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It’s All About Lobster Rolls

FullSizeRender (4)Some of you who know me, or follow me on social media may have been alerted to a little obsession of mine. And when I say alerted, I mean I’ve been somewhat forcing it down your throat since the summer.

This obsession, however, goes back a little way, probably to my Melbourne days when Schupp and I visited the Royal Croquet Club – a pop up garden party on the Yarra River which took place last summer. The Club is advertised as a social club, performance venue and sports venue. It takes place in the open air and has an interesting vibe with workers from the CBD, Hipsters and foodies all combined under the Melbourne summer sky. Different restaurants from around Melbourne take it in turns to run pop up kitchens at the Club.

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One such pop up restaurant is responsible for my introduction to lobster rolls, Mr Claws. Now, looking at social media, it appears that Mr Claws are only running pop up events now, but happily, they seem to be doing them at some of my favourite places in Melbourne, including Huxtaburger. If you hear of them popping up anywhere near you, go along and have a try – a word of warning though – you’ll need a couple of them to fill you up!

The Royal Croquet Club returns to Melbourne on 10th December 2015 and will be there until 20th December 2015.

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Fast forward to summer in London. I have been working for Thermomix in the commercial business unit, which happily involves selling Thermomix machines to restaurants around the UK. The name ‘Burger and Lobster’ kept cropping up, so we decided to go and visit and see what all of the fuss is about.

The basic concept of Burger & Lobster is that there are three items on the menu – a burger, a lobster or a lobster roll; each served with chips, a salad and a delicious buttery sauce all for £20. I’m not the sort of person who wants to work for my food, and I can’t eat beef so the lobster roll was the obvious choice and I certainly did not regret it. The brioche is incredible and the succulent lobster meat is dressed in chives and mayonnaise or something equally as delicious.

FullSizeRender (5)Smack Lobster is just down the road from the Soho Burger & Lobster, it’s actually a branch of the same company so you can get the same roll as from its sister restaurant for £10 less. The roll also comes in 5 different varieties, although the Classic is still my favourite. They also do a great lobster chowder which complements the meal perfectly. This is actually my favourite place for lobster rolls as the atmosphere is really chilled and if you go at the right time you can get a good seat and don’t have to queue to order.

In October 2015 I visited Singapore with my whole family for my cousin’s wedding. Unfortunately I was ill for what seemed like the whole week and much of the food available in the evenings was so greasy and full of oil that it turned my stomach. However, once I started to feel better I did some research online about places to find lobster rolls in Singapore and by process of elimination; I found the one closest to our hotel on Sentosa was at a place called The Cove, which was also on Sentosa. The Cove is a selection of restaurants around a beautiful marina which is apparently very popular with local ex-pats.

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Quayside Fish Bar & Bistro was visited on a recommendation from ladyironchef.com. The lobster roll was good, but a little on the pricey side. The brioche was slightly dry and not as buttery as I would have liked and the herbs used in aioli that dresses the lobster didn’t have the classic lobster roll taste that I love. The truffle fries it came with though were delicious. However, at SD$49 (£25) it was pretty pricey.

We also tested out a place called Spathe Public House in Singapore which was the single most Hipster place I have ever been to (bearing in mind that I have been to Shoreditch). Their menu was incredibly quirky and did feature a twist on the lobster roll in the form of the Signature Black Bun Lobster Burger. It included a whole lobster tail, hash brown, avocado and braised tomatoes. It was incredibly difficult to eat and the bun was slightly dry but apart from that I enjoyed it and it was certainly different to anything I’ve had before. Add some cheese in there and it would have been a solid 9/10.

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Worth checking out as well is Spathe’s Mammoth Signatures – the are pretty impressive ‘sharing platters’ they’re not really your usual sharing platters though – it’s incredibly imaginative. Their desserts are also cool but huge, so I would recommend sharing them.

Thus concludes my run down of my lobster roll experience. Why do I love them so much? The combination of brioche, mayonnaise, chives and succulent lobster meat is just mind blowing. I’ve also created my own take on lobster rolls, so watch out for that recipe which I hope to post in the next couple of weeks (I’ll never promise anything because my track record of uploading posts is fairly poor).

Let me know of any great lobster rolls you’ve had and I’ll be sure to check them out.

 

 Experiencing Life | Creating Adventure

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The Australian Open

P1000729I have always loved tennis. It probably sprouted from Wimbledon always being on in the background at home during the Championships and the hypnotic draw that the dull thud of a tennis ball on a racquet creates. From there, I would always yearn for us to play tennis at school during the summer months, but my school seemed to place much more importance on athletics, which I really had no interest in. A couple of friends of mine encouraged my interest in tennis during my teenage years and even let me hit a ball with them a few of times. 

My interest, however, really was in watching rather than playing, despite a couple of summers of coaching and casual games with friends and family members. Every year when Wimbledon came around, my whole attention would be on the tennis whether I was watching it at home on the TV, at school on a live stream or following the Twitter feeds whilst out and about. An interest that started with Wimbledon soon developed to span all of the Grand Slams and impacted some of my fictional writing too.

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The first year I really followed the Australian Open was in 2013 when Andy Murray reached the final for the third time. I’d followed Murray’s success almost constantly that year, along with the rest of the British public, willing him to get the country out of its tennis depression. I remember staying up until the early hours of the morning keeping track of the match and finally going to sleep after he was defeated by Novak Djokovic in four sets. I didn’t follow tennis as much during 2014 as it was a pretty hectic year from me; more responsibility at work and then moving to Australia meant that I didn’t have time to follow tennis thoroughly and therefore only paid attention via Twitter.

During December a friendship with a professional tennis player, John-Patrick (JP) Smith, reaffirmed my interest in tennis as I was able to watch him during the Wildcard Playoffs at Melbourne Park. A couple of friends had also approached me as someone who would come to the Open with them, as it was too hard to miss when living only 10 minutes away from Richmond, where the tournament is held.

One thing I have been impressed with since the start of the Australian Open is the sheer amount of Australian tennis players taking part. In the main draw, 10 Australian tennis players started out, and while one only made it to the second week, I think this speaks volumes of the wealth of tennis brilliance that will come from Australia in the coming years. The UK could really take note from Australia in the quest to produce players of a high enough standard to enter Grand Slams.

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I made a decision to attend the Open at the end of the first week as there would still be a lot of big names in the tournament and not all necessarily playing in the main arenas, where I, as a poor traveller, would be unable to afford a ticket. I instead opted for the 3-day ground pass, which allows you access to any of the courts other than the Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas.

To be honest, the first day was fairly intimidating. After watching JP and his doubles partner Omar win their first match, the heat of the day was beginning to get to us slightly. We therefore took cover in a nearby tent and rehydrated before making a plan as to who we would watch next. The problem with this was that all of the courts were in brilliant sunshine and because of the number of Australians playing that day; all the courts were essentially full with spectators.

P1000731We spent some time in the Garden Square where there is a big screen set up, which plays matches from the main arenas, just like Henman Hill at Wimbledon. Murray was playing, so we were content with sitting there for a while before making our next move. I wasn’t what we would call ‘enthused’ by the half of the draw we could have watched that day as there were a lot of new names there. We actually called it a day pretty early and I made the ten minute journey home, out of the heat and into my house where I could watch the matches unfolding in the main arena.

P1000747Day 4 (my day 2) was much more promising as John Isner was up on Show Court 2 at 11am, the first match of the day. Since winning the longest match against Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, I’ve had a soft spot for him. Isner beat Andreas Haider-Maurer in four sets, sending him through to the third round. Later that day, on the same court, I also watched Ferrer win against Sergiy Stakhovsky in four sets along with a women’s singles match. Being able to watch top ten players at the Australian Open was one of my highlights.

The next day was even better. JP and Omar were first up on Court 6; playing against Jamie Murray and his doubles partner John Peers. This was rather a conflict of interests as I had to decide whether to support a fellow Brit or back the Aussies. The underdogs won my support but unfortunately lost the match against the no. 16 seeds.P1000756

It was Friday at the Open and Day 5 so things were getting interesting. So many punters were coming through the doors and people were clearly desperate to get the best seats in the house. I thought it best to make my way over to Hisense Arena as soon as possible so that I could at least get a seat in time for Andy Murray’s match against Joao Sousa. Before their match began, there were two women’s tennis matches taking place. I’m not usually a fan of women’s tennis but watching it at the Australian Open gave me a better appreciation of it.

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The arena filled up during the afternoon, not only due to Murray’s match but also because, later that evening, there was an all Australian showdown to be played between Tomic and Groth. I was joined by two middle-aged Aussies who had links with the Australian Tennis League and they provided me with interesting conversation throughout the match as well as inviting me to join them again at the Open on the following Monday.

Murray won in straight sets and I left with the crowds to make the short journey back to my house to tune in to the evening sessions on Margaret Court and Rod Lever.

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Overall my three-day experience at the Australian Open was the best I could have hoped for and living so close to Richmond madeseem as if I was always in the thick of it. I must commend the organisers on how well they accommodate the punters and feel as if the other Grand Slams could really learn something from the ticketing system. I would recommend investing in a ticket, even if you are not particularly interested in tennis as the atmosphere and quality of tennis is enough to make you a complete enthusiast.

I really admire Melbourne for its sporting events, not only for the importance of AFL, but cricket and soccer also play an important part in Melbourne life. For anyone living in or visiting Melbourne, I would encourage getting along to some sporting events; find a footy team and really gun for them (ehm… Geelong), watch cricket at the MCG and get involved with the crowd at a Melbourne Victory match.

 

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The Roadtrip Part One

P1000524One of the best things about living in Melbourne is the location. I know I complained about the location when I first moved here because it was the main reason for the bad weather, but there are so many things on Melbourne’s doorstep that makes the location actually fantastic.

The Great Ocean Road is a 243 kilometre stretch of road which runs from Torquay to Allansford along one of the most scenic stretches of coastal road in the world. The first time my travels led me there was in December 2013 during my roadtrip with Erin. We began at Warnambool, which is often cited as the start of the Great Ocean Road. Unfortunately, I was incredibly ill during that first trip and was therefore unable to enjoy it as much as we could. Due to my illness, we made haste on the journey so that we could get to Ballarat where a good nights’ sleep awaited me.

My second visit to the Great Ocean Road was, however, very different. I’m not sure who first had the idea, but it was certainly struck upon that we needed to hire a camper van and go on a roadtrip for a few days while we had a little break in our workload and before 3 of our group went off on their next adventure. Stefani found a great company called Wicked Campers who have vans that have been painted with various slogans and spray paint, with tents added to the top, tables added to the inside and a kitchen at the back. Stefani was also hard at work planning the route for our trip which would take us all along the Great Ocean Road and then perhaps on to South Australia or further North into rural Victoria.P1000517

One Monday morning, on a bright October day, with an assortment of bags and Eskies, the five of us showed up to collect our camper van. The van, an old Toyota, was decorated with an array of colours and peace signs, bearing the slogan ‘Hippy Freaks’ on one side, with ‘Smelly Hippies’ on the other. This was to be our home for the next four days. We were given brief instructions on how to erect the tent on top of the van, told where the nearest petrol station was and we were off.P1000530

The first part of our journey was spent getting to the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne, which was about an hour and a half to Torquay. Once there, we were able to really begin exploring.

There are so many coves and beaches which run all along the coast of Victoria. We ventured on to one such beach and were mesmerised by the beauty of the rock formations; caves and cobbles and beach for miles to see. Dayna decided that wading through the sea to get round a headland was a good idea, but was quickly thigh deep in water and the rest of us deigned not to follow.

P1000545Just outside of Lorne begin sign posts to Erskine Falls. We took a winding road up from coastal road and after twenty minutes we arrived in a car park surrounded by trees. The decent to the waterfall was steep and we were warned by those walking back up that though the sight that awaited us was stunning, the climb back to the top would be intense. We did have the thought of perhaps being able to swim in the waters beneath the fall but once we got to it, we realised this would not be possible. Not only was the water dark and dingy, but it was also freezing cold. However, we were able to explore and scramble over rocks – although on a return visit, I will remember to wear better shoes.

Our fellow tourists were not wrong when they told us the climb to the top would be difficult, but we persevered and got to the top, perhaps a little more sweaty than we would have liked.

We pushed on to Lorne, which was practically a ghost town compared to when I had previously been there during Falls Festival. The shops were quiet and we took our time looking around. My favourite stretch of the Great Ocean Road begins just out of Lorne and continues for the next 140 km; the most beautiful and breath-taking views I have ever seen. On a day like the one we had – bright and sunny – the views of the coastline extend for miles. The road winds in and out of rock face and bush, with houses suspended on stilts looking over the Bass Strait.P1000572

The sea was a little moody due to the wind but it was still the most brilliant blue colour and the contrast between it and the sandy coloured rocks made for many a perfect photo opportunity. We were able to stop at lookouts and marvel at what lay before us before clambering back into the van to continue the journey.

We began to think about where we would stay for the night and Dayna suggested using Wikicamps to find a cheap or free campsite where we could park our van and erect our quarters for the evening. The campsite we settled on was just on the way out of Apollo Bay and had a wonderful view over a river and farmland. It was $9 each for the night which was pretty good considering the facilities (shower and toilet), as well as the location.

The tent went up just as the guy we picked the van up from said it would and it was incredibly spacious inside; plenty of space for the five of us to sleep. Without much further ado, we created a nest for ourselves, got our goon and clambered into the tent. None of us really stopped to check the time and were therefore very surprised to find that it was barely 7pm and we were all feeling incredibly tired after our day of travelling. The wind picked up and we were glad of our shelter. After chatting for a few hours, we got into our sleeping bags. Needless to say, we were all asleep by 10pm.

Our first day was probably our busiest so the remaining days adventures will be up in The Roadtrip Part Two.

 

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