A couple of days ago, we were chatting about food and drink that we used to like in the U.K. but can’t find over here. One of the things Sara said she misses most is Marks & Spencer’s food hall, especially their coleslaw. 🙁
I suggested going to a department store in the city called David Jones, which I’ve read about and sounds like the nearest thing to M&S. So she checked it out on the internet and agreed it looked promising. So on Friday, having had a really busy week with job applications and interviews, we decided to take a trip into the city just for fun.
We drove into the city without the aid of TomTom — I even discovered a short-cut to get around the usual traffic jams in Burwood — and found $5 all-day parking in the fabulous Crown Casino complex on the south bank of the Yarra River. It’s a huge place, easily rivalling the big Las Vegas casinos and, even if you don’t like gambling, there’s tons of other stuff going on. You could easily get lost inside; we did. :-s
We then headed over to the David Jones store on Bourke Street, about ten minutes walk from the Crown. Having been to the city half a dozen times now, it’s really nice when you start to get your bearings and know the names of a few streets. It helps that Melbourne’s centre is laid out in a regular grid pattern.
We went downstairs to the food hall where we came across none other than Gordon Ramsay, who had just completed a cooking demonstration and was now signing copies of his new book. Unfortunately we didn’t buy one (we’re unemployed, remember) but we took a couple of snaps for the blog. He seemed much shorter and stockier than he does on telly and looked a bit rough, probably jetlag. Had I known he would be there, I might’ve asked him to sign a printout of the Omelette recipe. 😉
Anyway, he soon disappeared and the staff began dismantling his stall and replacing it with another celebrity chef’s merchandise and temporary kitchen. It looks like they do these book signing/demonstration events all the time, so we’ll have to keep an eye on the website in future.
The food hall itself is absolutely sensational. All sorts of smells hit you as you walk around, making you want to buy everything. It’s a bit like a cross between the cafes in Selfridges or Harvey Nichols, combined with a M&S food hall. There are lots of separate little deli counters where you can buy meats, cheeses, breads, seafood, coffee, cakes and chocolates. There are also half a dozen circular eating areas, with tall bar stools around an open kitchen area, catering for whatever you want: pasta, seafood, salad, pizza, chinese, thai or even a roast beef dinner. It all looks wonderful, but sadly it’s beyond our budget for the time being. =p~
We browsed around the international grocery shelves and found all sorts of different and familiar things. Top finds included McVities Chocolate Digestives and Thorntons Chocolates. We’ll definitely be coming back here when we’re earning. :@)
Whilst we were in the area and inspired by seeing Ramsay, we decided to take a wander over to Jamie Oliver’s new “Fifteen” restaurant that recently opened somewhere on Collins Street. We walked the entire length of Collins street in both directions — a good couple of hours walk — but didn’t spot it. (It turns out that it’s inside one of the many malls, just off Collins Street.) I was also keeping an eye out for the Charles Dickens Tavern, highly recommended for watching football, but didn’t realise it would be a basement pub so we missed that too. #-o
Before heading back to the car, we jumped on one of the old-fashioned City Circle tourist trams and did a complete circuit of Melbourne, taking in some of the famous landmarks as we trundled around the edge of the city centre. It’s a fantastic service, running every 12 minutes during the day, really handy for getting around the city because you can hop on and off as often as you like. Best of all, it’s completely free. :d