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eG Foodblog: ChrisTaylor (2012) - On the south east side. Down south.

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Welcome to Oakleigh, a couple stations down the line from Clayton. Oakleigh is home a lot of people who were born/whose families came from Greece. In fact, the city of Melbourne has the world's second largest population of Greeks (we're after Greece itself, obviously). Oakleigh is one of my favourite places to shop. As much as Prahran market's seafood is very nice, Oakleigh is my go-to seafood destination: most of the fishmongers are very good and they manage strike the right balance between good prices and quality merchandise.

Niko's Quality Cakes






Niko's is one of many (and probably the most popular example of) Greek cake shops/cafes in Oakleigh. As you can maybe see, the range of products covers some very Greek things and some, er, not very Greek things. They also have a limited selection of booze, if you'd maybe prefer a shot of vodka to a coffee with your cake. The cakes are okay.

My old housemate briefly worked here, making wedding cakes (a very popular and very profitable part of the business).


A Mars Bar cake and coffee. The coffee wasn't so nice--even tho' I didn't add any sugar myself it had a too much sweetness to it (and no, it wasn't the sugary, sludge-like coffee you can ask for in such places). The cake itself wasn't bad, altho' I doubt I'll be eating any more cake for the next couple of weeks (I usually dislike sweet things).

Oakleigh Market

Oakleigh has a little market, open 3-4 days per week, located in the shopping centre. It's small and the stalls are largely aimed at the Greek market--you can buy 1/4 goats, for example, and all manner of nuts, Greek cheeses, olive oils and such. The prices are quite reasonable.


Some of the cheeses on offer at the deli.


Same stall: hams and other cured meats. This place used to sell a small but nice (and very cheap) selection of liqueurs and spirits, ranging from amaretto or ouzo, but I noticed that they no longer sell such things.




A nut shop.

The market also has a couple of butchers and a fishmonger. I'll cover butchers and fishmongers in more depth in just a minute.

Butchers and poultry stores



The butchers tend to cater for a largely Anglo and European customer base. Most of them stock goat--in large roasting joints and chops as opposed to 'curry pieces'--and veal.


A German butcher. A reliable source of veal, good pork (the pork neck, for example, is about $6/kg more than what I'd pay in any of the Asian butchers in Clayton) and cured meat goods, ranging from smoked bacon to frankfurts. Indeed, this place makes its own frankfurts and such. That's rare.


Rabbits, turkey products and chicken offal for sale at a poultry store.


Oakleigh's real strength, so far as I'm concerned, is it's seafood. It's close to home and, as I said earlier, most of the fishmongers sell good quality fish at reasonable prices. It's more expensive than Springvale, but you'll have an easier time finding the good stuff here.


Smoked trout, a couple of varieties of Australian oyster, mussels, pipis and a couple of varieties of prawns ('shrimp' to many of you).


Squid. You can often find a variety of squid-related products--fresh baby and adult squid, frozen tubes, frozen rings and, sometimes, marinated pieces of squid.


Blue swimmer crabs (almost always sold dead) are readily avaliable in both Oakleigh and Springvale. They're very good value for money, as the meat:shell ratio is good (for crab, anyway) and the meat is nice.


A shot of my favourite seafood place.


And another. Here you see a few kinds of frozen shellfish and prawns and, too, tenderised octopus tentacles.


The smoked trout again.


The same shop, still (it's not as large as the photos suggest): oysters, shelled prawns (avaliable as is or marinated with herbs and such) and a variety of fish fillets.


This shop is, incidentally, the most expensive one in Oakleigh (although it's still cheaper than most of the stalls at Prahran market). It is, however, the best.


A shop a couple of doors down. I stopped here to buy some garfish.


The garfish are in the middle--they're the long fish with pointy noses.


I've been meaning to attempt baby occy on the BBQ for a while now, so I stopped somewhere else to buy some.


Barramundi: one of our most popular (and best) species of fish. Often sold live in fishmongers in Box Hill and Springvale and, sometimes, Clayton. Snapper, seen next to the barra, is also popular.


Some other fish. Note that the majority of these fish are caught locally or, maybe, in New Zealand. Legally you have to tell customers if you're selling imported seafood. Most places limit their imports to frozen prawns and such (which come from Vietnam, etc). You're more likely to find a lot of imports in Springvale than you are here.


Two kinds of flathead. Flathead is a popular and delicious species of fish.

Greek grocers and delis









These stores are dotted around Oakleigh. They sell pretty much what you'd expect--lots of nuts and beans, large tins of olive oil, jars and cans containing a variety of edible things, olives and other deli products, cheeses and processed meats. Most don't just sell Greek stuff, either--you can usually find chorizo, pecorino, anchovies and other generically European foodstuffs.

Walking around Oakleigh


Come lunchtime, this place is packed. And rightly so. For $12 you can get a huge plate of chips, salad and roast lamb (or chicken). Don't bother with the chicken--it's not very good. The lamb, however, is something. I tend to prefer medium-rare lamb, but Orexi's lamb is the kind of well-done-greasy-salty-fall-apart-awesome you can't help but shovel happily into your face.


Another cake shop--this one is run, I believe, by a relative (brother, maybe) of Niko (that's the guy's actual name, by the way). The two don't get along, I'm told--this isn't a surprise, as it's maybe 20-30 metres from Niko's.


Korean grocer.



Like many bottle shops in Clayton and Oakleigh, this one attempts to cater to the tastes of the locals.


A little shop that sells fresh pasta. I didn't bother going inside as they hadn't set up properly for the day.



One of the fruit and vegetable shops. Again, the balance of price and quality is decent. Fruit and vegetables are typically more expensive here than in Springvale and even Clayton, but the quality is generally superior.

The haul




Rainbow trout, garfish, prawns and baby octopus. The bowl contains squid in my go-to marinade (thanks to an old episode of River Cottage) of salt, pepper, chilli and garlic. All of this is going to be thrown on the BBQ later.

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PM24 is a French bistro located in the CBD. Until this afternoon I'd never been there, but I'd heard and read consistently good reports about the place. For the duration of the Australian Open they're running a reasonably priced lunch special. To me that sounded like the perfect excuse to train it into the city for food.


Blink and you'd miss it. This part of the CBD, actually, is home to a lot of nice restaurants. Walk a block or two in any direction and you'll run into places such as MoVida, MoVida Next Door, The Press Club, Mamasita, Chin Chin, Cumulus Inc and Kenzan (the mothership, not the one I went to yesterday).


Interior of the restaurant. Just behind the pass--it's hard to make out--there's a large rotisserie oven. In this the restaurant cooks chickens, ducks and lamb. While we were there we saw them tending to a long rack of lamb.



The by-the-glass page of the wine list. I ordered tasting glasses (which turned out to be more generous portions than you'd expect) of the '06 Rhone and '05 Moulis en Medoc. Both excellent. The Rhone was my favourite, with its strong allspice aftertaste.


Today's lunch menu. The menu changes every day--yesterday's menu was still tacked up out the front when we went in and it was different aside from the chocolate tart and cured salmon.


Bread and butter service. I have a weird thing about judging places based on how awesome their butter is. French butter that's so rich someone could mistake it for cheese? That's the good stuff. PM24's bread and butter was okay.


The cured salmon with potato blini and horseradish cream. Salmon was of exceptional quality. I really liked this dish.


The rotisserie-cooked leg of lamb with beans and sauteed potatoes. As much as the menu said something about mint, the dominant herb was thyme, thyme, thyme. Not that that's a bad thing. A nice piece of lamb. Superior, I think, to the slow-cooked shoulder my girlfriend ordered.


The excellent frites and the slow-cooked lamb shoulder (which was still good, by the way) with 'summer vegetables' and eggplant couscous.


At the end of your meal, whether you've ordered dessert and coffee or not, a waiter drops by and snips off a piece or two of PM24's housemade strawberry marshmallow. Unsurprisingly, it was very sweet. Surprisingly, it tasted like honest-to-God fresh strawberries.


Time for dessert. No, I don't mean chocolate tart--I much prefer savoury to sweet--I mean tapas. For this I walked around the corner to MoVida.


Here it is. Like many more than a few notable Melbourne bars, cafes and restaurants, it's located in an alleyway.


And right next door, oddly enough, is MoVida Next Door. This place was opened because back when it opened MoVida was insanely popular--you'd have to book a couple of months in advance to get in. Next Door has a no-bookings policy. Both restaurants are still very popular, as are the one and a half MoVidas located at the other end of the CBD, MoVida Aqui and its terrace bar (there's a new one in the airport, too, which I only heard about when I actually walked past it). The mothership, Next Door and Aqui are equally good and offer slightly different experiences. Aqui, for instance, takes advantage of its greater floor space by offering more grilled meats and seafood and other dishes best cooked over coals, such as paella.


The bar.


The kitchen, along with copies of the MoVida books.



The menu. In addition to these offerings were three or four specials and the dessert menu (written in chalk on the wall).

I ordered an Old Fashioned (using Woodford Reserve, my go-to bourbon and seemingly the one bourbon on offer at MoVida). This turned out to be a bit of an issue--one bartender had no idea how to make it and asked another for assistance. The second guy tipped out the first one's ham-fisted attempt and then had me guide him through the process of making it. The end result was nice enough.


The anchovy with tomato sorbet. It was a nice anchovy, although I don't think it was on the same level as the tin of Ortiz anchovies I bought the other day. Sometimes MoVida--heck, maybe even today, I can't say I asked--will just sell you cans of Ortiz to eat at the bar.


Obligatory bread service shot.


The roast lamb breast. Very rich, yes, but good.

Home again, home again ...


Pulling out of Flinders Street station, heading into the city loop (our 'underground' or 'subway') you see the Rialto tower. The observation deck, located near the top of the taller half of the building, is home to Shannon Bennett's Vue de Monde. Vue de Monde is one of our three-hatted restaurants (the best ranking there is in our local restaurant guide, The Age Good Food Guide). Over the years it's moved from Carlton (which you'll see on Friday) to the CBD itself (just down from where MoVida Aqui is, in fact) to the newly renovated observation deck (it used to be the regular kind of observation deck, with coin-fed binoculars and lots of tourists).

Italian deli, Clayton




Some of the pastas on offer at the Italian deli I've mentioned a couple of times. The pasta is avaliable from a number of manufacturers in a large array of shapes and sizes and at a variety of price points, starting from a couple of dollars for the cheap stuff to $15 and upwards for a packet--and I'm talking about a regular 350-500g packet here) of the fancy stuff. Also avaliable are pastas for people with odd diets. This shop is my go-to destination for most cured meat products, olives, pasta and expensive canned tomatoes.


Part of the oils section. The selection isn't huge, as this isn't the kind of area where many people can afford to pay $50 for a small bottle of artisan extra virgin olive oil.

Clayton again



Ducked into the supermarket for a moment and spotted some coconuts and lychees. Pretty much every supermarket stocks such things, but I'm told that they aren't always so readily avaliable overseas.



Part of the strip centre at the end of my street. The Thai/Burmese place is okay--it's in the Good Food Guide too and has been for a few years running--and the little place next door sells groceries and hot foodstuffs (a fairly limited selection, as it's a small shop) from Sri Lanka. There's another place a few doors down that offers a slightly wider selection of goods, including foodstuffs from India, Fiji and Mauritius. And, of course, there's Harry's Outlet, the Greek place.

Edited by ChrisTaylor (log)

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I don't know: it's still in the post. The restaurant is incredible. I'm hoping there are recipes for the rabbit and duck egg dishes we had.

I love the restaurant, I've been three or four times and haven't had a bad moment there. From what I hear, the book is basically the story of the last few years, so it's likely that they'll be in there.

Please keep me in the loop when you do get it, and tell me if it's worth the $150 with shipping (plus the shipping back home when my overseas escapade ends ... and I already have Modernist Cuisine to send home somehow :shock::raz: )

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$150? No way. Look at booko.com.au for the cheapest prices for books. Shipping from, say, an Australian store like Fishpond might cost you a little bit, but I reckon you'd get two copies for $150.


Seafood and such


Prawns in a marinade of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. The shells, heads, etc were left intact but I carefully slit the prawns' backs to dig out the poo chutes.


The occy was new to me--I've never cooked it before, let alone on a BBQ--so I Googled around for recipes. The first one I found told me to simmer it for 20 minutes in a mixture of red wine (in went the little bottle of organic shiraz) and balsamic vinegar, dunk it in a mixture of tomato sauce, chilli sauce and soy sauce and then BBQ it. It sounded odd to me, but the recipe had been rated highly by a lot of people, so I attempted it. Here's the occy simmering in the wine/vinegar mixture.


The trout is stuffed with a couple slices of imported prosciutto. The garfish is seasoned with fennel seeds. Both, too, have been dusted with salt and pepper.


The fish went on the BBQ first, as I figured they'd--the trout especially--would take the longest to cook.


The baby octopus. I decided to behead it and split it in half.


The finished meal: the seafood, a simple salad and bread from the Italian deli. Now, I haven't BBQed much seafood before--I don't cook a lot of seafood at all, in fact--so I had mixed success. The garfish and trout were nice and the squid and prawns were okay but the octopus was tough. The flavours worked--I'll use that simmering liquid and marinade again--but I need to either buy younger octopus (I've seen smaller ones around) or ... something.

A purpose for orange blossom water


I figured I better find something to do with the orange blossom water I picked up the other day in Dandenong. CocktailDB suggested an 'Opal'--a mix of gin, Cointreau, orange blossom water, sugar and orange juice. It's okay, I guess. I don't think I'd make another one tomorrow, but I'm sure I'll get the urge to revisit it again some time--already I'm thinking a modified version, maybe with bitter oranges, could be nice®. The orange blossom flavour is strong, easily dominating everything else, even though there's a lot more gin and Cointreau and orange juice in there than anything else. And that's okay, I guess, as I don't mind the flavour of orange blossom. File this under 'has potential'.

Australia Day

Tomorrow, the 26th, is Australia Day. Australia Day is a public holiday that, in theory, acknowledges the arrival of First Fleet (of convicts and other settlers) in an area that would one day grow into the city of Sydney, home of such awesome restaurants as Marque and Four in Hand. In reality, Australia Day, like most Australian public holidays (including and especially ANZAC Day, which is, I guess, a bit like your Veteran's Day) is an excuse to not go to work (although many shops are still open for business) and instead drink beer and BBQ sausages.

Me, I'm having a couple of people over--only a small gathering--and swapping the VB for, say, a bottle of St Henri '03. The dodgy supermarket 'BBQ beef' sausages shall be swapped for the haul from Rob's British Butchery (although I'm saving the chorizo for Sunday night). In addition to the sausages, I also bought a butterflied leg of lamb from the supermarket.


The lamb is currently sitting in the fridge, immersed in a mixture of white wine (should be fino sherry, but unless I want to drive to Dan Murphy's I have a choice between cheap and nasty Australian foritifed and cheap but acceptable Australian wine), olive oil, smoked paprika, chilli powder, salt, garlic, nutmeg, cumin and turmeric. The marinade comes from the first MoVida book, actually--it's a marinade for 'Moorish lamb skewers'. I'm testing it for Sunday. If it's a winner, the skewers will be part of the tapas/pintxos line-up for a family meal.

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Who would you say the up and coming chefs are in Melbourne?

Sorry, I didn't see this question until just now. I honestly don't know--I don't so much follow the careers of people as eat the food--so I'm happy to handball this question to someone with more knowledge on the subject than I. I can name a few chefs who have become well-known and successful in recent years--Frank Camorra and Andrew McConnell come to mind straight away--but I can't tell you who will be big and running their own very popular place, say, two years from now.

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This is glorious.

And I need a recipe to approximate "Kanga Bangers". It's just too much fun to say.

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Its a grand tour you are giving us!

Favorites spotted so far: almond horns :wub: and "Bum Burner" sausage. :laugh:

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I don't know: it's still in the post. The restaurant is incredible. I'm hoping there are recipes for the rabbit and duck egg dishes we had.

I love the restaurant, I've been three or four times and haven't had a bad moment there. From what I hear, the book is basically the story of the last few years, so it's likely that they'll be in there.

Please keep me in the loop when you do get it, and tell me if it's worth the $150 with shipping (plus the shipping back home when my overseas escapade ends ... and I already have Modernist Cuisine to send home somehow :shock::raz: )

Try Amazon UK, they have copies.

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A lot of shops are closed on the public holidays, meaning my options for shopping for tonight's dinner were limited. I realised, too late, that I needed to buy some sherry vinegar for tonight (I'm preparing a salad from the MoVida cookbook: roasted capsicum and tomato w/ cumin and sherry vinegar). The Italian deli, which always has the stuff in stock, was closed. I didn't really feel like a drive to, say, Chadstone shopping centre (which you'll see tomorrow) to pay twice the going rate for the stuff, and it's not yet sold in (most) supermarkets and it's certainly not avaliable in the Greek places, so I decided to make do with balsamic vinegar. I'm trialling the salad for Sunday night's tapas dinner.

Harry's - again

The first port of call was Harry's Outlet. I had to buy some dried beans for Sunday (chickpea and broad beans) while I remembered and check to make sure they really didn't stock sherry vinegar (they don't).


It's hard to walk in and out of this place--or the Italian one, either--without stopping and buying some olives. I opted for a small tub of the kalamatas marinated in balsamic vinegar and rosemary. I also bought a tin of stuffed vine leaves.


Part of the cheese selection. There are a couple of Italian cheeses on offer--parmesan, pecorino--but mostly it's all Greek, Greek, Greek, ranging from feta and other soft cheeses to hard, crumbly, powerful cheeses. When I first moved to Clayton a few years ago, I tasted pretty much everything on offer there.

The fruit shop

After passing through Harry's and the supermarket, I headed to the fruit shop to pick up some flat leaf parsley and Adelaide tomatoes. I then remembered I haven't really shown you this place before, so I took a few photos. It's a large shop and does a reasonable job of catering to Clayton's European and Asian communities. You can buy all manner of leafy vegetables, ranging from endive to rocket to radicchio to boy choy to wombok. You can choose from a range of peas and beans, dried and fresh, including the 'normal' French or green beans, snake beans, borlotti beans, sugar snap peas and broad beans. You can choose from three or four varieties of eggplant. The quality of the produce is generally excellent and the prices are reasonable.


'Lebanese' eggplants. Also avaliable are the 'normal' big ones with the black skin, some long and skinny ones also with black skin and the tiny South East Asian variety.


Part of the bean selection and, too, okra and fennel.


Part of the mushroom selection. You can also get the standard white button mushrooms, Swiss browns and portobellos.




Part of a section dedicated to Asian fruits and vegetables (although there are still plenty of Asian fruits and vegetables dotted through the rest of the store).

Australia Day BBQ


The first stage for making the salad is to roast the capsicums, onion and garlic for 50 minutes at 200C.

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Australia Day BBQ


The capsicums have just come out of the oven.


The finished salad. In addition to the capsicums, onion and garlic, the salad also contains tomatoes. The dressing is made from extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, the roasting juices from the capsicums, the roasted garlic and cumin seeds.

Hanaro Mart

Hanaro Mart is a Korean grocer (which also sells some Japanese products) in Clayton. I went in to buy some a tub of kimchi and ended up walking out with a bottle of black raspberry wine. These things happen.


A selection of kimchi and other pickles.


Chilli and bean pastes of various kinds. I've found that so far (not that I've cooked a lot of his recipes), everything David Chang asks for in the Momofuku book is avaliable here.



Frozen vegetables and a few other odds and ends. At the bottom of the fridge there are three different kinds of Korean booze, including rice wines and the black raspberry wine I purchased. You can also sometimes find Australian rice wine (which I didn't know existed until I stumbled upon it in this shop) and two or three kinds of Korean beer. There is also a selection of non-alcoholic beverages: juices, soft drinks (both Korean and American drinks such as Dr Pepper, which can only really be found at stores like this or the one or two American grocers we have in Melbourne) and milk-based drinks, as well as some 'others', such as aloe vera-based beverages.


Part of the noodle section. Hanaro Mart and Hong Kong Supermarket both stock a very impressive variety of noodles.


Frozen dumplings. All of the Asian grocers and most of the restaurants will sell you frozen dumplings, to be steamed/deep-fried/boiled at home.


Thin slices of meat intended to be grilled Korean-style. You can also find frozen seafood.


Part of a section dedicated to biscuits and other sweet products such as Poky.


Preserves and honey.


A variety of condiments and marinades. Most of these are very cheap. In my student days, my housemate and I would buy a $2 bottle of marinade and use it to flavour a big pile of cheap meat--rump steaks, chicken wings, slices of pork belly--and sit out the back in our postage-stamp sized backyard with all its rocks and two metre tall weeds, grilling over Heat Beads on my little Weber kettle, drinking beer (or worse: making 'cocktails' by Googling recipes involving Bailey's, Black Sambuca, Butterscotch Schnapps, Kahlua and vodka).


Part of a section dedicated to seaweed.

Ping's and Clayton's restaurant scene


A tub of the boiled pork dumplings. Ping's is a little restaurant in Clayton that serves what I consider to be be cheap and cheerful Chinese food. Such places are very common in Sydney and Melbourne. They account for the bulk of the restaurants in Chinatown and Springvale. It's not uncommon for a restaurant to say, oh yeah, we're a Cantonese/Shanghai/Vietnamese/Cambodian restaurant, but to serve lots of generically East Asian stuff. Menus--and this is true of Ping's as well--often have ~150 dishes. In Clayton, where they are many Asian students, restaurants such as Ping's are especially popular. Ping's has 150 items on the menu, but the only dishes worth ordering are the dumplings. Likewise, there are places just down the road that specialise in roast meats or hot pots but still have epic menus.

We also have a lot of cheap and cheerful Indian places in Clayton and plenty of cheerful (but not as cheap) Korean places, as well as a couple of competitively-priced Indonesian and Malaysian places. The Indian places may say, oh, we specialise in Nothern Indian/Punjabi/whatever, but they all have basically the same menu.

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I don't know: it's still in the post. The restaurant is incredible. I'm hoping there are recipes for the rabbit and duck egg dishes we had.

I love the restaurant, I've been three or four times and haven't had a bad moment there. From what I hear, the book is basically the story of the last few years, so it's likely that they'll be in there.

Please keep me in the loop when you do get it, and tell me if it's worth the $150 with shipping (plus the shipping back home when my overseas escapade ends ... and I already have Modernist Cuisine to send home somehow :shock::raz: )

Try Amazon UK, they have copies.

Thanks, that seems a lot better deal. On the Marque webstore it says the book is $80, and international shipping is $60.

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Thanks for the tour of the CBD. Several times I've found myself there with no idea where to eat.

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Australia Day BBQ


Peanuts, pistachios and walnuts from the local nut shop.


St. Henri '03. For a shiraz with a reputation as a bit of a monster, I was somewhat surprised at how ... mellow it was compared to the cheaper ($10-20) shiraz I'd had (i.e. most of the shiraz I'd had). It was robust, yes, not insipid or anything, but as I don't know much about wine I don't know what it was--the fact it was more than just a year or three old, the fact it wasn't aged in oak--that tamed it into something very nice. Would I run out and pay St Henri prices for St Henri again? Not right now, but I'd maybe get another bottle for a special event or gift one to someone who'd appreciate it.


The black raspberry wine from the Korean shop. Best way to describe it is, I guess, to tell you to imagine drinking really cheap, sweet 'red' (theoretically raspberry) cordial, a staple of Australian childhoods with a reputation for making little brats 'hyper'.




The marinated, butterflied leg of lamb. The marinade worked okay, I think. People seemed to like it. I'll use it again for Sunday night's meal.



The sausages, from left to right (in both shots--starting from the bottom row in the case of the raw ones on the BBQ): thick beef, lamb and basil, beef w/ sundried tomato and basil, beef Cumberland, Welsh pork and leek, beef and bacon, chicken w/ cheese and spring onion, Welsh thin, Cornish beef and pork, Chicken and chive, English pork, pork Cumberland and sundried tomato w/ capsicum. The sausages--as sausages from Rob's always are--were well-received. I have to make a point of getting to that shop more regularly.

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Chadstone Shopping Centre

One of the largest shopping centres in the country--and, indeed, the southern hemisphere as a whole--is located just down the road. Chadstone sort of sits on the border of the middle class and upper middle class areas of the south eastern suburbs, so it caters nicely for people who have lots of money to spend on nice food. It's the closest source for expensive products such as Ortiz anchovies, tins of foie gras pate and truffle-infused olive oil.



The centre's BreadTop store. BreadTop is one of the Chinese bakeries I was talking about earlier. This one typically stocks a decent range of western-style pastries such as lemon curd tarts and macarons, but also has all the standard BreadTop stuff, including the sausage buns.



I snapped this place not so much because I care for it but because in recent years Cupcake Bakery and a few other, similar chains have opened up stores all over Melbourne. I'm not entirely sure what the appeal is as I don't think their cupcakes are anything special, but hey, if you're ever in Melbourne and jonesing for cupcakes, you know it's not that hard to get a fix.


A place in one of the food courts that serves freshly-made dumplings, in addition to a wider selection of other Chinese dishes.




Le Vin, a store that sells liqueurs. Take in an empty bottle (or buy a fancy one there) and you can get however much chocoalte port/macademia liqueur/etc you want. They also sell a small selection of imported beers and spirits (Pyrat rum, etc).



Jasper's, my go-to coffee shop. In addition to selling coffees and cakes and such, they sell a very large variety of beans and coffee-making devices--many of which are hard to find in bricks-and-mortar stores in Australia.


Jones the Grocer, a cafe/'gourmet' deli that sells cheeses, olives, cured meats, pastas and various tinned/jarred/canned goods.


You can have a very nice lunch here: just ask for a platter that includes, say, two or three kinds of cheese, some white anchovies, some olives and maybe a couple kinds of cured meat. Sadly, neither of the two Jones stores I've visited sell wine, so you can enjoy those wonderful cured products with a glass of water or maybe some expensive imported lemonade.


They also sell some cakes.


A 'special combination' of, among other things, porcini mushrooms, parmesan cheese, black olives and balsamic vinegar.


Merchandise for truffle fans.


Flavoured vinegars.



T2, part of a chain that specialises in expensive tea and tea-related goods (tea pots, tea cups, tea strainers, etc). They've been around for a few years and, I think, have helped make tea cool again in a city that's all about coffee, coffee, coffee.





The cheese room at Simon Johnson. Simon Johnson is a chain--costlier and, I think, older than Jones the Grocer--that specialises in 'gourmet' products. It doesn't have a cafe or restaurant. In addition to a wide selection of cheeses, the cheese room (and, too, the refrigerated section in the main part of the store) contain products such as expensive anchovies, tins of foie gras pate, handmade salami (which is surprisingly reasonably priced, even compared with the mass-produced stuff you buy at the supermarket-in fact, dollar for dollar, it can be cheaper) and, particularly around Christmastime, hams and cured meats.


The fridge in the main part of the store. Here's where you'll find the salami and, say, jars of imported feta and whatnot.


The interior of the store. It's not very large, as you can see. In addition to the afore-mentioned products, you can buy biscuits, chocolates (Valrhona, etc), oils, vinegars, sauces and other condiments, preserves, pastas and other dried goods and a small selection of kitchenware.


Carlton is a suburb very close to the city. It's famous for two things: Lygon Street (along and off which you will find many Italian restaurants) and the gangland killings of the 90s and early 00s.


Donati's is a well-regarded Italian butcher that's been doing business in Carlton for a very long time.



The French shop. In addition to some cafe-type stuff you can eat in store, you can take home a nice selection of French sausages, deli goods (including big, expensive slabs of foie gras--we're not talking about a dainty little can here) and cooked products (such as lentils, duck confit or, when the weather is right, cassoulet).


Gewurzhaus, a specialist herb and spice dealer. It's a nice shop--very attractive inside--and quite expensive, but like Oasis it's your first port of call if you're looking for anything that's hard, if not impossible, to find in a bricks and mortar store anywhere else in Melbourne: See: file powder, anatto seeds and a range of dried chillies greater than the local Indian stores' choice of 'dried birds eye', 'dried Kashmiri' and 'dried long' chillies.



An independent bottle shop across the road (this is the Lygon Street Keith_W mentioned earlier, by the way--I just decided not to bother with the cheap and nasty tourist trap restaurants). I ducked in here to buy a bottle of sherry for Sunday night's tapas dinner, as I figured it was about time my dad had sherry that wasn't the $5/jug Australian kind (which, sadly, is the only 'sherry' you'll find at 90% of our bottle shops, and accounts for most of the 'sherry' shelf at even Dan Murphy's).





King's, a 'gourmet' store that's pretty much on the same block as these other places. They sell, obviously, a decent range of cheese and booze, but also cured meats and terrines (made just around the corner, actually, at a place that also supplies the Queen Victoria Market's French deli). And, too, they have all the flavoured vinegars, infused oils and expensive salts you associate with this kind of shop. I stumbled across what I suspect is a new expression of Henry of Harcourt's excellent cider and couldn't resist.

La Luna


Located just a few blocks away on Rathdowne Street (which, I think, tends to have better quality restaurants than this end of Lygon Street) is La Luna. La Luna, the child chef Adrian Richardson, is all about meat. Richardson cures pork products of various kinds and ages grass-fed beef on site. I like La Luna. I mean, why wouldn't I love a place that introduced me to lardo and then, on the same night, offered me an off-the-menu special of orecchiette with horse shank ragu?



Today's menu. In addition to these offerings, there were also some specials: a hamburger, Sydney rock oysters, brass grouper and a rabbit pot roast.


Negroni. For the second time this week I taught someone how to make a cocktail--same situation in that they'd heard the name but weren't sure of ingredients. Nice touch was that when I said 'slice of orange', they automatically (and I don't know if this was the only orange they had floating around or a logical choice) put in a slice of blood orange, which worked well.


The lardo.


Cured meats and various pickles. The head cheese was just okay but everything else was very nice.


The steak and kidney pie. I was told it was very nice.


The rabbit. One of the best rabbit dishes I've had in a restaurant--up there, easily, with Marque's rabbit w/ cashews, wakame and nutmeg (my all time and possibly forever favourite) and Lake House's rabbit, sausage and lentil salad.

The haul


An assortment of things from my trips to Chadstone and Carlton. Yet more Henry of Harcourt [King's], a bottle of sherry [the bottle shop], birds eye chilli-stuffed olives (as in take some cured olives, pit them and stuff them with whole birds eye chillies) [Jones], two kinds of Ortiz anchovies [simon Johnson--I only wanted the normal ones, but the white ones were half price due to an Australia Day sale and nothing, of course, stirs my sense of national pride more than Spanish anchovies, discount slabs of foie gras and marked down tins of caviar] and duck confit [French shop].

Edited by ChrisTaylor (log)

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Duck confit salad w/ mediocre pears


Vinaigrette of balsamic, olive oil, shallots and Dijon mustard. Should be sherry vinegar but the Italian deli, damnnit, had sold out of the stuff. Will have to buy some in Chadstone tomorrow.


Browning and heating the duck confit.


The finished salad: duck confit, pears (which aren't so nice, sadly), baby spinach leaves, blue cheese and pecans.


Heating the olives.


The olives, as you can kind of see, are stuffed with whole birds eye chillies. This is an awesome thing.


My favourite cider.

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One of my new all time and forever favourite things. Straight from the tin with beer or cider. This is my perfect breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, dessert. Dessert especially.

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Looks like Chadstone is another place I have to check out. BTW, have you tried the Umami Paste?

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this must be the Food Capital of the World.


Seriously. Makes DC look like a village.

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and there's more to come I guess.

although they wont admit it I will: makes NYC seem 'lacking'


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Not yet. I use Vegemite for the same purpose..

I do as well. I put Vegemite in a lot of stuff....

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My favourite cider.

I'd have to agree with you although I like other styles, too. Makes a great French 75 variation. I need a trip to Harcourt soon. Here in the country, blokes still get a bit of a sideways look ordering a cider at the bar. Invariably Bulmer's. Still it's better than Victoria Bitter.

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Chadstone again

I decided to hit Chadstone for my big shopping trip--I had a lot of things to buy for tomorrow's tapas meal--as I knew I'd easily be able to find sherry vinegar there.


Suga, a store that sells handmade lollies. You can watch them make lollies throughout the day.


Smoked eel for sale at a seafood shop.



A new place in the food court that sells schnitzels (beef, chicken, fish or 'vegetarian'--no veal, sadly). It was nice enough for reasonably priced food court food.

Colonial Fresh Fruit

Colonial is a chain of vaguelly upmarket green grocers. In addition to selling a good selection of fruits and vegetables (which really aren't that expensive when compared to the supermarket) they also sell grains and dried beans and lentils, cured meats, cheeses, beverages, bread, condiments and lots of other things.


Such as meringues and Persian fairy floss.




The fruits and vegetables are generally good quality.


They also sell herbs and spices, although the range is hardly as extensive as, say, Oasis'.



Cheeses, beverages (such as chinotto and 'gourmet' lemonade) and pre-packaged cured meats, ranging from blood sausage to salami.


Breads and such.


A section dedicated to (mostly) Italian ingredients ...


... such as interesting oils and vinegars.


A corner is dedicted to condiments and Middle Eastern ingredients (rose water, harissa paste, etc).


There's also a section for East Asian ingredients.


And a well-stocked deli section that sells everything from biltong to fresh ravioli.

Tapas - prep


Chicken thighs marinating in a mixture of olive oil, parsley, garlic, smoked paprika, dried oregano, cumin, salt and turmeric (instead of the suggested pinch of saffron).


Chickpeas and broad beans soaking in preparation for, respectively, dishes of chickpeas cooked with spinach and broad beans with jamon (well, proscuitto) and mint.

Tonight and tomorrow

I realise I've made Melbourne look bad: two restaurants and two times I've had to explain how to make what, I think, are 'standard' cocktails. This is not not not normal for Melbourne. I mean, okay, they were restaurants, but we plenty of good bars. Our bar scene is famously excellent. And so this evening I'll be heading into town to show off two or three nice bars--maybe Chez Regine whisky bar, maybe a couple places that specialise in classic cocktails. I'll make a slight detour and show off some parts of the Melbourne CBD I've neglected so far, including Chinatown.

Tomorrow is my last day of the blog and I'll be spending a lot of time working on my tapas meal. In the morning I might go somewhere, just for the hell of it. Maybe. We'll see what the clock decides.

Edited by ChrisTaylor (log)

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We just got home from Chadstone. That place is quite large. 2+ hours there and that was mostly at the Fresh Food area. I think we may be end up there regularly.

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