Tex-Mex sanctuary

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Muyrico, Sanctuary Lakes Shopping Centre, Point Cook. Phone: 0424 101 020

We’re in Point Cook for some Mexican food – or, more accurately – some Tex-Mex tucker.

Our most recent adventure along those lines – on the other side of the freeway, at another shopping centre – had hardly thrilled us, so why our upbeat mood?

Because Muyrico’s Rupantar Dey has approached us with a view to doing a review (see full disclosure below).

We like his style and honest approach so we are quietly hopeful.

That optimism turns out to be well founded.

Rupantar and partner Gaurav Verma have a nice little operation going at Sanctuary Lakes shopping centre.

The food is cheap and tasty.

Keep in mind this shopping centre food court fare and a nice time can be had.

 

 

We start with a range of the lads’ snacky items – flaky pastry beef empanada ($1.50 each), devilled chook leg ($1.80) and corn fritters ($2.50 for three).

These are all fine.

The fritters especially impress – they’re simple, light, moist, chewy and corny, and much better than the very similar spring onion pancakes we sometimes try in Chinese places.

 

 

Our quesadila ($10.90) is a messy treat.

The flour tortilla is toasted after being stuffed with pulled pork, cheese and beans, the whole lot then anointed with sour cream, guacamole, corn and tomato.

 

 

Our chimichanga ($10.90) has a chicken filling, but in most regards this deep-fried burrito shares much with our quesadila, only it’s a bit more stodgy.

Kinda like a cheerful Tex-Mex take on an old-school chiko roll – and I suspect there’s folks for whom that description will be a big, fat green light!

 

 

Desserts?

The chocolate mousse and cinnamon rice pudding ($6, but soon to be – I’m told – $4.50) are, as expected, sinfully rich – and with consistencies more like soup than pudding!

Gaurav and Rupantar tell me Muyrico is going good, though they’re still feeling their way to what works best for the demands of their location and customers.

They’re especially pleased with their bustling home delivery service.

Muyrico is open until 9.30pm seven nights a week.

Check out the Muyrico website here.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Muyrico as guests of management. No money changed hands. Our food was chosen by CTS. Muyrico management did not seek any editorial input into this story.)

 

Sweet Sri Lankan hits WeFo

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The White Elephant On Barkly, 561 Barkly Street, West Foostcray. Phone: 0423 515 728

The White Elephant brings a real point of difference to Indian-dominated West Footscray, and is doing so with style.

Whether its efforts will be sufficient to prosper in what is a fiercely competitive environment, only time will tell.

We certainly hope so after a three-member CTS team enjoys a fine evening meal there.

The former home of the cafe Jellybread has been fitted out in bright and breezy fashion.

We found the service very attentive and the wait times perfectly appropriate for the food at hand.

Our first glances at the menu (see below) are quite bracing, based on our long enjoyment of extremely affordable Sri Lankan food at a variety of places.

At the White Elephant, meat and seafood curries cost either side of $20.

But closer perusal of the food list reveals some outright gems.

Three rotis, one veg curry and one meat curry for $12, for instance.

Or a rice-and-curry combo of two veg curries and one meat curry for $15.

That latter deal will do us – or two of us anyway!

 

 

Justin is extremely happy with his curry combo deal.

Unlike many other Indian and Sri lankan eateries, here the curry deals can be customised according to customer wishes – rather than being a mix of whatever the staff choose back out in the kitchen.

The mild beef curry is some way short of tender, but not tough, either – perfectly normal and acceptable for this kind of food.

The eggplant moju disappears at pace.

But it is the potato curry that is the star – so simple and tasty!

 

 

It is a vegetable selection that shines brightest in Bennie’s line-up, as well.

The okra dish is as good as we’ve enjoyed.

The vegetable holds its vibrant greenness, is not in the least cooked down and shows not the slightest sign of sliminess.

It’s fabulous.

We’re all taken with the cashew curry, which is way more creamy and moist than the above photograph suggests.

It’s nice, with the nuts just on the tender side of al dente.

But, as Bennie later opines, there is a strong element of same-same about it that suggests it would be more enjoyed as a smaller side.

One of the main things Bennie enjoys about Sri Lankan food is the ability to order pork.

His pork curry here is similar to those he’s enjoyed elsewhere – dry, charry, enjoyable.

But beware – this is very, very fatty.

The $15 meal deals my companions enjoy involve excellent food and represent superb value.

 

 

My lampraise ($17) is something entirely different.

I’ve enjoyed other versions of this very traditional Sri Lankan meal – cooked in a banana leaf – but never quite this hearty or rustic.

The cooked-in-stock rice is a fine foundation.

The stars are a couple of fat charred, juicy and supremely delicious prawns.

There’s an orb of tuna cutlet and a heap of chicken and the same pork, very fatty, as in Bennie’s curry.

The chicken is overcooked by Western, charcoal grill standards, but that is – I strongly suspect – entirely normal for this dish.

My meal is so meaty, so macho that the phrase “meat lovers” comes to mind – something more usually associated with dodgy pizzas.

As well, the fried egg – very good – lends the dish something of the aspect of an old-school English fry-up.

So … not everyone’s cup of tea.

But, no doubt, just precisely the ticket for some!

 

 

At the top of the meal, we’d started out with a serve of spicy chicken ribs ($8).

Our handful were fine – not so spicy and quite oily, but lip-smackingly juicy and tender.

The White Elephant is doing breakfasts!

The menu ranges from western-style dishes such as eggs, toast and pancakes through to string hoppers and roti with curry.

Meanwhile, we wish the White Elephant crew well – and, on the basis of those awesome spud and okra dishes, we’ll be back for more veg.

 

 

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

 

Greek groove in Yarraville

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Eleni’s Kitchen + Bar, 28 Anderson Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9943 4233

There’s a lot of family history tied up in Yarraville’s new Greek eatery.

Locals who know just how long the fit-out of the former Anderson Street boutique took will be gratified to know that a fine space has been carved out here, upstairs and down, full kitchen and all.

Surely this is the most radical makeover of a village business property for more than a decade?

The place is being managed by Eleftheria (“Thierry”) Amanatidis.

At her side around the place is her uncle, Tony.

The restaurant is named after Tony’s mother, Eleni Amanatidis.

Eleni’s husband is Dimitrios Amanatidis, the father of whom was Antonios Amanatidis, one of the first Greek Orthodox priests to arrive in Australia.

 

 

So, yes, a lot of family vibes and inner-west Greek traditions going on here.

Unsurprisingly, and very happily from our perspective, the food being delivered (see menu below) is old-school, straight-up Greek tucker.

We wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

 

Still, within that framework we find some nice ‘n’ lovely twists and tweaks when we partake of a fine dinner as guests of Thierry and her crew (see full disclosure below).

In the serve of super fresh dips ($14), for instance, the melitzanosalata eggplant number tastes not in the least of the garlic and smokiness we are expecting, but instead of zingy mint.

Just as good is the tirokafteri of feta, capsicum and the tiniest tingle of chilli.

These two are finely abetted by a tzatziki with dill and a very mild-flavoured tarama.

 

 

The dips are served with very good house-made bread, though we resort to grilled pita to mop up the remainders.

 

 

Bennie and I split two mains between the more ritzy grill line-up and the “Eleni’s home favourites” list that includes moussaka and pastitisio.

The cabbage rolls ($24) are every bit the home-style classics for which we’ve been hoping.

If I rather wish we’d gone for something a little more rich and hearty, Bennie has no such problem.

 

 

The meat in our lamb gyros plate ($25) is very fine indeed – salty and herby and heaps of it.

This meat, BTW, is also available in pita-wrapped takeaway form for $12.

In some ways, though, the top test of both our mains – and a handy gauge of the freshness and general excellence of the food at Eleni’s – comes in the form of the salads that accompany both.

Differing slightly, they are superb – dressed well, juicy and delicious in every way, and displaying no sign at all of even a single tired or brown-edged leaf.

 

 

Bennie and I are keen to go both the available desserts – so we do!

The baklava ($8.50) – made by Thierry herself – is a tender take on another Greek classic.

 

 

Even better, or so I think, is the rizogalo (rice pudding, $8.50).

This is some kind of fancy trick – that something so homespun and plain can simultaneously be so suave, smooth and sexy.

Coffee?

Spot on Greek for him and Italian for me end a great New Year’s Eve outing.

There’s no doubt in our minds that Eleni’s will be widely regarded as a very welcome arrival to the inner west.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Eleni’s as guests of management. No money changed hands. Our food was chosen by CTS. Eleni’s management did not seek any editorial input into this story.)

 

Pumped up for the South Sudan wrestling

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South Sudanese Wrestling All-Stars at Chaplin Reserve, Sunshine: Inner states (Victoria, NSW and ACT ) v Outback states (SA, WA and Queensland)

Even after talking top several people, I remain – as an utter newbie should – largely ignorant about the finer points of South Sudanese traditional wrestling.

In this all-star tournament, the wrestlers and their camp followers are situated at opposing ends of the Chaplin Reserve soccer ground.

 

 

The wrestling itself – many bouts – is serious, though doesn’t appear to my untutored eye to be as tricky or technical as that practised at the Olympic Games, for example.

But it ain’t Mexican wrestling, either! Duh!

 

 

I’m told the young women self-create the beautiful chants in Dinkan dialect and that they’re all about supporting their teams.

A South Sudan take on We Are The Champions?

 

 

Hmmm, dunno about that!

But work of these singing queens is certainly more soulful, beautiful, stirring – and just plain better – than anything ever dreamed up by Freddie Mercury and Co; IMO!

 

 

While the athletes and their retinues were loud and proud in their finery, it is also notable that very many spectators among the big, happy crowd also are dressed to the nines and 10s.

What’s it all about?

Community!

I love it!

 

 

New pal Emily Yuille, who is very active in Melbourne’s South Sudanese community, provided the following appreciation!

Thanks!

“Wrestling is a contest traditionally between young men of the Dinka and Mundri tribes in South Sudan.

 

 

“Sport plays an important role in the lives of young South Sudanese people with wrestling being one of the greatest and most popular. People love it.

“While largely unheard of in Australia, the past several years has seen the sport grow across the country, with teams in most states: Queensland – Maroons
Canberra (ACT) – Powerhouse, Melbourne – Lions, Adelaide (SA) – Cobras, NSW – Blue Warriors, Perth (WA) – Western Empire.

 

 

“The contest is all about showing strength. The contestants don’t hit each other. Using their strength they force someone to the ground and if you’re still standing, that means you win. There is no harm to done each other.

“Wrestling matches happen in three-minute bouts, with a draw declared if neither competitor can force their rival to the ground.

 

 

“For many, competing is often a rite of passage. In some families, people’s grandfather or uncle could also be a wrestler, so it goes down the generations.

“When you start wrestling for a championship, it means that they are a young man growing up and get to leave your family and your youth life.

 

 

“While only men compete in South Sudanese wrestling, the women play a valuable role during competitions, often providing encouragement and songs of support in their native languages.

“They make songs for their champions to give them morale and energy, they sing in Dinkan dialect, which also teaches the younger kids how to sing and communicate in their language and get connected with their culture.”

 

 

The South Sudanese Australian Traditional Wrestling Association Facebook page is here.

Go here for a short SBS story and film about South Sudan wrestling.

 

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!

 

Yiros winner

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The Brother Hood Yiros + Grill, Admiral Street, Seddon.

It’s inevitable there will be comparisons between this place, just off Buckley Street, and that other new Greek street food-style gyros/souvalaki joint in Seddon.

This is no big deal, as I’m pretty sure both are going to prosper.

Truth is, there’s a welter of kebab-type meals available in the west but a for-sure dearth of Greek classics, a vacuum/niche into which both are happily tapping.

 

 

The Brother Hood crew have a couple of favourable points of difference going in their favour:

Their meat is grilled over charcoal.

They make their own pita bread.

Both definite pluses.

There’s another point of difference that’s not so favourable – or at least it’s a little different.

The Brother Hood place is not a restaurant.

It’s takeaway only, though there is a wait space – that’s about as big as a bathroom in a cheap motel.

It’s there that I enjoy my first BHYG meal.

And most excellent it is.

 

 

My lamb wrap, at $11, costs a couple of bucks more than the Meat The Greek equivalent and it shows.

Everything is ace, from the house-made pita bread on up.

There’s plenty of lamb – and, best of all, it’s of the classic crusty variety.

 

 

My unadorned “patates”, or not “loaded” as the current argot goes, are very good and well priced at $4.

Brother Hood Yiros + Grill?

Or Meat The Greek?

I like it that I can do both.

Brother Hood Yiros + Grill is open for dinner hours only on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.