Wednesday 30 September 2015

Street Art in Melbourne - Coburg II

I had a post on Street Art in Coburg late last year.  I continue to discover more art in the area so here we go again.  Above is on Reynard Street.

Artwork on Oxygen Youth Space in Gaffney Street, Coburg North.  Painted by Brent Watkins and Leith Dalton.

 SpongeBob SquarePants can be seen from the Upfield train line.  Sylvia loves this picture.

 Wheatpasting near Moreland Station.  E says it is based on Klimt's The Kiss.

I had a photo of the Little Free Library in my last Coburg Street Art post.  It has been expanded but since this photo, vandals have torched the yellow bookshelf! Some people are heartless!

 Superman on the Upfield train line!

More artwork along the Upfield train line.

I think this stencil was on High Street.

Interesting recycling artwork near the corner of Harding and Nicholson Streets and more down where Harding Street meets the Merri Creek bike path.

Batman on the Upfield train line. 

And knowing that Batman is in Coburg, our citizens can sleep safely in their beds.  Stay tuned for the next episode of Coburg Street Art.....

Monday 28 September 2015

Nutella doughnuts in Coburg

Nutella doughnuts have arrived in the 'Burg.  (You might know it better as Coburg.)  Along Sydney Road, bakeries are adorned with signs that they are here.  Displays boast lines of plump sugary doughnuts with little nipples of nutella that are merely the tip of the iceberg.  Bite into one you will find generous veins of nutella within that oozes all over your lips.  Icing sugar flies over your clothes.  They are hard to eat neatly.  Even harder to resist!

Actually nutella doughnuts are not that new.  I discovered them a couple of months ago after reading about Melbourne's nutella craze leading to a temporary nutella shortage.  Once I tried more than one I found myself on a mission to taste all Coburg's doughnuts.  I never found a nutella doughnut I didn't love.  (Though it is different story in the city.)  I tried them at eight establishments.  More than I expected to find.  It is time to stop searching.

I have eaten them in the mall, on a park bench, in cafes, at home, in arcades.  My black jacket has seen enough icing sugar.  They are messy but oh so good.  Here is my round up, starting with my favourites:

Crystal Bakery
427 Sydney Road 

Crystal Bakery is a cheap high street bakery the is your place for soft white bread and cute doughnuts with sprinkles.  It comes top of my list.  It was here I first tasted the nutella doughnuts.  It was indecently early in the morning and they were so fresh and pillowy with a generous ooze that I fell in love.  I have had them from Crystal Bakery since and they are still soft and delicious though never quite as sublime (or as early in the day) as the first time.  They are also ridiculously cheap at $2.  They always have heaps at the start of the day but I have been there later in the day and found that they are sold out.

Candy Ink Cafe
53 Moreland Road

Another favourite is the Candy Ink doughnut.  This is a quirky cafe that offers coffee and tattoos.  Sylvia and I had one after lunch the other day.  She got nutella all over her face and couldn't finish it.  Mine was heated which just encouraged the ooze and made them amazing.  Really loved these and also love their nutella doughnut artwork. 

O'Heas Bakery and Deli
203-205 O'Hea Street

O'Heas is a bit fancier than other local bakeries with great sourdough breads and ciabattas.  Their nutella doughnuts are among my favourites.  Their doughnuts seem to have more nutella on top than most but like all doughnuts, there is an amazing amount inside.  They also seem to have icing sugar on the nutella, unlike most, which made me think it might be drier but it was pleasingly oozy.

Dat Thanh Bakery
389 Sydney Road

This is a favourite bakery of E and Sylvia's.  They refer to it as The Vietnamese Bakery and love the cinnamon doughnuts.  It is a similar sort of place to the Crystal Bakery and their doughnuts are also soft, delicious and cheap.  I managed to get a photo of the doughnut mid-ooze which is very hard when nutella doughnuts are so messy.

The Pie Place
Walkers Arcade, 471 Sydney Road

The Pie Place is a hole in the wall bakery in Walkers Arcade that, as the name suggests, specialises in pies.  It is not a great photo but believe me they are one of the good nutella doughnuts.  I confess that I was a bit emotional when I had this one as I discovered that my favourite hairdresser has left the salon where I have been going.  [Which is significant as it has taken me about eight years to finally find a favourite hairdresser so I don't come across them often.]

Trivelli Cake Shop
369 Sydney Road

Trivelli is an old fashioned family run Italian pasticceria with a faded shop front.  They offer cannoli impressive decorated cakes and gelati.  These were the first doughnuts that I encountered that had crystalised sugar rather than icing sugar on the outside.  I prefer the icing sugar but enjoyed the doughnuts.  Tivelli gets bonus points for having the option of small or large doughnuts.

Fergusson Plarre Bakehouse
495 Sydney Road

Fergusson Plarre is a bakery franchise that is presented in the style of a traditional Aussie country bakery with pies and pasties, fun decorated biscuits, slices and other baked goods.  It was dusted with crystalised sugar but it was particularly unusual in not having the nipple of nutella on top.  If eaten in isolation I would say it was lovely but compared to other local offerings it was smaller and more expensive and rated low for me.

Hangar Cafe
Coburg North Village, 180 Gaffney Street 

Hangar is your bog standard food hall cafe that is part of the "Coburg North Village" shopping centre around the new Coles supermarket.  This was my least favourite nutella doughnut.  It is just not my sort of cafe, service was a bit slower than I expected and the exterior of the doughnut was more chewy and fried than others I have tasted.  As with Fergusson Plarre, eaten in isolation I would have loved it but it pales in comparison.  Which just shows how spoilt we are in Coburg to have so many good nutella doughnuts that I can be so picky!

So there you have it.  Coburg really has been inundated with nutella doughnuts in all sorts of establishments.  Even with my love of them, I haven't been able to cover every cafe/bakery that sells them.  So the next time you walk into any bakery or cafe in Coburg, look around and don't be surprised if you see a nutella doughnut tempting you!

Saturday 26 September 2015

Salted caramel popcorn, coburg carnivale and school holidays

Last night we drove home from Geelong after Sylvia stayed at my mum's.  It usually takes a little over an hour.  Yesterday it took me two and a half hours.  I am still feeling behind.  Dinner was late last night.  This morning we slept in.  We have been to the Coburg Carnivale today and tonight I have baked bread, made strawberry sauce and almost packed for holidays tomorrow.  With the first week of the school holidays behind us, I am sharing some great holiday food - salted caramel popcorn.

I don't make popcorn or caramel sauce often.  However Sylvia bought E a bag of popcorn kernels for Father's Day and chose the recipe.  I have made it twice.  Once I thought I could pop the kernels while the caramel was cooking but learnt the hard way that it doesn't work so well.  They were still good to snack on after a netball lesson.  The second time Sylvia had decided it was needed for movie night during the school holidays.  I made sure to be more organised and think it was slightly better.

The second lot was made with only half the butter required but I found that coconut oil was a fine substitute for the rest of it.  I really loved it but it was terribly moreish.  Sylvia is already browsing our popcorn book for more ideas on how to flavour the popcorn.  She fancies rainbow.  I want coconut rough.

We had some over after movie night.  I mixed the leftovers with a trail mix of almonds, dried cranberries, pistachios and white chocolate chips.  It was great for snacking at the new park in Bell Street (by Kelson Street). Sylvia and her kinder friend really enjoyed the flying fox.

It has been a busy week of the school holidays.  Sylvia has had a few playdates, some time with her cousins holiday gymnastics and we had lunch at Candy Ink (corner Moreland Rd and Nicholson St in Coburg).  I had a quinoa vegie burger that was very nice (other than the under ripe avocado).  I'd be interested to return and try the vegan big breakfast with the vegie sausage.

I seem to have just spent most of the week chasing my tail.  However I have caught up with friends, seen Joan Baez in concert (amazing) and had afternoon tea at 2 Little Birds with Sylvia and my mum in Geelong.  They had lots of beautiful cakes I had this lovely caramel date cupcake.

The weekend snuck up on me very quietly.  But I was glad to welcome the warm weather and head off to the holiday atmosphere of Coburg Carnivale.  We took along honey joys to the cake stall and sampled a few of the cakes and slices.  Sylvia had a rainbow painted on her face.  We all caught up with friends and enjoyed some lunch from the mall.  I still love the Half Moon falafels!

We tried to keep our eyes on the performances but spent more time on the suitcase rummage.  I particularly loved Retro Momentos upcycled Australian tea towels that were made into bags, wallets and aprons.  Sylvia made a badge and a Kingfisher bird and E bought some artwork and got a free Moreland tote bag.

There was also dancing, music, circus performers.  My favourite thing of all at the Carnivale was the robot baby in the pram.  The mama (or dada?) robot was very amusing but the robot baby was so cute that I want one! And on that note I will leave you to head off on holiday.  I have scheduled a few posts while we are away but will be quiet on the commenting until we are back on Friday.

More caramel recipe from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Caramel cake
Caramel chocolate chunk muffins (v)
Caramel fudge (gf)
Chocolate caramel layered fudge (gf)
Chocolate caramel slice (v)
Chocolates with healthy caramel filling (gf, v) 
(Healthy) caramel popcorn (gf, v)

Salted caramel popcorn
From Pop: 40 recipes from popcornland

1/2 cup popcorn kernels
115g butter (I used vegan margarine)
115g caster sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Make popcorn first by putting 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels in a large brown bag, folding it over 3 times and twisting the edges.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes or until the popping reduces to once every few seconds.  Sort through for any unpopped kernels.  We found the easiest way to do this was to put into a bowl, take out the fluffy popped corn at the top and the unpopped ones would sink to the bottom.  Repeat with second 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels.   Spread popped corn into a large roasting tray lined with baking paper.

To make the caramel, mix butter, sugars and salt in a medium saucepan.  Melt butter and sugar.  Gently bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes without stirring.  Remove from heat.  Mix in vanilla and bicarb immediately.  Pour over popcorn in prepared tin and stir until mixed through.

Cook at 140 C for 10 to 45 minutes.  (I found that 10 or 15 minutes was enough but the recipe says 45 minutes.)  Cool and eat or store.  It lasts a few days in a sealed container.

On the stereo:
More Silly Songs: 20 more simply super singable silly songs: Various Artists

Thursday 24 September 2015

Alice Hart's Summer Minestrone - in Spring!

It is a rare treat to have a night of cooking with no deadlines, no small girl to distract me, no husband waiting with rumbling belly.  I didn't plan it.  Fate was just feeling kind this week!  It just so happened that when we asked my mum to have Sylvia overnight while we see Joan Baez tonight, that she was in town yesterday and took Sylvia for two nights.

I had seen a Spring Leek Minestrone in the latest Coles Magazine.  It was a lovely green but had meat in it so I knew I needed to fiddle with the recipe.  Fortunately it brought to mind a gorgeous green Summer Minestrone in Alice Hart's Vegetarian that I swoon over every time I browse the cookbook.  I mostly followed Alice Hart but brought in some pasta from the Coles recipe and altered the vegies a little depending upon what I had.

I really loved the texture of the soup which was cooked by halving the green vegies to simmer one batch to melting tenderness and then adding the other batch just at the end so they kept their colour and a slight toothsomeness.

The soup would be great without pasta if you wanted it gluten free.  I would either use smaller pasta next time, like risoni or a smaller macaroni, or a grain like rice or quinoa.  I often chop vegies as I cook a stew but as greens need to be ready on time to retain the colour, I made sure I prepared all the vegies before I started cooking.  I used frozen broad beans and peas but was happy to welcome fresh asparagus into my kitchen now it is Spring.

I love reading food writing.  Nigella Lawson's prose is such a joy.  Alice Hart's cookbook is really beautiful to read but I did feel she went a little far in claiming that if you keep the soup to the next day you will find that "the vegetables may not be as sprightly but will have gained wisdom and character".  Though perhaps E might appreciate some wisdom from his vegetables, given that he ate his soup with a fork.

I am delighted to have finally made this soup.  It was every bit as wonderful as it looked.  Happily I also had time to set up the light box last night to photograph it!  I would like to stick around telling you more but I have a shower to scrub, forms to fill out and muesli to bake while the house is quiet!

I am sending this minestrone to Meat Free Mondays and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

More Spring recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Asparagus, artichoke and wild rice salad (gf, v)
Corn fritters (gf)
Gnocchi with Mexican corn (v)
Japanese snow pea salad (gf, v)
Maple walnut asparagus bowl (gf, v)
Smoky potato, bean and corn salad (gf, v)
Spring risotto soup (gf, v)
Strawberry soup (gf, v)

Summer minestrone 
Adapted from Alice Hart's Vegetarian and Coles Magazine
Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
250g asparagus, sliced
200g broad beans, podded weight, skins removed
200g peas
200g green beans, sliced
75g edamame beans
1150ml water*
2 tsp salt*
1 tsp vegetable stock powder*
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
100g small pasta pieces*
2-3 dessertspoons unsweetened yoghurt*
handful fresh mint
freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp fresh pesto, to serve*

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large saucepan.  Fry garlic, leek, celery and fennel for about 10 minutes until soft, stirring frequently.

Add half the asparagus, peas, broad beans, green beans, edamame with all the water, salt, stock powder and vinegar.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add pasta and simmer 5 minutes.  Add remaining greens and simmer a final 5 minutes.  Check pasta is cooked.

Stir in yoghurt, mint and black pepper.  Ladle into soup bowls and swirl in some pesto.  Eat hot, warm or cool.  It can be made a day ahead or leftover kept in the fridge overnight.

  • Fresh vegies are best but I used frozen peas, edamame and broad beans.  I weighed 200g of the broad beans in their grey skins and then skinned them before adding to the soup.  
  • I didn't have stock so I added a mixture of stock powder and salt but if I had a good vegie stock I would use that and I might even reduce the stock slightly as E said it was too watery for him.  
  • I used a macaroni pasta but would use a smaller one next time or grains like rice or quinoa (especially if I wanted it gluten free).  
  • I used yoghurt instead of cream.  If you wanted to make it vegan you could use vegan yoghurt, cashew cream or even a splash of vegan milk and a little less stock.

On the stereo:
Very Early Joan: Joan Baez

Tuesday 22 September 2015

1000 Pound Bend, and David Bowie is at ACMI

100 Pound Bend is closed

E and I dropped of Sylvia for an extended playdate (thanks Kerin) the other day and headed into the city for lunch at 1000 Pound Bend and the David Bowie exhibition at ACMI.  It was a day of sensory overload but sadly not of the culinary type.  However we enjoyed our afternoon out.

Arriving in the city, we disembarked from our tram at the State Library where a protest in support of refugees was in progress.  I was a little sad not to be able to join in but our time was limited.

Instead we headed down Little Lonsdale Street to 1000 Pound Bend.  E and I love a grungy cafe in Brunswick or Fitzroy but there are less of them in the city.  So we were pleased to find this warehouse converted into an art student cafe so centrally located. 1000 Pound Bend was even more of interest because it is a favourite haunt of Amanda Palmer when she has been in Melbourne.

I really loved use of found objects in the decor.  I counted three small old television sets.  They make me feel nostalgic for when we had such sets in student houses and we played about with the rabbit ears, strove to see the picture through the snow and hit the tv to stop the picture rolling!  

In the top photo you can see some old archways at the bar.  They are works of art.  Looking around we spotted a little book nook, old paraffin lamps and old paintings.  The main problem with the ambiance was that the music was a bit too loud.  The waitresses seemed to like it as they were dancing about the cafe as they took orders!  I started with a very nice ginger beer.

We were there for lunch and the menu offered a few vegetarian options.  Chana masala, an antipasto plate, kimchi pancakes, a haloumi burger and a vegan burger as well as the breakfast faves an eggy fry up and smashed avocado on toast.  I chose the vegan pumpkin, chickpea and kale burger with harissa mayonnaise and pickled vegetables.  The pattie was huge and overflowed the bun.  I enjoyed it but I wished I had some salad and chips on the side.  It just was too much bun and burger patty which made it seem a little plain, albeit slightly spicy.  E reported that his croissant with ham and cheese was fine.

Then because I am addicted to nutella doughnuts (as you will see in a coming post), I shared one with E.  It was a big mistake.  I later described it as being like a kitchen sponge filled with nutella.  I hesitate to be so down on any cafe but this doughnut was really dry.  We really loved the ambiance and hope to return to the cafe, though I think we would be happy to just stop for a drink rather than a meal.  Though I would be interested to try other dishes.

One part of the building that fascinated us was the windows which had bars on them but no glass.  We were sure there must be shutters.  However when I asked a waitress, I was told that they had recently changed the layout and the windows near us had previously been in a smoking section.

I love a place with some interesting street art and you will know 1000 Pound Bend by its street art as you walk along Little Lonsdale Street.  So we admired the street art as we left and boarded a tram to ACMI in Federation Square.  (ACMI's more pretentious name is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.)

We stopped in the gift shop first and, although there is some interesting David Bowie merchandise, the item that really caught my eye was this cat scratching pad.  How cute is that!

But onto the exhibition, it was overwhelming.  In fact, David Bowie is overwhelming with all his constantly changing styles, music, masks, haircuts, costumes and brilliant ideas!  My favourite exhibit was a tissue blotted with his lipstick that was over 40 years old!  Really!  Who kept it?  I also loved watching the Life on Mars video while standing beside Bowie's powder blue suit and looking at his handwritten lyrics.

It is the first exhibition I have been to where we wore headphones that pick up the soundtrack depending on where we stood.  This added to the sensory overload.  I did wonder that the exhibition started with Bowie's early life with lots of information about his personal life and historical context but there was little of this after the 1960s.  However it is a great exhibition and made for a really interesting afternoon out.

100 Pound Bend is closed 

1000 Pound Bend
361 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne CBD

1000 Pound Bend Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday 19 September 2015

No bake chocolate oat slice

The School Holidays started today.  We are all tired and in need of a break.  Or in lieu of a break, at least an easy recipe to pep us up!  I found this no bake chocolate oat recipe on Pinterest.  It was simple, delicious and slightly healthy.

I loved how quick it was to put together, even given that I made my own oatmeal out of rolled oats using my blender, and then blended up some almonds to make almond butter.  (The original recipe was peanut butter and I think other nut butters would work well too.  I suspect this might also work with coconut oil and coconut sugar in the oat layer.) 

I really loved the toffee flavours in the oat layer compared to the thick creamy barely sweet chocolate layer.  My only quibble was that the oat layer was really buttery and I would try it with a little less butter next time.

Soon after making it, a neighbour visited for a chat.  It was still setting, not quite keeping its shape but just firm enough to cut into pieces.  We took some onto the verandah with a cuppa, chatted for a bit and then helped ourselves to just a little more.  It was so good.  Sylvia and E agreed when they got home.  They were delighted too.   I think it might be a new favourite slice.

I am sending the slice to Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer for Treat Petite, and to Kimmy for Healthy Vegan Fridays.

More oaty vegan slices on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chocolate and ginger flapjacks
Chocolate lime energy slice 
Glo Bars 
Pumpkin muesli slice
Raspberry oat slice
Tahini muesli bars 

No bake chocolate oat slice
Adapted from all recipes

230g margarine (or butter)*
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 2/3 cups oatmeal
1/3 cups hemp seeds (or more oats)
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

190g dark chocolate (I used 67%)
1/2 cup almond butter (or other nut butter)

Line a 22cm square tin with baking paper.  Melt margarine in a medium saucepan.  (*I think there was a lot of butter and would try 200g next time.)  Stir in brown sugar then oatmeal, hemp seeds, vanilla and salt.  Tip about half of it into the prepared tin and press evenly and firmly across the tin.  Gently melt chocolate and nut butter in a small saucepan (I used a steamer to keep saucepan from touching the burner).  Spread evenly across the oat mixture in the tin.  Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate mixture to cover it as much as possible.  Press down gently.  Set in the fridge for a few hours.  Cut into squares.  Keep in the fridge.

On the Stereo:
1989: Taylor Swift