cocktail crawl 10-11th august 2015

street art in the laneways

Pushing some buttons..

The same night I moved into the Majorca Building, I had a walking degustation tour. The tour was approximately 3 hours in length, and we made stops at 3 different restaurants: Neapoli, Izakaya Den and Seamstress. I had 3 vegetarian courses at each place, and they were all colourful, beautifully presented and combined well with the paired wines. At Neapoli, I particularly remember this gorgeous artichoke dish. Overall, servings of wine tended to be on the generous side (not technically one unit per hour), and I ended up considerably more looped than I expected to be. At Izakaya Den, instead of three usual wines, one was a sake, and another choice was a Japanese beer. Yes, I was open to everything..

This was my second Hidden Secrets tour. I had already taken the Café Culture tour with Sarah. This one was conducted by Fiona. I tried both partly because I was trying to push myself to be a bit more social. When travelling in 2008, I was a little low on human interaction. Plus, I can identify I like coffee, food and wine.. I'd enjoyed degustations every time I've tried them (all 3 times in 9 years!) and so it seemed to make sense. Even the Café Culture tour, which included a lot of info about the history and architecture of Melbourne, also was a kind of coffee degustation, with some treats added in: a baked custard dessert of some kind, a Koko Black truffle, a La Belle Miette ('the beautiful crumb') macaron, and then lunch at Captains of Industry.

street art in the laneways

The 'Magic' coffee I had at Captains of Industry "is steamed milk poured over a double ristretto and served in a smaller 160ml cup giving it the optimum coffee to milk ratio. (A ristretto is a 'restricted espresso', meaning that it's the first half of a shot of coffee only and supposedly purer.)"

After the food and wine degustation, I headed back to Bar Ampère, which had been pointed out by Fiona during the walk as a place that served real absinthe (which I've never tried - some years ago, I did try the other type, which was a lot of fun, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try the real stuff. The bartender there explained that you add sugar and water depending on your personal taste. I drank my first cup without anything, and then he mixed some for my second so I could see what it was like. My memory gets a bit fuzzy at that point.. but I will try to recap a little bit later in this entry.

But, although I am not normally a tour person, I do recommend the Hidden Secrets tours. The guides are knowledgeable without being unapproachable. It can be difficult to narrow down where to go in Melbourne, and I think both guides were extremely helpful.

When I got up and showered, I headed out to the Victoria Markets. I bought enough supplies for a while.

when shops close up for the night, doors like this come down

My hangover breakfast was a colourful falafel wrap and an iced coffee. I liked both.. a bit later I tried my first churro, for a dollar. The next day, instead of Spanish donuts, I had Sicilian donuts with coffee in the apartment - I also bought these at the markets.

falafel wrap and iced coffee for breakfast/hangover

I did notice that at the Victoria Markets, they seemed to be selling a lot of 'aboriginal art' that didn't seem authentic.

queen victoria market

queen victoria market

On the 11th, my idea was to do something of an eccentric pub crawl.. stopping at cocktail bars that had been pointed out by Sarah. I first went to Romeo Lane. The street itself was originally named Romeo Lane because it was a prostitution district. It has now been renamed Crossley St, and the bar/restaurant itself is situated in a very old building from the old days. It's very nice in there, and there's a cute little fireplace that actually gives off a nice amount of heat. I had this gruyère thing with raspberries and rhubarb, very pretty, and which combined well with the rosé which was recommended for me. And then I had The Violet Cocktail.

romeo lane

The theme of raspberries and pink hues continued as I tried out the raspberry cupcakes at Madame Brussels ($5) with their very red Love Juice cocktail.

romeo lane

Basically, both Romeo Lane and Madame Brussels had lovely presentation.

And good ambiance. Romeo Lane was more romantic and warm (and the hooks for hanging coats and backpacks/purses were good), and it's a cosy spot for meeting friends, but it could also be a good place for a 'romantic' evening. Madame Brussels was campy and fun, more flirty or naughty.

madame brussels

Very Pink. Fake grass/astroturf carpeting.. I thought it was cold outside, but they heated it.. which I didn't find out until I left. But I did get a tour of The Parlour - which can be booked for parties.

raspberry cupcakes

After, I was open to whatever.. and maybe thought I needed a savoury meal, but a lot of things were closed, and I thought it might be 'safer' to stay to main streets or well-lit areas or not wander too far where I didn't know my way around, and I ended up at the Hells thing in the laneway here.. and the kitchen was closed, or I would have tried to get some soup. to balance the sweetness. But I got a house red called Hells something, and after, I tried a Chambord (another thing I'd never tried before), to continue the raspberry theme..

hells upstairs

I have probably walked a lot many of the days of the trip. I don't notice so much when on a caffeine-sugar high, or when inebriated.

Ah yes.. I also liked how I looked in the Hells bathroom. But the bar itself might be a little too trendy for me, or I feel 'uncool' or something. Late at night, there were lots of people there, and I wasn't really wearing something hip, and I was probably too ancient..


hells upstairs

After the walking degustation, followed by the absinthe, I am not really sure what happened, but I seemed to meet up with an odd assortment of characters. My memory of how it all went is a little foggy. One was a young guy.. I asked if he knew where I could get some drugs, like ecstasy or acid, and he only knew where to get pot, and I ended up smoking pot with him - something I haven't done in many years. And I walked all over with another guy who seemed to be a kind of Catcher in the Rye wandering the streets of Melbourne, but less jaded, more eccentric.

absinthe at bar ampère

I would like to invite someone up here for a drink. And maybe a snack.. I have a good collection of tasty things. Will I get another opportunity, or is this it?

My trip is going perhaps surprisingly well.

bar ampère

I might need to stay in for a few days to write and process, and eat some of the foods I bought at the Victoria markets, drink a little more.. I am having a lot of amazing food, drink, and coffee, and am probably gaining a bit of weight.. but I had allowed for that, and I think it's true that it is enjoyable to gain in this way.


My default coffee choice is usually a cappuccino made with skim milk, but while here I have been trying other types.. there was the Magic, and I've had a skinny long macchiato, espresso, a flat white, and I had a latte at Pellegrini's - I think there is something about the type of coffee they use, or something, but I think that one was my favourite. (Pellegrini's. They are a Melbourne institution..)

chocolate éclair from acland cake shop and skinny long macchiato

Lots of 'healthy' breakfasts.. ha. A chocolate éclair and a long macchiato on the morning of the 10th just before I moved into The Majorca Building.. different donuts the next couple of days..

sicilian donuts and coffee in apartment 401

When I've had a bit of time to process, I will see if for my next task I can manage to find out more about the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), which is on at present (but it might only be for a few more days, so hopefully I will work it out soon.) I have tried to check out the website, but it was kind of slow, and my time on computers tends to be limited to one hour per day.

I've had a lot of contact with actual people this time. One thing I haven't mentioned so far is that I had a tarot reading done (at Spellbox, in the Royal Arcade.) I had a lot in common with the reader, when it came to estrangement from family, being odd in ways that much of the world doesn't understand, creativity and a kind of sensitivity or awareness that allows us to see layers of life and psychology that others miss.. I did not mention the depression and suicide stuff, but we did focus on how at present I am in a 'good period' for me.

The reading: Now is my time to 'shine', and to also receive recognition, feedback and monetary compensation for my 'work'. It's a good time for a move, and if I want to move to Melbourne, it seems favourable. In the past, not enough groundwork was laid, but now the pieces should fit together. There is not likely to be a new relationship for another year or so, and then when there is, it will likely start off with an intellectual attraction/a lot of discussion. Basically, I think the reader and I got along very well, and in spite of our differences, I think we did connect. There were emotional moments, and I think it was good to get out of my usual headspace, analyze less, and just let myself go with it all, links, associations, symbols - ways to connect with emotions, unexpected paths to emotions and feelings. I don't really expect feedback at this point, and monetary compensation for my work? Hmmm. But it was fun to get a reading, a good experience, and I'm glad I did it.

I also thought I would try to get an appointment with a psychologist I found online, but I left a message through email and she didn't get back to me. I haven't ruled this out for the future (and she even states on her site that she is willing to do Skype sessions), and this psychologist really stands out to me.

And another aspect of the situation as a whole: I thought I'd try to get a consult with a cosmetic surgeon. The office also didn't get back to me. Basically, I wanted to have a look at my options, and see what a professional would recommend as far as how to achieve significant results by focusing in on what would work best for me personally - and of course I would have to be realistic about what is possible, and be willing to accept risks. I'm curious about this. It doesn't mean I have to get anything done, but I think it would be a significant step to face this situation and ask.

The tours I went on were all composed of females. In some ways this was easier. Along with me and the tour guide for the degustation, there was a lesbian couple. One of the women had planned this as a birthday celebration for her partner. I am not sure if anyone found me weird, but I had a good time, and think both groups (composed of guides and women) worked well for me.

But, I have had contact with males as well. Hmmm.. usually considerably younger. Dancing/talking one night, walking around smoking pot with another, and then just walking around and talking with another.

After drinking, I do notice that bags and circles under my eyes are more pronounced than usual, but even aside from that, there are issues, and I am most comfortable wearing sunglasses. But, at night when I met these people, I wasn't wearing sunglasses. I did leave the sunglasses on for the whole Café Culture tour, but not the degustation.

When she asked about my work, I did tell Fiona that I hadn't left the house in 7 years, and that my trip to Melbourne represented me getting out there. She said we could keep it between ourselves, and I think she thought I had opened up about it because I was drunk.. but I then babbled something about how in order to reduce stigma in relation to this kind of thing, it's not a terrrible idea to be open about it. It happens, it is part of life and human experience.

->exile on meme st: a diary