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.

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Had a pretty full day yesterday.  Started out with a quick trip to the Queen Vic Market, went to St. Kilda’s beach again to work on that tan (fewer jellyfish this time!), saw some short plays at the Union House Theatre, and went out to Pugg’s Irish Pub for a few drinks.

But I think the highlight of my day was a trip to Princes Park for a pre-season footy game.  That’s Aussie rules football, a game similar to rugby/soccer/American football.  Basically the point of the game is to kick an oval ball through two posts, and there are different points depending on which ones you shoot through.   There are rules regarding how far you can run without touching the ball to the ground, tackling, etc, but it’s a pretty easy game to follow.

The footy field is a large oval with goals on either side.  If the ball goes between two taller posts in middle its a “goal,” which is 6 points, and if it goes between the outer posts its a “point,” which is 1 point.  See those kids in front of us?  They were pretty amused by us Americans.  Story of my life here.

My attempt at an action shot.  Not really sure what’s going on, but it’s a pretty fast-paced and exciting game.  I had to leave early, but apparently a guy ran up and jumped off an opponent to catch the ball.  Pretty epic in my book.

Kah Ngee (on the far left) is a Carlton fan so that’s how we ended up at this game.  I definitely plan on going to another one and I’ll try to take a better video this time.

Off to the Crown Palladium for dinner and drinks tonight, and possibly a little gambling.  Tomorrow we’re trying to do a day tour of the Great Ocean Road (a stretch of beaches and hiking).  And Monday…classes start T_____T

Bloody lifts…

February 25, 2010

The lifts have been out at Unilodge for the past few days.  I live on the 11th floor, which means an incredibly long and tiring climb up the fire escape stairwell (especially for us fat Americans, which seems to be a common stereotype here).  One upside though is the great view we have of Melbourne and the CBD.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get a good shot without the safety caging for the fire escape, but I guess it’s there for a reason yea?

The next morning, and the lifts were still broken.  The large dome in the center is the Melbourne Museum, and the launchpad-looking thing to the left is the museum’s IMAX Theater.

Off to St. Kilda’s beach again tomorrow, since summer is officially coming to a close.  After all I’m still pasty from the U.S. winter…

Take care everyone!

For some reason facebook won’t let me upload any pics.  It’s not google chrome’s fault (although it seems that fb and chrome don’t get along sometimes) since I tried firefox…I think I’ll just blame the crappy Australian internet. I’m paying $35/month for 5 gigs in my apartment, and any free internet you find in Melbourne is excruciatingly slow.  Even the Wifi on campus is capped T_____T

Well without any further ado, here are just a few pics from my first week here.  More to come once facebook lets me.

My apartment building, right across the Uni and with a tram station right in front connecting to the city.  Sure beats Valentine Place lol

Melbourne’s CBD (Central Business District) or downtown as we call it, and the Yarra river that lines it.  Still haven’t decided if Melbourne’s skyline > Chicago’s…

MUSEX night at Turf club.  Like I said, SOOO MANY AMERICANS.  And internationals.  I met zero Aussies that night.

St. Kilda’s beach, about 20 minutes by tram from Melbourne.  More of a bay than a beach, which meant only a few waves and heaps of jellyfish.  Also the wind was ridiculously strong that day, which resulted in some painful sand attacks while we were tanning.  Now I know what “windburn” and “sandburn” are.

A glimpse of the Melbourne Uni campus.  It reminds me a lot of Cornell because its a mix of historic and modern buildings.  It’s also really spread out like Cornell so I’m still learning my way around…

Going out to the pubs with the Sri Lankans on my floor and a local from Perth.  Woohoo for meeting Aussies!

Alright I’m off to go do a bushdance and eat some Kangaroo meat at a barbie.  Later!