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Here’s Sunday’s lunch in Red Hill, at Stillwater at Crittenden. Three courses go down very well after a few hours in the hot springs. The service was pretty good, too. Our waitress was competent, friendly, and efficient. But every time she came over to talk to us I couldn’t stop staring at her hair, her make-up, her whole get-up. She had moussed ringlets hanging down her forehead, and bronze eyeshadow slathered across her eyelids.

She was obviously from the country. For this reason, I judged myself to be superior to her.

Even D, usually free of any snobbishness, said, ‘I can’t stop staring at her fringe…’

I acknowedge that this prejudice is really bad. I must eradicate it.

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I love listening in on people’s conversations. ‘Ears-dropping,’ as one of the guys on RRR said the other morning. And you can always rely on Lygon St for some bimbo-talk.

While I was waiting for D to show up in her ear-muffs and Hawaiian wedges with socks, riding her pink ladies bike, I listened to two women next to me. One, the brunette, was really dumb. The other one, the blonde, was much smarter, and was being very patient with the brunette. The brunette was wearing spray-on Tsubi jeans, thigh-high, high-heeled leather boots, and some black-knit wrap thing that probably cost $870.

Here are some things the brunette was confused about:

(1) Her monthly pay cycle. How does that work? The brunette had started a job in the middle of the month, and therefore was confused by how she would be paid monthly. The blonde patiently explained.

(2) Separate bank accounts. The blonde explained that she saved money by having another bank account not linked to her credit or EFTPOS accounts.

Meanwhile, behind the coffee machine, a five-year-old girl was standing on a crate making all the coffees. She was really efficient, and made a good short mac.

Here’s the low-down on home-bred asado.

http://randompanda.blogspot.com/2007/06/ba-munching.html

Back in Melbourne

June 6, 2007

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This is a variation of the traditional yam-based dumpling. As you can see, it only takes a few almonds and peas to transform a modest yam into a…duckling!

This is at the new Gold Leaf restaurant, Burwood Hwy, in the building that once housed one of the well-known Shark Fin restaurants.

Gold Leaf have a new direction, and I like it: yum cha is no longer exclusively Cantonese. It also comprises xiaolonglao (Shanghai steamer buns), guotie (Beijing-style panfried dumplings), and other Northern delicacies.

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This is the best street food I’ve had in Shanghai. I don’t mean to trivialise the earlier xiaolongbao experience, but these babies are superior simply because they are fried.

Very similar to the xiaolongbao — dumpling-like, steamed, with hot, soupy stock secreted inside. And damn crunchy along the bottom.

All the other people around me were on their own, too. As if you just nip in here for a quick fix when no one’s looking. Everyone else skilfully slurped up the dumpling sauce before munching through the dumpling skin. I made much more mess.

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I love it: In the middle of the Carrefour (the equivalent of Coles), they have a huge fresh dumpling section. Dumplings are dirt-cheap (though not quite as good as those off the street), and everyone’s thoroughly bored by the concept. Dumplings everywhere — whatever.

In the dumpling section I found these Peking duck take-away packages for about AUD3.40. As you can see, the serve is massive.

Sometimes the Chinese don’t know how lucky they are.