After returning from Melbourne last week, I remain convinced there’s not much to dislike about the place. It’s like Wellington on steroids, and then some. Here are some of my favourite things. I’ve added links for you to have a sneak view at what the city has to offer (no, I’m not sponsored by Tourism Victoria!).
Australian Open Tennis. The best New Year present you can give yourself.
Brunetti. Spectacular and delicious pasticeria. In Lygon Street, or conveniently on level 3 at Myer. Yum.
Chinatown. Dumpling heaven – you can even take a dumpling tour.
David Jones. Food Hall LG, Men’s store. A whole lot of delish in one place.
Etihad Stadium. Home of many sports and great place to watch AFL (if you’re so inclined to want to watch men in short shorts).
Food. Food. Everywhere. You will not leave Melbourne hungry. Google just about anything food related and you’ll find it in Melbourne.
Grocer. Spring Street. Delectable treats in this boutique deli come grocer. A must go for their gelato and cheese cellar, down a spiral staircase best not to negotiate in heels. One of the best cheese mongers around. My new favourite happy place.
Half marathon. October each year. For the sports minded, it ends at the MCG – few people get to walk the hallowed turf. Join us for the girls’ week/end in 2014 – 10km or 21km options or the shopping marathon.
Ikea. 109 Boxhill tram. Flat pack. Enough said.
Jimmy Grants. Australia masterchef judge George Calombaris’ latest restaurant – billed as a fancy souvlaki shop. I didn’t make it there on this visit, but it’s reviewed well and will be on the list to check out with the girls in October (see ‘H’).
Kilda (St Kilda). A beach suburb just out of the city, with easy tram access. Good street shopping and an impressive line up of cake stores and restaurants.
Lygon Street. All things Italian.
Myer. 6 floors. The best Christmas window display you’ll see. Their slogan, My Store, couldn’t be more appropriate. Get lost in there for a day. Leave the children at home.
NRL. Home of the Melbourne Storm. (My husband made me add this one.)
Ovolo. Novel hotel/apartment concept in Chinatown and just around the corner from Spring Street Grocer. Lots of complimentary goodies, including breakfast and wine. Great for a family stay.
Qantas. 30kg baggage allowance. See ‘I’ above.
Racing. Spring Carnival. Champagne, fascinators and fab frocks.
Trams. They go everywhere central and link to buses if you need to get further afield. The new Myki swipe on/off card makes travelling a breeze.
U hard to find a ‘U’. So I’ll stick with the scrabble staple of unique. You’ll be hard pressed to find a city that has so much to offer. It is a foodie, shopaholic and sports’ fan heaven.
Victoria. The Queen Vic markets. Give the variety section a miss and head straight to the food halls. Dazzling array of cheeses and a central place to get your veges, fresh meat and fish if you’re apartment dwelling and cooking during your holiday.
Wholesalers, Mediterranean. Sydney Street, Brunswick. As well as being the most phenomenal food emporium I’ve been too, it is located in the heart of the meringue wedding frock scene (think ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding). Don’t go past the instore café for authentic Italian fare. (Unfortunately, these guys don’t have a website, so you’ll have to take my word for it and visit yourself.)
X. So, I don’t have an ‘X’ either. But I do have lots of eXtras that had their letter taken, including: Laneways (eateries and boutiques), Aquarium (with or without kids), Crown Casino complex (eat, gamble and be merry), Movida (tapas heaven, several location options and an airport eatery), Borsch, Vodka & Tears (Chapel Street vodka bar), Greek precinct.
Yarra Valley. Less than an hour’s drive from the city, some of Australia’s finest wines. An easy day trip, or overnight it at one of the many b&b’s.
Zoo. Just 6kms from the city and on a direct tram, bus and train route.
That’s my A-Z, feel free to add in your own favourite spots in comments.
After such a long intro, it’s time for a short recipe. After trying one at Farro Fresh in Auckland, and then again in Melbourne, I had to perfect chocolate meringues. Here’s my no fail, scrummy recipe.
What you’ll need
(This recipe makes 12-18 meringues, depending on the size. It doubles or triples successfully. If using more than one oven tray, fan bake and reduce the temperatures by 15 degrees.)
50-70g dark chocolate
1 large egg white at room temperature
55g caster sugar
Pinch salt or cream of tarter
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp cocoa
To make them
Heat oven to 190°C. Line oven tray with baking paper.
Melt the chocolate, over boiling water or in a microwave and set aside to cool.
Using an electric beater (or my beloved Kenny) beat the egg white and salt (or cream of tartar) in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add the caster sugar (about 2 tablespoons at a time) and continue beating until mixture is thick and glossy and sugar has dissolved.
Fold in the cornflour and vinegar, then the melted chocolate. Sift over the cocoa and loosely fold in.
Using two teaspoons (or a piping bag) put small dollops onto the prepared tray, leaving room in between each (they will spread).
Reduce the oven temperature to 130°C and put the tray into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn off the oven. Leave the meringues in for another 30-60 minutes (do not open the oven during this time).
Remove from baking tray when cool. Store in an airtight container. Serve with cream. Or anyway you like. They are scrumptious!