The Barons Palate – Giveaway!

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I love a good pop up! Especially when the experience combines food and drinks with cutting edge art and design.

The Baron Said is a warehouse event space in Fitzroy which derives its name from a historical character created by Sir Martin Lang, a scholar and nobleman who produced literary works in the 18th century. In keeping with the character of the Baron, an anonymous nobleman famous for his extravagant parties, for just four days next week The Baron Said will host chefs, mixologists, designers and artists who will combine their talents to create four unique experiences.

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Here’s what in store for ‘The Barons Palate’:

Thursday 18 July 7pm – 11pm Art Exhibition Launch
For $29 admire the work of designers and artists who exhibit in some of Australia’s top commercial galleries, receive two West Wind Gin cocktails and matching art inspired food items.

Friday 19 July 7pm – 11pm Dessert Palate by Anthony Hart (The Press Club Group)
$55 for cocktails and floating tables of finger food desserts including lollipops, popcorn macaroons and marshmallows.

Saturday 20 July 7pm – 11pm Restaurant Theatre by Andreas Papadakis (Comida Bebe)
$55 per head. Andreas will be creating food reflective of the art being shown on the night and cocktails complementing the food will also be served.

Sunday 21 July 3pm- 7pm High Tea by Matt Forbes
$55 a head to indulge in pastries by Matt Forbes and a glass of sparkling wine.

Tickets for all of the experiences are available now online and on the door.

The Baron Palate, 18-21 July, 83 Kerr St, Fitzroy

Giveaway! Thanks to The Baron Said I have a double pass to each of the experiences to give away.

To win all you have to do is 1. Like the blog on Facebook or follow me on Twitter (if you don’t already) 2. leave a comment saying which event you’d like to attend – Launch, Dessert, Theatre or High Tea. The winners will be drawn on Wednesday 17 July and tickets will be left at the door on the relevant night. Good luck!

And the winners are #13 Catrina (High Tea), #18 Alissa (Restaurant Theatre), #31 @Rathdownepossum (Launch) and #29 @gerardbrody (Dessert). An email/DM has been sent to you!

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HOT: Japanese Afternoon Tea, Hihou, Level 1, 1 Flinders Ln, Melbourne

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Hihou’s limited edition Japanese Afternoon tea represents all that I love about the food scene in Melbourne.

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A hard-to-find, hidden situation (walk through Nama Nama from Spring Street or ring the doorbell on the unmarked black door on Flinders Lane). An urban location with a scenic view of one of Melbourne’s beloved green pockets. And the opportunity to relax on a weekend afternoon over tea and treats.

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For three Saturdays in July (future dates are 13 July and 20 July) as part of City of Melbourne’s Look.Stop.Shop winter program, Hihou are offering  Japanese afternoon tea with Lupicia teas or coffee from Market Lane in their beautiful bar. It’s possibly the best value afternoon tea you’ll find in the CBD as the 2 hours of indulgence will cost you only $25. 

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I’m not normally a fan of fruit flavoured teas but I’m in love with the Ume Vert – Japanese plum green tea – by Lupicia. It’s sweetness and clarity in a cup and I’m stocking up at Lupicia‘s QV store. I urge you to try some of the green teas on offer in the tea menu and eschew the boring Earl Grey/English breakfast/peppermint route.

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Hihou’s riff on the traditional three tier afternoon tea tray means three courses of savoury and sweet bites. The first savoury course consists of a fat scallop siumai embedded in a whole fleshy shiitake mushroom and soy dipping sauce. A small laquered plate holds some panfried oyaki dumplings filled with chilli miso whole soy beans. The finger sandwiches are not your usual cucumber or smoked salmon – rather they are filled with nuggets of pork tonkatsu, some slithers of cabbage and mayo.

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Next comes a laquered box which opens to reveal a gasp-inspiring selection of delicate sweets. Our favourite bite was the matcha and macadamia nut cookie, followed by two sweets which are currently appearing in Nama Nama’s winter picnic bento box – the chocolate shochu coconut truffle and sticky pistachio and peanut caramel shards. I quite like the bean paste texture and faint sweetness of wagashi but my friend wasn’t as much of a fan. And we both found the miso paper and sweet potato cigar curious, but not particularly appetising given its savoury notes and combination of slippery and mushy textures.

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The third course is more sweets in the form of an almost savoury rectangle of black sesame cheesecake and a fluffy warm yuzu tofu cake covered with a white chocolate sauce. The plate came served with a matcha whisked tea, a large bowl of frothy powdered green tea of the kind that I don’t often see served in Australia and a lovely way to neutralise the palate after all that sweetness.

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Hihou’s Japanese Afternoon tea is only available for a limited time so make sure you book and catch it while you can. I hope that they’ll extend the season for it as it’s a wonderfully unique experience for a city that loves its afternoon tea.

Hihou Japanese Afternoon Tea, Level 1, 1 Flinders Lane, Melbourne +61 3  or book online

Remaining dates Saturday 13 July and Saturday 20 July, 3-5pm

 

HOT: D.O.C Espresso, 326 Lygon St, Melbourne

HOT D.O.C Espresso, 326 Lygon St, Melbourne

Since my first visit to D.O.C Pizza years ago the family of stores bringing simple Italian food to Melbourne, particularly to Carlton, has grown.

If I’m not after pizza my favourite D.O.C eatery is actually D.O.C Espresso, around the corner on busy Lygon Street. If Lygon Street is known as Little Italy then surely D.O.C Espresso would be Roma, the capital. All the waitstaff (and probably the kitchen staff) seem to be Italian and D.O.C Espresso is their hangout. I love the fact that I’m the foreigner there, I can’t understand a single word of my neighbours’ conversations and almost all of the clientele seem to know each other, kissing in greeting and farewell with enthusiastic ‘ciao! ciao!’s.

HOT D.O.C Espresso, 326 Lygon St, Melbourne

While ‘Espresso’ describes the coffee it could also apply to the ‘express’ element of the dining experience. Everything moves at a quick, quick, quick pace here – once you decide on your selection (breakfast, salad, charcuterie, piadina, foccacia, pasta) you order at the bar, someone brings you cutlery and before you’ve had time to scan the magazine selection a hot steaming plate of pasta is placed in front of you.

HOT D.O.C Espresso, 326 Lygon St, Melbourne

I chose the pappardelle with porcini mushroom and truffle oil in bianco ($21) and I could smell it before I could see it. It was the perfect winter meal – fat, juicy hunks of forest fungi combined with the heady earthiness of truffles and a mountain of handmade al dente pasta obviously cooked a la minute. That hunk of bread was a much welcomed addition to mop up that fragrant olive oil/garlic/parsley sauce.

HOT D.O.C Espresso, 326 Lygon St, Melbourne

I imagine that the coffee from D.O.C Espresso must be excellent (everyone around me seemed to be sipping espresso) but those that don’t drink coffee…have chocolate. Italian hot chocolate to be precise, so thick and creamy it’s basically like eating chocolate sauce straight out of the jar. It’s the perfect drink-cum-dessert for only $4.90. Next time I might have a ‘proper’ dessert as I hear their tiramisu is amazing.

There’s lots to love about D.O.C Espresso if you’re into classic Italian cuisine without the red gingham tableclothes and ‘that’s amore’ kitschiness. I love the Italian ambience, the energy and most of all the simple, glorious food that’s on offer. It’s a gem in Lygon Street.

PS As part of City of Melbourne’s Look.Stop.Shop program in July D.O.C Deli, next door to D.O.C Espresso, will be holding an interactive workshop on how to make perfect handmade pasta (like that to-die-for pappardelle) followed by a salumi and cheese tasting, with an aperitivo on arrival and glass of wine later to accompany your handmade past dinner. It’s on Monday 22 July 6.30pm; $49 per person, email ciao@docgroup.net for bookings.

D.O.C Espresso, 326 Lygon St, Melbourne +61 3 9347 8482

DOC Espresso on Urbanspoon

HOT: Tour de France at Depot de Pain, 693 Rathdowne St, Carlton North

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In case you’ve been sleeping, the great bicycle race Le Tour de France is currently on. It’s probably the only sporting event in the world which includes a regional cheese introduction and provides an opportunity for cow spotting.

To get into the spirit of other French things – like croissants, baguettes and cafe au lait – French boulangerie and traiteur Depot de Pain are offering a special Tour de France menu across all four of their stores.

I cycled over to my closest store in leafy Rathdowne Street and sampled some of their special menu which is available every day of the race (from Saturday 29 June to Sunday 21 July).

If you’re after a big breakfast after staying up late watching the action then I recommend the ‘Breakfast of Champs-Elysee’.

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It includes four ‘stages’ – a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or Evian, coffee or tea, a choice of plain croissant or bread with French butter and house made jam and one of five savoury or sweet dishes from a choice of Croque Monsieur, Croque Madame, a herb omelette, French toast with maple syrup or crepes with apple, salted caramel and Chantilly crème. It is fantastic value for $20 as a single main dishes is normally priced at $11.50-$14.50.

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I particularly enjoyed my OJ with plenty of pulp, just the way I like it, and the delicately layered omelette filled with finely chopped parsley and paired with buttered baguette to really fill up your tummy.  On a separate occasion I tried to Croque Monsieur filled with ham, cheese and oozy bechamel, pan-fried till golden.  I challenge you get on a bike after eating all four stages!

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If you’re not eating in you can take home a ‘Red Polka Dot Breakfast Pastry Box’ – another bargain at $20 for eight mini French pastries or bread items along with French butter and a jar of house made jam. The cute box is available at the end of any classified slope during Le Tour.

 

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And if you want a chance to practice your rusty school French then visit Depot de Pain on any day of the race and ask for your daily baguette in French along with the name of the day’s Yellow Jersey holder – and your baguette is on the house. Their bread is baked fresh daily and while it lacks the supreme crustiness of the best French loaves I’ve had the traditional fillings are generous.

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The Rathdowne Street store is busy any time I visit, filled to the buzzing brim with small wooden tables in the front section, a chandeliered dining room and the back room with the long communal table popular with kids and families.

Depot-de-Pain-693-Rathdowne-St-Carlton-NorthWhen the weather’s nice there’s also a small courtyard out the back and there are even dedicated bike racks out the front.

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You have only another two weeks to sample Depot de Pain‘s Tour de France specials, so hop on your bike and allez allez allez!

Depot de Pain, 693 Rathdowne St, Carlton North +61 3 9349 1311 (and other locations)

Depot de Pain Rathdowne on Urbanspoon

Arts Centre Winter Season + Einstein on the Beach Giveaway!

Winter in Melbourne is a great excuse to hide indoors and get cultured – and today one of my favourite Melbourne arts venues, Arts Centre Melbourne, launches its Winter season of dance, opera, puppetry and more.

Some of the highlights of the Winter season include Penny Plain, a beautifully dark apocalyptic puppetry comedy; Einstein on the Beachan epic and ground-breaking opera/contemporary dance fusion; Proximity, a contemporary dance performance captured and artistically manipulated through videography; and  Botanica a beautifully mesmerising family-friendly performance featuring spectacular costumes, inspiring dance and theatre.

Arts Centre Melbourne Winter season

Giveaway! Thanks to Arts Centre Melbourne I have 2 x A reserve tickets to opening night of Einstein on the Beach (valued at $278) for Wednesday 31 July 6:30pm. Einstein on the Beach is returning to Melbourne for the first time in 21 years for an exclusive season from 31 July to 4 August at Arts Centre Melbourne as part of a major international tour. Note that it runs for four-and-a-half hours without an interval but the audience is able to leave and re-enter the auditorium as they wish. To win the tickets all you have to do is leave a comment and a winner will be randomly drawn on Friday 12 July. Good luck!
And the winner is #4 Kate – an email has been sent to you!
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HOT: Los Barbudos, 95 Smith St, Fitzroy

Los Barbudos, 95 Smith St, Fitzroy

With the American/Southern/Mexican thang that the Melbourne food scene has going on at the moment, I guess it was only a matter of time before we hit the shores of Cuba.

Los Barbudos is a new Cuban cocktail bar from the Thank You, Come Again group that brought you Lily Blacks, Mr Wow’s Emporium, Double Happiness and New Gold Mountain (all bars I know and love). I was invited to their launch ahead of their public opening this Friday night and I predict that Los Barbudos will be the place to be on Smith Street tomorrow night with the prospect of $8 Mojitos and Cuba Libres from 5pm to 9pm.

Los Barbudos, 95 Smith St, Fitzroy

The name ‘Los Barbudos’ refers to the bearded rebel forces of the Cuban Revolution and the baseball team founded by Fidel Castro. Hence the bar has a beardy Cuban/semi-religious/baseball/food truck theme, if you can believe it. At the moment the only way to spot it is by a solid blue door – apparently the neon sign which currently adorns the stairwell will be installed in the front window once they sort out some less blinding lights!

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The bar was built from scratch from the remains of another business and absolutely everything had to be installed from scratch, from the toilets to the electricity to the rum cabinet.

Los Barbudos, 95 Smith St, Fitzroy

And that’s what Los Barbudos specialises in – rum. We’re talking Mojitos, Cuba Libres (highballs made of cola, lime and white rum) and Hemingway Daquiris in addition to Cuban beers and Latin wines. We found the cocktails to be on the sweet end of the spectrum and the mojitos (and Cuba Libres) might be best value cocktails in town at $10 after the opening special.

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Cuban food stuffs will be provided by ‘El Paladar’, a food truck to be run by the Chingon crew and from the end of the August it will be permanently parked in the upper level garage space en route to the loos (take another turn and you’ll end up at the back of Mr Wow’s Emporium).

Los Barbudos, 95 Smith St, Fitzroy

For the moment the Cuban/Caribbean cuisine is being dished out by the striking copper Chingon taco truck and you’ll be able to order Cuban sandwiches, empanadas, Caribbean spiced chicken wings with Cuban rice and tostones con frijoles (fried plantains with black beans) which you can take back to the bar to eat.

Los Barbudos, 95 Smith St, Fitzroy

From the food I tried I thought the wings could do with more seasoning and spice but the chicken-stock soaked bed of rice was delicious. The crunchy, lightly salted plantain chips made an interesting, banana-ry change from potato or corn chips and I enjoyed the spicy bean mixed with goats cheese. It’s no-frills, hearty and messy finger food and matched well with the slightly grungy, down-at-heel aesthetic of the bar.

Los Barbudos, 95 Smith St, Fitzroy

The prime position is the front window bench where you can perch on a stool and watch the passing parade on Smith Street. Outside it’s wintery winds, inside it’s Carribean steaminess. Cuba, welcome to Fitzroy. Fitzroy, welcome to Cuba.

Los Barbudos, 95 Smith St, Fitzroy +61 3 9416 0079

Wednesday to Sunday, 5pm-1am.

Los Barbudos on Urbanspoon

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