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My Top 5 Food Attractions: Melbourne, Australia

I spent nearly 2 years in Australia and of that I spent well over half of it in Melbourne and with good reason. Melbourne is know for being the more cultured of Australia's cities and it bacame my second home due to it's amazing diversity of cultural cuisine, places to eat and people who love food and coffee. With a population made up of Jews, Greeks, Italians, Asians and a host of other nationalities there isn't much you won't be able to find in Melbourne. So, here are the top 5 food attractions that I found while living there:Queen Victoria Market Queen Vic Market is one of the top attractions for locals and tourists alike in Melbourne and is a great showcase of the mix of cultures. Split into sections you generally enter through the front with it's bakeries and borak counters, the amazing smells hitting you as soon as you enter. If you keep walking through this becomes delicatessan stalls selling every type of cheese you could want with pestos, cured meats and marinated olives. Through in the back sections there is the meat and fish where you can grab yourself a bargain on the catch that's in season or if you're feeling adventurous grab yourself some crocodile sausages or delicious kangaroo steaks! In the outside courtyard there are the fruit and veg stalls bursting with colour selling everything you could want and a couple of things you may not have heard of. It's open everyday except Monday and Wednesday and the opening hours can be found at the website http://www.qvm.com.au/Claypots Restaurant Claypots, just off Acland Street in St Kilda, is one of the hidden gems of Melbourne. Specialising in seafood with a chalkboard menu that is changed daily according to the fish they buy in fresh and the relaxed service and great selection of wine by the glass this place can't be missed. I ended up eating here 4 or 5 times and made it the place I came to for my last meal before leaving the country. There's no website and they don't take bookings, but this isn't an arrogant attitude, just a very laid back one. If you just fancy a drink you can sit in the bar section and eat small plates of tapas style food and listen to one of the locals banging away on the piano there on any given night of the week. Check out the giant octopus on the cieling of the restaurant!

Taste Of Melbourne Taste is a concept that originally started out in London to showcase all the best restaurants. Since then it has grown and now has annual exhibitions in Dublin and Melbourne as well. If you're lucky enought to be here when it rolls into town get a ticket and go! You will get to buy miniture dishes of each of the best restraunts in town's signature dishes in exchange for crowns (the exhibition's currency) that can be purchased on the day. There are also master classes from the city's best chefs and you can meet the wine makers of some of Australia's top wines. Be warned though the use of crowns instead of cash is a good marketing ploy as you can spend way more than you realise in a short space of time!

Hardware Lane There are loads of little laneways all over Melborune city centre, but my favourite was always Hardware Lane, so much so that I ended up working in cafe down there called Affogato Espresso Bar, pop in and see the couple that own it, Sandor and Nicola and tell them that Phil sent you and you'll be traeted with hospitality worthy of a king. With the laneway seperated by Little Bourke Street one half is made up of cafes that open early for breakfast and serve lunch as well, closing around 5pm. The other end has an assortment of restaurants with Italian cuisine mostly offered. Each year there is a laneway festival celebrating these little passageways of trendy bars and eateries.The Banff The Banff is a small restaurant in the heart of Fitzroy Street, St Kilda. They serve breakfast for anyone with a hangover from hell, but they're main trade is the chalkboard pizza menu they have up. With 15 different pizzas to chose from with an assortment of unusual but imaginative toppings and a few gourmet selctions as well the place is always rocking. Everynight they also have happy hour from 3 - 6 with jugs of beer for $8 and all pizzas$5 from 5 – 10 you'll spend all night here, especially on a hot summer's evening. Wine and beer are not of the greatest of standards, but for the prices who really cares? If the place is packed out they also do all their menu take away. Melbourne has so much to offer in the way of places to see and eat food and wine that I could go on listing for a long time, but these are my top 5 picks. Don't forget to get down to Acland Street though and check out the cake shops with the crowds of people outside salivating over the displays. Or if you fancy something oriental China Town in the city centre, just off Swanston Street and Lygon Street for Italian food are great places to visit. With the European cafe caulture and community based businesses anyone spending time in Melbourne will end up finding their own favourite spots and I'm sure you'll love them as much as I loved mine! -- The above guest post was written by Philip Green. You can check out Phil's blog here: http://travelfoodphil.blogspot.com/

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My Top 5 Food Attractions: Melbourne, Australia + traveltuesday