Melbourne Restaurant Name Generator

Not sure what to name that new cafe or restaurant that you’ve lovingly crafted from rotting couches in a Melbourne laneway? Can’t find an fitting piece of pornocracy or Italian horror film to print on your disposable coffee cups?

All you need to do is combine an honorific of some kind with the name of a character on Mad Men, or parts of a spaghetti Western with a radio call sign. Or do all four at once and then follow whatever food trend is hot right now.

I think you should name it:

Press reload for more random free advice.

There is a one in nine hundred chance that you’ll get the exact name of a real restaurant. Sorry.

Footscray Market Christmas Opening Hours 2010

As my local market still doesn’t seem to have a website, the posted opening hours for the Footscray Market this Christmas are:

Tuesday 21 December: 7:00am-4:00pm
Wednesday 22 December: 7:00am-6:00pm
Thursday 23 December: 7:00am-6:00pm
Friday 24 December (Christmas Eve): 7:00am-8:00pm
Saturday 25 December (Christmas Day): Closed

The market will remain closed until Wednesday 29 December. Consider my public service duties for the year fulfilled.

Phở Tam, Footscray

Cafe sua da

I’ve been a bit down on the phở scene in over the last few months.

One of my regular go-to joints, Phở Tam on the corner of Leeds and Ryan streets has been hugely inconsistent on the soup front. They do a great bún riêu and have the hardish-to-find street food bánh bột lọc on the menu. Their phở bộ đặc biệt is above average: always packed with sizeable chunks of tendon, a thick slice of peppery sausage and toothsome strips of tripe.

The broth however ranges from sweet and watery to dense, beefy and rich depending on which day you hit it. I’m convinced that the broth gets watered down on a busy day, especially weekends; an undeniable conspiracy against the nine-to-five working man. The consolation is the above cà phê sữa đá – condensed milk sweet, rich and as predictable as a metronome.

Location: Corner of Leeds and Ryan Street, Footscray, Melbourne, Australia.

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.

Food bloggers prove that they can pull punters

Huge congratulations to Penny, Ed, Billy, Jess and Matt for pulling this together: five food bloggers stepping into a commercial kitchen to offer the general public a chance to critique their food. They hardly need my plaudits considering the event has sold out, which finally and affirmatively answers the question about whether food bloggers can influence restaurant attendance.

Steve from The View from My Porch is considering putting together some Tasmanian bloggers for a similar performance.

The sultry sounds of Queen Victoria Market

I don’t shop for food outside of my ‘hood all too often these days and so a recent visit back to the Queen Victoria Market made me realise the distinctiveness of the aural landscape of Melbourne’s markets. Markets in Footscray are dominated by vendors spruiking their specials in Vietnamese, generally whichever fruit is cheapest and in season. The Queen Vic Market is all in English, the specials are the “known value items” – foodstuff that most consumers can name the going price – especially, bananas.

Meat sales seem even more reliant on spruikers, especially as the morning wears on, and the afternoon bulk discounts kick in.

Trolling as the food writing

Terry Durack over at the Age manages to both pit Sydney against Melbourne and suburb versus suburb by attempting to pick the worst suburb for eating in each city. There is good food to be found everywhere in Australia – it may be behind closed doors or in people’s backyards rather than in restaurants or takeaway joints, but I have no doubt that it can be found in every postcode.

You just need to care enough about finding it.

This is the sort of food article that you should probably expect to be coming more often from The Age and finding its way onto the front page of the website: the article that trolls for comment in the guise of “engagement”. As it becomes incumbent on journalists to generate both website page views and comment, it is a much more lucrative path to chase the cheap arguments that generate knee-jerk reactions than it is to write challenging or thoughtful content.