melbourne part 2
by Mei Leong
Churchill Island. Cute sheep who like to think they’re road blocks.
(This post is continued from Melbourne Part 1.)
Before exiting Phillip Island, we drove to Churchill Island, the entirety of which is a farm complete with gorgeous sea views. It’s very different from the holiday village atmosphere of Phillip Island and feels remote, like a million miles away from anywhere. Geese waddle about the lavender bushes and long haired cattle stand amidst lush paddocks, oblivious to their idyllic views. A spooky homestead tour and cafe lunch later, we were on our way back to Melbourne. The country air somehow fuelled an insatiable itch to shop…
One of the 2011 Myer Christmas windows.
Left: Brunetti’s gelato is very, very hard to beat. Especially while shopping. Right: Melbourne all dressed up.
Flitting from the GPO, to David Jones and diving into Myer, in the midst of our consumerism we discovered the most fabulous gelato in the most unexpected place. The underwear section in Myer… Yes, of all places the lingerie department has a Brunetti’s cafe. (Talk about embracing the sensual side of life.)
In view of lacy and racy underwear, lusciously large scoops of pale coloured gelato are squeezed into tiny gelato cups. Smooth with sharp flavours, the gelato had an airy texture which was to die for. The pistachio was especially good. Turning our backs on shopping for a moment, Brunetti’s display of pastries drew me in like Karen Millen on sale.
Miniature vanilla slices, tiny cannoli and especially, especially the itty bitty bigné di San Giuseppe looked especially delicious. Little sugar coated pastries filled with pastry cream and a devilish crust of sugar, each is heaven in a bite. (Yes better than Krispy Kremes, hands down.)
(There’s a directory at the end of this post.)
Left: Purrrfect poached eggs on toast. Right: Next door – Gill’s Diner, a retro style canteen.
Next day’s brekkie took place at Commercial Bakery, whose shop front is literally painted on a laneway wall. An old garage space turned cafe, this spot very popular for coffee and pastries. The eye catching window of croissants and escargots draw in a crowd of suits, students and hipsters; but what really caught our eye was the menu, which unlike Hardware Societe, was simple, wholesome and uncomplicated.
Just what our hayfever hangover needed. (Hayfever in Melbourne was phenomenally bad – the city was one huge cloud of pollen.) Poached eggs with gooey yolks, on crusty toast were simply and perfectly done. The coffee wasn’t half bad either.
Eggs Benedict – yes the sauce was that yellow.
Departing Little Collins Street we once again started to shop our way around Melbourne. First stop was Cake Deco – cake decorators can eat their heart out at this store! This shop is a cake decorator’s dream. Everything, and I mean everything for baking is in this shop. The only challenge is to find it. I didn’t take a photo because all you’d see is a giant mess. Tins, piping bags, pop sticks, moulds, everything is on the floor, behind the counter or piled within the display. There is some organised chaos in here. Somehow I found a tiny madeleine tin that I never knew I wanted (which my sister whipped out as a present on Christmas Eve – woohoo!), plus enough cupcake sprinkles for sugar induced ADHD. And don’t get me started on the cookie cutters.
If that wasn’t enough, I have to admit my pulse quickened as we headed to Lygon Street. Gewurzhaus is a spice store (and more) selling freshly ground house spice blends (some unique, some just darn handy) and hard to find ingredients like Scottish smoked salt. They also have an impressive range of French wooden spoons and kitchen towels. (If the shop looks familiar – it’s was featured in December’s issue of Feast.) If you find yourself on Lygon Street, it’s definitely worth popping in.
Gewurzhaus – unusual spice blends, little jars of things you now want and a very cool collection of tea towels.
Unique spice blends to wrap up and take home.
Just a couple doors down was La Parisienne Pâtés. It’s easy to spot this shop, it’s full of sausages, terrines and cheeses. But I come for their selection of handmade crockery, each piece stamped with LPP’s inky pig logo. Each of their stoneware pieces are unique and locally made and I love the sandy glaze and raw unglazed bottoms. Mini tagines (perfect as covered pinch pots), salt pigs and netted feta pots were siren calling to me. I could hardly leave without an oil cruet and condiment pot. Here’s my current (expanding) collection at home.
I love that my salt pig has a pig on it. New buys: an oil cruet and a spice pot that I store white pepper in.
Tramming from Lygon Street, we stopped at Mart 130 for lunch. Located at stop 130, Mart is a cafe residing in a disused tram building. The cafe is quite retro with a relaxed back patio that looks onto a running track. Despite the CBD being in view, Mart 130 is incredibly peaceful, with the occasional low hum of the tram providing the only rhythm of civilisation.
Bunches of flowers and potted herbs bring the outdoors in.
Tuna and soba noodle salad.
Flowering pot plants, herbs and a laid back menu – gee I wish this was my local. Rummaging through their stash of magazines, we found a seat on the patio, sat back and lazed away. Two (rather healthy) salads and (what else) a coffee later, I have to admit this was the most relaxing part of our trip.
It’s tram backwards!
Waiting for the tram :)
A happy snap from Degraves Lane.
After more shopping, we headed to the Block Arcade for an afternoon tea time treat. I’ve always found afternoon tea is best spent with girls (because guys tend to scoff everything in two minutes flat) and where better than the Hopetoun Tearooms. It’s hard to miss the billowing green velvet drapes and huge art nouveau mirror and oh, that cake display. (Look for the tourists staring into the window.)
Luscious cream cakes, pies and lemon tarts fill the window till bursting. Surprisingly, the queue moved quickly and before long we were within the mecca of cakes, tea and good etiquette.
What could be a more gluttonous sight than Hopetoun Tearooms’ cake display?
Left: Macarons in abundance and a luscious tart. Right: A slice of their gorgeous lemon tart.
The tearoom is dominated by this mirror.
A second look at the display. I couldn’t help myself.
Sumptuous, generous slices of cake and loose leaf tea, in my opinion, should be ordained as therapy. Raspberry cheesecake with a glazed rosella was my counselling of choice, while Mum chose a smooth lemon tart and C, a blueberry crumble. Each were as gorgeous as the next, with a touch of homemade love about them.
To celebrate Mum’s birthday we headed to Hellenic Republic for dinner. The menu is casual, with small plates and big mains to share. The open kitchen and rotisserie take a back seat to the casual taverna dining area and the service was superb. I didn’t take many pictures of the dinner, but had to order these school prawns served with Greek honey. We had something similar at Press Club a few years back and these were just as good as their fine dining mates. Deep fried till crunchy and eaten whole with the super sticky honey, they were just yum! Arni sto fourno slow cooked lamb and the ekmek kataifi pagoto, kataifi pastry with custard were also amazing.
Hellenic Republic’s school prawns with honey dressing, one of the many fantastic dishes on the menu.
The next day started with a quick breakfast at Le Petit Gateau. Through the looking class, we got a view of the pastry kitchen, where works of sugary art are coaxed into existence. The pastries we munch on have the breath of the oven on them, still crispy and sweet. The display is like a designer shop’s: immaculate, pristine and expensive. Energised for the morning, we are truly ready for (sadly) our last day in Melbourne.
My sister led us to lunch at a very unexpected but great Malaysian/Indian place off Melbourne Central. Called Chilli India, it’s part of a group of restaurants that specialises in spicy Malaysian food. Sitting outside in Melbourne’s unnaturally sunny weather, we dipped flaky, freshly made parathas into curried eggplant, paneer curry and sambar. Seriously good and greasy.
Omigod-worthy parathas, freshly made on a hotplate that was sizzling with pools of ghee…
So flaky, so good!
Pony Fish is worth a visit. It’s in the middle of the Yarra – yes, right in the middle, on a bridge pylon! Talk about enterprising. Perfect for a drink (in the drink… couldn’t resist the pun), it’s a quirky place to chill out and watch the river flow by. Cool music, one-of-a-kind location and a sausage sizzle makes this the best hang out on, or in the river.
That’s Ponyfish – smack bam in the middle of the Yarra. I wonder what happens during a fire evacuation…
After flexing the credit card very, very hard, a Mimco bag and a Gorman dress later, we arrived at where we started: Brunetti’s. Albeit this time in City Square, just around the corner from Flinders Street Station. With one last scoop of the dairy free (dairy free – can you believe that!) gelato and watching the horse drawn carriages go by, we said good bye to Melbourne.
I’m already missing this stuff – strawberry DAIRY FREE gelato. Lactose intolerants rejoice.
Connected to Phillip Island by an all vehicle bridge. The cafe and island itself are free to visit, tickets are required to see the homestead and farm activities like sheep shearing and blacksmithing. For more information see this link. Open 10am – 5pm daily.
T: (03) 5951 2800.
Brunetti City Square (see website for other locations)
214 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
T: (03) 9663 8085
Brunetti Myer Melbourne (see website for other locations)
Level 3, Myer Melbourne, Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
T: (03) 9661 1380
232 Flinders Street Melbourne VIC 3000
T: (03) 9654 5335
W: http://www.cakedeco.com.au/ (online shop)
Gewurzhaus (see website for other locations)
342 Lygon St, Carlton VIC
T: (03) 9023 1028
Block Arcade, Melbourne Central VIC 3000
T: (03) 9650 2777
434 Lygon St, Brunswick East, VIC 3057
T: (03) 9381 1222
Le Petit Gateau
458 Little Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000
T: (03) 9944 8893
Chilli India and Chilli Padi (see website for other locations)
Melbourne Central, Cnr Little Lonsdale St & Elizabeth St Melbourne VIC 3000
T: (03) 9663 5688
Yarra Pedestrian Bridge, Melbourne, VIC 3006
T: (04) 2650 1857
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