The host of ABC Classic’s Classic Breakfast, Dr Megan Burslem is a violist, educator and researcher who is a leader in the conversation about music in the contemporary landscape. A self-proclaimed sucker for learning, she holds a Bachelor of Music (hons.), Bachelor of Arts, Master of Music (Performance), Master of Teaching (Secondary) and a Ph.D in musicology and ethnomusicology. Megan is a trained teacher of music and humanities and lecturer in musicology, and is passionate about music education, especially within rural communities (herself a proud kid from Lakes Entrance).
When she isn’t on air and having a laugh (usually at her own expense), Megan is probably getting her hands grubby in the garden, riding the backroads of Melbourne or indulging in her favourite hobby: 90s action movies. Here’s how she likes to eat and drink in the city.
My local is Barton. A great little half-house/half-milk bar/half-Parisian street cafe that has a wall of decorative plates. It’s also got great wood panelling and delicious food to match that snuggly vibe. Needless to say, their coffee is amazing.
I know I’m in Melbourne when I’m sitting in a converted milk bar, sipping on my soy latte, contemplating the book I will never write (It’s a cold and overcast day of course, and I’m probably wearing a puffer jacket. We all have one, c’mon.)
In the mornings you’ll find me wrestling with the hot water tap on the fourth floor of the ABC building in Southbank, one eye on the clock and one eye on my coffee percolator. It’s early and I’m hungry, not only for my morning muesli, but for the music I’m about to play you.
My defining food moment in Melbourne was thinking that I’d never find the perfect lime thickshake à la ‘the country’ until I stumbled across Danny’s Burgers in Fitzroy North. I ate my words about the country/city thickshake divide. They even had malt. Yes, malt.
My favourite places to stock up on supplies are… The Staple Store. This place is magic, as is the powerhouse behind it, Catie Gett. The Staple Store has thoughtfully supplied food, supplied with oodles of love. Then, Stocked. Because they make it for me; salads, cheeses, cakes and I die for their dolmades. I also love a good bit of Gleadell Street market in Richmond on a Saturday morning. “I’m just off to see the bread man,” are usually my first words on a weekend.
The best new thing I’ve found is… the fabulous Alice Zaslavsky recently introduced me to ube halaya gelato at Kariton Sorbetes, and I am obsessed. IT’S SO PURPLE AND SO DELICIOUS! I’m not so obsessed with the queue because I’m impatient to get to the good stuff in life, but it’s worth it.
I go mad for the bagels and poppyseed roll at Haymisha bakery in Balaclava. The smell of this place! Stick a fork in me, it’s what I imagine heaven smells like.
When I want to dazzle friends from out of town, I like to serve a big pot of home-cooked mussels with crusty bread, and then out for a cocktail at Music Room. Sexy.
When I want to drink something Victorian, my first choice is anything from East Gippsland. It was 1992 when our family moved to Lakes Entrance, so it’s been a beautiful thing to watch the local food and wine scene flourish over the decades. I won’t have anything but Gippsland Jersey in my lime thickshakes (see above) and I’ll sink a Lightfoot & Sons rosé with the best of them.
There’s no better value in Melbourne than a giant bowl of pho on Victoria Street. I’m a firm believer that pho cures everything from head colds to heartbreaks.
My favourite use of classical music in an action movie is… gosh, there are so many moments to choose from, but I have to go back to the gut-wrenching scene in Platoon paired with Samual Barber’s Adagio for Strings. This is such a moment of desperation, hope, grief and anxiety and the scene is made eternally memorable by this music. Far out. I’m crying even thinking about it.
If I could change one thing about eating and drinking here it would be music curation. We put a lot of effort and love and care into our food and wine in Melbourne. Dining experiences are carefully curated in wonderfully diverse ways around our city, but when it comes to the aural experience of restaurants and cafes, I am usually left disappointed. It’s mostly pop and rock playlists on repeat, or moody cafe beats that are cool AF, but mostly personality-less. We have a long way to go in Australia with embracing music (hellooooo classical) that takes us on a sensory journey. Just like that perfect drop that is chosen for your tastebuds, music unlocks memory and emotion and gives you the ability to explore sensations in a unique way. So, let’s ditch the generic Spotify pop playlists, and go for something that speaks to your soul.
But the one thing I hope never changes in Melbourne is the original milk bars in the ‘burbs. I love a milk bar cafe conversion, but walking into a milk bar that is unchanged from the 80s is pure joy. “Can I please have 20 cents’ worth of milk bottles and a Bertie Beetle?”