Finally trying the local F&C

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Under The Sea Fish & Chips, 49 Anderson Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9687 6912

Consider The Sauce has long held a preference for fish and chip joints that offer more than paper-wrapped bundles.

We like our F&C and accoutrements fresh-as and eaten at restaurant-provided seating – even if it is of the most rudimentary kind.

We like it, too, when proper cutlery and crockery are part of the deal.

So we’ve never gotten around to trying our very popular local fish and chippery.

But with Bennie being a happy fish eater these days, he’s several times recent in months declared his preparedness to troop around the corner and bring our dinner home.

So off he goes … and back he comes with a meal I find OK in some regards but disappointing in others.

Low expectations met?

Yes.

 

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The chips are hot but on the dull side for me.

Ordering instructions had been for a small so naturally the medium Bennie gets is excess to our requirements.

The calamari rings are of the reconstituted surimi variety, so are automatically graded “OK”.

Fish of the day is blue grenadier and it’s real good.

What’s more, we receive three generously sized pieces instead of two, so we eat really well.

But the batter of one of them is stuck to the paper and is only messily removed.

It’s been good fare, especially as the whole lot cost something under $20.

But I won’t be in a hurry to return.

 

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And with dinner?

Bickford’s, of course.

We go through at least a bottle of this stuff a week – lemon or lemon barley now that the bitter lemon variety seems permanently unavailable.

But tonight at the IGA we spied a new flavour – apple and cinnamon.

I detect only the faintest of spice undertones but Bennie reckons it’s the best of the lot.

 

Under the Sea on Urbanspoon

CTS in 2014 – what we dug

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The following is by no means a full accounting of Consider The Sauce’s memorable moments for 2014 – and any absence is not meant as a slight.

Onwards, and in no particular order …

 

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THE CTS FEASTS

How amazing that the Feasts have become an institution!

Happy events were held in 2014 at Pho House, Indian Palette, La Morenita (twice! See here and here), Vicolo, Xiang Yang Cheng and Phat Milk.

Thanks to everyone involved!

 

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KILLER OLIVES

These superb, crunchy green olives marinated using lemon rind are from Altona Fresh in Altona.

Even Bennie likes them!

 

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THE CTS FUNDRAISERS

Two events were held – at Kokeb to raise money for Eritrean Australian Humanitarian Aid and at the Plough to raise money for Welcome West Wagon.

This is a new area for us – one we hope to pursue further in 2015.

Truth is, I’m still getting my head around the particular requirements involved.

If anyone runs a community-minded restaurant – or knows someone who does – who might interested in hosting such a fundraiser, please let me know!

 

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ROAD TRIP TO TRENTHAM, MIND BLOWN

The Trentham Food Hub’s Growers, Cookers & Eaters bash was a wonderful event featuring superb produce excellently cooked that was enjoyed by a lovely crowd.

CTS is looking forward to attending the 2015 event with a passel of friends!

 

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RICKSHAW RUN

It was incredible and thrilling.

Bennie and I did our volunteer thing with many others, including many friends, saddling up for the almost the entire weekend.

We are hoping to have the opportunity to do it all again.

 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EDUARDO!

Many thanks to the Urban Ma and her extended family for allowing me the honour and joy of participating in a very special Pinoy celebration.

 

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EBI DEGUSTATION

Just for a night, our favourite F&C-cum-Japanese joint went swisho and very special.

I am very glad I was there.

 

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MING’S BEETROOT RELISH

I would’ve been quite happy to publish here the recipe for this amazing beetroot relish made by our friend Ming.

But she tells us she hasn’t quite nailed down the final, perfect recipe yet.

Whatever – the batch she kindly gave us was delicious, sweet and fragrantly spicy.

 

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LEBANESE HEAVEN

After twice visiting and writing about A1 Bakery in Essendon – see here and here – CTS returned with a handful of likeminded pals just for the sheer pleasure of it.

We agreed on a fee and basically let A1 proprietor Gaby decide what we would eat.

It was amazing! It was a momentous meal!

We earnestly suggest you forget about the association of the A1 brand with Lebanese pies and pizzas and explore instead the superb range of home-style Lebanese cooking on hand.

As this was a non-blogging gathering, it went unrecorded in a photographic sense – except for the coffee!

 

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COMA COOKIES

Ginger-coated sugar cookies baked by CTS pal Christine.

So plain, so very sweet, so dreamily amazing.

 

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ACE BBQ

By now, CTS has tried quite a few of the places around Melbourne that are serving BBQ.

Fancy Hank’s remains the best we’ve had.

Quite apart from the superb quality of the meats ‘n’ sides, we love the no-frills roll-up-your-sleeves vibe of the place.

 

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FRIDAY CURRY RUN

Yet another big tick for the beaut Sri Lankan tucker enjoyed by Star Weekly fans and provided by Sevandi and the crew at Spicy Corner?

Why not?!

 

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ORPHAN’S CHRISTMAS

Thanks to Josh, Eliza, Nat, Nicole, Poppy and Ollie for sharing their day with us!

 

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DODGING A BULLET

The troubled times that led me to have a check-up proved to have no physical downside – but my doc spotted something else amiss, so sent me off to a urologist.

In quick time, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and the amazing team at Royal Melbourne whipped that sucker out.

Had events not unfolded as they did, in all likelihood – in every probability, in fact – I may have gone undiagnosed until it was too late.

Whew!

Happily, despite the major nature of the surgery, I spent only two nights in hospital – meaning I was able to avoid almost entirely having any truck with the hospital food!

 

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2015?

More CTS Feasts.

Hopefully, more CTS fundraising events.

Bennie and I are in the preliminary stages of brainstorming questions for a Super Dooper CTS Quiz – and hopefully there’ll be a bunch of really good prizes to be had!

And, no doubt, there will be a whole lot more in 2015!

The Heights of baking excellence

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impasto3
Impasto Forno Antico, 157 Military Road, Avondale Heights. Phone: 9331 1111

Here’s a quirk of the western suburbs …

It’s possible for a resident of Sunshine North to stand on one side of the Maribyrnong River and hold a conversation with a friend or neighbour standing on the other side in Avondale Heights – without either of them having to raise their voices.

But if one of them wants to drive to the other’s home, well the quickest route is pretty much via Highpoint!

Avondale Heights seems sort of stranded.

It’s bisected by its only main road, the arterial thoroughfare known as Military Road.

I’m told much of the suburb’s population derives from post-war immigration of the Italian variety.

 

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Certainly, at one of Military Road’s shopping precincts there is an emporium of things most excellently Italian.

Recently, this bakery being on one of my routes to work, I picked up a panini for in-office lunch purposes that was a $7.50 just right – fresh roll filled on the spot with mortadella, roasted capsicum and artichoke.

Yum!

Today, I go the strictly sweet route.

 

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The pear and almond tart ($4.50) and a slice ($3) that is a full-on flat version of a Christmas-style mince pie are wonderful and classy – and a lot more filling than they appear at first blush.

I rather wish I’d gone for one of the lighter things – such as the cannoli.

My $3.50 cafe latte is excellent.

Before my sugary lunch I’d felt all spruced up and looking good after a superb “hot-towel shave” and mo’ trim thanks to Matt at Matt’s Men’s Room.

Excellent, professional and friendly, he did me this fine service for a charge of $15.

How good is that?

 

Impasto Forno Antico on Urbanspoon

 

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New Indian joint in WeFo

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Amrutha Authentic Indian Cuisine, 552 Barkly Street,West Footscray. Phone: 9913 3794

Team Consider The Sauce tonight numbers four for the purposes of checking out the newest addition to West Footscray’s line-up of Indian restaurants.

As the restaurant was being put together behind papered windows, two of us had wondered if the new place would specialise in some way to provide it a point of difference from its many competitors.

The answer is – no.

Amrutha’s menu is long a covers all the expected bases.

Go to the joint’s website here for a looking at the full list, including prices.

 

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The place has scrubbed up a treat – quite a lot of money has been spent.

And the main room is a good deal larger than we were expecting to be the case given the hair salon it replaces.

The furniture and fittings are pure Franco Cozzo.

We admire with interest the breakfast list, which includes all your dosas and a lot more.

But we go a la carte from the body of the menu.

Among our choices are a couple of Indo-Chinese selections …

 

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Gobi manchurian ($7.99) and …

 

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… chicken 65 ($8.99) are enjoyable but wet where we have been expecting dry.

 

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My eyes invariably light up whenever I see a menu that features eggplant, so eggplant curry ($10.99) has been ordered at my instigation.

Again, our expectations come into play – maybe unfairly.

The menu does mention a “rich cashew nut and special sauce”, but this seems to me more of an unbearably creamy spread with eggplant flavour.

It’s something I’d be happy spreading on toast.

But otherwise?

Nah.

 

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Moving right along, we start to get into things more hearty and flavoursome of the kind we have been seeking.

Lamb Madras ($11.99) is very nice, its rich gravy hiding lots of fine meat chunks.

 

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Chicken chettinad ($12.99) is likewise very good, with its gravy of “yogurt sauce with crushed black peppercorn, herbs and spices”.

 

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Palak paneer ($9.99) is a doozy, its silky cheese pieces swimming in a wonderfully almost-smoky gravy.

Another high point for us are the $1.99 naan that avoid photographic scrutiny – sorry!

These are super, and appear to have been made – as one of my tablemates points out –  using “wholemeal flour with all the bran removed”.

The result is like a cross between a regular naan and a roti.

We’ve enjoyed our meal but are left wondering about the wisdom of our choosing, what sort of wonders Amrutha has hiding in its menu – and whether the more snacky or one-person dishes may be the go here.

So I sneak back a few nights later for an early dinner by myself – biryani.

 

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My default choice of chicken is unavailable, so I’m happy to go with the lamb ($11.99).

Even though the lamb almost always used in biryanis – you’ll see it in the markets labelled as “lamb curry” – is often more bone than meat.

No such problem here – the plentiful meat comes easily from the bones and is flavoursome and surprisingly tender.

The rice is somewhat darker than usual, and the fried onions are more than a garnish here – there’s lots of them and they’re fully integrated into the rice.

The biryani picture is completed by a fine gravy that is salty and peanutty and a raita chunky with cubed carrot.

My biryani is very good and fully up there with those available elsewhere in Footscray.

Maybe for me next time the chole bhature ($11.99).

Or perhaps the puri ($8.99), which – according to the in-house printed menu – are served thali-style with a handful of small accompanying bowls of goodness.

 

Amrutha on Urbanspoon

 

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Our fave taverna

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oil21
Olive Oil & Butter, 196 Somerville Rd, Kingsville. Phone: 9315 1060

Olive Oil And Butter has become a “regular” for us.

We love that it’s doing its own thing away from the cafe culture of both Yarraville and Seddon.

The geography also means parking is never a hassle.

The coffee is reliably very good.

We love the syrupy sweet treats such as baklava, the custardy galaktoboureko and the more austere biscotti-style of paksimadia and koulouraki.

 

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But it is the plain cake-iness of the semolina revani that we have cone to love most – at first because it goes home in better nick but eventually just because it so good.

Especially when its syrupy richness is cut with a big dollop of high-class organic yogurt.

 

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We take the spanakopita and its meaty cohort the kreatopita home often, too.

These cost what seems a rather hefty $8.50.

But one look, feel, smell or taste of the incredible quality of the pastry involved soon dispels such misguided views.

 

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For in-house savoury treats, best bet is the tight blackboard list of rustic Greek dishes – just the sort of thing you might find at a roadside taverna.

Horiatiki salad with loukaniko (sausages) is a treat for $16.50 (top photo).

The serve is significantly more generous than the picture suggests.

Best of all, there are multiple discs of superb, sweet, tangy, smoky sausage.

The grilled, seasoned Greek-style pita bread – perhaps from this place? – does good mopping up the juices and a rather miserly serve of a nicely spicy pepper dip.

See earlier story here.

 

Olive Oil & Butter on Urbanspoon

Actually, better than A1

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a1ess21
 A1 Bakery, 18 Napier Street, Essendon. Phone: 9375 7734

After an initial visit – covered here – Consider The Sauce has been eager for a return adventure at A1 in Essendon.

Primarily to partake of one of the more unusual and intriguing options among the more substantial meal platters they offer – samke hara, which features “three flathead tails baked in a spicy tahini sauce”.

Today, it being that time of year when my very good mate Penny is making her annual visit to Melbourne from Wellington, is the day.

Truth is, on previous visits Penny and I have had some really fine face-to-face catch-ups – we talk by phone at least once a fortnight about everything under the sun – but rarely have we enjoyed a really fabulous meal.

I put the blame for that squarely on my own shoulders in the category of “trying too hard”.

Anyway, we rectify that today – and in spectacular fashion.

As it turns out, the samke hara is unavailable.

So boss man Gabby offers to put together for me (and Penny!) a combo set of shish tawook (chicken) and kafta skewers with all the bits and pieces.

The above spread costs us $24; not pictured are an extra salad and a basket containing plenty of zaatar, olives and a couple each of small rice-stuffed peppers and puff-style kibbeh.

The single-meat deals are priced at $14.50, so I’m not sure our price accurately reflects what it would cost to buy all items involved separately.

And Gaby is perfectly aware there’s a blogger in the house …

But add another $10 or even $20 and it would STILL be a bargain.

I know there’s a handful of places around town that do Lebanese food in more formal settings (and at significantly higher prices), but I find it extremely difficult to imagine their food could be any finer.

As I once said of another Lebanese establishment, in the world of Consider The Sauce, this is as good as food gets – at any price.

As our meal arrives at our table, our day gets even better …

 

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Placing bowls full of wonderful before us, Gaby sighs as he says: “This is when I miss being in Lebanon – all the small dishes!”

Then he introduces us to his mum, Sandra, she being responsible for much of the food we are about to inhale.

And, I’m sure, almost all its heart and soul!

For CTS – which has been known on occasion to mutter, “We revere cooks but chefs don’t impress us that much!” – this is akin to meeting royalty!

Everything we eat rocks our world …

Stuffed vine leaves with a lemony tang and rice still displaying a nice, nutty al dente feel.

Fresh, luscious dips, with the ultra-smoky eggplant number a taste sensation.

Tabouli and fattoush, fresh and zingy.

Two kinds of splendidly crunchy and salty green olives.

And the meat skewers – served at room temperature, juicy, tender, packed with flavour and having the killer chargrilled tang in abundance.

All of the above, of course, can have only one outcome – yes, some time early in the new year and all going as planned, A1 Essendon and Consider The Sauce will co-host the first CTS Feast for 2015.

 

A1 Bakery Essendon on Urbanspoon

 

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A Good Thing for Buckley Street

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The retail premises that kicked off the CTS story about Buckley Street is, it turns out, destined for a more interesting and welcome future than the “convenience store” mentioned on the planning application led us to believe.

Thanks to CTS reader Zoe for providing this link to the website/magazine Food Service News.

According to the story, the Buckley Street shop is to become a Melbourne sibling for the Marrickville establishment known as Cornersmith.

Like the Sydney store/cafe, Rhubarb Wholefoods will be a “wholefoods store and vegetarian cafe”.

And an important element of the way Rhubarb operates will involve customers swapping their homegrown vegetables, fruit and more for cafe products.

A bartering business for the west – how cool is that?

Follow the progress of Rhubarb Wholefoods by “liking” their Facebook page.