HOT: Mezmez, 42 Ferguson St, Williamstown

The owners of Newport’s popular The Pint of Milk have opened a bigger restaurant around the corner in Williamstown called Mezmez.


The interior is tastefully decorated and telling of the Turkish influence that’s in the menu if the name doesn’t give it away.


‘Contemporary Middle Eastern’ is how I’d define it – shisha pipes hang prettily as table decorations and I’m in love with the cut-out lamp shades too.


Coffee comes from Brunswick’s Code Black Coffee. The breakfast and lunch menu has cafe standards for the poached eggs-avocado-toast types but there’s a breakfast section devoted to more Turkish food and that’s where I encourage you to head. It’s always more fun to learn about unfamiliar ingredients when dining out.


I decided to go for the grilled soujouk (Turkish sausage), potatoes, spinach, fried egg and dukkah ($16.50). A Turkish twist on the fry-up hangover breakfast if you will. It was a generously proportioned plate with lots of punchy flavours from the soujouk and the liberal scattering of nutty dukkah. I had this meal at 10am and didn’t eat again until dinner!

On my way to pay the bill I spotted this platter of temptation at the counter.


Nutella doughnuts – only $3.50! Oh my god these were amazing. A ball of light fried dough smothered with grainy sugar and filled with a golf ball of oozy chocolate hazelnut spread. Big enough for two – if you’re willing to share!

Despite a generally affluent population, presumably with money to spend on restaurants, Williamstown hasn’t really hit it in the culinary stakes for me. Mezmez is thankfully an exception to the rule and will be my go-to cafe in the area from now on. I look forward to trying their lunch menu, which starts at 11am and leans even more towards Turkish flavours, with mezze and gozleme on the cards.

Mezmez, 42 Ferguson St, Williamstown (03) 9397 8804

Daily 8am-4pm

Mezmez on Urbanspoon

HOT: Funerals & Food: Inspired by Tradition, Nelson Bros Funeral Services, 81 Kororoit Creek Rd, Williamstown

Funerals & Food: Inspired by Tradition is definitely the winner of Most Intriguing Event during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (though technically it’s not part of the festival’s official program).

Nelson Bros is Australia’s oldest family owned funeral company and at their historic Williamstown funeral home they hosted an afternoon of panelists exploring the rituals and traditions of funerals and funeral food. The free event included refreshments from a classic afternoon tea such that you’d expect to be served by Nelson Bros for families plus the macabre-sounding funeral jelly from artisan ‘jellymongers’ Bompas and Parr from the UK, who are guests of the festival this year.

The crowd began to gather in the bright afternoon sunshine, some dressed in mourning garb, some not. At last the event began with Bompas and Parr entering the venue in a black car, behind an elaborate 19th century hearse drawn by a pair of extravagantly plumed horses.

Then out popped these two young Englishman dressed in neat shirts and twee bowties, reverently holding a wobbling red jelly pyramid. Oh this was going to be fun!

Inside the chapel, four panellists had been gathered by Adrian Nelson, a 5th generation funeral director, to speak about the funeral traditions. Why funerals and food? Because in effect funerals are a celebration of life and food is a vital part of living.

First up was Elizabeth Chong, a chef and educator famous for bringing Chinese food to the Australian masses. She spoke about Chinese traditions of mourning, including the burning of paper images of items from the person’s life, money, servants and clothing – all so the deceased would be comfortable for their journey to the afterlife. This tradition still happens in modern times and you can now buy a funeral package for a woman consisting of paper diamonds, a Gucci purse, mobile phone and gold Omega watch! A Chinese funeral banquet consists of strictly 7 courses of simple food, with a separate round table for the immediate family who will eat only vegetarian food. Typically, the rest of the guests will partake in dishes such as a sweet soup (to take away the bitterness of sorrow), a mixed cold platter including poached chicken, crispy pork and bean curd), a Buddhist dish consisting of 10 dried ingredients, sweet and sour pork (again, representing the sweetness taking away the sourness of the occasion), e-fu noodles with mushrooms, vegetarian fried rice and a fresh fruit platter.

Alan Samuel from Temple Beth Israel then spoke about Jewish funeral traditions, some of which had parallels with the Chinese customs. The wake was often held in the home of an immediate family member with neighbours and friends preparing a ‘meal of condolence’ for the family to eat. This meal consisted of round rolls, bagels and hard-boiled eggs, all items representing the eternal, cyclical nature of life. The egg in particular would be the first item to be eaten after the funeral, as it had no mouth and represented the mourner in shock with no words for anyone. Neighbours and friends were also called upon to make meals for the immediate family to eat for the next 7 days, the period of ‘shiva’ or mourning.

George Haralambopoulos is the head sommelier at Werribee Park Mansion Hotel and also gives English sermons at the Greek Orthodox Church. The funeral food of the Greek Orthodox church is based on the meal that the Virgin Mary ate after the crucifixion – a small handful of olives, dry bread and some sweet wine. The wine, called commandaria, is the world’s oldest named wine still in production, and is used as part of communion as well.

Finally, Priscilla Nelson spoke about the development of the modern funeral and the role of a modern funeral home and funeral directors such as Nelson Bros.

The second part of the event was Sam Bombas and Harry Parr discussing how they became to be jellymongers and in theme with the title, how they came to make funeral jellies. They first started out applying for a jelly stall at Borough Market but were rejected for the silliness of their idea. However, in the meantime Sam was studying architecture and encouraged by his tutor was applying his knowledge to designing jelly moulds. Together with Harry they decided to launch a competition amongst the world’s leading architects to design jelly moulds. To their surprise they receive thousands of entries.

They were excitable, funny and obviously loved their job. They passed around the first jelly mould that they made, a very ambitious replica of St Paul’s Cathedral – you can see the jelly in action here and an example of the sort of classical structures which make the best jelly shapes.  Everyone then got to try the funeral jelly – a wobbly, melt-in-the-mouth plum and prosecco jelly.

They are looking at developing commercial jelly moulds for sale, with their first project being a Royal Wedding commemorative mould to be sold at Selfridges! I’m putting that down on my shopping list for my London-based friends.

You can read about another Bombas and Parr adventure by my friend Gourmet Chick, who attended the Courvoisier’s Complete History of Food in London last year.

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.