A Little Trip to Asia

Last Sunday was a beautiful day and not wanting it to go to waste, we decided to head to Kmart.  For regular folks living in the suburbs with a car, this shouldn’t be an announcement. But to us city-ites with feet as transportation, that is an adventure.  Located in Richmond, it is about an hour away and before anyone asks, yes there are trams and no we don’t use them.  Let me remind you – because we have legs!  I think people should consider using their own more often.

We put on pants and prepared for our trek out into the world… then took off into the far yonder. The best thing about walking out Richmond way is this magnificent church at the top of the city.  It is dark stone and the steeple soars into the sky.  We pass it regularly and almost always stop to admire it.  Occasionally our trips are timed with the start of mass and I’m almost tempted to attend purely so I can see the inside.  Then I remember that God would probably strike me down if I set foot in one of his houses and I carry on my way.

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There are parks, gardens, churches and terraced houses galore on the path out of the city.  There is always something new to see because it is simply impossible to take it all in at once.  Most of all, the trees make walking almost anywhere in Melbourne stunning.  They line most streets, particularly in the Paris end, and while their branches are bare in Winter, they are full and green in spring and summer.  If I ever need to ‘go to the light’ I’m hoping it looks something like this.

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Depending on whether you’re a glass half full or half empty person you will either love or hate Victoria Street once you cross Hoddle.  Manicured terraces of East Melbourne become brick, concrete and bitumen.  The greenery disappears (literally, I feel like if there was a green leaf in sight, someone would run out and burn it).  The streets are lined with Asian grocers, butchers, bakeries, cafes and restaurants.  It is a bustling little town just a stones throw from Melbourne CBD. If you’re not out early enough you will be shoulder to hip with grannies doing their shopping at the stands that spill out onto the street.  I’ve been to China and let me tell you – if you take on one of those grannies, you’ll lose.  Be warned.

I couldn’t live there but I sure can eat there.  If you can tear yourself away from the $1 hotdogs on offer at Ikea, there is an abundance of options in this little district.  I always think that the best Asian places to eat generally look a bit run down but are full of people – as almost every place looks like that on Victoria street – it’s pretty safe to eat anywhere.  I was hungry in anticipation because I’d decided before we even left the apartment what I was having for lunch (or as it turned out, for brunch).

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When living in Brisbane, my friends at work introduced me to a Vietnamese bread role called “Banh Mi”.  It is French inspired Vietnamese and is a glorified salad baguette.  Usually it is served with pork although you can get all different versions which are topped with the Banh Mi specific sauce. The role is crunchy on the outside (but doesn’t crumble everywhere when you bite into it) and is super light and fluffy in the middle.  You find them in Viet bakeries, like you’d find a meat pie in an Aussie one and I chose Phuoc Thanh.  Shall I say, the lady was so unimpressed that she had to put effort into serving us that I think had I offered, she would have paid us to leave – but who am I to complain when I walk away with two full roles and a can of drink for $9.50.2014-01-05 10.01.43Admittedly, I’ve skipped out the bit where we went to Kmart as we got our brunch on the way back but who hasn’t seen a department store before?  I did also notice there are 2 trees in the above photo but I refuse to retract my previous greenery statement because it is on a comparative scale.  Above was option 1 – stay at the bakery and look out onto the cars parked at the kerb and the passers by on a mission to get groceries or lunch.  Below was option 2 – cross back over Hoddle into East Melbourne and seek refuge in a typical Melbourne Park.  It was made particularly good by the company of my good-looking legally bound partner… When I pondered how I can make caramel runny he responded “Put it in a marathon”.  It’s a shame we don’t have children because those sorts of Dad jokes would be so fitting.

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I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning or to kick off our food “Trip to Asia” that we were to embark on.  These are my favourite locations visited (stay tuned as I pop up the recipe for each of these across the week!):

American-Chinese Chicken Drop Dumplings

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Japanese Sesame Chicken & Cucumber Salad

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Japanese Chicken Curry2014-01-07 17.55.06Japanese Baked Crunchy Chicken2014-01-08 17.54.11(Maybe not Asian) Celery, Apple & Sultana with White Wine Vinegar
2014-01-09 12.32.45Japanese Dry Curry

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Australian-Chinese Sweet & Sour Chicken

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