My kingdom for a Taco
The kids like going to Taco Bills – a Mexican franchise chain in Melbourne that I have been frequenting for more than thirty years. It is not related to Taco Bell, the large US Mexican franchise. Our plan for Sunday was simple. Drive to the famous Victoria Markets, wander around and shop a little before heading down to Collins St for a Taco lunch washed down with a Mexican slushy.
The first part of the plan went well with us standing on the edge of the markets munching on Churros sprinkled in icing sugar and dipped into a hot chocolate sauce. We then wandered through the markets and purchased some t-shirts before taking a stroll through the wonderfully cosmopolitan delicatessen section of the market next to the meat section where the butchers call out the meat tray prices in deep melodic voices appearing to contradict their tough image as butchers.
The cooked Bratwurst with toppings looked and smelt wonderful as we burst through the last part of the deli section out onto Elizabeth Street and started our walk down past the shops and shoppers.
The walk down to Taco Bills was quite long for young legs and made even longer when we discovered that it was shut. With a city full of restaurants we turned and made our way back down Elizabeth Street. Being Christmas and Sunday the streets were packed. As we approached the Bourke Street Mall I remembered that there was a Pancake Parlour and asked if that was a suitable lunch destination. A gleeful yes confirmed that I had made a great second choice. We turned and crossed to where I remembered the Pancake Parlour was located, opposite the old Post Office.
Construction signs and tape blocked the entrance to the escalator that led down to the Pancake Parlour. Thwarted again. We crossed over to look at the Myer Christmas Windows but a combination of the queue length, security guards and 4 hungry children meant that I had to act fast.
We headed back along Elizabeth and were about to pop into one of the three or so Korean restaurants when I remembered that we passed an “Old Town White Coffee” restaurant which is a Malaysian Franchise that Joe and I had visited along with Ralph and Sarah when we visited Kedah in Malaysia for the school basketball competition. As it turns out this is the only restaurant in Australia out of 242 franchise restaurants from this chain.
In we went and ordered our meals. The décor and kitchen smells took me back to the great time we had in Malaysia. After our meal we headed back through the markets with the intention of heading down to Southland for an icecream.
I had underestimated the efficiency of the city’s parking inspectors and returned to find a $76 dollar fine taped to our windscreen.
Into the car we piled and headed off down King Street. Traffic was at a crawl and with my mantle as Director of Entertainment for the kids starting to slip a little, I thought I would cut across town, take a scenic drive along Alexandra Avenue, show off Joe’s new school and we would get to Southland and I would be able to rescue this day.
I didn’t know that roads around Fitzroy Gardens were blocked off because a giant water slide over 300 metres long was going to be set up for 8000 people.
After negotiating that detour and driving past the iconic MCG we made it onto Alexandra Avenue, drove past Melbourne High and just as we reached the park near where Joe had undertaken his rowing tryouts, traffic for the third slowed to a pace that would have made a tortoise look like a greyhound. Looking ahead I saw the signs advertising a Japanese Car Meet and sure enough in Como Park which last week was empty, hundreds of cars were parked and even more people than those at the water slide seemed to be milling about.
Just to make things more interesting, VicRoads were carrying out repairs in the same location.
We inched our way along Alexandra Avenue and I began to worry that we might be trapped forever on the network of roads around Melbourne. Patience prevailed and finally like a seedling bursting into sunlight from beneath the soil we emerged onto Dandenong Road and I opted for Chadstone Shopping Centre as our destination.
Arriving at Chadstone we separated for some shopping therapy and I had just started browsing through JB HiFi when my phone rang and Helen informed me that one of the children had tutoring at 3:30pm – which was in 15 minutes time. A quick phone call to round up the kids, back in the car and down to East Bentleigh we went, keeping to the speed limit along Warrigal Road, renowned for delivering fines when only 3km over the speed limit.
We made it right on 3:30 – a small victory on a day that provided a little wake up call for preplanning in a big city and made me proud of the kids who at the end of the day all said they had a great day out.
I had to make up for the Terminated Taco Trip… So when we were all back home after Traffic and Tutoring… What I did was break out the crepe making machine and whipped up a batter that two handfuls of chopped garlic chives in it and then for a filling we had ham, cheese, olives, kim chi, basil, coriander, chilli sauce and spinach leaves all rolled up to look like an Asian, French and Mexican fusion enchilada. Yum!