Everyone needs a bolt hole, even people who live in a city like Sydney. About three and a half hours inland from Sydney, and over the Blue Mountains, lies a gorgeous small town and wine region called Mudgee. Wine is not new here, winemakers have been active in Mudgee for over 150 years, but it is growing quickly and it is now the third largest winemaking region in New South Wales. At that, it is emerging in terms of tourism, and it is still under the radar for international visitors like you and me.
Water Masterclass? Am I losing it? No, dear friends, I spent a day at a Water Masterclass near Melbourne, Victoria last year, and it was one of the best days of last year. And I had a lot of very good travel days.
Every year at Melbourne Food & Wine Festival there is a masterclass based around the theme of the festival. The 2014 theme was water, ergo, water masterclass and 50 excited people gathered by the river at 8.30am, sparkling wine in hand, and boarded a bus to regional Victoria. We were to spend the day in the company of the UK’s Nathan Outlaw, Peter Gilmore of Quay in Sydney, and local chef Aaron Turner, now based in Nashville, who had returned home for the event. Expectations were high.
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 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.
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!
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 Victoria, and Visit Melbourne in partnership with Royal Brunei Airlines. All content is of my choosing, and I retain all editorial control.
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.