Alfajores in Maidstone

Melbourne’s west never ceases to dumbfound me when it comes to food. Maidstone is one of Melbourne’s least remarkable suburbs and thanks to the housing boom is making the direct transition from unremarkable council flats to unremarkable McMansions; rusting Camrys in the front yard making way for houses that touch three of the four boundaries of a property. The shopping strip on Mitchell St however is possibly the only place in Australia where a Sichuan takeaway joint is next door to a South American cake shop. It’s a veritable barrio chino.

Marciano’s Cakes in Maidstone specialises in South American sweets of which the above alfajor is representative. It’s a biscuit filled with dulche de leche and probably about ten times my daily intake of glucose in a single hit. I have no idea if this is a good one: it’s the first that I’ve ever seen.

Three things that you don’t need to be a food blogger

1. An internet connection.

Or at least, you don’t need an internet connection of your own. My first blog, Phnomenon, was almost entirely written without the internet at home. My workflow was to obsessively write and draft at home and when whatever I’d strung together approached a basic coherence, I’d walk to a local internet cafe with my USB drive to add the results. It didn’t seem that strange at the time because every blogger in the whole country did the exact same thing. People probably thought that I was strange because I walked rather than rode my motorbike there.

It probably gave the blog a pile of the quirks that are in it. With no easy access to a decent online dictionary or thesaurus, I’d just use whatever word I’d first think of.  I’d transcribe Khmer however I heard it, rather than refer to a reference.  I probably linked out to other people less than I do now. I’d only read about five other people’s blogs on any given day, because when you’re paying by the hour and earning a wage just shy of a pittance, every hour spent online counts.

I still tend to turn off my connection when I’ve got serious work to get done. It preserves a fundamental weirdness.

2. A camera.

It is very easy to obsess over gear. I certainly do. I love it.

As much as I hate saying it, a better camera isn’t going to make you a better photographer or food blogger; it just gives you additional layer of machinery to obsess about. The DSLR isn’t an entry requirement to this sport – having a DSLR just means that I take boring and characterless shots through a different lens. A different lens that I love like my own child. I’d recommend that you squeeze the most that you possibly can out of the camera that you already have, even if it’s the one inside your phone.

The Old Foodie does very nicely without one. Johanna Kindvall’s Kokblog, Pierre Lamielle’s Kitchen Scraps, Recipe Look, Lobster Squad, and They Draw and Cook are (mostly) illustrated rather than photographed – but they’re all real exceptions

It’s strange that food writing on the internet attracts such a narrow range of forms of illustration when compared to recipe books, probably because most food bloggers work alone.

3. Your name on the guest list

Writing about media events makes you mostly irrelevant in the long term. Around 60% of restaurants will close in the first three years, rendering 60% of the writing about restaurant openings pointless within the same period. There are endless uncovered stories about food, gaps in knowledge and narratives that are your own in their entirety that could serve as meatier content.

They shouldn’t need to be force-fed to you.

Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale

Kona Fire Rock Pale Ale

Kona Brewing Company calls this a “Hawaiian-style” pale ale rather than an American pale ale, the only differentiator being that Hawaiian style pale ales must display an active volcano on the label. This lava-filled terroir holds no influence over the beer itself. I don’t imagine that any of the ingredients grow anywhere near the island, but this is hardly an excuse to avoid drinking local. I imagine that hops are dropped in as part of a periodic resupply drop.

Pours copper with good lacing, not the most flowery of pale ales but strikes a fine balance between hops and malt. There’s not much complexity there, but who cares? Beer made on a tropical island is never close to this good.

ABV: 5.9%