LOOK RIGHT! LOOK RIGHT! To avoid being killed. I kept reminding myself of this every time I landed at a crosswalk in fear that this, as George Jefferson once gasped, was bound to be THE BIG ONE. In my scant 50+ hours in Melbourne, I fell in love with the city, its unbelievably kind and helpful folk (so many people went above and beyond when I found myself lost, iPhone battery dying), the sleepy neighborhoods, outdoor cafes, cheeky signs, cookbooks (don’t ask me how heavy my suitcase is, because honestly, you don’t want to know), string of old pubs, graffiti art, coffee that challenges Brooklyn, and weather that rarely falls below 40F. I definitely want to return to this part of the world and explore The Blue Mountains and Great Barrier Reef. Interestingly enough, as I was typing this post a woman from Australia approached me. She’d seen me earlier editing my manuscript, and she wondered if I was a writer because her girlfriend is an aspiring writer. We spoke for a good half hour, and not only did she recommend a visit to Perth (where she’s from), but she smartly corrected my pronunciation of Melbourne (I pronounce the Bourne like the “Bourne Identity”). In turn, I shed light on how I wince whenever someone thinks New York as an episode of “Sex and the City” because that was never my New York. That wasn’t the New York in which I grew up and sometimes love and hate. But I digress.
Until then, I’m happy to share a few spots I located and loved during my mini sojourn.
My buddy Mike put me on to Market Lane Coffee, which was conveniently located near the Queen Victoria Market, and showcased some spot-on pastries and fantastic coffee. I will say that while Australia’s food game is pretty full-on, the pastry game leaves much to be desired. However, I was pleased with Market Lane’s fruit danishes and flaky almond croissants. Definitely worth a visit.
A review in the food section of the local paper turned me on Etto, home of affordable fresh pasta (“street food” pasta, they call it), where you’ll get fresh ribbons of fettucini and gluten-free pastas with a litany of sauces (fresh pesto to black truffle and bolognese options) that won’t break the bank. The decor is simple (think small and fast food-esque), but the fare is delicious, decadent and worth a visit.
I will say that I got BACK-ASS lost view Google Maps trying to find Etto, so I ended up cabbing, which I recommend.
While in the area, I stumbled on to some lovely shops, boutiques, and practically fell into Made in Japan, a shop that sells flatware, stemware and silverware — all from Japan. Those who know me well know that I have a HUGE WEAKNESS for a strong plate game, and I nearly left with the lot of misshapen white bowls. I made myself LEAVE THE STORE because I was already exceeding the weight requirement on carry-ons because I decided that Book Grocer’s $10/cookbook deal needed to exist in my life in a major way.
Green juices are not as ubiquitous in Melbourne as they are in the states so finding Ayomo on my way home was quite a gem. Serving up fresh frozen yoghurt, smoothies and bottled green and fruit juices, the mixes are fresh, the vibe is awesome (think pink, this sweet, think Japan), and I finally got the kale fix I’ve been missing.
Coming home, I strolled through Southgate, headed over the bridge, and settled into an evening of Australian television. Never have I been so enthralled by the lives of Thai insect vendors and “Law & Order SVU: Australia”. So good. So right.
So need to return.