Satays from Mamak.
According to Javier Aguilar, every neighbourhood in Mexico has its own paleteria, where sorbets are churned daily and made into icy treats. He's bringing a little of his homeland to Melbourne with his paletas, which he says aren't mere icy poles but ''sorbet on a stick''. Flavours include mango, coconut and traditional ''jamaica'' (hibiscus flower). Find them at Eltham and McKinnon farmers' markets, or eat in-house at Mamasita, city or Los Hermanos, Brunswick.
Javier Aguilar's paletas.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, what's the daintiest treat of all? It's not a cupcake or a macaron but a cake pop. At her Alice Nivens cafe, Janet Wong begins with a house-baked butter cake. It's crumbled, mixed with frosting, dipped in chocolate and popped on a stick to make one of the cutest sweet treats. Flavours might include white chocolate and raspberry, hazelnut or orange, or even mini-Christmas pudding pops, made with a cinnamon and nutmeg butter cake.
Cake pops at Alice Nivens.
Details: Alice Nivens, Port Phillip Arcade, Shop 13, 228 Flinders Street, city, no phone; alicenivenscafe.com
Sugarcane prawns from Sen, Footscray.
Mamak may be best known for its house-made roti, twirled to order in the front window, but their satays deserve the spotlight, too. Morsels of marinated chicken and beef are threaded on to long, dainty skewers and grilled over charcoal. Swizzle the sticks through Mamak's special satay sauce, a rich, tangy affair made with whole peanuts, tamarind and lemongrass. Use your satay stick to stab pieces of rough-cut cucumber and onion in between bites of meat.
Details: Mamak, 366 Lonsdale Street, city, 9670 3137; mamak.com.au
Kebabs from Afghan Master Kebab, Sunshine.
In this Vietnamese dish, the stick isn't just a handle but is part of the flavour. To make it, fresh prawn mince is formed around lengths of sugarcane, which infuses the prawns with subtle sweetness. At Sen, they are excellent, with little webbed mats of fine rice vermicelli. Remove the sugarcane prawn slices from the cane and make little parcels with noodles, pickled vegies and lettuce. Dip in seasoned fish sauce for plenty of delicious, fresh crunch.
Details: Sen, 74-76 Nicholson Street, Footscray, 9687 4450
Kebabs are a traditional celebration food in Afghanistan but at Afghan Master Kebab in Sunshine, every day's a party. Long imposing silver spikes are threaded with generous chunks of marinated chicken and lamb. They are laid across a narrow pit of charcoal and grilled until smoky and juicy. Settle down to a generous plate of kebabs and house-baked flat bread, take in the lavish wallpaper of columns and tasselled curtains, and you'll feel like royalty.
Details: Afghan Master Kebab, 20 Devonshire Road, Sunshine, 9311 9277