Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre famously once said, “…it ain’t nuthin’ but a G thang…”
For the most part, they were right; there is nothing quite like a ‘g’ something, and we proved that yet again with our latest round of the alphabet date series. While Dre, Snoop (and Warren G) may have been rapping about gangsters, g-strings and ganja, Theresa lined us up with something far less risque, but no less MTV worthy, with board games, gardens and Greek food on the menu. And gee, wasn’t it good?!
Growing up in the country, it is widely accepted that as a youth, there is very little to do. This usually lends itself to a number of predictable outcomes for country kids:
– they study a lot
– they play football/netball a lot
– they commit petty theft and other popular juvenile crimes
While the gangster in me, wanting nothing more than to find yet another link between Dre and myself, wills me to say I fell into the latter camp, I cannot in good conscience agree. So it was that I became the local anomaly (for a while), turning to the arms of that other well known vice that swept the nation many moons ago, a scourge that kept our kids indoors when they should have been mucking around in the dirt.
Scrabble, Barricade, Headache, Uno, Boggle and Pass the Pigs all got a guernsey in this young Gippslander’s social calendar during high school, well before the 486 came along with its sexy graphics and blew us all away. Heady days indeed, so imagine my delight when it came to pass that fair Theresa had also been bitten by the board game bug as a child herself. What could be more perfect for a date of G’s than games in the gardens?
Well, nothing really, we decided. So it was that on Grand Prix weekend in Melbourne (how appropriate) that we made our way to the Royal Botanical Gardens, the same spot where almost 10 months previous your deviously romantic author sowed the seeds for this blog by proposing.
There had been changes; our previous picnic spot was now the site for some major lawn revitalisation project, and our lily lake was overtaken by protective netting for freshly installed water plants. Oh yes, and the Grand Prix wasn’t buzzing around in the background last time either. What a mood killer that would have been:
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Still, it was good to be back.
We ended up with two very different games as our days entertainment: chocolate Monopoly and Words with Friends. We started with the former, a simple and supposedly more delicious version of the classic real estate trader (to be fair the pewter battleship was never meant to be chewed on), where the mechanism of dice and counter movement was replaced with a colour spin wheel…
…and the property tiles were replaced by chocolate ‘of the Finest Belgian Grade’ (or so we were promised. Quick capsule review? It was not Belgian, at least not when we played, though that may have had to do with the fact that it was an outstanding Christmas present from more than a year ago. Hmmm…)
While the promise of chocolate was appealing, it required a radical shift in tactical planning. In short, it did our head in for a little bit.
It was no longer a matter of selective buying of property, more of a mad dash race to collect coloured chocolate squares before the other player. Needless to say, I lost.
Thankfully, my revenge would be swift. Words with Friends, for those who haven’t played it, is a popular Scrabble derivative for the iPhone that ramps up scoring and makes your lack of a dictionary-esque personality a public disgrace. It is also mildly addictive.
It is here where I feel I get brownie points for embarking on a strategy that involved sending my playing partner into a chocolate-induced stupor right before kick off…
This, sadly, didn’t help as much as I had hoped, with the game remaining a tight affair despite my attempted gamesmanship. That was until I busted (out) a gut (literally) to get my nose across the line first.
Our games afternoon ended 1-1, and in true Olympic spirit,
we promptly demanded a performance enhancing drug test and slandered the other party we decided that a draw was the only fair result, shaking hands and praising each others mental aptitude. Hey, it’s a date alright?! It wasn’t supposed to end in tears. (Theresa may debate that last point, particularly with the seriousness in which she has approached games of Risk before, but I digress…)
No date would be complete without the promise of food and in G, Theresa had landed the perfect opportunity to find a place that provided a taste of home. This was to be the Greek-Cypriot stylings of Philhellene in Moonee Ponds.
Dined like Greek gods, we did, on some of the nicest, most lovingly cooked meals we’ve ever eaten out in Melbourne, made even better by the fact that the menu mirrored the recipes of Theresa’s Dad. Oh, there was also mythical beer which gave me superpowers* (*superpowers may or may not have lasted til now).
Fun fact of the day: Philip Vakos, formerly known for his valiant efforts at trying to teach Jimmy how to cook something other than curry in season 2 of Master Chef, is the cousin of one of the head honcho’s at Philhellene, and also one of the chefs.
Thankfully there was none of the George Colombaris “dining experience” here; no fancy ingredients or creative uses for halloumi. Just pure home-cooked love on a plate, with a story you could taste and not one that needed explaining by the wait staff. In keeping with the theme, Theresa tried the baby goat (melt in your mouth, literally!), and the char-grilled octopus was exceptional:
But the real highlight of the night were the sheftalias, almost as good as Andreas and Virginia’s, right Theresa?!
With friendly staff, a homey atmosphere and delicious food, you’d be forgiven for thinking the night was perfect. Not quite. Sadly, we were so chockers from all the delicious Greek goodies, we didn’t leave enough room for dessert: galaktoboureko! (pronounced Gah-lack-toh-boo-ree-ko, or as the girls at work once said to me, ‘late night booty call’.) But don’t worry, we’ll be back, if only so we can hang out with this guy again.
It was clear G date delivered the goods across the board, but the question remains: if there isn’t anything like a ‘G’ thing, then what in the hell am I going to come up with for H?!