Monday, August 31, 2009

Perfect breakfast pairing


and this

at Amici Bakery in Prahran. The so called "Italian breakfast".

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Extended weekend

Took a couple of days off work to recharge the batteries (and to use up some of my annual leave).

The city on a weekday is a very different beast. I walk behind men in dark suits, past police officers being trained to direct traffic. I check out a few book shops at lunch time, stroll through the Carlton Gardens in the afternoon, and go for a wander up and down Brunswick Street. Relaxing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The September Issue

Today's indulgence...

Orchids, Thai food and the lebanese lesbian

Went to an orchid show with my friend, T, yesterday. It was all the way down in Keysborough and it took us over an hour to get there. Touted as the largest orchid show in Australia, the venue was a large hall divided equally between plant vendors on one side and the show proper on the other. We started at the sales section where I had to exercise extreme restraint with my wallet. I only bought three plants which, given my obsessive compulsive nature (and past fanaticism with orchids) was quite a feat. One of the purchases was an exotic-looking, mottle-leaved plant from the limestone cliffs of Yunnan in China which has a large flower that looks like an inflated green bubblegum and smells like raspberries. As an apartment-dweller, I deliberately avoided the purchase of another intriguing species which, when in flower, was meant to smell like "a herd of dead elephants".

I caught up with some other friends in the evening for Thai food. Z and S are getting married next month and had come down from the south coast of NSW with Z's American parents. Z's mum is a delightfully warm hippy who grows pot for a living back in California. Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet Z's dad who is a champion poker player and had decided to visit the Casino instead of joining us for dinner (but if Z's mum is anything to go by, Z's dad would be quite an interesting person also).

We caught the train up to Anstey Station and made a first stop at the huge converted warehouse where Z used to live before he moved to NSW. There, I got to see the completed dome that I had started building with Z and his friends last year (which eventually turned into Z's bed room). The warehouse looked amazing and had been completely transformed since my first visit. It is occupied by a bunch of arty types...graphic designers, silk-screen printers and the like. The kitchen and dining area was beautifully wall-papered on the inside with a huge black and white image of a desert island on one side and an understorey rainforest scene on another. An intricate black stencil covered the painted yellow floor. A chandelier hung from the ceiling, illuminating a beautiful old wooden table set with candles and potted palms and philodendrons. After some snacks (strawberries, dark chocolate and cocao beans), we ventured onto Sydney road and made our way to another large cavernous space, Warwick Thai Restaurant, where we were served the most generous-sized meals I have ever eaten (at ridiculously low prices).

After dinner, I bid farewell to the group and hopped onto a tram to get back to Flinders Street. I ended up sitting next to a middle eastern couple who were speaking so loud that it was impossible not to eavesdrop on their conversation. The girl, it turns out, is a lesbian and the two of them were off to go clubbing at Crown. The girl, who had long, dark hair, was asking the guy whether she could pull off the butch lesbian look. Her friend insisted that she would not get away with having too short hair because it would make her nose look even bigger than it already was. "Shut up!," the lesbian retorts (in her woggy-aussie accent), "You can talk. What about your fuckin' nose". I bite my lip hard and try not to laugh, for the lesbian was right. Her travelling companion had the most protrusive nose I have ever seen on a face.

The tram makes it final stop at Elizabeth Street. The man asks me how long it would take to get to Crown. I tell them it's a short walk. I then turn to the girl and tell her to ask the guy to take her to The Glass House instead. "No fucking way", the man quips, "That place is so gay." I smile, wish them a good night, and make my way across the street.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The tackle shop

We have some of the worst designed toilets here in my building. Due to inappropriate placement of mirrors at the wash basin, it is virtually impossible not to catch a view of a penis if you ever happen to walk into the loo when there is someone already standing at the urinal.

Il Gambero no more

I was perusing The Age website earlier and saw a headline about a fire destroying a Lygon Street landmark. The header was ominous. It read "Late-night crowd watches as blaze destroys iconic restaurant". Alas, the iconic restaurant happened to also be one of my favourites: Il Gambero.

Il Gambero holds a special place in my heart. My first introduction to italian food on Lygon Street was at Il Gambero's and I shared the experience with one of my closest friends, Pete, who was visiting from the US. This is the very first meal I ever ate there.

Il Gambero is the restaurant I always take visitors... I love going there because there are no aggressive waiters trying to solicit customers from the street (unlike some of the other restaurants nearby). The restaurant does a fabulous grilled whole flounder and, much to Nathan's delight, you can even earn Qantas frequent flyer points there!

I guess they will eventually rebuild but the thing I am going to miss the most is the giant stuffed fish that hung over the kitchen counter.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Life lesson

I learnt an important lesson last night...Cauliflower, broccoli and brussel sprouts are potent vegetables in their own right but combining them in a meal is just asking for it. The consequences of last night's dinner were near lethal. Nathan and I almost asphyxiated in the night.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wedding gowns, the ancestral spirit, and pork rolls

Mum and one of my sisters are in town. Sis is getting married next year in Melbourne and was busy over the weekend shopping around for her wedding gown and looking into possible venues for the wedding reception. I made the mistake of meeting up with them on Friday after work for a wedding gown appointment in the city. Boring!!! I didn't know how long it would take (the answer is 'very') and I didn't want to stray too far so I found myself sitting on the steps of the GPO reading the MX newspaper and gawping at people as they walked along Elizabeth Street for an hour and a half.

I was a lot wiser on Saturday and decided to leave the chaperoning duties to the future-brother-in law. I ended up at an auction preview of early aboriginal and oceanic art in South Yarra. The auction is going to be held in Sydney in a couple of weeks and I am considering putting in a telephone bid on the night for a couple of pieces (one of which is a rather well endowed image of an ancestral spirit carving from PNG). From there, I made my way to a gallery in Richmond where I ended up chatting to the young gallery manager who is refreshingly unpretentious, brutally honest ("I think the painting is shit"), and in the midst of separating from her partner. I was intending to only go into the gallery for a few minutes but ended up staying two hours!

Saturday evening was another Shoya degustation experience (by years end, I would have gone there no less than four times!). The price of the degustation is obscene but I enjoyed my first exoperience so much, I feel like I need to share it with as many people as possible. Thereafter, Nate and I bought the family up to the Sofitel for coffee and a view of the city skyline from their rather breath-taking toilets (if you haven't been, you have to check it out).

Sunday was a miserable day in Melbourne...wet and windy. I went with Nate to the Swinburne Uni open day then, after lunch, took mum and Nate to see the well-endowed ancestral spirit (I needed a second and third opinion). Mum thought it was ugly. Nate loved it.

Today I took the day off. Nate wasn't scheduled to start work until the arvo so we took mum to Footscray for spicy beef noodle soup (bun bo hue), followed by a visit to Williamstown and, finally, pork rolls in Richmond (as you do).

I think I'm re-invigorated and ready to get back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

15 minutes of fame

The article in the London Times was published a day after the interview. Nice article but the journo managed to misspell my name. The research was also picked up by the ABC and has since spread through news services in Asia and Africa.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

London calling

I was just about to settle into the couch to watch disgruntled passengers bitch and whine on the new reality program 'Air Ways' when my mobile started ringing. God dammit. I assumed that the caller (who registered as a private number) was Nathan ringing up from work (he should know better), but the voice on the other end of the line was definitely a young female with a clear British accent. It turned out to be a journo from The Times newspaper wanting to speak to me about a research paper due to come out today on female mate preferences in fish. The first thing I told her was that I was in my pyjamas which, in hindsight, was a rather odd thing to say to someone you don't really know (I hope she doesn't try to weave that into her article).

Following the somewhat awkward introductions, I started giving the journalist a mini lecture on Charles Darwin, evolution and sexual selection. She seemed interested (or, at the very least, was good at feining interest) but inevitably she did what all good journalists would do and asks a most predictable question: "So...what can your research tell us about humans?". Aha! It always has to come back to humans. Channeling another reality TV programme, I reply, "Timeless beauty is a myth". Streams of verbage then spewed forth from my mouth, which will no doubt provide plenty of opportunity for embarrasing misquotations and make me come across as a complete weirdo scientist who sits around in his PJs watching bad reality TV when he is not researching sex.

Monday, August 10, 2009

St Kilda and the homoerotic portrait

The weather here in Melbourne has been really crappy over the past few weeks so Nate and I decided to make the best of a break in the weather on Saturday with a little outing to St Kilda. We started off with a nice lunch at Beachcombers, a seafood restaurant near the St Kilda pier. Observing the waiters at the restaurant made me wonder about their staffing policy. Don't get me wrong, the service was excellent but it did seem that the restaurant only hired overseas students/travellers as waiters. Are they cheaper?

After polishing off our fisherman's baskets, we wandered along Acland Street and made our way to one of my favourite second hand furniture shops aptly named, "The Bitch is Back" followed by a stop over at a nearby gallery that was holding an exhibition of homoerotic paintings. I include one of the (tamer) images below and leave the art crtique to the readers of the blog.

I must admit that I thought this one was quite nice. Cheekily, I turned to Nate and suggested we should get it. Nate recoiled and threatened to leave me if I ever bought something like that home (I guess Nate was never much into bears). I smiled. Nate and I were both a little bemused to see that one of the most obscene of the canvases - a naked guy with a bright yellow (erect) penis - had already been sold. I wonder what sort of a collector would buy such a piece? Surely not someone ultra-conservative. In my mind, I pictured a flamboyant elderly gentleman who lives in an expensive penthouse apartment on St Kilda Road. What do you think?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Berlin bound

I still need to finalize a few things but, assuming all goes well, I should be heading to Berlin later in the year. I've tentatively agreed to present at an international symposium (so much for vowing not to do any international work travel this year).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


I wonder how many times one can sample the Shoya degustation menu before it begins to look decadent and obscene. I took my friend Louise last night. She was visiting from Canberra and loves japanese food. The dessert was more palatable this time...instead of the sea urchin cheesecake, we had a black sesame seed panacotta. Yum!

Monday, August 3, 2009


On Saturday, I was contacted out of the blue by a friend who had just arrived in Australia from Europe. She was stuck in Melbourne airport after her flight to Canberra was cancelled due to early morning fog. I suggested we meet up so she caught the bus into town and we had a nice catch up over brekky before her rescheduled flight in the early afternoon. It was a pleasant and unexpected catch up and it really lifted my day. Surprises, however, didn't end there. In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Nate receives a surprise of his own in the form of a very cryptic text message at 5am from one of his childhood (supposedly straight) friends. A phone call ensued and, during the course of the conversation, the friend not only revealed a fetish for high heels but, more surprisingly, was on his way home after a debaucherous evening involving a tranny and at least one other guy (the details of which left Nate and I completely and utterly speechless). I guess the friend is probably not straight after all.