Duck, Duck, Goose

It’s ok. I haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth.  Not even close.  What happened was, that beautiful honeymoon period at a new job, where no-one knows who you are or what you do, ended.  That horrible point in time where everyone suddenly realises you’re paid to do work. They load you up with everything possible plus 10 tonne of expectation to make up for the first 8 weeks where you were not at full capacity. Ugh.

Despite the fact my brain feels like a mouse which has just run on its squeaky wheel until a point of exhaustion, I’m still loving what I do.  My boss is being fantastic and my team is growing quickly with one of my favourite former colleagues starting in a contract role.  She will no doubt add a little spice to office and I am hoping she doesn’t turn up in a yellow dress on Monday given the managers who I support have dubbed her Big Bird.  Apparently given I am known as Red Sonja the amazon woman, it was unfair to not give her a nickname also.

Anyhow, as usual this morning being Saturday we headed straight to the markets for the weekly veg purchase.  I had decided that we would be going to a little cafe that we walk past every week and I think “I really must try that, maybe next time”.  It is a bit like a glorified student digs so I wouldn’t expect unique, drool worth food so much as good grub.  They delivered on that for me and semi-delivered for Steve.  Of course we stuck to our usual black tea for KC hot chocolate for the mister.

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After much debate, we decided to go with a meal each – you never know if its a big breaky or not.  Fail. I was undoubtedly going to end up with a food baby after this one. Phancy Cafe served us the Farmers Breaky  and their Phancy Start (or something along those lines). The farmers was a tasty pumpkin bread with poached eggs, bacon, tomato something and a potato something else – plus random lettuce???  The bacon,egg and bread was a hit but the rest was a bit of a miss.  We wouldn’t order again for just shy of $15.

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I, on the other hand, was spoilt rotten with avo, fetta, eggs and fried cherry tomatoes on toast.  There was so much flavour and with two thick sour dough slices, it was at least twice the size of my normal breakfast.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and after squeezing 3 cups of tea out of my little pot, I was more than content that my $13 meal was well worth it.

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It was even better once I’d smashed it all up and then set the knife and fork to the side to munch my way through in a much more cave-man style. This was not the sort of pretentious, yuppy place that you can often find yourself stuck in when dining in Melbourne – hands are completely ok!  What made this little place even better, were the friendly staff. After commenting on being grossly full while paying our bill, one of the waitress joked about, mimicking just how ridiculous I was going to look waddling home!  We will be stopping in next week to try their muffins after reading some promising reviews about their baking.

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The weather continues to be up and down here and we are sneaking out when we can in between the 30 degree days.  Today was one of the horrible days so we basked in our air con…  Picture a beached whale in a 1 bedroom apartment and you’d be somewhere near how I felt for the 2 hours after breakfast.  I couldn’t remain locked away though – I am after all on a quest (being the most FANTASTIC, SELFLESS sister-in-law that I am) to try all good food places in Melbourne in preparation for Sare’s arrival in May.  Tonight’s menu?  Peking Duck.  I don’t love Sare enough though to walk to Old Kingdom Chinese restaurant in 35 degree heat so we boarded the old city circle… even after living here for a total of 18 months, I still love seeing these trams!

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Oh yes, our favourite dish from China – Peking duck! For 2 weeks we tried the largest array of foods I think I’ve ever considered, from 5 different regions in China.  I still cringe when I see a Sichuan restaurant – as a girl who doesn’t eat chilli, that place offered rice bubbles or nothing.  Their oil is infused with chilli so even vegetables were spicy.  I’ve never seen/tasted anything like it – I even picked chilli out of chicken flavoured 2 minute noodles!!!

But, peking duck. It’s yummy!  Ever tried getting it in Australia?  It’s not uncommon to see it on a menu for $18.50 for 2 pancakes!?  *Insert shock horror face* Who pays nearly $20 for a couple of bits of duck and a tiny crepe?  Not us.  No, we pay $55 to get a whole duck (around 5-6 pancakes each, packed with meat), a bean sprout and left over duck stir fry from the carcass that went back to the kitchen then finally, a clear soup with the boney remains! Bargain.  My favourite part was when a waiter brought out our duck and carved it onto the plate in front of us.  It smelt delicious and the sound of his meat clever cutting into the crispy skin was music to our ears.  The flavours didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t the same as China but it was tasty none the less!

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We had high hopes the food would be great this place books out every Saturday and Sunday. You must book ahead and as we sat there, we watched the cranky old lady owner turn away walk ins one after the other.  I read a bucket load of reviews which all said this was the only food worth going to this little restaurant for – don’t order anything else.  The next two meals were described as ‘nothing spectacular’ time and again on the reviews but they came for ‘free’ with the duck so why not?

ImageI don’t know what is wrong with people but these ‘left overs’ were yummylicious. Steve said he would take the bean sprouts on its own as a main dish and I loved the soup.  Both had amazing flavours.  The duck was juicy and tasty but ultimately it was duck.. These two dishes had their own special taste that neither of us could quite figure out but we both thoroughly enjoyed.  The soup was by far the biggest surprise.  We opted to not add noodles (additional $8) and when it came out, it almost looked like water – but looks can be deceiving because it had more flavour then all the other courses.Image It was to be the second time today that I would waddle home.  Thankfully the temperature in the shade couldn’t have been more than 25.  We casually wandered along in our jandals, mocking the try-hards that occupied the fancy-pants restaurants and cafes of this once working class area when we spotted a festival in the Carlton Gardens.  We soon discovered it was a Russian fete of sorts with the public and entertainers dancing together in a big community gathering.  It had an amazing atmosphere, it felt like we’d walked into a little town’s annual celebration.  With the Royal Exhibition Building on one side and a spectacular fountain backlight by the dropping sun on the other, it was one of those times where you feel you have no choice but to pause for a moment and smell the roses – how cliche!Image

The best part?  It’s only Saturday so we get to start all over again tomorrow.

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