How I Melbourne: Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Photo: Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Julia Busuttil Nishimura is a cook, author and teacher. She writes for the likes of Country Style, ABC Life and Delicious, and her cookbook debut, Ostro, was listed as one of the best food books for 2017 by Gourmet Traveller magazine. When we asked her about her Melbourne, she talked about splurging on lunch at Cutler & Co when she was a student, the beauty of a simple breakfast and her first stop on the way home from the airport.

I know I'm in Melbourne when I'm lining up for a Lune croissant in the back-streets of Fitzroy.

My first defining food moment in Melbourne was lunch at Cutler and Co. I was a 21-year-old uni student and had saved up all of my money from my part-time job. It was incredible. I really remember the service, attention to detail and care for each diner. That really stuck with me.

The best new thing I’ve found is the creamed corn at Embla. Not that new, I know, but I had it for the first time the other week. Eaten with their roast chicken, it’s basically my dream meal.

When I want to push the boat out on a meal, I’d go to Brae, really splurge and stay the night.

There’s no better value in Melbourne than a haloumi pie from A1 Bakery. For a few dollars you get the most perfect half-moon-shaped pie filled with piping-hot, oozing haloumi in soft, bready pastry. They taste even better on the way back from the airport after a red-eye flight – straight from the wood-fired oven into a paper bag.

And when I want to dazzle friends from out of town, I like to take them to Carlton Wine Room. It has that unpretentious neighbourhood feel that I love and really very good food – simple as that.

In the mornings you’ll find me at Wild Life Bakery in East Brunswick. Market Lane coffee, great bread and really lovely staff. I’ll usually write there for a while till it’s time to have one of their sandwiches.

My local is Good Days in Brunswick for a reliable easy dinner with the family. They have a very small menu and I always order the same thing: the vermicelli noodle salad with pork-and-prawn spring rolls. (The rice-paper rolls with mushrooms and tofu usually get a look-in, too.)

If I could change one thing about eating and drinking here, it would be the overcomplicated cafe breakfasts. Give me the simplicity of Marion, Cumulus Inc and Napier Quarter any day; they’re my breakfast go-tos.

But the one thing I hope never changes in Melbourne is the preference for local, independent and specialised food shops, restaurants and markets. I cried when my favourite greengrocer shut down – these businesses are a huge part of what makes Melbourne such a great city to live in.

Follow Julia on Instagram at @juliaostro, or visit her site, julia-ostro.com, for recipes, cooking classes and more.