TAS2012 Trip Blips 10, 05-07 June 2012
Oh it’s been a shaky start in Melbourne town; like Singapore, there’s a lot of food businesses around, a lot are shit, since population density does keep afloat longer than they should for diners. Also like SG, so many franchise food outlets, too many, agh! Go away!
Besides Chez Dré on Coventry Street in South Melbourne, Akita on the corner of Blackwood and Courtney Street in North Melbourne; my Melbourne culinary experience has been a bit of a disaster. Why do so many east Asian restaurants think it’s their duty to sell sushi? Why the addiction to chicken stock powder, even in Singapore diluted chicken broth-water tastes more appealing than yellow powder saline solution, oh FFS.
I need your help gentlereader, please help me did someone who knows how to do a proper great Wanton Mee Dry? It can be in Melbourne or Sydney, even Perth when I head home.
Now hitting rewind.
After hopping from Launceston on 05 June, Tuesday; I have to say SkyBus is pretty awesome especially if you have inner metropolitan accommodation to take advantage of the fare included hotel transfer shuttle bus service. I say this now while I can enjoy the user friendly public transport network in Melbourne; before I have to jump on the most expensive per kilometre train ride from Kingsford Smith Airport to Sydney Central, stupid MetCard/MultiRider MyCard bullshit, weaving through the boroughs around Parramatta River and Sydney Harbor and figuring out the geometry of Sydney’s old city layout.
Enough shitting on Sydney town before I go back there, after checking into YHA Melbourne Metro, I rushed off to Errol Street to get dinner and do laundry since I got my last thermal top all sweaty climbing the Zig Zag Track along Cataract Gorge in Launceston. Hmm… I haven’t checked out the in-house laundry at the hostel, I wonder whether they price match or better the North Melbourne coin laundry rate of $4 wash, $1 tumble dry; hopefully I’ll see my first change machine at a laundromat, if not, at least there’s a 24 hour reception desk to harass for $1 coins.
Yesterday was my first full day in Melbourne with a nice start at 11 am with a fire drill at the YHA, onto the medium strip lawn we go under dark moist clouds rolling overhead. After that drama, I walked 100 metres north to the end of the street to Akita Japanese restaurant for Beef Tataki and Nabeyaki Udon for easily affordable prices you wouldn’t expect for the high quality of food. After that delightful lunch, I jumped on a tram towards South Melbourne; on board the 55 tram was a member of Melbourne Transit Demographics Unit (Myki Customer Service Assistant) profiling MetCard users and out of town looking people. I passed undetected.
After disembarking on Clarendon Street, I scooted over to Chef’s Hat. They more or less sell the same variety and ratios of product as they did when I last visited them five years ago, with loads of crockery, some cookware, a bit of bakeware, and a bunch of small utensils. I guess needs and tastes change, I find the utensils section a bit too home kitcheny with techniques needed or product result with those tools. I’ll have a look at the CBD located Cake Deco, if I’m left disappointed if it turns out to be a possible fondant and royal icing land. Hopefully Chef Warehouse in Surry Hills, New South Wales can save the days, considering they have four sizes of all copper sugar pans instead of just the one in Chef’s Hat.
After leaving Chef’s Hat empty-handed and a little disappointed, I slipped through a little alley of Coventry Street to enter possibly the rear entrance of Chez Dré, I say possibly because when inside the shop I noticed a courtyard that looked like it opened up to a bigger alleyway.The cabinet was 1/3 full because I visited 20 minutes before closing time, first impressions were good variety and execution, but initially it looked a bit more expensive, more on pricing later. I picked up a Passionfruit Tart and Hazelnut Crunch for $8.50 each in little white card boxes in a form fitting brown paper bag.
After picking up my sugary treats, I rushed off to the Little Bourke and Elizabeth Street area before the shops close for the day to search for a one inch fabric belt to reduce the wedgies caused by new pants I got from Launceston over the weekend, a duffel bag to simplify luggage juggling two daypacks and a bedroll since silly me didn’t buy a new 70 plus litre hiking backpack, a small compression sack because warm fleece takes up way too much space in my backpack.
After evening tea with my Chez Dré pastries, to juxtapose some of the best food I have ever had, why did I think I can trust the local fish and chip shop on Errol Street, or should I retain some Melbourne-Wankery and insist it be called a “Fish and Chippery”. Generic breaded calamari paste rings, astonishingly watery fish, a half fucked saving grace might just be the just crisp chips. I say so because besides Burger Got Soul in Launceston, Tasmania has an addiction to barely cooked flaccid potato sticks. Strangely even though the fish batter and everything else was bland at this North Melbourne fish and chippery, I still managed to get salt abrasion on my tongue. Got a little peed off after walking pass The Leveson on the way back to the hostel and checking out the very reasonably priced menu that could have saved me from deep fried starch and watery marine protein grumpiness.
Back onto today, I thought I could trust another Errol Street local with The French Quarter Patisserie while I spend the morning planning my itinerary in detail for Melbourne. Gawd, $5 for an almond croissant and $3.20 for a plain croissant, and a whole cabinet filled with sad looking food. There’s something very wrong with their viennoiserie products, there’s no flakiness and the internal crumb has a bready texture, the most bizarre and uninspiring lamination, or lack of. Thankfully the mascapone and marmalade I brought over from Tasmania made swallowing that tragic mistake possible.
After morning research and planning, went walkabouts and ‘gardening’. Walked pass Queen Victoria Markets, I’m still not sure if this is the biggest and most famous market in Melbourne, having only remembered visits to Footscray and South Melbourne Markets. After Victoria Street; headed east through Lincoln and Argyle Squares, or should I call them Lincoln and Argyle Skate Parks. Crossing the tramless southern end of Lygon Street, heading farther east, the mammoth National Museum and Royal Exhibition Building emerged quickly over the narrow horizon. There must have been some sort of examination in the Royal Exhibition Building as hundreds of young adults poured out of its tall doors onto the footpaths of Carlton Gardens. Luckily I got my photos of the main fountain at the garden, before they shut off the water pumps at 6 pm!
In the darkness, I headed west on Victoria Street to White Lotus, with a stroll through lower Lygon Street in between. Had a nice meal there; but for a vegetarian restaurant, too much trickery and playing around with textured soy products on the menu, instead of making the most of fresh tasting vegetables. They operate on a tiny roster for dinner Thursday to Saturday, with the one waitress covering 35 seats front of house. Poor lady, running running non stop.
That’s almost the end of this stupendously long Trip Blip, or is it a Trip Blop? All typed out on a tiny phone touchscreen. Other initial Melbourne observation; for such an advanced city I don’t know why they still insist on maintaining thousands of little two car parking meters.
Anyway the east coast Queen’s Birthday long weekend has started, must figure out what can and can’t be done while I’m around.
Edited: 08JUN2012, 1125.