Published on 24 January 2020
My first defining food moment in Melbourne was when I returned home from living overseas at the age of five. Dad was in the air force and we’d been living in Penang, but back in Melbourne I went to live with my Italian grandmother who is the best cook in the world, full stop. She taught me about eating good food, cooking with love and using fresh produce from the garden. Most of the food we ate was grown by my grandfather and everything was simple, fresh and delicious.
I know I’m in Melbourne when I struggle to choose where to eat, and I can smell coffee in the air.
The best new thing I’ve found is Korean barbecue. Meat cooked over charcoal with some kimchi pancake and soju on the side makes for a great night out with family or friends. My favourite spot is Yeonga BBQ in North Melbourne. Pro tip: don’t wear your best clothes because by the end of the night they’ll smell like a barbecue.
When I want to go crazy on a meal, I over-order. I can’t help wanting to try everything on the menu. My kids just roll their eyes when dad is doing the ordering.
There’s no better value in Melbourne than the $7 chicken, mayo and salad sandwich at the local milk bar – on white bread of course.
And when I want to dazzle friends from out of town, I like to treat them to dinner at home. One of my favourite things in the world is to feed my friends and show off some of Victoria’s wonderful local produce (and wine) as well as my barbecue and spit-roasting skills. Right now I’m loving roasting whole chicken on the spit, with my famous bacon and thyme stuffing, plenty of garlic butter under the skin and fresh sourdough bread on the side.
In the mornings you’ll find me walking my dogs in my local park. It’s my time to get my daily exercise in, get the brain working and admire the best city in the world.
If you looked in my fridge, you might be surprised to find not much at all. I have three teenage boys that can eat half their body weight every hour so nothing lasts for very long. We try and keep them fed on lots of healthy fruit and vegetables, and, of course, a small amount of good-quality meat from our local butcher.
My secret for mouth-watering suckling pig is patience and the right temperature. To create that crispy skin that’s like thin shards of pork-flavoured caramel, we make sure the cooking temperature is correct, and rest the pig before we cut and serve it. To find out the rest of my secrets and taste this delicious pork for yourself, you’ll just have to (hint, hint) come along to the Suckling Pig Feast this March.
My favourite place to buy meat in Melbourne is the abattoir! I deal direct with the farmers and the slaughterhouse to source our meat. I also speak slaughterman fluently; it’s a very colourful language and not for the faint-hearted. But if I’m buying something to cook at home, I drop into North Carlton Quality Meats.
The key to a rip-roaring feast is having great people join you. My friends love food, wine and fun, and we serve all three in abundance with much laughter.
The last awesome Victorian thing I drank was Crittenden Estate’s 2017 Cri de Coeur pinot noir. It never disappoints and, of course, it’s cheaper by the dozen (and we always manage to get through a case).
My local is Mitte café in Fitzroy North because it serves great food and coffee and it’s just a hop, skip and jump away from my front door.
If I could change one thing about eating and drinking here it would be better weather so that we could eat outdoors more often (Bris-vegas style).
But the one thing I hope never changes in Melbourne is our love for food and drink, the wonderful parks and the great coffee.
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