Sunday, August 19, 2007

St Kilda

One of my favourite Melbourne suburbs to visit is St Kilda, a seaside suburb with a superb outlook over Port Philip Bay. A typical scene from St Kilda taken looking out towards the coastline is as follows:

As with most suburbs, there are "good" and "bad" parts of St Kilda. There is a distinctly edgy feel to parts of St Kilda, which has a chequered history. However, St Kilda also has some unique and charming areas, which make it a fun place to visit on the weekend, when the tourist trade hits its peak.

St Kilda is characterised by its distinctive architecture. Unfortunately, some of the old is making way for the new, particularly on the highly sought after coastal land, but it still retains its quirky charm for the most part. There are many magnificent art deco buildings in St Kilda, and one example is the Mandalay Apartments building, shown below:

St Kilda is the home of many well known restaurants and cafes, including Iain Hewitson's Barney Allens (Italian bistro style), Karen Martini's Mr Wolf (pizza restaurant), Chinta Blues (Malaysian) and Il Fornaio (whose crusty bread and coffee is to die for on a bitingly cold Sunday morning). Acland Street is the home of about four traditional European cakeshops. Part of the shop window of one of them, Europa, is shown below:

Despite the enticingly beautiful appearance of these cakes, I know from experience that for the most part, they do not (in my humble opinion) taste as good as they look. The European cakes served in these shops are generally very heavy, and it is advisable to buy a slice to share rather than attempting to battle them on your own. They also rarely taste how you would expect, although I do not mind the German-style cheesecakes and traditional fruit and custard tarts. Pictured below is the lemon pie that I purchased on this occasion. The crust of this pie was gorgeous, consisting of a light, flaky, honeyed pastry with flaked almonds on top. However, the filling was not, as I had hoped, a light whipped custard (akin to a French vanilla slice), but heavy and overwhelmingly creamy. To avoid offence, I spirited the majority of the filling of this pie into the nearest bin in my napkin.

I love St Kilda because it (a) is by the sea; (b) has wonderful quirky and sometimes beautiful architecture; (c) has a great craft market on Sundays by The Esplanade, where I often buy gifts for my friends; and (d) was the home of one of my favourite TV series, The Secret Life of Us. (My favourite character was Evan, despite the fact that in the real world, an Evan type would be the very opposite in most respects of what I would want in a boyfriend.) If you are travelling to Melbourne, or are a native Melburnian who has not been for a while, I highly recommend making the journey to St Kilda and spending a few hours walking down the pier or along the beach, savouring the unique architecture, and trying out some of the many places to eat (even if it is just fish and chips on Acland Street, like me!).

Just like this 1930s advertisement says, St Kilda really is beautiful!

No comments: