First stop was picking Sydney Shop Girl - I am always embarrassingly early and this trait worked out well as I got to wait for her in the coolness of the hotel lobby, admiring a beautiful bride, and just being thankful I wasn't in the heat. 15 minutes later and SSG came down to meet me, I was calm, and we were set for a fabulous dinner.
We headed on to My Mexican Cousin - which is situated in the Melbourne Recital Centre on Southbank Boulevard (where I won my Yooralla Media Award). Unfortunately there is a big lack of parking in the area, and we had to park around 500 metres away. Ok, it was probably less, but in that heat it seemed a bigger distance. I was pleased to be able to swing my car into a tight spot (I am not good at reverse parking, having only ever done during my driving test back in 2000 - gosh, it pains me to admit that in writing, on the internet, which will be forever - but with SSG's guidance, I made it. And also did another semi reverse park later in the night! Things are looking up for my reverse parking skills. Note - I am pretty competent at driving forward.
It was a good job we parked so far away because we ate So. Much. Food. And needed to walk it off. My Mexican Cousin is not the Mexican I've been obsessed with lately. It is more like home-style Southern American tapas and mains. Which may prepare me well for my American trip.
We were perched at the bar, where the cool kids sat, quipped the barman, drinking wine and starting off with bar snacks.
First up - spicy and sweet popcorn. It had bites of chilli and perhaps honey. I definitely know there was chilli on the popcorn as some of it ended up in my eye and I had to make a hasty trip to the bathroom to dab my eye with water and eye drops. I want to try making the popcorn at home. I promise to be careful with the chilli.
The second main we shared was the pulled pork topped with crusted cornbread. While maybe a little too hearty for the temperature outside, it was such a yummy dish. It was served in a hot skillet. The cornbread was just crisp enough, and between the cornbread and pork was a layer of melted cheese. I do think it could have been a touch more salty though.
The chocolate brownie was fudgey and dense, filled with pistachios and cardamom. It was served berries in their juice, the most delightful sweetened cream, strawberries and mint leaves. When eaten altogether, the flavours were amazing.
After getting lost around the maze of streets at Crown Casino (I always do) I said goodbye to SSG and headed to Northcote to meet my friend Melissa at the Wesley Anne. Again I drove around and around to find a park. At one stage I entered a tiny, dark and isolated carpark in a backstreet, and a man looked to be walking to his car. I he waved to me, gesturing me over to his park and I started to turn around, nodding that I was coming. He then ran to my car, shaking his hands around. I got a bit scared, and sped off. Anyway, after driving for about 10 minutes, I scored a carpark right out the front of the venue!
Mel and I were there to see Tania Doko - formerly from Bachelor Girl and She Said Yes. The show was acoustic, and really lovely. Mel and I got there just in time to see Janine Maunder who sang such pretty songs. Janine also performed backing vocals for Tania.
Lots of her friends and family were in the room - she told funny stories about her Dad, and gave shout outs to her boss at White Lion where she's a youth worker, and mentioned her Italian teacher.
My favourite part of the show was Buses and Trains where she sang parts of it in Italian, and got the audience to sing along. If you listen closely you can hear me singing at the end. The chorus seems to go on forever and today it is in my head - in a good way!