Sunday, 22 April 2012

A Malay ... sian .. Feast

Ok ... so my visiting friends R & S have left our gracious Melbourne shores ... taking the amazing unseasonal warmth with them and leaving a rather empty space in their wake. My friend R is an instinctive and creative cook, all of his knowledge and skill gleaned from inspiring recipes and meals, and very little from actual cooking experience ... much like his beautifully framed shots, well-conceived, with a simple digital camera and virtually non-existent training ... when I was downloading shots of a meal that he orchestrated for us in the early part of his stay, I typed in a Malaysian feast as the name of the folder I was saving the pictures into ... silly me! I now call it what it should really be ... a Malay feast ("his version"!):

Thank you R & S for paying us a visit. We had a great time showing you our city and all its exitements!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

I know its hideous but I love it!!

Ok ... visiting friend R was hot for Camberwell market so we dutifully woke up early on a Sunday morning and schlepped over to the well-heeled suburb for some trash and treasure.

And we scored this tacky piece of hideousness that I can't wait to hang! It will greet our visitors as they walk in through the front door with a seductive deep throated growl as if to say, "enter here and leave all inhibitions and good taste at the door!"

Trash and Treasure - revisionist Melbourne

Ok ... its amazing how different Melbourne feels when viewed vicariously through the eyes of visiting friends from overseas. Melbourne decided to shelve its Winter coat for a few days of glorious Autumnal sunshine. We made full use of her summery choice of wardrobe and took a drive to Daylesford to take in some Trash and Treasure.

As always, a trip to Cliffy's and some homespun food is in order.

And the Convent Gallery never fails to dissappoint with its distressed walls speaking of quiet contemplation and modest palliative care.

Daylesford has it share of Byron style rainbow frippery, but we can forgive its slide into new age pontifery (sic) by the sheer presence of Alla Wolf-Tasker's Lakehouse and the fact that I managed to pick this US pressing still sealed for a gold coin donation of $2.00:

Monday, 16 April 2012

Finally decent-ish coffee within walking-ish distance - West 48

Ok ... so my friends descended in a maelstrom of local innuendo and uninhibited giggles ... they arrived on a particularly beautiful Autumnal morning which managed to render the cracks in our house a sort of aesthetic charm ... which my friend R took full photographic advantage off ... hhmmm!

That day was also auspicious for another reason. It was the first day of trading for Footscray's (and its environs) newest culinary offering - W 48 (or should that read West 48? - jury is still out).

We have been waiting I can't tell you how long for this place to open. I used to slow down while driving past to peep in on its progress. And now finally somewhere within reasonable walking distance that serves reasonable coffee!

No surprises with the fit out here, although it has some anecdotal quirks including a refurbished work bench from Essendon Airport which forms the main communal table in this deceptively large space. Bare lightbulbs/dark walls and distressed/re-used wood shenanigans abound, but it needs something to pull it altogether ... as it feels a bit too colour by numbers for my liking. But that is not to say it isn't a welcoming place. Its not that cramped and the acoustics are actually quite reasonable.

The menu is fairly basic, in that there's nothing that really jumps out and grabs. And I have to confess that I am not a fan of Allpress coffee ... so although my flattie was decent, it wasn't quite the Wow I wanted.

For our afternoon repast, M had the heirloom tomatoes and fetta.

Does pre-fixing a vegetable with the word heirloom activate some kind of taste pheromone or neurological flavour enhancement gene, but they always seem so much more delicious. Quick! Someone do a blind taste test soon because I think its all in the brain! Anyhoo, it was yummy and my Avocado and Hummus was just exactly what I wanted. A good proprietor knows how to pick his suppliers and consequently his produce - the avo was amazing, and even if the hummus had been generic it wouldn't have mattered. This is a simple and well put together dish.

R had the Cuca sardine sandwhich (cans of which are available to purchase here) which almost seems like a promotional tie-in. I can't really tell my Cuca from my Johns West fits best (and yes that was deliberate!!) but a quick google tells me ... not much more really. R did say it tasted yummy, but maybe he was just being polite. From where I was sitting, it looked like it could have used just a bit more filling.

S was less enamoured of his Roasted Eggplant number ... but I don't think he was all that hungry to begin with ... or maybe it was just nervous excitement at being in Melbourne at the very start of a holiday. (just quietly, it looked the least appealing).

So what are our final thoughts - and already there are polarising opinions out there on the interwebs!! - I needed a place like this to open nearby and its here. I hope it stays the distance and expands its menu. In its current format, I would recommend it as a place for a quick stop and snack. But I really want it to be so much more.

West 48 on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Besito - happy to oblige

Ok ... I don't know my Colombian from my Peru, but whatever it is they're serving, its delicious and it needs to be accessible post 4pm!! I want my little kiss morning, noon and night! So owners of Besito ... get cracking!

This new addition to Little India on Barkly is already causing a buzz amongst bloggers and online zines alike. The food is simple and delicious and surprisingly light. I say surprising, because I mistakenly associate latin cuisine with rich and heavy textures and flavours.

M had the Indios with chicken which is a fried taco (much like a spring roll or cigar) served with rice, guacamole and salsa verde. Crunchy and oh so yummy. And the combination of flavours was spot on - both distinct and complimentary at the same time.

I had the Quesadilla which was Jamon & queso fresco (a type of cheese) pan fried in a Corn Tortilla with relish and roquette. The Jamon was the best I've ever tasted, and really I think anything tastes good served in a Corn Tortilla.

You get a choice of sauces ranging from the mildly sweet to the tartly hot. Its our new discovery - Amazon sauces. Amazing. We're already halfway through our bottle of Amazon Salsa Picante.

And they have great coffee (which is still surprisingly hard to come by round these parts!)

(edit 2/6/2012: Besito now opens for dinner - you may wish to read about a recent visit here.)

Besito on Urbanspoon

Americana - time to hoe in on the debate

Ok ... we were lucky enough to partake of the remnants of the Richmond Weekender on its very last weekend of existence. This has to be cross promotion par excellence - a temporary fit out in the old GTV 9 studios housing a market, cinema and the Graham Canteen. All of this before the space is turned into upmarket Studio Nine apartments, which at round about $470000 for a one bedder, is well out of the reach of your average pulled pork muncher and beer swiller.

But what is life without imagination and a healthy dose of pretence. So off we went to have ourselves a plate of American style barbeque ... slow cooked and smoky.

The handsome boys behind yet another pop up version of the recent influx of stateside street food serveries were convivial hosts and took us through the canteen style ordering process.

We selected our salads, sauces, bread and finally the meat - pulled pork, ribs and brisket. Opting for bubbles and beer we parted with our hard earneds and plonked ourselves in the warm autumn sun and gorged.

Time for a bit of tough love - the novelty of the whole proceedings far outreached the quality of the food. Thats not to say this wasn't yummy, but at those prices, and stripped away of the conceptual surroundings, I probably would have felt a little cheated. And I'm a little over this whole travelling medicine show of cuisine. Give me a fixed address, great coffee, and a reasonable priced lovingly prepared meal (Miss Marmalade I'm looking at'chu!) and I'm a happy camper.

Still it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. And lets have more of this shameless cross promotion - it works!

Music Round Up and its about time too!!

Ok ... there is a reason that my "This Year in Music" page languishes in the farcical doldrums of 2011, I have been "tired and uninspired" by all facets of the world of rock and pop. Its only with the following recent crop of releases that I dip my toe back in the pool with trepidation. Today's world of music enjoyment and consumption is vastly different to the nadir of the late 90s / early 00s when the CD single dominated with its multifarious versions and artists pushed the time limits on the CD format and graced us with 40 mins of near pop perfection and 34 mins of filler dregs and dross. But good or bad, at least it was exciting!!! Who really cares these days?

I for one still do, but my patience is being tried on a constant basis with each dissappointing release after another.

Lets start with the freshest of the fresh - Django Django - the name conjures up less than positive visions of the worst excesses of Jazz Prog - endless snare drum solos with intermittent marimbula flashes and the odd diaphragmly challenged solo trumpet parp! But fear not minions, this is fun pop, or rather rock/pop at its most funnest (sic)! Finally the UK has something tolerably decent to offer. We're nowhere near stadium fillers yet, but these young scottish lads are starting to make the right waves. Admittedly I championed Micachu at some point and where are they now? But this is exactly the kind of Pop I want to hear right now. So I won't be winning awards as an A&R man anytime soon, but they've gone the way of the proverbial dinosuars anyways. I will recommend this self-titler for anyone after a bit of non-taxing escapism - its fun.

Keeping in the same frame of delusionary pop escapism, I also recommend Miike Snow's Happy To You, despite every hipster unloving (and that is reverse ironic psychology to a T) rock zine's lukewarm responses. These Swedish boys know their way round a tune and have a keen ear for a pop arrangement. And isn't the Devil's Work the perfect pop song? No seriously, it is!

Staying on the convivial tip, Michael Kiwanuka's Home Again is a retro throwback to the early 70s soul albums chocked full of horns and the odd country and western flirtation ... yeah Ronson and his ilk has beaten this Londoner to the punch ... but Michael has an old country folksy flair that inches it above the rest of the commercial dross clogging up the internets these days.

Moving onto a bit of noisy shenanigans, we have The Men's Open Your Heart - noisy and energetic, there's not much else I can say but you need the right attitude and a sturdy set of ear drums. In certain contexts and situations this is Essential listening - if you are a little sensitive, then move on.

Xiu Xiu's newie Always is drama dialled to 11. Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart always sounds like a man on the edge backed up by a room full of people banging on hard rubbish with steel pipes. But hiding between the klings and the klangs are some stirring melodies and a heightened sense of melodrama.

Similarly dramatic but a little more sombre is The Twilight Sad's No One Can Ever Know. Its that scottish brogue that gets me. Its thick and seductive, much like the music underpinning this band's devastating lyrical turns. This is meaty emotional rock and they deserve every accolade they get and a bit more attention.

To cool things down a little we have King Creosote and Jon Hopkin's Diamond Mine - these are quiet contemplative and narrative songs - I'm sure there is some underlying concept here but who cares - just listen and let it all seep in ... they're beautiful.

And finally, just for a bit of dance around the loungeroom fun we have The 2 Bears' Be Strong - dance fluff to make even the most unfortunate looking feel beautiful and sexy inside. And how could you say an unkind word about music that does that.

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