Paris to Provence Festival – Giveaway!

Paris to Provence Melbourne French Festival, Como House, South Yarra

Being a Francophile and foodie one of my favourite annual family outings is the Paris to Provence French Festival at the National Trust’s Como House. Read my review of my previous visit.

This year French producers, retailers, entertainment and workshops will be turning the gardens into a French market village from Friday 21 November to Sunday 23 November. Relax in beautiful surroundings and enjoy French inspired food, wine, fashion, books, music, toys, classes and home decor.

Paris to Provence French Festival

Friday 21 November 12-8pm

Saturday 22 November 10-6pm

Sunday 23 November 10-4pm

Tickets prebook online $17 adults,  $5 children (age 4-16) or at gate $20 adults, $5 children

Giveaway! Thanks to Paris to Provence French Festival I have 3 x family passes (2 adults, 2 children) valid for entry once on any of the three days to give away.

To win all you have to do is follow the instructions below. Three winner will be randomly selected and notified via email and tickets available for pickup. Competition closes midnight Wednesday 19 November. Good luck!

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HOT: Beatrix 688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne


Following Beatrix on social media has been terrible for my self-control and my waistline. This tiny North Melbourne cafe regularly posts a mouth-watering list of the day’s specials, from the ciabattas to their famous cakes and biscuits. Many a time my newsfeed has convinced me to veer towards North Melbourne in search of a sweet fix.

Beatrix is housed in a former 1890s butcher’s shop and is strictly for locals or knowledgeable folk – there’s no obvious sign and the part of North Melbourne where it’s located is very quiet.


The squeezy space has bench seating for about five people and a total of three tables inside, with a smattering of pavement tables under the trees of Queensberry Street. 


Inside the space is dominated by an array of hanging vintage egg-beaters (beat-rix, get it?) and a cake cabinet to die for.


Owner Nat Paull makes everything from scratch, daily, from the tiny kitchen out the back using a single fire-engine red Kitchenaid mixer.


The choice is overwhelming but first I must turn my attention to lunch. 


There are two regular ciabatta fillings on the blackboard menu and then two specials which rotate regularly. On my visit I ordered a Warialda Beef pastrami with dill and Nicola potato salad and carrot crisps with caraway salt. Since I was planning on eating cake I thought I’d better opt for a small ($14). Good decision as the small was still enormous! A surprisingly soft bun from Crumbs Organic Bakehouse in Ascot Vale, piled high with full-flavoured and fresh ingredients. 

Time for cake. Beatrix focuses on old-fashioned items, the sort of cream-filled beauties you find at CWA stalls. The Strawberry Shag ($8.50) was layers of buttery sponge, cream and preserved strawberries covered in buttercream and coconut shaving. 


I had to try another one so ordered a slice of red velvet cake (the last piece left at 1pm!). A soft red velvet sponge with a classic cream cheese frosting, not too sweet, and garnished with miniature maltesers.


Beatrix is a sweet cafe serving excellent sandwiches and cakes which are worth travelling for. Just don’t take too many people at once and leave some cake for me!

Beatrix, 688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne (03) 9090 7301

Tue to Sat 9:00 am – 4:00 pm 

Beatrix on Urbanspoon

HOT: Express Yourself: Romance Was Born for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

romance was born ngv

Express Yourself: Romance Was Born For Kids is the newest Children’s Gallery commission at the National Gallery of Victoria – but it’s not just for kids. There is plenty of exhibition within the space to entertain and interest adults too and it makes the perfect stopover after the fashion extravaganza of the NGV’s Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition.

Fashion designers Romance Was Born have turned the gallery space into a crazy kaleidoscope of colour which typifies the work of fashion mavericks Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett.

An array of colourful sequins frames the entrance before you enter into a several rooms. Each room contains a jaw-dropping fantastical environment that will stimulate, engage and provide lots of opportunity for creative play.

romance was born

romance was born

The first room is the ‘Rainbow Room’, an immersive space which encourages children to engage with rainbow-coloured objects in glass cases and then design their own rainbow using the touchscreens.

romance was born ngv

The end of the Rainbow Room takes you to my favourite room, the ‘Bush Magic’ room. The walls are decorated in a fantastical imagining of a bush setting while digital rock pools allow you to ‘swim’ with colourful fish and mysterious sea creatures.

romance was born

Then you move into the ‘Make and Do’ room where you can decorate and make a beard or a necklace by attaching sequins, pom poms and googly eyes onto various colourful templates. I spotted several adults sporting these decorative pieces around the gallery during my visit!

romance was born

Throughout the space some of the design duo’s richly imaginative work is on display, from gowns to shoes to accessories, as well as photographs and video.

romance was born

romance was born ngv

romance was born

Express Yourself: Romance Was Born For Kids is bold, eccentric and really, really fun. Kids will love all the opportunities to play and create while adults will appreciate the way art and fashion come together in the various installations.

Express Yourself: Romance Was Born For Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Friday 17 October 2014 to Sunday 22 March 2015.

Open 10am-5pm, closed Tuesdays.

Free entry

Cream of the Crop at The Age Good Food Month – Giveaway!

cream of the crop

November is The Age’s Good Food Month in Melbourne and one of the many events happening is the Cream of the Crop.

On Sunday, 23 November,  the Dairy Industry Association of Australia will be hosting the first ever Cream of the Crop, a dairy festival! For a mere $20 (kids under 12 are free) you will receive unlimited samples of cheese, ice-cream, yogurt, butter and other goodies on offer, as well as entry into dairy master classes throughout the day. Wine, beer and cheese platters will be available for sale.

Cream of the Crop, Sunday 23 November 11am till 5pm

Ormond Hall, 447 St Kilda Road, Melbourne (entry via Moubray Street)

Giveaway! Thanks to Dairy Industry Association of Australia I have 5 x double passes to give away for Cream of the Crop. To win just follow the instructions below. The winners will be randomly selected on Monday 17 November. Good luck!

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HOT: Mezmez, 42 Ferguson St, Williamstown

The owners of Newport’s popular The Pint of Milk have opened a bigger restaurant around the corner in Williamstown called Mezmez.


The interior is tastefully decorated and telling of the Turkish influence that’s in the menu if the name doesn’t give it away.


‘Contemporary Middle Eastern’ is how I’d define it – shisha pipes hang prettily as table decorations and I’m in love with the cut-out lamp shades too.


Coffee comes from Brunswick’s Code Black Coffee. The breakfast and lunch menu has cafe standards for the poached eggs-avocado-toast types but there’s a breakfast section devoted to more Turkish food and that’s where I encourage you to head. It’s always more fun to learn about unfamiliar ingredients when dining out.


I decided to go for the grilled soujouk (Turkish sausage), potatoes, spinach, fried egg and dukkah ($16.50). A Turkish twist on the fry-up hangover breakfast if you will. It was a generously proportioned plate with lots of punchy flavours from the soujouk and the liberal scattering of nutty dukkah. I had this meal at 10am and didn’t eat again until dinner!

On my way to pay the bill I spotted this platter of temptation at the counter.


Nutella doughnuts – only $3.50! Oh my god these were amazing. A ball of light fried dough smothered with grainy sugar and filled with a golf ball of oozy chocolate hazelnut spread. Big enough for two – if you’re willing to share!

Despite a generally affluent population, presumably with money to spend on restaurants, Williamstown hasn’t really hit it in the culinary stakes for me. Mezmez is thankfully an exception to the rule and will be my go-to cafe in the area from now on. I look forward to trying their lunch menu, which starts at 11am and leans even more towards Turkish flavours, with mezze and gozleme on the cards.

Mezmez, 42 Ferguson St, Williamstown (03) 9397 8804

Daily 8am-4pm

Mezmez on Urbanspoon

HOT: Brother Nancy, 182 Essex St, West Footscray

brother nancy

Hidden deep within residential West Footscray is a small cafe called Brother Nancy.

Owner Leigh is a WeFo local who was travelling east for work. With a two year old and another child on the way, he decided for lifestyle reasons that he needed to work closer to home. Plus he knew that the area needed a cafe like Brother Nancy.

brother nancy

This location, formerly a butcher, fish and chip shop and lately a tax office, has been completely stripped and rebuilt by Leigh . He made the benches, he made the tables, he made the shelves. He even installed the new kitchen.

brother nancy

Leigh’s brother isn’t actually called Nancy (he’s Jason) but the name of the cafe is a charming, kid-brother ribbing of his sibling. I love it!

The menu is small and surprising. Firstly everything is under $16. This is a town where I fully expect to pay close to $20 for a cafe-quality dish.

The classically-trained chef Jordi Boyer is French so there are some slight French leanings in the menu. For instance, for breakfast you can order a savoury crepe with mushrooms spinach, cheese and bechamel ($10.50), a French breakfast of poached eggs, spinach and hollandaise on sourdough ($12.50) or a Chapin breakfast of pan fried plantains, scrambled eggs, cheese and black beans on sourdough (the most expensive item on the menu at $16).

The lunch menu is headed ‘midday’ but I was able to order from it at 11am – so maybe it’s available all day? There’s a fish and chip burger ($14.50), gazpacho ($9) and even steak tartare. I don’t think anyone expects to see minced raw meat in a suburban cafe menu but the Brother Nancy version is quickly becoming a signature dish according to Leigh. One customer even drove all the way from Balwyn to try it!

brother nancy

I ordered the grilled sardines on toasted sourdough with black olive tapenade and marinated capsicum ($13.50). Lots of sunny, salty Mediterranean flavours shone through the dish, with a cool sluice of tomato, watermelon and capsicum summer soup for some palate contrast. The only element I wasn’t expecting were the cold sardines. I emphasise that the lightly fried then brined sardines weren’t bad – it was more that I was expecting freshly fan-fried fish as you see in other cafes.

brother nancy

For dessert I had the French toast. It was a delightful arrangement of eggy sourdough toast, fresh berries and berry jam, a dollop of vanilla creme fraiche and a sprinkling of pistachios. And the price? A measly $12.

brother nancy

To go with your tea (leaves from Tea Drop) or coffee (beans from Proud Mary) try one of the house made sweets. On my visit the chef had made individual tart tatins and an apple and almond tart, but my heart was sold to the chocolate chip cookies made by Leigh’s wife ($3). The perfect thing for nibbling on my cycle ride home!

Brother Nancy is a really welcome addition to a relatively cafe-starved neighbourhood. It’s clearly a labour of love for Leigh and his family too and I’m always drawn towards ventures where the passion and enthusiasm of the owners are evident in everything you see, touch and eat. A bientot, Brother Nancy!

Brother Nancy, 182 Essex St, West Footscray

Mon, Wed – Sun 7am-4:30pm

Brother Nancy on Urbanspoon
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