The Swiss Club Victoria: Flinders Lane, CBD

Arriving at the Swiss Club I initially thought I was in the wrong place. Granted in hindsight there is a menu by the front door, but the entrance to the restaurant on the first floor is in Swiss. They could perhaps put “restaurant” in English in brackets to help out the non-Swiss speakers in Melbourne!

The restaurant was warm and homely with various Swiss décor giving the place a touch of cultural flare whilst not making any guests feel like they don’t quite fit in. Quickly seated, the staff then took 20 minutes to make it to the table to grab my order, even though the place wasn’t busy.

Once ordered the food quickly arrived; a huge steaming pot of cheesy fondue deliciousness along with a mountain of bread and hillocks of crisp green apple, potato roti and assorted traditional sausages. The chef gave a quick demonstration and away I went, tucking straight in I quickly realised that making a dent on the litre of cheese was going to be a struggle; thank goodness I wasn’t taking on this challenge alone.

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The bread provided was thick and spongy, the prefect cheese absorbing accompaniment. The green apple gave a refreshing zing and changed up the flavours, and the sausages were juicy, each with different tastes. The roti wasn’t ideal for dipping as it refused to be stabbed with the fondue folk, but a little ingenuity (sticking it on to cheese dipped bread) helped it provide a crunchy texture to an otherwise soft dish.

The fondue experience was thoroughly enjoyable, but the cheesy taste did get a little repetitive towards the end of the pot. That said it was also more-ish in a way only cheese can be, and there was little chance of me putting down my fondue folk ahead of time.

At full price the dishes described above come in at just over $80 with a glass of wine each. This is pretty pricey, so look out for vouchers where this meal can be grabbed at half the cost. I think this dish would work great at a third of the size for lunch, or even smaller as a starter as the cheese does get a little repetitive. That said this is fun as a one off, but not one to be dipping into very often.

Swiss Club of Victoria on Urbanspoon

Submarine – the first movie offering from Richard Ayoade

Ayoade has given us some awesome viewing material over the last few years, from Garth Marenghi’s Dark Side, to Saboo in the Mighty Boosh and the successful TV comedy the IT Crowd. Submarine is no exception, its dark in places, it’s comedic and it kept me glued to the screen throughout.Submarine

Our protagonist, Oliver Tate, is an insensitive control freak lacking boundary all wrapped up in the insecurity and selfishness of a teenage body. He’s the intelligent kid who can’t get past his creative, number crunching brain to stick to social convention long enough to become accepted.  He wants to be accepted by his peers, willing to bully the fat kid, but also is plagued with guilt when said fat kid moves schools, over analysing details to the point of distraction. His social deficiencies are magnified by his love interest throughout the film, the pretty, popular pyromaniac Jordana. Banning all emotion, the pair embarks on a romance unlike other teenage relationships: No hand holding, no sloppy kissing behind the bike shed is permitted under her strict governance.

As many teenagers experience, family life is not easy for either of our young lovers. Oliver has his mother under infidelity surveillance whilst Jordana’s mother is critically ill. Rather than supporting each other, Oliver finds that he cannot share he worries as Jordana’s problem trumps his, so tries to play the part of the supportive boyfriend. This comes crashing around him as teenage selfishness and fear step in and he fails to make it to the hospital when he is most needed. From this point Oliver’s two goals are to prevent his parents separation (however unorthodox his methods) and rekindle his romance with Jordana. I wouldn’t want to spoil it, so will say no more.

Overall the film is confidently produced for Ayoade’s first shot at movie production. There are some beautiful and desolate scenes which portray both the scene and emotion fantastically, and truly beautiful use of light and dark. The characters are connected to their landscape in the way I believe many teenagers do, exploring and affirming their presence in the world through small acts of violence (burning junk, throwing stuff and generally sitting around in their patch, or bath tub in this case). There are some great comedic moments throughout which lighten an otherwise dark narrative. The flick generally feels quite self-aware, and the characters are perhaps a little exaggerated in their weirdness, but this is a great watch and I personally look forward to seeing more from Ayoade in the near future.

Thoughts on Snow Crash By Neal Stephenson

Snow Crash, written in ’92 by Neal Stephenson is a whirlwind tour through a vision of a future Earth. The cultural and political environment sets the scene for a novel with where order and chaos are entwined, with many fractions having their own law and agenda. With new technologies detailed on almost every page, there’s plenty to keep those imaginative juices flowing throughout the read. Throw in a plot line underpinned by Sumerian and Biblical myth, linguistics and semiotics and a dash of computer basics, and you’ve got yourself a whole load of information to upload.

The technological advances are simple enough to grasp, are well written and appear throughout the text, but the mythic references are largely covered in single chapters which can make the complex connections a little hard to digest for those new to the fields discussed. It feels as though Stephenson did the research for specific chapters, and specific conversations, such as between Hiro and the Librarian and later Hiro, Uncle Enzo and Ng in case he reader didn’t quite get it the first time round. This does seem to separate the reasons for the action from the action itself, making it very easy to forget the high stakes.

The characters are rather two-dimensional, supported by their technologies. If the futuristic tech was stripped away, there wouldn’t be much left of our main characters, especially Hiro who is ‘the hacker’ and not much else. Y.T has more substance, but more often than not is portrayed as a cocky teenager. Other characters are introduced as dropped at will, such as Y.T’s mother who is ditched in a painful polygraph test only to be mentioned at the novels close when Y.T needs a lift home.

The alternate reality, or Metaverse, where many of the characters reside throughout the text is well described and easily imagined. Although I do appreciate that reading this 11 years after its publication I have the benefit of media releases such as the Matrix Trilogy and gaming developments such as Second Life.
The book is an enjoyable read, with plenty of fights, a dash of sex and a whole heap of futuristic tech. There are many comical puns, mechanical dog musings, and creative character names to keep the reader going, including the name of the protagonist – Hiro Protagonist. Overall I do feel the novel ended rather suddenly, with many loose ends. The characters are only constructed through the technologies they use, one exception to this could be Raven, but his character is only explored in any depth towards the end, just before he is killed off.
Snow Crash is a fun read with interested themes; but lacks the characterisation which makes a reader care about their fates.

 

Sezana’s Coffee Shop: Clarendon Street, South Melbourne

South Melbourne is a great suburb to grab a bite, with the market close by and loads of little cafes, there’s something to suit all tastes. Today I nipped into Sezana’s Coffee Shop and was surprised to find the food sub-standard, especially with so many great places in competition close by.

Summer Burger - more like Sickly BurgerI was pretty peckish so grabbed a Summer Burger and Chips, at $9.50 just for the burger; I expected something juicy and tasty. What I got was quite the opposite. The burger patty was thin and dry, not tasting of much at all; I wouldn’t be surprised if this had come from the supermarket value section. The avocado was very mild tasting, and pineapple (tinned) was very bland – I’m quite unsure how they managed to sap the flavour out of these ingredients. Even the bacon didn’t taste of much and was obviously very cheap.

The chips were not even seasoned and were about as boring as chips can possibly be. We were given a pot of watery tomato sauce, but this didn’t improve the flavour.

The decor and atmosphere in here is rustic and relaxed, but the food is very poor for the price. Their coffee seemed popular, but I didn’t want to hand over any more money to try one. I’ll never step foot in this place again.

Sezanas Coffee Shop on Urbanspoon

Related Post: Scoping Sezanas Coffee Shop by Foodsider

Around the Bay in a Day: Registration

I’ve never taken part in a charity fund-raising event, and I’ve never cycled more than 50km in a single day. So Signing up to the Bupa ‘Around the Bay’ 210 km event is a fairly large undertaking, but one that I can’t wait to get stuck into.

Since I heard about the event almost a year ago I’ve wanted to give it a go. Get trained, get fit, get completely exhausted to a good cause, but last year we were still travelling in the camper van and missed out. This year is still a little sketchy, as we don’t yet have a visa that allows us to stay in the country longer than September 10th. The event is October 20th. Fingers crossed for the visa!

There are a few things that will be challenging over the next few months, apart from the obvious training schedule. I’ve never ridden in a large group before, so will have to find a way to practice. I’m a little nervous of getting in the way of others, or causing an accident because I’m not aware of the protocol.

Smith Family LogoThe other small issue is the fundraising. Asking for sponsorship or money of any kind is defiantly not something I feel very comfortable with, but the cause is more important than my insecurities. So here I am, I’ll add more information about the charity, training and everything else as I go along, watch this space for pain, stress and cycling antics over the coming months.

Top Queensland Beaches: Carlo Sandblow

Carlow Sandblow is located just to the south of Rainbow Beach, which in itself is just to the south of the most southern point of Fraser Island. The Sandblow can be accessed by taking a short bush walk from a car park which is located at the top of Cooloola Drive in Rainbow Beach.

So what is Carlo Sandblow?Carlo Sandblow

The best way I can describe it is a huge bowl of sand sitting atop a cliff. Covering 15 hectares, the Sandblow offers beautiful views of the ocean to the east and staggering forests to the west. The sand is soft and deep, great for running crazily and fooling about, which is just what I did.

There is not much vegetation in the Sandblow itself, so little shade from the blistering sun. There are also no facilities, so along with a hat, bring plenty of water. That said it’s only a short walk from the car park, so any essentials can easily be picked up when needed.

It’s probably not going to entertain everyone all day, but the Sandblow is not to be missed. Look out for cardboard left on the sides of the bowl or bring along a body-board if you have one handy as the Sandblow is great for sand-boarding. Just choose an area free from obstruction and drag that board on up. Go face-first or feet-first, but try to keep your mouth closed on decent unless you enjoy eating sand.

TOP TIP: There are even organised tours up to the Sandblow, if you’re here solo and are without a board, a cheeky smile to the guide might get you a free pass to use their boards.

When to Visit…Sand-boarding

I was there in the beginning of August and it was beautifully warm without being overpowering. There were few other visitors and by the end of the day I had the sunset to myself.

If you doubt for a second the awesome-ness of this place, check out these rave reviews on Trip Advisor and get this staggering cliff-beach location added to the bucket list.