it all to one side and enjoy the remaining stew of  pork, chorizo, greens beans, peas and chick peas.

I have room and money for one last hurrah – churros!

These are much less chewy and of much less substance than I am familiar with.

So light, so very evil and so very delicious with the chocolate dipping sauce – and truly perfect with a brew from the Three Beans Coffee folk.

It’s my best coffee for the week by a mile – bravo!

I have a ball at the Philippine Fiesta.

But I am by now accepting of the fact there is something of a disconnect between me, my tastes and Filipino food. There are numerous dark, lusty and mysterious dishes at the food booths that I don’t even consider.

I suspect that at a similar event hosted by the Indian community, just for instance, I would not feel a similar distance.

But that’s cool, too!

Flemington Kebab House

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301 Racecourse Rd, Flemington. Phone: 9376 2767

This Flemington institution didn’t get a write-up in the whiz-bang new book on Melbourne kebab shops, but it certainly would’ve been a worthy inclusion.

It’s never been at the top-tier of our choices for such food, as there are options closer to home.

As well,  the last time Bennie stuck our noses in the door the prices had crept up, and the previous dad-only visit had left me feeling a little shortchanged in terms of quantity.

So it is with much interest and a little wariness that I enter for a midweek dinner.

The place has had some simple renovations done. It’s homely. Tiles, photos of Turkey – the pics tug at my heart. From what I’ve gathered over the years, Turkey is right at that the top of the list of countries worth visiting for foodie reasons as well as friendly people and drop-dead gorgeous scenery.

As my dinner ritual unfolds, I relax in the knowledge that the previous disappointment can be written of as little more than a blip.

This kebab joint is at the top of its game and my meal is excellent.

A kebab wrap will cost you $9.50 here.

Meal platters range from non-meat for $13 up to mixed grill for $21.

My spread of lamb from the spit, two salads, two dips, rice and bread clocks in at $15.50.

There’s only one size, which is a bit of a blow – my plate could feed dad AND son.

The meat is tender, perhaps not crusty and crunchy enough, but light on the fattiness.

The chilli dip is of a pleasant spiciness, fine and fresh and tangy, and goes fantastic dab by dab with the meat.

The babaghanous lacks the smokiness that tends to come with coarser versions, but its smoothness is full of lemony, garlicky tang.

The rice is good, the salad of lettuce, cabbage, carrot and so on nice and crisp.

The other salad – of red capsicum, leaves, olives and even a couple of cubes of fetta cheese – seems a little excess to requirements.

I envy Flemington residents having this place ready as a groovy go-to option to the many Asian eateries surrounding it.

Flemington Kebab House on Urbanspoon

Cafe Noodle House

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Level 1, Building M, Victoria University Footscray Park Campus. Phone: 9919 4339

It’s a little odd to be navigating the corridors and stairways of Victoria University – a mere day after doing much the same at Melbourne University while tracking down a very cool book on Melbourne’s kebab shops.

Your blogger bypassed tertiary education entirely, heading straight from high school to newspapering, and have never for an instant regretted doing so.

Weirdly enough, I did spend a lot of time on the campus of my hometown university while still at school. The reason was simple – that’s where a better class of rock ‘n’ roll, and even blues and folk music, was to be found and heard.

Much, much more recently, Bennie’s swimming lessons have seen Victoria University become part of the family routine, such regular visits alerting us to the existence of Cafe Noodle House.

It’s one of several food outlets scattered around the campus, and like some of its competitors it takes something of a jack-of-all-trades approach.

So while it’s ostensibly an Asian affair, it stocks and sells sandwiches, muffins, wraps and the like.

The bain marie offerings hold little appeal, although the beef curry I observe being served to a fellow customer looks worth a try.

I focus my eyes and appetite on the photographs of the made-to-order soup, noodle and rice dishes displayed behind the servery.

They all seem to be a buck or so below the prices demanded out in the real world, and cover all the usual bases – mee goreng, hokkien mee noddles, Hainan chicken rice and so on.

There are a few surprises, though, and it’s one of them that becomes my lunch.

Hue spicy beef noodle soup ($8.50), sadly, comes in a disposable plastic bowl.

It’s good without being sensational – pretty much par for the course when compared to other versions I have had of this dish in other places.

It’s got a nice chilly kick.

The very plentiful slices of fat-on beef are both chewy and tender.

Texture is added to the plump, white round noodles by lots of lettuce, which gets that cool wilted thing going as my meal progresses, and a handful of bean sprouts likewise stewing away under the noodles.

Maybe you’d not want go out of your way to eat here, but if in the vicinity it’s worth a go.

40 Melbourne kebab shops in 500 pages? Book of the year!

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Derham Groves is a man after my own heart – he’s passionate about things.

Quite a few things, actually.

Let’s see – architecture, on which he lectures/teaches at the University of Melbourne; rabid Geelong Football Club fan; really big on crime literature, with a special and obsessive penchant for Sherlock Holmes. And that’s just for starters.

But I’ve wandered on to the surprisingly expansive and unfamiliar surrounds of the university campus to talk with him about his latest “baby” – a 500-page book concerned solely with an in-depth survey of 40 Melbourne kebab joints.

After a few wrongs turns and helpful guidance along the way, I meet Derham outside University House, in to which we scuttle for a couple of outstanding coffees.

As we sup, I hear the fascinating story of how Kebab Shops In Melbourne – An Architectural Survey came about.

In 2010, Derham visited Iran for three weeks, courtesy of a travel grant from the Iran Heritage Foundation, to look at Iranian brickwork.

As he moved around the country, he needed to eat – as you do – so found himself in many kebab establishments.

Quite apart from the no-doubt delicious food of which he partook in such places, he often found himself befriended, offered food to share and otherwise engaged by the locals.

All this got him thinking … about kebab shops, their role in the community.

And it got him thinking, too, about their equivalents back in Melbourne.

Back home, he initiated a project in which the 90 students in his Popular Architecture and Design course – in teams of two – dispersed across the city, with each team given the task of profiling a kebab shop.

The result is Kebab Shops In Melbourne – An Architectural Survey.

It’s a beaut read, by turns entertaining, revealing and – for the likes of your blogger – absolutely riveting.

Because of the quick turnaround time, the students’ work is unedited and as presented.

Not only do their individual voices comes through loud and clear, but so, too, do those of the small business folk and families who run the kebab places – which in Melbourne, as in Iran, are a ubiquitous yet rarely studied or even appreciated beyond the sometimes urgent needs of a quick, cheap and delicious feed.

This came about because the students were given marching orders that not only covered topics to be expected of an architectural project – fittings, furniture, signage and so on – but also interviews with the operators.

As a celebration of the every day, the book closely mirrors the evolving ethos of Consider The Sauce.

So, too, does the journey undertaken by the students.

Derham tells me that 70 per cent of the students on the course are Chinese. How wonderful and enriching, then, that they ventured out of whatever CBD enclaves, peer groups and noodle shops they ordinarily frequent to meet another vital part of Melbourne’s make-up.

Of course, unlike in Iran, Melbourne’s kebab shops are dominated by families of Turkish and Greek heritage, but that didn’t stop Derham’s students from taking to their tasks with relish – and enjoying some magnificent food along the way.

Included among the 40 kebab shops is long-time Consider The Sauce favourite Footscray Best Kebab House.

Crazy Kebabs in Mount Alexander Rd gets a guernsey, too, but other than that the books finds Brunswick, Sydney Rd, Melbourne’s CBD and Fitzroy heavily represented.

Derham’s students may not have become life-long kebab fans and may duly recall their study sojourn in Melbourne as merely a step on their life journeys, but he tells me that nevertheless when each of them was presented with a copy of the book, it was notable that many of them carried them clasped to their chests, front cover out and clearly visible.

Heck, I’d be a bit proud of such an effort, too!

Kebab Shops In Melbourne – An Architectural Survey is published by the Custom Book Centre of Melbourne University and is available here or from the university’s book shop.

As an academic exercise, it could be argued that the work of Kebab Shops In Melbourne – An Architectural Survey has already been done.

Derham harbours a suspicion, however, that it could go “feral” and become a cult classic.

Me?

I think it should be a bestseller.

A wrap on Derham’s Iran trip – including pics of particularly succulent looking kebabs – can be found here.

Thanks to Derham and his students for letting me republish here a couple of the kebab shop surveys.

 

Kasim’s Indian Cafe, Sirens

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Kasim’s Indian Cafe, 44 Mason St, Newport. Phone, 9399 483

Sirens,  Beach Pavilion Esplanade, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 7811

It takes some cajoling to get Bennie off the sofa and away from the TV and PlayStation this Friday night.

In the end, we experience a role reversal – with Bennie energised by the magic combination of beach + boy and his dad wanting to head for home.

To get things rolling, though, I make a concession – instead of heading for the wilds of Deer Park or Taylors Lakes, we stick closer to home, intent on checking out a typical suburban Indian eatery, the windows of which we’ve peered through a number of times but never previously entered.

We’re interested in exploring the theory that by mostly limiting ourselves to the cheaper end of the Indian spectrum – at, say, Consider The Sauce favourites such as Classic Curry in Sunshine – we are depriving ourselves of an occasional repast that is richer, sexier and more celebratory.

So it is with metaphorically loosened wallets that we hit the Willy road.

Our straightahead Indian meal is indeed more expensive than our usual – but not by a lot.

We’re hungry and waste no time in ordering lamb bhuna gosht ($13), aloo gobi ($11.50), plain nan ($2.90) and rice ($4), and “kuchumber salad spicy” ($4).

We suspect Kasim’s, with its plain but nice enough dining room, does most of its trade in takeaway. We’re the only customers, but as we are paying and leaving a young couple saunters in followed by a Muslim family comprising mum, dad, two daughters with iPads and son with PSP/DS.

We hope they have a better time of it than we do.

Our meal is edible.

We eat it.

But – oh dear – it’s truly spectacular in its mediocrity.

The salad – a mix of finely diced tomato, lettuce, cucumber and carrot – is not in the least bit spicy.

The aloo gobi seems like leftovers.

The bhuna gosht meat is tender, has textural variety courtesy of green capsicum and onion, and is the best thing going in our meal.

The nan is very average for the price.

The final bill of just a touch over $40 is fine for two mains, three side dishes and two cans of soft drink, but our wallet-loosening experiment is a failure.

Did we order the wrong dishes? Any Kasim’s regulars out there?

It’s still early in the night and Bennie is happy enough to humour his father’s interest in sweeties and coffee/hot chocolate.

The esplanade/beach precinct of Williamstown used to play a major role in our outings, one that has faded.

Mind you, we’ve never taken the plunge by getting on the fang at Siren’s, daunted by the high prices and the fear its fare will tainted by the same fodder indifference that infects nearby Nelson Parade.

It’s all very well to say that as food bloggers we should keep open minds and chance our arms on occasion, but as full-fare payers we are tugged, too, in the other direction, towards caution and conservatism.

Tonight, the place is close to packed and very busy. But still, we fear that has more to do with the superb beachside location than anything coming out of the kitchen.

What we have done many, many pleasant times is hit Sirens for coffee and Greek-style biscotti – and that’s just what we do tonight.

It turns out to be a thrilling half-hour or so.

The proximity of beach and sand brings Bennie alive.

There’s a classic Willy sunset on hand, thunder clouds and lightning in the other direction, and a rainbow between them.

The floor manager is bemused by our insistence on doing coffee imbibing out on the deck because everything is sopping wet.

That’s cool, mate, we’ll stand.

The choc-dipped bikkie is less impressive than we recall from previous visits; the shortbread number much better; our hot drinks are very good.

As dad calls stumps on the outing, Bennie shouts from water’s edge: “I want to stay here!”

Sirens By the Sea on Urbanspoon

bowlz @ the deck revisited

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Yarraville-Footscray Bowling Club, 339A Francis St, Yarraville. Phone: 9314 4530 ‎

The previous dad-only visit to the Yarraville-Footscray Bowling Club for a mid-week lunch in more or less deserted premises had been an enjoyable affair.

But despite comments to the contrary, truth is it would be hard-pressed to win return visits.

That’s all changed with the coincidence that the club shares a carpark with the McIvor Reserve venue for Bennie’s cricket practice, also just off Francis St.

After a hard day of commuting, school ‘n’ work AND cricket practice, what could be better for a couple of blokes than a simple, leisurely amble from sports field to bowls clubhouse?

Not much, as it turns out.

Tonight the club seems a little more lived-in, with tables occupied here and there and more customers arriving as we wait for our meals then eat them.

Much of the bistro food seems pitched, priced and presented somewhere between our local pub and its near-neighbour, Cafe Fidama.

In the case of our two main meals, that is to prove an ideal combination of wallet damage that’s bearable and food that is a notch above your average budget pub fodder.

But a keen appetite is upon us so we splurge on a bowl of almost-instant-gratification chips ($6).

They’re good, fresh, hot, unsoggy, well-salted and completely unnecessary – but what the hey!

Bennie’s steak sandwich is a sight to behold – a meal for a man, or a growing 10-year-old who loves a challenge.

Stuffed into a long ciabatta-style row are steak, egg, tomato, bacon, caramelised onions and some greenery.

He loves it, leaving just there merest stub of bread.

He tells me to describe it as “AWSM”.

The accompanying spud wedges may be par for the coarse (sic), but they’re ridiculous and horribly seasoned with some dodgy spice mix. Wedges should be banned, their use-by date being some time last century.

Maybe it’s possible to request the fine chips instead of wedges on the dishes that include them.

Happily, the sandwich is so big it’s all that’s required and keenly priced ($17.90), too.

My roast chicken with vegetables and gravy ($16.90) hits the mark just fine as well.

The half-chook is tasty, although personal preference would’ve lent it a slightly more browned appearance and texture. It’s tender, too, with the inevitable dryness in the breast meat more than taken care of by the rich, dark gravy.

The roast spuds are good, the carrots and parsnips a little tough at the core, and the pumpkin gag material – for me anyway!

Our meal is beaut, the convenience of the club’s post-cricket practice location matched by casual pub-style tucker a nicely judged step up in refinement from bar menu fare and well worth the asking price.

Pie carts and pumpkins

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Yours truly started writing record reviews and music pieces for a New Zealand “underground” freebie rag while about halfway through high school.

Soon after, I started interviewing music folk for the same publication and moved into the newspaper game on a professional basis.

Since then, for several newspapers and various music/entertainment publications in two countries and for 20 years on Melbourne public radio station PBS, I have conducted hundreds – maybe thousands (who’s counting?) – of interviews and written countless reviews and feature stories.

The music passion burns as brightly as ever, but has very, very happily become a more or less private obsession, shared with just a handful of like-minded souls in Melbourne and, online, in the US. I pay for all my music these days and love doing so.

Nevertheless, for most of my life the pleading, spinning, cajoling requests, letters, phone calls, gifts and bribes from PRs, record and film companies, big stars and desperate artists of all kinds has been a ubiquitous part of my life.

Thus it was a strange thing indeed to find myself on the other side of the neverending cycle of those desperately desiring media oxygen and those in a position to provide it.

Consider The Sauce was about 30 posts old when I decided there was enough heft and substance on our blog showing what we were about to go looking for some publicity.

After some research, I fired off numerous emails – including links to Consider The Sauce – to the editors or chiefs of staff of numerous suburban press mastheads.

A little while later, those efforts paid dividends.

The message passed from editor to chief of staff to reporter.

The journo in this case was a capable woman named Anthea Cannon, who has since become a colleague of mine at the Geelong Advertiser.

After picking up Bennie from school one day, we met Anthea and a photographer at La Morenita.

Over coffee and sweeties, I delivered my spiel.

It took a couple of weeks for Anthea’s endeavours to hit the street, during which time I wondered if I’d said too much, been too candid, if the reporter would convey my words accurately, if I’d cringe at the results and live to regret being such a blabbermouth.

An unfamiliar feeling indeed for me, with the shoe firmly on the other foot!

Anthea’s efforts resulted in a wonderful two-page spread in the Maribyrnong Leader featuring not just Bennie and I and our blog but also the wonderful Footscray Food Blog and even a nice piece about a baklava baking class undertaken by Anthea herself at Yarraville Community Centre.

But to my mortification, I learned that I had indeed been a little impolitic – all my own big fault, as Anthea a had scrupulously reported exactly what I’d said!

There it was, right next a photo of father and son, and near the end of the story about our foodie efforts:

“I grew up in New Zealand in a mono-culture, Mum was such a bad cook but she didn’t know any better,” Kenny said.

I waited a few days before phoning my mum in New Zealand.

After even fewer pleasantries than usual, I asked: “Did you read that?”

“Yes,” she replied. “I’ve just been telling my neighbours, ‘My son’s told a newspaper that I’m a lousy cook’.”

And then, to my relief, we had a good laugh about it.

For the truth is, we’d discussed the childhoods of myself and my sister, and the food and cooking we grew up with, several times before.

A visit to the Kiwi-influenced vibe of Yoyo’s Milkbar in Sunshine got me thinking along those lines again.

The childhoods in question took place in the 1960s and mid-’70s before the Weir siblings went off into the wide world.

They took place in the deep south of the South Island, in Dunedin, a city that was once a successful gold-fuelled burg that was even then feeling the chill winds of a changing world as its once vibrant industrial landscape faded to dust.

Dunedin has since found its feet as a university, tourism, heritage town, one in which I’m sure I would find immeasurable delight.

At the time of my departure in 1977, though, I could barely wait to get the hell out – even if that was for reasons much more musical, social and cultural than anything edible.

Those childhoods took place in a country that, unlike the very clever Australians across the ditch, had kept a very tight and whitebread rein on post-World War II immigration.

There was no large-scale intake of people from Greece, Italy, Turkey, Lebanon and other Mediterranean and European nations.

There was no olive oil or garlic or flat-leaf continental parsley or pita bread or takeaway souvlaki.

So it was indeed a mono-culture, and even more so in the nether regions of the South Island.

From primary school days, I can recall just a single Maori classmate; from high school days, a single Chinese classmate (more about him and his family later on).

In our home, any discussion about fibre was likely to focus on the various kinds of rope or fishing gear that went with summers of boating and water skiing. Though Weetbix was one of the breakfast options.

Any meat – and there was a LOT of meat – that was pink at the centre would’ve been deemed undercooked or even raw.

There was a lot rabbit, my dad and his younger brother being partial to shooting the loathed critters in the hill country outside Dunedin and in the wild, beautuful landscapes of Central Otago.

We only ever had them, though, as stew or – later on – in a sort of rather tough and chewy pan-fried version.

With slow-cooking and marinating skills being unknown, it was accepted without question that only the very youngest of rabbits were cookable or even edible.

Many years later, when my dad, John Henry Weir, visited me in Melbourne he was astonished almost beyond words to discover at Victoria Market that a medium-sized rabbit cost more than a small one, and a large rabbit more again.

His eyes almost popped out of his head when he saw hares were being sold!

Curry meant, of course, “curry powder” from a small bottle or tin.

We only had it two ways that I can recall – currried mince and curried sausages with heaps of thinly sliced onions and lots of sultanas.

Gosh!

Irony: Many, many years later a real-deal Indian establishment opened up right next door to the family furniture store in Dunedin’s CBD.  This may have even been the city’s first.

I’m inclined to remember that salad meant only one thing – finely sliced iceberg lettuce with rich homemade mayo, sliced tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs.

In truth, though, there was another kind of salad that was rolled out for larger gatherings – one of sliced tomatoes, cucumber and onion, not just dressed in malt vinegar but SWIMMING in it. No – DROWNED in it! No olive oil, remember?

The fruit situation was a huge winner.

How I miss cox’s orange apples!

We had tree tomatoes stewed or fresh on toast with honey – before they were renamed tamarilloes.

We had fresh chinese gooseberries on pavlovas – before they were renamed kiwifruit.

Even now son and mum, on a rare visit by father and son to New Zealand, both delight in revisiting the pleasures of stewed gooseberries.

The peaches and other stone fruit from the Central Otago orchards were outstanding, either fresh or as jam.

Through factors way out of our control, the cooking may have been grim but the baking was – and is – spectacular.

Old-school cookies, cakes, slices, the aforementioned pavs – all to die for.

We may have been geographically challenged, but we had chocolatey afghan biscuits, each topped with a sliver of walnut; we had belgian biscuits, too, heavily cinnamon-scented halves with jam filling and topped with pink icing. Delicious beyond words!

Vegetables of all kinds were routinely boiled to mush.

To this day, that practice produces an instinctive gag reaction in me when it comes to pumpkin.

Mum to me about 10 years ago: “Kenneth, you haven’t touched your pumpkin.”

Me: “Mum, I’m 45 and I’m allowed to eat what I damn well please!”

(More laughter …)

The roast spuds and parsnips were always bloody good, though!

Spaghetti, of course, came from a can, though I have vague recall of a baked casserole-like dish that involved real spaghetti and mince.

More often than not peas, too, came from cans, as did asparagus – more gag reflex!

Mushrooms could not be bought, but were plentiful and easily had in season on picking outings. In those days, they were sole delight of our father before my sister, then I, succumbed to their charms. They were only ever pan-fried in butter.

Happily, fish was a staple – flounder, blue cod, trout and more, all caught by our own hands.

I cannot recall any other way of cooking them than pan-frying, although we did eat a lot of boiled smoked fish. An under-rated delicacy that does, however, pong the house up!

Eating out? Weird, wonderful, whacky and – so it seems now – somewhat surreal …

Fish and chips were a regular, mostly sourced from the neighbourhood F&C joint a few blocks away.

This was run by the Chan family, whose son Raymond was a high-school classmate.

He was one of the brainy ones – they call them geeks these days – and seemed destined for medicine or science or a Nobel Prize or some such.

I find it staggering, then, to know the he has since become a big shot in the wine world and even has a flash website to promote his activities.

I have no recall whatsoever of the Chan fish and chips – wrapped in paper, of course, there being no cardboard trays – other than the family ritual involved, so have no way of knowing how they’d rate when compared to the flash and fresh versions found around Melbourne today.

The Chans also purveyed Chinese food of a kind, which only became part of our family landscape in high school years. My recollection is of starchy sauces in dishes with the rice already mixed in and served in tin foil takeaway containers.

I can still vividly recall the giddy joy of discovering unimaginably exotic and flavoursome black bean sauce when I lobbed into Wellington for a stay of several years in the early ’80s.

The Chan family later, long after I had split, opened a more formal Chinese restaurant across the road, but in that they were actually late on the scene.

There were places such as the Nanking Cafe around for yonks, but they never featured for our family.

Only later, in teenage years in which beer became a factor, did such eateries enter my picture – and it wasn’t for Chinese food!

No, these places always had an alternate, Western menu to which me and my mates gravitated.

Steak and chips, for sure, with an entree of thinly sliced sandwich bread, buttered, folded in half and doused with worcestershire sauce.

I suspect in smaller towns around New Zealand and Australia it remains possible even today to order steak and chips from the local Chinese.

Dunedin did have quite a lively scene of old-school non-espresso coffee houses.

I recall many visits to one in particular with mother and sister.

It was on the main drag, downstairs and cave-like.

It was called the Little Hut and served up delicious cheese rolls. Using the same bread as the Chinese joints, they’d stuff it with really cheesy cheese, roll it up, grill/toast it, slather it with butter. Very good they were!

More special occasions were spent getting on the trough at an upstairs place, also on the main drag, called the Savoy. Of course, we had no idea just how unoriginal the name was. My recollection is of food no better or less stodgy than what we had at home.

And then there were the mighty pie carts!

From what I’ve been able to discover there may be a few survivors of this phenomena in New Zealand and maybe even Australia, but mostly I suspect franchise places with late-night hours have done for them.

Even smaller towns such as Alexandra had their own pie carts.

I’d love to know more about pie carts, which were overwhelmingly converted buses, although I’m sure there were variations.

When did they start and why? Were pie carts ever a staple of countries other than Australia and New Zealand?

I suspect their beginnings and prosperity may have had something to do with the notorious six o’clock swill and the need for commercial travellers and single men to find cheap feeds somehow.

Pie carts may’ve sold such exotica as burgers or fish and chips, but what they ALWAYS sold was pea, pie ‘n’ pud – a pie topped with mashed spuds and mushy peas.

What happened next?

KFC and then McDonalds hit town.

Kenny and then his sister, Judith, left.

One of these days Bennie and I will return to Dunedin just for the momentous fun of it.

From what I can tell it’s pretty cool place, but where once there was a pie cart or two now there will Subway outlets.

Some things are universal.

Yoyo’s Milkbar

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48 Monash St, Sunshine. Phone: 9311 4382

Nothing, or very little, is quite as it seem at Yoyo’s Milkbar.

For starters, based on the window signage and that on the back of the owner’s wheels parked out front, I am expecting the joint to be called Kiwi Stop.

It’s not so.

I’m also expecting, to some extent at least and based on the same signage which includes the term “mutton bird sold here”, the owner to be a Kiwi, perhaps of Maori heritage, and like myself a long-time resident of Australia.

One look at the friendly demeanour of Mr Yoyo and my mind whispers “Mediterranean”.

And so it turns out to be.

It’s been until now a Saturday morning of pleasurable routine – early cricket game in Port Melbourne, stocking up the house with goodies from Sunshine Fresh Food Market.

A stop at Ambe Spices for red beans and frozen momo from Fusion Cafe & Mo:Mo Bar.

We’ve driven past Yoyo’s countless times coming to and fro from Sunshine, but this is the first time I’ve crossed the threshold.

I’m glad I do so, as I receive the same sort of smiling welcome I received during a similarly impromptu visit, to Pace Biscuits and Leo Pace.

Greek-born Peter – Mr Yoyo – is utterly and smilingly unfazed when I state my intention to ask a bunch pesky questions and take photographs.

“Pull up a seat,” he says in a most welcoming fashion.

Peter is a veteran confectionery man who has been working from these premises for five years, his previous Sunshine joint these days operating as his packing and distribution centre for sweets and treats bound for other retailers.

He’s not only not a Kiwi, but the Godzone part of this particular shop is just part of what he’s got going on, a facet of the business he introduced about five years ago in order to keep a wide level diversity going.

As he says: “Milkbars are dying out!”

It started when he visited Queensland to see his sister, who perhaps not so coincidentally has a Kiwi husband. He bought some boxes of Pinky bars home, they went good and he’s been at it ever since.

It’s not at all unusual to see New Zealand confectionery lines around Melbourne, at the likes of Snowballs, for example.

Nevertheless, I spy some familiar shapes and names from childhood that I can’t recall seeing before in my long-adopted home city and others now easily and widely had …

Into the latter category fall Whitaker’s Peanut Slabs, which in my long ago childhood were sold on milkbar counters unwrapped but still taste pretty good today – even if they seem a whole lot smaller.

“Everything’s smaller,” quips Peter.

I lay eyes on other familiar favourites – pineapple lumps, spearmint leaves, scooping a bag of the latter to take home.

Sour feijoas? Now that’s something new to me. I scoop up a bag of them, too, excited about discovering if they really do taste of the heady perfumed flavour of real feijoas.

Being raised in the deep south of the South Island many centuries ago – with all the social, cultural and foodie conservatism that went with it –  all I’d ever heard about muttonbirds was that they were “too oily, too greasy, too salty”, part of the country’s heritage that I never even came close to sampling.

Likewise, the only method I ever heard of for cooking them was boiling.

However, Peter tells me the mostly New Zealand customers who buy muttonbirds from him – two for $25 – not only boil them, but use them also for hangi purposes and even make pies with the birds.

This is some crazy stuff – a Greek-born sweets man filling me in on some of the more arcane details of my own Kiwi food heritage!

At home, it’s a pleasure to discover that while my feijoa lollies are tart rather than outright sour they do indeed taste of feijoas!

Peter and daughter Angelique.

GRAM Magazine – a Good Thing

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It was never the intention that Consider The Sauce should generate income – well, not directly anyway.

But certainly it was and is part of a broader strategy to re-invent myself after a long and wearing-and-tearing tenure in the hurly burly of metropolitan newspapers.

Happily, there have been numerous and unexpected benefits.

The pleasure and smiles that greet us when returning to little migrant eateries about whom we have written.

The quiet satisfaction of giving one in the eye for those who continue bang on about “illegals” and so on.

The profound and enhancing affect our blog has had on relationship between father and son.

Through it all, I have been keeping a keen eye out for opportunities for myself and Consider The Sauce beyond the blog being merely a glorified business card.

As I became more and more familiar with the food blogging scene, it became clear that certain things just weren’t going to work for us.

Our current blogging platform precludes the use of adverts and so on, but from what I’ve been able to learn the income they generate – for food bloggers anyway – is so miniscule that they’re barely worth the bother.

Add to that the certain fact that they compromise blogs so drastically and awfully on a visual and aesthetic level, and it’s a firm case of No Thanks!

Likewise for giveaways and paid posts, in which bloggers are paid for writing posts about products or services.

I have been approached by a handful of PR companies spruiking products or inviting me to product launches and the like. One of the invites actually appealed, but I couldn’t fit it into my dance card.

As for the rest, it’s impossible not to dismiss as spam epistles that start with immortal words such as: “We are contacting you because we know you are an influential blogger …”

Yes, well, ahem, excuse me while I ROTFLMAO.

I have no moral objection to these and many other related practices.

I’m a life-long career newspaperman with long involvement in the entertainment industry under my belt, so am well acquainted with doing deals and the art of compromise.

It’s just in the case of blogs, food blogging, food bloggers and Melbourne food bloggers in particular, bloggers are being had.

Read about it at the Deep Dish Dreams posts Food Bloggers as Marketing Puppets Part 1. Evolution and Food Bloggers as Marketing Puppets Part 2. Marketing Tricks and Psychology.

I may well have a price, but if so it is a bloody long way short of being mentioned to this point.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to stick to our version of the high road while looking for ways to leverage our blog in ways that keep our self-esteem and integrity intact.

A restaurant dude said to me a few weeks back: “Kenny, you should understand – people trust your blog.”

Put that up against piffling Nuffnang dollars and PR-fuelled hackery and it’s no contest.

In any case, I was intrigued when – last year – I received an email from an outfit called StudioCea announcing a new monthly Melbourne foodie magazine called GRAM.

It’s aim was to “collate” the work of Melbourne bloggers, supply links back to the blogs of origin and get A3 newsprint copies around the city. Part of the deal involved barcodes to scan with mobile devices linking punters to the blogs involved.

I was fascinated – perhaps here was something that could be an opportunity for me as both blogger and journalist.

Long before the first issue hit the streets, I engaged Roberto and Merita from StudioCea in email and, eventually, face-to-face dialogue.

I liked them, I had some fun with it.

Right from the start, though, I warned them that one of the fundamentals of their approach – paraphrasing blogger posts and then providing links – was doomed to failure.

Unlike others, I believed them in terms of sincerity. The magazine publishing game is tough and I knew enough to believe that the full-page ads in the first few issues were falling way short of making them big bucks or even covering costs. 

I predicted, though, that many bloggers would see those same ads and scream: “RIP-OFF!”

Not a good look either, was GRAM’s decision to let individual bloggers opt out rather than opt in to a relationship with the magazine. Thus a blogger could find his or her work rewritten and used online at the magazine’s website and the hard copy without permission being granted.

All perfectly legal, but hardly the way to make friends with the food blogger community.

And so it turned out to be.

While I went about my business with Consider The Sauce and elsewhere, GRAM became a big talking point, a brouhaha with which I only recently became familiar.

Read about it in this news story at Crikey and feisty posts and comments at Tomato and Sarah Cooks.

After a few issues, the GRAM crew changed tack.

Henceforth, they would use entire bloggers posts and at least some of the photos involved.

Bloggers would be paid.

While the magazine continues to evolve – it’s up to issue number 9 under new ownership – the change in the ongoing relationship with Melbourne’s bloggers created an immediate and substantial improvement in the product.

While inevitably fewer bloggers are being used in each issue, the varied personalities of the bloggers selected for each issue are allowed to breath and shine.

As such, IMHO, it goes pretty close to mirroring the diverse, argumentative and colourful Melbourne food blogging scene.

As Roberto was happy to concede in an email to me, after I suggested the enforced change of structure was very much a blessing: “You are right – I (and others) do think it’s an improvement. It’s funny how these things turn out for the better hey?”

If my own experience is anything to go by, management old and new have adopted a very much hands-off approach to meddling with copy.

What’s that?

“Well, of course, he would say all that, wouldn’t he?!”

It’s true Consider The Sauce has been included three times in GRAM so far. It’s true I’ve been paid at rates that, from what I can gather, are more than fair when compared to, say, The Age’s Cheap Eats Guide or even Gourmet Traveller.

It’s true, too, that recent editions have included several of the Melbourne food blogs I admire and follow – while including none of those I detest!

Nevertheless, it seems to my admittedly biased eye that in a rapidly changing media landscape that affects the dynamics of the hospitality industry as much anything else, GRAM is playing a pretty nifty role in merging the passions of food bloggers with old-school publishing.

GRAM is now owned and operated by Prime Creative, which publishes such foodie titles as BeanScene and Italianicious, and a number of others magazines as well.

Prime Creative management and new editor Danielle Gullaci are letting their new baby continue to operate very much along the same lines as before, despite GRAM being very different from their other mastheads in terms of paper quality, size, distribution, readership and relationship with contributors.

This is both a good and a bad thing.

There’s always room for improvement, but GRAM seems to be striking a good balance at the moment.

On the other hand, GRAM’s distribution continues to be restricted to Melbourne’s CBD and hyper-inner-city suburbs such as Carlton.

I guess for some, GRAM and anything like it will always be anathema just on principle, and others may struggle to ever forgive the publication for those early mis-steps and clumsiness.

I’ve long maintained that the likes of The Age’s Cheap Eats Guide and its bigger and more formal and more big bucks sister are well out of date by the time the new editions hit the street each year.

A fellow blogger was more strident when commenting to me recently: “Mate, they’re out of date even before that!”

In that sort of context – of sweeping change and uncertainty – GRAM may not represent the future but it strikes me as a pretty fine present.

eat.drink.picnic … food bloggers gather

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Edinburgh Gardens, North Fitzroy

The first Consider The Sauce post was hoisted into the public eye on August 23, 2010, but in some ways a more significant event was attendance at the Food Bloggers’ Melbourne ‘Mad Hatter’ Spring Picnic in Studley Park in early October the same year.

It was there that I first met some of the cool and kooky customers who constitute a fairly decent chuck of the Melbourne food blogger community.

Since then, and more than 160 posts later, Consider The Sauce and the dad-and-son team at its helm have grown and evolved.

Through trial and error and the frequent visiting of, and dropping of comments on, many other blogs we’ve found what kind of endeavour we wants ours to be – what we want to do, what we don’t want to do and perhaps even areas to be explored that other bloggers have not touched upon.

In that time, too, quite a few other blogs have started up, so we no longer feel so much the new boys on the block – less prep and more, say, grade 2!

In any case, just a tick over a year later it is a pleasure to rock up to another blogger picnic to see what’s cooking.

Really, though, the points of comparison between the two events are hard to find.

As far as I can tell, I am the only attendee at both picnics.

This is a much smaller and more cosy event, but no less enjoyable for that.

The food accent is firmly vegan/vegetarian.

Apart from my own courgette fritters, straight out of Claudia Roden’s Arabesque,  there’s a variety of dips and salads, as well as two kinds of intensely chocolatey fudge/brownie concoctions that become more and more like chocolate sauce as the heat and sun take their toll.

I’m grateful to Claire from Melbourne Gastronome  for providing a nice bag of tiger and king prawns, aioli and even a bottle of water, the cleaning of hands for.

I enjoy long raves with Kristy-Lee from In The Mood For Noddles, Ed from Tomato and Cindy from Where’s The Beef – swapping notes, talking shop, gossiping.

Three of my first abodes in Melbourne were in Fitzroy, but it’s been a long time since I had any ongoing relationship with the neighbourhood – consequently the unfolding scene in Edinburgh Gardens is a lovely surprise.

A beaut spring/early summer day and there’s people picnicking everywhere.

I stop for a yarn with Alex and James and their nutty dog Oscar after opining that their spread – a mixture of home-prepared and Coles deli counter – looks just as flash and tasty as anything the food bloggers over yonder have mustered up.

On the other side of the rotunda from where we are ensconced the Village Festival is taking place. It looks like a very fine, low-key and grass-roots celebration involving all sorts of theatrical performances and music.

As our afternoon picnic winds down, much entertainment and fascination is had in the observation of several swarthy fellows well met and their broadsword antics.

Coming across as a sort of cross between a geeky Lord Of The Rings and a medieval Star Wars, they apparently have their own FB page and rock up every couple of weeks to defend the honour of king, country, whatever.

As bloggers start dispersing, talk is made regarding an autumn picnic. Yes!

Walking back to my car, I pass a large picnic group that has its own acoustic bass/electric guitar jazz duo performing for it.

How hip is that?

Kristy Lee’s wrap on the bash is here. Green Gourmet Giraffe wrap is here.

Galli Winery and Restaurant

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1507 Melton Hwy, Plumpton. Phone: 9747 1433

Galli Winery was noted down and placed high on the hit list during the course of a pleasant/pheasant visit to its next door neighbour, Gamekeepers Secret Country Inn.

Never ever, though, did I expect to visiting the winery so soon, let alone with the fabulous company of my oldest and dearest friend, Penny, who is in town for a week from Wellington.

We are so busy doing the catch-up thing that we fly along the Calder Highway and many kilometres past the turn-off to the Melton Highway before we realise we are effectively lost.

My stubborn opposition to ever retracing my steps comes into full play as we negotiate a series of country roads, some of them bumpy, some of them gravel and one of them a dead end, taking in an incredible view of the distant Melbourne CBD along the way..

Nevertheless we have a hoot of a time before eventually getting there, thanks to a reliable sense of direction and lot of finger jabbing at the Melway.

A 1.30pm lunch it is!

The winery dining room is fabulous. Though nothing much more than a glorified barn, it presents as a very pleasing, tranquil and sophisticated space.

Galli Winery has a variety of menus that can be checked out here.

Garlic and chilli fried olives with fetta and bread ($13.50) – frankly this is pretty ordinary, although after our adventures we’re hungry to go.

The olives are warm and good, though too oily and too garlicky; we can see the chillis, but they don’t seem to be embraced by the dish as a whole.

Penny uses the term “supermarket” to describe the fetta cheese – and she’s right.

The herbed cubes are edible and dull.

The best thing about the platter is the crunchy and moreish pitta bread, on which we are still nibbling when we are presented with our main fare.

Penny describes her caesar salad with “cajun spiced chicken” ($13.90) in terms barely approaching lukewarm. She’s certainly had better – she finds it all a bit tired.

The main protagonist of my meatloaf special ($13.90) is fine – tasty, tender, well-seasoned, all with a dark, rich onion gravy.

They’re badly let down by the supporting cast, though.

The potato wedges are sad and the “sour cream dipping sauce” sitting atop them seems nothing more than plain old sour cream. Dreadful is a word that comes to mind.

The breadcrumb-topped tomato is like something from a childhood nightmare and the sprig of broccoli is so close to raw it’s not worth quibbling over.

Our cafe lattes are just a touch north of good.

Galli Winery is a fabulous venue we’ll surely visit again, so pleasurable is it to pursue a western suburbs version of “get out of town” with such ease.

The largely indifferent nature of our food did absolutely nothing to spoil our afternoon, but I wonder if we may have fared better by taking “a horses for courses” approach and ordering a $30+ steak each.

However, reading between the lines of the various menus it seems likely even those would have come with the same vegetables and wedges, so that’s a worry right there.

No arguments, though, with the linen napkins, ice water and $53 price tag.

This warmly recommended destination comes with an “order with care” proviso from us.

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