The Amazing Mill Market, Dayelsford

The Amazing Mill Market
105 Central Springs Rd, Dayelsford, VIC
http://www.millmarkets.com.au/

HOW HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF THIS PLACE?!?! It’s heaven!!!

Mum and dad have temporarily re-located to the countryside, and we paid them a visit  recently. Mum told me she knew exactly what we’d do with the day; there was this awesome market full of vintage and antique and old ephemera that had my name all over it. How impressive could it be if I hadn’t heard of it? Mum, you were totally right.

With three locations (Dayelsford, Geelong and Ballarat), the Mill Markets have “something for everyone who visits with vintage clothes, vintage furniture, memorabilia, art, glass, jewellery, books, antiques and collectables to name a few.” And with an accumulated total of 12,000 square meters, if you can’t find something you like, you need to have your head examined.

We were in there for two or three hours in the end (I think), and I could have comfortably used two or three more. Luckily, they have a café on site in case you need to refuel. They also have staff roaming the store, offering to carry your loot to the front counter to wait for you. And with that much to trawl through, that’s helpful; I could have re-decorated my home and wardrobe fifteen times over. But, I resisted – I came home with some beautiful new wrought iron fleur de lis book ends, a vintage Jules Verne and an adorable little globe. Husband got a book, too, and a gorgeous Abita beer glass. I think the lot cost us around $70, which I thought was very reasonable.

That said, I plan to return soon after Christmas. Because they’re open 7 days a week, and how could I not?!

Eat here: The Old Milk Bar Cafe, Thornbury

The Old Milk Bar Cafe
144 Dundas St, Thornbury

Back in Melbourne and back to weekend brunches! And don’t I feel just a bit silly not having visited this place sooner… We’ve been living a stone’s throw from the Old Milk Bar Cafe for a few years, now, and it’s one of those places that’s been on my radar but I just haven’t gotten around to visiting.

We finally made it to the sweet, little, old milk bar converted into a cafe over the weekend. High Street in Thornbury is getting to be a pretty popular location for cafes, but this one’s tucked off the main drag. If you don’t know about it, you’re not likely to stumble upon it, and that was instantly obvious – staff were greeting a lot of customers by name, which was really lovely to see 🙂

I adored the space itself – little touches like the old THE AGE sign on the wall under the kitchen were the perfect throw back to the old days. While the inside of the cafe isn’t enormous (with seating for around 8 on small tables and one larger communal table that seats another 8 or so), the outside patio seating was pretty spacious. And the menu looked great! Husband’s choice was made quickly; he went with the smashed avo – 2 slices of toast with an absolute mountain of smashed avocado, goats curd, and a panko crumbed egg on top. He gave big points for the amount of avocado and how perfectly oozy the egg yolk was, but was a little sad the panko crumbs didn’t stay crunchy.

My choice was even easier again – lemon lime ricotta hotcakes with blueberries. Yes, please!! These were hands down the lightest, fluffiest, most delicious hot cakes I’ve ever had. No competition. No other was to describe it. Absolutely perfect. Swimming in the most delicious citrus curd, and plenty of juicy blueberries. I was told these were a new addition to the menu, and I hope they stay on the menu – I’ll be back for them again. They were magic.

Vietnam was a good time, but no one does brunch like Melbourne. And when places like this are making food this delicious, it’s good to be home 🙂

The Old Milkbar Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: One Noodle Friendship, Melbourne

One Noodle Friendship
417-419 High St, Preston

The gentrification that’s taking over the northern suburbs at the moment is a bit of a double-edged sword. There are some amazing places popping up now with food my parents’ generation (who used to live around the Preston/Thornbury area) never would have dreamed of. On the down side, there’s always the risk of the golden oldies disappearing. The thing I love most about living in this area are these golden oldies – while I love a good hipster brunch establishment as much as the next Gen Y-er,I love even more the dodgy looking coffee shops with small piles of biscuits indiscernible to anyone not Italian and old men gathered out the front, the Turkish places with piles of rustic and inconsistently sized cheese-stuffed pastries as high as the counter, the Asian restaurants that have some suspicious looking meats hanging from hooks in the front window and are packed to the rafters.

Preston’s High Street has always been home to a lot of Asian eateries, and they’re all well priced and delicious. A lot of the staff don’t speak English and menu items are often misspelt. One Noodle Friendship is one of these; down an arcade-like alley off High Street, it’s a little place with an open kitchen, wonky old thermoses on the tables with hot tea, and boxes of tissues in place of napkins. We’ve eaten there a few times since moving into the area a few years ago, and I love it; their handmade noodles are insane! The fried handmade noodles with beef is my favourite dish…

They also do a lot of noodle soups, kindly serving the soup on the side so you can play around with it and add as you please. While the flavours are great, they’re not overly different to anyone else’s; it’s the noodles you have to visit for. They’re outstanding, and comfortably the best I’ve had on the High Street strip, and there are a lot of good noodles on that street. The dumplings are unreal, too – particularly the fried pork ones. Highly recommend a side of those.

Don’t expect anything fancy here – it’s basically Asian street food undercover. You can roll up in your trackies. You can use plastic chop sticks. The menu has spelling errors, there’s often tea leaking from the thermos on your table, and the staff don’t speak a whole lot of English. But there’s nothing pretentious about it; it’s good, authentic food made the way it’s meant to be, and I hope this never loses out to the rejuvenation of the area.

One Noodle Friendship Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Umberto Espresso Bar, Melbourne

Umberto Espresso Bar
822 High St, Thornbury
http://umberto.com.au/

If you play along on Instagram, you might have seen the amazing squid ink deliciousness I had on Tuesday night; I wanted to take mum out for a special Mother’s Day dinner, and being a proper Italian lady, it had to be Italian. I’ve also been craving properly made Italian pasta lately – not the usual crap you order from the Italian-by-numbers menus, proper, al dente, simple, elegant pasta.

The catch-22 is that most places don’t get how to do that, so I’m hard pressed to find anything decent when I’m craving it, particularly in suburbia. I’d seen some great things written about Umberto’s Espresso Bar lately, so when the craving hit a couple of weekends ago, I dragged husband out for dinner.

On the increasingly gentrified strip of High Street’s Thornbury end, Umberto’s has actually been around for quite a few years. It’s a tiny little place, very reminiscent of the little Italian eateries I’ve been to in Italy. The down side of this, however, is that small spaces don’t always have a lot of tables. We were seated on a table a few centimeters from the one next to us, holding a young family with a squealing baby and pram, which we thought was odd considering the 3 empty tables for two in less cramped conditions. Thankfully, we were reseated on request, so we could enjoy dinner without accidentally elbowing the pram or family next door!

The menu was everything I wanted to see; simple, classic dishes, that you knew would be warm and comforting. We started with the antipasto platter ($24.00), with all the good stuff – prosciutto, salami, ricotta, sundried tomatoes, eggplant, olives, everything you want from a good antipasto plate. For $24, it was actually very good value, too, compared to other restaurants charging similar amounts and giving you half the amount.

Husband also spied the polpetta a la rosa ($9.00) – veal and beef meatballs in sauce…. Great choice, because they were perfect; soft and tender, swimming in lots of immaculately flavoured sauce to dip bread into. Again, great value – $9 got you 3 handful-sized meatballs.

Because I wanted pasta, and we were starting to fill up, we shared a bowl of the ragu di vitello con spaccattelli – home made veal sauce. And it was the ultimate cliché of “just like Nonna’s.” Tender chunks of meat, flavour like you wouldn’t believe possible in pasta sauce, and al dente pasta. It’s also very Italian to cook with veal, so I was stoked to see it on the menu in both the pasta and the meatballs. It was EXACTLY what I wanted and needed, and I’m so glad I’ve got somewhere to go close to home now when the cravings hit next time!

If you haven’t got dinner plans this weekend yet, pop in for a visit; order some wine and pasta, sit back and pretend you’re in Italy… or at Nonna’s house 🙂

 

Umberto Espresso Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Victorian mini-breaks: How to spend a day in Healesville

Healesville is actually one of my favourite places to get away to, other than Warburton. It’s nice because it’s that little bit closer, and has a bit more going on, which makes it the perfect area to run away to for a quick day trip! If you haven’t got plans over the Easter weekend, it might be a good time to head on over to Healesville…

 

TO EAT:
– Innocent Bystander Winery
Amazing wine, pizzas, cheeses, breads and pastries. It’s not cheap, but it is quality.
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– Mocha & Lime
Gorgeous little breakfast and lunch cafe, simple food done well.

– Healesville Harvest
A personal favourite of mine – incredible sandwiches using only the very best ingredients, and a cake cabinet that’ll make your jaw drop.

– Beechworth Bakery
Duh.

 

TO SHOP:
– Healesville Jewellers
Probably my favourite jewellery shop in the world – they do they most beautiful pieces with precious stones, and they’re very reasonably priced. They also do a lot of one-off pieces, and can adjust ring sizes on site.

– The Judith Eardley Save Wildlife Centre Op Shop
One of the best op shops in Victoria for books, in my opinion – their collection is enormous and super cheap!

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TO DO:

– Visit the weekend market
Because everyone loves a good market! You can pick up some absolutely brilliant little treasures there, too, if you have time to dig around a little…

– Stop at the Yarra Vallery Chocolaterie on the way home
Because their chocolate is magnificent, and so are the views…
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