Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fox in the Corn, Footscray

The fox is in the corn in Footscray.

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No, that is not some kind of code.  The corn in question is this rather drab building on Droop Street...

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...and the fox in question is this verrrrrry foxy fitout!

Our new vulpine friend is a pasta bar, owned and run by the owners of Millgrove Pasta, who are specialty pasta manufacturers in Williamstown.  Josh Bayne and Josh Murnane met while working at Alligator Pasta, another rather delicious pasta maker in Yarraville, and a few years ago decided to go out on their own and start Millgrove.  Now they are taking their pasta straight to the people by opening Fox in the Corn.

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$16.50

The menu is small and snappy.  Pick your pasta - fettuccine or ravioli - and something from a gorgeous list of sauces.  This is fettuccine with the pancetta, leek and tomato and it was bloody amazing.  Dense yet supple strands of fettuccine with a sticky, totally plate-lickworthy sauce, punctuated with generous chunks of rich pancetta.  Gorgeous and a very generous serving, too.

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$6.50

A nice green salad because I am trying to be healthy (despite keenly coveting the buffalo mozz, rocket and tomato number).  Loved the balsamic dressing.  Feedback:  Don't keep the tommies in the fridge.  They were obviously good ones and would be even better at room temp.

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As I shovelled in the gorgeous noodles, I present to you a texted exchange I had with my friend J.  When I heard that Fox in the Corn was specialising in pasta, I admit I was a bit ho-hum too.  Maybe you, like me, cook pasta for the kids at least a few nights per week and are just not that excited by it.  But like I said to her - trust me.  This is not your average spag.

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I had a nice chat to one of the Joshes.  The ingredients they use are all A-list - Riverina beef, minced in house; Istra bacon; three-hour slow-roasted onions.  No Kardashian-grade tap-washer olives here, folks.  (Those avoiding gluten, there is no gluten-free pasta as yet but hopefully soon. You would have to make do with a salad and maybe an octopus starter.)

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Coming soon is BEEEEER on tap.  The "house beer" will be from Blackman's Brewery in Torquay (a pale ale, a sweet cider and an unfiltered lager).  There will also be a rotating cast of interesting craft beers.  With Littlefoot and the Plough just down the road - I sense a Footscray bar crawl coming on!  (Did you ever thing we'd be able to say that?!?!?!)

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Coffee beans are roasted by Monk Bodhi Dharma in Elsternwick and an espresso was absolutely tip top.  As for the icecream - served in a pot, it's a Dixie Cup flashback, and you can decide if that's a good or bad thing.  (I'd prefer it served in a bowl personally.)  It's from Gundowring, made on the farm in northeastern Victoria.  The banana flavour was divine.

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If it couldn't get any better, Fox in the Corn is open 11am-11pm, meaning we finally have a late-night coffee spot in Footscray!!!  They will also soon be open from 8am, and are in the final stages of nailing down croissants from Sourdough Kitchen in Seddon and pastries from Candied Bakery in Spotswood.

What does the fox say?


Actually, it says - you need to be at Fox in the Corn NOW!

Fox in the Corn (Facebook)
4 Droop St, Footscray

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Littlefoot bar - opening this Friday!

What will you be doing this Friday at 4pm?  Herding a snotty gaggle of kids on the way home from school?  Imagining those bubbles popping as you watch the clock creep slowly to knock-off time?  Well, here's what you should be doing - beating down the door of Littlefoot, Footscray's very own bar!

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I was so very lucky to get invited to the friends and family sneak peek last Friday night.  Now, a bit of a disclaimer - when the Littlefoot journey first began, I didn't know owners Stu and Liana that well, but since then we ended up working together on the new Footscray Food Guide (more about that later) and have hung out quite a bit socially.  So essentially Littlefoot is my friends' bar.

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When I first walked in, my first thought was, "There's the bar - what will I have?"  Then I stopped myself - "No!" I thought.  "You need to savour this moment.  This is momentous."  But the thing is, Littlefoot just feels so natural, kind of like Guerilla did when they opened at Footscray Market.  Not thirty seconds in, I felt completely at home, and like it had always been a part of the 'scray I so dearly adore.

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Now, bubbles in hand, let me take you on a little tour.  There's a gorgeous communal or big-group table...

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...a back room with tables to spread out (love the wall art)...

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...and these super-cute, ever so slightly seedily sexy booths!  I love them!

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The opening was a blast with a high-energy gypsy-style band.  There are great beers on tap (including Two Birds' taco beer!) and lots of interesting spirits.

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The brand-new chef will not be fully ensconced until two weeks or so, but I LOVED one of his creations - nutella injera "pinwheels" with a coconut dipping sauce.  Seriously, these were amazing.  Liana and Stu have a really genuine desire to celebrate Footscray's existing food cultures, and I believe they're going to do it in a non-gimmicky way.

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Littlefoot's door will be open wide from this Friday 30 January at 4pm.  Be nice the first few weeks as the staff get used to everything, and as I mentioned, the chef will not be firing on all cylinders until a couple of weeks in.  Make sure to like their Facebook page to stay up to date with everything little and footy!

Littlefoot
223 Barkly St, Footscray
9396 1282

Saturday, January 24, 2015

FFB mega-post - Footscray pub goss, dumplings galore, and the FFB dish of the year!

To me, leftovers are like dominos.  Each skerrick, each tidbit does not get thrown out but joins the next meal in an endlessly delicious loop.  That bit of leftover rice is perfect mixed into a spinach and ricotta pie...and that last scoop of ricotta is perfect spread on a thick bit of toast, topped with frozen berries, and grilled till soft, warm, gooey and sweet.

The point when it gets a bit tricky, though, is when I'm going away for a while and need to clear out the fridge.  Sometimes it's kind of awesome - bacon, featuring in today's breakfast, lunch AND dinner! - but it's a real challenge making a dinner out of a manky end bit of cheese and a pile of cucumbers.

In the spirit of the fridge clean-out, then, I present to you a banquet of a blog amnesty post, bringing together all the treats and tidbits I've enjoyed over the last few months.  Join me in clearing out the virtual crisper drawer and making a gorgeous word salad out of it all.  Then we'll be ready to enjoy all the new and exciting treats that 2015 is set to deliver!

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FYI, this post is going to be pretty epic.  Pretty much as epic as this oyster I ate!

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It was from these guys and was amazing, going from minerally and sharp at first chew, to creamy and unctuous at the end.  'Twas et during a trip to Hobart which I just loved every minute of.

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The food highlight (apart from the above oyster) was the degustation and matched sake at Three Japanese.  This place is proud to not do the usual sushi and teriyaki chicken thing, and to serve food that Japanese people would apparently go out to eat in Japan - not necessarily what westerners expect.  The sakes we tried were incredible and so varied.  If you thought like I did that clear sake was essentially metho, this is where to go to have your mind thoroughly blown.  Food highlights - chawanmushi savoury custard with sea urchin, and sesame-encrusted rice ball in sublime chicken stock.

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I just have to show you where I stayed - a gorgeous Air BnB in West Hobart.  I love the architecture in Hobart.  The Tuscan toilet block units Melbourne is so enamoured with have not yet spread there, and long may they never.  Look at that roaring fire!  Not visible are the harbour views from every room in the house.  It was very hard to get on that bus to the airport.

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But get on I did, back to the west.  Even giant oysters can't trump the yum cha at Gold Leaf Sunshine.  This continues to be my go-to, not just in the west, but anywhere in Melbourne.  (Recently tried elsewhere - Golden Dragon Palace, Templestowe [overpriced and yawningly average]; Me Wah, Hobart [strange, staid, expensive and unremarkable]; Tao Tao House, Hawthorn [exxy, boring].

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Oh, Gold Leaf, I do heart you!

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Speaking of dumplings, we recently decided to give Magic Momo in West Footscray another go.  The guys who own this place are so nice and are trying so hard.  In the last year or so they redid the whole menu to focus exclusively on Nepalese food.

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A lot of the south Asian restaurants in West Footscray and surrounds have the atmospherics of a bus shelter.  Hats off to Magic Momo who have gone to some effort with colourful piccies and posters and nice tunes playing.

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The momo here are really pretty good.  Here we have steamed, fried and in a spicy sauce.

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We loved the lamb choila, with spicy, tasty chunks of lamb, spicy soybeans, and rice bubble-like "beaten rice".

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Also had this vegetarian thali-style dish which we weren't mad about - everything on the plate needed more oomph.  Go, bring a BYO bottle and give Magic Momo a try.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

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Over December we also really got into the Plough.  Scott Thomas, who used to run the Courthouse in North Melbourne and the Montague in South Melbourne, recently took over as head chef and the food has done a complete 180.

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LOOOOOOVED these oysters with creme fraiche and fish roe!!!  Such an inspired combination.

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We have eaten a lot of things on the menu now and are always very happy.  There are a few small misfires, like kipflers in duck fat that weren't crispy enough, or a millet salad that needed a bit more zing.  But on the whole, I think the food here is fab.  Congrats on snaring Scott Thomas and long may his steady hand steer this plough.

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The other big news in the Footscray pub scene is that Sean Donovan has sold the Station!  This news was met with much devastation.  I have never blogged about it, but the Station is one of my most regular haunts.  We went back with trepidation to see if it was still any good.

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Well, a rump like this does not lie.  Still as gorgeous as ever.  People think the Station is too expensive, but their entry-level steak is $28 (including chips, salad and sauce) and is bloody amazing.  A steak at most other pubs in Melbourne would be around the same price, and most are nowhere near as good.  Try it before you knock it!

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PS: Did you know the Station do possibly the best pub kids' meals in Melbourne?  They're not cheap - about $18 from memory, which includes drink and ice cream - but much better quality than the normal crappy offerings.  And the ice cream had real vanilla beans in it.

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Speaking of ice cream, you must try the green tea ice cream at Sapa Hills.  You met Long in this post and Ha, his wife, makes this ice cream at home for the restaurant.  It's delicious, richly flavoured, refreshing and not too sweet.  Totally going back to try the black sesame and coconut flavours.

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I know our banquet table is beginning to groan, but let me just wedge a few more delicious treats into those gaps.  Just a few weeks ago we got back from an amazing two-week trip to Chicago, where my children proceeded to claim their culinary birthright in the form of Lucky Charms (cereal with mini marshmallows), ranch dressing, mozzarella sticks and other nutritionally disastrous delights.

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The adults didn't miss out either, merrily scarfing Italian beef sandwiches...

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...Pequod's special caramelised cheese crust Chicago-style pizza...

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...and Paradise Pup's drip-down-your-forearms juicy burgers and fries with sour cream, bacon, and Merkts spreadable cheddar!!!  Some of these things we ate while watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network, which is kind of like drinking Bollinger when you're already completely pissed.  It was the most deliciously debauched two weeks ever.

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But much as I love Chicago food in all its colon-blocking glory, it was yet again time to come home to treats like those at Co Thu Quan.  I continue to be completely enamoured with this fast-paced, cute-as-a-button and uncompromisingly Vietnamese cafe, tucked away inside Little Saigon market.

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And it is here that I am delighted to present their banh trang cuon as the Footscray Food Blog dish of 2014.  These are rice paper rolls, made with either a different rice paper or a different process so that the skins are slightly crackly and tantalisingly al dente.  They're filled with julienned sour green mango, tiny dried prawns and spicy, rich beef jerky.  They are completely amazing, and just five bucks a plate.  Run, don't walk!

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And so that concludes this pot luck of a post!  I feel refreshed and ready for all the delicious things 2015 will bring.  My fervent hope for Footscray is that as gentrification continues at breakneck pace, while we may be having lots of fun with what's new, let us continue to appreciate what we already have.  Will you join me in a cheers to that?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Deli 4 You, Maribyrnong

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Edgewater?  Edge of the earth, as far as I'm concerned.  I think I got lost there pushing a pram once and have never been back.  So when a hot tip arrived for a brilliant Polish deli tucked away in the estate, I approached it with both trepidation and delight.

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There was no-one in there when I arrived, which allowed me to go completely photo crazy, unfettered by shopkeepers' raised eyebrows or curious glances.

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You know, I really love that show "American Pickers" where two blokes roam the backroads of small-town USA, rummaging through hoarders' collections for antiques or other hidden treasures.  I got the same feeling at Deli 4 You.  Here we have an enormous tray of goodies from Erik's Polish bakery in Braybook, including freshly baked plum jam-filled donuts!

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Also from Erik's, all manner of babkas and kugelhopfs in all their unpronounceable glory...

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...real European-style rye bread from "Baker in the Rye" in Elsternwick...

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...and link upon meaty link of every conceivable type of Polish sausage.

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Completely prepared to forget that chorizo is as Polish as pina coladas, given how good this stuff looks.

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In the fridge, there are those dips they have at Sims, plus kefir (a fermented milk drink), quark and other Polish-style soft cheeses.

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Plus a great selection of pierogi dumplings, which I would have raided the entire freezer of, if not held back by their quite high prices ($9 for about 10, and more for the Ola's brand on the top shelf).

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There are also all the usual pickles, UHT borscht and Polish teas, but also a small range of spices from Gewurzhaus in Carlton and other nice Christmas hamper-worthy things.

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Eventually the owner arrived to ring up my goodies.  I went with a pineapple kugelhopf which if I remember correctly was about $7.  Ridiculous!  All birthday cakes shall henceforth come exclusively from Deli 4 U.

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Both it and the plum jam donut were completely off the hook - so moist and tasty!

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I have a bad habit of buying things like pickles and relishes at farmers' markets which then proceed to moulder untouched at the back of the fridge.  The owner was so nice and let me try this pickled carrot which was awesome not just for its spicy, vinegary flavour, but for the fact it is made by "Russians in Bentleigh" (according to the owner).  This stuff was crack.  It was all gone in about three days.  It's not cheap but I highly, highly recommend it!

Not pictured are the very delicious Krysia's brand pierogi, made in Sunbury, Vic, which were all consumed with gusto by Mr Baklover.  I tried to hide them under the fish fingers but his Central European instincts sniffed them out like a truffle hound.

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I guess the only thing I'm slightly hesitant to buy is the meats, as I just can't understand how somewhere so well-concealed can have significant turnover.  But I am ready to be proven delightfully wrong on that point!

Thank you Monique for the great tip!

Deli 4 You
55 Cumberland Drive, Maribyrnong
Phone: 9318 6669
Open daily 7am - 7pm (but check that as I'm not sure I'm recalling it correctly!)
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