Melbourne is definitely a foodie destination, which I haven’t seen in over fourteen years. I have read a lot about its growth and how the city has become a mecca of international dining, but I haven’t until now, had the chance to return.
Melbourne has a diverse multi-cultural population with people from Asia, India, Italy, Spain, Germany and the far East, which influence not only the cuisine, but the art, neighborhoods and the language. Our stay began in the Central Business District or CBD because of its proximity to many neighborhoods in Melbourne. The CBD offers a Free Tram Zone, which makes it easy to get around Melbourne and for a small fee, you can access outer neighborhoods on the same system.
The Westin Melbourne was our hotel of choice due to its location near Flinders Lane, where many restaurants, bars and cafes have resurrected and it being part of Starwood, which we are members. Our day began with a quick bite at DeGraves Espresso Cafe for breakfast. The Poached Egg & Pancetta Bruschetta was delightfully nice, especially after a long flight from Los Angeles.
A few hours later we explored Melbourne with a “City Sights Tour” put together by Journey Earth Travel, who organized our entire trip “down under”. The tour gave us some highlights of Melbourne and its neighborhoods. Hosier Lane is a historical Graffiti Artist Alley with ethnic paintings of life in Melbourne.
Here are some lovely views of Melbourne including; the Yarra River and some Indigenous art. I had to take a picture of Macca’s, which is slang for McDonald’s in Melbourne – pretty funny.
In the evening, cocktails at Misty followed by dinner at MoVida, a Spanish tapas style restaurant, both off Hosier Lane. Chef Scott Stevenson has won several awards for his small plates cuisine. The Smoked Tomato Sorbet and Anchovy Toast is quite unique with the contrasting frozen tomato flavors, over a salty anchovy.
The Swimmer Crab Toast with Salmon Roe on pickled Kohlrabi was delightfully fresh and the Duck Liver Parfait with Pickled Cucumber on Grilled Sourdough was a favorite.
Housemade Charcuterie and Chargrilled Asparagus with delightfully chunky Romesco & Nora Pepper Sauce, most delicious.
The following day, a tour with a Melbourne Chef and Foodie, Allan Campion. We started at the Queen Victoria Market with specialties of local fish, meat, dairy, prepared foods, coffee, baked goods and produce.
Afterwards, we headed to the neighboring town of Carlton, for a tour of two local bakeries; Brunetti Cakes and Baker Di Chirico. Brunetti Cakes, a large scale historical spot for locals and Bakery Di Chirico, an artisanal bakery with hand prepared recipes, both truly fantastic.
We stopped in the local Italian Market, Pizza & Pasta Bar D.O.C, for a Prosciutto, Parmesan and Prosecco tastings. Melbourne has a large Italian population, due to an influx of Italian immigrants after World War II.
We headed back to the CBD, to the Spring Street Grocer, where we met a cheese monger with formage from all over Australia and the world. The store specializes in Italian foods and churns some of the best gelati, I have ever eaten.
Chinatown was our next stop with a look at Maxims’Cakes, an Asian bakery creating beautiful cakes and buns. Their custard tarts are also quite popular.
We strolled past several local bars or hotels, as they call them in Melbourne, for a glimpse of nightlife including; Belleville (where we had a quick glass of wine), Goldilocks (which we went to later that evening), Boilermaker House, Union Electric and Section 8 Container Bar, made out of an actual shipping container.
We ended our day with a late snack at Cumulus Inc. where chef Andrew McConnell has been creating some fantastic farm-to-table cuisine. The Grain Salad with Labneh, was one of the most flavorful treats on the trip, followed by the seared Halloumi with honey drizzled over the top and Smoked Mackerel Sandwich with Salmon Roe.
For dinner that evening, Lee Ho Fook for updated Asian fusion cuisine. The restaurant had a club like feel, with strong Chinese influences. For starters, Shrimp Cracker of lightly fried prawn in rice flour and spices to create an extra crispy shell.
Spicy Eggplant was lightly breaded and fried until crisp with delicately spicy traditional Chinese flavors. The Three Cup Chicken was a Chinese peasant dish, reminiscent of mini drumettes cooked with Asian plum sauce.
The most interesting dish of the evening was the Seafood Fried Rice with Egg White Gravy. The fried rice underneath the creamy sauce, required a deep spoonful to uncover the interesting combination of flavors.
The following day, a day trip to the Yarra Valley for a visit to Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary and wine tasting. The animal sanctuary was a refuge for rescued animals that could no longer go back into the wild. The wombat dining on pumpkin and corn kernels was adorable, along with the kookaburra with its unique call.
But the Bats and Tasmanian Devils were actually the most interesting of creatures in the park. Both had a mysterious quality that was special to their species.
Our first stop for wine was at Dominique Portet Winery, an original wine making family from Bordeaux. The wines were delicate and nicely balanced, including the sparkling wine, which was my favorite.
After a great tour and tasting, the cheese platter was a generous touch with a splash of Rose’ and Pinot Noir.
Yarra Yering was our next stop with an extensive wine tasting. Sarah Crowe, won Wine Maker of the Year for her Carrodus Shiraz 2014.
After plenty of wine, we headed to lunch at Oakridge Wines for a delightful meal. For starters, the Crispy Duck with Labneh and Mediterranean Vegetables and a Gorgeous Spring Vegetable Tart were both outstanding. The best food of our trip and their Pinot Noir was delicious as well.
As if we hadn’t eaten enough, we continued with the Sliced Local Beef with Roasted Eggplant Puree and Fresh Peas and the Seared Pork with Herb Jus and Spicy Cabbage Roll, both incredible. The sides dishes of a Fresh Green Salad, Crispy Potatoes and Sauteed Cabbage & Beans were nice to pair with our dishes. We loved every bite.
The next day we toured around Melbourne visiting some highlights in the city, including coffee at The League of Honest Coffee.
And lunch at Pickett’s Deli and Rotisserie for a Roasted Pork Sandwich, Scratchings with Pickles & Beets and Octopus with Chorizo and Chips.
Our trip to Melbourne was truly memorable and delicious! If you are a foodie, this city definitely needs to be on your list! A big thanks to Journey Earth Travel and firstname.lastname@example.org