198 apartments for Barkly St, WeFo?

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wefo1

 

More than a year ago, I tried to sweet talk the proprietor of 501 Receptions in West Footscray into letting me do a story on his operation.

Specifically, I wanted to spend a Saturday night at 501 Receptions taking in the go-to-whoa of an event such as a wedding – taking in along the way the staff, the kitchen, the food, everything.

Nothing came of my idea – even after a mutual acquaintance, someone who is something of an elder statesman of western suburbs food, tried to ease the way with 501 Receptions on my behalf.

Now I find that, under plans before Maribyrnong council, the future of 50 Receptions is very much up in the air.

 

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According to a story by my Star Weekly colleague Benjamin Millar – read it here – council is considering a development proposal that would see the property home to 198 units in twin five-storey blocks plus eight retail tenancies.

I am not automatically opposed to such a development but such a plan certainly raises many questions.

The plans show carparking spaces to the tune of 201 while, according to Ben’s story, council guidelines would require a minimum of 260 spaces.

According to Ben’s story …

“A traffic assessment by engineering consultant Cardno found ‘anticipated traffic volume … is expected to have no significant impact on the surrounding road network’.”

Hmmm … I wonder what data and/or methodology they used to reach such a conclusion?

 

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As anyone knows who regularly drives on Barkly Street, West Footrscray, or on Rupert or Cross streets, which run parallel to the railways tracks, the traffic situation in the area can get quite intense even with the current housing/resident levels.

And it would seem the revamp of West Footscray station is rather timely – but are there, or should there be, limits?

I’m interested in hearing from anyone who regularly uses either West Footscray or Tottenham stations as to whether either is nearing or already at peak capacity, especially in peak hours.

And on top of Banbury Village, what would such an apartment block plan mean for the area more generally in terms of what is often referred to as “amenity”?

The Black Devil, exterior feline

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boris31

 

In the end, it happened suddenly and by accident.

Bennie and I were doing routine housework on Saturday, when I heard a despairing cry …

“Dad, dad!!! Boris has escaped!!”

Just like that, Boris became an outdoor cat.

And what a very excellent thing that has turned out to be.

Look, we tried really, really hard to adhere to the advice given by cat-lovin’ friends and readers – that keeping Boris inside was all for the best for various reasons.

But as the ramifications of his new lifestyle become apparent, it is clear the full-time indoor life was never going to be sustainable for this particular cat in this particular (small) house.

Within 24 hours of his “escape”, all ours lives had been transformed.

 

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Bennie and I have not been scratched or bitten since.

We no longer have to worry about powers cords and other electrical leads being rendered useless.

Maybe we can unfurl the blinds and drapes, as they no longer appear under threat of terminal shredding.

My paperwork is no longer being turned into confetti and maybe we can remove the layers of foam rubber from beneath the couch.

The several months it took us to get to this point since his arrival appear, however, to be serving us well.

Boris knows where home is, who are his humans and where the food is at.

He appears to mostly be respecting the four fence lines of our property.

But he is happy and very stimulated.

He’s coming running when hailed, even if that means taking some time out from his Very Important tree-climbing crusade.

 

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He is being a little on the aloof side, at least for the time being – coming inside every couple of hours to make sure everything is as should be.

His face is frequently adorned with spiderwebs and other crap from under the house.

And he has made a start on getting to know – and reach some sort of accommodation with – the numerous local cats.

When I awoke on Monday morning, there was no sign of him.

“Uh oh, he’s gone …”, I thought.

But he was waiting on the veranda when I got home from work.

Bits and pieces

4 Comments

What’s in a name?

Consider The Sauce, for instance!

The truth is, CTS was chosen – and the domain name registered – quite some time before this blog made its debut.

There was never any hesitation.

Most people, when they learn of it for the first time, are variously intrigued or appreciative.

By and large, I am very happy with my decision about my blog’s name.

It’s a little clever and classy.

By not tying me down to a specific geographical, it allows me to cross the river without fear of being trolled.

And it allows me to bang on about berets and barbers, son and surgery and a lot more.

But I do sometimes wonder how different things would be, how CTS would have evolved and how different I might be perceived as a blogger, had I chosen a name such as Western Suburbs Food Blog!

No matter – I suspect that in the long run, CTS as a moniker will be an outright winner and one of which I will always be proud.

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Don’t forget the CTS guest post competition – see details here.

As it stands, a week after announcing the competition, there have been no entries at all!

So if you can bash out a few words and/or bang off a couple of pics on your phone, and submit them to CTS, your chances of winning lunch for four at Woven cafe in Yarraville are very, very excellent!

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Our pals at La Morenita/Latin Food & Wines are holding a Feast.

This is not an official collaboration with Consider The Sauce – though yours truly will be playing a hosting role on the night.

But we are happy to endorse what we know for sure will be a great night.

Ribs? MMMmmmmm …

No trybooking set-up this time – book by phone or dropping into the Berskshire Road shop.

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Have you been following the wild and rapidly unravelling saga of “super blogger” Belle Gibson and her blog/foundation The Whole Pantry?

See the latest story here.

I confess that as a journalist, news junkie, blogger, foodie and one of the cancer afflicted, I find this to be a train wreck from which it is impossible to avert my eyes.

I know this:

Consider The Sauce has been involved in running three low-key, small-budget fundraisers – two of them last year.

In each case, and utterly regardless of my own financial situation, the idea that the money raised was somehow “mine” for a period of time never entered my head.

In each case, the money raised – minus, in the two most recent cases, a few minimal dollars in trybooking fees – was transferred to the recipient charities immediately or within a few hours or days.

I purchased tickets for all three events for Bennie and myself.

And this …

In making decisions about my own cancer treatment, I never for a moment entertained what are rather crudely labelled “alternative therapies”, although a couple of people did try to nudge me in that direction.

Like choosing Consider The Sauce as a blog name, that die has well and truly been cast and the surgeons’ scalpels have done their work.

Such decisions are fully personal, of course.

But I do seriously wonder about the harm proponents of such therapies can do – especially one who finds herself in the kind of strife Ms Gibson is now in.

Visiting Helen

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helen11

 

My colleague and pal Helen has been absent our office for a couple of weeks, so I inquire if she’d like a visitor.

I have an ulterior motive – truth is, I miss her wicked.

It feels odd to be driving the same road as took us up this way to acquire the Black Devil but, of course, Helen drives this way and that every working day.

When she is working.

I drive on past Kyneton and, after a few misturns, find the spread with the white picket fence.

My friend’s house is a big, cool thing from the 1880s.

It’s gorgeous.

 

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Bennie and I have been the lucky recipients of Helen’s generosity in recent months in the form of plums and nectarines.

But I am little prepared for the richness or depth of the goodness she has at hand on her amazing spread.

There’s … several varieties of apple, mullberries, strawberries, raspberries, a gazillion herb varieties, tomatoes and much, much more.

 

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Helen’s sister – one of them – Fiona turns up.

I am delighted to learn she also is lovely, mad and funny.

 

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Fiona has brought Middle Eastern-style salads from one of her faves, Cliftons Cafe.

Together with some backyard stuff picked from this spot and some sweet treats I’ve brung from Berkshire Road, we feast.

 

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I’d initially suggested that Helen may have been sick of being house-bound so a visit to one of the local eateries could be the go.

But this is much better – I feel privileged to partake in such a beautiful setting with such fine company.

 

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I take home a box of lovely quinces.

The two poached eggs I have for dinner are as free range and organic as eggs get.

 

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Westie barbers No.2: Aurelio

3 Comments

buzz1

 

Buzz Barbers, 547b Barkly Street, West Footscray.

The CTS story on Chris the barber at the Circle in Altona was well received, giving me the confidence and desire to occasionally profile these fascinating characters scattered across the west.

Next up – Aurelio at Buzz Barbers in West Footscray.

Aurelio gives me a superb buzz cut, a real professional job including eyebrows, for $10.

He’s been in the house for about seven years but tells me his corner shop has been home to one barbering operation or another for about 40 years.

He inherited the chairs.

He’s my kind of barber, preferring to keep his prices as low as possible with a view to encouraging return and regular customers.

 

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His place is done out in classic old-school barber style.

As he works, we have a great old chat about the western suburbs, his Italian background, Italian food and the ebbs and flows of the barbering business.

Aurelio was born in Sicily but came with his family to Australia aged two, and was raised in the Moonee Ponds/Ascot Vale area.

He comes from a family of boilermakers.

We both chuckle ruefully when I suggest there has been a long-declining demand for boilermakers in the western suburbs.

He tells me I have a nice, round head that is well suited to the clean-shaven, shiny, bald look.

“If I did that, I’d look like a crim!” he says.

“You already do!” quip I.

“I know,” comes the quick retort. “But imagine how much worse it’d look without hair!”

 

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No more pickled dork

2 Comments

butcher1

 

Bennie and I have used Buckingham Street as a back-street route home from the West Footscray, Sunshine and the likes for years and probably thousands of times.

One time, as we were stopped and waiting to turn right into Victoria Street, Bennie gazed up at the faded lettering of the windows of what used to be a butcher shop.

He struggled to make out the words …

“Pickled … pickled … dork!”

As we turned right and started heading for the underpass, I started laughing.

Then Bennie started laughing, too.

And I started laughing even more – so much so I almost had to pull the car over to let it all out.

That incident has been a running gag at CTS even since.

Somewhat sadly, the “pickled dork” is no more.

The two windows have been superbly brought back to their original glory.

It’s all part of a revamp of the two-storey brick building at 70A Victoria that will see it be auctioned on March 28.

 

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Vendor Dave gives me a rundown on the joint’s history …

He tells me the building went up in 1889.

Butcher John Cashmore signed the property over to his wife before departing to do his bit in World War I.

Upon his return, the property ownership reverted back to his name and stayed in the family until Dave bought it in 1989.

Locals who have passed by many times in the past decade or so will be aware that the corner house has had many, um, colourful tenants.

Dave’s had enough of the landlord lark so under the auctioneer’s hammer it must go!

The real estate listing for the property is here.

 

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Meeting Zomato

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Zomato international operations director Pramod Rao, CTS and Zomato Melbourne community manager Pranav Singh.

As far as I’m aware, there are three kinds of users for restaurant website Urbanspoon.

For many, it is simply somewhere to go for information about places to eat – including details such as phone numbers and opening hours, but also very much including opinions good and bad.

A second group does all of the above but also contributes what are referred to as “diner reviews”.

The third group consists of food bloggers, who stories are listed and linked on the Urbanspoon website in exchange for carrying eatery-specific Urbanspoon dinkii.

For the first named of the above groups, the recent news that the American Urbanspoon had been bought by the Indian company Zomato is probably of only passing interest, and perhaps none at all.

By contrast, for the contributors of Urbanspoon “diner reviews” – and some, such as our friends Nat Stockley and MelbourneMiss are very active indeed – and the food bloggers, the Zomato transaction is very big news.

Like many blogs, CTS derives many visitors from its relationship with Urbanspoon.

That relationship sees bloggers going unpaid for the goodwill and stature they bring to Urbanspoon but the actual work requirements are minimal – simply cutting and pasting a bit of code and making sure the paragraph or sentence that appears with the Urbanspoon link is appropriate.

Should my relationship with Zomato – once Urbanspoon is integrated into it – become any more complex, time-consuming or problematic, I’d seriously have to consider cutting my ties.

It’d be a bugger to lose all those referrals, but the truth is the number who become regular CTS readers is probably quite small – so I’d do it, no problem.

And from all I’ve read, the existing Zomato operation so far has not utilised bloggers anywhere it operates in the world.

Thus for bloggers, the questions surrounding the Zomato buy-out are many.

So I was surprised and delighted even to get an invite from Zomato’s Melbourne community manager Pranav Sigh to meet for coffee and a chat.

(I am just one of quite a few Melbourne food bloggers they are in the process of meeting …)

This in itself is a big change – my technical or procedural issues with Urbanspoon over the years have been minor and dealt with well and quickly, but always via email with Urbanspoon staff in Seattle.

So people on the ground is a whole new ball game, with Pranav – he’s a Kiwi by the way, having been educated in CTS’ home town of Dunedin – being just one of hundreds of staff being hired by Zomato around the world to manage the transition and the ongoing relationships with bloggers and other contributors.

When I meet Pranav, he has with him Zomato international operations director Pramod Rao.

We have a good frank, discussion.

I am eager to make my point main points – that food bloggers and contributors around the world are feeling a distinct level of unease, and that Zomato would be foolish indeed to discard, meddle with or downgrade in any way the contributions these many people make and the goodwill and stature they lend to their employer.

I can only take what they tell me at face value, but for the record I find them both to be smart operators who are fully aware of the issues and eager to reassure me on every question I have – and hence their pro-active approach to getting out meeting the people concerned.

So …

Branding apart, there will be little or no change in terms of Zomato’s relationship with its contributors, including bloggers.

Links with food bloggers are very much seen by Zomato as an asset.

The various leaderboards will continue, although the exact methodology for determining them has yet to finalised.

Zomato’s Melbourne staff count stands at present at nine but will rise to about 30.

Zomato’s aim is to update the details, including menus, of each and every restaurant every three months.

However, contributors will still be able to “Add Restaurant”.

To much greater extent than Urbanspoon, Zomato will be “social”.

Indeed, what Pramod shows me on his phone looks very much like a “Facebook-for-foodies” and actually very exciting.

Urbanspoon generated income – such as it has been – through the likes of Google AdSense.

Zomato, by contrast, will hopefully derive income by taking a hyper-local approach to advertising.

This throws up a whole new set of questions for me …

“What if,” I ask Pramod, “a potential Melbourne advertiser is prepared to spend big bucks with Zomato – but only with proviso that existing negative reviews be removed or altered?”

“That will never happen,” Pramod tells me.