We recently caught-up with Monique Bayer from Walk Melbourne.
We wanted to know what is so special about Melbourne, Australia to Monique...this is her story:
"The more I travel, the happier I am that Melbourne is my home. It’s not that I don’t love other places – I have epic wanderlust! – but every time I leave, I learn a little more about just how extraordinary Melbourne’s food culture is. I certainly feel that I’m in the right place!
We get many visitors coming to Melbourne to drink coffee and eat food. I'd like to say we lead the way in Australia, but if truth be told the competition is not against other cities and regions - it's against each other here in Melbourne. Which is maybe why it’s so good.
My favourite part of living in Melbourne is our impressive and dynamic coffee culture. Many of the café owners, baristas and brewers know incredible amounts of detail about the drink there producing and are often happy to talk about it.
Consumers are increasingly curious about knowing more about what they are drinking as well. I’ve been to public cuppings (coffee tastings) on a rainy Tuesday night at Proud Mary coffee roasters where 100 enthusiasts show up. A visit to their cellar door style cafe Aunty Peg’s is recommended ….. and leave room for the pastries too.
The combination of a curious consumer market and a highly professional café set means that the demand and supply side push each other forward to a dynamic coffee culture.
Almost every week there’s a new bar or café to discover – just in 2015 we welcomed Boilermaker House, Heartbreaker and the Union Electric as sophisticated additions to the Melbourne’s bar scene. But as I learn more about the history of Melbourne I’m discovering more and more small details of the story of our city as well. Like what a pain in the butt it was to try and navigate the corner of Collins St and Elizabeth St in the 1840’s because it was really difficult for the horses to drag the carts through the wet boggy ground on Elizabeth St. People would much rather use the Lonsdale St end because it was drier.
Most commonly, guests who join me on tour remark that ‘you wouldn’t even know this was here!’ which is why you come on a walking tour – to learn about those food treasures like Krimper cafe, Shortstop donuts or Captains of Industry and get a local perspective.
I often have visitors declaring they want to move here for a few months to explore the eating and drinking scene. I think that’s the greatest complement as a tour guide. Melbourne is certainly a city to spend some time in.
I had a North American guest once say that it’s the most ‘schizophrenic city’ he’s ever been too with a mix of architectural styles from 1850 to today and a mix of cultures. I think he meant it as a complement.
Generally, Australia has struggled to articulate its own identity in terms of food, but I think we’ve relaxed a bit about that. We like to discuss the source and quality of produce, rather than the ethnicity of the dish. We can have high quality food that is aiming to be regionally authentic or a fusion of a few cultures. That defies definition – just enjoy the experience and the story!
I always get asked about my favourites, but the best thing about Melbourne’s food and coffee culture if that there’s no room for favourites! It’s about discovery and exploring the full breadth of our diversity."