Melbourne is the food capital of the world.
While Holly was trying on her mountains of clothes, I struck up a friendship with a lovely young lady in a highlighter yellow shirt who seemed very excited about a discussion concerning food.
Round 1 - Moat http://themoat.com.au/Welcome.html
They aren't on the menu anymore, but the first dish was these gorgeous meatballs topped with a rich velvety tomato sauce and parmesan shavings. We licked the bowl. Next, potted prawns with butter, shaved fennel, lemon zest and spices. Finally, carpaccio of green mountain veal crusted in fennel pollen with caperberries, pink grapefruit segments, preserved lemon butter. There was probably some wine tucked in that meal too...
Round 2 (aka Dinner #2 on the same night - that's how we roll) - Panama http://www.thepanama.com.au/
Upon arriving at this off the beaten path gem, there was a couple screaming at each other in the street in front. The lady half of this couple started throwin punches at which point the gentleman ran into the street and almost got hit by a moving bus. Yep, we had found another great place.
This time, we mixed it up a bit with zucchini flowers stuffed with two cheeses, roasted red peppers, tomato, chilli and capers. We also had this amazing ceviche and chestnut cake, but neither are on the menu anymore. Trust me, they were gorgeous.
Round 3 - Polly Cocktail Lounge http://www.pollybar.com.au/
Bourbon Butter - Makers, PB, Butterscotch Schnapps, Frangellico, Cream
Espresso Martini - Wyborowa Vodka, Vanilla Liquer, Coffe Liquer, Espresso
After a very full day of eating, shopping, and exploring, it was time for bed. We didn't even make it past 10 pm. Amateur hour. Don't worry, we were up bright and early and ready to do it again the next day - a day that led us to the best places yet.
Aspro Ble deserves a billboard. A book, a chapter in the Bible. I don't know, something. It's incredible. The food made me want to board a plane to Positano and lay amongst the whitewashed houses with all the goats. It's just beautiful. Lamb souvlaki, sagaki, calamari and prawn wontons with a lemon caper sauce, baklava, and loukoumades. At the end of this meal, I was beggin the good lord for mercy, because I did not think I could stand up from the chair. I used to think I didn't like baklava. When Holly ordered, I rolled my eyes in my head and thought "What is this, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants? Amateur hour over here!" I was wrong. This baklava changed my life with every. single. bite. I can't even talk about it anymore.
And finally, with the blessing of the great Annie Bergman, I visited her old stomping groups. Lygon Street in Carlton. For those of you who have never heard of it, imagine a street that smells of tomatoes and basil. A street full of italians and greeks all calling out for your business. "Basta! Basta! This is the one for you!"
An old Italian man stopped us as we were walking by. "What does this sound like to you? What kind of music ees dis?" "Um, I think that's techno. Definitely techno." "See son, I told you this was techno! Absolute trash." "Ladies, would you like a CD?" And along we went. Next door down - "You stop in here for lunch, we give you 30% off your whole bill." We continue walking, drawn down the street by the promise of that one hidden gem. Unlike yesterday, we came to Lygon Street unarmed with our arsenal of local knowledge, trusting that the wind would blow us in the right direction. (I ended up asking a lady at a kitchen store where to go. I couldn't risk it, but don't tell Holly). To Tiamo we go. I knew when we got there that this was the place. San Pellegrino in glass, the magic arrives. It is in the form of a truffle and mushroom handmade tortellini. With the eggplant and chicken parmigiana, absolute and utter nirvana. I was never sure what that naked baby was swimming after in the blue water, but I've finally found it. It is Tiamo chicken parmigiana. It is Aspro Ble Baklava. It is here, in Melbourne, the greatest food city in the world.