Monday, 28 July 2008

Food bloggers at Abbotsford Convent and two emails

Slow Food Market at Abbottsford Convent

Many thanks to AOF from Confessions of a Food Nazi for organising a Melbourne food blogger lunch at Lentil as Anything on Saturday. I got down to the Convent early and wandered around the Slow Food Market, spending far too much money on all sorts of yummy things, including olive oil in a goon cask, harissa and bresaola (my current obsession du mois following the awesome stuff I had - twice in one week! - at Cumulus Inc).

Rhubarb tartLentil as Anything

Although I was about to have lunch, I couldn't resist chowing down on a stewed rhubarb and cream tart from one of the stalls, following Cindy's plug. SO worth it!

Handsome Steve's House of Refreshment

It was a lovely relaxed lunch, and I was really happy to get to know quite a few bloggers I hadn't met before. After lunch we moseyed up for a couple of drinks at Handsome Steve's House of Refreshment. Handsome Steve was happy to make coffees but explained that there was no skinny milk, no chai, DEFINITELY no soy milk (a newspaper headline "Soy milk linked to low sperm count" was affixed to the wall near the menu), and snorted in derision when one hapless soul asked for a hot chocolate... but he's really not a bad sort once you get to know him. Just DON'T make the mistake I made and ask for a wine list ("It's red or white, darl!")...

Taxi advertising

Later that afternoon my bus was cancelled so I jumped in a cab to get the rest of the way home. Was bemused to see this kind of restaurant advertising in the taxi!

Finally, just wanted to share two emails with you. The first is from my friend M who has sadly just moved up to the 'Berra. It made me laugh, so I thought I'd post a quote:

Just letting you know that I really enjoyed dinner and will miss our after-work catch-ups over a glass of wine or three. Also, a small tidbit of news, if you didn't know it already - everyone's favourite Carlton bar, Il Duce Si Diventa, has reinvented itself. The new iteration is worse than the old. The fairly inoffensive outside signage has been altered to read "Viktor's Bar and Lounge", bizarre and ugly font on blue background, with green and red striped border and, just in case you missed the Italian touch, the words "Italian Quality" in tiny white font in a corner like some kind of fucked-up footnote. Alas the interior remains unchanged. Just plain weird. Swing by one time on your way to somewhere more appealing and check it out.

The second email is from a Melbourne Gastronome reader who wants some Sunday CBD dining advice:

I have a friend in from the west (Perth not Footscray) and we are dining together next Sunday evening. I wanted to go somewhere in the city (as she is staying centrally and it it easy for us to travel in) and that was representative of Melbourne in an awesome food focus, but not overdone, sort of a way. However, it soon came to my attention that a lot of places in the city that fit the bill are closed on Sunday (including Cumulus Inc, Gills Diner, Gingerboy, Seamstress, Bar Lourinha)? So I am considering The Press Club Bar (which wasn't my first choice because I think we may be eating in the main restaurant there the night before) or MoVida, but my mate has already sampled the delights there.

I was wondering if you might have any helpful suggestions?

I appreciate the fact that the reader has taken the trouble to do some preliminary research, and would like to help her out. Maybe it's just because it's Monday and I'm sleep-deprived from staying up watching the Tour de France, but nothing is immediately leaping to mind. Dear blog readers, do you have any suggestions?


Ed Charles said...

The European which is worth it.

ozmouse said...

"The European" - so very Melbourne! Go for the food, for the bar(s) and now the view from the 3rd floor! So very 'european'!

Agnes said...

Hehee, poor Alastair! I asked him to get me a hot chocolate. It was cold and I didn't feel like another coffee. I didn't realise he got snorted at. Poor thing. :)

Thermomixer said...

Hope Steve doesn't think that the soy milk will lower your sperm count? Soy has so many good properties for the female of the species!
I like the brasserie at Crown, but possibly too boring.

Johanna GGG said...

that tart looks good - now I wish i had got there earlier enough to have a wander around the market - i thought handsome steve's was a quirky place - and was pleased to get in from the cold!

Dani said...

Patient though my Ankle Biters were, I wish I'd been able to indulge in more adult conversation. Nonetheless it was nice to say hello!
I'm a few years out of touch re: Mel. restaurants (also due to Ankle Biters) I'm afraid.

claire said...

Ed and Ozmouse, I agree with both of you. The European is great - and the view from the Siglo rooftop is very Melbourne. Thanks for the tip!

Hi Agnes, I thought it was Michael who got the snort of derision! I wouldn't put it past Handsome Steve to have scoffed at both of them...

Hey TMX, I'm almost CERTAIN Handsome Steve would be of the impression that soy milk will lower one's sperm count. I haven't been to the Brasserie - GAS scared me off Crown establishments for a while! :)

Me too Johanna! It was bloody freezing. Hopefully the rhubarb tarts will be there next time.

Nice to meet you too Dani! Sorry I was at the other end of the table. :)

Anonymous said...

Ezard is closed on Sundays too -boooo!

So sorry I missed the blogger catch-up. Looked like you guys had an awesome time!

Ross Hill said...

Hi there,

You might be interested in meeting restauranteur Paul Mathis at The Hive next week - details at

Cheers, Ross

Simon said...

Longrain is open Sundays for dinner ... but apparently it also means a 10% surcharge.

Maybe also Punch Lane? Is Taxi considered too overdone?

Simon said...

Oh and if you're willing to go one suburb up DOC in Carlton

Anonymous said...

I came across the Melbourne Writer's Festival 2008 program recently, and there are a few events that I thought would interest other foodies like me. Here are some which caught my eye:

Dramatic Readings and a 3 course meal at Bottega Restaurant

4 course dinner, fine cheeses and wine at the Press Club (during which Chef George Calombaris is presenting his book 'The Press Club: Modern Greek Cookery')

Lunch at MoVida with Chef Camorra as he talks about his new book 'MoVida: Spanish Culinary Adventures'

Lunch at Seamstress as author Janet de Neef talks about Balinese food

Wine at Beer Deluxe with award-winning wine writer Campbell Mattinson, author of 'The Big Red Wine Book'

So if anyone is interested in food and writing, the program is online via

Anna said...

Oh I wish I'd made it - but sadly when I finished work I went home and crashed out on the lounge till early Sunday morning.