Day 4: Museums and Fancy Dinner

My second full day in Australia was pretty much on my own, doing whatever I wanted to do, and seeing whatever I wanted to see.  Actually, I had a morning tour scheduled, but the company changed it to another day, and so I was able to fit a few more things on my list in here.

I started my day off by taking the tram all the way down St. Kilda and visiting the Jewish Museum.  If you follow my travels on this blog regularly, you will know that I always try and visit the Jewish museums when on vacation, if there is one.  I think it is important to learn about the Jewish communities all over the world and how they ended up in those locations.  I always feel a connection to the history when I enter a Jewish museum.  Unfortunately the sun was in my face, but I think it ends up making a pretty neat picture.
You can see it a little better when up close.  I was not allowed to take pictures inside, otherwise I would have plenty to share.
They had a nice display of unique Jewish items that represent Australian culture.  They also had plenty of ritual based pieces, like torahs and items for Passover.  It was a nice museum, and I am glad I took the time to travel out there to learn more about the Jewish history in Australia.

My next museum stop for the day was the Old Melbourne Gaol, but I made sure to stop along the way in China Town for some lunch.
After looking up and down the streets, I decided to give Spicy Fish a try.
I picked the vegetable lunch special because everything it came with was vegetarian.  I was going to try a dish dish, but the side dish with it had meat, so I passed.  Notice that they gave me silverware.  I think some of the employees may have been surprised to see that I could handle my own when it comes to chopsticks.  Oh yes!  I have had good practice, and while just 1 year ago I could not use chopsticks, I think I am rather skilled these days.  I had no problems picking up single peanuts or slippery mushrooms.  I was darn proud!  Oh, and the food was really good.  The vegetables were cooked perfectly!
On my way over to the Old Melbourne Gaol, I stopped at Pie Face.  I have passed by so many locations of this place that I decided I needed to go in and see what it was all about.
Wouldn't ya know, I was in luck...they serve coffee here!  How cute is this sign for their coffee.  I went with 'open my eyes' and had this served as an Americano, which in Australia they call a long black.  I am still working on remembering that!

They also serve...shocker...pies!  With faces!  So funny!
With a coffee in hand, I was ready to head up the road to the Old Melbourne Gaol.  This Gaol (jail/prison) was started in 1841, and ready for prisoners in 1850.  With the Gold Rush, crime increased and the Goal expanded in size.  It closed in 1924 and is now a museum.  It is really spooky inside (and said to have ghosts) because they carried out the death penalty, by hanging, inside.
The first stop we made was actually not inside the main building, but instead next door to visit the Watch House, sort of like a holding cell before criminals or accused criminals waited to get a hearing and sentencing.  This part has been closed since 1994.  The Watch House experience is pretty crazy.  You go in and actually get treated as though you are there for a crime.  You basically get taken through the steps of arriving and then processing, which includes being given some background information on what you did to end up there.  My card said I was in there for reckless driving and driving without a license.  Too funny!  After we were taken to a cell and locked in, and lights were turned out, we waited for the guard to let us out.  From that point on we could take pictures.  These next few shots are from inside the Watch House.  They are holding cells.  They are kept in the same condition they were in when the Watch House closed in 1994.

Here I am, very happy to not really have to be kept in a cell like this.

They even had a padded cell.
I guess this works as a good reminder.
In some of the cells they had videos playing with people sharing their stories or acting out in a manner as if they were locked up in there.
This is the women's area for outside time.
I couldn't leave though without stopping to get my mugshot.  I guess I shouldn't really be smiling, but it was funny. 
Out in the courtyard was a grassy area.  I was surprised how many field trips from schools I had seen so far.  Yesterday on the cruise and then this morning in the Jewish museum, and now here at the Gaol.  The kids were just hanging out playing soccer and chatting while waiting for whatever their trip had in store for them next.
The next stop was over across the way to the Goal.  Only the second cell block remains today, and this houses the museum.

Inside you can see there are 3 levels of cells.
The cells contained informational posters about some of the prisoners here.  I took a picture of this one because this guy because I found his story interesting.  He was the son of slaves in Maryland (I am from Maryland, which is why I was interested).  He murdered a prostitute and this is why he was sentenced to death.
Another display I found interesting was this about their diet while in jail.
Even more interesting than the actual portion sizes was this quote about having an adequate diet.  Even back then they had a good understanding of the role of nutrition in health.  If they weren't properly fed, they would be in worse shape, and causing problems for the guards.
This is from the second floor.  Eventually it got spooky for me when I was all the way up top and no one else was around.
This explains the process of hanging the criminals.  Their most notorious inmate here was Ned Kelly.  He is probably the most famous of all criminals in the history of Australia.  He was hung here.
This is the actual place where inmates were, well, put to death!  Creepy!  They would open the floor board and the person would drop, hanging themselves.
I went back downstairs to read more about Ned Kelly, which was definitely fascinating.  This is the gun he last used when he was finally caught and taken here.  It also stated that his mother was being held here, as well, when he was brought in here.  Very interesting, indeed!  I definitely recommend visiting the Old Melbourne Gaol if you are ever in Melbourne.  I loved it!
I am not sure what this building is, but I liked how it looked, so of course I took a picture.
My dinner reservation was still a few hours away, so I decided to look for a little snack.  Wouldn't you know, I found myself a macaron.  This was a salted caramel macaron, and boy was it delicious.
After my snack, I decided to do a little shopping.  I was super happy to come across a lululemon because they don't ship APO (military addresses) and there isn't one in Japan.  I found some really cute stuff, but decided it was best to not go too crazy, so I narrowed it down.  I think I made some good purchases here.
I followed shopping up with a rest in my hotel room and a visit to the hotel rooftop pool and hot tub.  There was an awesome view of the city from up there, but of course I forgot to bring my camera.  Maybe later I will remember and go back to get a picture of the view.

Then came dinner.  In my planning process, I knew I wanted to go to a top rated restaurant in Melbourne.  I went searching for Michelin starred restaurants, only to discover they don't do the Michelin thing in Australia.  A little more research produced a different rating system.  Apparently, they rate by using hats.  So, I quickly searched for restaurants with hats, looking over menus and then seeing what was nearby my hotel.  The end result?  Ezard, which has a 2 hat rating.  I booked in advance so I would make sure I was able to get a table.
I had a tough choice to make because they offer 2 different tasting menus, one of which was vegetarian, or if you don't want all those courses, they do have an a la carte menu.  But my biggest decision was on which tasting menu to get.  After sitting down and ordering this glass of yarra yarra 'phoenix' sauvignon blanc, I was happy to learn that they could be flexible with their tasting menus.
My server did an amazing job of working with my preferences (and even my mint allergy), and helping me create a tasting menu that was best for me.  In the end, I went with not the 8 course vegetarian tasting menu, but a condensed 6 course menu, and then we swapped one of the vegetarian dishes for 1 fish dish.  What a brilliant idea!  I was thrilled my server said this was possible since I know many top restaurants with tasting menus won't do substitutions.

I was served bread, which was good, but I just didn't take a picture of it.  Then came the amuse bouche and my first course, a tofu shooter and a sweet corn and basil soup with red curry oil.  
Here is the soup up close.  It was delicious.
I also enjoyed the tofu shooter, even though I thought this might be a little odd.  It was definitely interesting, but in a good way.
Next came a steamed tofu dish, served with crispy sweet potato on top.
This was followed by sesame rice noodles with asian mushrooms, in a soy mirin broth.  I should also mention that as each dish was served it was explained in detail to you so you knew what you were eating.  I sort of felt like a judge on Chopped!
Next came the homemade gnocchi, and this was topped with manchego cheese, dried olives, cauliflower, and raisins.  It was very good, but by this time I was definitely getting full.
In the meantime, while waiting in between dishes, I started talking to the woman at the table next to me.  Her and her husband were out enjoying a lovely night out to enjoy a great meal.  They were super nice and gave me some good information about places to see in Australia.  I am definitely glad I started a conversation with them.  They were also so kind as to take pictures of me with my fancy, schmancy food.  Here I am with my fish dish, which was the last of my savory dishes.
I know these pictures are dark, but I tried my hardest to get good photos.  Actually, the lighting was much better when I came in, but I swear (I am not paranoid I swear!) there was a server that saw me taking pictures and didn't want me to get nice shots of the food, so he dimmed the lights.  I saw him do it, and I am pretty sure he was looking at me (ok, maybe I am a little paranoid!).  Take my word for it, the food presentation here was beautiful.  Anyway, this was my fish dish.  It was pan roasted baby barramundi (which before coming to Australia I have only tried at FNCE- which is that big nutrition conference I try and go to every year), caramelized eggplant, and a yellow curry dressing.  Boy was I stuffed after this!
Of course there still had to be room for dessert.  To cleanse the palate, this lemon-lime flavored foam was served.  It tasted like a fluffy Sprite.  Whatever it was, it was good.
Here I am, stuffed silly, but still ready to enjoy my dessert.
I was so glad there was nothing else after this because I wasn't so sure I could eat anything else.  This was a chocolate mousse type of dessert, some meringue and blood orange sorbet.  What a great end to a great meal!  Plus, I even got to have a great time talking with the couple sitting next to me.  It was a great night out on the town.  Plus, my mission was successful- to eat a fancy dinner in Australia!
QUESTIONS:  Have you ever toured a prison?  Do you ever dine alone (sadly, Ryan was not able to join me on this trip)? What was the best meal you ever had while traveling? 


Beth said...

It's kind of crazy how much the Gaol looks like the one we visited in Ireland earlier this year.

Lori said...

I always enjoy catching up on your travels. What a great meal! I used to travel with my husband a lot when we lived abroad and he was on business. I dined alone a lot. I, of course, enjoy being with him, but I don't mind to dine alone either.

Roz @ weightingfor50 said...

Hi Melinda, I'm loving following your travels. Thanks for sharing the world with us!!!

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