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Byron Shire
December 9, 2021

Festivals of food in Melbourne and Byron

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fruit tart berriesHaving attended Melbourne’s Food and Wine Festival last weekend, I was reminded of a time long ago when Byron used to close off Lawson Street and participating restaurants would attempt to showcase their dishes in the trying conditions of a market tent.

I remember going up to one bloke who looked a bit unpopular and trying his warm mushroom mousse. He said his name was Neil Perry; my blank look must have confirmed to him that he was in a regional backwater. Even my encouraging comment that his dish was the best I had tasted that day seemed to leave him slightly miffed!

So I didn’t bother popping in to Melbourne’s Rockpool to give Neil any further encouragement, confining my enjoyment to Il Beccaro (excellent, Italian), Coda (very good) and Cumulus Inc (only someone from the country visiting without their young children could relish, as we did, the experience of queuing for 20 minutes for the privilege of just eating breakfast).

dumplingsCouncil has plans to renew Byron’s laneways, and Melbourne is famous for laneway renewal. Did I learn anything? A surprising number of people are prepared to stand in Melbourne lanes just looking at the graffiti (art) and none appeared to be urinating. That has to be an improvement.

Restaurants like Coda are situated down lanes with ancient industrial use, with cobbles difficult to negotiate in high heels, but no lanes seemed to have actual rubbish skips opposite outdoor dining like those in our Bay Lane.

I also noticed a surprising number of city people seemed to drink wine at 10.30 in the morning with their breakfast, a habit that may catch on up here. Also, people seemed quite happy to eat breakfast on a footpath from a table constructed just of plastic milk crates, sitting on a crate; a very economical way to achieve footpath dining ambience.

On a different topic, apparently sea cucumbers are under threat because they are being overfished for consumption in the Asian luxury seafood market. Anyone who has eaten sea cucumber may find it hard to credit there’s a continuing demand for this ‘food’. They are under greatest risk of extinction in regions with poor economies and high human populations, yet those species found on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are also emerging as under threat, according to a new study led by Southern Cross’s Steve Purcell.


Recent stories tagged Food & Wine:

Basiloco, from Italy with love

Photos and story: Caz Parker On the Italian island of Sardinia villagers are ten times more likely to reach the age of 100 than are people born elsewhere in the world. Longevity experts believe Sardinians’ longer lives are owed to...


Au revoir La Table

After six-and-a-half years of fabulous menus and a steady and generous culinary contribution to our region, La Table Cafe and Restaurant is coming to the end in its present form – the Mullumbimby premises.


Educating the palate; feeding the imagination

Eating a nicely prepared, cooked and served meal out, these days, is as easy as filling your car with petrol.


Rising to market

What’s in a name? In some cases people sit for hours stabbing in the dark, grabbing at suggestions and generally trying to inject some meaning into a business name. Other times, you just hear the name, you see the product and you say to yourself Yes!


Making a crust

I can attest to the almost inhuman hours bakers keep while toiling for this very basic human dietary need – bread.


A northerly aspect

You’d need a couple of lifetimes to get to the end of the good things happening on the north coast.


Cafe culture by night

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote up the Aquarius cafe, bar and restaurant in Lawson Street in Byron Bay.


Managing to feed the soul

We humans are sentient beings and when it comes to sitting in someone else’s space, I know I get the jitters if the overall atmosphere is unfriendly, stiff or uncomfortable.


Bonne Santé

Santé is now open at 10am, seven days per week, for a brunch with a twist. Here, they have a rep’ for a delicate pizza crust (among other culinary choices), and using that reputation, they’ve created a brekkie hybrid that’s being introduced on the brunch menu.


Phở (‘fahr’) the love of food

Vietnamese people move in very small circles. It’s a cliquey community where ex-pats are concerned no matter where they’ve settled.


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