Published on 10 March 2021
Stevenson has just embarked on a new adventure, hosting the brand-new program Relish on 3MP radio here in Melbourne, a show dedicated to celebrating the things we ... relish, namely great food, delicious drinks and adventurous travel.
In the mornings you’ll find me at The Kiosk at the end of Williamstown beach, drinking coffee and watching other people's dogs. I foster greyhounds but still don't own a dog, so I get immense pleasure out of watching everyone else make the most of a sunny morning with their four-legged friends.
My local is Pizza D'Asporto, known to us as "car park pizza" because it's housed in the Woolies carpark in Williamstown North. It's an absolute hidden gem, family-run, superb pizza made with DOC-certified ingredients, Italian wine in tumblers and good old fashioned friendly service.
My defining food moment in Victoria was my first visit to Aaron Turner’s Loam on the Bellarine Peninsula. I'd eaten at plenty of acclaimed restaurants before that meal, but at Loam so much just clicked. The essence of hospitality, such a creative seasonal approach to dining, humility and passion, and a real ownership of the whole experience from the entire team - from the kitchen to front of house. It was lovely to be a part of their world - and get a tremendous feed in the process.
I know I’m in Melbourne when I can't decide which cuisine to eat because there are too many to decide from. Imagine, within eight minutes’ walk of my home I can choose from Greek (three of them to be precise), Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican, Chinese, Croatian, Spanish, Dutch (yes, a stroopwafel joint!), just to name a few off the top of my head. We are burdened by choice, but what a marvellous burden to bear!
The best new thing I’ve found is whisky! No, whisky is not new, but I’m new to it. What took me so long? I'm loving the stuff, but also loving all the places that will assist me to imbibe it. Top points to the staff at Whisky and Alement who took me through a thorough tasting so I could work out the styles I like best, and head out to invest in them.
When I want to push the boat out on a meal, I will likely now head to Gimlet. I was lucky enough to get in when it first opened and what an opulent, inviting space to be in. Of course, Andrew McConnell will never do things by halves, but the combination here of feeling transported to another time, being dazzled by unparalleled service, sipping some of the city's best cocktails and then enjoying his classic fare. It's such a rounded, indulgent experience.
When I want to dazzle friends from out of town, I like to show off the CBD, but then take them to regional Victoria. We are so blessed in this state to have such a thriving hospitality scene outside of Melbourne. From Igni to Du Fermier, Sardine to Brae, Provenance to Pt Leo Estate, it's so easy to blow visitors away with the scenery, and the grub!
There’s no better value in Melbourne than most of Footscray. From sublime sandwiches at Roman's Original, great value Vietnamese, Ethiopian curries, brisket sandwiches at Up in Smoke, or fabulous foldable pizza at Slice Shop, it must be hard for locals to cook at home when there's such an abundance of great food on offer.
My favourite place to stock up on supplies is Second Avenue Grocer in Altona North. It's a wonderland. The first thing you do when you walk in is take a ticket for the deli, because there's always a queue, but with up to nine ladies working behind the glass it doesn't take long to get your order in. Then it's a visit to the cheese DJ, usually John or Ante spinning the wheels of brie and handing out samples of their stinkiest stuff. Then it's wander the aisles for artisan pasta, tinned fish, fresh fruit and veg, pickled veg and all the other things you don't need, but will still buy.
If I could change one thing about eating and drinking here it would be…Honestly? Tables that are too small for the amount of food I tend to order. Or at least, the delivery of too many dishes at once, so they don't actually fit on the tables and you have the unenviable task of prioritising which would taste worst cold. Or I could just order less. Nah.
But the one thing I hope never changes in Melbourne is the way we embrace the new, but revere the old, the way so many tried to wrap their arms around the industry when things got so tough in the last year, the way we appreciate fine food, cheap food, creative drinks, classic drinks, concise menus and set menus, the way we're so open to whatever the food and wine world is innovative and industrious enough to offer us.
Catch Kate Stevenson hosting Relish every Saturday at 8am on Easy Music 3MP (listen on DAB+ or 1377 AM, iHeartRadio App, Radio App, through your Google or Alexa smart speaker or at 3MP.com.au), and on Instagram at @ela_carte.
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