HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 10 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Melbourne dumpling-lovers, start your engines. Din Tai Fung Melbourne has arrived.

This famous, and long-awaited, restaurant chain has taken up the whole of level 4 inside Emporium Melbourne. You can’t miss the entrance as there will be crowd of hungry people outside.
Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 9 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Inside the decor is a surprising combination of Scandi-chic with an Asian sensibility designed by Design Clarity.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 7 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

It’s not often you spot filament lights in Asian restaurants and they combine together with other ‘hipster-cafe’ features such as an abundance of blonde wood, a long retro blue banquette, curved lines and wall-hanging greenery.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 8 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Particularly Asian elements still creep in though – waiters wield bag stands to protect your handbags and shopping and coat covers for the back of your chair.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 6 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

You order by ticking off a paper menu with over a hundred items. Daunted, I call my (Chinese) mother to provide ordering advice (though there is a picture menu available to assist). She says ‘every visit to Din Tai Fung would not be complete without their famous xiao long bao’.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 1 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

These darling 18-times pleated soup dumplings (6 for $10.80) are made by an army of mask-clad chefs in the large kitchen and then carried in a sky-high tower of bamboo steamers to be distributed to expectant folk.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 2 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Din Tai Fung’s XLB are superb. The weight of the piping hot broth, the thin pouch of dumpling skin, the the perfect balance of texture and flavour, all go towards making these some of the best xiao long bao you’ll find anywhere in the world. What’s amazing is the consistency of the product – I’ve had Din Tai Fung’s XLB in Sydney, Hong Kong and Shanghai and each time they send me into a food orgasm.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 3 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Din Tai Fung are also famous for their noodles, and my mum suggested trying the braised beef noodle soup ($16.80). It’s a steaming bowl consisting of a fat wad of handmade noodles sitting underneath four slices of beef shank in a flavoursome broth. The pliable noodles are a highlight though the beef could be more tender.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 4 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Finally, I try one of their steamed buns ($3). The vegetarian bun comes so beautifully pleated I don’t want to touch it. I take a bite and discover the fluffiest of pillows with a loose mixture of shredded vegetables and mushrooms nestled inside.

Din Tai Fung Emporium Melbourne Level 4 287 Lonsdale St Melbourne 5 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Din Tai Fung may be a global restaurant chain but it’s one that’s of consistently high quality and reasonably priced. It’s an exciting addition to Chinese dining in Melbourne and it was telling that on my visit 95% of the patrons were Asian, young and old. It’s safe to say they know a good dumpling when they eat it (and are willing to line up for it).

My final tip is to arrive 5-10 minutes before opening time. The kitchen is quick but each table still takes around 45 minutes to turn around. So if you miss the first tranche of the 230-odd seats you’ll have to hang around salivating over your paper menu until there’s room.

Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 9654 1876

Mon-Wed 11.30-2.30pm, 5.30-9pm

Thu-Fri 11.30-2.30pm, 5-10pm

Sat 11-3pm, 5-10pm

Sun 11-3pm, 5-9pm

 HOT: Din Tai Fung, Emporium Melbourne, Level 4, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 6 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

In a city that’s chock full of Mexican restaurants, what makes Touche Hombre special?

For me, it’s the fun atmosphere, punchy flavours and super-quick service right in the heart of the city. I call it ‘Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am Mexican’.

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 4 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

The interior is all laneway brashness, with exposed brick, concrete, bar stools and kitschy touches. The hip hop playlist was from my era!

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 9 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

I was invited to try their new menu which launched earlier this month in time for their third birthday. It’s pretty much the same Mexican-for-gringos street food that you know and love and it all goes well with their Mexican cocktails. The zesty Tommy’s Margarita is their signature but I personally liked their icy horchata.

Touche Hombre HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

I think the best way to tackle the menu is just to go with the chef’s selection. For a very reasonable $40 you’ll be filled up with 1 Street Corn, 1 Starter, 3 Tacos and 1 Dessert.

Dive straight into the Touche fried chicken, spiced up with habanero cream and lime ($10/$25). The crunchy outer coating made with maize flour was a popcorn party in the mouth though I’d be sparing with the cream and generous with the lime to cut through the richness.

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 2 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

The spicy lamb ribs with merquin, coriander and honey ($13) were tender but far too fatty for our tastes so it was our least successful dish on the night.

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 1 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Our plate of tostaditos (or crisp mini tortillas) had one of everything – blue crab, chicken tinga, tuna and pumpkin. The Asian-inspired tuna with candied peanuts, soy and black sesame was my favourite though of course the least authentic.

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 3 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Next up, 6” soft shell tacos.  I highly recommend you douse them in hot sauce if you need a kick as I found the flavours of both the slow cooked pork cheek, habanero cream and BBQ corn salsa ($6.50) and the Chimichurri Chicken with melted Egmont cheese, toasted pepitas and coriander aioli ($6) quite mild. Other taco fillings include prawn, haloumi, fish and meatballs and the fillings are replicated in the burritos selection as well.

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 5 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Dessert veers away from Latin flavours to ice cream sandwiches and doughnuts. We tried the chocolate, chilli and peanut butter parfait ($8) which had negligible chilli in it, so I say turn it up! The biscuit was also rock hard so the whole dish was a bit difficult to eat.

Touche Hombre has obviously carved out a niche in Melbourne’s Mexican wave as it was jumping on a Tuesday night. The dishes we tried veered from OMG amazing to ho hum in my nitpicking opinion, but add a few drinks and the rapid friendly service it’s a great way to kickstart a fun night out – you can even head right next door to Burro Teca (Donkey Disco, I kid you not)!

Touche Hombre 233 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 8 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne (03) 9663 0811

Mon to Sat 12:00 pm – late

 HOT: Touche Hombre, 233 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 17 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Open House: Tromarama for Kids is NGV International’s newest children’s gallery exhibition which isn’t just child’s play. Indonesian contemporary art collective Tromarama (Febie Babyrose, Herbert Hans and Ruddy Hatumena), have truly built a house of fun for young and old alike!

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 1 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 9 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

The fantastical space features five fully furnished rooms – a kitchen, dining room, courtyard, bedroom and bathroom. The whole house comes to life and there are lots of unexpected surprises to explore.

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 5 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 7 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Start off in the bathroom and very comfy pillow-lined bedroom, where you can learn to make simple stop motion animation movies.

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 4 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Just take some toys from the bathtub, find a backdrop you like, use the touch screens to take photos  and off you go!

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 6 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Move into the lush garden with the flower wall which reminded me of the Raf Simons’ extravagant first collection for Christian Dior. Pity the flowers aren’t real!

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 10 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

In the garden you’ll find that pink flamingos talk and cheeky garden gnomes chat back with your voice!

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 11 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

The kitchen is the most restful space, with stacks of ceramic crockery (thankfully stuck together and to the benches) and it shows a delightful animation of dancing plates and cups.

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 2 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

The highlight of the interactive experiences has got to be the disco dance floor. Look up and you’ll see a complete dining room setting, which means you’re dancing on the ceiling!

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 12 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Like Darren Sylvester’s dance floor for the Melbourne Now exhibition this room will definitely be a drawcard.

Open House Tromarama for Kids NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 13 HOT: Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Open House: Tromarama for Kids is a must-see on your next to visit the gallery and it will be sure to delight and surprise kids and adults alike. Come out and play!

Open House: Tromarama for Kids, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Saturday 23 May – Sunday 18 Oct

Open 10am–5pm

Closed Tuesday

Free entry

The HOT List: Afternoon Tea in Melbourne – Mother’s Day Sunday 10 May 2015

Afternoon tea at The Hotel Windsor 111 Spring St Melbourne 7 The HOT List: Afternoon Tea in Melbourne   Mothers Day Sunday 10 May 2015
Sunday 10 May is Mother’s Day and Melbourne’s restaurants and cafes will be busy organising special events for the day. Here’s a round-up of high teas in Melbourne and surrounds, some of which are special events just for Mother’s Day.

Melbourne High Tea Reviews

Over the years I’ve reviewed a lot of afternoon tea locations – some great, some not so great. Here are the ones which are open for Mother’s Day.

DSC04960v1 The HOT List: Afternoon Tea in Melbourne   Mothers Day Sunday 10 May 2015

Langham Melbourne – one of my favourites in Melbourne for the quality of the food and the ambience. The closest to the ‘London afternoon tea’ experience I think, minus the all-you-can-eat ribbon sandwiches!

Intercontinental – For coffee lovers rather than tea sippers.

Cinema Nova – watch a film and enjoy high tea.

Jam and Cream – this little cafe with a pink vintage caravan is as cute as it comes as a setting for afternoon tea.

LuxBite Tea Set for Two 38 Toorak Rd South Yarra 7 The HOT List: Afternoon Tea in Melbourne   Mothers Day Sunday 10 May 2015

LuxBite – The Tea Set for Two gives you a little taste of the decadence available at this South Yarra dessert patisserie.

Bursaria at Abbotsford Convent – High Tea in the lovely surrounds of Abbotsford Convent.

The Tea Salon – Do some shopping at Emporium then relax with a high tea accompanied by tea, sparkling or champagne.

The Hotel Windsor – Enjoy this iconic building by indulging in freshly baked scones are served with jam and cream and exquisite pastries sit above delicate finger sandwiches.

DSC02865 The HOT List: Afternoon Tea in Melbourne   Mothers Day Sunday 10 May 2015

Westin Melbourne – a highlight for the pastry lover.

The Waiting Room – decadent sweets, sorbet, scones, sandwiches and hot savouries at Crown Towers.

Collins Kitchen at Grand Hyatt Melbourne – sub-par pastries and a bun-fight at the buffet. Not relaxing.

Sofitel Melbourne – pretty average with rock hard scones.

Other High Tea in Melbourne and surrounds

CBD/ DOCKLANDS

Marriot Melbourne Hotel Cnr Exhibition and Lonsdale St, Melbourne. Child (under 12yrs): $28, Teen (12-18yrs): $49, Adult: $65. Bookings: Book online or call 03 9660 1176

28 Skybar Lounge at Crown Melbourne $85 per adult $50 per child. Bookings 9292 5777.

Hopetoun Tea Rooms 282 Collins St, Melbourne. $50. Bookings: www.hopetountearooms.com.au/reservations 48 hours notice required.

Wonderland Spiegeltent 120 Pearl River Rd, Harbour Town Docklands. Cost: Child $35, Adults $39.50. Bookings: Telephone 03 9602 1311

Vue de Monde  525 Collins St, Melbourne. $250 person. Bookings: (03) 9691 38888

Hotel Lindrum26 Flinders St Melbourne. $55 per person including a glass of sparkling wine. Bookings:  03 9668 1111.

Om Nom at Adelphi Hotel 187 Flinders Lane Melbourne. $65 per person. Bookings: (03) 8080 8827

Stamford Plaza Hotel 111 Little Collins Street. Cost: $69 per adult $34.50 per child 4-12 years. Bookings: +61-3 9659 1000

Myer Mural Hall  Lvl 6, 314-336 Bourke Street. Cost: $70 per person, children under 3 free. Bookings: +61 03 9661 1546

Hazelbark Patisserie at Blue Diamond 15/123 Queen Street. $50 per person. Bookings Hazelbarkpatisserie@gmail.com.

Afternoon tea at The Hotel Windsor 111 Spring St Melbourne 1 The HOT List: Afternoon Tea in Melbourne   Mothers Day Sunday 10 May 2015

NORTH

Mamor’s Chocolate 153 Johnston St, Collingwood. $75 per person.

Melbourne Zoo Elliot Ave Parkville $65 adults $30 children. Bookings (03) 9285 9440.

EAST

Beau Monde International 934 Doncaster Road, Doncaster East. Child (4-12yrs): $35, Adult: $70. Bookings: 03 9660 1176

Mossgreen Tea Rooms 926 High St Armadale. $52 per person or $68 with champagne. Bookings: Call 03 9508 8850 or email tearooms@mossgreen.com.au

SOUTH / SOUTH-EAST / BAYSIDE

The Vincent 111 Victoria Ave, Albert Park. Child: $25, Adult: $65. Bookings:  Call (03) 9682 6444 or click here to reserve your table.

Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra. $45 per head or $60 per head with a glass of sparkling. Bookings: Call 9804 7485

WEST

Cocktails and Canvas Puckle Lane, Moonee Ponds. $82.50 high tea ‘Sip & Paint’.

The Tea Salon Shop 2041 Level 2 Emporium Melbourne 295 Lonsdale St Melbourne 5 The HOT List: Afternoon Tea in Melbourne   Mothers Day Sunday 10 May 2015

MELBOURNE SURROUNDS

Chateau Yering Historic House Hotel 42 Melba Highway, Yering. $60 per person. Bookings: Call 03 9237 3333 or email functions@chateauyering.com.au

Marybrooke Manor 10 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke. Adults: $40 Children $17.50. Bookings: Call (03) 9755 2755

High Tea at Yarra Valley Lodge 2 Heritage Avenue, Chirnside Park. Cost: $45 per adult and $27.50 per child (3-12 years). Bookings: Call 9760 3355 or email dining_atbella@yarravalleylodge.com

Coombe Restaurant 673-675 Maroondah Highway Coldstream. $55 per person. Bookings (03) 9739 0173

The Greatest Love Of All – The Whitney Houston Show – Giveaway!

PHOTO Whitney Blue Dress Hand Up Email 1024x683 The Greatest Love Of All – The Whitney Houston Show   Giveaway!

The Greatest Love Of All – The Whitney Houston Show celebrates the iconic pop singer Whitney Houston and her most loved songs. The show is coming to Melbourne in May 2015 with the breathtaking voice of South African singer Belinda Davids after selling out in Dubai, New Zealand, Canada, the US and South Africa.

PHOTO Whitney Belinda Singing Email 1024x683 The Greatest Love Of All – The Whitney Houston Show   Giveaway!

The 2 ½ hour concert and stage show spans Houston’s 29 year career and includes hits How Will I Know, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, Where Do Broken Hearts Go, Didn’t We Almost Have It All, I’m Every Woman, Exhale (Shoop Shoop), Step by Step and I Will Always Love You.

Watch this preview clip to hear the amazing Belinda Davids – she has a 4 octave range!

The Greatest Love Of All – The Whitney Houston Show, Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins St, Melbourne

Friday 15 May to Saturday 23 May 2015

Tickets from $49.90 from Ticketek 132 849

Giveaway! Thanks to The Greatest Love Of All – The Whitney Houston Show I have 2 x double passes to give away for the opening night Friday 15 May.

To win just follow the instructions below. The competition closes midnight Monday 20 April and the two random winners will be contacted by email. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

HOT: Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square

Shifting Gear Design Innovation and the Australian Car NGV Australia Federation Square 5 HOT: Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square

Shifting Gear Design Innovation and the Australian Car NGV Australia Federation Square 2 HOT: Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square
Shifting Gear Design Innovation and the Australian Car NGV Australia Federation Square 1 HOT: Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square
NGV Australia’s newest temporary exhibition is a first for an Australian art institution – a look at Australia’s history of car design and engineering called ‘Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car’.

Shifting Gear Design Innovation and the Australian Car NGV Australia Federation Square 3 HOT: Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square

The exhibition is particularly well-timed given the 2015 Formula 1 Grand Prix starts on Thursday 12 March and the fact that Australia’s automobile industry is frankly, going down the tube. Now is the time to capture the stories, archives and history of the heyday of the Australian car industry and provide some scholarly analysis and discussion on Australia’s contribution to global knowledge and design.

Shifting Gear Design Innovation and the Australian Car NGV Australia Federation Square 6 HOT: Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square

If, like me, you’re not really into cars (bikes are more my thing) then ‘Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car’ is still an interesting visit. I was invited to a special preview of the exhibition along with the launch of NGV’s new contemporary design and architecture strategy and programs.

Shifting Gear Design Innovation and the Australian Car NGV Australia Federation Square 9 HOT: Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square

Shifting Gear Design Innovation and the Australian Car NGV Australia Federation Square 7 HOT: Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square

The twenty-three cars on show in the gallery foyer and the ticketed exhibition range from vehicles from the 19th century through to now. They have all been shined to a mirror buff, raised onto pedestals and exhibited as objects of sophisticated art and design.

Shifting Gear Design Innovation and the Australian Car NGV Australia Federation Square 10 HOT: Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square

Shifting Gear Design Innovation and the Australian Car NGV Australia Federation Square 15 HOT: Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square

The gallery design is extremely effective and I loved how the bold colour palettes greatly enhanced the presentation of the cars. Even if you read none of the information it’s a visually stunning space and very photogenic.

Shifting Gear Design Innovation and the Australian Car NGV Australia Federation Square 8 HOT: Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square

Shifting Gear Design Innovation and the Australian Car NGV Australia Federation Square 14 HOT: Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square

Shifting Gear Design Innovation and the Australian Car NGV Australia Federation Square 4 HOT: Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square

Shifting Gear Design Innovation and the Australian Car NGV Australia Federation Square 11 HOT: Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square

Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car is one of the branches of NGV’s long-term strategy to become a leading hub for contemporary art, design and architecture. Just this year Nordic Cool – Modernist Design has opened, a new curatorial department has been created, the two gallery shops have been relaunched as a design-focused retailer NGV design store and a new collection area is being created for design and architecture.

In April Coco Flip will enliven the Great Hall with Puku Ottomans and in September an ongoing Commission for Ephemeral Architecture will launch with a stunning sweeping work by John Wardle Architects ‘I Dips Me Lid’.

In 2016 a Design Project Space will open presenting a year round program of exhibitions and in 2017 the NGV Triennial will launch.

It’s going to be an exciting period for the National Gallery of Victoria!

Shifting Gear: Design, Innovation and the Australian Car, NGV Australia, Federation Square

Friday 6 March – Sunday 12 July 2015

Open 10am—5pm daily Closed Mondays

Adults $15, Concession $12, Child $7, Family $41 Book here.

HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 1 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (Saturday 28 February – Sunday 15 March) is kind of like my idealised version of Christmas (lots of eating without the present traumas) which makes the Artisan Bakery & Bar the ultimate Christmas Village, a place to celebrate some festival cheer.

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 2 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 3 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 6 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

Every day until Sunday 15 March, from 7:30am to late, head down to Queensbridge Square on Southbank to sample delicious bread-based wares from Peter Rowland as well as a rotating calendar of local and international bakers producing their most famous baked goods, including Éric Kayser (Maison Kayser, Paris) and Justin Gellatly (co-founder of London’s Bread Ahead).

DSC09924 521x820 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

I ‘accidentally’ inhaled one of Justin Gellatly ‘s famous doughnuts for breakfast and oh my god…I have to say it was one of the best doughnuts I’ve ever had. Spongy, fluffy and dripping with salted caramel cream with a shard of crumbling honeycomb on top.

DSC09926 820x545 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

Apparently guest baker’s products have been selling out every day by 10am so I’ve diarised Éric Kayser‘s visit (Tuesday 10 March and Wednesday 11 March) in the hope that he’ll turn out some of his famous eclairs.

I was also invited by Peter Rowland sample some of Artisan Bakery & Bar’s mostly Victorian menu.

We started off with little pots of Irrewarra Sourdough’s granola, some fluffy and tart Victorian yoghurt and homemade fresh fruit compote.

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 9 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

Then the carb-loading began, with wooden boards containing a selection of Irrewarra Sourdough and Woodfrog Bakery’s bread, Mount Zero olives, Milawa cheese, Mytleford butter and picles and condiments by Peter Rowland ($20 each).

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 8 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

Then a selection of tartines ($14) – basically fancy open-toasted. Nothing better than melted cheese on bread! Our selection included double smoked leg ham, heirloom tomatoes, pickled red onions and chutney…

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 12 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

…sauteed mushrooms and onion jam…

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 7 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

….pulled beef, corn relish and pickled gherkins.

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 10 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

To end was Tivoli Road Bakery’s out of this world fruit loaf – a light fruit-studded bread almost akin to Christmas cake – plus a selection of Milawa cheeses plus Tivoli Road’s famous salted caramel and lemon curd doughnuts.

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 15 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank
The Artisan Bakery & Bar is not just a place to eat and imbibe – there are workshop classes running onsite too, including free Little Foodies baking classes for children. Spaces for adult and kids classes are limited and bookings essential.

DSC09946 820x546 HOT: The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

The Artisan Bakery & Bar, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015, Queensbridge Square, Southbank

7 days a week 7:30am-late until Sunday 15 March

HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2 87 Bourke St Melbourne 7 HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

Nestled between a Nandos and 7-11 on Bourke Street is a stairway to a heavenly waterfall. Goodbye Happy Palace, Hello Grand Trailer Park Taverna!

Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2 87 Bourke St Melbourne 2 HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

I have no idea how they got trailers up those narrow stairs but now you can sit inside a colourful cut out Airstream and eat fancy burgers and alcohol-spiked milkshakes.

Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2 87 Bourke St Melbourne 5 HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

Sounds like fun? It is!

I was invited to try out their menu and the kitschy trailer park was super busy on a weeknight with people of every type, from after-work suits to artsy students. On a sunny day check out the outdoor area overlooking prime real estate on Bourke and Exhibition Streets.

Tables contain all the necessary equipment for tackling one of their nine burgers, including wet wipes. It’s hard to choose but if you’re stuck (and hungry) go for the McDowell ($15.50), their version of the Big Mac, which was named one of Epicure’s Best New Burgers.

Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2 87 Bourke St Melbourne 1 HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

As I like my burgers HOT I choose the Atomic – premium Aussie beef pattie, American cheddar cheese, chili cheese kransky, crispy bacon, BBQ sauce and truffle cayenne mayonnaise on a lightly toasted brioche bun ($16.50). It’s an imposing tower of protein but oh so bad-it’s-good, with the melding of juicy beef, squeaky cheese and fatty, crispy bacon.

Their classic cheeseburger is dubbed CB1 ($7.50) and is actually just as satisfying as the Atomic at half the price (and presumably calories given its relative size).

To thoroughly throw the health kick out the window I pair the burger with a small serve of fries (too salty) and a potato, mac and cheese croquette (bit bland). Personally I don’t think the burgers need any starchy sides for your stomach to feel satisfied.

I wash everything down with a spiked milkshake containing a glug of Marker’s Mark Bourbon and salted caramel syrup ($17). It’s creamy and sweet and you can definitely taste the bourbon. You will laugh aloud when you see the maple bacon garnish!

Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2 87 Bourke St Melbourne 8 HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

If you don’t fancy a milkshake then the booze list includes classic American cocktails, local lager or wine.

For dessert I made the mistake of ordering the Kinder Surprise milkshake ($21) AND a serve of waffles with Nutella parfait, whipped cream, strawberries and Nutella sauce ($9).

Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2 87 Bourke St Melbourne 9 HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

A milkshake is easily a dessert in its itself as a tall glass probably contains around 250ml of milk. Add to that some icecream, chocolate, Frangelico and Baileys and it’s a chocolate milkshake, only tipsy!

Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2 87 Bourke St Melbourne 4 HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

The waffle stack is essentially a dessert burger and while it was indulgent and naughty if your stomach only has room for one burger then go with an actual meat (or mushroom) option. The waffles were a bit stodgy for me and not so amazing that you need to leave room to try them. 

Grand Trailer Park Taverna is a fun and boisterous place to indulge in some serious artery-clogging eating. Stick with the burgers and spiked milkshakes and I guarantee you’ll have a good time!

Grand Trailer Park Taverna, Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

Tuesday to Saturday 11.30am until late

minilink HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

The HOT List: Where to celebrate Chinese New Year 2015 in Melbourne

DSC05810 820x544 The HOT List: Where to celebrate Chinese New Year 2015 in Melbourne

This year the Lunar New Year is Thursday 19 February 2015 and it will be celebrating the Year of the Goat (or Sheep).

Even if you’re not of Asian descent it’s a great time in Melbourne for festivities and yummy food!

Here’s a list of free Chinese New Year events in Melbourne in date order:

  • Victoria Street Lunar Festival Richmond – Sun 1 Feb, 11am-10pm. While technically the Vietnamese celebrate Tet there’s a large enough Chinese-Vietnamese population for Victoria Street Richmond to hold a CNY celebration. It’s very popular and gets a bit crowded but the street is closed off for food stalls and performances.
  • East Meets West Lunar Festival Footscray – Sun 8 Feb, 10am-10pm Hopkins St Footscray. This is the celebration we’ll be attending as it’s in our neighbourhood! Food stalls, games and rides will fill the street.
  • Crown’s Riverwalk Hawker’s Bazaar – Fri 13 Feb – Sun 22 Feb 11am-11pm Outside Crown Complex, Southbank. Chinese street food and entertainment by the Yarra. Some Crown restaurants will also have special CNY menus.
  • Box Hill Street Festival – Sat 14 Feb, 1pm-1am Market St & Main St, Box Hill. Box Hill is another Asian enclave in Melbourne and they’ll be celebrating CNY with cultural performances, game,  amusement rides and food.
  • Springvale Lunar New Year Festival – Sun 15 Feb, 9am-9pm Buckingham Ave, Springvale. Springvale has a large Vietnamese/Chinese population and this CNY festival coincides with Australia Day, so two holidays in one! See martial arts displays, lion dances, folk dancing and of course lots of Asian food stalls.
  • FCA Melbourne Chinatown Chinese New Year Festival – Mon 16 Feb – Sun 1 Mar. The big celebration in Melbourne, with the opening ceremony on Sun 22 Feb followed by the Dragon awakening ceremony and parade.
  • Prahran Market – Sat 21 Feb 163 Commercial Rd, South Yarra. The Market is offering a range of free cultural activities including children’s cooking activity, lion dance, Chinese music.
  • Chinese New Year at Noble Park Racecourse (Sat 21 Feb – Sun 22 Feb) – Chinese Lion Dance, Firecrackers, Traditional Folk Music, Dancers, Martial Artists and much more.
  • Chinese New Year at Federation Square (Thu 26 Feb – Sun 1 Mar) –  interactive performances, make your own dragon and free Tai Chi and Health Qigong demonstrations, mahjong lessons and a full stage program on 1 March with live music, dancing and a colourful performance.
  • Glen Waverley Chinese Lantern Festival – Sun 1 Mar, 10am-9pm. Kingsway, Glen Waverley. International food stalls, cultural performances and activities.

Also try these Chinese restaurants for a special CNY meal:

David’s 4 Cecil Street Prahran

Tao Tao House 815 Glenferrie Rd Hawthorn

Golden Dragon Palace 363 Manningham Rd Lower Templestowe

Shark Fin House 131 Little Bourke St Melbourne

How will you be celebrating The Year of the Goat in 2015?

HOT: Royal Croquet Club, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

Royal Croquet Club Birrarung Marr Melbourne 15 HOT: Royal Croquet Club, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

Royal Croquet Club is a pop up food, entertainment, sporting and lifestyle festival open for just 2 weeks until Sunday 1 February. I reckon it’s the hottest place to hang out this summer.

Royal Croquet Club Birrarung Marr Melbourne 16 HOT: Royal Croquet Club, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

Picking up where the Night Noodle Market left off, the area by the Yarra River at Birrarung Marr features some of Melbourne’s favourite restaurants – along with a full size croquet pitch. I was invited along for a tasting.

 

Food-wise you’ll find the Broadsheet Summer BBQ featuring D.O.C, Mr Claws, Meatmother, Miss Chu, St Ali and Gelato Messina. So much choice, so little stomach room….so if you don’t mind eating dessert first then my tip is to head straight to one of the Desserts in a Can by Gelato Messina ($9)! You’ll skip the queues and have enough room to enjoy the highlight of my meal.

Royal Croquet Club Birrarung Marr Melbourne 14 HOT: Royal Croquet Club, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

What is the Gelato Messina International Soup Kitchen? Basically the famous gelateria has devised some ingenious dessert concoctions all served up in a fake Campbells soup can – very Andy Warhol. I tried the Zuppa Duppa, with hazelnut gelato, wild strawberry preserve, pistachio crunch and amaretti biscotti – creamy, crunchy and oh so decadent and the kind of ice cream innovation that Gelato Messina is known for. Other flavours include ‘Black Forest Bisque’, ‘Faux Pho’ and ‘American Chow Down’.

Royal Croquet Club Birrarung Marr Melbourne 20 HOT: Royal Croquet Club, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

Back to the savouries each restaurant has a small selection of menu items, all hovering around the $10-$15 mark. You’ll probably eat two or three items so expect to pay around $40 for food.

Royal Croquet Club Birrarung Marr Melbourne 4 HOT: Royal Croquet Club, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

If you like your meat then grab  Meatmother’s ‘Burnt Ends’ – slippery cubes of slow cooked pork belly with jalapeno slaw and Mother BBQ sauce ($12).

Royal Croquet Club Birrarung Marr Melbourne 24 HOT: Royal Croquet Club, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

Lobster lovers must try Mr Claws lobster rolls filled with chunky lobster flesh in a soft buttery bun ($12). You can choose your lobster dressing from classic mayo base, chunky miso wasabi to spicy sriracha.

The drink of choice has go to be a Pimms cup – otherwise Yalumba wines or Heineken beers are on offer.

Royal Croquet Club Birrarung Marr Melbourne 17 HOT: Royal Croquet Club, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

The croquet action is pretty laid back. Basically just pick up a free mallet and off you go!

Royal Croquet Club Birrarung Marr Melbourne 18 HOT: Royal Croquet Club, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

Royal Croquet Club Birrarung Marr Melbourne 19 HOT: Royal Croquet Club, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

Royal Croquet Club is a really fun, relaxed place for eating, drinking and badly played ball sports – a great place for post-work get-together, a date or to hang out with friends. I’m hoping to visit the Royal Croquet Club at least three more times before it closes so that I can try each of the Gelato Messina’s International Soup Kitchen flavours!

From tonight Friday 23 January Royal Croquet Club will be celebrating the Australia Day long weekend with a Truck-A-Palooza festival with nine food trucks in attendance from 5pm and a special headline guest performing at sunset each night. Don’t miss it!

Royal Croquet Club, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

Fri 16 Jan – Sun 1 Feb

Free entry event from Sunday through to Thursday. Friday and Saturdays are $5 after 7pm.

Monday – Thursday: 4pm -11pm

Friday: 4pm – 1am

Saturday: 12pm – 1am

Sunday: 12pm – 11pm

Extended Trading hours for the Australia day Long Weekend & Closing Weekend:

Sunday 25th: 12pm – 12am

Monday 26th: 12pm – 12am

Closing Night Sunday 1st Feb: 12pm – 12am