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!

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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…

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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

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

Eat here: Vegie Bar, Melbourne

Vegie Bar, Fitzroy, Melbourne
http://vegiebar.com.au/

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If you live in Melbourne and you haven’t eaten at this Brunswick St institution at least, like, twice, well then shame on you. This stalwart of the Fitzroy cafe scene has been dishing up internationally inspired meat-free dishes for around 20 years, looooong before the gluten-free, organic, vegan etc were “in.”

If you’re planning to visit for dinner, on a weekend, on a sunny day (or, heaven forbid, a combination of the three!), expect to wait in a line that often hangs out the door. Despite the fact that seating is available not only in the main “restaurant” as you walk in but also the little alcove area to the right, upstairs seating above the kitchen and a courtyard out to the left, it is ALWAYS packed, which speaks pretty highly to the quality of the food being served up in an area with other seriously good options.

The main menu had remained relatively the same over the last six or seven years I’ve been visiting, but my most recent visit, last weekend, showed some big changes. My previous favourite dish, the falafel roti wrap, was gone. I was upset. Really, really upset. You know when you go to a place just to eat a specific dish? Yeah, that was my dish. For under $10, you were facing a golden slab of roti bread filled with crispy shelled falafel that are some of the best I’ve had, as well as hommus, tzatziki, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and beetroot curls (below left). It’s been replaced with a falafel pita bread thing (right). It was basically the same thing, but the roti had been replaced with a soft pita bread (nice, actually), and the falafels were different. Spicier. Didn’t enjoy that part. It was nice, but I liked the old one better!

vegie bar

The recent visit also saw us order another old favourite – the rice balls with satay sauce. These had also changed – they were bigger and better! Brown rice balls of deliciousness with a crunchy shell, much more flavour than the last time I had them there pre-change, and still the best satay sauce going around. Husband also got the lentil burger, drenched with more satay sauce. Messy, but good – however, he also preferred the old version of the burger.

vegie bar 2

And just because it’s a “vegie” place, doesn’t mean you should skip dessert. These guys make two of my favourite desserts in Melbourne – their flourless chocolate cake and raw berry cheesecake. Beyond amazing, nothing different there, and absolutely enormous – bring your appetite, and bring a friend with an appetite, too.

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I’ve been eating at Vegie Bar for years now, as have a truckload of other people. The waiting for a table, sitting elbow-to-elbow with strangers, occasional mistake in getting the wrong order because it’s so damn chaotic are sometimes frustrating but have always been bearable because the food has always been so good. I wasn’t overly thrilled with the changes from this last visit, but I also recognise that not everything had changed, and that sometimes some changes are necessary. I’m looking forward to another visit, to try some other old favourites on the menu, and to see what else has changed!

 

Vegie Bar on Urbanspoon

Shop here: Smith Street Bazaar, Melbourne

Smith Street Bazaar
305 Smith St, Fitzroy, Melbourne
https://www.facebook.com/SmithStreetBazaar

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There are a ton of great vintage/second hand stores in the area, but this place is one of the best. Not much better than trawling through here on a weekend!

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Two floors of everything including the kitchen sink (seriously, I swear I saw a kitchen sink there once!); home wares, jewellery, furniture, shoes, old school video games, clothes, name it and you’ll find it. And the best part is that it’s not just for the serious collectors with endless cash – you’ll also find pieces that people like me, who just like to have cute old stuff, can afford too! Oh, and they’re open daily, so no excuse not to take a trip in this week!

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The Rose St. Artists’ Market, Melbourne

The Rose St. Artists’ Market, Fitzroy, Melbourne
http://www.rosestmarket.com.au/

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Celebrating it’s 10th birthday this year, The Rose St. Artists’ Market is a Fitzroy institution, as is the slightly eccentric, bearded, black leather clad gentleman who stands on the corner of Brunswick and Rose Streets directing foot traffic the right direction. If you haven’t been before and aren’t familiar with this guy, don’t be put off by first impressions – he’s really lovely!

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Anyway, the market is fantastic, and because it’s open every weekend (both Saturday and Sunday, 11am – 5pm), I stop in every time I’m in the area, which is pretty regularly! What started back in 2003 is now an iconic hub for some of Melbourne’s best creative talent, and one of the best places in the city to support local talent by purchasing one-of-a-kind pieces. Everything from clothing and baby accessories, jewellery to homewares, trinkets to art work – it’s all there!

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Another great thing about this market is that the people selling the goods are the people who are actually making them, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet and speak to some seriously talented craftsmen and women.

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This is my favourite small, local market in Melbourne – the talent is truly phenomenal, and I’ve purchased so many amazing pieces from the Rose St. Market. If you haven’t been in a while, it’s definitely time to get reacquainted, and if you’ve never been before, this weekend might be a good time to make a visit!

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!

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