"We celebrate the rich diversity of Melbourne as one of the most multicultural cities in the world. Over 150 nation groups here in significance (bearing in mind there are around only 220 countries in the world). The world is here." The World Loves Melbourne
Well yes the world is still here in terms of the multinational/cultural people who live here, but not in terms of the people who visit. Although today is the day that international flights into Melbourne are once again allowed. Mostly for those returning Australians I am guessing - it's a guess - not tourists. Currently safe here in our little COVID free bubble we are beginning to think about going somewhere else - I believe we can now, or imminently anyway, will be able to go to New Zealand - maybe Singapore before too long. And we are certainly travelling around Australia. When I tried to book a holiday in Port Douglas I found that June/July was booked up and September/October almost was too. Many of our friends have packed their belongings and are off travelling here and there and not returning any time soon. Such is the travel lust of Melburnians. We do love Melbourne, but we also like to travel. My travel agent told me that not only are people booking holidays for next year but they also are booking for 2023. Which shows a wonderful sense of optimism does it not?
This could all change in an instant of course, but for now as we spread our wings at the end of summer all is looking hopeful.
But back to the original intent of this post, which was to do a piece on one of those popular foodie websites/blogs and this one is:
It's a wonderfully informative site, and I will try to describe it in a moment, but its title may perhaps need a rethink. The world may well love Melbourne but it's not coming here anytime soon. And probably, particularly not the Chinese, who make up a large proportion of our tourist and student population. Australia and China are not currently friends.
The interesting thing about this in terms of the website is that there seems to be almost no mention of COVID and its effect. It is definitely up to date - its latest post is dated 30th March which is just a week ago. So politics and economics are not part of this site's thing. Negativity is not its thing - somewhere I saw that they preferred not to review restaurants they found below par, for example, rather than publishing a negative review. Which sort of begs the question of wondering if a restaurant is no good if its not on there.
COVID has had a devastating effect on the social and cultural side of Melbourne life. For almost all of last year the city was basically closed for business. Offices closed - by order - and all the passing trade that office workers represent - went with it. With respect to food, most of those were small businesses providing lunchtime sandwiches and morning coffees. I'm guessing most of them have not survived.
Galleries, theatres, cinemas, all closed but now reopening - in time for Easter and the school holidays. Restaurants too - those that survived the lockdown through a mixture of government support and entrepreneurial drive. And at last businesses are reopening their offices in the CBD - well sort of. I mean I'm not aware yet of any major company actually departing Melbourne but people are still working from home and mostly just going into the office two or three days a week. So lots of them are moving further out into the leafier suburbs, or even further into country towns or the beach.
"One of the starkest lessons of the pandemic has been that people – whose jobs allow it – are capable of being enormously productive working from their dining room table. Many employees will never return to the office, or at least not for five days every week." ABC
Which is going to have an enormous impact on how our cities - and Melbourne in particular will operate in the future. Many view this as a good thing and by no means believe that this is a bad thing:
"by potentially becoming less office dominant, Australia's central cities could emerge as even more important social and intellectual hubs." Dr. James Lennox - BBC
Ok enough about COVID - none of that is new anyway. I just thought that it was interesting that a website/blog about Melbourne's cultural life should not mention it.
It's an excellent website though and covers much more than food.
"As Melbourne "tragics" we rave about its people, infrastructure, climate, beauty, parks, and educational facilities - not to mention it's laneways, coffee culture and shopping precincts.
We at The World Loves Melbourne celebrate the best of Melbourne - its people, its food, its art, sport, fashion and culture."
If you are looking for ideas for where to eat, what to see, what to do, in Melbourne, its suburbs and in the surrounding countryside then go no further. It's all here. A big tick from me for reviewing restaurants in places not normally visited by restaurant reviewers - Templestowe, and Doncaster East - both nearby suburbs to us on the outer fringe - are represented for example. Although, as far as I can see, they have not yet reached Eltham - or are all our restaurants and cafés rubbish and therefore not critiqued? It includes walks, galleries, events, even universities, for kids and adults alike. My only complaint would be that the Search option does not work. Not for me anyway. As soon as I started typing my search statement in the box it disappeared.
The site, launched in 2011 is the brainchild of this man - David Hagger
"a self-described bald headed man and former rock vocalist with a penchant for finery, convivial dining and festive culture." Xtreme Foodies
Finery? Elsewhere I saw him described as an 'influencer' and a master of Instagram and Facebook. His blog may be his baby but I think his main business is as a consultant:
"in the areas of content, digital media and marketing to businesses, including the hospitality industry." Xtreme Foodies
The blog is probably now a team effort, but then again maybe not. Here is a taster from which I learnt about the tradition of the Sichuan hot pot. Well I didn't learn this from The World Loves Melbourne, but it spurred me into googling it, and so I found a post on another blog on my to do list - The Woks of Life, which told me more about it, together with a recipe.
It seems to be a bit like a Chinese version of fondue or a Korean/Mongolian barbecue in that the restaurant provides the sauce/soup, and you cook the food that you have chosen.
If you like that kind of thing it's probably worth giving it a go. But probably not for me. I'm not that good with chopsticks.
When you're looking for ideas for where to go, or to find the best Yarra Valley winery for example then this is the place to go.