26 hours and 15 minutes later I landed in Melbourne. I was sleep-deprived, anxious, and hangry. For those of you who aren’t 23 year old females – that is not a typo. Hangry is a combination of hungry and angry and occurs when your tummy is rumbling so much that you start to act like the world is ending unless you get a cheeseburger pronto. Luckily, my Fijian cab driver from the airport to Izzy’s apartment had a bowl of courtesy Jolly Ranchers. I ate 5.
All of the sudden I was on a sugar high and Izzy guided me around St Kilda for the next few hours. We explored our new neighborhood that’s just 15 minutes south of the CBD (central business district/downtown Melbourne). We walked down Chapel Street, home to hundreds of shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars. After about 9 miles (seriously) we remembered we weren’t training for a marathon and went back to her apartment. The jet lag started to kick in and I decided it’d be a good idea to take a
light 2 hour nap.
Rejuvenated from my beauty sleep, we took the train (it’s a Metro, but everyone here calls it the train) into the city. We arrived at Queen Victoria Market where there is a Winter Night Market every Wednesday from June until August. You read that right – Winter Night Market in August. I just came from sitting on the beach every day for a month at home and now I’m walking around in 5 °C weather. Freezing. Upon packing for this trip, my mom and I did a lot of research on the weather in Melbourne and looked at average temperatures, historical data, and past highs/lows. From our research, we found that “historically” the lowest it got in the winter was 45 °F. My mother thought I should just bring one leather jacket and a couple of scarfs (to save room in my luggage for spring/summer clothes). Of course the winter that I come to Melbourne is the coldest winter the city has had in 18 years. It’s safe to say I could have used my North Face.
The Winter Night Market was amazing – right up my alley. It has more than 30 food stalls, tons of local wine and beer vendors, live music, and Melbourne-based artists showing off their craft. We enjoyed a frothy pint from Little Creatures, a brewery in Geelong just across the bay. I was of course drawn to the wine and cheese tasting, and then I tried my first meat pie! It’s basically a handheld chicken pot pie, but with beef stew instead. A true Australian delicacy. There were families, couples on dates, and then 2 American girls eating and drinking to their hearts’ content. Overall, it was an extremely successful first day in Australia. We slept very well that night.
Izzy and I made a pact the other day that we’d try a new restaurant every week. This works perfect for me as I’ll be more inclined to post on here. And mom and dad will be able to catch up on my happenings in Aussie land. Food, happy parents. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Our first recorded new restaurant was mr. wolf in the St Kilda neighborhood of Melbourne. They have BYO Tuesdays which gave me an excuse to buy a couple bottles of wine from my work to “test out the product” so I can better serve our customers. Sadly, there was a $7 corkage fee per bottle that wasn’t advertised on the website. Izzy and I arrived earlier than the rest of our group, so we popped open the first bottle of Montepulciano. Two glasses (each) later the rest of our party arrived. We started with the eggplant fritte and they disappeared from the table. Served with a lemon mayonnaise, cumin salt, and sesame seeds, the eggplant fritters tasted like the top of an everything bagel. Now onto pizza, what mr. wolf is famous for. Izzy and I started by sharing one pizza, seeing if we would still be hungry after. Who were we kidding? We had the Signore Lupo first, which was topped with cauliflower, sausage, and pancetta. After, we delved into the Calabrese – my favorite of the night. A thin crust topped with parmigiano, salami, peppers, olives, and chili. Unfortunately, I had to pick off the olives like a 5 year old – I still can’t believe I won’t eat them. Even without the olives it was so delicious – salty, crispy, bright and spicy from the pickled chili. I’ll definitely pick it next Wednesday when they have 1/2 price takeaway pizza from 5 – 7 pm. Much better suited with my backpacker budget. The staff at mr. wolf was professional and friendly and the pizzas were very tasty. Kudos to Izzy for choosing a wonderful first stop along our restaurant tour of Melbourne.
Now I’m going to go do some digging on the food scene in the city – it’s my pick next week!