How CTS finds food

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Musing on how Woven’s Facebook page had a direct bearing on my choice of Sunday lunch spot has got me thinking about the various and varied methods Consider The Sauce utilises to find cool places to chow down at and write about.

Those methods have become more numerous and, dare I say it, more sophisticated since CTS set sail.

When pondering such things, it’s instinctive for me to immediately wonder how and why our friends and readers do likewise.

The truth is – an amazing truth it still often seems to me – is that for many that means reading CTS!

 

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JUST DRIVING AROUND

This is our default, bedrock method for finding new eats places – and is simply a lot of fun!

Food-spotting adventures can range from driving to or from school or work (in Hoppers Crossing and Keilor West respectively) through to places noted on the way to or from a specific restaurant or food precinct, or just simply aimless tooling around.

Like all locals, including very much our readers, we keep a keen eye out for developments on all the main thoroughfares – Anderson, Ballarat, Gamon, Charles, Victoria, Barkly, Hopkins, Hampshire, Alfrieda, Pier, Racecourse and so on.

But beyond doing that, Bennie has gone from resigned acceptance to enthusiasm about his father’s keenness for avoiding retracing our steps, taking a left turn or right turn when straightahead is the obvious way home, and for checking out even the smallest and most humble neighbourhood retail precincts.

We find new places to try doing all of the above, and also these days find material for the ongoing series of “eats goss” posts that have become a CTS feature this year.

For sure, there will be a heap more of them in 2015.

 

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MAINSTREAM MEDIA

Early on in the CTS piece, I commented upon being “scooped” by The Age.

Since then?

I can’t recall a single instance of the likes of The Age or the Herald Sun or any other organ of the MSM enlightening us in any way in terms of western suburbs food.

Both Melbourne major newspapers do include western suburbs food in their coverage, but that coverage is hardly consistent and often seems tokenistic.

That’s OK – they have their own readership imperatives to address in what is a very tough game.

If anything, it seems more likely these days that western suburbs businesses will get the sort of exposure offered by The Age or the Herald Sun after CTS or one of the several other blogs who cover the western suburbs have already started the ball rolling.

These days, the western suburbs are serviced by only two suburban community newspaper groups – Leader and Star Weekly.

We generally don’t get Leader delivered and I work for Star Weekly.

In either case, the food content – be it editorial, advertorial or even advertising – is minimal.

Where Star Weekly – and, thanks to my sub-editorial role there, I am across the content of not just the Maribyrnong-Hobsons Bay edition but of the entire group – really helps CTS is through stories and “community calendar” inclusions concerning wonderful community events such as this bread jamboree in Lalor.

This is a very fabulous thing!

 

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NICHE MEDIA

As both food blogger and media junkie, I keep an eye on outfits such as Urbanlist and Broadsheet.

Truth is, though, they seem even more constrained by dedication to inner-city trendiness than the major newspapers.

So … no.

 

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TIPS BY READERS, FRIENDS AND FELLOW TRAVELLERS

These are right up there with “just driving around” when it comes determining CTS content!

They can take the form of comments on blog posts.

They can be in the form of suggestions on the CTS Facebook page, private FB or Twitter messages or emails – or even the result of face-to-face encounters.

In all cases, we love them to pieces.

I’ve long been in the habit of chasing down such tips and rumours with alacrity – not because I feel obligated but because I really, really enjoy doing so.

In this way, CTS often seems – wonderfully – to be not simply a matter of a blog and its readers but more like a collective adventure!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

 

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OTHER BLOGGERS

Yes.

I habitually follow a dozen or so Melbourne blogs and bloggers I admire most and do get post ideas from them.

 

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URBANSPOON

It’s no secret this international food/restaurant site has its faults and many detractors, but for CTS it is an invaluable resource.

We use it not just by scanning the recent blogger and “diner” reviews but by checking out – several times a week – the “recently added” listings for the “western suburbs” and “inner west”.

Often there’s little to catch our eye – but sometimes there most definitely is.

 

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SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook can seem creepy and has its faults, but it’s a core aspect of the CTS operation.

For starters, as covered here, many readers digest posts on the blog itself but choose to interact with us via the CTS FB page – and that’s fine!

More to the point of this story, CTS “likes” and keeps on “liking” an ever-broadening collection of western suburbs food businesses, community groups and individuals – invaluable and enlightening!

As well, Facebook ads come in handy.

Really!

For instance, it was through my FB activity that FB chose to display an ad for a beaut Avondale Heights bakery that resulted in this post.

And through “liking” that business, I found out about this fantastic Williamstown pizza place!

I remain largely indifferent to Twitter, but continue to post story links there for those readers who rely on that for keeping up to date with CTS.

As for the rest – Yelp, Reddit, Instagram, Stumbleupon, Pinterest and the like – it all remains a mystery!

 

TELEVISION

Hahahaha.

Hobsons Bay council … you know, whatever

10 Comments

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To:

Hobsons Bay City Council,

GPO Box 425,

Melbourne Vic 3001

From:

Kenny Weir

Re Infringement notice 3068314

1/12/14

Hi there!

My name is Kenny and I am a western suburbs food blogger.

My blog’s name is considerthesauce.net.

It is concerned almost exclusively with the food culture of Melbourne’s western suburbs.

Not only does Consider The Sauce write about a wide variety of restaurants, cafes and retail outlets spread across the western suburbs, it also takes great delight and satisfaction from covering and supporting many community initiatives and festivals.

It was for that reason that I spent some time in Laverton on Thursday, November 6, when I copped the above infringement notice.

My only reasons for visiting Laverton that day was to visit Saffron Kitchen at Laverton Community Hub and do a story on it for Consider The Sauce.

The resultant story can be seen here:

http://considerthesauce.net/2014/11/06/mother-noras-new-adventure/

Given that Saffron Kitchen is a community initiative in Hobsons Bay – indeed, is one supported by Hobsons Bay City Council – I hope that in my case some leniency may be offered and that this parking infringement penalty be waived.

Cheers,

Kenny Weir, Consider The Sauce

 

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Interruption

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Earlier this year, I read a statement by a famous American food blogger that went something along the lines of: “No way I’m going to put a post up on my blog every day!”

I know how she feels … sort of.

In the first few years of CTS, a post a week was the go.

In the past couple of years, it’s a rare thing if I don’t publish at least three or four.

There’s been no particular, ambitious gameplan about that.

It’s just become part of my routine – a bit like breathing, really.

Some of it comes down to  chemistry.

No matter how tired, depressed, anxious or otherwise uptight I am, once I start editing, cropping and uploading photographs, set the post up and write that first paragraph, it’s like shots of adrenalin and serotonin boogie through my system.

Sets me up for the day ahead, that does!

The fact that people – no matter how few or how many – are interested in reading what I write has seemed like some sort of righteous magic, a miracle even, ever since I started banging out words in my mid-teens.

Well, that hectic CTS pace is about to change – but hopefully only for a short while!

Within a few hours, I will be having surgery that I’m told will take at least three hours and as many as six.

Remarkably, and all going well, I should be home not too many hours after that!

But things will be a bit, um, strange for a while.

There’ll be stitches to heal and I’ll have a catheter feeding into a bag strapped to one of my legs.

So driving and anything strenuous will be out for a couple of weeks.

I won’t be housebound exactly, but food adventures are likely to be thin on the ground – though wonderful pals have made it clear they’re keen to bring good stuff to me.

One thing I am looking forward to is the wrap-up of the CTS highlights for 2015.

Given the circumstances, I’m planning on making that longer, more self-indulgent, nuttier and – hopefully, maybe – even more interesting than usual.

I’ve disabled comments on this post so those who have already expressed their love, goodwill and support don’t feel obliged to do so again.

I’ll be back phishing for comments, feedback and interesting dialogue in a flash! :)

Sayonara, Samsung

3 Comments

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My mobile phone saga – first reported upon here – has finally, belatedly and perhaps even happily come to end.

I can laugh about it now but at the time these somewhat crazed events unfolded, humour was hard to find.

So my very expensive, very big Samsung phone went of to be fixed, being returned to me on schedule a week later … with the same fault.

So off my very expensive, very big Samsung went again to Sydney … to be assessed.

At this point, I was demanding a full refund or a new phone.

Over the course of a week, I spoke to many Samsung employees.

I suspect they were speaking to me from various different parts of the globe.

I didn’t ask.

All of them sympathised with my plight.

Several were plainly embarrassed.

A couple frankly suggested I take the matter to a third party, such as Consumer Affairs.

The Samsung employee who runs the company’s social media in Australia, including its Facebook page, suggested to me by email they were prepared to offer a free repair job on my phone.

My very expensive, very big Samsung phone THAT WAS STILL UNDER WARRANTY!

Hahahahaha.

What was plain during all this was that while all the Samsung people with whom I spoke were sympathetic and quite happy to roll out multiple apologies, not a single one of them was able to do a thing to help me in any meaningful way.

Yes, embarrassing.

Finally, my phone found its way to a Samsung department known as VOC.

It was with some disgust but no surprise that I learned that VOC is an acronym that stands for “Voice Of The Customer”.

How’s that for Orwellian?

Finally my case ended up on the desk of a bloke named Benn, who was first Samsung employee able to, um, expedite matters.

He was a good operator and will also be the last Samsung employee with whom I ever have to deal.

Even then, I was required to provide proof of purchase (I refused, saying the Highpoint shop could do that even if it added a couple of days to settlement) and also fill out forms and email them to Benn.

Finally, today, a bank cheque for the full refund amount arrived in the mail.

In the meantime, several weeks before this denouement, I had given up and bought a brand new phone.

It’s a Motorola – not as slick or sophisticated as its predecessor, but it does everything I need.

Best part – it cost $270!

So thanks to Rosemary for a great tip!

Random thoughts

22 Comments

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The post about my prostate cancer diagnosis was written and saved for several weeks before it was eventually published.

No harm done – but it was a mistake.

Whatever the reasons for my prevarication, when I eventually clicked on the “publish” button, the relief was immediate and substantial.

The responses from friends and readers – often they’re both! – was truly moving.

But beyond that, the act of writing and blogging and telling my story through Consider The Sauce has long been a big part of what makes this blog tick.

And – duh! – doing all of those thing should and will be important in helping me deal with the challenges of the now and the challenges ahead.

Of course, starting and then persevering with a blog or website is an act of outing, of making oneself a public figure.

But there are countless degrees of how much and how far individual bloggers are prepared or comfortable to go.

I hope we haven’t overdone the “selfie” aspect of blogging.

Nevertheless, I am entirely comfortable with how CTS has become – on top of everything else – a sort-of family album for Bennie and myself.

Earlier this year, while attending a media event involving other bloggers and journalists of various kinds, I was rather brusquely instructed by another Melbourne food blogger: “No photos!”

Fair enough; it was a request with which I was happy to comply.

Once a blogger steps out beyond strictly online realms, the ability to retain such control and oversight lessens.

In the early days of the CTS Feasts – when the food was free, numbers were restricted and applications were by email – I could have vetted the applicants and discarded anyone with whom I was uncomfortable.

No that I ever did!

These days, the Feasts are commercial enterprises or – in the case of fund-raisers – effectively so.

There may be some way of vetoing applicants through the trybooking website.

But again, I’ve never felt the need to discover if that is the case.

I count myself lucky that I’ve had only a couple of readers who have wished to leave comments I was not prepared to have published.

In those cases, a bit of email argy bargy ensued but that was as far as it went.

Long may such a profound absence of ill-will and trolling continue!

Since its earliest days, CTS has patiently, slowly built up a significant base of email subscribers and Facebook “likes”.

I don’t take such commitments by readers lightly – in fact, I treasure them immensely!

So when, as inevitably happens, people choose to pull the plug – so to speak – on CTS, it hurts.

No that there’s ever massed unsubscribings or anything like that.

It’s more a matter of four or five steps forward then one step backwards.

And I understand.

Like everyone else, I regularly find myself “unsubscribing” or “unliking” blogs or pages that no longer serve my purposes.

But one thing I have noticed is this:

The number of email subscribers or Facebook “likes” regularly takes a small dip when I post about something like a community festival.

Or post a think piece or rumination about – oh, I don’t know – paid parking in Yarraville or mobile phone hassles.

So I understand why people expecting a Melbourne food blog to concern itself only with reviews of restaurants and cafes do, sometimes, eventually say “seeya later, CTS!”

I hope the many for whom CTS is a “keeper” come what may will be happy to know those departures will never, ever alter the CTS approach.

It’s taken me a long time to learn that the raw numbers data provided by WordPress – daily, weekly, monthly, yearly tallies of page views and visitors – tells only part of the story.

Likewise with the comments that I love so much and to which I so avidly reply.

For starters, no doubt many of my email subscribers choose to read new posts as emails without clicking through to CTS itself, thus not showing up on the WordPress stats.

And just because readers choose not to comment doesn’t mean they are not engaging with – and moved by – CTS in their own way.

I love them anyway!

Can anyone guess the famed late-night Melbourne diner at which the photo at top was taken? Hint: It’s not in the west!

Who wants to join the Greater Footscray Liberation Front?

8 Comments

bound3

 

The recent post about Buckley Street – a walking tour thereof and commentary upon – drew many comments.

It also unloosened much curiosity and speculation about the Footscray, Middle Footscray, West Footscray, Tottenham, Seddon and Yarraville – and the seemingly flexible borders that separate them.

So this a follow-up post.

I am specially indebted to the sleuthing of CTS pal Juz.

I figure there’s folks around who may have a much more soli handle on this than I – perhaps at the Footscray Historical Society.

But I get a kick out of looking at this stuff anyway.

I hope you do, too!

****

Wow!

The above map from 1870 – trackled down at the State Library – is of what is now Yarraville.

It talks of “very desirable” allotments in Stephen and Sussex streets – in Footscray South!

According to the wikipedia entry on Seddon, “The Original State Bank of Victoria in Charles Street, Seddon used to stamp its Bank Account passbooks as Footscray South Vic”.

However, wikipedia also maintains that “Seddon Post Office opened on 29 September 1908 and closed in 1976. Seddon West Post Office opened in 1924 and remains open”.

 

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The State Bank’s annual report from 1982 lists a Footscray South branch.

At Australian Surname Geneaology, there is reference to labourer Jack Rodney Lane living at 8 Hamilton Street, Footscray South in 1954.

Hamilton Street is, of course, part of modern day Seddon.

 

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On the other hand, in 1955 a Cadbury’s milk bar had struck a deal (above) with signwriting company Lewis & Skinner to “clean off and repaint” the shop’s pelmet. Thanks to Melissa for this one!

This family history site twice lists Pilgrim Street as being in Footscray South.

A final question: Will the headline of this post find the electronic gaze of the spooks focusing on Consider The Sauce?

I kinda hope so.

After all, spies gotta eat as well!

Footscray’s bleakest street?

18 Comments

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It’s a well-known if rarely utilised fact that you’ll always see more walking somewhere than by driving – or even pedaling.

So it is that I park and check out Buckley Street on foot for the first time in at least a decade.

Buckley between Nicholson and Victoria has remaining vestiges of earlier times, decades and uses.

But there’s a reason why it’s such an inhospitable stretch of street, and why there is little or no street life, and why the very little retail or business activity is heavily weighted towards tradies and the like.

That reason is traffic – lots and lots of traffic.

And lots of trucks.

The reason, in turn, for that is that this stretch of Buckley is a gateway, in one direction, to Sunshine, Geelong and Williamstown.

And in the other direction, it’s a gateway to Footscray Road and, less directly, Dynon Road.

All that traffic, and all those people in hurry, makes the intersection of Buckley and Victoria (above) one of the most accident-prone we know of.

Barely a week passes that we don’t see the aftermath of prangs, mostly caused we presume by cars and trucks barreling towards Melbourne having unpleasant interaction with those heading in the other direction and turning right into Victoria to go under the railway line.

Be careful here, folks!

But let’s go for a wander, hey? Down one side of Buckley and up the other?

 

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On the Seddon corner at Victoria, what was for a long time a Vietnamese pool hall is undergoing refurbishment that will see it reopened as a “convenience store”.

 

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The application posted in the window doesn’t generate much optimism that this will be good stuff for Consider The Sauce and its readers!

 

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A little further along, what seems like it was almost certainly a service station many decades ago is now home to West Suburban Taxis.

 

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It was unveiled as such by the then premier in 1995.

Heck, there must have been an election in the wind!

 

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Then comes a block or so of double-storey terrace houses, some done out nicely, some looking rather tatty.

I wonder who lives here.

 

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The business activity among these older properties ranges from electrical …

 

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… to the spiritual.

 

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Moving a bit further towards the CBD and we come across one of the very few newer structures on the street – a block of apartments.

 

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The empty, large block right next door could become home of even more apartments – if a buyer is ever found.

 

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From there, and before we cross Buckley and head back the other way, there’s a bus depot … and then the university.

 

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OK, heading back the way we came, but this time taking in the other side of the road …

The Belgravia Hotel is no more.

And nor is its colourful array of, um, “entertainment”.

This too is destined to be a site for apartments – and going by the sign, those plans do not include use of the existing structures.

 

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Next door, what was once the home of the Hot Shot pool hall and coffee emporium is uninhabited. We never made it in for a game or a taste.

 

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Moving past Paint Spot and across Albert Street …

 

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… what once housed an arts supplies outfit is now home to a recruitment agency …

 

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… while the arts supplies outfit itself has moved a few doors away to a more utilitarian property.

 

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Now we’re moving into spaces and places with which Bennie and I definitely have a shared history.

I once bought him a paint set at West Art Supplies.

And we spent a lot of time at the swimming pool.

It was nothing like the gleaming edifices to be found at Kensignton or Highpoint – rough concrete floors were all the go.

Rough, clammy concrete floors … but the place had a water slide and we liked it.

I presumed this property, too, had fallen into disuse – but I spot a pair of slippers through the frosted windows so walk around the side.

Surprise!

The whole place, including ancillary buildings, is now a Salvos aged-care establishment.

 

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The brick building next door, once home to child-care activities, is these days used by a handful of community service groups.

 

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And one of the rooms is, on the afternoon of my ambulatory inspection, being used for a grungy metal gig!

 

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Moving right along …

What was once a florist/garden/homewares business morphed at some stage, and briefly, into all of the above plus coffee and rudimentary eats.

And now it’s nothing at all.

 

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Next in line is another surprise – what was once a display home, now fallen into ruins and dereliction, has another, older house – also a complete wreck – behind it.

 

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The once-was-a-display-home still has floor plans with “sold” stickers on them!

 

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The cheap meat place is these days called More Meat.

We once shopped there quite regularly, and I know people who still do so.

 

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Moving closer to Victoria, there’s a Japanese bookshop with residence behind … which is right next door to …

 

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… a Chinese medicine place, which is right next door to …

 

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… another shopfront with, rather mysteriously, no signage and matting in the entire window space.

 

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Finally, right on the corner of Buckley and Victoria is the purveyor of all things canvas that seems to have been right there forever.

So is this stretch of Buckley … Footscray? Seddon? Both?

According to Google maps, it is both.

But I have a friend, a decades-long resident of Charles Street, who maintains the Buckley-as-boundary concept is a scam fostered by real estate agents eager to see more properties included in Seddon with a view to higher prices.

According to him, Charles Street was – and still is, in his opinion – the boundary between Footscray and Seddon.