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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Footy food as it should be

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Melbourne Croatia Clubrooms, Somers St, Sunshine North. Phone: 9310 1842

The St Albans Saints aren’t exactly the smallest of minnows in the Australian soccer world – they play in the Victorian National Premier League, after all.

But that they have made it to the last 16 of the inaugural FFA Cup knockout competition is pretty cool.

Mind you, they have done so so far without having to come against the professional might of any of the A-League clubs.

Tonight they do.

And for almost all the first half it looks like a miracle – and a quarter-final berth – are on the cards.

Eventually, they succumb 4-1 to Perth Glory – but Bennie and I love a taste of grassroots football.

For lighting and other reasons, the game is held at Knights Stadium in Sunshine, the powerhouse Melbourne Knights being another club – like the Saints – with a Croatian heritage.

So, of course, food is on the agenda.

We’ve been this way before – for CROktoberfest – but this is our first time checking out what the regular Melbourne Croatian Clubrooms fare is all about on a regular game day/night.

 

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There are a number of platters available ranging in price from $20 for cevapi and raznjici (cubed pork pieces) up to the upper $20s for steaks, seafood, parmas and the like.

That all seems fair enough – and the meals being consumed around us look the goods – but we opt instead for more footy-minded tucker.

So shared rolls of cevapi and raznjici ($7) plus chips ($4) it is.

We’re very happy with what we get.

The chips are only so-so, but there’s plenty of them, we’re hungry and they taste pretty good.

The rolls, with their contrasting meaty fillings, are fine.

The meats are juicy and cabbage salad – something of a leading theme at CTS in recent weeks – are fab.

Wow, what a character-filled contrast – so simple, so obvious, so good – to the over-priced crap available at Melbourne’s major sports venues.

 

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Upon entering Knights Stadium itself, we’re impressed to discover the same cevapi and raznjici rolls are available at the grandstand “food court” kiosk!

 

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And how about this?

The open-air bar right out in front of the grandstand is serving scotch and bourbon – without resorting to the tacky by selling pre-mixed cans.

Classy!

Bennie is in digital game mode as I wander around taking in the sights and sounds. Everyone is friendly and happy, and I love the vibe.

 

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The folks from The Stray Cafe whip us up a fine cafe latte and hot chocolate.

The St Albans Saints are out of the FFA Cup.

But personally, I have really enjoyed being out and about for some grassroots community sport.

My interest has been tweaked by editing so many stories – covering all sorts of sports – for the Star Weekly newspapers, and I’m glad we’ve made the effort.

 

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Best schnitzel EVER!

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La Morenita, 67 Berkshire Rd, Sunshine North. Phone: 9311 2911

Meeting a fellow blogger and her friends a few weeks back – at La Morenita as it happens – I casually mentioned that I am happy for Consider The Sauce to cover a restaurant or business more than once.

This occasioned surprise on behalf of one of my new friends.

Me, too, I guess!

It has never been planned.

But somewhere along the way this blog has become an ongoing journey so updates and second-looks seem natural as the western subrubs food scene develops and evolves, menus expand or change and people come and go.

After several “reviews” and before-and-after stories on two separate CTS Feasts, La Morenita certainly fits snugly into that continuing scenario!

And for that we make no apologies – this after all, in our opinion, is one of the true gems of the west.

What’s more, exciting things are happening at this fine Berkshire Road emporium, with revamps and extensions planned for both the premises and the menu.

After a “research trip” to Sydney, Marco and Maria will be rolling out for testing a number of new dishes on coming Sundays – they’ll be of a more substantial nature, to match the grouse range of sandwiches/burgers and empanadas already featured.

First up tomorrow (July 20) will be fried fish (barramundi) and beef schnitzel with chips and salad.

I, of course, misread Maria’s Facebook announcements and bowl up on Saturday – but Marco whips me up a schnitzel anyway.

Oh … My … Lord – it’s sensational!

The crumbed coating so crisp and unoily, the meat so thin, tender and tasty.

And what looks at first blush like somewhat ordinary accompaniments turn out to be perfect – the chips and, particularly, a simple salad of tomato and onion.

It’s big, mind you – really really really big. So much so the $20 price tag seems like a bargain.

Half of it went home with me.

Unless you are of pronounced appetite, this’ll do as a light meal for two.

Schnitzel? Latin-American food?

Yup.

Maria tells me schnitzel and chips is an absolute Uruguayan classic.

“This is what I grew up on,” she says.

Best way to keep track of what the weekly dishes will be is to like their Facebook page.

 

 

CTS Feast 7: La Morenita – the wrap

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Consider The Sauce Feast No.6: La Morenita, 67 Berkshire Rd, Sunshine North. Phone: 9311 2911. Sunday, June 8

The follow-up La Morenita CTS Feast was absolutely smashing* – just like the previous one.

Different day of the week, different time at night, almost completely different crew aside from Marco, Maria and myself.

Same food, too - 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; and soft drinks including many Jarritos.

And, once again, some special-addition black pudding – still too rich for me, though!

 

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As on the previous occasion, it was sublimely gratifying to see appearances by a number of repeat CTS Feast offenders.

Thanks to them and everyone else who attended and helped us sell-out not one but two fine evenings.

 

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Most especially my heartfelt thanks to Maria and Marco.

They bought into the CTS Feast concept right from the start with gusto, passion and pleasure.

For CTS, their fine establishment is emblematic of what is great about western suburbs food and the people who make it.

There are still places remaining for CTS Feast No.8 at Vicolo – go here for details.

(* Thanks, Christine!)

 

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World Cup: Hope lives

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In the face of all available evidence, I am – like no doubt many thousands of people around the country – falling once again for World Cup optimism.

Here’s how my thinking goes: “Well, let’s see now … if the Socceroos can sneak a win against the Netherlands – another country with a young, inexperienced team … and if, somehow, they can sneak a draw against either Spain or Chile … well, who knows?”

It’s completely ridiculous, of course.

But I can’t help myself.

Actually, considering the utterly odious nature of both FIFA and a lot of what is going on in Brazil, the best result for Australia may well be three straight losses, homeward bound and bring on the Asian Cup.

In the meantime, though, there is much football to be watched.

So far, I have found three different venues offering a more social way than a living room sofa to take enjoy the spectacle.

Anyone know of any others?

 

1. Spot On Kebab Station

Just how the playing times will work with this late-night joint, I do not know.

Food: Yes.

Booze: Nope.

Coffee: Unknown.

Check out their Facebook page for updates.

 

2. Village Cinemas, Sunshine.

As far as I am aware, this is only for the Socceroos’ opening game against Chile on Saturday, June 14.

Doors open 7.15 am, kick-off at 8am. Entry is free

This sounds pretty cool!

More information here.

Food: Unknown.

Booze: Nope.

Coffee: Unknown.

 

3. Mozzarella Bar

Seddon’s new Italian establishment is throwing parties for Australia v Chile and Italy v England on Sunday, June 15.

The cost is $40 a head.

Food: Yes – “Unlimited Pizzas & Drinks”.

Booze: Yes.

Coffee: Yes.

Bookings: 9687 0097

 

4. Hyde Street Hotel

Yarraville’s newest foodie pub is opening it’s doors from 7.30am for the Soccerooes-Chile game for an 8am kick-off. As far as I can tell from their FB page, admission is free though table bookings can be made.

The cost: Free

Food: Yes – “$7.50 Egg & Bacon rolls!

Booze: Yes.

Cofee: Yes

Table bookings: 6892163

CTS Feast 6: La Morenita – the wrap

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Consider The Sauce Feast No.6: La Morenita, 67 Berkshire Rd, Sunshine North. Phone: 9311 2911. Wednesday, May 21.

CTS Feast No.6, the first of two at La Morenita in Sunshine, was a smashing success.

This was largely due to the efforts of Maria and Marco, who kept the goodies coming and sent everyone off with very full tummies.

I hope they got as much pleasure out of it all as we all did.

 

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And the success of the night was also very much due to the 25 CTS friends who fronted up.

I’m thrilled to note that among this number were several repeat Feast offenders, a couple of bloggers and folks from as far away as Heathmont.

Wow!

 

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From the cocktail hallullas (Chilean bread) and pebre (spicy chilli sauce) through to the custard berlins (doughnuts) and milhoja (“1000 layers”) cake, it was all fabulous.

I was especially intrigued to find that the Aregntine-style traditional ham and cheese sandwiches de miga – which look so white-bread dainty and more fitting for a high tea – have so much flavour!

All the flash and new may come and go, but this place continues to be right at the heart of the western suburbs food for CTS!

 

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Gigante – Melbourne’s best hot dog?

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How sweet has our Easter Sunday been?

Long sleep-ins, especially for Bennie.

Healthy breakfast followed by several hours chillaxing – music, reading, games and more.

As we’re topping and tailing on the sofa, my now teenaged son – who is showing signs of the transition from boy to man – reaches out from under the doona we are sharing, places his right hand in my left, then promptly goes back to sleep.

I find it near impossible to believe that this caring, sweet-natured and happy human being is destined – according to widely held legend – to become, at least, some of the time, a surly monster.

Then it’s out and about for some frisbee-tossing before lunch.

We head for one of our fave places – La Morenita in Sunshine – with a view to maybe trying out one of the new menu items.

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I go for one of the long-listed sandwiches.

Bennie goes for the new super hot dog – the gigante ($15) of smoked chorizo, ham, onion, cheese and mayo with chips.

Holy moly – it’s a classic!

And going by my token mouthful, it’s delicious in every way, the goodies all housed in a house-baked long roll.

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So big is it that we request a staff member to cut it half for ease of eating.

Really, it seems to me, this is a two-person meal. Although Bennie eats all but some of the ham and couple of loaf stubs.

Indeed, La Morenita’s Maria tells me that the previous day she sold one to a bloke who got his cut in half before saying: “There – one half for lunch and one half for dinner!”

Talk of the gigante’s portion size occasions the following laughing conversation between Maria and myself:

Maria: “I can eat a whole one!”

Me: “But you’re a pig!”

Maria: “I am!”

La Morenita, is of course, the venue for not just one but two forthcoming CTS Feasts – the gigante isn’t on the menu but plenty of other good stuff is.

The first is sold-out but a handful of tickets remain available for the second.

For information and booking details, go here.