Dining in the Dark

For Andy’s surprise birthday party, Michelle organised a surprise dinner. But, it was a surprise dinner with a twist… the dinner was a surprise for everyone! We had no idea what we’d be eating whilst dining in the dark!

Upon entering the foyer, we were met with a bright, strange conconction of drawings that made up a wall mural. There were octopi, flying animals, pirates, princesses, aliens, volcanoes… it made about as much sense as the name of the restaurant: Trojan Fairy.

After we placed all our belongings in a locker, we lined up, hands on each other’s shoulders and shuffled in after the waitress. The first part of restaurant has glow-in-the-dark stickers on the wall – to lead the waitresses I guess. Then, you step through another curtain into darkness. Real darkness. Let’s say blackness. I kept thinking my eyes would adjust. I kept thinking that vague shapes might come into view. But they never do.

We sat around exchanging jokes about taking our pants off and the like. It’s a really weird situation. Especially if you stop to think about what hand movements and facial expressions you use – even when in the dark! We slowly pieced together our surroundings, feeling for the edges of the table, and listening to our neighbours. It is true that your other senses are heightened when one is missing. I was a lot more aware of the chinese being spoken in the background. Other diners’ conversations were so much more prominent, and I found myself having to focus quite intently on the discussion around our table to prevent my mind from wandering around the room.

We’d organised to be there early, so our presence would be an extra surprise. The clever waitresses played Happy Birthday on the piano, so we’d know when he arrived. We tried to sit in silence whilst listening to the birthday boy being brought to the table. I giggled first – I just couldn’t hold it in any longer!

Our waiter came around and explained where our spoon and napkin were. We were brought our drinks – beers, juice and wine. Note to the restaurant: thin-stemmed wine glasses are not easy to find in the dark, and don’t show up on night-vision goggles. Sorry about the tablecloth. We complained a number of times that Cheryl’s juice hadn’t arrived, only to find out during the last course that it had been delivered but she hadn’t found it on the table yet!!!

Our first course was a ‘Russian salad‘. I was concerned that my biggest problem would be making a mess and getting food everywhere, but in fact, it was tricky getting it on the spoon! I served myself a number of spoonfuls of air.

Pumpkin soup was next. Slurping became the new noise around the table, in an attempt to make sure most of it got in our mouths and not down our fronts.

The main course was steak. An odd choice, yes, but they cut it up for us in advance. In theory, this would be hilarious, however, steak in China is generally not great. Without being able to see what we were eating, I occasionally ended up with a tough bit of gristle or fat. I would’ve much preferred a stirfry. Nic and Cheryl ordered the vegetarian mushrooms, which turned out to be just that – a plate of mushrooms!

As our main was taken away, so was our spoon. And we were instructed to eat our cheesecake by hand. In theory, fine, but when you’ve spent the last 3 courses using your hand to help get food on your spoon, it’s not perfect!

Overall, it was the experience that made the evening!! I would imagine it would be incredible if a chef like Heston Blumenthal was in charge of a place like this. He could play around with the textures and flavours so much! It would be crazy to have squishy gooey things that turn out to be delicious, and to play around with savoury and sweet.

Of course, there were costumes to dress up in after dinner!

My only wish is that we could see a video of how the night played out, or at least a photo of the mess we would have left behind on the tablecloth.

My comfort foods

Having just been back to Aus for a holiday, I spent approximately 3 weeks eating and drinking my way through my most-missed foods.

1. Amazing coffee.

This cafe in North Carlton, Melbourne, has the most amazing coffee. And incredible vegetarian food. You can just pick a size of plate and fill it! The best way to eat.

2. Burgers.

Man, Aussie’s make good burgers. This was an especially good one. From ‘The Galleon Cafe’ at St. Kilda. My favourite part was the flying pickle.

3. Potato on a stick.

This is not an old favourite, but a new one. We ran into these delicious snacks in a few places. This one was at the Queen Vic Markets. Mine was pepper flavour. I think it may be Korean. It’s a whole potato on a stick – so if you get a big one (like me) you are particularly lucky!

4. Chicken schnitty.

Nothing in the world could be better than a mouth full of chicken, chips, tomato and cheese all at once. This one’s from The Oriental, Adelaide.

5. Fish & Chips.

No actual picture, but my favourite place is the Grange fish & chip shop in Adelaide. Go there. Grab a seafood pack, a lemonade and a golden gaytime. Then, proceed to the beach with your beachtowel.

6. Lebanese food.

Quiet Waters on Hindley St. I recommend the banquet. Delicious.

7. Platters & Wine

An amazing food platter from Pindarie winery, Barossa Valley. Fish, olives, goat curd, dips, capers and more. It was so inspiring that I think I replicated it again at least twice before the end of the trip. Plus a chickpea pie. My favourite wine was the 2010 Savagnin, ‘La Femme’.

We also visited Willows winery – the sparkling burgandy was exceptional and the cab sav also yummy.

8. More wine.

The family drop. One of many bottles consumed.