Owns 'FoodLit'. Highly qualified, established food & lifestyle writer, former restaurateur, founder professional writing business, Articul8. Long, diverse writing history, passion for food culture, the land & inspired food language.www.foodlit.com.au
After having had the pleasure of accompanying the food-wise and hospitable Allan Campion, also known as The Melbourne Foodie, and his lovely co-host Carmel on a tantalising trek around town, I remain enamoured with our wonderful city, its fascinating food history, and the seemingly endless array of fabulous food offerings from around the globe.
And if anyone knows where to find them, it's the highly-esteemed and personable Allan Campion, Melbourne-based chef (with extensive overseas experience), food writer and food tour operator. Allan is a walking (literally in this case) encyclopedia on all things food (fine food only, of course) in and around town.
He, together with Michelle Curtis, established the successful and ongoing Foodies' Diary in 1995, with the subsequent annual Foodies' Guide to Melbourne also a successful must-have that provides valuable, delectable insight into the city's very best food stores.
Myself, eight or so fellow foodies (including four from interstate), Allan & Carmel met in town on a sunny Saturday morning, well-anticipating the next four hours of exploring Melbourne's latest foodie hot spots including restaurants, the best food stores and culinary icons, and some of the top treats around town.
A seriously good coffee and Argentinean pastries featuring sticky, caramelly dolce de leite at the exciting San Telmo Argentinean bar and restaurant - complete with impressive Argentinean parilla (or charcoal BBQ), and great artifacts and stories from South America - got the morning off to a stimulating and sensory start.
Not in any particular order, as who can remember so many sensational food experiences packed into four hours? Here are some of the other places we visited:
Ganache Chocolate for some extraordinary individual pralines made by master chocolatier, Arno Backes.
Cacao, in the beautiful GPO Building, for more chocolate treats .
International Diethies Cakes, in Lonsdale Street's Greek precinct, for some traditional Greek pastries.
And, something to be remembered and savoured for its short shortcrust pastry and hot, light custardy filling, Chinese egg tarts (pictured top right) from Maxims' Bakery at 173 Little Bourke Street - well worth a special visit and waiting around for the next tray of hot tarts to be pulled from the oven.
Interspersed amidst the sweet treats - and fascinating anecdotes about Melbourne's food scene both now and in its early history - were a number of excellent savoury delights, including crisp, flavourful samosas from Ceylon Curry Corner, delectable roast duck, with glistening, crispy skin, from City BBQ, and some beautiful bread and savoury tart from the newly-opened Phillippa's Bakery and provision store in Howey Place.
Allan and Carmel, obviously committed to the love of fine food in and around town and at home, pointed out many of the city's iconic food establishments along the way, including: Grossi Florentino and famous Italian coffee and pasta haunt Pellegrini's; The Flower
Drum and HuTong Dumpling Bar; MoVida for the best Spanish; the highly-rated Press Club for great Greek, and more.
We finished with a (thankfully) light lunch and glass of wine at the highly-reputed, warm and welcoming eating house and bar, Cumulus Inc.
It consisted of Peppers de Pedron, Fried Mussels on Toast with Curried Sweetcorn, and Wagyu Bresaola with Parmesan Cream and Fried Onion - beautifully presented and knowledgeably served in a bright space with open kitchen for connecting more closely to the fine food you're about to enjoy - or maybe a chat with the chef who's preparing it.
Sister Eatery: Huge Spanish flavours, but lighter on the budget
It was a superb finish to a superb day - a must for anyone with an appreciation and respect for food sourced, prepared and served with passion, ethics and the high standards that make Melbourne one of the dining capitals of the world.
While the public Summer Foodies' Walking Tour of Melbourne runs on the third Saturday of the month through to March, Allan offers a range of other tours, including private, corporate and school group tours.
He also established and oversees Melbourne Cooking Classes, with the sheer array of culinary experiences on offer here getting my tastebuds a-tingle.
I've been fortunate enough to experience Allan's Foodies' Bus Tour - a total treat with plenty of tasty stops, engaging experiences, and food stories along the way.
A benefit I found on the walking tour though is that the kilometres I covered made it easier to justify the calories I consumed - although the inspiring cultural experience nicely complemented with inspiring Melbourne food is really all the justification I needed.