Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 4 - Sydney

Day 4: Sydney
Beneath our radiant southern Cross,
We'll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"

Pictures: Rendezvous fitness center, A/C sign, Sydney utility box, downtown Metal Lab jewelry store, back to the past: Japanese restroom signs at Tetsuya, and Pear Cider ordered at Custom House bar

Pre-breakfast sauna bath, taken while riding an exerbike in the fitness center. Tomorrow THB will call down and have the staff turn on the A/C 45 minutes before arrival (something tells me that asking DB to head down for a workout an hour before me is not going to be met with eager volunteerism).

Another nearby pastry spot for breakfast, this time we get a pretty bland baguette and a snail with crushed pistachio on top and chocolate (surprise) inside; decent…and two flat whites (looks like decaf espresso and steamed milk), above average, $18. Yes, $18…and that includes a $2 discount for take-away. We are in a very tourist-oriented spot; still this seems an extreme mark-up. Dine on the balcony with fruit from yesterday’s market: below average cherries and a nice plum (peaches not quite ripe yet).

We leave around 10am to wander downtown shopping areas until it is time for the big lunch at Tetsuya’s. The sister to the jewelry store we visited yesterday is in a converted three story building of “some age” and they are on the top floor (see pic), where heat is accumulating already today. There is a sign on the door that says: back in 5 minutes. No idea when the sign went up. Stroll around, come back in 10 minutes, the sign is still up and it is plenty warm. We decide to move on, visiting several other department stores: ahhhhhhh, the food halls are in the basement, just like Japan, and the prices are prettttt-eeeeee pricey. Basically, stuff is 40-100% more than we would pay for comparable items.

We try and track down more galleries, they have moved on (some we knew were gone because we visited them yesterday in their new locations). No success; we do visit another enclosed 3 story building “of some age” that THB remembers from 2000, and the spot where he rested up before heading to volleyball at one of the cafes.

Then the big event of the day: lunch at Tetsuya. We are seated upstairs with 11 of the 12 tables occupied, most with couples, a few with three people. There are several rooms downstairs, they don’t look full. It is very casual, especially for the men: one guy in shorts and t-shirt and flip flops, several others in jeans and casual shirts, nobody in a sports jacket. One table of three guys has their smart phones in their hands the entire time they are not physically eating. Tweeting? Facebook updates? The waiter says it is not that unusual, happens all the time. One woman is taking pictures of every course; others fool with their phones if their partner goes to the restroom. It’s a modern world.

Speaking of restrooms, how about those pictures of the door signage! Try and figure out which is for the women and which one says men all over it…shades of Japan, right here in Sydney.

Now the meal: excellent!! Not quite French Laundry or the better sushi meals we’ve had, as good as or better than most others. The meal:
• Chilled Cucumber Soup with sheep youghurt ice cream
• Sashimi of Kingfish with blackbean and orange
• Marinated NZ Scampi with avocado soup and avruga
• Confit Petuna Ocean Trout with konbu, celery and apple (Tetsuya’s signature dish) and a side salad
• Fillet of Mulloway (fish) with asparagus and Pil Pil
• Grilled Pig’s Tails with West Australian marron (and jambon, unlisted on menu)
• Pancetta wrapped Quail Breast with fresh sprouts and onion (and unlisted, popped rice)
• Slow Braised Beef Rib with smoked garlic and beetroot jus
• Riesling Sorbet with pomelo and Summer Pudding (with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and bread)
• White Peach with Peach Granita
• Spiced Carrot Cake with cream cheese ice cream and peanuts
• Chai Mochi
• Decaf coffee
• Four glasses of Australian wines: Dry Riesling (excellent), Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz. Riesling the best, chard above average (not too oaky), pinot a bit light, shiraz got better as it breathed
• Total with service (not included, unusual for here): $540

Favorite courses: sashimi, ocean trout, quail breast, spiced carrot cake. If only we could share a meal of this magnitude, even with pretty small portions. We have crossed the Rubicon where a) we could both eat every course and still be fine afterwards and b) where THB could finish every course for DB and not feel the aftereffects! We could see a couple of younger folks where the guy was mopping up for his partner…not us, not anymore.

The weather: starts out sticky, it feels very much post-rain, overcast. Then mid-morning, it isn’t quite as humid, it is very hot in the sun. By late afternoon it is no longer humid, it has cleared up, and breezy. THB decides to go for a dip in the hotel pool: IT IS TOO COLD! How can that be? The pool is in shade, it is cold water, it is windy, and it is no longer appealing to dive in. No more complaining about the heat: if you can’t stand the cold water, get out of the pool.

LB has sent her recently repatriated friend Vicky some film (yes, there are people that still take photos the old-fashioned way…amazing), and Vicky and Wade have come in to the city to make the pickup and take us to a local bar. We head to the Customs House, on the quay, where on the first floor (okay, ground floor here), under the glass floor is a model of Sydney’s downtown. Very impressive, and then we head up to the 5th floor (or is it the 4th? 6th?) where there is a bar and restaurant. The restaurant has a terrific view of the harbor; we can’t face another meal so we settle into the bar where the womenfolk have Pear Cider (Sharon/Craig: see, taste testing everywhere we go! Made of NZ pears and quite refreshing; see pic) and the men have local brews…beers that Wade knows and THB clearly does not. Both good choices! Some Indian snacks: mini-samosas and naan with eggplant dip. Total $60.

Of note: in the bar we can see people coming and going and most if not all are way more stylishly dressed than anything we saw at Tetsuya’s today. Hmmmmmm…

We see some huge flying bats on the way back…back in time to watch a bit of Australian Womens final: quite exciting.

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