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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blog bankruptcy, Melbourne and I'm not hungry

I'm in an internet cafe on Sydney Rd and this is a really uncomfortable chair. It's 36 degrees Celsius and I have a blister on my foot from my shoes already.

Numerous holiday fails, most prominently my blue shoes and purple socks. Holiday fails backed up by holidays wins, most prominently my new Mimco wallet that I can not afford but will love for ever. Now watching handbag like a hawk lest someone else decides they really like my new wallet too.

I'm not hungry, and this means a wasted holiday. A number of contributing factors: 20% pissed off, 40% it's too fricking hot to eat anything, 20% emotional turmoil about what city I should be living in and 20% spoilt for choice.

I'd now like to declare blog bankruptcy, just for this week. This is what I won't be writing a post about in the future:

Christmas Day:
Anyone in Melbourne who complains about the coffee should pay a visit to the Hobart Airport to see what real desperation is.

Boxing Day: A terrible latte somewhere in St Kilda and a half eaten piece of dry toast. Also an accidental trip to Cranbourne (thank you for the inconvenience Metro). An awful teenage boy says the F word more times in ten minutes than I have in the last month. Best friends drag my sorry self to some pub in Carlton that I don't remember the name of - not because I am wasted, because I am inattentive.

Sunday: Parthenon Cafe on Rathdowne St. Cold poached eggs and oily mushrooms that I push around the plate. Pizza and calamari salad at the Little Creatures Beer Hall on Brunswick St, love the vibe, thumping busy even though it is 3pm, love the VIP treatment (because I do still know some important people in this town.) Much gratitude to Jess Ho for pouring cider down my throat and letting me cry while I was pretending to watch Arrested Development.

Monday: North Cafe on Rathdowne, staffed by hipsters but I don't hold that against them. Latte, best I have had all week. I'm starting to get a bit tanned from boozing in the sun, holiday win. Head out to Dad's house for some Dad time and cold Christmas leftovers. My sister is engaged and has a rock on her finger the size of a bumble bee. I have ring envy. Afternoon, sun still shining, meet the Strawberry Siren at the Black Cat where the staff still remember my name (and probably a few things I wish they didn't remember). With the Siren in tow I make my first pilgrimage to the roof top bar above Cookie. I like. Bulmer's cider on tap and the place reeks of summer. Like being in a real life Corona ad, but in a good way because no one here would dare drink a Corona in public.

Tuesday: Kaleidoscope Cafe, 161 Sydney Rd. More cold poached eggs I don't eat, and I resolve to just stop ordering them because I obviously don't want to eat anything. The coffee's alright, but the company is much better. Lunch with Jeroxie in Clarendon St South Melbourne. As it's the holidays, almost everything is closed. We settle for BaB & 92 (what? yeah that's what I said) Korean and Japanese I settle for a Bento Box. Average, but it did the trick and it wasn't overpriced pasta from the cafe next door. Bronwyn makes me pumpkin gnocchi for dinner and it's delicious. The first full meal I've eaten in well over two weeks, and I am grateful for it. I suspect I am on the emotional mend. I also don't get drunk today, another positive sign.

Wednesday: This is today isn't it? This morning was a wander down Rathdowne, hoping for another spot at North, but I extend myself to the Rathdowne Food Store where a pretty waitress brightens my day, and I get to play with a tiny Chihuahua puppy at the next table. I'm a bit confused by the table salt in a ramekin, blatant false advertising about the quality of the establishment. Beans on toast, undercooked and under seasoned beans don't impress me much but I eat them anyway. I buy a bottle of water from a seven11 and the guy behind the counter is being abused by junkies. How very Melbourne. I"m thinking that I would like to make up the names of ice creams for a living.

So what's next? Good question. I'll let you know when I find out.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Housemates. Sharehouses. And the everlasting.

None of these items belong to me. Gag.

15.01.10 This post has been edited to reflect my (late) New Year's resolution. This year I refuse to spend time with, or pretend to be nice to, people I blatantly cannot stand. So, I've taken a few words from this post, mainly the sugar coating I gave to original story so as not to upset my departing housemate. So perhaps her friends might consider ceasing with the profanity filled comments that I will not publish. This is what I really think.

My housemate moved out today. Well, one of them, there are three of us. Some of you may be familiar with the girls that live at my house (and will remain unnamed) from my tweets. Or previous blog posts.

I'll miss her. She's a good mate. She is also only moving to the house next door, so I don't think I'll miss her too much. But I won't miss some things... and before I have even typed these words I am sure that I am going to get into a lot of trouble... but oh well, never let friends get in the way of a good yarn.

Lets cut a long story short here. They can't cook. Not such a big deal, I hear you say. Well, we don't have to share food. But we share the fridge. Please note photograph above. All of these items (you may recognise one of them as old pizza) were in the fridge weeks. They were in the fridge for so long, that after this picture was taken they grew mold.

Oh yes. I put them back in the fridge after taking this photograph - even though I wanted my Tupperware back. Because I flatly refuse to be responsible for dealing with other peoples leftovers.

It's a conundrum, as I also don't tolerate mold in my fridge (understandable I'd think). We walk a fine line in this house.

That's the thing about shared houses. Pans aren't cleaned properly. Food is left to rot in the bottom of the fridge, carrots and tomatoes growing mold and roll about like long lost lovers, getting closer and closer until they become one. Enormous containers with one mouthful of food inside are left in the fridge for weeks. Maybe months.

It amazes me (as I think everyone is as obsessed with food as I) the little people my age (20s, nearly 30s, but we won't talk about that) know about cooking.

I once lived with this guy in South Melbourne who ate fish finger sandwiches with tomato sauce twice a week. On the other nights he ate pizza or cocktail frankfurts mixed in with two minute noodles. He was disgustingly fat and frequently brought home the skankiest girls you could imagine (the words heroin addict spring to mind) because this was all he could get. In reflection, if someone told me that he had hidden cameras in the bathroom I wouldn't be surprised. But I would be horrified and calling the police.

And for a while I lived with a guy in Brunswick who was a diabetic. I'd think that someone with diabetes would make an effort to look after their health, but I never saw him eat anything that wasn't 80 per cent white flour and or fried. And his bedroom stank, I could smell it from the back yard. No surprises, I moved out pretty fast.

But bad sharehouse food manners are in no way limited to boys. Or men, as the two previous cases claimed to be. Certain female housemates will happily let one ingredient rot, while buying a new one and sitting it alongside in fridge, and also may be under the delusion that leek cooked in white sauce on toast is a nutritious meal.

Certain housemates also need to know that when cooking a stir-fry that cashew nuts do not go in first, potatoes cooked at rapid boil for 30 minutes are not a good idea and that bacon takes longer to cook than an egg.

Other gripes: milk does not keep well when left on bench, tea bags do not belong in sink, rubbish bins should be emptied when full, recycling does not magically disappear and someone does in fact put it out on the street on the required day (Wednesday, if you are reading this housemates).

It's no secret, but I really should be living alone.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

What waiters do after hours - part one

Sure. The lounge at the Blue Train Cafe looks all innocent during the day...

I thought it would be appropriate to write this post today, as I feel that hazy memories are best accessed through a similarly hazy hangover.

After 10 years of waiting tables and pouring beers, earlier this year I managed to escape the iron clutches of the hospitality industry for my dream job. I thought I would never miss the late nights, the aching feet and endless dry cleaning of red wine stained white shirts of my waitressing days, but lately I think I do miss it, just a bit.

For just over four years, on and off, I worked in Melbourne at the Blue Train Cafe (BT). Taking a break from the severity and responsibility of fine dining while I was studying photography at uni, I decided I needed a little cafe culture. Little did I know, that the few weeks I planned on working at BT would draw out to years. Even today, I still can't rule out ever going back there just for a cameo.

Working at BT shaped almost every aspect of my personality because I met and became good friends with what probably amounts 100s of people over my time there, some of whom I still consider to be my good friends even today. If you can't afford to go travelling, go and work at BT, potentially one of the biggest cultural melting pots in Melbourne. From Sima, a 45 year old Iranian mother of two, to Little Dave, a 22 year old pint-sized British backpacker, BT is roughly the United Nations of hospitality.

Now I believe that drugs and alcohol are the best bonding aids known to man. And the best time to do drugs and drink alcohol? Knock-offs. And knock-offs at BT were (and surely still must be) the stuff of legend.

At BT, everyone wanted to work on a Monday night. Monday night was the night to clean the beer lines. After last orders had been called, the barman would start filling up pint glass after pint glass with beer. Then he would put all those pint glasses into a big blue tub, and put that blue tub smack bang in front of the staff. I have absolutely no idea what cleaning out the beer lines actually involves. What I do know, is the beer-line night meant one serious knock-off session.

Over these seriously debilitating drinking sessions I formed friendships with many people I would ordinarilly not have been fortunate to meet, as well as improving my tolerance to alcohol. We played card games, smoked way too many cigarettes and generally behaved appaulingly.

Knock-off drinks are the number one reason I would go back to waitressing. Not because I am a booze-hound (that's irrellevant), but because I miss the company. After 8-10 hours (sometimes more) waiting tables, slaving over a hot stove or pulling pints, there is nothing better than a drink and a chat with the other staff, because they understand exactly how you feel.

It's a kind of mate-ship that I really took for granted while I worked in hospitality. At the end of every day there were always willing participants. No ringing anyone up, no organisation, no pre-planning, just easy, relaxed spontaneous socialising.

Sure, there were the really big nights, the weddings, birthdays, the Christmas parties, but the nights I remember the best (or perhaps, don't remember that much at all) of my 20s just involved sitting around in the lounge at BT talking shit with the staff. Now when I go back there (and I do try not to I know what goes on behind the scenes), I hardly know anyone. Those days are long gone. But I won't forget.