Sunday 31 December 2017

Lentil As Anything- awesome food without a specified price

There is no free lunch in this world-  a wise universal truth. Yet there is a place in Abbotsford, an inner Melbourne suburb just 4km away from the city centre that serves awesome vegetarian and vegan food without specified prices. Customers get to enjoy their breakfast, lunch or dinner, served on scrumptious buffet-style on a "pay as you feel" basis, sometimes with the accompaniment of live hippie reggae music or cool guitar strumming.

The food is varied, multicultural, and rarely disappoints. Depending on the day of visit or occasion, customers get to have a taste of Sri Lankan Kothu Roti, Tibetan momo (steamed vegetable dumplings), heartily rich lentil tomato soup, masala spiced potatoes with bright orange pumpkins, Mexican-style slowed cook mushroom, capsicum and beans, and piping hot and creamy vegetarian lasagna. Patrons also get to complete their meals with desserts (usually a really nice piece of simple cake) and a cup of good-old strong coffee of your choice (full cream milk or soy milk).

The queue for food is consistently long, and the atmosphere around is always jolly good and lively. The restaurant operates on an honourable code that everyone deserves a place at the dining table, regardless of your financial status or bank balance. Hence the customers' types are as varied as the options of foods, and we get to sit side by side sometimes with the homeless, the not so well-to-do, casual tourists, the hippies, the rich or family with kids that just did their tour at the adjacent Collingwood Children's Farm. A unique business structure like this is almost bound to experience occasional (if not frequent) cash flow issues and financial roughness. A simple Google search on the establishment will lead us to news and web pages talking about how the system has been exploited by certain patrons who use the place as a way to gain free meals without fear of judgment.

It's rare to see such an interesting not-for-profit organization focuses on serving and doing its best, but relies entirely on the good will and integrity of its customers for its continued survival. Even if we are not in a charitable mood, the great food itself deserves a good decent pay from an honest customer.

Abbotsford Convent, 1/3 Heliers St, Abbotsford VIC 3067

[Updated: This place has now closed its door permanently from Feb 2022] 

Thursday 28 December 2017

Brunetti 250 Flinders Lane- the joyous scene of foods

Trust me when I say the new Brunetti at 250 Flinders Lane is the latest hype in the city, and for a very good reason too. Opening just barely a month ago in November, Brunetti almost instantly attracted a large throng of faithful customers. Its soothing and inviting space can easily accommodate 300 seats, with a stylish layout reminded me of a Tokyo's underground food hall. The glittering marble-covered area is a curated department of sweets and savouries, satisfying all cravings for hot and cold, coffee or liquors, and a variety degrees of sweetness demand.

The cake and gelato counter is a dreamland of Hansel and Gretel (minus the wicked witch). Like a magical artworks exhibition, happy customers are greeted with rows of scrumptious-looking cakes decorated with raspberry glaze, cute round choux pastries, delicious chocolate sauce, modern shiny domes, and fancy white chocolate bands. The coffee and pastries bar is a micro manufacturing factory of its own, with numerous baristas, waiters and waitresses working efficiently meeting the high-volume orders of its consistent customers flow.

Further down, a hanging wood-fired pizza oven and old style coffee roaster add to the swankiness of the place. Customers relish the taste of traditional Italian with modern twist sprinkles to the dishes, before moving on to Brunetti's unmissable desserts and aromatic specialty coffee blends.

We thought it was a real shame when the Brunetti branch at City Square was compelled to shut down to give way to the metro tunnel project. But this new Brunetti gracefully transformed itself into an incredible dining space and a talk of the town, a perfect example on how one can always turn a loss into something absolutely awesome without missing a beat.

Where: 250 Flinders Lane
Opening time: everyday, 6am to 11pm/ 12 am

Tuesday 26 December 2017

Collingwood Children's Farm- a little oasis for all ages

This pretty place brings us an overflow of fond memories. Children (and adults) giggle delightfully patting those cuddly soft guinea pigs. The grown-ups wish they were kids just for a day, so that we could join the fun ride with Joe the pony.

Being just 4km away from the city with easy access by public transportations makes the journey worthwhile and painless. Lunch is never a headache, as we are always spoilt by a selection of great choices at the adjacent Abbotsford Convent. The visits are constantly interspersed with sweet little surprises such as the rare moment when the peacock fanned out its gorgeous plumage, the sudden bleating of goats demanding for more food, and the cow milking opportunity that occurs just twice a day.

It's also educational and informative, with friendly staff standing-by to provide interesting facts about the lovely animals which we have so much fun interacting with. We learned about the two different breeds of sheep, but still struggle to distinguish the five different breeds of chicken. We know the few Berkshire pigs by their individual names, and was overjoyed when we learned the good news of pregnancy of our dear lady pig.

St Heliers Street, Abbotsford, VIC 3067

Opening days and time
Everyday, 9.15 am to 4.45 pm

Entry Prices
full/ concession 
Child: $5/ $3
Adult: $10/$5
Family: $20/$10