Republic of Moreland

March 24, 2010

Practising what we preach

I’m conflicted about vege2go in Lygon Street, Brunswick. The food is okay, the prices are somewhat okay, the place is clean and pleasant. And the folk are very nice and they’re kiddy-friendly and all. But while they preach saving the earth, with Peter Singer sermons plastered over their walls, the place whifs of petrochemical excess. Not only are the chairs and tables plastic, but their smoothies and juices — even ‘eat-in’ versions — are served in plastic cups with plastic lids. Half the cutlery is disposable plastic, too. You may as well be eating at McDonald’s. And much of their produce is out of season, and so would’ve accrued lots of fossil-fuelled food miles. I’ve seen melon & berries in their winter fruit salad, for example. And the pantry stuff on their shelves is all imported.

And when the vege2go folk preach good nutrition, perhaps they might reconsider zapping their food in the microwave. Several studies show significant nutrient loss from food subject to microwaving. And perhaps they should reconsider selling the coloured lolly-water posing as health tonic.

Compare and contrast with Each Peach, just a few shops up. The folk there source local produce, would not at gunpoint even consider microwaving their food, and they sell home-made pantry goods. Their furniture and adornments are reused and recycled stuff. And their walls don’t preach saving the planet. They’re just doing it, in their own delicious way.

Perhaps vege2go just has more mainstream appeal, which is good. Different strokes, I suppose.

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September 28, 2009

Tinpan Orange launch

Filed under: cafes & pubs,events,music — Kath @ 1:03 pm

Absolutely beautiful achy bittersweet storybook.

tinpan-orange

December 12, 2008

Hellenic Republic

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,food — Kath @ 9:47 am

I was thinking of going there tonight, but here is a customer review of Hellenic Republic from ador dining out reveiws . For $95 per person, I think I’ll wait for other people’s responses before going. Here is the review:

Overall: 3.0   Food: 2.0   Environment: 4.0   Service: 3.0   Cost Per Person: $95.00

“We were a group of four people and opted for the set menu for the first time there, we were disappointed with the food for a number of reasons. the first was the mezza was very oridinary especially the marinated octopus which was quite mushy also the bread was sliced rye and had nothing to recomend it, with the mains the meat was orginary and there was only one average size piece each.

We finished with a fruit platter also very small portions and not very appertising in presentation. We expected it to be more authentic Greek/Cypriot cuisine with that flair the Greeks have of making fairly plain food tasty.

In order to improve the food little things like the bread and food portions need to be addressed.We were there on the first night it opened and we hope it was only a glich.

I have been to the sister restaurant The Press Club many times as it is a fabulous restaurant and I have recommended it to many people, and I was looking forward to a Greek restaurant in the Taverna style, and felt if anyone George Colombaris would be able to achieve this, so in all fairness I would go back to the Hellenic Republic again in about a month and order individual dishes and see if the food had improved.Until I do this I would not recommend it because as a group of four we were disappointed.”

August 13, 2008

Each Peach

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,food,Lygon Street — Kath @ 11:44 am

A very positive review of Each Peach appeared in yesterday’s Age. I admit given the owner’s background with the superb Loafer Bread I had the impression it was a a bakery rather than a cafe, so thus far I’ve been disappointed with Each Peach. But by all other accounts it’s a fine little establishment.

Here’s an extract from the review:

Home-made ginger beer, a three-citrus squeezed juice, an organic hot chocolate and a little “cup of foam” join the coffees. There are toasties of ham and melty Italian fontina cheese, or a selection of sourdough panini using bread from Zeally Bay. Like much on offer here, it’s organic.

The panini arrive crunchy, burny-fingers hot, and filled with fresh, pleasantly understated combinations such as thick seams of snowy ricotta and sweet, chunky pumpkin with Coburg pesto – so named because it is made from basil grown in a local back garden – or milky sour goat’s curd with meaty rough-cut green olive tapenade and a wad of rocket. They are very good.

June 10, 2008

Lurking in Lygon St

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,food,Lygon Street — Faithh @ 1:08 pm

Our local chunk of Lygon St has generally been a bit dull. Unless you’re into gambling and McDonalds followed by a bit-of-a-hoon in a motorized wheelchair that doubles as a Jason recliner, in which case you might well enjoy it. I don’t to get to do any of this stuff any more since the four-year-old came along.

However things are looking up. At least for me.

Artisan Espresso opened recently at 438 Lygon St, down near the tram stop opposite CJ Fabrics. One of the owners, Marinus Jansen (of appetite food store, North Melbourne) has paired up with Josh-the-coffee-roaster-Bailey to provide a little piece of heaven locally. What’s great about the place is they do coffee and ONLY coffee. Well, Ok, they do other beverages, but no food. Soon there will also be a retail coffee outlet opening there from where you will be able to buy your beans. And they are in the process of moving Josh’s roaster onto the premises so soon I’ll be able to tend the chooks and wrangle the vegies (or is that the other way around) while the heavenly aroma of roasting coffee comes wafting up the laneway. Now thats going to be good for productivity! The house-blend, Padre is a great all-rounder and has become our coffee of choice at home with good reviews from all of our vistors. Meanwhile at Artisan Espresso itself you can regularly try the various beans as they are roasted and experimented with.

It gets even better. Just a little further up, where the wool shop used to be, an organic bakery and cafe will be opening. The owner is a pastry chef who previously worked with the guys from Loaf of Bread in Nth Fitzroy. Now I’m looking forward to that!

And if you want real unsubstantiated gossip, the old cheesecake shop is currently undergoing extensive renovations and the rumour-mill insists that it is all being done for George Calombaris of The Press Club. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen but it certainly adds to a sense of rejuvenation in the strip.

Vegie2Go also opened in this strip of Lygon St late last year and while the franchise-style doesn’t do much for me the Italian based vegetarian food is always delicious. Handy as a take-away alternative. Can’t quite come at eating there.

Lush is another new addition; an enormous place (three shop frontages I think) packed full of furniture, clothes, jewellery, and thingies all of a very lush persuasion. Again I have to admit it’s not really my style so I can’t vouch for the place but if you suspect ‘lush’ is what you’re after then it would be worth a look.

pict0421.jpgAnd of course there are our old favourites, the record shop with a picnic set for sale in the window, the Organic Grocery Store, Casa Della Pasta (who now also make fresh organic pasta), Nabil the hairdresser, (love that waft of patchouli everytime you ruffle your son’s hair) and a fabulous Indian herbs and spices store where you can also pick up the latest bollywood DVDs.

Foodworks mind you, I could live without. For the handfull of things I do buy in a supermarket you still can’t go past IGA in Sydney Rd, Brunswick.

June 25, 2007

Outing Moreland’s filthy kitchens

Filed under: cafes & pubs,Coburg,crime,food,health,Pascoe Vale — Kath @ 12:42 am

2006 was the year of renovating, and consequently the year of takeaway dinners, many home-delivered. One morning, it occured to me that I always get the runs (sorry) after eating a meal from a particular Coburg Indian restaurant. Not an especially good — or even moderately good — Indian restaurant (are there any around here?), but a cheap one. At beer o’clock after renovating, almost anything will go down.

I thought little of it. But one evening, sitting down to orders from said restaurant, Bloke on The Avenue and I noticed a hair in our dinner. Deal with it, you might say. But this wasn’t any old hair. About 7cm long, it was exceptionally thick and coarse. It could only belong to an animal like a goat, or a camel. Or a llama, or mule, or wild pig. Then we noticed a second, and a third, and then dozens. We could only imagine what was going on in that kitchen.

We complained to Moreland Council, and played a little phone tennis before we gave up on the matter.

I’d had a very different Council experience not long beforehand. On a sweltering day, Little One and I went to the Queen’s Park Pool in Moonee Ponds. The pool was closed. Now, any parent of a preschooler knows disappointment on outings is to be avoided if you want to keep things nice. So I hastily offered to buy Little One a gelato at Queen’s Park’s ice-cream van. Something I’d never done before, because we’re principled about the kind of treats we encourage. Until that day, Little One knew ice-cream vans only as ‘music trucks’. (And don’t get me started on the crap listed on “kids’ menus” — as if kids are incapable of selecting the real food they’ve enjoyed for centuries. And don’t get me started about the thoughtless parents who succumb to this poisonous marketing.)

Anyway, as the man was scooping pink gelati into the cones with no serviette wrapped around them, I noticed his hands were covered in scabby sores, some weepy, and his fingernails were FILTHY. It was sickening, but I had one of those moments where it would seem embarrassing to make a fuss. And nor did I want to disappoint Little One yet again, no Sir.

On the other hand, I didn’t want to poison my child, either. So I paid for the cones, noticing that the van’s interior, too, was grimy, and I swiftly suggested a game of throw-gelati-at-the-seagulls. Thank heavens Little One thought that was much bigger fun than eating them. We came home unsullied and I called Moonee Valley City Council, which promptly undertook an inspection, and the next week told me they’d suspended the poor man’s license.

I have so many Moreland food stories, including the one where Sydney Road’s Three Stooges Café (now under new management) served a scone carpeted in mould. So it was interesting to read the article in yesterday’s Age about the limitation to Councils’ power to publish results of health inspections. Lord knows there are many that wouldn’t pass the test in Moreland. What was more interesting was the push to give:

councils the power to name premises that have been successfully prosecuted.

Overseas studies have demonstrated the health benefits of naming foul premises. After Los Angeles introduced a public grading system for restaurants in 1998, the number of food-borne hospitalisations decreased by 13 per cent.

Surely, then, there’s a public interest argument here?

May 22, 2007

“It’s very new Brunswick”

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,food,Lygon Street,Sydney Road — Kath @ 10:11 am

It was very new Brunswick to see the feature in today’s Age, called ‘Backyard Barista’. I can’t link to it, cos it’s not online: but apparently this obscurity is precisely what makes things “very new Brunswick.”

I nearly spluttered my very new Brunswick Fair Trade Organic Coffee when I read the double-page spread by Cheap Eats editor Nina Rousseau. In an otherwise good roundup of the best Brunswick cafés (including A Minor Place, El Mirage, Ray’s, La Paloma, Sugardough), Rousseau’s account slumped into ethnocentric journalese when she attempted to capture the local cant. Quoting no-one but her own publication, she wrote:

The Age Cheap Eats 2007 describes A Minor place as “new Brunswick” and you’ll often hear the term dropped meaningfully into conversations — “It’s very new Brunswick” —to describe something more than cosmetic. It’s becoming a style; a term to describe a particular look and demographic… To open a “new Brunswick”-style café anywhere in Melbourne you will need… cool indie tunes, resident funksters…”

Now call me insular, but I’ve never heard any ‘resident funkster’ [ahem] drop “It’s very new Brunswick” into conversations at any of these cafés. Maybe because I don’t mix in the real estate and market branding circles that Nina appears to. But I suspect this is not so much ear-to-the-ground, word-on-the-street reportage as… well, something else. Cringeworthy, made-up puff, perhaps.

But I’m happy to be proved wrong. If anyone, anywhere, knows of a conversation that “meaningfully” incorporated “It’s very new Brunswick,” please record it here.

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Postscript: I just googled “very new Brunswick”. Lo and behold: The Age reviewer Matt Preston also used it in a review of A Minor Place: probably the very same review as in the Cheap Eats Guide. He also writes that café is frequented by “art school lesbian” types and “older locals who look like hip, SBS-watching teachers”. Don’t these (apparently Eastern Suburbs commercial tv-watching) Age reviewers ever get out?

March 15, 2007

Brunswick music festival

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,events,music,notices,Sydney Road — Kath @ 9:15 pm

starts today. Dunno what to go and see.

February 18, 2007

mmm… cakes.

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,food,health,recipes — Kath @ 9:20 pm

Bloke on The Avenue is one of these geezers who doesn’t believe in healthy treats. Try as I might to put as much fruit, fibre and unprocessed sweetners into baked goodies, he reckons if you’re going to have a treat, go hard core industrial grade. (more…)

January 9, 2007

unknown unknowns

Filed under: books & writing,cafes & pubs,events,notices — furiouscowgirl @ 9:45 pm

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January 7, 2007

Sydney Road to become boulevard?

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,Coburg,politics,Sydney Road — Kath @ 1:46 pm

The Age reported this morning that there are plans to make a huge stretch of Sydney Road, from the Parkville border right up to Bell Street, one giant boulevard-mall:

In his first speech as mayor in December, Cr O’Brien outlined the virtues of the new car-free mall. “Visualise in your mind these surroundings,” he said.

“Off Bell Street your journey commences by parking at the rear of the shopping strip. You take a leisurely walk, bike or tram journey down Sydney Road amongst a canopy of trees stretching as long as the eye can see, with widened and paved footpaths, observing a relaxed community sitting around coffee tables chatting … in a calming environment. (more…)

December 29, 2006

Back in the new year

Filed under: Brunswick,cafes & pubs,Coburg — Kath @ 10:33 pm

Some special folk have agreed to start blogging on this site in January, so bookmark it, won’t you? I’ve put this image of Coburg’s Woodlands Hotel here to remind you that there’s a Best Moreland Café/Pub/Bar Poll on this site and you’re invited to vote. Please do, as I’d like to use the info to feature on my links and for future discussion. So click here if you haven’t nominated a bar or café. And have yourself a very merry new year.

Update: The Woodlands is up for sale.

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