Almost every Monday morning I have several people ask me “So how was your weekend” as a prelude to dismissing my answer with an impatient wave of the hand before launching into what they really want to talk about — i.e. what they did on the weekend.
Well, fuck them and their jetpacks. Tomorrow morning, it’s all going to be all about me. By the time I’m finished their coffees will be cold, and whatever dreary shit they wanted to impress me with will seem second-rate. Because I had an awesome weekend.
My wife and I stayed at a swanky hotel in the city on Saturday night, enjoying some serious retail therapy before an early dinner and then a concert at the Conservatorium of Music. Our son’s sixth year with the symphony, and probably my favourite performance. Afterwards, it was ten minutes by train and we were back in our room, kicking off our shoes.
I opened the blinds to admire the city nightscape, and a light in the highrise opposite clicked off. But the window stayed open. Some sad, old man sitting in the dark with a 70-200mm on a tripod, hoping to capture some hanky-panky from guests at said swanky hotel opposite? Sorry buddy.
We were up early the next morning for a hot breakfast at a local cafe, then a six minute drive to Bondi (and 30 minutes trying to find a park). Finally, these 20+ year residents of Sydney were walking the esplanade at Bondi, sightseeing and taking photos ahead of lunch at Brown Sugar, where I would enjoy third best meal of my life.
I should pause and list the other two: second-place goes to a rabbit ballontine I once degustated at The Bloomsbury in London in 2012. First place (stop and listen for a moment, are those angels, singing?) was a perfect medium-rare steak at a tiny restaurant on the Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris on a very rainy April’s day, where we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.
The fish pie at Brown Sugar came this close to bumping the ballontine. We were joined by my other son and his girlfriend — they ordered squid ink pasta, and my wife had a lovely piece of salmon, but I could tell they were all jelly when I broke through the golden crust and we were hit by that extraordinary aroma. Mother of god it was good.
While I’d say Bondi is overrated, who am I to judge on a freezing, windy day? We had whetted our appetites with a lap of the famous beach, walking it from end to end and back again. I took photos of old ladies doing laps at Icebergs, surfers and swimmers daring the rip. The water was so cold even the seagulls kept their feet dry. Nothing like 10k before lunch to make you appreciate your food.
Even the trip home through Sydney wasn’t awful for once. Perhaps it was my mood, buoyed by an awesome 48 hours and a full belly. It made me quietly happy that I can still enjoy a weekend like that with my wife of almost 30 years and bicker about nothing — except where the fuck do you park in Bondi??
So many things left to do with the next thirty years!
There’s a small hotel in Portofino that doesn’t know it yet, but we’re on our way. Castles in Ireland, Germany and Spain with our names on them. But even if COVID keeps the borders shut, it’s good to know there are plenty of fish pies for us to enjoy closer to home.