The annual Sydney Road street party has been going strongly for around 25 years and each year it gets bigger and better. There is something wonderful about walking down the middle of Sydney Road, one of the busiest throughfares in Melbourne. Many thousands attend this colourful, bustling event. Tented stalls along the pavements provide snacks and small plates, most belonging to the Sydney Road restaurant community. On offer are Pintxos from the new bar Basco Brunswick, sate and other Indonesian snacks from one of my favourite restaurants, The Uleg, French offerings from my favourite cafe, Choukette, and small plates from Albert Street Food and Wine, just to name a few.
The closure of Sydney Road extends from Victoria Street in the North to Edwards Street in the South. At each intersection, bands pump out the music from large stages, with chairs and tables set up for those who need a rest from walking or dancing.
The street party marks the opening of the Brunswick Music Festival which runs through March. Many performers include a gig at Brunswick Music Festival before or after they have performed at Womad or Port Fairy folk festival. There is an equal balance of local and overseas performers. Over the years I have enjoyed hearing many stirring performers, purchasing their CDs to bring back sweet memories.Meandering through the crowds, brass bands and dancers seem to materialise from nowhere as they weave a path through the masses. Some stalls were very well patronised on the day (this year on March 1). Notice how many hats are being tried and purchased. This hat stall does a roaring trade on the blindingly sunny day. Put the event in your calendar for next year and come along and enjoy the party!
Every so often, a new product leaps from the shelf and says, “PICK ME, PICK ME.” This was the case recently when I was strolling along the vast aisles of the Mediterranean Wholesalers in Brunswick. This magic emporium of Italian gastronomy ( with a bit of Spanish thrown in ) is disturbingly tempting and I seem to come back with things that were NOT on the list.
This was the case with this box of grain by Gallo. 3 Ceriali- Riso, Farro e Orzo. The instructions are in Italian but are simple enough. Non Mettere a Bagno – don’t soak, and Tempo di cottura– cooking time- 12 minutes. Obviously, the grains are par-boiled. This small detail on the box led to moments of internal struggle. The purist traditional wholefoody lady was bowled over by the 12 minute promise; the pragmatist furtively smuggled the box into her basket.
As I opened the box, my mind wandered to the hearty soups of Lucca, the farro of the Garfagnana mountains, the trattorie of Urbino. But it’s summer here, and these cereals, simply boiled, could make a wondrous salad base. Or stuffing for peppers and eggplants. Or a filling for silver beet leaves, a big involtino of goodness. Or taken on camping trips. Or, or…. a Pilaf.
I followed the instructions, simply boiling the grains for 12 minutes. I believe the grains need longer- around 18 minutes.
Note- my recipes are flexible and are based on the ‘handful of this, a bit of that’ approach to cooking.
Recipe for a simple pilaf style side dish
1 cup of 3 cereal (Gallo brand)
4 onions, sliced finely
a big glug of EV olive oil
two garlic cloves, chopped finely
fresh herbs of choice, example oregano
a big handful of broad beans
Cook the grains in a large pot of boiling water for around 18-20 minuutes or to taste. (no salt)
Meanwhile, caramelise the onions in a pan with some good olive oil for 10 minues, adding the chopped garlic towards the end.
Then shell and cook the broadbeans in boiling water for two minutes, drop into cold water, drain and peel off outer shells.
Add the cooked grains to the onions, add herbs to taste, then add the cooked broad beans.
Serve as a side dish.
Note: as a part of Australian law that require bloggers to disclose any kickbacks they receive, I must add that I am not receiving any gratuity from the meditterranean wholesalers, or any one else for that matter. I just happen to like the place. If only our radio shock jocks were as transparent.