Weekendnotes

Mission #3: Foodie Failures and More

The risk with your meals relying on food trucks and stalls is their unpredictability – will their truck break down, will they sell out of your favourite food, will business be quiet due to a thunderstormy night…? Continue reading

A Roundup of My Latest Adventures

It’s been a while since I’ve provided an update on my other articles, including some non-foodie adventures. Life has been a little hectic with the film festival I work for coming up and work being fairly busy.

But this is definitely not a reason to stop writing, it merely just means I’ve written less articles than usual and I have a backlog of places I want to share with you. Check out some of the ones I’ve managed to squeeze in writing about below.

Santina’s Cakes
Here’s a little cake place we discovered in Thomastown. It’s a little hard to find dessert catch-up spots up in the far northern suburbs, especially ones that stay open late, so it was a nice find.

Santina's Cakes on Urbanspoon

Popular Desserts in Melbourne
The Masterchef craze has contributed to the growing popularity of dessert spots in Melbourne. There’s plenty of goodies to discover including the places below. More detailed blogs on the food and experience at these places will be coming in the future.

Om Nom Dessert Bar

Om Nom Dessert Bar on Urbanspoon

Burch and Purchese Sweet Studio

Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio on Urbanspoon

A Day at Lake Mountain Alpine Resort
A day in the snow on a budget – perfect for a day with kids with activities that are a bit more laid-back than your usual snowboarding or skiing.

Coburg Drive-In Food Truck Festival
There are two more Wednesdays to go for this festival, August 27th and September 24th. What’s better than some great dinner from some food trucks before a classic drive-in film?

Lake Wendouree
You may have seen my previous articles from Ballarat, well another spot to definitely check out is the beautiful regional town’s lake. It’s great for a stroll and there are several cafes alongside the lake with a nice view.

Kryal Castle
Last of all, have a little fun and immerse yourself in a medieval experience. See some shows and find yourself in a torture dungeon…it all makes for a fun day in the castle and another great outing suitable for kids.

That’s all from me for now! Don’t forget to look out for my posts later this month in relation to Mon’s Mission #1 and feel free to suggest what my next mission should be!

Tazio Birraria Pizzeria & Cucina

Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to a large dinner for Weekendnotes writers at Tazio – an Italian restaurant located on the corner of Flinders Lane and Exhibition St.

Another writer volunteered to write the review on Weekendnotes, but I thought I’d love to add a few more non-Asian restaurant posts to my own personal blog. Did you know I’ve only ever posted one Italian place on my blog?

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The idea of the night was to showcase their large tables for functions. The table seated 24 people, thus 12 writers and their plus ones. It was great to meet some of the writers who you see post so often on Weekendnotes, and finally find yourself able to match faces to names.

With the function already catered for us, we were provided with a special Weekendnotes banquet menu (above). The good thing about Italian food is that it is perfect for sharing, thus the menu was designed for exactly that.

20140716_191938They also provided cocktails at a special price ($12.50), but as we were both driving, we chose to have mocktails – Safe Sex on the Beach and a No-jito ($9.50 – these were not included in the banquet). Service was great because we arrived a bit later and as we sat down, someone was already over to check what drinks we would like.

I enjoyed that you could have drinks similar to your usual cocktails but without the alcohol, as I’m not a big drinker anyway, it feels like you’re not left out and don’t miss out on the great flavours! 

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Whilst everyone arrived, chatted and settled in, the table was served with antipasto – including cured meats, feta, olives and herb bread. I guess I haven’t been exposed to antipasto much in my life to judge it, and found myself eating the usual meat and bread.

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Meanwhile, the chef came out to speak to us about Tazio’s concept of simple Italian food and talk us through our dinner menu and plan. He was a bit quiet and not loud-spoken, but we appreciated that he made the time to come out to talk to us at the start and end of the meal.

20140716_200153There was quite a break in between the entree and mains, which could be because they were allowing us time to get to know each other and chat, or also because they wanted to ensure everything came out at the same time.

Sides included patate fritte or chips with roast garlic aioli and salads – I don’t think you can go wrong with aioli but the chips were nothing special. Pictured below is the rucola – rocket, radicchio, parmesan and balsamic, a simple dish, usually $7.50, to lighten up your intake of pizza and pasta.
20140716_200258But this was only the beginning. After this our mains began to appear rapidly. Below is the classic margherita – I once heard someone say that it is best to judge an Italian restaurant on their margherita. These pizzas were thin and simple, herby and flavourful, but this was not the most memorable pizza.
20140716_200400The Della Mare – prawns, spinach, mozzarella (below) looked interesting, but I didn’t feel the prawns suited the pizza. I feel like there needs to be a little more topping to compliment it or something added to the sauce to make it work.
20140716_200503I did enjoy the last two pizzas more than the others, the Veneto – roast peppers, goats’ cheese, pancetta (Italian cured pork belly) and Treviso – crushed oven dried tomato, caramelised onion, basil.
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The Treviso felt like a more exciting vegetarian option than your classic margherita, with its extra dimension of flavour from their caramelised onion, feta and herbs.

The Veneto was also a simple meat option for a pizza, with a good amount of goat’s cheese. A suitable creation to represent an Italian restaurant with goats’ cheese and pancetta, a sort of Italian cured meat similar to bacon/ham.

20140716_201031Many people fell in love with the prawns, tomato and lemon zest risotto, but I have always found risotto tends to be too creamy for my liking, and this was one of them. Eating too much of a creamy or cheesy meal usually does not sit well with me after a while.
20140716_201102Meanwhile, the penne amatriciana – chicken, pancetta, chilli, garlic, napoli – did not seem that different from a similar dish my mum usually whips up at home. The sauce at Tazio does taste slightly different and more authentic, but still does not warrant any exclamations that it is the best dish.
20140716_201423Overall, the night was more for a good catch up and chat, full of getting to know people and enjoying food surrounded by people you usually aren’t surrounded by. The food was good, with some pizzas earning my tick of approval, but generally not outstanding.

Image taken from the official Weekendnotes write up by Nadine

It did, however, stick to the its concept of simple, Italian food. It is also a nice, classy atmosphere with good service, so drop in if you are after a sophisticated yet affordable Italian meal.
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Tazio is located at 66 Flinders Lane and is open 12pm-late weekdays and Saturdays from 5pm. Find their menu here and book online here.

Tazio Birraria Pizzeria Cucina on Urbanspoon

Mon’s Adventures was invited for a complimentary banquet with eleven other Weekendnotes writers and friends – all to promote their function table.

Insiders of the Month: May

If you haven’t seen, I’ll be featuring recommendations from people each month. The plan was to feature one recommendation, but now I’ve realised a compilation would be better, so my readers can have the same variety of options as me! Check out my Insiders below!

Kay has recommended Zombie Burger in St Kilda as it has yummy burgers! Although I work in St Kilda, it’s not close enough for me to visit on lunch but it’s definitely on the to-go list.

Zombie Burger on Urbanspoon

Jennie has suggested Camy Shangai Dumpling in Chinatown. You pay $15 for All You Can Eat with no time limit. You need at least five people to have All You Can Eat and they just keep on bringing out dishes!

Camy Shanghai Dumpling on Urbanspoon 20140507_190246 Banoiboy can’t contain his love for Jinda Thai, all he can say is, “Jinda Jinda Jinda!” Luckily Jinda happens to be on my train line. I managed to try it yesterday night, and it’s so popular as of late I was lucky enough to receive dish recommendations from Never Too Sweet and I Eat Therefore I Am. A post will be coming on it shortly!

Jinda Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I would love to mention a few more but I also would like to try them out myself and provide everyone with a review. Keep recommending me places by emailing me or commenting on my blog/social media, and it might be featured next month! This month’s features will be up on the side bar of my blog soon. In the meantime, here’s a roundup of some of my latest articles on my other websites: Rue & Co A new eating spot on the Paris end of Collins St. How can you resist the combination of St Ali cafe, Masterchef George Calombaris’ Jimmy Grants and Chin Chin’s head man, Chris Lucas, with a taste of his new Korean restaurant Kong. I’ll probably be writing more of a review on the food soon, but for now click here to read more on the place itself!

American Restaurants in Melbourne
Similarly I’ve written about some of these restaurants before, but if you’d like a little summary and to see more recommendations from my Weekendnotes readers, read on!

Round She Goes Preloved Fashion Market, Box Hill After the last amazing event in Coburg, this unique market will have its next round at Box Hill. The lovely founder Emma personally approves each stall so the market is full of quality and variety. For more, click here! Ice Hockey
If you’ve had a taste of this intense sport in North America, well it’s now coming on tour to Australia. Witness a match exhibiting the serious rivalry between USA and Canada and their iconic sport at Rod Laver Arena. Read the article here.

The trailer is having some issues in my article, but for now you can check it out here:

There are more articles not listed here, so check out my Weekendnotes and Livlicious profiles if you’re interested. Thanks for all the support in the past months. I’m currently ranked in the top 25 writers on Weekendnotes whilst this blog is continously growing, reaching new personal bests for site visits this month!

I’m Sorry Miss Jackson…

I hope I got that song (Outkast – Ms Jackson) stuck in your head now. I had to get it stuck in yours, because that’s exactly what happened to me when I visited one of the cafes below. This is a bit of a miscellaneous post, as I haven’t explored enough for them to warrant their own articles, so here it goes.

Mr Burger
I’ve heard so many people raving about this food truck, that I had to try it out to see what the fuss is. The opportunity arose when my friend told me they were at Federation Square, and in a flash, I was there.

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I was surprised to see not many people lining up, considering how popular I’ve heard it is. But on a Friday night, people in the city probably had plans to go somewhere for a proper dinner.

I chose the Mr Meat ($10) burger with beef pattie, bacon, cheese, lettuce, pickle, caramelised onions, BBQ sauce and mayonnaise.

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The cheese oozed throughout the burger making it look disgustingly good. It’s a good value burger that satisfied my hunger, but I don’t see the specialty of it. In the end I felt like I was having a glorified and more filling McDonalds or fast food burger.

In the meantime, I’ll still declare my love and dedication to the burgers of Beatbox Kitchen, but I still have to chase up burger recommendations from friends at places such as Tree of Us and Spot on Kebab Station.

Mr Burger is a roving food truck. Keep an eye on their movements here and check out their menu here.

Mr Burger on Urbanspoon

Miss Jackson
Our staple cafe near work is Green Eggs and Ham, but their special didn’t entice us last week so I scoured the web for another place nearby.

This gem is located in what looks like it used to be a house off Grey St. The staff are very casual and quite friendly. They led us towards the back of the cafe, which was located near a door where staff kept venturing in and out. This is what made us feel like we were in a house, and our seating seemed to be in what used to be a separate room.

20140424_125430 After we had trouble with deciding what we wanted from the menu, my friend chose this warm chicken piadina with bacon, avocado and basil mayo ($11.50). She enjoyed it, but not enough to finish it all, as the flavour became a bit repetitive. 20140424_125415Meanwhile, the rest of us got reeled in by the Spanish baked eggs with chorizo, char grilled capsicum and olives ($16). This displayed great presentation, but olives are a refined taste that not all of us could stomach. I enjoyed a few but couldn’t finish them all. The rest of the dish was great, the capsicums soft, and the tomatoes provided a nice flavour to eat with the bread. A bit more chorizo would have helped make it more filling, but the bread helped to do that in the end.

Miss Jackson is located at 2/19 Grey St and is open Tue-Sun 7am-4pm. You can view their menu here and keep an eye on their specials on Facebook.

Miss Jackson on Urbanspoon

Green Eggs and Ham Pt.2
If you haven’t checked out my previous post on this cafe, click here. It’s our favourite cafe near work, so it might be out of the way for other people unless you’re nearby.

For my Weekendnotes article covering my more recent visit, click here. This trip included some great aspects such as this cute iced coffee served in a beaker!

20140417_130023 Meanwhile, the special that day, which all five of us ordered, was a delicious Japanese pancake (okonomiyaki) with a generous amount of teriyaki chicken. Don’t miss out on their next amazing special!

Green Eggs and Ham is located at 22 St Kilda Road and they are open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm.

Green Eggs and Ham on Urbanspoon

Elsewhere…

Many of you may or may not know that I also write for Weekendnotes, a website featuring articles about events and activities happening in Melbourne.

I’ve also just started writing for a new website called Livlicious. It has a similar concept to Weekendnotes but also has opportunities for businesses to contribute with special offers etc. Check it out and if you have any suggestions, leave it on the Feedback tab, as it’s only just starting out!

Here’s a selected few of my articles but please visit the respective websites to see the rest so you don’t miss out!

 

 

 

Goyogo Frozen Yoghurt

Froyo is all the craze now, so of course the popular and lively nightlife of Lygon St could not miss out! Goyogo is a new frozen yoghurt place on the popular strip and they’re attracting people with their bright, modern decor, and their flavours and toppings that cater to everyone. Read more here.

GOYOGO on Urbanspoon

Top Things to do in Autumn in Melbourne

It’s a common mistake to believe there’s not much to do in Melbourne once summer is over. However there’s plenty of places to explore that radiate a special and unique beauty in autumn. Read more here.

 

 

 

Blue Lotus Water Gardens

The beautiful lotuses and water lilies at Blue Water Lotus Gardens make for spectacular views in this area of Yarra Valley. It’s great for a walk – take in the luscious scenery as you walk on cute bridges in the midst of it all or sit down for a bite in a gazebo. Hurry, the season closes on 6th April. Read more here.

Picknics Cafe

Located along Nepean Highway, the strip right across the beach, this Rye cafe serves some classic breakfast meals with careful presentation. In addition to that you can walk right across to the beach after your meal. Read more here.

Picknics Cafe on Urbanspoon

As Summer Goes By…

As you’ll remember that alongside eating, I also enjoy going on adventures! Here are my recent adventures in summer, as documented on Weekendnotes. In addition to that I also recommend an event for March – when summer will officially be gone. But it’s ok, there’s still plenty to do in Melbourne as always!

Squeaky Beach: article
A three hour drive to Wilson’s Promontory was well worth the beautiful views that this national park provides. We spent most of our time at Squeaky Beach where the sand truly squeaks with every step and the water was breathtakingly clear.

Yarra Valley Day Trip: Cherryhill Orchards & Healesville Sanctuary: article
Yarra Valley never ceases to amaze with its hilly and green scenery. During this adventure I got to pick cherries for the first time at the same time as admiring these famous views. In addition to this we squeezed in a trip to Healeseville Sanctuary, where I got to feed birds and come right up close to native Australian animals.

Moonraker Dolphin & Seal Swims in Sorrento: article
An early morning was well worth my first time snorkelling. Did I mention I can’t swim? So you can imagine how nervous I was, but I’m so glad I got to step out of my comfort zone and come up close to animals such as the Australian Fur Seals. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see dolphins, but the seals were amazing.

Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road: article
I’ve been along the Great Ocean Road before but not as far as Victoria’s iconic Twelve Apostles. There’s a long viewing platform to walk on and take all sorts of photos, as you marvel at the impressive coastal formations. You also get to admire the views along the Great Ocean Road drive itself. A must-do for Victorians!

Round She Goes Market, Coburg: article
This isn’t your typical Sunday trash and treasure market. It’s indoors and it’s all about quality vintage products – nothing shabby here. There will be lots of preloved designer items as well as other items that are in fantastic condition. This market has a $2 entry but it’s well worth the goodies that will be available!

Merry Weekendnotes!

It’s that season where you finally get to have a break and enjoy your time off. In the spirit of spending your time doing fun things and not working, here’s a Weekendnotes update if you haven’t had a chance to see my latest articles.

Host a Charity Dinner for the Philippines: article
To do our part and assist the Philippines in their time of crisis, we held a small charity dinner that managed to raise $1500 in donations. In the midst of trouble, we shared Filipino culture with those who are not as familiar with it and managed to aid those in need, providing a fun night but with sincere thoughts going out to those in need.

Secret Forest Walks in Daylesford: article
If you want an adventure and you’re not usually a hiker, here’s a challenge. Walking in a secluded forest in Daylesford with a GPS to guide you through a scenic walk, Secret Forest Walks will lead you to places that other people don’t really go. You may or may not be physically challenged whilst you can allow nature’s silence to engulf you.

How to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Melbourne: article
If you’re looking for a relaxing night or a night that isn’t just full of drinking to welcome 2014, here’s a few ideas. As a person who isn’t a heavy drinker, it’s always nice just to spend the night with good friends and appreciate the year that has passed in good company.

Ayomo Frozen Yogurt Cafe: article
Ayomo, standing for “A Yogurt Moment”, is a fairly new place on Clarendon St in South Melbourne. It provides unique flavours of frozen yogurt, their signature flavour being macadamia. In addition to this they make nutritious juices and smoothies, and even serve up some amazing waffles, so check it out for some healthy late-night dessert!

Ayomo on Urbanspoon

Brunch: Fitzroy Focus

Well folks, it looks like Fitzroy isn’t running out of brunch places any time soon. In fact, they are continuously popping up left, right and centre. Here’s a few that I’ve been to:

De Clieu: 187 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

I forgive in advance if this review is outdated, but I visited this place during my uni days last year. To put it simply, it didn’t impress me. A uni day, means it wasn’t even peak hour during the weekend. The wait was a bit long, say twenty minutes plus. I can’t remember exactly how long, but it definitely left us feeling quite hungry and sure that we would be back to uni late.

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After some debate, I went with the Berkshire Pork Neck (above, $17) with spring onion roti, tonkatsu BBQ sauce and a fried egg. Usually a fan of pork belly, I wasn’t sure if pork neck would be quite as good. Second no-no, was that this came out cold. The egg especially felt so cold, I was really curious as to whether they just left it for so long and forgot to bring it out or they cooked it so early to keep up with the orders…

If the dish did come out warm, I’d say overall it would still be a slightly average dish. Despite the delicious appearance, all I remember about the dish is that the BBQ sauce made it a fairly tasty, although I don’t see what difference the “tonkastu” BBQ sauce has. Out of all the dishes, this did appeal to me the most but unfortunately I was left dissatisfied having paid $17 for a small, cold meal and quite hungry.

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My uni friend chose the above dish, but I can’t locate it in on the current menu. Another difficult thing was that the menu said no alterations. For most cafes, this usually only applies to the weekend, but this applied to everyday. My friend really wanted the dish but she doesn’t like poached eggs. After enquiring, she still wasn’t able to but went with the meal anyway. Although beautifully presented, with two jars of jam, it still wasn’t anything special. Cheese and ham? You could have this any day.

Granted this was last year, one day I might give it another try, but right now too many brunch places lie on the list before it, so it’s unlikely I will be back there soon.

De Clieu is open Mon-Sat 7am-5pm and Sun 8am-5pm. You can find the menu here.

De Clieu on Urbanspoon

Breakfast Thieves: Shop 1, 420 Gore St, Fitzroy

It’s a trend these days to have quotes at your cafe, I’m not against it, in fact, they always provide a chuckle. This one at Breakfast Thieves was amazingly accurate (for my friend, not me haha)!

Courtesy of Breakfast Thieves’ Facebook page

Arriving on an autumn Saturday morning, it was packed, which is often a good sign. We had to join two other people in waiting for a table. At least they had a bench where we could sit whilst waiting, and they even served us coffee and brought out sugar and the menu.

Eventually we were seated inside. I’m often influenced by other blogs and mouthwatering photos such as The Hungry Excavator’s, and I’m also an avid fan of French toast. Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t help but order the Brioche Pain Perdu (bottom, $17), French toast served with spiced wine poached plums, white chocolate mascarpone mousse & candied pistachio. Now this one did not disappoint.

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The four rectangular pieces of crispy French toast with soft insides, plus the sweetness of the dish, actually fills you up quite a bit. I enjoyed everything from the presentation, to the succulent poached plums and the crumble on the far right to balance out the softer foods such as the mousse (not sure if the crumble is one of the aforementioned ingredients).

The other dish is from the lunch menu, called Botak Chin (top, $17). This was described as Malaysian Char-Siew pork wrapped in chilli-chive crepe with a side of crisp enoki mushroom, carrots, orange & sesame, rocket salad. Well firstly, I didn’t even notice the crispy side was enoki mushrooms until I re-read the menu now. We found this Modern dish enjoyable, the char-siew tender and flavoursome. Only complaint would be not enough meat!

Out of some of the hyped places around Melbourne, I feel that this place definitely deserves it.

Breakfast Thieves is open Tue-Fri, 7.30-4pm and 8-4pm on the weekends (kitchen closes at 3pm). Find their menu here.

Breakfast Thieves on Urbanspoon

Hammer & Tong

Hammer and Tong is fast becoming one of the top talked about places on Urbanspoon, thus you cannot blame my curiosity in trying this highly rated cafe. My friend even raved about the soft shell crab burger, so with a first-hand opinion, I was persuaded. If you haven’t seen my burger post (why not??), I’ve already discussed this burger as quite good, but pricey for a small portion ($16).

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However, the surprise dish for me was the duck egg, asparagus, truffle butter, parmesan briont (below, $18). There is some new craze involving truffle oil, thus I was curious as to the taste of truffle butter. I’m not sure what its magical power is, but it made my bread so soft and aromatic. I feel like there was the right amount of everything, as lately I’ve found some places overdo it with the parmesan. The duck egg, also had a distinctive taste that differentiates it from your normal eggs. The egg combined with the soft buttery bread, made the dish a surprising winner, so for once one of my risky choices paid off!

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Hammer and Tong is open Tues – Sat 7am to late (they’re open for dinner) and Sunday 8am to 5pm. View the menu here.

Hammer and Tong on Urbanspoon

Hankering for one more? This post is getting a tad long but feel free to read my full article on Mockingbird Cafe & Patisserie on Weekendnoteswhich has received an editor’s award. It’s a lovely little local cafe in Fitzroy North that I would definitely return to for their service.

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Mockingbird Cafe & Patisserie on Urbanspoon