The Wandering Palate is wandering again, this time in Melbourne, Australia. We were greeted with a beautifully warm 30 degree, sunny day on arrival although a little blustery with a hot northerly fanning the air. Mind you, this changed soon enough, as it does in Melbourne, and it’s now a wet decidedly cooler 16 degrees, and falling.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is in town, must have known we were coming. God Save the Queen!
We are here for a week, for a food fix, and there’s no stronger statement than clearing customs and immigration and heading straight for Dench’s, in North Fitzroy, www.denchbakers.com.au the best ‘Bread and Breakfast in the World’ (article coming). First priority, a cafe latte, and the best coffee you will have on this planet, using Genovese beans.
Whenever we are in Melbourne we stock up on Genovese beans to take back to Singapore, to which anyone that has a latte or espresso at our place always comments “Where do you get your coffee beans, this is the best coffee I have had in Singapore”. Well, it is the best coffee in Singapore; you just have to get it posted from Melbourne.
Just the very mention of Melbourne triggers an instant craving for Dench’s sourdough bread, and scrambled eggs – I don’t know how there get scrambled eggs so rich and flavoursome – well, I guess start with organic free-range eggs, but there must be more to it, technique, maybe some cream? Must ask John Dench next time we there, seen we will be they every day!
Dinner that night at legendary Chef Philippe Mouchel new restaurant PM24, www.pm24.com.au 24 Russell Street was brilliant, serving up classic French bistro cuisine that would run rings around any Paris bistro, like if only Paris bistro’s were like this.
It’s a great space, an old Victorian building with cavernous 30ft exposed ceilings and large columns, the main expansive room with the added ambience of an open kitchen-bar with the large red rotisserie in full view, the flames licking the chickens and ducks as loop paste.
Interesting to watch the Chef, Tim (not Philippe as he was away in Chicago) increasing the tempo as the restaurant gained pace from our early arrival at 6pm, to full speed at 8.30pm when we left, the restaurant heaving and the Chef’s in full flight.
Mouchel and I go way back (1991), being one of the first people he met when he arrived in Melbourne, to which I took him France-Soir bistro with a bunch of French restaurant mafia (Jacques Reymond, Gerald Georges, Jean-Paul Prunetti).
As it turned out, I ended up working with Philippe at Paul Bocuse restaurant (Melbourne) and designed the wine program for both the restaurant and Takashimaya Daimaru department store and wine boutique, one of the most bitter-sweet parts of my career… more on this another time.
Anyway, we had a great meal at PM24, the Milawa organic free range chicken superbly rotisseried, as simplistic the dish is, was culinary perfection. (article coming and a long overdue piece on Mouchel).
Lunch the next day at Bacash in South Yarra was, as anticipated, divine, and satisfied one of our biggest craving when in Melbourne – the best Spaghetti Marinara in the world and Bacash’s oysters topped with grill spinach and parmesan – heavenly!
Yes, another article in the queue, but should be a priority, as this is one of our favourite restaurants along with France-Soir (actually we used to dine religiously at Toofey’s Michael Bacash’s Carlton restaurant at the time every Tuesday night, and France-Soir every Friday night).
Dinner that night was at home, having been to the Queen Victoria Market that morning, Melbourne’s junction of great produce, with a mixed grill on the menu. My favourite stalls in the Dairy Produce Hall are the Chicken Pantry, Shop 85 – 86 and the French Shop, Shop 1 – 2, with a brilliant range of cheeses and deli bits.
Breakfast at Dench’s of course, ambrosial as usual and a lazy day with friends at the Melbourne Museum and the Tutankhamun exhibition, a little underwhelming.
All we could think about all day was the premeditated plan of takeaway Souvlaki’s from George Callombaris’ www.georgecalombaris.com.au Hellenic Republic, www.hellenicrepublic.com.au if you have not experienced this Greek Taverna, then you haven’t lived. No suggestion of the European financial crisis and Greece’s fiscal problems here, just a celebration of what the most civilized culture in the world endowed on us.
Beautiful, crisp blue sky morning here, off to Chin Chin, Chris Lucas’ latest Vietnamese/Asian creation, and the hottest table in Melbourne… ‘Life is filling in time between meals…’