Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Family Visit Highlights

I have been neglecting the blog for awhile now- we've had a steady stream of visitors and I haven't had too much free time! That said, all our visitors are gone and life has settled down a bit, so expect more regular updates ;). 

Here are some highlights from the first part of my family's visit to Melbourne! 

We visited the Melbourne Flower Show in the beautiful Royal Exhibition Building. The best part about the event was the fact that a vendor outside was selling a worm composting starter kit- basically a plastic trash bin and a couple hundred worms that apparently break down the garbage. I'm not sure if I'm totally sold on using this method myself, but the guy was charging $300, so maybe I should look into selling them!
We decided rather late on a Saturday afternoon that we wanted a nice dinner that night. Unfortunately, after calling a few well-known restaurants, it became clear we needed to have made a reservation, like, a month ago. We ended up eating at this little bistro on Collins Street not far from where my parents were staying that turned out to be really good! It's kind of crazy how many great restaurants around Melbourne I've never even heard of or walked by. Definitely spoilt for choice around here! 
On Sunday, my youngest sister Kathryn and her college roommate Hannah arrived for their spring break. 
I immediately took them to La Belle Mitte, because it's the cutest place in the world, and also has the best macaroons anywhere. 
One day we had plans to shop on Chapel Street but wanted to grab a quick lunch in the city first. We happily discovered Spring Street Grocer, which had the cutest boxed lunches that were perfect for our purposes. They also had delicious gelato, so Peter and I will definitely be back! 
I took everyone to see the Brighton Beach Boxes, a Melbourne staple. 
Kathryn and Hannah trying to pose for a picture, but laughing instead :). 
We ate so many great meals during the two weeks my family was in town, but one of the crowd favorites was Fonda. It's a casual dining spot, so nothing fancy, but it's so good. Even my dad, who notoriously avoids Mexican food, was impressed! It's not the fried, sauce-y cheese-drenched type of Mexican food, but the fresh, light kind (if that makes any sense). Bonus: Fonda has epic margaritas, which Kathryn and Hannah appreciated- they are of legal drinking age in Australia! 
My parents split their time in Melbourne between two clubs, the second of which had this amazing living room area off of the bedroom that we ended up spending quite a bit of time in...it might be bigger than our entire apartment ;). 
Another unanimous restaurant favorite was Trunk Diner, where we stopped for a sunny lunch outside after wandering through the State Library of Victoria. 
Lastly, a few photos from a happy hour at The Arbory, a fun bar attached to Flinders Street Station overlooking the Yarra River. 
More photos to come! 
Friday, March 18, 2016

More Visitors!!

We have happily already had quite a few visitors this year. My sister Ali and her friend Jess came in January, Peter's parents were here for several weeks in February, and my parents just arrived on Wednesday. My youngest sister Kathryn and her roommate arrive on Sunday, so we are saving our main touristing for next week. So far, we've wandered the CBD (in 90 degree heat!), did some shopping on Collins Street, brunched at two of my favorites places, and visited the Shrine of Remembrance and the National Gallery of Victoria. Today was a perfect indoor museum day, as the temperature plummeted overnight to a chilly, windy, rainy 60 degrees. I haven't taken too many pictures yet, but here's a little bit of what we've been up to! 

Upon arrival, my dad, who runs a political website, sat down to do a quick post. This is the living area in their room at the Athenaeum Club on Collins Street. It's a beautiful building, with one downside: women aren't allowed in some of the best rooms- including the main bar. Seems a bit silly to me that in 2016 a club still maintains that rule!
We wandered around the club a bit and stumbled upon this cool billiard room complete with three large pool tables.
After my dad got some work done, we headed out to wander the laneways in the city. We walked quite a ways before arriving at our final destination- Rustica Canteen. They have a great brunch, but sadly no air conditioning. They did have some fans, but apparently 90 degrees wasn't hot enough to turn them on! We suffered a bit at first but cooled off eventually. We all ordered this breakfast board and it was delicious! 
We had a fabulous dinner at EntrecĂ´te, a super cute French restaurant that serves one main meal- steak and fries with an herb dressing. I had been once before with Sylvie and Katie, and the second time was just as good! 

This morning we headed over to The Kettle Black, one of my favorites, for another brunch that I failed to photograph. Afterward, we wandered around the Shrine of Remembrance and then over to the NGV. 
We are resting up right now before heading to the Athenaeum Club for tea and a drink (my dad and Peter, that is) before dinner! 
Thursday, March 10, 2016

Brighton Bathing Boxes

The city beaches in Melbourne aren't anything to write home about, but the colorful, unique bathing boxes that line the shores of Dendy St. Beach in Brighton are definitely worth a visit. When Ali and Jess were in Melbourne, we packed a picnic lunch and spent a sunny, cool afternoon at the beach.

This summer has been extremely hot. Like refuse-to-leave-the-house hot, with the exception of the week Ali and Jess were visiting. The 70-degree weather they experienced was actually a welcome change from the 100s that had plagued the previous weeks, especially for walking around the city, but unfortunately it was also quite rainy. That's why, as soon as the sun peaked out, we grabbed a few picnic items and took the train down to Brighton. Ali took a bunch of really good pictures, which I've posted below!

This picture is a must for tourists:
The good thing about going on a relatively chilly day was that we essentially had the beach to ourselves.
I mean, how cute are these! Apparently they sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, so although small, they aren't exactly cheap.
We chose a random box and spread out our picnic. Now, I'm the first person to obsessively slather on sunscreen, but on this particular day, we had left the house early in the morning when it was still cloudy. Fatal error. It was a bit deceiving since the breeze coming off the water kept us nice and cool, but we all ended up extremely sunburned. So once again, here's my PSA: wear sunscreen. Every day.
Such a fun afternoon exploring one of Melbourne's most iconic beaches!
Friday, March 4, 2016

Recent Food Favorites Around Melbourne

I'm going to preface this post by saying that it doesn't serve much of a purpose, other than to highlight some of the restaurants we've been to lately. If you don't like food (is that possible?), you'll want to skip this one. We've had a steady stream of visitors in 2016, which will conclude with my family's visit in a couple weeks, so we've done quite a bit more dining out than usual. Experiencing the food culture in Melbourne is a must, so I'm always happy to introduce visitors to some of the best the city has to offer. Here are a few meals we've enjoyed lately at some of our favorite Melbourne restaurants:

Carmine's Bistro

We went up to Lygon Street, Melbourne's Italian neighborhood, a few weeks ago when Peter's parents were visiting. Carmine's is one of the many authentic Italian restaurants in the area, and is a good spot to share a pizza and some drinks. Lygon Street is a big tourist destination, so restaurants can be hit or miss, but we've been to Carmine's twice now and enjoyed it both times. 


No trip to Lygon Street is complete without stopping for gelato at Pidapipo. I'm positive I've raved about this place on the blog before, but it deserves another shoutout. I think it's been voted best gelato in Melbourne, and I couldn't agree more. If you're in the area, you need to go!

Shortstop Donuts

One of the perks of having visitors is the inevitable rediscovery of some old favorites around the city. Shortstop opened shortly after we moved to Melbourne, so we went a few times to see what all the hype was about, but sort of forgot about it after awhile. This place has INSANELY good donuts. I got that berry one below about four days in a row, which is slightly embarrassing, but since it's berry I'm convinced there's a few vitamins in there. Shortstop features a range of really unique (sometimes downright weird) donut flavors, which they rotate every couple weeks or so. It's definitely worth a visit! 

Trunk Diner 

We've been here a few times, both for breakfast and lunch. I don't remember exactly what was in the below salad, but it do remember that it was really good! Oh, and if you're into website design, they've got a really cool one, so click the link above.

Mama's Buoi

This is one of our absolute favorite restaurants in Melbourne. We took Peter's parents here on their first day and they loved it as well. It's Vietnamese and everything I've ever had there has been delicious (and well-priced). It's a great place to share a few dishes, but honestly, I usually hoard mine. 


Mamasita is widely regarded as Melbourne's best Mexican restaurant, for good reason. The fish tacos are amazing, and there are some really good appetizers and share plates as well.


I am willing to bet that we are Brunetti's most frequent customers. All I really need to say about this place is CAKE! 

The Kettle Black

This was one of my favorite brunches in awhile. I order avo toast at least 95% of the time, but on this particular day I was craving something sweeter. I hesitated before ordering the chia seed pudding, because it sounded too crunchy (not texture-wise, but like vegan-y) for me, but I ended up ordering it and am so glad I did. I'm actually tempted to buy some and try it at home. 

N2 Extreme Gelato

This place is next door to Shortstop, and similarly, they rotate unique flavors every week or so. I usually order whichever chocolate option they've got on the menu and it's always delicious. They make their gelato using liquid nitrogen, so there's a big production as they stir it into the mixers. It kind of looks like dry ice and is strangely fun to watch.

Two Birds One Stone

Another favorite brunch spot featuring some of the best coffee and avo toast around. Unfortunately, there has been a bit of an avocado shortage this year, which I have coined the Avopocalypse, so it was briefly taken off the menu due to soaring prices. At one point I think I paid $6 for one avocado. Insanity. Luckily, I saw via Instagram that the avo toast has officially been reinstated at Two Birds One Stone!
Although not on par with the avo toast, the French toast was pretty good!


This is a relatively new find, although I've been hearing about it since we got here. Fonda gives Mamasita a run for its money, and some in our group even thought it was better. I enjoyed it primarily because Peter went to order margaritas for his mom and me and somehow the bartenders made four instead of two, so we got a couple free drinks! Win!
I still prefer the fish tacos at Mamasita, but I do think Fonda's chicken tacos were better. Plus, the restaurant itself was super cute. Worth a visit, for sure!

In conclusion, I eat a lot. 


Welcome! I started Laura and Peter Down Under in July 2014 when my husband and I moved from the States to Melbourne, Australia for his job. I blog about expat life, our travels, food, and whatever else comes to mind. Follow along on our adventures Down Under!



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