St Kilda's Food-focused Amazing Race

Gastrology took part in St Kilda's Amazing race courtesy of Miss Jackson, St Kilda Rickshaws, Monarch Cakes, Babu Ji, Ichi Ni, Il Fornaio, St Kilda Bowls Club, Milk The Cow and Bar di Stasio.
Gastrology recently took part in St Kilda Tourism Association’s inaugural St Kilda Culinary Amazing Race Around The Globe which was organised by the lovely Jessica Williams from Tyrrell Publicity & Promotions.
Located 6 km from the city centre, St Kilda is Melbourne’s seaside playground and is much-loved by residents and visitors alike.  St Kilda is renowned for its expansive view of Port Phillip Bay, safe sandy beach, palm-lined Esplanade, huge range of beach activities, blue skies, gorgeous sunsets, lovely parks and gardens, great restaurants, bars and cafés, fabulous old buildings and stunning architecture, plus its colourful past and present.
The aim of the inaugural St Kilda Amazing Race was to showcase St Kilda as a major dining destination in Melbourne – profiling many different eateries and dining options on both Acland and Fitzroy Street. 

9.30 am – Miss Jackson
Location: 2/19 Grey Street, St Kilda
Phone: 03 9534 8415
Cuisine: Coffee, Modern Australian, Breakfast/Brunch

The first stop in the St Kilda Amazing Race journey was Miss Jackson. We loved the cafe's laidback vibe, laneway location, attentive staff and delicious fare. 
We especially loved the quality coffee on offer and the homemade crumpets. Soft, fluffy and moist, these crumpets were an absolute treat and were served with a decadent Raspberry Butter. 
We were also spoilt with fresh croissants from Woodfrog Bakery (located on Fitzroy Street). The croissants were baked to perfection. giving the outer layer a nice crisp bite and finding the perfect balance between sweet and savoury.
The Woodfrog Bakery on Urbanspoon
We were then introduced to our drivers for the morning who were waiting patiently out front, ready to escort us around the bay. 
Miss Jackson on Urbanspoon

Tour of St Kilda via Rickshaw
Phone: 0421 196 737

The St Kilda Rickshaws is a new initiative in St Kilda – an exciting, safe and environmentally friendly, alternative mode of transport around St Kilda. 

Fifteen minute jaunts on one of the three wheeled cruisers costs $15.00 for two people – or, for $90.00, book a one hour voyage for a deep insight into the various pieces of St Kilda that makes it one of the most interesting areas in Victoria. 
With Nate leading the way, we were safely delivered to Monarch Cakes after a quick jaunt down The Esplanade.

10.30 am - Monarch Cakes
Location: 103 Acland Street,  St Kilda
Phone: 03 9534 2972
Cuisine: Bakery, Coffee, Desserts/Ice Cream

Monarch Cakes have been doing what they do for over 75 years and the proof is, quite literally, in the pudding. Staying true to their Polish roots, many recipes have originated from their shop in Poland. Every cake is made fresh using raw ingredients in their most natural form.
We took home Monarch’s famous Chocolate Kooglhoupf. The cake is marbled with white cake and chocolate fudge and is beautifully soft and moist. It was certainly a special treat. 

Monarch Cakes continues to be a St Kilda gem. It is the perfect place for cake and coffee or, if you prefer, to takeaway for a guilty pleasure at home.  
Monarch Cakes on Urbanspoon

11 am - Babu Ji
Location: 4-6 Grey Street, St Kilda
Cuisine: Indian, Vegetarian

We were greeted at Babu Ji by owner Jesse and their Head Chef – alongside Hindu Disco music and quirky images of 1970s porno-moustached “Babus”.
We sat around the grand Chef’s table and enjoyed a variety of Indian meals. Each dish was an experience – a long way from the regular butter chicken experience Melbournians are so used to.
Papdi Chaat

The first course of Papdi Chaat, also known as India's "nachos and salsa", comprised of a generous shared plate of chickpea crisps, coriander salsa, potato and chickpeas, tamarind drizzles and yoghurt. It was absolutely delicious. With a slight kick and beautiful marrying of textures and flavours, we could not help going back for more.
Yoghurt Kebab

The Yoghurt Kebab was outstanding. A plump fritter-like sphere sitting atop a bright pink, unctuous sauce, we loved the balance between sweet and savoury that the dish struck.
Tandoor King Prawns

Straight from the tandoor, the King Prawns were beautifully charred and tasted incredibly fresh.
Gol Gappa

A popular Indian street snack, the Gol Gappa was addictively delectable - tangy, spicy, sweet and surprising.
Fish Curry with Flathead with Premium Aged Basmati Sella Rice

The Fish Curry arrived at the table for our “Guess the Ingredient Challenge”. While we failed miserably in guessing the ingredients, we had no trouble putting this dish away.
Babu Ji on Urbanspoon

12 pm - Ichi Ni
Location: 12 The Esplanade, St Kilda
Phone: 03 9534 1212
Cuisine: Japanese, sushi

Before we knew it, we were back in the Rickshaws and on our way to a second lunch at Ichi Ni. 
Located on The Esplanade overlooking the bay, Ichi Ni's alfresco dining area is the place to go for Japanese food in summer. It was exciting to hear that Ichi Ni has a future operation in the works, Ichi Ku, in Fitzroy which is due to open in the next two months. 
We loved the beautifully fresh rice and ingredients that Ichi Ni uses to make their sushi and were excited to learn how to "roll" for our next challenge - sushi rolling.
Sushi rolling proved more difficult than expected – but it gave us the opportunity to discover just how delicious really fresh sushi can be. 
Ichi Ni Izakaya on Urbanspoon

1 pm - Il Fornaio
Location: 2 Acland Street, St Kilda
Phone: 03 9534 2922
Cuisine: Modern Australian, Coffee, Breakfast/Brunch, Desserts/Ice Cream

After 2 lunches, we welcomed a caffeine hit at Il Fornaio.
Barista Matt told us all about the Official Coffee Competitions – where it is all about flavour, symmetrical patterns and colours and perfectly stretched milk.
It was back to breakfast time when Il Fornaio Head Chef Simon Turner arrived at our round table with the Coffee and Orange Juice Bircher and a pile of bacon.
Coffee & orange juice bircher

The Coffee and Orange Juice Bircher Muesli was stunning. Flavoured with sweet blood orange juice, heady St Ali coffee, creamy yogurt, hazelnut, coffee crumb,  date confit and blood orange crackers, this was an amalgamation of breakfast favourites that wow-ed the senses.
Simon Turner has an impressive background with upmarket restaurants like the Royal Mail Hotel, Attica and Aria – and is now a spokesperson for Kindred Organics Quinoa and a consultant for PROOF – Pasture Raised On Open Field – eggs, promoting cutting edge pastoral techniques with much stricter parameters then free-range.
His bacon was also to die for – the pigs are purchased as piglets in Castlemaine, fed to Simon's grain profiles, ethically butchered, cured and cut in house.

Il Fornaio was included in 2013’s Melbourne's Best Cafe` Bakery, Melbourne's Best Cheese Shops, and Melbourne's Best Pies and received 1 cup in The Age Good Food Guide 2014.
Simon is also about to launch a new set of products available to consumers from his business “The St Kilda Preservation Society” – in which a selection of condiments – that are already used in select St Kilda businesses – will be marketed to the public with St Kilda based labels like Luna Park, The Esplanade etc. 
Il Fornaio on Urbanspoon

1.45pm - St Kilda Sports Club
Location: 66 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
Phone: 03 9534 5229

After all that food it was time to work some of it off with a game of Lawn Bowls at St Kilda Sports Club – which will celebrate its 150th year in 2015. 
A bowling lane can be hired for $200.00 for two hours – and drinks are available from the bar at bar prices – darts and pool can also be played inside the clubhouse. 
We also got to have a special sneak peak of the original locker room of St Kilda Sports Club – which is still in its original form from when it was built in 1876. 
With the dropping out of the old Fitzroy green (in 1927) and the old Prahran (in the early seventies) St Kilda has become the second oldest existing club in Victoria, and in Australia.

3 pm - Milk The Cow
Location: 157 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
Phone: 03 9537 2225
Cuisine: Cheese, Coffee, Desserts/Ice Cream, Wine Bar

After some time barefoot on the green – we crossed Fitzroy Street to Milk The Cow for some wine and cheese. 
Laura and Andrew, the cheese and wine connoisseurs of the venue, introduced our cheese and wine flight pairings.
We savoured and devoured our wine and cheese tasting flight which included a red wine soaked cheese, a creamy blue, a Dutch delicacy and a six month old Manchego (which was everyone’s favourite).
Milk the Cow on Urbanspoon

4 pm - Bar di Stasio
Location: 31 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
Phone: 03 9525 3999
Cuisine: Italian, Cocktails

And lastly – it was time to finish the day with some Italian inspired cocktails and Negroni at Bar di Stasio – the relatively new addition to St Kilda cullinary institution, Cafe di Stasio.
Featuring an elegant stone bench top and knowledgeable and cheerful waitstaff, the space is perfect for casual drinks in a sophisticated environment. 

Restaurant Manager Mallory looked after our group with some refreshing bitter alcohol, eggplant chips, fried potato skins and chicken pate toasts. 
We loved the classy and elegant setting. 
Bar di Stasio on Urbanspoon
The Amazing Race ended with six incredibly satiated and happy foodies, chatting in Di Stasio Bar. We all left with a new appreciation for the food venues of St Kilda and cannot wait to come back for more!