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July 20, 2009 | by  | in Opinion |
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Queen Victoria Markets, Melbourne, Australia

food

During the holidays I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Melbourne. Not only is it an awesome city for shopping, galleries, exhibitions and generally lounging around, but it a great place for a foodie too. First of all, there are loads of amazing restaurants, particularly Vietnamese and Greek ones. I highly recommend Mekong Vietnam on Swanston Street, for their big bowls of noodle soup and vermicelli noodle salads with grilled chicken, mint, cucumber and spicy dressing. Apparently Bill Clinton ate two of the huge bowls of noodle soup when he went there…

My friends and I also went to Stalactites on Lonsdale Street, a Greek restaurant that did very good souvlaki (kind of like gourmet kebabs), along with fun things we don’t often see on our menus in New Zealand, like quail and okra. The definite highlight of the trip, however, was going to the Queen Victoria Markets. These markets have been around since 1878 and have just about everything you could possibly want, ranging from clothes and trinkets to fresh produce, seafood, meat etc.

The best part about the markets is the deli section. Here you will find every kind of cheese you can imagine along with salami, sausages, marinated artichokes, figs stuffed with mascarpone, smoked salmon wrapped around goat cheese, fresh bread, marinated baby octopus, fresh pasta, bulk lollies and even a delicious snack called ‘Food for The Gods’ made out of black beans and spices. The range of goods is truly amazing, and everyone is willing to let you try it all out.

One stall had a guy making bocconcini straight from the curds, rolling little balls of soft cheese for everyone who was walking by. My friends found an excellent donut maker—the donuts were nothing like the stodgy rings we get over here. These were hot sugar and cinnamon-dusted globes that had smooth strawberry jam in the middle—amazing. Unfortunately we went to the market after lunch (foolish), so our group ended up getting a number of cheeses (three for $10!) to share with some wine. I think a couple of good cheeses is all you need for an appetiser (or as a way to end a meal). I particularly like a really good aged cheddar or a creamy blue. However if you are looking for something a little ritzier for your hors d’oeuvres you could try these:

Little ‘Tricolores’
The contrasting tones of deep pink pork, creamy white goat cheese and bright green basil make these into pretty-little-somethings to serve before a dinner party. You could dorkily call them after the Italian flag like I have if you wanted to…

Packet of smoked pork loin strips (available from Moore Wilson’s)
Round of Puhoi goat cheese (this is different from feta cheese, smoother and less salty)
Bunch of fresh basil

Cut the cheese into rectangular cubes a little shorter than the length of the width of your pork loin strips. Place each cube into the hollow of a large basil leaf – wrap in a strip of pork. Place each ‘tricoloure’ onto a big white plate, making sure that the ‘seam’ of the pork loin strip is placed downwards on the plate so they don’t unravel.

Wasabi Beef Bruschetta

2 thick sirloin steaks
Wasabi aioli (available from Moore Wilson’s)
Fresh lime
Baguette

Slice the baguette into slices about 1.5cm thick. Lightly toast them under a hot grill, turning once. Watch these carefully to make sure they don’t burn! Spread each piece of baguette with wasabi aioli. Fry the steak in a little oil over a hot flame with a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Fry until the steak is cooked on the outside but still quite rare in the middle (about 2.5 minutes each side). Let the steak rest for a couple of minutes before slicing it thinly and arranging a slice on each piece of the wasabi-spread baguette. Place on a platter and spritz with lime juice just before serving.

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Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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