Jetting off to Japan (again)

With Sydney cracking 47 degrees and more heatwaves looming, I made the impulsive decision (albeit six months prior) to jet off to Japan, and with it the depths of winter. Although I’ve been to Japan before, and am going to many of the same places, I’m excited to use this trip as a way of making or breaking my theory that it’s the people you’re with that make the trip, not necessarily where it is in the world that you are. This time the team is almost ten people strong, and by the time I arrived I was already a week behind. And you know what they say about playing catch-ups…

It’s an odd feeling to feel familiar in an foreign environment, but that’s exactly how I felt when I stepped out of the Shibuya Train Station in Tokyo and back into his arms again. We’ve all seen pictures of the famous Scramble Crossing and the bright lights of Tokyo, but it was more than that – I remembered the smell of the 7-Eleven’s on every corner, the rush of people on the streets, the vending machine restaurants, the tiny square cars, the lack of bins anywhere, and how much I absolutely loved this city.

First day back and I felt like I was in Melbourne more than in Tokyo. Lucky enough to have our own personal barista on hand, we could be sure that the city had been scoured and all the best coffee spots noted. Starting the day at About Life Coffee Brewers is not a bad way. So, you’re welcome.

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Once the crew was assembled, and matching outfits were planned for the following day as is apparently the fashion in Tokyo, we headed off for our first and arguably most important adventure. Not only does it sound like a level in Candy Crush, but Sunshine City is also the home to the Pokémon Mega Center. Within twenty minutes Romy had spent most of her remaining budget on Pokémon merch, he had bought more cards than he could hold, and Ed, Dan, John and Brandon were battling on the Pokémon arcade machines outside – both against each other and with the machine, I think.

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A quick refuel at our first lucky-dip restaurant – lucky-dip in that the menu had absolutely no English, and neither did the staff. But nonetheless always a fun experience, and there was even enough room for all of us which is about as rare as John’s shining legendary Pokémon card.

An afternoon challenge against time-restraints and the Japanese rail system, we made it to Studio Ghibli, which was like being transported into another world. The building itself reminded me of Gaudí, and seeing the work that goes into making the films, plus Romy’s intense obsession made me eager for some Netflix ‘n’ Ghibli when I get home. And to top it all off, we went to the coolest sushi train in the world: sushi served by robots. Need I say more?

We woke up the next morning to Roman’s birthday, *insert something about Taylor Swift and being 22*, and headed off to Yoyogi Park where we found out that most of Japan was celebrating too (for Japanese Federation Day or Roman’s birthday, you pick). Escaping the crowds we ducked into the Meiji Shrine, where he tried his hand at picking up a new bird and the rest of us swapped catching Pokémon for catching coy in the massive pond that surrounded the gardens.

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Opting out of the Hedgehog cafe, him and I opted in for the Ramen House with the line out the door and down the street, and were not left disappointed. Feeling full enough that I’d never need to eat again, walking the length of Takeshita Street in Harajuku proved otherwise. Filled with shops of everything you never knew you needed (or wanted) and more, it wasn’t long before my tummy was groaning more than Ed does about me stealing his personal time with him, but boy oh boy did we have something incredible planned for dinner. To celebrate the man of the moment, we headed to Han no Daidokoro Dogenzaka, a Japanese-BBQ where we were served wagyu beef in every way possible and even got to cook it ourselves, not that it really needed cooking. My favourite was the wagyu beef sashimi sushi. Yeah, you heard me right. After that is was a Vape and some VB’s for the birthday boy; the recipe for the very best night.

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And that was just two days. I have two more days to catch you up on but don’t have the time to write about them now. What did I tell you about playing catch-ups…it’s a dangerous game.

E x

P.s. All photos are taken by him because I’m too busy GoPro-ing

You’ll phind me in Phuket

Well I’ve been to Thailand before, but now I can say I’ve been to paradise. The last few days have been such a whirlwind but in the best possible way – like the  kind of whirlwind you create when you mix the bubbles into your bath. Speaking of which, I’m currently sitting in my ensuite, filling up my enormous stone bath with petals and bath salts. As I said, I’m in paradise.

It all started with the reunions of all reunions, a moment that will no doubt stay with me for a lifetime. Having the same butterflies in your stomach as you did meeting him for the first coffee a year ago is pretty special. Even if he surprised me with some unsightly facial hair, his smile was still visible so I was set.

Next the reunions kept flowing until the (lit af) fam was a solid unit again. Something I felt pretty honored to be part of. And what a place to do it – The Sarojin  in Khao Lak, Phuket, aka paradise. Private suites with beds the size of my room, an adjoining bathroom with open waterfall shower and enormous stone bath, spas on the deck, and even a resident cat if you’re lucky. The gardens are sprawling and the pool is stunning. Days are spent lounging by the pool, playing croquet in the garden, walking the length of the beach and chasing hermit crabs, getting massages to the sound of the waves, and enjoying all day breakfast all day long.

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Thankful for the sleeping pill I popped on the flight over here, I made it to the most incredible, bucket-list-ticking birthday dinners. Picture this: candle lit dinner on the beach, 12 courses cooked right in front of you, the sounds of the waves, the best company and all to celebrate the birthday of a pretty special person. Finished with lighting our own laterns and setting them off into the sky. Something that has actually always been on my bucket list. Tick. Nothing could ruin a night like that, even rain.

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Don’t know how much more of this paradise I can handle, but I’m pretty sure it’s much more. Would love to share more, but drinks are calling!

E x

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Messing around at Messina

Now before you say anything, yes I know I am breaking code with this post. It’s not travel. But those of you who know me could probably argue that to get me all the way to Darlinghurst on a cold, rainy night takes about as much planning as a overseas trip.

Plus, this experience seemed far too good not to write about.

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It was his birthday on Tuesday, and as a present I took him to the Gelato Messina Creative Department’s new degustation restaurant. There are eight seats per sitting, and seven courses, all paired with a complementing drink. Sounds good already, right?

Course One
We started with a Feijoa and Lemon Geranium Granita served in an ice bowl and drizzled with olive oil. What? Yum.
Course Two
Tarragon sherbet, lemonade fruit compote and finger lime gel, accompanied with a cold pressed pear and black cardamom juice. Now we’re talking.

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Course Three
Olive oil sorbet, confit fennel and crispy fennel with a black truffle sauce. This was served with a cold pressed roasted beetroot, rhubarb and pine tree oil juice. It was at this point that I started losing my mind. How the hell did they made ice cream taste savory?
Heston Blumenthal, eat your heart out.

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Course Four
Almond gelato, potato and brown butter cream, porcini crisps and caviar, served with an organic Ahinsa Estate Orange Peko Tea. This one felt like an interesting take on the classic steak and mash meal, but about a trillion times better. I think it was by this course that I worked out that the smile plastered across his face wasn’t going anywhere quickly.
*self high-five*

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Course Five
Goats milk yoghurt gelato, persimmon aged for three weeks and soaked in sake, inside a mannitol egg shell (alcohol sugar). Definitely the most theatrical of the courses, we got to smash open our eggs to reveal the most ridiculous #eggporn known to man.Willy Wonka, are you missing your golden goose?

This course was also paired with what we both decided was the best of the drinks. A cold pressed smoked red apple, mandarin zest and bayleaf juice.

Smoking seems to be the bee’s knees these days. Recently we’ve tried smoked avocado, smoked salt and now smoked red apple. It’s no surprise then that he has decided he wants a smoker, and I have decided I definitely want him to get a smoker. Shame he didn’t mention it before his birthday.

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Course Six
Honeycomb gelato made from infused bee’s wax, financier sponge, and crisp bee pollen honeycomb, accompanied by a bubbly house-made ginger beer. Disclaimer: no bees were harmed in the making of this dish. All collected from the same hive, the only thing not used was the actual bee.

It was sweet, just like my date, and this wasn’t even dessert.

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Course Seven
A tonka bean gelato, with vanilla mousse, coffee soil, and chocolate paper, served with a caramelised ameretto infused milk reduction. Yuuuuuuuuummmm. Thank god dark chocolate doesn’t trigger migraines, and I’m fully capable of consuming milk.*

*That was an in-joke, just in case you are confused.

All in all, it was an excellent night. Even though the food was of such high quality, the service was really relaxed and casual and they even invited you to walk around the kitchen in between service. Each course was served with more exciting utensils than the previous, and you got to keep the menu at the end of the night. Being the first night of the new menu, we were lucky enough to be treated to some petit fours at the end of the night – think candied eggplant with blackberry jam, soy sauce and siaoxing pepper, stracciatella cheese with olive oil and smoked salt, and flash frozen goats curd with lemon and licorice gel.

An unforgettable experience, and a high standard set for birthdays. No pressure, though.

Here’s hoping he had the most amazing night.
There is nothing better than seeing him smile.

Love,

E.

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@gelatomessina #messinacreativedepartment #messinadessertbar