Wednesday 30 August 2023

Budapest Cafe, Carlton, Melbourne

Budapest Cafe is one of those small cafes that looks unassuming from the street but has made an impact online.  Situated in the student quarters of Swanston Street, it offers some innovative and attractive meals.  The design is inspired by the Wes Anderson film The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Definitely a place for instagrammers and those in search of something different.

We started with drinks from the specials menu.  Sylvia ordered an Agatha: Rose lemonade with mixed berry.  I ordered a Fruit of Eden: Red berry dust, gourmet lychee blush, lime juice and ruby red sparkling.  They came with a large ice cube at the top of the drink in addition to lots of ice blocks.  Sylvia' tasted quite strongly of rose and mine had a slightly sharp edge.  We both enjoyed them but ended up swapping drinks.

Sylvia ordered the Egg Benedict Garden with no bacon.  It was a generous 2 poached eggs and 2 hash browns on a croissant and topped with spicy Hollandaise sauce and microgreens.  On the side was a pile of greens with balsamic vinegar crisp leaves.  Sylvia loved it and found it very filling.  It was her first experience of poached egg.  She enjoyed them with her dish.

I honed in on the unusual Pumpkin Toast.  This was two piece of pumpkin toast slathered with lots of Greek yoghurt/hummus (I tasted mostly yoghurt) and topped with roasted pumpkin, nuts (pistachios?), a good drizzle of caramel sauce, and a micro salad.  Pumpkin and caramel sauce in a savoury dish sounds odd but it worked really well.  There was also a nice hint of smoky flavour, which may have been the red dust on the meal.  I would have preferred a little less yoghurt and more roasted pumpkin but it was a very satisfying dish.  I was glad I chose this over the avocado smash!

We shared a Strawberry Croffle for dessert from the specials menu.  The croffle - a croissant crossed with a waffle - came with generous serves of good strawberry jam and cream.  There was possibly more cream than croffle - a bit much for me but Sylvia loved it.  The cream was topped with strawberry dust, fresh strawberries and a strawberry syrup.  The jam and cream on the croffle were delicious but I wished there were more of the chopped strawberries on top.

The award-winning design by Baisol Designs feels a like a 1960s futuristic space with arches and stairs to nowhere.  My photos don't do the warm terracotta hues justice.  The waiters wear what I can only describe as beige lab coats but looked more warehouse than laboratory.  On the back they read "Lobby Boy" - a reference to the Grand Budapest Hotel. There were lots of other customers - quite a few students - and the serve was friendly and attentive. It wasn't a cheap meal at $85.80 but we were very happy with our lunch.

Budapest Cafe
498 Swanston Street, Carlton, Melbourne
Open daily from 9am - 3.30pm

Saturday 26 August 2023

Tofu nuggets - revisited

There are some recipes that we make over and over.  One is tofu nuggets, the vegan cousin of the much maligned chicken nuggets.  They are delicious hot off the frypan, cold the next day or chopped up into so many dishes.  I first wrote about them in 2011 - yes 12 years ago - when I first made them.  Now I have made them enough to write them up again with much more experience.

These are not the easiest meal but the recipe makes quite a lot so usually we have leftovers.  Sometimes I wish Sylvia would eat tofu nuggets from the supermarket.  But she prefers homemade.  More often I wish more cafes would serve tofu nuggets.  Very few do.  Perhaps very few kids love tofu nuggets as much as my daughter.  I guess not so many have had them since they were toddlers.

Sylvia sometimes requests tofu nuggets for dinner.  I made her these tofu nuggets recently and was in the flow.  It seemed easier than usual.  It might have been that I had a little more energy or that the equipment was right.  These days I have a tofu press and a cast iron frypan.  That makes a difference!  My daughter is also old enough to help with making tofu nuggets.

The tofu is not marinated so it can be a bit bland but the crumb coating is full of flavour and when eaten with tomato sauce or aioli these are really good.  I adapted a recipe from Vegan Dad that used poultry spice.  This is not a spice mix I have ever had.  But I often have a spice mix that I need to get through.  I like that the nuggets are often slightly different in flavour depending on what is around.  Though for me the best bit is that the crispy coating reminds me of the fish fingers I loved as a kid without the fishy taste.

When I first started to make these tofu nuggets many years ago I would bake them.  They were pretty good but I find my oven frustratingly slow.  Once I started to fry them in my cast iron frypan, I could get them much crispier and much quicker.  

Once cooked they are a great versatile protein, a substitute for meat in all sorts of dishes.  They work well as either as the protein component of a meat and two veg style meal or in a pasta dish or with a stirfry sauce or with some salads in summer.  I have used them in a few dishes on my blog and include links to these and other serving suggestions at the end of the recipe.

One thing I have always disliked about crumbing foods is the leftovers in the dipping bowls.  Lately I have been mixing the leftovers with whatever is about: On the occasion of the above photo I mixed it with cauliflower rice and ground almonds.  Then I fried these fritters and added them to spaghetti with tomato sauce.  Delicious!

More basic proteins on Green Gourmet Giraffe blog:

Tofu nuggets
adapted from Vegan Dad via Green Gourmet Giraffe
serves 4-6

  • 500g (about 1 lb) firm tofu*
  • oil or oil spray, for cooking
Milk mixture
  • 3/4 cup soy milk*
  • 1 tbsp seeded mustard
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives or 1 tsp onion flakes
  • 1/4 tsp chilli paste, or more
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Flour mixture
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal flour*
  • 1 tsp seasoning mix of choice*
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
Crumb mixture
  • 1 cup crushed cornflakes (or 3 cups of uncrushed cornflakes, crushed in a blender)*
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs* 

Press tofu for at least 30 minutes.  This is best done with a tofu press but if you don't have one you can put the tofu on a chopping board and top with your heavy stuff such as chopping boards, cookbooks, big tins of legumes etc.  

Slice into squares (3x3x3) or rectangles (3x4x2) .  For rectangles, I cut into three layers, then cut stack in half on top, half these again to make 4 piles of rectangles and then halve each rectangle into two shorter rectangles to get about 24 nuggets.  If I want square I cut three layers and then cut into three piles of rectangles and then cut into three piles the other way so they are square.  See diagram below.

Place milk into a deep bowl, and the flour mixture and crumb mixture into shallow bowls.  Dip the tofu pieces in milk, flour, milk, crumbs and place on a plate.  Use two forks to dip in milk and move from bowl to bowl so you minimise handling.  Have spoons to make sure they are well covered with flour and then crumbs.  When  dipping in milk for the second time, make sure the flour coating is all moist but don't have in the milk too long or the flour will dissolve into the milk which will become thicker than is good for dipping.

Now that you have your tufo crumbed, you can set it aside for later (which I don't usually do but could help if you need to prepare earlier) or cook by either baking or frying: 

To bake:

Place crumbed tofu pieces on a lined oven tray.  Spray with oil.  Bake at 220 C (or less if your oven is not as slow as mine)  for about 15 minutes.  Turn them over and spray the other side with oil.  Return to the oven for about 10 minutes or until crisp.

To fry:

I highly recommend a cast iron pan if you have one.  Heat to medium high and add some oil to generously cover the pan.  Use tongs to lower crumbed tofu into oil and it should be almost golden brown on the underside once you have them all on the pan.  Turn over and fry until the underside is golden brown.  Use tongs to turn to the side and give a little press on hot pan - rotate and repeat until all side fried.  Remove from heat to a paper towel lined plate.  Can be kept warm in low oven if required.


  • You can use other milks but we usually use soy milk, which makes them vegan.  
  • If the milk mixture becomes really thick, add a little extra milk to thin it out.
  • The seasoning mix depends on your preferences.  I like a tex mex sort of seasoning mix or a dukkah.  If you don't have a seasoning mix, I have used a mix of smoked paprika, cumin, stock powder, allspice and black salt.
  • Sometimes I just blend up breadcrumbs out of old bread in the freezer.  Lately I have been using panko breadcrumbs which are excellent.
  • These can be made gluten free with GF flour, GF breadcrumbs and GF cornflakes. 
  • The mixture can be used on cauliflower instead of tofu: lightly steam the florets of the head of cauliflower for about 10 min until tender.  Dip in the crumb coating.  I baked it for 20 minutes at 240 C.  Delicious!  I would love to try it with eggplant slices too.  Lots of vegetables would work here.
  • Mix leftover dipping mixtures together with ground almonds, peanut butter or mashed tofu and make into fritters or "cheat balls".


  • As finger food for kids
  • In a Katsu Curry
  • Chopped on Pizza
  • Chopped up in a Sushi Salad (or a sushi handroll)
  • In a Taco or Tortilla topped with lettuce, tomato, finely chopped cabbage, guacamole, salsa and yoghurt
  • With a salad such as this Carrot and Seed Salad
  • Instead of meatballs topped in tomato sauce on spaghetti with cheese on top
  • As a protein chopped up in a Vegetarian Bolognaise
  • In a stirfry with sauce such as this Sweet and Sour Tofu
  • In a sandwich with coleslaw or your favourite salad fillings. 

On the Stereo:
The White Bread Album: The Burnt Sausages

Saturday 19 August 2023

Eastside adventures: Sebby Scrolls, Shanklin and Friends of Mine and street art

One of the joys of working four days a week is that a three day weekend gives more time to spend with my daughter.  We had an interesting day a few weeks back going around the East of Melbourne.  Firstly we went to buy what Sylvia swore were the best cinnamon scrolls in Melbourne, to the cafe with Turkish delight latte and past another place where we had been recently.  In between there was street art and some childhood memories.

Our first port of call was Sebby Scrolls at 11am.  After hearing from Sylvia that they were the best in Melbourne, I was surprised at how humble they appeared.  They sell two products -  cinnamon scrolls and cheeseymite scrolls - from a hole in the wall in a suburban street.  But we could see them making dozens and dozens of scrolls.  There was a steady stream of customers and when we drove back past less than an hour later, they were sold out.  Opening hours are 8.30am-2pm or until sold out!

We bought 2 of the cheeseymite scrolls and 4 of the cinnamon scrolls to take to the park over the road.  I loved my cheeseymite.  It was soft and warm with lots of vegemite throughout the swirly scrolls and lots of crispy melted cheese on top.  It was so filling I did not have much room for a cinnamon scroll.  Just a little taste.  They were nice but not my sort of scroll.  I grew up with coffee scrolls with golden brown edges and a little dollop of pink plastic icing.  Now I am not endorsing pink plastic icing but I just need a little and I found the oodles of cream cheese frosting too sweet and too messy.  I also found the scrolls cooked but much softer than I like.  Sylvia loved them.  Of course they lasted her a few days!

It was lovely sitting in the park having warm scrolls.  The backstory of Sebby's Scrolls is a couple who perfected baking cinnamon scrolls during the covid lockdowns and opened their own commercial kitchen, which now makes scrolls for over 45 businesses in Melbourne.  So if you can't find their hole in the wall in South Caulfield, you might find them at a place nearer you such as Terror Twilight, Seven Seeds and Applehead Deli.

Then we had a drive about because this was the part of Melbourne where I lived for the first few years of my life but rarely visit now.  The area must have changed a lot since I spent time here as a child but I can't remember how it was.  Above is some street art on a corner of North Road that I liked.

We came across more lovely street art from a deli called The Fresh Feast in East Hawthorn.  It looked really nice and we would have come back to buy arancini if not so full after visiting our next place.

A few doors down from The Fresh Feast is Shanklin Cafe.  It is in a little terrace house with exposed brick walls, warm lights and artworks.  When we arrived there was a short queue and it didn't take long to seat us in the little room between the verandah and the larger room with the counter

The reason we were there was that Sylvia wanted to try the Turkish Delatte ($6).  There are so many attractive lattes about but they are just flavoured milk which is not my thing.  Sylvia loves milk much more than me.  Which is so lovely that I can admire her choices.  This warm (Turkish Delight) rose flavoured latte (no coffee) came with whipped cream, dried rose petals and rose dust.  Sylvia enjoyed it with some hot chips ($8) but did not finish her latte.

Meanwhile I tossed up between the corn fritters and the pancakes.  Knowing I am not often in Hawthorn, I chose the more decadent option of the Nutella Stuffed Pancakes ($27).  The menu says they are served with seasonal fruits, mixed berry and vanilla compôte, nutella labne, pistachio, caramelised walnut served with vanilla bean ice cream & maple syrup.  

Mine came with a whopping 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream that I politely pushed to the side.  Not my thing!  I would have preferred more maple syrup.  I enjoyed the generous dollop of nutella, with more between the pancakes and all the berries and compote around the side.  But it was rather rich and I took some of it home in a box to enjoy later.  It was accompanied by a pleasing berry kombucha.

Then we drove homewards.  As we went down Swan Street, we passed busy netball courts and a cafe with yellow awnings and welcoming lights.  I mentioned to Sylvia that it looked like a nice place to visit.  She checked the name and found it was Friends of Mine, a cafe that had looked quite different when we had visited a few months before on a dreary rainy day.  Above is an amusing piece of Eastside toff street art we had seen when walking from our car park.

So I digress to tell you about our visit to Friends of Mine.  We had decided to visit after an Ikea excursion.  It was warm and light after coming in from the rain.  More spacious warehouse than cosy cottage but lots of yellow and exposed brickwork and large modern artwork.  It was very busy, a little noisy and rather welcoming.

Sylvia chose fried eggs on toast with some hot chips.  I wanted to try the Cheesy Herb Toast comprised of five grain toast with golden grilled béchamel sauce, parmesan, tasty cheese and mozzarella.  On the side I had some roasted tomatoes and thyme buttered mushrooms.   I liked the idea of cheese on toast which was far more common in my childhood than a cheese toastie.  I was so cold I had a hot chocolate for extra warmth.  We were very pleased with our brunch.

As we continued our drive home, I stopped to photograph some street art.  This Charlie Brown and Snoopy street art was on Coppin Street almost opposite Dame Nellie Melba Memorial Park.

Then there were the fighters painted on Church Street near the corner of Bridge Road.

We headed back North, just stopping at Clay Organics in Rathdowne Street, North Carlton for a spot of health food shopping before arriving home.

Sebby's Scrolls
367 North Road, Caulfield South
Takeaway only
Hours: Wed to Sat 8.30am - 2pm, Sun 8.30am - 1pm
(or until sold out)

Shanklin Cafe
500 Tooronga Road, Hawthorn East
Hours: Mon to Sat 6.30am - 3pm, Sun 7am - 3pm

Friends of Mine
500 Swan Street, Richmond
Hours:  Mon to Fri 7am - 3pm, Sat to Sun 7.30am - 3pm

Friday 11 August 2023

In my kitchen: August 2023

August has arrived with milder weather that is pleasant after cold days but fuels our worries about global warming delivering a scorching summer.  Despite - or perhaps because of - this we are a bit more hopeful in my house.  Our food is a little healthier with more cooking, more fruit and more vegies.  Lots of pasta, pizza, rice bowls and smoothies.  Sylvia has been doing some delicious meals.  Not a lot of natural light for photos but I am still finding more time for blogging than last year.  

We have been getting out and about a bit more.  In July I have enjoyed the Lightscape at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, the ABC Southbank Studios: Open House, and Barbenheimer, though I saw the Barbie movie one day and Oppenheimer on the next rather then on the same day.  We have also been to quite a few cafes including a 60 minute wait at Calle Bakery for Bastille Day hot chocolate and croissant wheels.  I am quite tired and looking forward to more bike riding and energy as Spring approaches.  Meanwhile the news seems a little crazy with an inquiry into UFO coverups in the USA, refugees locked up on a barge in the UK and locally we have fatal deathcap mushroom poisonings,

The above dish combines Sylvia's love of pasta and mushrooms with my love of my cast iron frypan.  It was a simple creamy mushroom sauce over some truffle infused pasta.  So delicious.  I guess many people would have this regularly but cream and mushrooms are not really my sort of thing.  It surprised me just how good it was.  The creamy sauce was absorbed by the pasta so it wasn't as rich as I feared, and I was able to fry the mushrooms to golden brown on the cast iron.

I glory in colourful food, especially green and purple.  These packages sparked joy in me.  Unfortunately the processed Garden Veg crackers minis were dull coloured and tasted like grassy cardboard.  The purple potato chips were simply potato, oil, salt and a brilliant colour.  They were so good.

Some random groceries.  We've been nibbling on cereal lately.  Sylvia tried the Tiny Teddies cereal which was cute but too sweet.  I was tempted by the Choc Malt NutriGrain.  It was odd and not particularly better than the original NutriGrain but it was oddly edible!  Sylvia had to have a go at cooking the Buldok ramen noodles she had seen on TikTok cooked with gochujang, cream, bulkok carbonara seasoning, and cheese.  She really loved it, though went easy on the gochujang.  She was also very pleased with strawberry flavoured hello panda bikkies, Lays chips and brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts.

This curly spaghetti was bought at the Mediterranean Wholesalers near the corner of Sydney Rd and Victoria St.  It has such an amazing variety of pasta.  We call this the telephone cord pasta - for obvious reasons - and have enjoyed it very much in a few different dishes.

These two pizzas were made on a night where we had a matchbox size wedge of cheese.  Luckily we had some leftovers to jazz it up.  The pizza on the left has tomato sauce, a little cheese, mushrooms, olives, tofu bacon and vegan omelette.  It was so good.  The pizza on the right is the garlic, olive oil, salt and parsley pizza.  Again it was really good. 

This is a loaded baked potato that disappeared under all the toppings.  I made a mac and cheese to top it and then added salsa, refried beans, guacamole, spinach and yoghurt.  Every time I have baked potato I wonder why I don't have them more.  They are so good, especially on a cold winter's night.

I remember when if you wanted a bottle of hot sauce, you bought tabasco.  These days there are shelves and shelves of hot sauces so I get why tabasco brings out new versions of their classic.  I have used this smoky version a bit but in quite small amounts so far that I can't tell you if I made the right decision to buy it.

I wish I could say that I made this above meal.  It was actually from Saporito Bar and Grill (12-16 Kavanagh St, Southbank and becomes a Mexican restaurant in the evening) where I had lunch with my dad after visiting the ABC Southbank Studios a few weekends back.  The Poke Bowl ($24.50) had Sweet spicy tofu, rice, avocado, edamame, tomato, miso-slaw, and trail mix on carrot and chickpea puree.  I was fascinated by the purple powder but never found what it was.  The bowl was huge - bigger than my head - and I ended up taking some of it home for dinner.

While we have been making rice bowls quite a bit, this one was a noodle and dumpling bowl with tomatoes, spinach, miso roasted pumpkin, avocado and roasted cashews.  Most delicious.

As soon as Sylvia heard about Donut King cinnamon donut flavoured Twisties she was fascinated and finally was delighted to buy some.  This is one of the oddest products for a long time.  Twisties are a savoury corn snack that we usually buy cheese flavour.  These donut flavours mess with the mind as they are mostly savoury with some sweet cinnamon flavours.  I was surprised that they were edible but I think I just had to eat a few in the same way that you might pinch yourself to make sure it isn't a dream.

A few weeks back Sylvia and I had a cuppa and onigiri at Chooka's (1 Ballarat, St Brunswick).  We decided to go for dessert in the South East suburbs but luckily when we put the address into GPS, we were told the bakery was closed.  We looked for other bakeries nearer.  So the first place we went was Wild Life Bakery (90 Albert St, Brunswick).  I have heard great things about this place and bought the last loaf of bread from the shelf.  It was pleasingly substantial with airy holes, a chewy crust and a malty flavour.

There were a few pastries left and I bought a "bear claw" with sauerkraut and cheese.  It was lovely.  So crisp and flaky but I think it would have been nicer warm with melted cheese.

We also went to Babka Bakery Cafe (358 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy), where we also got a takeaway.  I had a piece of Chocolate Babka - of course - which was actually a huge slab that took me days to eat it.  Sylvia had a pain au chocolate which she said was the best she had ever had.

Lastly we did a bit of shopping at Wild Things Food (230 St Georges Road, North Fitzroy).  It is a fancy health food store that is a pleasure to visit.  We started with asking about microgreens and got some passionate advice from a staff member.  Then we expressed excitement at the White Truffle Chips and a woman beside us said that we were now tempting her and grabbed a packet for her son's visit.  They were delicious, as were the tofu and shitake dumplings.

Sylvia was interested to try Furikake seasoning.  It is a Japanese mix of sesame seeds, chilli, salt and seaweed flakes.  She has warned me not to be too generous with it because then the chilli kicks in a bit fiercely.  It is rather good sprinkled over a rice bowl.

We love garlic in our house and Sylvia was excited to discover elephant garlic.  I have photographed it above with some regular garlic so you can see just how huge the cloves are.

I remember going to Wild Things last year and seeing Sobah non-alcoholic beer but there were so many new products to take in that I forgot to buy the beer.  I had hoped to find it on this visit but there was none to be found.  Instead I found this Strawberry Sublime Gose.  In the many years since I had an alcoholic beer, there are many craft beers flooded the market and I feel quite lacking in beer vocab.  I had to look up 'gose' to find it is a salty and sour German beer.  It was quite tart, a little fruity thought not much strawberry flavours, and quite refreshing.

My parents recently returned home from Morocco, Portugal and Ireland.  These Percy Pigs lollies are a special party time version from Marks and Spencer in Dublin which were brought back for Sylvia.  These are yet to opened but we have Percy Pigs before so it will be nice to taste them again.

I was given a cool vegetable-themed pair of socks from Dublin (thanks Chris) and a beautiful chunky green plate from Morocco.

Finally our kitchen table has been seconded by Sylvia for putting together a Tiny Terrace Natural House DIY kit.  It was quite fiddly to work with such tiny items (the whole thing is about 30 cm wide) but she had a lot of patience and attention to detail.  It is so cute and made even cute with some cats from a previous kit.

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event. 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 and her gorgeous hand drawn header.

Friday 4 August 2023

ABC Southbank Studio: Open House Melbourne

On Saturday, my dad and I went to the ABC Southbank Studio for Open House Melbourne this year.  This required booking (free) tickets ahead.  I heard them announce it on ABC radio on the day they were released.  I was very pleased.  

From as far back as I can remember the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) has been part of my life.  From Adventure Island in black and white as a small child to rolling around laughing at Fawlty Towers with my family, from watching Behind the News to singing along to Let's Sing at school, from learning about the excitment of pop music on Countdown to listening to ABC radio while decorating Christmas cake with my mum.  As a university student I loved 3JJJ while washing lab equipment and I was interviewed on 3LO by Doug Aitken about my Masters thesis.  As an adult I was first dazzled by Hugh Jackman on Corelli, had the company of Jon Faine on 774 radio while on maternity leave, I watched ABC kids with my daughter and I still listen to the Radio Melbourne while I work.  

I could go on and on about my favourite shows and people but let me tell you about the ABC studios.

When I met my dad outside the building, there was a long queue.  It moved quickly and before we knew it we were inside the building watching Matt Preston, Michael Rowlands and Catherine Murphy recording the morning's radio show live in the atrium.  The stars were not only on the podium but also circulating and chatting.  As I came in I met Brian Nankervis and reminded him that years ago as Raymond J Batholomeus I bought a book of his poetry and he wrote "we will always have Paris" on it.  My dad went to chat to Jacinta Parsons who does the Friday afternoon show with Brian.

So many great kids shows on the ABC: Sesame Street, Inspector Gadget, Danger Mouse, Mr Squiggle, Grange Hill, Peppa Pig, The Famous Five, Horrible Histories, Little Lunch, Gather Your Dreams, Miraculous, Seven Little Australians, Fireman Sam, Metal Mickey, Operation Ouch, I loved Playschool as a kid with John Hamblin, John Waters, Noni and Benita, and then again as a parent when my daughter loved watching Justine Clarke, Essie Davis, Rhys Muldoon, Alex Papps, Karen and Teo.  

So many good memories of Big Ted, Little Ted, Humphrey and Jemima, of the stories, the craft, the time on the rocket clock and looking through the windows.  I was excited to see all the familiar faces.  But where is Hannibal?  And those craft cakes remind me of all the things they made that I wanted to make.

Then we went and got a photo with Bluey and Bingo.  It saddens me that my daughter was born a little early to have Bluey in her childhood.  It doesn't mean that we can't watch it now.  That show is so delightful.  I love cheeky and curious Bluey and Bingo with their giggles and games.  Their parents are just the sort of people I would like to visit for the bbq on a deck.  But I suspect they would be such amazing parents that I would feel inadequate.

The ABC was all out on show.  I admired the dresses and asked what show they were from.  I was told Harrow.  It is a show I never watched but wasn't it contemporary?  These look like vintage dresses so I was confused.  

After all there are so many ABC shows I loved that could have had paraphernalia on display: Jack Irish, Back in time for dinner, Fisk, Grand designs, Dr Who, Miss Fischer's Murder Mysteries, Mother and Son,  Life on Mars, Midsomer Murders, the D Generation, Redfern Now, The Goodies, Paper Giants, Australia You're Standing in it, The Bill.

Television was launched in Australia in 1956, the year that the Olympic Games were held in Melbourne.  There was a display of cameras, spotlights, on air signs and even a tv from that year.  ABC radio started back in the 1930s but it is the start of television that is the glory moment of the broadcaster's history.

We went into television studio 31.  I don't know what I expected but it was not this.  Two sets were set up on different sides of the room.  On one side was Hard Quiz and on the other was Q and A.  I am not a fan of Tom Gleeson's comedy style which is filled with cynical disdain.  I have however come to enjoy his quiz show Hard Quiz.   

Tom Gleeson was not one of the ABC people roaming but it was interesting to  talk to people who work on the show behind the scenes.  We were told that Tom is actually a really nice guy once off the stage.  And it was quite fascinating to see how they had the two different sets quite close together and be told that this Hard Quiz set concertinas away once they have finished filming for the year.  It was roped off but I have always been curious about what is behind the doorway where the losing contestants do the walk of shame.  Sadly, this was not my opportunity to find out.

Then we went across to the QandA set.  I was delighted to see Patricia Karvelas (PK) was chatting to the public.  She always strikes me as a very interesting presenter - I love her combination of confidence and intelligence on current affairs shows.  My dad and I had a good chat to her about Collingwood's loss in the footy and also about Dan Andrews government and how change is inevitable in government.

We also talked to PK about how much of the ABC is recorded in Sydney.  This maybe why there aren't many shows on display.  Though quite a few of my favourite panelist shows are from overseas such as The Last Leg, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Would I Lie to You but there are still plenty of engaging local ones such as Spicks and Specks, Gruen, Insiders, The Glass House, The Drum.

It was fascinating to be told how they move the seating in and out of Studio 31.  Then we come around the corner and see these chairs packed away so neatly.

This picture looked like a background to a Melbourne current affairs program.  The next studio was a much smaller one.  It had a green screen set up for a news program so when we sat at sitting at the news desk and read the teleprompt, we could be seen on a screen with the news background behind us.  It was fun to see people trying this.

Next we headed upstairs to the radio studios.  We were told it was a 30 minute wait so we got in queue.  The time went quickly as radio presenters walked along chatting to us as we waiting.  Rafael Epstaein had a chat to my dad about the Carlton beating Collingwood in the footy the previous night (Raf was delighted).  Rochelle Hunt spoke about the logistics of her studio.  Meanwhile Trevor Chappell and Sammy J were chatting to others.  We also had plenty to watch with people like Charlie Pickering chatting to the cameras and a birds eye view of the activity in the atrium.  
We were also able to look into the fishbowl of the radio studios as we queued.  We could glimpse Virginia Trioli talking to people ahead of us.  From our side it looked like she was recording a program in front of the tour.

Before we knew it, we were in a group in the studio with Raf showing us show us how they view texts and fade out talk back callers.  The "tour" went very quickly and actually the queue was a lot more fun than being quickly shepherded through the studios.

When we went back into the atrium, Sammy J was enjoying playing the grand piano (with Countdown written over it).  Someone asked him to play a Taylor Swift song and he obliged with "Shake it Off", accompanied by David Astle.  I don't think it would make them many young fans but it gave me a laugh.

By then the recording had finished in the atrium.  The ABC staff were still chatting to the public.  It was impressive how much energy they put into the open house.  We were there 30 minutes after our allotted hour and ready to leave.  My dad and I headed out to lunch and agreed it was one of the best Open Houses we had been to over the years.

To see more of the buildings I have visited in previous years, look up Open House Melbourne in my Reviews and Reflections page.