Wandering the diverse architecture of Melbourne is thirst inducing. I suggest punctuating your tour with regular coffee breaks. One thing you should know before you embark though, this city is serious about coffee.
I was drawn into the Social Roasting Company by the aroma of good coffee. It's a funky yet comfy space, filled with people who not only love the bean, they also know a lot about it! Believe me when I tell you, every single person in the space was talking about coffee... down to what side of the hill in Papua New Guinea it was grown on, and whether it was shady or not. Besides good karma from drinking Australia's first not-for-profit roasted coffee made by gun baristas, you can also drink a wickedly good bottle of Tasmanian Spreyton Fresh Apple Juice.
Social Roasting Company
5 Mckillop Street, Melbourne
Ph: (03) 9600 2577
If you survive that, wander a few more blocks more (making sure to detour down Union Lane for the excellent street-art) and you'll find yourself at Sensory Lab. Now if you thought the last place took their coffee seriously, here you're breaking the Ten Commandments to ask for sugar - so don't even contemplate milk!
You can have your expensive cup of coffee from whatever god-forsaken corner of the planet you like, made by syphon or slayer. I chose Columbian ($8) and the Rolls Royce Panamanian ($10). Imagine coffee brewed like tea and you'll get close to what it tastes like... Frankly whilst I live to look as serious about coffee as this man, when push comes to shove, I like milk, and some of the sweet stuff - so sue me!
David Jones, 297 Little Collins St reet, Melbourne
Ph: (03) 9643 2222
With a few hours to kill until I was hungry again, I explored the city streets, ending up in Federation Square.
The Atrium is set on the banks of the Yarra River. It's a Beijing Water Cube styled building houses some great emerging artists in a spot called the No Vacancy Project Space. You can watch them work, and check out their inspiration boards while you're at it!
The cube itself is also worth wandering - the NGV Shop has excellent design books, and the internal architecture is also interesting.
Directly across the road is another street art lane-way, Hosier Lane that's well worth a look! You'll find stencil art, and if you keep your eyes peeled upwards, some pithy signage.
Of course there's also some excellent spray paint work to be seen.
It takes up pretty much every available inch of wall...
...and when they ran out of walls, they chalked the pavement and sprayed the rubbish receptacles too! Now if you have keen eyes, you've probably also spotted the OTHER reason I was so excited by this particular lane-way.
Yes, it's also the home to MoVida Bar de Tapas Y Vino & sibling MoVida Next Door. In foodie circles, this place is so well known and well reviewed, I probably don't need to say any more about it...
...except that I loved it from the first slurp of Mount Zero Olive Oil to the last swallow of my stellar 2010 Bindi 'Composition' Pinot Noir ($21/glass). My highlights were the Cantabrian artisan anchovies on the Anchoa ($4.50/each), the silky Croqueta ($4.00/each)...
...and the fat char-grilled octopus and chickpeas with house-made chorizo called Pulpo ($18.00). It's pictured here with the Pollo Escabache Al Miguel ($4.50/each) and the Remolacha ($11.50) of soused beetroot and buffalo milk curd.
MoVida Bar de Tapas Y Vino
1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne
Ph: (03) 9663 3038
To soothe down a meal of such intense flavours, there's a necessity to walk; and what better reason to walk than for some retail therapy? Be sure to check out shoe store Sole Devotion, the only store in Australia stocking the uber-cool John Fluevog shoes. My eye was also caught by designer Claude Maus in a store entangled in rope by Sarah Parkes (who also did Avido Restaurant in Sydney which I visit HERE).
If you can find any space (which sadly I couldn't) I absolutely drooled over the amazing cakes and pastries in the window of the Hopetoun Tea Rooms located in the Block Arcade between Collins and Little Collins Streets.