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Mar 19 2013

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Melbourne – setting trends for city living

Interesting buildingsWhen I go travelling it’s normally off the beaten track, somewhere in the great Australian outback. This time I’m in Melbourne, and it’s a revelation.

Like all Sydneysiders I know Melbourne isn’t as good as people who live there think it is. It’s cold and grey, rains all the time, and it’s boring.

So why am I here? Well you might ask that. I’m here for the Grand Prix and because I have a good friend who lives in Melbourne.

And I’ve had a great four days.

Last time I was in Melbourne was for the Melbourne Cup (sorry – due to an oversight I didn’t blog it), and before that it was … I can’t remember.  Obviously, I don’t know if or how Melbourne has changed, so maybe it’s me that’s changed – I really liked Melbourne.

Even bridges become public artMaybe it’s because I’m not a real Sydneysider anymore, having moved to the provinces with Doc a couple of years ago. And once you move out, then you see everything with new eyes – even if you move back to the place. I have been noticing more and more lately how Melbourne seems to be having better weather than Sydney, not something that I’d ever have admitted before.

It also has great cafes (I haven’t found a bad coffee yet), shopping, markets and most of the major sporting events in Australia.  Maybe a reason I noticed that more people attend sporting events down here is because I’m a Waratahs fan (sob), and we’ve got to the point where we can’t bear to go and watch them play. It’s just too frustrating and disappointing!

But back to Melbourne

One of the things that’s most noticeable is that Melbourne does an outdoor lifestyle much better than Sydney. As well as the sporting events, everywhere I look there are tables on footpaths – outside cafes, restaurants, even pubs. There are rooftop gardens, with more cafes, restaurants and bars . And of course, gardens and public art. Even the street furniture and bridges are turned into art.

Drinks at a bar in the middle of the YarraMelbourne is setting trends in city living. Even the Lord Mayor of Sydney recognizes this and is trying to make Sydney more like Melbourne, which might be a good thing. While I was there I had a dinner in the roof garden of a pub. Great food, great wine selection, great garden and great company. I also had coffee in a laneway café in the city, a drink at a bar in the middle of the Yarra River, and fabulous food at home (did I mention my friend’s a great cook?).

So what’s happening in Melbourne that will be an emerging trend in the rest of Australia? Remember you heard it here first:

  • LanewaysWine in tumblers. We went to one of Melbourne’s trendiest bars and it served wine in tumblers. And not cask wine either.
  • Salt. As somebody who doesn’t add salt to anything (except chips), I really notice when people cook with a lot of salt. But this isn’t just a cooking with salt trend, we ordered an antipasto plate at a trendy café which had salt sprinkled over it.
  • Sun dried tomatoes. These were big in the 80s and 90s, and have come full circle again. It’s not really a new trend, but one worth noting. Everywhere I go sun dried tomatoes are ubiquitous. And that’s ok in winter, or in the outback where you can’t always get fresh fruit & veges, but in the city in the height of tomato season, when there’s a fabulous farmers market just down the street, there’s no excuse. Use fresh tomatoes.
  • Roof gardens. This is my favourite – pubs, blocks of flats, office buildings, lots of places in Melbourne have roof gardens. And not just for show, these are used. We had a great dinner at a standard local pub in Melbourne. I really hope it catches on!

So there it is – my predictions for the future, and my vote for the Melbourne-Sydney rivalry.

 

Melbourne

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