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Son’s defence put Fairfax on the money trail

When Eddie Obeid’s middle son, Moses, told the NSW Court of Appeal last year that he did not have the money to pay a $12 million debt his company owed the City of Sydney council, he could not have realised the profound repercussions that statement was to have.
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The court heard that, far from being broke, Moses Obeid was a miracle of financial management. Despite having a taxable income of $100,000 a year – and his wife $80,000 – the pair lived a sumptuous lifestyle, drove his and hers Land Rovers, employed a maid, met their annual mortgage payments of $210,000 on a $4.5 million Vaucluse mansion and still had $800,000 a year left over for living expenses.

Justice Peter Young said he could have ”very little confidence” in the evidence of Moses Obeid and his brother Paul and noted the Obeids appeared to exemplify the doctrine: ”How to live well on nothing a year” from the classic novel Vanity Fair.

The Obeids produced 10 lever-arch folders of figures, including reports from accountants, to prove Moses Obeid did not have any assets or the means to pay $12 million for breaching a licensing agreement over the manufacture of street poles.

But Alan Sullivan, QC, for the City of Sydney, identified a series of trusts controlled by the family through which millions of dollars had flowed for the benefit of the Obeids.

When Fairfax sought access to the financial records tendered by the Obeids, their team of lawyers objected – unsuccessfully.

These documents, showing millions flowing through a series of family trusts, enabled Fairfax Media to shine a light on the Obeids’ dealings, including their secret ownership of cafes at Circular Quay and their mining deals.

On paper, the Arc Cafe, Quay Eatery and Sorrentino, which are located in blue-ribbon positions on or next to the bustling ferry wharves at the Quay, were run by a $1 company called Circular Quay Restaurants Pty Ltd.

The sole director was John Abood, Mr Obeid’s brother-in-law. In 2004, Fairfax Media tried to confirm the long-rumoured involvement of the Obeid family in the restaurants.

At the time, Mr Abood denied he was a front for Eddie Obeid, saying: ”Yes, I am his [Obeid’s] brother-in-law, but no way he is involved. I have been here for three years and he has never had anything to do with this business.”

But in the witness box at the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Monday, Mr Abood admitted he was effectively a front for his relatives, with the Obeids secretly owning 90 per cent of the company using a series of discretionary trusts.

In Moses Obeid’s sworn statement tendered in the Court of Appeal proceedings, he had previously applied for a bank loan. To prove he could repay it, he listed among his $11.3 million assets a $700,000 share of ”Circular Quay Restaurants”.

In trying to avoid paying the later debt to the council, Moses Obeid inadvertently revealed the family’s long-held secret – the use of trusts to hide a myriad of business interests.

Using the information in the court documents, a subsequent Fairfax Media investigation unmasked the Obeids’ secret interests in the now famous Mount Penny coal licence scandal as well as in the Circular Quay cafes.

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Light rail extension to Dulwich Hill to hit commuters in pocket

Tram services to Dulwich Hill on Sydney’s light rail line are being planned to start on February 1, and service frequencies are expected to increase later next year.
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But commuters using the extension of the light rail line to Dulwich Hill are likely to have to pay more to catch the tram all the way to Central, according to contract details between the state government and the private operator of the line.

In July, the state government signed a $45 million contract with Transdev to run Sydney’s existing tram line between Central and Lilyfield and its extension to Dulwich Hill until the middle of 2015.

Services on that line are currently suspended between Central and the Star casino, after two trams derailed this month in incidents that neither the government nor the operator have explained.

But documents attached to Transdev’s contract show plans, at least, for an improvement in services. In 458 pages, they also include Transport for NSW specifications on fares and tickets. The documents show Transdev predicts it will take 36 minutes to travel from Dulwich Hill to Central on the line but Transport for NSW and Transdev say that is only a preliminary estimate.

In contrast, it takes about half that time to travel by train from Dulwich Hill train station, which is adjacent to the light rail terminus, to Central. The contract also shows the government plans to phase out all paper tickets when the Opal public transport smart card is bedded in.

Transport for NSW is planning to install Opal technology on all trams, buses, train and ferries by the end of next year. Eventually, the contract with Transdev says, electronic ticketing will be used ”to the exclusion of all other ticketing”.

The current fare structure for the light rail line is broken into two zones – charging people $3.50 if they travel in one zone, or $4.50 if they travel in two. The contract documents show the government had been planning to introduce a third zone for the extension to Dulwich Hill. But they also say that concession fares would finally be introduced on the light rail, which currently does not offer them.

Transport for NSW would not confirm the details included in the contract. A spokesman said the start date for the extension to Dulwich Hill would be announced in coming months, as would the government’s policy on fares and how frequently trams would run.

When the extension opens in February, Transdev is expecting to run a tram every 10 minutes in peak periods, as it does now. But from July next year it plans to run a tram every 7.5 minutes.

Transport for NSW said: ”The contract has the flexibility to increase the service frequency of light rail after the opening of the Inner West Extension. We are working with Transdev to carry out detailed simulation modelling to confirm the exact journey time under various scenarios.”

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Islamic bookshop shuts, blaming extremism ‘lies’

Closed: Al Risalah Islamic Bookstore in Bankstown. Photo: Wolter PeetersAfter being accused of being an extremist and secretive organisation, the Al Risalah Islamic Bookstore in Bankstown, which has found itself at the centre of a media storm in the past year, has shut down.
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The closure of the business has been blamed on a vendetta against the bookshop by some community members and alleged ”defamatory” statements made in the media about the store and its patrons.

Lawyer Zali Burrows, acting on behalf of the manager of the bookstore, Wisam Haddad, and three others, has filed a defamation action against Nationwide News, the publisher of The Daily Telegraph, over its coverage of the Muslim riots in the city last year.

”Sex used to sell; these days it’s Muslims and terrorists,” she said. ”My clients are taking a stand against irresponsible media that promote religious intolerance and discrimination that often leaves a carnage of reputations in its wake.”

The bookshop was also in the news earlier this year after Today Tonight filmed an altercation on the pavement outside.

Mr Haddad said the bookstore had closed because of a major loss of sales and negativity about its operations.

He said the attention had ”caused an unjust stench about our store and its patrons, that we believe was perpetuated by both local and international media, which ran false statements and accusations that we are an extremist secretive organisation … instigating hate crimes against other groups of the community”.

”All [these] defamatory lies [were] drilled into the hearts and minds of the public as well as most of our customers who [were] from both Muslim and non-Muslim backgrounds, who never returned to the shop after the bad publicity we received,” he said.

A women’s clothing shop will open in its place, however the community centre behind the store will remain open to the public.

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Man charged over robbing banks with sledgehammer

A man has been charged over the daring daylight robbery of two Sydney banks with a sledgehammer.
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William Caldwell has been charged over his alleged involvement in the robbery of the Westpac bank in Kent Street in Sydney’s central business district on September 13 and the Bendigo Bank branch at Pyrmont on October 11.

Police allege he was also involved in the robbery of the Sydney Credit Union at Leichhardt on October 17, when thieves smashed their way into the building to access a safe and stole money.

The 30-year-old has also been charged with the robbery of a convenience store in Sydney’s CBD on September 10.

Caldwell was arrested at Marrickville on Monday morning after investigations by Strike Force Threshing, which was established to investigate five robberies – at least four of which involved the use of a sledgehammer.

They included the robbery of the Westpac bank in Sydney’s CBD at 11.15am on a Friday.

It is alleged that during the robbery a stolen Porsche Cayenne was driven into the back of the bank and two masked men jumped out.

Witnesses said that the pair were armed with sledgehammers and ran into the bank, where they confronted staff and made off with cash.

Minutes later, a man ran from the building, carrying bags, and jumped into a stolen blue Subaru WRX, where a driver was waiting. The entire robbery took less than five minutes.

After the incident at the bank in Pyrmont a month later, witnesses again described two men with a sledgehammer who fled with cash in a blue Subaru WRX.

On Monday, Caldwell was charged with four counts of robbery while armed with a dangerous weapon in relation to the robberies at Pyrmont, Leichhardt and the Sydney CBD convenience store.

Caldwell is also facing six counts of aggravated breaking, entering and stealing in relation to the Kent Street incident, and incidents at a number of other inner Sydney businesses, as well as 12 counts of driving a conveyance and two counts of malicious damage.

He is the second person to be charged by Strike Force Threshing after the arrest of a 20-year-old man in Pyrmont last week in relation to the Sydney Credit Union robbery in Leichhardt.

Caldwell appeared briefly before Newtown Local Court on Monday afternoon, where a bail application was denied.

The matter will return to court on December 12.

Detectives are continuing to investigate the five robberies.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

‘Corrupt’ label for witness caught in parliament row

Barely a fortnight ago, former senior state public servant Steve Dunn was given a frank character assessment in the State Parliament.
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The occasion was a debate on a bill to abolish the controversial Game Council of NSW following a damaging review of the taxpayer-funded body by Mr Dunn in his capacity as a private consultant.

As the Shooters and Fishers Party MP Robert Brown eviscerated Mr Dunn and wondered how he could have reached his conclusions, fellow Shooters and Fishers MP Robert Borsak, enraged by the Dunn report, interjected: ”Because he’s corrupt, that’s why!”

Little did they know Mr Dunn would be named on Monday as a witness in the latest Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into former Labor minister Eddie Obeid.

Counsel assisting the inquiry, Ian Temby, QC, said Mr Dunn – a former director of water licensing – will be quizzed about his role in the granting of a valuable water allocation over the Obeids’ Cherrydale Park property in the Bylong Valley.

He will also feature in part of the inquiry dealing with interests Mr Obeid’s family held in commercial leases at Circular Quay, as the former chief executive of Maritime NSW.

Mr Temby said the inquiry would examine whether Mr Dunn and another former senior public servant, Mark Duffy, engaged in ”official misconduct” by using their positions to benefit the Obeids.

Mr Dunn left the public service in October last year and started IC Independent Consulting, which was awarded the contract to review the Game Council by the O’Farrell government.

On Monday Mr Brown said the government vetoed the engagement of a consultant preferred by the Shooters and Fishers Party in favour of Mr Dunn. ”They’re the ones that picked him,” Mr Brown said. ”A bit embarrassing, hey?”

According to the company’s website, IC Independent Consulting is ”prequalified” under the state government’s scheme for preferred tenderers.

It says its ”partners and associates” have done or are bidding for work from agencies including Transport NSW, Roads and Maritime Services, Department of Primary Industries, Police Marine Area Command and the Marine Parks Authority.

An expert fly fisherman, Mr Dunn also offers lessons in the Snowy Mountains and was director-general of Fisheries while Mr Obeid was minister. Contacted on Monday, Mr Dunn declined to comment.

Mr Duffy, the other former senior public servant highlighted by Mr Temby, was director-general of the NSW Department of Water and Energy in 2008 when the Obeids were granted the generous water licence at Cherrydale Park. He became deputy director-general of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, but left early this year following a restructure.

Mr Duffy is regarded as close to former minister Michael Costa, who will also be called as a witness in the Circular Quay leases portion of the ICAC inquiry. He was best man at Mr Costa’s wedding and previously worked alongside him at the NSW Labor Council.

In 1989 Mr Duffy was sacked as Labor Council industrial officer for leaking internal documents he co-wrote with Mr Costa to an executive at transport giant Linfox. He later worked as chief of staff to former NSW treasurer Michael Egan.

Mr Dunn and Mr Duffy featured regularly in Mr Obeid’s diaries, tendered to a previous ICAC inquiry, as having frequent meetings with the former Labor powerbroker between 2007 and 2009.

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SCG worker ‘smuggled’ in derby flare

A contract worker on the SCG redevelopment has been sacked for allegedly smuggling a flare into Allianz Stadium hours before the weekend’s A-League derby.
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For 90 minutes on Saturday evening, Allianz Stadium vibrated amid the noise and colour of 40,388 passionate fans who turned the venue into a sea of blue, red and black. But it was the orange tinge of two flares lit inside the Western Sydney Wanderers’ supporters bay that caught the eye of authorities.

Police and security had searched the stadium before the match for any banned objects but still two flares were let off during the game in the south end of the venue, which was occupied by Wanderers’ fans, along with several ”bungers” – small fireworks that give off a loud sound.

Security officers were later shocked to find that a supporter working at the SCG had allegedly misused his position to bypass authorities. A private building contractor had his employment terminated on Monday after allegedly sneaking inside and hiding a flare inside piping beneath seats reserved for the Wanderers supporter group, the Red and Black Bloc.

It is understood the man was picked up during a review of CCTV footage by the SCG Trust security unit. He is alleged to have accessed the south end of the stadium in the hours before the match, using his position as a third-party contractor to gain entrance and hide the flare.

Stadium security were alerted to the man’s suspicious behaviour because employees contracted to work on the upgrade of the stands at the SCG are not permitted to stray away from the construction site. It is understood the man was sacked immediately after his employer was notified by the authorities. He may face other legal repercussions.

Football Federation Australia was notified of the incident but is waiting to see if there are any further findings before deciding what action it might take.

”We’re not not in a position to comment because this alleged incident is subject to legal proceedings,” an FFA spokesman said.

SCG Trust officials took a vigilant stance against those who lit flares at the Sydney derby after a crowd safety officer suffered burns to his hand while trying to defuse a flare inside the ground. It is understood the safety officer was attempting to retrieve a flare lit inside a section occupied by Wanderers supporters but it fell onto his arm after a member of the crowd kicked it along the ground. He was treated for burns at the venue but was not hospitalised. There is no suggestion that the two incidents were linked.

The venue management was also angry that many seats were destroyed in the south end of the ground, especially after they had been forced to replace seats destroyed by fans in the Wanderers supporter end following the A-League grand final in April.

An NSW Police spokeswoman confirmed there were three flares lit in total, with two of them ignited at the same time inside the Wanderers supporter bay and another outside the ground after the game. Police said that despite the isolated cases of flares or fireworks, the crowd was generally well behaved – only a few fans were ejected, mostly for issues relating to intoxication.

“For a crowd of more than 40,000, we were pleased to see most spectators enjoy the game safely,” she said. ”Unfortunately, there were a small number of people who overdid it and were promptly ejected from the match.

“We will be working with FFA to ensure those who were dealt with … receive their banning notice – along with fines or court attendance notice – so they can’t spoil another game this season.”

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Marquee magic from Middle East

The roses are being tended, outfits are being selected, invitations are (hopefully) landing, and construction of the marquees has begun. Each year the stakes at Flemington are raised, on and off the track. Marquees hosts continually strive to better their previous efforts – and trump the competition with their fitout, service and food.
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For the past few years Emirates has hosted one of the Birdcage’s biggest marquees. This year, the theme is Dubai, the airline’s home. It’s a city that inspires superlatives – the world’s tallest building, biggest aquarium, largest designer shoe store – so expect the marquee to wow.

Modelled on an ancient citadel, it will cover 600 square metres and include a separate dining room, a large terrace and internal walls four metres high. As a contingency against Melbourne’s inclement weather, the terrace will be covered by two Bedouin-style canvas tents. Designed by Katrina Regan from event management agency CI Events, the marquee will take about 30 days to build and involve a team of 10 carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians and labourers.

The marquee will offer a three-metre-high deck so guests can see the track from inside and out, traditional Arabic dancing and a host of celebs in their racing finest. And the Mumm will flow freely.

Dubai-based Nasser Iskeirjah, who has just celebrated his first year as Emirates’ executive chef, will oversee the menu. He spent two days in Melbourne last month working with Epicure Catering to perfect authentic Middle Eastern flavours. Even familiar dishes such as hummus can be tricky to get right, Iskeirjah says, ”as it’s all about how you put it together”.

But he left delighted with the resulting canapes, such as marinated watermelon with pomegranate, labneh, rose and pistachio, and yellowfin tuna kibbe nayeh, cracked wheat, crushed avocado, preserved lemon and dukkah. ”I know I give the chefs there a headache but they realise it’s worth it,” he says, laughing.

Prawn machbous, one of the United Arab Emirates’ best-known dishes, will be served as a main during the spring racing carnival.

The pilaf-style dish includes prawns marinated in a distinctive spice blend and basmati rice. Variations might replace the prawns with another type of seafood, chicken or lamb, or tweak the spices, but they usually include turmeric, white pepper, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, chilli powder, coriander, allspice, cardamom and dried lime.

Prawn machbous

600g green prawns, peeled and deveined

400g basmati rice

20g machbous spice mix (see recipe below)

10g coriander leaves, finely chopped

75ml corn or vegetable oil

50g chopped onion

10g chopped garlic

1 loomi (dried lime, available at specialty stores)

15g butter

40g tomato paste

150g tomato, chopped, peeled and deseeded

700ml water

Salt to taste

MACHBOUS SPICE MIX

250g ground turmeric

10g ground white pepper

45g ground cinnamon

62g ground cumin

10g ground nutmeg

6g chilli powder

45g ground coriander

25g ground allspice

20g cardamom

10g dried lemon powder (available at specialty stores)

1. Wash the basmati rice three times and soak for one hour.

2. Marinate the prawns with half the machbous spices and half of the freshly chopped coriander leaves.

3. Roast marinated prawns in the oven at 180C for 4 minutes or until half cooked.

4. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium high heat and gently fry the onion until soft, then add chopped garlic, crushed loomi and butter.

5. Add remaining machbous spice, cook for 15 seconds, then add tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.

6. Add the rest of the coriander and chopped tomato. Stir and continue cooking for 3 minutes, add salt to taste.

7. Add water, bring to boil, then add strained rice, fold in prawns, bring to boil again, and check seasoning.

8. Cover with a tight lid and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

For the spice mix Mix all the ingredients together. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

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Reputation and scarcity keep prices up

The pricing of really expensive wines is based on what the market is prepared to cop. Photo: Erin JonassonWhat is the justification for the huge price range we see for wines? I get that some wine is made by boutique producers, but I also notice that craft beers and ciders don’t cost significantly more than the big brands.
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Cast your mind back, if you can bear it, to your year 11 economics class. You were listening to the bits about economies of scale, but by the time your teacher made it to the theory of utility you were probably dozing off, enjoying a quiet cigarette in the amenities block or reading furtive texts from your mates. (Don’t think teachers can’t tell. As they say, why else would you be looking down at your groin and smiling?)

It is true that big producers have the capacity to make and sell wine much more cheaply than smaller ones, but as you have doubtless observed, not all wines made by big producers are cheap and not all small-producer wines are especially expensive.

The pricing of really expensive wines is based on what the market is prepared to cop, with supply, demand and mystique all playing a part. The specific parcels of land on which these grapes are grown are relatively small – think of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti or, in Australia, Hill of Grace – and regardless of whether you think the flavour warrants the jaw-dropping spend, the reputation of these wines and their scarcity keep prices high and investors interested.

Beers and ciders – excellent drinks that they are – don’t have an investment market in the way that wine does. Moving back towards the middle price ranges, reputation and spin do play a part but there are genuine, significant costs that influence the price of a bottle of wine.

Premium grapes make premium wine and they cost more to grow. Anything done by hand – pruning and picking are just two examples – costs much more than doing it with machinery. Organic vineyards typically demand more time and attention than those in which chemicals control disease and weeds. I could go on, but then I’d bore you as much as an economics class might.

A word of caution about not-that-expensive ”craft” beers and ciders. As with wine, quite a few of those bottles you’re seeing on booze-barn shelves with quirky names and labels are produced by corporates quietly cashing in on the thirst for drinks made in small batches by small producers.

If you really want to support craft producers, visit a brewery and know what you’re buying.

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Roadtesting the EspressGo portable car coffee machine

The Lavazza in car espressogo coffee machine. Photo: Eddie Jim The portable Lavazza EspressGo. Photo: Eddie Jim
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Roll up, roll up for the car, caravan or boat with everything – SatNav, HandsFree, DVD player, CigaretteLighter and the EspressGo, a portable version of Lavazza’s A Modo Mio capsule coffee machine.

The EspressGo looks like a high-tech thermos with an ”on” button, a temperature dial and a 12-volt plug. The lid doubles as a portafilter: unscrew it, fill the reservoir with 50ml of cold water (”non gassata” the Italian instructions advise, because Italians use bottled water for everything), pop a capsule in and screw the lid back on.

Plug it into the cigarette lighter, press the ”on” button and it starts to brew.

Actually, it starts to vibrate noisily as the pump pressurises; disconcerting the first time. The vibrating lasts about a minute, but as the manual warns, ”When the motor noise stops, it does not mean that the machine is ready!”. It will fool anyone who hasn’t RTFM: at this point the water isn’t hot enough to extract coffee. You need to ”wait until you hear 3 bleeps (approx 2 minutes)”. The Italian is more elegant: in that country you’ll be waiting for ”3 segnali sonori”.

The progress to 3 bleeps is indicated by the thermometer needle sweeping towards 10. Around 8 you hear the water start to boil.

In our tests the 3 bleeps sounded at 3 minutes 30 seconds; either my car’s inferior German electrical system or the Italians’ elastic sense of time – you choose.

Unplug it, invert it over a cup (not on the upholstery – I just had Das Auto cleaned), and press the button: a foamy stream of coffee is expressed.

Lavazza’s A Modo Mio range includes 10 blends of increasing roast intensity. The capsules with the test model were at seven on the scale (”appassionatamente”), and the coffee was second-crack smoky in flavour, with quite a creamy body. I’d hate to think what lies beyond, though 10, ”vigorosamente”, is available only in Italy (and probably only at card bars and Autostrada truck stops). One of the lighter blends might taste sweeter.

The EspressGo makes one cup at a time.

A passenger could operate it with the car in motion at the risk of a coffee scalding, but drivers should probably wait for the hands-free version.

Lavazza EspressGo, $199, lavazza南京夜网.au.

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DIY Mexican

Tom Dalton whips up a chocolate mole cocktail at Mamasita. Photo: Justin McManus Tostaditas at Mamasita. Photo: Eddie Jim
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Melbourne’s Mexican wave shows little sign of abating and while it’s become as easy as a schoolyard chant to reel off Melbourne’s popular Mexican eateries – ”Mamasita-Touche Hombre-Fonda-Chingon-cha-cha-cha!” – there’s more to explore than a mere taco smackdown. Mexico’s Day of the Dead is just around the corner (October 31 to November 2), a massive celebration that remembers the dearly departed with colourful graveside parties, so now’s the perfect time to delve deeper into Melbourne’s Mexican scene.1. Mexican breakfast

It’s not unusual to see huevos rancheros on a cafe menu these days but the diner at Acland St Cantina pushes the breakfast envelope to include spiced-up morning versions of tacos, burritos and quesadillas, as well as a creamy Oaxacan hot chocolate. It’s the best wake-up your taste buds could ask for.

Acland St Cantina, 2 Acland Street, St Kilda, 9536 1175, aclandstcantina南京夜网.au2. Tequila flight

Tequila has long been misunderstood by those who have tangled with it and lost, but a tasting flight is a great way to learn more about it. At Mamasita, a basic flight of three small pours will compare tequilas of the same age but differing regions or distilleries, or tequilas from the same distillery but of differing ages. Entry-level flights start at $30. More adventurous flights are $110 for three 50ml pours and take-home skull bottles.

Mamasita, level 1, 11 Collins Street, city, 9650 3821, mamasita南京夜网.au3. Chilli central

With names that sound like off-brand super-heroes – Taipan Venom, Morning Afterburn, Devil’s Delirium – Chilli Obsession stocks the stuff of Scoville-fuelled dreams. There is a massive range of hot sauces (with many available to sample) as well as dried chillies, and chilli plants when they’re in season. USA Foods in Moorabbin also carries plenty of hot sauces, or you can hit Aztec Products for dried numbers.

Chilli Obsession, shop 5, 47-53 Olinda-Monbulk Road, Olinda 9751 0881; USA Foods, 67-73 Cochranes Road, Moorabbin, 8672 9107, usafoods南京夜网.au; Aztec Products, 8a Adina Court, Tullamarine, 9330 1733, aztecmexican南京夜网.au.4. Ditch the queues and go truckin’

Bizarrely, the more Mexican restaurants Melbourne has, the longer the queues seem to get. Ditch the waiting and instead check out the nearest taco truck. Follow them on Twitter or download the free wherethetruckat app to see who’s nearby and how quickly you can be tucking into chargrilled corn on the cob. You might strike Chingon’s bronze beauty of a van, the flame-red Dos Diablos, the classic Taco Truck or, further down the peninsula, Gidget’s Cantina.

app.wherethetruck.at; @ChingonTacoTruc; @tacotruckmelb; @DosDiablosTruck; @GidgetsCantina5. Buy the book

Tim White from Books for Cooks has seen a spike in demand for Mexican cookbooks, noting there are always at least two shelves heaving with culinary guides to the region. If you want to learn more about cooking Mexican, popular authors to explore include Rick Bayless, Diana Kennedy and Roberto Santibanez.

Books for Cooks, 233 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 8415 1415, booksforcooks南京夜网.au.6. Cook it yourself

Classes are a great way to gain a deeper knowledge of a cuisine. Trupp Cooking School in South Yarra runs a six-hour class ($208) with an emphasis on dishes you can easily recreate at home. Cheltenham’s Relish Mama runs a three-hour demonstration-based class ($130). For a classroom with a difference, Hazel Jones runs the Junk Food Cooking School, where classes (four hours, $145) are run out of a genuine Chinese junk moored at the Docklands. You’ll learn how to make your own tortillas, mole, corn bread, elotes and kingfish ceviche, then you’ll wine and dine on the spoils.

Trupp Cooking School, shop 1, 53 Barry Street, South Yarra, 9826 9119, truppcookingschool南京夜网; Relish Mama, shop 1, 347 Bay Road, Cheltenham, 9553 4846, relishmama南京夜网.au; Junk Food Cooking School, Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, 0403 568 999, junkfoodcookingschool南京夜网.au.7. Get the groceries

Once you get into Mexican cooking, it’s an addictive wonderland to explore. Head to Casa Iberica for an extensive range of Mexican groceries. Oasis Bakery, which is essentially Middle Eastern, stocks some Mexican dry goods while online stores like guacamalle南京夜网.au have a huge range, including cute Mexican sweets. Acland St Cantina’s take-home recipe kits are a fun starting point – you may strike a red mole kit, complete with dried chillies, seeds, nuts, tomatillos, spices and chocolate.

Casa Iberica, 25 Johnston Street, Fitzroy, 9419 4420, casaibericadeli南京夜网.au; Oasis Bakery, shop 9, 993 North Road, Murrumbeena, 9570 1122, oasisbakery南京夜网.au.8. Meet the (tortilla) press

If you’re having friends over for a Mexican feast, why not make your own tortillas from scratch? Pick up a cast iron tortilla press from Aztec Products ($33.80) or Oasis Bakery ($38). If you’re not confident about making your own masa (dough), El Cielo in Port Melbourne sells kilo balls of white corn masa (among many other Mexican goodies) for a mere $3, so you’re good to go.

El Cielo, shop 5, 177 Salmon Street, Port Melbourne, 9646 1457, elcielo南京夜网.au.9. Get them fresh

If you don’t have faith in your own tortilla-making skills, head to the backstreets of Kensington, where a bright flash of cobalt blue signals La Tortilleria, a simple Mexican eatery with a hypnotic, high-tech tortilla bakery and an authentic ”nixtamal” method. They stone-grind their own corn for the tortillas, which you can buy fresh to use at home or freeze for later.

La Tortilleria, 72 Stubbs Street, Kensington, 9376 5577, latortilleria南京夜网.au and El Ceilo (see above).10. Plate it right

Although a messy taco requires little more than a fistful of napkins, a sumptuous mole deserves a bright plate. Market Import, tucked away behind Armadale Station, is a kaleidoscope of colourful crockery, platters, glassware and tin mirrors from Mexico, while Gertrude Street’s Amor y Locura imports handwoven fruit trays and platters.

Market Import, 19 Morey Street, Armadale 9500 0764, marketimport南京夜网.au; Amor y Locura, 77 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 9486 0270, amorylocura南京夜网.11. Mexican for vegetarians

It’s not a major challenge to be a vegetarian faced with a Mexican menu, but some places make it even easier. Fitzroy’s Trippy Taco features an all-veg menu, including a tofu asada burrito with goat’s cheese, salsa and lime, and many dishes can easily be switched to vegan and/or gluten-free versions.

Trippy Taco, 234 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 9415 7711, trippytaco南京夜网.au.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.