expensive dining

by Squido~

Today, I had planned on sleeping in, but mum came over and woke me up at 11. Instead, went out with tenant and her daughter (Shi Hao and Diana) and mum to the city. Had a very expensive lunch at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant. Ordered a Grilled Kangaroo Fillet and Prawns (medium rare with tomato chutney and grilled herb polenta, and a side dish of potato chips), Chargrilled Fillet Steak and Prawns (with horseradish mash and Béarnaise sauce – YUMM!), Seafood Risotto (consisting of creamed rice and scallops and calamari) as well as Giant Moreton Bay Bugs (which are actually giant prawns, grilled with garlic butter). I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so richly. Ate till I was stuffed, then ate some more. Couldn’t bear to see the meat go to waste, and the rice… and the mash… *sighs*
All up, it was a $163.50 meal. Shi Hao’s treat. It was an interesting experience. I learned that tomato chutney is like a purée/paste sort of thing with lots of herbs and stuff and tastes mildly sweet. I learned what kangaroo meat was like – long thick muscle fibres and a bitter blood taste – and that you had to eat it with a steak knife. I learned that some people, like my mum, can’t tell the difference between beef and kangaroo, and I also learned that I really really like this Béarnaise dip thing. It’s sort of cheesy, with herbs, creamy and sourishly sweet. Goes with just about anything, in my opinion, but intended for mash and steak.

Later, we lost mum to a business call and I somehow lead Diana and Shi Hao around the city, ending up at Circular Quay. Stopped to watch loads of street performers along the way. Altogether donated $17.10 to 6 different performers.

Morf’s Trip is this “Acoustic Faily-Tale Jam Band” (according to his pamphlet) headed by a Japanese guy who wore a colourful cone hat and playes the lute while singing. He aims to bring happiness to everybody through his blend of bluegrass, folk, reggae, jam and traditional/world. ‘”For the smile of children and forests” – that is the purpose of his activity.’ – $1.00. He thanked me in Japanese and I accidently thanked him in Japanese in response but corrected myself with “You’re welcome”. (どういたしまして). Should have said がんばって!Next time.

Came to a shoestore. Shi Hao and Diana wanted to browse the shoes and I couldn’t really stand shopping at the moment so I went outside and met a really cool artist, James Kite. He’s in his thirties, I think, has a black beard and long wavy orange hair :P His medium is biro/ballpoint pen, and he’s been drawing for at least 20 years, with only the last one and a half with pen. He started with pencil, but never erases, like me. Neither of us outline what we draw beforehand either, and we’re both ‘self-taught’. He got evicted from his place, and he’s looking for somewhere to stay. So his current profession is busking, and when I met him, he was sketching on the ground this row of A3-paper storyboard about Ned Kelly’s story from what he could remember learning as a kid. I like the way he incorporated subliminal allusions and other visual satire into his drawing. We talked about how important it was to discover your medium and to practise your art in order to perfect it. He also gave me tips and directed me to this website which prints your uploaded art onto iPhone covers, t-shirts etc, and gives you commission on sales. I hope he makes it in his industry. His art reminds me of a grotesque version of Disney and when I asked him if he ever wanted to be an illustrator, he told me he went to a publisher once but they were more interested in his ideas for stories than his artworks, which sort of defeated his purpose. I got a free A5 copy of one of his patchwork teddy bear sketches – $2.00. There were lots of empty Bic black biros on the ground; about 6 or 7.

Next we saw a crazy guy kick a percussionist’s ‘drumkit’ at the gathered audience. The crazy guy walked off raving illegibly (can’t think of the right word) and the drummer apologised to the audience and started drumming again. Crazy beats. He had about 3 buckets, two drumsticks, and a stool, and it sounded AWESOME. – $0.10 because I only had two-dollar coins and was offered a 10-cent coin by Shi Hao.

Further down the same path, we bumped into a group of Japanese beatboxers/hiphop dancers/skipping ropers. I think they call themselves “Zu-nA & Pako”. Basically, their act involved two beatboxers making music (imitation techno + beats) and three (two boys and a girl in cool baggy outfits) + two skipping ropes and a basketball. The acrobats would skip (two of them swinging the rope and the third dancing and doing stunts like flips and freezes inside while skipping) and then dance together, change around and regroup. So well-organised. I think the teenage boy grinned at me a couple of times during his routine with the basketball. I also think he tried to roll the ball to me at the end, but missed and got some old man instead. I think he’s cool :D. When we left, Shi Hao said she saw somebody approach the performers to hire them but I didn’t see that. – $2.00.

Onwards marched. We came across a trio of late teens. A girl who sang deeply and played the electric violin, a boy with a ponytail and beard and wavyish hair who sang high and looked suspiciously like a skinny version of Adam from Masterchef – he played acoustic guitar, and a blonde drummer that played the high hat, snare and a makeshift bass made from a bucket – didn’t really look at him. They sang Human and When You Were Young by The Killers, as well as something nice and mellow I don’t know… something about being thankful that your best friend was your girlfriend…? Might look it up… The harmonies were, what can I say, absolutely pitch perfect and clean. Sang along to Killers and bought one of their ‘EP’ CDs (gotta find out what that means) for $10. Didn’t have a tenner so I had to walk up to their case, place my fifty in and exchange it for a CD and four tens. Made sure the Adam doppleganger saw me put a $50 in and tucked it under the laminated sign. Will listen to later – $10.00. They call themselves Wildhearts. Made eye contact with the girl while I was singing the same lyrics as her and we both smiled.

Last, but not least, we stopped under the railway bridge at Circular Quay to watch the American “Jamie”, a smiley guy in a red shirt and fedora who unicycles and juggles flaming torches, bowling pins/clubs, knives, ‘babies’ and tough crowds. He was very joking and open. I think I ended up (forcing both Diana and Shi Hao) watching the entire 40-ish-minute show. It’s suspicious, but I think I’ve seen him in the same spot before. Either that, or it’s just a frequent joint for unicyclers who juggle and tell bad jokes. My favourite parts were when he told us to cheer as loud as we could on the count of three to draw a bigger crowd, and when he asked for an 8-year-old volunteer (the liddle boy, ‘Ed’, was just the cutest showman ever!).

“Now I need a volunte-”
“MEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEMEME!!!!”(little boy with brown hair and eyes, sitting cross-legged at the front and straining his arm in a frantic wavin motion)
Crowd laughs.
“Someone about 6 or 7…”
“MEMEME… awww…”
“Or 8.”
It turns out he was probably 6 or 7 to begin with, because he sheepishly said “I forgot how old I was.”

Good call, I say. It literally paid off, ’cause Jamie gave Ed $10 for helping him in the end. He dropped it from where he was sitting on a 12-foot unicycle, and Ed chased it on the breeze.
My favourite bad joke was the one where he was preparing to juggle a flaming torch, a razor blade knife and a club/bowling pin thingy, and asked a lady with a pram to hand over he baby. She shook her head, so he replied with, “Don’t worry – if I break the baby, I’ll help you make another one.” That almost had me in stitches. – $2.00 for showmanship.

Walked to a bench and sat to wait for hunger. It didn’t come for me. Dinner at Eastside, and Italian seafood restaurant. Didn’t order. They had an “Ocean pizza” (topping of salmon, scallops and orange stuff which I assume is tomato paste, and a soft bread base) and a mushroom lasagne (pasta slices, creamy mushroom and bits of beef topped with spinach leaves cooked and curds, I think). The mushroom lasagne was GODLY. I went to the bathroom a couple of times and stopped to read about wine glasses from this wine glass display case. Experts have tested and come up with tried and true designs for drinking sparkling and champagne, full-bodied red, medium/light red, full-bodied white, and medium/light white. There are minor differences in shape and size. I don’t understand how it’s possible to enhance a drink by its container – I don’t see a quantitative way of measuring enjoyment anyway – but it seems they have come up with four types of material as well: handmade English crystal, English crystal, glass and plastic (for ‘outdoors purposes’). Strange. I don’t expect I’ll ever understand the art of drinking. The cakes also caught my attention and I was distracted once again.
They didn’t finish the lasagne!! I ate the rest of it while the guy was getting the check for us. All up, $57.50 ($25.00 pizza, $25.50 pasta special (aka lasagne) and 2x$3.50 for whoknowswhat – something to do with there being two diners.)

During today, I also lead them to the old customs building out of curiosity. Learned a bit of history about it: it holds a library and a lot of primary sources like records of importers, visitors etc., designated in 1855 and processed imports and exports, tariffs intranationally and internationally. One interesting fact was that they raised the tax on imported goods in order to maintain better local economy ie. buy goods made in Australia.

On the train back, I had the epiphany of a lifetime. I noticed that the inlet in the city was called Sydney Harbour. And I realised why the harbour bridge was called the Sydney Harbour Bridge – BECAUSE IT BRIDGED TOGETHER THE TWO SIDES OF SYDNEY HARBOUR!!!!!! I had always grown up thinking it was a special bridge known as a ‘harbour bridge’ and that ‘Sydney’ was just a name they put at the front to distinguish it from other harbour bridges or to specify its location. :D

Lead them home. Should I go to city tomorrow? Might be fun, but I ought to be doing maths… oh dear. Glad I met all these cool people today and I hope I had some kind of impact on them.