HOT: Ika8, Footscray

inka8

Get kraken Melbourne; I’m not squidding! Footscray has a new street food squid restaurant called Ika8!

The bolthole store is squished between ChaTime and Footscray Market, across the road from Footscray train station at Irving Street.

squid restaurant footscray

Ika8 is the brainchild of a group of young second-generation Asian immigrants with roots in Melbourne’s west. Their mission is to bring their families’ culinary traditions to a new audience. It’s definitely a family affair – I spy one of the owner’s mum on the pans!

inka8

And why squid? You’ve got to admit, it’s a pretty niche dish.

Well, in Asia, squid is a protein that’s as common as chicken, beef or pork, whereas that’s not really the case in Australia. Ika8 is aiming to change that by introducing some funky new flavours to the humble squid.

While the restaurant is small (catering predominantly to a takeaway or quick eats crowd), the squid that they serve is GIANT!

inka8

Yes, giant squid on the stick is their signature dish. You can get it deep-fried or grilled with a variety of different sauces and seasoning ($9.99). It’s crunchy, sticky, saucy goodness and the head chef and part owner Eddie recommends his favourite to me, the Thai Tom Yum.

inka8

For those who aren’t quite ready to tackle giant squid you can order small bites (basically the squid cut into bite-size pieces in a slightly smaller portion), squid/calamari rings ($5).

squid restaurant footscray

My hot tip from the snacks are the cuttlefish balls on a skewer ($5). They are squishy without being chewy and come dressed in a tom yum sriracha chilli sauce or sticky garlic and ginger soy glaze, both of which I enjoy.

squid restaurant footscray

For a complete meal you can get a $12 bowl with grilled or fried squid and side of chips, rice or salad (or a combination of both). A handy meal on your way to/from the station I reckon. Note that the The Spicy Korean is pretty darn hot – if you need to extinguish the heat maybe try a milk bubble tea from ChaTime, just a sliding door away??

Ika8 is a really novel addition to Footscray’s food scene. It’s an unusual product that hasn’t been done in Melbourne before and I reckon it deserves all of our support for its pure chutzpah!

 

Ika8 24 Irving St Footscray VIC 3011

Daily 11-9pm

KaBloom Flower Festival at Tesselaar Flower Farm – Giveaway!

 

kabloom flower festival

This Easter and Autumn school holidays celebrate the carnival of colour at Tesselaar’s new KaBloom, Festival of Flowers held from Friday 30 March 30 to Sunday 15 April  2018.

It’s like the fabulous Tesselaar Tulip Festival – but with different flowers!

KaBloom will be an explosion of colour in nature, with waves of over 1.2 million flowers in bloom across five acres of garden at Tesselaar’s Tulip Farm in the Dandenong Ranges.

Festivities begin with the delicious Chocomania weekend (March 30 – April 2), with a visit from the Easter Bunny, Easter egg hunts and live entertainment daily with Cheek to Cheek and the Tracey Roberts Trio.

Family Fun Days (3-6 April and 9-13 April) kick off with daily shows from The Mik Maks, Bethany Fisher and Full Circle Drumming Workshops (first week) and The Kazoos, Trash Test Dummies and Ruccis Circus School (second week). Treasure hunts, petting zoo and giant garden games will keep the little ones entertained all day.

Get funky in the fields at the Rock the Fields weekend (7-8 April) with performances from The Itchy Fingers and Honey B and the Stingers all weekend. There will also be dancing workshops, a car display, and market stalls with a great range of 40’s & 50’s fashion to enhance your Rockabilly or Pin-up inspired look.

On the last Colourific Weekend (14-15 April), browse the annual Garden & Plant Expo and enjoy live entertainment from Fused and Bollywood dancers The Naach Box. If that’s too tame you can join in on our Colour War!


KaBloom Flower Festival, Tesselaar Flower Farm, 357 Monbulk Road, Silvan 9737 7722 

Friday 30 March – Sun 15 April 2018
Open every day from 10am – 5pm

Adults $25, concession $22 and children under 16 free. Some activities require pre-booking and additional costs, check website for further information.


Giveaway!

Thanks to KaBloom Flower Festival I have 5 x double adult passes (children are free) to visit any day from Friday 30 March – Sun 15 April 2018. To win just follow the instructions below. Good luck!

HOT: One for the Crow, 9 Commercial St Maidstone

One for the Crow a wholly plant-based cafe and nursery in Maidstone and possibly the first vegan cafe with a full kitchen in Melbourne’s inner west.

Maidstone locals Steph and Taze have transformed a sleepy suburban shopfront into a green oasis for plant-loving folk. Their combination of vegan eats + plants + coffee already have westies talking.

One for the Crow’s menu focuses on seasonal and wholesome food that just happens to be vegetarian/vegan friendly. You certainly don’t have to be vegetarian or vegan to eat there – I spot cheese toasties in the cupboard and you can request cow’s milk in your coffee. But the best thing is that you don’t have to pay extra to drink soy, almond or coconut milk in your Allpress coffee.

The soba noodle bowl ($16) is already a big hit, with good reason. It’s a bowl full of soy marinated tofu, broccoli and cauliflower florets, crunchy bean sprouts, baby spinach and garnished with pickled carrot and daikon. My insides feel like they’re getting a good, green cleanse! Note the tahini-miso dressing is quite subtle so if you can withstand the heat give everything a generous squirt of sriracha.

The waffles come with housemade not-tella, a grainy cocoa/nut paste, soy ice cream, caramelised banana and maple syrup ($16).

The glass cabinet contains a daily salad, fresh sandwiches and pies and baked goods from Crumbs Organic Bakehouse, including this tempting jam donut.

And finally, the reason for the name? It’s a traditional farming proverb about sowing seeds that Steph and Taze particularly like:

‘one for the mouse, one for the crow, one to rot, one to grow’.


One for the Crow, 9 Commercial St Maidstone 0479 194 269

Tue – Fri 7-4pm

Sat – Sun 8am-4pm

HOT: QV Cinema Flick/Fest, QV Square, Level 2 QV Melbourne, cnr Lonsdale and Swanston Streets, Melbourne

QV Cinema or Flick/Fest is a silent outdoor deckchair cinema returning to QV Melbourne for 2018 for a summer of movie fun.

From now until Saturday 31 March 2018 QV Cinema is showing a series of themed screenings including curated by Gus Berger of Blow Up Cinema. The program includes old favourites and family-friendly flicks on a pop up cinema screen at QV Square.

Each screening includes pre-film events including live performances, guest appearances, pop-up bars and more.

QV Cinema

I am invited to visit QV Cinema on the night that they’re showing Red Dog: True Blue to celebrate their partnership with The Lost Dogs Home – and the fact that all QV Cinema sessions are pooch-friendly. Yes that’s right, your favourite furball can enjoy the movies with you under the shimmering lights of the CBD!

All ticket prices are a reasonable $12 plus $1 booking fee for which you receive a set of wireless headphones to hear the audio of the movie plus a deckchair of your choice. All seats are General Admission.

Make sure you remember to bring a blanket or jacket because as we all know Melbourne temperatures can dip sharply when the sun goes down. You can also purchase blankets on the night.

Doors open at 6pm and you can bring any food purchased within QV Melbourne into the screening (and there are lots of eateries to choose from!). Note you can’t bring in eskies or alcohol.

For sweet tooths there’s also a designer candy bar curated by LuxBite, with macarons, pastries, cakes and spiced peanuts.

Currently they’re showcasing their Lunar New Year range and we sample the Fire Cracker (pineapple sable with pineapple jam, milk chocolate mousse, calamansi curd, red chocolate glaze, gold leaf and Golden Prosperity (yuzu cream, mandarin compote, vanilla mousse, gold chocolate).  Needless to say these beautiful, intricate creations beat popcorn and Maltesers any day!

 

The screen and sound quality is surprisingly good for a blow up cinema and wireless headphones. Most of all it’s a special experience watching a film amongst the city skyline.

A visit to QV Cinema is more than just a movie – don’t miss this gorgeous night out in the CBD before the sun sets on the last screening on Saturday 31 March 2018.

HOT Tips:

  • Tickets $12 plus $1 booking fee
  • limit of 80 patrons for each screening
  • Bookings can be made online via each movie listing.
  • limited number of tickets available at the door – subject to availability.
  • Refunds will not be given for a cancellation or termination due to adverse weather conditions, but replacement tickets are offered.
  • Patrons are required to check-in for the film 30 minutes before the film commences.
  • The main tram stop is located on Swanston Street, near the corner of Swanston and Little Lonsdale Streets.
  • Nearest train station Melbourne Central.
  • Nearest bus stop located on Lonsdale St, between Swanston and Russell Streets, outside of QV National Australia Bank.
  • QV Parking after 5pm on weekdays or all day Saturday and Sunday is $12.

QV Cinema Flick/Fest, QV Square (Level 2), QV Melbourne, corner Lonsdale and Swanston Streets, Melbourne.

Thursday to Sunday 1 February 2018 until 31 March 2018

Tickets from $12 + $1 booking fee

HOT: Eat Drink Westside 2018, Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2018

Eat Drink Westside is a curated collection of unique food and wine events held every year during Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. As the name suggests all of them are located in Melbourne’s west!

This year Eat Drink Westside’s program contains 30 foodie experiences spanning Brimbank City Council, Hobsons Bay City Council, Maribyrnong City Council, Moonee Valley City Council and Wyndham City Council.

From Friday 16 March to Sunday 25 March 2018 discover new places to eat, drink and be entertained. And as you’d expect from Melbourne’s most culturally diverse region you can sample anything from American BBQ to Ethiopian to Vietnamese to Greek.

 

A coup for East Drink Westside this year is that the annual World’s Longest Lunch for 1700 people is being held on the banks of the Maribyrnong River in Footscray. Expect three decadent courses by Adam D’Sylva (Tonka, Coda), Jerry Mai (Annam, Pho Nom) and Kay-Lene Tan (Tonka, Coda). Shadowfax Winery Werribee is also hosting the Regional World’s Longest Lunch.

Some events have already sold out so still available events that I’m putting on my wishlist include:

  • Sunshine Food Fever – the ultimate four-course progressive dinner through Sunshine, showcasing the area’s rich multicultural heritage;
  • The Community Farm – Copper Pot Seddon’s three course Sunday roast produced from the gardens of the neighbours.
  • Picnic with Westside Cool – Eat, drink and enjoy an afternoon on the back lawn @ Quazi Design in Spotswood (which isn’t normally open to public)
  • Cook the Bay – A cocktail style event held within sardine fisherman Phil McAdams’ boat shed, will hero the seafood available from our bay.
  • Chronicles of Cheese – Spend an evening with a selection of cheese, some excellent wine and a stunning read selected by our cheese and book loving librarians.
  • Village a Trois – Dishes from Thailand, Korea and Vietnam will feature for this special one night event matched with wine.
  • Scrumptious St Albans – cheap, kid/pram friendly tour of St Albans market with 8 tastings enroute! There’s also a free Twilight Market.
  • What’s on the Barbecue Block – Whole hog served  tex mex with hint of the Mediterranean at a West Footscray Block Party.

Whether you’re a westie local or a first-time visitor, you’ll be sure to find something that suits your taste buds during Eat Drink Westside 2018. See you there!

HOT: The Clarke Sisters Tea Party, InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, 495 Collins Street, Melbourne

The glamourous Melbourne CBD hotel InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto is launching an equally glamourous high tea experience from Saturday 3 March called ‘The Clarke Sisters Tea Party’. The afternoon tea is named after the high society Clarke sisters who both married Patrick McCaughan who commissioned the original Rialto building.

I am invited to a media preview of the ‘degustation high tea’ at the Alluvial atrium. I spend 3 hours luxuriating in champagne cocktails, silver tea stands, warm scones and a dessert trolley. Needless to say I LOVE the experience and I’m sure you will too.

The table is set with elegant Noritake China and you can sip on your choice of teas as well as a flute of Perrier-Jouet champagne or a deconstructed champagne cocktail.

I love the theatre of making my own cocktail with the sugar cube, angostura bitters and cognac…

…but for the rest of the afternoon tea I prefer to imbibe fragrant Silver Moon green tea from Singaporean tea company TWG Tea.

To start there is a triple tier of high tea favourites – chicken liver pate, Moreton Bay bug mini brioche sliders and smoked salmon bagel, triple-decker rare beef sandwiches and classic cucumber sandwiches. The bread is all made in house and particularly soft and I particularly like the freshness of the cucumber sandwiches, while the Bay bugs could do with more seasoning or herbs to bring out the subtle flavours of the seafood.

Next is your choice of main course – a vegetarian option of king oyster mushroom tart with pumpkin pulse or meat option of lamb cutlet with truffle mash and pea puree. This unexpected additional course to a traditional afternoon tea format means that most of us are already full by this point!

Undaunted, we head into the scone course with one fruit and one plain buttermilk scone each. They are crumbly and moist and served with strawberry jam, double cream and butter.

To finish you can make a selection from the Rialto Precinct Dessert Trolley – or try one of everything! The trolley features drool-worthy signature cakes from renowned local venues including Vue de Monde (lamingtons), Le Petit Gateau (Frangipane tart, lemon tart), Merchant (white chocolate cheesecake and flourless chocolate cake) and Frederic’s mini eclairs.

My highlights are the silky smoothness of the lemon tart filling, the lightness of the cheesecake and the almond base of the frangipane tart.

The Clarke Sisters Tea Party is $99 per head with a glass of champagne or champagne cocktail or $149 with free flowing champagne for 2 hours. There are five sittings every weekend at 1pm, 1:30pm, 2pm, 2:30pm and 3pm, with 10 people per sitting. If you have fewer than 10 people in your booking then you’ll be paired with other patrons to make up the 10 spots. Note the high tea is only suitable for guests over 16 years old.

The Clarke Sisters Tea Party is possibly one of the most decadent high teas in Melbourne and one for which you should plan as your single meal of the day. The quiet surrounds of Alluvial make it the perfect place to celebrate and catch up with friends and family and the service is friendly and unobtrusive, in keeping with the elegant surroundings.

 

The Clarke Sisters Tea Party, InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, 495 Collins Street, Melbourne +61 3 8627 1400

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