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سه شنبه 20 اسفند 1392 ساعت 9:18 ق.ظ

Europe on the website a plate The wind that whipped across the docklands was laced with ice.I walked across the piazza of waterfront city with hands deep in my overcoat pockets, past the sleek yachts and cabin cruisers bouncing at their moorings, ignoring the flickering image of a tv presenter on a huge openair screen. This was the"New melbourne", bars and restaurants and expensive apartments materialising from where once the hard men of the waterfront, the wharfies and the painters and dockers, sweated and cursed. I was on my way to see cath claringbold, one of the city's leading restaurateurs and chefs, to ask her why melbourne was being hailed as the culinary capital of the nation. I found her in the stovewarm interior of her newly opened wine and cheese providore.She runs five restaurants in the city as well as mecca bah in brisbane's emporium precinct and is well placed to judge. "It's the availability of produce,"She said. "The difference is the existence of great freshfood markets.There's victoria market and prahran market and most of our regional areas now have farmers' markets.We're spoilt for choice in our food culture. "There's no doubt the ethnic mix has helped.We've had a very strong italian culture here from the 1950s.The great restaurants like pellegrinis and florentino set the standard.There's chinatown here with fantastic chinese food like the flower drum.There's brunswick where the middle eastern food has evolved and there's a strong spanish food movement now with restaurants like mo vida in federation square that's a mustgo and there's modern greek.I travel a lot overseas and wherever i go, i am reminded that melbourne food is world class. " Does a polo ralph lauren uk passion for fine food breed a love of fashion? On arrival, i had checked in to the sofitel melbourne at the"Paris end"Of collins st, recently voted best hotel in the country by a travel magazine, and went for a lateafternoon stroll. The store fronts drifted by gucci, prada, ralph lauren, ermenegildo zegna, salvatore ferragamo, louis vuitton, bulgari, hermes, dior, mount blanc. If you are a topend label shopper, then collins st has the greatest concentration of international fivestar brands in the country. The endearing aroma of freshly printed $100 notes may drift along collins st but those of more modest means head for precincts such as chapel st at south yarra. The cab driver takes me to"Where the shops start".It takes several hours and several cups of coffee but i cover both sides of this amazing retail strip filled to overflowing with young women in skintight jeans, kneehigh boots and black coats, shopping bags dangling from both hands. There are hundreds of outlets crammed into shopfronts dating from the early years of the 20th century and in various states of renovation, shoppers dodging through the traffic as trams clang along the narrow street. I've skipped lunch and it's getting dark starvation looms.I go back to the warm embrace of the sofitel and from my room on the 43rd floor look out across the flat, parkdotted spread of the city and the headlight processions of commuters snaking home. I have dinner at bistro d'orsay in collins st for no other reason than it's french.Nymphs cavort on the ceiling, the duck's fantastic.I meet maria paoli next morning.She's a hospitality industry trainer and also runs a business called historic espresso tours, a"Coffee tour"Of melbourne, as a sideline.She takes me to pellegrinis run by sisto marlaspina, a coffee bar and restaurant which has been an italian institution at the top end of bourke st forever. Sisto tells me he discount ralph lauren polo has his espresso machine set at 75c.Anything hotter burns the coffee.He serves me an espresso and maria shows me how to slurp it, to all but suck at the surface to fully appreciate the taste.The flavour fills my mouth.A short distance away, at 80 bourke st, is florentino grossi, the high temple of italian cuisine which, under various guises, has traded on the same site for 106 years.There's a grill bar and cellar bar and fine dining mural room decorated with scenes of florence.I'd made arrangements for dinner but had i stayed, i would have ordered the wagyu ox fillet rossini with foie gras, madeira sauce and roasted vegetables preceded by zucchini flowers filled with goat cheese, seared scallops, leek puree, celery oil and tomato salad. I have dinner at brunettis in carlton, walking through the bustling crowds gathered at its adjoining pastry shop.The spaghetti marinara i order is exceptional, heavy with chunks of seafood and the sauce simply sublime.The next morning the weather is still chill but clearskied and i move to the grand hotel in spencer st, built in 1891 as a state government building, its tall ceilings and colonial elegance making it a favourite among regular visitors to the city.I dump my bags in my twobedroom suite and resume my shopping.I go to bridge rd at richmond, stopping at the richmond hill cafe and larder where you will find the best breakfast and largest dedicated cheese room in the city. Ask for the"Cheesy toast"And assuage your conscience by swearing to skip lunch.The boutiques and factory outlets stretch down the street, interspersed with coffee bars and restaurants, small shops, big shops, crowded shops, empty shops but everywhere shops and all selling clothes. Heading back to the city, i find the gpo, the newly opened and renovated former post office that is now filled with highend fashion labels. Next it's melbourne central, level after level of mid to highrange stores and then back down to little collins st and flinders lane and through the mosaicfloored block arcade, built in 1891 with its glazed ceilings and columns of lace ironwork.It's the sheer mass of fashion that overwhelms, the multitude of shops and malls that fill the precincts that dot the city and its inner suburbs. Every city has a signature, some better forgotten, and melbourne's is written large across its restaurant kitchens and the chic sophistication of its wardrobe. Top spots to shop Degreaves st, between flinders st and flinders lane home to smitten kitten, a specialised lingerie boutique with a focus on handmade stock. Royal arcade, bourke street mall look for the hidden marais a highend clothing emporium for men and women. Nicholas building, corner of flinders lane and swanston st visit genki for quirky japanese knickknacks, and cute locally produced designs;Alice euphemia for new designers and route 66 for 1950s style fashion.



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