Katie’s Favourite (Melbourne) Things 2017 – Part 2

That last post, uh, got away from me a little.
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Safe to say my blogs are not carefully-planned affairs, and around word 2,000 I realised that the list of foodie locations I wanted to wax rhapsodic about probably deserved its own post.

Note: sometimes I eat healthy food, but I’m not going to talk about that here because it’s boring. Eat an apple between these, you’ll be fine.

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Sweets
Beatrix
When my sister gave birth to my nephew last year, I didn’t take flowers to the hospital the next day. I took Beatrix. Not an entirely unselfish action – who do you think got to eat cake with her as we cooed over the new addition? We celebrated with Beatrix again this year when he hit his first year of orbiting the sun.
Luckily, you don’t need to push a human out of your vagina to celebrate with Beatrix. Maybe you need a reward for a tough week, or for the sheer slog (from the northern suburbs at least) of getting to their postage-stamp sized shop in North Melbourne (I’m being dramatic, it’s a short tram ride from the city or one train stop from Southern Cross and a bit of a stroll)
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Above is their cocoa meringue roulade with ricotta cream and toffeed banana. I know, right? It was even better than it looks. It’s actually impossible to buy a bad sweet at Beatrix (not hyperbole, a scientific fact proven by buying a lot of things at Beatrix). And it’s a good thing they’re so dependable, because you can’t always rely on your favourite item being available – their list of cakes, sweets and sandwiches changes daily. I strongly recommend keeping an eye on their Instagram, as they’ll usually post the cake list the night before, and the savouries morning of. But don’t worry. Point, purchase, put it in your mouth. It will be good.

Important note: Beatrix is open Tuesday-Saturday, so if you’re only in Melbourne for a weekend, plan accordingly.

Lune Croissanterie
You probably haven’t had a croissant this good in Australia. I’m sorry, it’s true. And there’s a small chance it will ruin you for all other croissants, but it’s worth the risk.
Check this out:
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Its a temperature-controlled room within Lune, specially built to make sure your croissants come out perfectly. And yes, you can marvel at their artistry and attention to detail while you munch on their wares:

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Hot Lune tips:
1) Try to get up reasonably early if you’re going there on the weekend. I’ve seen them sell out by lunchtime multiple times.
2) Fight like hell to get in to the Lune Lab
It’s held on weekend mornings, and is the best bloody three-course pastry meal you’ll ever have. I’ve done it twice, and I’m doing it again in the new year. It’s definitely in the ‘treat’ category a $60, but tbh once you’ve done it you would consider paying that just for the first course – a plain Lune croissant, warm and fresh from the oven. This is followed by a savoury course, which changes by season. In summer, it was a danish-style pastry with burrata, heirloom tomatoes, basil oil and confit garlic fromage blanc. In winter, a roast pumpkin escargot with taleggio, burnt butter dressing, capers, radicchio and roasted hazelnuts. This is followed by a dessert course, also seasonal – in summer this year is was a choux with earl grey custard, raspberries and salted macadamia crunch. In winter, a citrus square with amoretto and ricotta mousse, pink grapefruit, orange, cara cara orange and candied cumquats. Oh, and in addition all that, you also get bottomless coffee.
If you can’t get in to Lune Lab (and don’t be surprised – tickets are released every 2-3 months and they are snapped up in minutes, with only 8 people per session), then never fear, because this creativity is carried over to their regular menu, with a Christmas addition to their croissant lineup including a turkey croissant with cranberry & sage stuffing and walnut crumb.

Note: They’re now open seven days a week (blessss – I had some disappointments during my wild no-job-to-be-at days), but only for takeaway on Tuesday and Wednesdays.

Honourable mention: Trekked it to Fitzroy, only to find Lune are sold out? Can’t get flaky pastry off your mind? Wander down to Smith St and hop a tram down the street (it’s also walkable for the keen) to Gontran Cherrier. They make a killer pain au chocolat, and their cafe au lait is basically a fucking bowl.

Il Melograno
Summer heat you got down, and not in the mood to shove another baked good in your mouth? That’s weird, but I’m here for you. I probably haven’t tried enough to say it’s definitively the best, but Il Melograno must sit pretty damn high on Melbourne’s gelato rankings. It’s definitely the best that sits across the road from my favourite cinema, and it’s certainly the best in UberEats range of my house (dangerous, dangerous). They have a bunch of yummy savouries in the cafe, and the day where I had an affogato with their orange-infused ricotta gelato between movie sessions at the Palace may have been one of my finest on earth.
I don’t need to go on about this one. They don’t do crazy combos like Messina, it’s just damn good gelato. You’ll decide your favourite flavour on your own, but I highly recommend the Bacio.

Bonus: Look I’ve not tried these drinks they make but I’m extremely open to plans:
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Savouries
Royal Stacks/8bit/Mr Burger
At some point over the last few years, American-style burgers became my jam. I suspect it times pretty closely with my trip to New York in 2013, and my first taste of a Shack Burger from Shake Shack. It became my platonic ideal. It doesn’t need to be an intense monster, I can barely even handle two patties, but it should have beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato, mustard, mayo, ketchup and pickles. You can put onion on there if it feels right to you, but I’ll pick it off because I find it overwhelming.
The three I linked to all do some variety on the burger above, and I don’t have a clear favourite, so I’m happy to recommend them all. 8bit does a side of potato gems, which makes them my go-to when I’m in the city, although I’d say maybe they’re the messiest to eat (none of these are date food, however). Mr Burger has the super-indulgent trucker fries with cheese sauce and bacon, and also has a seriously delicious fried chicken burger when you’re in the mood for such things (and they also happen to be the only one I can get delivered to my house, thanks to their permanent truck at Welcome to Thornbury). And Royal Stacks will let you out a mac and cheese croquette on your burger. So.

Honourable mention: I probably don’t eat them quite as often as I used to when I was regularly trekking out to the Lido in Hawthorn and they were just downstairs, but Huxtaburger also do a very solid burger.

Bonus: Although you’re probably a weirdo if you don’t get some sort of fried potato with your burger, all the basic American-style burgers from these venues sit at a really reasonable price point of about $10. Considering they all have CBD venues where you presume things are a bit more expensive, that’s pretty impressive.

Dexter and Takeaway Pizza
Preston is not particularly far from where I live, but it’s not necessarily easy to tempt me to hang out there. It’s got quite a good market but not much else. Apart from this tiny strip of High St, where even the trams fear to tread (it’s near the train station), pumping out deliciousness both sides of the road.

Takeaway Pizza is the new venue from the meat geniuses at Dexter. I didn’t even think I could like pizza all that much. I’ve never got particularly excited about it. But it turns out when you ferment your dough for three days, then cover it with braised lamb shoulder, potato, leek, and lemon thyme, it can turn me around. Even a vegetarian option with zucchini, artichoke, lemon ricotta, chilli and garlic blew my mind. I don’t know how to explain apart from the fact that every element is so perfect that you will desperately even want to find room to eat the crust. They also have a really interesting drinks list and a lovely sunny venue, but let’s be real, when they start offering delivery in the new year, I’m not leaving the bloody house.

Which is good, because it means I can save any Preston visits for the caramel short rib at Dexter. I am not exaggerating when I say this shit falls off the bone.

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Oh god, I’ve gone and made myself horrifically hungry now. Let’s change the subject.

Drink things
I don’t really go out to drink a lot, so I’m not really your blogger for this subject, but there are a couple of special Melbourne venues you should hit up.

1806
They’re all about the cocktail and I highly recommend researching beforehand if you don’t want to spend forty minutes perusing the menu. We’re in serious date night territory with ambience and uh….price, but sometimes you’ve just got to treat your best friend visiting from Sydney as a date. It’s certainly a nice little central location and worked well for us a for a drink and a nibble before Book of Mormon.21427196_10154646124797587_6355517568955077687_o

The Everleigh
Not wildly different from 1806 in general vibe – hey, I like my cocktails – but the service really sets The Everleigh apart from any other venue in Melbourne. Not only will they make you a cocktail shaped to your tastes (I like citrus cocktails, for example, so I let them run wild on that one), the highlight for me was when I departed for the bathroom and when I returned I found out they’d nicked my half-drunk cocktail to keep chilled while I was away. Slightly more appealing than the pub that will make off with your last mouthfuls so they can use the glass.
From memory they don’t do bar snacks of any heft, so it’s not a bad idea to eat beforehand, as a diet of pure cocktails can send you to pissedville pretty quickly, -especially if you’re not paying attention to your mounting bill. The OG outpost of Belle’s Hot Chicken is downstairs, although possibly not a great idea if you’ve dressed up in your finery to match the refined surroundings of The Everleigh. However, you’re never going to be short of a bite on Gertrude Street.

Thus concludes my guide! There’s so much more that didn’t make it on here (like my favourite neighbourhood cafe Jerry Joy) but I’m more than happy to carry on the conversation on Twitter!
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Katie’s Favourite (Melbourne) Things 2017 – Part 1

I’m sure my mother would refer to this as ‘A Guide To Gently Stalking Katie’. To which I would say ‘Mum, my entire life is online, they can just DM me if they want to know what movie I’m seeing when’.

I’ve just ticked over my first full year of living in Melbourne. I’m not going to claim I know it like an old-timer, and I will honestly admit there are swathes of the city and surrounds that I’ve only looked at with mild curiosity on the public transport map. I also live in the northern suburbs, so this will be somewhat north-focused, but you should probably also know that I fully subscribe to the northside/southside war and think of the entire south-east as Rich People Trashville with the occasional nice historical home (hello Como House, you have a very nice garden). Toorak makes me feel poor and St Kilda makes me uncomfortable with its fake ocean.

This is a bit city guide, a bit Year That Was, and hopefully interesting to someone. It’s time for….Katie’s Favourite Things (Part One).
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Cultural Things

The Wheeler Centre
A friend put me on to this one, and let’s be real, I am entirely trying to be your friend who puts you on to things with this post.
For a decent chunk of this year I was job-searching, and therefore incredibly keen to find free things to do that got me out of the house. Going for walks is fun and all, but it doesn’t particularly engage the brain. That’s where The Wheeler Centre, located in a wing of the beautiful State Library, comes in. They do some paid events, but the majority of their talks are free. For at least two ‘seasons’, I hopped on the site when the calendar was launched and booked a whole bunch of sessions, giving me regular things to look forward to. These included talks about women on social media, the changing nature of family, the real lives of Arab women, talks on podcasts, criticism, and the wellness industry. The Wheeler Centre is a forum to talk about ideas, with every session tending to have a carefully-chosen panel and opportunities for audience Q&A.
I know why I find the events so appealing. A former Arts student, I still enjoy the feeling of being engaged with the world of ideas and debate. I’ve also found a healthy selection of talks with a feminist slant, particularly Jane Gilmore’s round up of 2017’s representation of women in media. But you’ll find a pretty mixed crowd at the events. I’ve found that there’s a lot of people of retirement age who will come along not knowing much about the subject, I suspect because it comes with the best price tag of all for an interesting night out.
One of my favourite series at The Wheeler Centre this year was The Longform Society, a sort of book club for longreads. I was absolutely fascinated by our readings on robots, with a particular focus on ethics, and could have discussed them all night. Humanities nerds are for life, y’all.
If this all sounds pretty appealing to you but you’re not from Melbourne, they do quite a bit of live-streaming, as well as uploading audio and visual recording afterwards.

Honourable mention: The University of Melbourne hosts a huge amount of free public lectures on a dizzying amount of topics. I joined their mailing list after attending a Melbourne Knowledge Week event with Katherine Maher from Wikipedia, however I’ve found that the majority of evening talks start at 6pm, which is when I finish work.

Bump and Grindercise
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This is the only fitness class or endeavour I have ever been able to stick to. I did terribly at Zumba. I was okay at home workouts, but as soon as I took a break I struggled to get back in to it. But for Bump and Grindercise, I will drag myself out of bed every Sunday, because it’s fun. I will even go when I’m sick, mostly because there’s no-one at home to tell me I shouldn’t (note to self, extremely bad for recovery).
One of the greatest challenges is describing what Bump and Grindercise actually is. L’amour, the genius behind Bump, posted this clip from one of the routines, which probably helps a bit. Meg Crawford wrote about the classes for Time Out. But it mostly comes down to wiggling, jiggling, and giggling. While also getting the cardio workout from hell, and thighs so sore you can barely sit for days. L’amour calls it a dance exercise class, which pretty much sums up the vintage-inspired burlesque moves you’ll be doing between the twerking, squats and lunges. There’s a hefty bit of 90s to the soundtrack (think Spice Girls, Shaggy and Ginuwine) as well as tunes from the 50s and 60s. It’s a serious workout in a warm and silly environment. If you can’t make fun of yourself, you’re gonna have a seriously weird time grinding in a circle like in the clip I linked to. But everyone brings their best self to class, and everyone feels like their best self in class too. It’s a body-positive environment, something L’Amour embodies, and that’s what makes girls feel comfortable to dance around in lingerie. We don’t all know each other, there’s drop-ins every week, but it is an established safe space, where bullshittery will not be tolerated and everyone tries to uplift each other. Also celebrations are had with titty cupcakes.
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I’d long followed Bump and Grindercise through social media, and was so excited to start these classes when I moved down. I’m happy to say they completely surpassed my expectations.
Bonus fact: In addition to Bump and Grindercise, L’amour will be launching barre classes called Bump and Barrecise next year. If that’s more your style, I cannot give high enough marks for L’amour as a kind, patient, and supportive teacher, even if she is way bendy-er than any of us will ever be.

Palace Cinemas
This chain is not Melbourne-only, but every venue is unique. My local is Palace Westgarth, which is housed in a historical building and has five cinemas, as well as an outdoor screen in the courtyard, a new addition I haven’t had an opportunity to enjoy yet. I love when I go to see blockbuster films and wind up in the largest auditorium, the beautiful art deco style Cinema One.
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Palace plays the latest releases and indies, and their distribution arm allows them to hold numerous international film festivals during the year. It tends to make for an interesting lineup.
Whilst I’m incredibly fortunate to receive discount Palace tickets through my workplace’s employee rewards program, I’d also made the decision to join the Palace Movie Club long before I started there. Club membership is $19.50 a year here in Melbourne, and given members save over $5 on standard ticket prices, you only need to go to the movies 4 times in a year to make back your membership costs (I don’t know about you, but I go to the movies a lot more than that). Plus you get discounts here and there, access to advance screenings and some deals as part of the festivals. Even though I get cheaper-than-membership tickets now, I have maintained my membership for the perks. Also, I can’t pre-book my cheap tickets, so the membership comes in handy if you want to say, buy tickets with the best seats for opening day of The Last Jedi.
They turned out to be not so great tickets when the man and his son next to me talked the whole way through the movie, but that’s not Palace’s fault. In general, I find that there’s less teenagers than at a cinema in a shopping centre e.g the homeland of the Hoyts and Greater Union, which means I don’t feel like such a sore thumb when I indulge my number one love of going to the movies on my own.
Their snacks are also delicious, although I don’t believe that olive oil popcorn is that much better for you, and they will do a ‘feature-length’ pour of wine without the Gold Class prices. Bonus fact: The Palace Kino, which is in the CBD, has an amazing Tightarse Monday deal of $8.50 tickets.

Honourable mention: The Lido in Hawthorn. Similar variety of  blockbusters, indies and art-house. A modern venue, with a rooftop screen and no oddly-shaped cinemas, and as a bonus it isn’t part of a chain. They also do jazz and comedy nights. Delicious, substantial snacks and really decent variety of boozy drinks. I had a membership this year and at a members’ preview screening for Battle of the Sexes they were handing out Pimms Cup cocktails. However, I generally had a hard time booking member tickets on the site (usually resorting to the phone – eww, people) and it’s just a bit far from my house when there’s a great cinema down High St.  But overall a fantastic option for any Easterly types.

Event Things

Girls on Film Festival
Just a really chill celebration of all things lady in cinema, held at Brunswick Town Hall. This year was their third year, and I made it to a couple of events – a Spice World screening, and Girl Germs, an event with bands, video games, nail painting and collage making. The whole event has a welcoming vibe and a DIY spirit, and the movie lineup was absolutely killer, including Persepolis, The Sapphires, and The Craft as well as local and international indies. I had plenty of regrets about not being able to make it to more movies, and I think next year I need to get in earlier and support their crowdfunding efforts!
Also: Spice World does not currently have the camp classic status it deserves. If you haven’t revisited it, can I highly recommend it? You may not be able to recreate the experience of a room full of women who were probably Spice Girls ride-or-dies first time around, but I’m fairly certain it’ll still be magical.
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Series Mania at ACMI
I tend to wonder if people think of ACMI as somewhere to actually go and watch features, rather than just poking their nose in the exhibitions downstairs (although that’s a perfectly worthy journey, particularly when they had CodeBreakers: Women in Games on this year). ACMI actually plays hosts to a lot of interesting events – including the rather epic journey I went on this year watching all eight hours of ESPN’s amazing OJ: Made in America documentary in the big cinema there as part of the Australian International Documentary Conference.
Like the OJ event, Series Mania was free, and in this case was a four-day extravaganza of all things telly. This is an international concept that was started in Paris, so it was awesome to see a varied program brought Melbourne, with hefty local flavour. Although I didn’t attend, understandably the event in conversation with Vince Gilligan, creator of Breaking Bad, was incredibly popular. I followed my interests and attended two events. The first was a screening of the first episode of The White Princess, which from memory was premiering on Stan the following weekend, followed by a Q&A with the divine Essie Davis, who also stars in one of my favourite Australian series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. In addition, several weeks before the premiere on ABC, I attended a screening of the first two episodes of Get Krackin’, the new comedy show from the Kates of The Katering Show. It’s unusual to get to watch comedy television in a large audience unless you’re at a recording, so it was fun to have that experience. If you want to recreate the experience at home, invite a bunch of mates over and fire up Get Krackin’ on iView. Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan were there for a Q&A afterwards, and proved just as relatable af as I always imagined them. Be my friend, Kates.
I’m really pleased to read that Series Mania will be back next year, and I can’t wait to see what’s on the program!
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PAXAus/Melbourne International Games Week
Yeah, yeah. Stay in your lane, Katie. You don’t know shit about MIGW. You only went to PAXAus. But golly, do I follow a lot of attendees on Twitter. I see the tweets from GCAP panels, people celebrating and receiving recognition at the Australian Game Development Awards, and the same troopers immediately following it up with that hustle life exhibiting at PAX Australia. It’s not the only event focused on games and tech in Melbourne during the year, but it brings together a bunch of local, national and international talent to straight up fuck themselves up on loving games. We’re incredibly lucky that the Victorian Government, through Creative Victoria, supports the industry and enables games to be a key part of the amazing cultural scene in Melbourne that we love to boast about.

And we do love boasting about it. I’ve just written a 2,000 word post just about culture and events. Which means the very best part of living in Melbourne – the food, duh – will have to wait til part 2.