Food – Lucy Liu Kitchen & Bar

24 Oliver Lane
Melbourne Vic 3001

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Once a month three of my besties and I venture out for dinner and a couple of drinks where its all about us, no whinging kids, no needy other halves, no nothing but a few girls having a great night out. Given we only get to do this once a month, we always book an awesome restaurant where we’re guaranteed to get a great feed. This month our restaurant of choice was Lucy Liu.

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Set on cobblestoned Oliver Lane (warning ladies wearing heels, walk down this laneway at your own risk. I almost fell on my butt twice trying to navigate the cobblestones in stilettos), just a stone throws away (no pun intended) from some of the best restaurants in town, Lucy Liu absolutely holds her own against some stiff competition. Brought to us by the team behind Taxi, The Smith and Circa, she offers contemporary Asian cuisine designed to be shared with friends. Occupying a modern space with a subtle Asian influence, the restaurant itself is quite large, yet feels really intimate and was the perfect setting for our girls night.  Continue reading

Food – LaManna Direct Cafe

10 English Street
Essendon Fields Vic

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La Manna Direct has most definitely achieved ‘institution’ status in the North Western suburbs of Melbourne. This huge one stop shop, situated at Essendon Airport has made a name for itself as the go to for high quality produce. Stocking fresh and great quality locally grown fruit and vegetables, every cut of meat you can think of (seriously, everything from standard beef mince, to goat and rabbit), a large array of imported Mediterranean foods,   a massive delicatessen, an amazing bakery (stocking the best Nutella cheesecake I’ve ever eaten), a yogurt bar, a bottle shop, standard groceries and last but not least a fantastic café. There isn’t a person that I know in the area that hasn’t either shopped or enjoyed a meal at La Manna. Continue reading

Food – Johnny Pump

87 Fletcher Street
Essendon Vic 3040

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This little restaurant has been right under my nose for ages and I’m ashamed to admit that I only learnt of its existence on Instagram. Of late, my Insta feed has been flooded with pictures of these insanely rich, sugar loaded and over the top ‘Freak Shakes’, which is what brought me and what looked like half of Melbourne to Johnny Pump.

For those who haven’t heard of the latest foodie fad, a Freak Shake is  pretty much a flavoured milkshakes topped with a sweet treat like a brownie, a piece of cheesecake or a donut. It’s an excessive, calorie loaded and insanely attractive treat that is enough to tempt even the healthiest of people into having a cheat day. Given it doesn’t take a whole lot to persuade me to have a cheat day (um, it’s pretty much every day), once I realised that an eatery close to home was serving up these shakes I headed straight there to try them for myself. Continue reading

Food – Elceed

610 Queensberry Street
North Melbourne Vic 3051

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I love brunching, like really really love it, but I have to admit it’s a fairly new love affair. In times gone by, the idea of visiting a busy café where we’d have to contend with a crowd and weren’t guaranteed to get a table all before midday, was just a bit too much for me to stomach. However, the birth of my son last year spelt the end of my nightlife (Bye bye dinner dates, boohoo!) so I’ve grown to really appreciate all things lunch and brunch.

As much as I love brunching,  I still can’t stand the crowds and waits, so I tend to get out midweek when there are less people around. On this weeks outing, the weather was down right terrible, so I decided to head to Elceed, where I wouldn’t have to wait around and if I was really lucky, I’d get parking right outside. Continue reading

Food – DOC Delicatessen

330 Lygon Street
Carlton Vic 3053

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I make no secret of the fact that I love everything DOC has to offer, so when I was invited to a Zomato meet up at their Carlton Delicatessen, I jumped at the opportunity. Coming from a very traditional Italian family, I’ve been spoilt with great food my entire life, however I’ve often struggled to find the same quality in restaurants. DOC is most definitely the exception to this. Offering authentic and simple yet contemporary Italian food, this quickly expanding group are setting the standard for Italian cuisine in this city.

Starting from very humble beginnings in a small Templestowe pizza shop, the DOC empire now includes an espresso bar, a delicatessen and three pizza and mozzarella bars. The entire operation has been built around the desire to showcase the best of Italian food to Melbourne. Stocking both imported and locally sourced goods, everything served or made available for purchase at DOC is of the highest possible quality. I’m talking about beautiful prosciutto that just melts in your mouth and the most divine buffalo mozzarella I’ve ever tasted. Continue reading

Food – Boccone Gourmet Foodstore

1057 Mount Alexander Road
Essendon Vic 3040

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As I sat in my seat at Boccone Gourmet Foodstore enjoying lunch with my little man,  I was amazed by the constant stream of people flowing in and out of the place despite the fact that it was nearly 3pm. Situated in the super busy Mount Alexander Road shopping strip, this very popular Essendon café is clearly doing a roaring trade keeping the locals fed and caffeinated.

Translated to English, ‘Boccone’ is a morsel, or a small bit of food, a word that very much defines this café. Offering limited, but high quality breakfast and lunch menus (although on the downside, breakfast is only served until midday), Boccone also doubles as a high quality Italian delicatessen offering take home bits and pieces like fresh cut cold meats, a variety of cheeses, super sized Arrancini and home made gnocchi. Continue reading

Food – T Cavallaro and Sons

98 Hopkins Street
Footscray Vic 3011

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This Footscray institution has been on my to do list forever, which is pretty shameful given I’m a cannoli loving Italian girl, but better late than never I say!  Now I’m not going to beat around the bush with this review because I’m way too excited. Why you say? Because these were seriously the BEST (like amazeballs) cannoli I’ve consumed outside of Sicily! Big call? Absolutely given my grandmother was the Cannoli queen (of course I’m biased, but her custard filling was second to none), but despite how good my grandmothers cannoli were, those ricotta cannoli from T Cavallaro and Sons were on another level. I downed two of them in a matter of minutes and if I had brought more,  I probably would have eaten them too.

So why were they so good? Firstly because the shells were impeccable. I often think this is where others fall short with their undercooked, soft and tasteless shells but this wasn’t the case here, they were crispy, flaky and just down right delicious. Secondly because the ricotta filling was divine. It had a soft and creamy consistency (no clumpy bits in sight) and was seasoned with just the right amount of sugar and cinnamon. They also earn extra points for omitting those horrid bits of dried fruit that so many people include in their ricotta mixture. It’s so unnecessary and I was wrapped that there wasn’t any of it in site here. If these cannoli weren’t good enough, they were finished off with a light dusting of icing sugar, which took them from delicious to, well, even more delicious. Continue reading

Food – Beatrix

688 Queensberry Street
North Melbourne Vic

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Located in an old style North Melbourne corner shop, Beatrix is the tiniest bakery,  but head down there on a Saturday morning to see the eager foodies queued out the door, and you know its size is deceiving.

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Offering a variety of home style cakes and baked treats, just about everything at Beatrix has a really traditional feel to it. You can pick up everything from Anzac biscuits to rhubarb custard crumble tarts to a triple layer carrot cake to potato brioche doughnuts and the list goes on and on. In one sense, I almost feel like each item could have been made by a member of the Country Women’s Association, but then at the same time they put a modern spin on these classic cakes and make them just that bit more interesting. Continue reading

Fashion – Breton Stripe

There are some trends that come and just as quickly go, then there are others that seem to go from trend to classic status. The Breton stripe is definitely one of these long lasting trends. Our obsession with the simple white and navy stripe top seems to go from strength to strength, so much so that I could just about guarantee that most women would own (at least) one of them. Personally, I love this style as much now as I did five years ago and my collection of simple Breton stripe tops seems to grow with each passing season. I’m always drawn to them when I go shopping and I actually have to stop myself from buying more.

Given so many women share this love, I thought I’d put together a quick shop post of some of the great Breton stripe tops currently on offer.

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Food – Square and Compass

222 Clarendon Street
East Melbourne Vic 3002

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Every now and then I visit an eatery that blows my socks off and leaves a real impression on me, so much so, that I talk about it over and over and over again. One of these places was definitely Barry in Northcote (read about it here), so when I got wind that the people behind it had opened a new place in East Melbourne called Square and Compass, I added it straight to the top of my ‘places to check out’ list (which is growing faster than I can actually visit them).

Located on Clarendon Street near Freemason’s hospital, Square and Compass is standing all on its own in a relatively quiet part of town (especially on the foodie front). From the outside, the little period style house, complete with charming bay window is a stark contrast to the open, white, minimal interior, but it totally works. It isn’t a huge space, but they have managed to get a stack of seating inside without it feeling too cramped and claustrophobic. Continue reading