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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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 20, 2007

The perils of multiculturalism 2

Filed under: Brunswick,food,Lygon Street,mischief,nonsense — Faithh @ 10:16 am

A while ago I walked into the little Italian pasta shop on Lygon St, the one where you can buy fresh pastas and sauces they’ve made themselves. While not exactly regulars (we are capable of whipping it up ourselves), we have shopped here before on several ocassions without mishap. The old guy shuffled out into the store and I asked him for some bolognese sauce. He looked slightly bewildered but shuffled out back where he vanished for a very long time. Far longer than usual. When he came back he was holding a dozen eggs! Which he had apparently taken some trouble to put together. They don’t even sell eggs!

pict0421.jpg

He had been gone so long and I was so flabbergasted and intrigued by this complete miscommunication that I didn’t correct him. I then picked out some cheese and spinach ravioli from the freezer and asked again for bolognese sauce. He shuffled out back and quickly re-appeared with bolognese sauce. I went home with ravioli, bolognese sauce and a dozen eggs.

Something similar happenned to me once before living in an area very similar in many ways to Brunswick, just one of the quirkier joys of multiculturalism. Has any one else had similar experiences? Would you have tried to explain you didn’t want the eggs? And if so how? Strange theatresport moments as you try to act out ‘egg’ in the negative? My gut instinct has generally been if I stuffed up such a simple message then maybe it’s best to leave it.

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?

February 9, 2007

Crow’s-eye view of Moreland

Ever wondered how big your neighbour’s illegal extension actually is? Now you can check it out, at Google Earth, of course. Or Google maps. Here’s the satellite aerial image of Moreland, thanks to Brickworks Collective, a site I found via Brunswick Labor.net. Scroll around and have a perv! You can zoom in using the tool on the left.

January 15, 2007

Can’t have it both ways

Behold the cup and saucer, from St Vinnies, nine bucks. (more…)

December 22, 2006

Open for business

Sydney roadWELCOME TO Republic of Moreland. I did pen a tagline under its masthead but, for reasons unknown, WordPress refused to publish it. I thought about using Almost Pretty, the title of a history of Sydney Road, which, incidentally, is the longest continuous retail strip in the Southern Hemisphere, or so a prominent local real estate auctioneer is very fond of shouting. (If you’re lucky enough to covet property, you know who I’m talking about. He with the year-round suntan.) It’s an impressive fact, until you think about the other cities in the Southern Hemisphere. Anyway, suggestions for the tagline, and how to get it up there, will be warmly received. (more…)

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