Category Archives: food

The 5 things I miss the most about Australia

12 Apostles at Port Campbell on the Great Ocean Road

12 Apostles at Port Campbell on the Great Ocean Road

Obviously this list is endless, but I thought I would focus on the 5 things that have made Australia special to me and that will be irreplaceable. Living here has been amazing and I’m definitely going to miss it. I’ve had some of the best experiences hanging out with friends and studying. Sometimes I almost forget that I studied here as most of the great memories I can recall are the ones with friends. But okay, enough of this prologue, I’ll get on with the list.

5. Cycling: It’s no Denmark but Melbourne is definitely an amazing place to cycle. The streets are mostly wide, flat and some spots even have designated bike lanes. Living in the good side of the river has its benefits of great cafes and bike paths. Canning St is definitely the cycling super highway and there’s something to be said riding in a bike pack, with no cars in your way. I know a lot of people complain about how crap it is to cycle here and that drivers are aggressive, but compared to most cities…Melbourne is a cycling paradise. I wish SF wasn’t so hilly so I could continue cycling there, but then again, maybe I’ll just get some buns of steel to help me conquer those hills.

My ride!

My ride!

4. Public transport: I’m going to miss all the trams and trains here. PT in CA pales in comparison. I’m also going to miss all those funny ads about rhinos on skateboards. Now who thinks of that?! Oh, but one thing I won’t miss…myki. Goodness, what a horrible system? Melbourne, you didn’t invent the rechargeable travel card, so why didn’t you just copy any other existing system? To help sum up why myki is so dumb and expensive, here’s a site that explains things that are cheaper than myki.

Oh and I also will NOT miss running after the tram. Come on tram driver, if you see a lady in heels…wait, why don’t cha?!

Here are a couple of those funny ads.

Beware the rhinos!

Why is this woman riding a rhino?

3. Food: Anyone who knows me, knows that I love food. Basically I’m a fat kid in a small asian girl body. The best way for me to get to know a city is to eat. Melbourne has such amazing restaurants and so many of them are cheap eats. I love discovering new places and love trying new cuisines and it’s great that Melbourne is so multi-cultural in that respect. I’m even going to miss pies and sausage rolls. Who am I?!

Some of my reviews can be found here.

Now, does anyone know of a good curry laksa or pie in SF?

2. New experiences: From making new friends to exploring new places, I’ve had some amazing experiences here. I’ve been lucky enough to see more of Australia than many Australians I think. I’ve been to every capital, snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, cross country skied in the Australian Alps, swam in the Indian and Southern Ocean, tanned on the famous Bondi Beach and dodged gators in gator country (ok, maybe not…it wasn’t gator season when I went to Northern Territory but still!).

Arnheim Land view from Ubirr

Arnheim Land view from Ubirr

Surfing in Anglesea!

Surfing in Anglesea!

Watching a Wallabies rubgy match!

Watching a Wallabies rubgy match!

Driving on the wrong side of the road!

Driving on the wrong side of the road!

Learning how to rock climb!

Learning how to rock climb!

1. Family: I’ve been amazingly lucky to have such wonderful friends that I can call my family. Without these friends, I seriously would not have enjoyed myself as much as I have and it would not be as hard to leave. I’m so glad that I was able to meet such amazing people in my masters program. Without them, the program would not have been as enjoyable. I’ll never forget all of our coffee dates, cheeky beers after CCPP, PEN nights, and catch-ups in the OEP lab. I’m so proud of all of us and I have no doubt we’ll eventually change this world and make it not so gloom and doom.

Being silly on Cinco de Mayo!

Being silly on Cinco de Mayo!

Last night in OZ with friends!

Last night in OZ with friends!

I’ll definitely miss my housemates, Nessa and Andrew. I’m going to miss all the delicious meals we’ve shared and all the times Nessa and I watched ‘Say Yes to the Dress,’ only to hear Andrew or Morten also comment on how bad the brides looked. It’s so hard finding good housemates and it’s even harder leaving them.

Andrew and Nessa being goofy.

Andrew and Nessa being goofy.

I’ll also miss all of my workmates. It’s been a blast working at Earthwatch for the last year. Everyone is so enthusiastic and passionate about their work, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them in the future.

Drinks with my Earthwatch buddies!

Drinks with my Earthwatch buddies!

Lastly, I’m so happy to have Morten and Buddy. We’ve made a life here together and next year will definitely be hard without him and Buddy. He’s introduced me to so many people who I can call my own close friends and also to so many things, from cross country skiing to mountain biking to rock climbing. He’s encouraged me, pushed me to my limit and I’ve come up on the other side more adventurous and curious.

Enjoying some sun in Beechworth.

Enjoying some sun in Beechworth.

It’s definitely a bittersweet moment for me and I have no doubt I’ll see everyone again. So it’s not goodbye but more of a see ya later. Love you all and cannot wait to see where and when I will see you all next.


Australiana with a dash of Americana

I’ll start off with, no football game is complete without a nice brew and some buffalo wings. Yesterday, it was the Australian Rules Football (AFL) Grand Final (GF) aka their superbowl and we were all gathered to watch it. Hawthorn Hawks vs. Sydney Swans. Now the thing about AFL that should be mentioned is that it is primarily played in Victoria but other states have teams in the league. Victoria is footy country whereas New South Wales and Queensland are rugby country. So I’m guessing most of Victoria was devastated to see Sydney in the GF over one of their other ten teams. Even more devastating was that Sydney won yesterday. Tears everywhere…unless you were a Geelong fan as their natural enemies are Hawthorn so you were happy to see them go down, if it wasn’t by your own hands.

Watching the game at an AFL viewing party is very similar to watching the superbowl at a superbowl party sans the wings, coors light/bud light, red cups, great commercials and an awesome half time show. Wait, what am I talking about? An AFL Grand Final is nothing like the Superbowl.

Tips to improve AFL Grand Finals:

  1. Add some glitz and glamour to your coverage.
  2. Get better advertisers, especially during commercials.
  3. Bigger and better halftime show (sorry The Temper Trap, as much as I love you, you were a bit out of your element there?).
  4. Note to self: Always bring buffalo wings to a viewing party. The only redeeming factor of sports bars are buffalo wings (disclaimer: I don’t eat meat, but I make an exception when it’s American inspired).

Venturing out onto the streets after the party, we milled around looking for an adequate bar and as a last resort, went into The Kodiak Club. To my surprise, it was a bourbon bar and you know what that means! America! Little fact: Bourbon is American whisky brewed in Kentucky. And what do you know, they had a late night kitchen and what was on the menu? Buffalo wings and all kinds of fatty American treasures (i.e. mozzarella sticks, sliders, grilled cheese) and so many American and Mexican beers to make you squeal like a little school girl! They even had some Canadian things to make it all so North American (mooseheads and smoked maple syrup).

So all in all, the night turned out even better than I expected. Got my Australian fix with the AFL Grand Final and also got my American fix with the buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks and Sam Adams. Thank you Kodiak Club for making an American feel at home in this strange land of koalas, kangaroos and AFL.

And now I’ll leave you with photos of the buffalo wings that made my night, the last seconds of the GF (boys are not too bad on the eyes)and the best commercial of the game.

(This is just one of the many great commercials featuring Rhonda, the safe driver. See below.

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Americans down under!

Something I’ve been waiting for since I first arrived in Melbourne finally arrived! The Americans!!! Amanda, Michelle, Michelle, Sarah, Kirsten and John all came to visit a couple of weeks ago. We spent 4 crash course days in Melbourne experiencing all things Melbourne, from cafes in laneways to hidden bars to dirty hipsters. We went around all the happening hoods and stayed right on Flinders Street in a sweeeet apartment! Day 1 was pretty rough…everyone was experiencing jet lag and their first taste of Melbourne winter…chilly! We explored Fitzroy, the CBD, Collingwood, Carlton, and Brunswick. I was definitely cracking the fun whip to get everyone going to prevent them from succumbing to the jet lag and to make sure we saw as much as possible. Our goal was to stay up at least ½ hr more every night…considering they only made it to 10:45p the first night!

We were able to do a day trip out to Phillip Island to see the Little Penguins (aka Fairy Penguins)…smallest penguins in the world. Our party bus was pretty sweet…nice astro van to haul all the kids ☺ We managed to make it out of Melbourne and I will have to admit, Amanda was the best choice for a driver despite her choice in radio stations (Bruno Mars is never okay). I’ve never been out to Phillip Island myself so I didn’t know what to expect but we were able to see wallabies (aka wombats), koalas, black swans, kookaburras, and penguins. As awesome it was to see everything…it was FREEZING! How painful to sit there and wait for the 20 penguins…though I did get to perfect my penguin walk. Pretty awesome and realistic as everyone will tell you, haha.
The rest of the time was a blur…as we rushed through the last bits of our Melbourne itinerary…hitting everything from Victoria Markets for souvenirs to souvlakis in the CBD to kangaroo steaks at the Napier to laneway bars. How sad that the only kangaroos that we saw…were on our plates! Oh well, I’m pretty sure everyone agrees that they were pretty freaking delicious ☺

As we packed up our bags and headed to Sydney, the sun finally came out in Melbourne and everyone saw Melbourne live up to its name of having 4 seasons in one day! Our trip to Sydney was spent enjoying the Sydney Harbour as we stayed in the YHA – The Rocks. We did the Sydney Opera House tour, which was awesome and gorgeous! I would totally recommend it, though seeing a show there would probably be cooler. We also saw Bondi Beach, despite all the protests from Michelle and Amanda (and their stupid beach song)…you can’t go to Sydney without seeing the most famous beach of all! It was a cool and windy winter day at the beach but a lovely sight overall…nice and relaxing time for our whirlwind trip. The last night in Australia was spent at the Rugby Union game: Australian Wallabies versus South African Springboks…which Australia totally killed! Rugby + hot men + beer = the perfect way to end our trip! I’m pretty sure by the end of the trip, John was over us objectifying men! I’m surprised he survived the trip with all 6 of us girls! Goodonya mate!

But alas…all things must come to an end ☹ Saying goodbye to everyone at the airport was difficult…more difficult than when I first left in February. I’m very blessed to know that I have wonderful friends back home who are willing to come all across the Pacific to visit…if only for just a week. It was a teaser of what I have back home…great family and friends. I can’t wait to be back in the states for Christmas knowing that I’ll get to see everyone again. Love you all!

Battle of the Nations!

America! vs. Australia!

Now, obviously living here in the land down under, I can’t but help make comparisons between the two great nations: America and Australia. Even funnier, there are so many things that we have in common! So many equivalents and so many differences!

1. Funfetti v. Fairy Bread: There is NO comparison, let’s be real. Funfetti wins all.

2. SUVs v. Hatchbacks: Hatchbacks win, no question. They’re quicker, more fuel efficient and absolutely adorable. Plus you don’t look like a total tool driving around in these.

3. American hipsters v. Australian hipsters: Now this is a tough one. I just don’t know. They both dress like bums (but actually pay loads to look like that), wear their ray ban waifers like nobody’s bizness, drink coffee at 3p and talk about life.

4. Vegemite v. Peanut butter: no contest, but if you ask any Aussie, they LOVE their vegemite (most can even sing the song) and ask any American, PB is boss. Since this is my blog, PB wins. And just for kicks: let’s enjoy this video…

5. Koala bear v. Grizzly bear: Tough choice because they are equally cute and equally vicious though I’m pretty sure most people can outrun a koala. And yes I know, a koala is not a bear…it’s a marsupial but they just look so similar! But I would say the koala wins on cuteness and loses on stinkyness whereas the bear wins on terror.

6. Tim tam v. Oreo: Oooooh, yea hands down tim tams win. Sorry oreo…as much as I like to dunk you in milk, open you up and lick all the cream filling (that’s what she said), tim tams have some sort of magical chocolate mousse inside that makes them irresistible. Here’s a video to compare (I hope you realise that this is NOT me in the video…it’s a random asian girl on youtube lol)

7. Australian beaches v. Californian beaches: Hmm, considering both Victoria and California experience cold currents (Australia gets the circumpolar current and California get the Alaska current) they both lose on water. Victorian beaches don’t have as big of a longshore as CA, so CA wins on this front. God I miss Santa Monica and Venice!

8. Australia Day v. Independence Day aka America’s Birthday: Duh, America wins. No further explanation needed.

9. Australian Football League v. American National Football League: AFL wins hands down…considering the fact that these men are HOT, fit, and did I mention hot? They wear short shorts that show off their amazing legs. Oh and I should probably mention something about the game right? Yea well here’s a video to show you rather than me pretend to explain the rules of the game. They make NFL players look like pansies.

Well that’s all that I can think up atm, too lazy to write anymore but this list will probably get updated quite a bit once I get more time.

End of the Semester

Finally finished my first semester of grad school! Whew! It was a challenging and testing semester, but I survived. I’ve learned so much more than I had imagined and really enjoyed all of my classes in the end. There were some moments were I thought I was wasting my times, but it turned out for the best. The best part of the program has definitely been the people: awesome peers and awesome professors. It’s so refreshing to be around people who care, understand, and share your concerns about the world. It’s also great to be in a new country where they’re undergoing sort of an upheaval in the environment world. But now that I’m done, I’m shutting down my brain for the next week or so just to recover. I don’t think I’ve ever written as much as this in my life, but I’m happy to know that I can do it. Huzzah!

And now onto the fun stuff! Tom, Natasha and I have been searching high and low for a house over the past month and we finally have one! It’s a bit (actually a lot) rickety, old, and in desperate need of some level ground and paint! It sounds a bit sad doesn’t it? Well it’s cheap and right near Sydney Rd in Brunswick so key location trumps level ground lol. We got our keys today and man was it an ORDEAL! First we went to 3-4 commonwealth banks before heading to Box Hill to find an open one on a Saturday. We went to the house with our friends and it was an anti-climatic opening because the door wouldn’t open! Our keys didn’t open the door! It was deadbolted and so luckily we were resourceful and ended up breaking into the front window! Is it sad that this is the 2nd time I’ve climbed into my house through the window in the last 4 months? After climbing into the house, we had a good inspection and realized our kitchen level was totally sinking and unlevel lol. Guess we missed that when we did the inspection. Oh well! It’s a house and it has a roof, I’m quite content. Hopefully it’s not haunted because it has to be like 50+ years…I can live with unlevel grounds but not a casper.

Here are some photos of the end of the semester!

Cafe Culture

Cappuccino at Animal Orchestra accompanied with an english scone!

Obsessed with coffee, I’m lucky to be in Melbourne. The cafe culture transformation started in the 1980s as a way for the City of Melbourne to revitalize a declining urban center and to convert old industry a lively city. Thirty years later and probably hundreds of cafes now present, cafe culture is deeply ingrained in Melbourne and its population. I’ve only begun my search for the best coffee spots, but I’ve definitely encountered some great areas.

Tips on ordering coffee (props to Lonely Planet for deciphering these to me):
– caffe latte: aka ‘latte’ made of half espresso and half steamed milk
– cappuccino: 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 froth topped with chocolate powder
– double espresso: two shots of espresso aka two shots of short black
– flat white: 2/3 espresso and 1/3 steamed milk no froth, usually served in a cup over a glass
– long black: espresso topped with water (aka an Americano)
– long macchiatto: a long black with a bit of milk
– short black: strong espresso shot
– short macchiato: short black with a bit of milk

A few great places to frequent for coffee (I’m still learning!)
– Degraves Street: There are about 2/3 cafes here, but I really like Degraves Espresso Bar.
– Animal Orchestra: Near Melbourne Uni, it has a very funky atmosphere as the walls are plastered with magazine photos and indie-emo music is playing. The capps are pretty delish.
– Johnston Street Food Store: Yummy coffee for take-away or to stay. They also have some gourmet foods and meals. Get their punch card so you can get a free coffee 🙂
– 7 seeds: I have mixed feelings about this place…great coffee when the wait isn’t too long and the waiters are actually nice, but when it is both of those things…yea.
– Small Block: YUM! Delish caps and awesomely cheap food. The atmosphere is pretty cool and the wait isn’t too long either. Love it.
– Brunswick East Project: A very cool sort of vibe and yummy, creamy caps…definitely a great place for a quick or even coffee date. The back room is very well-lit and quite airy sort of atmosphere.
– Atomica: Creamy and hipster central. Located right on Victoria St and Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, great place to sit inside bar to drink coffee and watch hipsters pass you by. Quintessential hipster coffee place.
– Proud Mary: Yummy brunch and coffee together? Love. You can order any of their interesting brunch plates or even just get eggs any style and make your own plate. I suggest getting the hashbrowns and the mushrooms, yumm!

And here’s a blog that has photos of several different cafes in Melbourne. It’s pretty sweet.