Ace cake, minestrone

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Kensington Market, Kensington Town Hall, 30-34 Bellair Street.

From the street, Kensington Market doesn’t appear as if it amounts to much – a handful of stalls, a couple of which doing food: Gozleme, corn, snags.

Once along a hallway and into Kensington Town Hall proper an entirely different picture emerges.

 

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The hall is chockers with a quite diverse range of “maker” goodies – clothing, crafts of many sorts, jam, artwork and much more.

Even better, an adjacent room has a whole of lot of food stuff going on.

There’s nothing too elaborate, mind you – no sit-down meals or the like.

But there’s more than enough for me make myself at home for an hour or so, eat well and meet some lovely folks.

One crew, manning the in-house kitchen, is doing things such as toasties and egg and bacon rolls at extremely low prices.

 

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From them I procure minestrone for a silly cheap $4.

OK, it’s a smallish serve in a polystyrene cup – but gosh it’s the real deal and very good!

 

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I enjoy making friends with Von and her pal Ocea.

Von makes her living cooking for kids so her Von’s Vegan Bake House operation is a weekend thing.

Her range of sweet, baked things is impressive and enticing.

 

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I have a slice of one of her cakes with my coffee.

It seems like a modestly proportioned piece for $6 but this ain’t no airy fairy sponge – it has real heft and is delicious.

 

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From Von I also secure some cookies – don’t they look amazing?

(I find out at home that they indeed are …)

 

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Right next door, I meet Simone and Sam who are here representing St Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church, also of Kensington, and raising money to help feed the homeless.

 

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From them I get – also for taking home – some luscious-looking rice pud!

Even better, they tell me that in a few weeks their church will be holding its annual fete, at which there will be all sorts of Egyptian food on offer.

Unless unforeseen factors intrude, CTS will be there – I can just about taste it already!

The next Kensington Market will be on Sunday, August 16.

Check out the market’s website here and Facebook page here.

I can understand the allure of food festivals.

But every weekend somewhere near you there’s fairs and markets and fetes that do food, too.

It’s a parallel universe I prefer.

Ebi – new crew, still good

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So it’s true – John has moved on from Ebi.

I’m sure I far from alone in knowing I’ll miss his humour, geniality and hosting deftness.

But I am interested to see if time-honoured Ebi traditions are being upheld in Essex Street – and I do so via my regular order of large fish and chips.

The answer is: Yes.

The best indicator of this being the case is the presence of pickles – in this case beautifully sweet radish and gentle, soft wong bok.

The two pieces of blue grenadier are very big – if I’d known I would have a specified a smaller order.

Brendan is running the joint until the establishment’s new owner takes the rain in about a month.

He tells me he and his team is being very careful to keep the Ebi “thing” going.

So it seems that while further changes may be in the offing, in the shorter term the good ship Ebi sails onwards gaily.

See earlier story here.

 

 

CTS Feast No.12: Curry Leaves

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To book for this event, click here.

Right from our first meal at Curry Leaves in Sunshine – there have been several since – I knew this was the sort of place and the sort of people I would love to feature in a Consider The Sauce Feast.

And so CTS Feast No.12 is up and running!

Here are the details:

CTS Feast No.12: Curry Leaves,
463 Ballarat Road, Sunshine. Phone: 8528 3876.
Date: Tuesday, August 11.Time: 7pm.

Cost: $20.

Menu

Entree platter
Pan roll
Stuffed roti
Fish cutlet
Fish pattie
(The above can be made vegetarian but I will need to give the restaurant 24 hours notice.)

Gotu kola (herbal soup of greens coconut milk).

Mains – choice of one.
Biriyani
Lampraris
Roti meal
String hoppers meal
Hoppers meal
String hoppers pilau
Kottu
(All the above can be prepared as vegetarian.)

Dessert platter
Curd and honey
Wattalappam (steamed coconut custard)
Caramel pudding
Choc biscuit pudding

Bennie and I are looking forward to seeing you there!

To book for this event, click here.

(Ticket income from this event is being split 50/50 between CTS and Curry Leaves.)

Bastille Day/Small French Bar

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Small French Bar, Shop 3 154 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 8479

Stefan has his liquor licence now – so is able to proclaim happily: “I reckon we are a bar now!”

My understanding that he’ll have his delightful establishment doing dinners on Friday and Saturday nights in addition to the regular breakfast and lunch hours.

When he posts on Facebook details of a special Bastille Day dinner of three courses for $55, Consider The Sauce and friends leap at the opportunity with alacrity.

Our group ends up being of six, so we are allocated the long, tall table and the accompanying stools – about which we care not a jot.

We are very happy to be together and enjoying such a lovely meal, all agreeing that Small French Bar is a wonderful addition to Footscray, its affordable fare and homely vibe fitting right into the “food for the people” ethos that surrounds it.

 

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To start we are served a glass apiece of kir royal and amuse bouche of salmon mousse slathered on baguette and …

 

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… superbly fresh ‘n’ salty oysters.

Oh my!

 

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I confess my exposure to French cooking is extremely limited and that feuillete d’escargots a la Provençale (snails and garlic butter pastry) is my very first exposure to snails as food.

What to think?

Hmmm … not bad, nice flavour, quite chewy.

More like mushies than the oyster facsimile I’d been anticipating.

 

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I share my pastry with a dining companion who has ordered the assiette de charcuterie (cold meat plate).

Ahhh, this is more my go – very nice!

 

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Only one of group orders the non-meat main – ratatouille Nicoise a la buche de chèvre (Mediterranean vegetables stew with melted goats cheese).

He’s happy with his lot and it does look a treat … I’d certainly be happy to eat this.

But … like the rest of us, I’m pretty much ecstatic about the boeuf Bourguignon of beef and ox tail stew in red wine (top photograph).

This has us all “ooohing” and “aaahing”.

It’s fabulous, sweet, rich, hearty and perfect!

 

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Fondant au chocolat (chocolate self-saucing pudding) appears modest of portion but is more substantial than it looks, sublimely gooey and of very intense flavour.

 

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Tarts aux pommes (crunchy apple tart) rounds out the menu options.

The verdict of one who goes this route?

“Great!”

See earlier post here.

Meal of the week No.17: Prince Albert Hotel

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At about the time CTS enjoyed a lovely meal at Williamstown’s Prince Albert Hotel we became aware they were soon to join the ranks of those offering Sunday roast meals.

Of course we had to check it out!

Bennie and I subsequently turned up and went away disappointed as we’d arrived a week too early for the roast introduction.

This Sunday, though, I am even more in the mood as it’s a chilly and rain-blasted day.

The pub is warm, I pay for my roast pork plate, wait and am then blown away.

The Prince Albert is setting a new benchmark if this lunch is anything to go by.

The above costs $15 and it’s wonderful.

A handful of crisp spud chunks.

Another handful of delicious, whole roast baby carrots.

Two meaty slabs of pork with tremendous flavour, not as fall-apart tender perhaps as rare roast beef or lamb but superb eating nevertheless.

A mound on the side of fine, mustard-laced slaw.

Nice tub of jus for dipping.

Downsides?

The apple sauce is cold and the pork skin is chewy rather than crisp.

But so good is my lunch I feel churlish even mentioning them.

Wow.

See earlier story here.

Dandenong road trip

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MKS Spices’n Things, 23 Pultney Street, Dandenong. Phone: 9701 3165

Living in the west means, by definition, living away from Melbourne’s centre.

Yet by other measures the west, or the inner west at least, is very much inner city.

The greater western suburbs may be growing at a prodigious rate but they still have some way to go to match the imposing sprawl of of Melbourne’s east and south.

In fact, such a big spread is Melbourne that getting to those far flung-areas for food adventures requires planning and some significant driving.

The Maroondah Highway is our least favourite!

 

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Dandenong, I know, is packed with many sorts of foodie wonders and I wish we could explore there with more ease.

But with nothing pressing in the west, I’m more than happy to indulge in an overdue catch-up with Nat and a quickie lunch trip to Dandy.

It’s a bleak day and we don’t really explore, for instance, the Indian and Afghan precincts but it’s all good fun.

 

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For lunch we hit MKS Spices’n Things.

Says Nat: “It’s got the best ever bain marie!”

He’s not wrong!

 

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The live food aspects is just part of what is a very big supermarket operation but the area around the bain marie displays is crazy busy this Saturday.

We take our numbers and wait to put in our orders.

The range on hand for this first-time visitor is bamboozling and in the end I feel like I could’ve done better.

 

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Two parathas with goat and okra curries plus chutney costs a fine $8.45.

But all is just adequate and some of it is distinctly not hot or even warm.

The vegetable curry also has onion and capsicum but the okra pieces themselves are splendid and the highlight of my lunch.

 

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A fried chicken maryland is sticky, cold but actually quite good.

 

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Nat, for whom this not a first visit, appears to do way better with his plate of biryani, goat curry, greens and a fab-looking dal.

He cleans his plate.

Yes, all the plastic here is a drag.

But observing the place in operation, I’m pretty sure management figures it’s the only viable way for them to go with their current set-up.

 

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On the way home, we stop at the fabulous establishment known as Oasis Bakery in Murrumbeena so I can happily spend almost $100 stocking up on Lebanese pies for the freezer and much more.

 

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As Nat says, it ain’t the cheapest but for me the quality is terrific.

Sadly, it also is nutty busy, preventing us from stopping awhile for coffee and sweets.

But I do like how one of the Oasis folks at the cash register refers to me as “young man”.

 

Click to add a blog post for MKS Spices'n Things on Zomato

 

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Westie barbers No.4: Sandra

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Sandra’s Barber Shop, 312 Blackshaws Road, Altona North. Phone: 9391 8676

When Sandra was pondering a career, training in hair care was not the way it is today with apprentices learning how to “do” both and female follicles.

She had to choose.

“I thought, ‘You know what? I think I’d like to be a barber’,” she says with a big smile. “I like talking to men!”

Sandra is prepping me for an all-in buzz cut and face shave.

The price she’s quoted me is a bit rich for my blood and more cash than I have on me – but we happily settle on a payment made up of my wallet’s contents.

I’m happy with that.

As she works, Sandra gives me a rundown of her barbering career.

In the city – McKillop Street, the Southern Cross Hotel, the driveway of the Regent Hotel, a side street near the Windsor.

It’s entirely possible she cut my hair at the Southern Cross while I was working at Flinders Street.

Being an Altona girl, she eventually made her way to Altona Gate shopping centre and then to Blackshaws Road about 16 years ago.

Until now, this shopping strip on Blackshaws Road has been of little interest to CTS.

But that is unlikely to remain the case now I know there’s such a friendly barber in residence and that the old-school continental butcher a few doors along is the meat source for our fave pizza joint.

 

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