When on holiday, I always manage to eat way more food than usual. I’m not talking about eating to fuel your body, but eating as the main – and sometimes only – activity of the day. Serious food dedication. With nothing else pressing on the agenda, eating exotically can become the sole focus of holiday activities. A dangerous and delicious slippery slope! This was the unavoidable situation I found myself in when I travelled back home to Melbourne for a short visit late last year.
S pondering his next meal choice…
Luckily, Melbourne has a massive foodie scene, and the restaurants you trip across down back alleys (literally) are usually gourmet delights. I could (and have) spent days trying out different cafe’s, brunch spots, hidden bars, hipster hangouts and lush restaurants. Food art is taken very, very seriously and the atmosphere of the restaurant is nearly as important as the food itself. So, what rocked my boat?? Read on…
I miss brunch. I yearn for poached eggs and wilted spinach on a sourdough toast when in Vienna. Brunch used to be my Sunday habit when I lived in Carlton. Meeting friends at a cosy cafe to debrief about the weekends shenanigans was our own kind of religion. What seemed like half of Melbourne would be doing the same. Naturally then, my first port of call on landing in town was catch up brunch:
We went to the adorable and airy John Gorilla‘s to get my my poached egg craving satisfied. Good service, great coffees and most importantly they allowed us to while away over two hours of catch up chats. Despite the place being near full, we weren’t hurried along or made to feel uncomfortable. Brilliant!
Happy brunch fans
So thrilled to be eating good brunch!!
However my favourite brunch spot of the week has to go Annoying Brother on Nicholson Street. A short stroll from buzzy Lygon Street, this place was adorable, with great spins on classic brunch items, service was chatty and friendly but not too in your face. Their coffee was so great I had one pre and post meal and the smashed avocado with feta and a poached egg was scrumptious. Plus, look how cute this place is!!
They even speak my adopted language!
I was in town for my sisters birthday, so our family had multiple excuses to go out for meals all week. The first place we went was a surprisingly lush and high end Indian Restaurant, hidden (where else?) down an alleyway in central Melbourne. I vaugely remember the site used to be a nightclub, and walking down there you almost believe you’ll be entering a dingy bar.
Melbourne’s famous alleyway street art
Shoes hanging from what I hope are not electricity lines outside the restaurant!
Once you find Tonka, it is a surprisingly gorgeous open and airy restaurant looking over Flinders Street. Completely unexpected at the bottom of an alleyway! We were there for lunch so the place was soon filled with well dressed Melburnians enjoying the extraordinarily good food.
The views before the mad lunch rush
This is not your average Indian curry and korma, this is beautifully infused, delicious and high quality Indian. An absolute highlight of the week. Service was impeccable, and the wine and cocktails were… well, lets just say our ‘lunch’ ended at 5pm, so we thoroughly enjoyed it all!!
A very close second was the much hyped Meatball & Wine Bar. Located in the alley-adjacent Flinders Lane, this place was brilliant. Who knew such wonderful things could come of eating meatballs?? We wandered in late on a Thursday evening after a hearty day of touristy shopping and were lucky enough to land a table. Apparently the wait times here can get out of control in the evening. Walking in, the place felt more like a hot-spot bar than restaurant, with dim sexy lighting, couples flirting at bench tables and a party vibe throughout. Once the food came out though, all that trendy, edgy stuff was irrelevant because man, are those meatballs good!
Alleyway restaurant must-have; artfully deconstructed brick walls.
It’s very simple really – you choose your meatball type (beef, pork, chicken or veg), select the ‘bed’ you want it to rest on (potato mash, pasta, vegies) and the sauce you want drizzled on top. Voila! It’s that straightforward, and so so delicious. My mum was telling people about her pesto mash potato for days and days afterwards. The extra fun part was the size and genius of their desserts. I can’t resist dessert – try as I might to be healthy – and I believe the Austrian love of sweet treats has only encouraged my weakness! Meatball & Wine bar did not disappoint on the dessert front, take a look at this delicious specimen:
Heaven. Or a heart attack.
That, my friends, is heavenly home made ice cream sandwiched between two cookies. The best bit is, you construct sandwich the same way you construct your main meal. By choosing from six flavours of cookies and three flavours of ice cream to create the perfect dream dessert. I went for a lemon shortbread cookie on the bottom and chocolate cookie on top with classic vanilla ice cream in between.
It. Was. Incredible.
I wish I had photographic evidence of my joy but we were so caught up in the frenzy of eating such deliciousness that there was no time for photos. We headed home in an overstuffed, satisfied food coma…but not before I noticed the drinks special on offer at the Bar:
It seems the Aussies have discovered the Austrians favourite summer cocktail. Aperol Spritzers are a must have on any self respecting Austrian menu, and finding a venue in Melbourne that sold spritzer’s by the carafe gave me a little bit of hope that maybe my two homes aren’t so far apart after all. Malzheit!
Yes YOU! To any and every one who shared, liked, commented, followed, showed their friends, posted on Facebook or generally got excited about my post 28 Ways to be Austrian. I am so completely overwhelmed with the incredible response it got and especially pleased that so many Austrians enjoyed it! With over 200,000+ views and a brilliant comment thread to say I’m grateful would be a massive understatement. So THANK YOU ALL!!
I’m also very happy to announce that the post led to me landing a dream job with a wonderful company – Tour Radar. Unbelievable. Thank you, all you delightful blog readers out there, for being an integral part of this exciting change! I will keep you updated as the new challenges and delights of the job unfold.
For now, I’m in Melbourne reconnecting with my hometown for 10 days – so stay tuned for some Australian- based posts and photos…. until then have a Happy Monday!!
Yesterday was a tough tense day. First, for some unknown ungodly reason, I skipped my morning coffe. Secondly, I’ve been torturing myself this week with early morning gym sessions in the hope that my ‘summer body’ will magically turn up there at 7:30am and I can slip right into that skinny tanned skin. Weirdly, it hasn’t worked yet!! Then, checking Twitter mildly on the U-Bahn to work, this happened….
And before my eyes, the whole political landscape was shifting, Australia’s first female Prime Minister set herself up for a literal poitical death-match against her arch-nemisis, Kevin Rudd. Or for those who remember it – Kevin ’07. As in, gained success in 2007, Kevin ‘fair shake of the sauce bottle’ Rudd:
If none of the above words make any sense to you – well, then you are now on the same page as my fellow work colleagues and friends here in Austria!! I was inadvertently thrust into the position of ‘political correspondent’ to try and explain the intricacies and attitudes of Australian Politics.
This is….interesting to translate. How to describe a political landscape where the party in power devour their own, for the second time!!
A quick refresher for you: Kevin Rudd came to power as Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party in 2007. When things started looking bad in the Polls for the Labour party, Julia Gillard, backed by some powerful party members, called a ballot and ousted K Rudd as leader of his party, and therefore as Prime Minister of the country. It was, at the time, quite shocking and unheard of in Aussie Politics. I still remember Rudd’s emotional farewell speech:
The family standing behind him, the tears. Terrible. At the time. In 2007. Other things that happened in 2007 – the last Harry Potter came out, Anna Nicole Smith died, the iPhone was first released. Point being it was a LOOOONNNGG time ago. For me anyway, and I think, in the minds of the Australian Public.
Kevin Rudd held onto this, played the party game for a few years and then yesterday, exacted his long held and burning revenge. Outing Julia Gillard in the same spectacular and backstabbing surprise inter-party ballot that felled him. All over Twitter there was comparisons to the Game of Thrones – like brutality of this. Rudd even had the nickname amongst other Pollies of ‘Kingslayer’. The circus of Australian Politics made headlines around the world. And to try and explain this, to other nationalities, from a far off viewpoint is….almost heartbreaking. To experience it here, watching the drama unfold over Twitter, tensely following like a football match the ultimate denoument was almost unbearable.
The head on Cersei’s body is K-Rudd, the other guys are Opposition leaders!
Technically its only November, which means that any excitement about the impending holidays need to be kept at a minimum – but really, there’s Christmas markets already!! And decorations!! And everything is looking sparkly!!
Being on this side of the world for the leadup to Christmas is a bit like being taken to the authentic version of a Christmas Wonderland – with some added extras. There’s a LOAD more characters in an Austrian Christmas. The devil for one. Instead of our English tradition of naughty kids just getting coal in their Santa sacks, these guys go all out and threaten children with the DEVIL COMING no doubt to POSSESS YOUR SOUL if you are bad. There’s nothing quite so alarming as seeing cartoon devils plastered all over christmas chocolates, side by side with smiling snowmen. The obvious difference here is that Santa is not a thing – they have a nicer lady know as Kriskindle who visits and takes the place of Santa in most ways – sitting in public spaces for kids to come and spill their wishes to. Weirdly, she kinda has my hair and stole my look…were I to wear crowns and gowns daily….
“Come at me tiny ones, these sleeves will swallow you!!”
This may explain why small children tend to stare at me on trams, in the street and in Cafe’s. Obviously, they think I am about to shower them with love, gifts and glory. Disappointing for both of us really.
The other more sinister/fun thing they do here for Christmas is the Tyrolian tradition of Krampus and Perchten. Its the reigonal variety of the Devil coming beside St Nicholas (not the happy smiley fat guy you know, but the actual Saint) to punish small children while St Nick doles gifts to the good ones. Check out how goddamn terrifying this Krampus guy is in this heartwarming christmas card:
You can see the terror in that kids face!! Traditionally on the 6th of December to chase away the evil winter spirits there are street parades in villages where young men dress in these huge heavy Krampus costumes with belts of drums and bells and perform LOUDLY in the streets. You have to see it to believe it. Noise, chanting, black charcoal dust being thrown in people’s faces – its unbelievable. Pagan, exciting and crazy. My first week in Soll last year coincided with Krampus and I had no clue what was going on, except that Austrians were in equal measures crazy and fun. Nothing has changed my view since!!
Besides all this new found fun in Christmas tradition, I’m only just now realising how hilarious an Aussie christmas is in comparison to how ‘authentic’ these guys make it. We saw handmade wreaths, with fresh flowers and actual plants at the farmers markets in Graz on the weekend and I was gobsmacked – it’d never before occurred to me for wreaths to be anything but plastic. Same for trees, snow, mistletoe all the ‘symbols of Christmas’ that we replicate back home are actually real here! It sounds simple but has been a real eye-opener for me. However, I wouldn’t trade a Santa in boardies or a seaside pub meal on Christmas day for anything. Can’t actually wait for S to experience his first Aussie chrissie, in all its simulated, plastic, non-traditional glory. We get the best of both worlds this year – 4 weeks in Vienna enjoying stunning Christmas markets, gluwein, snow and Krampus celebrations then jetting back into the sunshine to rooftop bars, Framily BBQ’s and Christmas day on the beach. Perfect.