Greek treats made with love in Kingsville

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

There’s an awful lot in the name of this great Greek bakery in Kingsville.

You see, that’s what they use – olive oil and butter.

Oh, of course, there’s other ingredients – but the name nevertheless symbolises a keen dedication to natural products.

No ingredients with numbers rather than names, no premixes … just a righteous determination to make and bake with the simplest and the best in an entirely old-school manner.

This is the kind of place at which the declaration, “Our products have a limited shelf life”, is a proud boast.

Olive Oil & Butter is run by Pelagia, her brother Chris and their mum Martha.

It’s a first restaurant/cafe/bakery outing for the family – and that’s a good thing, as it means the recipes are derived from an inter-generational tradition.

After my lunch is done and paid for (see below), I introduce myself to Pelagia, who is nice enough to set up a display platter of the Greek baking that is available this day. The line-up tends to change, but the prices are mostly in the $4-5 range (less for biscuits).

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 Clockwise from top right:

* Koulouraki – biscuit with vanilla.

* “The best” galaktoboureko – Filo pastry, semolina-based custard, vanilla, syrup with cinnamon and cloves.

* Baklava – roasted almonds and walnuts filling filo pastry with a cinnamon and clove syrup.

* Revani – semolina cake flavoured with lemon and orange sweetened with an orange-zest syrup.

* Another version of koulouraki.

* Paksimadi – a crumbly vegan biscotti flavoured with orange.

As Pelagia explains the ins and outs of the baking before us, we are joined by her mum.

It’s easy to tell from the glint in her eye and the pride in her work that Martha is serious about “olive and oil and butter” and using only the very best ingredients. And no preservatives at all …

I try only a few of the above assortment – they’re delicious.

The rest go home with me – it doesn’t take too long for me to realise my insistence on paying for the lot is going to be rebuffed at every turn, no matter how hard I try or how long I persist.

Olive Oil & Butter does breakfast and lunch, too, though much of what is available in that regard is of non-Greek derivation – pies, muffins, focaccia and so on.

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I do enjoy my pastitsio ($15), though.

It’s a hearty dish that is something of a variation of moussaka, with the good ground beef and tubed pasta melding into the rich bechamel sauce. The accompanying salad is just, fine, too.

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And for dinner, I am also gifted this gorgeous scroll-style spanakopita ($9).

Like the bakalava and its variations (katafi, gianniotiko, saragli), the cheese and spinach scroll is made with filo pastry that is made from scratch in the kitchen.

How good is that?

My two cafe lattes ($3.50) are excellent, BTW!

PS: I will update this post with “tasting notes” as I work my way through my trawl!

The Olive Oil & Butter Facebook page is updated regularly with news and photos of what is available.

Olive Oil & Butter on Urbanspoon

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Random bits

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Consider The Sauce revisited one of its fave places at the weekend.

MiHub Cafe is just our sort of establishment, and I was looking forward to reconnecting with its great community vibe.

(See earlier stories here and here.)

So my visit wasn’t so much about blogging – I didn’t even get my camera out – as it was about beaut food and people.

I had my fill of both, even running into a fellow Rickshaw Run volunteer, and comparing notes on the wonders of Werribee with she and her friend.

Sadly, I didn’t get to talk to MiHub stalwart Nora, as she was attending some sort of event in the city.

Since hooking up with her on Facebook, I have been enjoying her near-daily gifts of Koran-inspired pithy wisdom and love.

But I did come away from my Werribee visit with the latest edition of JOM – Journal Of Malaysians Down Under.

Yep, that’s Nora on the cover … and reading the interview with her inside, I had confirmed what I already suspected – she is a wonderful woman!

You can read the interview here.

And get ye down to MiHub!

From what I could gather during my most recent visit, the best action there is taking place on Friday nights.

Bennie and I will check it out soon and a report will be forthcoming.

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Oh dear!

I was surprised to discover, during a footy sojourn, that a regular CTS reader was harbouring a misunderstanding about the new, ticketed and paid-for format of the CTS Feasts.

He was under the impression that the fee – $20 at this point – is being split between CTS and the participating eateries, but that punters are still expected to pay for their food on top of that.

It’s not so! Your ticket payment covers everything bar drinks.

There are still a handful of tickets unsold to our repeat session at La Morenita on Sunday, June 8. See story here.

Is there such a thing as too many food trucks?

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The days when the west seemed forgotten or ignored by Melbourne’s developing food truck industry sure seem like a long time ago and a long way away …

Tonight on Somerville Road there were 14 – that’s right, 14 – food truck in operation!

I’ve liked all the truckers I’ve met.

And I like that they like each other.

But I wonder how they can all make a buck in such an intense environment.

Those that I talked to tonight said business was good without being outstanding.

There was certainly a happy vibe in evidence!

And, no, I didn’t partake, having already eaten in Carlton …

Footscray returns to the Western Oval

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Upon moving to Melbourne about three decades ago, I was quite taken with Australian football – this strange game adored by millions but played only, or mostly, in a single country … and a single city (mostly) at that.

As I established a new life for myself, and being as I knew few people, it was not unusual for me to attend three VFL/AFL games a weekend – imagine the cost of doing that these days!

I never got serious about barracking for any particular team, but usually went for the underdogs in any given game.

All that was long enough ago that I actually made it to some of the old-school suburban grounds – in fact, IIRC, I may have actually attended the final ever seniors game at the Western Oval.

So I am really quite excited to front up for the return of Footscray – in the form of the Western Bulldogs’ stand-alone VFL side – to the Western/Whitten Oval.

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Marley and her family, Maddie, Ruby and Rory.

Even if I have reverted to other football codes in terms of my active sports interests.

I arrive in time for the start of the second quarter, end up staying to the final siren and have a ball.

There’s gratifyingly big crowd on hand, kids and families and dogs everywhere – none of whom have had to pay for their suburban footy fix.

It being after breakfast but too early for lunch, I’d envisaged grabbing a coffee from the Bulldog HQ eatery The Pound …

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… but the queue nixes that idea right off.

However, I am delighted to find that among the array of eats being provided at the train-line end of the ground are Remi and his super-gorgeous Airstream Happy Camper Pizza van.

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Too early for lunch? Nah, time to try a whole Happy Camper Pizza for the first time ever!

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My $12 margherita is perfection in every way – hot, fresh, excellent ingredients in just the right proportions and very, very tasty!

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There are old-school footy traditions going on everywhere, including kids and balls and dads on the ground at half-time and anyone with an interest taking in the three-quarter-time huddle.

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I run into and enjoy the company of CTS readers and footy buffs (from left) Michael, Footy Maths Institute, Sian and The Holy Boot’s Football Emporium.

Also met but unphotographed is Dugald Jellie, whose report on the occasion can be seen here.

I understand there are about five more VFL home games for Footscray this season – it’s a CTS recommended activity!

(BTW, Footscray thrashed Richmond …)

Happy Camper Pizza on Urbanspoon

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Melb’s food blog rankings

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Random pic that has nothing to do with the story …

Thanks to Ed Charles of Melbourne food blog Tomato and Thang No at Sydney blog Noodlies, and a lot of work, those interested can have a look at a rankings list of “Australia’s top food blogs”.

As ever, I grumble the use of the word “top” when the listings are based solely on traffic as ranked by Alexa.

Such a strategy doesn’t take into account all sorts of factors, including a blog’s engagement with its readers – and CTS, through the burgeoning Feasts, could hardly be more engaged.

And “top” is meaningless in terms of how successful individual bloggers feel their blogs are – it’s easy to forget that bloggers of all sorts have a variety of vastly different motivations and notions of what constitutes a successful blog.

But everyone loves lists and I’m no different.

I actually found the Noodlies combined Melbourne/Sydney too confusing and thus of little interest.

Ed’s Melbourne-specific list I found a lot more interesting.

Consider The Sauce comes in No.54 on a list that numbers 152, with almost 100 more not ranked because they are too new or have too little traffic.

I’ll take that – for a blog that is so obsessed with a particular part of Melbourne and devoutly avoids the trendier foodie happenings and menus across our city.

Footscray Food Blog comes in at No.28.

But I am interested in learning what other Melbourne food blogs regular CTS readers follow or even check out occasionally.

 

 

 

 

CTS Feast No.7: La Morenita 2

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TO BOOK FOR THIS EVENT, CLICK HERE.

Consider The Sauce Feast No.7: La Morenita

67 Berkshire Rd, Sunshine North. Phone: 9311 2911

From 6pm on Sunday, June 8.

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Wow – Maria and Marco of La Morenita and Consider The Sauce were knocked by the response to CTS Feast No.6!

So much so, we’re happy to mount an identical event a couple of weeks later.

Hey, we’re a little nervous – but enough people have let us know they are interested in a repeat or were disappointed in missing out on the first that we’re going ahead anyway!

The menu will exactly the same – see below.

As will the price ($20) and the number of tickets available (25).

See the original CTS Feast La Morenita post here.

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MENU

Cheese, spicy chicken and beef empanadas

Choripan (chorizo in a roll)

Cocktail hallullas (Chilean bread), pebre (spicy chilli sauce)

Traditional ham and cheese sandwiches de miga

Churrasco (burger with beef, tomato, avocado and mayonnaise)

Custard berlin (doughnut)

Milhoja (“1000 layers”) cake (which Marco will slice on the night)

A Jarrito (Mexican soft drink)

TO BOOK FOR THIS EVENT, CLICK HERE.

Macedonian magnificence

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Zegov Charcoal Grill, 16 Wood Street, Thomastown. Phone:  9078 6811

Nat “The Nose” Stockley has a super-sleuthing way of finding about new joints that fits right fine with the Consider The Sauce ethos.

So when he tips us to the existence of a new eating emporium – or, even better, asks us to join him in checking out – we invariably respond with alacrity.

In this case, the business in question is a newish Macedonian place way over there in Thomastown.

No problem – a sweet drive on the ring road, particularly with a slew of new music to listen to, is a breeze and seems no more “out there” or onerous than some of our more far-fetched westie exploits.

As I drive, I have visions of perfectly grilled meats and fabulous cabbage salad dancing in my head.

That’s precisely what we get – and we get more besides.

A WHOLE lot more.

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As we get comfortable in the typically Euro-appointed eatery, Nat and I are like a couple of giggling schoolboys.

Truth is, we both get an immense rush from finding such out-of-the-way places.

As well, I am delighted to find that Zegov ticks another CTS box – regular readers will know we get a particular kick from finding great food on industrial estates. This isn’t that precisely, but it’s real close.

I’ve had no lunch, so am hungry – my mouth really does water as we peruse our menus, which feature both the expected and the not so much.

We choose a couple of starters and a couple of mains – in the latter case, choosing different platters from the three mixed grills available.

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Piroshka ($4 each) look like Chiko Rolls and are filled with a mix of cheese, pickled gherkin, ham and mayo. They’re delicate but, for mine, a little on the bland side given the potential pungency of the fillings.

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Makallo ($7) is chargrilled green chillies in oil “for dipping”. This is nice enough, though I could wish for more pronounced spice and flavour.

Sounds a little on the ho-hum side so far, doesn’t it?

Well, hold on – things are about to get very interesting!

Something spurs Tanya and her mum-in-law Lidija to get really serious about having us waddle out of the place.

Whether it be the fact we’re photographing everything that moves (and much that doesn’t) or that we look hungry (it certainly can’t be that we look skinny because we don’t) … out come three more starters we haven’t ordered just for us “to try”!

Wow!

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Nafora ($6) is lightly chargrilled bread with chilli flakes and cheese that we gaily use for dipping in the oil of the above makallo.

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Sarma ($16 for two) are right up there with the very best cabbage rolls I’ve had, regardless of derivation.

They’re smaller than is often the case, but so tender and packed with not rice but instead a gloriously hearty beef mince sauce.

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Grafce ($7) are baked beans – they’re smooth and hearty, but maybe get a little lost in the multitude of food around us.

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Finally we get to our mains – mix char grill 1 for him, mix char grill 2 for me.

Both cost an outrageously cheap $18.50, with the only difference being that Nat gets pork neck pieces and I get lamb chops.

Gosh, they’re fantastic! The only problem is, we’ve already eaten so much we struggle to do our platters justice – I eat only one of my chops, for instance.

But the meats are superb – plain, juicy, expertly cooked and including five “kebapi” and, for variation, a skinny pork snag of sneak-up-on-you spiciness.

And the cabbage salad?

It’s perfection in every way!

Such a simple thing and such a joy, the cabbage is both tender and crunchy, and a little vinegary to boot. As it should be.

It’s pretty much the only thing we both clean our plates of.

We think we’re done – but Tanya and Lidija have other ideas …

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Tulumba, a dessert special not listed on the menu and yet another treat offered us “on the house”, is like a cross between churros and eclair.

Coated in clear, sticky syrup, it’s a plain and not over-rich way to cap off a magnificent eating experience.

There’s some food in the west that is similar to that to be had at Zegov, but not THAT much.

So this wonderful place is well worth a drive the ring road makes easy.

And I just know that Bennie will love the $10 burgers that are “served with chips in burger”!

Thanks, Nat – you’re always on the money!

Zegov Charcoal Grill on Urbanspoon

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