Australia, Day Five: Mon 1/18
Up at 5, as usual. Worked on my blog, as usual. Richard got up after a while, then Mark - - he brought brekkie (as they call it here) up to Sue, then came back down. Mark and I went for a walk, a third route, maybe not as challenging as the other two, but still satisfying. We got back home and Richard had done most of our packing and stripped the bed! Bless.
Mark went out and got coffee and we wrapped things up with Mark and Sue. We gushed all over them about what fantastic hosts they are. Muchas smooches!
And to top it off, Mark gave us a ride to our hotel. We're at the Vibe Hotel / Rushcutters. We checked in, but our room wasn't ready yet. Our desk clerk was born in Queens and chatted us up one side and down the other. Richard was a little bothered by him, but felt a little better (just a little) about him when he chased us down after we left the hotel, to give us a voucher for a free bottle of wine.
We went for a longish walk through sort of a skanky neighborhood (tattoo parlors, bars galore, strip clubs, nail salons). We were looking for a hat and new pair of sneakers for Richard, found nothing resembling either. Ah well, we'll continue looking another time. Back to the hotel, we thought maybe if we had lunch our room might be ready by the time we finished.
We had a sweet young server named Kylie, darling young woman. Richard had the nasi goreng, we were curious to see what it tasted like not being doused in soy sauce. We decided that it was more than a little like Rice-a-Roni. The San Francisco treat. I had a burger - - I don't eat burgers often, maybe only one every two months or so, so when I have one it's something special. This burger was delish - - lettuce, tomato, swiss, ketchup and mustard of course, and a few onion rings, all on a seeded bun. Mm mm good! And some fab crispy fries on the side. I asked Kylie if they had a creamy salad dressing I could use for the fries and she brought over an asiago mayo that did the trick.
Topics of discussion: Kylie Minogue, Project Runway, Diana Rigg, etc. Richard read about two thirds of the wikipedia entry on Dame Edna, which was hilarious.
Just as we hoped, our room was ready when we finished lunch. Thankfully our Chatty Cathy desk clerk must have been on break, and we had a much more likable German guy named Mark. From Munich. Our room is cute. We watched some TV - - we were both amazed at the sheer idiocy of *Teen Wolf*.
Our friends Mark and Anne had us over for dinner - - they're the couple we met for tapas the other night. They live right down the street from our hotel, I think we might have chosen this hotel because it's close to them. Mark, the dear, came over and picked us up. It was an eight-minute walk to their house, and I, being as tightly wound as I am, checked in with Richard every three to four minutes to be sure he was paying attention so we would know our way back. I am USELESS in this arena.
Their house is darling, and the kitchen and back patio (where we were based) fantastic.
Anne was putting together the first course when we arrived, so we menfolk had a drink, talked about football, made some crude jokes, and scratched our balls.
The first course was my favorite: red pepper mousse served on toasted French bread with a basil sauce. Sublime. I had a talk with my brother Howard last summer about why the first course is usually my favorite in a multi-course meal. He said it's because the chef feels that he/she can be more adventurous than in a main course. My theory is that I'm hungry and happy to be eating.
Anne came out to the patio and collected some fresh herbs to use with the main course. I went into the kitchen to ask her what they were, and she gave me a guided tour through what she was doing. I saw that she was sautéing some onion and spices, so I asked if I could stir it. Just ask Richard: this is my favorite thing. I LOVE to stir. It's not always the best idea, but when it is, I'm your man.
The main course was lamb served over couscous with a lovely green salad on the side, dressed with a somewhat sweet dressing, an effective contrast to the lamb. Wait a minute, am I writing for Gourmet magazine? Some highlights from our conversation: Anne talked about various adventures with her tour clients, Mark told us about his upcoming trip to Cleveland to visit his father, Richard and I told them about our trip to Italy a couple years ago. Venice will be happy to hear that we were speaking about it in glowing terms.
Dessert: stewed cherries with ice cream and coconut. We sketched in plans to get together this coming weekend. Such a pleasant evening.