Staying at the resort (Torquay)

We spent a couple of nights at the RACV Torquay resort (although we’re home now).    Spacious rooms, a view out over the golf course with the sand dunes and surf in the distance, and best of all, a lovely breakfast.

The RACV resorts don’t have as many “deals” as they used to, presumably because they’re so popular, but it’s still possible with a bit of planning to get a “good rate”.

Perhaps it’s just the way my mind works, but I found myself drawing comparisons with the last “resort-type” accommodation that we stayed at, which was in the Lake District.    Well, getting to Torquay is much easier, just load up the car and park it in the basement when you get there.   And, to be candid, the price we paid is a fraction of the eye-watering cost of the premium accommodation we had at Bowness.    Of course, being far from home always has an appeal about it, and  the Lake District is very scenic in a way that the Surf Coast can’t match (especially with the creeping onset of suburbia).

But perhaps the biggest difference is that at Torquay we relaxed more.  True, we were both getting over colds, and the weather was cold with a few showers, so we were definitely in the mood for “veg-ing” around the resort.  However,  we did this with no qualms about not getting “out and about” to take in the local area (except of course for meals!).  On the other hand, at Bowness we were much more inclined to use every available moment (well, most of them, anyway) making sure that we were taking in all that there was to be seen because a lot of it was new to us and we’re unlikely to return.                 .


Jack Rabbit

We’re  down on the Bellarine Peninsular, so headed to the Jack Rabbit cafe for lunch.  It seems the kitchen is undergoing renovations, so a temporary kitchen has been set up in a marquee!     However, the food was good, albeit served in boxes rather than on plates.  More importantly the view out over Corio Bay was fantastic as usual.     The forecast was for rain, but this didn’t eventuate although the sky was stormy.

Syracuse and dining in the CBD

If we’re dining out, the CBD isn’t usually on our radar unless we’re already in the city.  There are plenty of places that are easier to get to.   The CBD is a bit of an excursion and public transport can be “hit and miss”.  The frequency of both trams and trains really drops off in the evenings and the trams in particular can be very crowded.  I know there are deals for parking in the evening and we sometimes do drive in for functions, but the traffic, especially driving in, can be problematic.

But we do eat out after early performances at MTC (usually somewhere at Southbank).  After seeing Wild, we had dinner at Syracuse with T and W.   It’s in Bank Place.  Syracuse describes itself as a “Wine Bar & Restaurant”.  Certainly the wine list is very extensive indeed (more than 500 wines, apparently).  The dinner menu was less extensive, but still had some great offerings.  I had the apple & chestnut soup (great!) and the duck ragout gnocchi was some of the best gnocchi I’ve ever had.   I believe that all the others in our group enjoyed their meals also.

But part of the appeal of the place is the room itself:   there are  archways, high ceilings and chandeliers, apparently representing a 19th century hotel lobby.

With such an extensive wine list, it follows that there are plenty of wines in the $100+ bracket.  However, T selected a Barossa red blend for well under this, and it was excellent.

All in all, a good night.


St Patrick’s Day

I’m not from the Irish tradition, so St Patrick’s day isn’t really a natural event for me to celebrate.   But, there was a St Patrick’s Day lunch happening so …  well, I found I had a greenish tie, and I headed off.

I see from Wikipedia that even though the day falls in Lent, you’re allowed to break your Lenten fast on this day!

I’m not sure whether many of those attending were actually fasting, and in fact there weren’t any references to the saint himself.   But  there was lots of wine, jokes, singing and even a little speechifying.  The food was good and the company entertaining, so it was all very pleasant, even if it did degenerate into a bit of rowdiness as it wound up (yes, there was some whiskey there, too).

Balnarring’s Gourmet Paddock.

Just a few doors from Le Bouchon is Gourmet Paddock.    Well, yes, I suppose it is a food court, but it’s definitely “up-market”.  On the website, they say they’re all about a “foodie fellowship”!

We dropped in for a look after our lunch and bought some things to nibble on later on over coffee.   Great atmosphere, and the things we bought were good, too.   We passed on getting a drink at the bar, too, although I can imagine that at the right moment, that would be tempting.

It’s not exactly what I would have expected to find at Balnarring, but on reflection, I can see that the atmosphere is designed to appeal to the local demographic!

“I was Poisoned”

Well, it’s a dramatic expression, but there’s a website in the USA that calls itself I was Poisoned.   It exists to “report” food poisoning, mainly in (but not limited to) restaurants. I chased the site down after reading a media report about it.

An interesting concept, but it’s basically just a series of listings. I’m not sure when the reports cease to be visible, but it seems to be a relatively short period of time (I couldn’t find any older than a month on the site).     Perhaps the site has some utility in identifying “clusters” of incidents, although issues such as personal hygiene surely apply in some cases.

But a presumably unintended bonus for me was that the site gave me a number of chuckles as I reflected on Western “culture”, particularly the nature of the items consumed (“mozzarella sticks, pancakes, chicken tenders, onion rings” anyone?).    Overwhelmingly the reports concern “fast food” establishments!   What can I say……..

And as for the report where the husband felt ill during the night and “next day my wife took my leftovers to work” and later got the same symptoms……

And frequently the conclusion is,  “I will never eat there again”!

In my first draft of this post, I referred to these being matters of “American” culture.   On reflection, that’s a bit unfair;  I don’t think these issues are confined to Americans!  But it seems that in Britain the problems may be different:  KFC stores are having to close because they can’t get deliveries of chicken!

Eating at Balnarring

There’s some stylish eating down Balnarring way.  Yes, there are the numerous Mornington Peninsula wineries, of course, but there’s also Merricks General Wine Store, Jackalope, Point Leo Estate and Le Bouchon.  Now, we haven’t been to Point Leo estate yet, but recently we went to Le Bouchon with friends C and P.

Everything here is impressive:  the space (which is open and airy), the welcome and the menu.     Best of all (has it really come to this!) for lunch on Fridays and Saturdays, there’s a 2 or 3 course set menu  for $35 (or $45).   And that includes a glass of wine!    I had the vichyssoise soup and barrumundi, and thought it was very good.     The other members of the group were satisfied, too, except for one comment (just a little unfair, I thought) that the steak wasn’t cooked quite as requested (always a tricky subject!).

Not surprisingly, the reviews tend to be very good.

I’m just a little surprised that it’s only open for lunch on 2 days.  I respect that they want to concentrate on the evening service, and if the business model works for them, well and good.   Perhaps in this part of the world, the demographics are such that there’s sufficient local clientele to justify concentrating on the evening service, without the need to cater to the lunchtime trade?