Mexican in Yarraville – it’s open!

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Village Cantina, 30 Ballarat Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 8000

 

SEE REVIEW HERE.

 

By the time I discover Village Cantina in Ballarat Street is up and running, it’s too late – I’ve already had an at-home dinner!

(Nothing flash – sourdough ciabatta toast topped with tomato slices and sardines …)

So this post is more your newsy story to alert readers to the opening and the subsequent rise village diversity.

We’ll no doubt be taking the menu for a test drive very soon and will write about the food then.

 

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The place is done out in colourful cantina style with some nicely cool art works in place.

They’re busy even just an hour after opening.

The compact menu doesn’t get in the least bit adventurous or weird – here you’ll get grilled corn, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos and churros.

On the other hand, the tortillas are being supplied by El Cielo of Port Melbourne, so the quality should be there.

(See menu below.)

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Out back, there’s a three-table funky garden for chilling out purposes.

For opening hours, check out the Village Cantina Facebook page.

 

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Groundhog Day, Samsung-style

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In hindsight, it seems clear my first year with my first mobile/smart device was charmed.

I’d got into a groove with it, had it doing what I required and was not particularly fussed about not knowing what else it could do.

Still, when it effectively died it came as something of a shock – not that technology fails, but that Samsung does so little, in a fiercely competitive world, to placate customers waiting for devices being serviced to be returned.

Customers they presumably want to keep …

A staff member at the Highpoint Samsung shop informed me, after I had resigned myself to the fact my phone would be gone for a week, that they once issued stand-in phones but discontinued the practice.

So the message was rather blunt: Tough – you’ll just have to cop it.

Nevertheless, I was excited and happy when my serviced phone was returned to me this morning – right on schedule.

After mucking around for a few minutes, I quickly came to conclusion that I needed some friendly prompts in order to master the procedures of once more setting up my phone.

So off I went to the Samsung shop at Highpoint – again.

On a precious day off …

Some friendly help from a friendly staff member and I was on way. As I charged the battery, I got my machine back in order right there and then, uploading and installing app after app – gmail, wordpress, Facebook, Urbanspoon, credit union, etc etc, as well as wallpaper, volume and various other settings and arrangements.

Then it was off to Flemington for a well-earned lunch.

But as I was walking to my chosen eating house, I was aghast and crestfallen to discover that my phone was emphatically not in full working order.

In fact, and much worse, the same fault – a general, all-round unresponsiveness – was still very much present.

Which meant, I assumed, it had not been properly fixed or had not been fixed at all – whatever else may have been done to it.

So off I went to the Samsung shop at Highpoint – again.

On a precious day off …

I managed to keep my cool.

And the staff member who “handled” me kept his, too.

Funnily enough, he was the same dude who handled the paperwork for me the previous week.

So it definitely had a touch of Groundhog Day about it – same personnel, same paperwork, same outcome.

With a twist – in this case, and to the staff member’s considerable credit, he took my case, and my phone, to his manager.

But it made no difference – it seemed even the manager had no discretion whatsoever to offer me either a new phone, even if a different model, or a refund.

So I returned home frustrated and wondering if I’m actually getting back a penchant for this degree of unconnectedness.

But even if I am not, I am in no way convinced this saga is going to attain its denouement any time soon.

O, Ye Of Little Faith?

Um, well, No Faith At All, actually.

I also reckon I am in the process of becoming a former Samsung customer.

So what’s the hot tip – Apple, Nokia, Sony, other?

And, perhaps, just as importantly – how does your chosen phone provider go with keeping you in action when there are technology hiccups?

I suspect some do a whole lot better with this than appears to be the case with Samsung …

 

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Far out Flemo burger

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Streat, 307 Racecourse Road, Flemington. Phone: 9629 4222

Consider The Sauce has stuck its nose into Streat numerous times.

But such has long been our penchant for the spicier, more exotic and evolving available elsewhere on Racecourse Road that we’ve never stayed to partake.

And that’s despite the fact we know Streat is a commendably community-minded enterprise that works tirelessly to fight homelessness.

So I’m happy to be meeting long-time CTS supporter Daniel for lunch and to be doing so at Streat at his suggestion.

I am surprised, however, to lay eyes on the blackboard menu (see below).

My recollection is of a more diverse line-up including the likes of Korean fried chicken.

Today, we’re gazing at a menu that runs simply from breakfast to bagels and burgers.

Still … no problem!

Especially when our lunches arrive.

 

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My “Racecourse Rd” burger ($11, $12.50 with bacon) really is excellent in every way.

Maybe not quite a 10, but a 9 for sure.

Everything is proportionately spot on, expertly assembled and of high quality – the beefy patty, the dressings, the salady bits, the sauce, the cheese, the perfectly two-handed size.

The wire basket of chips ($3.50) is just as good – there’s precisely right number of them to complete a fine and finely priced lunch.

 

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Daniel goes with his regular choice here – the “Wellington St” ($12.50) with fried chicken with coleslaw, mayo, Sriracha, mayo and cheese.

This looks the goods, too.

The chicken chunk is very fat and, my pal tells me, crisply fried.

At his request, we also get a couple of small pots of Sriracha for chip-dipping purposes.

I’m glad I’ve finally hit the Streat – ya never know where the next perfect burger meal is coming from!

 

STREAT on Urbanspoon

 

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Sunshine Mosque – a personal touch

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Open day at Sunshine Mosque, 618 Ballarat Road, Sunshine. Phone: 9363 8245

Consider The Sauce would like to believe our dismay and disgust at the recent weeks’ deliberately inflamed anti-Muslim hysteria is universal across the land.

Sadly, though, having read much in the press of all kinds, on social media and various websites – luckily I am pretty much completely out of the loop when it comes to talkback radio – I know that is simply not the case.

But while these events have been unfolding, a thought bubbled up: “Why have I never been to a mosque?”

At very much the same time, the Cyprus Turkish Community of Victoria started publicising its “everyone welcome” open day – and we are only too happy to accept the invitation.

Predictably and joyfully, our visit is a whole lot of fun, full of friendly people with big smiles.

And, of course, we have our fill of the food on hand.

 

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The cheese-and-spinach gozleme I enjoy is as good as it gets – hot of the hot plate, fresh and wonderful.

But the coolest event of the day has an unexpectedly personal note …

 

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We have been on the mosque grounds just a matter of minutes when I run into my Star Weekly colleague Yasemin.

I’m surprised to see her, and she I.

But we shouldn’t be … after all, I did know she’s a local; and she, in turn, knows of my foodie/multicultural adventurer persona.

Yasemin is very busy selling tickets for the kebab operation but we nevertheless squeeze in some conversation.

For me, this is the western suburbs one-degree of separation at splendid work and a valued opportunity to see a colleague with whom I have in the past year finessed numerous stories as something other than a reporter to my sub-editor.

And for Yasemin, I hope (!), it’s a chance to see me as something other than a cranky, demanding, nitpicking pedant – perhaps as an openminded foodie blogger with untold curiosity and as a father.

That latter description being, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, very much how I see and define myself these days.

This is Yasemin’s mosque.

I ask her if she pretty much grew up here.

Her answer is: “Yes!”

 

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After my savory appetite has been satisfied, I enjoy a super strong and sweet Turkish coffee with a deep-fried dessert called sam isi.

It’s filo pastry encasing semolina, and like so many treasured desserts from that part of the world, is sweet without being overly so.

 

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I stop and have a yarn with Tammy of Stylish Sisters.

Tammy refers to herself as a “convert”, her husband being Somalian.

And, yes, she knows all about our favourite Union Road destination.

I love the name of her business – in my opinion, which in this context is worth no doubt very, very little – many of the “sisters” do indeed have style to burn.

 

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Eventually, the presence at the event of a flagrantly mustachioed dude with a busy camera having been noted, Ekrem Fuldagli introduces himself to us.

Ekrem is the chairman of the Cyprus Turkish Islamic Community of Victoria.

It’s a busy day for a busy man, but he makes time to escort us into the mosque proper and patiently answer my questions.

Ekrem has been in the chairman role for about a year.

He tells me it’s a challenging but rewarding role, involving as it does issues and projects both within the mosque community and its interactions with the wider world.

He describes the mosque community as very mainstream and relationships with the neighbours as just fine

The domed mosque interior itself is truly beautiful and, yes, it has what I would call a “spiritual” vibe.

Ekrem tells me the dome itself has no religious significance.

Rather it is all about acoustics and the oration requirements of the pre-electricity and pre-amplification times.

Sadly, other commitments mean we are unable to linger for the scheduled Q&A session to which I have been eagerly looking.

Maybe next time!

 

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Cafe joy away from the main drags

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wov8
Woven Cafe, 175b Stephen Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9973 5926

It was while scoping out the fit-out progress of Woven that I discovered, courtesy of a friendly local, that Stephen Street was once, many moons ago, actually the main drag of Yarraville.

All that changed, apparently, when the train line went through … and the main trading/retailing action switched to Anderson and Ballarat streets.

Makes sense really, as Stephen Street is a wide boulevard … it’s nice to see some activity returning to an area away from the village proper.

It’s sweet, too, for the four of us troupe off to try out the newly-opened Woven.

 

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Disclosure – Dan, one of the Woven partners, and his family are a long-time CTS buddies and attendees of CTS Feasts.

But as this is an impromptu lunch, not Dan nor anyone else involved knows we’re coming, though we are outed soon after being seated.

Doesn’t matter – as on every other occasion when folks have twigged bloggers are in the house, the food we receive is the same as all the other customers.

So is the fine service.

Woven is a compact space that has been fitted out beautifully.

With its outdoor seating and smartly-chosen location, it’s a hit in the making.

The menu (see below) is tight and right, canvassing breakfast through lunch.

 

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The other two lads opt for the “Bang Up Burger” ($18.50).

Both are really impressed.

Says the Bennie: “The cheese was nice, the salad was dressed, the patty was good, and the bacon and the sauce were good, too. It was all good! It all fitted together!”

The vibe I get from both Bennie and Julian is that this is a very enjoyable, solid burger.

Their meaty handfuls are abetted by “hand-cut twice-cooked chips”.

They’re fine things, indeed.

And with their skins and dimples and imperfections intact, they’re in the same tradition and mindset as the chips we get at this Newport joint.

If this is a trend we say: “Yay!”

 

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I go the salad route with happy results.

The Moroccan chickpea salad with pickled carrots, fennel and tea-soaked currents ($16) comes with chorizo added for an extra $4.

Sometimes chorizo-added dishes – often pasta or salads – can be mean in the sausage department.

That’s certainly not the case here – there’s plenty of it, which is a good thing as it’s a mildly flavoured and seasoned dish and the chorizo adds needed spice and grease.

The carrots are only slightly pickled and I even add some salt.

But it’s all good, crunchy, fresh, wonderful and of very generous size – the chickpeas themselves are a buttery yellow and perfect.

 

 

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The bread for Christine’s “lemon and herb chicken with aioli and rocket sanger” ($10) comes from another of our fave local haunts and my regular morning coffee stop.

The chicken tastes fine to me, and she gets the same chips on the side for an extra $3.

So … $13 all up? That’s a bargain right there!

We go without coffee – though with the other partner, Dave, at the coffee machine helm, I’m betting it’ll be brilliant when I do try it.

We hit the road for home and the other side  of the tracks, stopping by for a sweet, cool treat at yet another local fave – one that is, I’m told, also a supplier to Woven.

Choc orange for him, apple pie for her, lavender and white choc for Bennie and myself …

 

Woven Cafe on Urbanspoon

 

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Southern style in Yarraville

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fat4
Fat Thursdays by Bourbon Street @ The Commerical Hotel, 238 Whitehall St, Yarraville. Phone: 9689 9354

All your food trucks and fancy cafes are good and well, but we have to say we are happy and delighted to discover the Commerclal Hotel is up and running once again.

It’s only open three days a week but that’s a win when compared to the sad sight we observed whenever we drove past what seemed to be the abandoned Hyde Street institution.

Inside, all is as much as we recall – a scruffy, lived-in pub ambiance of a sort so hard to find these days that the Commercial almost comes across as a museum piece.

And there’s food – but only on Thursdays.

It is being provided by an outfit called Bourbon Street, which operates a lunch delivery service of southern American-style goodies to the Melbourne CBD and inner suburbs on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and to Yarraville, Seddon and Footscray on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

 

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We like it that they’ve called their dine-in project at the Commercial Fat Thursday; we’re rather less impressed with it being called a pop-up – a term much over-used and misused.

As ever with this sort of food, I keep my expectations and hopes in check.

In this case there seems good cause, because despite the use of the names Bourbon Street and Fat Thursday, the in-house menu is studded with items not usually associated with the famously non-BBQ city that is New Orleans – “cajun brown rice” (huh?), pulled pork and jerk chicken among them.

Of course, this is Melbourne, this is the west and in the end I’m oh-so-glad I don’t get hung up on stuffy notions of authenticity – for what Bennie and I have is a fine meal indeed.

We order a main apiece and then load up on the sides (see menu below).

 

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We rather regret getting our BBQ beef and jerk chicken with the rice rather than in roll form. The rice is OK but rolls would’ve been more in keeping with our dinner’s flavour.

My beef and his chicken are fine.

But it’s the sides that do it for us.

The prices are very cheap – surely the cheapest for this sort of food in Melbourne.

At places around town that serve similar fare, getting the number of sides we split between us would result in a rather hefty bill for what is meant to be blue-collar food.

No such problem at Fat Thursday – it falls comfortably inside the cheap eats realm.

But there’s nothing cheap about the quality and the serves are of a good size.

 

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 Fried okra – whole, freshly battered and yummy.

 

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Potato salad – very nice.

 

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Corn that is just corn but that fits right well with the rest of our meal.

 

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Coleslaw – very nice.

We also get mac ‘n’ cheese, which tastes good but is a little on the dry side, and jalapeno cornbread, which comes in the form of three small muffins – they’re good, studded with corn kernels and have a delicate spice glow going on.

It’s been a cool hoot to sit in the venue of so many previous happy times – all of them pre-CTS – and eat some pretty good southern-style food without feeling in the slightest bit inhibited by the pricing.

 

Bourbon Street @ the Commercial Hotel on Urbanspoon

Commercial Hotel on Urbanspoon

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Gosh

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“You have prostate cancer.”

Not the gladdest of tidings then … but not unexpected given the anxiety and tests of recent months.

It’s surreal hearing that verdict coming from the mouth of someone I have known for less than half an hour.

“It’s low grade …”

That’s good, isn’t it?

“Yes, it’s good …”

My life changes …

I feel very, very grateful to a very good GP who sent me off to a urologist. She may have saved my life.

And so I become a member of the Cancer Club, yet prostate cancer is so common as to be almost banal.

In some ways I feel empowered, with an early diagnosis and a fighting chance.

Like countless souls before me, I am blown away by the way complete strangers open up and tell me their stories, offer their wisdom and friendship.

I am grateful for the support and love of friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances.

The medical and support staff who are already becoming a big part of my life are marvellous – and I am happy to be telling them so whenever the opportunity arises.

Boy, does that make the nurses, doctors, technicians and all the others smile – so giving, but all they often get are cranky grumbles.

But there are downsides …

The waiting rooms and on-hold telephone calls – so time consuming and tedious, and destined to become even more familiar as I become a more full-time player in the health system than I or any of us desire.

The already tangible financial worries – also destined to become more acute.

Presently, the most challenging thing is attempting to get on top of and (hopefully) intelligently filtering an overwhelming amount of information and often contradictory advice.

Some time in coming months, difficult decisions will have to be made regarding treatment.

How all this will impact on Consider The Sauce, I have no way of knowing or even guessing.

Very little, I most fervently hope!

In the meantime, I intend to summon up the courage to continue to live well and laugh often.

 

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