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The Voyage of Spectacle Restaurants

The Voyage

Spectacles

Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

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Bali, Indonesia

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The Voyage of Spectacle

Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

“The” Sandwich

Posted by: melissa

If you do nothing else in Saigon, you must have “the” sandwich. 

I can’t take credit for finding this, as it has already been well-discussed and well described by several foodie blogs including eGullet (which I use alot), and Noodlepie (fantastic archives on Vietnamese food).

This sandwich is absolutely transcendent — a certifiable “Holy Cow!” moment.  I cannot recall ever having a better commercially available sandwich — anywhere, anytime.  Of course, your mileage may vary, but it’s hard to imagine any person who doesn’t despise pork, cilantro or BBQ sauce not loving it.

The chef operates a stand, outside of residential alley, with a small charcoal grill on the curb.  The sandwich comes wrapped in a piece of paper (oftentimes an old phone bill or receipt) secured with a rubber band.  Pull up a plastic step stool as a seat in the alley, watch that the passing motos don’t run over your feet, buy a water next door (for the same price as the sandwich itself), and dig in.

They are not large – I had 2, Andy had 3, and it wasn’t a disgusting pig-out.

There’s nothing to “order” — it’s the only item for sale.

A couple of notes at variance with the Noodlepie blog post:
(1) The price is now 10,000 dong (approximately 55 cents).
(2) She sets up well before 5:30 p.m. — we went at 2:00 and she wasn’t there and came back at 3:45 and she was in full swing.
(3) By 8:00 p.m., she was done for the day (our first attempt was unsuccessful).

Finally, be sure you are at 37 Nguyen Trai in District One — there’s at least one other 37 Nguyen Trai (we didn’t make that mistake but easily could have).

All I can say is, “You’re welcome.”

Ooh Ah, Mooloolaba

Posted by: melissa

Although Noosa is my favorite Sunshine Coast destination, Mooloolaba is really nice as well.  To put it in Southern California terms, if Noosa is like a small Laguna Beach, Mooloolaba is like a small Huntington Beach.  The beach is absolutely amazing and the Esplanade is very charming.  We found a fantastic Indian food restaurant, although with AUS$9 Kingfishers, we racked up some pretty hefty tabs! 

The Beach at Mooloolaba from the Boardwalk

The Beach at Mooloolaba from the Boardwalk

With a population of about 10,000, Mooloolaba is 60 miles from Brisbane making it an easy beach getaway.  The word, Mooloolaba, is probably derived from the Aboriginal word “mulu” meaning snapper fish, or “mulla” meaning red-bellied black snake.

Rockhampton and The Great Western Hotel

Posted by: melissa

Nicknamed “Rocky,” Rockhampton has a population of almost 78,000, is situated around the banks of the Fitzroy River (Queensland’s largest river), and is 395 miles northwest of Brisbane.  Rockhampton was established in 1853 as a river trading port.  It shot to prosperity with several nearby gold and copper discoveries in 1858 and 1882 which can be seen in the town’s many Victorian-era buildings.  While ranching continues to be the primary industry in Central Queensland, Rockhampton is considered the beef capital of Australia with about 2 million head of cattle grazing within 150 miles.  The many large cow statues around town are pretty good tip as to how important ranching is to the community.

Cow Statue in Rockhampton

Cow Statue in Rockhampton

The Great Western Hotel is owned by Australian country music star, Lee Kernaghan.  Its marketing material describes it best:

“Located in Rockhampton, Australia’s Beef Capital, The Great Western Hotel is one of Australia’s most renowned and iconic hotels.

First Licensed in 1878, the 130 year old Great Western Hotel has been the meeting place for many generations of Central Queenslanders and tourists alike. Now in the 21st century it is a national tourist destination. Built on 4115 square meters, the Great Western Hotel pays tribute to contemporary Australian bush Culture with its walls showcasing the history of local people and surrounding areas.

The Great Western Hotel has always been known for providing great steaks and cold beverages. It features 4 Bars, an award winning Steakhouse, air-conditioned Gaming Saloon and Boardroom along with a Western Retail store. The undercover entertainment venue is the largest in regional Australia with seating in excess of 2,000 people.

The Great Western is the only known hotel in Australia with a covered rodeo arena and entertainment venue. This makes this unique hotel a constant hive of activity with Rodeos and an ever increasing array of entertainers.”

Honestly, our steak dinner was not that great.  The concept of the steakhouse/watering hole is so exceptionally well done in Queensland (I mean exceptionally well executed, not well done since I’m a medium rare gal myself!), so an average steak really stands out.  But, we grabbed a couple of XXXXs and established a beachhead for the rodeo festivities. 

The buckin’ broncos kicked off at 7:00 p.m. sharp, but the people-watching kept us more than occupied before the show officially started.  Andy and I were both struck with the authenticity of the entire atmosphere — how familiarly rural and country-western.  The travel guidebooks describe The Great Western Hotel like the movie set of a spaghetti western.  But, it was just like being in Ft. Worth or Amarillo or Tulsa … right down to the hats, belt buckles, rodeo clowns, the down-home announcer, and even the advertisements for country music radio stations, auctioneer services, earth-moving rentals and quarry supplies.  This rodeo ring is not just entertainment or schtick, but a real stop on the international professional rodeo circuit – we’re talking about competitive bull-riding!  A Friday night at The Great Western Hotel can make or break a rodeo cowboy.

The Infamous Great Western Hotel in Rockhampton, Queensland.

The Infamous Great Western Hotel in Rockhampton, Queensland.

After the competitive riders finished, the ring opens up to kids (tons of help and supervision, very cute too) and drunk patrons (hysterical).  Evidently, America’s litigiousness and love of personal injury attorneys hasn’t made it to Central Queensland yet.  A couple of guys from New South Wales had apparently a lost a bet on State of Origin and their punishment was public ridicule while lasting about a half second on the bull.  Luckily, we needed a designated driver so I was sober, but I fear if we were both on the sauce, Andy would’ve taken a spin.  What could possibly go wrong?

The rodeo kids were hysterically cute.  I loved this guy going for the style points!

The rodeo kids were hysterically cute. I loved this guy going for the style points!

After the rodeo festivities concluded, we moved inside to watch the U.S. versus Slovenia match.  At that late hour, only hard-partying locals were left which was interesting and stereotype-reinforcing.  We got some pretty strange looks from this crew … evidently not much of a soccer crowd! 

With about 30 minutes left, the score was Slovenia 2 and U.S. 1, and the bartender decided to close and kicked everybody out.  We jumped in the car and raced to the after hours bar about 5 blocks away.  At 2:30 a.m., bad drunken karaoke was in full swing, but the match was on the television so we elbowed our way to a good view.  The U.S. tied it up (and had the winning goal wrongly disallowed), and Andy thwarted two different pick-pocket attempts … definitely time to head home.

Rosslyn Bay, Queensland

Posted by: melissa

The last couple of days have been fairly quiet … lots of reading, cleaning, sleeping in, relaxing, etc.  Rosslyn Bay is pretty sleepy, and I’m diggin’ it.  Keppel Bay Marina is really great … nice people, calm water, reliable power, public transportation, cheap rental cars, clean facilities with good water pressure … we’re enjoying it.

Spectacle happily tied to the dock at the very nice Keppel Bay Marina in Rosslyn Bay.

Spectacle happily tied to the dock at the very nice Keppel Bay Marina in Rosslyn Bay.

The Rosslyn Bay resort is just down the road situated on the very picturesque Kemp Beach.  I’ve had the entire beach to myself several times this week.  The resort has a restaurant with pretty good wood-fired pizzas. 

Andy went to switch over the propane tanks and found a bigger problem than a mere empty tank.  It’s clear there a leaky hose/connection in or around the place where the tank connects to the boat.  Unfortunately, I just bought a ton of groceries, many of which are perishable and require stovetop preparation. 

We are thinking of getting a hotel room at the Rosslyn Bay Resort to watch the U.S. versus Algeria match.  Access to the kitchenette is another argument in favor of that otherwise frivolous plan.  I mean really, who gets a hotel room down the street from their house to watch television?  I just hate throwing food away … such a waste.  But we’ll watch the match, cook dinner, Tupperware some meals for later this week, boil the eggs, swim in the pool, etc.

But the best part of this marina is that the restaurant is fantastic!  The Waterline Café wins all kinds of restaurant awards, which, frankly, isn’t saying much here in Queensland, but at least it shows some effort and pride.  Between the culinary wasteland of Scarborough and the busted propane line rendering the stovetop useless, we really appreciate the Waterline Café!  Poached eggs and grilled toast for breakfast, chef’s special Panini for lunch, and braised short ribs for dinner … lovely!

Yesterday, we jumped on the ferry to Great Keppel Island which was a fun daytrip.  An easy 45-minute hike deposited us at one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen.  We sat there all day completely by ourselves … a fantastic afternoon.

One of the many gorgeous and secluded beaches on Great Keppel Island.

One of the many gorgeous and secluded beaches on Great Keppel Island.

Hamilton Island

Posted by: melissa

At AUS$110 per night, the marina is prohibitively expensive so we plan to stay three nights only.  Unfortunately, we awoke to rain this morning.  At these prices, you’d think they could serve up some better weather.

Yesterday, we walked around the marina complex area and visited the yacht club.  Andy had a couple of business logistics to take care of so we set off to find an Internet café with a printer and some lunch.  The Reef View Hotel promised a serviceable business center, and Sails Restaurant provided a serviceable lunch.  Afterward, we visited the ice cream parlor and walked the docks looking for familiar boats to no avail.  We took an afternoon rest, cleaned up, went to the yacht club for a sundowner, and hit the Manta Ray Café for a pretty tasty pizza complete with possums sniffing our feet and begging for crusts.

Spectacle at the Hamilton Island Marina

Spectacle at the Hamilton Island Marina


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