CTS Feast No.11: The Wrap

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Photograph: MARKETA SILHAR

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CTS Feast No.11: Pizza d’Asporto, Rifle Range Shopping Centre, 71 Kororoit Creek Road. Phone: 9397 2033. Sunday, February 15.

Pizza d’Asporto serves simple, wonderfully delicious and fresh Italian food.

It does so in a casual setting with loads of warmth, friendliness and charm.

All those attributes were in abundant evidence when Consider The Sauce and a dozen or so hungry friends descended on Williamstown for the 11th CTS Feast.

 

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There was glorious antipasto, so good I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking this was the best you’d find in Melbourne, anywhere at any price.

 

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There were salads such as the insalata di rucola with rocket, pear, parmesan and rustic bread crumbs still just-right crunchy after being imbued with olive oil.

There were two pasta dishes – a fabulous pork-laden ragu and orecchiette with pork sausage and broccolini.

There were family-picked backyard tomatoes.

 

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And there were pizzas – lots of fabulous pizzas.

 

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This was a small gathering by comparison with some of the CTS Feasts of 2014.

All those in attendance had been to one or more previous celebrations – or arrived with someone who had!

 

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The exceptions were my very good pals, fellow blogger Caron and her hubby Gordon – so a big thanks to them for driving all the way from Berwick.

 

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“D’Asporto” means takeaway in Italian, and that indicates just what the original aim of this establishment was – to provide affordable, excellent Italian food for locals.

Then a bench and stools were added for the waiting comfort of customers, then more benches and more stools – and now there are even outdoor tables, at which most Feast attndees got down to their gleeful eating business.

So, you see, in some ways Pizza d’Asporto is not meant to be operating as a bona fide “restaurant” at all – but we’d not change a thing about what Claudio and Antoinetta have going here.

 

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With this story, the more formal, professional aspect of the CTS relationship with Pizza d’Asporto comes to an end – and now we’re very much looking forward to being just another couple of hungry, happy customers dropping in on friends.

Check out the Pizza d’Asporto website here.

Sweet treats courtesy of Pizza d’Asporto’s “sister” business, Impasto Forno Antico in Avondale Heights!

 

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Jamaica in Yarraville: Update

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Bax Food Co, 83 Gamon Street, Yarraville. Phone: 0402 751 108

SEE REVIEW HERE.

Since our initial story reporting the exciting news that a Jamaican restaurant is soon to open in Yarraville, Consider The Sauce has made contact with two of the three partners involved, and enjoyed some cordial conversations with Dalton and Roderick about their plans.

Unfortunately, efforts to synchronise all three partners and myself to be in the same place at the same time for a photograph were bettered by busy schedules all round.

Oh well – it’s time for an update anyway, especially as opening night is almost upon us!

Here’s the details …

The restaurant will be known as Bax Food Co and will operate out of the former home Gravy Train at 83 Gamon Street.

Opening night will be this coming Friday, February 20, on which night there will be 6pm and 8pm sittings.

Bookings can be made via roderick@bossmanfood.com.au 0402 751 108.

The “bax” part of their name comes from a casual style of eating in Jamaica whereby instead of sit-down meals, customers get a “bax” (box) full of goodies.

Bax Food Co will, of course, serve their food this way, too, though Roderick assures me some of the sides will be presented regular style on regular plates!

At the time of going to press, the menu was still being completed … but Roderick did number off several dishes that will be available:

Jerk chicken.

Oxtail stew.

Goat curry.

Salted cod.

Rice ‘n’ peas.

BBQ ribs.

Casava chips.

Spicy jerk roast corn with coconut jerk mayo.

Fish will be in the form of whole snapper, which will be the top-priced item at about $30.

The BeeeasT of Tarneit

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BeeeasT Burgers, 1 Alexandra Avenue, Tarneit. Phone: 9974 6971

It’s difficult to imagine a more whitebread upbringing than school life in particular and life in general than that experienced by CTS in the ’60s and ’70s.

There were occasional exotic influences and people – though not much in the way of exotic food – but by and large Maori people and culture in particular were something that happened in textbooks, the North Island or the All Blacks.

A later career move that found me living, and surfing, in Gisborne and, before and after, in Wellington brought a more homogenous New Zealand to my life.

Still, the Melbourne move when it came was made at least in part because of the desire not to simply slip into a Kiwi sub-culture in, say, Sydney or Brisbane.

I love my Kiwi brothers and sisters, whatever their genre, but I have no desire to be surrounded by them at the expense of all else.

But after almost 15 years in the west, there has been a change.

It started – or, rather, I started to notice it – at Bennie’s primary school, where one of his best pals was a young Maori lad.

It continued with the thoroughly Kiwi-infused vibe of the Footscray Bulldogs Rugby Union Club, for which Bennie played for a couple of seasons.

In more recent times, I have enjoyed monitoring the ups and downs of the Altona Roosters Rugby League Club, though I have yet to make it to a game.

As well, I am enjoying observing through Facebook the beaut work of Victoria Maori Wardens and their efforts to keep Maori and Islander youngsters from getting into big trouble. I will make it a point to meet them one day.

I even diary-marked a couple of Waitangi Day functions this year – one in Elsternwick, one in Altona – but sadly missed both.

Maori may not flow in my blood but it resides in my soul, and is capable of surprising me with the force and profundity with which it sometimes surfaces.

 

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All these things are but a reflection of the fact the Maori and Islander population of Melbourne’s west has increased dramatically in the past decade or so, drawn like so many of us from around the world by housing prices but also, these days, no doubt by a sense of community as well.

Honey knows all about it.

She and her family live in Point Cook, but Honey travels to Manor Lakes p-12 College for her regular gig as assistant principal.

Assistant principal of a western suburbs school of 1800 or so kids?

Oh yes, she knows very well the changing face of the west in general and its Maori/Islander face in particular.

Incredibly, Honey has another job – she is a co-owner and co-proprietor of BeeeasT Burgers in Tarneit.

And the BeeasT itself, which shares a small business precinct with the likes of branches of Briyani House and International Foods, is testament to the growing Maori/Islander community in the west.

The business has been up and running since November yet in that time it has amassed a staggering 9000-plus Facebook likes.

 

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So it is with an easy smile that I front up for a chat and a feed.

In truth, aside from sweet potato chips on the menu (see below) and L&P in the fridge, there’s nowt that is particularly Kiwi about the fare here.

But there is no mistaking the nature of the management or the joint’s customers.

Many of the burgers listed are more complex and grandiose than fit my immediate needs, so I go for the Fair Dinkum ($10) – minus the pineapple.

All Beeeast burgers come with chips.

Those chips appear a tad nondescript but are really excellent and hot.

Similarly, my burger looks modest but goes down a treat.

It’s like a cross between an Aussie-style corner store burger and Grill’d, mostly because the very good patty has a real beefiness about it.

 

Beeeast Burgers on Urbanspoon

 

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Bangladesh in Footscray

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Rizq Bangladeshi Cuisine, 68-82 Hopkins Street, Footscray. Phone: 0433 150 060

Rizq proprietor Abu maintains his restaurant is the only “authentic” Bangladeshi eatery in Australia.

I know of at least two that make claims to serving at least some Bangladeshi food but I reckon Abu is right.

I base this conclusion on the Rizq menu (see below).

There’s halim, a biryani and a “polao” – but those aside, the list is studded with dishes we’ve neither heard of nor seen before.

Of course, when you’re talking much rice and pulses and so on, what eventually arrives at our table is far from outlandishly different but still … we love the points of difference.

Rizq resides in the premises that formerly housed Indi Hots.

It’s a bare bones set-up but the our food is brought to us beautifully presented in earthenware bowls and our plates are similarly colourful and sturdy.

We love Abu’s keenness to explain the ins and outs of Bangladeshi food.

 

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I usually go the fizzy route when it comes to spicy food, salty lassi maybe, mango lassie never!

So borhani ($3) delights.

To the yogurt base are added fresh mint and coriander, salt, a little sugar and enough of some kind of chilli to cause a nice, smooth heat burn in the back of my throat.

 

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The name in this case may be fuchka ($5) but the dish is recognisably the same as pani puri or gol gappe.

The chick pea mix is a bit more of a mash than we’ve found in Indian versions but the real star here is the tangy, tamarind-based sauce.

 

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Buna khichuri ($14.50) is familiar from the similar, Indian khichdi we’ve made at home.

I love the mix of rice and lentils.

The many bits of mutton found within the rice are on the bone but the meat is sweet and comes from away easily enough.

 

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Mazbaan mangsho ($12.50 is, as far as we can tell, a beef curry along the lines of a beef vindaoloo but without the vinegary sourness.

The bones are few and the meat is delicious.

My friends love it to pieces but this dish is a reminder to me that I’m not overly fond of mustard oil, the flavour of which is quite strong.

The two flaky parathas are excellent.

 

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Mutton “old Dhakaiya style katchi biryani” ($14.50) is a typically complex and spicy biryani and just fine.

There’s no raita or gravy as per most versions served in West Footscray and elsewhere, but there are potato bits, which makes a nice change.

 

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Morog polao ($13.50) is the only chicken dish on the menu and we like it a lot.

It’s quite a contrast to the biryani – the seasoning is a lot more subtle and Abu tells us the dish is finished with ghee.

That seems to be more of a flavour enhancer than anything, as the dish is far from super-rich or oily.

The chicken component amounts to a single, substantial maryland that looks drab, tastes wonderful.

This dish strikes us, somewhat, as Bangladeshi version of Malaysian chicken rice!

Due to the preponderance of rice dishes on the menu, we suspect Rizq may not be a frequent regular for us.

But for a change from the Indian offerings we regularly sup on in the inner west, it does us fine.

Check out the Rizq Facebook page here.

 

Rizq Bangladeshi Cousine on Urbanspoon

 

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An American Sandwich Bar

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Mason Dixon American Sandwich Bar, 480 Collins Street, Melbourne. Phone: 8610 6316

Up this end of Collins Street, as well as there being some good lunch action going on in various laneways, there are also several swish food courts, all of which offer something interesting and good.

Mason Dixon is tucked into one of them.

They’ve been operating, IIRC, since about Christmas times and, by all accounts I’ve laid eyes on, are going gangbusters.

I’m keen to check out their sangers in the company the Urban Ma, Jacqui, and her hubby, Wes.

By the time Jacqui and I locate the joint following much confusion and consultation of device maps, the crowd is substantial – but Wes has been doing patient queue duty so our wait time is minimal.

Two of us go the cubano (pictured at top, $9.50) of roast pork, smoked ham, dill pickle, swiss cheese and “citrus mojo” on a pressed roll.

 

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Our third sandwich is the reuben ($9.50) of corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and russian dressing.

Both are served with a handful of mini-pretzels and a couple of plastic-wrapped Mentos.

Both our sandwiches are good and constructed right for the $9.50 price tags.

But there’s the rub … I do find both of them a bit bland and lacking in real oomph.

But for the kind of sandwich dynamite for which I have been hoping, $15 would be a more likely price demand.

And Mason Dixon, being pitched directly at the office lunch crowd, is nailing it in spades.

Jacqui passes by the next day and subsequently reports the queue is nearly out the door and on to the street!

 

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If I our adjudge our sandwiches to have been slightly off target – for me anyway! – the cheeky slice of peanut butter cheesecake ($5) Jac and I consume after Wes has split is a direct hit of glorious gooey richness.

 

Mason Dixon American Sandwich Bar on Urbanspoon

CNY Footscray 2015

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After posting on the previous day’s doings in Laverton, I am firmly resolved that a quiet day lies ahead.

That means NOT attending the Chinese New Year festivities in Footscray.

I’ve been going for years – it won’t do any harm to give it a break for once.

 

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Then the Facebook message arrives.

Eliza: You going to footscray CNY event today?

Me: Nah have been going for years and I feel like a bit of quiet (eating) time.

Eliza: Hmmm we need lunch options, might check it out!

Me: OK with you guys for company I’m up for it! Knock on ya door in about 45?

Eliza: Awesome!

 

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A quick shower and then I notice other friends are already posting CYN pics on social media.

My heart skips a beat.

I get an internally adminsistered injection of serotonin/endorphins/adrenaline/whatever.

Of course I’m going to CYN in Footscray!

What the hell was I thinking?

 

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We take it suitably easy wending our way through the happy throng.

First chore – purchase Vietnamese iced coffees all round.

Done!

At a real fine $2 a shot.

 

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Then we check out all the food stalls before making our choices.

Deep-fried all the way – chicken, calamari, soft-shell crab.

 

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After more strolling, we grab a pozzie near the main stage for the usual speechifying before the dragons do their thing.

I really appreciate Eliza’s Singapore-bred explanations of some of the symbology of what is happening.

Then it’s time to split.

I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

 

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MiHub – monthly!

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CTS enjoyed chatting with this happy and livewire bunch of young women. They’re all from Malaysia, all friends, have all been studying – on scholarships – at Melbourne University since July. As such, they’re apartment dwellers but were very happy to have collectively made the train trip to Laverton for “a taste of home”.

 

MiHub Night Market, Laverton Multicultural Hub, 95-105 Railway Avenue, Laverton.

After its premises was sold under it, some doubt surrounded the future of the MiHub institution.

So it was a happy hoot to attend its latest incarnation – as a “night market” at Laverton Multicultural Hub.

Best of all, the new night market set-up will continue on a near-monthly basis for the rest of the year.

MiHub will operate on the following Saturdays:

March 21
May 2
June 6
August 1
September 5
October 3
November 7
December 5

CTS was delighted to run into several readers who had rocked up in response to our preview story earlier in the week as well as a number of other friendly faces.

However, gauging by the number of people story checking that story out online, I fear some may have turned up quite late in the day and after I had departed.

Truth is, while the advertised ending time was 9pm, just about all the food had been sold and eaten by about 7pm.

 

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Please keep in mind, this is a community initiative run by volunteers – not a professional, commercial festival or market that will cost you hefty admission fee or involve an hours’ worth of waiting in queue.

Aunty Nora has enthused to us that future 2015 MiHubs will be better and bigger and include music.

Turning up early is probably a good idea!

If all goes as tentatively planned, CTS will be on board as willing workers next time out in a dish-washing bid to introduce real crockery and cutlery to proceedings.

 

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Among the attendees were dad Kelvin, mum Susan and boys Brendan and Ryan.

For this Tarneit family, the Laverton venue was the fourth at which they’d attended MiHub festivities.

 

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I really enjoyed my superb, freshly-made murtabak with a slightly spice but very nice beef/vegetable stew.

 

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And I loved, too, the delicate tuna patties, samosas and gulab jamun created and sold with a big smile by Masuma.

 

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These tofu cubes had been stuffed with a garlicky mix of veg, bean sprouts and vermicelli then deep-dried to a crisp.

 

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Full of tummy and hanging out with Aunty Nora and son Jake.

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