Travel Diary – Darwin Part 1: Markets and Barbecues and no personal injury

Hello!  I’m back!  Currently, my body still thinks it is on European time, but my body pretty much always thinks it is on European time, so I’m going to assume that this is just normal and get used to it.  (Fun fact:  I really don’t get jetlag going to Europe.  Quite the contrary – I arrive exhausted, sleep, and then the next day I am actually up reasonably early and refreshed as my body reels with delight that *finally* the sun is up at a time when it wants to be awake.  Coming back… works less well.)

I’m still adjusting to being back in my own house.  It was quite disorienting at first, especially the walls and ceilings – with the exception of the days in Paris, I’ve been sleeping in a series of narrow beds in cosy little rooms under the eaves – lots of sloping ceilings and walls always within touching reach.  It’s really weird waking in the night and not being able to feel the walls and ceiling with my bat-like radar senses.  No, really.

Anyway, while the rest of the Veg-Friendly Blogosphere is indulging in Vegan Mo Fo (which I really will do one of these years), I intend to revel in a few weeks of writing up my travel diary.  With pictures.  Also with recipes and the odd restaurant review, and lots of discussion of food, especially Norwegian food, because believe me, we ate some very strange things in Norway.  If travel writing is not your cup of tea, never fear.  The recipes, at least, will be kept in separate posts, so you can ignore my enthusiastic descriptions of opera in Norwegian or little-known French castles in favour of the good stuff.

If, on the other hand, you do enjoy reading about people’s trips, well, then you have much to look forward to.  Because, as I’m sure you will be unsurprised to know, I kept a travel diary.  An extensive one.  And my plan is to transcribe a fair bit of it here.

So here goes…

Thursday, 7th August – Darwin

I’ve been here a full twelve hours, and so far, no broken leg!  This is already an improvement on my last trip to Darwin.  Today was mostly spent on bridesmaid duties – having slacked off for months as an inter-state bridesmaid, I am now making up for lost time, helping run errands, folding fans, and bonding with H’s friend (and my opposite number), A, over vegan food.

In the evening, we went to a night market, which is a lovely walk along the beach path from P+H’s place.  It’s a really lovely market that made me both glad and sad that I hadn’t brought more money with me.

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We watched a fire dancer do his act, which was fairly spectacular, but the highlight of the evening for me was the discovery of a raw cake stall – I’ve never previously tried raw food that wasn’t made by me!  The look on A’s face when she realised that she could eat absolutely anything from this stall was a thing of true beauty – I don’t think travelling in Australia, particularly the less urban parts, is particularly easy if one is vegan.  She could not possibly be expected to stop at a single piece of cake, so we bought six slices ‘to share’ – lots of cheesecakes based on cashew and coconut cream.  My favourites were the raspberry and, unexpectedly, the coffee caramel.  I don’t even like coffee, but it was good here.  P liked the lemon best; A liked all of them. One very happy vegan!  The boys were largely uninterested and I was trying not to go too insane over the cakes, so she got to have a lovely cakey feast.

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A and I have decided that we will be organising the BBQ tomorrow.  P knows exactly what this means – a vegan food fest with a little token meat – and she is 100% in favour, but I think the boys (who have already explained to me more than once that ‘Fleisch ist mein Gemüse’ – meat is my vegetable) will be in for a surprise…

Also, please note the cliché sunset shot.  I am rather proud of this.

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Incidentally, sunset here is so strange – it’s like someone switching off the lights.  The day is done, and now we will have night time.  Right now.

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Friday, 8th August – Darwin, still no broken leg, things are looking up!

Any day that is mostly spent cooking is a good day!  P+H had their big family BBQ this evening, and P had a lot of errands to run, so A, H Senior, V and I (in other words, most of the bridal party) sallied forth for breakfast and shopping, prior to undertaking our festive cooking.  Everyone knows that the best BBQs happen when you put the vegans / veg-lovers in charge!

A and I found a pretty good paleo café, Rawgasm, that actually marked its vegan options properly (and that also served some rather familiar-looking raw cakes…), but apparently German men find cafés with too many vegetables on the menu far too frightening to cope with, so they decided to eat elsewhere.  A and I indulged in much patronising eye rolling and plotted revenge with tofu.

Rawgasm was rather good.  Not cheap, though I gather that this is simply the nature of Darwin.  I ordered the big breakfast without bacon – it had a little sweet potato rösti, grilled mushroom, grilled tomato, avocado, raw spinach, a fried egg, and red cabbage braised in coconut oil.  I am not sure that this is the best thing that one can do with red cabbage, but it was pretty good, and not too insanely large.  I really did like the juice, [which contained ginger, carrot, apple, celery, mint, and a variety of other things that I really should have written down at the time, but alas, did not], which was exceptionally tangy and refreshing.

Then we did our shopping, and went home to create our vegan spectacular and bond over roast garlic, all the chickpeas, and the dreaded Thermomix.  I took over salads and felafel and A did dips and sauces and roast vegetables.

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We produced a lot of food.  The only people surprised by this were the ones who have never met either of us.  I made my herby potato salad, a variation on the blueberry and apricot salad from the Green Kitchen App (replacing the apricots with seasonal mango), a green salad, and felafel; A made roasted pumpkins, tomato relish (which was really spectacular), guacamole and hummus.

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And I also made my chocolate tofu tart for dessert.  Really, the meat was an afterthought – though my first taste of barramundi was a very pleasant surprise.  I don’t normally like fish, but barra is sweet and mild and tender and went perfectly with the fruity salad.

All of this was well received, even by the German carnivores, though I did get a great deal of pleasure from telling them about the tofu in the chocolate tart *after* they had eaten it and been defeated by its truffly chocolateness.

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I got to catch up with P’s parents, which was really lovely – it’s been far too long.  And then P drove me to my hotel, which is blessedly, blessedly air-conditioned.  P tells me it is freezing in here but I haven’t felt this comfortable since I left Melbourne.  Darwin is certainly being kinder to me this time, but I am still not a fan of its climate…

Also, I managed to break a wine glass, which was my fault, and a plastic cake slice, which is not.  I’m hoping that this propitiatory offering to the gods of breaking things in Darwin will be sufficient to stave off any major injuries on my part.  P, however, is still carefully pointing out every step or uneven piece of ground to me.  I suspect she was more traumatised by my broken leg last time I than I was.

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