Between the ages of 20 and 26 I had an on/off relationship with V, a chivalrous young man from Coburg of Greek descent. Part of the attraction was our shared passion for good, fresh food. He introduced me to travel - my first overseas trip was to Greece - and the many wonderful food experiences to be had by venturing to other countries and cultures.
Seven years since our last meeting, we caught up last night over a meal in Melbourne's Chinatown to reminisce about old times and do what we always did best together: eat.
The evening was split into two venues; City BBQ (Lt Bourke) & Mekong (Swanston). City BBQ's crispy skin bbq duck was ordered for me (sans menu) by V - who has lately become a connoisseur of asian cuisine. It arrived sliced into manageable pieces, arranged over a huge plate of steaming fried rice with a slightly "charred" flavour (the non greasy kind). Both were extremely tasty and also a good leveller - you have to basically pick up a piece of duck with chopsticks and somehow tear it, along with the delicious sweet and salty skin, off the bone - at the same time attempting to maintain a semi-dignified conversation with your dining companion. I abandoned all the good table manners I'd been taught and got into it with a combination of fingers, chopsticks and spoon. The texture and sweet/salty flavours of the crispy skin as you bite down, then giving way to melt in the mouth duckfat and tasty meat was beyond any peking duck experience I could remember.
Then I was led to Mekong on Swanston - which has the dodgy claim posted in their window "Clinton ate two bowls (of Pho) - how many can you eat?" - for something called "three colour drink" (pictured, along with "four colour drink"). A complete mystery to me, V explained it's a vietnamese sweet staple, consisting of things like green jelly, red kidney & mung(?) beans, coconut, topped with shaved ice and served with spoon and straw. The idea is that you stir the flavours together a little and sip/eat. I was trying to get my head around eating red kidney beans as a sweet, when I realised I had enjoyed yum cha dishes before with sweet bean paste. The texture and flavours were interesting and I am lover of all things coconut so it ticked all the boxes there, but it was a "once in a while" thing rather than something I'm dying to go back for. I was assured though, that their lemon/lime 'sorbet' is a winner - and various restaurant reviews rave about the pho, so I will venture back soon.
I awoke refreshed this morning realising two very important things:
- It's good to forgive and let go of the past
- Beans make me fart