Melbourne

Yes, it’s that time of the year again – the weekend that Ms T and I do our annual weekend away in Melbourne. It’s something that we’ve been doing for years now – since she was about 10, I suppose…maybe earlier. Over that time we’ve shared it occasionally with friends and, on one occasion, with my sister and her daughter, but mostly it’s just us.

What do we do? Mostly walk and eat and talk…and talk and eat and walk. Sure, there’s a little bit of research for whatever it is that I’m writing – or intending to write – but generally, I come back with more ideas than what I’ve gone down to research.

Dumplings

Of course. Hutong is my fave purveyor of dumplings in a city that knows its dumplings, but we were after a quick snack in lieu of the lunch that we missed out on due to a delay of the Jetstar variety. Something to keep us going until dinner.

Shanghai Dragon Dumplings (at least I think that’s the name) in Russell St did the job – and for less than $20.

Pasta

Not quite in the cheap eats category,  is the Cellar Bar at Grossi Florentino in Bourke St – at the Exhibition Street end. We love it here and always – even in the middle of winter – choose to sit outside on the street.

This time we each had possibly the best plate of pasta in recent memory – Tonarelli alla Gricia, Guanciale, Pecorino. A simple Roman dish with just three ingredients – pasta, pecorino, and guanciale or pigs cheek. That’s it. Delicious.

Plus, we had room left for dessert at Om Nom.

Dessert

This was our designated splurge for the weekend – Om Nom at the Adelphi Hotel in Flinders Lane, just up from Swanston Street. We’d booked a table for dessert only.

At the reception counter

Hilariously we’d just finished raving about how fabulous three ingredients could taste and how you didn’t need to do unnecessary stuff to food. ‘Who needs foams and gels and spheres?’ I asked.

And then we walked into Om Nom. These desserts – and the cocktails – are unashamedly theatrical. All of it is unnecessary, yet at the same time, so beautiful that you can’t do anything but appreciate it.

Ms T had strawberries and meringue – that was obviously so much more than that. Liquid nitrogen was involved.

I had an apple and coconut splice – which was, in essence, an apple and coconut splice. Was the foam required? Nope, but when the syrup that was poured over by the executive chef dissolved the foam almost before I could get a good photo of it, it left behind little drops of pure coconut. Clever.

Apologies for the pic quality – the lighting wasn’t good.

Walking and Exploring

This is such a great city for exploring on foot – and we always try and throw in one destination foodie place to make the walk even more worthwhile. On this trip, we were heading up into East Brunswick via Carlton – and back via Fitzroy.

I’ve always loved it around here – the mix of student accommodation, vintage shops, Victorian-era architecture, cafe culture, and Little Italy represents Melbourne in a nutshell. All up we covered about 10kms return…which helped justify pizza!

We walked up Lygon Street past Trades Hall (where I attempted to bore Ms T with a lesson about the 8 hour day and the trade union movement in Australia – her eyes glazed over very quickly) and detoured off to have a look at Melbourne University. This was, of course, when the rain started. By the time we reached the cemetery though, there were glimpses of blue sky again.

Speaking of which, if you’re into exploring interesting cemeteries – and yes, I am – this is a fascinating one. Burke and Wills are buried here, as is Frederick Federici (said to be the phantom of the Princess Theatre), and a whole host of prime ministers and premiers.

Pizza

It wasn’t all just aimless wandering – we did have a destination in mind: 400 Gradi in Brunswick.

This place has won awards for its pizzas – proper awards – and it’s easy to see why. Stupendously good pizza – and well worth the walk.

Street Art

A Melbourne post by me wouldn’t be complete without some street art.

Hosier Lane…

And elsewhere…

and finally, an ode to spaghetti…

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.


Melbourne…

If you’re a regular reader you’d know that Melbourne is my favourite city in Australia. Sorry, Sydney – you’re flashy and all that, but just a little too obvious…if you know what I mean.

Melbourne though…I’ve (so far) set three books in this fabulous city, with another underway. All of that writing needs research – one weekend at a time.

Oh, and a warning…we mostly ate!

Where we stayed…

Up the Paris end of Collins Street at the Sofitel Hotel. It’s a gorgeous hotel in a fabulous location. There are absolutely cheaper places to stay, but the Sofitel is worth it if you feel like spoiling yourself.

Where we shopped…

St Collins Lane, Melbourne

Ok, I’ve talked a bit about Melbourne’s markets in previous posts, but this trip all we came back with was kitchenware and bras…yes, really.

The Chef’s Hat in South Melbourne is the most fabulous kitchenware emporium – there is no other word for it – that I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit. Oh my, did we spend up.  Even a paella pan found it’s way back into our luggage.

one of the floral arrangements on the counter at Debenhams

Melbourne now has a Debenhams – one of my fave British department stores – in St Collins Lane. Aside from having a great range of brands, and an amazing fragrance counter, their own brand bras are seriously the most comfy I’ve ever worn…just saying. Sadly I had a blow-out of the underwire kind on Sunday morning so had to make a mercy dash. There’s no truth to the rumour that I helped it – the wire, that is – on its way.

Street art…

South Melbourne Dimmies…

Ok, these are a Melbourne classic. First a lesson – a dim sim is not actually Chinese. It is instead a Chinese inspired snack and was probably invented in Australia in the late 1920s – the modern version can actually be traced back to Melbourne Chinatown…don’t say that you don’t learn anything from this blog. As an aside, dim sum refers to the dumplings and other small plates served at yum cha. Much like tapas refers to the small plates served, well, tapas style.

Anyways, now that I’ve cleared up that confusion, the dim sim, or dimmie for short, is almost like what would happen if a shumai hooked up with a chiko roll and was shaped like a cricket ball…or, as my friend put it, it’s like a Chinese sausage roll.

And the South Melbourne dimmie is the king of them all. In fact, they’ve been selling dimmies at South Melbourne markets since 1949.

Why am I telling you this? Because if you’re in South Melbourne markets you have to try one. That’s why.

Being Melbourne, though, if you’re after something a tad more substantial and, let’s face it, more tasty than a dimmie, there’s plenty of choices…like this paella…how good does this look?

Dumplings

It’s one thing I absolutely crave since moving to the Sunshine Coast – you just can’t get good dumplings…so we made up for that with these ones as a mid-afternoon snack on Friday

and these ones for lunch at Hutong on Saturday. Pan-fried and steamed soupy fabulousness.

Craving satisfied…for now…

More Street Art…

And if you’re wondering about the Saint Peter reference it’s a song from 1976 by an Aussie Band called Flash and The Pan. One of the band members, George Young died last year – hence the caption.

To start the day…

It was back to a couple of favourites. I go to Cumulus Inc – at the Spring Street end of Flinders Lane – just for their crumpets, house-made ricotta and rooftop honey. Of course, they have other things on the menu, but it’s the crumpets I want.

On Sunday morning we made the trek all the way down the other end of Flinders Lane to Grain Store. I tried their egg sundae – something that really messed with my head but in quite a pretty way.

Something French…

Because we’re going to France in a few weeks – I have mentioned that haven’t I? – we had to go to a French Bistro in Melbourne. And the one we chose is Chez Olivier in Prahran.

It’s everything a neighbourhood bistro should be – style without pretension…and great food.

Something Indian

Saturday night was at Tonka – modern Indian with a really cool ceiling display.

This restaurant is described as being “modern Indian”, but you’d be right in thinking that it doesn’t look like a curry you’d get at your local takeaway. This is Indian with a light and very up to date touch. The curries are still good, but it’s so much more than that.

And finally…some more street art…

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.