We took Belinda & Michael to the airport on the weekend. They're off for a 3 month grand tour of the Baltic. Such a long trip - it's very odd to think that before they get back, Beth and I will have been to Tibet and back. Anyway, this seemed like a good opportunity to do some shopping, and we did it with great efficiency. We had planned to drive down Friday night, but everybody was too tired, so it got put off to Saturday.
In our lightning tour, we managed to get to Retrospec'd in Newtown, where I got 1940s swing pants in grey, and a red and white spotted blouse to go with it. It's going to be one of my costumes for the Searchlights and Sirens burlesque show - dinner & show $50; Fri 29th August, come and see! I'm singing and dancing. The bloke ordered some cool black & white swing dance shoes from them, which they didn't have in stock in the right size & colour, but will post. We also went to the rather fabulous (mostly menswear) Anton's, where the bloke bought two jackets and I got a top hat. I have no idea when I'm going to wear a top hat, but I'm sure I'll think of something. Add in a quick trawl round Galaxy and Abbey's, and we were done, all in a few hours. Phew!
We ate at three different places, and I was happy with them all. We grabbed a late and much needed quick lunch in the QVB basement. You may know that the place is full of rather expensive and dull cafes, but on the way out to the rest of the underground malls there's a place called "Malaysian Laksa House" with cheap but sound Malaysian & Indonesian fast food. You can get a beer there, even. I had a gado gado ($8.50), and the bloke had a beef rendang with rice ($7.50). Mine was better, I think. They used a lot of iceberg lettuce in the veggie salad, where cabbage is more traditional, but it worked well. Plenty of spicy peanut sauce, and lots of fresh crunchy veggies.
We had dinner at Red Oak, which is a wonderful boutique brewery. There's a casual bar there, and a more formally arranged dining room, all in the same large space. They like to use beer in the cooking - even the desserts. Each menu item is matched with a beer. I had three beers: starting with a crisp Kölsch style, I moved on to a honey ale with my tagliatelle with clams ($18), and a Belgium chocolate stout with my sticky date pudding and porter icecream ($12). Yes, a beer icecream! It was great. The honey ale is made with Tasmanian leatherwood, and has all the complex aromas without too much sweetness. The chocolate stout is infused with dark belgian chocolate, it's also got all the aromas without much sweetness. Amazing stuff.
I forget exactly what the bloke had to drink, but his lamb and oatmeal stout sausages and mash ($20) came with a porter, and his cheese tasting plate ($20) with four different beers (in very small glasses). It cost us $100 even for the two courses each, a salad, and several beers. We ordered from the cheap end of the main course menu, but they only go up to about $30, anyway. It seemed like very good value to me. The beer really is terrifically good there, and they have all the awards to prove it.
Brunch next morning was at Not Bread Alone, where we all met up with the bloke's Mum. It's in Crows Nest, and we chose it as a sort of half way point, convenient to neither party. It turned out to be a good choice. The coffee was good, the portions were generous, and everybody seemed happy with their choice. Belinda's ricotta hotcakes ($14.50) were very thick and fluffy, and came with bananas and a huge chunk of passionfruit butter. My French toast with rhubarb and maple syrup ($13.50) was made with two large slices of sourdough. Good stuff, a bit more eggy that I usually make it. The big breakfast and omelettes looked good, too. The service was fine to start with, but was rather on the slow side later, when we were ordering second rounds of coffee. We didn't get cranky with it: in some ways that just made it more relaxed. No pressure to eat and run. We ended up lingering just a little too long, and got back to Canberra half an hour late for rehearsal.
Oh, and we didn't see the pope. Good. More regrettably, we didn't see any of our Sydney friends either, but it was a very short flying visit. Next time...