Melbourne Good Food and Wine Show 2015 – Giveaway!

Alistair1Australia’s largest consumer food and wine exhibition the Good Food and Wine Show is being held in Melbourne over the long weekend on Friday 5 June – Monday 8 June  at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The main ambassador for this year’s show will be UK celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott, where he will exclusively take part in the Melbourne show. He’ll be there along with a line up of renowned local and international chefs plus  hundreds of boutique exhibitors and a focus on on-trend foods and beverages.

Exhiting

Take a shopping trolley, lots of cash, wear comfortable shoes and clothes and don’t drive or ride a bike – there’s beer and wine on offer!

Tickets are $34 general entry for adults, $20.40 for children 12-17 years and kids under 12 years are free.

Giveaway! Thanks to Good Food and Wine Show  I have 3 x double adult passes for general exhibition entry on any of the 4 days to give away. To win all you have to do is leave a comment before midnight Monday 1 June and the winners will be selected randomly. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HOT: Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood

Mjr Tom

To stand out in Melbourne’s competitive dining out industry, you’ve really got to have a signature dish, something that gets Instagrammed to death. At Mjr Tom, Collingwood’s latest cafe/bar, that dish has got to be a banana hot dog.

Yes, you read right!

Before we get into this intriguing dish, a few things you should know about Mjr Tom. It’s an all-day eatery and bar that’s split into three areas for whatever mood you’re in.

Mjr Tom

At the front is a small front area with the coffee station and simply framed seating nooks that give the space a Zen-like Japanese aesthetic.

Mjr Tom

Head back and there’s a lofty area housing a central bar with seating plus inviting booths that are surprisingly sunny despite being eye-level with the apartment block that overlooks the narrow laneway.

Mjr Tom

The booths are the best seats in the house, and the raw plywood, corrugated metal and greenery that adorn the space give it an outside-inside feel.

Mjr Tom

Mjr Tom

Downstairs is the bluestone basement and private dining room, with a spanking new pool table and high stools and tables.

Mjr Tom

The menu is eclectic, to say the least, with breakfast available 8am-3pm and lunch from 12pm. I count Asian, Latin, American and Italian influences –  then there’s that banana hot dog.

The dish is a roasted banana split into two and topped with bacon lardons, grated smoked scamorza, two banana-shaped garnishes cut from arepa, tomato marmalade.

Mjr Tom

It’s a fun and tasty dish, albeit a bit gimmicky (and amusingly phallic). Ingredients like Brazil Nut get lost in amongst the heat from the green chili and coriander salsa and the riot of other flavours. The only reason I wouldn’t order it again is because it’s $17.50 for what is essentially one tricked up banana fritter and I was still hungry afterwards.

Mjr Tom

If you’re after a breakfast classic with a twist then try the granola, which is also a more reasonable $12. It’s a chunky mixture of nuts, seeds and fresh berries surrounding a wobbly buffalo milk pannacotta and a slightly tart yoghurt sorbet. The texture of the pannacotta is perfect though I would have liked more flavour in it.

Mjr Tom

Lunch options include fish tacos and beef-cheek empanadas and an Asian chicken burger. C’s Israeli pearl cous cous salad ($14.50) is chock full of cucmber, zucchini, mint, herbs and nuts with a ball of labne rolled in black sesame on the side. It’s fresh and light but unless you’re vegetarian you’ll need the chunks of bacalao (extra $4) for flavour and protein.

The coffee is imported from Italian roaster Romcaffe and was smooth and creamy. The chai, while beautifully presented in crockery that reminded me of volcanic rock, was too watery in both texture and flavour.

Mjr Tom

Mjr Tom in the daytime is a relaxing place to hang out and its global menu means that there’s plenty of choice. At night I imagine it’ll be a fun place to eat and drink, making it a great addition to the Smith Street scene.

Mjr Tom, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood (03) 9419 8048

Daily 8am–1am

MJR TOM on Urbanspoon

 

HOT: High Tea on the Rails by Elysian Afternoon Teas, Newport Railway Workshops, Shea St, Newport

Newport Railway Workshops

High Tea on the Rails was a one-off fundraiser organised by Elysian Afternoon Teas for McAuley Community Services for Women’s May High Tea Appeal.

Elysian Afternoon Teas is a vintage high tea business run by Therese Slee which offers small groups of 2-12 people the experience of high tea without the mess or the fuss.

Therese delivers high tea to your home by bringing her stash of vintage china (including a large collection of unique souvenir teaspoons), linen and table decorations. All the catering is done from her home kitchen. Some of the recipes come from the Ritz in London, some are treasured family recipes and some have been created by Therese.

Newport Railway Workshops

The location of this event was at the Newport Railway Workshops, which once used to be the largest industrial complex in Victoria. I never knew this place existed! The original 1880s workshops are now occupied by railway preservation groups Steamrail Victoria, Diesel Electric Rail Motor Preservation Association Victoria and R707 Operations and used by the Department of Infrastructure for the storage of disused trams and other rail rollingstock. The Australian Railway Historical Society Railway Museum is located south of the workshops.

I’ve eaten a lot of high tea in Melbourne, but never before in a vintage railway carriage! For this occasion we were very lucky to use the historic Avoca Dining Car, which was built at the Newport Railway Workshops and used for the Royal Visit of the Duke and Duchess of York on their visit to Australia in 1927. It was on loan from R707 Operations which charters locomotives, carriages and trains for private tours, corporate events, tours and filming across Victorian rail network.

Newport Railway Workshops

Newport Railway Workshops

Our high tea began with a flute of bubbly or home made ice tea in the spectacular Art Deco interior of lounge car 708, which was built in the 1940s and further decorated with some items from Seddon vintage shop Once More, With Feeling.

Newport Railway Workshops

We were then ushered into the snug dining car. Each gorgeously decorated table held a plate of traditional crustless sandwiches and scones with home made jam while pots of Madame Flavour teas were brought around.

newport railway workshops

 

The sandwiches were not terribly exciting to be honest as the bread was too soggy and thin. The traditional fillings included chicken paté and lettuce, cucumber and egg.

Newport Railway Workshops

The cake trolley was my highlight, filled to the brim with excellent home made treats. I dived into the moist Lemon Cheese Cream Butter Cake, a crispy hazelnut meringue filled with chocolate ganache and a tart with a hazelnut base and spiced apple butter filling.

Newport Railway Workshops

The ginger fluff sponge was simply amazing, like eating puffs of cloud sandwiching light whipped cream.

Newport Railway Workshops

From the hum of conversation a grand time was had by all as we dined to our fill in unique surroundings. Best of all, $10 of each ticket went to McAuley Community Services for Women, which provides much needed services for women and their children who are escaping family violence and for women who are homeless.

If you’re interested in the works of R707 Operations they restore and maintain heritage locomotives and carriages and can provide tours by appointment. They also regularly provide comfortable family friendly and affordable vintage rail travel day train trips to regional centres in in Victoria.

High Tea on the Rails by Elysian Afternoon Teas, Newport Railway Workshops, Shea St, Newport 

HOT: The Grand Masters, The Grand Hotel, 333 Burnley St, Richmond

the grand richmond

Melbourne has so many eateries opening week after week that it’s easy to get caught up in the fervour of chasing new dining experiences.

But we musn’t forget the stalwarts of the city’s dining scene, places like The Grand Hotel in Richmond that have been serving happy customers for more than twelve years in Burnley Street.

I confess that despite moving to Melbourne twelve years ago myself I have never ventured to The Grand until last week. I was invited to attend one of The Grand’s special monthly events, The Grand Masters dinner to celebrate the old guard of Melbourne restaurant scene for AFR’s Australia’s Top 100 Restaurants, the only peer voted restaurant list in Australia.

the grand richmond

Branco Cokesa, Alex Almatrah and Peter Watt  are three front of house staff that have worked in the hospitality business for over 40 years and together garnered over 165 (!) chef hats between them. While they served the diners in one of The Grand’s upstairs function rooms, they regaled us with anecdotes about ACDC, Billy Joel, Alan Bond and other celebrities, shared stories about their love for hospitality and the special place The Grand had in their hearts.

the grand richmond

The night highlighted the skill of The Grand’s co-head chefs, two young Italians in their late 20s with Michelin-starred resumes.

the grand richmond

First course was a Battuta di Tonno, a simple tuna tartare inspired by Olimpia Bortolotto’s dish served at Cafe Meni’s in St Kilda.

the grand richmond

The pasta course was a dish that Stephen Downes rated as one of the 100 things you must eat before you die – chef Valerio Nucci’s Vincisgrassi Lasagne. It’s a traditional dish from the Marche region of Italy and not one you’re likely to find on many restaurant menus. The secret ingredients? Pot roasted chuck steak slow-cooked with vegetables and herbs, chopped kidneys brains and liver and lashings of butter!

the grand richmond

The main course was a melting roast porchetta with baby carrots, beetroot and spinach inspired by Bill Marchetti’s Latin, THE place for the rich and famous to dine in the 80s and 90s.

the grand richmond

The finale was developed by the The Grand’s ‘Young Guns in the Kitchen’ a white chocolate semifreddo with caramelised rock melon. It’s not often you see melon on dessert menus these days and the refreshing sweetness was a perfect counterpoint for the richness of the previous savoury dishes.

The Grand is the kind of place that families visit over generations and it has consistently been awarded one hat since 2006.  It’s not flashy or cutting edge but serves authentic Italian food in a warm and inviting environment where you know you’ll be taken care of. Treasure it, Melbourne.

The Grand Masters Wednesday 20 May and Wednesday 27 May

The Como Room, The Grand, 333 Burnley Street, Richmond (03) 9429 2530

Mon – Sun 12pm till 11pm

Fri – Sat 12pm till 1am

Grand Hotel Dining Room on Urbanspoon

HOT: Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray

small french bar footscray

The layers of immigration that make Footscray such a fascinating place have now placed Small French Bar, a French fromagerie, charcuterie and cafe (and later wine bar) on the main street.

small french bar footscray

It’s a small storefront set incongruously amongst the pho joints, wig shops and money exchange offices and you’ll just be able to spot it with the help of a little snail over the door.

small french bar footscray

Stephane Armentano is a new Footscray local and comes to Melbourne via a successful tapas bar in Fremantle. The space inside the Royal Hotel redevelopment has been completely rebuilt by Stephane and his family and transformed into what he hopes will become a little community bar like those in most French villages.

small french bar footscray

The sweetly humble space is a Gallic haven. French music plays gently in the background and the small menu is available throughout the day, every day.

small french bar footscray

Start your day with a bargain $5 croissant and coffee or French hot chocolate.

small french bar footscray

The croissants and pain au chocolat are wafer crisp on the outside and so very airy on the inside – and it turns out that they have been made with French butter and other French ingredients and come direct from France (par-baked), along with the baguettes.

small french bar footscray

Stephane simply couldn’t find the consistency in quality in any products here so for the moment you can enjoy these treats as if you were in the streets of Paris.

small french bar footscray

For a main meal try the home made duck confit ($18), a moist maryland of duck with meat that falls off the bone and served with creamy potatoes dauphinois and steamed green beans. It’s an authentic brasserie meal which will warm your cockles in winter. You may see confit duck legs for sale in the near future, along with the  existing selection of French cheeses and charcuterie.

Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray

To end don’t miss the house made chocolate fondant. The weight of the vanilla ice cream helps the melting chocolate centre flow out from the shell and it’s a luxurious treat for only $8.

small french bar footscray

At the moment opening hours are still in testing mode as Small French Bar is a one-man operation. Generally you can expect the cafe to be open from 10-4pm every day, sometimes opening earlier, sometimes closing later. The liquor license will hopefully come through in a few months so there will be an authentic wine bar in Footscray!

Small French Bar is a lovely neighbourhood addition and Stephane has obviously put his heart and soul into this venture so go support him!

Starting next Tuesday there will also be a regular French conversation class. From June 2 meet at Small French Bar  7pm till 9pm for charcuterie, cheese plate and a tete-a-tete. Limited tickets available, ring Stefan 0402952078.

Small French Bar, Shop 3, 154 Barkly St, Footscray 0402952078

Open 7 days 10am-5pm

Click to add a blog post for Small French Bar on Zomato

HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

tromarama

Open House: Tromarama for Kids is NGV International’s newest children’s gallery exhibition which isn’t just child’s play. Indonesian contemporary art collective Tromarama (Febie Babyrose, Herbert Hans and Ruddy Hatumena), have truly built a house of fun for young and old alike!

Open House: Tromarama for Kids

tromarama

The fantastical space features five fully furnished rooms – a kitchen, dining room, courtyard, bedroom and bathroom. The whole house comes to life and there are lots of unexpected surprises to explore.

tromarama

tromarama

Start off in the bathroom and very comfy pillow-lined bedroom, where you can learn to make simple stop motion animation movies.

tromarama

Just take some toys from the bathtub, find a backdrop you like, use the touch screens to take photos  and off you go!

tromarama

Move into the lush garden with the flower wall which reminded me of the Raf Simons’ extravagant first collection for Christian Dior. Pity the flowers aren’t real!

tromarama

In the garden you’ll find that pink flamingos talk and cheeky garden gnomes chat back with your voice!

tromarama

The kitchen is the most restful space, with stacks of ceramic crockery (thankfully stuck together and to the benches) and it shows a delightful animation of dancing plates and cups.

tromarama

The highlight of the interactive experiences has got to be the disco dance floor. Look up and you’ll see a complete dining room setting, which means you’re dancing on the ceiling!

tromarama

Like Darren Sylvester’s dance floor for the Melbourne Now exhibition this room will definitely be a drawcard.

tromarama

Open House: Tromarama for Kids is a must-see on your next to visit the gallery and it will be sure to delight and surprise kids and adults alike. Come out and play!

Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Saturday 23 May – Sunday 18 Oct

Open 10am–5pm

Closed Tuesday

Free entry

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