Friday, 29 October 2010

mmmmm Melbourne

I arrived home from Australia yesterday with plenty to think about and lots of new inspiration & enthusiasm for baking. My suitcase was so crammed with jars of spices, muffin papers, tubs of lemon myrtle leaves, friand cups and mini loaf tins that I actually had to leave some clothes behind at my sister's house!

I was stopped by the x-ray machine operator at Sydney Airport on Wednesday afternoon. They were concerned by the jars of 'unidentified powder' in my hand I removed the offending Jordanian Za'atar and once they'd checked the contents we had a discussion about it and I ended up giving them a recipe for a chicken & preserved lemon dish....we parted friends!

Last weekend, Esther and I flew down to Melbourne for a long weekend. Neither of us had been there before and it was as wonderful as we'd hoped. I didn't really get to experience any restaurants (I'll save that for my next trip with Paul) but Saturday morning was spent at the awesome Prahran Market a short walk from our hotel...

a huge hangar-like building housing the most amazing variety of food stalls...every cuisine under the sun seemed to be cheese, fresh pastas, fruits & vegetables, nuts, spices, sweets, chocolates, pastries....a chinese stall captured our attention for a good half hour, the myriad unfamiliar ingredients were mesmerising....I was only sorry that I couldn't buy any of the superb produce as it was so tempting to imagine inventing & cooking all sorts of new dishes. I'll post more about Prahran soon when I've trawled properly through my copious photographs.
Within the market area, there were also world-class coffee shops such as Market Lane

with it's menu of world coffees to choose from, all freshly roasted, ground to order and smelling so was almost impossible to choose. But my old favourite, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe won - introduced to me years ago by that master Coffee Man, Charlie Massey at Hill & Valley Coffee.
It was smooth, deep and superb with a fat, crusty almond croissant as we rested our weary feet....bliss!

Also within the market complex was Essential Ingredient. I just love food stores like this - similar to New York's Dean & Deluca....

Essential carries a huge and beautifully presented range of everything foodie...from french copper pans of every size to miniature pastry brushes (yes, I bought 5...) and from imported silver dragees to preserved hibiscus flowers, this store was like a temple to cookery. Often vastly overpriced too...but I forgave it because of it's sheer beauty & size. There is also a cookery school on the first floor, offering myriad courses and special days dedicated to specific techniques and ingredients. Our very own
Yotam Ottolenghi featured there earlier this year, and the very best Australian & world chefs regularly make appearances. Definitely somewhere to visit if you're ever in Melbourne.

We only really scratched the surface of this diverse, vibrant city last week. There's so very much more to see and I know that I'll be back. I miss it already.....have a great weekend!


  1. Loved reading your blog, as always! Love the X-ray story! I can picture myself cramming kitchen nik-naks into my suitcase as well. I remember 2 years ago, upon departure from PEI, Canada, I had a jar of local honey in my handbag & they saw it in the x-ray machine too, but didn't let me take it on board because it was considered a liquid! :( Ahh well! So happy you loved your trip & found so many foodie goodies! Happy Cooking! xoxo

  2. It seems to have been such a nice trip...and a delicious one. I love food markets.

  3. The market looks amazing, everything there seems so spacious! Plus all those coffees, fat croissants, spice supplies - sounds like you had really wonderful holidays, Rachel. Good that you're happy!

  4. Wow, sounds brilliant. What an incredible place. You made me feel as if I'd been there myself, which I will one day! Thanks Rachel, wonderful that you had a great time. I'm sure that your sister did too. Love xxxx

  5. Great to read that you enjoyed your visit to Melbourne. Prahran market is a favourite here.
    Hope the weather was okay when you visited. It can be changeable!

  6. Hi Betty, thanks for visiting! We did have a few cold Southern winds on the cross streets but when the chilly mornings had passed we had gorgeous warm sunny afternoons. Coming from the UK, trust me, it was heavenly!! Have a great week x


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