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Spotlight on SO’ME… with Truffles!

When I first moved to Melbourne, I lived right on the cusp of Southbank and South Melbourne and as KP was still working in Auckland, I spent many an evening after work and many a Sunday afternoon wandering alone through the two areas.

The atmosphere and pace of life of these two adjoining neighbourhoods are vastly different – worlds apart. Southbank is one of Melbourne’s main centres of entertainment and nightlife, thanks to the massive Crown complex and the Southgate precinct, comprising a casino, cinemas, upscale shopping and countless restaurants, food courts, bars and clubs. So, by night, Southbank buzzes with excitement, and by day, it’s a haven for families – you can stroll along the river with a gelato in hand, or there is the Melbourne Aquarium. On the residential side, City Road is littered with high-rise apartments and the Southbank Boulevard area with low-rise ones.

South Melbourne, in contrast, is a much quieter neighbourhood which feels every inch more like a suburb than part of the inner city. Cute old rickety houses populate green, tree-lined streets along with unassuming but often very good cafes and bars also hiding among them.

Clarendon Street serves as its main road and “town centre”, containing everything you could need from supermarkets, pubs, Asian and pizza takeaway joints, Max Brenner, a fish and chip shop (Hunky Dory), Nandos and Grill’d, Telstra/Optus/Vodafone stores, a hardware store, even a printing shop. More recent additions include a modernised Vietnamese pho eatery cheekily called Wat Da Pho and a Malaysian restaurant.

But I believe the real linch-pin of this neighbourhood is South Melbourne Market. I’ve been to quite a few markets in Melbourne, and this is by far my favourite in terms of size, selection of vendors and most importantly, the atmosphere. I now live closer to Queen Victoria Market, but I still always to go to So’Me for all of my meat and produce needs. QVM is too messy, scattered and busy, and somehow the people who shop at So’Me just seem more well-behaved and considerate. Maybe it’s the snob and yuppie in me?

South Melbourne Market has been around since 1867, which makes it 11 years older than its more famous cousin Queen Vic Market, and is also the oldest continually running market in Victoria. Some of the highlights include The Fresh Pasta Shop (don’t let the unoriginal name fool you), Fruits on Coventry which has every herb for Asian and European cooking you could dream of, Padre Coffee for their coffee, Clement for their amazing filled donuts – a variety of flavours available every week (together these two coffee shops are bringing hipster culture south of the river), Georgie’s Harvest for their impressive selection of potatoes and root veges as well as their knowledge and enthusiasm about what they do, and of course most of the butchers and poultry shops are also of a great standard. There are a few cupcake shops and places that sell macarons, and all are fine but none have wow’d me so far.



Here, also, is the practically iconic South Melbourne Market Dim Sims – opened in the 1940s, this was one of the first places responsible for popularising the unique Melbourne-style “dim sim”, not to be confused with dim sums (Cantonese for “snacks”, usually dumplings). A Melbourne dim sim is basically a giant-ified pork siu mai but about twice the size and usually served deep-fried and somewhat adapted to the Western-dude-eats-Chinese-takeaways palate. I’m not the hugest fan – they can’t hold a candle to the delicate steamed dumplings you get at a good old traditional yum cha – but they’re great for a quick winter snack if you get hungry while grocery shopping.

Out of the restaurants attached to the market, my favourites would probably be Simply Spanish and Claypots Evening Star, although one visit to Koy convinced me that it’s not too shabby either. Aside their table service, Claypots does a roaring “street food” trade of skewered BBQ octopus and fish rolls, while Simply Spanish cooks up huge paellas outdoors that serve as a perfect gourmet takeaway dinner.


Also worth checking out nearby: Passionfoods (behind the market, on Ferrars Street, below the Tram 96 light rail) – a well-stocked whole foods grocer which has all the healthy/vegan/organic products your heart can desire, which I much prefer to the smaller organics shop within the market itself – and Chef’s Hat (just across the road from the market) – a huge kitchen supply (and appliance) store with reasonable prices.

^ Passionfoods

^ Passionfoods

^ Chef's Hat

^ Chef’s Hat


Then there’s Coventry Street, running perpendicular to the market, which, lined with its variety of charming fashion, art and homeware boutiques, independent bookshops and cute brunch spots, could be my favourite part of South Melbourne.

My personal food favourites here include Giddiup, a tiny, cute cafe with good coffee, and wood crates for seating, Chez Dré with its delicious breakfasts, French cakes and pastries and delicate macarons.

Amongst all the other wonderful finds on Coventry, I have a soft spot for OnStone – a studio where you can have your own photos and images printed on stone, framed lovingly with recycled wood and backed with recycled styrofoam, and there are also pre-printed art pieces for purchase. Their service is excellent and they once rushed a job for me in 2 days, when I needed it in time to fly back to New Zealand with a Mother’s Day gift, and even let me pick it up after hours.

Adding to the delights of Coventry – Gigi a la maison (photos above), an adorable little boutique full of French-themed household items; a design store I can’t remember the name of with funky random homeware and apparel stocks big stackable crayons, wallets made of recycled paper (many with prints that also happen to appear on Black Milk items), and scrunchable city maps that you can “crumple” up and stick in your pocket on your travels; Nest, with natural skincare and gorgeous homeware galore; and Coventry Bookstore, which has a carefully curated selection of books, a clean, appealing and modern interior and a little children’s nook at the back.

Not particularly interesting but super convenient is the stretch of Clarendon Street between Coventry and Dorcas Streets, which are filled mostly with chain establishments such as Kikki K (not that there’s anything wrong with Kiki K!) and Coles and others I mentioned earlier, like Max Brenner (again, who doesn’t need some Max Brenner hot choccie on a wintry day?)
There’s also a pretty florist and a cute cafe called the Old Paper Shop Deli that I frequented when I first moved to Melbourne as it had such an enticing window display of cakes and sweets (which in taste weren’t always as beautiful as they appeared).

Of the various joints scattered throughout the rest of the neighbourhood, I would mention Garamerica – a good Indonesian restaurant, Dead Man Espresso – they really know their coffee and have beautiful blends as well as single origin beans, Lamaro’s Dining Room and Bar – a great gastropub with a charming atmosphere and a host of devoted regulars and who once took KP and I on a wine and produce tour of the Mornington Peninsula followed by a degustation meal of wild mushrooms and duck and other delights back at the bar, Peko Peko, the Taiwanese cafe I reviewed recently, Hercules Morse, a small bar named after a dog in New Zealand children’s book with an excellent sharing plates menu and friendly, attractive bartenders… and then of course, St. Ali.


Located in a quiet, graffiti’d lane off Yarra Street (which is off Clarendon), St. Ali, along with Chez Dré, was one of my more regular brunch haunts back when I lived on the edge of South Melbourne. I believe I’ve been about seven or eight times, which for someone who likes to constantly be trying new places is quite an achievement. But why? The coffee is excellent, but I’m not a huge coffee drinker nor a connoisseur, and the food, frankly has been hit and miss and I tend to like Chez Dré dishes better. It has to be the combination of a few reasons – firstly, the buzz and atmosphere play a big part. It’s just such a happy, vibrant place to be on a Saturday morning, and the service is efficient but warm, especially if you ask them about the coffee specials. Secondly, when the food is good, it’s brilliant.

St Ali on Urbanspoon

Thirdly, they have seasonal menus, so it’s always worth going to try something else to see if you’ll love it. Fourthly, well fine – it was hip and trendy and maybe we bought into that just a little. Fifthly (I think we might be getting to a number where this isn’t really a word?) they had great lamingtons at the counter and I would grab one to take with me after brunch and sixthly, well, they were just super close.


And then each winter, there’s an extra incentive to head to St. Ali. Truffles. The fungi kind, not the chocolate kind. Fresh, marbled, deliciously aromatic. There’s a sort of shed next to the cafe which played host from July 4th to August 10th to Madame Truffles, a seasonal pop up shop for fresh Australian truffles. When you went in, the helpful and knowledgeable staff would let you smell a variety of truffles and then select the one you wanted to take home. They would point out to you the beautiful marbling detail in a cross-section and explain the differences between the truffles sourced from various areas.

Truffles were priced based on origin and weight, packaged in a little glass jar, and you would take home along with it a little piece of card with the name of the dog who had found your truffle. It was a really cute touch. The first truffle we bought was from Deloraine, Tasmania, and Rex was the doggy who had sniffed it out for us. When we returned, we chose a truffle from Braidwood, NSW and it was a labrador named Sal who had discovered it.

Next door, in St. Ali itself, they were serving the seasonal special dish of truffle toasties, which were as delicious as they sound. Truffle, pecorino and truffle vinaigrette on toasted sourdough – it doesn’t get much better than that. I wish I could share a photo of it, but it was on a phone that I stupidly wiped without backing up before selling it.

Simplicity was the key here – let the truffle’s truffliness speak for itself! Inspired, I went home and experimented with a few dishes and I shall be posting those which I think made the most out of the beautiful truffles we obtained this winter.

Mérida and Yucatecan Noms

The events in this post follow on from our time in Cancun

Our arrival into Mérida was even wetter and more depressing than our Cancun landing. A very flat city with narrow streets in the older parts of town, we passed through some pretty decent flooding coming in around sunset.

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Here was when my Mexican SIM card really became indispensible. We had hired a car to take us everywhere, as we wanted to go places public buses and tours didn’t go, we wanted to avoid peak times for visiting the ruins and have the freedom of checking out the more obscure corners of the city itself without having to negotiate a taxi fare every time. A Sat Nav unit could be added to the car hire for a fee which I thought was rather exorbitant, and even then, of course, it wouldn’t have the up-to-date detail of Google maps as far as landmarks go. The price I paid for 1 GB of data and some included minutes on my SIM ended up being the same as the Sat Nav unit would have cost in the car, and obviously with so many more perks.

What’s more, and what we didn’t realise until we got there, is that Mérida doesn’t even have street numbers! So, addresses only got as specific as “near the corner of this street and this street, across from this famous building”, which is nothing if not impossible to enter into most navigation systems; and almost every street in the historic centre was a one-way, not always with clear signage. Needless to say, I became an expert at following that little blue GPS dot on Google Maps and giving on-the-fly turn-by-turn directions for places I had never been to in my life.

We had decided to base ourselves in Mérida due to its proximity to Mayan sites of Uxmal and Chichen Itza, and several other smaller ones, and because of its own rich Spanish colonial history. Spanish conquistadors founded the city in the mid-1500s, built on top of the Mayan city of T’hó. Like many conquistadors, they seemed to be assholes and so some of the oldest buildings in Mérida are built using the stones from ruined structures of Ancient T’hó – including the Catedral de San Ildefonso, possibly the oldest cathedral in the Americas.

In the 19th and early 20th century, some of the families of Mérida became very wealthy off the back of plantations of henequen, used to make sisal rope. There are still beautiful old haciendas (estates) around the area, many of which have now been converted into hotels, restaurants and in at least one case, a tourist attraction claiming to demonstrate the entire process from planting, harvesting to rope making. The city’s main boulevard, Paseo de Montejo, was built by the rich of Mérida in the 19th century; an attractive, well-kept tree-lined wide avenue leading out of the historic city centre, it is home to gorgeous mansions of the post-colonial era.

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After leaving our stuff at the hotel, we braved the watery streets again to seek out local food, much wanted after the procession of decent but inauthentic international fare we had at Secrets. Yucatecan cuisine is distinctive from common Mexican food and has much stronger European influences due to the peninsula’s early isolation from the rest of the country. We had plenty of both culinary traditions while we were in the Yucatan.

We found La Chaya Maya, which was full of locals and tourists alike, and had a great buzz and atmosphere.

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Unfortunately, the food was really not that great. Having had no experience with Yucatecan food, I couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong other than that it was all a bit bland compared to what I expected, and the dishes seemed neither cold nor hot but kind of a clammy lukewarm. That description makes it sound worse than it was – it wasn’t horrible, I was just extremely underwhelmed.

I had the Relleno Negro – ground turkey and pork cooked in a sauce made from several varieties of blackened chilies and spices. It had a surprising sweetness to it, and wasn’t chilli-hot in the least, and I couldn’t identify a large number of spices in it at all. The other dish pictured is called “los tres mosqueteros yucatecos”, featuring three corn tortillas stuffed with turkey and smothered with three Yucatecan sauces – relleno negro (as aforementioned), pipian sauce, and papadzul sauce. All three were quite sweet, but particularly the cream coloured one, which I found almost sickeningly sweet for accompanying a meat dish. The reddish one, however, I quite enjoyed.

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I finished off with a flan, because there was no way I wasn’t going to have as much flan as possible while in Mexico. It’s one of my favourite desserts from basically anywhere in the world!

Disappointingly, when we woke up the morning after our arrival, the rain was still relentless and we couldn’t head out to visit the smaller Mayan sites I had wanted to see on our first full day. Instead, we stayed in bed until the rain had temporarily let up and went to explore the historic city centre. One thing about the tropical heat: the streets dried out super quickly, and later that day, just as quickly, flooded out again.

El Centro Histórico de Mérida was once enclosed by city walls. The streets are numerous, narrow, mostly in a grid and are numbered – odd-numbered streets ran east-to-west and even-numbered ones north-to-south. They were one-way with the direction alternating with each subsequent street. The historic centre was full of splendid, sometimes colourful Spanish colonial buildings, many restaurants and bars, and budget to mid-range accommodation. After wandering around this area on foot for a bit, the downpour started again and we decided to have a look at the Mayan history museum near the outskirts of the city.

Mérida is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with almost a million population, mostly well-maintained modern (and – other than in the historic centre – wide) roads, highways, multinational chains and big shopping malls. As the administrative capital of the Yucatan state, it is home to a decent number of expats, and I had fun tracking down some of these guys’ blogs for locally-residing-yet-English-speaking tips and recommendations.

We were guided to el Gran Museo del Mundo Maya by trusty Google Maps and my iPhone 5.

The above right is a vessel designed for drinking chocolate!
And below: Maya Almanacs

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I found many of the statues of Mayan deities to be quite cute, and the beautifully decorated stelae to be surprisingly intricate.

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A touchscreen computer program allowed me to analyse my date of birth on the Mayan Calendar and email it to myself.

It was mid-afternoon by the time we were finished, and I’ll definitely say that the museum was informative and well worth the visit. All the signs and explanations were trilingual in Spanish, Maya and English. Yucatec Maya is spoken by a third of the population of the Yucatan Peninsula, where 60% of the population is of Mayan descent. The downpour had become a drizzle and we were starved.

After many a wrong turn and run down neighbourhood street, we arrived at a beautifully restored hacienda called Xcanatun which now houses a boutique hotel and a high-end restaurant serving creatively fusion-istic Maya cuisine. This was, without question, the best food we had all trip, and definitely not just because we finally found KP’s favourite Mexican brew.

Modelo has the largest share of the beer market in Mexico, yet for some reason, none of the first half dozen or more restaurants and eateries we went to had the “Negra” brand that he learned he preferred from a Central/South American dinner we partook in back home during the Melbourne Food and Wine festival.

There’s not much to be said about the food other than that it was delicious! Delicately prepared and beautifully presented, the fusion dishes mostly got it “just right” with the fine balance of Western and Mexican flavours; and the service was impeccable. I was honestly quite surprised at the world class calibre of the dining at this reputable but pretty secluded estate, or maybe my expectations had been dropped by days of average or only-kind-of-good food.

My absolute favourite was the Crema de Chile Poblano al Roquefort – (self-explanatorily, cream of poblano chili with roquefort cheese). It was served with fresh tortilla strips and a dramatic piece of blackened poblano pepper, and to this day I cannot get the amazing taste of this soup out of my mind. This only slightly overshadowed my main event, which was cochinita(pork, in this case pulled pork)-stuffed Angus beef eye fillet with herb-roasted onion, habanero peppers and “cochinita sauce”. I took it that last item referred to the sauce traditionally served with cochinita pibil, but I can safely say I didn’t enjoy any of the subsequent cochinita pibil dishes I ate over the rest of the trip even half as much as this dish. It was substantial, yes, and maybe a little unbalanced or heavy-handed only in the large proportion of protein on the plate, but it was oh-so-good!

I believe KP’s entrada and plato fuerte were both from the specials board and can no longer remember exactly what they were, but I do remember the decadent flan with toasted coconut, caramel sauce and coconut praline that I ordered for dessert as well as KP’s tequila-infused key lime pie. Both were a perfect blend of Mexican and European tastes.

Sometime, very early on in our trip, we somehow fell into the cycle of early wake-ups followed by a daytime activity, then a mid-to-late-afternoon siesta followed by a late dinner. On this day, we somehow overdid the siesta part, probably due to our amazing and substantial late lunch, and I suddenly awoke at about 10pm and bolted out of bed.

It was raining again and we ended up at a nightclub called Casa Pompidou which reportedly also served amazing wood-fired pizza which we never got to sample as there wasn’t any space left in the eating area even at that hour. The place was interesting and had some seriously eye-catching art, but totally not our scene, and besides, most of the dance floor was open-air.

Wet and hungry, we drove around central Mérida for some time, looking out for somewhere open which had both food and parking until we stumbled across a place on Paseo de Montejo called Slavia. The decor inside was ridiculous! It was an over-the-top blend of “Arabian Nights, French Boudoir, and Asian Temple” and among its other gimmicks, it served a variety of fondue. Regretfully, we ordered a set of this and it was horrible – the cheese was overpowering, did not melt easily and the bread served was ridiculously stale, and the seared tuna side dish overcooked, tasteless and barely edible. The fondue was supposed to be infused with peppers and spices but instead was just quite a pungent cheese that drowned out anything else it came in contact with. We also tried a venison carpaccio which, though fresh enough to be perfectly safe, was for some reason drowned in too much olive oil. All in one day, we had had the best and the worst meal of our stay in Mexico.

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With an early rise planned for the next day to explore Uxmal, we pretty much headed straight to bed after this crappy experience, hoping that we wouldn’t get “cheese nightmares“.

I will talk about our Uxmal expedition in a future post. Thanks to our early start and having our own transport, we were back in Mérida fairly early in the afternoon , so we decided to pay the largest local market a visit. The Mercado Lucas de Gálvez is within the historic city centre and is really more of a marketplace area, spread out over many buildings with all kinds of merchants, meat and produce, and street food vendors. Not a gringo in sight that day, it was a busy, colourful area and the traffic congestion was insane!

Many carts prepared and sold tortas (basically a sandwich) and tacos.

There was a massive open air food court type area where we had the best tacos of our whole trip for 5 pesos each. That’s roughly 40 cents AU. #canteven

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I may have overdosed on the hottest salsa I’ve ever tasted. Oops. I can’t stop thinking about this afternoon and wishing I could get amazing 40 cent tacos here at home.

With our tummies happy, mouths burning and body overheated (it was really hot), we headed to the mall for some shopping and air conditioned relief…

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… where we found clothing and “stuff” and I bought mundane essentials such as a top up of eyeliner. We were also hunting for an HDMI cable, of all nerdy things, as we wanted to watch the latest Game of Thrones episode (it was the Red Wedding one) that was on my laptop. Apparently, we had to watch it on a bigger screen, hence needing the cable. In our search, we ended up at a massive superstore-thing which was like a huge Big W (or NZ’s The Warehouse) with a large supermarket attached, among which interesting things we found were a million flavours of microwave popcorn and a giant tank full of nothing but chicharrones (pork crackling)! Now, the crackling I can understand, as it’s a complement to many Mexican dishes, but it seems that in this part of the world there was also a little obsession with popcorn. It seemed to be sold everywhere as a cheap snack, like fries might be in the US.

That night, we had a pretty so-so Yucatecan meal at Los Almendros near our hotel and rolled “home” to bed the next morning.

After returning from Chichen Itza, a nearby cenote (sinkhole) and the charming town of Izamal the next afternoon, we headed to the historic city centre for some cheap, honest Mexican food. El Trappiche was a very basic eatery in a low-end cafe type setting, opening out to the street and with no air con. It was packed full of locals, the menus were in Spanish only and the staff didn’t speak English – all good signs. I ordered an enchiladas with salsa verde, and it didn’t disappoint. The presentation was, of course, nothing to look at, but the salsa was delicious. KP’s burrito was a simple affair with melted cheese and a huge side dollop of refried beans, but was enjoyed all the same. Sometimes, after a sweltering morning climbing pyramids and swimming in sinkholes, this is just the type of thing you need!

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A refreshing virgin piña colada finished off my experience, and it was honestly among the best iced coconut-based drinks I’ve ever had (and I’ve had countless across the world). My only complaint was the “sprinkle” of cinnamon they put on top was actually more like a thick layer of the stuff, and this wasn’t the first time in the Yucatan that I’ve had this “cinnamon problem”.

We had the same type of fare the next morning – three cheesy breakfast tacos – as we prepared to hop on a bus back to the Caribbean coast, this time headed to Playa del Carmen.

You can see the set of full-sized photos on Flickr.

Tiny Taste of LA

At the beginning of our recent trip to Mexico, we spent an aimless day bouncing around various parts of central Los Angeles during a long layover. Airport time excluded, we had about 8 hours to kill. I’d done some research but had became overwhelmed by the logistics of where to go when faced with all the factors of trying not to spend hundreds of dollars on taxi fares, fitting in at least a few different things, considering the geographical relationships between the various areas, not understanding the traffic situation of the city and trying to get back to the airport in time for our connecting flight.

In retrospect, we could have just spent the entire day in one area, like Santa Monica, instead of stressing and trying to do too much… but you know, then I wouldn’t be me!

The Grove and The Farmers Market Trolley

The Grove and The Farmers Market “Trolley”

After some unexpected dramas trying to get rid of our luggage for the day (as LAX no longer had lockers or any on site baggage storage since 9/11), we set off for the city later than expected. It turned out that in a mere day we took a taxi, experienced the LA metro, the public bus system and a private airport operated bus – basically, all the transport options. I was also a genius and decided that to get to the Griffith Observatory cheaply, all we had to do was take the metro to the station closest to it and then a cab the rest of the way. Little did I know that we would emerge from the underground at Vermont/Sunset station and then fail to find a single passing taxi in half an hour… but at least we got to check out a random neighbourhood.

So we never made it to Santa Monica in the end and spent the most time around Fairfax, West Hollywood and Hollywood being tourists and doing a bit of shopping.

Fountain at The Grove

Fountain at The Grove

We went to The Grove, a beautiful outdoor shopping and entertainment complex with a “trolley” (which we’d probably call a “tram” in Melbourne!) which took you on a little ride down to the “Farmers Market“, which used to be an actual farmers market but is now more of a food vendor paradise along with some produce merchants, bakeries and other shops. The most interesting thing we saw there was a big store which sold nothing but hundreds of types of hot sauces from all over the world! With names such as “Dr. Assburn’s” and “Ass Reaper”, I don’t know whether I should regret not buying any.

I had some spicy Jambalaya, which was satisfying but wasn’t the best gumbo I’ve ever had (is it even a gumbo or just a cousin to gumbo?) yet it was so cheap considering I was in an upscale shopping centre in a nice neighbourhood! Damn you, Australia, and your overpriced food.

Spicy Jambalaya at the Farmers Market

Spicy Jambalaya, corn bread and potato salad at the Farmers Market

We also chanced upon an Umami Burger, which I’d heard about on the blogosphere years back, and I wanted to see if it was worth the hype. It wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fairly tasty burger – just nothing particularly special! The meat was good, and cooked to medium rare as promised, but it just lacked flavour punch all up (especially for a place naming itself “umami“), and I was a bit disappointed by the truffle cheese in the Truffle Burger.

Truffle burger from Umami Burger

Truffle burger from Umami Burger

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

It felt odd to finally be in the States for the first time, after having grown up with so much US-centric pop culture – television and books like the Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High, *ahem*, I mean all that Ernest Hemingway.

I was probably unreasonably excited to encounter such mundane things as my first In-N-Out Burger, IHOP (International House of Pancakes, HELLO!!?) and yes, even the 99c Store. Because what you can buy for 99 cents in California looks like the equivalent of what you can get at a $2-$3 shop in Australia – with the dollar almost identical, how is this fair? You know what else? They had huuuuuge pharmacies. More like supermarkets. Super pharmacies!

Spent a bit of touristy-time on Hollywood Boulevard trying to spot the names of stars we recognised. It was surprisingly difficult (!) and then when we did, I forgot to take photos. I marveled at how un-Chinese the Chinese Theatre really is, and ooh’d and aah’d over a soda fountain, and how cute the little external Box Office at El Capitan was.

Hollywood Boulevard and El Capitan

Hollywood Boulevard and El Capitan

The TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, where the Academy Awards are held

The TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, where the Academy Awards are held

Next up was shopping, but before I could buy anything, I found Jelly Bean Heaven! And then Lingerie Heaven! KP bought us both sunnies, then we both went on to lose them during the later stages of the trip.

Los Angeles

So ok, we didn’t have the most rewarding day in LA, but we got a good taste of Cali, confirmed first-hand that the Los Angeles public transport system is shit, and I satisfied my inexplicable desire to see American fast food and discount store chains in the flesh. And then there’s this: a vending machine in the middle of a shitty LAX terminal that sold iPhones and iPads and other not-exactly-cheap gadgets. Yes, folks, a vending machine for Apple products. And it was Best Buy, so that’s another chain crossed off my list!

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

While I didn’t not like LA, I didn’t really get a great vibe from it overall. You know how sometimes you spend just a few hours in a city and you get this great feeling – like falling in love the first time I set foot in Melbourne – and you just know you have to return again? I so did not get that from the City of Angels. And really for summer… it was kinda cold and damp! Now I know what they were singing about in “The Lady is a Tramp“!
We were more than ready to move on to Mexico.

You can see the set of full-sized photos on Flickr.

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