Travel

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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.

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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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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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I arrived in Japan a month after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the catalyst of the devastating Fukushima meltdown. Despite advice from peripheral acquaintances to cancel my trip, life in Tokyo (superficially) seemed as normal as ever – operating transportation, bustling nightlife, all those good and normal things. That is until we ventured to Tsukiji market one weekend.

There was an apocalyptic feel at 9am. We were met with emptiness, a certain stillness of sparse warehouses and strewn palettes. We found a sign slathered to a grubby wall in red tape politely warning us: “Please stop visiting the market by the earthquake generation”. Our morning stroll felt increasingly intrusive as we meandered, confused, through deserted loading dock after deserted loading dock. Crates and turret trucks were poised neatly for the most part ready for a busy day of trade. A school of comical plastic tetraodontidae fish hung limp above locked roller doors – eerie to say the least. We eventually found a small pocket of stalls operating on the market’s outskirts running on skeleton staff but I could feel unrest in the air, even a sweet pug resting at my feet had the most solemn look in its eyes.

We eventually found somewhere to eat, and did so gravely (with occasional banter regarding how wonderful our breakfast was like the filthy foodies we are), and left the hushed Tsukiji market, not having experienced the bustling wonder of people and produce, but instead a rare scene at a standstill I struggle to express in words.

Tsukiji Market

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Exercise your right to #wanderlust by capturing the clouds. After all, you’re in the sky, you’re intrepid, you’re an urban explorer.

Have a picnic with friends new and old, celebrate a birthday, take a photo of #kooky shit only Melbourne has to offer and shoot each meal as if every plate were a badge of honour (or don’t, because you’re a self-aware blog-haver). Ambiguously instagram. Drown yourself in coffee and pretend you’re not a walking cliché. Stride past Messina and scoff, saunter past Lord of the Fries and surrender. Enjoy the company of your travel compadre and share a cake from Le Bon. Take in the street art, appreciate the urban decay. “Trams are so great, aren’t they?”. Triumphantly embrace the cold as if you were the only person on earth to favour the winter months. Find yourself easily impressed by everything.

Oops, camera is on the wrong setting, everything’s blurry. Ohh, it’s kinda arty, huh! So Melbourne.

Sigh at the airport and lose your boarding pass. Sit beside a horrendously scarred window. Try and take a photo of the world below and it sucks. It’s just a metaphor for everything, because everything sucks when you’re heading home. The familiar feels uncomfortable and your home city suddenly seems… questionable. Cool emotions, Sydney-sider; time to faceplant into the marshmallow bag you scored from Burch and Purchese at your desk.




























For the sake of food blog relevance, here are the places I ate at and would recommend to all: Cumulus Inc., Cookie, Fitzrovia, Proud Mary, Taxi Dining Room, Burch and Purchese, Padre Coffee, Queen Victoria Market, Le Bon, Slow Beer, Miss Marmalade.

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This weekend I visited some places I’d not been to in nearly 20 years (I’m the daughter of winery fan parents, you see); historic little Berrima. No anecdotes or quirky remarks from me today, just some photos documenting a #quaint afternoon. Consider this a personal editorial on a few of my favourite spots in the area; The Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop, Joadja Winery, new favourite Two Skinny Cooks and some very shy cows. Needless to say all photos by me except for the photo of me (thanks, Steve!).

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I HAVE RETURNED from my whirlwind adventure to SIN/BKK with local music personality, ex-housemate, platonic man-candy and general cool dude Adam on our mission to to eat all of the food feat. our friend Mel who’s working abroad for a little while. WARNING: photo-heavy post. Crazy heavy.

SINGAPORE. Some call it sterile, I’ll stick with “orderly”. A hub of too many great cultures. Check out the night safari after 7pm as part of the zoo. Head to Little India (the Tekka Centre on Buffalo Road) for a plate of the greatest chicken biryani, visit the East Coast for some chili crab (evidence of us giving it the ol’ ridgy-didge posted below) and lose your mind in the number of department stores along Orchard Road. Bugis Street was conveniently located moments from our hotel and is a great spot for on-the-go eats (thank u pandan + kaya waffle) and shopping for some adorable, girly accessories. Be sure to hit up maccas; the McSpicy goes off.

BANGKOK. You could spend your entire holiday exploring street food options (Sukhumvit Soi 38 has the greatest mango sticky rice) and getting lost in Chinatown on a Saturday night. TRY AN AUTHENTIC PAD THAI. Buy everything at Chatuchak markets (a stall I’ll caption as “a food stylist’s dream” also pictured below), go for a boat adventure through world heritage site Ayutthaya for a snapshot of Thai provincial life. Have the living balls beaten out of you with a legit Thai massage (I regret everything). For all the hip kids take some time to explore Thong Lo. We reccomend Iron Fairies, a terrace-converted-bar with the sweetest jazz, Mr. Jones’ Orphanage for the sweetest cake and feast for the eyes, Shades of Retro for some sick cocktails and guaranteed laid-back vibe with the added perk of all the free buttered popcorn your stomach can handle and for the greatest eats try Soul Food Mahanakorn (dem tamarind pork ribs) and Xuan Mai (a restaurant opened by former Miss Saigon turned FBI agent turned chef). No #sydneyfoodtrends in sight, just the way I like it.

Humidity aside I had a spectacular time and the post-holiday blues are beginning to hit home hard (OH LORD WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE) but for now please enjoy few of my ~travel pics~. Since there’s only so much I can squeeze into the constraints of this post for more and larger versions please visit my portfolio site alanadimou.com and check out the photomedia section.


























































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