Footscray Market: Opening Hours

Opening hours for 2015/2016 are here. Below are the hours for 2011.

My local market doesn’t have a website, so as something of a community service, here is the opening hours of the Footscray Market over the Christmas/New Year’s period.

24 Dec – open 7:00am-6:00pm
25-28 Dec – closed
29-30 Dec – open 7:00am-4:00pm
1 Jan – closed
2 Jan -7:00am-4:00pm

Normal opening hours for Footscray Market are:

Tuesday and Wednesday – 7:00am-4:00pm
Thursday – 7:00am-6:00pm
Friday – 7:00am-8:00pm
Saturday – 7:00am-4:00pm

Xiao Long Bao in the Gastrodesert: Little House, Bundoora

Xiao Long Bao, Little House, Bundoora

I think that it was Australian food writer John Lethlean who labelled the region north of Heidelberg in Melbourne as a gastrodesert. On the surface, it’s gastronomically grim up north; the oleaginous wasteland of charcoal chicken and Smorgy’s. People speak with fondness of shopping mall food courts and premixed bourbon and cola. If Stuff White People Like was written by an Australian white person on unemployment benefits, these are the Likes with which they would Stuff themselves.

Like any desert, the surface appearance is deceptive. There is a whole hidden ecosystem, not as rich as much of , but still prepossessing. Witness the above xiao long bao, the Shanghainese soup-filled dumpling that is currently enrapturing well to do Melbournites via the CBD restaurant Hutong. This was to be had in Bundoora, well north of the Heidelberg hinterlands at Little House Restaurant. I’d always thought that the idea of a hidden menu at suburban Chinese restaurants was a racist conceit. Sure, there is the occasional suburban menu where you need to read between the lines of poor translation but my experience is that restaurants put whatever they’re trying to sell at front and centre. The specials board in Mandarin tend to turn up on the menu elsewhere in English. The secrets involve organ meat.

This is not the case at Little House. Xiao long bao appear nowhere on the menu – I’d received a tip from a previously unknown source that these were some of the best dumplings in the state, a claim that I was only going to verify simply because it sounded too ludicrous to carry any truth. Anonymous tipsters paid big bucks in Hong Kong, so why not north of the gastro-divide?

Granted, it is not as good as Hutong’s version – Little House’s xiao long bao has slightly thicker pastry and is not formed with the same delicate hands – but it is a good third cheaper and it fits with the homely appeal of Little House. They are a dumpling that is well above average. Hutong is opposite Melbourne’s best known Cantonese restaurant, Flower Drum. Little House is next to a suburban tattooist run by a man named “Nugget“.

Little House, Bundoora, Melbourne

The rest of the menu is modest Shanghainese with a heavy dose of Szechuan – mapo tofu, lamb, chili aplenty. Malaysian is on the sign but barely referred to on the menu, maybe a remnant of a previous owner.

Location: Little House Restaurant, Dennison Mall, Bundoora, Vic

10 Food Blog Templates

It’s been two years now since the start of the Last Appetite, so I’m beginning to consider putting together a new design. The choice is between building/modifying a new one from a free food blog template myself or having a template built bespoke. Either way, the process involves me trawling through the best templates out there and deciding whether I need to hire a designer.

Here is a selection of my 10 favorite finds for food blog templates so far. Any preferences?

Magazine-style templates

As you can probably tell from my current template, I’m a fan of the magazine-style template and using images to steer traffic around the site rather than just links alone.

mimbo
Mimbo

massive
Massive News

fakeblog
Overstand

wpnewsmag
WP News Mag

unstandard
The Unstandard – This is my current theme

Three Column Templates

imprezz
Imprezz

Ascii One
Ascii One
– Almost pure typography as theme

Infinity
Infinity

Experimental

viewport
Viewport – This template is a side-scrolling set of posts. Very graphic heavy.

urban blog template
Urban

Hùng Vương, Footscray

You could probably map pho in Footscray as a means to learn Vietnamese legends of prehistory. Hùng Vương was a mythical king; the founder of the first Vietnamese dynasty. He descended from a dragon and taught the Vietnamese people to cultivate rice. Nothing of Hùng Vương’s past can be verified.

The restaurant Hùng Vương’s past is easily verified. It has been serving up phở on Hopkins Street, Footscray, for almost two decades – a period that has seen it gentrify from cheap phở joint to slightly upmarket phở joint. The renovations from a few years ago – dark timber veneer and polished floors – looks like a loving homage to Vietnamese phở franchise juggernaut Phở 24.

Phở from Hung Vuong, Footscray

The pho remains constant: sweet and beefy; soggy flat noodles and a hint of cinnamon. The tendon count is impressive in the phở bo dac biet: two gigantic, glossy chunks of connective tissue. It is also one of the few times that I craved more slices of lung in a dish.

In something of an attempt to be more social, I met up with food blogger Jeroxie, non-food blogger but pho aficionado Cloudcontrol and chilli junky Th0i3 for the trip, a short gustatory interlude before hitting Saigon Supermarket for Vina supplies. I have never seen a man put more chilli (oil, fresh and sauce) into a bowl of pho and retain some vestige of sanity.

Having lived in a nation where I was the only food blogger, it still seems like a novelty that there are hundreds of people doing the same nearby. I probably should get out more.

Location: 128 Hopkins St, Footscray
Phone: (03) 9689 6002

Cycling the Red Hill Rail Trail

Just to expand my repertoire from writing about food, an article that I wrote back in early June is up at Wall Street Journal on my bike ride across the Mornington Peninsula and the Red Hill Rail Trail, south east of . I, of course, ate and drank my fill as I went – beers from Red Hill Brewery, various pinots and shiraz, wild mushrooms from Merrick’s General Store, local bread and cheese. No pics from me, just words.

As a bit of bonus content for Last Appetite readers, here’s the Google Map of the journey that was originally supplied to the illustrator, Poul Lange (who also blogs).

Bánh Xèo from Đình Sơn

Yes, I’m going a bit nuts on the Vina diacritics.

Banh Xeo, Melbourne

The equation that can’t be avoided when you travel for food is the one where you compare Third World prices to First World and try to account for the differences, offseting rent, ingredient quality and labour. It is a fun but fruitless diversion. The above bánh xèo from Quan Đình Sơn, next to Saigon Supermarket in Footscray is $10 for a crepe the size of your forearm. A full cubit of bánh xèo.

$10 would buy 16 plates of bánh xèo from my local market in Cambodia but it wouldn’t buy one this good. Once again, my weekend phở trip gets derailed.

Half eaten Bánh Xèo, Melbourne

Đình Sơn’s is packed with shelled prawns and slices of fatty pork. The crepe skirts the border of crispy and chewy. It’s rich and coconut-y. The side plate of cos and butter lettuce, used for rolling up chunks of the crepe and dipping in the sweet dipping sauce nước chấm, is generous and refilled as I plough through it. There isn’t much else in the way of distraction in the restaurant: the obligatory TV is on the blink; there’s barely enough mirrored tiles to form an entrancing hall of mirrors; their shrine is perfunctory. Shoppers pass on the way into Saigon Supermarket and pick up meals to go from the bain marie.

The menu boasts about a hundred Chinese and Vietnamese dishes but the key here is to order from the corkboard just below the plastic menu board which contains a few kho dishes, dry fried noodles and the bánh xèo, written up in permanent marker.

Dinh Son restaurant at Saigon Supermarket, Footscray

Location: Shop 1, 63 Nicholson Street (cnr Byron St), Footscray VIC 3011

Monteith’s Doppelbock Winter Ale

It’s probably no great surprise that I’m a sucker for seasonal beers: they’re a key diversion for the neophiliac drinker. They give brewers the chance to bring their wilder experiments to market without the threat of destroying the good name of a brewery. If they’re a disastrous mistake, at least it is fleeting. If the beer is a success, you’ll have an excruciating wait until next year.

Monteith's "Doppelbock" Winter Ale

Monteith’s Doppelbock Winter Ale is back in season; it is a rich, malty and alcoholic ale that is out of style, if you’re a beer purist. It is not a doppelbock by any stretch of the imagination (a “A very strong and rich lager” according to the BJCP style guidelines), so I’m not sure why the doppelbock deception made its way onto the diminutive 330ml bottle. Frankly, I can’t say the word “doppelbock” often enough, armed with the knowledge that it translates as double-goat from German, so I can understand their conceit.

Monteith’s say: “A profound enveloping winter beer. Monteith’s Doppelbock Winter Ale is a smoothly rich beer with a dense head, a powerful aroma, and chocolatey malt notes ñ the perfect way to cheer yourself up this winter. ”

I say: Is it legal to say that beer cures seasonal affective disorder? In the glass, this faux-doppelbock bears a striking resemblance to Coca-Cola, brownish-black and thin. Dull aroma and a fading head, like an elderly uncle. The flavour is heavy on the malt with a touch of allspice. In previous seasons, Monteith’s was producing a more intriguing and richer brew than this from their New Zealand brewery. They can do better in the coming seasons.

ABV: 6%