Thursday, December 19, 2013

'Tis the Season?

People are telling me Christmas is coming. The days are getting longer and temperatures (slowly) getting hotter, but those around me insist that yuletide time is around the corner. I guess technically good ole' xmas day is next week, but for me, in Australia, the holiday couldn't seem more foreign or distant.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Lunch on the Road at Forrest Brewing Company

It only takes driving down the Great Ocean Road once to realize that you don't wanna drive down it again on the way home. Don't get me wrong, the scenery that the road winds amongst is gorgeous. It's one of those places of beauty that photos don't do justice... beauty of a degree that you can't comprehend until you see it for yourself. You'll also see that the repetitive tight curves of the road can induce motion sickness and that the distance takes forever because of low speed limits and cliff-side squeezes. That's why we took the road up from Skenes Creek and through Forrest on the way home from Port Campbell a few weeks ago, and ended up at the Forrest Brewing Company eating mixed berry cheesecake with marshmallow for lunch.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I'm Now a Yarra Valley Expert

Parent month has sadly drawn to an end. For Charlie and me, it was a month full of laughter, day trips, free meals (so much more than that!) and fun with our loved ones after almost eight months of living away from home. During just one month, Charlie and I travelled with our parents to Sydney, the Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island, and, of course, the Yarra Valley... twice. Now I think I can say with some amount of confidence that I know a bit about the Yarra Valley. Or at least about its food options (since I still know little about wine, save for the coincidental occasion on which I pick up a scent that's actually in the ballpark of what I'm supposed to smell).

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Soft-Shell Sidewalker at Hammer & Tong

Been reading about some seriously good soft-shell crab burgers at Hammer & Tong 412 for some time now, and finally got around to popping by with Denise and Ed this past weekend. I anticipated a line since that's the theme for well-reviewed Melbourne cafes, but, nope. Right in to an empty four-top in front of the bar.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Johnston Street Hispanic Fiesta Too Crowded

...But that didn't mean I was going to miss out on an authentic fix of the delicious comidas tipicas I've been craving from home. My former roommates and parents, Ed and Denise, are currently visiting and together with Chaz we headed to the Hispanic Fiesta on Johnston St around 3:30 pm this past Sunday, knowing quite well that walking freely could possibly be a bit too much to ask. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cheap Seafood at the Sydney Fish Market

Yo – you a seafood eater? Then you better get yourself on down to the Sydney Fish Market, where coppin' cheap and fresh seafoods is all the rage. If you're going on a weekend, it's best to arrive early. The place will be teeming with eaters by lunch time, all craving a quick salt-water fix. Or freshwater, I guess. To me, it's all about shellfish.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cumulus Inc. is Worth the Wait

Although it's one of Melbourne's hottest spots, Charlie and I took our chances and showed up to Cumulus Inc. at around 6:45 last Friday night. I'd read warnings that a no bookings policy leads to hours of waiting, but we were met with a delay of just one hour and 15 minutes. We popped down to Cherry on ACDC lane for a drink or two, and our spot at Cumulus' kitchen counter was ready in seemingly no time. I generally prefer to sit at an actual table, especially on a special occasion such as this (Charlie's day of birth, bless him,) but here I was happy to watch the kitchen buzz through the night's busy service. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Green Curry Mussels and Empty Apartments

I moved to Australia a few months ago with nothing more than the clothes on my back (and in two suitcases and a dedicated shoe-bag,) and had a mini boredom meltdown when I moved into a bland, unfurnished Melbourne apartment. Six months later I’ve just moved out, and, ironically, I’m just finally feeling like that collection of rooms was home.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Chicken Treat is Semi-Appalling

In the vast world of the Western Australian desert, not many restaurants can survive off of the parched land. Which is why I can't really understand how Chicken Treat actually exists. Because it sucks.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Coral Resort Bakery: Birthplace of My Pie Obsession

The most intuitive of you will be thinking that the beach isn't really the best place to be eating fatty, cheesy, gravy filled beef pies. I mean, in this environment you're almost obligated to wear a bathing suit and pies aren't exactly slimming. And it's kinda hot out to be consuming steamy baked pastry. But to that I say: don't ever skip the pies if you find yourself in Coral Bay, Western Australia. And, invest in a good one piece.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How to Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is something that only existed in my head and on television until just recently, when I got the chance to find out that it's actually real. How much longer it will exist for is another story, but for now, it exists in full glory, off the Australian coast of Queensland. And I swam on it, biotches.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

F.T Tuckshop: A South Melbourne Staple

An edited version of this post appeared on on September 9th, 2013
F.T Tuckshop, a retail outlet of Food Traders Catering Company, offers South Melbourne something that not many other places do: quality lunch food at affordable prices for a working woman such as myself. While Coventry and Clarendon Streets are scattered with upmarket cafes geared towards a yuppy lunch crowd and low quality chains like Subway and KFC, F.T Tuckshop offers the middle ground, and a breath of fresh air.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Luna 1878 Night Market is Well Done

I love a good market. It's great when everything can just come together to create that atmosphere, like great food, music, enough space and cheap-ish alcohol. I'm not talking about boring ones, like the Midtown NYC street fairs that generally have greasy, shit mozzarepas, expensive iced fruit drinks in novelty cups and tons of stalls selling Peruvian flute CDs and fake sunglasses. Fairs of that type are just more of a transport obstacle than a fun excursion, but Luna 1878 at the Queen Vic Market is not one of those fairs. It's well thought out, carefully planned and delicious.

Monday, August 19, 2013

I'd Move to St. Kilda for Bay City Burrito

I've got a thing for burritos and it goes like this: rice, beans and other ingredients of my choice, slathered in salsa and at least two sauces and wrapped up into a slightly steamed, flexible flour wrap. Then wrapped again in tinfoil. The whole thing should weigh almost as much as my computer and should be an amazing combo of millions of Ameri-Mexican flavors. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ihaw Ihaw Filipino Makes Good Food in Cairns

To a discerning eater, Cairns can seem like a desert -- a mud flat of shit food sprawling across the town's CBD. Cairns is basically a country town turned big by its outstanding natural features, namely its easy access to the Great Barrier Reef. It's luring to travelers and simultaneously weird. At any time the streets of Cairns visibly boast sunburnt tourists, drunk and broke backpackers, relaxed retirees, inebriated and barefoot Aboriginals and other hard looking locals.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dainty Sichuan is Pretty...Spicy

Have you ever eaten a Sichuan peppercorn? It's not a thing of heat. Crush one on your tongue and expect a bitter, anise-y, peppery evolving sensation that will leave your taste buds literally tingling for minutes, and then you'll want more. Our table of seven at Dainty Sichuan last week ended up trading peppercorns, quails eggs, Chinese sausages and rice sticks like drugs.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bagel Sandwiches at Manchester Press

I was hoping for a beacon of light in a dark place from Manchester Press. A bagel oasis in an otherwise bagel desert of this lost continent. We rocked up, on the brink of slightly hungover starvation, around 2:05 on a rainy Saturday afternoon, and maybe that was a mistake. We were confronted with a harsh reality: a line for bagels that actually rivals that on a Saturday morning at Bagel Boss.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Eating the Melbourne Pizza Festival 2013

When I read about the closing party of the Melbourne Pizza Festival, I knew I had to go. I haven't really been in Melbourne long enough yet to be familiar with all of the master pizza makers slinging pies at the event, thus, it was the perfect way to get a taste of each. Melbourne has a surprising large Italian population, so a pizza festival here is bound to be serious.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

I Left My Heart in Europe at Ferdydurke

On Sunday, Pierogi Pierogi, a Melbourne purveyor of pierogi and all that is Polish, hit Ferdydurke for their "I Left My Heart in Europe" party. Coincidence has it that when I laid eyes on the poster promoting this party, I had recently unsuccessfully scoured the frozen section of my neighborhood IGA for pierogi. :( I recognized fate and vowed not to miss my chance for Eastern European dumpling goodness at Ferdy's.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Looking for Taco Love at La Tortilleria

I hadn't really seen anything that quite resembled actual Mexican food in Australia until Lauren from Footscray Food Blog pointed out La Tortilleria in this month's issue of Gram Melbourne. What I mean by actual Mexican is tiny tacos, topped only with onions and a menu with no flour tortillas in sight. La Tortillera makes their own tortillas in the way of Nixtamal, a process that involves stone ground corn and dates back to the good old days of the Aztecs. My Mexican food options at the food store here consist of Mission wraps and Old El Paso products, so the more I read, the more I was DTF with these tacos.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

On Laap and "Travel Writing"

Laap, a Lao dish known in the west as larb, is not a pretty food, but a simple and flavorful one. I was reminded of my first laap experience the other day as I wrote a story about the growth of luxury travel in Laos, specifically in the tiny city of Luang Prabang, for the website I work at. When I went to Laos two years ago, it was quiet, friendly and un-corrupt; it was my favorite of the countries I visited on that trip. Recently, I felt excited to write about Luang Prabang at my job because I thought it would be a refreshing change from writing about places I'll never see or experience. Really it just left me feeling conflicted.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tiba's Lebanese: Our New Favorite Late-Night Food

After visiting Tiba's one time for a late-night falafel wrap and realizing that the place was poppin' off even at like 10pm, we resolved to return to try the big plates of kebab goodness that we saw heading out to crammed tables of devout followers. At that moment, $15 for a main just wasn't doable for us, but once we secured jobs we knew where we wanted to splurge.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Footscray is a Food Town

Native Melburnians think that Footscray is the ghetto. I know this because I overheard one of my new co-workers saying that she pees herself every time the doors open there on the V-Line train. (That's the regional train service here.) Sure, Footscray seems a little rough around the edges. I can't speak for the area at night, but I can say that it didn't seem nearly as scary as the Bronx. Besides that, all I can tell you is that there's some great food over there.

Monday, June 3, 2013

I Wrote About Lucky Duck Cider for 3000melbourne Magazine

I've posted the text below, since that image is obviously impossible to read. Melburnians (that's correct) can find the magazine in one of many cafes, bars or stores in the CBD. It's free! I also interviewed actress Idina Menzel for the same issue, which was awesome.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Oysters and Guinness at The Last Jar

We've been past The Last Jar a ton of times on the tram not far from our place but never been in, so, naturally, when I read in Time Out about their annual Oyster and Guinness Festival this past weekend, I pushed Charlie and friends to partake. How could you pass up $2 oysters and $6 pints? (Easily, anywhere besides freakin' Melbourne, where those are actually decent prices. In NYC, it's not a deal until those little shuckers are $1.)

Friday, May 24, 2013

We Made the Best Lamb Kofta Wraps Ever

This dish was inspired by our need to use up a left-over half head of red cabbage, and somehow turned into one of the best meals we've made in a while. Beautiful. I've never really had kofta but my general understanding is that it's minced meat on a stick cooked on a grill. Ours took the form of lamb meatballs. Above you can see our shiny new $50 Ikea kitchen table (all white errrything,) which will be on sale in about 8-10 months. I'll start the bidding at $30. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Stay Full for Next to Nothing in Melbourne: A Guide

OK, maybe not next to nothing, but with a few learned tips, Charlie and I have definitely managed to cut our grocery bill! (I have no numeric proof, but we MUST be saving money.) ((This post could be a sign of my withdrawal from working at All You, a womens' value minded maga-- stop.))

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fish and Chips and Beauty in Williamstown, VIC

Such is my first post about Australia. My one month here so far has been one of searching for a home and a job. It's expensive here, and we're starting to feel the anxiety of unemployment, so the last week or so has been all about what we can do around the area for cheap. Last Saturday, that quest took us to the Prahan Market and for a walk up Chapel St., and then on a free walking tour of the CBD, the Central Business District. On Sunday, we took a little train trip to Williamstown, a suburban area overlooking the Hobson and Port Phillip Bays with gorgeous views of the Melbourne skyline and some really nice coastline paths. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hong Kong Dai Pai Dongs

All the cool kids in Hong Kong eat on the streets. The streets west of Nathan road in Jordan and Yau Ma Tei are lined with rickety tables and stools outside of tiny stalls selling seafood concoctions and clay pot rice dishes. We chose a spot near our room at the Temple Night Market; they all look the same and have mostly Asians eating so in that area I'd say its pretty hard to go wrong. Western tourists don't really get up to the northernmost part of the market.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Markets of Mong Kok, Hong Kong

I don't think you should say that you've truly been to Hong Kong until you've had a few hours wandering around the frenetic neighborhood of Mong Kok. Travel north on Nathan Road until you hit Mong Kok, and then let the sights and smells suck you in. Actually, it smells pretty putrid, but if you can get past that, there are some great photo opps, shopping stalls and street morsels to indulge in. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Go to For Kee for Pork Chop

For Kee is tucked in on a back street in Sheung Wan, a quieter neighborhood to the west of Central on HK island. The menu shows shades of a typical Hong Kong cha chaan teng -- an inexpensive type of comfort cuisine that developed in HK in the 1950s and 60s and just seems bizarre to me. Think of a fusion of western foods like buttered toast with scrambled eggs or peanut butter and like spaghetti and meatballs and coffee mixed with tea and condensed milk and then think about your local Chinese take-out chef whipping these things up and ask yourself "why?" IDK. Anyway, For Kee is particularly known for its pork chop, and that is exactly what we went for.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Procuring Hong Kong Street Snacks Can Be Intimidating: A Guide

Walking around the streets of Kowloon, the mainland part of Hong Kong, is a mouthwatering, yet terrifying experience. If you people-watch for just a few minutes, you'll see scores of people eating; corner stalls full of pork buns or roasted ducks or sticks with weird looking meatballs and sausages on them abound. Then you think about trying to obtain a snack for yourself. "How do I approach that mean looking vendor with the dumplings? Where does the line start? How do I pay? DO I LOOK STUPID?" These phrases will probably haunt you every time you want a tasty morsel, which is like once every five minutes for me. Seems like a huge hassle for a mere cha siu bao. Lucky for me, I have been able to conjure up the courage to get past that shit and make it happen; if it were up to my travel companion, Chuck, I might just starve. Lucky for him too, then, I guess!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

McDonald's Asia has Grilled Chicken Twisted Pasta...

...for breakfast. In fact, they have it at every meal, but I was most disturbed to see this choice gracing the limited breakfast menu in the Hong Kong airport. Alongside normal McD's breakfast offerings like sausage egg mcmuffin and hot cakes, customers are also faced with fliet o'fish sandwich and this bowl of cavatappi, corn, chicken and broth. What's worse is that instead of chicken, this dish also exists with egg and sausage on top. K? 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Get Indian Food at Hong Kong's Chungking Mansions

The Chungking Mansions on Nathan Road in Kowloon, Hong Kong are pretty much the stuff nightmares are made of. Think of a huge, knackered apartment building with tiny old elevators and battered flats turned into fluorescent-lit guesthouses named for random obscure countries. Then think of having to enter the building through two dim floors full of currency exchange places, cell phone hawkers, samosa sellers and general riff-raff. To get in any elevator you'll most likely have to wait online, and don't even think about making a quick escape down from a high floor. You'll have to let numerous elevators pass up and down and try to get on one until you don't hear the dreaded beeping of the overload warning. Could take 20 minutes of waiting. Now you have a good feeling for the Chungking Mansions.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Wang Fu Dumplings in Hong Kong -- Just OK

On our last night in Hong Kong, after four full days of eating Asian food, Charlie and I were both craving the same thing: burgers. ANYTHING but Asian food. I researched a few burger places but let's face it, burgers aren't an Eastern specialty. We chose one on Wellington Street but said we'd browse the rest of the local options first before committing to Western sin, because I think we both felt a little guilty cheating on the Asians. We came across Wang Fu, which I'd read about on a few blogs. They're known for their dumplings, especially their interesting filling combo of egg and tomato. We persevered and found our second wind.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Wonton Noodle Soup at Tsim Chai Kee

OK. I'm finally writing about Hong Kong. When we got there, I hadn't done too too much research on the exact places I wanted to eat. I knew we had to get dim sum, seafood and wonton noodle soup, but I did not know where to go for each. Sitting on the bed in our little Yau Ma Tei room (acquired through,) I had my first Eastern Hemisphere meltdown. There are just too many choices of where to eat in Hong Kong. Every website has different suggestions, and when I would finally settle on one place, I'd find another site shit-talking it. I was overwhelmed and terrified of wasting my money -- Hong Kong ain't cheap, yo.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

At Salvation Taco, Get the Torta

It's never a great sign when people recommend you get something different than the food item that is in a given restaurant's title. The tacos at Salvation are tasty; I will not deny that. The Moroccan lamb naan thing is inventive and my friends really liked the curried cauliflower. But two overarching themes of our brunch on a quiet Sunday in the Pod 39 hotel's colorful lounge were, "these portions are tiny," and "whoa, that is effing spicy." At $3 for the cauliflower taco, this contender rings in around NYC's taco pricing average, but the filling was sparse and inconsistent from taco to taco. The lamb on soft naan was yum but $5. I could get more food for $5. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Guys, it's Pi(e) Day

Guys, it's pi and pie day and I'm scared because for lunch I went to Pie Face which is an Australian meat pie chain and my last day at work is next week and I'm moving to Australia without a job or an apartment or a dream and I'm scared. Will I be good at making coffee? Will a cheese shop take a chance and hire this novice cheese enthusiast? Will I end up selling my hair to pay rent like Fantine?

My Love Affair with MoMA's Cafe 2

My relationship with Cafe 2 hurts, as any affair would, because there are so many difficult obstacles that need to be navigated before the love can commence.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos: YES

HAD to go get the new Cool Ranch taco at Taco Bell today, obvi. I've been anticipating this moment ever since the original Doritos Locos Taco came out at TBell a year ago and I hated it. I just knew in my heart that this one would be better for sooooooo many reasons!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Verdict is out on Jamie's 15-Minute Meals

Anyone trying to pretend to be British must be a fan of Jamie Oliver, the chef on Downton Abbey. (He's not but that would be great casting.) This is especially true if your respective Brit-boyfriend is one who thinks he's a chef. Jamie just makes cooking look so effortless and his product always looks beautiful. He always seems to have just the perfect huge ceramic platter or the old butcher's block hanging around to throw some meat onto, surround it in a circle with salad and drizzle with oil and pomegranate seeds. His presentation is some serious stuff. The magazine slave in me would die to see his prop closet.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Butter Poached Lobster at Roots Bistro Gourmand

For my birthday my roommates brought me to Roots Bistro Gourmand, a West Islip/Babylon newcomer with a modern "French"menu. I mean, I picked the place so I guess they brought me but I brought them. I'm sure they at least suspected that since it was my birthday, I'd be going with the lobster.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Las Brasas Does Some Decent Peruvian

The idea of Las Brasas, a shopping-center Peruvian restaurant on Sunrise Highway at Brentwood Road, has been marinating in my brain for quite some time. It's kind of like a sleeper cell in there next to the awesome aquarium store that has an alligator. It's unassuming and kind of hard to judge from the outside. There's next to no info on the Interweb except for like four reviews on Yelp. I wanted to do a drive by through the parking lot to scope it out up close, but Dad didn't get that memo before parking on the side of the building. We were out of the car and totally committed. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fancy Lee and Monsoon Dish up Asian Fusion in Babylon

For some reason, I always crave Asian foods during the New Year holiday season. Who knows why. Maybe because my body sees the salty goodness as a rebellion against turkeys and pork loins and all the rest of the traditional holiday foods we have downed over the past two months. Luckily, my hometown is not lacking in options. 

Asian restaurants like Fancy Lee, Monsoon, Aji 53, Sumou and more dot Montauk highway from west to east -- perfect representations of how restauranteurs dealing in Asian cuisines have built their business plans to cater to the mid- and upper-class residents of the suburbs of NYC. My town and others like it are brimming with customers who love the idea of sushi-meets-nightclub-meets-expensive cocktails in a modern interior. Throw in some upscale chicken and broccoli for the land lovers and voila: ya rollin' in $$$. All of these places will stay busy as long as they keep the dim lights, pumping music and ever-evolving sushi roll options. I'm down for any of these places -- if someone else is payin'.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dim Sum at Nom Wah Tea Parlor

I finally netted a poor sucker to gorge on dim sum in NYC with me. I haven't had enough experience with this heavenly service of small Chinese plates, and I'm usually faced with a lack of people who might be willing to try some of the more funky choices. Therefore, when Charles is around, I must take advantage of the opportunity. Nom Wah Tea Parlor tucked in on Doyers St. is regarded a less intense experience than cart-laden powerhouse Golden Unicorn and the like and is the perfect place to test out foreign dishes at your leisure.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Secret About McDonald's Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger

The Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger at McDonald's looks really great on the drive through menu. It looks big and juicy and enticing. Voluminous. Looking at the picture on the light up board, I was excited that I was getting something special. New. Especially on the way home from New Years Eve the morning after. It looks like the perfect item to combine with some chicken nuggets and a few stolen bites of a McRib. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Southampton's Clamman is Good for Lunch

Charlie and I decided to take a ride out to the Hamptons the other day to get a quick seafood lunch and some fresh air. Our destination was the village of Southampton and the Clamman fish market just outside of it. It's about an hour drive east from my house on Sunrise Highway, Route 27. Guess what happened on my way there: big old speeding ticket. Happy new year to me! Start it off January 2nd going the same speed as everyone else (76 to be exact) and get a huge fine just for living my life. I've never been pulled over before, but my tear ducts were rendered inactive by anger when the officer approached my window. Good thing lunch was cheap.
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