Sunday, 22 June 2008

A Day in the City - Covered in Lace

Ok ... so it was one of those days in the city which started at the gallery.

 a shot of the eureka tower with the mobile phon enroute to the NGV

We always seem to end up walking up through the arts centre to get to the gallery, and invariably M wants to stop at the performing arts gallery which always has interesting performing arts related work - you know like costumes, set design models and drawings, sketches of the stage etc etc ...
I can breeze through the space in under 20 mins, M likes to read all the details, the techniques, the history surrounding the subject matter so on so forth. The main reason I'm not unduly excited by this space is beacuse it has too much of a hint of the nanna crowd for my liking. But, now and then, you discover something truly fascinating as I did with Susan Wirth. There's sweet FA about her on the web, so I'm afraid all I can tell you is that she works in Melbourne and that she uses stretched fabric to "paint" her pictures based mainly on old photos. Its the uncovered areas of the canvas which show ut the details, so each picture is in relief as it were.
I took some photos with my mobile phone - but there are marginally better shots found here:
Still doesn't quite do it justice. Its more of a textural thing and being all in tones of black, its hard to capture this on film - digital or otherwise.
The main reason we were at the NGV was to see that Art Deco exhibition thats been written about and advertsied - well it hasn't quite started yet has it??? Duh!!
We couldn't really find aything else we wanted to look at, and we were feeling a little peckish, so after a quick run through the shop (of course, you have to!!) we headed out to Swanston Street on foot.
I actually really like doing this little stretch between the art gallery, pass south bank, over the yarra, then flinders street station onto swanston and into the heart of the city. There's so much to take in and such an interesting mix of people at this end. I made my usual comments and helped pick out who was EMO from the crowd for the benefit of M. He didn't quite get it at first. He kept pointing to the "too cool for school" crowd as they had skinny jeans and floppy fringes. I helped set him right. In fact there was a big group of them milling just outside the Hifi bar - I couldn't have hoped for better examples!!
Anyhoo ...there were a couple of places along swanston street that I've always wanted to check out. But as we were walking towards one of the joints, we passed by a new place called Dumpling Plus. It was reasonably packed and the smells coming out well and trully piqued our interest. We had a quick look at the menu, found a few interesting dishes and decided to go in.
I am soooo glad we did. It was just the perfect meal for a perfect wintry afternoon. We scored a table in in front of the exposed dumpling making part of the kitchen:
We ordered some shanghai pork dumplings - which were so delicate and juicy with that chinese stock flavour that is both intense and fresh at the same time. They had the best example of shanghainese chilli sauce which I've ever had. I'm not sure exactly what goes into this, there's a darker tinge to the sauce, and if we were in south east asia, that would signal prawn paste or belacan, but not here. And it has whole pepper corns and nuts and all manner of unrecognizable condiments, but the whole fiery taste is salty (in a salted soy bean way) and sweet (maybe xiao shing wine?). Anyways, I reckon we scooped out at least 3/4 of the pot.
We also had some radish and chive dumplings, a fried minced lamb cake and these minced pork balls in that dark soy with coriander style sauce that the chinese do so well. This was the highlight for me. It was a tad more expensve than the other dishes ($15 for this one, the others came in under $10), but you get 4 pretty heavy balls and some bak choy and a whole lot of sauce. Just order this and a bowl of rice and you'll be happy. I swear you'll have the biggest smile after you put that first bit in your mouth.
By the way, no offence to other mandarin speakers, but I really love the way the Taiwanese speak the language (and please I'm not trying to score a veiled political point here). There was a table of 4 Taiwanese girls next to us. Skinny binnies that can eat a whole side of pig and still fit into to zero-sized jeans. Sometimes its an advantage to know a bit of mandarin - peops can never guess that I am from the region myself, so they let down their guard when speaking in their mother tongue, which is unfortunate for them, as I had 12 years of chinese lessons, and can hold my linguistic own. But anyhoo, there's something about the clarity and the nuance of the accent and pronounciation. When you listen to formal mandarin, it just sounds so theatrical and ott, and then the other end of the scale are those mandarin speakers who shorthand and drop endings so much so that what is essentially a very mannered language ends up sounding as rough as hokkien. The Taiwanese accent in many ways is fairly neutral, but when they talk, the inflections sound intelligent, erudite somehow ... I'm not explaining this very well ... I'm sure there's a chinese idiom that will encapsulate what I want to say in 4 characters.
Our day ended with a krispy kreme en route to the car. Original Glazed of course!!! Its the ONLY one worth queueing for.
More weekends like these I say!!!


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