Eat here: Sookie La La, Melbourne V.2

Sookie La La
593 High St, Northcote
http://www.sookielaladiner.com.au/

It’s hard to believe it was September 2015 when I first visited and blogged about this place… since then, it’s become our favourite Sunday breakfast nook and feels like a second home 🙂

Almost 18 months since that first visit, nothing about Sookie La La is slipping. The service is wonderful, prompt, and most importantly, welcoming and friendly. The booths are perfect – your own private little breakfast nooks. And the standard of the food is still top notch – it’s simple, homely, comforting food that makes you feel like you’re in a favourite aunt’s home.

Husband’s new favourite thing in the world is their fried chicken on waffles. You can probably see why. But tasting it is another story – the waffles are soft and fluffy, and the chicken is perfectly white and tender on the inside, with the perfect crunch on the outside. We’ve eaten a bit of fried chicken, but Sookie La La’s is both of our favourite.

I went with the reuben sandwich, the towering king of bread and corned beef and sauerkraut and pickles and cheese and Russian dressing. This is a proper sandwich. For breakfast or lunch, it’s just magic.

After a long week, when we roll up to their glass front door on a Sunday morning and slide into one of the beautiful wooden booths, it really feels like home. We both seem to sigh in relief as we sit down to a hot pot of strong tea for me and a chocolatey coffee for the husband, always brought over by the ever-smiling lady of the house, and we know that no matter what we order, it’s going to be delicious. We’ve spent many hours planning our #👫WorldTour there. Talking about our weeks at work. Mulling over problems that need solving. Discussing our plans for the future and remembering all of the good and bad from the past. We eventually look out at the street through the shuttered windows with the Sunday morning light streaming in, and reluctantly slide out of our booth to get on with the day. Always knowing we’ll be back soon 🙂

Sookie La La Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

What I love about living in Australia

In the words of one of my husband’s good friends (who sadly passed away a few years ago), “how good’s Australia?!” While tomorrow’s Australia Day means a lot of different things to different people, to me, it essentially represents the time to take pause and celebrate the good fortune living here has afforded my family and I.

My family are of Italian origin. Like many other Italians of their generation, my grandparents came to Australia looking to create a better life for themselves and their young families. In turn, I, like many others of my generation, have had the blessing of growing up in not only one of the most stable, but also one of the most multicultural countries in the world.

I feel absolutely blessed to be a grown woman who has the best of both worlds. Comparing upbringings with my husband, we had a lot of differences. While he grew up at the park with backyard BBQs, interacting only really with his immediate family, and kicking the footy around with the neighbours, I was lunching on Lygon St with my extended family most weekends, bottling tomato sauce with one set of grandparents, and learning to pluck and gut chickens with the other (yes, really). He was eating ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch; I had mortadella and provolone. He went to AFL games with his parents; we went to mass read in Italian with our grandparents. That was the Italian side.

We also had some similarities, from the Aussie part of my upbringing – party food favourites included meat pies with the lids torn off and filled with tomato sauce (ketchup), sausage rolls dunked in tomato sauce, and BBQd sausages in bread, also smothered in tomato sauce. We both learnt to swim as early as we could walk and enjoyed lots of family beach holidays, and we enjoyed frequent walks down to the milk bar with a handful of coins with which to buy a handful of lollies. And you know what else?

 

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Things that make being an Aussie fun…
– We live on a giant island. That means we’re generally never more than a few hours from the beach, the forest or the mountains.
– Tim Tams, lamingtons, ANZAC biscuits, Cherry Ripe, fairy bread, Fantales.
– Chris Hemsworth, Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger.
– You can use the same words to describe a mate and an enemy; it’s all in the tone you use.
– Everyone’s name can be shortened somehow. And the already really short names are better lengthened. Everyone must have a nickname.
– We’re also bloody lazy and shorten as many words as possible. We have breaky, not breakfast. Your wife is your darl, not your darling. You’ll be wanting another bev, not a beverage. And you’ll need to fire up the barbie, not the barbecue.
– Everyone knows the first verse of the national anthem, no one has a clue what the next verse is. And that’s ok, because the first verse is the only one that ever gets played.
– We’re totally cool with our national heroes being a bushranger and a race horse.
– Travelling to Asia is great – I just got to and from Tokyo with a nice, fat suitcase for about AUD$550.00.
– At one stage in the 1950s, a bloke made the Guinness Book of World Records for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. He went on the become our country’s Prime Minister.

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Frustrating things about living here…
– Groceries cost a bloody fortune.
– Don’t even think about taking your date to the movies for under $50. Just for tickets.
– The weather is demented. Last week, Melbourne had a 42°C (107°F) day, followed by a 17°C (62°F) day… ??!
– Bushfires and floods are a very real threat.
– Just about every animal in this country can kill you. Sharks, crocodiles, snakes, spiders… Even the cute ones. Kangaroos are violent AF and koalas have chlamydia.
– Who’s even running the country today?
– Melbourne’s public transport situation. No trains from the airport to the city. Nor do they run on time. Embarrassing.
– We have several sports that qualify as “footy.” You have to be specific.
– Travelling anywhere but South East Asia is a bitch. 14 hours Melbourne to LA, or around 22 hours to Europe. Bleh..

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But, fun (and absurd) stuff aside, living here has blessed me with a good life. I was born into a country where women are more equal to men than in many other parts of the world. I grew up taking for granted the fact that I had a full education, because I never knew until much older than many women don’t automatically get that. In turn, that education has afforded me to work hard enough to earn the money to buy my own home and travel extensively.

That’s another thing – I can work. I am lucky to live in a country where women are not expected to stay at home and have children at a young age. I am able to come at go at my leisure, without male accompaniment. I am able to spend my money as I wish, dress as I wish, get tattooed and wear make up and drive and play sports.

I was blessed enough to be born into this country with a very stable economy and government, where coups and war and the such have not affected my generation first hand. I have the ability to step out of my home in the morning without fear of bombs and shootings and soldiers confronting me.

I have the honour of sharing this country with hundreds of other nationalities and cultures and lifestyles. I have friends who are Asian and European, gay and straight, Catholic and atheist. Walking down the main street near my home, I can get Japanese, Indian, Fijian, Macedonian, Turkish and Italian food. I share a community with these people, and everyone exists harmoniously. I see a little old Greek lady purchasing apples from an Italian grocer from a young Vietnamese girl manning the cash register.  They smile and chat and know each others’ names, somehow communicating with smiles through heavy accents and big age gaps. It doesn’t matter. I know not every area is like this, but the area I live in is, and I am blessed to be a part of it.

I have the privilege of living in a country where education and health care are readily available. I can turn on my kitchen tap and automatically have clean, safe drinking water. I can jump on a train and be in a big, fascinating, beautiful city within 20 minutes. Or I can walk a few hundred metres and have a picnic by a lake in a beautiful park.

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We truly are the lucky country. I know that as the world struggles through tough times, we’ll inevitably feel it here, too. But we’ve been through tough times before, and the Aussie battler spirit will get us through, as it always has. If you’re a fellow Aussie, I hope you celebrate a little tomorrow, and appreciate just how good we have it here 🙂 And if you’ve not visited before, we’d love to have you! We know we’re a long way from everywhere else, but we promise it’s worth the trip!

S2, Ep1: one year on, leaving my heart in New Orleans, and thanking you all

Don’t worry, you’re in the right place – it’s still me, I’ve just decided as a first birthday present to the blog, I’d honour the journey of the past 12 months a little better with a new and more fitting name, a facelift and a bit of a make over! A whole year… crazy!

I started this blog because I needed an outlet, and writing is what I’ve always turned to, as both a creative and emotional outlet. I’ve spent my whole life writing; even as a kid, I never went anywhere without a pencil and paper. When I started writing here 12 months ago, I was finally starting to find myself and what makes me happy instead of putting all of my energy into trying to conform to what I thought I was “supposed” to be. In short, I was feeling pretty ordinary. I had crazy dreams, but I, myself, felt an ordinary little thing. It’s a hard lesson to learn that you actually don’t need to give a damn about what other people think of your choices, nor do you need to justify what you’re doing to anyone else. The things I like doing are what this blog is all about – travelling and eating and cooking and reading and learning and exploring, hence the name change! It’ll also hopefully make things a little easier for people to find me in cyberspace amongst the plethora of other blogs out there.

I read something ages ago, and can’t remember where I read it, but someone had been interviewed and said that they thought of blogs as a sort of a high tech time capsule – once something’s on the internet, it’s there forever, like it or not. I like the idea that in 100 years, maybe someone else sees some of this, and knows what the world was like for me and my generation. How extraordinary our dreams were, what we worked for, what we ate and what we read. I don’t flatter myself that I’m interesting or important enough for that, but you never know…

So, even though I write this primarily for me (which is why I write and post pretty much every day; it is literally my outlet and keeps me sane!), THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to everyone who’s read what I’ve had to say over the past year. Thank you for taking time out of your day to look at my photos and read my stories and leave your comments and share it all with me – now, I’m writing for you guys, too!

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I’ve also given the site a little change in appearance and photos – I thought after a year it was time 🙂 This post explained a bit about why I chose that photo I took in Egypt as the photo you’d first see when you visited my blog. That’s changed now; the first image you’ll see now will be New Orleans. For the same reason that you saw Egypt for the first 12 months – that city changed me, again.

It’s hard to really explain why. It’s another world. It wasn’t America, it was something all it’s own. You couldn’t pigeon hole it or really pin it down. It didn’t really conform to anything or fit any one definite box. That’s how I felt as a person when I got to New Orleans. Which, ironically enough, made me feel like I finally did fit and belong. People there did their thing, their own thing, without any fear. They were free. As someone who’s spent the best part of her life held back by fear, I was hypnotised by the thought of it. I had a lot of time to sit and think, over a cup of tea and some Café du Monde beignets. I wanted to make some changes in this new year. I felt like 2014 was my warm up, my pre-game. I was preparing myself, mentally, for shit to get real. I had all these things I wanted to do, but was too scared to actually just try them. I might fail. People might judge me. It might be the wrong thing. Maybe I’ll regret it later. Maybe I’ll regret not doing it…

I saw a psychic in New Orleans. We’d never met, obviously, but she was disturbingly accurate on everything she told me. It wasn’t a case of “you’re doing to die at this time and win the lotto with these numbers;” rather, she put a voice to my inner thoughts. Things I’d been thinking for a long time and hadn’t shared with anyone, not my sister or best friend or husband. She confirmed everything I had been thinking about. It was almost like she was my way out of fear, the “it’s meant to happen for you, so just get on with it” that I needed. I bought myself a silver ring at a little silversmith on a tiny street to remind me of that.

I’m back home now and, having taken her advice seriously, things are changing. Or, rather, I’m changing things. I’m starting a new job next week. I’ve booked a trip to Japan for later in the year. I’m making time for real friendships and letting go of toxic ones. I’m trying to trust more and love more, despite the possible consequences. I’m looking after my body a little better. I’m making time to read and write and draw again and tinker on my piano. And the hardest part of all, cliche be damned, I am trying to follow my heart and disregard the preconceptions and judgments of others.

I might have only been there a few days, but New Orleans was so good for me. It changed my soul. I felt like a completely different person there, and I’ll never be able to fully understand why. Maybe it was being around musicians and cooks and writers and artists and bohemians – I’m a bit of all of those at heart. It gave me the one thing I desperately needed. I can’t tell you exactly what that was, but I got it there, and my soul feels so much happier now  : )  So, thanks for sticking with me this long, I hope you guys hang around for a bit longer, because even though I started this for me, it wouldn’t be the same without all of you! On that note, let the adventure continue!

Photo Journal: My grandparents’ garden

I consider myself to be supremely lucky – not only do I belong to a fairly close-knit, fairly traditional Italian family, but I am 28 years old and have only recently lost my first grandparent. The other three are all still with me, and not only that, but they’re all strong. I think that comes from the way they were raised; to be strong, self-sufficient, always fighting and always preparing for another day.

 

Dad’s parents’ house has always been a hub for important family events, bringing together both sides of the family. We gather there for birthdays, anniversaries, special holidays. Our big one is Christmas Eve, for what us grandkids have dubbed “The Feast.” Traditional Italian Christmas Eves involve a lot of seafood, and just food in general. Our family makes no exception to this rule, with the family gathering to feast on calamari, prawns, lobster, all fresh from the market. Salads, pasta, meat, potatoes, it’s all there! And all help on the back decking of their house, overlooking their big, beautiful yard, complete with one hell of a veggie patch, fruit trees of every kind, and a wood fired pizza oven that has it’s own little house.

 

Not long ago, I thought I needed to capture some of the beauty of this backyard, the place I’d grown up in. The yard I’d run around, ridden through on a tractor, climbed trees to look over, torn party dresses while climbing fences on “adventures” with my sisters and cousins. It’s where I’ve always eaten good food, then learnt to cook it as I got older, picked mulberries and figs off trees, using the lemons that had fallen off the giant, central lemon tree as projectile weapons against my sisters and cousins, and in turn being hit hard with more. It’s where I’ve taken part in the annual tomato-sauce making, watched my grandmothers drink wine and giggle like teenagers while gossiping in Italian, where my grandfathers have talked and talked and watched us kids with serene, satisfied smiles, and where I have both literally and figuratively grown up. It’s something I want shared and immortalised, because it’s really special. I hope everyone has a special place like this in their lives  and I’d love to hear about some of them  : )

 

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

 

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014