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Kelly and I spent the last weekend in Melbourne. I’d call it a whirlwind tour because we had a pretty strict timetable to keep. But it was great because we were realistic and gave ourselves enough time for most things so it didn’t feel too rushed. We caught up with many people we (obviously) hadn’t seen since we left for KL (apologies to those we couldn’t see, three days is tight!). Here are the highlights:

Porterhouse and Fat Yak

James, Davo, Marty, Me

On thursday night I had the pleasure of hooking up with the original Season line-up of Marty, James, and Davo (and me, heh). We went to my ex-local, The Townhall Hotel, a for a porterhouse steak and a pint of Fat Yak. As you may or may not know, good meat is hard to come by in KL. The beef you can get is usually halal, so is a fair bit drier and less tasty than in Oz. And beer? Pffft. I’ll just say that tasting some micro-brewery brew almost brought a tear to my eye. My taste buds were certainly crying.

The steak with horseradish sauce was awesome, but the company was awesome-er. James bought me a copy of The Paradise Motel’s new album Australian Ghost Story. The Paradise Motel was (and perhaps still is) one of my favourite bands in the late 90s. I had the privilege of seeing their first performance in Australia for a long time literally days before Kelly and I left for KL. This was poignant for many reasons, which I think I’ll talk about in a future post.

Great to see those dudes again. The original Voltron. No pesky lions.

Goog

First thing friday morning I got up (tired[1. Read footnote 5.]) and drove to see my brother Goog (or Lucas as it appears on his birth certificate) for a chat before he started work for the day. It was great to see him after his holiday in Poland because he told me about his time in Germany. I didn’t know anything about his stay in Germany because Kelly and I had left Europe while we were all in Gdańsk, and I also deleted my facebook account shortly afterwards.

I was curious and hopeful he’d had a good time in Germany because I felt he was a little held-back staying with family in a small three room apartment in Gdańsk. Though after a while he was comfortable going out into town on his own and speaking broken Polish to coffee makers, retail staff, and random locals.

I was extremely happy to hear he had an amazing time in Germany and had met a whole bunch of new friends and even had himself a “holiday romance” as he put it. He’s already talking about going back. Good for him.

It was around this time I realised I was sitting in The Mad Moose, and had not eaten brekkie yet. So Goog switched on the ovens and I made myself a bacon, egg, salami, and some other stuff, pizza. And man, it was good. I made another pineapple-y pizza to take when I picked Kelly up from the airport afterwards. Yummo.

Logan, the owner of Mad Moose, came in before I left and we had a good chat. I always ask how business is — I feel some sort of affinity with The Mad Moose as I created their branding — and it turns out business is good! Another pleasing response. Just then, McGauz came in looking like he’d just got up after our dinner the night before. Rad. James is a champ. Always happy to spend time with that dude, even if he’s not at his peak in the mornings :P

Towels

After I had picked Kelly up from the airport, we drove over to Fitzroy to see a client and pick up some towels. You see, When I was working for Six Degrees Digital one of my larger clients was Luis at Canningvale, one of the best clients you could hope for. Luis is someone who really appreciates and respects your opinions as a designer. His type is rarer than you might think. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this.

I had organised with Luis a while back to procure a bunch of top-quality towels and bed linen from Canningvale. Luis did not disappoint. In the years I’d been working with him, I had never owned a Canningvale towel[2. Never is not strictly correct — I had received some Canningvale beach towels the previous Christmas from family. Maybe it’s better to say I had never owned a Canningvale bath towel before, which was a shame, because it’s what Canningvale is known for.]. I’m happy to say we’re now the proud owners of several sets of towels, as well as some Egyptian cotton bed linen. I have a sense that I’ll never go back to normal cotton sheets again. I sense this mainly ‘cos it’s what Luis told me would happen ;) Good to see Luis again and find out what I’ve been missing with Canningvale design work. Truth be told, I’m still meant to be working on one last project with Six Degrees and Canningvale. Not sure when that’ll happen though.

Wes

Wes and KatWes

After the brief stop in Fitzroy, we drove over to McKinnon to meet my first cousin once removed Wes (Wesley Cooper for long) for the first time, and see his mother, my cousin, Kat (Katrina for long, Kasia for Polish). It was great to finally meet the kid, whom I think is cuter in person than in the photographs I’d seen to date. I was unaware I had been requested that I bring my camera along, but as fortune would have it, I did so anyway. Lucky :) You’ll see some snaps going up on my Flickr page soon I should think. Stay tuned.

Amiconi

On the way back to the city after meeting Wes, Kelly and I decided to have dinner at The Lincoln, the Art Deco gastro-pub where our wedding reception was held. We called from the road to make a reservation, but only got the answering machine. I believe this was fate, because we quickly decided to go to Amiconi, a beautiful little Italian restaurant in our old neighbourhood of North Melbourne. This is, I think, the best Italian restaurant I’ve ever eaten at. Not the most impressive, but the best.

It’s a small place, but it has the homely atmosphere with home-cooked meals. The menu is decent, the prices are great, and the food is incredible. It’s like one of those little Italian places you see in The Sopranos, sans-gangsters. Unpretentious, well-priced, delicious food. Fuck,[3. Sorry Pauline, but I did warn you there’d be expletives…] I love this place, and I’ve only been there twice. If you’re ever in North Melbourne, try Amiconi.

Snapper Head

We got down to North Melbourne again to get some fish n chips from Snapper Head. This is the premier fish n chip place because it is old skool. They do it right. We go a flake, some chips and a burger with the lot. For those who don’t know, the burgers are made by the zen-master burger maker. He’s old, moves slow, but it’s the perfect speed for putting the onions on to fry, walking over to get the bun ready, walking back to put the burger on the grill, and back to prepare the tomatoes, etc. The burger construction runs like clockwork, and in the end produces one of the finest, original recipe fish n chip burgers you can get. Highly recommended. It didn’t disappoint. But then I knew it wouldn’t.

Coffee

After lunch we went to pick up some supplies to smuggle back into KL. Most important was the coffee. You see, we received a coffee machine as a wedding gift, and since moving to KL we’ve been using the shit out of it — I’ve even been trying to master some free-pour latte art. We bought 2kgs of roasted coffee beans — four different blends — to tide us over till the next time we come to Melbourne. I don’t think it’ll last that long though, which means we’ll eventually fall back to our San Francisco Coffee “Cable Car blend”. Not too bad, but Melb coffee is much, much better.

Jetpack Bar, Wood Spoon, and Chaz’s Crib

Fox reaching for the lasers

In the early evening we headed over to Jetpack Bar (friends Mish, Fox, and Willo‘s place. It only becomes Jetpack bar when you’re boozin’ there). Always radstix to catch up with these mates, not as radstix when you have a live Latte-art Off and you spew forth the worst rosetta of your career :(

After this failure, but still on a beer-high, we headed out to Wood Spoon for dinner. North Korean cuisine (I believe). Smashed some edamame, gyoza, and chicken udon. Awesome.

After this success, and now on a gyoza-high, we headed out with gusto to Chaz‘s party. Six year housemate Tom was moving out of their apartment, so out-was-busted the disco ball, bath full o’ beer, and everlasting bowl of punch. I won’t go into too much detail, because this video kinda explains everything:

It was a great night. Chaz (and friends) were awesome. But Chaz was better. Chaz. Always a classic, just ask Mish. And he had the new iPhone. *want*

Brunch with the bunch

Sunday morning we met up with the Crew from the West™, consisting of Seir, Craigus, and Chantelle. Marty also came along but he’s from North Melbourne, so doesn’t fall under the trademark. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to secure enough seats The Corner Shop in Yarraville — seems Yarraville is TEH place for brunch on a Sunday — so instead went across the street to lesser-brekkie-joint Java. Seir was jealous, and I think she had good reason ‘cos The Corner Shop looked great: It’s the type of place where celebrities would go for brunch in their tracksuit, with their dog or new lover, and without make-up. ‘Cept we were in Yarraville not LA. Anyway, we tried calling another place nearby but when the guy answered telling us we couldn’t reserve seats as they were “pretty busy”, and flat out refused to tell us whether he could accommodate the six of us in five minutes, we hung up disappointed.

Fortunately, a brekkie joint doth not maketh the occasion, seeing the Crew from the West™ did . I don’t understand how the three of them can’t get together regularly for coffee, beer, or food. Good people, good friends. Step up your game, god dammit.

Alannah ( + Kelly’s family)

AlannahAlannah with booze hat

After brunch it was straight over to Daniel and Maria (Kelly’s brother and wife)’s house to see the niece Alannah. For this special event, Kelly’s mum flew down from NSW, and both aunties Carol and Pauline were present. Good to see and photograph Alannah, especially when she was wearing the cardboard carton from a six-pack of Strongbow on her head. We were out further west I guess, so I’ll accept a baby with a Strongbow hat instead of trackies and moccos. Maybe it’ll catch on?

There was plenty of finger food which I tried not to touch because I’d just eaten some pancakes with bacon and maple syrup at brunch, but really because we were going to my folks’ place for obiat (early dinner) and if I didn’t eat my mum’d kill me. Seriously.

Food ( + my family)

A short drive from Dan and Maria’s house is my parents’ place. We got there a few minutes before our scheduled time, so obiat was almost ready — just enough time for me to help mum dish up, and to be interrupted by dad wanting to talk camera stuff. Typical.
Obiat
Even through I had been in Melbourne since noon Thursday, this was really the only face time we could fit in with my folks. Worked out well though, ‘cos we get a serving of both Gołąbki, and mum’s special (but plain as hell) hamburgers, mash, and peas & carrots. Pierogi was too much to ask of my mum, but it’s fair to say my stomach died and went to heaven a little bit.

My parents just returned from Poland and were already talking about their next trip there. I asked mum why they don’t just move back there later in life. “The health system is fucked not good”, mum said. Mum’s sister Krysia and family live in Germany. When I see mum and my auntie together it pains me to imagine them apart. They are like identical twins, not only in appearance, but in mannerisms and humour. When they are together it’s like they’ve never been apart[4. When in Poland recently, I learned a bit more of the story of how and when my parents immigrated to Australia. That by a frustrating, and at the time devastating I’m sure, set of circumstances, Krysia and Roman (husband) missed out on getting permission to leave the country. And by “missed out” I mean refused by the government something like 16 times, for no real reason. They had sold their house on this last attempt because things were looking promising until the last minute. My auntie and uncle wound up on the steps of my grandma’s apartment with everything they owned in their suitcases. Some heartbreaking shit.].

After obiat we stayed up for a while chatting to my parents about our tour, the recent past, and immediate future. Chewing the fat as it were. We finished with a slice of cheesecake my mum had bought for Kelly’s birthday, after which my parents retired to the bedroom[5. My parents get up crazy-early to go to work. In fact, the previous Friday morning I was woken up at quarter to five — that’s four-something — to move the hire car out of the way so they could leave for work. Harder.]. Kelly and I had a midnight flight to catch so we packed our stuff, including our new towels, had showers, ate a little bit more of obiat leftovers, and snuck out to drive to the airport.

Epilogue

Well, it may not seem like it after reading 2000+ words but it really was a whirlwind tour. Pretty much all the events you just read about were surrounded by bouts of driving. It was was hectic, but at a relaxed pace. Or relaxing at a hectic pace. Dunno. It was awesome at a rad pace. Awes-race. *shrug*

Hope we can do it again soon.