Man, I still can’t get over how nice the LF-A roadster is. Simply dope! There is also some more 86′s in the clip too!

Trip Blips #TAS2012 1: Day 1 - 4, 19-22 May

Photo: The intricate water fountain at Prince’s Square, Launceston. Unfortunately I got too ambitious with the phone’s camera capabilities in low light, I’ll get this post updated with camera-camera photos at Launceston library or a Melbourne public library. And those long exposure camera-camera photos look awesome, you’ll just have to wait to get a peek.

It has been a wet start in Tasmania but with temperatures not as bad as Canberra, the wet weather forecast is looking like it will ease up when I start in the Cradle Mountain region on Thursday 24 May.
The forecast for the Cradle Valley looks to average with a minimum of 0°C and a maximum of 7°C with heavier precipitation periods falling as snow above 1000-1200 metres above sea level.

Since I also dumped my gaiters during panic-packing, I bought hair bands from the supermarket to use as trouser blousing keep snow, water, and mud from entering my boots.

TAS2012 Wall of Fame and Shame

Almond Croissant
Sweet Envy, North Hobart
Dishonourable mention: The French Quarter, North Melbourne

Sweet Envy, North Hobart
Quark, Quiche Jelly, Lemon Curd, Dacquoise special

Honourable mentions:
Burch and Purchese Sweet Studio, South Yarra
Mango, Milk Chocolate, Ginger cake

LuxBite, South Yarra
Meringue Monster (Watermelon and Strawberry version, June 2012)

The Brezel Bäckerei, Sandy Bay

Raspberry Danish

Chez Dré, South Melbourne

Passionfruit Tart

Honourable mention:
Maxims Cakes, Melbourne
Egg Tart

Savoury Dish
LuxBite, South Melbourne
Ciabatta of the Day
(Pulled Pork, Miso Mayo, Chinese Cabbage, Pickled Carrot, Spring Onion. 09 June 2012.)

Honourable mentions:
Gumshara, Haymarket
Pork Spare Rib Tonkatsu Ramen

Akita, North Melbourne
Saikyo (Miso-marinated Patagonian Toothfish, grilled) 

Dishonourable mention:
Top Catch Fish & Chippery, North Melbourne.

Special Mentions
Gelato Messina, The Creative Department (Laboratorio and Patisserie); Darlinghurst.
City BBQ Restaurant, Melbourne.


TAS2012 Trip Blips 9- 01-05 June

After checking out today at 10 AM, headed up to Tant Pour Tant on Charles Street for breakfast. I had a apricot Danish, a Pain au Chocolat, and a dark chocolate mousse-based Framboise; a bit of hit and miss from this Launceston bakery and patisserie.

Also on a sweet note, on Saturday at Harvest Launceston; I picked up a fruit Danish, a Palmier, and a sourdough olive beard from Manu Bread in Invermay suburb. Hmm… the newest authentic French bakery, hmm… it shows, need some work. Oh Hobart bakeries, I miss you, but f’it, I’m in Melbourne town now to gouge myself on goodies.

Back to today, after breakfast at TPT I haul all my luggage, all 20 kilograms of it to Cataract Gorge on foot, but luckily Cataract Gorge is literally on the edge of the Launceston city centre. I crossed Kings Bridge, taking the north bank by the gentler River Walk to First (and now only) Basin, crossing the little stone footbridge on the outlet of First Basin, then oh so fun unsealed, steep step lined Zig Zag track on the south bank. There’s peacocks! For some reason the peacocks cluster around the food outlets at First Basin

After Cataract Gorge, I hauled ass to Fresh on Charles for some tasty, perfectly seasoned and cooked, but awfully expensive cous cous (fregula) before transiting to tinny Launceston airport for the less than one hour hop over to Melbourne.

#TAS2012 Trip Blips 4: 28 May 2012.

I’m alive!

Also did I really say seven days? Well I’m out of the wilderness tonight five days later; well semi-out, I’m staying overnight at the Lake St Clair Lodge with intermittent mobile coverage from Derwent Bridge.

The last three says have been packed with epic treks of their own unique terrain. So today is Day 5; in summary on Day 3 was always going to be a tough 16.5km scramble through mud and root hell at 1-2km/h; Day 4 was a 19km sprint over two high level gaps between mountains, to escape the root hell of the Pelion region; today was a 27km charge through the limits. I ran out of food, snacks, and water before dragging my arching body for another hour through the dark. Even with three meals today, instead of the one or two usually, I could feel my body just starting to hit the wall.

So I’m here sitting in a foil blanket since this room doesn’t have linen beyond a bed sheet and a pillow, with an oil radiator heater that is barely working with wet gear clusterfucked around it, no food or even a vending machine to stuff my face with simple carbohydrates.

Two days recovered, to add to exploring Hobart instead of what would have been an overnight pass through.

It seems tumblr lost my post from above Marion’s Lookout.

Even though Day 3 (Windermere Hut to Pelion Hut) is regarded as the toughest day on the Overland Track, the first day has 560 metres of climbing and 410 metres of descending over 11 kilometres. On an average slope of +8.8% and -7.3%, with a maximum of a dizzying +46.1% and -20.6%; oh sexy, 46.1% upslope with full haul of rations and water. To add to that is 9.8 kilometres to get from my accommodation to Ronny Creek where the Overland Track starts.

Learning to make the most of the Google Earth KMZ from the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Sevice. Instead of trying to pull data from simplified maps and gradient profiles, now I can seek and plan accurate GPS coordinates for the huts, and more importantly the waypoints to keep me on the right path even if the Overland Track is well marked, signed and defined.

Original post: 03MAY2012, 2214. Edited: 03MAY2012, 2227. 


Trip Blips 14, 10-18 June 2012

So it’s been over a week since the last trip blip, and boy it’s been a rollercoaster of ayes and nays from the last days in Melbourne and the first few trip in Sydney.

In the photo above, meet one of the many totally chilled Melbourne city possums, this one here was at Flagstaff Gardens at 5 am on the walk to Southern Cross coach terminal on the way out of Melbourne.

I started writing this trip blip out a couple of days ago; even in point form, there was too much for a trip blip sized tit bit. Well then, let’s get to trimming the fat.

10 June, Sunday
Went walkies from Federation Wharf, to an evening at Fitzroy and Treasury Gardens with CBD possums.

11 June, Monday
Queen’s Birthday (eastern states edition), so many places closed to eat out. Ended up at Chinatown; then went walkabouts from North Melbourne, to Southern Cross Station, through the city centre then lingered around the Shrine of Remembrance in the dark.

12 June, Tuesday
Visited Burch And Purchese for a tour, but they were too busy preparing for the 5 Chefs Dinner for the Starlight Foundation on that Thursday; ended up chatting to a counterhand for a probably more than an appropriate amount of time but I did learn of the nearby MoVida bakery. After visit to MoVida, French Fantasies, and yet another to LuxBite; I managed to crawl out of South Yarra to have lunch at Bistro Vue.

13 June, Wednesday
Visited Le Petit Gateau, got a tour of the kitchen with the chef there Pierrick Boyer.A short and slightly awkward chat since I’d saved up specific pastry science questions for Darren Purchese out Cath Claringbold at Burch And Purchese; and trying general pastry questions might dig too deep into reach other’s house business. Had lunch again at Akita, spent too much time at Shrine of Remembrance in the daylight that ran out of time for Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Then got greased out at Tooraking restaurant for dinner.

14 June, Thursday
Go fuck yourself MyMulti and AirportLink; if you haven’t guessed it, yes I’m now in Sydney. Had a delayed check in I think because of State of Origin. Had lunch at Gumshara (according to google Maps anyway), oh, my, god; the pork stock is… woh! Went on my first visit to Chef’s Warehouse.

15 June, Friday
Went for a second trip to Chef’s Warehouse after deciding what sizes of what I could use. Heading north to Gelato Messina, then walked across the city to Zumbo at The Star casino.

16 June, Saturday
Goddamn rain; charged through it to visit the Zumbo in Rozelle, which I guess started selling out since there was less patisserie offerings at Rozelle than at The Star. After that, got distracted by the carcass of White Bay Power Station, finally seeing the Sydney Harbour Bridge after three days in Sydney. Visited the Sydney Fish Market, where the first thing I bought was fruits.

17 June, Sunday
Went walkies around North Sydney during the day, then after dinner and a snooze, more walkies from Luna Park, across the Harbour Bridge and through the city.

18 June, Monday
Explored the bakeries and patisseries of Surry Hills, and another stunning ramen at Gumshara.

Anyways, it’s now 01:20 am and I going to wake up at 03:30 for a flight back to Perth.


Trip Blips 11, 08 June 2012

No early breakfast today, but I did have Lunch at Rubicon on Errol Street. The Saffron [seafood] risotto, which I don’t remember seeing any saffron threads but wasn’t creamy enough for a risotto; maybe a wet paella, it gets a thumb up. Only one thumb because they got a little heavy-handed with the lemon juice which did mask a lot of seafoods’ subtler flavours, the chef did apologise via the waiter and offer a complementary dish, coffee, or drink; but I was saving my stomach for desserts. But farther credit to them, it’s not often I get to see menu prices reflect the material costs involved, too many restaurants over inflate the vegetable dishes; thankfully not at Rubicon.

Then after lunch, I went and checked out Crumbs Organic Bakery that I earlier walked pass looking for lunch. From a quick web search, this could be a newly established outlet for the Ascot home base. I didn’t see this shop at night as it still had signage for the hairdresser that previously occupied the shop space, and the only signage was two small chalkboards paced inside the window and baked goodies facing the other window. Since besides the bread, every muffin, slice, or pizza was missing a name and price tag; I don’t really know what I picked up and for how much each. I got an orange poppy seed muffin, not a cupcake, or a muffin-sized cupcake; and dome sort of apple crumble top, blueberry almond cake slab thing. Total for the two items was $7.20.

Onto the 57, then 55 tram we go to scout out le Petit Gateau on the western end of Little Collins Street before I snoop around the kitchen next week. Since I visited quite late at 2:45 pm, about half their individual entremet cabinet was sold out. I had a fresh fruit, not canned fruit Danish, which unfortunately didn’t fare too well since the morning; the pastry might have freakishly consistent and squared rise and lamination, and a real buttery mouth feel, but it just got a little too chewy after so many hours. After the Danish, I had a Hazelnut Millefeuille which was delicious even though I disagree which calling it a millefeuille, as that would involve puff pastry. From top to bottom it was; St Honore wave of choc crème chantilly, milk couverture tablet, milk ganache with whole hazelnuts sandwiched between that and a choc-praline-paillet feuilletine crispy glued onto a thin biscuit joconde base. Like Crumbs, no price tags, so I have no idea what each cost, total spent at LPG was $11.50; I might have to check with the ACCC in regards to displaying prices.

After le Petit Gateau, I tried to find Laurent Bakery to see whether they haven’t disappeared up its own arse in irrelevance to quality. I managed to wall pass it, over three major streets, and 59 metres out from the eastern end of Little Collins Street. $4.70 takeaway Almond Croissant, a slight improvement on The French Quarter’s effort. Interesting observation at Laurent is that the display the sandwich rolls open with the filling laying flat and the bread butterflied out.

Since I was in the area, I wind my way south to Cake Deco opposite Flinders Street train station. One of little shops packed from floor to ceiling with products; no empty shops to spread out, no money or time to move somewhere else prime in the CBD. *Pumps fist* Polycarbonate chocolate moulds for under $20 each, and fat-soluble food colouring for those long overdue projects.

Upon exiting Cake Deco, hopes of dry weather to go gardening to munch my sweet treats disappeared in the spray and fading light. So back to the hostel I retreated, snack away, drop off my shopping, recharge my phone and get ready for dinner.

I had plans to stay out as Insomniac Photographer after dinner; but on the walk to Little Africa restaurant, the spray is spoiling my mood. Not because I don’t like getting wet but my camera lens might disagree with me. Maybe I’ll start fabricating a lens hood out of cloth tape and paper tourist information pamphlets.Who knew Little Africa would be such a small place, with room for about 20 in tight formation. I got Zghini for $15 takeaway since there was no spare space, a big dish of stewed lamb, moist and mildly sour pancake, and a small garden salad. 100% on 33 votes on Urban Spoon, a touch too salty for me.

Oh, another Trip Blop. Anyways…

McGuyver time!


TAS2012 Trip Blips 10, 05-07 June 2012

Oh it’s been a shaky start in Melbourne town; like Singapore, there’s a lot of food businesses around, a lot are shit, since population density does keep afloat longer than they should for diners. Also like SG, so many franchise food outlets, too many, agh! Go away!
Besides Chez Dré on Coventry Street in South Melbourne, Akita on the corner of Blackwood and Courtney Street in North Melbourne; my Melbourne culinary experience has been a bit of a disaster. Why do so many east Asian restaurants think it’s their duty to sell sushi? Why the addiction to chicken stock powder, even in Singapore diluted chicken broth-water tastes more appealing than yellow powder saline solution, oh FFS.

I need your help gentlereader, please help me did someone who knows how to do a proper great Wanton Mee Dry? It can be in Melbourne or Sydney, even Perth when I head home.

Now hitting rewind.

After hopping from Launceston on 05 June, Tuesday; I have to say SkyBus is pretty awesome especially if you have inner metropolitan accommodation to take advantage of the fare included hotel transfer shuttle bus service. I say this now while I can enjoy the user friendly public transport network in Melbourne; before I have to jump on the most expensive per kilometre train ride from Kingsford Smith Airport to Sydney Central, stupid MetCard/MultiRider MyCard bullshit, weaving through the boroughs around Parramatta River and Sydney Harbor and figuring out the geometry of Sydney’s old city layout.
Enough shitting on Sydney town before I go back there, after checking into YHA Melbourne Metro, I rushed off to Errol Street to get dinner and do laundry since I got my last thermal top all sweaty climbing the Zig Zag Track along Cataract Gorge in Launceston. Hmm… I haven’t checked out the in-house laundry at the hostel, I wonder whether they price match or better the North Melbourne coin laundry rate of $4 wash, $1 tumble dry; hopefully I’ll see my first change machine at a laundromat, if not, at least there’s a 24 hour reception desk to harass for $1 coins.

Yesterday was my first full day in Melbourne with a nice start at 11 am with a fire drill at the YHA, onto the medium strip lawn we go under dark moist clouds rolling overhead. After that drama, I walked 100 metres north to the end of the street to Akita Japanese restaurant for Beef Tataki and Nabeyaki Udon for easily affordable prices you wouldn’t expect for the high quality of food. After that delightful lunch, I jumped on a tram towards South Melbourne; on board the 55 tram was a member of Melbourne Transit Demographics Unit (Myki Customer Service Assistant) profiling MetCard users and out of town looking people. I passed undetected.

After disembarking on Clarendon Street, I scooted over to Chef’s Hat. They more or less sell the same variety and ratios of product as they did when I last visited them five years ago, with loads of crockery, some cookware, a bit of bakeware, and a bunch of small utensils. I guess needs and tastes change, I find the utensils section a bit too home kitcheny with techniques needed or product result with those tools. I’ll have a look at the CBD located Cake Deco, if I’m left disappointed if it turns out to be a possible fondant and royal icing land. Hopefully Chef Warehouse in Surry Hills, New South Wales can save the days, considering they have four sizes of all copper sugar pans instead of just the one in Chef’s Hat.
After leaving Chef’s Hat empty-handed and a little disappointed, I slipped through a little alley of Coventry Street to enter possibly the rear entrance of Chez Dré, I say possibly because when inside the shop I noticed a courtyard that looked like it opened up to a bigger alleyway.The cabinet was 1/3 full because I visited 20 minutes before closing time, first impressions were good variety and execution, but initially it looked a bit more expensive, more on pricing later. I picked up a Passionfruit Tart and Hazelnut Crunch for $8.50 each in little white card boxes in a form fitting brown paper bag.

After picking up my sugary treats, I rushed off to the Little Bourke and Elizabeth Street area before the shops close for the day to search for a one inch fabric belt to reduce the wedgies caused by new pants I got from Launceston over the weekend, a duffel bag to simplify luggage juggling two daypacks and a bedroll since silly me didn’t buy a new 70 plus litre hiking backpack, a small compression sack because warm fleece takes up way too much space in my backpack.

After evening tea with my Chez Dré pastries, to juxtapose some of the best food I have ever had, why did I think I can trust the local fish and chip shop on Errol Street, or should I retain some Melbourne-Wankery and insist it be called a “Fish and Chippery”. Generic breaded calamari paste rings, astonishingly watery fish, a half fucked saving grace might just be the just crisp chips. I say so because besides Burger Got Soul in Launceston, Tasmania has an addiction to barely cooked flaccid potato sticks. Strangely even though the fish batter and everything else was bland at this North Melbourne fish and chippery, I still managed to get salt abrasion on my tongue. Got a little peed off after walking pass The Leveson on the way back to the hostel and checking out the very reasonably priced menu that could have saved me from deep fried starch and watery marine protein grumpiness.

Back onto today, I thought I could trust another Errol Street local with The French Quarter Patisserie while I spend the morning planning my itinerary in detail for Melbourne. Gawd, $5 for an almond croissant and $3.20 for a plain croissant, and a whole cabinet filled with sad looking food. There’s something very wrong with their viennoiserie products, there’s no flakiness and the internal crumb has a bready texture, the most bizarre and uninspiring lamination, or lack of. Thankfully the mascapone and marmalade I brought over from Tasmania made swallowing that tragic mistake possible.

After morning research and planning, went walkabouts and ‘gardening’. Walked pass Queen Victoria Markets, I’m still not sure if this is the biggest and most famous market in Melbourne, having only remembered visits to Footscray and South Melbourne Markets. After Victoria Street; headed east through Lincoln and Argyle Squares, or should I call them Lincoln and Argyle Skate Parks. Crossing the tramless southern end of Lygon Street, heading farther east, the mammoth National Museum and Royal Exhibition Building emerged quickly over the narrow horizon. There must have been some sort of examination in the Royal Exhibition Building as hundreds of young adults poured out of its tall doors onto the footpaths of Carlton Gardens. Luckily I got my photos of the main fountain at the garden, before they shut off the water pumps at 6 pm!

In the darkness, I headed west on Victoria Street to White Lotus, with a stroll through lower Lygon Street in between. Had a nice meal there; but for a vegetarian restaurant, too much trickery and playing around with textured soy products on the menu, instead of making the most of fresh tasting vegetables. They operate on a tiny roster for dinner Thursday to Saturday, with the one waitress covering 35 seats front of house. Poor lady, running running non stop.

That’s almost the end of this stupendously long Trip Blip, or is it a Trip Blop? All typed out on a tiny phone touchscreen. Other initial Melbourne observation; for such an advanced city I don’t know why they still insist on maintaining thousands of little two car parking meters.

Anyway the east coast Queen’s Birthday long weekend has started, must figure out what can and can’t be done while I’m around.

Edited: 08JUN2012, 1125.


#TAS2012 Trip Blips 8, 30 May to 01 June 2012

A bready sort of time in Hobart town and now back up in Launceston this evening.

Just some of the wheaty items I picked up over the past few days just from bakeries and patisseries alone:
- Wholemeal sourdough Vienna loaf and Almond Croissant from Zum Bakery.
- Hazelnut Caramel Brulee, Framboise; and an unnamed new item that was lemon curd, dacquoise, basic mousse, quince jelly; all from my first visit to Sweet Envy. Top photo.
- Raspberry Danish, Lagerstick (sp) just the phallic version of their Breadzels, Hazelnut Horn, and Bienenstich from The Brezel Bäckerei.Sorry, no mobile phone photo of my German bakery stash, silly HTC Wildfire S again had low internal memory problems. My snacking at Marieville Esplanade got rudely interrupted by an I presume hungry Great Dane.
- Just today after checking out from my accommodation, made another trip to Sweet Envy before boarding a bus from Hobart to Launceston. Had an Almond Croissant and Banoffi tartlet there, and picked up a Focaccia with garlic cloves, sliced onion, pumpkin, granular salt and rosemary baked in. It’s pictured above in the foreground of the bottom photo, in front of a pizza from Italian Pizza House in Launceston. *Nudge nudge* the focaccia is better quality and value than the pizza.

Onto a different flavour; I haven’t done the touristy thing and had fish and chips or oysters in this coastal region, but I’ll see how things work out tomorrow morning at Harvest Launceston market for ‘em oysters.

On a different note again, I’ll be using the standardish web version of tumblr to post Trip Blips. The mobile web pages and smart phone apps are a little flaky when it comes to posting more complex items and formats.

#TAS2012 Trip Blips 6, 30 May 2012

The Japanese Garden at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens; yes, yes, a garden inside another garden.

Too bad Queen’s Domain is surrounded so closely by major road, cargo rail and maritime traffic. Think Welshpool truck and train rumbling while walking through Queen’s Park in Perth.

When I do entirely stop taking photos at the botanical gardens, I’ll be jumping over the hill again to have a look at Sweet Envy in North Hobart for late morning tea in the late afternoon.

Trip Blips

Did I say seven days? Being this high up, still got 3G signal, sooooo enjoy.

Ehh… Snow. No way, yes way. Just kept climbing and climbing, then it a was level with me. It’s quite mild up here, I think the snow will melt away before noon.

Edit 30 May 2012: Turns out that when you’re hiking with a 20kg plus on your back, you’re so physically strained that you put out enough heat for me to get away with one wool thermal and a poly-cotton overshirt and still feel cosy stomping over snow at 0°C air temperature at Kitchen Hut.

The last day before I start the Overland Track, and fall incommunicado for seven days.

The weather has been wet, wet, wet; but thankfully it’ll stay ‘mostly’ dry when I’m out field, tomorrow there may be snow when I’m above 1200 metres above sea level on the Cradle plateau. The temperature here is quite nice actually, but that’s before we factor in wet clothing, wind chill and increased altitude. At least the average temperature mean it don’t have to put too much effort keeping fresh food chilled.

Tomorrow will be late start at 0900 instead of the usual 0730 pre dawn start, to catch the Cradle Mountain Shuttle bus to save in 7.5 kilometres extra walking on asphalt, in addition to the 10.5 kilometres already needed to cover on day 1 on the Overland Track.

Photo: Cramping in a big lunch at Discovery Holiday Parks, Cradle Mountain; before a light dinner, and rationing out field. Mash potato, sauteed mushroom, minestrone in the packet, Maltesers, and diahoerria prevention tablets.