Tag Archive | Food

Part of the Phamily

Sisters Nhung and Lani in their restaurant, Phamily Kitchen, Castlemaine. Image @lynchmobmedia

It has been a year since sisters Nhung and Lani Pham (the Pham in Phamily Kitchen) opened their own little slice of Vietnam in the heart of Castlemaine and we couldn’t be happier to help them celebrate.

The sisters describe their food as home-style. These are the dishes they grew up eating, but with their own twist, and Phamily Kitchen has wound its way into the hearts of Castlemaine locals and visitors.

The menu is focused on seasonal eating. Lunch is all about quick, fresh options for people with limited time. Dinner is more relaxed, encouraging sharing, talking and lingering over many delicious communal plates.

“Our passion for food is reflected in our dishes which are tasty, fresh and flavoursome but still traditional,” says Nhung.

Both sisters had careers in finance, brief for Lani, longer for Nhung, but they shared a vision of opening their own restaurant.

“We just had to find the right time and the right town,” says Lani who manages the kitchen after years honing her skills in restaurants in Melbourne’s north.

Once they decided on Castlemaine it took them six months to find the perfect location. When Narelle Waller of Waller Realty showed them an unassuming little shop on Barker Street they say they knew it was the one.

“We had debated whether to buy an established business or take a leap of faith and completely fit out a place ourselves,” says Nhung. “Once we saw this space we knew straight away this was it.”

It’s not hard to understand why. Towering ceilings wrapped in centuries old pressed tin reveal the building’s ancient past but the new fit out is totally contemporary. Long banquet seating is just made for cosy conversations over dinner and a collection of intricately woven light fittings of odd sizes, shapes and heights bob above diner’s heads, reminiscent of traditional fishing baskets. A delicate mural painted by an artist friend depicts scenes of rural Vietnamese life.

Ask them about their favourite menu items and Lani picks the classic beef noodle soup, especially over the colder months. From the seasonal menu, a kolrabi and beef salad takes both women back to their youth in Perth. Kolrabi is popular in Vietnamese cooking and for the Pham girls growing up, there was no escaping it in winter.

“Dad was an avid vegetable grower,” says Nhung. “We didn’t grow up with traditional lawn to play on it was just garden beds and in winter half the garden was Kolrabi!”

For Nhung it’s the braised pork.

“My Dad loved having braised pork with rice and stir-fried vegetables so for me this is total comfort food.”

The sisters are thrilled Castlemaine has embraced their concept and welcomed them so warmly.

“We’re just ecstatic and so grateful for the way the town has taken us in,” says Lani.

Phamily Kitchen is open Tuesday – Saturday for lunch and dinner. Call them on 03 5470 6051 for bookings. You’ll also find them on Facebook or at www.phamilykitchencastlemaine.com.au

A Very Castlemaine and Maldon Christmas

castlemaine christmas

Whether you’re looking for handmade gifts, someone to cook your Christmas lunch or a spot to share some carols with friends and family, our region has it all.

Shop local and handmade

The Castlemaine Artists Market showcases over 40 established and emerging local artists, designers and craftspeople. At this year’s annual Twilight Market on Friday 16 December they’ll be joined by the Castlemaine Farmers’ Market so you can shop for presents and produce from over 100 stalls. While you’re there enjoy some great food, cool tunes, a craft workshop or even a cocktail!

Light up the night

Each night, as the sun sets, we put on a show. Local homes and businesses are transformed by everything that twinkles, glitters and glows. Bundle the kids in the car and take a tour. You’ll find maps in the Castlemaine Mail and Tarrangower Times.

Carol under the stars

Gathering with friends and family and a picnic dinner for carols under about a billion stars is the stuff Christmas memories are made of round here.

You’ll find the Maldon Carols by Candlelight in the Shire Gardens on Saturday 17 December where you’ll hear the Maldon Brass Band and other local artists thanks to the Maldon Lions Club. Castlemaine Carols by Candlelight is the work of Rotary Castlemaine with musical theatre company Three’s A Crowd, the Thompson’s Foundry Band and plenty of other local talent in Victory Park on Wednesday 21 December.

Celebrate with food and music

Whether you’re after something kid friendly or a night out with friends we’ve got you covered.

Take someone special for a meal at the Public Inn, housed in Castlemaine’s Old Fire Station, before the Christmas rush. Sample a local craft beer or cider at The Taproom at The Mill, Castlemaine’s recently transformed historic woollen mill. Or grab some friends and celebrate the return of the Criterion Hotel Castlemaine’s famous Christmas Eve Party.

Want a year off cooking the Christmas lunch? Locals, The Bridge Hotel (who recently won Best Regional Venue at The Age Music Victoria Awards – congrats!) and The Five Flags Hotel Campbells Creek are both open with delicious set menus sure to make your day a happy one.

Be part of a country Christmas tradition

Thought Santa only travelled by sleigh? Think again. In Castlemaine and surrounding towns the man in red delivers lollies and icy poles to excited kids from the back of a ute on Christmas morning.

It’s a tradition that started nearly 80 years ago when the Castlemaine Apex Club would deliver food hampers to families in need. It continues today thanks to the dedication of the Castlemaine Past Apexians and it’s a special part of our Christmas morning that’s loved by everyone regardless of age.

Whatever you do this Christmas we hope it’s a safe and happy one for you and your loved ones, from everyone at Waller Realty.