39. Find somewhere that sells amazing breakfasts

25 06 2012
Green Refectory, Sydney Road, Brunswick

YUM.

It’d be fair to say I’ve eaten my fair share of amazing breakfasts in Melbourne. Back in my first week I had strawberry crepes in Degraves Street. Annamiek showed me the wonders of Arcadia on Gertrude Street on a day when my stomach was refusing to cooperate despite the incredible lemon ricotta hotcakes before me. And then there’s the homemade crumpets with marscapone and honey from Di Bella Roasting Warehouse in North Melbourne that have filled my tummy numerous times.

Melbourne is THE best city in the world for breakfast.

Actually, as it’s my last week here I’m going to be all sentimental and simply say Melbourne is the best city in the world. It’s my best city in the world.

And these past ten days since handing in my final uni assignments have made me realise how much I’m going to miss it.

I’ve been living like a complete tourist: Taking walks in the Botanical Gardens, going to the Immigration Museum (highly recommended) and tomorrow we’re navigating our way across the Dandenong Ranges by public transport. I’ve also been eating as though I’m on holiday. This has meant many trips to cafes. And in the past ten days, I’ve been to Green Refectory on Sydney Road, Brunswick twice. Once for lunch last week and then today I went there again. This time, for breakfast.

Wow.

I had the pancakes with caramel and banana ($7.95) and it was delicious. It was sweet – but not sickly – and the caramel and banana combo was always going to be a winner. I also had a large fresh fruit juice. I can’t remember how much a large was, but a small is $3.70. In a small you can pick up to three fruits to be juiced together, and up to five in a large. On both trips I’ve opted for apple, pineapple and mango nectar and have not been disappointed.

Sydney Road, Brunswick

Totally unposed picture.

Lucy decided to go for savoury and was narrowly defeated by her huge Breakfast Stack ($10) comprising of a poached egg, tomato, spinach, haloumi, bacon, hash brown (and possibly other bits I’ve forgotten). She also opted for a small orange juice and a flat white; both of which she seemed to enjoy.

So have I found somewhere that sells amazing breakfasts? Most definitely. But more impressively, I’ve found an entire city that does too.

Has anyone got any other Melbourne breakfastories (may have made that word up) they’d like to recommend?





17iii. See Missy Higgins play live (again again)

18 06 2012

June 17 2012.I managed to get tickets to last night’s final Melbourne show and the final date on the tour!

After searching “missyhiggins tickets” on Twitter and refreshing Gumtree all afternoon, I saw a tweet from clearly the most lovely human in the world who could no longer make the show and was giving away her two tickets. For free. For this I cannot thank her enough!

With tickets on my phone, a last minute phonecall to get Jude to come with me and having put a Twitter request in for Sugarcane, I jumped on a tram to the city and went to three different Internet Cafes before finding one which actually let me download and print documents!

Just before Butterfly’s set started I saw Missy had tweeted me in response to my request which caused quite a bit of excitement! Butterfly’s set was great and I now feel I must immediately download the entirety of her new album as I’ve now seen her play four times since moving here so shall be opening up my iTunes in a second to complete my album collection.

Missy’s set started with Secret and The River but quickly things were shaken up with Tricks making an early appearance. Also of note was Set Me On Fire, which was, tonight, introduced with a whole verse of the rap that it was originally written as. Let’s just say Missy’s stage persona didn’t quite match the rap so well.

When the band left the stage for Missy’s solo set I got excited. Nightminds was up first, before Butterfly and Judith Hammond (who’d been a multi-instrumental genius at all shows on the tour) returned to join Missy to perform Sweet Arms of a Tune. I hadn’t previously seen this song performed live so was eager to see it and the three women’s instruments and voices blended together beautifully making me oh-so-happy to be at the show.

The band returned and, after a little bit of stage banter, I heard those familiar piano notes and then… “Baby ballerinas hiding somewhere in the corner…”

YES. I have now heard Sugarcane played live and it made the seven year wait, the trip interstate and the move across the world on the off-chance to see her play live totally worth it. (Ok, for clarification there were a lot of other reasons for the move with education clearly being the top one *Cough*)

I didn’t write a proper set list and this was not meant to be a review. I just had to write something down to show my excitement and gratitude at how yesterday worked out. Because of Twitter, I had a free lunch, got free tickets to Missy Higgins’ gig and then got my favourite song ever worked into the set list. And people say Twitter is just for oversharing what you ate for breakfast…

The amazing full band: Judith Hammond, Peter Groenwald, Will Sayles, Missy Higgins, Butterfly Boucher and Tyler Burkum.

See also: 17i. See Missy Higgins play live and 17ii. See Missy Higgins play live (again). If you’re really interested, hit the ‘Missy Higgins’ tag to see what other non-stalkerish things I’ve been up to.





31. Learn to like a new food

17 06 2012

Rose Diner Port MelbourneThe other day I sent out a tweet asking for suggestions of what to do in my last few weeks in Melbourne, the lovely folks over at Time Out Melbourne were quick to respond suggesting I do as a true Melburnian would – eat! To further enhance their loveliness they offered me a double pass to a Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Roast event today at Rose Diner, Port Melbourne.

The event was titled ‘Pork, Cider and Chardonnay’ and whilst my “My body hates alcohol” attitude didn’t entice me to the booze, my love of meat drew me to the former. Pork has always been my least favourite roast (I’d say it goes Beef, Duck, Chicken/Lamb, Pork) but when cooked and flavoured well I know it can become a real contender.

Starting the mammoth meal (Three appetisers, an entree, the main roast and dessert!) with Pork Scratchings I quickly threw one into my mouth before I had time to think about what a pork scratching actually was. I’ve never tried a pork scratching before but these were inoffensive and obviously of a high quality.

This photo doesn’t do it justice. I’m sure it was a lovely terrine!

Admission: I am a terrineophobe. Yes, that newly coined term can be defined as ‘One who has a phobia of terrine’. This is me. And unfortunately the homemade Pig’s Head Terrine here was not going to shake me out of my life-long phobia. I did, however, try it and flavourwise it was lovely but I simply cannot fathom the texture.

Now onto the good stuff…

The Pork, Apple and Cider sausages were delicious. I’m sometimes a bit iffy on sausages but these definitely had a high meat content and a lovely flavour.

The slow-cooked pork belly with a king prawn and cider vinegar onions was simply amazing. My favourite dish of the meal, everything complimented each other perfectly and it was faultless.

The main of the Roast pork was possibly the best roast pork I’ve ever eaten with some beautiful heirloom carrots finishing the dish.

After all the pork, I was very full by the time it came to dessert but the Apple and Pear ice cream with cinnamon crumble was a perfect, light way to end the meal.

As for the alcohol, the locally sourced Pear Cider was up there as one of the few alcoholic drinks I’ve ever managed more than five mouthfuls of and I’m sure the Apple Cider and two vintage chardonnays were also of the highest calibre however my brief sips didn’t do them justice. Fortunately Lara was on hand to polish them all off!

Read the badge, kids.

As the badge we were greeted with states, I definitely now love pork.

The event was a great way to showcase the amazing food and drink on offer in Victoria and the local producers’ hard work over a couple of tough years through diverse weather has certainly paid off.

I cannot thank everyone at Time Out Melbourne and Rose Diner and Bar enough for this. The staff were wonderful (and very understanding of our terrinephobia) and it was definitely one of the best ways to spend a Sunday lunchtime in Melbourne.





17ii. See Missy Higgins play live (again)

17 06 2012
Missy Higgins live June 16 2012

Sorry for the poor photo, again.

Missy Higgins (Supported by Butterfly Boucher)
Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne
Saturday 16 June 2012.

Read 17i. See Missy Higgins play live.

Wearing her ‘reserved for special occasions’ yellow pants (read the English translation: trousers) that she’d worn at last Friday’s Sydney show, Butterfly Boucher took to the grand stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre like a pro. Her set was similar to last Friday’s however there was the welcome addition of Not Fooling Around which kept me happy. And Missy’s appearance on None The Wiser wearing a large wintery coat surprised the unsuspecting audience (bar the diehards who’d already been to other shows!)

After Butterfly’s run to sign CDs and sprint back onto stage (after a Vodka and Tonic) Missy took to the stage in the more venue-appropriate outfit of a sequined dress. The set began as it had done last week, Secret was soft, The River was beautifully sad and by the time the hand-painted banners were lowered onto the stage in Hello Hello, I think it’s safe to say most of the audience were completely consumed by the music. Continuing with Set Me On Fire (“It’s a love song to music, I guess”) and the number heavy combo of 100 Round The Bends then Ten Days, I briefly wondered if I’d be hearing anything I hadn’t heard live in Sydney. Whilst I still wouldn’t have been gutted if it had been identical, the arrival of special guest Dave Higgins (Yes, he’s Missy’s brother) on Cooling of the Embers served to make the tribute to their late Grandmother Judy all the more poignant and the evening began to take a different turn. With Dave on piano, Missy was left instrument-less which seemed unusual but she coped just fine.

When Dave was asked to stay on to provide animal noises in Watering Hole he looked a little bit awkward wandering around the stage trying to fit in, but the craziness added to the madness that was unfolding throughout the theatre. In fact, so successful were the animal noises from the audience tonight that they continued throughout the set with Missy clarifying one audience contribution later in the evening was most definitely a “Moo” and not a “Boo”. Yes, it seems there were some quality cow impersonators on Exhibition Street tonight.

For her solo piano set Missy returned to her debut to play They Weren’t There and Any Day Now. Whilst the latter was faultless the former saw Missy stumble mid-song, followed by an expletive burst and then, of course, an apology at the end of the song. In fact, this was one of two slip ups in the evening which highlighted Missy’s great character – earlier on she’d started singing the wrong second line in Peachy before quickly correcting herself and apologising.

Going North was included as a request from her mum who was in the audience before Everyone’s Waiting was introduced as a song about the anxiety of writing new music which Missy admits was mostly brought on by herself.

Concluding the set with each of the biggest singles from her albums, Missy certainly deserved the standing ovation from the huge venue.

Comparisons with the Sydney show? Sydney was a better venue, Melbourne was a better show.

My one gripe: Still no Sugarcane. I guess this just means this definitely can’t be the last time I see Missy play live. One day I’ll see it live. One day.

If anyone knows of a spare ticket to tomorrow night’s (Sunday) Melbourne show, please let me know ASAP.

Setlist:

  • Secret
  • The River
  • If I’m Honest
  • Hello Hello
  • Set Me On Fire
  • 100 Round The Bends
  • Ten Days
  • Peachy
  • Where I Stood
  • Cooling of the Embers
  • Watering Hole
  • They Weren’t There (Solo)
  • Any Day Now (Solo)
  • Going North
  • Everyone’s Waiting
  • The Special Two
  • Warm Whispers
  • Unashamed Desire
  • Scar
  • Steer




17. See Missy Higgins play live

9 06 2012

Poor quality photo to contrast the high quality music.

SEVEN YEARS.

Next month it will have been seven years since I first heard The Sound of White in a car we’d borrowed in Sydney. For seven years I’ve patiently waited for her to tour the UK (OK, she did in 2006. But I was in Sicily fearing I was going to be burnt alive by bushfires). Eventually I gave up and moved to Australia. Not really for this sole reason (it definitely wasn’t mentioned on my Statement of Intent), but it was hardly a downside. So whilst I may have looked up flights to the US for her tours before, tonight’s gig only required an hour long flight to Sydney and oh, how everything was worth it.

Missy’s 20-song long set was stunning.

From the opening notes of Secret to the rapturous applause at the end of Steer, I could’ve been anywhere in the world. Whilst The York Theatre in The Seymour Centre was a perfect venue with its 700-odd capacity and semi-circle of seating, the venue didn’t matter to me. For me, it was all about that voice.

There might have been an absence of my all-time-favourite-song Sugarcane, but every song seemed to have the crowd whooping (sometimes too enthusiastically in the more poignant moments of songs) and each performance added something different to the studio versions I’ve heard oh so many times before.

Ably supported by her five-piece band (including support act and The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle Co-Producer Butterfly Boucher), Higgins ploughed through the numbers whilst managing to make it look like she was loving every second of it. Either she truly has rediscovered her true love for music, or she’s simply an immense performer.

Whether it was the cacophony of animal sounds (aided by guest vocalist Jane Tyrrell from The Herd) that added atmosphere to Watering Hole or the revival of an old eighties keytar on Unashamed Desire, every song was arranged to highlight the best it had to offer. Her solo interlude of a heartbreaking Forgive Me and the ever-dramatic Nightminds were particularly memorable but when the band returned for my new favourite Everyone’s Waiting it just added another dynamic.

I’m trying not to make this an essay so I’ll just quickly sum up a few other highlights: Cooling of the Embers was emotional, the inclusion of The River was a very pleasant surprise, Missy had first played Ten Days in the same venue to a crowd that inadvertently included the song’s subject, This Is How It Goes and Scar had everyone dancing and singing along and those long notes on Warm Whispers are even more incredible than on the XM Session recording I own.

It’s safe to say I’m no longer in the running for Missy Higgins’ biggest fan never to have seen her live. Now, if she could just play Sugarcane on Saturday in Melbourne, I think I’d consider this entire list complete.

At least I only have seven days to wait until I see her perform live again.

(A less gushy review will be appearing on Timber and Steel in the coming days.)

Setlist:

  • Secret
  • River
  • Set Me On Fire
  • Hello Hello
  • 100 Round the Bends
  • Ten Days
  • Where I Stood
  • Cooling of the Embers
  • Don’t Ever
  • Watering Hole
  • Forgive Me
  • Nightminds
  • Everyone’s Waiting
  • This is How it Goes
  • Unashamed Desire
  • Peachy
  • The Special Two
  • Warm Whispers
  • Scar
  • Steer




63. Give Matt Corby a second chance

20 02 2012

My camera is completely inept at taking photos at gigs. Yes, my camera. Not me.

Last night I saw Matt Corby’s sold out gig at The Corner Hotel in Richmond. The review below is an edited version of my review for Timber and Steel.

This was Matt Corby’s second chance to impress me. 

A year and a half ago, in the upstairs of a pub in Islington, North London, I went along to watch Matt Corby perform a free gig. There were, at most, twenty people in the room (including Corby and a bartender) and I left in awe of Corby’s vocals but feeling underwhelmed at his songs and lacklustre stage presence. (If you’re really keen, you can read this original review here)

Fast forward to February 2012 and I’m on the other side of the world at the first of five sold out shows at a venue with a capacity of around 850. I’d convinced Lucy to join me on account of his attractiveness and we headed off on a less eventful journey to East Melbourne than on Thursday. At this point, I should probably note that The Corner Hotel is seemingly in the world’s hottest venue. No joke, someone fainted in the encore. This was going to be a sweaty concert.

It’d be fair to say 2011 was Corby’s year. “Brother” was the song that was to be his big break and ultimately earn him the bronze medal equivalent in Triple J’s Hottest 100.

Tonight he casually strolls onto the stage; The theatrical red curtains open with smoke machines and lighting creating the kind of atmosphere one wouldn’t normally associate with an acoustic guitarist. As he begins with “Made of Stone”, I immediately fear this second chance was undeserved. Yet again, his vocals are faultless but there’s something missing.

It’s only when he bursts into his second song with the backing of the whole band that I realise how wrong I was.

By the time he plays his third song – a track he introduces as “a song that you might recognise” – I’m completely charmed. As he ramps up the tempo and the volume for the bridge of “Brother” it becomes clear that the more attitude Corby displays, the more enjoyable his performance is.

The set continues with a few solo performances and Corby’s clever rendition of The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy” which the crowd reacts well to.

Alone with his loop pedal, Corby records his softer notes before layering on harsher vocals to create something pretty special. But I still think I prefer his performance when accompanied by his band – the addition of a drummer particularly enhanced the songs.

Finishing with an encore of “Kings, Queens, Beggars and Thieves” – a song I vaguely remember from my first encounter with Corby – the improvement is immeasurable.

The boy I saw back then appeared awkward, uncertain and lacking. Tonight I saw a confident man, oozing stage presence and clearly adored by the packed out crowd.