HOT: The Guilty Moose, 143 Victoria Ave, Albert Park

guilty moose

There are no moose to be found in Melbourne and who knows why it’s guilty – but The Guilty Moose is a sweet cafe in Albert Park with a neat and interesting menu and a curious name.

I love that it’s open every day, bright and early at 7am for the beach joggers and dog walkers. The small space is a nice location to take a break, with a front room where the coffee action happens, a small back room with a cutout that provides a good nook for people-watching and then an expansive courtyard for warm days.

guilty moos

The menu has a few cafe standards then does an about turn into Asian fusion.

guilty moose

I love the sound of the okomiyaki  which comes chunks of smoked trout and a poached egg ($17). The pancake is chock full of purple cabbage and the veges prevent it from being just a big flat dough cake. There’s liberal use of otafuku flavoured mayonnaise, the egg is perfectly poached and I think the only thing missing is some flying bonito flakes for texture and visual appeal.

guilty moose

I also tried the toasted house banana bread with citrus curd, crushed pistachios and strawberry creme fraiche ($15). The banana bread was too crumbly to hold the other ingredients on the same fork and the highlight was actually the well-balanced sweet/tangy lemon curd. It was just like scooping up the insides of a lemon tart.

I think Albert Park locals will really embrace The Guilty Moose. The food is a cut above and reasonably priced, with a mix of staple and more challenging dishes. The vibe is relaxed and I found the service to be super-friendly – the kind of place where they’ll take the time to know your name.

The Guilty Moose, 143 Victoria Ave, Albert Park 03 9078 0925

Open daily 7am-4pm

The Guilty Moose on Urbanspoon

HOT: Taste of Melbourne 2012, Pelican Lawn, Albert Park

Happy Friday! The weekend weather is looking like it will hold up for Taste of Melbourne‘s new outdoor setting by the banks of Albert Park lake.

Thanks to Taste of Melbourne I attended the first night of festivities and here are some of my highlights to act as a guide for your visit…

For a savoury start I highly recommend the fresh-off-the- chargrill tender Moorish lamb skewers from MoVida (mop up the juices with the provided bread), though I was also mighty tempted by the large pan of Fideua Mejillones (braised pasta with mussels and calamari) presided over by Frank Comorra himself.

Draw up a chair and learn tips and tricks from chefs at the free Dilmah Chef’s Skillery. Nick Creswick from Libertine showed us how to bone a chicken while we sipped on cups of hot tea and tried a taste of his chicken, pistachio and orange terrine with pickled apple salad.

You’ll get to take home a copy of the latest Australian Gourmet Traveller and some Dilmah tea samples.

The winner of Best Dish at Taste this year was Albert St Food & Wine‘s ‘Minted Mermaid’ – a pea and mint soup garnished with smoked trout and apple. It’s a very evocative of Spring, with smooth and crunchy textures combining into a refreshing starter. When you’re there make sure you don’t miss dessert queen Philippa Sibley’s meyer lemon tart. A deservedly famous classic dessert comprising a beautifully set sweet/tart citrus filling within a delicate buttery casing. It’s quite large so share between two.

Sadly my appetite didn’t extend to sampling the first runner up for Best Dish at Taste was from Mamasita – the Cerdo en Nogada (mulato rubbed pork fillet, walnut sauce, soused raisins) nor the second runner up was the Yuzu cloud, coconut peral and guava sorbet dessert from The Botanical.

If you’re a dessert fan I also recommend the fancy-pants Eton mess from Mr.Hive Kitchen & Bar AND the warm chocolate mousse from Livingroom Restaurant with some hidden marshmallow gems nestled in the bottom of the cup. Oh and grab a box of their mince pies as well, generously filled with sweet and lightly spiced fruit mince ($20).

Burch and Purchese are selling sweet treats from their sweet studio plus what they’re claiming to be the ‘best ice cream you’ve ever had’. Decide for yourself – certainly my Chocolate Hazelnut brownie was worth my 8 crowns (the currency used at the festival that you have to pre-purchase) and beat a supermarket Magnum hands down.

If you’re overwhelmed as to what else to eat at the festival, you can always stick to each restaurant’s ‘Icon dish’ – each chef’s signature dish.

Finally, some further tips:

  • the closest public transport stop is Wright St on the #96 light rail tram – you’ll still need to walk about 10 minutes to the gate;
  • the outdoor waterside setting means that it can get cold when the breeze is blowing so bring a warm layer and wear closed toed shoes. And wear flats or wedges, heels will sink into the grass!
  • there may be patchy showers throughout the weekend so be prepared with an umbrella or raincoat.

Happy eating and drinking!

Taste of Melbourne, Pelican Lawn at Albert Park Lake, Thursday 15 – Sunday 18 November 2012

Tickets start at $25.00 from Ticketek on 132 849 or visiting

HOT: Mad Cow Thursdays, Hotel Nest, 111 Victoria Ave, Albert Park

A steak for $1? Too good to be true, I hear you say.

Well, on Thursdays at Hotel Nest they’ve termed it ‘Mad Cow Thursdays’ when premium John Dee sirloin steaks start from $1 for a 125g steak! The catch is that you’re likely to be spending more than $1 as the larger steaks cost more and sides and sauces cost extra.

While the normal a la carte menu is still available on Thursdays the steak deal was just too good to pass up. We opted for 250g steaks cooked to your liking ($5) plus two sides each ($3) and sauce ($1).

My medium-rare steak was cooked to the right degree with criss-cross charred grill marks and it came with fries and green beans. The side portions were on a measly side so I’d recommend ordering three items to properly fill up your plate.

Evidently word about Mad Cow Thursdays hasn’t got out too far yet. On our lunch time visit the airy Greenhouse part of Hotel Nest, filled with basket ferns hung against a white-washed backdrop, was reasonably empty. It’s not the best steak you’ll ever had but for under $15 in ritzy Albert Park it’s a cheap and filling pub lunch.

My travel to this pub was made possible thanks to the Holden Barina.

Mad Cow Thursdays, Hotel Nest, 111 Victoria Ave, Albert Park +61 3 9669 9744

Tue – Thu: 12:00 pm-12:00 am
Fri: 12:00 pm – 1:00 am
Sat: 10:00 am – 1:00 am
Sun: 10:00 am – 12:00 am
Hotel Nest on Urbanspoon

NOT: Misuzu’s, 7 Victoria Ave, Albert Park

I wanted to like Misuzu’s, I really did.

Out of all the cafes and restaurants in the Victoria Avenue strip, I thought that Misuzu’s sizeable crowd of alfresco diners signalled that the kitchen must be producing something good. Also, the restaurant was rated second on Urbanspoon for the best Albert Park restaurants.

On entering, I immediately liked the cool, almost Indonesian/sub-tropical dark slatted wood decor and the super-friendly Japanese waitstaff. The menu seemed to be authentic too, with a familiar litany of hot and cold dishes and a selection of sushi and sashimi.

As I was dining alone and not currently eating raw fish, I ordered the small non-vegetarian platter of starters and salads in order to sample the largest variety of food ($18).

The platter was very generous for one person although a bit messily put together given the refined presentation normally evident in Japanese cuisine. I decided to tackle the food in a clockwise direction, starting from twelve o’clock.

The first rule of sushi is that it should be eaten in one bite. So I have no idea why they served wagon-wheel sized nori rolls which disintegrated immediately when picked up with chopsticks. The fillings were also bland and limp and not even a liberal dose of ginger and soy sauce could spice them up.

The first rubber ball was a chicken and tofu patty. Not very exciting, but certainly filling. Again, it needed more of the sweet teriyaki sauce to make less bland. The second rubber ball was a chewy fish patty. Honestly, the only difference between the fish and the chicken that I could discern was the texture.

Next I think there was a calamari salad, as well as some sort of vegetable salad involving pumpkin. It was hard to tell what was what as the viscous sesame dressing for one of the salads ran into the other salads leaving everything a bit of a gloopy mess.

Lastly was a salad involving sodden vermicelli pieces mulched with corn kernels, canned tuna and mayonnaise. I have never encountered a salad, Japanese or otherwise, consisting of these ingredients and frankly I never want to again. Both the texture and taste were so unpleasant that I left almost all of it – and I hardly ever leave food on my plate.

It was all so disappointing. I acknowledge that I didn’t have any of the main dishes or the sushi/sashimi and maybe they are fantastic, but based on my encounter with Misuzu’s I’m not encouraged to return.

Where’s the Beef seemed to have a more positive experience…

  • Misuzu’s, 7 Victoria Ave, Albert Park +61 3 9699 9022

HOT: Hausfrau, 123 Bridport St, Albert Park

Albert Park is surely the ultimate suburb to find glossy blonde ladies-who-lunch, so what better place to set up a cafe called Hausfrau?

Hausfrau Albert Park is the sister cafe to the original Hausfrau in Yarraville and it opened two weeks ago. The cafes look similar with their quaint tea salon decor, except that the Albert Park version is much more…pink. The interior brought to mind an exploded Barbara Cartland marshmallow with a maraschino cherry on top.

With that sort of colour scheme, it draws a clientele that’s 99% female, though I did see one lone male (with a female companion) reading a book and contentedly sipping a cup of tea from a china cup. So men, don’t be put off by the pastel colours and instead enjoy the spaciousness, the long wooden communal table with lots of room for sprawling weekend papers and the large cake and sandwiches selection in the glass cabinet (their bread comes from Noisette but everything else is homemade).

My afternoon tea consisted of a hazelnut meal base topped with ruby-red rhubarb ($5.50). It was a balanced combination of sweetness and tangy tartness and moreishly moist. I also couldn’t resist their version of the gingerbread man, the super-cute gingerbread hausfrau (complete with piped icing apron) ($3.50), a soft biscuit with a faint spiciness – nothing worse than dry, cracking gingerbread.

Given its prominent corner location and adorable colour scheme, I’m sure Hausfrau will do well amongst the wealthy housewives set in Albert Park. Just BYO poodle.

  • Hausfrau, 123 Bridport St, Albert Park +61 3)9686 8226

HOT: Jock’s Ice Cream and Sorbet, 83 Victoria Ave, Albert Park

Given the far-reaching reputation of Jock’s Ice Cream and Sorbet, I was surprised to discover that it occupied such a small space on Victoria Avenue. But the unassuming storefront belies the high quality icecream made daily (by Jock!) offered inside.

Anyway, there’s no way you can miss the store, as the heat of summer brings a gaggle of ice-cream lovers constantly to its doors. Locals also seem to treat the benches outside as de facto sunlounges as they kick off their shoes and lick their waffle cones.

Many Melburnians rate Jock’s as the best ice cream parlour in Melbourne. Certainly the number of awards lining the wall stopped me in my tracks and made my flavour selection very difficult.

Sadly, the famed Roast Almond or Hokey Pokey were not available on the day, so I went for the gold medal winning Summer Pudding and silver medal winning Nougat ($5). Both flavours were supremely creamy, with the sparkling berry coulis rippling through the Summer Pudding being the real stunner. Although I’m particularly partial to my own homemade icecream, I can say without reservation that Jock’s makes very, very good icecream.

For those lucky enough to live close to Jock’s, you can also buy take home tubs. With this heatwave, I suspect they’ll be very popular.

For more excellent ice cream around town, try Fritz Gelato and Il Dolce Freddo.

  • Jock’s Ice Cream and Sorbet, 83 Victoria Ave, Albert Park +61 3 9686 3838

Jock's Icecream on Urbanspoon

HOT Chat: Carley Andrews of Ujamaa Hostel

Today’s HOT Chat is the first time I’m interviewing a Melburnian who actually no longer  lives in Melbourne. Melbourne-born Carley Andrews now lives in Tanzania with her husband, running a hostel focusing on providing volunteer work opportunities. I was inspired to interview her after reading about her new project, a childrens’ home, which she has just started with Melbourne lawyer Lucy Bradlow. Thanks Carley!

Carley, tell me a bit more about your background, how you ended up in Arusha, Tanzania and came to run the Ujamaa Hostel?

I first volunteered in Kenya in 2006 and loved the experience, but I went with large company, paid lots of money (none of which went to the project) and was disappointed with the level of support.

A year later I went to Tanzania to volunteer with an independent company, I intended to stay for about a month,  but I never left! I met my husband (who is Tanzanian) when I was volunteering in a town called Moshi, which is about an hour away from where I now live.

We decided to move to Arusha and set up the Ujamaa Hostel because we both love volunteering and helping other people. We also wanted to provide a cost-effective and safe way for others to volunteer in the local community.

What is the philosophy of Ujamaa Hostel?

“Ujamaa” is the Swahili word for “familyhood” and is based on the community working together for the good of the whole. Many of the big companies charge huge amounts of money to volunteer and none of the money goes to the projects. We wanted to change that. We believe that if you spend your money coming here and give your time to help others, then you shouldn’t have to pay to volunteer. And if you have extra money to donate, it should go directly to the projects, not to an off-shore company.

When you volunteer with us the only cost is your accommodation. We spend time sourcing reputable and worthwhile local projects where volunteers can spend their time and we provide them with a range of in-country support.

Your first project is the Ujamaa Children’s Home, which you started in conjunction with Melbourne lawyer Lucy Bradlow. What inspired you both to start this project and what is the purpose of the Ujamaa Children’s Home?

I have worked with and managed many projects over the years and have learnt a great deal from these experiences. I have always wanted to create my own project, but I felt that I needed to spend time on the ground here learning the culture and the language before I could effectively run my own project.

I met Lucy when she was working in Arusha at the Rwanda War Crimes Tribunal and she volunteered with us in her spare time. Our goals and beliefs were so similar we started working together and fundraising for different projects. We decided to create our own project after seeing others being mis-managed and we felt that we have the experience, dedication and commitment to build a successful and long-lasting Home for children in need.

Our relationship works really well because I am able to manage the Ujamaa Children’s Home on the ground in Tanzania and Lucy is able deal with the fundraising and legal aspects back in Australia.

What have you found to be some of the most interesting or challenging aspects of living and working in Tanzania?

Tanzania is different from many other African countries because it is socially and politically stable. There are over 120 tribes here and they all live together in harmony. They are proud of their tribe, but they are more proud to be Tanzanian. Tribal beliefs are strong and well-maintained and while Swahili and English are the official languages you can’t go a day without hearing many other tribal dialects.

The culture here is incredibly rich and interesting, but it is very different from Australia. First and foremost, there is “Africa time”. There’s no hurry in Africa and everything happens at its own pace. You really can’t force things to happen at a normal “Western” pace and if you do, you’ll just end up frustrated and things still won’t happen any faster. This also allows for setting your own work hours and relaxing into a lifestyle that can be reasonably stress free.

There is a lot that is available here, but nothing quite works the way you’ll expect it to, so everyday is an adventure…which is sometimes a bit tiring! There are regular power and water cuts, but generally I live a fairly normal life.

The scenery is incredible and I live just an hour away from Mt Kilimanjaro and a couple of hours from the world’s greatest safari parks. There are often monkeys around town too.

For the most part I feel safe in Arusha, however you cannot walk around at night and we do have Masai Guards at the house 24/7.

The poverty level here is high and there is so much need, but you just do what you can to help and you have to understand that you can’t fix everything.

What are your next plans for Ujamaa Hostel and the Ujamaa Children’s Home?

Ujamaa Hostel continues to expand and we are working with a range of different projects including an orphanage, a Nursery School and some Vocational Training Centres for disadvantaged youths. We love having our volunteers and are so lucky to be able to provide people with this experience. It really has a profound effect on people and it’s awesome that we get to be a part of that.

With Ujamaa Children’s Home, firstly we are looking to gain steady financial support so that we can take in more children. We currently have 5 amazing kids in the house and we’d love to help more.

Our next goal is to raise money to buy land and build a proper house for the Home. We’re currently renting a house which is fine for now, but we want to build a house that is designed specifically for our needs.

You’ve live in Tanzania for nearly 3 years but many of your family and friends still live in Melbourne. What are your favourite places to visit or things to do when you return to Melbourne?

I love coming back to Melbourne and visiting friends and family. My Mum’s cooking is always top of the list and I often spend a lot of time in the Supermarket, there just isn’t the same variety in Arusha.

If I’m eating out, I always go to Rococo (87 Acland St, St Kilda +61 3 9525 3232) with my brother, they have the most amazing salads, breads and pastas. I can never get Mexican food in Arusha, so I make sure I go to Amigos (7/478 Chapel St, South Yarra, +61 3 9826 1653) as well.

The food in Australia is great, because it’s always fresh and quick, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get it.

The London (92 Beach St, Port Melbourne +61 3 9646 4644) in Port Melbourne is my parent’s “local” so we always go there for a meal and a drink. Awesome steak sandwich.

If it’s summer, we’ll go to The Local Taphouse (184 Carlisle St, St Kilda East, +61 3 9537 2633) or The Railway Hotel (29 Chapel Street, Windsor +61 3 9510 4050).

I really love just walking around town and getting a coffee with friends. There are no shops in Arusha that sell new items, so I’m always stocking up on clothes and DVDs.

I also love to get some acupuncture at Vitality in Albert Park and to stock up on organic products (282 Richardson Street, Middle Park +61 3 9682 8866).