melbourne part 1



Just last week, we did a whirlwind trip to Melbourne… the sole purpose of which was to surprise my sister and gate crash her life for 4 days. It was a blast! Melbourne put on her best face possible – of course there was a little rain, but what’s Melbourne without dressing for four seasons in a day?

Before leaving for Phillip Island, we loitered in the western alleys of the city. I love the bleak, grimy corridors and sticking my head into unexpected shops. One of which was Brother Baba Budan. I’m surprised this place is not as well known, but it was here I HAD THE BEST COFFEE OF MY LIFE. And this is coming from a soy coffee drinker. I can’t imagine what a proper coffee would have tasted like. (Probably heavenly.)

(If you are wondering where all these places are, there’s a directory at the end of this post.)


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The best coffee of my life. (Actually this is Mum’s coffee – soy coffee never, ever looks this good.)



Silence ensued as we attempted to mark into memory the smooth, almost sweet burnt toast flavour. The Seven Seeds coffee blend tastes different – almost like caramelised pumpkin, in the best possible, divine way. The cafe is tiny, barely making room for its golden goose, a gorgeous chrome Synesso machine. And of course, being in Melbourne, the cafe has style written all over it, with vintage cafe chairs hanging precariously from the ceiling. The coffee was so good, we almost recovered from the red eye flight in an instant.


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Left: Breakfast at Hardware Societe – eggs with manchego cheese, olive bread and jamon (Spanish ham). Right: Soft eggs with crab and creme fraiche.


Delicious cake display at Hardware Societe.



Breakfast was at the just-opened-for-the-morning-but super-crowded Hardware Societe. I can see why this spot is so popular – their breakfast is delicious as well as unique. (If we had a place like this in Perth it would be the bomb.) Crab with soft baked egg and crème fraiche; fried eggs and manchego cheese on olive bread with Spanish jamon and a massive croque madame woke us right up. Being in Melbourne, I’m not sure if its worth queuing up for, but the service was cheerful and the food just right. I also loved the bright yellow splashed everywhere. Melbournians really know how to style their cafes.

We rolled out of Hardware Societe and on to the Queen Victoria Markets. We had a quick look around at the food lovers’ heaven and even though I’ve spent countless hours here before, I could wander in here for another day. The fruit and vegetable shed was bursting was mangoes (see Mum could not resist), tomatoes and more tropical fruit from Queensland.




The meat and seafood hall is absolutely fabulous. Melbourne has the upper hand compared to Perth on seafood. Beautiful crabs, sparkly fish and freshly shucked oysters were all for the taking. I love the bargain call of the butchers echoing through the hall. The pigs heads, spines and offal bits and pieces hanging from butcher hooks make a visceral sight for sore eyes.


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Left and right: A glimpse into the seafood and meat hall.


Slabs of chocolate by weight.


One of the many continental meat stalls in the delicatessen hall.

It’s in the delicatessen hall that I envision my charcuterie, cheese and chocolate dreams coming true. Polish sausages, slabs of couverture chocolate and balls of shiny buffalo mozzarella beckoned from abundant displays. We managed to leave almost unscathed, succumbing to temptation at The French Shop with a washed rind French truffle cheese and a slab of homemade terrine. The terrine was particularly lovely, studded with cherries, pistachios, pork and wrapped in rashers of bacon.



Antipasto paradise.


Wheels and wheels of local and imported cheese at the French Shop stall (details at the end of this post).


A QV market tradition – the queue for the Donut Van’s jam donuts, fresh from the fryer.

Then there’s the Donut Van, a bona fide QV Market tradition. Fresh from the fryer, hot donuts are filled with jam and rolled in sugar and given piping hot to the waiting queue. I now wish I had forced one down, because these traditional donuts are extremely hard to come by. We even spotted a little old lady go out of her way to queue up for one, so they must be good. (I’m of the opinion that due to life experience, old people know the good things to eat.) And apparently they’ve been making jam donuts since 1950. So if an old lady in the line and 61 years of donuts doesn’t convince you, nothing will.

Soon after, we left for Phillip Island. When we arrived, it was at the gorgeous Glen Isla B&B. Heritage listed, the property of cottages and rooms were understated and chic. Through the manicured gardens and a white gate, we were suddenly on a sandy beach, dipping our toes into Bass Strait’s icy waters.


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Glen Isla Bed and Breakfast


The sandy beach metres from Glen Isla.

Dinner was at Harry’s on the Esplanade – though the food was good, I think the view surpassed the cuisine. Just look at that view. So peaceful.


The view that came with dinner at Harry’s.

Everybody who visits Phillip Island does the Penguin Parade. Busloads of tourists make the journey from Melbourne just to see the very large Little Penguin colony (32,000 birds!). The main attraction is the return of the homeward bound penguins. At dusk, hundreds of Little Penguins flop on to the beach. Wobbly (and noticeably chubby) from days at sea, they make their way back to their nests, partners and adorable fluffy chicks. At one point, the penguins stand and stare at the viewing stage and you really wonder who is watching who…

No cameras are allowed (so no photos of penguins) but I did capture lots of photos of another critter, Nancy the dog. Glen Isla’s resident pooch, she is the most friendly Staffordshire Terrier we’ve ever met. She absolutely loves the camera. I am not kidding, this dog knows how to work it!



Nancy and me. (Nancy is the one on the left.)

This has been a long post and if you’ve reached this far I’m impressed! For reading this far, I want you to meet my family. This is my Mum, sister C and my brother-in-law L. A big big big thank you to L for keeping our trip secret for months, organizing our surprise at 5.30am in the morning and driving us all the way to Phillip Island and back. And for putting up with the three of us for four blissful days.

(Nancy’s in there doing a photogenic lick.)



From left to right: Mum, sister C, me and brother-in-law L.


Next instalment: Churchill Island and the rest of Melbourne.


Brother Baba Budan
359 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
T: (03) 9606 0449
Brother Baba Budan on Urbanspoon

Hardware Societe
120 Hardware Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
T: (03) 9078 5992
The Hardware Societe on Urbanspoon

Queen Victoria Market (closed Mondays and Wednesdays)
513 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
T:  (03) 9320 5822

The French Shop
Shop 1-2, Dairy Produce Hall, Queen Victoria Market
513 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: 0419 562 838

American Donut Kitchen (the Donut Van)
Outside ‘I’ Shed, Queen Victoria Market
513 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
T: (03) 9417 6415

Market Lane Coffee (for a coffee with that donut!)
Victoria Market, 109-111 Therry Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
T: (03) 9804 7434

Glen Isla Bed & Breakfast
230 Church Street  Cowes VIC 3922
T: (03) 5952 1882

Harry’s on the Esplanade
17, The Esplanade, Cowes VIC 3922
T: (03) 5952 6226

Penguin Parade
1013 Ventnor Rd  Summerlands Victoria 3922
T: (03) 5951 2800

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  1. Jessica

    There’s no denying it….Melbourne is amazing!! Love the family picture too! :)

  2. food sponge

    Ahh love Melbourne eating adventures! Looking forward to the next post!

  3. MC

    Bonjour ma sœur! Aww what a nice post! L says “you are most welcome”!! You must come back for another look at this fabulous city! I am discovering new places every time I step out of my apartment for a promenade… so many things to do, eat and drink but alas too little time and only one stomach.

  4. mei

    Apologies for the late reply to comments, been swamped this week with real life and writing…

    Jess – I already miss Melbourne! :( The family may be a factor. Hehehe

    food sponge – Next post is in the works, if I can exclude myself from the silly season. 2011’s ending is proving to be a busy one. Glad to see you back blogging!!

    MC – We are already looking out for cheapie airfares to go back!! Tell Luke we say HI. Will put in my orders for baking supplies soon >.<

    erika – Thanks for dropping by Erika! Really appreciate it – you have a beautiful blog.

  5. erika

    beautiful pics!


    My Free Choice

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