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By Momentum Editor (@momentumtravels)     11 Nov 2016

Former MasterChef Australia contestant Sara Oteri tours Melbourne’s food scene, sampling what makes this city tick

For a city that runs on coffee, Melbourne is a surprisingly relaxed soul. Even in the buzz of the laneways she emits a sense of calm that’s unique to this city.

Just minutes away from the bustling CBD, you can duck down cobbled lanes and narrow side streets to discover what really makes Melbourne tick: coffee wafts through doorways, fresh produce is visible at every turn and artists thrive.

Sara Oteri gets her morning dose of flat white
Sara Oteri gets her morning dose of flat white

A former contestant on MasterChef Australia, food presenter and stylist Sara Oteri is a champion of Melbourne’s thriving independent cafe culture. Great service, attention to detail and a genuine love of produce are what inspire this self-confessed foodie.

Oteri spends a morning walking us through some local hotspots that tick all her boxes.

Coffee with a kick

For a city where an independent coffee culture thrives, no morning tour is complete without a visit to Market Lane Coffee, a boutique roaster and retailer that prides itself on sourcing the best beans from around the world.

An international brew, Melbourne-style, at Market Lane Coffee
An international brew, Melbourne-style, at Market Lane Coffee

‘We spend a lot of our time going overseas and sourcing the best coffee we can find, working with those farmers and producers to bring it back into the country,’ explains store manager of the Collins Street branch, Samuel Barnes.

‘We then roast it really carefully in small batches and we put a lot of time and thought into how we prepare coffee both for sale in the cafe and also for people to take home,’ he adds.

Everyone has their go-to coffee, and for many Melburnians it’s the flat white. ‘It is a uniquely Australian and New Zealand coffee, distinguished from the cafe latte because of the choice of cup and the amount of milk that goes in,’ explains Barnes.

‘At Market Lane we put two shots of coffee in every cup so our ratio of coffee to milk might be a little bit different to other places.’

Everything on bread

Next stop is Rustica Canteen on Guildford Lane, a popular breakfast and lunch spot that serves fresh sourdough bread and pastries. The menu here represents so much of the Melbourne food scene—fresh, exquisite ingredients served with a twist on the norm. Head chef Tristan White has traveled all over the world, but is now back in his hometown creating culinary delights.

Fresh breads are made daily in the bakery arm of the business—Rustica Sourdough, in Fitzroy—then delivered fresh to Guilford Lane and incorporated into the menu.

The most popular breakfast dish right now is Chilli Scrambled Eggs: a combination of green chili, bacon, spring onions, eggs and manchego cheese on fresh sourdough.

In another twist on the quintessential Australian breakfast —smashed avo and poached eggs—Rustica stands out from the crowd with the addition of pickled red onion and a beetroot relish, a little bit of sumac salt and toasted seeds.

Filling a hole

Once the morning coffee quota has been filled, it’s time to move on to something sweet. Doughnuts have become a go-to treat in Melbourne and are now elaborate creations, filled generously with every imaginable flavor and topped with all sorts of sweet delights to look like miniature works of art.

Jess Gould, manager of the Degraves Street branch of cult hole-in-the-wall, Doughnut Time, reveals: ‘The secret to the perfect doughnut is love. Our doughnuts are above and beyond, they’re quirky, they’re in. The style of our doughnuts is exactly what Melbourne is looking for.’

One of Doughnut Time's cult creations
One of Doughnut Time’s cult creations

The most popular creation right now, ‘It’s Always A Gay Time’ is a milk-chocolate-glazed doughnut filled with honeycomb custard and topped with crushed biscuit and golden caramelized crepes. New inventive doughnut recipes are added weekly incorporating locally sourced ingredients.

‘Doughnut time is always a good time,’ Jess laughs, although judging by her expression it’s true.

Watch the full tour with Sara here and share your own favorite coffee, brunch and doughnut spots with #momentumtravel.

Sara Oteri

Sara Oteri is a creative and cook with a goal to evoke emotion in others through food. Widely recognized as a contestant on Masterchef Australia, Sara is also an ambassador for the Food for Families Appeal, spreading awareness and creating recipes to help less fortunate Victorians put wholesome food on the table.

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