With a title like "Aussie food and drink", you may be a bit puzzled. Surely it's just "stick another prawn on the barbie" and that's it. Well, on all our visits to Melbourne, we've seen a certain dish on menus and it seems to be, for some reason, a particular Aussie favourite. This page will also feature two iconic Australian culinary items and give you a run down on the different measures of beer.
For some reason, this Italian influenced dish is always found on menus. Known colloquially as "Parma", it is always the chicken version.
I've had it many times and what you get is a big slab of chicken, coated in breadcrumbs, then, on top, a smearing of tomato puree covered with melted cheese.
The topping, then, will probably remind you of a pizza. It is usually served with chips and a bit of salad. Portions are often huge - I've yet to completely finish one!
They're very tasty, though.
You may have heard this foodstuff mentioned in the Men At Work song "Down Under", when a "vegemite sandwich" is referred to. It is a sort of spread consisting of yeast extract and is similar to Marmite.
Like Marmite, it is very much an acquired taste. When we've been offered it as part of the coach tours during a brief stopover, I could take it or leave it, whereas Alison really liked it. Each to their own.
These things are, basically, cakes. There's an oblong slab of sponge, coated with chocolate, then sprinkled with desiccated coconut.
They first appeared at the start of the 20th century. The origin of the recipe is subject to much speculation, but it is generally agreed that they are named after Lord Lamington, who was Governor of Queensland at that time.
Ironically, Lord Lamington is reputed to have hated them!
Myself, I think that this iconic Aussie cake is okay.
Those beer and lager lovers from the UK may be wondering what brands are available on draught in Melbourne. Although Aussie food and drink is not all that different from the UK's, you may not be able to find your personal preference.
One pale lager that's found in pretty much every establishment that serves alcohol is Carlton Draught. I've tried it when there's been no other alternative and it's okay. When ordering, just ask for "a pint of Draught".
Another lager you may find (which I prefer) is Pure Blonde. Occasionally, you might see a familiar name - Heineken.
|One of the best selling beers in Melbourne and, indeed Australia, is Victoria Bitter, which, despite its name, is actually a lager. Real bitter is not really prevalent.|
If you're a cider drinker, you'll be lucky to find any on draught. The bar/bistro that we visited on many occasions serves a draught cider called "Dirty Granny". Yes, honestly.
On the other hand, if you're content with a bottle, then you'll have many familiar brands to choose from - Peroni, Strongbow, etc.
You'll be relieved to know that Australia does pints. But, there are sizes below them that you need to know about.
Next in size down is the schooner. It's about three-quarters of a pint and, admittedly, is not as prevalent in Melbourne as it used to be.
Then we have the pot, which is like our half pint. Yes, you ask for a "pot of Draught" if you want a half. Trust me, they'll know what you mean.
There are two other, smaller measures that aren't really used, these days. The first is called simply a "glass", which contains, roughly, one-third of a pint, then the smallest of all, the "pony", which, at one-quarter of a pint, makes you wonder what its point is.
A few types of coffee originated in the 1980s in Australia and New Zealand and you may not know about them, or what they mean. So, here's a list:
Basically, a straightforward white coffee, like you would get in the UK. Served in a cup and saucer.
A full-sized black coffee made by adding two espresso shots to hot water, also in a cup and saucer. The short black is basically an espresso.
A latte coffee, served in a glass, but made with skimmed milk. This is what I normally drink. If you want one made with semi-skimmed or full cream milk, just ask for a latte.
You'll get a main course meal at anything between 10 and 30 dollars (depending on what you order) in pub/restaurants. But, I bet you're more interested in the price of drinks.
Well, Melbourne appears to have a way higher cost of living than the UK. At our local wateringhole, Bear Brass, on Southbank, a pint of lager costs 9.90 dollars. This is the price in 2013, when the exchange rate was roughly 1.50 dollars to the pound, making it the equivalent, in UK money, of £6.60. My UK local sells a pint of lager at £3.30, so it costs exactly twice as much in Melbourne.
A glass of wine can be anything from 6 to 9 dollars.
I'm a smoker and I was amazed at how much cigarettes cost. In Melbourne, they come in packs of 25 and can be obtained from the many 7-Eleven stores dotted about. They have special two-pack price of 38 dollars. That works out in UK money at just over £12 a packet!