A Winter Food Weekend in Melbourne - Part Three

Chef Matt has his own show, Recipes that Rock, which airs on the Food Network UK and will hopefully reach Aussie screens soon.

There’s something quintessentially Melbournian about rugging up in layers, braving the bracing air, and walking the city’s streets in search of a winter food adventure.

With so much to see, do, discover and taste it’s guaranteed you won’t stay cold for long.

Sunday | Street-faire

Too full from dinner at Bistro Vue to even consider breakfast, we set out into the cold but clear morning for Federation Square. With our tickets to Monet’s Garden came an offer for the Australian Impressionists in France exhibition on display at the Ian Potter Centre. We felt it would be a fitting way to complete our Impressionism education and immersion into French culture… little did we know our French journey was to extend past the paintbrush.

Rounding the corner from Little Bourke onto Swanston Street our senses were overwhelmed by the wafting aroma of fresh crêpes. La Petite Crêperie is Melbourne’s smallest and most adorable authentic French crêperie. The former stainless steel newspaper stand houses shelves of ingredients, two hot plates and the most cheerful French woman serving up expertly wrapped parcels to a constant crowd. We simply couldn’t resist and indulged in crème de marron crêpes, relishing in the sumptuousness of the traditional sweet chestnut puree that oozed from the thin, spongy layers. Sheer bliss.

We arrived at the exhibition to a stunning collection of more than 120 works from both established and lesser-known Australian artists. Regarded as the art capital of the world during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Paris was a home-away-from-home for top Australian art students. The revolutionary movement of Impressionism changed the face of art and the diversity of life in France, and had a profound impact on these artists’ work. Immersed in a world of colour and texture, it wasn’t until we reached the exit that we realised our tummies were rumbling. Rather than settling for a café in the Square we had one last pit stop to tick off our list… A weekend in Melbourne never feels complete without a visit to Degraves Street.

Fortunately we were only a few hundred metres away. As we turned into the lane from Flinders Street it started to drizzle. Quickly we sought refuge in The Quarter, a bustling, cozy European-inspired café. The friendly waitress greeted us casually, cleared some space along the window and handed us shabby-chic menus. We had the perfect view of Degraves to survey the scene of lunch-goers weaving in and out of each other’s way. We ordered cappuccinos and pulled pork baguettes, with slow-roasted pork shoulder shredded and topped with crunchy slaw finished with a bourbon barbeque sauce. The coffee was surprisingly good and the pork tender and juicy – although a good crunchy pickle wouldn’t have gone astray.

After refuelling we hurried back to the Square to The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) to squeeze in our last cultural experience for the weekend, Hollywood Costume – a collection of 100 film costumes, which provides a glimpse into the art form of design. From the moment we descended the stairs into “The Cube” we felt feel as though we were onset. From the emerald velveteen hoop dress and matching Tyrolese of Scarlet O’Hara, to Edith Head’s gown design for Ginger Rogers in Lady in the Dark – made from mink and encrusted with multi-coloured jewels it is still considered one of the most expensive costumes to have ever been made in Hollywood. We saw the intricacy behind the spangling metallic lycra flared bodysuits from Mamma Mia and the highly-technical Batman suit of rubber and latex, designed by Lindy Hemming for The Dark Knight Rises.

We departed the ACMI for our hotel, en route to the airport, discussing newfound insights on the intricacy of hand stitching pumpkin seeds to a crochet train, or laser cutting fabric to form the illusion of glass beading without the weight… and thinking “Is there any better place for a mother-daughter winter weekend escape than Melbourne?!”

Read more musing by Mimi Hyll, online at Mimi Must Try.

Words by Mimi Hyll - Published 5 August 2013
Quick Facts 
Population Approx 3.73 million
Area 2,254 km2
Time Zone GMT +10
Languages English (official)
Currency Australian dollar (AUD)
Electricity 220 – 240v 50Hz
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