The Sweet Cycle cycling food tour with The Squeaky Wheel

The Sweet Cycle 9 The Sweet Cycle cycling food tour with The Squeaky Wheel

Maribyrnong City Council regularly run ‘Westside Discovery Tours’, a series of FREE tours for locals and visitors to introduce them to the secrets of Melbourne’s west side. (Read about some of their previous tours here and here).

Combining my passion for cycling and food I led a delicious tour with The Squeaky Wheel to discover some of the Westside’s best pastries, cakes, desserts and sweets. Here are some of our pics!

The Sweet Cycle 8 605x446 The Sweet Cycle cycling food tour with The Squeaky Wheel

First stop – Footscay’s iconic Olympic Doughnuts for fresh jam doughnuts. Only 80c each!

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The Sweet Cycle 17 605x648 The Sweet Cycle cycling food tour with The Squeaky Wheel

Second stop – Sourdough Kitchen Seddon, the only bakery in Melbourne that make sourdough pastries. Needless to say we packed doggie bags for takeaway.

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The Sweet Cycle 18 605x602 The Sweet Cycle cycling food tour with The Squeaky Wheel

Love the street art just around the corner too.

The Sweet Cycle 2 The Sweet Cycle cycling food tour with The Squeaky Wheel

The Sweet Cycle 1 The Sweet Cycle cycling food tour with The Squeaky Wheel

Cycling through the backstreets of Seddon to Yarraville.

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The Sweet Cycle 6 The Sweet Cycle cycling food tour with The Squeaky Wheel

Third stop – Amazing cakes from Cobb Lane, an artisan bakery and patisserie in Yarraville Village. The tiramisu gets my vote!

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Busy bakers making their famous doughnuts.

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Fourth stop – right next door is Hello Gelo, one of the few ice cream stores in the west that make their product on site. Their most popular flavour? Salted caramel.

The Sweet Cycle 13 605x617 The Sweet Cycle cycling food tour with The Squeaky Wheel

Final stop – T Cavallaro & Sons for best cannoli in Melbourne. Here’s proprietor Tony Cavallaro presenting a cannoli cake! Lucky Joel.

The Sweet Cycle 10 605x807 The Sweet Cycle cycling food tour with The Squeaky Wheel

The Sweet Cycle 14 605x610 The Sweet Cycle cycling food tour with The Squeaky Wheel

Also try the amaretti – they grind the almonds themselves and it creates a gorgeous chewy texture without the fake almond essence taste.

The Sweet Cycle 7 605x593 The Sweet Cycle cycling food tour with The Squeaky Wheel

 Keep an eye out on CycleStyle and The Squeaky Wheel‘s website for information about more cycling food tours in Melbourne’s west!

FREE Food Tours of Melbourne’s West – with me!

Maribyrnong City Council regularly run ‘Westside Discovery Tours’, a series of FREE tours for locals and visitors to introduce them to the secrets of Melbourne’s west side. (Read about some of their previous tours here and here).

New tours are available for booking from today.

Westside Discovery Tours May 2015 1 605x639 FREE Food Tours of Melbourne’s West   with me!

I will be leading a cycling tour with The Squeaky Wheel to discover some of the Westside’s best pastries, cakes, desserts and sweets. Free tastings too!

The Sweet Cycle

When: Sat 9 May, 1.30 -3pm

Where: Meet in front of Olympic Hot Doughnuts, Footscray Railway Station, Irving Street, Footscray

FREE Bookings required, limited to 10 places

The Artisan Bakery Bar Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2015 Queensbridge Square Southbank 15 605x396 FREE Food Tours of Melbourne’s West   with me!

If you have kids I will also be leading a Culture Mamas tour of family-friendly Footscray. It’ll be a 1.5 hour walk covering some of my favourite places to take kids to eat, shop and play in my neighbourhood, with tastings en route.

Family Friendly Tour of Footscray

When: Mon 4 May, 10 – 11.30am

Where: Meet in front of Olympic Hot Doughnuts, Footscray Railway Station, Irving Street, Footscray

FREE Bookings required, limited to 8 places

To book email susie.wickes@maribyrnong.vic.gov.au with your full name, street address, contact number and selected tour. Only one tour per person and not available for group bookings of 4+ people. For more information click here.

HOT: Where the Wild Things Sing by Black Hole Theatre, Summersalt Outdoor Arts Festival 2015, Southbank

Where the Wild Things Sing Summersalt Arts Festival 2015 Southbank 11 HOT: Where the Wild Things Sing by Black Hole Theatre, Summersalt Outdoor Arts Festival 2015, Southbank

Summersalt is Melbourne newest arts festival centred around Southbank’s Dodds Street/Sturt Street area, with five weekends of art, dance, music and theatre in February.

I bought tickets to ‘Where the Wild Things Sing’ which was billed as an ‘urban safari through the streets of Southbank where opera and puppetry collide in an adventure full of surprises’.

The hour performance was certainly a surprising experience, not least of which it introduced me to some beautiful street art and buildings in an area that I’ve often visited but never really explored fully.

Where the Wild Things Sing Summersalt Arts Festival 2015 Southbank 10 HOT: Where the Wild Things Sing by Black Hole Theatre, Summersalt Outdoor Arts Festival 2015, Southbank

There were about 30 adults and children on our family-friendly performance of the show and I very much enjoyed an hour of kookiness and unexpected encounters accompanied by some beautiful singing. The evening (non-family-friendly) performances are apparently ‘naughtier’ with adult themes and are for people 15+ years.

The 60 minute experience was led by raconteur Bernard Caleo who, along with series of mermaids, guided the group to a series of intimate performances in unexpected places.

Where the Wild Things Sing Summersalt Arts Festival 2015 Southbank 7 HOT: Where the Wild Things Sing by Black Hole Theatre, Summersalt Outdoor Arts Festival 2015, Southbank

Where the Wild Things Sing Summersalt Arts Festival 2015 Southbank 2 HOT: Where the Wild Things Sing by Black Hole Theatre, Summersalt Outdoor Arts Festival 2015, Southbank

Where the Wild Things Sing Summersalt Arts Festival 2015 Southbank 9 HOT: Where the Wild Things Sing by Black Hole Theatre, Summersalt Outdoor Arts Festival 2015, Southbank

I won’t reveal too much but the roll call included a gorilla, giant maggots barbecuing, a panda reading a pamphlet, tiny surreal sculptures, a bed-bug ridden beardy man and some crazed synchro swimming in a tub.

Where the Wild Things Sing Summersalt Arts Festival 2015 Southbank 1 HOT: Where the Wild Things Sing by Black Hole Theatre, Summersalt Outdoor Arts Festival 2015, Southbank

Where the Wild Things Sing Summersalt Arts Festival 2015 Southbank 4 HOT: Where the Wild Things Sing by Black Hole Theatre, Summersalt Outdoor Arts Festival 2015, Southbank

Where the Wild Things Sing Summersalt Arts Festival 2015 Southbank 6 HOT: Where the Wild Things Sing by Black Hole Theatre, Summersalt Outdoor Arts Festival 2015, Southbank

The whole surreal experience made me laugh, kept me fascinated and made me look at my surroundings in a new light.

Where the Wild Things Sing Summersalt Arts Festival 2015 Southbank 3 HOT: Where the Wild Things Sing by Black Hole Theatre, Summersalt Outdoor Arts Festival 2015, Southbank

Tickets are $5 from Melbourne Recital Centre and numbers are strictly limited for their last performances on Friday 20 February and Saturday 21 February.

Where the Wild Things Sing by Black Hole Theatre, Summersalt Outdoor Arts Festival 2015, Southbank 

Family performance Sat 21 Feb 3pm

Evening Performances (for 15+ years
, adult themes) Fri 20 Feb 8.30pm

Tickets $5 each. 

HOT: Golden Mirror Carousel by Carsten Höller, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Golden Mirror Carousel by Carsten Höller NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 2 HOT: Golden Mirror Carousel by Carsten Höller, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

One of the free, experiential and sculptural works being presented at Melbourne Festival 2014 is the Golden Mirror Carousel by Belgian artist Carsten Höller.

Golden Mirror Carousel by Carsten Höller NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 1 HOT: Golden Mirror Carousel by Carsten Höller, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

A shiny gilt old-fashioned swing carousel has taken up residence in Federation Court of NGV International. It’s a beautiful object and a stunning sight to behold when you first enter the gallery.

Golden Mirror Carousel by Carsten Höller NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 8 540x371 HOT: Golden Mirror Carousel by Carsten Höller, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Twelve people at a time are allowed to take a seat on the carousel, which transforms the traditional fairground ride into something unexpected. For instance, it turns very slowly around and takes approximately four minutes to complete a rotation. Instead of being thrilling and noisy like you’d expect, this carousel is gentle, relaxed and silent.

Golden Mirror Carousel by Carsten Höller NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne HOT: Golden Mirror Carousel by Carsten Höller, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Sit back, enjoy the glittering, multi-mirrored views or simply take some time to slow down your busy life. Someone mentioned that it was so relaxing he almost fell asleep and I found the experience rather dream-like. I felt like I was turning inside a gilded music box and enjoyed looking into the mirrors to catch of glimpse of objects and spaces around the gallery.

Golden Mirror Carousel by Carsten Höller NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 4 540x377 HOT: Golden Mirror Carousel by Carsten Höller, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Everyone will have a different physical and emotional reaction to the work. My favourite moment was watching an elderly woman who had problems walking make the slowest, utmost effort to take a seat in what was a potentially childish ride. I can only imagine the kind of memories her go at the carousel might have brought back for her.

We were surprised to find almost no queues during our visit on a weekend around lunchtime. The staff are quite good at herding people on and off the carousel so you shouldn’t have to wait too long at any time.

Note that tomorrow Sunday 12 October you have the opportunity to hear from Carsten Höller directly in a free talk from 5:30-6:30pm in the Great Hall of NGV International. Bookings are essential and you can register by email with GOLDEN in the subject line to programs@ngv.vic.gov.au.

Golden Mirror Carousel by Carsten Höller, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne     

Friday 10 October 2014 to Sunday 1 March 2015

Every day 10am – 5pm

Closed Tue 14 Oct

HOT: South Melbourne Market tour, 322-326 Coventry St, South Melbourne

South Melbourne Market tour 322 326 Coventry St South Melbourne 5 HOT: South Melbourne Market tour, 322 326 Coventry St, South Melbourne

During Markets of Melbourne’s Market Week 2014 I took the opportunity to take a guided tour of South Melbourne Market.

South Melbourne Market tour 322 326 Coventry St South Melbourne 7 HOT: South Melbourne Market tour, 322 326 Coventry St, South Melbourne

South Melbourne Market is not a market I frequent often so the tour was a fun and delicious way to discover interesting gems and meet some of the stallholders and characters behind the long-standing market. Here are some of my favourites:


South Melbourne Market tour 322 326 Coventry St South Melbourne 2 HOT: South Melbourne Market tour, 322 326 Coventry St, South Melbourne
Georgie’s Harvest is one of the market’s favourite stallholders. It’s run by a husband and wife team and they specialise in spuds and vegetables generally. I’ve been to a cooking class run by Georgie’s Harvest and learnt all about the different ways to prepare potato!

South Melbourne Market tour 322 326 Coventry St South Melbourne 6 HOT: South Melbourne Market tour, 322 326 Coventry St, South Melbourne

At St George’s Sourdough Bakehouse we tasted some of their organic sourdough bread. I highly recommend the seeded loaf and to avoid the stodgy looking  pastries (which aren’t organic).

South Melbourne Market tour 322 326 Coventry St South Melbourne 1 HOT: South Melbourne Market tour, 322 326 Coventry St, South Melbourne

We dived into the deli aisle and to Alka Polish Deli where we tried a variety of different cured meats. I doubled back later on to stock up on pierogi, ham and sausage – the owner was very helpful about helping me choose what to buy from the large range.

South Melbourne Market tour 322 326 Coventry St South Melbourne 3 HOT: South Melbourne Market tour, 322 326 Coventry St, South Melbourne

At Rita’s Nut Shop we met jolly Rita herself who sliced pieces of her giant handmade Turkish delight for us to try. I highly recommend the almond Turkish delight studded with fruit and nuts.

South Melbourne Market tour 322 326 Coventry St South Melbourne 4 HOT: South Melbourne Market tour, 322 326 Coventry St, South Melbourne

A unique space within South Melbourne Market is SO:ME Space with clothing, art and lifestyle retailers plus pop up stalls. I bought a quirkly paper towel dispenser from The Supercool, a shop where you can find things to make you and your home nice! The Supercool recentlywon Best Trader in the Melbourne Market Awards.

South Melbourne Market tour 322 326 Coventry St South Melbourne 8 HOT: South Melbourne Market tour, 322 326 Coventry St, South Melbourne

After the tour I headed to Simply Spanish for paella. You can smell the food as they cook up huge paella pans on Cecil Street and I got a generous helping of Valencian paella for $14. The rice was a bit overcooked for my liking and there was no crispy base at all, so I didn’t love it. On the Spanish waitress’ recommendation I also ordered the croquettes ($6). They were beautifully crisp morsels ejecting an oozy mass of cheese, potato and pork inside.

South Melbourne Market tour 322 326 Coventry St South Melbourne 9 HOT: South Melbourne Market tour, 322 326 Coventry St, South Melbourne

For dessert I visited Pardon My French, a mobile creperie serving freshly made crepes. They source their ingredients from the market and being strawberry season I decided to deviate from my usual Nutella to add strawberries. A huge triangle of sweet crepe for $8. They’ll be setting up a permanent stall at the market once a site is finalised.

Even though Market Week is over for 2014 you can still join the same tour of South Melbourne Market every month. To Market To Market tours run on the third Saturday of every month and the next tour is tomorrow, Saturday 20 September. A ticket is $35 and includes a coffee, tastings and a market bag. Sign up or give a tour voucher to a food-loving friend or family.

South Melbourne Market tour, 322-326 Coventry St, South Melbourne

Market open Wed, Sat, Sun 8am-4pm, Fri 8am-5pm

To Market To Market every 3rd Saturday of the month 10am-11:30am

HOT: Westside Discovery Tours

Tours cover front 483x1024 HOT: Westside Discovery Tours

A few times a year Maribyrnong City Council run ‘Westside Discovery Tours’, a series of free tours for locals and visitors to introduce them to the secrets of Melbourne’s west side. (Read about some of their previous tours here and here).

New tours and now available for booking now and covers topics as diverse as art, history and food.

IMG 5333 375x540 HOT: Westside Discovery Tours

I will be leading a tour which combines my passion for food and cycling! With my friends at The Squeaky Wheel I will be taking a small group on an 1.5 hour eating and cycling tour of Footscray, my home and one of the most diverse and delicious suburbs in Melbourne.

PEDALLING FOOTSCRAY’S FOOD ICONS is a fun way to explore Footscray’s food culture – from doughnuts to goi cuon to cannoli. Bring your appetite and your bike and get ready to eat, shop and ride!

Sat 25 Oct, 12.30pm – 2pm

Meet in front of Olympic Hot Doughnuts, Footscray Railway Station, Irving Street, Footscray

FREE Bookings required, limited to 10 places

To book your place on a tour email susie.wickes@maribyrnong.vic.gov.au

For more information about the tours visit www.festivalcity.com.au, www.cyclestyle.com.au and www.thesqueakywheel.com.au

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HOT: ‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray, Westside Discovery Tour

‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray Westside Discovery Tour with Culture Mamas 5 HOT: ‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray, Westside Discovery Tour

Every 3 months Maribyrnong City Council hold free ‘Westside Discovery Tours’ where locals and visitors can discover the hidden secrets of Melbourne’s inner west. One of the sold out tours that I attended was the ‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray which was held in conjunction with Culture Mamas.

‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray Westside Discovery Tour with Culture Mamas 6 HOT: ‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray, Westside Discovery Tour

Photographer Terry Murphy led 8 mums and bubs on a relaxed 1.5 hour baby and pram-friendly walk around Footscray CBD. I discovered unexpected pockets of the area and most importantly some basic techniques to get the best out of my camera.

‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray Westside Discovery Tour with Culture Mamas 7 HOT: ‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray, Westside Discovery Tour

The tour started with a windswept 360 degree panorama of Footscray and its surrounds from the rooftop carpark of Footscray Market. Here we learnt about the aspects to consider when taking a picture – composition, lighting and colour.

As most of us were guilty of shooting in auto all the time Terry took us through how to use the aperture function instead. We learnt about using different aperture settings, how to apply the correct white balance setting depending on the light conditions (shady, sunny, cloudy etc), how do adjust our ISO and making sure that images were processed in large fine jpg.

With those basics in mind we practised shooting a panorama image and some portraits of mums and bubs with Footscray in the background.

‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray Westside Discovery Tour with Culture Mamas 2 HOT: ‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray, Westside Discovery Tour

Next up was a stop in a graffitied laneway in Footscray CBD with a massive paste-up by local street artist Baby Guerilla and other vibrant artworks which made a colourful backdrop for more portraits.

‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray Westside Discovery Tour with Culture Mamas 4 HOT: ‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray, Westside Discovery Tour

After a brief stroll through Little Saigon and Hopkins Street, the main street in Footscray CBD, we stopped to discuss the best tips for shooting portraits. Turns out you will get better proportions and less distortion if you step back and use a long zoom rather than getting in close and using a short zoom. And always shoot from above or eye level.

‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray Westside Discovery Tour with Culture Mamas 3 HOT: ‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray, Westside Discovery Tour

It was a shame that we’d run out of time to visit Footscray Park to learn more about shooting scenery and landscapes but it’s likely that there will be more photography tours with Culture Mamas in future. To stay in the loop check out their website.

Other free Westside Discovery Tours are running this week, from an arts crawl, historical walks and food tours (sold out but get on the waiting list). Check out the Maribyrnong City Council website for more info and mark your diaries to book a spot on the September tours.

Read my review of a previous Westside Discovery Tour ‘Vietnam on a Plate’.

‘Bring Your Bub’ Photography Tour of Footscray, Westside Discovery Tours with Culture Mamas

HOT: Melbourne Now, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Melbourne Now NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 3 HOT: Melbourne Now, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Melbourne Now NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 6 HOT: Melbourne Now, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

If you haven’t heard of or visited Melbourne Now yet, get out from under your rock!

Melbourne Now NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 7 HOT: Melbourne Now, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Melbourne Now is the National Gallery of Victoria’s most ambitious and wide-ranging exhibition every and it celebrates the latest art, architecture, design, performance and cultural practice of creative Melbourne. There are so many exhibits, performances, workshops and activities to explore it can be a bit overwhelming.  Over three levels of the gallery you’ll find provocative works, ugly works, boring works and fascinating works.

Melbourne Now NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 9 HOT: Melbourne Now, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

But if you’re looking for a light-hearted view of the exhibition here are my picks of the most ‘fun’ bits of Melbourne Now at NGV International.

Trugo-GoGo by Tim Fleming and Phooey Architects

photo 511 1024x968 HOT: Melbourne Now, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Did you know Trugo is a game that was invented and is only played in Melbourne? In the 1920s a group of workers in the Newport railway yards invented a game using equipment built from bits and pieces lying around the yards. Tim Fleming and Phooey Architects have built a version of Trugo for Melbourne Now which includes foam mallets and ‘doughnut’ wheels which you have to hit along the green. There is an entertaining and funny cartoon that accompanies the display which introduces the history of Trugo and how to play.

You, Me and the Flock by Juan Ford

photo 50 1024x1024 HOT: Melbourne Now, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

Everyone loves stickers, right? And stickers that you can stick to a gallery wall to help create the work – even better!  Juan Ford’s work is not just interactive, it’s also a very calming space if there’s no one around.

For You by Darren Sylvester

Melbourne Now NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 5 HOT: Melbourne Now, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

This lit up multicoloured nightclub dance floor has been really popular with patrons young and old.

Co Workers, Hanging Sculpture by Meredith Turnbull

Melbourne Now NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd Melbourne 2 HOT: Melbourne Now, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne

You can make their own beaded necklace using leather cord, plastic pieces and wooden beads. You can then take home your creation or leave it on the wall to hang with other colourful adornments to make a wearable sculpture.

If you have kids this long weekend is a particularly great time to visit Melbourne Now because the inaugural NGV’s Children Festival will be happening from Saturday 18 January to Sunday 26 January.   There are workshops, talks and Roll around the block – a photographic project aimed at children where your kid’s works have the chance to grace the walls of the gallery!  There are also a series of free bike rides which I’ve been participating in which have been very thought-provoking and entertaining.

You can download the Melbourne Now App for detailed guides on the exhibition and look out for my next review of Melbourne Now at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia.

 

HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 1 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

One of the downsides of writing a blog that’s heavily focused on food is that I often get hungry as I work on the computer.

Fortunately for this post I have had a stash of excellent chocolate to sustain me – thanks to a chocolate making class at Ganache, my favourite chocolatier in Melbourne.

For Good Food Month in November Ganache are holding some special events at their South Yarra chocolate lounge, including a special Chocolate High Tea and a chocolate class with a Christmas theme. I was invited to participate in the first session of the Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates class with master chocolatier and owner of Ganache, Arno Backes.

The class started off with a brief tour of Ganache‘s pastry and chocolate kitchens. As you can imagine the whole place smelled buttery and chocolatey and all round delicious. But all the staff (including Arno) are amazingly thin! Maybe if you work with chocolate and pastry all the time you’re less inclined to gorge yourself eating it (though Arno says he eats a KILO of chocolate a week – the key is to eat good quality product).

Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 4 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

We then perched up on steel work benches with a couverture hot chocolate in hand and watched and listened to Arno as he talked passionately about his work and chocolate. You’re not just being talked at for 2.5 hours though – the class was very hands-on and you will find yourself licking chocolate off your fingers and arms!

Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 2 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

We learnt about different methods of tempering chocolate, the process which binds the cocoa mass, cocoa butter and sugar in couverture back together after it has been heated so it can be worked with.

We then moved onto moulding different Christmas-themed chocolate. First up was a very tricky hollow Christmas tree. Aparently Arno wasn’t allowed to make one of these until six months into his apprenticeship and it’s because otherwise you’ll end up with something akin to my creation – a recognisable tree but with blobby and smudgy decorative elements instead of fine detailing.

Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 6 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 8 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra
Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 7 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

We then moved onto moulding a small solid Christmas tree with ‘snow’ speckled stacked branches and an assortment of cute snowmen filled with creamy ganache of different Christmassy flavours.

Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 5 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra

Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class Ganache Chocolate 250 Toorak Rd South Yarra 3 HOT: Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates Class, Ganache Chocolate, 250 Toorak Rd, South Yarra
Some other tricks we learnt on the day:

  • always polish your moulds before you use them to give your chocolates a high glossy shine and to make de-moulding easier. Coles cotton balls work best!;
  • buy solid plastic chocolate moulds as they will last longer. The flimsy plastic ones you can get normally last about three goes and silicon moulds are usually only good for jellies. Arno buys his chocolate moulds from a Belgium company called Chocolate World and a German company in Rosenheim (can’t remember name). Ganache has a small pantry section where you can buy moulds, chocolate and other chocolate making products used by Ganache‘s kitchen;
  • don’t touch the inside of the moulds as you could damage them. The Christmas tree moulds we used cost $120 each!
  • Ganache should be made a day before and then left to sit overnight on the bench with clingfilm right on top of the mixture so no condensation or skin forms over it. Do not put it in the fridge otherwise the ganache will separate and split;
  • When you melt chocolate you need to get it to 45 degrees to melt all the cocoa butter crystals; and
  • keep vanilla beans individually wrapped in the freezer and defrost for an hour on the bench before use. Freezing helps the oils and fats inside the vanilla pod ‘sleep’ so the pod doesn’t lose flavour over time.

After experiencing the time and effort required to make all the chocolates (and watching the professional kitchen team at work) it’s easy to understand why Ganache‘s chocolates look and taste so different to mass produced stuff and why it’s priced accordingly. You will generally get a fresher product at a small chocolatier – at Ganache the hazelnuts in their chocolate bars are roasted the day before and stock is replenished every 2 weeks. Compare this to a mass produced brand which may use nuts which are up to 2 years old then filled with sugars and oils to prevent spoilage on the shelf. If you’re not convinced about why you should buy chocolates from specialist chocolatiers and not supermarkets, this class will change your mind.

You can join the second and final session of the Instant Expert Moulded Chocolates on November 20. The class costs $100 and is a fun and educational couple of hours – plus you get to take all of your creations home! For more information click here.

HOT: Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Vietnam on a Plate Discover Footscray Tours 12 HOT: 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 15 HOT: 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 4 HOT: Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Here are some of my highlights…

Vietnam on a Plate Discover Footscray Tours 14 HOT: 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 6 HOT: 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 2 HOT: 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 7 HOT: 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 8 HOT: Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours   Vietnam on a Plate Discover Footscray Tours 16 HOT: 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 13 HOT: 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 9 HOT: Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

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

Vietnam on a Plate Discover Footscray Tours 11 HOT: 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 10 HOT: Vietnam on a Plate, Discover Footscray Tours

Vietnam on a Plate Discover Footscray Tours 3 HOT: 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 5 HOT: 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 17 HOT: 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 1 HOT: 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.