Dining with Dietary Restrictions in Melbourne

I recently learned an interesting fact: across the globe, the average person consumes 75 pounds of meat per year. Australians, however, consume a whopping 198.8 lbs per person per year, making them the highest consumers of meat worldwide.

Though Melbourne prides itself on being a world class food city, I would argue it still has some work to do when it comes to catering to vegetarians. Sure, there are some reputable restaurants that serve up vegetarian-only fare — Vegie Bar and Smith and Daughters, for instance — but it can be a struggle to find places that satisfy both my taste buds, as well as my meat-eating significant other’s. 

With this in mind, I made sure to have a good list of restaurants prepared when my mom and sister came to visit as we all have dietary restrictions — my sister is also vegetarian and my mom requires gluten free.

Below outlines some of the culinary experiences we had during their stay:

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Family Affair

Just a week after raving about bullet journaling and the structure it provides me I took a break from it. But for good reason — my mom and sister came to visit.

This does not mean I gave up my planning tendencies though. I usually spend a great deal of time researching a city’s sights, attractions and restaurants when I travel. I’ll devise detailed daily itineraries, plotting out the most logical walking routes to fit in everything I want to see that also takes me to pre-determined restaurants for meals or snacks along the way. I find the walking routes helpful as they optimize the experience of a city by ensuring I’m always traveling between attractions on vibrant, main roads rather than side streets. I also get lost easily. Not all cities cater to vegetarians as well as others, so researching restaurants is also crucial — for both me and my travel partner — to avoid hunger-induced grumpiness.

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A Date With Nostalgia

“Nostalgia is denial. Denial of the painful present. The name for this denial is Golden Age thinking — the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one’s living in — it’s a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.”

This comment comes from my favourite, newer Woody Allen flick, “Midnight in Paris”.  Insufferable, know-it-all Paul offers it as an indirect criticism of Gil, who is working on a novel about a character who owns a nostalgia shop. Gil shares in his character’s penchant for the past and as an aspiring novelist, idealizes F. Scott Fitzgerald, Earnest Hemingway and other creative figures of the 1920’s.

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A Lesson In Loneliness

As I alluded to in a previous post, life in Australia hasn’t always been easy. There have been challenges that have tested me. Where my significant other found a job immediately, I still haven’t been able to land one. He also starting playing competitive soccer, and so, when he wasn’t at work he was at training. Consequently, I have been alone a lot.

In all honestly, at first this solo time was great. We had been in each others company 24/7 since we both quit our jobs last October — I was ready for some time apart. In the first week, I tackled chores in the house we had been putting off, reworked my resume, caught up on television, went on some long walks and baked more cookies than we could should eat.

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The Time I Stood in Line for 12 Hours for Book of Mormon Tickets

My significant other loves South Park. I mean loves it. Having seen Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s other creation, The Book of Mormon, in New York a few years ago, I was convinced he would love that too. And so, it has always been at the back of my mind that at some point I needed to take him to see it.

As luck would have it, Melbourne was covered in advertisements announcing the arrival of the play when we first moved here. I looked into purchasing tickets as a Valentine’s gift, but they were out of my budget, so I was delighted when I learned $20 tickets were going to be released for a special preview performance. I woke up bright and early the morning tickets went on sale and made my way to the Princess Theatre box office to join what I assumed would be a modest sized line.

What follows is a run down of events and my rationale for staying as each hour went by:

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Music Notes

I used to think there was nothing better than driving down the Don Valley Parkway, following it’s twists and curves, until finally the CN Tower and city skyline came into view. My city, I would think warmly when I saw it. My home. But now that I’ve been here for a while, I have to admit — Melbourne is really beautiful. Perhaps not the part that my significant other and I reside it, but the CBD and some of the surrounding suburbs. It has a European flair with it’s sprawling parks and grand monuments. The Victorian architecture of “The Paris End” of Collins Street. I’ve spent many days with my head in the sky admiring it. As someone once told me, you have to look up to fully appreciate the design of a building. Though the Toronto skyline makes me feel home, I could get used to this.

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Enlightenment On a Dime

After feeling a bit lost and unsure about how I was spending my days, I turned to my old friend Google to try and find some fun, free things to do in the most expensive most livable city in the world. This search resulted in a trip to the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art (ACCA) and the Royal Botanic Gardens — both of which are free to enter.

The ACCA is located slightly off the beaten track and so I hadn’t heard of it before. When I arrived on a sunny February afternoon, I found the rusted steel exterior to be harsh and uninviting. I would not have thought to enter had I not first read about it online. There was one exhibition on display at the time called Sovereignty, a collection of contemporary art by First Nations peoples that explores Australia’s history of colonization and Aboriginal identity, self-determination and resistance.

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