My Fine Dining Obsession
Let me tell you the story of my journey from common food consumer to cuisine fanatic.
Mmmm, food in Melbourne....exploring narrow laneways, stumbling over bluestone pavement in my high heels. Laughing and linked arm-in-arm with my date for the night. Finding the secret tucked-away eateries, or being gracefully ushered to my seat in polished, cavernous restaurants. I love reading a menu and not knowing all the ingredients. I love having wine recommendations read to us by sommeliers as though we are presumed to be profoundly knowledgable about the vintage.
Melbourne is the ultimate foodie city. In my time here I've sample some of Melbourne's best cuisine. I've travelled to some major wine regions in Australia - the Hunter Valley in NSW, Margaret River wine region in WA and the Yarra Valley in VIC. I have a few clients in particular who delight in visiting new places and I've been able to experience a lot with them.
I haven't always been accustomed to the 'high life'. I was a fine arts student in my twenties, which means a few things: I never got out of bed before 9am, I wore black, and I was always short on cash. It's amazing what you can manage on a food budget of twenty dollars per week! I was very happy with my black tea and home-made pasta sauce with ten-minute noodles. Occasionally I would treat myself to a five-dollar steak on those days when my local pub had a special. In short, although I enjoyed my food I definitely wasn't experienced in the finer aspects of dining. This lack of experience put me in an awkward position when I first began escorting. At restaurants I'd be stumped when it came to picking from the wine list. I am also one of those people who will sometimes accidentally drop their fork on the floor when nervous (I'm not alone in this, I've had a few clients whose nervousness got in the way on dinner dates!)
What changed my mind about food and dining? Luckily I did have a lot of patient playmates who were happy to educate me.
The most important thing about eating with someone is that is brings us closer together. Historically, food has been used to facilitate coming together in many ways: important events, business discussions, bonding experiences with friends, romantic interludes. Sharing a meal is more than just an opportunity to spend time with someone. It is also a connection on a primal level; the 'breaking bread' that has such significance at important social events. A meal shared (and discusssed!) is an experience undertaken together.
Sometimes my old attitude will still catch me by surprise. While ordering room service at the Langham Hotel, a client once asked me if I'd like a glass of champagne. I thought it was a marvellous idea but I assumed he would order from the menu. When he took a bottle from the bar fridge I was horrified - as a thrifty student I would never have dreamed of drinking anything from the minibar, much less a bottle of $150 French champagne! He was very amused when I leapt from my chair to stop him from popping the cork.
My Melbourne favourites so far? Every eatery has its own individual atmosphere; some are slick and expensive (Nobu at Crown Casino) while others exude intimate Melbourne charm (such as Terra Rossa on Flinders Lane). Some are wonderfully themed (try Seamstress for Pan-Asian delights and incredible decor that includes vintage sewing machines). Some have a quirkiness that is specifically Melbourne (Pop Restaurant on Hardware Lane gives you a street-level view of the city's varied inhabitants). Some are romantic (Naked in the Sky in Fitzroy on a Summer evening). I love to pore over the wine list with a favourite client, our heads bent together as we discuss the relative merits of a grenache or a tempranillo. Sampling new dishes and comparing the reactions of our taste buds is a delight that never fails me.
If you know of a new place to dine I'd love to be your companion in adventure....or if you need a good recommendation, I can help you experience some of Melbourne's best. Please visit my profile for social rates and dinner packages.