Last week, Jay Dee and I returned home from our week-long sojourn in Adelaide for the 2009 Fringe Festival, and more specifically, for the Format Festival and its zine fair and Academy of DIY.
During our time in The Grid, we managed to see a nice assortment of shows: cabaret, comedy, puppetry, live theatre, glass-blowing. We visited more art galleries and exhibitions than most people see in a lifetime, discovering that it is indeed physically possible to see 18 art exhibitions in 6 hours in locations scattered across an entire city centre. Here's the map to prove it:
In condensed form, these were the Adelaide highlights:
Best bit: Saturday's zine fair in the grungy backroom of 145 Hindley St, followed by a plush dinner at Mesa Lunga (to celebrate a successful day of zine fairing), followed by an indie film festival in aforementioned backroom.
Worst bit: Picking up a viral infection on the last day and having to resort to copious amounts of Difflam to dull the pain of a horrendously sore throat.
Favourite Fringe show: Definitely the Anarchist's Guild Social Committee. Can't go wrong with clever comedy, and it's always nice to conclude a mirthful show with mirthful red wine and chatter. The cabaret show, A Company of Strangers (perfect for the Spiegeltent venue) makes my list purely for the amazing voice of Lady Carol. Wow.
Best art exhibition: There were plenty of contenders during the Fringe Festival, but still my favourite would have been the Tom Moore exhibition at the Jam Factory. Just magical.
Best cafe moments: Felici cafe caught our eye on the first day in town - fantastic interior fitout, great vibe, tasty food, and one of the best locations on Rundle St. Also, Cibo Espresso cafes seem rather popular in Adelaide ... their sweet temptations are dreamy (try the Bomboloni al Limone - a lemony custard-filled sugar-coated brioche), and I took a gamble on a Zabaccino and was pleasantly surprised that a cappuccino flavoured with egg and Marsala actually tastes pretty damn good (imagine a sweet coffee infused with a subtle meringue flavour).
Best meal: Exquisite dinner and wine at the immensely popular Mesa Lunga, but beware the waiter who tricks you into accepting his casually offered olives and bread (they're not complimentary, and will appear on your bill...). Oh, and the barmen are HOT! Nice recommendation Georgi! (p.s. The Sparrow kitchen + bar in North Adelaide was also darn nice too.)
Favourite book store: We liked Rundle St's cute little Mary Martin bookstore and Hindley St's Imprints bookstore, but our favourite was actually an indescript secondhand bookstore on O'Connell St in North Adelaide. No idea what it was called though...
Best retail experience: Exploring the 2-level historic Adelaide/Gay's Arcade - lots of history, lovely architectural detailing, a great antique collectables store (where I bought a stash of vintage button cards), two contemporary jewellery-design shops, and Chocolate World..!
Favourite shop: Pepe's Paperie. We're both obsessive about paper and books, as if we weren't going to love this place! And it's the store where we hatched a plan to each buy the same calendar book and use it for a Weekly Sketch project. Will blog about that later.
Happiest surprise: Stumbling across a backstreet public art installation involving a 4-storey brick wall and several thousand Matchbox cars, one per brick. Incredible. See photos below.
Best sweet experience: Jay Dee's discovery that Monaco Bar icecreams have made a comeback after all these years - I used to love those things like you wouldn't believe. They definitely look smaller than I remember though.
Historic Adelaide moment: Stocking up on snack foods from Ditters - dried fruit and nut specialists since 1918. The dried bananas look terrible but taste exactly like banana cake, but without the cake. A must-try if ever you're in Adelaide.
Hidden treasure: Tuxedo Cat - a rooftop bar (and small venue) above the Record Bazaar. After being lured down an alleyway off Rundle St by the quirkily signed Record Bazaar, Jay Dee soon discovered that Tuxedo Cat was a bar upstairs. We came back on a different day and spent a delightfully lazy afternoon reclined in beanbags, languidly sipping red wine, and sketching in our books. Wonderful.
Best urban exploration: Trailing along behind Chris Tamm as he took us on a Friday morning street art walking tour through back alleys and hidden Adelaide locales, happily snapping photos the whole walk.
Most photographically inspiring location: The Adelaide Botanic Gardens - after 3 separate trips there, I reckon half my photos were taken whilst exploring the Gardens and its pavilions.
Quirkiest festival event: The Zinester Walking Tour on which Ianto Ware led us down all sorts of back alleys in the pursuit of bizarre locations so that various zinesters could spruik the launch of their new zines. Good, clean fun.
And some happy snaps:
End note: I'll be putting the rest of the Adelaide photos up on my Flickr site shortly, just as soon as I get through sorting them... :)