Amateur diary: Adventures in Australia

AFL football game

AFL football game

As far as I’ve traveled and as long as I’ve journeyed, I still believe it’s hard to beat the smell of Australian country on a fresh winter’s day. Since my arrival back in Aussieland, I’ve taken some time to rest, some time to sleep and more time to eat than I probably should have. I think somewhere between golf and exams I forgot how to just relax and do nothing; I used to be great at it! So with a little more effort than normal, I forced myself to take some time off from golf and unwind for the first three days of my trip home.

After a little while I decided that all the time I used to spend studying in class, I would now devote to studying recipes. Thankfully in Australia, it is easier to dilly-dally when shopping and preparing your meals because of the way our produce system works. If one needed bread for example, they would go to the baker to buy it. If one needs meat, they visit the butcher. Each day the bread is freshly baked, the meats are freshly carved and the produce is hand-picked at the morning markets. I guess you could say it’s the broken-down version of America’s local farmers markets, the only difference is that the food is available six days a week. Happy to support our local economy, I put together a menu of nourishment for my starved, work-sick parents to devour upon their arrival home. The meals consisted of:

  • Braised beef with Merlot and fennel
  • Mediterranean lamb cutlets with Ratatouille
  • Pan fried snapper with an organic spinach salad

Australia is still part of the Commonwealth and with that comes some traditions that are a bit stodgy. But one little day each year makes it all worthwhile. This past Monday was Queen Lizzie’s birthday (am I going to get arrested for calling her that?!), which means a national holiday and a jolly long weekend!

Amateur diary

Alison Whitaker, 24, will file a weekly diary on Golfweek.com to give you an insider’s view of life during her transition from college to professional golf.

On the Saturday night we ventured off to meet 2-day-old Lily and check in on proud dad Greg (my cousin) and Jo. Within 10 minutes at the hospital I came to the conclusion that Lily looked like a human jelly-bean with a black fro. She was so cute! After a quick visit, my family (mum, dad, my sister Lauren and her boyfriend Marcus) and I set our taste buds on Italiano. We found this beautiful little restaurant in Carlton called Scopri and feasted until we could barely walk back to the car. The menu was packed with weekly specials and I, much to my sister’s delight, resisted the urge to sing out “That’s Amore” after my final mouthful of flounder.

The next day my beloved grandfather Maurie, known as Gramps to the whole Duke team since his visit to the last two NCAA Championships, mum, dad and I stole ourselves away from the city and headed down the coast to visit the Victorian Peninsula wine region.

photo

Merricks General Wine Store

Due to our ever-present hunger, we set off to Merricks General Wine Store for lunch. From the outside the restaurant didn’t look like much and I was tempted to question my mum’s judgment – in the same way that I do when she selects a foreign movie with subtitles. But after setting foot inside the store I understood the method in her madness. The restaurant featured both a fantastic seasonal menu, and also a wine bar at which you can sample some of the best local wines all at the one stop. We were served by Tom Quealy, a genuine Aussie bloke, and the namesake of the Quealy’s wine range that we were tasting. This to me is what food should be about no matter where you are in the world: trying and buying food and wine from the people that made/raised/farmed it. They know their product inside out and they’re really proud of it.

After lunch we made a few more winery stops then headed on home.

The next day (Queen Lizzie’s birthday) I set off to watch some pro AFL football with some friends. For those of you that haven’t heard of Aussie football, or “footy” as it’s casually referred to, I suggest you take the time to Google it. It’s a mix between NFL and soccer, except without the protective padding. That day my favorite team, Melbourne, which is the oldest AFL club and coincidentally the club for whom my sister works, was playing against the most loved and hated team in the league, Collingwood. The game was really close and I was not-so-kindly reminded that I was sitting in a predominantly Collingwood section every time I screamed out “Go Dees”. Perhaps the funniest moment of the game however, occurred when the woman sitting behind us yelled out “miss, miss, cockie’s piss” in an exceptionally shrill voice every time our player kicked for goal. (FYI: A cockie is a native Australian bird. No joke!).

Amazingly, the score of the game ended in a tie, and although both teams looked disappointed with the result, I was still proud of my Melbourne Demons for putting on one hell of a show.

After a few days of exploring, eating and reviving the soul, I’m once again getting the excited itch to pick up a club and play some golf. In fact, I think I might go start my practice again tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Alison

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