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From Brisbane to Perth

This morning I’m squeezing in one last stroll around Brisbane before we fly to Perth — a five-hour flight that crosses (I believe) two time zones.

Our talks are going well, but Saturday was time off (though I did get up early Brisbane time and do some “day job” stuff — this is a long time to be away from The Office, and life doesn’t stop just because I’m in Oz).

So Lizanne and I took a deliciously long, slow ferry to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, reading along the way (so nice to travel with another librarian), posed for pictures (we were allowed to take our own pix once we bought a picture from the sanctuary, which seemed fair enough), fed kangaroos, tried to see a wallabee (he was not receiving visitors), and then came back to downtown Brisbane to potter around and have a quiet Indian meal.

I should add I had been warned that koalas are cranky and prone to peeing on people. This koala — I believe his name is “Spanks” — was quite docile and seemed to enjoy his day job. He has been posing with visitors for four years now.

The previous night David Shaun Feighan squired us to Il Centro, which is known for its sandcrab lasagna. David shared a bite of his, but (mindful that calories do count even across this many time zones) I went for a lovely avocado-sandcrab salad that when I took a bite transported me to an identical moment a year in the past, at Passionfish in Pacific Grove (thanks, Walter!).

Both versions were delightful — avocado and crab are sweetly complementary, and it’s a cool-as-a-cucumber dish that cuts through muggy warm nights — though Il Centro added a thin ring of tomato puree which didn’t add to the dish at all and which I scraped away.

It is uncanny how much sandcrabs taste like my beloved Dungeness — even the texture is identical, firm and flaky without a touch of mealiness — and it was also one of those moments when I realized I had flown halfway round the world and yet was still on the Pacific Ocean, my departure point from the continental U.S.

To return to the real issue — the food — the major difference between the versions by Passionfish and Il Centro was the avocado, which at Il Centro was smooth as buttercream and gossamer on the tongue.

Do I prefer the unctuous, street-fightin’ heft of a California Hass or the more angelic quality of an Australian avocado? It would be nice if life’s problems were never harder than that.

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