A simple pleasure

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Two 500-gram bags of rolled oats, one of crushed oats, roasted almonds (chopped) and sultanas.

That’s been my muesli recipe for more than a decade.

Sometimes, I’ll add some other fruit such as dried apricots.

And sometimes I’ll go without when it becomes too much of a chore, veering towards toast for breakfast.

Just lately, though, my muesli has made a resurgence – and has even become my lunch now that Bennie’s out in the workforce.

And now that I’m home.

Alone.

And pretty much retired.

Or should that read, unemployed?

Or unemployable?

In any case, I am going through a period of loving ma muesli.

Truly, when soaked for a while (or overnight), and with some fresh fruit and a Big Dollop of Greek yoghurt, it seems like a luscious, decadent desert.

 

 

Especially when the fresh fruit is fresh feijoas.

Wow.

I’m tellin’ ya, it’s as good as tiramisu!

Some of what we’ve been eating

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Here’s some of the fare we’ve been enjoying while being sociable distancers …

 

Our own Yarraville tomato sauce with smashed pork sausages from A&L Gugliotta & Sons and spaghettini.

 

Stewed quinces with flourless choc brownie from Second Ave Grocer and Greek yoghurt.

 

A great delivered deal from Cheezy Pizza on Gamon Street – one large Australian, one large American, garlic bread, bottle of soft drink for $30!

 

Lamb koftas (hamburger style) from Andrew’s Of Yarraville, tzatziki, fennel and tomato salads, grilled ciabatta.

 

Fabulous Chilton’s Moroccan lamb pie from Second Ave Grocer with green beans in olive oil, salt, pepper.

 

More of our tomato sauce – this time with ricotta and parsley, basil and marjoram from Vanessa’s garden. And rigatoni.

How we ate great in 2019

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August of 2020 will mark the 10th anniversary of Consider The Sauce.

There will be a party.

The outlines of what I have planned are, at this stage, very hazy.

I am open to suggestions about a venue or any other ideas.

Likewise, I remain open to suggestions for employment – paid or not.

For the time being, Consider The Sauce IS my job – and that’s a pretty cool place to be.

As for 2019, for the Consider The Sauce family it has been a momentous year, one filled with loss and several varieties of pain, but also one full of wonderful life, love and surprises.

Thanks as always to our readers, the many friends who lent us their eating and the small business people of the western suburbs, without whom etc etc!

The following wrap-up by no means covers all the fine food we enjoyed this year – if I were to bash this out tomorrow, the outcome would quite likely be different!

 

 

Cannoli Bar

This Avondale Heights treasure has become a firm favourite – not just for sweets, but also for pasta and other lunchy delights.

 

 

On The Bone

Nat and I finally made it to One The Bone in Maidstone and had an incredibly super time of it.

We lucked into the very first of their Sunday lunch deals.

The advice is simple and adamant – once the Sunday lunches resume in the new year, just go.

 

 

Kites

Away from the western suburbs, we loved our visits to Kites in Clayton South for top-notch Sri Lankan tucker.

 

 

Fusion Ceylon

Just before Christmas, Bennie and I struck out in search of Lebanese food in Hopper Crossing.

The place, our destination, was boarded up.

And definitely not serving lunch.

So we headed for an old fave – Fusion Ceylon in Werribee.

He had one of their fabulous fried rice dishes.

I opted for the $9 “curry in a hurry” bain marie deal – and it was a lot more glamourous and sexy than that sounds.

“I’d forgotten how good this place is,” Bennie enthused.

Yes indeed – absolutely a star of the west.

 

 

Chi Bao

We welcomed Chi Bao to Yarraville – and loved its dumplings and more.

 

 

Balkan Grill

We first made the acquaintance of Danilo Majmunovic at Balkan Grill when it was set up in an Ardeer soccer club.

After he moved to a more orthodox eatery premises in St Albans, we adored his brilliant take on burgers.

 

 

Biryani King/Barwachi

Welcome, too, to two new additions to the West Footscray Indian scene.

We had happy times at both Biryani King and Bawarchi.

 

 

Panjali/Annapoorna

For a different take on curry, we very much enjoy having the banana leaf meals and more from Panjali in Sunshine and Shri Annapoorna in Braybrook as part of our regular fare.

 

Doug The Barber

In the course of food-related research, I discovered Doug, formerly of Williamstown Road and Francis Street, had set up shop in Brooklyn.

Getting a haircut from Doug is always a pleasure.

 

 

Tanoor

No story about Tanoor this year, yet this Hopper Crossing purveyor of Lebanese tucker remains one of our leading regulars – both for eat-in dips and accessories AND for takeaway pies and pizzas.

 

 

Mama Lor

Our troubled relationship with Filipino food was given an affirming filip thanks to the arrival of Mama Lor in Werribee.

Love that crackling and roast pork!

 

 

Kingyo Izayaka

The best Japanese food we had this year was provided by Kingyo Izayaka in Moonee Ponds.

And it was very, very good.

 

 

Mun Kitchen/Mumchan

Korean food?

Oh, yes, we were right amongst that, too.

Mun Kitchen at Williams Landing and Mumchan in Laverton both served us great fried chicken and more.

 

 

Cafe d’Afrique

We were excited and delighted to welcome Faisel Pkesy and his Cafe a’Afrique back – here be the heart of Footscray.

And excellent food, too.

 

 

Cheezy Pizza

“Making Aussie pizzas better” is the motto of Cheezy Pizza in Yarraville.

And that’s precisely what they do.

Make ours a large American plus whatever.

 

 

Laksa King Kitchen

For several reasons, we do not favour the main Laksa King on Pin Oak Crescent in Flemington.

Yet we are returning regularly to the new branch office on Racecourse Road – particularly for the various chicken rice options.

 

 

Olive Oil & Butter

We are looking forward to the forthcoming provision of evening meals at Olive Oil & Butter in Yarraville.

In the meantime, it has become another much-loved CTS regular.

 

 

Karlaylisi

Hand-made noodles, cumin lamb and many other spicy delights – there is nothing not to love about Karlaylisi on Gordon Street in Footscray.

 

 

 

Second Ave Grocer

It’s gone from Altona Fresh to Second Ave Grocer – but we continue to love this place, which has become a big part of our weekly routines.

 

 

Ragusa

We enjoyed a number of swish meals this year – none better than that served to us at Ragusa in Williamstown.

Croatian joy on many plates!

 

Servos of the old west

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They’ve been, with very few exceptions, stomped out of existence by mega-servos that come with car washes, shops and fast food outlets.

But like the corner shops that have met a similar fate, their ghosts linger.

Often they’re still in use for automotive purposes.

Sometimes they’ve been utilised for other uses.

Sometimes they lie idle.

And sometimes all traces are gone save for the memories of locals.

This survey is not meant to be comprehensive or methodical.

Basically, it’s the result of a day’s driving that took in those old servos of which I was already aware, with a happy stumble of a couple of neat surprises thrown in.

If readers send me photos, I’ll do a follow-up spread!

 

 

Douglas Parade Bait and Tackle, Douglas Parade, Spotswood (near The Warmies).

 

 

Francis Street, Yarraville.

 

 

Corner Barnet Street and Pentland Parade, Yarraville.

Bowsers intact, but I’m told the auto repair shop that operated here for many years is no longer doing so.

 

 

Sunshine Road, Tottenham.

 

 

Sunshine Road, Sunshine.

 

 

Andy’s Servo, corner Anderson and Glengala roads, Sunshine.

 

 

Sunshine Social, Glengala Road, Sunshine West.

 

 

Ballarat Road, Footscray.

 

 

Corner Napier and Whitehall streets, Footscray (opposite the Reverence Hotel).

The proprietor of the mechanics shop here told me the tanks remained intact and that he reckons it was servo until some time in the 1950s.

He showed me an invitation to exhibition launch featuring the work of signwriting outfit Lewis and Skinner. See details here.

And the boss also informed me the premises/property operated as a Cobb & Co depot in the early 1900s!

 

 

Corner Charles and Gamon streets, Seddon.

I was unsure of servo status of this building.

So I dropped in to visit my friends Deborah and Roger, who have lived right opposite for a long time.

As far as we can figure, a very rough chronology of the building’s uses runs like this:

Bery’s Charcoal Grill until the mid-90s
The Bowser
Sabroso
Charles and Gamon (current).

So The Bowser name leads us to conclude it was indeed a servo at one time.

The charcoal grill, serving Macedonian food, was much loved and has been discussed in comments on previous CTS stories.

 

 

Anderson Street, Yarraville.

A final surprise!

Deborah flipped through the relevant pages of the history of Yarraville she and Roger produced in conjunction with the Footscray Historical Society.

And there they were – a couple of very old bowsers stationed outside this building, which is these days a health services centre, located right next door to Coracle (formerly happy Four).

Westie eats goss 14/06/18

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Miles and Colin at Lay Low Bar.

 

Introducing Bennie to the joys of the Brother Hood Yiros + Grill a few weeks back, we had a tasty ball – squatting on the internal bench that is the place’s only seating in an otherwise fully take-away operation.

Happily, we need not wonder how we’d go when the Brother Hood is busy and car or footpath are the meagre options – there’s a bar opening right next door that will welcome yiros imbibers with open arms.

Of course, Lay Low Bar is about more than being a mere seating adjunct of a yiros joint – as Bennie and I discover when we drop in for a mid-week squiz.

The bar – at 93 Buckley Street, Seddon – is one of a row of gorgeous old double-storey Victorians.

I’m told the history of No.93 includes periods as picture-framing shop and a squatters’ residence.

 

 

Proprietors Miles Williamsz and Colin Wood and their crew are closing in on completion of their fit-out, which includes this fabulous mural by Hannah Simpkin.

They’re all about collaboration, including with the fashionable apparel emporium Brixton Pound in the shop front and the Brother Hood, with the laneway at the rear providing easy access to the bar for yiros customers.

The Brother Hood, as well, will be formulating a few specialties solely for the delectation of Lay Low customers.

 

 

Booze-wise, Lay Low’s focus will be on high-quality and unique cocktails, with Hop nation beers also available.

Lay Low Bar will open to the public on July 4.

The mooted hours are 4-10pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, noon-11pm Fridays and Saturdays, noon-10pm Sundays.

For more unfolding news, check out the Lay Low FB page here.

 

 

In Footscray, and tucked behind Huxtaburger, a Taiwanese chicken shop is taking shape.

I’m told Hot Star is owned by the same company that runs the tea chain Gong Cha, the local outlet of which the new chook place gazes upon.

 

 

Around the corner, in the same strip of shops occupied by Smalls Graces, a Chinese eatery will soon open.

 

 

On Paisley Street, just a few doors from the Leeds Street tram terminus, a Japanese restaurant has opened.

CTS will be checking it out pronto!

Very mixed reviews on its FB page.

 

 

Is there life at the Tottenham shops on Sunshine Road?

Yes, no, maybe?

Biryani n Grills appears to be set up to go – but shows little sign of being in use when I have a mid-week morning look.

As one wag put it somewhere on Facebook: “At least it’s not a massage parlour!”

 

The Kimchi Guru

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“Kimchi” by Jackson Pollock, West Footscray, 2018.

 

If there’s one thing that exceeds in enjoyment the fabulous food we eat doing Consider The Sauce, it’s all the many wonderful people we meet in the process.

One of them is Justin Mansfield, a fine bloke and a long-time reader and supporter of CTS who has become a good lunch buddy and all-round pal.

He is also a man with very sour tastes.

We have happily taken delivery of jars from three different batches of his amazing pickled cucumbers.

So when the opportunity arises for me to take up an otherwise empty place in one of his kimchi classes, I grab it.

Even though I’m not a kimchi fan!

I figure Justin’s kimchi is bound to be superior to that served in most Korean places.

Besides, like it or not, I am interested in the story and the process.

(See below for details of a forthcoming class.)

 

 

The crew that gathers at West Footscray House is an interesting and happy one, with about half its members CTS readers.

Justin runs a great class.

He covers just enough of the history and background without getting bogged down in detail.

Just as interesting is his advice on the sourcing of ingredients and the tale behind his journey to becoming a self-confessed “kimchi nerd”.

 

 

Over two and a half enjoyable hours, he takes us from a pile of womboks …

 

 

… to the finished product.

 

 

Along the way, we learn about the necessity of sourcing the right dry ingredients such as salt …

 

 

… and chilli flakes, as well as the other vegetables.

 

 

After that, it’s just a matter of salting …

 

 

… mixing …

 

 

… blending …

 

 

… tossing …

 

 

… and bottling.

It was a hoot!

I learned a lot and now have two bottles of prime kimchi to experiment with at home.

For Justin’s kimchi class on July 15, go here.

 

South Sudanese cookbook – a gorgeous world first

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Jibrine Akima Magdaline Jok wears a number of hats.

She’s a Caroline Springs mother of four children.

She’s a successful career woman in the finance sector.

She’s a proud member of the South Sudanese community in Melbourne and Australia.

And now she’s the author and publisher of a fabulous South Sudanese cookbook.

So far as she and I can ascertain, it’s the first South Sudanese cookbook – ever.

The book was born of her love of cooking and, more specifically, through a visit to her mother in Africa that came after more than a decade of separation.

She has been inspired, too, by the thought that food traditions can be a profound community glue in fraught times of war, refugees and families scattered to the four winds around the globe.

“When I visited my mum, we cooked every day and I heard all the stories,” Jibrine says.

“I spent most of my time jotting down notes and practising the dishes that she made on a daily basis.

“This advice she shared stays with me: ‘The more time, patience, love and passion you have for cooking meals, the greater the taste’.”

I am in awe of Jibrine’s efforts in scrambling up an Everest-like learning curve to bring this project to life.

She’s obviously a very capable human – but until now she had zero experience with writing, editing, publishing, cookbooks, translation and more.

On top of all that, she has successfully created a book of more than 100 recipes directly from the maternal source – bringing to life in the written word recipes previously transmitted only by the verbal/visual folk methods of “a handful of this, and a pinch of that”.

 

 

Like all great cookbooks, Jibrine’s effort can be seen as an end in itself – it’s beautiful to handle and read, and the photographs are simple, honest and not inappropriately styled in terms of glam.

There’a strong accent on a wide variety of stews – meat, poultry, fish, pulses.

The recipes appear to be straightforward and well presented, and most of the ingredients of the easily obtainable variety.

 

 

In some ways, Jibrine’s cookbook journey is just beginning.

The challenge now is to get that book and those recipes into the kitchens of foodies everywhere.

To buy a copy of South Sudanese Family Cookbook, try Lueth Variety Shop, 10B Paisley Street, Footscray, phone 9687 4097. It costs $30. Or email Jibrine on jibrinem@yahoo.com

 

Reception centres of the western suburbs – part 2

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When, a little over a year ago, CTS ran a story about reception centres of the western suburbs, it won a lot of readers.

As explained then, it was inspired – largely – by the derelict building on Sunshine Road in Tottenham.

I’d always assumed it was a reception centre.

But when I stopped to photograph it, I wasn’t so sure – it seemed a mite small.

Back then, a reader assured me of its reception centre credentials and that it was destined for new life as the new location of the long-standing Happy Receptions on Union Road in Ascot Vale.

And now?

Lo – it has become so!

It’s bright and shiny and new and very big.

So far as I can tell, none of the original structures remain in place.

As I park, the owner is quickly on to me – i.e. wondering what the hell I’m up to.

He relaxes, but remains guarded, as I express my interest.

He tells they’ll be opening in a couple of weeks and there’s already a stack of bookings.

There’s actually two reception facilities.

The one on the left, unfinished as yet, appears smaller, but the owner tells me it’s actually bigger.

The reason for the move from Ascot Vale after 40 years?

There’s a real problem for guest parking there.

And, of course, the land is very valuable.

Destined, the boss tells me, for apartments.

Gee, what a surprise!

I’d love to do a fly-on-the-wall story of a typical reception centre wedding/celebration Saturday night: The staff, the cooks, the band, the food, the guests, the lot!

Have put it one outfit, but they never got back to me.

This guy was pleasant enough, but sufficiently reticent for me to think he’s not a good candidate!

See original story here.

 

 

The west and its food don’t need your validation

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New westie food ventures of the ritzy nature always generate a great deal of speculation, excitement and curiosity – and that is certainly the case at present with regards to the revamp headed our way at Harts Hotel in Middle Foostcray and Harley & Rose, soon to be up and running at the former location of Ovest in West Footscray.

In both cases, CTS has decided not pursue these stories as both establishments have already generated coverage.

So I know what you know.

But that doesn’t stop me and my friends thinking about what is happening and the dynamics at play.

Sometimes that interest becomes amusement and bemusement.

Last week’s story in The Age, for example, started with the words “Footscray: it’s the suburb that just won’t quit its upward trajectory”, while that same opening paragraph concluded with “Now, serious food is coming in hot”.

The story finished with “Upwards the west”.

For goodness sakes, who or what defines, in this context, what “upward trajectory, “serious food” and “upwards the west” mean?

Is it solely down to celebrity foodie names like McConnell, Builders Arms and Cutler and Co?

That often seems to be the case when it comes coverage of westie food happenings in non-western Melbourne media of various levels and varieties.

Or is just about the sleek/chic/hipster/trendy/groovy look and feel of such places that drives such coverage and proclamations of progress? And even if the food is in no way adventurous or new?

A combination of both, I’m guessing.

And the very use of words and concepts such as upwards and trajectory in a food context themselves bespeak a mindset that is narrow and competitive.

I’d argue that, depending on rather different criteria, that there is serious food happening every day of the week in the west – and not just the inner west, either.

Even if it mostly falls outside your world view.

In regards to the same story, two pals have pointed out to me – without prompting – that phrases such as “panzanella with local vinegar” and “a coiffed traditional pub menu” read like hipster parody.

Though that may be attributable to The Age and its writer, rather than those behind these businesses.

As ever with such happenings, I am interested to discover whether these joints will be merely in the west – or OF the west.

Some launches from the recent and not-so-recent past illustrate how some folks have gone about getting the locals onside.

When The Plough was relaunched a few years back, the publicists and management ambled up and down Victoria and Charles streets, inviting the local Seddon businesses and their staff to the opening night party.

Likewise, when the Calombaris empire made its move into Williamstown at Hellenic Hotel, local traders and notables, western suburbs media  – and, yes, this blogger – were well represented at the launch festivities.

Just this week, a new Vietnamese-Chinese restaurant opened in Cairnlea.

Unfortunately, Bennie and I were unable to attend the opening night on Tuesday.

We would love to have been there.

Because the eatery concerned, Kim Huong, did it in style by throwing a full-on banquet involving the likes of roast pork, fish coleslaw, abalone, scallops and barramundi.

At no charge.

For whoever in the community was interested in attending.

Way to go – now THAT’S a good way to build engagement with the locals.

Let’s imagine, in a parallel universe, this scenario …

In which a flash new eatery in the western suburbs is opening, but with a buzz built solely around foodie star power and with publicists/marketing crew with few or no contacts in – or knowledge of – the west.

Opening night sees a parade of the habitual red carpet/bubbly hordes front up for one of their very rare visits to the western suburbs, which are usually only for just such events.

As a friend opined to me: “They’d have a great first week; I’d check to see where they’re at in six months.”

The simple truth is – as it currently stands – drawing people to the west across the Maribyrnong remains a very uphill battle.

So non-celeb, regulation westies will be your bread and butter – whether you like it or not.

And in the inner west, and in West Footscray in particular, that means lots and lots young families.

My guess – informed by speaking with countless people, food industry types in the west and sometimes idiotically forensic analysis of Facebook community pages – is that for many such folk, eating out is a once-a-month deal, and even that’s a stretch for some.

Winning regular, local clientele is a tricky business – but can be done.

Not for a minute am I advocating wall-to-wall karaoke and $15 parmas.

But what won’t wash, either, are high prices, beautiful plating and small serves that leave punters seriously out of pocket and looking for a kebab.

It’s also been put to me this week that apartment arisings in the inner west – including those of the multi-storey kind on the banks of the Maribyrnong, but also others of less magnitude – are creating an instant population with disposable income (some of the DINK variety) ready to burn on flash eating and perhaps even fine dining.

The inner west may get there some day – and maybe quite soon.

But not yet.

See you at Harley & Rose?

Could do!

But we’d need to see the menu – and prices – first.

Is karma real?

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Ah, Sims … our supermarket of choice.

Right outside this West Footscray institution can be an interesting place, too.

There’s racks for bikes; often enough, these are also used for tethering interesting dogs while their owners are inside shopping.

There’s always interesting people, too, coming and going.

We’re well used to running into friends and readers right here.

But in all our years shopping at Sims, I have never experienced an event as surreal as that of this week.

Pulling in for a typical mid-week, post-work top up of cat food and a few others bits and pieces, I amble towards the ATM to make a withdrawal.

Shockingly, as I get there I find a fistful of $50 notes hanging out of it.

Now, I confess to being guilty of having, in the past, absendmindedly left money – $50 one time, $100 on another – at ATMs.

But this is a first – finding “free” money at a money machine.

And in considerable quantity.

I deftly grab the cash and stuff it in my pocket, before going about the business of my own transaction.

And all the while I’m wondering about just how to handle this …

After all, I suspect that for whoever left this money here, this will constitute a cataclysmic event.

I know it would be for me!

I glance over my shoulder, seeing an old bloke shuffling with his shopping across the road to his car.

Maybe it’s him?

As I continue to ponder this dilemma, all the while going through the process of my own (much more modest) withdrawal, a young bloke comes out of the supermarket, approaches me and the ATM and asks:

“Did you find $400 here?”

Reply I: “Stand back a bit, mate, while I finish my business.”

Once done, I stroll a few paces away, followed by my new friend.

He tries a variation on his theme:

“Was there $400 there?”

I reach into my pocket, pull out the money – and count it.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven – sure enough, I have eight $50 dollar notes.

I hand it over to the young man, saying:

“Mate, this sure as hell is your lucky day”

He mumbles some not particularly gracious thanks and heads straight back into Sims.

I follow him, so see him head straight into the bottle shop.

Hell, that’s precisely what I’d do, too!

So my ethical conundrum has been short-circuited by the arrival of the money’s rightful owner.

I’m not quite sure how I would’ve handled it had the bloke not arrived.

The Sims staff subsequently tell me they’re well used to customers leaving all sorts of stuff in the aisles – including sums of money a lot bigger than $400.

In any case, IF there is any such thing as karma, I fully expect that when I go to check on my modest Powerball quick pick, the machine will cheerfully emit that tinkly winner’s tune.

Just kidding – I don’t believe in karma, and particularly not any tit-for-tat variety that sways lottery tickets!

Trugo thrills

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Footscray Summer Cup, Footscray Park Bowling Club, 1 Hoadley Court, Footscray.

This was the second social play day of the revived Footscray Trugo Club I attended.

 

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As with the first, it was held at the Ballarat Road home of the Footscray City Bowling Club – the trugo club’s temporary HQ while the club’s proper home at Buckley Street moves through the red-tape process.

 

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It was a hot day, so I was by no means sure I’d be up for anything approaching serious competition or socialising.

But settle in we all did, for a most enjoyable afternoon.

 

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Some temporary shelter helped – a lot!

 

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The bowls club bar was operating, which gave me a chance to check out the gorgeous old-school decor.

 

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After the set-up, practice hits and a few people coming and going, four teams of four players each got down to it.

 

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The gripping, nail-biting final was won 18-17 by the Olympic Doughnuts over the Go Ruts! line-up.

 

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The Footscray Trugo Club will be holding social days on the fourth Sunday of every month.

It’s good fun – and no previous experience is necessary!

Check out the Facebook page here and the blog/website here.

 

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Reception centres of the western suburbs

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Wedding receptions and other big parties/gatherings are held, of course, in many venues across the west – at Werribee Mansion, for example.

But here I am concerned here only with those that bill themselves as reception centres.

I love them!

The above photo was taken while I was attending a recent political fundraiser at 501 Receptions in West Footscray.

In all but one of the other cases, I gained access to the centres simply by walking in.

I took a heap of interior photos – and was even given a guided tour by management in one case.

But the rooms were all either being cleaned up by staff and/or prepared for the next function.

As such, I have chosen not use such photos as it would be unfair.

But what impressed me in all cases was the hushed grandeur of the reception rooms – especially the big ones.

And I admired the architectural skill that creates such grand rooms almost totally without pillars.

All these places spoke to me deeply in terms of community gatherings, of weddings and 21sts and balls and many generations of celebrations.

Of hopes and dreams.

I’d be super thrilled and grateful if any readers would care to chip in with their memories of attending functions at any of these places!

 

501 Receptions, Barkly Street, West Footscray

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Sheldon Recepotion & Convention Centre, Somerville Road, Sunshine West.

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Grand Star Reception & Convention Centre, Grieve Parade, Altona North

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White Knight Receptions, Hampstead Road, Maidstone

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Ultima Function Centre, Keilor Park Drive, Keilor Park

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Lakeside Banquest & Convention Centre, Melton Highway, Taylors Lakes

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The Luxor Function Centre, Sydenham Road, Taylors Lakes

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Unknown, Sunshine Road, Tottenham

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I’m including this because it was actually this derelict building on Sunshine Road in Tottenham that inspired a reception centre post.

Having driven past it countless times, often wondering about its history, I’d always assumed it was – or had been – a reception centre.

But upon stopping to take photographs, I realised it simply doesn’t seem big or grand enough.

Does anyone know its story?

Digital valium? Cold turkey!

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After nine years, our Foxtel pay TV service has been disconnected.

There are a number of reasons …

One is, I simply grew weary of haggling several times a year with Foxtel staff on the phone – quite often after extended wait times – in order to get our fees down.

Our wants were simple – your basic service + sport.

No, no, no – I do not want IQ, HD, an AFL package or any other of your bells and whistles.

We have an old-school television that cannot handle HD and we have no interest in recording programs for later viewing.

For years, even though it’s been a pain in the you know where, I have been able to talk our monthy payments down from $55 or $60 to $45 or even (late last year) $35 – which we figure is about what we should’ve been paying.

But such arrangements have only ever run for a few months – after which I have had to repeat the whole tiresome process.

Every time I got on the phone to Foxtel, I was aware that I should not be merely be playing a game of bluff – that I really did need to have the determination to disconnect if a suitable pricing arrangement could not agreed upon.

And so it came to pass … when the Foxtel employee with whom I was dealing could not, even after consultation with his supervisor and then with the supervisor’s supervisor, offer me any deal at ll.

That’s it – disconnect!

But there are other factors …

As much I’ve enjoyed endless, low-cost access to an endless parade of of NRL, Super Rugby, A-League, cricket and much more, for the past year or so having pay TV has started to feel a bit like a prison.

I’ve felt tethered to the sofa.

On one night last week, for instance, there were four games on at once – yet I can hardly claim to have enjoyed the evening as I was channel surfing the whole time.

All this, of course, means big changes in our household.

No pay TV means no TV at all.

One of the most attractive things about having a pay TV package is never having to have any truck with the banalities of the laughably self-described free-to-air channels.

So – no, no, no, a millions times no – we will not be buying a set-top box or a new telly simply so we can have the privilege of watching A Current Affair or reality TV BS.

Books – oh yes, there is going to be a lot of reading.

And music – which, to quote Duke Ellington, has always been my mistress, above and a long ways beyond anything on a TV screen, including sport.

There will be a lot of music – a lot more music.

I’ve always felt that regardless of its ownership status, that Sky News in Australia plays a straight bat on political matters.

But the signing up Andrew Bolt for a nightly show, joining the equally Rightist Chris Kenny and Paul Murray, is another very good reason to pull the plug.

What are they thinking? They can, of course, have on their channel whoever they please – but I’m not sure pushing the commentary team so far to the Right is a smart move.

I have some big plans for Consider The Sauce formulating in my brain – hopefully now I will stop dreaming and start doing.

It’s never been about the money – in fact, even $60 seems pretty reasonable for the service we received.

And now it’s gone, Bennie and I may step out for the occasional Socceroos or Victory game – any one of which will cost more than an entire month of pay TV.

As well, we may also step out to see vintage movies and the like that turn us on, at ACMI or the Astor.

It remains to be seen how we will cope without pay TV … but for the moment not having it feels liberating.

Wait – what’s going on?

7 Comments

supa3

 

A few years back, Consider The Sauce was bemused to note the rise of the Deliberate Wait.

This involves certain eateries in the CBD and elsewhere deliberately and on purpose running their no-booking operations with built-in waiting time for incoming customers.

This way, the reasoning seems to go, the punters can spend some time cooling their heels – in the bar spending money, on the stairway and even out on the street – in such a way as to sharpen their appreciation for just how lucky they will be when they eventually get to eat in such fabulously fashionable establishments.

Whacko stuff.

Or so it’s always seemed to me.

But nothing to do with us, our friends, our readers and eating in the west.

Lately, though, I’m not so sure.

Stories of extended wait times and queuing, many of them provided first-hand to CTS or witnessed by ourselves, continue to arise.

Mostly, though, they’re concerned with different kinds of delay than the “make ’em wait – we’ll build hipster cache” school of thought.

Though I suspect the hour-and-more wait times to get into a certain new CBD dumpling joint certainly fall into that category.

I have a friend who waited more than hour for food at a barbecue festival.

More recently I’ve been told that wait times for the new Willy Friday night food trucks extended, in some cases, beyond 40 minutes.

Surely anything beyond 10 minutes for a bowl of noodles or some such from a food truck defeats the very purpose and ethos and fun of food trucks?

On a more prosaic level, I regularly spy weekend groups of people waiting on the street for tables at a groovy inner west cafe, the coffee of which I find undrinkable.

And over in Kensington, I regularly see a dozen or more people waiting in the foyer or on the street for a table at Laksa King – early evening and early in the week.

Terrific food, indeed, but …

As Bennie has pointed out, we do indeed sometimes wait for a table – but only very, very rarely does that extend beyond waiting for a recently vacated table to be cleared.

Mostly, we’re very happy for ourselves and our fellow westies that waiting – be it for five minutes or five days – is simply uncalled for.

“If one place is busy, go next door” is our default rule of thumb.

Last weekend, I visited one of my very favourite places only to find it more crowded than I had ever before witnessed.

“Uh oh,” I thought. “I’m going to be waiting forever …”

However the staff assured me I’d get my lunch within 15 minutes – that’s OK then, I can live with that!

As things eventuated, I got my goodies in 10 minutes.

Later, I asked the co-proprietor – a man with much experience not only in running this particular cafe/shop but also of coping with the demands of markets and festivals – about long wait times.

For him it’s simple: It’s all about prep work – or lack of it.

And he stressed how important it is – he wants customers to return.

So while this kind of madness continues to pass us by, I still do wonder about whether punters who cop it have some sort of masochistic streak and whether some operators simply haven’t got their act together.

Either in terms of getting customers seated or in providing them food in a timely manner …

Hair? Yes. BBQ? No.

1 Comment

lina2

 

Meet Lina.

She’ll do you a do or a haircut with a smile and skill.

Lina’s Hair Salon is at 1/7 Kinnear Street, Footscray.

 

lina1

 

What Lina cannot do is provide with you with a lunch or a dinner – or even a snack – of barbecue.

Which is quite at odds with a recent listing on Urbanspoon.

Whatever the origins of this mystery, Lina is being a good sport about.

She is, however, fielding phone calls from barbecue fans wishing to book tables.

But at least I know where to go to get my next haircut!

 

lina3

West Footscray and the winds of change

10 Comments

wefo2

 

It seems unlikely at this point that the possibility of about 200 apartments going up on the site of what is currently 501 Receptions will generate the same kind of uproar that greeted the developmental threat to the Dancing Dog building.

Still, doing a story about those plans has seen me engage in a number of interesting conversations about urban living and planning.

No one I’ve talked to is opposed to development – but that support usually comes with a proviso that new buildings be of high quality and intelligently designed.

There’s the rub …

One intensely interested West Footscray local also brought into focus for me the fact that the 501 Receptions proposal is just one of many changes taking place within a very small area.

I had been at least subliminally aware of most of them, unaware of others – but taken as a whole, they certainly signal a neighbourhood in transition.

What is driving these changes?

Is the demand really there for so many apartments and townhouses – or is there always an element of guesswork in such investments?

I wonder, too, if there is a cadre of long-time landlords and property owners who have been passive investors for decades but who are suddenly feeling the inclination to cash in.

If so, why?

On Barkly Street – between 501 Receptions and Dosa Hut/Dosa Corner, and amid much commercial activity of various kinds – there is a surprisingly high number of residential properties.

I wonder what their future is in a time of neighbourhood flux.

 

west9

 

Likewise, how secure is the future for the old Barkly Street churches?

 

west5

 

Opposite 540 On Barkly stands what can accurately be called a paddock.

It bears a “for lease” sign.

 

west4

 

Further along, and opposite Ovest, is another vacant lot, this one not so big and without signage.

 

west6

 

There’s another paddock on the corner of Clive and Russell streets, behind Dosa Corner.

What was once a funky ’60s-style church is now definitely earmarked for apartments, I’m told.

 

west7

 

Further along, opoosite West Footscray Vet Clinic, stood for many decades a neighbourhood mechanic.

I’m told that one minute a few weeks back it was there and about 30 later it was gone, the land destined for … apartments and/or townhouses.

According to the vet clinic folks, “people who have been bringing their animals to us for years had been taking their cars there for years”.

 

west8

 

Back in the village, the two shops between Dosa Hut and the paint shop are to become townhouses, six of the eight already sold, according to the sign.

 

west3

 

According to a post on the Barkly Village Facebook page, the defaced property next to the laundrette is all set to become an amusement parlour – “primary use seems to be for billiards and games machines”.

 

west1

 

Also in the village, GM Manchester is adorned with “closing down” signs.

 

west2

 

The short-lived Akshaya Indian street food enterprise is giving way to a WeFo branch of Biryani House.

When I have a peek, they look like they’re just about ready to roll …

198 apartments for Barkly St, WeFo?

21 Comments

wefo1

 

More than a year ago, I tried to sweet talk the proprietor of 501 Receptions in West Footscray into letting me do a story on his operation.

Specifically, I wanted to spend a Saturday night at 501 Receptions taking in the go-to-whoa of an event such as a wedding – taking in along the way the staff, the kitchen, the food, everything.

Nothing came of my idea – even after a mutual acquaintance, someone who is something of an elder statesman of western suburbs food, tried to ease the way with 501 Receptions on my behalf.

Now I find that, under plans before Maribyrnong council, the future of 50 Receptions is very much up in the air.

 

wefo3

 

According to a story by my Star Weekly colleague Benjamin Millar – read it here – council is considering a development proposal that would see the property home to 198 units in twin five-storey blocks plus eight retail tenancies.

I am not automatically opposed to such a development but such a plan certainly raises many questions.

The plans show carparking spaces to the tune of 201 while, according to Ben’s story, council guidelines would require a minimum of 260 spaces.

According to Ben’s story …

“A traffic assessment by engineering consultant Cardno found ‘anticipated traffic volume … is expected to have no significant impact on the surrounding road network’.”

Hmmm … I wonder what data and/or methodology they used to reach such a conclusion?

 

wefo2

 

As anyone knows who regularly drives on Barkly Street, West Footrscray, or on Rupert or Cross streets, which run parallel to the railways tracks, the traffic situation in the area can get quite intense even with the current housing/resident levels.

And it would seem the revamp of West Footscray station is rather timely – but are there, or should there be, limits?

I’m interested in hearing from anyone who regularly uses either West Footscray or Tottenham stations as to whether either is nearing or already at peak capacity, especially in peak hours.

And on top of Banbury Village, what would such an apartment block plan mean for the area more generally in terms of what is often referred to as “amenity”?

The Black Devil, exterior feline

6 Comments

boris31

 

In the end, it happened suddenly and by accident.

Bennie and I were doing routine housework on Saturday, when I heard a despairing cry …

“Dad, dad!!! Boris has escaped!!”

Just like that, Boris became an outdoor cat.

And what a very excellent thing that has turned out to be.

Look, we tried really, really hard to adhere to the advice given by cat-lovin’ friends and readers – that keeping Boris inside was all for the best for various reasons.

But as the ramifications of his new lifestyle become apparent, it is clear the full-time indoor life was never going to be sustainable for this particular cat in this particular (small) house.

Within 24 hours of his “escape”, all ours lives had been transformed.

 

boris32

 

Bennie and I have not been scratched or bitten since.

We no longer have to worry about powers cords and other electrical leads being rendered useless.

Maybe we can unfurl the blinds and drapes, as they no longer appear under threat of terminal shredding.

My paperwork is no longer being turned into confetti and maybe we can remove the layers of foam rubber from beneath the couch.

The several months it took us to get to this point since his arrival appear, however, to be serving us well.

Boris knows where home is, who are his humans and where the food is at.

He appears to mostly be respecting the four fence lines of our property.

But he is happy and very stimulated.

He’s coming running when hailed, even if that means taking some time out from his Very Important tree-climbing crusade.

 

boris33

 

He is being a little on the aloof side, at least for the time being – coming inside every couple of hours to make sure everything is as should be.

His face is frequently adorned with spiderwebs and other crap from under the house.

And he has made a start on getting to know – and reach some sort of accommodation with – the numerous local cats.

When I awoke on Monday morning, there was no sign of him.

“Uh oh, he’s gone …”, I thought.

But he was waiting on the veranda when I got home from work.