Treat yoself: The birthday edition part 1, Fitzroy – iPhoto tour | Rustica | Glitz & Glam Nails | Rice Paper Scissors | Tattoo Magic | Slowpoke Espresso

So, as promised, here’s the first round of suggestions on how you can bring a little “treat yoself” to your day/week/weekend…

First up: go for a walk around the suburban paradise that is Fitzroy.
Walk slowly, be curious, peek around corners and deviate off the main streets…

 

 

Next up: brunch at Rustica
402 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
http://www.rusticasourdough.com.au/

Look, if we’re honest, there’s no such thing as a bad choice here; everything is amazing. However, I’d highly recommend one of the golden, flaky pastries, like this particularly magnificent matcha strawberry cronut. Countless numbers of pefect, crisp pastry filled with silky smooth matcha cream, and a bit of tangy strawberry jammy glaze on top. And a matcha marshmallow. Golden…

 

Then, get pampered at Glitz & Glam Nails
355 Smith St, Collingwood
https://web.facebook.com/glitzandglamnails.melb/

I’m not a girly girl. I don’t fake tan, I don’t get my nails done, I don’t even colour my hair. I take terrible care of my nails and feet, so I thought a little mani pedi action would be a nice treat. That said, I didn’t want to spend an absolute fortune and end up thinking “I could have done that myself at home.” Enter the ladies at Glitz & Glam – only $50 got me a relaxing hour of nail care (with a billion odd nail colours to choose from, including what looked like the majority of the O.P.I catalogue!), and they did a fantastic job 🙂 They made me feel right at home, and the massage chair they set me up in while my nails dried was the best thing that happened all week! If you need a little low maintenance girly pampering time, I’d highly recommend them!

 

Time to eat again, at Rice Paper Scissors
307 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
http://www.ricepaperscissors.com.au/

This place felt like the fancy home I wish I had from the moment I walked in – an amazing space that was just the right balance of laid back and too-gorgeous-for-my-life. The staff were all lovely; every single one of them on the floor and behind the bar made an effort to speak to me at one point. The menu is up around the same special standard, using an Asian hawker food model to produce a menu that’s street food at the heart, but way sexier. I got me a mango, coconut, mint crush to get started…

… followed by some delicious pork belly bao and the day’s special: crispy duck with Asian herb salad, chilli jam & coconut dressing.  The photos basically speak for themselves; the bao buns were pillowy soft with magnificent chunks of perfectly tender pork belly. And the salad was a bowl of flavour – the duck was amazing, and the herbs were fresh and punchy – this is one of the only salads you wanna be making friends with.

 

You’ve been tenderly pampered and fed, so now’s a good time to go and get tattooed at
Tattoo Magic
100 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
http://www.tattoomagic.com.au/

I was reading my book on the tram and realised that the design on my Lillytales bookmark was exactly what I wanted to add to my airplane tattoo on my right forearm. After my morning noms and pampering, I made my way to Tattoo Magic on Gertrude St, spoke to lovely lady manning the front desk – 10 minutes later I was sitting with Sean Jackson, working out sizes. 20 minutes after that, I was freshly inked, for the… eleventh, I think, time. $130 all up for the book and tea cup, superstar bloke, gorgeous shop, awesome experience, highly recommended!

 

And now that that’s all done, time to kick back for one more cup of tea at
Slowpoke Espresso
157 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
https://web.facebook.com/Slowpoke-Espresso-221714874514535/

There’s nothing like a hot pot of tea and a chocolate chip cookie to end the day, and Slowpoke does a bloody good chocolate chip cookie. Those little black specks on top are salt flakes, and they’re like fairy dust on top. The cookie is soft and chewy, which was a massive relief to me (I hate dry, chalky, crunchy cookies). And the chocolate was super sweet and creamy. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my day!

Sunday morning in Collingwood. And, Eat here: Donut Shop Donuts & Coffee, Melbourne

Guys, I’m so excited… it’s Friday, which means it’s almost time for OKTOBERFEST!!!! If you’ve been playing along for a while, you might remember last year’s backyard Oktoberfest, complete with pretzels and mustard, cookies and beer, and most essential of all, good friends to enjoy the night with! We had so much fun, we decided to do it again over the weekend, which you’ll no doubt hear all about in a few days…

IMG_3789

But before the good times roll, we had to venture out last weekend for a few more supplies with which to complete the man cave’s transition to beer hall; we ended up in my favourite ‘hood, the Fitzroy/Collingwood district that I love oh so much. After leaving the car off Smith St and grabbing a quick cuppa at Harry Monty Flavour, we walked up to Gertrude St so I could pick up some of my favourite ETS English Breakfast tea from Aunt Maggie’s on Gertrude St, and, filled with nostalgia, we decided to keep walking.

See, husband and I went to university just behind Gertrude St, at ACU. That’s where we met. That’s where we studied. That’s where we earned our degrees. That’s even where we had some of our wedding photos taken! That area was our home away from home for three years, and it was nothing like it is today! We walked slowly up towards Brunswick St, thinking back to our uni days, marveling at how much nicer, fancier, cleaner it is now compared to our residency back around 2005; the broken bottles, angry homeless drunks, dirty graffiti and smashed store front windows have been replaced with detailed street art, one-off local designer scarves and shiny new hipster eateries. “Imagine if it had been like this when we were studying here,” he said to me. “Yeah… we’d have been getting fat off fried chicken and donuts instead of watching drug raids* and dodging the angry guy with the long neck in the brown paper bag!”

* Yes, there were a lot of drug raids around there when we were at uni. I personally saw two, one of which came complete with two fully armoured police squads carrying battering rams. Great excuse to miss another boring nutrition lecture.

 

Good and bad, it’s a suburb that’ll always feel like home to me…


As it usually does in a city as abundant in offerings as Melbourne, our wanderings led us to good food, this time in the form of donuts.

Donut Shop Donuts & Coffee
130 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
https://instagram.com/donutshopfitzroy/

Since Big Lou‘s left the area earlier this year, there’s been a need for a new donutery. Donut Shop stepped up to the plate, opening only a few weeks ago, and they’re doing beautiful things with dough…

Like most other donut shops I’ve visited (both here and in America, actually), it’s only a little space with a few seats inside. They do, as promised, donuts and coffee, along with a few other beverages like the PB milkshake and a matcha latte. But we were just there for the donuts, and it’s Friday morning, so let’s cut to the chase.

There are some pretty good looking donuts to choose from, but we were instantly for the pina colada brulee (pineapple + coconut = sunshiney happiness) and the matcha white chocolate (since coming home from Japan with a whole lot of matcha cookies, husband’s now just as obsessed with matcha treats as me, which, seeing as we usually share, means I can order them now when we go out!).

Pina colada brulee up first – the most amazing crackle and crunch when I cut it in half, so top marks for the brulee side, and an extra point for it not being bitter. The coconut pineapple custard inside was some of the best stuff I’ve ever eaten – it was unbelievable silky, full of flavor without tasting fake, and I’d have happily eaten a full tub of a stuff with a spoon, fructose intolerance be damned! Also, really loved the cherry and grilled pineapple on top – cute touches that only added to the taste.

The matcha white chocolate was possibly even better, if you can believe that – again, creamy smooth filling, with the most incredible matcha flavor. The crumbles on top were SO GOOD, nice to have a bit of crunchiness with the super smooth filling. I could have done with a little more white chocolate (because I’m a pig), but other than that, it was faultless.

And it wasn’t just the fillings; the dough itself was textbook light, fluffy, amazing. I’m really glad food this good wasn’t around while we were studying; with these guys, Archie’s All Day, Belle’s, De Clieu and so many more amazing places now calling Gertrude St home, we’d have possibly been the most obese exercise science graduates ever…

But right now, I’m going to let you guys plan your visit (they’re open all weekend) while I get myself to work, and then head home to bake what feels like another 5000 pretzels for this weekend’s Oktoberfest…  : D

Donut Shop Donuts & Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tea time: Mámor Chocolates High Tea Szalon, Melbourne

Mámor Chocolates High Tea Szalon
153 Johnston St, Collingwood, Melbourne
https://www.mamorchocolates.com/

IMG_7980

Ahh here we are, at the end of a lovely, long weekend. Easter long weekend, to be precise. Chocolate long weekend. Pity it’s just about over. But if you’re not quite done with deliciousness and decadence, and need something to look forward to for next weekend, Mámor might be able to help you. Think luxurious, old, Easter European glamour. Red velvet and golden trinkets. Delicate china tea sets and piles of pastries. In a hidden little den of deliciousness. Welcome to Mámor.

IMG_7985

I’d heard of Mámor for the first time a few years ago at a food exhibition – maybe the Melbourne Good Food & Wine Show? I can’t remember now. I do remember how good the chocolate was, though. I also remembered they offered high tea. And hen’s nights. Small, bespoke parties of all types. But when I called to enquire about taking my lovely friend out for a little bit of tea and cake for her 30th birthday, I found out you can also just do that! The exceptionally fantastic customer service well and truly began before we even set foot through the door, with the darling Hanna talking me through all of my options when I first called to enquire, explaining that organising the big “high tea” wasn’t necessary – she’d be more than happy to reserve us a table and we could just order off the a la carte menu of sweet and savoury delights, plus as many pots of tea as our premature nanna hearts desired. Perfect!

We arrived around 11am last Saturday morning, ushered in and seated with glasses of water and menus. We enjoyed a very lady-like two hours of tea and bubbly, sweets and savouries, gossip and laughs in the most gorgeous setting. We quite enjoyed picking and choosing our way through the menu, and the food was fantastic. Before we got stuck into the sweets, we decided to have a few savouries: chicken paprikash tartlets and pogácsa, a Hungarian savoury scone. Hilariously coincidental and ironic, considering the birthday girl is of Hungarian descent! The tarts were lovely, the tiniest bit of kick to them, deliciously flavoured chicken. I loved the savoury scones – they were kinda of like a super buttery scone/gnocchi hybrid, somehow light and airy despite being made of heavy potato and flour. Delicious!

IMG_7971

After a few tarts and savoury scones each, we hit the tea and sweets. Tea first: I went with the Chocolate Meringue Magic tea, which was incredible. And Indian black tea with chocolate praline, meringue pieces, strawberry, almonds and rose. Sweet, subtle, perfect for afternoon tea. The birthday girl had the Chocolate Banana Split – China-Ceylon tea with ripe banana, chocolate and cream. Thumbs up from her, too.

IMG_7972

Round one of sweets: the raspberry macarons and the Black Forest cupcakes. The macaron shells were a little hard, but the filling was lovely, but the Black Forest cupcakes were a huge winner. Super light and fluffy chocolate cakes with just the right amount of cream and cherries. We both loved those!

IMG_7975

Round two: the Rákóczi cheesecake. Upon Googling, I found out that this is a traditional Hungarian cheese curd. meringue topped cheesecake. We both really loved the cake base, and I quite enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t a super sugary sweet cheesecake. I couldn’t tell you exactly what was in it other than cheese and a meringue top, but it was very, very good!

IMG_7976

Round three: last but not least, what’s tea without scones?! They were thicker scones than a lot of high tea places serve, but they weren’t clumpy or doughy at all, and the strawberry jam was really tasty. We also had a chocolate each; a butterscotch truffle for the birthday girl and a salted caramel truffle for me. Amazing way to finish off!

IMG_7979

We were so well looked after and attended to while we were there, from the “happy birthday” greeting when we arrived, to the constant checking to make sure we were happy with the amount of food we’d ordered, menu suggestions, our tea pots and water glasses frequently re-filled. It was such a fun way to spend a few hours, and time flew so quickly! It was warm, comfortable and welcoming, and I can see why so many people choose to celebrate special occasions there as well as it being a great spot for a casual morning or afternoon tea. I imagine we’ll be back!

 

Mámor Chocolates & High Tea Szalón on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Addict Food & Coffee, Melbourne 

Addict Food & Coffee 240 – 242 Johnston St, Fitzroy, Melbourne https://www.facebook.com/addictmelbourne IMG_7536 I realise this next statement may make me sound like yet another Melbourne hipster, but quite frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. I love a good weekend brunch. Particularly in the Fitzroy/Collingwood region. Yup. Hipster. In my defense, they’ve been my favourite suburbs for a long time now, since I went to uni in the area, years before the hipster revolution. Now I sound like an old hipster. Crap. So, Addict is one of the newer kids on the block, having been around for about a year now. The fact that it’s taken me this long to get there because every time I’ve been past it’s been absolutely jam packed with a line out the front speaks quite highly of it already! Last weekend, we decided to roll out of bed on Sunday morning and head straight on over, hoping that our naturally early rising body clocks would beat the hipsters; we were right 😉 IMG_7529This may be the first coffee shot on my blog – see, I’m not a stereotypical hipster, I hate coffee! My husband used to as well, but he’s converted. Sell out. He said it was really good though, so if you’re a coffee person like 98.97% of other Melbournians, this is a good option. I’m a nanna, so I got a pot of tea. Which I thoroughly enjoyed. But we weren’t there for drinks, we were there for food. And food we ate; there were too many amazing options, so we decided to combine them all with the breakfast board! Clockwise from top right, you’ve got – Potato hash nuggets – Grilled cheese kransky – Cured ocean trout – Perfectly poached eggs – Toast with relish – Even more perfect french toast with berries and mascarpone and berry coulis IMG_7533 This may be one of the best breaky spreads going around. Honestly. There wasn’t a single thing on this board that I didn’t like. Picking a favourite is pretty much impossible too. Actually, it is. I loved everything on there. And surprisingly good value at $32.00 for the words. It would comfortably fill up two normal people. But we’re pigs, and I wanted to try the coconut chia pudding with mango puree and strawberries. So we got that too. IMG_7535 Outstanding chia pudding, the coconut cream was smooth and properly creamy, the mango puree was great, made even better by the little chunks of peach hidden within it. And the puffed buckwheat was the crunchy icing on the chia pudding cake. I know everyone is doing a variation of this, but Addict’s was totally on point. And perfectly sized, too – not impossibly big, not tiny. And the other thing that makes or breaks a place, in my opinion; the service. Absolutely top notch, even with the long weekend craziness. We were well and truly looked after, even my request for a cinnamon-less serving of French toast was fine, and as an even more pleasant surprise, it was not only service with a smile, but service with personality and fun! Some people might not care, they’re just there for breaky, but first thing on a Sunday morning, it makes the world of difference to be served by someone who looks like they’re having a good time, and not pissed off to be helping you! I’m kinda pissed off with myself, though, for having been so put off by the crowds now. I wish I’d visited a year ago when they first opened. I wish I’d been visiting regularly. The weekend is coming up again, which means the hipsters are starting to plan their weekend brunches. Put this place on your list, hipster or not. That said, if brunching with delicious food makes me hipster, pass me the super tight jeans and ironic accessories, and meet me at Addict!

Addict Food and Coffee on Urbanspoon

Fitzroy street art – September/October 2014

There may not be a lot of attention or publicity around it, but there is some seriously awesome street art on and off the main foot traffic areas of Smith and Brunswick Streets in Melbourne’s suburbs of Collingwood and Fitzroy. I like to spend a bit of time roaming the streets at least a few times a month in my favourite place; here are some of the incredible designs I captured over the last few months!

IMG_2767.JPG

IMG_3431.JPG

IMG_2770.JPG

IMG_2774.JPG

IMG_4830

 

IMG_3484.PNG

Eat here: Trippy Taco, Melbourne (Mexican)

Trippy Taco, Fitzroy, Melbourne
https://www.facebook.com/TrippyTaco

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

With humble beginnings as a music festival food stall, this place has been a bit of a hipster-and-vegetarian institution since it opened on Smith St in 2006. In 2011, it moved around the corner (and weirdly enough, to another suburb, from Collingwood to Fitzroy) and into a space with the ability to hold around twice as many people. Which is lucky, because I don’t think I’ve ever walked past this place and seen it quiet.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

As part of my sister’s birthday lunch movement (you can see our dessert here and follow her food adventures here), we decided to have a lunch session here. We made our way in early in order to beat the lunch rush (thank goodness), and took a while weeding through the many menu options – everything from burritos to taquitos, tacos to quaesedillas.  We settled on the tacos – the mixed meal (we both wanted to try both tacos).

What came out were two absolutely monstrous tacos, loaded up so high we could barely see the tortillas.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

They were, quite frankly, incredible. The tofu had enough of a kick without burning your mouth, and black beans were actually really tasty, and all the accompaniments were simple enough to work in perfect harmony with each other. The tortillas were soft and held together really well under the rest of it – we did, however, have to eat our tacos with a knife and fork, as they were wayyyy too big to contemplate moving lifting!! The best part of it though, I think, is the fact that it wasn’t oily, greasy, over the top, Mexican-by-numbers crap – we finished the meal full, without feeling heavy and sick. Perfect.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

There’s a reason this place has been so popular for so long – good service, great food, happy atmosphere, and definitely worth visiting over and again!

 

Trippy Taco on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Huxtaburger, Melbourne

Huxtaburger, Collingwood, Melbourne
http://www.huxtaburger.com.au/

I’ve been keen on this place since it opened. I know the burgers get some bad reviews – they’ve been called everything from overrated to disgusting to greasy to artery-clogging. Whatever. I think they’re delicious.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

The standard Huxtaburger is a simple deal – its a delicious, toasted brioche bun filled with a pretty good beef pattie, tomato, cheese, lettuce, pickles, and the condiment trifecta: mustard, mayo and tomato sauce. For $9.00, it’s a pretty good deal. I can’t pick one single component of the burger that really stands out and makes it incredible, so I’ve got to put it down to a good mix of ingredients!

I’ll be honest – it’s nothing super special. It’s no Beatbox or Rockwell, and if you’re a clean, Grill’d type of burger lover, you’re probably not gonna enjoy this as much, but in my opinion, it’s still a very solid burger, and one I’ll no doubt continue to go back for every now and again!

 

Huxtaburger on Urbanspoon