Yes, you heard me. That’s what I’ve titled this post and I am sticking with it because it’s the most accurate description of what MS and I did when we went to Melbourne for 5 days during December. As the story goes… Our birthdays are only two days apart and for the last two birthdays (2011 and 2012) that we have been together we have done the “let’s get retarded and drink shots with our friends and random strangers” thing so this year we decided to do something different. I was at out at sea and MS emailed me asking if I wanted to go to Melbourne and eat instead of organise the pool party that we had originally planned, which involved lots of drinking no doubt. I was like ‘does a bear sh*t in the woods’? Hell yeah I would rather do that! He knows me so well and before I knew it our flights were booked for our little eating vacation to Melbourne.
Now as some of you may know and as I have hinted in previous posts, I haven’t exactly been able to eat a whole lot of the food that I wanted this year. Most of my diet has been somewhat restricted and whilst I am still watching what I eat now, let’s just say I wasn’t going to be watching anything other than my pants get tighter down in Melbourne. We had originally planned a trip to Melbourne in November but then had to cancel it because I got called to go to sea. In the lead up to that I had researched my little butt off of all the places I wanted to go – and yes the majority were cafe’s, restaurants and ice cream shops – for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert.
So we took off on our adventure flying down with Tiger Airways (first time I had ever flown with them) even after all the bad stuff we had heard. I must say our experience with them was nothing like many others – the airfares were cheap and it was on time. No complaints from me, except for the cabin crew’s hideous uniforms. Who designed those monstrosities?! We rented a car and drove to a studio apartment that we rented just off Flinders Street on a website called Airbnb. That website is absolute gold. In fact I doubt I will ever use wotif again. Our lovely host Linton met us, gave us the rundown and left us to our own devices. Here is a link for the place that we stayed – such a great little spot. If you are heading down to Melbourne and need somewhere to stay I can’t recommend this place enough! It’s in the perfect location to explore Melbourne! Just as long as it’s free when we go to stay there next ok?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, enough about my life story hey. Just get to the food you say! Since we got in a little late in the afternoon we pretty much hung around in our room for a bit *wink wink* and then went straight out for dinner. For our first dinner out in Melbourne I had chosen the Newmarket Hotel on the outskirts of St Kilda. We both planned to have a couple of drinks so we left the car behind and caught a tram there. Turns out neither of us are good at figuring out public transport (I never had this much trouble in China!) and after much f*cking around we finally got on a tram which took us about 20 minutes to go only 6 km and then we had to walk 800m with MS complaining about his shoes. I was the one in heels FFS.
As we walked towards the Newmarket Hotel I thought ‘jeez what kind of a sh*thole is this?’ From the outside it was a very unassuming brick building that didn’t look very speccy. On the inside it was super modern restaurant/bar that was packed to the rafters with people having drinks and/or dinner. Lucky for the both of us I had called up and made a booking a couple of days prior so we had a couple of drinks whilst waiting for our table. The lovely female waitress that led us to our table for two was a gem and looked after us from the get go. At our table we ordered a pitcher of ‘Once Upon a Time in Mexico’ – Blanco Tequila, Ginger Liqueur, Raspberry Puree, Lemon, Sugar and Ginger Beer for AU$38 and for our food we ordered the ‘So Cal Spread’ for AU$55 per person because the Californian/Mexican menu was so bloody good that we just couldn’t choose. And a bit of everything we did.
Our pitcher of tequila arrived and it was just what the doctor ordered but the best part about it was that they had rimmed the glass (is that what you call it?) with sugar, kind of like jelly crystals. It was a nice surprise from the usual salty rim and had MS and I declaring that we were definitely going to do it next time we had tequila cocktails at home (yeah that’s never). The Newmarket Hotel was da (the) bomb!
First up was the Soft Shell Crab Tacos, Guacamole, Shaved Fennel, Spicy Corn and Tomatillo Salsa. What an awesome start to the meal! These were super flavoursome – so much so that my non seafood loving boyfriend forgot that he was eating soft shell crab. Something he would normally never eat. He gobbled it up and so did I.
Our second course on the ‘So Cal Spread’ was the BBQ corn on the cob with chilli and queso freso. Again, MS doesn’t particularly like corn. In fact I have never seen him eat it. I am starting to see a trend here because like me he loved the corn. It was probably the best damn corn I have ever tasted. The queso freso was like a creamy cheesy sauce over the top and holy crap it was good! MS ate the lot once again.
We didn’t wait long for our next two dishes arrived – Wood BBQ chorizo with pears, violet artichokes and seasonal pickles and . My word, each dish was better than the last so far! This was outstanding and probably my second best dish of the night, after dessert of course, but MS declared it his favourite. Who would have thought to pair pears with chorizo? What a magnificent ‘pearing’! I would love to get the recipe to recreate this one at a BBQ of my own.
The second dish was a selection of more soft tacos – one of them with prawns and the other I could have sworn the waitress said scallop but I can’t see anything resembling a scallop on their online menu. Let’s just say there were excellent, albeit a little spicy for MS. The prawn ones were definitely my favourite with fragrant herbs and jicama slaw.
That was our entree’s done – sheesh how was I gonna fit the mains and dessert in? I was gonna give it my best shot that’s for sure. I ordered a glass of wine since our pitcher had run out and our two mains arrived. In the middle the waitress placed the Newmarket Wood Roasted Chicken – Organic Milawa chook with smoked bacon, sweet corn, spring vegetables and buttermilk and the XL St Louis style pork ribs, Newmarket Hotel’s BBQ sauce and apple slaw.
Okay, okay, I lied when I said that the dessert was my favourite and then the chorizo second. Let’s just put the dessert in a whole category by itself because this stuff is savoury and that is sweet. The Wood Roasted Chicken was my favourite dish. It was so creamy and so so so tender and… oh wow. I had some of the pork ribs, which were delicious btw, but this chicken in buttermilk was the business. I ate every last piece of corn in that dish and even considered gnawing the chicken off the bone but looked around at the Newmarket crowd which included lots of men wearing cardigans around their neck and figured that I probably shouldn’t. Dammit.
By that point we were pretty much stuffed but I was really looking forward to that dessert. It was Valrhona single origin chocolate cazuela with pears, salted caramel and vanilla ice cream. What’s the hell is that you ask? Well think of it as like a big fudgey, chocolatey, caramely brownie baked in a clay pot with pears. It. Was. Heaven. And again, here I go, one of the best desserts I have ever tasted. Okay so it may have been the cocktail, the pitcher of tequila and the wine talking by that stage but considering the amount of food we had I think that overtook the alcohol I had consumed. It was super chocolately and fudgy and went oh so well with the sweet pears.
After that would you believe that MS wanted another dessert. The waitress said that was no problem and after some umming and ahhing whilst viewing the menu to choose which one we wanted – I wanted the Peruvian quinoa pudding with cinnamon, pineapple and coconut (everything tastes better with cinnamon in it) but MS claimed that he didn’t like quinoa (FFS!) and in the end he let the waitress steer him towards the Tres leche cake with drunken fruits and rhubard. He won’t eat quinoa but he will eat rhubarb?!!! So I forgot to get a photo of this one and neither of us particularly liked it. I thought it tasted like 3 pieces of white bread sandwiched together drenched in some sort of sweet milk. We’ve been jipped! On doing a little bit of research while writing this post it just so happens that ‘tres leche cake’ means ‘three milks bread’. Who would have thought?! It was ok but it had nothing on the amazing dessert that we had just eaten before it.
So there you go… that was our first dinner out on our food tour of Melbourne and it was a hit for both of us. I gave myself a secret pat on the back for finding it as MS still thinks that was one of the best meals that we had whilst in Melbourne. I think the best part is definitely in ordering the ‘So Cal Spread’ and not knowing what is coming out next. Food excitement is the best kind of excitement! Stay tuned for my next ‘Eating ourselves stupid in Melbourne post’….