HOT: Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Every six months or so Maribyrnong City Council run ‘Discover Footscray‘ tours which are free or subsidised tours to help locals and visitors discover the food, art and history in Footscray – possibly the last inner city suburb in Melbourne that has yet to be completely gentrified.

Footscray has an enviable reputation of being one of the most delicious (and cheapest) places to eat in Melbourne, thanks to the waves of immigration that have seen it welcome Italians and Greeks, Vietnamese and most recently an African population. As Vietnamese food is one of my favourite cuisines I decided to join an intimate guided tour of Footscray’s markets with morning tea and lunch for a bargain price of $30. 

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Vietnam on a Plate‘ hold walking tours of Footscray and Springvale and have been run by a husband-and-wife team for 17 years. Over 4+ hours we learned about how to select and use Vietnamese ingredients, got to know some of the stallholders at Footscray Market, ate a lunch of traditional Vietnamese dishes and discovered some great little spots for repeat visits.

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Here are some of my highlights…

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Chooks ‘N’ Googs (Irving St) have been selling in Footscray Market for over 30 years and it’s the place to find free range chickens (sadly most of the market does not sell free range meat) as well as a large array of eggs you’ll never find in a supermarket.

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Footscray Market is also the place for all your lurid lingerie needs. Or sensible cotton undies for the grannies.

The market has the biggest range of gourds and leafy green vegetables I’ve seen outside of Asia. For some reason the proprietor of Bushy Park (our guide’s favourite fruit and veg stall) instructed ‘no photos’ so I don’t have any images of melons for you.

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Thanh Phat (86-88 Hopkins St) is Footscray’s largest Asian supermarket. In amongst its aisles you’ll find such treasures as ‘Police Dog Brand Tea Dust’. Yeah, I have no idea either…

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Among other items our guide recommended Maesri curry paste and fresh chrysanthemum buds for tea.

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours   Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Our multi-dish Vietnamese lunch was at Dong Que (102 Hopkins St, Footscray). Maybe not the best Vietnamese restaurant I’ve been to (I found the flavours a bit bland and the textures a bit rough) but the guide said they are good for groups because they can cater for dietary requirements (with notice), the toilets are clean and you can even hold fundraisers there. For uncertain visitors there’s also a good variety of pictures from which to choose your food. My highlight dish was the fresh and vibrant green papaya salad.

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Nhu Lan (116 Hopkins St) is reknowned for having the best banh mi (pork rolls) in Footscray and possibly Melbourne. Their super-crunchy filled baguettes are an incredible $4 each and every time I’ve been there’s been a mob of people such that I’ve never been able to take a proper photo of the place. Just follow the people on the street clutching white and orange paper bags and they will lead you to the bakery.

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Fresh sugar cane juice! I love this stuff in summer.

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Asian really prize live seafood and Footscray is the only place in Melbourne I’ve seen live eels and live crustaceans for sale. Just like a real Asian wet market and just as creepy.

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

If you’re a little bit more cautious with your fish all the fishmongers in Footscray Market sell their fish on ice, with John and Kevin’s Fresh Fish being the busiest stall from the looks of things.

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Yummie (189/193 Barkly St) sells fresh and frozen Hong Kong style dim sum which are all made on the premises (they also appear to sell Red Bull according to their window, but that’s another story).

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

I’ve tried steaming some of their frozen dumplings at home with mixed success (avoid anything with a crystal wrapper, it’s way too thick) but their standout are their flaky egg custard tarts for only $1.50. I dream about these egg tarts, they are so good….Unfortunately they don’t transport too well so eat them fresh!

Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

I loved the ramshackle Christmas decorations adorning Little Saigon but most importantly, they were selling longan for $5 a kilo! Footscray is the place to stock up on tropical fruit.

As you can imagine I went home with a full stomach, a large shopping bag and a head full of colour, sounds and smells. Discover Footscray tours are a great way to experience Footscray from a new perspective if you’ve never been to Footscray or even if you walk its streets every day. There is so much to explore! Keep a look out on the Maribyrnong City Council for further tour dates. 

HOT: Hinoki Japanese Pantry, 279 Smith St, Fitzroy

Hinoki Japanese Pantry, 279 Smith St, Fitzroy

Japanese is one of my favourite cuisines and so you can imagine my excitement when Hinoki Japanese Pantry opened in my neighbourhood.

Hinoki is a Japanese grocery store and sushi bar rolled into one. That means you can stop for a healthy lunch of nigiri, maki, sashimi or hand rolls and then do some shopping afterwards.

The sushi counter provides an overwhelming 89 (!) options . Personally I found the raw salmon to have more flavour than the bland, dry tuna, whether it’s in the form of nigiri or in a maki roll.

SONY DSC

You can also buy a slab of sushi grade salmon or tuna at very reasonable prices and slice it yourself at home. For dinner one night I had a thick fillet of salmon sashimi with a tub of Hinoki’s goma wakame, a bargain dinner at $8.50 and $2.50 respectively.

SONY DSC

The grocery section is filled with a brightly coloured selection of snacks, sweets, curry mixes, sauces, noodles/rice, seaweed and frozen goods (Japanese beer, plum wine, shochu and sake are coming later). It’s only a couple of aisles so it’s interesting browsing without becoming mind-boggling though there does appear to be a soy sauce for every occasion. Here are some of my picks…

Matcha cookies! These individually wrapped thin butter biscuits are perfect with a cup of green tea as a mid-morning pick-me-up.

Hinoki Japanese Pantry, 279 Smith St, Fitzroy

Or you could make your own candy. While these look really fun unfortunately the instructions are all in Japanese and I couldn’t make sense of the pictorial representations either. I put those back on the shelf…

Hinoki Japanese Pantry, 279 Smith St, Fitzroy

My favourite donburi (rice bowl) is unadon which is basically steamed rice with eel grilled in a style known as kabayaki, similar to teriyaki. I like to keep some frozen unagi in my freezer for dinner emergencies and with some steamed brown rice and greens (an inauthentic touch) it becomes a quick, balanced meal.

SONY DSC

My other Japanese freezer emergency meal is edamame with gyoza. The homemade gyoza by Hinoki are small, delicate morsels filled with either seafood or pork and cabbage ($6.50 for 15 pieces) and they take less than 10 minutes to pan-fry and then steam. While that’s happening you just chuck some boiling water on the edamame.

SONY DSC

Hinoki Japanese Pantry, 279 Smith St, Fitzroy

For dessert there’s pots of black sesame and green tea ice cream – the latter is better than the former, which lacks the gritty texture and tar-black flavour of fresh black sesame ice cream. There are also various ice cream blocks and daifuku containing red bean (my least favourite Asian dessert ingredient so I avoid it) and some extremely tart but refreshing yuzu sorbet.

SONY DSC

Given my penchant for Japanese food I will be frequently Hinoki a lot. I like that it’s clean, bright, stocked with interesting/cute/weird food – a fun place to poke around if you can’t read Japanese but are curious to try different things.

PS I’ve just joined Instagram as melhotornot so you can keep tabs on other interesting Hinoki discoveries I make from time to time!

Hinoki Japanese Pantry, 279 Smith St, Fitzroy +61 3 9417 4531
Closed Monday
Tue–Thu 10am–6pm,
Fri–Sat 10am–7pm,
Sun 10am–4pm


View MEL: HOT OR NOT in a larger map

HOT: Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy (1)

Lark Store has been synonymous with cute homewares and party supplies since it opened its shopfront in Daylesford four years ago. They’ve now closed their Daylesford store and have decided to take the show on the road at various pop up locations, starting with a residency in Fitzroy until February 2014.

Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

At Lark Fitzroy you’ll find a selection of covetable goodies from their online store – and anything that’s not in store physically can be bought online and collected for free at the store. Alternatively, you can buy in store and then have it giftwrapped and shipped direct to the gift recipient. Talk about seamless bricks-and-mortar/online service!

Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

They even serve you fresh lemonade at the counter.

Some of my favourite items from the Fitzroy store include:

Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

The mint green bike in the front window. OK so it’s not for sale but it is a Beg Bicycles bike from the UK which is rarely found in Australia (I particularly love the coolbox that goes with the bike).

Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

Their range of party decor. Very helpful for those with zero styling credentials as it all matches and has a super cute/retro feel, from the paper straws down to the pom pom garlands.

Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

The pastel coloured carry tins, great for storing small items like bobbins and thread or little girl’s treasures.

Lark Store, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

The fire engine red metal bread box which I think is a bit of a bargain at $39.95. Even Allison, the owner, thought she’d get one for herself when she did a double-take of the price!

SONY DSC

I might also return for the ‘Yay Biscuits!’ tin because that’s exactly what I think when I see biscuits.

SONY DSC

I love these retro milk bottle holders – for me they evoke long summer days and garden parties. I really want one but can’t think of a single use for it!

SONY DSC

For those on Instagram if you visit the store and Instagram a photo (tagging @larkstore and #larkstorefitzroy) then you’ll receive 10% off your purchase! So get snapping.

Lark Fitzroy, 94 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

Monday to Saturday, 11.00am to 4.00pm

View MEL: HOT OR NOT in a larger map

 

 

HOT: Spring Street Grocer, 157 Spring St, Melbourne

Spring Street Grocer, 157 Spring St, Melbourne

Wow. Spring has really sprung in Melbourne town this week. As I whip off my woolly hat and peel off my opaque tights I have only one thought…bring on gelati weather!

After hibernating for most of winter I’m well due for a trip to the most hyped gelati counter in Melbourne, to the stainless steel ice-cream filled vessels of Spring Street Grocer.

As its name suggests, Spring Street Grocer is actually first and foremost an upmarket, niche and tightly curated produce and deli store. There’s fresh fruit and veg, an underground cheese cave and charcuterie. Their in house label is called ‘Primavera’ and you’ll find anything from porcini to pasta as well as some excellent home-made meals created by the kitchen of The European such as the chilli con carne ($10.50) and their very spicy (and addictive) Arrabiata pasta sauce ($6.90).

Spring Street Grocer, 157 Spring St, Melbourne

Gelateria Primavera offers up to ten gelati flavours and six sorbets that rotate daily depending on what’s in season, all of them churned on site. Note that the gelati master’s days off are Monday and Tuesday which means that if it’s busy over the weekend many flavours are only restocked late Wednesday. As such, on my (Wednesday) visit I had a choice of only six flavours, which was fine as I decided to go for an all-white cup of Fior di latte, yoghurt and lime and coconut vanilla.

Spring Street Grocer, 157 Spring St, Melbourne

Out of all three flavours my favourite was the tangy yoghurt and lime gelati while the cheesiness of the fior di latte was too shocking for my dessert-trained tastebuds. All of the gelati was distinguished by the silken creaminess of their textures and the cleanness of flavour on the palate – no hint of powder, grit or lingering aftertastes.

Spring Street Grocer, 157 Spring St, Melbourne

I’ve become a little obsessed with Spring Street Grocer for lunch and pre/post theatre indulgences. If you go for lunch they have a made-to-order sandwich bar where I recommend the fish with smashed peas on light rye ($12). As it comes with some potato crisps it’s literally fish and chips with mushy peas in a sandwich format! You can eat it a little squashed up at one of the tiny tables, perched on the orange-stooled counter, or take it to Treasury Gardens and enjoy the sun.

Spring Street Grocer, 157 Spring St, Melbourne

With your gelati, of course. It’s the main event!

Spring Street Grocer, 157 Spring St, Melbourne +61 3 9639 0335
Mon – Fri 7am – 11pm
Sat – Sun 9am – 11.30pm


View MEL: HOT OR NOT in a larger map

HOT: Travelling Samovar, 412 Rathdowne St, North Carlton

Travelling-Samovar-412-Rathdowne-St-North-Carlton

After years, nay decades, of being a coffee-mad town, Melbourne seems to have really started embracing the ancient ritual of tea-drinking with specialist tea shops starting to pop up.

Travelling-Samovar-412-Rathdowne-St-North-Carlton

The latest addition is Travelling Samovar, a beautifully decorated and cosy tea house in North Carlton. The two-roomed shop feels part Middle Eastern, part Asian and part Eastern European – sort of like a trip on the Orient Express via Rathdowne Village.

Travelling-Samovar-412-Rathdowne-St-North-Carlton

There’s a glossy Russian samovar dominating the counter, delicately painted tea pots lining the rosewood cabinets, bright Chinese paper lanterns adorning the ceiling and a crystal chandelier and crackling fireplace in the back room.

Travelling-Samovar-412-Rathdowne-St-North-Carlton

Travelling-Samovar-412-Rathdowne-St-North-Carlton

It’s possibly one of the most photogenic locations I’ve photographed but at the risk of overloading this review with too many pictures (and never getting to drink my tea) I was restrained with the camera.

Travelling-Samovar-412-Rathdowne-St-North-Carlton

Of course there are a huge variety of teas and tea accoutrements  showcased in the two rooms. If you’re overawed by the thick menu then I recommend starting off with one of the eight Tea-sers, mini-tea tastings where you get to taste and compare three related styles of tea to compare ($9.95). You’ll drink a lot of tea but also learn a lot too!

Travelling-Samovar-412-Rathdowne-St-North-Carlton

Travelling-Samovar-412-Rathdowne-St-North-Carlton

I chose the Chinese Green Teas Tea-ser which included teas originating from three different Chinese provinces. It was fascinating to watch the exact science of tea brewing as Pascale whipped out the miniature scale, poured just-under-boiling water onto the leaves and organised the egg timer for the optimum brew. The Long Jing (from Zhejiang) was grassy and fresh, the Jasmine Pearls (from Fujian) was supremely fragrant and sweet and the Yin Si (from Yunnan) was almost savoury.  

Travelling-Samovar-412-Rathdowne-St-North-Carlton

A brief question to Pascale, one of the owners, elicited a passionate stream of interesting information about the processing of tea, different flavours and experimenting with brewing times. She told me that jasmine tea is so expensive (theirs is around $150 a kilo wholesale) because it is highly labour-intensive process where tea leaves are infused overnight and sifted with night-blooming jasmine flowers at least ten times. Beware of cheap jasmine tea as it’s likely to be treated with synthetic fragrance!

If your taste is more towards a traditional English breakfast then Pascale recommends Larsen & Thompson’s Good MorningAssam blend which is best taken with milk. Oh and I don’t think I’ll be going back to Earl Grey now – it’s apparently just neutral, no-flavour (and probably cheap) tea leaves strongly flavoured with bergamot.

And their most expensive tea? The Larsen & Thompson Duflating OR82 Assam tea from India, full of golden tips, costs $250 a kilo wholesale. If you want to taste before investing try it for yourself as part of the Assam Tea Tea-Ser.

You’ll want some nibbles to go with your tea and while there are a few savoury options (antipasto platter, soup, tart) I suggest you head straight for the cake cabinet and try one of the cakes made on premises by another one of the owners, Katya. I really enjoyed the moist, slightly sugar-crystal coated Persian Love Cake made with yoghurt, almond meal, brown sugar and pistachios and it came with a dollop of rose cream.

Travelling-Samovar-412-Rathdowne-St-North-Carlton

But why not go all out with the decadent four-layered sponge slathered in salted caramel buttercream frosting (fortunately I was able to take half of it home)!

Travelling-Samovar-412-Rathdowne-St-North-Carlton

Travelling Samovar does a stellar job in creating a special moment, a calm experience, through the act of tea drinking. They are also in the business of tea education and upstairs is a tea tasting room where they will be holding regular tea-tasting events (join their mailing list at info@travellingsamovar.com.au). As a non-coffee drinker in a coffee-mad town, I’m really happy that they’ve arrived.

Travelling-Samovar-412-Rathdowne-St-North-Carlton

Travelling Samovar, 412 Rathdowne St, North Carlton +61 3 9917 2911

Wed-Sun 10am-5pm


View MEL: HOT OR NOT in a larger map

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

SONY DSC

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

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

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. 

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

 

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: Books Illustrated Gallery & Showroom, 300 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park

Books Illustrated Gallery & Showroom, 300 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park (2)

On Beaconsfield Parade, facing the beach and the bay, is an unprepossessing little house which is the location of Books Illustrated.

Books Illustrated is an independent bookstore and gallery which promotes Australian children’s literature and book illustrations. Their focus and specialty is Australian hardback picture books and in two small rooms (and online) they sell books for babies right up to young adults, original illustrations and limited edition prints.

Books Illustrated was established in 1988 (and has been in various locations since) and I only visited for the first time recently when they held an Open House with Julie Vivas, the illustrator of the beloved Australian classic Possum Magic. Normally the cosy showroom can only be visited by appointment.

In one room, where Julie was signing, there were bookshelves and an exhibition of original watercolours from Possum Magic. In the second room the walls were lined with more books as well as limited edition prints resting on the floor which you can flick through.  Cosy couches, an open fireplace and some friendly dogs encourage browsing and lingering.

Books Illustrated Gallery & Showroom, 300 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park (1)

Books Illustrated hold book signings, exhibitions and conduct workshops at Gasworks Park. The best way to find out about their events is to sign up to their newsletter here.

If you like children’s bookstores try visiting The Little Bookroom, the oldest children’s bookshop in the world.

Books Illustrated Gallery & Showroom, 300 Beaconsfield Parade, Middle Park +61 3 9534 7751 

HOT: Signature High Tea, Where a Girl Goes by Cristina Re, Cnr Langridge & Oxford Sts, Collingwood

SONY DSC

Where a Girl Goes is the flagship store of Melbourne stationery designer Cristina Re and it’s well-named – it’s an unabashedly feminine place, full of pastel colours and frills and flowers and butterflies.

SONY DSC

The large space has a retail section displaying Cristina Re‘s stationery, crockery and bath and body products, but most of the floor  is dominated by a high tea parlour. The parlour is filled with white replica French Provincial furniture and vases of pink roses (rose is the favourite flower of Cristina) and it’s a very pretty space to indulge in afternoon tea. It demands dressing up in your best frock and a bit of lipstick!

SONY DSC

You can even book a semi-private area if you have a large party.

SONY DSC

Gourmet Chick and I were invited to try their signature high tea and on a weekend the tables were all booked up with hen’s dos and baby showers. The signature high tea, which goes for 2 hours,  includes two hot beverages plus savoury and sweet treats for $49 ($59 on weekends). You can upgrade your signature high tea with flutes of sparkling wine, apple or pear cider, a cocktail or even include  include craft activities and astrology/tarot card readings in your booking, making it a more unique experience than your traditional afternoon tea.

SONY DSC

The tea selection has a list of about a dozen options from Cristina Re’s signature tea leaf range, or you can choose a Belgian hot chocolate, Belgian hot mocha, espresso coffee, chai latte or juice. Of course with afternoon tea you should try one of the teas but for your second beverage I highly recommend the creamy and rich hot chocolate.

SONY DSC

The food offering consisted of a mini vegetarian quiche (in our case, one mushroom and one roasted capsicum) with a few sprigs of rocket as garnish, plus a tiered tray.

SONY DSC

First impressions are always important and thus I tend to form an opinion about the quality of an afternoon tea based on the sandwiches. While the sandwich bread and fillings here were fairly standard (cucumber, chicken, smoked salmon) they benefited from the fact that they were very fresh. My pet hate is stale, pre-prepared finger sandwiches.

SONY DSC

The middle tier had a fat, fluffy scone for each person accompanied by some chantilly cream and some very fruity raspberry jam.

SONY DSC

The top tier was my favourite – some petite sweet vanilla cupcakes with different flavoured frostings, a selection of handmade Belgian chocolates and some excellent miniature macarons demonstrating a lightness of touch in their making. You can also purchase the sweets to take home.

SONY DSC

 

SONY DSC

For a place which doesn’t really specialise in catering, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and beverages at Where a Girl Goes.  I particularly liked the fact that the afternoon tea is served on  Cristina Re‘s elegant gold-rimmed High Tea Collection porcelain along with 24 ct gold plated cutlery.

SONY DSC

 

SONY DSC

From the outside Where a Girl Goes may seem intimidatingly pink and frilly but inside the setting is unique, the atmosphere and the service staff are warm and inviting and I think it’s a perfect place for a girly get-together

Signature High Tea, Where a Girl Goes by Cristina Re, Cnr Langridge & Oxford Sts, Collingwood +61 3 9495 6222

Wednesday   10:30am – 5:00pm
Thursday    10:30am – 5:00pm / Workshops & Consultations 6pm – 8pm
Friday     10:30am – 5:00pm
Saturday   10:30am – 6:00pm
Sunday     10:30am – 5:00pm

Melbourne Good Food and Wine Show 2013 Giveaway!

Good food wine show

Australia’s largest consumer food and wine exhibition the Good Food and Wine Show is being held on the Queen’s Birthday Long weekend on 7-10 June at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. It is a huge event for food and wine lovers and this year will feature appearances in the Celebrity Theatre from Maggie Beer, Miguel Maestre, Tobie Puttock and Michelle Bridges.

Fisher & Paykel will be presenting YUM kitchen – the Good Food and Wine Show’s first hands-on cooking experience run by Australia’s most-loved cooking schools. Riedel brings to the show three fantastic wine class options in the Riedel Decanter Bar, Riedel Glass Tasting and Riedel Wine Theatre.

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 $33 general entry for adults, $25 for children up to 17 years and kids under 12 years are free.

Giveaway! Thanks to the Good Food and Wine Show I have 10 x double adult passes for general exhibition entry to give away. To win all you have to do is leave a comment before midday Friday 31 May. Good luck!

And the winners are comment number #11, #25, #8, #23, #16, #46, #87, #9, #14, #66. An email has been sent to you!

HOT: Country Women’s Association of Victoria State Fair, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2013, 3 Lansell Rd, Toorak

SONY DSC

The Country Women’s Association is a not-for-profit organisation which provides support for women, primarily in rural and remote areas of Australia.
Each state has its own branch and the Country Women’s Association of Victoria has its headquarters in urban Toorak, in a grand mansion called Umina.

Every year, as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, the CWA opens up the grounds of Umina to host their Annual State Fair Fundraiser. It’s a chance for people of the surrounding community to explore the bed and breakfast run by the CWA (which is available as accommodation for the general public as well as CWA members) and to support the work of CWA by purchasing items from the various stalls.

CWA STate Fair

Entry to the State Fair was free and it had stalls that you’d expect at any good country fair – a cake stall with homemade cakes, biscuits and muffins, a jam and preserve stall, lots of crochet and knitting and other craft items and of course Devonshire teas.

SONY DSC

In fact, it’s probably a prerequisite to membership to CWA that you know how to make scones! I bought a dozen freshly made scones for $6 along and wrapped them up in a beautiful heavyweight linen teatowel I bought from the CWA merchandise stand.

The tea towel was designed by Australian artist Rachael Flynn of Red Tractor Designs and it features charming illustrations and a classic plain scone recipe. Maybe it’s even a recipe endorsed by CWA!

tea towel

As for the scones, they were light and fluffy even reheated a day later and especially delicious when slathered with some homemade strawberry jam purchased from the State Fair.

CWA State Fair