Day 2 in Melbourne was the only day that had a firm appointment which needed to be kept. It had been pencilled in the calendar since last November and it’s importance overshadowed my appetite. Breakfast was a non-starter in today’s order of play but I knew that Melbourne, with more eating options than a Margaret Fulton cookbook, would mean the ledger would be squared up at lunch.
My appointment was with a local artisan cordwainer who specialises in bespoke footwear. As a proud owner of two plates of meat measuring 14 2E (double extra wide), finding something to cover them on a daily basis is frustrating. After much research Wootten, www.wootten.com.au located in the inner suburb of Prahran was given the brief to house my hooves in something that is stylish and slightly quirky. For those still scratching their head, a cordwainer makes shoes, a cobbler repairs them.
I had previously visited the store in November when set squares, protractors and scientific calculators resulted in the necessary measurements being taken. Other decisions such as the style, colour and which animals was going to die for the cause were all discussed (with the size of my feet there is probably a couple more entries on the endangered species list?) With so many decisions I was hoping there was an old dusty pair of Dunlop Volleys lying around in my size as my head was starting to hurt. But that’s why these guys are considered the best in the business, attention to the smallest detail. On this, my second visit, there was a number of people in the shop. I had arrived early and saw an older lady picking up a beautiful pair of sandals but it was the distinguished couple in the corner that piqued my attention. The man, probably 70-ish was a snapshot of style. A fancy chequered shirt teamed with pants that would have made Gianni Versace all warm and fuzzy. It was his face that was familiar, grey hair with a moustache. Suddenly my mind was stuck in a game of Guess Who, racing through all the elderly gents with facial hair that I could muster.
He was sitting down trying on a pair of oxblood shoes, the kind that look out of place with his other attire, but uber stylish. As he looked at his wife asking for some fashion counsel, it hit me – the riddle was solved.
“Resa, I love the style but what do you think about the colour?” giving me all the confirmation I needed.
My eyes focused, I started to stride over and before his wife was able to conjour up a response…
Me: “A national hero such as yourself, John Bertrand deserves a pair of shoes that compliment a man of your ilk and standing in the community…”
Nobody in the store had an idea that we were in the room with sporting royalty, the first non-American to win the America’s Cup off the United States, breaking a 132 year streak. This is considered the high watermark in Australia’s rich sporting history and John Bertrand sometimes is mentioned in the same breaths as Bradman and Phar Lap. His exploits took place in 1983 so I could excuse the owners of not being aware given their age. However the old lady with sandals was lucky I didn’t hit her over the head with them, she had no excuses.
John Bertrand looked confused, it’s not everyday some sporting history buff walks his way in a suburban shoe store. His wife was even more perplexed. I continued, amongst the wide eyes and dropped jaws.
Me: “… and why do I know this? Because John I have exactly the same pair!” That was a lie, but it provided the cue for my semi-formed boots to make their first public unveiling.
John caught a glimpse of my new kicks and their colour was similar to the ones on his feet so he started asking me questions. Here is a sporting icon talking to me about shoe styles, lace colours and the other myriad of options while I continue to bluff my way through with gems such as “you don’t want to take these near the salt water, it reacts with the leather.”
Not much more to add – the (super friendly and approachable) Bertrands made future appointments, my shoes fitted perfectly and I caught the tram home with a spring in my step. John, if you are reading this let me know if you settled on the Gordon Boot or the Derby shoe?
There is nothing like a chance meeting with the Skipper of Australia II to give you inspiration. I was going to funnel said inspiration into putting a hole in the menu at Chin Chin – an establishment which casts a long shadow over the Melbourne dining scene. A couple of my friends had visited some years before and told me of the menu option simply titled, “FEED ME”. As the name suggests food will continue until the chef thinks a reasonable person is on the verge of suffering organ failure. Our party of four was going to be in for some chewing over the next two hours.
The food came out at such a speed that even my camera could not keep up (apologies for the inferior images).
Swordfish sashimi with various herbs and citrus. Forks were turned into weapons at this point as we all tried to get more than our allocation.
Fish cake hidden in a jungle of greens. We got another plate as two of these was not going to keep our quartet sated.
It’s been over a week so my memory is dusty. A shredded duck number with pancakes, Asian sauce and salad. I just remember it was tasty.
Octopus with a chilli and lime dressing with a crumb that made me draw unwanted attention by licking the plate. Side note: the wines/cocktails/beers made their appearance at this point, impacting photo quality.
A noodle dish with super hot chilli, prawns and other creatures from the deep blue were hiding under the rice noodles.
Next stop on the flavour train, Pork. Teamed up with an apple slaw and good times.
Shocking photo. Squint and you may see a prawn and rice combination. But if you see a sasquatch with green legs you get a pass mark. Honestly I am punching in the dark with this one!
This is where the meal started getting serious. Meat on the bone, we are playing for keeps now.
The “after” shot.
Salmon wrapped up in a leaf and steamed. Served with a chilli sauce.
Curry. The type escapes me. Let’s just settle on delectable.
The kitchen must have known we were starting to slow, the desserts were being mentioned by the wait staff. Dumplings which were steamed (as healthy eating at this point made a world of difference).
Soft shell crab with a risotto like setup. Top marks and happy memories.
Espresso Martinis! Reduced memories.
Dessert #1. Banana and nuttela pancake.
Dessert #2. Sticky black rice with a cakey like bit of gear. At this stage my heart had stopped beating at regular intervals.
Dessert #3. Icecream, cream and sundries topped with honeycomb. The final slow dance with our tastebuds.
The meal was a near religious experience. The four of us decided that it would be best if we never ate again. Like a relationship bust up where, “we will still be friends”, we all knew that it was one of those promises you can’t keep. It wasn’t long until we met up with the rest of the group who had arrived from Queensland. Beers and conversations flowing free like flabby underarms in a bingo hall.
A few hours of catching up leads to food and I broke my earlier promise with a modern take on green papaya salad with fish and rice. This came courtesy of Cookie, a poorly lit den of cocktails and food in the heart of the CBD.
Once digested with the aid of a nightcap I headed for the tram as I’d had more than my fair share of fun today. Because of an altercation that broke out on the tram (nothing to do with me), I missed my stop and ended up in St Kilda. After this detour I made it home in one piece, reputation intact and belly still full.