I often wonder what life would be like if I moved to Melbourne. I suppose it would be the same business as in Sydney: instead of burgers bespoke doughnuts are the trend de jour and instead of Sydney Festival’s Higher Ground a plethora of locals are taking selfies on Carsten Höller’s Golden Mirror Carousel at the NGV. “Why won’t these people just live in the moment?!” I scream interally, as I snapchat every single friend the specifics of my hotel room and instagram the magnificent pool, a smattering of self-indulgence and hypocrisy spilling out of me.

Only an hour after arriving, a proposed detox from my usual routine, I exploded into stress personified at a South Melbourne cafe – shaking hands, unfathomably restless legs, all the trimmings – and why? Because I was seated at the bar, facing a wall, beneath an orange light, which we all know to be instagram suicide. Since when did life get so hard? And why did I find a bone in this sea bream sashimi? Why won’t that restaurant I like take reservations for dinner and where the hell is my lobster roll? I can’t download Tram Tracker because my iPhone storage is full. Oh My God.

Every morning it’s the same mild existential crisis, but today I’m alive in a different state, the promised land for the creative, yet somehow my mind isn’t soothed.

I’m not working yet I’ll take a camera and point it at literally everything out of habit, expecting each frame to appear in the viewfinder as a Frankie-worthy piece of art, instead it’s all meaningless symmetry, just like at home, a weird reminder of my first-world job I can’t seem to switch off from. The white sky mirrors my blandness, I’m taking photos of some nice looking succulents on the street for some reason.

I often wonder what life would be like if I moved to Melbourne, I’ll open a successful pop-up exploiting the street food of my ancestors, my photography and copywriting skills will be put to excellent use, online press will talk about me until I’m the latest trend and my UrbanSpoon percentage will plummet due to everyone’s unfairly high expectations. But it’s ok, because the streets are wide and the taxis are comically yellow. Haha, so cute. But realistically, instead of visiting neat small bars and wholesome eateries with kind friends I’d most likely mimic my Sydney self, at my worst falling into a comfortable and unfortunate routine of staring into the eternal splash screen of Menulog.com.au, wondering how I came to reach my lowest common denominator self once again, but at least this time there will be a different view outside of my window.

How To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne II
How To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne IIHow To Enjoy Melbourne II

Places of (food) interest: The Kettle Black, Supernormal, New Gold Mountain, Kokoro, Om Nom, Pop Up Scroll, Grand Trailer Park Taverna, Two Row

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A great job involving a road trip down the coast of Australia fell through last minute this week so instead of sitting at home disappointed I decided to embark on the first leg I had planned out anyway. Although bovine dense topography is abundant there are plenty of gems to be uncovered in NSW’s small coastal towns – however things close early and don’t always trade everyday (which I learnt the hard way), google might be your best friend when planning a drive a few hours south. This post only skims the surface.

The first stop, excluding a perverse intermission at a Gerringong lookout, is to Berry to visit the relentlessly instagrammed Famous Berry Doughnut Van. Entering venues with zero expectations is my default setting yet somehow this van in shining armour was everything I had hoped for and more. The warm pillowy fried-to-order donuts laced with cinnamon sugar were the epitome of what I loved about growing up in the western suburbs of Sydney, the alluring scent of Donut King in a local Westfield is one of my earliest and fondest memories – except these were tremendously better with no Quake Shake in sight. The humble cinnamon donut has finally been elevated to what it should be. Mangos, cherries and plums being were sold by the box across the short fence next door.

Back into the car and after fields and paddocks of cows and corn I arrive at Greenwell Point, home of possibly Australia’s most awesome mate, Jim of Jim Wild’s Oyster Service, discovered via Sophie. I could dedicate an entire post to his operation: loud shirt, huge mo’ and shucking oysters to order by the dozen from his teal shack, insisting I take a photo with him, not of him. Order a plate and take a seat by the Crookhaven River with a view of the serene oyster farms. The area is incredible, the bone dry ruins of shellfish of the past lying in shackling buckets amongst faded machinery and creaky palettes. Turn left at the Greens Road fork to find him.

After some more cow spotting my next destination is HopDog Beerworks. At their brewery and cellar door  you can enjoy a chalice of their latest and freshest offerings amongst fermenters and barrel-ageing brews. The brewers are more than happy to provide live tasting notes, their paddle a very reasonable $9.

I drive toward Sydney via Berry again and visit Milkwood Bakery, the busiest cafe on the street, their shelves dotted with sourdough and quaint cakes. I grab a watermelon juice after feeling particularly, ah, “dehydrated” from my HopDog experience and head to The Berry Bottle Shop / Justin Lill Wines, a store heaving with tipples and highly rated rare beers, both international and local. Another purchase, another Queen Street stroll and sadly things are closing shop – a nearby deli denies the privilege of a sandwich for the day but Milkwood is on the way to the car and I find solace in a lamington to share, soft and generous with chocolate. I spy a traditional takeaway flaunting “GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS” amongst the usual Coca-Cola paraphernalia – a sad sign of the times. The drive home turns wet and I park at Bombo Beach for a break, watching surfers amongst a bleak horizon, my shoes becoming matted with damp sand as I awkwardly clomp by the water.

Getting peckish I detour to Bulli for a beachside burger but unfortunately, again, the “grills have been switched off” at only 5:30, another early closer in the area. Undeterred and by the power of the internet I lay internet eyes upon Bergie’s Fish Cafe in Thirroul (who knew UrbanSpoon would be useful for something?), a venue divided: a casual restaurant and takeaway, the former being closed for Valentines Day only reservations. Two burgers and some fantastic chips are ordered instead and are enjoyed amongst the facade of the takeaway area, barely avoiding the rain. The “gourmet” flour dusted bun reminds me of a simpler time before the Great Sydney Burger Wars of 2014-present.

Driving across the Sea Cliff Bridge is an undeniably breathtaking route back to Sydney, boasting one of the widest views of the edge of the country in NSW, but good luck trying to take photos from a fast moving car. In fact ditch the camera entirely and enjoy the day, embracing it with your eyes and everything, not through a lousy lens. Do as I say, not as I do.

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World Nutella Day Roast Chicken

I realise I’m a few days late, but I just couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t share my very own World Nutella Day recipe with you all! This one is a real treat, decadent lashings of nutella oozing over a hot roast chook, smothered in whipped cream and adorned with chopped bananas and 100s and 1000s, all served beside a glass of cool refreshing milk! It’s the type of casual yet luxurious roast best shared with friends at the table (the drumsticks dipped in additional Nutella will make a fun snack for the kids). Use your imagination and add scoops of ice cream and glacé cherries to create a chook banana sundae. Carve that chicken amongst friends. Hack the carcass. Allow the canned whipped cream pool onto your dining table, the indignity of the coloured 100s and 1000s spilling together. Let it stand there for hours, a confused shrine to both dinner and forced food holidays, melting and seeping and decaying in the midday sun. Edible flowers and a red and white striped straw will make anything appetising again. They are our saviour.

You needn’t wait for World Nutella Day 2016 to make this happen, get roasting ASAP for your next show stopper of a dinner party – douse your chook in milk, smear it with chocolate hazelnut spread, keel over and and cry and rejoice. Happy World Nutella Day!

World Nutella Day Roast Chook
1 roast chicken (prepare your own or pick up one from your local deli/supermarket)
250g Nutella
1 can whipped cream
2 bananas, chopped into slices
100s and 1000s
500ml milk
Edible flowers, to serve

Prepare your whole roast chook on a serving platter or wooden board. Slightly warm the cup of nutella and pour liberally over the chicken. Garnish with florettes of whipped cream, add banana slices and sprinkle over 100s and 1000s. Serve beside a jug of milk and adorn with edible flowers and red and white striped straws (optional). Carve at the table with friends and enjoy!

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Australia Day is to fast food outlets as Valentine’s Day is to Hallmark, let’s ca$h in on this! From Australiana cultural cliché on steroids, or it’s irony-shrouded gentrified cousin what I’ve coined RSL Chic™ (gourmet meat trays, pop-up drive in movies, the resurgence of Shane Warne, etc) bursts forth Pizza Hut’s Mitey Stuffed Crust, a pizza with a crust stuffed with cheese and our finest export, Vegemite. Immaculate art direction sees slices of this pizza branded with miniature Australian flags before backdrops of green and gold splattered all over the Pizza Hut Australia Facebook page, and surely an art graduate who’s soul has been ravaged by the advertising world has envisioned these slices lumped together to form a greasy rendition of the Opera House sails. Here are some backpackers cringing at the taste of this thing soundtracked to didgeridoo playing, two Australian guys claiming it’s “nice” as an edgy coda with even more green and gold. “Made for Australia”? Cool cultural identity, let’s run with that.

Today all the on-point cafés of Australia are instagramming their bespoke Australia Day goods; lamington cronuts, pavlova cocktails and kangaroo pies are rolled out just for the occasion. Pizza Hut have instead developed a pizza aimed at either kind families with young children wanting to try something different, or a pizza absolutely perfect for casual racists. “Prosciutto? Not on my pizza!”

Target demographic aside, it’s honestly not that bad. I opt for a straight up cheese pizza and while it arrives as a greasy puddle of mess the crust is the best part; the cheese so generous in the stuffed crust it can literally be extracted like a thick snotty strand (pictured), however the Australia Day version of a Valentine’s Day card it is not. “I could easily improve this”, I think to myself, eyes glazed over, as I smash a lamington over the top of what remains of the pizza (most of it) with the heel of my hand. It’s drizzled liberally with beer and that garlic bread to make up the minimum delivery fee makes a torn appearance as well. The dish is then finished with lashings of gaudy green, gold and navy tinsel. Grouse. A marked improvement, and I laugh and laugh and laugh to myself for a few minutes until I realise I need to clean up this enormous mess off my floor.

This pizza represents my shirtless, inconsiderate Sunday-Seshing neighbours.
This pizza represents those Triple J Hottest 100 announcers praising “their boy Chef Faker” for “taking it home”.
This pizza represents all the unironic “Bowling Shane” comments on Warnie’s instagram account.
This pizza represents all those $24.99 on pick up with bonus Viennetta offers of the times of yore.
This pizza represents Ken Done’s small fortune.
This pizza represents the illusive Green and Gold Gaytime I can never seem to find.

Dear Pizza Hut: try harder next time.

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Stunning things happen when Nordic influence meets Japan in Sydney’s newest cafe in Darlinghurst. More words (not mine) on Broadsheet!

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I promise it’s only coincidental my recent disgust with both my physical health and appearance has emerged on the first day of this year. I’m yet to splurge on a January Gym Membership but the copious amounts of whole foods in my fridge speak louder than perverse faux-spirational social media posts ever could. Despite this, a heart full of aspirations and a head bursting with shredded brussels sprout recipes had not hindered my curiosity surrounding Pizza Hut’s Doritos Crunchy Crust pizza.

A caveat: pizza is my least favourite fast food. Long story short, it made me vom as a kid and has left me subconsciously scarred and discriminatory against tomato sauce.

Anyway, despite my 2015 hopes and dreams for A Better Me™ I was delighted by the thought of enjoying a true slice of modern Americana, a campaign backed food and brand mash-up in my own home. Slowly but surely I felt the fedora descending on my head as my cursor hovered over a BBQ Meatlovers Doritos Crunchy Crust Pizza as well as a serve of Double Choc Cookie Shots to make up the additional few dollars of minimum delivery. “This had better be the best $25 I’ve ever spent”, I proudly declare to Facebook, relishing in the self-aware irony of a #foodie ordering a fad #pizza online and attempting to rid myself grubby feels. Likes began rolling in as I research what I’d just ordered: “As you bite into the crust you’ll be blown away by the crunch – it’s not only seriously loud, but delicious.” 20 minutes later, much like that fateful night when I was seven years old, the delivery guy raps at my door. This time there were no voms, just expectations of mind-blowing aural aesthetics.

Navigating the delicate topography of this pizza… it tastes exactly like a usual BBQ meatlovers pizza. Where are the brain crushing acoustics? Where are all the Doritos I was promised? The grandeur of immaculate lashings of cheesy crisps has been replaced by a minuscule amount of burnt crackers barely crowding the rim of my pizza. What the hell, Pizza Hut? The outer diameter tastes like a 50c cheese melt from the school canteen, but burnt. Nostalgic, but inappropriate. The dual textured delight of molten mozzarella and crunchy Doritos covered in cheddar fell flat – if that Apple / young-startup keynote inspired advert is anything to go by then this is the iPhone 6 Plus of pizzas. A severe letdown. Oh, and those Double Choc Cookie Shots? They look like just the turd emoji, and tasted, without sounding too much like a disgruntled Urbanspoon user attempting to describe a lacklustre coffee again, burnt.

As I remove what remains in the pizza box to a more appropriate receptacle, the slices reveal my greasy, pizza horoscope – a bloated figure trapped within a rounded frame. Story of my 2014? Maybe, but hopefully not a premonition of 2015.

In the cruel light of day the next morning I send a message to my brother offering the rest of the pizza sitting in the fridge – “I have two slices left if you want them, or else they’re going in the bin”. Hours later he arrives, hot, starving, craving leftovers. “This crust is amazing”, sighs the student-who-lives-out-of-home, “so much better than the last hotdog and cheeseburger crusts, they were disgusting“.

Maybe it wasn’t that bad after all? Have I lost touch with my junk food appreciation roots? Are my cries of joy surrounding fried things, oily things and sugar-laden things all just a farce?! Maybe the part of myself that exists as a sad girl Tumblr-esque snackcore scenester claiming a stake in the bachelor frog game is but a facade hiding the disgusting reality I’m not as scandalously gross as I often make out to be, in my yuppie home, on my yuppie iMac, surrounded by my yuppie things. Has the Dyson lifestyle ruined me?

That being said, when my brother arrived expecting two pizza slices there was only one left – I claimed it was “for science”, “for research!”, but deep down I knew I wanted to get that soggy burnt cheese in and around my mouth to savour the flavour, once again perpetually stuck, like so many of us are, oscillating between self-loathing and the person we want to be.

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Miso Banoffee Tart

HATE MAIL, GUYS. Am I right? You know those inconsiderate messages that crop up on occasion from people you’ve never met to tell you your photos are bad or your macaron recipe sucks? So invigorating, so inspiring – more enjoyable than an on-trend Sydney burger and a rare #craft #beer on a breezy Summer’s day.

Hahah jkz, I’m projecting, it’s uncomfortable and makes me sad. But after said sadness subsides those comments often make me laugh and thankfully I don’t encounter enough of them to break my gentle heart. This miso banoffee recipe was recently created for Visa AU to share across their social channels of 17 million fans which is both beautiful and horrifying – I was literally a sponsored tweet. With the acclaim of many likes and shares comes the occasional “looks disgusting lol” comment, sending me into a tailspin of offline self-reflection for a good 5 minutes. Spreading your wings on the internet and watching them burn is the plight of the content creator yet, like many, I continue to bless this mess that has become my internet home.

Moving forward (not backward, upwards not forward), let’s deconstruct this salted mashup. Inspired by a tremendous miso caramel shake from Milkbar by Cafe Ish in Redfern I replaced all salted notions with miso paste. So umami! So exotic. It even almost falls into the Donna Hay-esque cheat’s recipe category: store bought biscuits and caramel make this too easy. Miso makes it taste fancy and edible flowers make it look fancy. Smoke and mirrors, except it actually makes for a decent dessert. Once stacked let the whipped cream inspire you as a blank canvas just waiting for embellishment of whatever you see fit. Depending on the size of your tart ring this recipe may make a little too much – but if that’s the case you can create a deconstructed version by layering each element in a parfait glass with the leftovers.

I’m posting this a day after new year’s, so hurl your fleeting resolution of eating well out the window and get on this tart. Somebody in the comments announced they’d made it once and are making it again for friends shortly. Great internet success!

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Miso Banoffee Tart
400g digestive biscuits
200g butter
2x tins Top n’ Fill Caramel (or, 2 tins condensed milk turned into dulce de leche)
4-5 tsp white miso paste
6 bananas
400g thickened cream
1 small block of dark chocolate
Cocoa and edible flowers, to decorate

1. In a large bowl, melt the butter in a microwave. In a food processor, blitz the digestive biscuits until they’ve turned into crumbs. Pour the crumbs into the melted butter and stir until completely combined and resembles the texture of damp sand.

2. Grease a tart tin with canola spray or butter and gently press the biscuit and butter mixture into the tin to create the tart base. Put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

3. In another bowl combine the caramel and miso and whisk until smooth. You can adjust with as much or as little miso as you please – but it should be nice and salty as it will be balanced out with the fresh bananas and cream. Set aside. In a separate bowl whisk cream to soft peaks and also set aside.

4. Remove tart base from the fridge and gently ease it out of the tin. Place it on the platter or cake stand of your choosing and fill with caramel until it almost reaches the rim. Roughly chop bananas into thick slices (this should be done last minute so they don’t brown) and tumble them over the caramel. Gently add large spoonfuls of cream on top. Allow to set in the fridge for at least half an hour before serving.

5. To decorate, create chocolate shavings by running a sharp knife along the edge of the block of chocolate. Dust the tart with cocoa, then scatter with chocolate shavings and finally adorn your dessert with edible flowers. If it’s a little messy when slicing, don’t worry – just dust the plates with more cocoa and decoration.

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Three-ish years strong and I’ve never posted a review on this ###blog, until now. A car trip in a city where everything closes early resulted an accidental visit to a nearby KFC to be enchanted by their latest offering: the KFC Zinger Pie.

In true highway fashion Five Dock KFC neighbours a McDonald’s and a petrol station, and it’s not surprising KFC is nowhere near as full as its oppressive burger-wielding counterpart. I saunter across the thick shake stained asphalt of a near empty car park and it’s the kind of place where the occasional seagull struts around despite being nowhere near the water – a la Granville station. I’m second in line behind a couple of bros placing a large order but thankfully I’m told there is one last KFC Zinger Pie left tonight – a potential prelude to ill feels, but regardless, ready for two curious yet ultimately trollish mouths. I make myself comfortable beside a bucket and mop outside as kind adolescent boys and a bluetooth clad drive-through manager stack chairs inside.

The pie is presented in a paper bag, obnoxiously declaring it’s “perfect for the HCG (Home Cricket Ground)”. The red tin base is indicitve of the Zinger flavour as opposed to the tamer Kentucky potato and gravy combo, because I guess red is the universal colour for HOT (or STOP).

To say its innards resembled vomit would be too easy, and we can do better than that. You’d be pleasantly surprised if this were a cup-a-soup; chunky chicken pieces shrouded by blandness, an acceptable phenomenon at 3pm at your godforsaken desk job, unremarkable pastry resembling what you’d expect from any other supermarket or convenience store pie. But it’s 10pm and I’m taking photos in a desolate carpark craving malnourishment. A more appropriate critique from a sober human would read more like this: a very vacant (and very abundant) gravy binds chicken bits with arrogant flecks of useless chilli. It’s so soupy, clever handwork is required to avoid being burned by gravity in more ways than one. What lingers is a sleazy aftertaste of that astringent, flavourless chilli, I’m not even sure how they did it – it’s the equivalent of a decaf coffee, you can definitely taste it but it’s not quite right, leaves you unfulfilled and questioning why? And why can I still taste this an hour later?

The whole point of these junk food reviews is to celebrate the nasty, greasy food we ashamedly thrust into our faces – and like many cliché bloggers I’m left saying I really wanted to enjoy this but sadly there’s not much to love about this pie (and I’m a fan of the Zinger enterprise), it’s basically the anaemic cousin of primary school meat pie offerings. I’m not sure whose appetite this is appeasing, besides maybe the lone gull in the car park, so I hope it enjoyed what I left behind.

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I can’t tell you why I feel it all around whenever I hear the word affogato. The mere thought of that holy combination of life giving caffeine and a dairy-based dessert gets me weak at the knees and foggy in the head. Perhaps it’s old memories of my dad pressing ice cream into latte glasses with the gaze and conviction of a man on a mission, or maybe it was that time in Italy in 2008 when I asked a friend to order me an affogato, and once I returned from a neighbouring ATM I caught her pronouncing “aff-row-JAHHHH-teee” with such gusto only to have everybody within earshot laughing so loud she refused to speak to me for a while. I’m sorry. But I still say “aff-row-JAHHHH-teee” sometimes.

Or, maybe it’s because I know how to do fake ice cream on cakes well.

Whatever the case, it was a pleasure and a privilege to bake a big cake for The Makers Society Great Bake Swap at The Hop and Grain last weekend. Assembly instructions are below in terrible animated glory, but as for the “recipe”: I used Tartine’s devil food cake recipe to bake two cakes sliced in half; the icing is Linda Lomelino’s chocolate fudge frosting with the addition of some dissolved instant coffee (replace some of the milk and add to taste) and the drippy chocolate is nothing but ganache (dark chocolate and cream) with a couple of tablespoons of glucose / corn syrup. For the fake ice cream, throw some buttercream in a bowl, freeze it, scoop out some rounds with an ice cream scoop then re-freeze them for easy stacking. I was lazy and used compound chocolate for garnishing, except the Sydney sun was merciless that day and annihilated my rustic spokes. I forgot to take some photos at home before the event (unless instagram counts) so thank you ladies for being so patient with me as I spent too long trying to take a decent photo and thank you for sharing my aff-row-jahhh-teee cake.

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Affogato Cake

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Good things happen when @australia invites the world’s biggest chefs and food influencers to a behemoth of a party.

An elaborate pop-up market graces a Tasmanian pier to showcase anything and everything Australia does so well – butter, venison, barra, raw milk cheese, mangos and wine. Salami is paraded and wattleseed crackers are celebrated. The MasterChef crew make a fashionably late appearance and some people beside me are losing their minds for a photo op with the holy trinity of judges.

Later that evening a coast-to-coast progressive evening begins with guests being ferried across the island. There’s lobster with kombu butter, green lipped abalone and enormous whole marron making the rounds as the sun sets amongst a dizzying smokey haze. The oysters are so good they taste exactly like the sea, if the sea was in heaven, and the wind is so chilly but nobody seems to mind because blankets and music and fire are abundant and plentiful. People are tumbling over one another at the pass of the make-shift outdoor kitchen for a glance of what’s to come, skewers and big cameras at the ready.

A stunning venue is sought out for the main meal, a culinary inappropriate one at that, but who cares – a custom dining table has been commissioned, a work of art in itself, to seat hundreds within the walls of MONA to enjoy a three-dish menu curated by Neil Perry, Peter Gilmore and Ben Shewry.

Afterwards dessert is served downstairs in nests in the trees and there’s cheese flowing and whisky flowing and really everybody is having the best time. There’s a lady dressed up as fairy floss singing opera in a bathtub of fairy floss. And I’ll agree my descriptive prose sounds like nothing more than a huge wank, but trying explain this sensory overload in words is like desperately trying to eat ice cream that’s melting through my fingers… it’s difficult and awkward, and makes me look stupid regardless of determination and real feels™.

But before all of this even happened, the nice people organising this mammoth occasion go and choose me – to report from the ground with my camera, a nobody being surrounded by the biggest somebodies in the business. Thanks a million, Australia, for the tremendous experience I’ll forever be grateful for – and while it’s usually uncouth to post event photos here I’m sure you’ll agree this is an experience worth plastering all over my corner of the internet. No words, just pictures. If you’re into gratuitous photos of lobsters, please keep scrolling.

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