The Moonee Ponds area can be a tad disappointing when it comes to brunch. The area is franchise dominated and in desperate need for quality independent cafes to liven up the suburb. Imagine the delight of residents when Ascot Food Store opened on a busy subsection of Ascot Vale Road, offering a contemporary menu and a modern venue to match. The glisten of the black lacquered floor complements the industrial minimalism, with an outdoor area perfect for a sunny spring day. The menu is interesting, innovative and photogenic. Who needs selfies when you have food-porn? ;) The following dishes were tasted:
The Markets of Melbourne is a collective between four or Melbourne’s largest market’s including the iconic – Queen Victoria Market, Prahran Market, Dandenong Market and South Melbourne Market. The aim of the group is to promote fresh food and to educate consumers about the benefits of market shopping, and to showcase the variety of market vendors eager to share their knowledge. The following are my favourite stalls from each of the markets:
1. QUEEN VICTORIA MARKET
Bill’s Farm sources the best produce from Australia and around the world, with a range that stretches from quality European cheeses, foie gras, deli meats to olive oils and vinegars. Barrels of provolone hang from the ceiling and endless mounds of cheese fulfil the cheese lover’s dream. The boys also own a warehouse where their hand-picked cheeses mature and age prior to selling in-store. If you ever have that cheese craving or find yourself perusing Queen Victoria Market, be sure to visit ‘Bill’s Farm’ for some of the best quality cheeses in Melbourne.
The ho-hum daily grind has left many of your nearest and dearest burnt out and in denial. It’s a first world problem. A sad one indeed, where planning for holidays is a form of escapism. Just one more holiday fix and back to being a corporate zombie. Just one more! Change is challenging, I guess.
I love that Steve Jobs quote – “work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” Don’t we all want this jackpot? Fusing passion with occupation. If you’ve found it, congratulations my friend. In the meantime, keep a positive attitude and don’t waste those weekends sleeping. Travel the world. Hike. Eat. Travel. Eat some more. Love that special someone. Engage with your hobbies.
One of my great passions is exploring new places. Grand overseas trips are not always required, locally there are plenty of beautiful places to hike and admire. Victoria is a medley of sceneries and landscape – from bush to beach, to hip alleyways and weathered rock formations. The Macedon ranges and the Hanging Rock is one such region. Sorry to disappoint, but the story about the school girls disappearing is a fake. Nonetheless, it was probably not the best idea for a clumsy person like myself to climb excessively high rocks. But as those snapchat lovin’ youngsters say “YOLO”.
A decade ago, the Western suburbs of Melbourne weren’t exactly known as a foodie destination. Anyone recall the name ‘Knifepoint’ or the famous ‘Footscrazy’ sign? Gentrification has snaked its way through the inner West, and unsurprisingly so, considering it’s proximity to the CBD. These days it has emerged as a brunch haven, with a number of cafes worthy of a crosstown trek for that sacred weekend brunch. The Seddon, Footscray and Yarraville area are teeming with new openings.
The following is a guide to brunching in Yarraville:
Butcher128 is your neighbourhood greenie. The menu is centralised on serving organic produce, and customers happily dine on communal tables sprouting in-built herb gardens (great idea!). The space has been converted from an old Butcher’s to a modern cafe space, retaining elements of both old and new. I don’t usually fangirl interior design, but I absolutely adore the converted fit-out, particularly the wooden corridor that seamlessly integrates the white washed foreground. Along with Axil Coffee Roasters in Hawthorn, Butcher128 is a design favourite.
Enough about the interior, the food is equally amazing with a simple menu at present. The signature breakfast of mushroom and truffle oil ragu, with pecorino and poached eggs was sublime. I substituted the bacon for hot smoked salmon, and would happily reward this dish as one of the best ‘big breakfasts’ in Melbourne. Apparently, the menu is still being perfected so keep an eye out for an Asian slant. The cafe itself is located away from the main Yarraville hub, so its still a relative secret. Shhhhh.
Personal research has informed me that 15 out of 10 people like cake. Any outliers, means the person is an extraterrestrial. Seriously… be suspicious. Chez Dre is well qualified to overturn any savoury attacher into a hyperactive sweet-tooth. Owner and Chef Pâtissière – Andrea Reiss, has worked in esteemed restaurants across London and Paris, before creating her own. Considering the vastly positive reception over the years, Melburnians remain ecstatic to have a touch of Paris in South Melbourne. With its ever-evolving selection of French inspired sweet treats, Chez Dre is the closest thing to a Parisian boulangerie in Melbourne.
Every weekend, the cafe is bustling with activity, from romantic sweethearts to camera clicking food bloggers (guilty as charged). When we had three birthdays to celebrate in September, the Praline /Apple /Popcorn cake was the star of the evening. Despite a slight mishap with the cake, the genuine apologetic nature of the staff and free coffee, made any ill-feelings slip away. Everyone knows that Chez Dre cakes are crowd pleasers.
Adoration, would however be awarded to the hazelnut praline crunch. This ugly, yet beautiful petit gateax was heavenly. You know that Ferrero Rocher commercial where the Greek Gods let slip from the heavens their ‘golden secret’? Well, we can toss this back, because this multi-textured sweet treat is divinity itself. If Ferrero Rocher could be translated into a cake, this is the result. Brunching in South Melbourne? Don’t forget to pop by Chez Dre where the cakes are top-notch.
Dynamic duo – Luke Mutton and Kylie Mackinla, are creators of much loved sister cafes, Common Galaxia in Seddon and Dead Man Espresso in South Melbourne. The interiors are inspired by minimalistic designs, with a heavy focus on bespoke wood, touches of copper and a singular ginormous terrarium. Coffee is a Seven Seeds blend and brunch options are both equally appetising.
1. Dead Man Espresso
Dead Man Espresso was the first rendition of the sister cafes, with a slight edge in its brunch offerings. The menu is centred on an environmental approach, growing their own herbs in-house, sourcing ingredients from local suppliers and even making honey on their rooftop. You can expect the standard poached eggs and smoked salmon sides, but alternatives may deviate into sides that are re-interpretations of beloved classics such as the 3 veg pancakes, citrus butter and a texturally interesting potato and quinoa hash. Grab a spot on their balcony and enjoy a sunny South Melbourne afternoon people-watching from above.
Potato & Quinoa Hash w/ Trout & Fennel Salad
Green Pancakes w/ Smoked Salmon, Edamame Salad & Citrus Butter
United States of America. Land of the free. Home of the deep fried twinky. In recent times, Melbournians have been captivated by the flavours of the South, with a host of new American influenced eateries pulling crowds across the city. Admittedly, it isn’t the most healthiest of cuisines with deep fried chicken waffles and artery clogging burgers making frequent appearances. But as Paula Dean would say ” I don’t want to spend my life not having good food going into my pie hole.” My pie hole couldn’t agree more (in moderation).
The following is a selection of Americana food tried recently in Melbourne:
1. Nieuw Amsterdam
If Southern food could wear a top-hat and proclaim ‘Toodle-oo’, Nieuw Amsterdam would be it’s fancy cousin. Hidden away in Hardware Street, is a modern interpretation of traditional american cuisine. Clam chowders arrive deconstructed, and waffles are decked out with pate, terrine and crispy chicken skin. The Pitt Grill will satisfy the meat lovers, where meat is smoked in a barbecue ‘pit’ . A tad different from the ol’ barbie, but equally as delicious.
The standout dish was the Clam Chowder. The mixture of thickly cut bacon, potatoes and fresh clams enveloped in a thick clam stock was creamy and indulgent. Prices were also reasonable, paying only $35/head for a content belly. The winner of best casual diner definitely deserves its crown.