Melbourne

I love Melbourne. I visit at least once a year to catch up with friends and to experience the beautiful sights, sounds and food that the city has to offer.  I like to time my visits with special events. This time around I came to watch the football (soccer) - Brazil vs. Argentina. I also managed to schedule work around this time, so it worked out quite well. 

Thursday night I hit the whisky with a dear cousin who had just moved to the city. Whisky & Alement, conveniently not too far from my office, has a wide selection of whiskeys, some of which I have not seen anywhere else. The menu is extensive and includes drams that have been bottled specifically for them, with no labels, only descriptions. While some of the copy gets carried away with combinations (with hints of calamari, anyone?) you can generally pick anything off the list and get a pretty good tasting whisky, or ask the helpful bartenders for their recommendations.

Rice Paper Scissors   is an Asian fusion restaurant that lets you get carried away with a set menu of 5-6 dishes for about $50-60.  And yes, we did get carried away. Somehow we managed to finish most of it, plus two orders of roti! Great value for money, and while not entirely traditional recipes it is a good way to sample Asian flavours, especially South East Asian ones. 

 Roti, round one 

Roti, round one 

 Pork Belly!!!

Pork Belly!!!

 Crying Tiger (Thai Grilled Beef)

Crying Tiger (Thai Grilled Beef)

 Korean Fried Chicken

Korean Fried Chicken

The next day I met up with a friend for lunch. Wonder Bao is a hole in the wall somewhere in the CBD behind some construction on the street. Despite its unobtrusive location it is very popular and we ended up getting take away and sitting in a park. I ordered a hotdog bun, an eggplant bun and a pork belly bun. Altogether filling, fluffy and flavourful.  Nice and cheap, too. 

This is the Brazil vs Argentina match that I went to Friday evening. While it was fun, it was largely fun because of the people I was with, and the atmosphere in the crowd. The game itself was rather boring - by the second half it was all about the paper airplanes - with too many players afraid to get injured so they weren't making too much effort. They also fell down a lot and didn't want to get up. Having seen both these teams before in actual competition (separately), I know they are capable of so much more, they just didn't quite deliver more than just a fraction of it. 

The Grain Store serves a seasonal menu using fresh produce. It is a very popular cafe, so be prepared to wait! I used the opportunity to catch up with an old flatmate and her partner while we waited for about 30 minutes for our turn. The food was well worth the wait - filling and comforting on a cold, winter's day. 

 Thick Cut Bacon & Halloumi Pumpkin Fritter

Thick Cut Bacon & Halloumi Pumpkin Fritter

 Portobello Mushroom & Gruyere Potato Rosti with Bacon

Portobello Mushroom & Gruyere Potato Rosti with Bacon

 Sweet Miso Pork & Potato Hash

Sweet Miso Pork & Potato Hash

 Warm Milk Chocolate Cookies & Milk - freshly baked, with a 10 minute wait. Worth it!

Warm Milk Chocolate Cookies & Milk - freshly baked, with a 10 minute wait. Worth it!

I was lucky enough to be in Melbourne in time to catch Van Gogh and the Seasons at the National Gallery of Victoria . The exhibit was lovely and featured some of his most famous paintings, organised by season. I have been to several exhibits at the NGV before and I felt that this could have been better organised. We bought our tickets in advance, but there didn't seem to be a cap per time slot, so the viewing area was rather crowded. I still enjoyed the beautiful paintings, though.

 This is possibly one of the few times where they have allowed non-flash picture taking which led to a lot of people clustering around paintings like this. While I took a few photos myself, at some point it got a bit much due to the sheer volume of people...

This is possibly one of the few times where they have allowed non-flash picture taking which led to a lot of people clustering around paintings like this. While I took a few photos myself, at some point it got a bit much due to the sheer volume of people...

Dinner that night was at Town Mouse . Quiet and tiny (a lot of Melbourne is tiny) it was a great place to catch up with some girlfriends and enjoy some food and wine. 

 Duck Liver Parfait

Duck Liver Parfait

 Crisp Brussels sprouts, buttermilk, mint & pecorino. This one was my favorite

Crisp Brussels sprouts, buttermilk, mint & pecorino. This one was my favorite

 Black angus intercostals (500g), hazelnut romesco

Black angus intercostals (500g), hazelnut romesco

 Buttermilk poached pear, walnut, roast white chocolate & fermented pear sorbet

Buttermilk poached pear, walnut, roast white chocolate & fermented pear sorbet

I had my last Breakfast in Melbourne at Humble Rays , a smallish cafe in Carlton. The chef specializes in mixing sweet and savoury, and this has led to some -very filling -  creative dishes. I had the pancakes, in case you're wondering. 

 Egg Benny: Ginger braised pork belly, miso and potato korroke, almond & cashew dukkah, poached egg, yuzu hollaindaise, chilli bacon jam and an egg

Egg Benny: Ginger braised pork belly, miso and potato korroke, almond & cashew dukkah, poached egg, yuzu hollaindaise, chilli bacon jam and an egg

 Belly Dancing - Pancakes, bacon, sunny side up egg, nutella and banana

Belly Dancing - Pancakes, bacon, sunny side up egg, nutella and banana

Thanks Melbourne, for another wonderful visit. See you again, soon I hope.