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


Salad days.

I was at my second office reading a forty page powerpoint printout about some marketing genius's idea of what 'sets a company apart'. It was full of words like 'innovate' and 'respond' and 'focus on the customer' but it was devoid of any common sense at all.

My second office is the front bar return, tucked in next to the wall, near the orange juicer, at Brunetti's. The bar is of solid marble and it is wide and there is space enough between the padded stools to unfold a broadsheet and not take anyone's eye out or knock their coffee over. I was up from the beach house for a meeting in town and I had to read some background notes before going to the early-afternoon meeting in some airless skyscraper in St Kilda Road. Since when did background notes comprise forty pages of powerpoint jargon? Probably since companies have had marketing departments full of people on $250,000 a year.

Coffee first. The coffee was good. Then lunch. Something light. Something that wouldn't put me to sleep during the meeting, no matter how much I would like to sleep. The girl behind the bar misheard my request for a tuna and bean salad to eat in. She thought I wanted take-away. I must have looked like I was in a hurry. The salad came packed in a large round plastic container which was then wrapped in Brunetti's signature pink and white paper with a silver and black oval Brunetti seal. Beautiful.

Now, the point of all this: the salad could have fed four people. It was huge. Which brought me around to thinking that if I were too busy to make salads for a barbecue this summer, or just couldn't be bothered in between marinating chicken fillets and swordfish steaks and ribs and cleaning the grill and setting out plates and cutlery and having a glass of cold chardonnay in the sun on the lawn, I could just slip down to Brunetti's and order a few take-away salads, nicely packed, and whizz them home and pile them high on my flat white salad bowls. And pass them off as my own. Just kidding on that last point.

Brunetti's rotate their salads. They had a Caesar, spelled the right way, with very good shaved parmigiano but no croutons; the aforementioned tuna and bean which was packed with quality tuna, red onion, white beans and very fresh green beans; a kind of pesto rigatoni salad with half-orbs of bocconcini and sections of semi-dried tomatoes and another of just fresh halved vine-ripened tomatoes, bocconcini and a balsamic dressing.

The meeting? It went for an hour and a half and that's all I can remember about it, apart from the view over leafy St Kilda Road and beyond to Fawkner Park and beyond that to the rooftops of South Yarra and Toorak. Beautiful.


Dr. Alice said...

Every time I read your blog I have the same thought: Must come to Melbourne and eat at every restaurant you have ever mentioned. (Though I would probably die in the attempt.) They all sound fabulous.

Regarding the Caesar salad, I really don't much like croutons in salad - because when you try to spear them with your fork they shatter. They may taste good but they are a pain to eat.

kitchen hand said...

We'd be glad to see you down here in Melbourne Dr Alice. Let me know if you ever plan to travel.

Yes, croutons can be a problem. I sometimes use the fork-in-the-midsection sideways technique but it depends on the kind of bread they use.

stickyfingers said...

Give the croutons time to absorb a little of the dressing before trying to poke 'em.

40 pages? Can't these people be more succinct? I have worked in a number of offices in St.K Rd like the one you described and the view is just so marvelously distracting. Sadly the people who drag their carcasses into these buildings on a daily basis become blase about the joys of what is on their doorsteps.

kitchen hand said...

Stickyfingers, clearly they can't. Fortunately I can speed read but most of it is repetitious rubbish anyway.

Yes, they are indeed blase!