In the last week, I’ve been chatting to this handsome bearded gentleman and for now we’ll call him Big Daddy. Initially I was really taken aback by the fact that he was only after NSA (or no string attached, for the uninitiated) but then on second thought, I really appreciated that he was direct with what he wants and there was no sugar coating it. That, I can respect. Straight off the bat, he told me that he wasn’t after dating and when he learned that I wasn’t after NSA, he offered some very valuable insight that if I dated a guy from Grindr, Jack’d or any one of those apps, the chances are and I quote “that he may already have had a few contacts on his phone as back-ups and that they are after the novelty or thrill of the chase.” The 70’s liberated us sexually and the noughties gave us Grindr. But have we as a gay community also been liberated from commitments of relationship? And can too much sex with many people in our past lives be holding us back in the pursuit of love and happiness?
Tracy McMillan, the author of Why Aren’t You Married… Yet urged readers of her book that “… I want you to stop filling up up empty space in your life with guys that aren’t going to be your man…” Like her, it is my personal belief that the dating apps offer the fillers of the empty spaces. Sure, there are the odd guys on there that are genuinely looking for love, myself included. But I soon realised that I was looking in the wrong place for love. If experience has taught me anything, most guys on there are either looking for a quick shag or the thrill of the chase. Sure, the dating apps really make guys more accessible than ever, but it is also turning the dating scene into an all-you-can-eat buffet. While we all love a good value-for-money meal, the downside of buffet is that because there are so many other things on offer, it really makes it difficult for one to appreciate how beautifully executed a dish may be. One may scoff down a portion of beef Wellington quickly, only to get back to the table to taste the next dish that catches one’s eyes. Such is the tyranny of choice. Gone are the old a-la-carte.
In the meanwhile though, I am getting off the apps and continue my search for the a-la-carte. There are not many of those around, but I do have something planned. I will endeavour to keep you all posted on how I get on.
New York City is full of reminders of the my favourite TV show Sex And The City. Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich, The Boat House where Carrie fell into the water, Cafeteria in Chelsea where the girls regularly brunched, to name a few. But more so in recent weeks, I discovered Sydney is also full of reminders of my own Sex And The City locations. A year ago, I started dating a man with whom I fell in love with on the first date and we both shared a passion for food. For all the significant milestones of our relationship, I can vividly recall the conversations we had and the food we shared. First date was Cow And The Moon where we shared a popcorn gelato, third date was at 121BC where we lusted over a plate of Balsamic marinated ribs, fifth date was at Bridge Street Bistro where I pigged into a bowl full of prawn and lemon linguini, first time I met his family I brought a fillet of home-cured gravlax, and the night he started staying over at mine, I made him a “rustic” vongole pastas. Just over a month ago, we ended our relationship just as I thought things were going well and we were about to start a life together, suddenly. As a result, what used to be favourite dining spots have come to haunt me. Every time I go past the places where we had a magnificent time at, it reminded me of how in love I was with this gentleman, shortly followed by the feeling of having thousand knives stabbing through the heart. And places like these, are all over town. Another word, I have turned Sydney into my emotional minefield.
Sometimes I do ask myself though, does it get better? Do the minefields eventually become less hostile and more hospitable? I certainly hope and believe so. Luckily there’s a new restaurant opening up in Sydney every 5 minutes and it will be a while before I will exhaust all the options before having to resort to those old minefields. Until then my fellow blog readers, you are in for a treat.
Up until recently, I was a firm believer that Surry Hills is the centre of the universe and therefore has the best cafes in town. However, this belief is slowly slipping away. So on a fine Sunday a few weeks ago after being turned down by a number of our local favourites due to excruciatingly long queues, we decided to give Excelsior Jones in Ashfield a go. The reward for traveling a bit out of the way definitely paid off.
Juicy burger, salmon hash with poached eggs paired with good coffee, what’s not to like!Excelsior Jones, 139 A Queen Street Ashfield NSW 2131 9799 3240 http://www.excelsiorjones.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org
King Henry VIII once said in a love letter to Anne Boleyn “The longer the days, the more distant is the sun and nevertheless the hotter, so is it with our love, for by absence we are kept a distance, yet it retains its fervour.” It was from a series of letters that were so passionately written that it would make anyone’s (gay or straight) heart melt. Yet only a few years later, Henry VIII ordered the execution of his beloved mistress-turn-queen. Did she really commit adultery with her brother or was it just a quick way to make room for a mistress? History has told us that passionate love affairs very often end in an equally dramatic fashion, often accompanied with a tragedy that’s worth reciting for centuries to come. So maybe an easy and straight forward relationship isn’t so bad after all.
According to my Sydney born and raised peers, a weekend in Newcastle would almost be frowned upon and followed by the inevitable question “What for?”. So when I went up to Newcastle, I didn’t have very high expectation of this NSW city which is only 1hr 45mins drive away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney.
First stop was Estabar, a cute little cafe by the seaside with casual but friendly service. A table on the sidewalk provided us with amazing view of the beach but the gale-force wind kept lifting the food off the plates. Luckily I didn’t lose too much of my stunning breakfast muesli. It was thoughtfully put together with coconut shreds, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, dehydrated cranberries resting on a bed of creamed mueslis and served with a side of fresh raspberries. The sweetness, acidity and nutty flavours blended together precisely and I wished the experience would never end.
Dinner was organised to take place at Subo which has grab many headlines lately. Being the main attraction of our weekend getaway, this restaurant certainly is worth the 1hr 45mins drive and the constant questioning of “what for” from fellow workmates. Suzi the maitre d’ was very generous with the food-wine matching advice and was always ready for a wee chat when she brought our dishes out. My entre was well worth the trip. It was simple down-to-earth yet experimental. What is it, you may ask? It was deboned chicken wings with blackened corns, crispy sage and hay-infused creamy foam. Hay, it’s outrageous but grass-root at the same time, no pun intended. As for main, I opted for a modern version of duck a l’orange which was just exquisite as well. Newcastle (in NSW that is), hats off to you!
Spring time in Sydney is glorious. It’s warm, it’s sunny and most of all, it’s lively. Coming from New Zealand where spring time doesn’t all that significantly differentiate to winter except for the perpetual countdown to summer, I can say that I am a convert. Spring in such a happiness filled environment inevitably brings changes and hope. Cliche I know, and it also made me sick in the mouth, too. The two girls sitting next to me at the cafe just glanced over and gave me this concerned look. But instead of boring you with unnecessarily long and drawn anecdotes, I thought it might save you some time by summarising them in bullet points and I can get back to my eggs Benedict sooner.
- New date. I’ve been reigning as Priscila Queen of the Desert for quite some time now. Since June. Or July. Or whenever I was in Melbourne last. The new kid on the block is a furniture designer, with a beard. I’m totally gay for him.
- Degustation curse is lifted. For a long long time, I’ve suffered from the curse of Degustation. It’s either friends or restaurants cancelling on me. This has changed. Sam and I went to Biota in Bowral on the weekend and spent 3 hours at lunch drooling and dissecting a degustation lunch. We only made it to 4th course and had to call it quits. But it was amazing.
- Travels. Going home in a a couple of weeks for a wedding and then partying up with Cloria for NYE and a few days later, her God-forbidden 30th birthday. Might also sneak home to China to see my folks for a couple of weeks before returning to Sydney. Bliss.
- Weekend projects. I bought a vintage suitcase and am in the process of turning it into a coffee table for the lounge. The new date should become handy.
Coffee’s getting cold so I’d better dash. But check out the photos from my one-day trip to Bowral.
The last couple of days, we’ve been living like true Portenos – get up at 12pm, lunch at 1pm, wander around, doing some shopping, afternoon drinks and nibbles 5pm and dinner at 9pm. I have taken to this lifestyle like a duck to water.
Palacio del Congreso can only be admired from afar. Palacio del Paz on one hand is impressive as a family home intended for 9 people, it seems at times tawdry with the fake doors, illegitimate use of French royal prints and even a presidential office. The irony is that Paz never made it as a president as he passed away 2 years before the construction was completed. Apparently these days you can even hire a room in this presidential-palace-wannabe home.
One of the most mention-worth restaurants we’ve been to on the last couple of days were Gran Bar Danzon. They wine list is amazing in two ways. Firstly, it was an iPad. You can read up on the information on the wine you’re about to order and even email the descriptions of the wines to yourself. Secondly, all the wines we tried were amazing, all with a nutty finish but particularly one Viognier with a creamy coconut finish. Oh, delish. Sushi and cocktails is a strange phenomenon in BA. While these two together aren’t usually the most complimentary of each other, they are often offered in many bars/restaurants here. I must say, they have a long way to go with their sushis. They were just plain fucking weird. King crabs & cooked salmon sushi topped with a sweet corn and coriander dressing. It was unsuccessfully avant garde. But their mains however, is like they are from another planet. We ordered duck confit with carrot and sweet potato puree and a handful of toasted almonds. The duck was cooked to perfection the tastes of all the ingredients on the plate were well balanced. Both Cloria and I were sufficiently impressed. Although their sushis are flops, their mains and wines redeemed themselves.
Today we went tomb raiding at the Recoleta Cemetery and paid homage to Evita Peron. The size and scale of it was pretty unimpressive really. But given circumstances surrounding the body after her death, it is understood that they buried her in a fairly low-key fashion. During the tour, I couldn’t help but wonder if some of these were really tombs or they were entries to really swanky night clubs. The designs of some of these tombs were really minimalistic but with exquisite materials, resembling more of ultra-exclusive night clubs.
It doesn’t take much to figure out that Buenos Aires is a pretty superficial city, from the long queues outside exclusive night clubs, palatial renaissance buildings, to grand sculptures around the city. I think after visiting Recoleta Cemetery, it just puts the nail on the coffee. A beautifully decorated marble nail nonetheless.
Today is what packed full of what I came to Buenos Aires for – eat, drink and shop.
A 30 minute bus ride took us to the old part of town San Telmo where mostly antiques and crafty objects were sold in markets. We lunched at this place called Territorio where I had a quinoa salad with bak choy, peas, cherry tomatoes and Tagliatelle cheese. The results was OMG amazing and it filled my void of vegetables in the past few days. After being fuelled with sufficient energy to tackle an afternoon of wandering and shopping, we set our course to Denfesa which is where the market is taking place. I noticed a lot of hand-crafted jewellery and after speaking of one of the vendors, I found out that the government offers free jewellery making courses in the municipal school and hence the nation full of jewellery designers. It also makes hand-crafted jewellery fairly cheap in BA. Lucky for me.
Souvenir shopping was imminent under such circumstance and after successfully fulfilling all my shopping wishes, decided to bust out my KeepCup. If you’ve been following this blog, you would know that I brought my KeepCup on holiday only to discover that coffee from restaurants and cafes here in BA is absolutely disgusting and disgraceful. But this is when Starbucks becomes handy – at least I know it’s consistently shit and it vaguely resembles of the kind of coffee we are accustomed to in Australia. I miss Shenkin, my trusty little cafe in Erko.
The rest of the afternoon involved a bit more shopping, a sweets break where we went overboard and bought enough sweets to feed an entire village, and a drink break. Got lost a bit heading to the restaurant due to the incorrect mapping of location on my TimeOut BA guide but made it to El Nacional, a bistro just off the hustle and bustle of San Telmo’s main drag. I ordered a slow-cooked pork with squash and sweet potato mash. It was cooked to perfection – the meat was falling apart, the mash is smooth and sweet and the sauce cuts through the fattiness of pork. It was a perfect 10 for me. And Cloria’s shrimp and salmon ravioli was also well executed, with a whole shrimp in each ravioli and the salmon sauce just tastes like a chowder. She said that she wanted to just drink the sauce on its own. A well and truly successful day for the taste buds. The bill came to $188 pesos for the two of us, including a bottle of ARTISAN wine, and I don’t use the word artisan lightly. It’s days like this that I live for!
So yesterday was a bit of a leisure day after partying ourselves out. Cloria + I = Trouble. It was her first night in town and we were booked to go to El Bistro at Faena Hotel, one of the most awarded restaurants in town. Mostly decorated in ghostly white, I felt like I was in a Lady Gaga music video with the crazy unicorn wall mounts. For a grand $700 pesos, we had 4 Entrées, 2 mains and 3 desserts. Entrées were admirably game, mains were well designed and executed but the desserts were a let down. It had all the typical clichés of fine dining Sydney – micro herbs, foams, deconstructions and smears. But someone, I still think Oscillate Wildly in Newtown is still better. But for $700 pesos with 5 matching wines, I got me sufficiently feliz. Then we bumped into a local celeb with a couple of her tourist friends outside the hotel and went to this club all the way on the other side of town called Tequila where the cover charge is $100 pesos pp. Ouch. When in Rome.
So yesterday was write off. We walked around the city for a bit then exhausted ourselves. Ended our evening with a traditional parilla dinner.
Today’s itinerary was way more exciting as we went to La Boca and it was beautiful. Cobble stone streets, tango in the streets, markets. A bit touristy but it’s really nice after all. On our way back from La Boca, we went through San Telmo and we were impressed how Parisian it is. So looks like we’ve got our Sunday itinerary sorted. As of now, I gotta get ready and go out for dinner at Dada, a modern Argentine cuisine restaurant in the city and followed by some clubbing action. Saturday night in BA, it’ll be epic.