HOT: Candied Bakery, 81a Hudsons Rd, Spotswood

candied bakery

Candied Bakery in Spotswood is a bakery and café that’s a direct thumb-your-nose at those I Quit Sugar acolytes. If you’re quitting sugar then steer clear – there’s too much temptation inside.

If, one other hand, you are unabashedly NOT quitting sugar then Candied Bakery is a place where sweet tooths die and go to heaven. The place is small but distinguished by bright yellow awnings and furnishings which inject the whole place with a jaunty, cheery feel.

candied bakery

And with this cake cabinet laden with delectable sweets why wouldn’t you be happy?

I like to treat myself to Candied Bakery whenever I go for a bit of a bike ride so I’ve done a lot of taste testing of their Americana inspired menu. I actually have no idea what anything costs there because I tend to order indiscriminately, picking whatever catches my eye at the counter.

candied bakery

Recently I had a slice of cherry pie that was beautifully dripping pitted cherries stuffed inside a sugar-coated shortcrust pastry shell. Oh my.

candied bakery

I’ve tried their home made hot dogs, a free range snag nestled inside a sweet brioche bun and topped with a curious mixture of kim chi and mayo. It’s not bad but it’s not fantastic either – I think next time in the savoury department I would go for the pie or sausage rolls.

candied bakery

For pastry is where the kitchen’s real skill lies. There are super-flaky high top croissants and other Danish pastries, spicy hot cross buns and their most famous baked good – the doughnuts. RM says the zuppa inglese custard doughnuts at Candied Bakery are his all-time favourite.


Candied Bakery‘s coffee comes from Espresso Syndicate, their milkshakes are pretty awesome (a slice of apple pie in a milkshake anyone) and their soft serve is super icy cold and whipped to perfection. For Easter they’re offering Hot Cross Bun soft serve, which is basically a fruity cinnamon mix and rather delicious.

candied bakery

If sweets are your thing, then get thee to Candied Bakery. Just make sure you go early because everything seems to sell out by lunchtime!

Candied Bakery, 81a Hudsons Rd, Spotswood (03) 9391 1335

Wed to Sat 7:30 am – 4:00 pm

Sun 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Candied Bakery on Urbanspoon


HOT: Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention, Scienceworks, 2 Booker St, Spotswood + Giveaway

My favourite English claymation characters Wallace and Gromit are in Melbourne for a cracking exhibition at Scienceworks.

If you haven’t been to Scienceworks since you were in school, now is the time to go and take your kids. As evidenced by the preview night that I was invited to, Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

In fact, I think the adults will get more out of the exhbition because a lot of the more serious, educational information is at adult height. And frankly if I was a kid I’m not sure how interested I’d be in learning about using and protecting intellectual property when there’s a Karaoke Disco Shower to enjoy!

The exhibition is set out in a life-size version of 62 West Wallaby Street, Wallace and Gromit’s home. Inside you’ll find some of the wacky inventions that have featured in the movies, including the Telly-scope II and Hat Barometer…

…plus original film sets such as the Vegetable Plot and Living Room.

It’s worthwhile spending some time examining the sets as the attention to detail is amazing and quite often amusing. Look at the names of Wallace’s records and fridge :–)

Interspersed with the Wallace and Gromit displays is really interesting information about many Australian inventions such as plastic money, the Victa lawn mower and ByK kids bike.

The exhibition contains lots of fun interactive elements – buttons to push, levers to pull, games to play and drawing and art activities – plus modelling clay right at the end!

But if you don’t fancy sharing the exhibition with children, Scienceworks will open up especially for adults on Saturday 26 May for Big Kids’ Cracking Night Out. For $22 (concessions and Museum Victoria members $20) you get to tinker and play in Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention, see the Fire and Light Show in the Lightning Room, play with lasers in the Playing with Light exhibition and chill out at the Planetarium. Beer, wine, drinks and food will be available for purchase and you will need to book as there’s only limited tickets available.

And once you’re done with the exhibition make sure you drop by the Scienceworks shop. I really want this set of nesting cake tins and I’m obsessed with the Porridge Blaster! Woohoo!

Giveaway! Thanks to Museum Victoria I have 5 x double passes to see Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention, which includes entry into the general Scienceworks exhibits (but not the Planetarium or Lightning Room which is extra).

To win, all you have to do is leave a comment and the winners will be drawn next Friday 1 June. Good luck!

And the winners are….#7 Sienna, #10 Min, #19 Tim, #24 Viola, #28 Sebastian. Your passes will be sent out soon!

Wallace and Gromit’s World of InventionScienceworks, 2 Booker St, Spotswood

Daily, 19 May – 11 Nov 2012
10:00 AM – 4:30 PM

Adult $9, Child $6, Concession $7.50 + Scienceworks General Entry Adults $10, Child and concession free.

HOT: Duchess of Spotswood, 87 Hudsons Rd, Spotswood

So the Queen just visited to Melbourne and Princess Mary came to town.

If you’re not royal-ed out, take yourself to visit the Duchess in Spotswood.

Duchess of Spotswood is a cafe is located in an unprepossessing strip of shops near Spotswood station and when I arrived at 9am on a weekend it was easily the busiest place in the street. I’m pretty sure not all of Spotswood had descended on the cafe in the relatively early hours of Saturday morning, which means (like me) people had taken a special trip to try it out.

Was it worth 30 minutes through the Westgate Bridge forever-in-roadworks traffic jam?


Because Duchess of Spotswood does something unique with breakfast in the crowded Melbourne breakfast arena.

The cafe is cute, with the outside boarded up windows framing a painted outdoor landscape and the inside all cool mint green and overhung with a crystal chandelier. A very suitable parlour for dining.

Along with their grand moniker the tongue-in-cheek royal references continue in the menu, which is British-leaning with a twist. The regal family tree includes the Queen of the Dam, Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Pork. Giggle.

Eschewing the healthier options I headed straight to the Duchess of Pork, a thick slice of crispy pig’s jowl plus two fried eggs, truffle sauce and sourdough toast ($17.50). The waitress suggested that the hash ($4) was excellent with the dish, so why not?

I liked the tender saltiness of the slab of pork.  I liked the eggs fried just enough to set them and not enough to make them into rubbery frisbees. I liked the decadence of the shaved truffles. I loved the fried crispiness of the hash. The whole dish was like an extreme Atkin Diet start to the day and my stomach approved.

Every good meal should end with dessert. And so I made room for a slice of the just-made Bakewell tart, a triangle of buttery fluted shortcrust pastry spread with blackberry jam, covered with an almond frangipane filling then glazed with more jam. So moist and fruity and seriously delicious.

The service was brisk but friendly and while the staff by no means shunt you out after your meal, the line-up outside at 10am guilted me into not staying for a leisurely newspaper scan.

Because it’s only fair that other people get to take a bow at the Duchess.

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

Duchess of Spotswood, 87 Hudsons Rd, Yarraville +61 3 9391 6016

Duchess of Spotswood on Urbanspoon

HOT: Melbourne Op Shop Tours (Part 2), Inner West, Williamstown to Footscray


Read Part 1 of the tour here.

Another quick train ride to Spotswood then St John’s Op Shop (612-614 Melbourne Rd, Spotswood). ‘Great variety of household goods’ is an accurate description, with ‘variety’ being the operative word. This is an OCD sufferer’s nightmare.



The rabbit warren of a shop was full of surprises – an extensive collection of white shoes (apparently a local shoe store closed down and donated all of their stock), a veritable forest of clothing (another vintage scarf to add to my collection $5), a jumble of furniture out the back and boxes of haberdashery hidden away under shelves groaning with discarded VHS tapes – including this gem ‘A New Tax System – “How To Series””. Any buyers? Anyone?






1pm and a well-earned lunch stop at Cafe Miers (85 Hudsons Rd, Spotswood). This light and airy cafe serves Fairtrade coffee and simple cafe fare – toasted sandwiches/foccacias, pastries and muffins. I’m not sure it’s worth a special trip but it served our purposes well as we replenished our dimishing energy reserves and compared purchases.

Heave ho to Yarraville for Bargain Browser (9 Anderson St, Yarraville +61 3 9687 6307). This was a queer beast, stocking a mix between dollar shop junk and genuine op shop items. I wasn’t much inspired by the racks of Bridget Jones style grandma underpants and boxes of scented candles, but I did spot an unworn pair of Aldo canary yellow stilettos in my size. How could I resist, they were only $15!



Last stop, Footscray Salvos (199 Barkly St, Footscray +61 3 9689 7811) and then the Savers (The Recycle Superstore!) for those with more energy (33 Albert St, Footscray +61 3 9689 6811). Footsore and laden with purchases, I decided to forego the Savers and only go went to the Salvos, where I picked up a copy of Alan Hollinghurst’s 2004 Booker prize winner ‘The Line of Beauty’ for $4.


I can definitely see the appeal of  Melbourne Op Shop Tours for those of us who are not dedicated op shoppers. The tour combined a large variety of op shops, from well known superstores to undiscovered nooks, and with Jenny as our organised tour guide the whole trip ran very smoothly.   I think everyone went home with a bargain and ended the day on a happy note. Best of all, we helped a lot of charities on the way!

PS Here’s a pic of my $15 yellow shoes, matched with a Cylk dress from Eco Fashionista. Unexpected colour combination, but I think it works!

Eco Fashionista Cylk Melbourne Op Shop Tours

HOT: Melbourne Op Shop Tours, Inner West, Williamstown to Footscray

Melbourne op shop tours

Fashionistas know that the surest way to score a one-of-a-kind outfit is to scour old shops and vintage stores. Melbourne Op Shop Tours helps you take up the op shop challenge by running small group (max 10 people) tours through various areas of Melbourne. What makes it different from other op shop tours is that instead of being herded around on a big coach, the service is more personal and the tour is conducted with the careful coordination of public transport timetables – which means that your recycled shopping experience is super eco-friendly.

Melbourne Op Shop Tours invited me to one of their tours to experience it for myself, and I decided to follow tour guide Jenny along to the Inner West – a completely unknown part of Melbourne as far as I was concerned.

Starting at 10am at North Williamstown station, we headed to the Williamstown Uniting Church Op Shop (75 Stevedore St, Williamstown +61 3 9397 8066). The first thing I spotted inside this tiny op shop were some Number 14 bentwood chairs. The hooped back chair was designed by Michael Thonet in the 19th century and is now a design classic, to be found in many cafes. The two chairs remaining from the original set of eight cost $5 each! I was so excited that I could have gone home right there and then, mission accomplished.

Melbourne op shop tours

A quick train ride to Newport then a stroll through suburban streets to the Newport Neighbourhood House and Opportunity Shop (40 Challis Avenue, Newport +61 417 032 617). Jenny’s favourite op shop is easy to miss because it just looks like your standard low-set weatherboard house. But now I’m sharing the secret with you – enter through the garden gate and you’ll find yourself in the biggest jumble sale of your life. It would take hours to sift through the rooms of men’s clothes, kid’s clothes, shoes, glassware, kitchenware, toys and women’s clothes – we’re talking mountains, tables, shelves and boxes of stuff everywhere you look.


A little overwhelmed, I decided to focus on women’s scarves and came away with three to my liking ($1 each) while also picking up a silver cake stand ($5) and small cut glass ice bucket ($5).



In a feat of op-shopping strength, one of our tour members Nathan (an intrepid and experienced op shopper) decided to tip out the whole box of ties in order to do a thorough sorting on the floor. In the end, he came away with 47 ties ($1 each) which included designer ties from YSL and Versace. What does a man do with that many ties? Nathan’s strategy is to wear them all once, clean them up and sell them on eBay for around $10-$15 each. So even if you’re not necessarily into the charity aspect of op shopping, it seems that with a bit of effort it can be a lucrative hobby.


Also, check out these fabulous, unworn shoes found on top of the mountain of shoes spilling out from under the verandah. These beautiful heels cost $2. I’m so jealous!


This was easily the winning shop for me – it’s so good that if you’re a keen op shopper, it’s worth making a trip especially to carefully work your way through the house.

Read more about the rest of the tour tomorrow in Part 2.

NOT: Copernicus, Melbourne Planterium, Scienceworks 2 Booker St, Spotswood

copernicus_promo_imageYes, it’s time for the wild and wacky Melbourne Fringe Festival again. After many years, my passably good to horrifically awful show-going ratio is sitting about 50-50. In the words of Forrest Gump ‘Fringe is like a box of chocolates . You never know what you’re gonna get’.

With Copernicus, what you get is a slumber-inducing show about Nicholas Copernicus. Who? According to Wikipedia, Nicholas Copernicus was the first astronomer to formulate a comprehensive heliocentric cosmology, which displaced the Earth from the center of the universe. Scintillating stuff if you lived in the 1500s but probably not an obvious subject for a hit fringe festival show.

So why did I choose to see it? Basically, I did a Year 6 project on Nicholas Copernicus (Galileo was already taken), I like supporting emerging artists and the unique staging sounded really cool – the 180 degree surrounds of the Skydome Theatre at the Melbourne Planterium, complete with reclining seats . Those seats were really the last nail in the coffin for this less-than-exciting bed time story. All those long-winded monologues, intervals of soothing Baroque music and repetitive interpretative dances in dim surroundings meant that it was just so easy to fall asleep. The only time I noticed any sign of animation in RM was when he started silently giggling in the last scene as the dying Copernicus started to see his dead parents and relatives, just like the final scene of the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy wakes up.

I didn’t hate it, but RM said he would have walked out if he could have easily gotten out of his 45 degree recline. I certainly wouldn’t recommend making a trip to middle-of-nowhere Spotwood to see it and at $25 it hurts that it cost the same as my tickets to the Melbourne Theatre Company’s excellent productions of God of Carnage and August: Osage County.