Do you know of the birthday curse? No? Let me fill you in. This ominous curse, usually attached to oneself from birth, refers to the unfortunate events that occur to some that would NEVER happen on any other day but one’s day of birth.
I have this curse and aside from one or two birthday parties, it has come to fruition every year.
Here are but a few stories I can proudly tell:
• The one of my 18th where my drivers’ license (showing that I was turning 18 that day) was invalid for my entry into Summer House restaurant inside Fairfield RSL unless I signed a declaration form promising I wouldn’t consume alcohol or step foot into the gambling room
• The time I was locked out of the Novotel hotel room I booked before a big Nepalese dinner in Glebe as I couldn’t find a form of primary ID for the life of me
• My 21st Sunday lunch at the Beresford where friends left as soon as the meal had ended and so I spent the day wandering around a run-down suburb with one beloved friend and had my skirt rip sideways while we sat and laughed at daggy club-goers at a now defunct Parramatta nightclub (which shall not be named)
So something, anything, had to happen this year to almost tip me over the edge. And it did. And I felt okay because I said, ‘World, you can’t bring me down today, I will embrace any shit you throw at me from this point forward.’
Let’s travel back to a few weeks ago when I was frantically planning the location of dinner and drinks in Newtown for my 22nd. I had just finished work in Bondi and was making my way down to the shops right before you hit the beach to find ANY cake shop that’d create a luscious lactose-free cake for me. It’s my special day, I thought, I should be able to have my cake and eat it too, no?
I found the loveliest Hungarian bakery which specialises in tortes and pies and bagels and traditional pastries of every kind. In it, I met an adorable woman who I persuaded to make me the cake of my dreams. I gave her complete creative license over design and flavour and promised I’d bring back lactose-free milk products soon. The next week, I brought over the goods for the cake to be ready by Saturday – the night of the party.
I finished work, made my way down to the bustling Bondi Road again and waited patiently in line to pick up my hard-earnt order. A friendly man recognised my pick-up and said, ‘You must be Eva, you know Marianne doesn’t usually compliment but she said you were the loveliest girl.’ That kind of blew me away, she wasn’t easy to please but I worked my charm and her warmth was genuine.
What he did next stumped me: he laid unopened bottles of cream and milk on the box inside a bag and half-mentioned, ‘Oh, we didn’t end up using your products, it’s only a ganache that has the tiniest amount of cream anyway.’ And with a kindly smile and two complimentary cookies, I was off, not knowing how to feel.
Should I be happy that they took to me so well? Maybe irritated that sections of my own birthday cake, I wouldn’t be able to eat. I was truly lost in no particular facial expression as I waved goodbye. I was being petty but on my big day, any little error can set me off. And for the next half an hour, I was an almost-boiling-over pot of spaghetti water.
On the crowded bus home, I smiled to myself once mixed feelings dissipated and knew this must be the curse trying to ruin me. I am happy to say that that was the worst part of the day come and gone. And the rest was [almost] perfection!
After weeks of contemplation on where to eat in my wildly chaotic new area, I chose Luyu + Yum Yum, an artsy dumpling bar with good reviews online. We caught an uber down King St and made it just in time, but our table wasn’t ready until 15 minutes later. This wan annoying but suited us well as friends peppered their way up the stairs and into the yellow neon lit-up space with black-hued timber tables, chairs and simple white and wood-toned décor. Each table was occupied with loud diners and steamer baskets piled high with dumpling concoctions waiting to be devoured within. The open kitchen was a fun way to bring delicate dumpling-making action to the centre of attention. Luyu specialises in share plates and is vegetarian-friendly, with around 60% of dumplings on the menu not containing meat.
The night was beautiful as I laughed away with friends both old and new and introduced my favourite humans to one another. I don’t remember much about which dumpling flavour was what – I scoffed down anything in sight.
I do recall that they were stunning to look at – there was the Mr Luyu Starburst Dumpling ($11.80) made pain-stakingly with four different coloured doughs and the plump little Chicken Buns ($10.80) with chicken, ginger, shallots and Chinese cabbage which were out of this world. Fluffy and sweet, crisp on the outside and juicy within.
Another favourite was the Flying Seafood Dumpling ($13.80) with fresh scallops on top with fish ball, prawn, asparagus and flying fish roe lurking beneath its translucent shell. The dumpling skins were well cooked and just thick enough to hug their innards snugly. The big moment for me is always cake so once the tables were cleared, there stood proud my beautiful Chocolate Hazelnut Torte ($50). This cake was mind-blowing, I was surprised it tasted as amaze as it did. The thick ganache was rich and velvety, holding a dense-crumbed hazelnut cake with subtle sweetness and a mellow nuttiness within. My guests were silent the whole time – always a good sign of a fab cake.
Service at the restaurant was a little slow and unreliable, with the waiter telling me I’d have to cut my own cake. WHAT?! Luckily I have good friends so I wasn’t too fussed when a friend picked up the green kiwi-patterned knife and dug right in. Other than a few minor hiccups, it was a memorable night and I’d definitely hit up Luyu for a casual dinner again.
Wellington Cake Shop, 157 Bondi Rd, Bondi Beach NSW 2026. (02) 9389 4555.