Yes! It IS Afghan kebabs for Footscray!

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The fit-out at 241 Barkly Street, Footscray, is coming along – and there’s a menu up!

The fluorescent lights constituted a photographic nightmare when I stuck my nose in, but you can get the drift …

As you can see, Footscray really is soon to get its first Afghani eating house.

I note with excitement the presence of not only skewered meats but also …

… pulaos, including one with red beans and another with lamb shanks and broad beans, and …

… also the marvellous Afghani dumplings callled mantoo.

Oh boy!

 

 

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ASRC catering rocks!

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Consider The Sauce is at a family reunion in Northcote.

Actually, it’s more like a combined reunion and 30th, with not just family members but also friends and colleagues of birthday girl Nicole in attendance.

I fit into none of those categories but am being made to feel very welcome nonetheless.

It’s also a fancy dress event – and I have done my bit in that regard by turning up in full-blown ageing hippie regalia.

That’s a bald-faced lie, of course, in that ageing hippie is how I always dress!

And the food?

Oh, yes, that is very fine indeed.

 

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A few weeks before, I had received an email from Nicole.

She’s big fan of Consider The Sauce, is especially digging the recent community-based stories and could I suggest place along those lines to cater for her party?

I fired off suggestions she ignored completely – instead opting for the catering arm of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

That’s great, said I, I’ve been thinking of doing a story about them so let me know how it goes!

In fact … and thinking on my metaphorical feet … why don’t you let me blog your party, and then between us both we can give ASRC catering some well-deserved exposure?

To my delight, Nicole eagerly ran with the whole idea.

When I expressed my appreciation, Nicole said:

“It might be marginally preposterous, but if it helps the ASRC, then I’m all for it!  And anyone who knows me will not be at all surprised at this – you have to take interesting opportunities when they arise!”

Obviously, she’s my kinda gal!

 

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So it was that I spent an hour or so with ASRC sous chef Natasha in the Brunswick kitchen.

(As most readers probably know, the Melbourne base of the ASRC is these days in Footscray, but the catering wing will not be making that move until early in 2015.)

Small world department – Natahsa is a Werribee resident who previously worked at Cornershop in Yarraville and has also worked with Jess of Pod @ P.I.D.

But she really, really likes her ASRC gig, which she has had for a couple of years.

It’s mostly minus the crazy hours of restaurant work and she gets a great deal of satisfaction from working with and helping train asylum seekers from many parts of the world.

In this way, the catering business helps people rebuild their lives and is a source of income for ASRC itself.

 

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The food is all vegetarian – this not only avoids any cultural or religious issues with the asylum seekers but is also increasingly seen as an asset and selling point.

Nicole’s party is at the smaller end of the sorts of events ASRC caters, which include weddings and anniversaries and corporate awards ceremonies.

Finger food is the most popular option and plain, no-frills the most common form of delivery, though that can range right up to delivery accompanied by full service and staff

Nicole has chosen two dishes from the ASRC catering “lunch box options” – caramalised onion polenta baked in a rich tomato herb sauce, roasted mushrooms and mozzarella; and chick pea and vegetable coconut curry served with jasmine rice.

 

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Other menu selections that caught my eye include …

Baya kyaw – Burmese split pea fritters, served with sweet chilli.

Dal kachori – a spicy snack popular throughout India and Pakistan. Golden
fried bread filled with spiced dal (black gram) and served with raita.

Akaree – a typical snack eaten throughout Africa, black eyed bean fritters with onion, chilli and ginger, fried to perfection with a red capsicum and peanut sauce.

Fattoush – fresh cucumber, tomato, cos lettuce, feta cheese, and olives, tossed in lemon, garlic and olive oil topped with crispy sumac pita croutons.

Sudanese curry – a delicious stew of cannellini beans, tomato, eggplant and potatoes. Seasoned with cumin, cardamom and cinnamon, and served with our homemade yellow spice bread.

Tandoori vegetables – chunky, seasonal vegetables and paneer marinated in yoghurt and spice and roasted to perfection. Served with basmati rice.

ASRC cater can also provide beverages, including beer and wine.

For more information about ASRC catering go here, and for a full and extensive menu go here.

 

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Natasha and I make the brief journey from Brunswick to Nicole’s Northcote joint to find the party already in full swing.

Nicole grins when she tells me that she has evolved a simple way of avoiding any misgivings the assembled guests may have about the vegetarian fare she is offering them – she is simply not going to tell them.

She’s going to feed them instead – and it works a treat!

I really like the chick pea curry, which is packed with a variety of vegetables and has a rich gravy not unlike that of a massaman curry.

The trick there is the use of coconut milk – something I’ll be sure to try next time a cook with chick peas. It’s a nice alternative to the usual tomatoes/onions/spices combo.

There’s more food here, mind you, than just the fine ASRC offerings – there’s birthday cake, a tardis full of lollies and more.

Thanks to Nicole and her extended family for making me feel so welcome and to Simone and Natasha at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre for helping make this story happen.

 

 

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Salad oooh! on Barkly Street

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Pod @ Post Industrial Design, 638 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 0400 193 038

It’s taken Consider The Sauce a while to get around to writing about Pod, a preview story aside and a newsy item on the kitchen’s gallery of vintage Melbourne menus.

Truth is, since it opened, Pod has become one of our regular stops.

Most often for always excellent coffee.

Sometimes for a sweet treat, as well – including a preposterously orgasmic choc cake Bennie and I shared a few months back.

More substantial Pod fare has been had less often, but today is definitely the right time for lunch.

Saturday, early spring gloriousness, the staff not run off their feet and a jazz combo doing their best Sonny Rollins in the window.

 

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I don’t have to make myself right at home because it already has that sort of feel about it.

I know not about the breakfast line-up here, but when it comes to lunches – and this has been noted elsewhere – the lovely food Jess is sending out from the kitchen is beautiful and delicious but decidedly not of the cafe heartiness variety.

But while the serves seem far from gargantuan, the quality is unmistakable – besides, it’s a light lunch I’m after.

 

 

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My warm salad of roasted seasonal vegetables is perfect in every way.

The superb potato, red onion, carrot, fennel and beetroot speak in magic tongues with the parsley, plentiful pine nuts and goats cheese.

Wow!

Worth every cent of the $16.50 I have paid for it.

There’s some very cool symbiosis going on between Pod and P.I.D.

The latter’s Mary tells me that in terms of buzz and customers, the results are most definitely greater than the sum of two parts.

I have reproduced below the current breakfast and lunch menus, but Fiona tells me they’ll be changing in a few weeks.

My $3.50 cafe latte, too, is perfect.

 

Pod @ Post Industrial Design on Urbanspoon

 

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Tong – opening Friday

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Tong Food & Wine, 13a Ballarat Street, Yarraville

As a follow-up to our recent Yarraville eats goss story, Consider The Sauce is happy to report the following …

Tong Food & Wine, inhabiting the Ballarat Street premises the formerly housed The Bank, will be open for business from tomorrow night (Friday, August 29).

Co-proprietor Ben gave CTS the scoop on the classy fit-out (above) and the compact and very interesting – and affordably  priced – menu (below).

 

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Tong – as it will most certainly become known – will be open for lunch and dinner from Tuesdays through to Sundays.

From 3pm to 6pm food offerings will be of the bar snack variety.

 

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The old bank vault is the office!

Very Well Bread

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Well Bread Festival, Barry Road Community Centre, Lalor; Sunday, August 24

“Go north, young man, go north …”

These were the words of wisdom proffered by my Star Weekly colleague Helen a few weeks back.

Her point being that while Consider The Sauce is up to its neck in western suburbs food, it may as well occasionally turn its attention, enjoyably and profitably, to what is happening in Melbourne’s north and north-west.

She’s right … indeed, that process and mind-shift has already started, as detailed in this celebration of the ring road, my current employ in Airport West and a marvellous visit to Meadow Heights.

Whole new vistas of of people and their food – easily accessed.

Wonderful!

Thus it is that I find myself exiting on Elgars Road, turning left on to Barry Road and parking at the Barry Road Community Centre for the City of Whittlesea’s Well Bread Festival.

While I’m busy getting a handle on the slightly different dynamics and demographics of Melbourne’s north, there is no mistaking the vibe, the people, the whole deal of the festival as I enter the hall – it’s all very, very familiar in the best possible way.

Having been unsure of just how the festival will unfold, I am thrilled to discover – via the day’s running sheet – just how full-on and intensely bready it will be:

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And so begins a thoroughly enjoyable, enlightening and delicious day.

To take in the colourful bread wisdom and lore of so many diverse part of the world in a single sitting is a superb experience.

 

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First up is Luba, who makes a Macedonian bread called lep.

 

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Grace cooks Ghanaian meat pies, here being handed around by her pal Esther.

They’re buttery rich, a bit like a meat pastie and, according to Grace, a legacy of colonisation.

 

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Then it’s Esther’s turn … to prepare beignets de mais (corn doughnuts) from Cameroon.

She’s an entertaining hoot!

Also including banana, the beignets are starkly different to the beignets of New Orleans with which I am familiar.

These are chewy nuggets that Esther serves with a red bean stew.

 

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The stew looks dodgy to me – positively ugly, in fact.

But, oh boy, it tastes marvellous.

Just another example of ugly food tasting great, I tell Esther and her friends afterwards amid much laughter.

 

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Salma, with help from son Ahmad, prepares chewy Iraqi flatbread.

 

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The big star here is the family’s wonderful home-made tandoor oven that blazes away right there in the hall!

 

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Then it’s time for lunch …

 

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… which consists of Turkish bread with yogurt/cucumber dip, cheese and spinach gozleme and a tangy vegetable soup.

It’s all excellent.

 

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Zahra prepares noon shirmal, a plain sweetbread from Iran.

 

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Then it’s the turn of Whittlesea councillor Kris Pavlidis and daughter Zoe and their spanikopita.

 

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Ali Fael’s contribution is nan barbari (Turkish flatbread), which …

 

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… is served with fresh mint and salty fetta cheese.

 

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Finally, it’s the turn of Deepali and her tawa parathas.

Despite having eaten countless parathas and chapatis in my life, I’ve never really understood the difference between the two.

Now I do!

The former are folded many times – sometimes with the inclusion of, say, potato or cauliflower. The latter are simply rolled and pan-fried.

 

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What a great day it’s been.

Much kudos to MC James Liotta and council staff Caitlin, Helen and Julie.

Despite the packed schedule and numerous unpredictable variables, it’s all run like clockwork – and on schedule!

 

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Guest post by Sumeyya

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Sumeyya is my friend and fellow bloger and journalist.

I love it that she has written a guest post for Consider The Sauce!

Check out her blog here.

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We’re ravenous on the morning of Eid – no surprises there – and I’d like to attribute it to the sizzling meat, the baklava syrup simmering on the stove, the moist borek in the oven and the stuffed vine leaves patiently waiting on a plate to be devoured.

It hasn’t been too long since Eid Al-Fitr came knocking, but Eid Al-Adha (the celebration of sacrifice) is around the corner.

More food, more meat, more sweets and more celebrations await Muslims.

At 6am on Saturday, October 4, a smell (one I long for throughout the year) will linger throughout my room and the house.

A few moans and a few groans later, I will make my way to the kitchen to watch my mum stirring a pot of yayla corbasi while juggling all the other conventions of a Turkish breakfast – tomatoes, eggs, jams, cucumbers, cheese, olives, simit, which will adorn our breakfast table that will host my immediate and extended family.

When Kenny asked me to do a guest post, I thought: “I’m Muslim; Eid is the most important celebration in our calendar; and it includes food.”

However, inadvertently, I went on a cathartic journey and realised Eid is much more than food and celebrating – it is a spiritual journey we take to strengthen ties and assist the poor.

And then it hits me – food is the glue that binds people.

Whether it be a religious, celebratory or personal reason, food is what brings us together – Eid (and the food) brings my extended family (who practically live at my house anyway) onto our breakfast table; it brings friends we haven’t seen in months to share the food we’ve prepared; and it brings millions of people across the world, who otherwise don’t have access to sufficient food, onto a sofra with meat.

Food is much more than sustenance and Eid Al-Adha is much more than a reason to indulge in carnivorous behaviour – it’s a reason we help and a reason poverty-stricken villages can indulge in the bounties of Eid.

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yayla corbasi = yogurt soup

simit = circular bread

sofra = dinner table

Food truck weather

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Big Cook Litle Cook. Phone: 0450 395 344

Food truck.

I reckon there’s ground for considering that phrase as a food style.

You know … Vietnamese, Ethiopian, fish ‘n’ chips, burgers, Indo-Chinese, pizza, food truck.

Like that.

Take, for instance, my rather nice Saturday lunch from a new arrival in the ranks of  Yarraville Gardens truck squadron … Big Cook Little Cook.

 

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Big Cook’s Classic has tandoori chicken pieces, rice, hummus, Big Cook’s salad and roti.

It’s a good feed and I’ve been more than happy to pay $12 for it.

The chicken has good tandoori flavour, the hummus is fresh-as, the roti hot and flaky.

And there’s nothing at all incongruous about various elements of my meal deriving from various parts of the planet.

But it does seem like a food truck meal!

 

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Same goes for my friend’s Smoky Chilli Jam Chicken, also costing $12, with its sticky Indo-Chinese vibe.

I get talking to Conan, the offspring part of the father-and-son duo of Big Cook Little Cook, the name of which was chosen to give them flexibility in terms of not being tied down to a single style of food.

Conan and Raymond are much-travelled and passionate about what they are doing.

Conan asks me what I think about the pricing of the food trucks in general.

The prices of the regular Yarraville truck gang actually seem remarkably consistent.

 

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I tell him I’m sure the trucks are setting their prices very scientifically and where they must – any cheaper and they’d not be in business.

Our $12 meals have been fairly priced.

But the truth is a fully satisfying truck meal of main, a little something extra for, say, $5 or so plus a drink can run to about $20.

Many people, I suspect, compare that with the plethora of nearby regular eatery options that are cheaper and also involve tables and table service.

Still, as the several hundred folks out and about and busily trucking on what feels like the first day of spring attest, the food trucks have certainly found a place in the collective heart of the inner west.

It’s a happy scene indeed!

 

Big Cook Little Cook on Urbanspoon

 

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