Ally lives on a beautiful property just 25 kms from the center of Melbourne. Together with her family Ally has built her home after being inspired by travels through the south of France. Her home has fantastic views of the Kinglake ranges and a valley of gum trees, and is often visited by kangaroos! Ally is a passionate, self-taught home cook, who has been cooking for almost 40 years now. She grew up on a wheat and sheep farm and moved to the beautiful, multi-cultural Melbourne when she was 19. She enjoys cooking and puts in so much time, love and effort that each meal turns into a food event! Her passion has opened many opportunities and has done a variety of things in the food industry, including working at a café to develop their menu and catering for a number of events. In addition to her first love of cooking, Ally also enjoys gardening, photography and pottery. You will be welcomed by Ally to her beautiful and spacious home with a refreshing drink. Ally’s food is modern Australian and is inspired by a variety of different cultures and flavors. She bakes her own sourdough bread daily and is always trying out new things in her kitchen, experimenting with flavors and trying different food combinations. She loves cooking healthy, fresh meals from scratch and uses produce from her own vegetable, fruit and herb garden. After you get to know your host a little better while snacking on some appetizers, join Ally and her family (when they are home) at the dining table for a home-cooked meal prepared with lots of love! You might enjoy dishes like freshly-baked sourdough bread, or focaccia served with an Australian dukkah and homemade goat cheese drizzled with lemon honey. This might be followed by chicken which has been deboned and stuffed with wild rice, herbs, walnuts, currants and lemon zest and then roasted and served with homemade chutneys or chili jam. Accompanying this you might enjoy a green salad with peas, shoots, mint and an Asian-inspired dressing, or a roasted cauliflower salad with lentils, dates, and a tahini dressing. For dessert you might enjoy kaffir lime panna cotta with berry coulis, coconut ice cream and fresh berries. End your meal with coffee or tea. If you book a cooking experience, Ally will teach you to make two Australian-inspired dishes from scratch using fresh ingredients and herbs from from her garden. Before you start your hands-on experience, Ally will give you a small tour of her garden and will show you all the fruits, vegetables and herbs she grows. After you pluck a few herbs from her garden, cook alongside with Ally in her large, beautiful kitchen. The cooking portion of the experience will last for 1-2 hours during which you will learn to make a salad and a main dish. Then enjoy your meal together, which will be served with a couple other dishes Ally might have prepared in advance.
Supplier: Traveling Spoon
Melbourne is a maze of hidden laneways, opulent bars, exclusive restaurants and off-the-beaten-track boutiques. Here you can soak up culture, hit the sporting grounds, taste the dynamic food and wine scene, dance til dawn or wander the parks and leafy boulevards. Visit Federation Square, the city's landmark cultural space, and enjoy a sunset beer on the St Kilda promenade. Shop till you drop on funky Brunswick Street or upmarket Chapel Street. Wander Southbank's cafes, bistros and bars and get a world tour of cuisines in Carlton, Richmond and Fitzroy. Take an Aboriginal Heritage Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens and cheer with a capacity crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Five Must-Have Melbourne Experiences:
1. Shop till you drop
Bag a bargain at the Rose Street Artist's Market and browse the funky boutiques on Brunswick Street. Buy designer labels such as Akira Isogawa and Zimmerman on Chapel Street in Prahran or in the historic Melbourne General Post Office, which covers an entire city block. For everything from fashion to furnishings at fantastic value, visit Bridge Road in Richmond. Melbourne is a shopper's haven, offering eclectic boutiques, high-end fashion, funky homeware stores and European style piazzas in the city's arcades and hidden laneways.
2. Bar hop and dance till dawn
Sip a cocktail in a converted sea container in Chinatown, enjoy a sunset beer in a St Kilda pub or listen to cabaret in lush retro surroundings in jazz bars in the city. Linger over exquisite tapas and exotic wine in a Little Collins Street bar and mingle in a pink parlour with fake grass in Bourke Street. You can party from dusk in the bars of Brunswick Street. Or dance till dawn in bars in the city's lantern-lit laneways, secret apart from the spill of coloured light under heavy brass doors.
3. Get into the gourmet goodness
Let the aroma of good coffee waft over you in Melbourne's gothic European laneways. The city is famous for its coffee and old-world café culture but there's so much more to explore. Once you've downed a 'short black' or taken an afternoon aperitif, try tea in a nineteenth-century hotel or salivate over your silver spoon in acclaimed restaurants like Nobu, Botanical and Becco. Pick up fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood at the Queen Victoria Market on a Saturday, known for its bustling crowds and buskers. Try out the restaurants, cafes, bistros and bars in Southbank or Federation Square. Make your way around Melbourne's multicultural cosmos of cuisines: Carlton for Italian classics, Richmond for budget-friendly Vietnamese and Fitzroy for Spanish tapas.
4. Fill up on culture
See a performance by the Australian Ballet, which is based here in Australia's cultural capital. Or enjoy a dazzling musical at the Princess Theatre. Browse the Southern Hemisphere's best collection of international art at the National Gallery of Victoria. Or visit the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Federation Square, a landmark cultural 'space' for Melbournians. Challenge yourself with the creative collections in the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Southbank. To learn more about Melbourne's Aboriginal cultural heritage, see contemporary and dreamtime art or take an Aboriginal Heritage Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens.
5. Go sports mad
Cheer for an Australian Rules Football game with a capacity crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground over winter. Go cricket mad in summer, when the city hosts the Ashes and one day internationals. Or join the huge crowds watching the Australian Tennis Open at Melbourne Park. Rev heads head to Melbourne in March for the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Albert Park. And whether you are a racing fan or just a casual punter, you won't want to miss the Melbourne Cup - the world's richest horse race on the first Tuesday in November.
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