Month: November 2013

How to keep chickens (in Melbourne)

On a recent sunny Sunday my housemates and I decided to adopt some chickens. We had no chicken coop, no chicken food, no feeder — nothing apart from half an unused back courtyard. So we went scavenging. Within a day or two we had built our very own custom super coop and chicken run using wholly recycled materials that we either found by the roadside or sourced from and friends. We now have two chooks, happy to scratch the days away, which each lay an egg daily. We plan to add two more to our new farmyard. It’s really quite simple — not to mention fun, environmentally friendly, economical and surprisingly therapeutic — to keep chooks. Here’s what you’ll need — and what you’ll need to consider — to set up your own chook coop in Melbourne: 1. Space Chickens don’t need a huge amount of space, but every creature deserves to be able to carry out its primal needs in comfort. For chooks, those primal needs are scratching for food, taking dust-baths, laying …

Event: The Growing Food Project

Where does our food come from? This question is seldom asked in wealthy first-world societies, where food seems to originate — individually wrapped and pleasingly presented — on the supermarket shelf. The lack of basic knowledge about growing food must be one of the more significant tragedies of the modern age — one that has contributed to many of today’s health and environmental problems: food waste, poverty, obesity, even climate change. Melbourne artist, activist and nutritionist Rasha Tayeh is passionate about food. Her new short documentary, The Growing Food Project, looks at Melbourne’s expanding local food movements, which sees local communities coming together to create sustainable food systems. ‘The  Growing  Food  Project  is  an  attempt  to  allow further exploration of positive relationships with food, whilst documenting various stories of grassroots initiatives that search for meaning through food,’ Rasha explains. ‘There is a growing energy in Melbourne responding to food and sustainability issues. Local communities are teaming up to strengthen the way we produce and distribute local food. From community gardening to neighbourhood feasts, these community food projects improve …

Shanghai Street Dumpling

I’m a big fan of a decent Chinese dumpling. Quick, light, not too oily, with individual ingredients you can really taste — these, to my inexpert but enthusiastic Australian taste-buds, are the hallmarks of a fine dumpling. Shanghai Street Dumpling in Little Bourke Street are purveyors of such exemplary dumplings. Having tried a bunch of dumpling restaurants along Little Bourke, I believe I can safely declare Shanghai Street the best of the lot — at least at the cheap ‘n’ cheery end of the dining spectrum. You’ll pay a couple extra dollars for a plate of dumplings here compared with, say, Shanghai Dumpling House in Tattersalls Lane, but the dumplings are far tastier, you won’t have to shout to be heard inside the restaurant and you won’t have to contend with rude staff. Shanghai Street specialises in xiao long bao but a couple of my favourites are the pork and prawn wonton soup — light and delicious on a cold Melbourne day — and the deceptively filling pork fried dumplings, both around $8.50–$9.50 for a serving …

Night Noodle Market 2013

From today until 30 November the Alexandra Gardens will be transformed into a Night Noodle Market, complete with over 25 hawker-style food stalls, four bars for all your boozy needs and nightly entertainment. Held as part of The Age Good Food Month, the market will kick off at 5pm on weekdays and from 4pm on weekends. Click here for a full list of participating stalls. — Tuesday 19 November 2013 UPDATE! I haven’t made it to the Night Noodle Market yet, but I’ve heard feedback from a few readers that the queues at the market stalls are atrocious. One said she had to wait an hour and a half for food. If you’ve been to the NNM, let us know how your experience went by commenting below!   Night Noodle Market 2013 Dates: 18–30 November 2103 Address: Alexandra Gardens, Melbourne Opening hours: Monday–Tuesday 5–9pm; Wednesday 5–10pm; Thursday–Friday 5–11pm; Saturday 4–10pm; Sunday 4–9pm    

Melbourne Music Week 2013

If you love music, you’re in the right place. Not only is Melbourne the nation’s undoubted live music capital, with great live music happening all year round, but, for the next week, musicians from all over the world will converge on the city for Melbourne Music Week 2013. Starting today and winding up on the 24th, the festival includes acts from Norway, Germany, the UK, the USA and New Zealand, plus a tonne of home-grown talent.     On Saturday evening, Panthu Du Prince will work some magic on the Federation Bells at Birrarung Marr in the free event Panthu Du Prince vs Federation Bells. Another undoubtedly entertaining evening will be the free No Lights No Lycra dance class to be held in the art-deco Campbell Arcade on 21 November. (Read more about NLNL here.) For full line-up details, visit the MMW 2013 programme, which includes a bunch of free events.   Melbourne Music Week 2013 Dates: 15–24 November Tel: 9658 9658 Email:  

Don Don Japanese restaurant

Melbourne’s delicious and cheap range of authentic Asian food has to be one of the things I love most about this city. And Don Don Japanese restaurant on Little Lonsdale Street in the CBD ticks all the right boxes. This eatery, which used to be tucked into a tiny room on upper Swanston Street, has now stretched its wings a little in its new location. But beware: this place still booms at busy times of the day. (I remember my first experience ordering food at the old Don Don during the lunchtime crush — it was really quite scary.) The food here isn’t the best in Melbourne, but it is tasty and very cheap; most meals are between $6 and $9. My favourite is the yummy soba salad (noodles with salad and tofu), although a very hungry tummy might prefer one of the larger meals. A great pick for a quick, affordable city meal.   Don Don Address: 198 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne Tel: 9670 7113     Read more reviws at   

The Night Market at Queen Vic

The 2013–14 season of the much-loved Night Market at Queen Victoria Market kicked off last week and will be rolling on all through the summer. If you’ve never visited this weekly shindig before, make sure you get there this year. You’ll find a mishmash of stalls selling everything from fashions to handicrafts to tarot readings, over 60 street food vendors and three stages showcasing local live music. Come here on a warm summer night and the place will be packed with locals and tourists soaking up the festive atmosphere. You can expect to pay between $8 and $15 for most stall meals, and there are a few licensed vendors selling alcoholic drinks, too. Check the Night Market website for weekly music line-ups and other details.   The Night Market Dates: Running ever Wednesday until 26 February 2014 (excluding 25 December and 1 January) Time: 5pm–10am Where: Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne    

In conversation with pianist Hoang Pham

It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon when I meet Hoang Pham in an inner-city cafe in Melbourne’s CBD. He orders a cafe latte, and as we sip our coffees I steal a few furtive glances at his hands. They look relatively unremarkable – really quite, well, normal. Somehow it seems unfair, considering this 28-year-old has performed as a piano soloist with the Melbourne, Brisbane and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras and only two weeks ago won the prestigious ABC Symphony Australia Young Performers Awards. ‘Melbourne’s the best city in which to be a musician,’ he says. ‘It’s not too big, first of all, and not too small. Compared with any other city in Australia – and perhaps even the world – we have a good mixture of people from different areas of life who happen to love classical music.’ Hoang was born in Vietnam, but soon after his birth his parents arrived in Australia as refugees. He began playing the piano at three-and-a-half years old, and by the time he was five he had already appeared on national …

Merri Creek bike path

If you feel like getting some fresh air and exercise, jump on your bike and head to the Merri Creek Bike Trail. Not only is this bike path a very useful way of getting from A to B (it connects Dights Falls in Abbotsford with the Western Ring Road path in Campbellfield — a 25km trip) it’s also a beautiful green haven that really makes you feel as though you’ve left the city far behind. The artificial weir at Dights Falls is a lovely spot to visit and explore, too. The trail follows Merri Creek, and although the water can look very inviting on a hot day, I wouldn’t recommend swimming here. The bike path is wide and, at the city end at least, very well maintained. Perfect for a Saturday morning ride.