I took this photo in Japan in 2010 and ever since it has been sitting in my drafts awaiting a lewd caption. Let this be an object lesson in my abject failure to craft a worthy pun.
I’ve now been blogging for 10 years. In that entire time the Footscray Market, one of Melbourne’s biggest wet markets, has never published their Christmas opening hours online. This post marks the 7th year of my Christmas vigil to celebrate it.
Here are the opening hours as published on a photocopy on the door:
|Tuesday, 22 December 2015||7:00AM-6:00PM|
|Wednesday, 23 December 2015||7:00AM-6:00PM|
|Thursday, 24 December 2015||7:00AM-6:00PM|
|Friday, 25 December 2015||CLOSED|
|Saturday, 26 December 2015||CLOSED|
|Sunday, 27 December 2015||CLOSED|
|Monday, 28 December 2015||CLOSED|
|Tuesday, 29 December 2015||7:00AM-4:00PM|
|Wednesday, 30 December 2015||7:00AM-4:00PM|
|Thursday, 31 December 2015||7:00AM-6:00PM|
|Friday, 1 January 2016||CLOSED|
|Saturday, 2 January 2016||7:00AM-5:00PM|
As for the regular Footscray Market trading hours, they are as follows:
Monday – Closed
Tuesday and Wednesday – 7:00am-4:00pm
Thursday – 7:00am-6:00pm
Friday – 7:00am-8:00pm
Saturday – 7:00am-4:00pm
Sunday – Closed
It’s a Christmas miracle. The hours are now published on their website. Herein ends my vigil, unless they forget to update them next year.
Thomas the Think Engine takes on an economic analysis of food trends and the growth in American barbecue in Melbourne, and it’s really quite wrong.
The whole city is suddenly buzzing with American cuisine – and just a few short years ago, that would have seemed like an oxymoron.
The reason is one restaurateurs almost grasp.
“Alabama-born, Dallas-raised Jeremy Sutphin, chef at Le Bon Ton, attributes it to adventure and awareness. ”I’ve been here eight years and the palates are searching for something different – and people are becoming more aware.” “
He’s right about that awareness. Australia’s knowledge of America is now a lot deeper and wider – we’ve now been to America enough that we’ve ventured beyond LA and New York.
He draws a link between travel to different countries and the perception of increased interest in their food. The problem is that the food trends that get written about in the Australian food press from Broadsheet to Epicure bear absolutely no relationship to how the vast majority of Australians eat in restaurants. They bear something of a relationship to how a minority of inner city urbanites eat in the short term, but even then, they’re a terrible guide. Claire from Melbourne Gastronome and I have had a running joke that every year since 2004 someone in Epicure has announced that this will be the year of Peruvian food, but that never happens. I’m still waiting for my plate of delicioso cuy con papas.
Actual food trends are long term and driven by a huge number of factors. If it was as easy as tracking overseas departures, I’d be rich after my investment in an L&P distribution deal. New Zealand is Australia’s biggest destination for short term departures but it’s still pretty tough to get a paua fritter in Melbourne. There probably is a link between Australian travel and interest in foreign food but it isn’t a sufficient condition for it to become popular in Australia.
Here’s a better representation of Australian restaurant trends in Google search data: searches in Australia for different national cuisines in the Restaurants category of Google.
Italian is still dominant with Thai breaking away from Indian and Chinese in mid-2005. Interest in American food has stayed relatively static with some growth in interest since 2011, but not nearly as much as the hype suggests.
For another confirmation of the difference in scale, Urbanspoon lists 1228 Italian restaurants in Melbourne and 131 American restaurants excluding McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, KFC, Subway and Pizza Hut (which should probably also go in the Italian column). Including the chain restaurants, there’s 233. American food is really quite marginal.
When food writers talk about food trends, they’re really talking about a game of cultural capital to distinguish themselves and their readers from others, rather than what most people eat or will be eating in the future. Food writers are talking about American food because it distinguishes them from the mass of people who still love a creamy carbonara and Hawaiian pizza from their local Italian joint. The easiest way to predict what food writers will call a trend next is to see which restaurants open within walking distance from their house or office.
Melbourne’s oldest restaurant is Florentino (est.1928), if you count restaurants opened on the same site, serving the same cuisine under the same name. The oldest continuously running restaurant (as far as I could find) is Cuckoo Restaurant in Olinda (est.1958) which took over the site from Quamby (est.1914). Even though they’re important to local cuisine, I’m not counting pubs. The oldest is the Duke of Wellington (est.1853) but it’s unclear if it has had a kitchen for that long.
Can you make generalisations about who will last a quarter of a century in the restaurant business? Is there a recipe for success in Melbourne?
Name yourself Jim and serve any cuisine at all as Jim’s Greek Tavern, Jimmy Watson’s (Italian), Jim Wong (Chinese) all attest. As for location, get in on Lygon Street and serve affordable Italian food, or as close to Parliament House as possible. Public servants obviously like to eat.
As for what to serve, it doesn’t seem to matter a great deal. The quarter century industry survivors run the gamut from some the world’s finest dining to unmitigated shit. There’s not any clear pattern as to what price point or level of service guarantees longevity. What does guarantee it is that they’re almost all family-friendly. If you go to any of them for a weekend lunch, I’d bet there would be more than one high chair. This is a list of restaurants where people went as children and still return as adults.
Here’s the list from the map: all of Melbourne’s restaurants older than 25 years as of today. Huge thanks to eatnik, essjayeff, stickifingers, mysecondhelping and dananikanpour for all the suggestions.
I’m sure that there are a large number missing: almost every suburban fish and chip shop will be 25 years old by now. It also omits chain restaurants. The first McDonalds opened in Melbourne (Glen Waverly) in 1973 and by 1982, there were 33. In the same year, there were 35 Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets. Burger King set foot in town in 1986. Also a word of caution about the opening years: they’re not necessarily exact. Quite a few were gleaned from reviews where they mention that a restaurant has “been open for more than 30 years” without mentioning an exact date.
If you know of any missing, comment below.
|Bedi's Indian Restaurant||1980||Indian|
|Brunetti - Carlton||1985||Italian|
|Cafe Di Stasio||1989||Italian|
|Caffe e Cucina||1988||Italian|
|Casa Del Gelato||1980||Italian|
|Dragon Boat Restaurant||1986||Chinese|
|Dunyazad Lebanese Restaurant||Lebanese|
|Flower Drum Restaurant||1975||Chinese|
|Gaylord Indian Restaurant||1985||Indian|
|Golden Orchids Malaysian Restaurant||1979||Malaysian|
|Hanabishi Japanese Restaurant||1988||Japanese|
|Jim Wong Restaurant||1968||Chinese|
|Jimmy Watson's Wine Bar||1935||Italian|
|Jim's Greek Tavern||1980||Greek|
|Kunis Japanese Restaurant||1977||Japanese|
|La Porchetta Carlton||1985||Italian|
|La Spaghettata Restaurant||1984||Italian|
|Masani Italian Restaurant||1984||Italian|
|Paris Go Bistro||French|
|Patee Thai - Fitzroy||1983||Thai|
|Pellegrini's Espresso Bar||1954||Italian|
|Penang Coffee House||1976||Malaysian|
|Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant||1972||Vegetarian|
|Shark Fin Inn City||1980||Chinese|
|Stuzzichino Caffe Bar Spuntini||1987||Italian|
|Supper Inn Chinese Restaurant||Chinese|
|Tandoori Den Camberwell||1981||Indian|
|Isthmus of Kra||1989||Thai|
|The Old Paper Shop Deli||Caf|
|The Olive Tree||1971||Italian|
|The Waiters Club||1947||Italian|
|THY THY Restaurant||Vietnamese|
|Toto's Pizza House||1961||Italian|
|Vlado's Charcoal Grill||1964||Steak|
So it turns out that those people that I accused of romanticising Cambodian rice a few years ago were right. The Phka Malis variety is the best in the world. From the International Rice Research Institute:
Cambodian rice variety Phka Rumduol, often called Phka Malis or Cambodia Jasmine Rice by rice millers and traders, was chosen as the “World’s Best Rice” during the Rice Traders World Rice Conference held in Hong Kong in November 2013.
Rice samples from several countries, including Cambodia, India, Myanmar, Thailand, and the United States, were evaluated in several rounds based on raw (chalkiness, head rice, shape, and size) and cooked qualities (gloss, color, stickiness, flavor and texture).
This was not the first time Phka Rumduol was recognized as such. In a similar competition at Bali, Indonesia in 2012, the variety was also chosen as “World’s Best Rice.”
I get the feeling that food trends are collapsing in ever shortening cycles: in a mere 7 months from their invention and a few months since they became shorthand for the culinary zeitgeist of 2013, the cronut has fallen out of favour, at least, according to Google’s aggregation of searches.