French and Co in Carlton North

Recently I have been indulging in French food, La  Parisienne Pates  and Noir you can flick back to them to catch up.   This has been a very very satisfying and pleasurable trip and it has given me a new  type of entertainment.  I can keep indulging by inviting friends over for wine and a Charcuterie plate.

This  hunt for something French has lead me to  French & Co in that delightful group of shops on Rathdowne Street Carlton North.  French & Co deals in French antiques and is at 290  Rathdowne Street.

All things French

All things French

French & Co is owned by Bernice who used to own Vintage Antiques in the historical part of Tinakori Road  Wellington, New Zealand where she specialized in French Antiques.   A visiting New Zealand friend who loved her shop in Wellington  mentioned her move to me and it seemed the right time to go there and continue my French theme.

Bernice’s ‘home’ in Melbourne  is a fascinating place packed with items that are all imported from France.
Bernice makes an annual trip to replenish her stock.  She will also order things for you including decorating books that she has a number of on display. She loves talking about her stock and her ‘sourcing’ trips. On her last trip she returned with a number of French religious icons – there is a big demand for these here.

French religious icons

French religious icons

I spent time browsing and was very taken with the antique linen that she brought in France – some beautiful pieces.  Then there is the courtyard. I love this area.

Courtyard at French & Co

Courtyard at French & Co


Plants grow well in the courtyard

Plants grow well in the courtyard

What is it about French country that is so appealing?


It’s not all French country though.  There are wonderful chandeliers that I am sure once graced some elegant Paris townhouse.

French chandeliers

French chandeliers

These photos should give you an idea of the treasure you can find at French & Co in Carlton North.

Maxie at French & Co

Maxie at French & Co

Maxi also came to Melbourne  from Wellington.  After morning exercise she snoozes away the day.

French & Co
290 Rathdown Street
Carlton North

Phone: 9347 1141

Opening Hours:-
Wed – Fri: 10:30 am – 4:30 pm
Sat – Sun: 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Closed: Monday and Tuesday

Getting There:-

Car: There 1 & 2 hour parking in Rathdowne Street
Tram: 96

stop 18 Freeman Street & Nicholson Street.
Curtain Square
or Stop 19 Alexandra Pde
Walk through to Rathdowne Street village.

French & Co Facebook page:-


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French on Lygon Street – La Parisienne Pates

La Parisienne Pates

La Parisienne Pates

What’s happening  on Lygon Street?

When I first came to Melbourne it was Italian.  It felt Italian and the food was Italian – the delis were Italian. It felt exactly like it’s nick name “Little Italy”. I wrote about it here  Now, some years later, it is taking on a more international feel, reflecting the multicultural aspect of the city, with a variety of food outlets .

I was mulling this over when I visited La Parisienne Pates at 290 Lygon Street.  As I wandered along and thought about it I found myself accepting and enjoying the changes. La Parisienne Pates selling French food is a firm fixture in the street.

I recently lunched at Noir, a French Cafe on Swan Street Richmond See here . I got a desire to explore France and French food further.  I explored this wish and I came across La Parisienne Pates in Carlton.  I have visited Lygon Street many times and I must’ve walked past the shop without noticing it.   Now I was focused on France and all things French, I found it and explored it.  It is a deli with a coffee, food and tables at the back.

Cafe La Parisienne Pates

Cafe La Parisienne Pates

The shop feels French as you walk in. I’m not sure if that is because there is a vase of huge red, white and blue feathers – the tri-colour – in the doorway but French is the atmosphere you get as you enter from the street.
I’m a lover of French Terrines and this is a great place to indulge.  They are not cheap at $48.00 a kilo.  They are already cut and vacuum packed so there is no chance of a slither to take home and try.  The pieces I have bought have been around $9.00 each.  I find the value is fine, it beats making your own.  They are time consuming to make from scratch.   I have tried three now;  Duck and Rosemary, Pork and Pistachio and my favourite is Rabbit and Prune.

Rabbit and Prune Terrine

Rabbit and Prune Terrine


Terrines La Parisienne Pate

Terrines La Parisienne Pate

Another favourite is Beef Bresoala… this is air dried beef cut very thinly.  It is wonderful with cheese on French bread.

Beef Bresoala

Beef Bresoala

The Saucisson, a sausages similar to an Italian salami is made by the proprietor and is available in many flavours.  For those that are having withdrawal symptoms for then since they visited France they are the real thing. You can usually buy half one but as they keep and to my mind improve in flavour as they dry further it’s worth buying a whole one.

Saucisson La Parisienne Pates

Saucisson La Parisienne Pates

La Parisienne Pates serves food including pies.  I love the rabbit pies.  I always saw these as English but apparently they are popular in France too.  The pies are $7.50 cold and  $8.50 if they are heated and eaten in the cafe with a relish.


Rabbit Pie

Rabbit Pie

La Parisienne Pates describe themselves as the only true Charcuterie in Melbourne.
French Charcutier Stephane Langlois  makes all his own small-goods from traditional French recipes he brought with  him to this country.

I don’t know of another French Deli in Melbourne who makes their own wonderful terrines and saucissons etc.  If you do let me know.  You can drop a comment in the comment box.

La Parisienne Pates
290 Lygon Street

9349 1852

Opening times:
Mon – Wed: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Thu – Fri: 8:30 am – 6:30 pm
Sat: 8:30 am – 6:00 pm
Sun: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm

Getting There:
The easiest  way to get there is tram to Melbourne University and walk along Gratton Street.
The trams that go there include; 3, 5, 6, 16, 64,67,72.
There is one hour parking in Lygon Street.

La Parisienne Pâtés on Urbanspoon





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Noir in Richmond for Sunday Lunch

A Four Course Tasting menu for $35 with a glass of wine.  It sounds good value.  And it is!



Noir is black  in French.  And the name Noir doesn’t appeal to me as the name for a restaurant to visit on a cold, grey, winter’s day in Melbourne.  I was apprehensive although it had a good serve from my friend who had been a couple of weeks before.

I’m not sure why the name Noir and I didn’t ask.  The welcome and the temperature was warm as we step in from the chilly street and that was all we needed.   The name Noir does create the image of a late night venue where people are slumped in corners while viewing the world through dark glasses.  This Noir, although it is open at night has charm which is very pleasant in the clear cool light of an August day.

We settled into a table away from the door and began with our free glass of wine -  we drank more of it, later.  If you are having the special lunch you can dispense with the menu and all the studying and discussing.  The chef has decided a menu for you.  This is a common practice in small family French restaurants – you eat what the chef has cooked.  The menu at Noir changes weekly so you can check it out on their web site.  I like this idea.  It means that each visit is an gastronomical adventure.  I have now been twice to experience this.

We started with delicious bite sized vegetable tarts.


My favourite was the chestnut.  I love chestnuts and it seldom appears on a menu.  I have been lucky to have it both times I have been to Noir.  On each occasion the  delicate chestnut tarts have landed on our table.

Next there is a salad……


…followed by soup.





All this beautiful plating up.  You could believe you are on Master Chef.

Finally the main dish – Beautifully presented – delicious as well.


Try the four courses and see what your think – if you are worried the Chef may give you something you don’t eat, check the menu on line before you go.


The menu this week is:-

Prawn cocktail
Cuttlefish risotto, squid ink and crispy squid
Pumpkin veloute, pumpkin seeds and pickled onions
Roast pork belly with white beans and chorizo


Noir Restaurant
175 Swan Street
Richmond – this is near the Church Street corner.
Phone:- 9428 3585

Getting there:-
Train: Richmond Station is at the other end of Swan Street – a 5 minutes walk
Tram:  Number 70 goes past the Restaurant

Noir on Urbanspoon

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Melbourne Central and the Little Library – a community project.

Melbourne Central buzzes these days. There is action here and in amongst this action there is an oasis of quiet. A corner where you can sit or browse and take time out.

Wander around the different levels of the complex, shop till you drop then head for The Little Library – The Community Library.  This is a space that does make Melbourne Central feel something of a community.  The fact that the food hall is alongside helps this feel.  It is a busy food hall with chatter, clatter and laughter. There is nothing like eating together to give a community feel.

The Little Library takes this feel and builds on it.  It is a library for everyone.  Its a place to swap books, take one of your choice home or to browse and read while sitting in the comfortable chairs that are provided.

The Little Library

The Little Library

The books are for all comers. The community allows you to take the books away, to return them at your leisure and to bring any books from home that you have read and are cluttering your shelves.  The idea is to bring back books you have read but there are no rules to say if you find a book you want for your shelves you can’t keep it.  I passed one I enjoyed on to a friend.

Melbourne Central Management says, “ The mission of the Little Library concept is to promote literacy and the love of reading by offering a free book exchange. After all, books were built to be swapped (and read, of course).”

Reading in the Little Library

Reading in the Little Library

Browsing is good too.  It is a place to escape the noise and clamour of the outside.  When I was there last there was a good range of cooking books and a set of old encyclopedias for a step back in time, when all information wasn’t at our finger tips. The encyclopaedia aren’t something you are going to carry around with you but it is fun to browse.

I love this space and I have added some of my once-read books.  I have some in a bag at my door at the moment to remind me to take them next time I am in the CBD.


Reading- The Melbourne Central Library

Reading- The Melbourne Central Library

Recently I was on  an international flight and it surprised me that a number of people were carrying real books and not relying on e- readers. If you have read the book you flew into Melbourne with leave it at Melbourne Central Little Library and collect another one for your flight out of Melbourne.

Where: The Little Library first floor Melbourne Central – CBD.  Opposite the State Library.

Getting there:  Enter the complex from the entrance at La Trobe and Swanston Street.  Head up the escalators to the first floor Food Court and you will find the Little Library in the right hand corner.

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La Café on Nelson Street in Balaclava – outside on a sunny morning.


Sitting on a high ladder style stool feet propped on a bench while overlooking a car park doesn’t sound an ideal place to have breakfast.  Strangely,  it is pretty good.

We shared the veranda space with two spaniels who relaxed at our feet and did not beg for tit bits or fuss about.  They were as relaxed as we were. The early morning summer air drifted in and the activity in the car park did not disturb us and we had passersby to observe.

This is an Israeli cafe so there is an emphasis towards that style of food on the menu.  If you go for a really different experience, you won’t get it.  Most of the food is just a little different from standard fare.  I have an idea that the menu has changed since they first opened and has become more Australian (local).

We chose:-
Avocado Delight: A slice of toasted bread w/guacamole, sautéed mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, fetta and chorizo, served with an Israel salad
This was described as very good by my friend who had it.  The chorizo giving it flavour and the salad a freshness

The Big: Eggs of your choice, toasted bread, served with grilled Portobell0 mushrooms, tomato, bacon  chorizo and spinach.
Good choices of bread here, sourdough, rye, white, multigrain, Turkish, raisin, bagel
Eggs could be , omelet, scrambled. poached or fried

Beautiful large mushrooms that looked delicious but for some reason were tasteless but the rest of the dish was fine.  It was surprising to find the spinach raw and the tomatoes cooked.  They were delicious and it is a while since I had cooked tomatoes, must do it myself more often and a chorizo sausage gave the dish a tang.  It all worked well but perhaps could have been improved by the freshness of a serving of Israel salad.  Ah, but plates only hold so much!

An Israel salad is a great addition to breakfast.  It is clean, fresh and it cuts any suggestion of fat or grease.  Made from finely diced cucumber, tomato and parsley, sometimes onion is added.  It is often served with lemon as it is at La Cafe.
The coffee was particularly good here.

A disconcerting moment came at the end of the meal.  The waiter took the  bill and our money.  After a while she came back and removed our cups and cleared the table.  We were ready to go when we realized that we didn’t have the change from the bill.  We wonder how many people got caught out this way. With the  bill and the payment taken and the table cleared, subconsciously you think that everything is over and leave before you receive the change.  It may not be a problem if you paid by credit card but still you don’t want to find you have left it behind.  We had to ask for the change.

Where:- La Cafe
28 Nelson Street
Phone:-    9537 3093
Open:-     Monday to Saturday 7.30am  to 5.00pm
Sunday 8.00am to 5.00pm

Getting there:- Trams 3 & 12 from the CBD- to Balaclava Station
Train Sandringham Line to Balaclava Station

La Cafe on Nelson on Urbanspoon

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Play Me I’m Yours – The joy of piano music in the CBD

The sounds of the piano being played has added to the fun and delight of being around the City of Melbourne during January.


British Artist, Luke Jerram, came up with the idea of placing pianos around a city for everyone or anyone to use.  Since he kicked off the idea in 2008 he has given delight and fun to people around the globe.  Melbourne took up the challenge this year.

Most of the pianos have been placed around the Arts Centre and the CBD.
Pianists took on the challenge and sat down and played.  They appeared to play for themselves and along the way they gathered an appreciative audience.  No level of skill was needed but some I heard were very skilful.


If the music wasn’t enough to stop you in your tacks, smile and loiter the pianos themselves were a visual feast.
Here is a sample of a few that were around the Art Centre.




This is my favourite.  It was inside the Art Centre so good to play and to listen on those very hot days.



I do wonder what is going to happen to these works for art once the time they are available to the public is over.  I would like to think that this one found a permanent home in the Art Centre so that it was always available for someone to tinker on and for those of us who don’t play to listen to.

Getting there:-  Tram to Federation Square. The first stop, at the top of St Kilda Road, is the stop for the Arts Centre. Train to Flinders Street

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Christmas and Summer in Melbourne with Stonnington

December and The Stonnington City Council has gone all out to make it fun for you.

You can pick up their booklet, “What’s on in Stonnington” outlining their events, all over the city.  I found one in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy so they are not only available on their home turf of Stonnington.

December is a upon us and there are great Christmas programs, especially for children,  to get you all in the mood.  Enjoy carols in various parks around the city including the Prahran Market Square on December 21st from 2pm to 4pm.  

There is fun for children in Ardrie Park, Malvern East on Saturday 7th December, where there is a chance to make Christmas decorations and join Elmo and Cookie Monster and other characters from Sesame Street to sing carols.  This event starts at 4pm

Santa and his elf will read stories and help children make decorations in the various libraries around the city.

It is worth finding their well presented booklet available from cafes and the Town Halls.  Their web site doesn’t give such clear information.

If you can’t find a booklet here are the pages on the Christmas Carols.  Just click on the pictures and you should be able to read them.




The Stonnington Council and Malvern Town Hall
1251 High Street
Malvern 3144


The Prahran Town Hall , the entrance is just around the corner at:
180 Greville Street,
Prahran VIC 3181

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Hosier Lane

-a makeover – watch the street artists work


Go to Hosier Lane in the next couple days and you will be met with a rare sight.  Blank walls.


Hosier Lane is getting a makeover.   The art you know has been blacked out and  about 100 Melbourne artists are working to give the lane a new look.
HOSIER Lane is one of Melbourne’s best known art galleries.  Visitors from all over the world come to view the art in the laneway.

The makeover is being organised by The Allyourwalls, a  project supported by the National Gallery of Victoria.  The idea is keep Hosier Lane vibrant and up-to-date.  The artists behind this embrace the change.

The new art will included graffiti, stencil and paste-up.

Now is the time to check it out.  Artists are perched on top of cherry pickers, and ladders and are crawling around on ground to reach the spots they want to touch up. Check it out in this video.

The art work will be ready for viewing on 30th November.  In the meantime it is fascinating to watch the artists at work.  They all seem happy to work with crowds watching them, discussing  them and their work and photographing them.



It takes a cool head to keep working with so much going on around you.


Hosier Lane

It is located between Flinders Lane and Flinders Street. The entrance from Flinders Street is opposite the entrance to Federation Square



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The South Melbourne Night Market is underway for 2013.

The market opened on the last evening of October.  It was a good start.  The weather was pleasant, sunny and coolish and the people were turning up.


This a craft market with food.  I am only going to look at the craft in this post and leave the food for another post.

The craft is a showcase for creativity -  ideas on their own are nothing, you have to bring them to fruition and the stall holders at this market have done just that.  There are some great outcomes at the South Melbourne Night Market.

These are some of the things that caught my eye on the opening night.


Look closely at these pictures and you will see that everything has been created with parts of watches. Each piece is unique – a one off.  Sharee  Humphrey who is the creative brain behind the jewellery says, “I have got my local Op Shops sifting through donations that come in and they save any old watches or pieces of watches for me”.  In this way she keeps up her supply of parts.  Her pieces are popular and she believes that she will be running low on ‘bits of watches’ by the time we get to Christmas. This is her web site

It is the colours of the fabrics that first catches the eye at ‘retro pop homeware’ – then you notice the pictures and designs. Scot van Maanen also has a stall at the Rose Street Market in Fitzroy and he sells through ebay.



Your pets have their treats here too.

Pet-grocer Dog-treats

What: The South Melbourne Night Market
When: Between 31st October and 19th December 2013
From: 5.30pm
Parking: Free roof top parking from 5.30

Tram: 96 (Light Rail) from Bourke Street, and get off at the South Melbourne stop. The market is about 2 minutes away.
112 Tram from Collins Street, get off on the corner of Clarendon and York Street

The Stalls are under the wide verandahs surrounding the market so that whatever the weather you are comfortable.

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St. Kilda News – The Local Newspaper for a Global Village.


This is a monthly free paper.  It is not delivered.  You need to pick one up from local outlets.  I got mine from the Grumpy Swimmers Bookshop in Elwood. Another good place is Safeway in Balaclava.

The editor describes this as an Open Newspaper.  This means that anyone can write for it and summit their article.  This makes it a vibrant and relevant newspaper that reaches all  in the community.
The latest issue is a densely packed 31 pages of local information.  There is information on Farmers’ Markets, the Melbourne band Soul Safari, Sacred Heart Mission has a column and Port Philip Deputy Mayor and Catani Ward Councillor Serge Thomann has a Postcard from France.

A section is called St Kilda Bites – featuring food in cafes and local restaurants.

This month there is a double page spread on Armstrong Street in Middle Park.  It  mentions  two of my favourite cafes Hot Honey and Mart. You may want to check out what I have said about them.

Tamara Griffiths writes about making a Herb and Weed Salad and explains how to do this.
There is a section that is of value to Tourists and Visitors as well as Locals.  It gives you a chance to compare eateries and  check out some that may be under your radar. There is plenty of information for a visitor to the area to get an understanding of the  iconic suburb and feel like a local.  The ads keep you in the know too.

If you are around the area grab the St Kilda News,  read it, and indulge, try the highlighted local hot spots and consider writing your own contribution.

Contact details:
St Kilda Newspaper
P.O. Box 1427
VIC 3182

Phone 1300 48 55 11

More Armstrong Street Cafes


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