Wednesday, August 31, 2011

...and MORE food!

In case you were wondering, we have discovered "Vintage Cheddar" cheese, which is significantly tastier than the so-called "Tasty" cheese.  I did notice that our local grocery store has Havarti and Swiss, along with a few other "higher end" cheeses, though at a higher cost as well, of course.

This past weekend we took a trip to the Queen Victoria Market.
There are markets allllllllll over Melbourne, but this is the largest and it has everything you could ever want available to buy.  We went mostly just to check it out, but we left with lots of goodies!  We were there relatively close to closing time, so the workers in the fruit and veggie areas started screaming and yelling about their $1 bags, trying to get rid of some of the day's stock.  It was quite amusing, actually.  We ended up with a bag of 8 gold potatoes, a bag of 6 onions, a bag of 12 avocados, and a bag of 8 apples...all for $4!!!  It was a total steal. 
In addition, we purchased a kilo of dried black beans so that we can prepare proper "Mexican" dinners from now on.  The fruit/veggie places are all open and outdoors, but inside there are places to buy various meats and cheeses.  The meat went on sale late in the day as well, and many butchers were selling trays of meat that would feed 4-6 people for $10/tray. 

We had an impromptu dinner party Sunday evening that involved Erik grilling prawns on the barbie (yes, they actually do call the grill "the barbie"), which I'm quite disappointed that I did not document in photos.  In my opinion the prawns were not as good as some of the shrimp I had earlier this summer in the States, but I really couldn't get over the beady eyes of the prawns as I was peeling them, so I could be biased.

Tonight we walked to a local place called Sam's Cafe.  On Tuesday and Wednesday nights they have "Parma Night", where you can get chicken parmigiana for $6 at 6pm, $7 at 7pm, and so on.  The only catch is that you have to buy a drink.  We showed up at 6pm and got a table rather easily.  The chicken parma was pretty darn good, and it came with fries and a side salad for that price as well.  Seeing as tipping is not common in the service industry here, Erik and I had a yummy, filling dinner for two for less than $20.  Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday night!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


In our short time here we have discovered that food is simply not the same as it is back in the States.  We've attempted two Mexican-themed meals, enchiladas and tacos, and the enchilada sauce and taco sauce were not impressive.  The sauces were sweet with tomato chunks, not spicy and smooth like we are used to having back home.

One of the most notable food differences is the lack of yellow cheese.  Almost every cheese you'll find in the grocery store is called "tasty" cheese...and according to Erik it is not that tasty!  I don't mind it, but I wouldn't complain if someone offered me a bit of sharp cheddar or white American. :)

On the other hand, one of the cool things about buying food here is that there are actually butcher shops all over the place where you can buy different cuts of meat.  As I was strolling by one of those shops the other day, I saw this in the window and couldn't resist taking a picture:

That's right folks, Maryland is famous for their chicken...even in Australia!  So I was being a typical American and trying to be totally discreet about taking this photograph when the lady behind the counter spotted me and asked if I needed help.  I sheepishly told her that I was from the state of Maryland and I had never seen "Chicken Maryland" before.  She was very kind and proceeded to tell me that it refers to the cut of chicken (the leg and the thigh) and that many people use it for soups and stews.  Clearly I need to give it a try sometime!

All of this "new" food stuff isn't necessarily bad though.  We are learning that most foods in Oz do not have added sugar and I'm not sure I've read any labels that say "high fructose corn syrup", so that is certainly a good change.  If we do get a craving for American foods though, I've learned that there is a USA foods store not too far away from us, which is where we'll have to pick up the Crisco to make our soon-to-be world-famous chocolate chip cookies!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Welcome to Melbourne!

Today marks one week since we arrived in Oz!  Life has been a whirlwind for us the last few weeks...selling the condo, selling the cars, soaking in some sun on the beach in OC, and saying goodbye to family and friends in the States (for those wondering exactly how we ended up in Melbourne, have a read of this post).  We have finally adjusted to the time change and and the weather, which was quite uncooperative the first few days here (50's and rainy...remember it is winter in Oz!), has taken a turn for the better and we have been able to get out and see a few things in Melbourne.

On Saturday we ventured down to Port Melbourne for a few hours to walk around Port Phillip Bay.  There is a nice walking path that connects the towns along the bay.
View of the CBD from the pier at Port Melbourne

Yesterday we went into the CBD (Central Business District = downtown) and did some walking around. We started in Fitzroy Gardens:

Then we wandered our way to the Treasury Gardens, where there is actually a memorial to JFK.

Pretty flowers over there too, and one of my favorites, bird of paradise:

We then continued our stroll through the city, past the Archdiocese of Melbourne (significant since I was just recently employed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore) and St. Patrick's Cathedral.

We walked past the Parliment building and down to Federation Square, crossing this interestingly named road along the way:

Fed Square and Flinders Station are right in the middle of the city and there were many people gathered there, reminding me a bit of Baltimore's Inner Harbor, as it's just a block or two from the Yarra River.

That's our basic introduction to Melbourne!  Erik "officially" started work last Wednesday, but he can't actually do anything until he has an ID number and keys, so we should have some more free time to explore this week.