My last post was six months ago. I never planned to be prolific in this little corner of cyberspace. Only when a random and, in my mind, important point comes to me do I feel compelled.
Back in April, it was all about leaving Canberra, the place I called home for more than half of my life. It was with great affection that I wrote of the much-maligned place. Now that the OECD has declared the place the ‘”best place in the world to live”, I don’t feel the need to defend CBR.
Fast forward to now. In about five or six weeks, I will be returning to Canberra. And I have a big bone to pick with the place.
I started to ponder the problem around two weeks into my Cairns escapade. I was growing anxious. I was starting to question the passionate resolve that saw me leave all behind and move thousands of miles away.
My issue – coffee. Honestly. The cafés in Cairns are lost in an International Roast haze. Actually, that would have been better.
Fortunately, I was saved by Mike Winer who pointed me down the road to Caffiend. I was saved. Over time, I discovered that the little precinct on Grafton Street where Caffiend sat was an enclave of sanity.
I also became friends with the folks at the café next to work and plucked up the courage to broach the subject. Over time, they came to their senses and actually put enough coffee in and moved somewhat closer to a drinkable coffee.
Kind folks pointed me in other directions, notably a café up the road from my apartment. But it was way off par. What’s hard about coffee? Start with good beans, generous shots, and froth the milk beyond lukewarm.
It dawned on me that Canberra had ruined me. When you have a town awash with cafés that have long accepted that there is Ona coffee and then there is the rest you become complacent. A town full of baristas that give a damn is a sure recipe for ruination.
And then there are the restaurants of Cairns.
Living the life of a loner loser in a strange town and working a full-on job meant that cooking wasn’t an option. Further, having done the single dad thing for all those years bred a certain disregard for cooking for one. So, eating out has been the routine over the past six months.
I can confidently say that I have sampled all the restaurants in the town. I rate four. Oh and the all you can eat Brazilian place gets a vote for volume. The rest are, and there is no other word for it, pathetic. Actually there are other words like disgraceful, woeful, sad, etc.
The people who run restaurants in Cairns should go into another line of work. Sure, I know it’s about it being a tourist town. No need to attract return customers and all of that. But don’t these people have any self-respect.
No more were these sad conditions evident than in my favourite food – Indian. Wow. What can I say? I just can’t put words to it. I need to just forget it ever happened.
And my suspicions grew. Canberra has ruined me. When you have the likes of Aubergine, Rubicon, Water’s Edge, Ginger Room, etc. at your disposal, entering a food wasteland is a shock to the system.
On the Indian front, establishments such as Jewel of India, Bollywood Masala, Blu Ginger, and Ramas have set the bar too high. I cannot wait to get my hands on their fine dishes again.
The list goes on. The liquor stores. If I ever run into the wholesalers in town I will give them a piece of my mind. Luckily I only had two friends in town so the need to buy a good bottle of red was rare. You can’t measure my excitement when I found a single bottle of Clonikalla. I think the shop assistant thought I was mad.
I shake my fist at Vintage Cellars in Manuka. They turned me into an utter and incurable wine snob.
But my real anger goes out to the planners of Canberra, past and present.
They have poisoned my mind with their dastardly dedication to beauty and order. They have conspired with all those nasty architects who fashioned the Parliamentary Triangle and beyond to trap me in unrealistic expectations. And that’s not even mentioning that Weston character who thought it was a good idea to plant 1.2 million trees.
And my unrealistic expectations were surely dashed in Cairns.
If there is an uglier city than Cairns I would like to see it. I don’t know much about urban planning but I know that Cairns don’t have it. I have no hesitation in damning all architects past and present that have had anything to do with the buildings in the city area.
I suggest that this is what you get when the local mayor is a pie salesman. Indeed, he claims the best pies in Cairns. He badly needs to venture down to Fyshwick and check out Flute. I am sure he will go back to the drawing board on his best pies notion.
But I know that I am being unfair on Cairns.
My problem is not Cairns. It is Canberra.
It’s made me a bloody snob.
And I cannot wait to get back there and embrace my inner snob.