February 22, 2009

Around the world on a Great Melbourne Day

I love the way that this city is sometimes a playground. - Or, at least that's the way it feels. Yesterday's activity took us from Italy to the Lebanon, through the Middle East and then to 1970s Australia. Into the city and it's the 50s, before Portugal, Italy (again), and a dash up to handbag heaven. Oh, and a short stop in Korea. Finally, music under the stars with an Italian in Algiers, two Spaniards and an Austrian. All in Melbourne.

Coriander, parsley, spring onions, fenugreek, turmeric and lamb. Mmmm...

How did it happen? With a morning start at the Mediterranean Wholesalers (coffee and canolis), we explored north to the A1 Lebanese Bakery, which was our landmark as we hunted for a shop that would stock fenugreek leaves and dried limes. We've been inspired to try some Persian cooking, and tonight's dinner of lamb with quormeh sabzi is quietly simmering away as I type this, sending interesting and delicious smells throughout the house. Sure enough: a very kind shopkeeper helped me to find both fenugreek and dried limes. This is why I love Sydney Road.

Dried limes. They smell amazing! Tantalizing. Fantastic.

A quick dash to Fitzroy to say hello at Meet me at Mikes, where a special stash-tastic suitcase of 1970s ladybird books was the pick-up for this secret agent. (Two old guys stopped later on and said it was a cool suitcase. "1950s!" said one guy, "And it's even been overseas...")

Off next to meet a lovely friend for lunch, I hopped the tram and - ding!ding! - down to Federation Square, where a flashmob of swing dancers were cutting up the concrete, swing jazz style, to the sounds of big band in a beatbox strapped to the back of a bike. Swing Patrol, kids! Do we love it? We love it!

Can't you hear those grooves? This is not Melbourne, but it's the same gorgeous style. The Swing Patrol site is down, so this is a photo from the Calgary swing dancers.
(Just lookit all that water. Can you believe that's where I grew up??)

But I couldn't find my friend.... Hmm, she said she'd be at Fed Square. Up the steps, down the steps - hmm, one of the dancers is waving at me between twirls - it's her! Turning a neat toe in keds and gingham, having a blast. We settled in until the beats moved on up to Town Hall. I'm not a dancer, despite some two-left-footed attempts, but I enjoyed watching the action and spying the tourists whose open-mouthed delight made my day. There's nothing better than a mob of people spontaneously breaking into dance! (and me without my camera)

Journal Cafe at the City Library refreshed us with Portuguese Custard Tarts (Go there. Have one. I never liked custard tarts before meeting these beauties.) "Let's go handbag shopping!" said my friend - so it was up to Catherine Manuell to try on all of the bags. She didn't tell me she'd been haunting the place and that I was to provide final colour call between two favourites (see pages 4-5). We left with her new bag proudly on-shoulder.

Could it get better? A stop at an Asian stationery shop was pretty divine and only cost a dollar ten (that stuff is addictive) -- and then it was time to race home, pack a picnic, and head out for a free concert under the stars at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl.

Two cups of coffee, free music, and thou...

Nan went to the opening night, 50 years ago. We snuggled under the stars as my lovely Melbourne day ended to the sound of Rossini's overture for "The Italian Girl in Algiers", Spanish guitar from Rodrigo (Concerto di Aranjuez), Albeniz, and Schubert.

We're a little tired today. But happy, oh so happy.


Tinniegirl said...

Oh I love Melbourne. Sydney Rd, Fed square, the music bowl, so many lovely places you have visited. And the dried limes sound fabulous.

Taccolina said...

Yes, they looked slightly scary, but they smell divine! The stew was a definite success...

Bellgirl said...

Whoosh, a whirlwind tour! I must find out what's happening at the Music Bowl, the Bug has a taste for dancing at outdoor concerts.

Bellgirl said...

...we spent our weekend 'stimulating the economy' ;)

Leonie said...

How lucky we are to live in Melbourne! So much to experience, So little time!