Sunday, June 14, 2009

A weekend in Melbourne.
As a sub-title, the blog could be called “Four Seasons in One Day” after the Crowded House song. Although Crowded House’s Neil Finn and his brother Tim were born in New Zealand, we tend to claim them as our own, as we do with all successful NZ artists. In most cases they don’t get famous until they cross the Ditch (Tasman Sea) to the great OZ so I guess we have some right to part ownership.
This is the first full weekend since we returned home from France and its been just that, four seasons, in this case over 2 days.
Saturday I awoke to showers so no ride this morning. I promised Sue I would join her at the market if it was wet. We actually need rain in this state of Victoria as our dams are currently at only 26% capacity.
Our market is approx 20 minutes down the road in the suburb of Dandenong. We have several other markets such as the major Queen Vic which has great produce and is very well priced. There are also markets at South Melbourne and Prahran. These markets tend to appeal to the locals who don’t mind being overchargedThey also have great produce but at premium prices. The Dandenong market is for the working class and very multi-cultural in its buyers and traders, and of course well priced.
I’ll let Sue give you some price comparisons and the variations in the produce available compared to the markets of France.
Sue : A bit hard to do price comparisons, euro vs. Aus dollar etc.. Makes my head hurt.
I’ll give you an idea of our prices, bearing in mind that 1 euro = approx $2AUS
Eye fillet steak - $19kg, scotch fillet steak in the piece - $16kg
Baby fennel 3 for $2, pork fillets $12k
Mandarins $1.30kg, 2kg red onions $2.20 Rockling fish $19kg
Rockling is a great tasting, firm textured fish which can be cooked pretty much any way See pic
This market also has great Asian greens, and I bought some great looking snake beans, as pictured, which
will do very nicely in a stir fry later in the week.
The market itself is a nightmare at the moment as it is being rebuilt and a lot of traders have given up until the build is over, also parking and walkways have been disrupted. I find it disappointing that it is being yuppified, but Leon says,” You can’t make a quiche without buttering the bread.” Not quite sure what he means, but sometimes it’s best to just smile and nod.
The market is a permanent, undercover presence which is open 3 days a week and also sells clothes, computer supplies, souvenirs, watches….basically all the things you find at French markets.
When our boys were young and ate the average output of a small country by themselves each day, I used to shop at the market each week as the prices are much less than from butchers or supermarkets, but now one lives out of home and the other has settled down a bit, I probably only go about once a month, mostly to stock up on meat and fish, as the quality is fabulous and the prices great.

Feeling like I needed a bit of kulcha, I went to the local CD/LP store while Sue was buying the meat. It has a great selection of pre-loved music and I picked up the Roger’s and Hammerstein’s the King and I featuring Julie Andrews and Ben Kingsley. At $8 (about 4 Euro), I couldn’t go wrong.
On the way home, Sue was needing a little sea air. We live on the Bayside of Melbourne and the bay is like a great big area of green, only blue. Its great in summer but in winter it takes on a different personality. People use it all year round and now in June, fishermen all rugged up sit on the pier waiting for a bite, people walk their dogs and a continuous stream of cyclists push the pedals up and down beach road regardless of weather. Over a weekend this cyclist’s mecca would see over 5000 riders testing their limits against fellow cyclists. At one time, many of the Aussie cyclists in this year’s Tour de France would have
joined the lads in a ride down Beach Road.

Saturday night was dinner with friends at a restaurant in Brighton - our friends organised this before we left for our four weeks in France and was great to catch up again. Two of the couples have visited France previously and Clive, my friend is on a Tour de France bikie’s tour in July and was interested in our
experiences last month.
I was able to get a few kms in Sunday morning as the showers and cold wind had given way to sunshine and a windless day. The bay was like a millpond. In summer it would be a playground of yachts, power boats and bathers.
After a lunch of leftover a Greek chicken casserole, it was off to the local nursery and Bunnings, the humungous hardware warehouse. It’s time to get all those handyman jobs done around the house I’m told.
Maybe when we get the house in order we can start the house-swapping thing with other people around the world.
It maybe of interest that Melbourne will have a Salvadore Dali exhibition at the Victorian Art Gallery with works from both the US and Spanish galleries. After seeing the Dali works in Montmartre I may take the opportunity to view this exhibition at Melbourne - our home.