HOT: B’Stilla Cantina, 277B Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

b'stilla cantina

What was a Fitzroy chocolate shop has now been turned into B’Stilla Cantina, an offshoot of South Yarra’s award-winning B’Stilla, and all I can say is GO GO GO! The crowds aren’t huge yet because people are still on holiday….but soon you won’t be able to perch on a stool, let alone grab one of only four pavement tables. I guarantee it.

b'stilla cantina

The food will make you exclaim out loud. When Harry Met Sally style. Every bite, every mouthful – no words, only moaning.

The premise of B’Stilla Cantina is ‘Moroccan street food’. I have no idea what they eat on the streets of Morocco so I can’t judge whether B’Stilla Cantina is authentic. But the menu is full of spice, heat, colourful, texturally interesting – and cheap.

b'stilla cantina

Case in point, their ‘Moroccan tacos’ are $5 each and more substantial than a traditional Mexican taco. They are encased in roti rather than tortilla and the fillings are generous. I went for chicken, avocado and apricot dressed with a mouth-burning chipotle sauce.

b'stilla cantina

I then stuff myself with sardine fritters – Cuca sardines coated in a spiced chickpea flour, lightly fried and accompanied by a green chermoula mayo ($8) . In between I grab mouthfuls of the salads of the day, a Moroccan coleslaw and a beetroot and freekah salad, all dressed in the same chipotle mayo ($8).

b'stilla cantina

Then I reach for the tower of melting lamb ribs ($12), dusted with an ochre dukkah and a squeeze of lime. The meat pulls off the bone without effort and their fattiness pair perfectly with the crunchy, fiery salads.

b'stilla cantina

I have to take half my salad home because I want to save room for dessert. I’m glad I did too – the sweet b’stilla ($6) is a long cigar of flaky brik pastry filled with a lightly scented ginger creme and sprinkled with cinnamon and pistachios. It’s crunchy, melting, sweet and and sticky at once. The dish that is their namesake crowns what has been a sensational lunch.

b'stilla cantina

When I spoke to the owner/chef he said that the hope was that B’Stilla Cantina will be successful and then the concept would be rolled out in other locations. I hope that happens soon because I predict that tiny little shop in Fitzroy very quickly won’t be able to cope with demand.

B’Stilla Cantina, 277B Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 9417 2858

Wednesday to Monday. 12pm – late

B'Stilla Cantina on Urbanspoon

HOT: Pidapipo, 299 Lygon Street, Carlton

pidapipo carlton

Pipapipo is a new addition to the Lygon Street ice cream/gelato strip and in a prime position across the road from Cinema Nova. You can’t miss it because there is a big red neon sign proclaiming ‘gelateria’ in the window.

According to this fascinating article, you can generally judge the quality of gelati from 15 feet, without actually smelling, touching or tasting the product. You just need to look for a couple of things:

  1. No fake colours in the fruit flavours.
  2. How the gelati is stored and displayed.
  3. Seasonal fruit flavours offered.
  4. Translucency in the lemon gelato.
  5. Do they offer fior di latte or fior di panna, which exposes the quality of the milk/cream?
  6. Do they offer hazelnut – gram for gram the most expensive gelato to produce?

Pipapipo scores 6 out of 6 but it really deserves a taste test.

pidapipo carlton

The marble counter curves around the width of the relatively small, pastel-coloured shop. There are a few tables inside and out but it’s more of a walk-in, walk-out scenario.

Every day up to twenty flavours fill stainless steel pozzetti, which keep the temperature of the gelato constant so it doesn’t freeze, melt and refreeze. Flavours range from traditional to modern, fruity to rich. Hiding the flavours under lids is a pretty good indicator of how good the gelato will be – there’s no need to show it off in high, brightly hued mounds.

pidapipo carlton

The owner Lisa Valmorbida is of Italian heritage and trained at Carpigiani Gelato University in Italy then worked in a gelateria in Vicenza. The gelato is churned daily on site using the best imported Italian and local ingredients. The pistachios are from Bronte, Sicily, the best hazelnuts in the world from Piedmont, Warrnambool Jersey milk, ricotta from La Formaggeria and the honey and fresh honeycomb from the rooftop hives by Honey Fingers.  Absolutely no artificial flavours or colours.

pidapipo carlton

Their hazelnut is powerfully nutty and velvety on the tongue, not a hint of grittiness or powdery aftertaste. The fior di latte is creamy and pure in flavour – it requires no adornment, not even vanilla beans (the traditional no-flavour flavoured ice cream).

pidapipo carlton

I like my gelato simple but you can jazz yours up with a cone filled with liquid Nutella or Valrhona chocolate on top, sandwiched inside a fat Sicilian brioche bun or even thrown in a coke float (an ice cream spider in my vernacular).

For the quality of the goods the prices are   very reasonable too – $4 for a single flavour, $6 for two flavours and $7 for three flavours. 1kg take home tubs are $10 and prettily wrapped in their pastel-coloured geometric paper.

pidapipo carlton

Pipapipo is my new favourite gelateria  – I was invited to their launch and have been back almost weekly since. With this heat wave we’re experiencing no doubt they will do very well this summer.

Pidapipo, 299 Lygon Street, Carlton, (03) 9347 4596

Mon – Sun: 12:00pm to 11:00pm

Pidapipó on Urbanspoon

THRILLER LIVE Giveaway!

THRILLER LIVE

THRILLER LIVE is a spectacular concert production that celebrates the music of Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five. The 2 hour show features non-stop hits, high-energy choreography and dancing and Michael’s innovative dance moves, video footage, a myriad of effects and dazzling costumes.

THRILLER LIVE

THRILLER LIVE has played in London’s West End for six capacity years since 2009 and it premieres in Australia in Perth on 10 December, then tours nationally to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.  Two of the stars on this tour will be Australian’s MiG Ayesa and Prinnie Stevens who have just performed the roles in the West End, London.

THRILLER LIVE

THRILLER LIVE  is a homage of Michael Jackson’s 45 year musical history and contains all of Jackson’s favourite songs. Don’t miss it!

THRILLER LIVE, Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre

Wednesday 28 January to Sunday 8 February, 2015

Tuesday 7pm, Wednesday – Friday 8pm, Saturday 4pm & 8pm, Sunday 1pm and 6pm

Tickets from $69.90. (Booking and transaction fees may apply.)

Bookings: ARTS CENTRE MELBOURNE 1300 182 183 or artscentremelbourne.com.au

Groups 10+ SAVE! Call Group Bookings 1300 002 787

Giveaway! Thanks to THRILLER LIVE I have 2 x double passes to give away for the opening night Wednesday 28 January. To win all you have to do is follow the instructions below. Two winners will be randomly selected and notified via email and tickets posted out. Competition closes midnight Monday 8 December. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HOT: Emily Floyd: The Dawn, The Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Federation Square

emily floyd ngv

Emily Floyd: The Dawn is an exhibition of the work of Melbourne artist Emily Floyd and it’s the newest children’s installation in NGV Australia at Federation Square.

emily floyd ngv

The enormous circular sculpture bookcases of ‘The Dawn’ and the colourful stylised blocks comprising ‘Workshop’ sit on the ground floor entrance of the gallery and they are a striking introduction to Emily Floyd’s colourful and playful work.

emily floyd ngv

The main display is on the third floor and features Floyd’s installations, sculpture, print and video work dating from 2001 to 2014. As you walk in Floyd’s flock of parrots in ‘An open space’ and the exaggerated size of the classic stacking toy ‘Steiner Rainbow’ will bring a smile to your face.

emily floyd ngv

My favourite works were ‘It’s because I talk too much that I do nothing’ with text from Crime and Punishment circulating around the ‘Emerald City’ as Lady AB called it – actually a representation of the onion domes of St Petersburg. Similarly, ‘The Outsider’ was a glistening material interpretation of Albert Camus’ novel.

emily floyd ngv

emily floyd ngv

emily floyd ngv

The exhibition also includes a specially commissioned kid’s project called Emily Floyd: The Dawn for Kids with two interactive spaces that encourage creativity using letters and words and inspired by Feminist activism from the 1970s and 80s.

emily floyd ngv

In one room is a floor full of acrylic letters. Younger children will enjoy the tactile experience of walking along, holding, throwing and probably chewing the letters while older children will delight in finding the right letters to spell their names or creating sculptures using the letter blocks.

emily floyd ngv

Around the perimeter of ‘Word Farm’ is some colourful bench seating by  designer and educator Mary Featherstone which incidentally also makes for great climbing fun and running fun for toddlers. I saw a poor museum attendant trying to rub off marks on the benches and I suspect that will be a lost cause…

emily floyd ngv

The second room of was ‘Small Press’, a location for children to write their own manifesto while learning about design and typography. Lots of fun to be had tapping on typewriters and playing with stamps!

Emily Floyd: The Dawn is a fun, engaging and educational art experience for babies to adults. Best of all, it’s free!

Emily Floyd: The Dawn, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square

Fri 21 Nov – Sun 1 Mar 2015

Free entry

10am-5pm closed Mondays

 

HOT: Maribyrnong Makers Market, Seddon Uniting Church, cnr Gamon and Mackay Sts, Seddon

maribyrnong makers market

Maribyrnong Makers Market is a sweet little arts and crafts market held several times a year in Seddon. The market is at Seddon Uniting Church, a small and charming venue which hosts stalls inside the church hall as well as the outside grounds.

maribyrnong makers market

The focus of the market is about showcasing the work of local craftspeople and artists. Every stall holder has made their products themselves and the community feel extends to the charity sausage sizzle set up on the pavement outside.

maribyrnong makers market

I bought some treats from Helen’s Kitchen Favourites, a local sweets and preserves business based in Williamstown.

maribyrnong makers market

I even got to meet Helen and her husband Simon and her sales patter convinced me to buy her handmade and preservative-free pate and shortbread. Both were delicious but particular mention must go to the buttery, crumbly biscuits – three of us devoured 8 large rounds of passionfruit topped ones in one afternoon!

maribyrnong makers market

I also loved Little Puddles’ DIY felt ball garland and wreath kit but wasn’t sure of my handicraft skills as to whether I’d be able to make one. Maybe by Christmas I’ll have worked up the nerve!

maribyrnong makers market

It’s not every day that you see someone like Raxor, a craftperson actually hand spinning yarn in order to make her woollen goods.

maribyrnong makers market

The Maribyrnong Makers Market is a great place to buy some lovely, unique and often handmade things and meet the makers who come from the local area. It’s also within walking distance to Seddon Village with cafes and more shops to explore.

Maribyrnong Makers Market’s next dates in 2014 are tomorrow Saturday 22 November where it will extend down to the nearby park Harris Reserve and Thursday 18 December, just in time for Christmas.

Maribyrnong Makers Market, Seddon Uniting Church, cnr Gamon and Mackay Sts, Seddon

Saturday 22 November 9.30am – 3.30pm

Thursday 18 December 4.30pm – 8.30pm

HOT: Nora, 156 Elgin Street, Carlton

nora melbourne

Nora is a Thai-inspired bakery cafe in Carlton recently opened by Thai-Australian couple Tong and Jean.

They have been supplying their distinctive charcoal tarts to various cafes around town and decided to strike out on their own with a minimalist shop filled with beautiful things.

nora melbourne

What strikes you about the cafe when you enter is the dreamy, relaxing atmosphere created by the easy-on-the-eye blond wood and cute cartoon-coloured stool. Your eyes are immediately drawn to  the gorgeous still life set out in the sunny front window showcasing their famous tarts and the ingredients going into them.

nora melbourne

 

nora melbourne

What makes Nora‘s tarts unusual are the black charcoal crusts. The flavours are generally Asian, with glances at kaffir lime, star anise and lemongrass in the custard and toppings.

The all day breakfast/lunch menu is quite unusual too. There are only about half a dozen items to choose from and they vary from eggs done ‘our way’ ie 30 minute sous vide to ‘Pig from the Ground it’s Raised From’. The effect is whimsical and poetical and wow what comes out on the plate is a work of art.

nora melbourne

I ordered ‘Churning of the Sea of Milk’ $19.50, an artful arrangement of Smoked Rainbow Trout, Coconut Ricotta, slithers of nashi and beets, succulents, Flying Fish roe, mizuna and a dabs of herb oil. A fresh, light, flavoursome dish with a particularly expert combination of textures and colours on the plate.

nora melbourne

All their dishes come with a popover, sort of like a Yorkshire pud, plus a hunk of raw wombok with curry paste applied to it – an unusual side dish if I ever saw it. Based on the light and crusy popover I’ll be buying a loaf of their freshly-made sourdough bread next time.

To drink I couldn’t go past the Harry Potter-esque pumpkin juice, cold-pressed with carrot, orange and cinnamon ($6). Refreshing and super-healthy but a bit more cinnamon would have been welcome.

nora melbourne

For dessert there are generally only four tart flavours at any one time and only about 100 tarts made a day. At middy on my visit already one of the tart flavours had sold out but no matter, because I had my heart set on sour cherry with kaffir lime custard. Mostly because I like the combination of colours against the inkiness of the tart base.

Nora 156 Elgin St Carlton

So imagine my surprise when the tart arrived, beautifully presented with a scattering of pistachios and crumble…but upside down. ‘I dropped your tart’ the waitress said cheekily, before explaining that they serve all their tarts, smashed and upended. Just for fun! I loved it. Shows that the kitchen doesn’t take themselves too seriously.

Nora‘s tarts are not traditional sweet shortcrust pastry inked with black – the casings contain charcoal made from coconut shells and are a different texture all together. The closest I can liken it to is filo pastry, but less flaky and more papery. As for the flavour I didn’t detect any particularly smokiness or burnt flavours in the tart, so it seems to be more for aesthetic (and apparently health) effect. And it was a bargain at $5!

Head to Nora for a twist on the standard cafe fare that you can find everywhere in Melbourne and prepared to be delighted and surprised by their attention to detail and imagination.

Nora, 156 Elgin Street, Carlton 9041 8644

Tuesday-Thursday 7am-3:30pm; Saturday-Sunday 8am-4pm

Nora on Urbanspoon

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