Melbourne dinner, and so very Aussie

Aussie Aussie Aussie! The third race of the 2024 F1 season took place in Melbourne, Australia, and wow, was it a doozy (race details at the end of the post). And honestly, so was the food!

I researched the “national dish” of Australia, and overwhelmingly, Australians say “roast lamb”. So for a second race in a row, we had lamb (not that I’m complaining). Instead of going “roast,” we went with a slow cooker approach. I will admit I wasn’t entirely sure this was the way to go, but my co-driver (who was doing the cooking, since I was doing the baking) had the final call. Luckily, it was a good call!

What goes with lamb? According to Australians, roasted potatoes (they do like their roasting!), so we had those as a side dish. Then because I have a requirement for a vegetable at meals (preferably green), my co-driver included a side of sauteed green beans (with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, butter, salt, and pepper, and knowing my co-driver, probably garlic).

Accompanying this delectable dinner was a lovely bottle of Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz, which I found covered in dust in our pantry (probably having moved with us eight years ago). So Australian wine to go with dinner! I love serendipity.

For dessert, I was deciding between Pavlova, ANZAC biscuits, and Lamingtons, only to discover that Australia and New Zealand argue rather heatedly about who gets to claim origin rights to Pavlova and ANZAC biscuits. However, Lamingtons are definitively Australian, so decision made! Besides, what’s not to love about a fluffy yellow cake square (well, rectangle) rolled in chocolate sauce, then dipped in shredded coconut? Answer: nothing! These were excellent.

There was one more thing I had to try: Marmite. I’d tried Vegemite when I was in London years ago and found it utterly disgusting (sorry, Vegemite-lovers). But after ~30 years, maybe my taste buds have changed? With that thought in mind, and with the discovery that Marmite and Vegemite are NOT the same thing (Marmite was the original, then Vegemite came out as ‘Marmite with vegetables’), and that Marmite is supposedly sweeter than Vegemite, perhaps Marmite might be more to my taste?

Answer: no.

I spread the Marmite on toasted homemade bread and tried it and gave up. It was just too salty for me (which is saying something), and had a funky taste that was familiar, but that I couldn’t name. It turns out that taste was something very similar to tamari, which I generally enjoy, but perhaps not thick on toast. Also, I found out later that a thin schmear of Marmite is the way to go, and may actually be edible (and not my ‘spread it like jam’ attempt).

Live and learn.

So overall, this page of the F1 cookbook was a rousing success. Much like Carlos Sainz’s win!

Race details: Driver Carlos Sainz had to bow out of the previous race (Saudi Arabia) due to appendicitis. Two weeks after his appendectomy, he arrives in Australia looking a little tender. AND YET! The Spaniard ends up qualifying for 2nd place on the grid for the start of the race. Not bad, eh? Things get even better when F1 Wunderkind (and annoying ‘gets all the pole positions, wins all the races’) Max Verstappen had to quit the race on lap 4 because his car was literally on fire (well, the brakes, but still). Spoiler: Carlos wins!

Add to that the fight on the last lap between Fernando Alonso and George Russell–and George deciding to crash his car rather than accept that Alonso is just a better driver than he is (at the age of 42, Alonso is the Old Man of F1 — yay for old age and treachery!). The race marshalls gave Alonso a 20-second penalty for “driving in a potentially dangerous manner” (aka RACING), which bumped him down from a 6th place finish to 8th.

(Side note: George has crashed his car in each of the three races that Carlos has won. Coincidence? Hmm.)

Then there were the mind bogglingly horrific pit stops for the Sauber team. Even Valteri Bottas’s crazy Uber ad couldn’t make up for the Sauber performance. Is Sauber trying to destroy the team before Audi takes over in 2026? Enquiring minds want to know.

Next up: the Suzuka Circuit in Japan! I’m thinking katsu curry, but my co-driver has murmured sushi. Regardless, there will be Japanese beer (Kirin? Sapporo?).