The three weeks we spent back in the The Land Down Under in 2017 was all about living in Melbourne again; staying in Albert Park where I once rented a flat, walking down to the beach, catching the tram into the city, shopping at the South Melbourne Market, and being a tourist in the city where you live. On most days we caught the number 12 tram at the Mills and Herbert Street corner; just down the street from our single fronted, fashionable weatherboard Victorian Airbnb house. The stylish Miss Colombia Cafe was on the corner by the tram stop; it soon became our mid morning hanging out spot. Every morning we would order a flat white and watch out for the number 12 to go wobbling down Mills Street on it’s way to Fitzroy Street. By the second day we knew how long it would take between trams, and when they would return up Mills street on their way back to Collins Street and beyond; we gave our self two trams to finish our flat whites.
Miss Colombia was everything a Melbourne cafe should be; friendly staff, good food and coffee, and a good neighbourhood vibe. It was a locals haunt; the communal tables were shared by mums with their preschool little ones, young and mature couples adorned with colourful tattoos, and hipsters with big glasses and bushranger beards. And it wasn’t just locals hanging out to drink coffee. Tradies were popping in to grab one of their favourite take away brekkie snacks; a flat white, and an order of smashed avocado with Persian Fetta and a couple of poached eggs on multi grain toast. It wasn’t uncommon to find a dog, or a couple of dogs, hitched to the parking permitted sign post on the footpath. By the second morning three of the staff new us, and we would have a bit of a chat; by the third morning they knew our coffee order. When I think back, I should have taken up a counter staff’s offer to swap print shirts; the Albert Park hipsters are having their milk textured, and their coffee needs satisfied by a John McAdam doppelganger barista.
The Melbourne cafe is a coffee shop that also offers creative food. Two Hands opened in New York in 2014 and is one of several Australian owned cafes serving up versions of Melbourne’s avocado smashes in the Big Apple. Other Aussie cafes attracting a crowd include; Little Collins, Brunswick, Flinders Lane, Sweatshop Coffee, Hole in the Wall and Bluestone Lane. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Aussie flat whites and avocado smashes now have more than a foothold in New York. The chalkboard menus in Melbourne cafes will always have some type of avocado smash, french toast, smoked salmon, and a pulled pork bagel; and you always add a poached egg to whatever you order. I think the success of the cafes in the Big Apple isn’t because of the food or the coffee they serve, it’s because of the experience they offer. What if there was a Melbourne style cafe in every US city? Imagine being able to grab a smashed avocado with chilli, coriander, feta cheese and cherry tomatoes on seeded toast as well as experiencing that Aussie thing to start off your day.
Experiencing a little bit of the The Land Down Under culture and tradition shouldn’t stop with the Melbourne cafe. Aussies love their seafood; nothing beats the standard order of a piece of flake and chips from the local fish ‘n chip shop. You can bet a penny to a quid when you’re at the local with a few mates for some good pub food a barramundi fillet will be ordered way before a peppered kangaroo fillet with seasonal greens; and there’s always a serious rivalry at the table to see who’ll grab the last salt and pepper calamari ring. Anytime you’re unwrapping a fish ‘n chip shop’s parcel of golden goodness you’ll be surrounded by family and friends telling the same old stories of yesteryear, or creating new stories for tomorrow. The seafood experience is an Aussie indulgence that all of the US should be allowed to enjoy. I’ve got no doubts that Aussie fish and chip shops would meet with the same success in the US as the Melbourne cafe did in New York; and there’s no need to build shops because it wouldn’t take much to add the The Land Down Under fish and chip shop vibe to Five Guys burger restaurants.
The new style restaurants would
Each shop would have a handwritten chalk menu board above the cooking fryers. You’d stand at the counter and watch the fish and potato cakes being dipped in batter, thrown into a wire basket, and plunged into the hot bubbling oil in the fryer; chips would be added after a few minutes. The master fryer would know just when to raise the basket of golden goodness from the oil, and how to bump it on the edge of the fryer to drain just the right amount of hot oil from the golden chips, and crunchy fish and potato cake batter. The golden pile would be sprinkled with salt and wrapped in paper.
Just as you’ll find America’s national sport on every television screen in the US in summer you’ll find cricket on every television screen during an Aussie summer; it’s video white noise in every hotel bar, airport lounge, and home electronics shop. And there’ll be a TV alongside every barbie; so when you turn the snags and chops, or throw a bucket of king prawns on the grill, you won’t miss the last wicket to fall, or the last four slogged to the boundary. It makes a lot of sense to add a few cricket rules to baseball. World Series games would be world series; eleven countries currently have a national cricket team and compete in test cricket matches. And if the excitement of baseball isn’t enough already; it would be quadrupled because the run rate of a game would increase. Over three hundred runs is a good average runs total for a side batting first in a one day cricket international; imagine that in baseball. The average television audience for the ICC Cricket World Cup is 400 million. Around 1.5 billion people tuned in to watch the coverage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015; now that would be some audience for a Doritos television commercial. I’d suggest the following cricket rules be introduced into baseball.
What could be more Aussie than talking like an Aussie? Cricket has a language all of it’s own. Putting a little cricket into baseball would open a treasure trove of Aussie lingo to the average American; every day would be talk like an Aussie day. Forget about peppering your conversation with throw another shrimp on the barbie, and that’s not a knife; this is a knife. Start using any of these in your everyday conversations.
call it stumps: each of the three upright sticks or wickets during a cricket match. The stumps are pulled out of the ground when the cricket is finished for the day. Used to end or finish a task
Tony Benneworth from the ABC Radio best summed it up with; it’s been a very slow and dull day, but it hasn’t been boring. It’s been a good, entertaining day’s cricket.
I think I’ll put on a pair UGG’s and sit out in the backyard in a full lotus position and start chanting the mantra; salad must be served with the meal. It would be good brain training for next time I’m at a restaurant and the salad is served before the food order is brought out.