Thursday, December 4, 2014

Deli 4 You, Maribyrnong


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.


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.


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!


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


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


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


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


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


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).


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.


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.


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


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.


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!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanh Vinh, Footscray

Imagine walking into a brunch place and there being 300 things on the menu.  Eggs with bacon, eggs with spinach, eggs with spinach and bacon, muesli with yoghurt, muesli with fruit...  Sounds crazy, right?  No wonder people get thoroughly overwhelmed when leafing through the 20+ pages of most Vietnamese restaurant menus.


The trick to navigating them, though, is realising that no one place can do EVERYTHING well, but every one place has some specialties.  Newbie Thanh Vinh has just opened up on the old site of Phong Dinh, and makes it really easy for you with a list of specials out the front.


I'm sad Phong Dinh is gone, and hope Bao and Anh are doing well wherever their next opportunity has taken them.  The team at Thanh Vinh have kept the layout the same but brightened up the space with some pretty pics and lightshades.


This was a standout rare beef coleslaw.  It was actually quite different to other renditions, with loads of pungent aniseed Thai basil and diced lemongrass.  The beef was truly rare, almost tartare-like, and the whole thing packed a wicked chilli punch.  I loved it.


Curious about the diff between "rice vermicelli" and "fine rice vermicelli"?  Banh hoi, or "fine rice vermicelli" as they are often translated, are little square "mats" of rice vermicelli.  To eat this dish, you take a piece of lettuce, line it with a noodle square, then load in beef in vine leaves, carrot, mint etc before dunking in seasoned fish sauce.  These were good but you can get fatter, juicer bo la lot around (try Sapa Hills).


In Anglo Australia, you have meat n' three veg.  In Vietnam, you have veg n' three meat!  This special chicken broken rice is a new take on the standard com tam dac biet.  There's the runny-yolked fried egg, the bi (shredded pork skin) and steamed pork cake, but instead of the usual pork chop, there are two juicy grilled chicken fillets PLUS bonus Chinese sausage slices.  This meat love-in comes on top of lots of broken rice, with a bowl of broth on the side and one or two bits of token cucumber.  Highly recommended, even if it's not super cheap at $15.

If you want to see the menu, you can do so on Thanh Vinh's Facebook page right here.  But all you really need to do is order the beef coleslaw.  Order the special chicken broken rice.  Order whatever other special takes your fancy.  Eat.  Smile.  Repeat.  Thanh Vinh, welcome to the 'hood.

Thanh Vinh
152 Hopkins St, Footscray
Phone:  9077 9098
Open:  Daily 10am - 9.30pm
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