Lebanese heaven

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Tanoor Breakfast House, 1/69 Forsyth Road, Hoppers Crossing. Phone: 8360 3468

As the less established parts of Point Cook, Tarneit, Truganina and Williams Landing have become more so in recent years, a number of eating houses have opened in response to a demand for Indian food.

That has not been the case for those desiring Middle Eastern and/or the food of the eastern Mediterranean – until now.

Tanoor Breakfast House – don’t worry, it does lunch, too! – is here to make our day and maybe even our year.

It doesn’t serve full-blown Lebanese food as found at Riviera at Edgewater.

Instead, it serves (see menu below) a wonderful range of pizzas and pies (man’oush and man’oush calzone) right through to a Lebanese Big Breakfast and a Turkish Big Breakfast.

Best of all, for our tastes and wants and needs, it serves a wonderful line-up – under the heading Traditional Breakfast – of dips and the like served with accompaniments and house-made bread.

Oh yes!

This is the kind of thing for which CTS routinely travels to upper Sydney Road.

Now Tanoor Breakfast House has rendered those sometimes tedious and stressful traffic-light drives to Coburg superfluous – and we couldn’t be happier.

“Hummus b Lahme” comes with three components:

These still-warm and fresh-as housemade breads.

The full suite of salady and tart accessories – pickled turnip, cucumber and chillis; green olives; fresh mint, tomato and onion.

And – oh, the glory of it! – a generous bowl of smooth, fresh hummus, in the middle of which sits an equally generous serve of lamb mince studded with toasted pine nuts.

It all works and tastes like a dream, the sourness of the pickles complementing perfectly the sweetish sheep meat.

The pine nuts – with their unmistakable yet subtle flavour and characteristic soggy crunch – are the icing on the cake.

This is simply fabulous food.

It costs $10.

Which is frankly ridiculous, as it is tantamount to a light meal that could easily serve two.

The falafel plate ($12), with a slightly different configuration of bits and pieces, is just as good.

Just the turshi (pickled turnip) in terms of pickles.

And, this time, a wonderful wet-and-lemony tabouli and small bowl of tahini to join the hummus, bread and tomato.

The half a dozen falafel orbs are superbly fried, of mild flavour and quite delicate.

Our takeaway coffees are great.

Tanoor is open seven days a week from 6am to 3pm.

A whole lot of good

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Eka Wholefoods Cafe, 129 Buckley Street, Seddon. Phone: 0412 485 132

At Consider The Sauce HQ, we figure if we ever went completely meat-free, our diet would be based mostly around the foods of the Mediterranean – African, European, Middle-Eastern.

Your actual “vegetarian food”?

Not so much.

Yes, we are cynical about such stuff.

Some of that is down to probably unfair baggage and previous bad experiences, including some with vego slop right here in the west.

Why have any truck with such food when the various national cuisines deliver meat-free food so effortlessly and with such delicious panache?

No doubt that’s why we’ve gone so long without trying Eka Wholefoods.

And why, after ordering, we are a mix of anticipation and crossed fingers.

We need not have had any fears, as what we lunch on is very fine.

 

 

The joint is the expected mix of one half wholefoods of many kinds and one half gorgeous cafe, a tranquil space in which we enjoy stopping for a while.

 

 

Bennie loves his bao tempeh sliders ($12.9).

The crispy but seemingly rather salty tempeh dances with organic kimchi, house-made peri-peri sauce, grilled shitake mushrooms and caramelised onion.

This pretty food goes down a treat.

 

 

My soba noodle salad ($16.50) is even better.

Joining the organic noodles are cherry tomatoes, chopped toasted almonds, black sesame seeds, cinnamon-crusted organic tofu and a sesame-lemon dressing.

This salad is expertly done and a pleasure to consume.

We depart without trying the good-looking range of sweet treats but with some brown rice and tamari in hand.

It’s been wonderful to have our skepticism so wonderfully rendered daft.

Check out the Eka website here.

 

 

CTS 2017 – the highlights reel

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SOUL FOOD FOR MELBOURNE

Without a doubt, the highlight of the CTS year has been our enjoyment of the Somalian food of Racecourse Road in Flemington.

Even aside from the fabulous food, this has been a joy on other levels.

Not least in the fact that Bennie is as enthusiastic as I, as are various of our friends.

So thank you to #Somalia Eats, House Of Mandi, Deli Afro, Somali Dish and New Somali Kitchen.

There’s one remaining bona fide Somalian joint on the strip yet to be covered by CTS – though I have eaten there several times.

In the coming year!

These Somalian riches mirror, from my perspective and in a distinctively African way, the deep traditions of soul food of the American south – great food and heaps of it, priced right; every day food for every day people.

When, about a month ago, I asked the proprietor of one of these salubrious establishments why he kept his prices so low, he replied:

“Because I want everyone to be able to enjoy our food.”

 

 

ALSO ON RACECOURSE ROAD

Of course, the fabulous Flemo strip is about more than Somalian tucker.

In that regard, it’s been a pleasure to partake of the fine Indian goodies on hand at Curry Cafe Canteen.

 

 

IN YARRAVILLE

We love, love, love the bo kho (beef stew) at Friend Or Pho – available at weekends only.

This Vietnamese staple is available elsewhere in the west.

But none, in our experience, have the viscous lustre of this rendition.

 

 

We steer away from the more daintified and pricey items at Cobb Lane on Anderson Street.

Instead, we adore their humble carrot cake.

So moist, so yummy, such delectably creamy frosting, such a bargain at $5.

In the meantime, our most habitually frequented Yarraville eatery remains the wonderful Pizza d’Asporto.

 

 

LEBANESE ON THE LAKE

We are happy that Riviera has brought a happy, bustling Lebanese vibe to Edgewater.

We hope to return soon.

 

 

SUNSHINE SOCIAL

A few weeks back, Bennie and I enjoyed a Sunday lunch at Sunshine Social – our first visit there since our initial story.

It was just a regular, non-blogging visit so we didn’t take pics.

I wish we had.

Chicken burger for him, fish burger for me – so wonderful, with great fillings (including slaw) and heaps of beaut chips, at a winning $13.50 each.

We admire the spirit and smarts that have gone into Sunshine Social.

 

 

GREEK REVIVAL IN THE WEST

This happy yarn still has a few chapters to be written – not least soon-come opening of Eleni’s in Yarraville.

But it’s been a pleasure, so far, to welcome Meat The Greek and Brother Hood Yiros + Grill to the neighbourhood.

 

 

OUR OLD LOCAL GETS A MAKEOVER

Only one visit so far to a once familiar haunt, formerly known as Hart’s Hotel.

But we reckon they’ve done a bang-up job.

 

 

OUT OF TOWN

An impromptu swing up the highway resulted in a superb meal at Blackwood Ridge Cafe & Larder.

What a find and what a feed.

 

 

COOL CAFES IN THE WEST

We love how so many very fine western suburbs cafes do such a great job by more than matching it with the rest of the city, yet do so by being widely dispersed and working hard to foster local and loyal followings.

This year, we’ve frequented a number of them – sometimes just for coffee, sometimes for something more substantial.

Among them have been Small Graces, the superb sides-as-tapas offerings (above photo) of which are a winning innovation.

Look out for dinner service, coming soon, at this lovely outfit in central Footscray.

We’ve also enjoyed the food and the vibes at Fig & Walnut, Jack B. Nimble and Cheeky Chewies among others.

 

 

A special mention for the Usual Joint in Sunshine North.

In more innovative thinking, this place only steps out for more substantial offerings at weekends – and even then, there’s only one dish prepared.

We dig that!

As well, their luscious crepe cakes are very popular – and for good reason.

 

 

FESTIVAL TIMES

At the start of 2017, I harboured ambitions to get CTS Feasts – rebranded at the CTS Western Suburbs Food Festival – once again running on a regular basis.

This proved more difficult than anticipated – the alchemy that brings food blogger/journalist, willing/enthusiastic restaurant and keen punters together can be elusive!

Such events are very much part of the ongoing CTS gameplan, but will obviously only happen when these ingredients can be successfully and harmoniously wrangled!

But there was no doubting the outstanding fun and food delivered at the three events that WERE held.

At Searz in Newport (above photo) …

 

 

Sankranti in Footscray and …

 

 

… a fund-raiser at Fig & Walnut for Climate For Change.

Thanks very much to everyone who helped and participated.

And see you next year!

 

Tasty on the Hudson

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Hudsons Road Wine & Beer, 2/88 Hudson Road, Spotswood. Phone: 9131 1069

Hudsons Road Beer & Wine has been open just a week or so, but is already a big hit on that strip.

And so it should – it’s a very cool place where the passion for the produce speaks very eloquently.

The accent is on small producers and quality all the way.

 

 

The fit-out, including furniture from neighbouring Quazi Design, is sleek and welcoming.

Partners Alistair Smith (a long-time reader and supporter of CTS) and Leigh Boin stock about 200 beers and 150 wines.

The deli section is compact and the hand-picked philosophy no less evident.

 

 

My lunch, for instance, is a simple and superb platter that costs me $16 and is matched with a glass of La guardianese fiano from Italy.

On my board is an amazing, fine-sliced Mr Canubi capocollo of dry cured pork neck, free range from the western plains.

Also in attendance are a wedge of Challerhocker (Swiss) cheese, ciabatta from Candied Bakery across the road, a gooey quince paste and some fresh pear slices.

The deluxe board for $45 shapes up as a very enticing lunch for two that Bennie and I will try soon.

Alistair and Leigh will continue to fine-tune their business hours, but as it stands they are noon-11pm Monday-Friday, 10am-11pm Saturday and 10am-9pm Sunday.

 

Shiny grill time

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DeGrill, Sunshine Marketplace, Sunshine. Phone: 0402 189 860

A small, single-frame cartoon in the Sunday Age a few years back always makes me chuckle when I think of it.

Two blokes are surveying the Sunshine Marketplace shopping centre.

One says to the other: “Wow – this really is the United Nations of bogans!”

I like it because it’s bloody funny.

But I also like it because I like it that Sunshine Marketplace is like that.

We may live in Yarraville, hit the new fried chicken place in WeFo as soon doing so is viable and even frequent hipster places in Footscray proper … but we love all the west and its people and food.

Which is why CTS loves venturing to not only Sunshine, but also Werribee, Deer Park and beyond – and will continue to eat and review and tell stories from well beyond the ribbon that is the inner west.

 

 

So we applaud the opening of DeGrill at Sunshine Marketplace.

It’s a bold and adventurous move – it is situated, after all, right opposite Maccas and right next door to the cinemas.

I could say that DeGrill is aiming for the same sort of focus as Grill’d or Nando’s – but that would be doing DeGrill a disservice.

Because the menu is significantly more broad than such a comparison might imply.

I suspect the menu may have to be tweaked over time to find out what really works in this particular setting.

But over two visits, CTS and friends enjoy some good food and good service at (mostly) good prices.

The style is classy fast food and proper cutlery and crockery are in use, as are fine salt and pepper grinders.

 

 

There are three hot dog options on the menu, two featuring kransky or chorizo.

But the classic ($7.50) is constructed using a standard frankfurter.

So all is regulation here, but its recipient is pleased enough.

 

 

“Crispy” chicken ($9.50) has the wow factor aplenty.

The serve consists of three superbly cooked wings anointed with a tangy sauce.

Very good!

Especially when served with …

 

 

… a side of mash and gravy ($6).

This a rarity is Melbourne in general, let alone in a Sunshine shopping centre.

It’s OK, we all like it – but it’s not spectacular.

 

 

The menu’s “between the buns” section lists nothing that could be described as a beef burger, but based on our table’s orders of the cheese steak ($9, above) and …

 

 

… the only marginally different philly cheese ($9.50), this may be the way to go here.

Both are keenly priced and boast good ingredients and dressings.

The steak is thicker than routinely found in steak sandwiches and, best of all, is so well cooked that biting through for a mouthful is done with ease and without the whole sandwich falling apart.

Big thumbs up for that!

 

 

Under the heading “from the grill”, DeGrill offers dishes such as a flat iron steak ($17 and $26) and chicken ($16 for half, $29 for full).

These and others may fulfill the implied promise of more hefty meals.

Sadly, the beef short ribs ($16) do not.

It’s common knowledge ribs are expensive to secure and are inevitably at the upper end price-wise wherever they appear.

It’s common knowledge, too, the beef ribs can be fatty.

But these are very fatty indeed, and the three segments amount to not much more than a brief meal of not many more mouthfuls.

As well, as per the eatery’s name, these rib bits are grilled and not smoked, as you’d generally find at the numerous barbecue-style places across the city.

The coleslaw ($4.50) lacks crunch – maybe because its main component is savoy cabbage?

It’s under-done in the seasoning/flavour department, too, though some quick work with the salt and pepper grinders soon fixes that up.

 

 

CTS is over the mega shake thing – too often they seem to involve poor quality ingredients and unjustifiably high prices.

This DeGrill brownie shake ($9) defies both factors – good price, nice shake.

We wish DeGrill well.

Maye its arrival will inspire others to hang out their shingle in the same locale.

Thanks to Annie and Ali for helping us with this story!

Check out the DeGrill website – including full menu – here.

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!

The Consider The Sauce 2016 wrap

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friend12

 

Vietnamese in our hood

It’s not like we were consciously hanging out for Vietnamese food in Yarraville – perhaps because we have become so used to travelling to Footscray, Sunshine or St Albans, and thoroughly enjoying doing so.

But the arrival of Friend or Pho and Hoa Sen has had a profound effect on our lives.

Its the scratch we didn’t even know needed scratching!

Going by the numbers of people we see in these two different yet complementary places, we are not along in enjoying them.

 

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Vietnamese elsewhere

But we have also loved the trip to Avondale Heights, knowing our destination is Bao & Pot Cafe.

This wonderful Military Road establishment does a fine line in Vietnamese staples – including a sinus-clearing bun bo hue (spicy beef noodle soup).

But here you’ll also find the fabulous turmeric brioche lemongrass beef burger pictured above.

 

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Seriously sexy Asian BBQ

We loved Vietnamese of a different kind at Phi Phi 2 in St Albans.

Here they proudly serve table-top cooking with roots in Korea and flavours fully redolent of Vietnam.

Delicious in every way!

 

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Speaking of burgers …

If you were to gauge the state of the burger in our western suburbs going solely by coverage in Melbourne’s food media – be they grand, print, digital and/or vacuous – you’d think there’s nothing much going on save for one particularly famous Footscray joint.

We know better.

A whole lot better.

Because we enjoyed very excellent meals at Gemelli in Point Cook, Burger Business in Footscray and Burgernomics in Braybrook.

 

 

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Latin Foods & Wines

The move by Marco and Maria from humble digs in Sunshine North to a flash, new and much larger premises in Deer Park was in many ways THE western suburbs food story of 2016.

We love what they’re doing, with all our favourite sandwiches and more still available but joined by a much wider range of eating options, including parrillada, South American-style barbecue.

This happy event was covered in various stories, including this one and this one.

 

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Pizza d’Asporto comes to Yarraville

Equally exciting was the opening in Yarraville of a branch of Pizza d’Asporto.

Doubtless we’ll still feel like venturing to the cool Williamstown mothership, but now we have these folk just a few blocks away!

We were thrilled to attend the pre-opening party and have been back for mighty pasta dishes.

We are unsurprised Pizza d’Asporto has been an immediate hit.

 

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The real soul food of Melbourne

In the past few years, CTS has eaten – and mostly enjoyed – a lot of food in Melbourne that is promoted as being American-style barbecue.

Sometimes, this stuff is also billed as being “soul food”.

We love those favours, the meats, the sides.

But like everyone else, we pay for the, um, privilege.

We reckon it’s all a bit of a trendy con.

So let’s re-brand what “soul food” can and should be.

“Soul food” should be what local folks eat.

It should be cheap as.

In Melbourne’s west, what we consider to be dinkum soul food comes in many guises – including Vietnamese and Indian.

But it’s Somalian fare we most think of in this context.

There’s still a bunch of Somalian places for still to check out on Racecourse Road in Flemington, but we truly love the food at Deli Afro Restaurant.

OMG – the soup!

We also love hitting Somali Star Cafe in the Footscray Hub arcade for equally fine food, with Ethiopian and crash-hot sambusas also available.

 

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A very cool night in Footscray

Our other African highlight for the year came courtesy of fabulous Ethiopian food at Selam Authentic African Restaurant & Bar on Nicholson Street as we hosted our buddy Mietta and various of her family members on their annual pre-Chistmas night out.

We loved showing off a part of our world and really enjoyed the company!

 

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A Newport classic

Is Searz our favourite cafe?

Could be.

We do know that we’ve loved fronting up a few times to check out the Friday night specials, revelling in amazing food at superb prices.

And when we visit Searz, we just know that we’ll be indulging in BOTH the alluring blackboard desserts!

 

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Indian sweets of a different kind

Despite our very deep love for Indian food, that nation’s sweets have mostly been found by us to be way too cloyingly rich.

You can get those full-on delights, such as barfi, at Kumar’s Sweets in Derrimut.

But our whole mindset about Indian sweets has been transformed for the marvellously delicious yet less rich treats they produce based mostly on nuts and dried fruits.

 

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Beyond the western suburbs

How much to we love a drive to Brunswick East?

Very, very much when Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food is on the menu.

We’re happy to pay Teta Mona, Mankoushe and Moroccan Deli-cacy the ultimate accolade of wishing they were in the western suburbs.

 

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Non-food event of the year

Grand final day!