Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Rise Experience And More

We made another religious pilgrimage back to our old neighbourhood this Saturday. We had a whole day of events planned, starting first with lunch at a little Thai eatery in "Thainatown" (little Thailand next to Chinatown) where I had my tom yum noodles and G had his seafood pad thai. This just hit the spot and was just right for the wallet too, now with us on only 1 income.

Then we had a coffee at the Wall, which was quite apt since this was where we had our first date almost 2 years ago and we were going to celebrate that 2nd anniversary with a 7-course degustation dinner at Rise at Darlinghurst later that evening. I have had my eye on Rise for the longest while but my last 2 reservations were aborted for some reason or other which I no longer remember.

A wander around the monthly Surry Hills markets is always a thrill. One never knows what treasure one might chance upon. Unfortunately, I left empty-handed this time.

G had an appointment with Huw at the Light Brigade in Paddo, so we made our way up Oxford St. We realised that the once boarded-up patch of greenery which housed some old structure had been transformed and there were lots of curious sight-seers. So we joined the curious and discovered that it was formerly the Paddington Reservoir which is now disused and had been converted into a park. Some old structures had been retained while a sunken garden had been created. It was a very nice oasis for tired shoppers in upmarket Paddington.

After a few beers with Huw and SJ, with little Leo in tow, we headed off to Rise to meet up with our dinner buddies, Lou and Young. I had discussions with Lou, another foodie about Rise for more than a year, and coincidentally, we had just talked about Rise the week before when we met up for lunch. So it was apt that we finally enjoyed this degustation dinner with them.

We managed to only get seats at the counter and saw the action first-hand. Lou felt that it resembled a factory assembly line and that detracted a little from the enjoyment of the food. I guess the assembly line atmosphere is due to the fact the restaurant was full with patrons taking advantage of the one-week offer of the 40% discount to celebrate the restaurant's 4th anniversary and the chef and assistants were churning out the degustation courses in military precision.

Although a finicky egg-eater who turns up her nose at almost every single type of egg except for the "well-beaten and well-cooked on both sides like a pancake" type of omelette, I actually ate (and even enjoyed) the poached quail egg that was perched on top of the salmon appetiser. This is definitely a first for me, and only goes to show how tasty and non-eggy the egg was.

The sashimi-oyster trio was yummy, the sauces were unusual and added a fusion twist to what one would normally expect. I started feeling a little full at this point and we were halfway through only.

The next trio was probably my favourite. The chawanmushi was again a fusion version with a Thai curry blending with the egg custard. It was just too good as I scraped down the sides of the little shot glass. The little fishball was again a Thai-inspired one with a lovely lemongrass fragrance. The little paper-rolls with chicken stick paled in comparison.

A little portion of green noodles in soy sauce and topped off with a steamed scallop and spring onions, was served in a pretty shell. I enjoyed the presentation and the freshness of the scallop. The chewiness of the noodles was a nice change in texture.

Now onto the main course. We had the chicken confit on greens while the fishisaurus had a king fish main. After all the seafood, I felt that the chicken was a nice change. The portion was just right. Dinner ended with a light and refreshing almond jelly on fresh fruit with amaretti jelly piled on top. Again, I was scraping down the sides of my little glass to try to get every single bit of the dessert. It was yummy.

After dinner, we parted company with our dinner companions, and G and I went to the Victoria Room for a drink as we were reluctant to leave town and go home so early especially on a Saturday night (we weren't THAT old). It was my first time there although I have heard much about the place and the old-fashioned and rather opulent decor was quaint.

Having drunk in the exciting vibes of our surroundings, we were sufficiently satiated and made our way home, happy and contented.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

End Of An Era

My last day at work had come and gone. It was a day marked with nothing out of the ordinary. I went about my day, chatting with people, trying to delete my personal files off my hard drive (and failing), clearing what's left of my few personal effects (bowl and cutlery for lunch), distributing office stuff (like my extra power cord) to colleagues who have earlier made claims on them for when I leave (the vultures) and writing my farewell note.

I started on the note about 4 days earlier, but had nothing to say. The usually prolific writer that I am, got stuck at the distribution list of addressees. That was as far as I got, so I saved it in my draft folder. Somehow I was not inspired to write, maybe it was not time yet or maybe I just didn't feel like saying much anymore. But I couldn't leave it any longer seeing as I had left it to the last day, so I penned 3 lines of my honest thoughts. There was no recounting of past glories, reminiscing of difficult projects and lessons learnt and fighting in the trenches with co-workers and nursing war wounds. It was just about the friendships I've made and the support I've had from my colleagues in the past 12 years and being thankful for them. Short and sweet. And honest. That's what they got. That's what I gave them.

And then at 5 pm, I left. Without a single tear.

It was the end of an era, a close of an old chapter of my life. It was time for me to move on.

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