Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Beach. Barbecue.

Blairgowrie beach was deserted.

The tide was out and the white sandbars were baking. A container ship was sliding down the bay. The water was a flat as a tack. Where was everyone? Blairgowrie is a sleepy village. There's a large retired population. They come out in their hundreds, morning and evening, walking their dogs. But at two o'clock on a broiling afternoon, they obviously have the sense to stay indoors!

I had taken the dogs to the beach for a couple of days.

We are fostering Clyde, an enormous blue-fawn three-year-old greyhound. It is his first foster home and he did all the usual things like try to walk through windows and be completely unable to walk up steps, especially timber steps without riser panels. I had to lift him the first time - 39.5 kgs - but he soon learned. At first he tried to leap all six steps - successfully, and both up and down - but then he twigged that he could actually place his paws on those in between.

As well as getting the dogs used to navigating a human household, they also need to be socialised. So they get to go out for coffee. That's a win-win.

So off to the Blairgowrie cafe we went. It's ideal for socialising dogs. Several outdoor tables were occupied, all with dogs, a couple with several. Add my two (Goldie came along as well, of course) and Frank the Fat Stray dog who was in residence as usual, and there were more dogs than people.

Clyde is so large his head actually rested on the table, right there next to the sugar dispenser (one of the many great things about the Blairgowrie cafe, apart from being dog-friendly - which itself means you are associating with a nicer class of people - is that they still have sugar in a real jar on every table, not those paper sachet things of which I need to use about six just to get a decent degree of sweetness in my coffee. I hate it when they give you two of those things and you have to ask for more.)

So there we were, Goldie flopped under the table, Clyde's head - with a silly grin on it - by the sugar and me stirring my coffee. A lady happened along, spied Clyde, asked me about him and told me her sister is adopting a greyhound (name of Diva) and will pick her up from the the Greyhound Adoption Program stall at the Rosebud Pet and Pony Expo on Sunday.

Later we ran on the beach, Clyde all gangly, his silly wide grin directed at the seagulls or the sky or just because he loved running along a big wide beach with company; Goldie coming up to maybe his knees but managing to keep up. Not bad for a twelve-year-old Brittany.


I drove back to Melbourne early evening.

Couldn't resist firing up the barbecue on such a beautiful night. Chicken had been marinating in a bunch of ingredients including soy, Thai-style chilli sauce, a drop of fish sauce, plenty of chopped ginger and garlic. A squeeze of lemon. Whatever came to hand, really.

The broccoli is shooting up like ... broccoli in spring ... so I made a kind of asian salad to go with the chicken - steamed broccoli (the long, thin type with a few inches of stem) and green beans on a bed of iceberg lettuce with a shower of toasted sesame seeds and a dressing of a few drops of sesame oil and soy. Easy and simple.

A nice glass of chilled white wine.

The birds were twittering away in the conifers and swooping through the dying sunshine. Goldie and Clyde were asleep on the grass. Clyde was still wearing a silly wide grin.


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