All posts tagged: food

The Night Market Cinema

Everyone loves a good night market. The food, the bustle, the twinkly lights — it’s all pretty winning. Melbourne’s biggest and best-loved night markets happen every summer and winter at the Queen Victoria Market, with this year’s winter season kicking off on Wednesday 3 June. But this year, it gets better. The 2015 Winter Night Market has just become a little more exciting with the announcement of a new addition to the event: a screening of short films programmed by a new guest presenter every week. It’s always great to see local institutions supporting and celebrating local artists, and of course very cool to have a free weekly cinema event to hit up during the winter months. Check out the Night Market website for a run-down of upcoming screenings. So grab a noodle box, folks, and settle in for some short film fun every Wednesday night for the next couple months.   The Night Market Cinema   Dates: Every Wednesday, 3 June — 26 August 2015 Time: 5pm–10pm Venue: Queen Victoria Night Market, Melbourne CBD

Oppa Kitchen

I’m a big fan of Korean food, so it was exciting to stumble on this little eatery on Swanston Street recently. Oppa Kitchen has been around for six months or so, always brimming with hip young Koreans, and it’s easy to see why. The bright and minimalist decor is the first thing to entice punters off the street, and the cheap and cheerful menu is a close second. This is not the best Korean cuisine in Melbourne by any stretch — you won’t be getting any exciting little kimchi side-dishes here, for a start — but at $10-$12 for most mains, this place is great value and damn tasty nonetheless. I ordered the very enormous and delicious Korean Beef Bulgogi Meal Bucket — and it really was a bucket. The meal came in a wooden dish, full to the brim with rice, beef bulgogi, tasty salad and an orange slice. It was thoroughly satisfying, and the whole experience — from the self-service ordering system to the bustling atmosphere — was really quite fun, and made …

Mosaic Festival 2015

If you don’t have anything planned for today, head to City Square in the CBD for the 2015 Mosaic Festival. Run by the Victorian Immigrant & Refugee Women’s Coalition (VIRWC), the festival celebrates our cultural diversity and encourages the participation of the whole community. There will be all kind of tasty cuisines — Filipino (GJ’s Grill), Afghan, Syrian, Malay, Indonesian (MiHUB Cafe) and Turkish (Alevi Community Council) — as well as live performances and stalls. If you need any more incentive to attend, the incredibly talented Ning Xue will be there doing one-minute portraits for lucky visitors. This is such a lovely initiative, and if I wasn’t house-bound with the flu I’d definitely be there. The festival will start at 11am and runs till 5pm. Show your support for these lovely ladies and our community’s cultural diversity today — and treat yourself to some tasty treats!   Mosaic Festival 2015   Date: 26 April 2015 Time: 11am–5pm Where: City Square, Melbourne CBD Damage: Free

Lolo & Wren

It’s always a promising sign when a cafe located roughly in the middle of nowhere is still functional. Even better when it’s thriving. This, surely, is when you know you’re onto something good. Cycling to Lolo & Wren, I was sure I must have copied the wrong address. I found myself in inner-suburban no man’s land — an obscure part of Brunswick West somewhere between Melville Road and the CityLink tollway. Yep, romantic. But there it was, nestled among houses and apartment buildings, with little to attract punters apart from an A-frame sign and a few glowing recommendations. Run by husband and wife team Franco and Karen Caruso, it’s Lolo & Wren’s food that’s put it on the highly competitive Melbourne cafe map — no wonder considering Franco is a former Scottish Young Chef of the Year (2006). The cafe itself is large and bright, with an open kitchen and a central wooden bench perfect for perching to read the newspaper. On a recommendation I tried the pancakes with pear, almonds, walnuts and mascarpone, and my friend …

Feral Fruit Trees Melbourne

Recently I heard about Feral Fruit Trees Melbourne, a local blog that plots the location of fruit trees growing in (or overhanging) public spaces in this city. The blog includes a Google map to which punters can add public fruit trees they’ve spotted around Melbourne. The blog advocates exercising restraint in your fruit-picking endeavours — don’t pick more than you need — and in the case of picking fruit from a privately owned tree that’s overhanging a public area, do the right thing and ask the owner if possible. There seems to be increasing momentum around the sustainable food movement lately, and this is just one more illustration of the fact.

Top ten things to do in Melbourne (on a budget)

This isn’t going to be your average top ten list. Everyone can open a guide book and read about the Eureka Tower Skydeck, or the Melbourne Aquarium, or the latest glamorous restaurant. I’ll leave those ‘blockbuster’ attractions for you to discover on your own. Instead, this list is made up of personal recommendations from this Melbourne Local to you — specific aspects of Melbourne that resonate most strongly with me as a local. And, of course, they can all be done on a paper-thin budget. So, without further ado, let me present my top ten.   1. Walk the laneways. This is one of the first things I do with visitors. Melbourne’s laneways are one of its most characteristic features; this is where many of its most loved institutions — its street-side cafes, its hidden bars, its street art — can be found. So, try this short walking tour: Begin with the Platform Artists Group in Campbell Arcade, then make your way up through Degraves Street and into Centre Place. From here, ‘do The Block‘ in The Block Arcade, then …

Lentil as Anything

Nestled among the trees in graceful Abbotsford Convent by the Yarra River is a little Melbourne miracle. Lentil As Anything is a volunteer-run restaurant and cafe serving up simple, hearty self-serve vegetarian food that is, quite literally, priceless. Payment at Lentils works through an honour system whereby diners give whatever they can afford. There are no cash registers here — no waiters handing out bills. There’s just a little wooden box asking for donations — whatever you feel your meal is worth. Photos by Marleena Forward Originally opened in 2000 in St Kilda, Lentils is now a registered not-for-profit organisation with four restaurants in operation: St Kilda, Abbotsford, Preston and Footscray. The Lentil As Anything website explains its evolution and philosophy thus: “Money was influencing the trends in the community, leaving many disenchanted. Lentil As Anything aimed to re-engage those who where left behind. It seemed that money was often a barrier to people participating … We used the money left in the box to run the restaurant. Money became a unifying force. Trust began to feel at home. The quest …

Hien Vuong 1: pho extraordinaire

Ladies and gentlemen, The Melbourne Local has a new favourite pho shop. It’s in Footscray, of course, as most of Melbourne’s best phos are. Tucked down a road off Barkly Street, Hien Vuong 1 is aesthetically modest (none of those shiny black counter-tops here) and gastronomically magnificent. The pho’s broth is fragrant and deliciously spiced, and it just gets better once you’ve added condiments and fresh herbs to your liking. As in most pho places in Footscray, soups here come in three sizes (remember, small = large, large = mammoth-sized) and are dirt cheap at around $8–$10. The staff are very attentive, particularly the friendly owner of the restaurant who has a smile for every customer. Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.   Hien Vuong 1 Address: 37 Leeds St, Footscray Tel: 9687 1470 Open: Monday–Sunday for lunch and dinner     Read more reviews at  

A1 Lebanese Bakery

Located in upper Sydney Road in Brunswick, A1 Lebanese Bakery is a big, breezy, slightly dishevelled place serving up cheap and delicious Lebanese pastries with zero pretentiousness. The front of the bakery is occupied by a bunch of tables, while down the back is a shop section offering a variety of Lebanese treats including dried herbs, dips, lentils and canned goods. The bakery is to the right, where you’ll find an enormous oven and all sorts of tasties including spinach triangles, halloumi pies and za’atar pizzas for just a few coins each. You can also get coffee here, and some baklava to finish off. If you love Lebanese food, you’ll love A1.   A1 Lebanese Bakery Address: 643–645 Sydney Rd, Brunswick Tel: 9386 0440 Opening hours: Sunday–Wednesday 7am–7pm, Thursday–Saturday 7am–9pm   Read more reviews at  

CERES Community Environment Park

If you love nature, gardening, organic food, bicycles or animals, or if you’re passionate about conservation and general do-gooderness, you should head to CERES Community Environment Park in Brunswick East. This place is like an urban lung, feeding Melbourne’s northern inner suburbs with oxygen and greenery and the smells of fresh dirt and ground coffee. Apart from being a lovely place to simply wander around and look at chickens, CERES has its own Organic Market, a Permaculture Nursery, and an Organic Cafe. CERES also offers a range of courses and workshops on all things green and sustainable; check the website for details of what’s on offer. There are also a bunch of volunteer opportunities here, so contact CERES if you’re keen to get involved. One popular and very handy CERES service is the team of volunteer bicycle fixer-upperes at The BikeShed. If, like me, you’re a little mechanically challenged, take your ailing bike along to CERES and the kind folk here will teach you how to fix it yourself. You can also buy new and second-hand bicycle parts …