Get lunch at Vue de Monde on the cheap, score free ice-cream for a year, have an all-star chef cook dinner at yours or take home an iconic off-menu Melbourne dish – all in aid of bushfire relief. Plus, a psychedelic new choose-your-own-adventure art show; a vibrant, veg-driven diner from one of the city’s best; an all-you-can-eat Texan barbeque; and the world’s biggest (and possibly most elaborate) jumping castle is here. Here’s what Broadsheet Melbourne editor Ellen Fraser is checking out this month.
New diner Crofter in Brunswick East is an excellent spot to get your vegetable fix this month. Chef Matt Wilkinson has moved on from his landmark bruncherie Pope Joan and now heads up the kitchen here, turning out charred zucchini with parmesan cream; green beans with house-made vegan XO; and gin-cured snapper on green harissa. There’s meat, too, but why bother when the green stuff is this fab?
All-star chefs Frank Camorra (Movida), Shannon Martinez (Smith & Daughters, Smith & Deli) and Shane Delia (Maha, Maha East, soon-to-open Maha Bar) want to cook at your place this month to raise funds for bushfire relief – and Neil Perry is auctioning himself off to the highest bidder.
And while donating directly to the organisation of your choice is the best way to aid the bushfire relief effort, the Broadsheet team has rounded up a stack of other worthy ways to help. These are the Melbourne venues donating proceeds, and here’s how your online shop can contribute. Proceeds from Sunda’s cult Vegemite curry in take-home jar form will be donated, Meatsmith has created special-edition hams, Hannah Gadsby is headlining a comedy benefit, Vue de Monde is doing a $28 lunch and Gelato Messina is offering a chance to win free ice-cream for a year in return for donations.
A three-day festival all about sour beer is happening at Bodriggy Brewing Co’s monstrous Abbotsford brew-pub this month. Expect tart, fruity and acidic brews, such as a barrel-aged black plum sour and a dry-hopped tangerine number. There’ll also be natural wine, and Central and South American snacks including ceviche, empanadas and tacos.
The Guinness World Record holder for the biggest jumping castle in the world (and possibly the most over-the-top) has landed in Melbourne. The 10-metre tall, 1500 square metre structure is joined by a 300-metre-long obstacle course, a space-themed wonderland with a giant five-lane slide, three ball-pits and an 18-metre-tall maze. Look out for the confetti cannons, too.
Some of the best cannoli-makers (cannolerazzos?) in Melbourne stick with the classics – delicate tubes of golden, fried pastry piped with custard or ricotta – while others go rogue with crème brûlée, peanut butter and zabaglione versions. Here are our faves.
It’s tough to compete with the comfy feeling of watching a film, wrapped in a blanket on your couch in the middle of winter, but these summer-only outdoor cinemas – on rooftops, at the drive-in and on the beach – come pretty close.
The pig’s head sandwich at Collingwood wine bar Congress is one of Melbourne’s most recognisable dishes, and now its sister eatery, Italian diner Lagotto, is gearing up for some sibling rivalry. Lagotto’s version is confit pork belly that’s been crumbed and fried, served with roasted tomato-balsamic aioli and sliced fennel between two white-bread discs. All you need to go with it is a $10 spritz – conveniently on offer, too.
Allowing just enough time for us to recover from Christmas lunch, American barbeque spot Bluebonnet is ready to give you the meat-sweats all over again, launching an all-you-can-eat Texan-style feast, with all the smoked meats (and delicious sides) you can handle for $68.
For a different kind of sweat, check out Panda Hot Pot, a new two-level diner at the old Dracula’s theatre restaurant (sadly the indoor rollercoaster is no more – a commanding 1.5-tonne steel dragon has taken its place). The chain has more than 400 restaurants worldwide and is known for its fiery DIY soups.
At Heide, New Zealand-born artists Jess Johnson and Simon Ward have come together for a mind-bending, psychedelic exhibition that takes you on a choose-your-own-adventure-style virtual reality journey. The show will also include Johnson's intricate drawings, quilts made in collaboration with her mother, and beaded gowns made in collaboration with fashion house Romance Was Born.
The creators of Tim & Eric, possibly America's weirdest and wackiest comedy duo, is heading to our shores this month. And there are still tickets to celebrated documentarian Louis Theroux’s Melbourne show, which is happening on January 19.