Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,


I landed in Melbourne late this afternoon, on a plane with several people from the conference. Geoff H. had sent Mike C. to pick me up at the airport to take me to his place. Both Geoff and Mike are people I know from the Usenix conferences in the US although Mike wasn't at the Australian equivalent and Geoff had to leave on Tuesday night. I waited for my baggage, standing around with people I've been hanging out with for a week and catching up with Mike C. who of course knew the other folks, all as if I lived here and these were my local friends and this was a perfectly regular thing for me to be doing. But we went out to the car and the steering wheel was on the wrong side and I looked around at a landscape I had never seen before and we drove into a major city that was completely unfamiliar to me, in appearance and layout.

I have landed on some distant parallel universe planet.

On this planet they have amazing stunning fish restaurants, or at least one anyway. One of my Australia dreams was that I'd go to a fancy restaurant in a land known for its fish (and Melbourne is a city known for its restaurants) and have one of those rare restaurant experiences of luscious gluttonous ecstasy. I'm here to tell you that your dreams can come true, boys and girls.

Geoff and I met up with Brian C., one of the two Brian C's I met at the Usenix Lisa conference in Seattle several years ago. This is the one who lives in Melbourne. We ate at a restaurant in the Fitzroy section called Claypots. This was exactly what I had been looking for.

At Claypots they have a different assortment of fish every night, fish of shining freshness. You order whole fish, to be shared. This means that some fish serve four or five or six people, others serve two or three. We went to the fish counter in the back to look over the selection and size. There were fish I'd never known: duckfish, leatherjacket, trevally. Because it looked so beautiful I asked if we could order the mulloway, which was served with plum chutney and what may have been bok choy on the side, and couscous.

Every bite, every single morsel of every bite, was a meltingly orgasmic food experience. How could you not come here every night, I asked Geoof, who pointed out that you have to come with others. We also had a "claypot" hot container of a Moroccan shellfish stew.

Oh, oh -- but before the main course we chose from a tray of appetizers (called entrees here), each also a shudderingly tasty dish. We had a grilled garfish, and spiced prawns in shells you eat, and seaweed salad.

We skipped dessert and walked around Melbourne, which has what Geoff calls a "cafe scene": many small interesting cafes and clubs hidden in the dumpster-lined lanes behind the main streets. First the Hairy Canary, where we had fine sweet unusual Sherry, then the Croft Institute, which is decorated like a high school chemistry lab. Actually there was a cover charge at the Croft Institute, but Brian C. convinced the bouncer to let me in to walk around and check the place out. Which I did. The women's room door was painted "Department of Female Hygiene."

By that point I was falling asleep, as was Brian, so he taxied home and Geoff and I walked back to his place right smack in the center of the Central Business District and here I am telling you about it before collapsing into bed. Geoff has just brought me some relaxing nighttime herbal tea. Tomorrow we're going to some enormous Farmer and Flea market, then off to the outlying areas of Melbourne. Many of the people I met at the conference live in Melbourne, and I have a pile of business cards with notes to call people if I think I can fit in a visit.

Tell me again how I managed to arrange my life to make this possible.
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