Before we get into today’s post, you need to check this beauty out. You’ll need the fuel to continue on.
sometimes always seem to forget how amazing my home city really is.
Over the last few years, I’ve rarely spent time exploring my ‘backyard.’ It’s no secret I love to travel, whether it be for work, school or fulfilling my wanderlust spirit. As I’ve grown older and spent less and less time in Australia, I’ve come to really appreciate the beauty of my hometown.
Rude Fun Fact- Every single time I leave Melbourne, it gets voted the most livable city in the world.
A sign? Maybe.
Anyway, since I’m temporarily back to work on my cookbook, I’ve made it a mission to explore my backyard and share it with you guys on here, especially when it comes to food. My good mate from university, Liam, messaged me a while back telling me he’d be in Melbourne for a work conference. He mentioned having a weekend free so instead of a basic coffee catch up, we decided to spend a day in Melbourne CBD (Central Business District) and go back to our old (night life) stomping grounds and well….eat.
I wake up to my alarm, turn on my heater to full blast and then get ready for the day.
Okay, fine. I reset the alarm for 7.45, mentally thanking my friend Rhi for suggesting dry shampoo.
I drive to the bus stop (Park and Ride), park and wait for my bus. Unlike other populous cities, Melbourne isn’t TOO bad to find parking in, especially on weekends (You can usually get an all-day spot for $10-$12, unlike their weekday counterparts which is around $75). However, I’d
stolen borrowed my mum’s transport pass and could skip the potential traffic jams.
I consider ripping open my emergency Red Bull but wait it out to get a searing hot coffee once I arrive into the city.
FACT– Melbourne’s coffee is superior to anywhere else in the world.
I meet Liam at the standard meeting spot for most local residents, Flinders Stree Station. We immediately head down Flinders Lane (adjacent to the station) for coffee and something small to eat (we had grand dumpling plans later in the day). Liam laments that Melbourne has become even more ‘artsy’.
That’s like saying Beyonce is Queen B.
Anyway, we settle for some cappuccinos (I had a flat white) and a small pastry each from Brunetti’s (a savory ham croissant and a pistachio macaron), passing by a French Creperie stand on the way. Liam was tempted to get one, but I convince him not to, as he was heading to Paris in July.
Say hi to the Mona Lisa for me.
PS- Fat Asian baby hands, represent.
After properly catching up, we opt for an early lunch before the flocks of tourists, locals and everyone else hit up China Town for dumplings. We head to Shanghai Dumpling House and enjoy deep fried dumplings, steamed tofu and scallion buns and two types of Spicy Noodle soups- One had pork and vegetables and one had everything. We saw our table neighbours order it so copied them.
The best part? The total price for the two of us was $26.
We explore the Emporium (pretty much an indoor mall) which has been touted as being an ‘easily affordable and shopping experience for everyday Australians!’
I’m guessing one of the Real Housewives of Melbourne may have been spreading that naughty rumour.
Shopping experience? Yes.
Easily affordable? Excuse me as I buy a singular tissue from Hugo Boss or perhaps Emporio Armani. No, wait, Kate Spade might be more in my price range. Okay, fine. Michael Kors it is.
Do you get my gist?
We meander around the city, lamenting of how un-hipster we’ve become, and walked past the bars and clubs we used to venture out to every single weekend.
Club #1- That time I was kicked out because I threw all the bar straws in the air, proclaiming that Voldemort had returned.
Club #2- That time Liam got kicked out because he fell asleep on the couch and someone poured a beer on his head. (That may have been our other mutual friend….)
Club #3- That time I didn’t make it in the club because of erm…..Yes.
Flashback to circa ‘first year University’ where mop hair, fluoro t-shirts, and dog tags were in. #sohot.
I am NOT the biggest fan of chain restaurants, especially ones in Australia. There is, however, one exception- Pappa Rich. Coming from a half Chinese/Malaysian background, I know what good Malaysian food is like, and for a chain joint, Pappa Rich does a pretty stellar job.
We head to the QV location and it’s already bustling with people. We score a corner table and share two classics (mixed satay skewers and the Roti Canai). Liam was still on the hot noodle train so opted for the classic, Curry Laksa. I opted for the Biryani Rice, which came with Beef Rendang and Sambal Prawns.
Niki messages and says she’s in the city with her boyfriend and asks if I want a ride to the bus station where my car is parked. I suggest we meet at Gelato Messina, under the guise of it being a pretty central location to the both of us.
“But Arman, it’s the opposite side of the city and there’s no parking out front!”
“Of course there is. It’s going to be empty around there!”
But really, we both just wanted gelato.
We slowly walk our way over, past a multitude of bars with people stumbling out. There’s been a sports match in the city during the day, and people are either celebrating or commiserating. A random drunk person asks me if I am Fez from ‘That 70’s Show.‘
I say yes.
We arrive at Gelato Messina, with Niki and her boyfriend not looking too thrilled. Apparently they had to pay for parking, but I reprimanded the situation by offering to buy them gelato. That turned their frowns upside down (except Niki, she has a permanent RBT. Google it).
The four flavor combinations we get- Chocolate chip, Banana split (that week’s special), Missandei (another special- coffee and milk chocolate gelato with BROWNIE CHUNKS!!!!), cream cheese gelato with carrot cake (overrated), Dulce Du Leche and Hazelnut.
Guess which one was mine and which one was Niki’s.
“Arman, look how much nicer my hand looks in the ice cream shot. You have a fat thumb and I have a apricot, polished one.”
We drop Liam off at his hotel and then I get dropped off at the bus station before parting ways.
The next day, I get a message from Liam mid-morning.
“Arman, I just went to the crepe place we walked past yesterday and got a Nutella crepe. The guy put so much Nutella in it, it reminded me of the time you polished off a whole jar at 4am, then left the empty container in your sister’s handbag”
I don’t remember that.
Looking back over this day, it’s been a reality check of what beauty my city does have to offer and I’m kind of excited to use the time I have here to continue re-living and re-exploring my ‘backyard.’
Just eating my way through it, one dumpling and Jaeger bomb at a time.
When is the last time you explored your own city/town?
Do you play tourist in your own city?
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