20 November

Mamasita now has a Master Mezcalier

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“For everything bad, mescal; for everything good, the same” – old Oaxacan saying.

Mescal, like its compatriot spirit tequila, can conjure up visions of youthful, ill-advised drinking hell, but Nick Peters, manager of Mamasita, is on a mission to improve its image.

Peters’ first experience with mescal wasn’t flash either, although things have changed pretty radically since then. “About nine out of ten people had a pretty terrible first experience with tequila or mescal,” Peters laughs. “They come into our restaurant thinking that and they don’t want to try it, but nine out of ten people will actually take the plunge and give it a bash. It’s a lot different from the stuff we used to drink in the park.”

Peters has been at Mamasita, Melbourne’s best-loved authentic Mexican drinking and dining establishment, for four and a half years now and became an operating partner as of this year, but his love affair with Mexican cuisine goes back way further.… Read more

20 November

Real-life Willy Wonka comes to Melbourne

Posted by in Food & Drink, News

Willie Harcourt Cooze - low res 2

What do you get when you combine a cacao farm in Venezuela, a bit of imagination, determination and hard work? The real life Willy Wonka.

“There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you’ll be free if you truly wish to be.” Whether you loved the book, Gene Wilder or Johnny Depp, there’s no doubt Roald Dahl’s eccentric character had created every kids dream, a place full of wonder, chocolate and sweets. It’s no wonder a guy named Willie was caught up with the dream to create his own chocolate heaven.

Willie Harcourt-Cooze was so enchanted by the Venezuelan Cloud Forest on his honeymoon in 1993, where he was first introduced to cacao trees and their multi-coloured pods, that he eventually convinced a farmer to sell his large estate to him. After spending years farming cacao beans and making chocolate for the locals, he and his family moved back to England and set out to open his own chocolate factory in Devon.… Read more

20 November

Doctor Who pop-up shop opens today

Doctor Who pop-up shop

You know that things are getting serious between you and the Doctor when you’re more excited about the annual Christmas special than all carols, pudding and presents put together. (Side note: Nick Frost is playing Santa in this year’s episode!).

But what if we told you that you could bring even more Time Lord magic to your yuletide? As of this morning, the Doctor Who pop-up shop is open on Little Collins Street, packed with quirky merchandise that even a Dalek couldn’t refuse.

K9 cookie cutters. TARDIS print skirts, shirts and dresses. Weeping Angel Christmas tree toppers. Blink and you’ll miss them (we’re just going to leave that reference there).

And because no one’s ever met a Whovian who doesn’t also harbour complicated feelings for the BBC Sherlock series, a corner of the pop-up will be dedicated to all things Cumberbatch and Freeman – ‘Consulting Detective’ mugs, DVDs and more.

Doctor Who pop-up shop. Open now until Sun Jan 4.Read more

14 November

Cuban bar El Coco pops up for a month of cocktails and summer parties

EL COCO

It’s a beautiful union: Cuban food, Bacardi cocktails and smooth, summery tunes. El Coco (named after the palm tree planted in the first Cuban Bacardi distillery in 1862) is now open at the site of King Street’s Exchange Hotel to warm up the business end.

Let’s talk rum. Behind the bar will be 1806’s Sebastian Raeburn, who’ll be conjuring rum Negronis, so-called ‘Invisible Mojitos’, and his own version on the classic ‘Bacardi Cuba Libre’.

Pair one of Raeburn’s creations with a Beef Rib Stackwich (courtesy of Hammer and Tong’s executive chef Simon Ward) and you’re in business. Ward has already earned his Cuban stripes at the Cuban Jazz Festival, so you know that the stackwich (plus his soft shell crab tacos and Cuban chocolate cigars) will be winners.

El Coco is open late – we’re talking 5am late – and will play host to an impressive lineup of bands and DJs.… Read more

12 November

Sweet Charity the musical comes to the Arts Centre next February

'Big Spender' - Sweet Charity

If the title doesn’t spark the musical theatre-loving sensors of your brain, then surely the song titles ‘Hey Big Spender’ or ‘Rhythm of Life’ will.

In February next year, the Arts Centre’s Playhouse will be transformed into a seedy dance hall of ’60s New York: the world of Charity Hope Valentine. Sweet Charity tells the story of an eternally optimistic, tragically gullible ‘dance hall hostess’ looking for love. During her journey, she finds herself trapped in elevators, hiding in closets and joining the congregations of a new-age flower child religion. It’s silly, slapstick, romantic but – in the end – not the least bit predictable (really!). Song and dance-wise, you can expect everything from huge brassy numbers to jazzy ballads, plus the quirky, jerky moves of the ‘Rich Man’s Frug’, choreographed by the unmatched Bob Fosse, and immortalised in the Sweet Charity film of 1969, starring Shirley MacLaine.

The show touches down in Melbourne after scoring three Helpmann awards (sort of like Australia’s Tonys) – one being for an outstanding performance by leading lady Verity Hunt-Ballard, known for her practically perfect take on Mary Poppins in the 2010 run at Her Majesty’s Theatre.… Read more