Another food blog. Another food blog written by Melburnians. Yes, yes. Like every other person silly enough to start such a blog in an already over-crowded food blogosphere, we too think that we come at things from a different enough angle to make this worthwhile. So, what is our angle? We figure that if you're going to write a food blog, you should be upfront about your attitudes towards food, and we also want to take this chance to outline our interests and approaches.
This blog has two authors - Axver ("Ax") and Charlotte. We live through our stomaches, and this blog serves to chronicle our food adventures. We kind of just got tired of many of our favourite places not getting due recognition. We'd like to be dedicated enough to start a blog focused on one particular food or drink, such as the wonderful work done over on Parma Daze to find the perfect chicken parmigiana, but we don't have the budget or time to do that, let alone a suitably rigorous exercise routine to avoid looking like a parma afterwards (or a bakery, or a pizza, or whatever).
Rather, this is meant to be a catalogue of all the wonderful - and perhaps not so wonderful - places we've been to throughout Melbourne and further afield. It will mainly focus on pubs, cafes, bakeries, wine, cider, and any other little outlet or alcohol that catches our eye. We don't tend to go to restaurants that often; when you live in a city with pub food as good as Melbourne, you can spend your entire life just trying to find the most outstanding pub meal. When we go out for lunch, we tend to go to cafes; when we go out for dinner, we tend to go to pubs (especially since we are often eating before a concert). Plus, why pay restaurant prices when Melbourne's cafes and pubs are so good and already quite expensive enough?
The blog's name deserves some attention. "This Taste Delight" is the final track on the 1988 album Hail by Straitjacket Fits. It's a truly great album by a truly great band from Dunedin, New Zealand, one of the leading lights of Flying Nun Records, the single best record label to ever grace this planet. In case this hasn't tipped you off, when we aren't living our lives through our stomaches, we're living them through our ears and our instruments.
Consequently, this blog - unlike our efforts on Mow Your Lawn! - uses as its rating scale the same system I use over on Rate Your Music. It is as follows:
5/5: New Zealand All Blacks (i.e. truly exceptional, world class on every level, and rarely beaten)
4/5: Rather good (anywhere from here on up is worth going out of your way to try)
3/5: Decent (anywhere from here on up is worth visiting at least once if you're in the area)
2.5/5: Mediocre (hit and miss; anywhere below this is not worth your time)
1.5/5: Bad, but there's worse
0.5/5: Fuckin' Wallabies (i.e. insufferable on every level and you just want to watch them squirm)
Since this blog allows us flexibility not present on RYM, we may use more precise intermediate ratings in 0.25 increments. We will not get more precise than that. Our ratings are not meant to be some sort of fixed-in-stone authority either, just an indicative figure, and we tend to be generous people. If you're the sort of hard-to-please person looking for scathing criticism, this may not be the blog for you ... though you may enjoy Mow Your Lawn's wrath against shoddy architectural eyesores!
So, a little bit about ourselves:
I grew up in a seaside town outside Wellington, New Zealand, where food in the 1990s had changed little since post-WWII restrictions. Seriously, if you are ever on the Kapiti Coast, go to Fisherman's Table in Paekakariki to see how Kiwis ate in the 1950s-70s; it remains a true historical experience. I was at least lucky enough to grow up in a family of cooks and bakers; my mother is an exceptional cake decorator. Then I lived in Queensland for a while, in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, the latter in particular being the sort of place where finding good food is a real effort. So many chain shops, so few people who can make a good hot chocolate. Brisbane, of course, has gone and developed a decent culinary culture since I left for Melbourne. Ever since I've lived in Melbourne, my stomach has led me on many of my best adventures.
I have a particular fondness for Italian food (no wonder I liked Melbourne from the moment I first saw it), baked goods, and quality pub grub. Apart from having a band room with a quality sound system, there is no higher purpose for a pub than producing an exceptional parma. I despise coffee; however, I am on a mission to find the perfect hot chocolate. I have a number of missions-to-find-the-perfect-X, actually: hot chocolates, parmas, milkshakes, berry smoothies, ciders, cheeses, and lemon tarts. I refuse to acknowledge broccoli as a source of sustinence, I am in general suspicious of any orange vegetable, and thanks to a couple of allergies, you won't find me eating anything involving fish or most nuts.
One of the things I want to do with this blog is simply say whether something tastes good and if it's value for money. I don't indulge in food or drink wank. I have a foot in both camps here; my father is a winemaker, so I can speak the wine wank lingo and it's useful amongst wine connoisseurs, but I'm also well aware of just how ridiculous and meaningless it sounds to anybody who doesn't share the same passion. I have always thought writing should be accessible, with as little jargon as possible, and since this blog is not aimed at wine connoisseurs, I will not be waxing lyrical about how the earthy, agricultural aromas and subtle tannins of the wine complemented the texture of the ... you get the idea.
I should also add that we will never eat in any pub with a TAB or other gambling facilities attached. That's not so much due to any philosophical disagreement with gambling, just that places like that always have too many creepy old men and no-hopers shuffling about. It's depressing. Plus as a music enthusiast it's profoundly annoying that band rooms throughout Melbourne have been closed and replaced with pokies. I don't think I should waste my money supporting any pub that promotes pokies instead of live music.
I was born in England, and lived there for five years in a town called Coleford, which I believe is still stuck somewhere around 1950. Coleford's one concession to fine cuisine was an exceptionally good fish and chip shop. In 1997, I moved to Auckland, New Zealand - specifically the North Shore. Although the quality of food around there was a vast improvement on Coleford, we were not quite rich enough to sample everything the Shore offered to us. As a consequence of this, I spent most of my formative years eating at home. Thankfully, my parents are quite adept at cooking. For the first six or so years of my life, my mum made a point of finding me something new to eat each time she went grocery shopping. Early on, I discovered that I despised pawpaw, but quite enjoyed passionfruit, for instance. My parents pretty made made a point of not allowing processed food in the house, and so I have no truck with the horrors of processed cheese or pasta sauce from a jar.
I have always loved going out for meals, since this was always quite a special occasion for me as a child. When I go out to eat, I challenge myself to find things that I can't easily make at home. Most of the time, I find that ordering something that I make frequently at home - lasagne, for instance - generally proves disappointing, since I usually end up just thinking "I can do this so much better". When I moved to Melbourne in 2010, a whole new culinary world was opened up to me. I mean sure, I had my local haunts in New Zealand, some of which I still can't find satisfactory equivalents of in Melbourne. But the prospect of being able to find somewhere new to eat each day that is still within walking distance of where I live really excites me. As a result of going out to each so much more, I think I have become more discerning in my tastes over the last couple of years. But this doesn't mean I'm going to wank over food - I'm dreadful at trying to sound classy. I'm not.
Unlike Ax, I most definitely do not have a sweet tooth. I am savoury all over. It is very rare that I order a dessert; normally I opt for an entrée and a main rather than a main and dessert. Of course, if I'm feeling particularly piggish, I will order all three. I will normally make an exception for a really good sticky date pudding. I'm a sucker for all things involving cheese, bacon and wine - preferably all in the same meal. I love my wines and ciders, and will sometimes even be placated with a particularly good beer. Also unlike Ax, I LOVE coffee. But my main non-alcoholic beverage always has and always will be tea. I'm sure you'll hear me go on and on about this in future.
The atmosphere of my chosen eating/drinking establishment is very important to me. I could be eating the best meal in the world, but being surrounded by sleazy old men in a gaming room really does not appeal to me. A pub with a TAB is pretty much off limits to me. All I really need is a nice beer garden, interesting décor and the anticipation of an awesome meal. The rest will flow.