This weekend I was able to explore one of the things that Melbourne is famous for – brunch! My roomie from the Melbourne Welcome Week had her birthday this Sunday so a group of us went out for brunch and then off to the beach. As a complete land lubber I am very excited to be living so near the sea and, although other Australians only have disdain for Melbourne’s beaches, it is quite the luxury for me.
We went to a very cute little cafe whose name I very helpfully can not remember. I enjoyed a very fancy pants looking mushroom ragu, which did in fact taste as good as it looks. We were then able to wonder around the Rose Street Market which had lots of cute little stalls.
We then wandered along to the beach and walked past all of the stalls. Terrarium’s seemed to be the order of the day, with several people selling them. I actually bought a very small one – I’m still trying to decide whether it is too big to wear as a necklace. When I’m sorted in a place of my own I’m planning to go back and buy a bigger one.
I hope you all had a good weekend, where ever you might be!
From Monday this week I have been enjoying the hospitality of Trinity College on the University of Melbourne campus for an international welcome week. As this was a paid event it was something that I uhmed and ahhed about signing up to, but I am really glad that I did. It was organised by local students who had previously gone on exchanges themselves and was a really wonderful opportunity to get to know the city and other students.
One of the highlights of the week was going on a day trip to Yarra Valley, which is about an hour drive from Melbourne. We went to Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and ice creamery, a winery and to Healesville Sanctuary to look at all the aussie animals. I actually hadn’t realised that the kangaroo was part of a specific subset of animals – the marsupials – that are pretty much only found in Australia and the Americas.
Another highlight was a guided tour of Melbourne’s laneways. These are small side lanes which have been devoted either to graffiti or to cafes and bars. They have an incredibly buzzy and distinctive feel and I can’t wait to explore them soon.
We also went up on the Eureka skydeck, ran around the city like lunatics on a scavenger hunt and had some awesome cake! Its been a great start in getting to know Melbourne and I can’t wait to explore some more.
I was lucky enough today to be driven out to Studley Park which is on the out skirts of Melbourne. One of the things that I am fast coming to recognise is how many large green spaces there are. There aren’t so many of the London Style small green spaces but there are some fairly central proper big parks.
Anyway this is one of them and has the added advantage of being where the fruit bat colony of Melbourne live. Apparently you can see them flying across the suburbs at night, although I have yet to catch sight of one. It was a truly amazing sight to see them dangling from the trees by the river as far as the eye can see. Although I have been reliably informed that they give off a right pong in the summer months. Sadly my phone camera is awful but its all I have so I hope you can at least spot some bat shaped blobs.
I also walked further down into the park admiring all the eucalyptus trees. The city is full of them and they smell really lush and add greenness everywhere.
And so it begins! After months of planning and second guessing I have arrived safe and sound in Melbourne ready to start my year abroad. I’m still feeling massively jet lagged and spent most of thursday -when I wrote this – in bed. Thrilling stuff! But I thought I might as well share my first thoughts.
First Impression: Reminds me more of the USA than Britain – like, weirdly flat buildings but with more high rises? And lots of super fancy iron work and stuff like that on buildings that aren’t old at all. First Purchase with AUD: Skybus ticket from the airport
First place I visited: I walked down to Fitzroy which is basically hipsterville. I have stars in my eyes guys, for real! SO MUCH FOOD. And independent book stores. And hippy places selling funky blankets. I will become a parody of myself and it will be wonderful.
Scariest Moment: Realising that I hadn’t written down my Australian address which I needed for my landing card. Cue panic messaging people (without the full story) on facebook in Manila airport as facebook was working and gmail wasn’t. I did manage to get it but I was pretty much the last person to get on the plane. Before the latecomers. Le sigh. Most needless panic: That the Australian immigration service would be hard. Like, it was a crammed madness to get through to the automatic passport gate but. I didn’t have to do anything else. I’m still confused about this. Border patrol lies people, it lies!
Weirdest Moment: Getting an Australian ad on youtube. And seeing two people (beard and clogs respectively) carrying a weird statue and plynth. I’m slightly worried that it was actually going to go into their garden.
Oddest thing in general: The weird season miss mash. It gets dark at 5.30 which just feels confusing. And there are trees with their leaves off but also palm trees. In the same park. Its very odd. Feeling: Slightly overwhelmed but also very excited.
Thinking: About the future
Looking forward to: Finding a house. Song of the Moment: Blow Your Mind – Jamiroquai
I have just come back from a camping trip and we ended up talking about adult food tastes. Avocado and cous cous both came up as things we pretty much all love now but wouldn’t have even considered when we were younger. It was even suggested that one of the best things about being an adult was all the scrummy, delicious, healthy food we often prefer (or at the very least enjoy) now. Although I for one can’t deny I have a sweet tooth that would rival most children its certainly true that my taste pallet has developed.
In fact, one of the best things about being at home is the amount of fresh fruit and veg lying around. I do buy fresh veg at uni but I mostly skip fruit – I just never get through it all before it goes off. Therefore I’ve been making great use of it while I’ve been back and one of the things I’ve been making a lot is massive salads – falafel, hummous, avocados….mmm, mmm. I would never have been convinced that salad could be so yummy when I was younger, that is for sure!
I’ve been using a packet mix falafel which is great. Falafel is one of my favourite foods – definitely an adult taste – but not something I’ve had much success in actually making. I tried making the baked falafel recipe from A Beautiful Mess last summer and while it was okay, it was super dry and didn’t really give me that crunchy but soft feeling I want from falafel. The packet mix worked a bit like stuffing – add water and it becomes a paste and then deep fry. I’m sure I will try making falafel from scratch again but for now its a pretty decent substitute. Add some freshly made tahini dressing and you are all set!
Is there anything you have come to like now as an adult but would have hated as a kid?
Last wednesday evening I went to the student awards ceremony put on by Durham Student Union. The Theology Society was nominated for the Best Student Lead trip category, for our society run trip to Rome. This was really the President and myself’s baby so it is really lovely to be given such a generous acknowledgement of our work and the societies as a whole.
I can’t recommend getting properly involved in a society enough. Its only this year that I have really been involved in the theology society and I have met some wonderful people. It has really contributed to me feeling much more at ease in my second year of uni. As I move to Melbourne I really want to get involved within a society, so I am spending a lot of time just now looking up the different things I could do when I move.
Sadly we didn’t win the award but it was still a fabulous event (much posher than expected). Its nice to be able to say something positive about the union after a year of obtuseness and struggle. We got a yummy three course meal and great entertainment. My favourite was the Gamelan society who played music throughout dinner.
A couple of weeks ago I was able to attend a craft fair organised by my friends Gwen from Life, the Universe and Would you pass the custard creams? and Anna from Loose Leaf Tea and Letters. Although it was a little quiet due to it being their first event the stalls looked amazing. I picked up a few bits and pieces and am buzzing with ideas. Now that exams are over I am really looking forward to getting more creative.
Having gained power over my younger brothers for the week (muhahaha) I took my youngest brother (fourteen, grumpy but very much a foodie) out to experience the delights of Birmingham’s Chinatown. Although it is a very small Chinatown – a market, some restraunts and a couple of supermarkets – it still provided us with ample enjoyment for a couple if hours.
After completely freaking Josh out by looking at the pigs trotters in the market we had a bit more luck in the supermarket. We ended up purchasing gyozo dough, orange and mango oreos and lotus spread filled steam buns. A rather disparate spread but we were feeling suitably creative. I then introduced Josh to bubble tea. I actually think this was the most authentic tea I’ve had as it actually vaguely tasted like tea. Does anyone know why bubble tea always comes sealed, or is that just for affect?
Either way, a successful visit to Chinatown and it’s worth a quick peak of you are ever around.
I’ve been trying to eat more healthily recently and cooking different types of food. So I thought it was time to try the lowest of the low fat, receiver of dieticians accolades everywhere – turkey. My housemate was pretty negative about her experience of turkey breast so I thought I’d go for the mince as I always find mince easier to flavour. So of course I added mozzarella inside – nothing says diet like mozzarella right? But it was low fat so I think that counts….
However before I begin. A rant. A question. Before trying to take a vaguely artistic photo of this meal with my crappy phone I haven’t really taken many pictures of hot food. But the steam, billowing out from ‘ready to Nom’ food, isn’t very photogenic. Does this mean….? Can it possibly…? That the food bloggers of this world are eating cold food!?!?! Or better yet, microwaving there all-sorts-of-perfect-pinterestable meals? What is this tragedy of sacrificed dinners to the art? Or is my camera just that bad? Speak to me food bloggers of the world! Anyway, onto the turkey meatballs!
For the meatballs:
450g turkey mince
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp bread crumbs (I just blitzed a piece of bread in the food processor)
Handful of fresh chopped parsley and coriander
1 ball of Mozzarella, cut into 1-1.5 cm cubes
For the sauce:
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 carrots, grated
5/6 mushrooms, thinly sliced
Put all of the meatball ingredients into a bowl, except for the mozzarella. Roughly mix them together – you don’t want to overwork the meat. Then take about 1 and a half teaspoons of the mixture and flatten slightly. Put the mozzarella cube into the centre of the meat and then smoosh around until it is completely covered, making sure you don’t have any gaps. Even if you think that there might not be enough meat – smoosh! I managed to make about 24, although how big you want to make these is obviously just a personal preference. Fry the meatballs in batches to brown the outside and then set aside on kitchen towel to soak up the oil.
Using the same frying pan (use a large one with fairly high sides) fry the onions and garlic. You will probably have to add in a little more oil. When these are lightly cooked and both tins of tomatoes. Then fill each of these tins with boiling water and add that to the mixture. It will probably seem pretty runny at this point but have no fear! Add the grated carrot (this really helps thicken everything up and added veggies! Yay!) and the mushrooms. Then place the meatballs back into the sauce. Simmer for about 30mins until nice and thick.
P.S. You don’t even want to know how many times I had to look up how to spell Mozzarella….
At the moment my most common google searches are words. I wanted to write a massive list but I can’t even remember most of them. And the thing is, I don’t remember words being this hard to remember when I was younger. I’m not sure whether this is because I care more about precision now, mostly because I come across these words in essays or are theology specific, or if I could just absorb words better.
I think I might have to start an online dictionary and giving myself word tests. I just bloody well want words to stick. And not just stick but be automatic. It’s only as I’ve been annoyed with trying to learn these words that I realise quite how much sense we get from things. When I’m replacing propitiation mentally with a long sentence to explain it – I realise how many other words could need this to. And yet they don’t.
Its kind of amazing really. How much flavour and how many pictures and just how much muchness is within words. Is that something we are more likely to pick up on as a child? Or are just some words more sticky than others?
And please tell me someone else feels like this too?