“Wait,” I said. “So what you’re saying is that not only are we picking up an obscure relative we’ve never met before, but that all you know is she’s waiting somewhere on an unknown street within the vast ANU campus?”
There was a pause.
“Yes,” Dad replied.
And so it came to pass that Dad, E.TeacherLord, and I found ourselves cruisin’ around ANU on a day that is holy to many people, trying to find an eighteen-year-old girl we could convince to get in the car with us.
Let’s be honest; this could have ended badly. Firstly, the girl who hopped in our car when we called out “Charlotte?” near the Street Theatre could have been a hitchhiker wily enough to pretend to be my second cousin when the opportunity arose. Secondly, even if this lass with the plate of chocolate cupcakes in her hands truly was our relation, we still had a forty-five minute drive ahead of us in which we were all obligated to make polite conversation and hopefully like each other.
Let’s be honest again; there was no polite conversation. At least, there wasn’t after the first, oh, eight minutes. Instead, we four started bantering, laughing, and exuberatering (shhh, spellcheck, I hereby proclaim that to be a word) in such a splendiferous manner that all my nervousness disappeared, and I knew this second-cousin-from-the-street was destined for a place in my heart.
My family’s Easter tradition is to drive out into the country for a fancy feast, and this year our restaurant of choice was Grazing at Gundaroo. The food was unfailingly delicious, but alas! I only have a handful of food photos to show you.
My brother started with the “pickled Wagyu tongue, hand-picked garden greens, black pudding, soft poached quail egg and celery seed dressing”, from which Charlotte and I both stole tiny bites of black pudding. Turns out Charlotte is a food lover too, so bonus magic proof points of related-ness! Hurrah!
I started with the “steamed fresh yabbies with parsley and hazelnut ‘picada’, crisp caramelised onion tuile and garden tomato salad” and, after a bit of a princess-whine about how I didn’t want to get my fingers dirty with the yabbies, I mightily enjoyed this dish. The picada was the highlight, full of salty nutty toasted flavours that worked perfectly with the sweet yabbies and the heirloom tomato salad from Grazing’s own garden.
It was around this point that the glass of rosé I’d ordered began to take hold.
Yes, one glass. I drank one glass of wine. (Domaine Rougha Crois Saignee Rosé 2009, to be specific, and it was crisp and dry and lovely.)
In my defense, it was a glorified bucket of wine; Grazing is nothing if not generous with its pours. Everyone at the table admitted our glasses were more like two standard drinks.
That said, nothing alleviates the embarrassment of being 24 at a table of family members ranging in age from 18 to 91, all of whom are completely unaffected by their drinks, while you sit there stroking your own eyebrows and talking about how you’ll run down the main street of Gundaroo with your stilettos over your ears, before interrupting yourself to exclaim “I have eyebrows!”
Curse you, lightweight self! Curse you!
However, you’ll have to wait for Part Two to hear about the dessert that instigated the dinobird mimicking. In other words: To Be Continued.
P.S. I was mildly hungover the next day. For crying out loud.