When I woke this morning and stumbled out to the front lawn to pick up the Sunday paper I wasn't quite prepared for what I saw: an inferno on the front page. As someone who has lived through a bushfire - though, THANK GOD, not one on that scale - it gave me an immediate shudder.
I was a bit shocked because I worked late Thursday night, was out Friday night and again last night - so I'm behind on the news. Given the weather, it doesn't surprise me that there are fires like that raging around the place ... but the number of deaths did surprise and horrify me. I truly cannot think of a worse way to die.
Thankfully it did pass, but for many, many years after our bushfire I would run to the window in my sleep, expecting in my panic to see a wall of flame approaching. Fire is still one of the things that haunts my nightmares, but not in the 'get out of bed and run to the window screaming' way it used to.
In far, far happier news, I was treated to a wonderful night out last night (because it's my birthday tomorrow). Shaun and I left E with his Family Day Care lady overnight and we went to a sensational place in the city called Bistro Lilly.
I realise I am probably well behind the times, but I'd never tried a degustation menu before - and I've always wanted to. So last weekend Shaun and I had a look around for where might be good to try, patting ourselves on the backs for being organised enough to book somewhere in time this year.
Do you think we could decide on anywhere? Nah.
So yesterday morning I was back on the computer, looking for suggestions. I saw the Bistro Lilly website, had a squizz at the menu and - whoa - was blown away. It all sounded delicious and nicely affordable at $65 a head (most degustation menus we looked at were over $100 each).
I rang, expecting to be told they were full - but we were in luck! So there we were at 8pm last night, walking down Kent Street admiring the sunset and looking for Bistro Lilly. The location is hardly glamorous (on an intersection), but the ambience inside was romantic and intimate.
And the food?...
Among the best I have ever eaten.
The five courses were faultless. Simply perfect:
* A SINGLE OYSTER WITH A DELICIOUS THAI-STYLE DRESSING.
* BLUE SWIMMER CRAB & VALLEY POACHED CHICKEN SALAD WITH THAI BASIL, CORIANDER, LEMON GRASS, MINT & COCONUT
* YARRA VALLEY FETA, BABY SPINACH & BASIL RAVIOLI WITH WILD SEVILLANO OLIVES, CHILLI, TOMATO & PARMIGIANO
* HEREFORD ANGUS BEEF TENDERLOIN WITH MILD MUSHROOM FRICASSE & SWEET ONION CHUTNEY
* YUCATAN CHOCOLATE PUDDING WITH STRACCIATELLA & DRUNKEN CHOCOLATE SAUCE
It was all sensational - and the portions were just right. We left happily full, but not bursting. Plus, the timing between the courses was great. These guys are true professionals.
So, full of wonderful food, we strolled down to the harbour for drinks by the water and marvelled at the beauty of this city ... one we so rarely see (after working in there all week, it's not often we venture into town on a weekend).
A sublime night.