Some evenings are just so:
... so wine-sipping, chit-chatting, thought-batting, people-watching, prawn-scrunchingly good.
Last night, we met at the National Gallery of Victoria for a wee peek at what's on. Perhaps the John Brack, or something more suited to an evening browse? Let's start with a good long look in the book and gallery shop, adding many things to the mental list of 'books I want to read/to own someday'.
Time to toddle across the square to the lounge at the ACMI, where the wine's nice and we can swing our feet from the barstools while speculating about the function in the other half of the bar. Academic conference. We bet on an academic conference; some sort of specialised field.
Shall we go to the gallery now? Mm, I'm hungry - let's stick our noses in the door at that disastrously wonderful and unfortunately popular spot for those who love good food and wine, conversation and a little bit of spying the crowd. Go away, fancy city suits, we want a table!
Why is it that really good service always makes you feel as if they have saved a spot at the bar just for you? We started on our glasses of tempranillo, before taking a cosy spot up at the long counter bar, where we could watch all the action and let food be brought to us in delicious hot little plates of Spanish goodness.
Bread appears: one of them salty rye and the other topped with sour dust of smoky pimenton. A bowl of oil. A croqueta, hot and sizzling and cracking open. Within minutes, that Movida feeling starts to come over me again: a sense of deep goodness about this food. It makes me pleasantly, slightly gleefully silly; very happy.
One huge mother of a prawn comes in next, in a deep-fried covering and with some cracked corn and bamboo (we think it's bamboo) baby greens. And small stuffed pimenton, filled with potato and salt cod.
The pace is good and we hit the braised portobello mushrooms in Pedro Ximinez sherry, beef cheek with just a tang of aniseed and some cauliflower mash, and the pork belly with crackling, mm, that crackling, chorizo, black pudding and slow-baked beans.
Do we dare?
Yes, we do: churros and chocolate to share.
When we eventually roll out into the misty damp night, down the graffiti-ed lane where Movida sings Spanish dreams to its eaters, we're too late for much but a one-room show at the gallery. Fittingly, the night sky.
And home. Pleasant dreams.
(Pics by James and any handy flat surface for long exposures...)