The Wizard of Fed Square

Il Pom Italian
2 Swanston Street Melbourne (in Federation Square)

(Visited May ’18)

Wednesday. Late May. A cold weeknight.

What on earth could see me, my sister, and nephew, strolling the streets of the city, all of us so far from home?

Why… much like Dorothy, we were “off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz!”

I had purchased some tickets to see this most revered and classic of stories in musical form, and in turn gifted sis and nephew for their upcoming birthdays…

I figure, it is SO HARD to buy for people nowadays. Give them an experience they won’t forget.

They’ll forget that organic magic goat soap you bought them 2 birthdays ago, but a decade on and you will never forget THE WIZARD.

We had all arrived a tad earlier for our show, with full intentions of having a happy, hearty dinner. After walking by The Regent and taking the necessary cheesy photo with theatre billboard behind us, sis told us she had recently been to an Italian restaurant with some friends in Fed Square. As it was coming recommended, we began the short walk there.

It was pretty deserted at 6pm. Still we wandered on through, observing the night lights, illuminated buildings and grand trees along the streets, ‘til we came to rest at Il Pom Italian.

IMAG1042

It was silent out, and we viewed a few people inside, also dinner early birds. We were tended to almost immediately by a waitress who we later found out was the manager. At first impression she seemed a bit forward, especially when laughing at our indecision on where to sit. Inside, outside, under heaters, under umbrellas… there was so much to consider on that almost Winter’s night, as it was still, the city looked beautiful, and we wanted to observe the scenery before us, but still be WARM.

IMAG1043

But we grew to love her. She was openly envious of our going to The Wizard of Oz, and we laughed constantly every time she was near. She was honest about alcohol given to minors, (when my sister politely asked the rules when kids are with parents, she said 15 for my nephew was too young in her book) and we all tsk tsk tsked at parents who decide to give their kids espresso martinis. That’ll knock ME out, let alone your kid!

We got some meals, again mentioning we had to be out of there by 7:30 (to exaggerated rolled eyes!) and I opted for something so simple, basic and fresh but sometimes, the simplest things really ARE the best.

Bambini di pasta – penne pasta w rich napoli topped w pecorino and torn fresh buffalo mozzarella

IMAG1051

And this was, THE BEST.

Such beautiful pasta. Cooked to perfection. Simple Napoli sauce. That buffalo cheese…. DRRRROOOOOLLLLL. I would go back to that restaurant only for that pasta.

Note to self (and everyone): when in Italy, do what Italians do.

When at an Italian restaurant, eat what Italians eat.

Therefore always go with their premium forte. It makes sense, right?

Everything about the pasta was perfect and made me so happy. We chatted and talked and made memories. Spending some quality time with my sister and nephew, bonding and sharing stories, was special, something you don’t get to do often in the busy-ness of every day, but more so, something we don’t get to do during a school/work weeknight! It felt like we were somehow cheating, but really, we were winning at life that night.

Our conversational juices really started to flow though, with… the MOJITO!

Pom’s Mojito – Bacardi superior rum, martini bianco, fresh mint lime and sugar, topped with Prosecco

IMAG1047

It was also, the BEST EVER.

I don’t know what drugs or sweetened syrup she put in there, as there was a distinct syrupy taste, but it was insane. It made me and sis, who also had one, feel like we weren’t drinking alcohol, as it didn’t taste at all strong, but then….

WHAM!

Right there in the head.

Goner.

That’s it, I’m out, thank you very much…

See ya later alligator!

I absolutely loved it.

We complimented the manager on the amazing cocktail, and I openly said I was a little “Wooo!” in the head. She showed her care but was still amicable, like that cool parent that lets you drink alcohol but still sets boundaries… She hadn’t let my nephew have any, but me, this grown-up adult was having one, and being told off in the process…

“No more for you!”

Okay Mum. 🙂 (Sheepish look ensued).

After some more chatting and memory-making, sis paid (her treat for us that night) and we went off, for our date with the ruby red shoes.

Food: 9/10. Wham bam thank you Maam. Beautiful and simple Italian. Deeelicious.

Coffee: N/A for me.

Ambience: So quiet that Wednesday weeknight. There were diners inside, but we were the only ones to brave the cold. The silence was perfectly to our liking. Warm heaters nearby, twinkling lights of the city before us… it set the mood to talk about magic.

People: Couples and friends inside. I’d imagine a few after-work dinners would happen here.

Staff: Our waitress/manager was fantastic. A ball of fun and highly entertaining to talk to. The right head of house exists there.

Price: About $120-$130 for what my sister forked out – that’s 3 mains, 2 alcoholic drinks, a lemonade and a coffee. A bit high for sure, but we aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto, and the pasta outside of our ‘burbs happens to be stuff you try to get lost for. Kudos.

Advice: If you haven’t worked out what to eat, please for the love of God, eat the pasta and have a mojito! You are most welcome, in advance. 🙂

In a nutshell: I loved this place, and more so because it was the prerequisite of the magic that occurred after…

I would definitely go back, and how much easier if I could just tap my ruby shoes 3 times…

“There’s no place like Il Pom Italian.”

IMAG1071

Il Pom Italian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Advertisements

Rainbow after the rain

I have been seeing a lot of rainbows lately.

It’s made me think of them, their meaning and emergence in our atmosphere, and specifically, the metaphor we can use for them.

I saw a rainbow out our lounge room window just the other morning before dropping off baby girl at school. We were eating breakfast, and amidst the grey skies and falling drops outside, I spied one half of a rainbow, across the water:

IMAG9391

But that wasn’t the first one I saw that week, and it would not be the last. It was only when driving home from school later that day, amidst wispy rain, that we saw one again.

As I explained to baby girl what had to happen in order for there to be a rainbow… something struck me, in my casual explanation.

“There has to be rain, and sunshine,” I told her. “And then a rainbow will appear.”

I was immediately flung deep into my whirlpool of deep thoughts, as I often am, tuned in to my surroundings as I am constantly used to taking mental notes… life as a writer, empath, or both.

There has to be rain, and sunshine, for a rainbow to appear.

Huh. Even life was teaching us lessons.

The proper definition of the rainbow occurrence is something like this:

  • It is a natural spectrum that occurs in the sky after rain falls.
  • As sun shines onto falling rain drops, it causes reflection and refraction.
  • The rain drops act like tiny prisms, bending in the sunlight to be reflected back to us as the band of colours that we see as a rainbow.
  • This is why the rainbow is always directly opposite the sun.

Hmm, I pondered. There has to be the presence of both rain, and sunshine.

And if you were looking at it from a non-geological perspective, not focusing on the fact that the planet needs both rain, and water to replenish and renew, to grow and keep things living…

Well, most people tend to regard rain, in their every day life, as a nuisance. Bad.

And they tend to think of sunshine, as a welcoming smile on their face… Good.

And just like the rainbow to the left of my vision as I drove along in the rain, it dawned on me.

Even Mother Nature says there has to be the presence, of both good, and bad, in order for something beautiful and miraculous to occur.

Because that’s what they were, right? Miracles? Considered a sign of good luck in many cultures, with the pot of gold at the end of it the answer to all of life’s problems…

And so on this last weekend, in amidst grey skies and endlessly rainy days, and coincidentally or not, the Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year where we receive the least amount of sunlight…

We also received rainbows. A sign from Mother Nature, that despite this cold Winter, a respite is coming?

That despite the long and hard days, the hours of sunlight per day will be increasing soon?

That sometimes, bad things have to happen, before we get good things coming to us?

Maybe, the raindrops falling from the sky are the horrible hardships we endure, where we question life and the world and ourselves..

And the sun is our effort and determination to not give up, to keep pressing on, and to see it out no matter what. Our Hope.

And our rainbow, is our reward at the end of it all. Glorious, multi-faceted, a glow that takes over our whole life sky. But we had to go through rain, then sun, to see it through.

So remember… the presence of both good, and bad. In order to see a hue of miracles. 🌈

Think of that next time you’re going through a hard patch… you may just find your pot of gold… but it’s important to keep that sunny disposition, even through the rain.

annie-spratt-156492-unsplash

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Italy in the Bronx

Bronx Napoli 1999
1a Queen street Mornington

(Visited May ’18)

What was happening in 1999?

Well personally… I was in year 10, and listening to and doing “Livin la vida Loca” to Ricky Martin.

I watched 10 Things I Hate About You, and it became EVERYTHING. Heath Ledger God rest his soul, and that song routine on the school bleachers? Heaven.

Only one of my most FAVOURITEST SHOWS OF ALL TIME debuted… Angel. Ahhh. 🙂

I dabbled with more blonde in my hair.

Worldwide, everyone was freaking out about the whole year 2000 and subsequent Y2K bug, and if that wasn’t going to end us, apparently at the end of the year, or sometime during the year 2000… the whole world as we knew it would go kaput. You know, the usual Nostradamus prediction stuff and all.

But in other parts… well the eatery off Main street Mornington, either its brainchild flourished in that era… or they just like the graffiti from the Banksy of Naples… OR they’re really into football.

The place I’m talking about is of course Bronx Napoli 1999.

To work out which of the above explanations it could be, click through to their website here.

But very randomly, one Tuesday night in May, we found ourselves without power… but it wasn’t the Y2K bug at work. The failure of power wasn’t that surprising, since we had been given advance notice that electrical works to the area may result in no electricity, from 8 in the morning to oh… 3pm?

But at 4:30 when I got home from the library with baby girl and there was still nothing… I knew the candles would have to come out.

A short walk over to the road work men, and Hubbie found out sometime around 6pm, that they had experienced difficulties, and the work had been delayed… they hoped it would all be working in an hour or two.

???

No electricity? Why it was dinner time! With no working power in the house, even if we got takeaway, candles were not sufficient enough to light up the table, rooms, the house?

So naturally, we had to go out… and eat.

I don’t know why we went here, but we did. We were just so happy to go into a warm and well-lit place that honestly, any place would have been sufficient.

It is a wide, high-ceilinged restaurant. An open kitchen allowed us to see through into where the chefs were preparing our meals, and in front of the open counter was a selection of their own home-made pastas to take home… ooooh!

Soon enough we ordered drinks… A Mornington Pale Ale for Hubbie, and a Stumpy Gully Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsula for moi:

IMAG1013

What I loved was the accompaniment of warm bread with olive oil and balsamic reduction…. Drool. This I loved. It was on the house (well, you know, as much as ‘on the house’ means work is paying for your meal, not you 😉 )

IMAG1012

Baby girl was a fan of this one too.

We sat in the dim light of the restaurant just taking in our surroundings. It was warm. There was light. Ahhh. Electricity. There were plenty of families about, and we tuned into the conversation about European travel from the 45+ double date couples beside us.

One day.

Soon though, our food arrived.

I had ordered the Spaghetti di Mare – fresh spaghetti tossed with Napoli, chilli, vongole, mussels, prawns, calamari, fresh fish, white wine and garlic

IMAG1017

Hubbie had gotten the Cottoletta Milanese – Free-range Pork schnitzel breaded with parmesan and served with rocket and shaved parmesan with balsamic dressing

IMAG1021

Baby girl had the Bambini only pasta for kids, which was ‘pasta of the day with Napoli sauce topped with parmesan (and olive oil on the side).’

IMAG1019

And as an addition we also got a side of Patate fritte – thick cut potatoes, served with garlic aioli.

IMAG1022

So firstly, my spaghetti. I enjoyed my meal as it had a mild seafood flavour, strong enough to be yum, not so much to be overpowering like other restaurants (ahem, Manhattan?) The seafood was cooked well too, and that is always a plus seeing as biting into some longed-for prawns goes a bit awry when rubbery. But this was great.

Baby girl in fact did not have the Napoli sauce as mentioned in the bambini menu, she had cheese and oil on the side of her plain pasta. The waitress went to great lengths to ensure she got her order right, and even when it was delivered she was particularly interested to see if she was happy about it.

Someone interested in my 4 year-old being happy? May sound absurdly odd to think this as being so foreign, but alas no one gives a shit about kids. So I was happy, that she wanted to make baby girl happy.

And, baby girl was happy 🙂

But now, to the fussy butcher.

His exact thoughts, (and I recoil writing these words), were that the pork was turning. If you are not eloquent in Butcher speak, or aren’t married to one fine specimen, or don’t watch a lot of cooking shows, basically what he meant was that it was old. Old old old. He could taste it in every bite, and though he still ate it, because he was hungry, he was not impressed.

Don’t ask me how he knows…. He just knows.

On the positive, his rocket, parmesan and balsamic dressing was amazing. Anytime anyone gives me that combo, I am SOLD! Alas it was not enough to save his meal, but I was happy, picking at bits here and there.

And the patate fritte? Well, chips. Chips are chips. But these were super hot and actually quite yum. And the garlic aioli made it especially moorish.

We soon finished our meals, our bellies fuller, our bodies warmer, and hoping to go home and find our house, a little bit lighter…

Food: 7/10. I find it hard to score and average out when components of the meal are great, others not so. Because majority meals won, 7 it is. Baby girl was tended to with care, and the chips and my spaghetti were delicious.

Coffee: N/A on this visit.

Ambience: Dimly lit, yet with that chatterbox restaurant air. Cosy despite those high ceilings.

People: A lot of families of all ages. Young, old, double daters, and a group of pensioners arrived as we were leaving, enthralled with our girl in Queen Elsa costume.

Staff: Our waitress was very serious, but worked hard to please us. Extra points for her care towards baby girl.

Price: $96.50. That was 2 adult meals, one child’s meal, one side, and two alcoholic drinks… Hmmm it sounds about right, but had Hubbie’s been up to scratch, I would have been happier with that amount.

Advice: I think going the pizza or pasta route at this place is the way to go. It is abundant in their menu, and the way our pastas were brought out, the care is evident there. There is also a share menu for groups of 4 or more, and so having them select the best plates for you and your group to share, would also be worth doing if in company.

In a nutshell: I liked the place… Hubbie was not so impressed. But then again, this is me and my adventure with a fussy butcher Hubbie, and so that has become quite the norm. He swore off restaurants after this visit, but it was no fault of Bronx’s alone… it was the build-up of unsatisfactory meat meals at both Manhattan and Kirks, prior to that visit, from restaurants we both loved.

So the disappointment was wide-spread and handled out equally. ;/

But you can be assured we went out to eat again within a fortnight. So he is not an elephant. He can forget. Kind of.

I for one would like to go back with a group and try the share menu. And how could I not want to, when the wishes and whims of my little Queen were catered to so wonderfully?

Even, when in the Bronx.

Bronx Napoli 1999 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato