Chelsea Market shopping & eats (Beyond Sushi & Tuck Shop), New York, USA

We’ve done Europe and South East Asia; let’s head back around the world and visit New York this morning 🙂 We were there this time last year, actually, and it really was the trip of a lifetime. Of all the cities we visited (and there were quite a few), New York was obviously a highlight…

The Chelsea Market was my kind of place; we got to it after spending a while walking The High Line, and it was a more than welcome break from the frosty January cold. There’s a bit to see and do in there, including a world class food hall, which was our first stop. The first place that jumped out at us was Tuck Shop, because they claimed to be “the great Aussie bite” (see what they’ve done there?!). We’d be the judge of that, thanks. They do pies and sausage rolls, and thank goodness for that, because I was absolutely craving a sausage roll! It was a pork and sage number with a whole lot of other yummy bits inside it, and it was bloody delicious. Well done, Tuck Shop, very nice!

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The next place that caught my eye was Beyond Sushi – a vegan sushi place, of all things. But, the pictures on the wall looked amazing and people were flying in and out, so we figured why the hell not?! We grabbed an orange coconut juice from the fridge, which happens to be the best juice I’ve ever drunk in my entire life, as well as a set of the Mighty Mushroom rolls – six grain rice filled with enoki, shiitake, tofu and micro arugula. It sounded so pretentious, I almost wanted to hate it on principle, but it was absolutely incredible! I wish we had this in Melbourne!!

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After fueling up, we decided to check out the other main offerings – Artists & Fleas. It’s a nice big market space within the market, where a few dozen makers and collectors showcase and sell their goods. Art, vintage, home wares, clothing, jewellery, it’s all there!

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The market itself is beautiful, and you can easily spend half a day eating and shopping your way around it. It’s a great way to extend your High Line visit too, detouring off to visit the market, and then heading back up to walk the food off. Prioritise this place when you visit!

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Tis the season… Chicago’s Christkindl Christmas Market

Christkindlmarket Chicago
http://www.christkindlmarket.com/

Christmas season is in full swing, people! Tis the season! Deck the halls! Eat the pretzels and drink the mulled wine! Unless you’re in Australia, in which case eat the BBQ’s prawns and drink the beer! And pine trees aren’t really cool here – we’re all about giant lego trees instead.  But seriously, how amazing is this?!

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Last year’s Christmas saw us in a very different climate to the one we’re used to at this time of year – icy cold Chicago. And I loved it! If I had it my way, I’d have frosty Christmases a lot more often, and I’m particularly keen for a Euro-Christmas soon (the first and last one I had was back in 2002… holy crap I’m so old!), which is actually on the cards… Anyway, reading Becky’s post late last week on Berlin’s Christmas markets reminded me of the Christmas market we got to experience in Chicago, which is a city with a surprisingly high European population. While we were researching things to do over Christmas in Chicago, we couldn’t have been more excited to have found out they had their own little German-style Christkindl Christmas Market!

The market in Chicago first ran in 1996, and has become more and more popular every year since. The history of the Christkind originates in Germany, and she is a fairy-like creature, resplendent in gold robes, a sparkling crown perched on her equally golden hair. Think of her as the prettier version of Santa Claus, being the official gift bearer to German children.

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We arrived into Chicago the night of December 23rd, and decided to spend the afternoon of Christmas Eve at the market, along with a few hundred others. It was appropriately cold and a little rainy, the smell of mulled wine and pretzels in the air, beautifully decorated stalls selling intricately handmade Christmas tree decorations, beautifully decorated Christmas cookies, warm hats, scarves and gloves, and quaint little wooden handicrafts. I picked up a gorgeous little glass Christmas ornament, and made it my mission to get it home in one piece. God only knows how, but I actually did!

It might not be something you’d automatically think of doing in Chicago, but if you’re there in the weeks leading up to Christmas, it’s the most fantastic way to get into the holiday spirit, and it’s only made me even more determined to get to Germany to check out the markets that inspired this one!

Treat yoself: The birthday edition part 2, city to suburbs – Operator 25 | Queen Vic Market | Myer Christmas Windows | Mr Scruff’s

For someone who didn’t want to celebrate her birthday, it really ended up dragging out for a while! After waking up to the sun rising over Flinders Street Station on Sunday morning (because we’re lunatics who are completely incapable of sleeping past like 6.30, 7am), it was time to head out and enjoy the sunshine in my most favourite city in the world 🙂 But first, breakfast (take notes, the weekend is here again and you deserve to treat yourself too, birthday or not!)…

 

Operator 25
25 Wills St, Melbourne CBD
http://www.operator25.com.au/

This is one of those places I’d heard a lot about because every self-respecting Melbourne food blogger worth their weight in donuts has already been there and tried it. But not me; I spend all week working in the city so I’m not terribly inclined to get up early on the weekend to go back again! But finally the opportunity presented, and with my trip to Tokyo kicking my matcha obsession into high gear, there was only one thing I was interested in..

We arrived in perfect timing, right as the doors opened at 9am on Sunday morning; within 20 minutes, the place was packed. It’s a really beautiful space, with the dangling electrical cords and light fittings giving it a real industrial feel, and the prints on the wall giving it that nice Melbourne hipster kick that I love in my brunch spots so much. To start, tea and coffee for myself and husband respectively. Happy campers.

Husband didn’t want to risk food envy, so we both got the matcha crumpets ($18.00) – two bright green crumpets served with poached pears, berries, a seriously delicious creamy coconut kaya sauce, and mango and lychee pearls. Unfortunately for me, while they were nice and fluffy and thick all at the same time, the matcha flavour of the crumpets was fairly weak. But, the pearls, berries and kaya sauce combined to make a pretty spectacular breaky.

Super keen to get back and try some of the other breakfast options, and some of the desserts (Thai milk tea sago, I’m coming for you!) which looked pretty good, too.

 

Next up, because we were already in that area, was a visit to the good old
Queen Victoria Market
Cnr Victoria and Elizabeth Streets, Melbourne CBD
http://www.qvm.com.au/

How can you not love this place?! It just screams Melbourne to me… I love spending a Sunday morning weaving in and out of the rows of market stalls, and usually enjoying something delicious to eat while doing it. Seeing as we’d just had breaky, we skipped the usual gozleme stop, and grabbed a jam doughnut each on the way out. Because as much as I love the fancy pants ones, there’s just not much better than a fresh jammy from the market 🙂

 

Next stop was one of the classics at this time of the year, and one I usually pass by quickly because I have absolutely no patience for crowds and long lines, but we were in no hurry last weekend, so we actually watched the full show that was the…
Myer Christmas Windows!
Myer Bourke St, Melbourne CBD
http://blog.myer.com.au

This year’s windows are both pretty cute and a little sad for dog lovers like me – poor Little Dog, the furry star of the show, manages to get himself lost at Christmas time, stuck in the Melbourne rain, and all alone! I, along with another particularly sensitive little girl, was a little distraught, but (SPOILER ALERT!) thankfully Little Dog makes it home in time for Christmas. They did an amazing job with all the Melbourne classics like the trams, Flinders St Station, and even the Hopetoun Tea Room!

 

After that, it was time to check out of our hotel and make our way home… but it wouldn’t be a proper celebratory weekend without a big fat burger, so husband decided to detour back via Collingwood (yay) and stop in at Mr Scruff’s for the big dirty birthday burger he knew I wanted. Good man…

Mr Scruff’s
60 Smith St, Collingwood
http://www.mrscruffs.com.au/

It’s a bar, it’s a burger house, it’s perfectly hipster and totally Melbourne. Choose from seating over multiple levels – out the front, in the beer garden out back, in a booth inside, wherever you’re feeling. Place your order at the bar, and get excited…

Ok, let’s talk chips. Being a Melbourne skeptic, I wasn’t sure $9 for chips with adobo saly and aioli was going to be particularly good value. Wrong. Best chips either of us have ever had to date, hands down. Every chip was golden and crunchy. The adobo salt was actually closer to fairy dust. We pretty much fought it out to the bottom of the basket of chips, and neither of us were even hungry. Holy crap.

And the headliner – the burger. We each got a beef burger ($10) with American cheese, cos lettuce, pickles, onion and special sauce. Plus bacon ($3), obviously. Bloody hell… I was apprehensive at first, because Easey’s burger came out looking sexy as hell and was a bit of a let down. This was pure magic. Everything about this burger was just so right. Bun was perfect. Chopped up cos lettuce was perfect – much better than giant leaves. Heaps of melted cheese and a half a pig worth of crispy bacon. Special sauce on point. And the patty – actually cooked properly – thick and juicy and still a little pink inside. All it needed was a squirt of ketchup and mustard, which were sitting on the table waiting for us, and that’s pretty close to a perfect burger…

 

WOW what a massive weekend! If you stuck it out with me over the last few days, I hope I’ve been able to give you some idea for the upcoming weekend, whether you want to treat yourself or enjoy some time with friends 🙂 We’re so lucky to live in Melbourne (and if you’re visiting, you’re super lucky, too!) – there is SO much to see and do here, and spending my birthday exploring this amazing city I love so much was the perfect way to go! That said, as much as I love this city, I also love taking off again, too… so guess who booked flights to visit Vietnam again next year?!

Have a great weekend everyone, hang out with people you love and enjoy what your city has to offer, wherever that city may be!

Eat & shop here: Tsukiji Fish Market and outer market streets, Tokyo, Japan

Tsukiji Market
By train: Oedo line to Tsukijishijo or Hibiya line to Tsukiji
http://www.tsukiji-market.or.jp/tukiji_e.htm

Another day, another market in another part of the world… For someone who’s inherently shy and withdrawn and has a bit of a hard time with social anxiety, there is almost no where in the world I’m more comfortable than in crazy, bustling foreign marketplaces. I know, I’m weird.

I couldn’t tell you why, but there’s something about being able to blend into the crowd and observe the mayhem that I find really comforting. And to that end, the Tsukiji Market area was the perfect place for me! I’d read that you have to be there really early (like 5am) to see the actual fish market in action; we rolled up around 8am though, which was just in time to see everything being packed up, which was still pretty cool to watch…

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After a bit of walking around and a bit of shopping (found a little stall selling the most beautiful tea pots and tea cups), I was getting hungry. Being one of the world’s premier fish markets, I couldn’t leave without a traditional sushi breakfast, but the lines were insane! 50 minute wait with a few dozen other tourists?! Not a chance! Just as defeat was looming, I saw this place with an A-frame out the front; a quick peak through the window showed not a tourist in sight, which meant that’s where I wanted to eat.  As fate would have it, great decision.

Comfortably some of the best sushi of my life. For around AUD$25.00, I received a bowl of hot miso soup, an enormous piece of teriyaki grilled eel, and the amazing spread you see below. It was the smallest breakfast option on the menu and it was massive! I couldn’t quite get through it all which I didn’t think was too bad, until I looked around and saw everyone else around me plowing through bowls twice the size as mine with ease! The Japanese are BIG breakfast eaters!!! Like a lot of other places, no English was spoken and I ordered by pointing to the laminated menu handed to me, and it was such an awesome experience which I feel really fortunate I got to enjoy!

 

After breaky, we went our separate ways, and mine took me through the outer market streets on the way back to the train station. I made a mental note to return, and that’s exactly what I did a few days later. The outer markets are amazing, and you’ll encounter them on the left side of Shin-Ohashi Street walking from Tsukiji Station towards the fish market. Food galore for the most part, with plenty of other goodies thrown in for your shopping pleasure! I’d recommend starting with the most magnificent omelette you’ve ever had the pleasure of devouring, from one of the many folded omelette stalls than line the streets…

And then, just walk. Enjoy the people watching. Let yourself melt into the market and take it all in.

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Shop here: Preston Artist Market, Melbourne

Preston Artist Market – PAM LANE
Corner Murray Rd and Cramer St, Preston
http://www.pamlane.com.au/

I said it a year ago; the hipsters are on the move. Real estate is running out in the Fitzroy/Collingwood/Brunswick areas, so the young, cool and enterprising are moving outwards, and creating some amazing spaces and opportunities in the process. Look at High St, Northcote and Thornbury to start off with, which is now home to some beautiful homes, apartments, shops and eateries now (like Sookie La La and Lievita), places that take what they do seriously and are really making big efforts to put out good food to the community, as well as big new food truck park Welcome to Thornbury.

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Move a little further out, and even Preston, the area I spent so much of my childhood in, is getting a little bit nice and fancy now. It wasn’t like that 30 years ago. Back then, it was factory after factory, run down pubs filled with bums, crappy little milk bars on street corners with piles of trash out the front. Fine dining options were McDonald’s or Hungry Jacks; now, we’ve got some seriously amazing food, places like Chew Burgers, Boundary Espresso, Cheshire, Chumanchu, hell even another food truck park.

Even little old Preston Market, the place I used to visit with my grandparents when I stayed with them on school holidays, is getting a bit of a make over with the addition of shiny new PAM Lane – the Preston Artist Market. From the crew that brought us the Rose Street Artist Market (another favourite of mine), this little corner of the Preston Market has been created as a space for makers to “create and sell their wares in the one location.”

It’s not just a space to sell; while the market is only open to the public four days a week (Wednesdays – Saturdays), stall holders have access to their spaces on Mondays and Tuesdays, too. From Pam Lane themselves,

The best part is, we’re on the lookout for all types of makers to fill the space and showcase to a huge market audience! Want to open a pop-up shop? Here’s your chance. Need more space to get creative and make your products? We have just the spot!

Each studio can be customised as you see fit and has great lighting and access to power.

What this means in effect is that you’re going to be able to find gorgeous hand crafted jewellery and one off pieces of artwork, sold by the creative souls who are actually making them. And it’s not just homewares and art; you can get yourself some fancy coffee down there now, too. And chocolate. Oh my goodness. Wawa Chocolatier has set up shop down at PAM Lane, and they probably need to be your first stop. I’m a lucky lady and was a little bit spoilt when my husband dropped in and picked me up a block of balsamic salted caramel dark chocolate, and that stuff is MAGIC!

I’m down there every Friday night to do my grocery shopping, so now that PAM Lane is officially open to the public, I think I’m gonna need to start budgeting a little more for groceries/a treat-yoself slush fund…

Shop & Eat at The Grove Farmers Market, LA (Bryan’s BBQ Pit, Bob’s Coffee Doughnuts & Short Cake)

The Grove Farmers Market
6333 W.3rd St.Los Angeles
http://www.farmersmarketla.com/

“When did you get back?”
“Ohh like 2 weeks ago now!”
“How was it?! Did you have a favourite place?”
“Nah, I loved everywhere. Except LA. What a hole!”

This was a conversation that went on in my office last week. Poor old Los Angeles. It gets SUCH a shit wrap from Aussies who visit! And I blame Hollywood – after spending 10 minutes on Hollywood Boulevard, I found myself asking my husband, “is that it?? Seriously?!” So very underwhelming… BUT there are some absolute gems hidden around the city if you’re willing to let go of the “Hollywood” fantasy and see something else! Greystone Mansion & Park was one of my favourite not-shit spots in the city, with Grand Central Market , the whole Venice Beach/Santa Monica area and The Grove’s Farmers Market coming right in behind it; these are the three places I’ve been recommending to people going to LA who are already wary of it’s disappointing and tacky reputation.

The Grove’s Farmers Market in LA was the nicest surprise possible for someone like me. After running the gauntlet of designer clad, miniature dog-clutching “ladies” and “gentlemen” rolling up in their fancy cars, throwing their keys to/at the valet, I felt like I was walking through the world’s biggest cliché! Not at ALL my scene! We pushed on through the crowd though, determined to see this Grove we’d heard about with it’s pretty Christmas decorations and nice shops (which people neglected to mention we wouldn’t be able to afford to actually shop in, for the most part).

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Yes, it was mental. Yes, there were kids running around all over the place. And ladies swinging oversized handbags around, paying no attention to anyone passing them. And tourists stopping to take a photo beside every Christmas tree (and there are a real lot of trees there). And incessant Christmas carols. You don’t want to spend too long at the Grove at Christmas, but you definitely do want to experience it. After all, what’s Christmas without sparkling lights and complete mayhem?! After 15 minutes of that, we were ready to give up and call it a night, when I saw the sign for the Farmers Market. I was out of the twilight zone and back in my world, even though it was on the other side of the world…

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The Farmers Market is part fresh produce, part eateries, part tourist shopping. It reminded me a lot of the Queen Vic Market in Melbourne, but on a smaller (and much more American) scale. The beauty of this place is that, unlike other farmers markets, it’s open daily, not just on set dates! Foodies rejoice! The touristy souvenir stalls were a bit tacky for me, but the produce looked quality, and the little food stalls were fantastic, heaps of variety, and all busy. We visited of an evening, and also during the day, and the crowd didn’t seem to have been any lighter at either time, which I guess speaks to the quality of the market. It’s absolutely a must-visit in LA if you want a proper food experience without the “fanciness” factor and price tag (and especially if you need to escape the Hollywood hip crowds). As for places to eat, I’ll recommend the following…

Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts
http://www.bobscoffeeanddoughnuts.com/

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/436/65412241/files/2014/12/img_4767.jpgFirst up, check out the variety – cake, raised, original, glazed, decorated, they have it ALL! And while I can’t speak for the coffee, but the doughnut I had here was amazing – I got a buttermilk glazed and it was light, fluffy, sugary perfection. Absolute must.

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Short Cake
http://www.shortcakela.com/

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/436/65412241/files/2014/12/img_4768.jpgVegan? All good. Caeliac? No worries. Not only does Short Cake cater for the regular sugar lovers, the dietarily challenged can indulge here, too! I’d heard amazing things about their date and sesame seed scones, so I had one of them with a cup of tea – fantastic, particularly as a winter warm up! Would have loved to have had more stomach space to try some of those cookies – the coconut avocado one really had me intrigued! Anyone else tried them?!

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Bryan’s Pit Barbecue
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bryans-Pit-Bbq/356609594406484

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/436/65412241/files/2014/12/img_4769.jpgThis isn’t fancy food. It’s not typical hipster LA. There’s no gluten free/refined sugar free/lactose free/super food charged/vegan option. It’s meat and carbs and grease and deliciousness. Pulled pork sandwich. Mac & cheese. Big serving for a decent price. That’s what happiness looks like my friends.
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Eat & shop here: The Chaweng Walking Street Market, Koh Samui, Thailand

First of September; first day of spring, first day waking up to brilliant, bright sunshine in a while this morning! And this morning as I’m sitting on the train to work writing this post, I’m thinking of Thailand… It’s been a long winter, which I usually enjoy, but the throat infection that’s had me knocked on my ass for the past 2 weeks has been making wish for warmer climates and lazy days spent doing something other than “resting” and “getting better”…

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Chaweng Walking Street Market
South Chaweng, just off the main street
Koh Samui, Thailand

Yes, I realise those aren’t particularly amazing directions or an exact address, but we’re talking about Thailand here. The Chaweng area isn’t that big, so all you need to do is ask someone to point you in the right direction! When husband and I visited early 2014, we didn’t realise that the action all happened at night time there, with the night market being pretty popular with both tourists and locals alike. We saw “market” marked on a map we picked up and the airport and made our way over around lunch time one day; one single vendor was open, so we ordered lunch there, and it was probably the best pad thai I’ve ever eaten…

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In fact, the food was so good that we returned later that night, and the night after that! The little stall made some incredible food; other than the pad that, the other favourite was the spring rolls, hand made fresh daily by someone’s cousin. Or maybe it was someone’s aunt. I can’t remember. Doesn’t matter though, they were delicious either way!

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The Walking Street completely comes to life at night though, after around 5.30pm, so make sure you visit on an empty stomach and ready to shop your way around in between food and cocktails!

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