You were there as I grew up, surrounding me, helping define who I was. And yet, due to the practicalities of the world, I had to leave you and move to Canberra.
As I go back, as I revisit you, the town of my youth, with your old memories and new wonders, one thing becomes very clear to me:
I love you, Melbourne.
So much of this love comes from my interest in food, and may be strengthened by comparisons with my current home, but it doesn’t change the fact.
I love your variety, the way that each day I can eat food from a different part of the world, and that so much of it is exceptional. From stylish, classic French fare one day to blaring hot Chinese food the next. Spanish, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, Vietnamese, and more, all of exceptional quality and at every price point, can be found spread through your streets.
I love your intimacy. It can be shown in the way you keep your secrets hidden to all but those who seek them, making those of us who find these great bars and restaurants feel special. Or it can be shown how closeness you can get to greatness, having internationally renowned chefs standing two meters away, demonstrating the care they have for their food and customers.
I love that you are the type of city where passionate, talented people are willing to share their insanity with the world, as with Ian Burch and Darren Purchese whose brand new Sweet Studio is like walking in to their crazed minds. Any shop where, on entering, you’re handed a liquid nitrogen cooked banana meringue, which makes smoke come out your nose like a dragon, is a place worth experiencing. Not to mention, the cakes are amazing. The difference that pink peppercorn makes to a strawberry mouse and champagne jelly cannot be understated.
I love that you understand the simple things. Coffee, as delivered by the masters at third-generation cafes like Market Lane Coffee or Dead Man Espresso, takes on another level, and adds to the experience of your streets. You show how the most basic of meals, the sandwich, can become a masterpiece. Whether the Bocadillo de calamares from MoVida Aqui, or any of the options from the kitchen at EARL Canteen, you deliver me world-class sandwiches. EARL’s slow cooked pork belly baguette is a revelation of a rich, crunchy lunch.
I love your food, your drinks, your atmosphere, your parks. Even your much maligned weather. I love that I can walk down streets where beautiful people in stylish clothes mingling with the deluded and trashy, and despite not fitting in either group I don’t feel out of place. I love it all, and will continue to find more things to love every time I return to you.
Maybe I haven’t seen enough of the world, and of course I am biased by the fact that my family and friends live there, but Melbourne, you are an amazing city.
But now, I am with Canberra. And I know that Stephen Stills says to love the one you’re with, but sorry Canberra, I just can’t. I do like you, and you are slowly growing on me, but you will never replace my old hometown. As I stroll down the windswept Canberra streets, I will be thinking of your boulevards and back alleys. Canberra is where I live, Melbourne is where I love.
One day I hope to be reunited with you, but until then, I look forward to our next meeting.
With a yearning heart,
PS: Canberra people, I still love writing for you. That won’t stop. I’m here for a while yet.