Only twenty two hours to spend in Melbourne with our friends D. and T., their son Milo and spoodle Mimi we right away nickname the hopping dog — I have never seen a dog jump that high before. Too quick, too short. A real challenge for us who love to spend time together, especially in such a fantastic city. Have you been to Melbourne before? Me? I love it! I have already visited this Australian city three times, and with every stay, I love it more.
We have a few hours to rest, shower and we are off to Fitzroy. To tell the truth, I have no idea where we are going. I just follow. But as soon as we arrive in this lively neighborhood of Melbourne, I know well why T. decides to take us here. With a mix of artistic, trendy and bohemian touches, Fitzroy offers a panel of interesting cafés and restaurants, art galleries, bookstores and boutiques with modern or retro clothes. And people to watch. Shortly after we park the car in the street, we walk into a small café to have lunch. I forget its name — Gertrude Street Enoteca T. reminds me later — but clearly remember the lines of wine bottles held on every single wall. “This is a wine bar,” T. whispers in my ear. They come from everywhere. When we look at the long wine list, we cannot decide on any until P. says louder than usual “They have Lillet!” “What is that?” D. asks. “Oh, you just have to try!” “Two Lillets, please,” we ask the waitress. The Vegetable Panini and Wagyu Meat — known also as Kobe-style Beef — are good too. For the first few minutes, I cannot speak much because I am too hungry. But after a few bites swallowed greedily, I am able to relax and slow down. My friend T. leans towards me and then, she smiles when she tells me that next door, there is in fact a specialized cookbook store. “A what?” “Non, ce n’est pas vrai !” I answer with my eyes getting bigger, expressing the excitement her words create. Not only is she a wonderful cook, but she is the best of friends to know me that well. We stand up, look at each other and tell P. and D. that we are going for a walk. “Where?” D. asks. “Just to the bookstore next door.” “How long will you be there for?” he adds. “Hours“, we respond with cunning smiles.
229 Gertrude St
Walking in Books for Cooks is like giving a treat to a dog. I am so excited that I cannot focus on any book at all, going from one to the other quickly, scared to miss something. Cookbooks of all sorts, sorted by cuisine genre, theme or country, are neatly displayed on large tables in the center of the store and in the shelves covering every wall. I even find cookbooks in French. One room offers comfortable armchairs for customers, making the place feel as if you were sitting in someone’s living-room. I start thinking about my suitcase and know well that I cannot carry too much more than I already have. But I can certainly not leave the bookstore without buying anything. A few slim ones will do. And so, because I am in Australia and I am such a big fan of Australian cookbooks, I settle for a few cookbooks of Vogue Entertaining, probably harder to find in the US. T. as well — and at that point, I do not know that her purchase will end up in my suitcase too. Do you call this being spoiled? I think so too.
233-235 Gertrude Street
Leaving the bookstore, we decide to walk home and wander the streets at a slow pace, talking fast to try to catch up as much as we can in such a short time, looking everywhere too to embrace the place. Because I feel a sudden urge for chocolate — two dark pieces after lunch are really a routine of mine — we stop at San Churro Chocolateria. I buy three 70% chocolate bars, but T. tells me of Kokoblack, a better chocolate niche further. But I cannot wait and we eventually settle for this one, even if it does not rank as a favorite. Not dark enough. I am, however, attracted by the front window, where my eyes cannot detach from a plate full of churros with chocolate sauce on the side. They look so tempting. In the back, the shiny metallic churros machine is turned off, but I can discern some unused pastry crying to be baked. I wish I could jump on the other side of the counter to turn it on, as operating the complex-looking device sounds fun. We move on, however.
227 Brunswick Street
“What is your favorite food?” we ask Milo who is only five years old. “SUSHI!” he responds at full blast, in his Australian accent.
We burst out laughing and impressed, even more so when T. adds that Milo is all about quality food unlike many other kids of his age turning their nose away from most off-the-beaten-path foods. “Seafood is good for you!“, he adds amused by our reaction. So, when later in the day we are meeting another New Zealand friend for a Cantonese dinner, we know that Milo — and us too — will love it. We drive to Lau’s Family Restaurant in another neighborhood across town, a place run by the same family managing the upmarket, highly praised Flower Drum. When we arrive by 6 p.m., the place is still quiet, unlike its usual as booking a table, T. adds, can be a challenge.
The service is impeccable and attentive, so much so that we feel as if they think that we are some sort of restaurant critics. We order a sampling menu, leaving it to the chef to decide. A few appetizers and main courses keep coming to the table rapidly. We skip dessert. The food — tempura, various fish, meat, fried rice and vegetables — is simple but good as all of the ingredients are extremely fresh. Two hours is so short to be able to catch up on the news since the last time we have met, but we leave content all the same, with the promise to meet again soon. And fully confident that it will happen in the near future, even if Australia seems at the other end of the globe for us living on the American east coast. Next time, however, we will make sure to spend more than one day. Melbourne and our friends are fully worth it. Within less than one day, I already understand how much love for good food there is to be found in Melbourne.
4 Acland St
St Kilda, Victoria
Mais quel bonheur ! Quel beau voyage ! J’ai tout à coup une envie folle d’être dans cette ville. Merci Béa !
wonderful, since i discoverede your blog, can’t leave it! i just love everything in it! & those pictures are really magnificent!
Merci pour ces belles photos qui m’ont permis de voyager virtuellement jusqu’à Melbourne !
quelles jolies photos! j’irai bien jusque Melbourne moi! bravo pour ton blog!
I am glad you enjoyed my city (Melbourne) for food, as much as I enjoy your blog. Your friends definitely planned your 22 hours well and took you to some wonderful places. Hopefully you do get to spend some more time in Melbourne next time…lots more foodie fun to be had.
I’d like to live in Melbourne if it had Sydney weather. Funny you mention Lillet. Someone asked me if I knew of it just this week.
I think I liked best the sound of the slow walk home, well except for maybe the friends, the cookbook store and Milo!
Hi Bea! thanks for dropping by!
I’ve been drooling at your colourful photos & your amazing trip to Australia, how fun it must have been! I feel like I was travelling with you just by looking at them *envy envy envy*
Encore un reportage très réussi! comme toujours cette belle sensibilité… bravo!
Bea, I love every photo you took, and every feeling you projected on each word!
loving this adventure! 🙂
I love Melbourne! These pictures brought me back.
Thanks for this post, it’s wonderful to follow you around during your day in what looks like a lovely city. I’ve got a hankering to fly straight to Melbourne now. Oh, and, I honestly am beside myself when I go to bookstores that specialize in food, and can stay and drool for hours and I always make the most unreasonable purchases.
j’avais un retard fou!! je viens me régaler en lisant tes mots, en parcourant du regard et en me plongeant dans tes sublimes photos! ahh que ça me manquait! je vais tout de suite regarder les précédents messages!
I have missed so much of your posts. After browsing through your beautiful and amazing photos, i thought i’d leave a comment on this ‘most recent’ one.
I love all of your trip photos. Wow. So beautiful. And i loved reading about the trip. I so want to go to Aus now. 🙂
how many cookbooks from Oz did you pick up? I’d be lost for ever in this place. surprisingly we don’t have a spot like this in SF. I hope your are enjoying your wanderings!
Your visit sounds divine! Your chocolate fix made me think of my current brief stint here at home. I am cobbling together PT work as I seek the real deal.
Currently at chocochocohouse.com-
A very charming shop with delicious chocolate! And the names for her confections are so clever.
Ah sushi- A and Milo would get along famously. Same age, same love of sushi!
Glad you are having fun.
J’ ai fini par quitter Wellington, pour m’ installer à Melbourne il y a quelques mois; et je dois dire que dès que j’ ai un peu de temps, je saute sur mon vélo pour rejoindre Fitzroy et passer quelques heures dans le “books for cooks” shop. C’ est incroyable, j’ en découvre tous les jours sur Melbourne!
Thanks for all the wondreful pictures you took in NZ, I really miss it. Well, I also love Melbourne, you’re absolutly right this city is amazing, and I’m just the same, the more I stay, the more I discover about it, the more I love it!
Thanks for making me dream.
Yay, I’m going to Melbourne in a few weeks time (I haven’t been there in years) thanks for the tips!
Je ne sais pas comment tu fais, comment tu reussis a faire passer le plaisir, l’emotion et l’amitie dans tes photos, mais ca fonctionne, indubitablement.
Seems like you are having great fun. I loved the bench photo.
Sophie, merci, ravie de l’entendre.
Leonine, very sweet of you to think so!
Fabienne, contente que cela te plaise.
Andrew, oh yes, and I want to be back soon. 22 hours is obviously way too little to appreciate what has to be appreciated in Melbourne. If only it were closer!
Barbara, this is a good point taken. I think the same about Wellington in that, I would love it even more without the bloody wind!
Tanna, all of them 😉
Valentina, thank you!
Gattina, thanks. Sweet.
Kat, merci! Happy you do.
Brilynn, ah yes, glad you also went! WOnderful, isn’t it?
Mary, this bookstore was fun indeed! I was also lucky to find a similar one close to a friend living in Paris, can you believe?
Alhya, coucou, merci de ton passage. Ravie que ca te plaise!
Mae, oh yes, I can tell you would love it. There is an Asian/Pacific flair to be found in the food, which I am sure you would love.
Jeanne, 3 cookbooks. Is it bad ;-)?
kim, nice. I did not know about this place. How can it be when I live here??? Thank you!
Audrey, ah super. You are a lucky one to have gone to both places 😉 I surely will post more pictures of New Zealand soon. Stay tuned!
Emily, good for you!!!
Gracianne, merci. Ton mot me touche vraiment.
Cenk, oh yes these benches were everywhere in this area. So funky!
Your pictures are life in motion. You’ve got such an eye for wonderful composition. And your cooking/baking , let us not forget your other talent of equal intensity!
Shame you didn’t make it to Perth, the forgotten city 🙂 I would have loved to show you around… Melbourne is a great place though, and looks like you had an excellent guide… Hope your holiday was/is fantastic.
Hey! I’ll be going to Melbourne in 2 weeks time. I’m glad I dropped by your blog. That Bookstore for Cooks looks pretty awesome!!
Thanks Veron for your sweet note! Really nice of you!
Matt, oh of only I had had time to come to the “other forgotten” place too! 😉 It stays on my list, I can assure you.
Swee, great! I am sure you will have fun!
Bea, Fitzroy St is one of my favourite places in Melbourne. It’s quite bohemian and you never know what can come across.
I’ve actually been to that churros place you mention. It’s absolutely divine, although the chocolate is a touch on the sweet side. But still it was great.
I’m glad you had an amazing holiday : )
Que de couleurs, ambiances et espaces différents…c’est juste beau, très beau !!!
great post bea…nice snapshot of melbourne…I love fitzroy too and especially books for cooks…glad you got to check it out while you were here
Wow..great pics! a very nice blog… hope next time u will have more time to walk around Melbourne!
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