I’m a barbie boy…

March 4, 2010

We’ve all heard the phrase “throw some shrimp on the barbie” (which is incorrect, because shrimp are actually called prawns here), but why does one of the biggest Aussie stereotypes revolve around the Australian barbecue?

It’s because they’re everywhere here.  During orientation week, there were barbies everywhere serving free food and heaps of people waiting to get some hamburgers and snags (sausages, which are particularly good here) on white bread (no hot dog buns or hamburger buns here).  Of course no barbie food is complete without a smattering of tomato sauce (that’s ketchup for you Amuricans…our tomato sauce is their tomato paste…and I’m still trying to figure out what our tomato paste is in OZ).  And curiously the hardware for barbies is more often a flat top than a grill with grates and charcoal.

We had a barbie in the courtyard the other night for Arni’s birthday.  Along with the snags, steaks, chicken breasts, and kebabs (pronounced the way its spelled, NOT “kebobs”) that Arni brought, I made some kangaroo steaks with mango salsa.  Yum.

My 11th floor U.S.A. crew (plus Kah Ngee) enjoying the food.  For once, WE were the obnoxious people in the courtyard 😛

Can’t wait for another barbie!!

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No Reservations is my absolute favorite show on the Travel Channel.  The premise of the show is Anthony Bourdain, a New York City chef who’s seen the good and the bad of the restaurant industry, travels around the world to eat the best that each country or city has to offer and tries to understand what makes up their food culture.  He’s also a chain smoker and a borderline alcoholic, which makes the show very entertaining.

Naturally, when I go to a new city I watch the episode of that city and follow his food trail.  When I was in Chicago last summer, for example, we hit up Hot Doug’s and Avec and both can’t be missed if you’re in the city.

But I digress.  Bourdain’s tour of Australia starts and ends here in Melbourne, the food capital of the country.  (Did that have anything to do with my decision to study here?  Maybe.)  The first No Reservations destination I visited was the Queen Victoria Market, just a 15 minute walk from my apartment.

Known as Queen Vic by the locals, the market spans several blocks and includes an indoor butcher/fish monger stall area, a deli section with wines, coffees, cheeses, meats, and bakeries, an outdoor produce section, and a huge flea market area complete with souvenirs, no-brand clothes, and more food.

There are also “foodie tours” where you can sample some of the offerings in the deli section, pictured above.

My first trip was during a weekday, so it wasn’t as busy.  But around closing time the vendors will do anything to get rid of their goods for the day: the produce stalls will sell huge bags of slightly worn fruits and veg for just a dollar, and the meat and seafood are heavily discounted.

Luckily I was able to catch the last night of the Summer Night Market (yes, summer is just ending here). Same venue, just with live music, more food stalls, and as you can see, heaps and heaps more people.  I reckon there were so many there because it was the last night.

For dinner I had a Shiraz Sangria (my favorite red) and basically a “tourist plate”: a kangaroo burger, grilled crocodile tail, and emu sausage.  The burger was excellent, though I can’t wait to try roo straight up (we’re throwing a birthday barbie tonight so I plan to grill off some steaks).  Croc was okay, but nothing special.  And the emu…well it was kinda stinky.

Needless to say, I can’t wait to hit up more Bourdain spots and make another trip to the Queen Vic.