There is much to be said for generosity, and when I say ‘generosity’ I’m not speaking of handing out gifts or spending truckloads of money on others. I mean the spirit in which something is offered.
Recently I went out for dinner with a couple of friends for our (inaugural) once-a-month dinner. I chose the place – a new ‘temporary’ spot on Smith St in Collingwood which held a lot of promise; seasoned hospitality folk in charge, produce-driven menu, great location… But all of those things were for nix because everything about the place just seemed mean.
The first glasses of wine that we ordered came out looking like they’d been measured in thimbles. I enquired – the snarky waiter informed me that for this quality of wine we should be paying much more. Errrr, I order glasses of wine a lot. At a lot of places. Mean pours are easy to spot. One point off for you, mr waiter.
The food was ok but was missing something. I think it was love.
Our waiter lost another point when we asked about the cheese. Long story, I’ll tell you another time. When it was time to pay we asked about the message at the bottom of the blackboard menu advising that card payments would be accepted for transactions of a minimum $50. Was this per bill or per card? Per card we were told. ‘Otherwise the bank charges just kill us’.
We were left feeling a bit like we had turned up somewhere uninvited and the hosts had to spread everything a bit thin to accommodate us. This isn’t hospitality and it’s not the way people – nay, guests – want to feel.
On the other hand, a guy that we know is a pilot who flies small planes between Melbourne and mainly Tasmania and King Island, ferrying produce and people around. He and his partner invited us over to their place for dinner last week, when Rob had just returned from a King Island trip. The cargo he was bringing back to the mainland was the famous King Island crayfish (actually Southern Rock Lobster) and as they were being loaded onto the plane he asked the lobster guy if he had one spare. Remarkably he did, and so being the generous fellow that he is, Rob snapped it up and took it home to share with us.
King Island – officially belonging to Tasmania, is renowned for its produce – mainly cheese, but also beef, abalone, king crab and honey, and best of all, the Southern Rock Lobster. Most of these crustaceous delights are packed live and whisked off to Hong Kong to grace the tables of the privileged, less than 24 hours after being plucked from the sea.
It can take five or six years for these crayfish, to reach the minimum size of just over 10 cm before they can be legally caught. If left alone they can live to up to 20 years and grow to weigh more than 5 kg, although size isn’t apparently always an indicator of age (old ones can be small).
Gazing at the beautiful creature laid out on the dinner table made my jaw drop. It was without a doubt the largest crayfish I’d ever seen – at least 40 cm from it’s curly tail to its pointy nose (pretty sure crayfish don’t actually have a nose), and weighing 3.2kg.
All that was left to do was squeeze some lemon onto the juicy medallions of its tail, pour some Riesling into a glass and savor every mouthful.
Now that’s what I call generous.