“Hip Brisbane?” said a friend who’d grown up in Brissy in the 60s. “Visit first, then try to convince me.”
If she’d spend just a couple of hours with me this morning, she may have started to relent. The hotel, Spicer’s Balfour, is a nine-room Queenslander (painted weatherboard with wide verandas, a rooftop bar and open-air reception) in New Farm with views across to the Story Bridge and into the back yards of the neighbours, which I love. To paraphrase George Negus, I’m a suburban perv.
Yesterday, I ate lunch at a nearby cafe, the Little Larder, then found I’d left my wallet behind. “No worries,” said the sparky girl serving me. “Just pop in tomorrow!” So I did, and at 8am, the cafe, on a relatively quiet street, was full with a happy buzz of Wednesday morning breakfasters. Who breakfasts out on a Wednesday morning? Brisbanites, it would appear.
And then I swung past Chouquette, which has been turning out the butteriest, Frenchest pastries since before it opened at 6.30 this morning. The smell, people, is a scent to inspire you to write poetry, solve cryptics and create world peace.
Just $1.50 bought me a little bag of chouquettes, sweet little balls of cream puff, rolled in pearl sugar, for a crunch in the mouth. My snack bag of dried fruits has been slung into the dark recesses of my suitcase. Again, this cafe had a scattering of regular patrons sipping milky coffee and buying fresh olive batons – so lucky to have such a gem in their neighbourhood.
The mood in these little streets is relaxed, the scent is of gardenias, jasmine and freshly baked bread, the spring temps are perfect. If ‘hip’ meant feeling angst, wearing black and not eating fresh mango for breakfast, then give hip the heave. I’ll take New Farm (not New York).