Thursday, 15 April 2021

Street Art in Melbourne - Manallack and Saxon Streets, Brunswick

Today I rode along the Upfield bike and the road by Union Street was blocked so I did a detour along a bluestone lane to Manallack Street.  I pass that way often without any time to stop and smell the roses.  Today I was on holidays, my lunch date was cancelled and I had time to wander and wonder.  So I came across some wonderful sepia street art reflecting the history of Brunswick.  Then I wandered further and found some cheerful colourful street art including some on Saxon Street that was so infectious it had spread to the road.  I wish I knew more about the history but all I can do is stand back, admire and immerse!



I asked someone about the painting on the road and they told me it was done by the folks at Theodores so I am thinking perhaps I need to check out the cafe and bar!
More Brunswick Street Art on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Saturday, 10 April 2021

In My Kitchen, April 2021

Surely it is not already April!  The days pass quickly and there is always a lot to do and not enough done.   I have managed to catch up with some friends.  Easter has been a fun break with family, Hot Cross Buns, swimming and a new Spotify account.  Politics has kept me outraged with our federal government shown to be hopeless out of their depth when faced with the truth about women in federal parliament, disappointed with our slow vaccine rollout, and saddened by our premier's spinal injury.  Brisbane locked down, the cat lost his collar and the the library blocked my card.  At least we have School Holidays and an extra hour at the end of Daylight Savings!

Above is an Ortolana pizza from Old School Pizza.  We've had takeaway pizza on a couple of tired nights.  This pizza had roasted pumpkin, wilted baby spinach, marinated sliced potato, zucchini, roasted eggplant, oil infused garlic and herbs.  It was pretty good with lots of vegies.


It has been farewell to summer fruit.  The fruit bowl has been filled with apples from my parents' tree, citrus and passionfruit.  


I have been missing summer fruit but occasionally I make a nice juice - usually by blending fresh orange juice, strawberries, pineapple and lots of ice.  This happens much more than I bake bread or visit the farmers market.

I had some time in the city a few weeks back.  One visit was to eat sushi and churros after the NGV Triennial and another time I was there for an appointment, after which I stopped at David Jones for cheesy snacks - pretzels and crisps.


I was intrigued by these Miso and Mushroom flavoured Corn and Kale Chips.  They were slightly green with lots of umami flavour.  And very good with hummus.

These Coco Pop covered Golden Gaytime ice creams were also irresistible.  They combined two favourite childhood treats.  But sometimes the sum is not greater than its parts.  Fun to try!

We bought baking potatoes at the farmers market and had them one night as traditional baked potatoes with lots of grated cheese, sour cream and coleslaw.  The next night I had one leftover that went into a taco bowl of sorts: baked potato, corn, red capsicum, coleslaw, grated cheese and broccoli served with dollops of plain yoghurt, refried beans and salsa.  This sort of bowl is such a great way to get my vegetables in my diet.

A trip to Northland shopping centre included purchasing a tub of chickpea and pumpkin salad for lunch with arancini.  There was a lot of salad!  I took some of it home, cooked up some sourdough flatbreads and added purple cabbage and baby spinach.  An easy and satisfying dinner!


My beloved Oxo potato masher broke so I headed to Northland to buy a new one.  I wanted one exactly the same as my black one.  I was fascinated by the Dreamform masher.  It is now sitting in the draw waiting to be used.


I bought some new salt and pepper grinders.  First thing I did was wash them.  When I filled the salt grinder with rock salt I found that it had not dried out properly and would not grind.  Last week when I worked from home on a nice warm day, I dried it outside and now it seems to be grinding the salt as it should.

Sylvia requested we buy some mini gnocchi.  I served it with pesto (made with basil from the garden), mushrooms, capsicums and herbed cream cheese.

 I finally tried Pinch of Yum's Cauliflower Walnut Vegetarian Taco Meat.  It is not a new idea.  I remember being amazed when I saw Ricki Heller's very similar "Meaty Crumbles" back in 2010.  I liked the Pinch of Yum version but was I think it would have been better in a tomato sauce as it was quite dry when I served it.  Having said that, despite it being so crumbly and able to spill everywhere, the yoghurt and salsa with the vegetables were fine accompaniments.

I was surprised that my camelia was already flowering by the end of March.  It usually flowers in about May but it has been quite a wet, cool start to the year.  I also have great expectations for the lime tree with lots of fruit that looks set to ripen soon.  I also have lemons that will ripen soon but the lemon tree is looking a little sad.

We tried to go easy on the Easter goodies.  But novelty chocolate and sticky date butterscotch brownies are hard resist.  The hot cross buns are in the freezer so I am not sure how they taste.  I found the cherry ripe egg a little dark but the fruit tingle easter egg was very good.

I baked a couple of batches of sourdough hot cross buns before Easter.  As usual I pipe my crosses a lot thicker than the shops because we love a thick chewy glazed cross in my household.  I had a problem this year with the glaze being boiled too long and it turned to crystalised sugar on the buns.  Next year I will just heat it until it boils.  Glaze aside, I really loved these hot cross buns.  They are so so good.  It is so sad that my stash in the freezer is almost finished.

Another temptation I fell for was this box of Chocolate hot cross bun ice creams which was on sale after Easter for $1.  The packet says they are spiced and have biscuit pieces.  I am disappointed there aren't chunks of hot cross buns inside and a white cross over the chocolate!  The box has not been opened yet.

I went to Geelong to my parents for Easter Sunday.  Sylvia and I managed to fit in a swim before the easter egg hunt and lunch.  I didn't make a nut roast this year but my mum did a great roast dinner with sweet potato fritters, roast potatoes, roast pumpkin, pumpkin salad with feta and pomegranate, peas and my sister's great cauliflower cheese.  There was also my mum's chocolate caramel cheesecake and my niece's grubs for dessert.  So much good food.

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event.  Sherry has suggested that as well as sharing what's in our kitchen, that we send a curveball photo too.  So I am sharing a photo of Sylvia's new stylish boots that happen to be also my size so I have suggested we share them!  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog to visit more kitchens.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Transformer: Fitzroy vegetarian restaurant

Recently I had a meal at Transformer with my parents.  It has taken a long time to finally go to this casual vegetarian fine dining restaurant that is the elegant sibling of the neighbouring Vegie Bar in Fitzroy.  I took the above photo in 2017 but from a quick web search it seems it has been open since about 2015.  Where does the time go!  My parents and I had the Feed Me set menu ($55) which was all that is available at present.  Before lockdown it seems there was an a la carte menu as well but we live in different times now.  

I loved my meal.  So much delicious and interesting food, accompanied by interesting non-alcoholic drinks.  By the end of the evening I was so full that the dessert (an extra $10) was an effort.  My parents are ominivores but were very impressed with the offerings  Let me take you through what we had.

Firstly I was happy to see a mocktails section on the menu as well as a few options with a non-alcoholic Seedlip gin.  I had the FOMO made with Seedlip 'garden 108', mint, cucumber, lemon and kaffir syrup.  I love having non-alcoholic drinks that are not overly sweet but this was not the sort of drink I am used to.  It was sour and a little salty but after that I wass happy to go for something slightly sweeter.  My dad had already had a Fresh mocktail with Viet mint, kaffir lime syrup, berries, soda.  So I decided to have one too.  My mum had a Seedlip and tonic and was very happy with it.  And my parents also followed their drinks with wine.

We started our food with some small dishes.  Firstly lemongrass compressed watermelon, toasted rice, Aleppo pepper and candied yuzu.  This was an amazing mix of sweet, savoury and spicy.  It was a nice contrast to the vegan orange cream cheese dip, 'everything bagel' topping, chives and smoked soy, served with tostadas, cucumber and radishes. 

One of my favourite dishes was the crispy chickpea panisse, truffle salt, nutritional yeast and macadamia.  A quick Google search told me that panisse is chickpea fritters.  Like polenta chips these were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  They were served warm with slightly crispy toppings that were a  delicious savoury salty flavour that I still remember fondly.  They were even better than chips!

The other favourite dish of mine was the warm fried oat cheese with figs and greens.  It was not on the menu but we were offered it and were up to try it.  I am vegetarian not vegan but I am very fond of a good vegan cheese.  And this one was excellent.  It was crisp on the outside, and smooth and creamy inside.  I loved the wonderful flavour that was umami and noochy flavour yet mild and smooth.  The fresh figs were delightful and the dressed greens were delicious.

The sides came out before the central dish of the main course.  A slight misstep in serving but more about that when the cauliflower arrives!  Firstly there was roasted beetroots, caper salsa, lemon thyme, vegan feta and hazelnut.  Really nice.  I wanted to know what the feta was made of because they got it right (having tasted some less than impressive vegan feta).  The beetroots were soft and yellow.  Actually my dad thought they were potatoes!  The other side dish was saffron basmati rice and red lentil pilaf with golden raisins and fried onions was really lovely and mild.

I mentioned that the pilaf was mild because I found the showstopper dish so intense.  We had passed over the cumin glazed eggplant with chermoula and smoked vegan yoghurt and chosen the miso glazed roasted cauliflower, spring onions, enoki and shitake with dashi.  When you get a set menu, being asked to choose a main dish is hard.  I would have loved to try the eggplant but who would not want to be served a whole glazed cauliflower with a crown of mushrooms and edible flowers.  It looked fantastic but was a bit harder to cut up and the miso is such a strong flavour.  It really had to be eaten with the beetroot dish and pilaf to be avoid being overwhelming.  The three dishes were a wonderful combination.

We chose to have the dessert - aged balsamic strawberries, gingernut crumb, coconut yoghurt sorbet and meringue, which was an extra $10.  I was really full by now but it sounded interesting.  I had a discussion with my parents about if the meringue was vegan or not.  When we asked a waiter we were told yess and I can't remember if they confirmed it was aqua faba or if that was just in my head.  Honestly, I was not that into the meringue, but it not really my sort of thing.  The ice cream was nice and I found the gingernut crumb a bit crunchy but I really loved the aged balsamic strawberries.  I could have eaten a huge bowl of them. 

While I love a hippy dippy vegetarian cafe, I was impressed that this sophisticated restaurant is more mainstream in appeal.  We had a great night.  The staff were very attentive and pleasant.  When we arrived at 6pm it was pretty quiet but filled up quickly.  I loved how the old warehouse is divided into smaller areas so it still felt quite intimate. I just hope it does not take years until I get there again but at the rate I am going out for meals at the moment, it just might be!

99 Rose Street, Fitzroy, 3065
Phone: 03 9419 2022

Monday, 22 March 2021

Triennial NGV, 2021

On the weekend I finally went to visit the Triennial exhibition at NGV.  I wanted to go earlier in the year but it did not seem  safe to be in a gallery where people come from all over town and state and even interstate while Covid was at large.  It was 3 weeks without any community transmission of Covid on the weekend and felt safer.  Even so, I was surprised only about half the visitors seemed to take the NGV's strong advice to wear a mask.  Fortunately the art was worth the wait, though there was so much to see that I wish I had the opportunity to go again.  But I am not sure I have time over the next month before it closes.  Here is a taste of what I saw.

The fun starts as soon as we enter and see the huge mesmerising, constantly changing, spiraling, cascading, falling, fading and growing patterns on "Quantum memories" by Refik Anadol. The Triennial exhibits are dispersed throughout the whole gallery.  It is a lot of walking and even then, we missed some of the exhibits.

"Venus" by Jeff Koons is a play on classical statues using a shimmery shiny metal that no classical sculptor would have thought possible.

I really loved the sequinned tapestry called "House of Heroines" by Lara Schnitger with bumper sticker slogans and empowering words.

This wall of faces is called "Identification (ID) Photo Project" by Kim Sihyun.


Diamond Stingily made "In the middle but in the corner of 176th place" at first glance looks like a huge trophy exhibition of some sports star.  But upon a close read of the trophies, it seems that there is less of the celebration of sport going on.  Inscriptions like "through all the madness this all you gone get" puts sport back into perspective, and were fun to read.

The vibrant blues of Indigenous artist Dhambit Mununggurr in the "Can we all have a happy life"exhibition  are startlingly bright.  I liked this lively painting of Garma: her mother's brother started the Garma festival that brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together in the outback up North each year.

"Plastocene – Marine Mutants from a disposable world" by Porky Hefer was made of many odd  imaginary sea creatures" made of detritus that is polluting the sea: cigarette buts, coffee cups, straws etc.  I could not work out what this tentacled creature was made of.  (And the security guard did not have a clue either!)

I thought this creature looked a bit like a covid virus.  The below ones hanging from the ceiling were quite amusing too.

One think I have enjoyed about a Covid world (if that does not sound odd) is mask fashion.  These prints of fax vintage outfits with matching masks  by Scotty So in this "China Masks" were quite beautiful. 

This "Walls 4 Sale: near new and supersized" by BTVV was like walking through Alice's Wonderland.  Doors were either too big or too small.  The toilet and kitchen were definitely too big.  I could see kids loving it but my daughter was too old for some fun and was outside in the garden with her friend.  Meanwhile my dad's arm can be seen in this photo to show some perspective on the huge sliding door.

We almost missed "Fallen Fruit" by David Allen Burns and Austin Young halfway up the ramp between the on the North side.  I was so glad we backtracked to look at it.  This was my favourite part of the Triennial.  I loved the old gilt framed paintings and black statues against the amazing floral wallpaper.

My dad found the lack of details about the artworks frustrating.  He likes labels.  I found this as wonderful as walking into an historic house but all the more interesting because it is in a gallery and impressed up me just how much we strip art of content in a gallery and how much more beautiful the art was with the wonderful wallpaper.  The wallpaper was an artwork in itself with Australian flora and fauna, light and dark, and colours that gradually changed as we walked around the rooms.  I wanted to go home and wallpaper my home!

This large round light show called "Extinctions" by Carnovsky was fascinating.  The colours were bright but also interesting the way they picked up on different designs on the curved wall.  My dad and I stood enthralled by the way the light altered colours on the glassware in the shelves on the other sides of the walls.

"Optical" by Stuart Haygarth was a huge crystal globe and every bit as interesting in how the light reflected on the floor.

Another favourite was the Salon et Lumièr.  Paintings were crowded onto red walls to imitate a Paris Gallery of the Nineteenth Century.  Back then people were excited for the opportunity to see artworks.  In our digital age, we have many opportunities to see artworks but not like this.  This was a light and sound show with the paintings on the wall as the canvas.  Shadows and thunderstorms and tv static and more brought the thrill of art to modern day gallery!

The beauty of Triennial is that it is an immersive experience that cannot be shared by just showing you some photos.  Some of the exhibits were hard to photograph.  Here are a few that I enjoyed without my camera:

  • Alicja Kwade's "WeltenLinie".  This set up of mirrors created an optical illusion where many of the visitors - including me - were quite flummoxed to work out what was mirror and what was real life.  I saw quite a few people reaching out to check if it was a mirror or not.
  • Tomoaki Suzuki's "Biole, Carson, Dasha, Marisa" had lots of statues of tiny people - about 30cm high.  We had a quick look from the corridor but did not have the time or patience to join the long queue of people who were going in to look more closely.
  • Liam Young's Planet City was an imagining of a futuristic city built up rather than sprawling outwards.  The video was quite mesmerising with the slow swooping down past tall building that gave the feeling of floating.

When I checked the website after the exhibition, I saw how much I had missed. I wished I had seen:

  • Faye Toogood - "Downtime: Candlelight wall scenography and Family busts and Roly-poly chair / Water"
  • Kengo Kuma and Geoff Nees - "Botanical pavilion"
  • JR - "Homily to Country"

And then at the end we were back in the forecourt, looking at another part of the Quantum Memories explosion of colour and shapes.

It was really good to get out to an exhibition after over a year of so little live art and culture in my life.  But we were never far from reminders of Covid, especially as we made our way up Swanston Street pas an Anti-Vaxxer march as we headed towards a sushi train lunch.

You can read more about the Exhibition on the NGV Triennial page.  If you are able to go ibefore it closes on 18 April 2021, I would highly recommende it.  entry is free but bookings are essential.  If you have been, I would love to hear what you thought and what was your favourite exhibit. 

You can read about previous NGV exhibitions I have visited: