MELBOURNE: A CITY OF GREAT TASTE
Things were a little bleary the next morning to say the least. I suspect it was the barrel proof Scotch that Adam had offered around at the end of the meal that did it. That and the few beers and any number of glasses of wine.
Still, I managed to drag myself in and out of the shower and set out with Adam on the next stage of the adventure.
This time, a short hike from their house in Flemington up to Sydney St, primary home of Melbourne’s Middle Eastern community and to part of its large immigrant population from Southern Italy.
First a bit of history as Adam took me past a small understated memorial to Burke & Wills.
This was, apparently, the place from which their ill fated expedition began. Adam tried to explain it all to me but, as I did in history classes as a kid, I just watched his lips move with a sage smile on my face while inside imagining what it would be like to get a cow on roller skates to skate down Regent's St, all with the accompanying fairground music to make my inner monologue complete.
I was hungry too. It had been nearly 11 hours since that rather splendid shrimp dish and Adam had promised wonders untold up Sydney St way. First stop, Turkish and some borek and pastries at Alasya.
In truth, I found Melbourne’s Turkish food a little wanting. It is one of those things that London does better than most places and what I found in Sydney St or anywhere else did little to persuade me that it was the best they had to offer.
Next up, The Mediterranean Wholesaler,
a cavernous store offering tastes of generations past to new generation Italian Australians. An Aisle the size of a tennis court with more types of dried pasta than I knew there were types of pasta, dried and salted fish, crued meats, breads and pastries and tin of stuff that I still have not clue number one what they were. A fabulous place
From there we walked up the road a short way to meet with Rebecca and Eric who were ready, willing and able to introduce us to another Melbourne institution, The A1 Bakery.
Now, when it comes to pizza and, indeed, matters pizza related, I am very much in the “take it or leave it” camp. To be honest, most pizza just reminds me of snot on toast and, in the UK I actively avoid it. The meat pide at A1 was however, not bad at all. The pide was fresh and the meat nicely spiced. For about $5 with a cup of tea, I can see why this place is popular and popular it was with every table taken.
Afterwards, we popped across the road to a particularly good sweetshop which smelled gloriously of melted butter as we walked in the door.
I was pretty stuffed by now, so Adam and Rebecca did what any sensible person would do. The took me for Cannoli.
DROP DEAD WOW MOMENT 2
Lygon St may only be a relatively short car ride across town, but it is a world away from Sydney St. Chi chi and middle class, Lygon St in Carlton is the home to some of Melbourne’s favourite restaurants and is considered the Italian capital of Australia. The whiff of garlic fills the air and the restaurants are fronted by Spruikers barking people into their particular joint.
We were not there to go to any of those though and, after a short walk around the neighbourhood, we descended on Brunetti’s, the most popular Italian cake shop in Melbourne.
What a place. When we arrived, it was already packed with punters buying cakes and pastries and we had to settle for a small corner counter area at the side of the small café area. While Rebecca and Adam dealt with Eric who had woken up at the first whiff of cake (like father, like son) I went in search of baked goods and returned with a heaped tray of cannoli and lobster tails with some mini versions of the same for those with tinier hands.
The lobster tail was good but the cannoli were better, so much better. As good as I can recall and probably the best I have had since I last was lucky enough to visit Modern Pastries in Boston’s North End. It struck me then that Melbourne really did remind me of Boston in so many ways. Less up its own backside than its nearby East Coast neighbours and benefiting from a European vibe from a large and mixed bag of immigrants. Being like Boston is never a bad thing.
By now, we really were stuffed, so, after a brief walk around the area, we headed home while discussing what to have for supper (they really are my kind of people) In the end, I offered up the idea of some of my LSD, Life Saving Dahl which is the perfect thing for a palate jaded by a day’s over indulgence.
So that was Turkish, Lebanese, Italian and a bit of Bengali on day two. Not a bad haul. Roll on day three.