Whims and Wine | Merricks Creek, Mornington Peninsula

The drive is never so long as I think it will be. It always feels as though we’ve barely even shrugged off the city, when the Peninsula Link suddenly slings us out at some glorious stretch of sand or eucalypt or grapevine. 

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I’m still finding my way when it comes to food blogger gifts and invitations. Truth be told I don’t really know where, or even if they fit in with whatever it is I’ve got going on here. I’m hardly flooded with requests but I have been along to some very lovely events and I can’t deny it’s all very nice. Exploring those experiences through photography on Instagram is easy. Writing is the tricky part, and so far I haven’t quite figured out how to incorporate my blog into that. 

So when I was sitting at a table out there on the Mornington Peninsula swirling my wine in its beautiful bubble glass and sinking into the warm touch of afternoon sunshine, and realised – ‘My god, I need to capture this gorgeous moment in words’ – well, it was a welcome feeling. Continue Reading

A Melbourne Cafe Care Package

John (a resident Chicagoan) and I have been exchanging care packages for a few years now. Receiving a big ol’ parcel from the other side of the world that’s brimming with (mostly edible) goodies is very good for the soul, and I highly recommend you find someone with which to take part in such trade. In previous correspondence, I’ve sent the likes of Arnott’s Tim Tams, Mint Slice and Shapes, Milo, Cadbury chocolate and Allen’s lollies. In return – Lucky Charms, Reese’s everything and Ghirardelli Squares abound. The Ghirardelli Squares, especially; I think John has found that these serve as a far more interesting alternative to packing peanuts. I’m very much inclined to support this notion.

This particular care package, however, has been quite a while in the making. For this one, I wanted to get a little more local than the same old ‘Aussie stuff’. I freakin’ love Melbourne, and that’s what I wanted to show off in this parcel. It’s no surprise that the care package very naturally took on a ‘Melbourne cafe’ theme. Cafes are the cogs of this city. An influx of Italian migrants after World War II sparked a passionate, inner-city coffee culture – and coincided rather nicely with the proliferation of the modern-day espresso machine. We’ve been working on a seriously good thing for decades. Heck – we’re one of the few places in the world to give Starbucks the boot.

And so, this little gift is my ode to the Melbourne cafe. John – enjoy! 

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Market Lane | Seasonal Espresso, 250g

Obviously, I had to provide the means for a good cup of Melbourne grade coffee. I’ve been a little infatuated with Market Lane coffee lately; over the past few weeks I’ve found myself sipping at both the Therry St and Prahran Market cafes. The coffee is smooth and delicious. I feel myself in the midst of my first true allegiance to a particular coffee roaster. Their cups brandish a simple philosophy: “We love to make coffee for the city that loves to drink it.” For you, John – I’ve included a bag of Market Lane’s Seasonal Espresso beans (Uh, yeah. You’re gonna need to buy yourself a coffee bean grinder. Merry Christmas!). As I meticulously bubble-wrapped every item in this parcel, the aroma of these beans almost drove me mad. I mean, listen to this – ‘Notes of ripe cherry, orange and chocolate fudge.’ Seriously. 

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 T2 | Melbourne Breakfast, Teabags 25pk

‘A deep and warming tea with a hint of sweetness, reminiscent of Melbourne. Full bodied with a touch of vanilla. An essential tea.’ Yes, Melbourne is a city of coffee drinkers – but we’re pretty damn solid on the tea front too. T2’s Melbourne Breakfast was the obvious choice here. I’m not sure if it’s just my Melbourne bias here, but this is one of my favourite T2 teas (there are over 200!). T2 popped up on Brunswick Street in Melbourne’s Fitzroy back in 1996, and is now a bit of a giant in the boutique tea world. The first U.S. store even opened in New York just a couple of months ago. So whether Melbourne or New York is next on your (extensive) travel list, John, definitely drop in to T2. So much to smell, sip and savour! 

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MörkMörk Original Dark 70%, 250g

This. Really, this is where John’s little Melbourne cafe care package sprouted from. The duo behind Mörk – one part Melbourne specialty coffee scene, one part Swedish chocolatier – combine to create the best powdered hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. The pair take their hot chocolate seriously, using only the finest and purest ingredients: ‘cocoa powder, 100% cacao liquor from Sur del Lago in Venezuela and sweetened only with unrefined coconut blossom sugar’. It’s pretty sensational. Nothing like the sickly sweet stuff that’s usually the norm on cafe menus. My usual Mörk dealers are the lovely folks at Twenty & Six Espresso, though I picked up this sexy cardboard canister at the very cool Melbournalia on Bourke Street. 

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KeepCup | ‘Brew’ Glass Coffee Cup, Medium (12oz/340ml)

With all of these wonderful Melbourne beverages, it seemed pertinent to provide something from which to drink them. KeepCup is a pretty nifty little Melbourne invention, kickstarting a revolution of the reusable coffee cup. For one, they’re stylish; this positive aesthetic has played a huge part in KeepCup’s success and people’s desire to, you know, actually keep using them. And then there’s the design: they’re made to seamlessly fit in with standard volumes at cafes, plus fit right under the brew head of an espresso machine. Barista-friendly! The new ‘Brew’ series with a glass cup design is absolutely gorgeous, and I knew as soon as I saw it that John would be receiving one. I’m so jealous of this KeepCup, in fact, that I’ve decided I must absolutely buy one for myself. 

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Gânache Chocolate | Cafe Latte Pralines

What would a steaming hot cuppa be without a little something to nibble on? I stretched my mind far and wide trying to think of the perfect little sweet treat to include in this parcel – when suddenly it came to me. I’d seen these beautiful Gânache pralines photographed on blogger Iron Chef Shellie‘s Instagram account months back. What could be more perfect than handmade chocolates (cafe latte flavour, no less!) stamped with our iconic W-Class trams? 

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Make Me Iconic | Iconic Mini Tram

And lastly, a little extra dose of the W-Class tram for good measure. It’s the most Melbourne way to get to all of those excellent Melbourne cafes, after all.

I’ve received word that this care package made it safely to its destination on Christmas Eve. May these tasty tidbits from Melbourne keep you warm this Chicago winter, John! Those who follow me on Instagram will know that John, the scoundrel that he is, has already gone and one-upped me in the parcel exchange. Guess it’s time to start plotting again!

Bowery to Williamsburg

I’m definitely guilty of sticking to my favourite inner ‘burbs when it comes to cafes and restaurants. As time wears on, however, and friends begin to disperse further across the city and beyond – there’s just no denying that the CBD is usually the most convenient place to meet and enjoy a meal together. So, I’ve recently begun to make a more determined effort in exploring the eateries of Melbourne’s CBD. I’ve found it takes a little planning ahead and often a lot of patience, but the CBD is coming up with some seriously excellent goods. Bowery to Williamsburg is one such discovery (a ‘discovery’ in a strictly personal fashion; this place has been buzzing along the gastronomical grapevine for months!)

Bowery to Williamsburg is hidden away on cobbled Oliver Lane just off Flinders Street, and is inspired by the great city of New York. I first visited for breakfast with foodie friend Hannah – and liked it so much I returned the very next day with another friend! The atmosphere is cool and casual, and the New York deli-style theme is fun and delicious without treading anywhere near novelty. Jewish influence abounds in menu items like Lox Latkes, Shakshouka Eggs, Challah French Toast and 5 & Dime Bagels. The range of sandwich creations available for lunch are also a great option for gluten-free diners – at a $1 supplement, my friend Suze (second visit!) was thrilled to report it was some of the best gluten-free bread she’d had.

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The hot beverages arrive in crumpled ceramic mugs and a little American chocolate treat to accompany  – Hannah and I each received a Hershey’s Kiss with our chai lattes. I’ll admit it was the Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate I ordered on my second visit, however, that stole my heart. It has just a perfect hint of peanut buttery flavour midst dark chocolate and comes with a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup to boot. Yum!

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Bowery to Williamsburg offer a generous selection of sweet breakfasts – something Hannah and I were very excited to find! With rotating breakfast specials every weekend, we also had the extra sweet options of Challah French toast with rosewater, mint, fresh strawberries and housemade vanilla labne, and Malted milk waffle with bourbon glazed banana and vanilla ice-cream. We ended up going with the cereals on menu though – Hannah had the granola with rhubarb, raspberries and vanilla labne whilst I had the steel cut oatmeal with blueberries and pecan praline ($12 each). These dishes are served in gorgeous enamel saucepans with little jars of milk, which I couldn’t help but love. The blueberries and pecan praline gave my deliciously creamy oatmeal a simple, lovely taste and I was scraping the bottom of my bowl in minutes.

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My second visit called for lunch. Bowery to Williamsburg’s sandwiches are truly NYC – with options like the classic ‘Reuben’ (corned beef brisket with sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese), Pastrami, and Pickled herring (all sandwiches $12.50). Delicious-looking sides like mac and cheese, potato salad and pomegranate tabbouleh (all with served with pretzels and a pickle!) serve as tasty little add-ons for $4. I’m a sucker for anything with haloumi – so had the breaded eggplant with haloumi, roasted peppers and preserved lemon hummus, which is served on pita bread. The sandwiches are seriously a hit – we had a funny little shared moment with the group sitting next to us consisting mostly of repeated “Wow!”s and “Who knew sandwiches could be so good?!”

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So yes, Bowery to Williamsburg is a big win in my CBD exploration. With an excellent location near Flinders Street Station plus tasty, interesting and varied menu options and a bright, casual atmosphere – this place definitely ticks the box for future friendly catch-ups. Plus, I need to return and try some of the American-style cakes and sweets – there’s a piece of S’mores slice waiting with my name on it!

Bowery to Williamsburg | 16 Oliver Lane, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Open | Mon – Fri : 7.30am – 3:00pm, Sat – Sun : 8.30am – 3:00pm
No bookings. Cash only.

Bowery to Williamsburg on Urbanspoon

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