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Well Hello! Accidentally Wading Into Debate, Sydney, The Greening, Mudgee. And As You Were. Or As I Was.

The Opera House in Sydney, photo taken from Quay restaurant

The Opera House in Sydney, photo taken from Quay restaurant

Hello there! Pull up a seat. How has everything been with you? Where have I been? Oh…

I really don’t like reading blogs that apologise for their absence. Why? This isn’t a newspaper, I don’t have an editor, I blog when I can and when I want to, and I would love to blog more. It becomes difficult though, when external pressures (book writing, bacon boxes, travel and other work that pays the rent and keeps me in Gremlins t-shirts). And here I am apologising, it seems. I just can’t help myself.

I am the sole writer here, and it will always be that way. That does limit content, and that is ok, as I am a big ole control freak, and I want everything to be just so and exactly as I saw it in my brain. Plus, this isn’t a place for food and travel stories, it is a place for my food and travel stories. I want to keep it that way. Ahem.

Blogging is a funny animal. When I started there was a few, and now there are a lot, which is great. But, I feel that there are a lot of people outside of blogging who want to define what a good blog is without maybe understanding blogging at all, and that creates pressure for bloggers (including me), when it shouldn’t.

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Highlights from Melbourne, Sunday Bacon Club & Project: BACON Pre-Orders

Danny! A gorgeous orphan koala at the Great Ocean Ecolodge

Danny! A gorgeous orphan koala at the Great Ocean Ecolodge

Well, hello! Are you still there? You are! I can still see you exploring the archive, which is very cheering to see, and unexpected. I have that blogger paranoia where if I don’t write for a while you disappear, you see. It is a common affliction.

What a couple of weeks! That illness which demanded chicken soup turned out to be fierce, and I spent much of a week in bed. When I finally came to, I had to work like a demon to make up for lost time, even through the night to deliver bacon boxes, before I boarded my flight to Australia. I slept almost the whole way here. Which is 24 hours or so. I am now in Melbourne for the Food & Wine Festival, which has been a terrific experience, and I have lots on that, and the restaurants that I have visited in between to share here in the coming days.

I don’t know if I am tired because I am jet lagged (it has been a week so I really should be ok now), or because I am recovering from being ill. Either way, I haven’t had a lot of energy for writing. Perhaps I diverted too much of myself into Project: BACON and my body enforced a break? Maybe so.

Writing and publishing Project: BACON the way that I have chosen to was the right thing to do, but it requires three times the level of energy required for writing a book. And that is ok – in fact it has been so very interesting – but it is much more than I had factored in, in terms of timelines and energy involved.

My conversations recently have been all about paper, and colour, and print, volume sizes of books (so that I can figure out storage), cloth covering, gold leaf, spangly enthusiastic pigs, timelines, even forklifts, and that is just the printing. Which is one small portion of the book production process. So, the last few months have been pretty intense. However, Project: BACON is shaping up nicely, despite road blocks, the latest of which being my poor photographer who was injured her knee quite badly on the ski slopes and needs surgery. Woe for her and I hope she feels so much better soon! We get moving on the photographs in April, when she should hopefully feel a bit better.

So, for now, some photos. And soon lots more. Some housekeeping too, before I go:

There are still places available for the next – and last for the foreseeable – Sunday Bacon Club on April 6th. The date had to be moved from the original March 30th date as I hadn’t realised that it was Mother’s Day (doh!). You can book by paying on paypal here.

You can still order April Bacon Boxes (including candied bacon salt, bacon flapjacks, bacon butter fudge, bacon butter toffee, bacon marshmallow krispie bars & bourbon bacon chocolate brownies). Numbers are limited. I don’t think people have seen them as they are further down the page so there are plenty left. So grab them! :) Limited edition gorgeous copies of the book are available too. You can only order up until May on Shopstarter to get a hardback limited edition copy. I am investigating a possible paperback that will retail online, but this is not a guarantee, and won’t be available for a little while.

Project: BACON folks who are awaiting bacon boxes – you can expect an email from me soon. All remaining will be made and shipped when I return at the start of April – thank you!

Nectarines with chilli salt at Little Saigon Market in Footscray, Melbourne

Nectarines with chilli salt at Little Saigon Market in Footscray, Melbourne

Nathan Outlaw's terrific mussel and oyster soup, and a visit to a mussel farm, at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival Water Masterclass

Nathan Outlaw’s terrific mussel and oyster soup, and a visit to a mussel farm, at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival Water Masterclass

Sunset at the Great Ocean Ecolodge

Sunset at the Great Ocean Ecolodge

Highlights from an extraordinarily fun and really delicious Rickshaw Run in Footscray, Melbourne

Highlights from an extraordinarily fun and really delicious Rickshaw Run in Footscray, Melbourne

Highlights from a wonderful meal at Attica

Highlights from a wonderful meal at Attica

Sunset in downtown Melbourne

Sunset in downtown Melbourne

A wild koala, on a very bare tree. Just at the side of the road

A wild koala, on a very bare tree. Just at the side of the road

Er… it is a little koala heavy, right? But I saw a lot, and I LOVE them. So please forgive me, and enjoy them.

My visit to Australia is supported by Tourism Australia

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Melbourne Eating: 9 Restaurants You Must Eat At in Melbourne

Don’t just brunch in Melbourne (although don’t miss it!), there are some fantastic lunches and dinners to be had too. I had a very long list of strong recommendations to tackle, Melbourne’s reputation as a culinary destination is hard earned and well deserved.

The emphasis everywhere is on local sourcing, which isn’t a surprise. There is also some terrific fusion and Asian food. Melbourne has the second largest Greek population of any city after Athens, so there is some great Greek food to be had, from the humble post pub souvlaki to more refined fare. There is a lot of excellent Italian fare due to the large Italian immigrant population, but as we have great Italian in London too, I didn’t focus on that on this trip.

This is the best of the restaurants that I tried when in Melbourne, and I tried many. Enjoy, and as before, if you have further recommendations, please leave them in the comments. Thanks!

Cumulus Up

Cumulus Up is a convivial wine bar and dining space above Andrew McConnell’s Cumulus Inc in the CBD in downtown Melbourne. A large open space with high ceilings lined on one side with a climate controlled cellar, the cellar is the focus of the room, both in terms of physicality and also the menu which is designed to complement the drinks.

The food is full flavoured and characterful. Standout dishes include the duck waffle, foie gras & prune which is a duck waffle with duck in the waffle and foie gras on top, and beautiful lamb ribs with a piquant sauce, sourced from Flinders Island nearby. Bookings are only taken for groups over 7, so get down there early, or be prepared to queue. It is worth it.

http://cumulusinc.com.au/up/, CBD[Read more]

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Melbourne Eating: 5 great places that you should to go to for breakfast / brunch

There are many things to love about Melbourne, but one big plus point is the density of independent restaurants and cafés. People are passionate abut what they do, produce is high quality and flavourful, coffee is locally roasted, if not in the cafe or restaurant, at one nearby.  I didn’t meet one jobsworth nor did I at any point get a coffee that was as hot as the centre of the sun (hello London, you could work on that, although you are getting a lot better).

So, what was I to do? It was simple. If I was waking at 3am, I would need to embrace jet lag and have lots of breakfasts. One breakfast when WIDE AWAKE and jet lagged at 7am, and another at noon for lunch. I wanted to get under the skin of the Melbourne breakfast, and I did. Here is my list of the best places for breakfast (or brunch) from my trip, based on the three areas that I stayed in on my last visit.

Enjoy and if you have any that I have missed that you think are essentials (I am sure there are more than a few), please leave details for other readers in the comments below (and for me, as I will be returning soon). Thanks![Read more]

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A Postcard from Melbourne & Victoria

I am coming to the end of my time in Melbourne & Victoria, and it has been quite some time since I last posted anything. Mainly because I have been so busy, and because I have been having so much fun. Delicious fun. I have visited lots of great restaurants, had many breakfasts, sampled a lot of coffee, met friends, toured the wine regions, and tried a lot of wine.

It is my last morning already (woe), and as I pack and have my last breakfast, I wanted to share some pictures of the last 9 days with you.

London winter, be kind, I will see you very soon. But first, a wee stopover in Brunei.

I am in Melbourne on the #TourMelbourne blog trip, created and managed by iambassador with Tourism Victoriaand Visit Melbourne in partnership with Royal Brunei Airlines. All content is of my choosing, and I retain all editorial control.

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Hello Melbourne!

Greetings from Melbourne, Australia. A heartland for great food and drink, Melbourne is an exciting city for a food obsessive like me to visit. It has been at the top of my list for a long time. (Yes, that list, that long one).

I have been here for four days peering out through a jet lag fug and on my own personal brunch driven agenda. When you can’t sleep, the possibility of several great brunches on your doorstep, and all at 7am, is thrilling. Even through a brain that feels like it is currently powered by Angel Delight and 9V batteries (strawberry flavour, naturally). That also means that you can absolutely have another brunch at 12pm. (Hey! Don’t look at me. I didn’t make the rules). I have had many – some brilliant and very inspiring – and I have many more planned. Not just brunches, lunches and dinners too. There is so much to do, and eat, and drink.[Read more]