Christmas celebrations are the order of the day and I had a rollicking dinner at Smith and Daughters on Tuesday night catching up with the fabulous Mo Wyse in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy where she treated us to a couple of special things including their vegan take on an arancini ball as well as a bombe Alaska dessert. It was great to see her again after the sell out Bold Thinking Series veganism lecture held in April.
I’ve also had the pleasure of twice visiting Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen this week. Cafe Heide replaced Cafe Vue a while ago – the food there is still very good, and the service much better. There was one occasion I waited an hour for my lunch which was the last time I visited the cafe in its previous incarnation. Despite being fully booked inside, the meals for the dozen or so in my team came out quickly this week and I am thankful that I was able to get a booking so close to Christmas for that amount of people.
I was there again today and despite the rain, it was bustling with people in the cafe, people there to take in the Mirka Mora show and people like me buying gifts in the Heide Store (pictured above) I hadn’t been there for a while but did not come out empty-handed! It was great to get some small things for family that have more of an artistic bent.
Perhaps I will next week and by then it will be a third of the year done and dusted! It’s flying by for me and I’m sure if you’re local, you’re looking forward to the roads being less fraught and construction completed although I daresay this will continue to be a work in progress given the slow rate at which infrastructure is going up around the place.
I had my sold out veganism lecture at The Sofitel on Wednesday night for over 300 people – while the format is generally the same – it’s a different experience every time we move to a new venue and this one wasn’t without its hiccups with last minute access to wifi, trialling of Facebook Live with limited success and the just in time arrival of panelist Dr Joanna McMillan who got there 5 minutes before we had to start. Sometimes you need nerves of steel working in events and as much as I have a crack team working for me, there are always surprises.
It was indeed a bold conversation with some left wing animal rights protestors in the audience who called out during the lecture about the fact that bobby calves are taken away from their mothers as part of the milking process. While the discussion was more about diet and identity, it was hard not to be drawn into the ethics of eating meat. Both Joanna McMillan and Richard Cornish grew up on farms as children so had different perspectives about being carnivores (or omnivores). Practising vegans Dr Matthew Ruby and Mo Wyse also brought interesting elements to the table (excuse the pun) with Mo talking about food at her Fitzroy restaurant, Smith & Daughters, being all about the taste in terms of persuading people to eat more plants rather than appealing to their sense of ethics. Mo also brought some street credibility to the whole night as a customer facing business owner, who was also a lot of fun!
For me the biggest take out of the night was that only 7% of Australians eat enough plant food and irrespective of whether you eat meat or not, we all need to be eating more fruit, vegetables and grains as evidenced by those who live in blue zones like Greece or Japan where locals are some of the longest living people in the world. I think for those who choose to eat meat and seafood, it’s also incumbent upon us to know how our meat has been farmed, how it’s treated and where it comes from. And rather than setting up division between vegans and non-vegans, it’s better to find the middle ground given global concerns about unsustainable population growth and feeding the planet.
The Ivanhoe Makers Market at the Livingstone Centre in Ivanhoe is on tomorrow as well as Markit and Bake on Sunday at Fed Square in the city. Anzac Day is also upon us next week and locally, you may be interested in attending the Homefront public art launch and unveiling of four new sculptures at the Greensborough War Memorial Park on Sunday.
The Thornbury Picture House movie theatre and bar has just opened in the north and I’m so excited there is another place to go around here. I love that there is a bar attached for those who may just want a drink and it will be a great addition to the area with Palace Westgarth not far away in Northcote. I also went to the Palace Balwyn cinema not that long ago and it was also good to see that that cinema has also been renovated with a new bar area in keeping with the whole Art Deco feel. The Spanish Film Festival at Palace Cinemas starts on 17 April if you’re a fan of all things Latino.
Mother’s Day is also upon us next month and I have already made a family booking at Hunter Lane Cafe in Rosanna which is running a number of sittings from 7.30 am – 1 pm in the afternoon. Be quick if you want to book as they were already running out of room for larger groups. Apparently tradies and spectators have replaced the usual punters at the cafe with the Rosanna Level Crossing almost complete and it is an official viewing station.
Speaking of food, I’m gearing up for my lecture next Wednesday night on the rise of veganism – we’re at over 300 people and I am expecting the lecture to sell out so again, book your tickets now if you want to come along! I’ve got a number of friends and family who are going and it was also interesting to see Smith & Daughters listed in Broadsheet as one of the vegetarian restaurants to visit in Melbourne – I did a quick count and realised I’d been to 7 places on the list so maybe I’m a vegetarian in waiting. Have a great weekend!
…and indeed it will be. Details for my food lecture – Diet and Identity: the rise of Veganism – are now online if you’re interested in booking a ticket to this event on Wednesday 18 April at the Sofitel. I have a number of friends and family who are vegan, and while I’ve always considered it at the more extreme end of the diet spectrum, as someone who tries to eat more vegetarian food these days, I can definitely understand why people choose vegan for ethical reasons.
Having not one but two birthdays in my family just before Christmas every year always kills me and this year was no exception. I spent most of this weekend eating but the good thing was that it took our minds and attention off the miserable and wet weather conditions.
Poor Mr Rosanna’s birthday is always overshadowed now but we managed to salvage the day by taking him out for brunch at new Rosanna cafe The Pioneer, which is firmly on the map after a visit from our Premier Daniel Andrews MP last week. The front tables were taken but we were given some seats in the back room (above) with the square communal table that seats 12, housing the Christmas tree, which small people came to look at while we were there.
The owner has a social enterprise background but this is his own first cafe and what I love even more is that he is a local and an El Salvadoran Australian so the menu is Spanish-influenced. Despite the drizzle, the place was still rockin’ on Saturday morning with very much an inner-city vibe – I still find it hard to believe sleepy Rosanna is finally starting to wake up. The coffee and the meals (above) were fantastic – as good as you’ll find in Fitzroy or Collingwood. On a sunnier day, it would also be lovely to spend time in the back courtyard tables so it’s great to see this former newsagency transformed into something of the times. Interesting too to know that besides a Woolworths supermarket, Chemist Warehouse is also coming to Rosanna Village in the near future on the corner of Lower Plenty Road and Bellevue Avenue where Meridian Travel used to be and going all the way up to where Chris the Cobbler (who’ll be moving to Macleod) has been for over 30 years! They made him an offer too good to refuse…
Mr R’s day didn’t stop there as I’d booked dinner for us a while ago at Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, which was also a great experience given the conditions outside. Brunswick Street is always pretty busy on a Saturday night but it was jumping (and dark!) inside the restaurant where we had a booth table after Dani from Hunter Lane Cafe had recommended me booking. There was some pretty awesome 70s dance music on high rotation while we were there so I found it hard to sit still – it’s got a great atmosphere and reminded me a bit of Garden State Hotel in the city with all the different layers and parts to it upstairs and downstairs. There was a private function going on upstairs but the Village People rooftop bar with hawker style dining would also make a great date night venue. The mixed sushi and sashimi platter that we had (above) was beautifully presented and there was a team of Japanese chefs behind the counter doing their thing. I’ve not been to the sister restaurant in St Kilda but I think it would be just as good. It was interesting too to note that we weren’t the oldest people in the joint – I think there are a number of older people now downsizing and moving to the inner city.
We’d walked past a number of cool looking bars and restaurants on the way to Ichi Ni Nana including The Rooks Return, Smith & Daughters and Bon Ap but ended up at Uptown Jazz Cafe where we had a drink and stayed for a couple of songs by a jazz trio playing two sets that night. It was a great way to spend a Saturday night in Melbourne.
We also had dinner at local favourite Benjamin’s Kitchen in Alphington on Friday night followed by ice cream at Fairy Hills Ice Cream in Ivanhoe (in a great location on Lower Heidelberg Road opposite Ivanhoe Grammar) where we played a game of Uno. We were at Leo’s Fine Food briefly over the weekend (where again I am loving all the Christmas packaging for imported European foodstuffs like Italian Panettone above) and I noticed that ice creamery Wally & Fletcher on Burgundy Street is just about to open so Fairy Hills will have a new local competitor. I am hoping the weather picks up again for all of them as I think it would be great to share the ice cream love.