Australia has been magical so far. Four days at the Melbourne Writers Festival, then three days on the road driving from Melbourne to Sydney. It’s been a perfect mix of books and book people, young readers, great food, stunning scenery, friends and family. (Photos to come…)
Among many favorite moments:
At lunch on Sunday (a group of writerly types met up the Duck Inn Pub, organized by Steven Dunbar—thanks, Steven!), we asked for dinner recommendations. Justine Larbalestier and others recommended Din Tai Fung, a Hong-Kong based dumpling house. (Justine knows her food. If she recommends somewhere, you do not question. You go.)
There was quite a queue waiting when we arrived, but we had been forewarned, and the wait was only about fifteen minutes. You order while you wait, ticking off what you want on a typical paper dim-sum ticket. We were asked if we’d be willing to share a table, to get seated sooner, and we said yes.
When we were shown to our table, there were already two other parties: two women and two men. A few minutes after we sat down, one of the men accidentally knocked over his wine glass. The wine spilled all over my husband’s place setting, but did not run off the edge of the table: Not a drop anywhere on his clothes, so all was well. The guy and his partner were both mortified and offered repeated apologies. Then they gave us a glass of wine from their bottle, which was very nice of them.
After that little drama, we got down to business, eating fantastic soup dumplings (soup dumplings, MargoR!), noodle dishes, and the stereotypical sautéed green beans with pork, but better than we’ve ever had it before. A bit later, we chatted with the two guys. One of them was Spanish, studying to be an actuary; the other was American. We had a nice conversation about traveling in this part of the world, and then they left.
We finished our meal. At Din Tai Fung, you get up to pay the cashier. When I handed her our ticket, she told me that our meal had already been paid for. By the two guys. Because they felt so bad about the wine accident. About NOT spilling on my husband.
The kindness of strangers. . . the sort Blanche DuBois could only dream of.