I’m a few days late with this week’s ‘weekly review’ so I’m sorry about that if you’ve been patiently waiting. The reason is I got a job at late notice; I had the interview on the 10th and started on the 13th. Well I only lasted two days before realising seven hours of call centre work just wasn’t for me. Whilst the pay was good (close to what I was being paid as a lawyer), I didn’t come all the way to Australia to work in a call centre selling discounted electricity.
I’ve been practicing a lot with filmmaking recently and, hopefully, I’ll be able to show off what I’ve been working on soon. There is a steep learning curve but YouTube tutorials have been a godsend!
Back on topic, this was actually one of my favourite weeks since we’ve been here. The highlights being the Melbourne Cup, a Chicken Nugget Festival, House of Vans and a surprise Thanksgiving beer dinner courtesy of Urban List and Goose Island.
For those that don’t know, Australians love gambling, drinking and horse racing. The Melbourne Cup is one of the biggest horse races in the world. It’s described as the ‘race that stops a nation.’ The prize fund for this one race, held at 3pm on a Bank Holiday Tuesday, is $6.2 million! To put that into perspective, the Grand National in the UK has a prize fund of less than £1 million.
We arrived at Flemington Racecourse at approximately 11am, just before the first race of the day. I was expecting carnage already but, with trains every five minutes and no-one drinking on the trains, the atmosphere was quite relaxed. The story was a little different once the full 90,000 racegoers descended on the racecourse.
We only had general admission tickets and didn’t realise you could take your own food and non-alcoholic drink. There were hundreds of people set up with their blankets and full-on picnics. I felt we’d missed a trick and should have brought camping chairs like most other people.
The weather was a bit hit and miss. It was cloudy most of the day but very muggy. The sun came out for about fifteen minutes and my face got so sunburnt I couldn’t go out the next day!
By the time 3pm came, we were regretting the fact we didn’t spend more money on a grandstand ticket. The course was unbelievably full, we couldn’t move and we ended up getting stuck quite a way back from the track. With a limited view of the nearest TV screen, we didn’t see much of the race itself but the atmosphere was like one big party. Well, for those that won a few dollars with their bets. We didn’t do too well on the betting front and ended up being $30 down at the end of the day.
The winner of the Melbourne Cup was Rekindling; the one horse we didn’t put any money on. My money was on Thomas Hobson (for obvious reasons if you’re reading from Lincoln!) but he just couldn’t pull it out of the bag.
Once we’d got back to the city we went for one more drink at a ‘fairytale’ themed cocktail bar called Storyville. The drinks were good if not very different to what was actually described in the menu. The cocktail I ordered was called ‘Polyjuice’ and I was excited to mix the ingredients myself. I was really disappointed to receive the cocktail already poured into a simple glass. The setting was great with different themes including a mushroom palace and Narnia room. Hopefully next time they’ll serve the drinks as they intended!
Chicken Nugget Festival & House of Vans
Who doesn’t love chicken nuggets? The night before the festival we had ordered a McDonald’s family box for two and they had to forgot to put the chicken nuggets in. It was as though they were saving us for the real deal the next day.
We got the train out to Thornbury, a suburb only five miles from the city, where the festival was being held. I loved the look of the food truck park which is permanently based in a converted car manufacturing factory. On a weekend a daily transport pass is only $6 which is perfect for exploring those places a bit further out.
The festival featured some of Melbourne’s hottest food trucks including Mr Burger and Sparrow’s Philly Cheesesteaks. The weather turned up as well and we had a great day chilling in the sun eating a copious amount of chicken nuggets! Oh and spicy cheese sauce for dipping. We’re going back to Thornbury on 25th November for a Greek food festival. If you can’t tell already, Melbourne loves its food and so do I!
Afterwards, we returned to the city before adventuring to the Meat Market where a House of Vans pop-up event was taking place. Everyone has heard of Vans, the skate shoe brand, but not many know of the permanent ‘House of Vans’ locations which combine skate parks and music venues. The pop-up event in Melbourne was free with skate and BMX demonstrations as well as live music from Trophy Eyes.
We carried on the drinking with craft beer and rum and were mesmerised by the BMX riders who were getting some serious air on the halfpipe. I’ve never seen such insane tricks. My favourite were the triple tailwhips; they got the crowd going crazy!
Check out this slow-mo…
Thanksgiving Beer Dinner
Last night, after finishing work at 5:45pm, I was surprised to see Emma waiting for me. We had been gifted two surprise tickets to Goose Island’s (Chicago’s top craft beer brewer) Thanksgiving dinner with matched beer by the lovely people behind Urban List.
Goose Island are currently on the road in their ‘Migration Week’ showing off their beer far and wide. They’ve been through Brazil, North America, China and now Australia.
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I had no idea what to expect but, after reading the menu, I knew we’d be in for a treat. After the IPA’s, we got talking to one of Goose Island’s brewers who explained all about the 9.5% Gillian. This was a slightly different beer. It was more closer to champagne than it was to your typical pint of Carlsberg. It must have been good as Emma had more than one glass!
The Thanksgiving dinner itself was cooked by Rockwell & Sons chef Casey Wall and was absolutely incredible. The turkey was done two ways; smoked and fried. I don’t normally like turkey but when its done like that, I’d eat it everyday. We had sides of stuffing, mashed potato, sweet potato casserole, lime butter carrots as well as pumpkin pie for dessert. One of the American guests commented that we would never have better Thanksgiving food. I am very grateful for attending such a cool event. I ended up a little tipsy especially after the beers that came with dessert. They had been aged for two years in bourbon barrels and had hints of chocolate and caramel.
The two mile walk home was fun – 28 degree heat at 10pm is something I could get used to.
We’ve outdone ourselves this week so we’re going to have to think up some good plans to keep things interesting.
Thanks for reading, I really do appreciate it!
*Not ‘Pints’ – they’re pretty rare over here.
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