Valli Little is widely regarded as one of Australia's most exciting food writers and cookbook authors. Her passion for food shines through as she creates recipes inspired by her travels and love of cooking and entertaining.
As she tells Vacation Goddess to her “Melbourne is one of the most exciting food destinations in the world."
Here Valli shares with us some of her favourite Melbourne places to explore…
"Melbourne – it's where you are spoilt for choice with so many wonderful experiences on offer. You have just to look down any of the little laneways where 5 star restaurants sit alongside quirky coffee shops and great street food vendors. The coffee is the best you will find in Australia, farmers markets are everywhere and when you get tired of all that eating and drinking you can unwind at one of the many luxury spa’s around the city."
Babka, 358 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
"This unassuming little cafe has become a Melbourne institution. The food has influences from Eastern Europe with borscht and dumplings featuring on the lunch menu. There is always something unusual and delicious to discover but it is great also for tea or coffee accompanied by something sweet from the in House bakery."
Books for Cooks, 233 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
"While you are in the area don't forget to call in to my favourite book store Books for Cooks which carries a huge range of the latest cookbooks from all over the world as well as a great collection of vintage cookbooks too. Sit down on the comfy couch and loose yourself for a while."
Prahan Market, 163 Commercial Road, South Yarra
"Melbourne has some great markets and Prahan is one of the best. I order my jersey royal potatoes from M J Mow (shop 108) and always find some amazing mushrooms and sometimes morels and truffles when in season at Damien Pike's mushroom specialist store (shop 116.)
The Essential Ingredient Shop, Prahan market is a great cookware store but also the home to one of Melbourne's best cooking schools. Check out their programme at www.essentialingredient.com.au/events/locations/prahran. "
Queen Victoria Markets
"This is Melbourne's largest under cover market and well worth a visit. If you are after a quick snack pop into Mezze Table . $2.50 buys you a crispy golden spinach and cheese borek it's one of the cheapest and best lunches in town."
"Being a Francophile anytime I need my french fix I pay a visit to this, another Melbourne institution, founded by Jean Paul Prunetti back in 1986. The timeless appeal of this place means that it is always packed at lunch and dinner. The menu and wine list are extensive but, for me there is no deliberation. The classic steak fritters and a glass of Pinot noir is all I ever order."
"The flagship of the Grossi empire this is the place I go when all I want is a plate of perfectly cooked pasta followed by an equally delicious dessert. If you are lucky Guy Grossi may be on the stoves and an impromptu rendition of his favourite opera will accompany your meal."
Vue du Monde, Level 55, Rialto Building, Melbourne CBD
"High up on level 55 of the Rialto building with views all over the city is celebrity chef Shannon Bennett's fine dining restaurant Vue du Monde. This is a special occasion venue. Start by taking a drink in the sumptuous Lui Bar and for a truly unforgettable experience book a place a the chefs table and have Shannon or one of his head chefs work their magic for you."
Flower Drum, 17 Market Lane, Melbourne
"For the best Cantonese food look no further than this celebrated restaurant founded by Gilbert Lau in 1975. Go with friends to make sure you can enjoy the banquet menu and taste so many of the authentic dishes like the sautéed pearl meat, snow crab, Peking duck and exquisite dumplings and dim sum."
Attika, 74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea
"Multi award winning chef Ben Shewry’s signature restaurant is where to go when you want to experience truly modern Australian food. Be prepared to be blown away with some incredible food as this place didn’t make it to No 32 on the worlds best restaurants list for nothing.
On Tuesdays nights Ben and the team offer an 5 course degustation for $125 where they trial new dishes which is amazing value for money when you think about it."
Huxtaburger, 106 Smith Street, Collingwood
"Great value gourmet burgers served up on a gluten free bun with a side of crinkle chips for an amazing $11.50."
Bomba Bar, 103 Lonsdale Street, CBD
"This is where I go for great (and cheap) tapas. $15 will get you a choice of 5 plates and for another $5 a beer or a glass of chilled Manzanilla."
Chuan Spa, The Langham Hotel, Southbank
"Dessert? For a sweet and salty body scrub followed by a massage and a green tea shower this is the place. Perfect to relax and unwind before hitting the high spots all over again."