Hello From Melbourne
Part I : My Australia Trip - Melbourne
Hello From Melbourne!
I'm in the final stretch of my Melbourne trip before heading to Sydney. I'm glad I panic-packed because the weather in Melbourne changes quickly, and as one Melbournian reader put it, "you can experience all four seasons in a single day in Melbourne."
Before we jump into what I've been up to in Melbourne, let's kick it off with this week's recipe. A gorgeous steak sandwich slathered with luscious chipotle-infused mayonnaise that also contains bits of tangy preserved lemon (You can either buy preserved lemons from the store or make your own using the recipe in The Flavor Equation cookbook). A few tips: Cut the grilled steak against the grain so it won’t be chewy and drain the brined artichokes and peppers before assembling the sandwich. Brined mushrooms are also great here.
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A reader asked me about the difference between brined and marinated vegetables. At times, I've seen food companies use the terms interchangeably, but, in general, when it comes to vegetables - brined refers to the use of acid and salt, while marinated refers to the presence of oil like olive oil in addition to the acid and salt. This recipe can use brined or marinated vegetables, but I prefer brined (I'm not fond of greasy sandwiches).
What I’ve been up to in Melbourne
My trip to Melbourne was one big family reunion. My cousin's wedding served as the perfect excuse for us to get together (some of us haven't seen each other since the pandemic). Between wedding events and family get-togethers, I managed to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing and a few food-tasting excursions.
A big highlight was my trip to Queen Victoria Market/Queen Vic, the largest open market in the Southern Hemisphere. Even though the market is undergoing a significant renovation, it is still bustling and vibrant. The fresh produce stalls, the meat and seafood section, and the food stalls (we snacked on some delicious spinach and cheese boreks) were a treat for my senses. I also stopped by Books For Cooks, which houses a massive collection of cookbooks, from new to vintage (you probably love cookbooks if you're reading this newsletter, so I strongly recommend visiting the store) and picked up a copy of The Food Saver’s A-Z-The Essential Cornersmith Kitchen Companion.
One of the bakeries I visited on my trip was a name that appeared on every list, Lune. I was worried about the hype surrounding it, but I'm happy to say I my fears were unfounded. Their croissants are truly perfect! The shattering sound accompanying the pastry as it cuts is a delightful indication of what to expect in every bite. The almond croissant and the lemon curd morning buns were my favorites. We arrived a little after 10 am, and they'd already sold out of the upside-down pineapple, spanakopita, ham, and cheese croissants. The one piece of advice I can share with you applies to any bakery. Go early to avoid the lines and get the menu items you want to try. If the option to preorder online is available, use it and save yourself some time and grief. The other bakery I loved was a Japanese bakery called Bakemono. I tried their heavenly rum and vanilla canelé and their buttery salty shiopan and they blew me away.
There are plenty of good food eateries with a wide variety of options in Melbourne. I ate at Aru, whose central premise relies on using native ingredients from Australia and Asian flavors. The dishes on the menu included ingredients like pepperberries, desert limes, finger limes, and paperbark, many of which were new to me (I grow finger limes at home in L.A.). Another fun spot was the Sri Lankan restaurant, Upalis. If you're craving hoppers/appams, plan for dinner; they don't serve them at lunch. The restaurant prepares the batter early in the morning and leaves it to ferment all day until it is ready to be cooked for their evening service. The jackfruit cutlets and crab curry were glorious but so was everything else we tried. The other memorable meal we ate out was the Korean BBQ at Yeonga near Queen Victoria Market, an epic feast and a joyful experience. The sizzling sounds and aromas emanating from the food as it cooked in front of us were soothing and satisfying.
A few other notable spots:
Yabby Lake Vineyards. They've got a restaurant, but you need to make reservations, and if you don't, they also have an outdoor food truck on their lawn.
The Melbourne Museum and the Werribee Open Range Zoo were fun trips for the family. I have to share the funnel-web spider poster from the Museum with you (BTW, they do have live spiders on display at the Museum).
Have a lovely week,
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