This past weekend I went on a road trip down Great Ocean Road – the “Pacific Highway” of Victoria, Australia. Picture mountains on one side of you, then a cliff and the beautiful blue water of the Bass Strait on your other side. My friend was so annoyed at me the entire trip because every 30 seconds we wrapped around a corner I would scream “OMG THIS IS SO PRETTY CAN WE STOP I WANT TO TAKE ANOTHER PICTURE!!!” Surprisingly, my road trip friend was not Izzy. Some of you may be thinking…you don’t have any other friends. Well, thanks to my super obvious American accent I met a Canadian one day that was only in Melbourne for 2 weeks and wanted to do some exploring. I jumped at the chance. He asked if I wanted to go see the 12 Apostles and I said heck yes and next thing you know we’re in a car on the wrong side of the road heading to one of the most popular sites in all of Aussie Land. The drive was beautiful. It was so nice to get out of the city and see open spaces and new surroundings. Tyler was a lot more quiet than I remembered (he must have had a confidence boost at our first encounter from the beer), so I just blared Taylor Swift and sang like I was in the VIP section of her 1989 tour. Like I said – it was a beautiful drive.
After about 4 hours we made it to the 12 Apostles. It was a wee bit different than I had expected. I was picturing a very secluded area where you had to walk about 30 minutes to get to these massive rock stacks posted up in the ocean. We pulled into a 200-spot “car park” (Aussie term for parking lot) and realized we were not alone. After walking through the visitor center, complete with a cafe and gift shop, we made our way to the viewpoint. My jaw dropped. I started to freak out again – “OMG THIS IS SO PRETTY!!!” Tyler darted towards the other direction and tried to disassociate himself from the obnoxious American girl. The lighting was gorgeous – definitely not clear skies, but beams of sunlight pushing through the clouds and bouncing off of the water. After marveling at the view, seeing my first Australian animal (an echidna), and taking a healthy amount of pictures, we headed back home. While I already felt like I was living the dream on this trip down Great Ocean Road, two more wishes came true on our drive back. I saw a kangaroo and a koala bear. The kanga jumped away before I could snap a picture and I was freaking out (what’s new) when I saw the koala bear that my picture and video are completely out of focus. Even though I didn’t get a good picture to prove it, it was the coolest thing ever. When I told my 60 year old flatmate, George, about the wildlife sightings he said I was extremely lucky and that he’s lived here his whole life and has only seen 1 koala bear in the wild. Maybe they like my fake Australian accent?
This week Izzy and I wined and dined at Milk the Cow, a licensed fromagerie and wine bar in St Kilda. Aside from the super clever name, we both knew we had to go sooner rather than later because we have a mild addiction to cheese. We told ourselves to not eat any dairy for breakfast or lunch since we would be consuming so much of it for dinner and it was nearly impossible. We walked into Milk the Cow and immediately vibed with the atmosphere. Amy Winehouse, cushy banquettes, and a cheese case that made me wonder how vegans don’t suffer from depression. We started off the evening with a glass of Prosecco from Victoria to get our appetites going – “not that we ever need help in that category,” according to Izzy. This was dinner for us, so we went big. The 5 cheese cheesemonger’s choice board had a wide range of cheeses from France, the Netherlands, and of course Australia. Some were young and buttery, others aged for 2 years and super sharp. We were in heaven. The cheeseboard was served with crispy, house-made lavash and a few slices of french baguette. Izzy and I both love talking about food, so we would go back and forth about our favorites and what flavors we got from each cheese. We tried 2 other wines that night – a Shiraz and a GSM blend, both from South Australia. The Shiraz was very disappointing. Both wines were 12.50 AUD per glass, but the GSM was far tastier. All I could smell on the nose of the Shiraz was rubbing alcohol – maybe it was a bad batch? On the other hand, the GSM was scrumptious. The wine was full-bodied, had layered and complex flavors, with lots of ripe red fruits at first and ending with a mouthful of spice and soft tannins. Wine + cheese should be its own food group.
After Izzy and I enjoyed the cheeseboard we still wanted more, so we ordered the de lasanis (translates to of lasagna). Milk the Cow is not a typical restaurant – more of a wine and cheese bar. Their only two cooked items are a baked brie and a mac’n’cheese (in addition to a few fondues). Like true Americans, we went with the mac’n’cheese aka de lasanis. Two different types of gruyere, truffle oil, and cognac added luxury to what resembled Easy Mac noodles. It was served in a miniature dutch oven set over a candlelit burner. The portion was comical for 19 AUD. Izzy and I joked that each of our noodles were delicious. While we won’t be ordering the mac’n’cheese next time, we also won’t go back to Milk the Cow for dinner. It is a great date spot (girls’ night spot for all the single ladies) and a wonderful place for pre/post-dinner drinks and apps. Just don’t go for dinner. The service by the waitstaff was a team effort, but Lewis served us for most of the evening. He was light, friendly, and charismatic. He also shared some information about a cheese + wine special that they have on Sundays! After we had paid, he even gave us both a tasting of the Riesling that is part of the special. We’ll definitely be returning for another visit.
Restaurant #3 – we’re coming for ya.