Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dear Chipotle

Dear Chipotle,

How are you?  It’s been so long since I’ve seen you – nearly two months now.  I miss you dearly and hope you are doing well without me.

Life in Australia has been treating me very well.  I found a place to live and made a few friends, and the job search seems to be coming along well too.  The weather has been terrific and I’m working on my tan.  Everything seems to be great, but deep down, I know something is missing.

That something is you, Chipotle.  I miss you.  Kathryn and I have been trying the burritos here in Sydney, but as I expected, nothing is as delicious as you.  There are only a handful of burrito restaurants in Sydney, and I think we’ve been to all of the ones that we could find on the map.  These Aussies are cultured, but they just don’t understand the delight that Mexican food can bring.

Beach Burrito was ok, but it was a little bit dry.  Tomatillo had a roach inside the restaurant, and they didn’t use nearly enough cheese and sour cream.  Zambrero was flavorful, but their chicken tasted more like Indian curry than anything.  It definitely didn’t belong wrapped up Mexican-style in a tasty flour tortilla.  Guzman y Gomez was just confusing to me.  Their salsa tasted like North Carolina style barbecue sauce – sweet, tangy, and slightly smoky with no kick at all.  That was the extra spicy salsa.  I’d hate to taste their normal salsa.  Finally, there’s Mad Mex.  Mad Mex wasn’t bad, and I actually went back a second time to give it another go.  It’s likely the best burrito in Sydney, and if it were in the States, I’d say it was halfway decent.

But halfway decent is no substitute for utterly delicious.  Chipotle, why don’t you come here and stay a while?  We’d love to have you down under, and I really think it would be beneficial for the locals to have you here in their great country.  I promise I'll visit every week if you are here, or even more often!

I miss you.  Write back soon.


p.s.  Would you please send me a burrito via overnight airmail?  Chicken, rice, black beans, medium salsa, tomatoes, sour cream, extra cheese, and some lettuce.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Twink Kangaroo Education Initiative

The other day I was waiting at the bus stop outside of Coles (a big supermarket chain in Australia) when I noticed a twink and sugar daddy sitting next to me.  For those of you who don't know what a twink is (those of you over 35 or those of you suffering from extreme cases of heterosexuality), here is the definition from

An attractive, boyish-looking, young gay man. The stereotypical twink is 18-22, slender with little or no body hair, often blonde, dresses in club wear even at 10:00 AM, and is not particularly intelligent. A twink is the gay answer to the blonde bimbo cheerleader.

Anyway, the twink was very excited because of one the purchases in his shopping bag:  a cut of kangaroo meat.

He pulled the raw meat out of the bag (which is gross, because even when packaged up tightly, that shit can still leak) and began to read aloud the description on the back of the meat to his sugar daddy.  Boy, did I learn a lot from that little twink thing!

Did you know that kangaroo meat is the healthiest red meat available?  It's high in protein and extremely lean - about 2% fat.  It has the highest levels of CLA - some type of something that is found is most meats - which helps reduce body fat and maintain weight, acts an an anti-carcinogen, and does a bunch of other really good stuff.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, just wait - there's more!  Kangaroo meat is better for the environment!  Who knew?  Kangaroos hop - so they are gentler on the soil and don't destroy native grasses like cattle, sheep, and other livestock do.  In addition, they require less feed and can better withstand drought than other animals farmed for food.  And it says all this right on the package!

So next time you're out to eat and you see kangaroo on the menu, think about ordering it instead of beef, pork, or lamb.  It's good for you, and it's good for the Earth.

Who knew that a twink could teach me so much?  His older sugar daddy didn't seem to care at all.  It's ok, little twink.  I'm listening.  You can come home with me.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Margaret Thatcher's Frigid Hole

For those of you who know me, you know I'm a huge nerd.  I play Boggle.  I play Scrabble.  And I love trivia.  Especially trivia at a pub where beer is involved.

I had two weekly trivia nights in Seattle.  The first was at Finn McCool's Irish Pub for about a year when I first arrived in Seattle.  My team was good - so good in fact that me and our team's other MVP made the trivia's MySpace page top 8 friends for months.  This was, of course, back when MySpace was the shit.  Now it's just shit.  The second trivia was more recently - for my last few months in Seattle - at The Monkey Pub.  We had some good weeks, and with both of my teams, our team names rocked and always got the attention of the hosts and others.

So, what did I do when I arrived in Sydney?  I scoped out trivia nights.  There's a ton here.  A ton!

So far I've been to two.  The first was on my birthday - yay! - at the Light Brigade Bar.  It was hard.  HARD.  Our brave team came in 10th out of 11 teams.  Booo.  Last night we decided to check out the trivia at Durty Nelly's Irish Pub.  This girl from LA was at the table next to us and she was totally like "Well, we're the reigning champions" and I was like "Oooo, I'm shivering."  We showed that bitch.  1st place, baby!

We won a $100 gift card to the restaurant/pub where the trivia is held AND this groovy t-shirt:

Special shout out to Ross for all his help!  And to my roomies and their posse of foreigners (we had people from Australia, USA, Brazil, Indonesia, and Croatia - Damn, Gina!)

Oh - and I bet you're wondering what Margaret Thatcher's Frigid Hole has to do with this, aren't you?

That was our team name.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

So, What's In That Muffin?

My first few days here, I kept seeing this word around town:  Sultana.

What the heck is a sultana?  I saw it mostly at bakeries and restaurants.  Upon researching the topic, I found the following definitions:

1.  A wife or concubine of a sultan
2.  A sister, daughter, or mother of a sultan
3.  A mistress, especially of a king or other royal personage
4.  A small, seedless raisin

If only 1 out of 4 definitions describe a raisin, does that mean that when I order a "sultana muffin" there's a 75% chance that the contents of the muffin are made from some deceased royal woman or concubine?  And if so, can I pick which one?  I'd rather have the sister, mother, or wife baked into my morning pastry than a concubine or mistress.  I imagine the muffins from the whore sultanas may have STDs or something and I'd hate to walk away from the breakfast table with gonorrhea.  That'd be the last time I ever ate at that bakery!  Also, how do they keep sultanas (definitions 1 through 3) fresh in those boxes of Sultana Bran at the supermarket?

On second thought, can I switch my order to the blueberry or chocolate chip muffin?  Thanks.

In other news, I learned yesterday that cantaloupe is called rockmelon in Australia.  Rockmelon does not rhyme with antelope and is therefore far less fun than cantaloupe.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Silly Norwegians

This week marked a milestone for me here in Sydney.  On Thursday, I was mistaken for an Aussie!  It's been less than three weeks and already people are thinking I'm a local?  What kind of stupid people could think this?

Norwegians.  That's who.

I was walking down the street when two nice Norwegian girls stopped me to ask me for directions to the Sydney Opera House.  Hahahahaha!  Suckers!  With my directions, they could have ended up in Perth for all I know.  Or Turkmenistan.

But you know what?  I knew exactly where to go.  From the bus stop to the right bus route and then what to do when they got off the bus.  Hmmm.  Maybe I'm a local now?

Not yet.  Not until I get a job.

And try Vegemite.  Yuck.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Greatest Accomplishment Thus Far

Today I am excited to report that I accomplished something very, very great.  Today, just today, I went to EVERY single Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop on the entire continent of Australia!  Every one.  ALL of them.  Can you believe it?!?!?  I feel so accomplished.  Not many people can get to every single Ben & Jerry's in their country ever, but I did all of Australia in just one day!  And Australia is a HUGE ASS country!  What a feat!

I had a double scoop in a waffle cone - typical, safe Vanilla with exciting, exotic Phish Food to complement it perfectly.  Oh Ben!  Oh Jerry!  Who knew something like this could come out of Vermont?!?

What?  What's that?  Oh.  Well, yes, I'm aware that there's only one Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop in all of Australia.  It just opened in November.  So, what's your point?

Whatever.  It's still an accomplishment.  And it still counts.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sit Back Down, Queen

This is just so bizarre that I had to blog about it, even though I just posted a new entry yesterday.

Last night I went out to dinner with my new friends Roy and Dave from the gay Jewish group (yes, there is a group just for gay Jews here in Sydney!)  They invited three of their friends: two nice Jewish guys and one of their goy boyfriends (for those of you not of the Jewish persuasion, a "goy" is a non-Jew and the term is often used disparagingly, and I intend for it to be inferred that way here.)

We're all sitting around the table at this nice Italian/Mediterranean restaurant just getting acquainted with one another and making some small talk.  We take our sweet time looking over the menu as we chit chat.  At one point, the waitress comes over and asks if we have any questions.  The goy inquires as to whether or not the restaurant serves lasagna.  They don't.  I guess lasagna is more traditional Italian rather than Mediterranean Italian.  Whatever.

A while later the waitress comes back and takes our order, starting with one guy and going clockwise around the table.  I order the spinach and ricotta ravioli with roasted tomatoes.  It was very good, but that's irrelevant.

The goy is last to order.  He asks the waitress if they have tortellini, which apparently is also more of a traditional Italian dish because it, like the lasagna, was not served at this restaurant.

So what happens next?  Well, I guess the goy really wanted lasagna or tortellini, because he just got up and left.  Didn't even say goodbye.  He just stood up and walked off in a hurry.  His boyfriend ran after him but couldn't find him.  He must've jumped in a taxi real fast.  You might expect something like this from some bitchy 20-year old twink thing, but all of these men are in their late 30's and seem to be well-adjusted.  I guess there is an exception to every rule.

Now, I'm a foodie, but I'm a picky eater.  I won't eat beef, pork, fish, seafood, lamb, ostrich, or any other meat except for chicken and turkey, and I can't stand mushrooms, avocado, olives, tofu, asparagus, and the list goes on... If I can find something to eat - and actually have trouble deciding on what I want because of the plethora of options - well, then this bitch should've been on easy street.  There's just no excuse, unless you're gluten or lactose intolerant, which he obviously wasn't since he was craving lasagna.  So sit back down, shut up, and order something off the damn menu.

The waitress later asked if that guy was going to get a second date.  His partner embarrassingly informed her that they'd been dating for four years.  Poor fellow.

And just for you to see, here is a link to the restaurant's website and menu.  Sounds tasty, right?  He missed out.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Falafel Fiasco

Have you ever tasted something so disgusting that you just had to throw it away and go hungry?

That doesn't happen to me very often.  Actually, I can't even remember the last time that's happened to me.  For those of you who have ever met me, you know I'm a foodie.  I love food, and I know what types of food I love, and when I find those types of food, I just eat it all up.  That explains the gut.  But whatever.  It's yummy.

One of my favorite foods is falafel.  Ok, it's not my top top favorite food.  That would be macaroni and cheese (duh).  But it's up there.  Top 10 for sure.  Good falafel is amazing, and even bad falafel is just mediocre.  I had falafel pretty much everyday for three weeks when I was in Israel.  It's really hard to screw it up too bad.  Like, really frickin' hard to screw it up bad.

Except in Australia, apparently.

WTF AUSTRALIA?  I've had falafel twice here and Jesus H. Christ both times were just terrible.  The first time I had it at a place in a food court.  It was bad.  It was so bad that I considered not finishing it.  But I finished, because alas it is falafel and it (usually) makes me happy.  I washed it down with some gelato.  After this episode, however, I was wary.

The other night I was walking down Oxford Street when I passed by a Turkish place that had a big sign that said "Falafel".  YAY!  It looked authentic and good.  So, I got a falafel wrap.  I took it home.  I began to eat it.  And you know what?

It tasted like shit.


It was BITTER and it made my mouth pucker.  Not the kind of fun, sweet/sour lemon in your mouth pucker.  No.  This was the "one more bite and I just might vomit in the corner" type of pucker.  It was awful.  I just can't imagine what they did to fuck it up so bad.  I couldn't finish it.  I threw it away.  Yes, me - Phill Brown - THREW AWAY FALAFEL.  Somebody call Dateline NBC because we have a serious issue here.  It was falafel.  With some hummus.  And tzatziki sauce.  And some tomatoes and lettuce.  On a pita.  I just don't get how you can go wrong?  It's unfathomable.

Luckily I had also ordered a large fries (or "chips" as they are called here), and their version of large was ginormous.  So I had something to eat at least.

But I was pissed.  And I still am.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Do I Look Like I'm From Winnipeg?

"Are you Canadian?"

I've been asked that three times so far.  Aussies have a hard time distinguishing between American and Canadian accents.  I imagine most people would, so it's not their fault.  But, they always ask "Are you Canadian?"  Not once have I been asked "Are you American?"  I did have a taxi driver ask me if I was British.  But he was old.  And a bit confused.  And my teeth are actually quite nice, thank you very much.  Pish.

Canada's population is about 34 million, compared to a US population of around 308 million.  That means that there are roughly 9 times more Americans than Canadians.  It is easier for Canadians to travel to Australia than it is for Americans, visa wise at least, but I imagine the few extra hours on the plane would deter a few more Canadians.  Therefore, I expect a proportionate 9:1 ratio of American to Canadian tourists visiting the land down under.

So why do they keep asking me if I'm Canadian?

It's because Canadians get a little offended to be confused for an American.  Rightfully so I guess.  But Americans don't seem to mind being confused for a Canadian.  Unless the Americans in question are from Mississippi, Arkansas, or one of the other crappy states in the middle.  Those Americans, though, don't travel too much because (1) they think America is just tops and don't feel like seeing any other country (2) the great public school systems in those states probably taught them that Australia is on Mars or (3) they couldn't get enough vacation time off from the Piggly Wiggly.

So what do I say when I'm asked "Are you Canadian?"

"No, but I wish I was."  I'll take the universal healthcare and gay rights.  Bring it on.