Christmas with the In-Laws

3/25/2018 08:28:00 PM

Over Christmas, Sandra's parents Rudolf and Margit visited us from Germany! They stayed with us for three weeks, and we took time off work to show them around Melbourne and Victoria, driving them around and visiting the sights. It was so fun playing tourist in our own town! We also took them to New Zealand for a week - a 60th birthday present for Sandra's dad. I guess you could just say I'm the best daughter-in-law ever?

We get along really well, and as you know I've stayed with them numerous times in Germany over the past 11 years, but I must admit we were a little nervous about the whole trip. It was their first time out of Europe (and actually their first time in a plane in over thirty years), and they don't speak any English. We also live in a small flat. Would it be too overwhelming for them? Would they get sick of the foreign food? Would it be awkward when they finally met my parents at Christmas? OMG TRANSLATING EVERYTHING.

Well, now that the trip is over, I'm happy to say that it went really well, they were super chill, and we all had a great time! Phew! With all the driving (me) and all the translating (Sandra), it was quite a tiring experience but totally worth it. It was really nice playing host (finally, Sarah's time to shine!) We were also glad to show them things here that we'd been talking about for so long, from tourist destinations like the Great Ocean Road, to more mundane things like our flat, our local supermarket and so on.

I'll definitely be blogging our trip to New Zealand, but for today let me share with you what we got up to in Melbourne! This wasn't a particularly food-focussed trip - Sandra's parents aren't that into food (they probably think I'm a bit weird - hah!) Of course there were certain things we really wanted them to try, like Melbourne brunch and Peking duck, but the trip was mainly about showing them sights in Melbourne and fitting in the food around it. I even caught myself saying once: "Let's just eat lunch at the Zoo cafe today". Who am I even?

We did lots of shopping - in the city, Chadstone, Doncaster Shoppingtown, Box Hill Market, Victoria Market, and Smith and Brunswick streets.

Christmas Crowds at the clock in Melbourne Central

We also took them to Healesville Sanctuary and the Aquarium. I'd never been to the Aquarium before but it was really awesome - definitely worth a visit!

Koala at Healesville Sanctuary

Melbourne Aquarium


A little further afield, we did day trips to Mornington Peninsula, The Dandenongs and the Great Ocean Road.

Split Point Lighthouse

Airey's Inlet

Airey's Inlet

National Rhododendron Garden

Of course, as it was summer, we wanted to show off the awesome Australian weather! We did an afternoon in St Kilda and Luna Park, and a day at Chelsea beach.

Chelsea Beach

So, breakfasts. We mainly ate breakfast at home, and we got into the habit of putting out a breakfast platter - bread rolls, hams and cheeses, spreads, hot drinks, plus occasionally fruit, granola, yogurt and any other cakes or baked goods I had lying around. Sandra's parents are always so thoughtful and generous with breakfasts when we visit - making me my morning coffee, going to the bakery to buy us fresh bread every morning, making sure the fridge is stocked with my favourite cold cuts - so it was lovely to finally be able to repay the favour.


We did take them out for a couple of proper Melbourne brunches - to Shanklin (500 Tooronga Rd, Hawthorn VIC 3123) and Bawa (248 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn VIC 3122).

Brunch at Shanklin

Brunch at Bawa

We even went to Pancake Parlour one day because Sandra was craving pancakes. (I'm a fan of the bottomless filtered coffee, and Rudi liked this too!)

Pancake Parlour

Lunches were mainly eaten out and about, but for the very first lunch (which was their first meal after the big 24-hour trip from Germany to Melbourne), we kept it nice and simple with an Aufschnitt meal of cold cuts and bread. And come to think of it, this is probably where the idea for the breakfast platters came from.

First lunch!

A few highlights from the lunches we ate out...

Fish and chips on the beach were a must!

Fish and Chips at Sorrento

I thought lunch at The Arbory (1 Flinders Walk, Melbourne VIC 3000) would be a nice option for our visitors as it's very uniquely Melbourne, you get a great view of the river, and it always seems to be nicely crowded and buzzing. I had my usual lobster roll, and everyone else had hot dogs. Well, I guess you can take the Germans out of Germany...

Hot Dogs & A Lobster Roll

Top: Burrito at Healesville Sanctuary; Nando's; Vic Market Bratwurst
Middle: Parma & Burger at St Moritz; Chips at The Bottle of Milk
Bottom: Burger at The Bottle of Milk; Toasties at Proserpina Bakehouse; KFC

My favourite gelato in Melbourne is hands down Piccolina (802 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn VIC 3122), and we just had to bring the in-laws here. (Hot tip: I usually go for the creamy flavours, like their incredible pistachio, but on this visit I tried fruity raspberry and it was amazing!)

Piccolina Gelato

One place we had to take them to was Beatrix (688 Queensberry St, North Melbourne VIC 3051), for Melbourne's best cakes. They loved it! The sour cream cocoa layer cake with chocolate cheesecake buttercream is still the best, but the maple walnut scrolls are also out of this world!

Clockwise from top left: Coffees; Peanut choc chip cookie; Maple walnut scroll; Cocoa sour cream layer cake with choc cheesecake icing

For dinners we did a mix of going out and staying home. I already told you about Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas dinner. Ham! Turkey!

Roast Turkey

On regular nights, when we cooked, German food featured heavily. (Sandra and I often eat German food at home anyway, so this wasn't too much of a stretch for us).

Clockwise from top left: Crumbed pork chops w/ boiled potatoes and garlicky spinach salad; Fleischkäse w/ potato salad, bread & pickles; Bratwurst w/ spinach & potatoes; Frankfurts w/ potato salad & devilled eggs

Clockwise from top left: steak w/ salad; Cheese and charcuterie; Roast pork loin & roast kangaroo fillet; Potatoes au gratin

One night Rudi requested that I make some lobster, as he'd never tried it before and was curious about it! Lampertheim is completely land-locked (eight hours from the ocean), so they aren't really big on seafood there. We bought a little lobster tail, as well as some big-ass prawns so they could try, and I cooked them in what I hoped would be an unchallenging manner for them - butter and garlic for the lobster, and a creamy garlic sauce for the prawns.

Prawns in garlic cream sauce

Garlic butter lobster tail

Verdict? They liked lobster and prawns! Hooray! However, they couldn't taste much difference between the prawns and the more expensive lobster. As for the raw oysters, they tried one each and couldn't stand them, so unfortunately I had to take one (well, four) for the team, and eat all the remaining oysters. (So selfless).

We were really keen to show them some good Chinese food. There are very few Asian people in Lampertheim, so there aren't many Asian food options. (One Chinese restaurant in the town, a Mongolian BBQ restaurant in the next town, and some bain-marie takeaways in the larger shopping centres. I like to stick to uncompromisingly GERMAN food when I'm in Germany, so I haven't tried much of these, but from what I've seen they are super Westernised and none serve anything that I'd recognise as Chinese).

We took them for a Cantonese feast at Red Lantern (327A Doncaster Rd, Balwyn North VIC 3104). My favourites here are the eggplant and pork hotpot, the stir-fried bean shoots (tau geh, oh yeah), and the deep-fried chicken ribs with garlic and salt.

Dinner at Red Lantern

And of course we had to take them for Simon's Peiking Duck (197B Middleborough Rd, Box Hill South VIC 3128). They loved the Peking duck! Yay!

Peiking Duck

Phew! And that was their trip to Melbourne! It was a wonderful visit and I'm so glad we finally got to show them Melbourne! Vielen Dank für den Besuch!

Do you enjoy hosting friends and relatives from overseas? Do you have any must-visit destinations in Melbourne and Victoria?

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  1. It's nice that they were curious about food like lobster which they'd never tried. I guess we really take the access to food that we have for granted!

  2. Yum - lots of amazing food and beautiful sights! Hope they enjoyed their holiday.



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