My second down under tour was again a tasty affair. I fell in love with many eateries, learned more about eating habits, and went through what I think thus far is the scariest cooking I have ever done my whole life.
Although my visit to Melbourne was much shorter this time, I used the little time available to get the few best
picks (it was indeed hard to choose!) out of the city. One thing I have planned since I even left it a few months ago was to return to El Fayha-the “best Lebanese shop in Melbourne” for more goodness. And that I did.
This time, we also took two boxes to give to friends and families in Canberra-next in the itinerary, but first, let me tell you about Shakahari in Carlton.
After a tiring day, it was already late when we decided we should go out for dinner. We pondered on going to the Vegie Bar again since it was closer but finally decided to give Shakahari a go. Wise move. (Not that I don’t love Vegie Bar, its just that it was good to try something new)
The restaurant a charming little place-almost hidden (we were a bit puzzled in finding the entrance at first) but oozes warmth and prettiness once you’re inside. I love the Indian decorations and knick-knacks as well as the yellowish hue.
The main highlight, no doubt, was the appetizer: Avocado Magic. I faintly remember the avocado melting in my mouth after I bit into the crispy tempura exterior. That mixed with the smooth, tasty puree as the sauce and the rest was magic indeed. I remember one of us (I think it was me) ordering the Couscous A la Caspian, which comes with roasted vegetables-this has become a favorite of mine to the amusement of my Australian friends- and chickpea stew. Did not disappoint either.
And the next morning its off to Canberra. As my previous entry explained, the weather was at its fairest during the days there compared to the other places I went to on my second visit. And it was completed by eating a scrumptious, generous, brimming-with-hummus, falafel wrap from Kismet in Manuka . My dining partner said it was the best in Australia. It was indeed good, although I remember the one I had in Melbourne was good
also, but perhaps the cold weather nudged my tastebuds up one notch then.
It was in Kangaroo Valley that I had my most intimidating cooking experience (s). I can’t tell you why it’s so, but I can tell you what I cooked. The first was Udon soup with vegetables- a simple affair only made complicated by the arguments with my cooking partner over whether the veggies should be cooked thoroughly. I won’t say I don’t like crunchy vegs, it’s just that I like to let the seasoning, which was garlic and ginger, seep in.
On another night, it was my tempe sausages, which went through some adjustments and became more like falafel stuff. We didn’t have Umba, but there were these little jars of Mediterranean seasoning powder and that worked very well. We ate the sausages with some stir-fried vegetables.
I don’t think I ate out at all in the Valley, oh, except for a cup of tea in this lovely Cafe called the Elephant Boy. It was cool and quirky and although by the time I got there the food was already almost sold out, I enjoyed the decor and the tea. The woman who seemed to be managing the place was very charming and there was an old picture, apparently of her in the cafe, looking like it dated back from the 60s. Impressive.
Sydney was delicious. From the sorbet I had while walking down Bondi beach looking at the sculptures, the crazy spicy salad at this Thai restaurant near paddy’s, and the greasy, yummy, taco salad I had amid my shopping session in Glebe’s markets.
The loveliest, though, was Bodhi in the Park. This vegetarian restaurant is like a secret, hidden in the city’s garden, and it served great dumplings and fake fish. good tea too. We ate there at night and the ambience got me smiling, what with it being like a little cave with this romantic lighting and a great view of the park.
Another memorable dinner was a “barbie” in the terrace of one of my friend’s house, which had a magnificent view of the sydney harbor bridge. Again, I indulged in soysages, which one of my friends said was even better than meat ones.
It’ll be a long time, if ever, before I return. When, and if, I do, I hope to devour more of what the country has to offer. I do hope that’s possible.