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


Food fight.

Australian Gourmet Traveller chief food writer Pat Nourse explains the loneliness of the long-distance restaurant reviewer:
" ... you need to eat out on a Tuesday night in winter when you'd really rather just go home."
Nourse's angst is understandable. Naturally, food reviewing is a higher art than other criticism:
"It's not like reviewing a film where you can take a cheap shot and make a small dent in a Hollywood budget. It's someone's livelihood."
Someone's livelihood??? Ask your threadbare independent film-maker friends what they think of that comment. However, the loneliness and angst pay off:
There are only a handful of full-time reviewing jobs in the Australian media and the competition is fierce. ... It certainly takes skill to write about food, like this on Sepia from the current issue of GT: "The more classical salad of roast squab is a lovely dish, the very pink pieces of the bird arranged among tendrils of green over little barrels of confit potato and pickled beetroot delicately dusted with chives."
Very pink. Subsequent to publication of the article in the link above, the Australian Gourmet Traveller restaurant awards were announced, outraging Melbourne food writers and restaurateurs:
MELBOURNE'S elite restaurants were again rejected by Gourmet Traveller in its annual restaurant awards last night. In a repeat of last year's snub, Vue de Monde was the only Melbourne restaurant to achieve the apparently prestigious three-star rating from the Sydney-based magazine. ... Gourmet Traveller editor Anthea Loucas defended the decision, saying while Melbourne had more nominees for the awards than Sydney, ultimately the restaurants weren't up to scratch. ... "If you look at every single three-star restaurant they each offer very distinctive experiences. For us, it's a combination of everything - what's on the plate, the service, the room, the wine list.
Loucas means the brash-Sydney view out the window. In Melbourne, diners look at their dining companions and the food on their plates instead of gazing out the window or craning their necks to see which z-grade 'celebrity' is walking in the door.
Herald Sun food writer Bob Hart described the awards as laughable. ... "These Sydney-centric fantasists have done it again: they have ignored several Melbourne restaurants that are more than a match for most of their Sydney nominations. Where, for example, is the incomparable Jacques Reymond - an elegant fine dining establishment that easily outguns at least five of the three-stars on the Sydney list?"
Clearly, no harbour view in Williams Road:
Extrafood restaurant reviewer Stephen Downes said the awards didn't accurately represent the Melbourne dining scene. "It promotes those places that it believes its readers feel they must be seen at," he said of Gourmet Traveller.

This Sydney-Melbourne thing is greatly entertaining, of course. It has its roots in the cities' historical rivalry in vying for the status of federal capital. Failing to decide between the two, the States were lobbied by a local newspaper proprietor into creating an entirely new city. Land-locked Canberra was the result, today remaining a hermetic city of 345,000 bureaucrats stuck in the middle of nowhere, threatened increasingly by hordes of resurgent kangaroos anxious to reclaim their territory. The failure of common sense in not establishing either Sydney or Melbourne as national capital meant there was no closure for the cities' rivalry, and the two remain locked in petty antagonism. Even the rail lines in the two states were of a different gauge until relatively recently. To travel to Sydney from Melbourne you had to stop at Wodonga in the middle of the night and get on a different train into Sydney. And vice versa.


Bubble, bubble ... and a leek and zucchini casserole.

It was an ordinary postwar timber house in a street running north out of Bell Street. Shadowed on its northern side by a double-storey McMansion, it had one main bedroom, with another small one off the rear verandah, sleep-out style. Great for a teenager, but you wouldn't want your small children out there, beyond the firewall of the main backdoor deadlock.

The auctioneer shouted all the usual prefacing remarks. How close the house was to cafes and restaurants (currently the most quoted benefit in recommending spending half a million dollars on a house), shopping, transport hubs and schools. He didn't mention Bell Street being a Nick Riewoldt miskick away. You'd figure that out soon enough. Screech, crash!

Bidding died at $581,000, was put on life support with a few $500 bids; made a major recovery with a jump-bid from $582,500 to $590,000 and finally cracked an even $600,000 when several parties walked away amid gasps from the crowd.

Then the rolled-up auction sheet came down with a slap on the left hand of the auctioneer who was grinning like a man who had just made 2%. Even 1.5. Who's counting? Sold! Applause. One bedroom. Congratulations. You've just bought a house for six-tenths of a million. Don't forget the $32,518 worth of government stamp duty on top of the 600k. The bureaucrats did better out of that than the auctioneer who did all the work.

Property bubble, anyone?


Leek and zucchini casserole.

I was still thinking about the auction as dinner was bubbling away that night.

Disarmingly simple, this recipe is fragrant and delicious. Serve with crusty bread smeared with home-made pesto, tapenade or the like.

Take one large glass casserole. In the bottom, place a layer of onions chopped into fine rings. Add some olive oil, a tablespoonful or so. Add a layer of zucchini sliced into rings. Now a layer of leeks chopped into fine rings. Now a layer of potatoes sliced very, very thinly. Add a slosh of tomato puree or diced tomatoes with juices. Add a little salt and cracked pepper as you go.

Then repeat the zucchini, leeks, potatoes and tomato until you almost reach the top. Top with plenty of tomato and chopped parsley and ensure there is enough fluid to cover all vegetables. Add a little water if required. Place the lid on the casserole and bake until bubbling.


Eye of the storm.

It was a good night to get into the water. By 5 o'clock the pool was almost deserted. It had been a bleak afternoon. Now the sky was a bruise and a storm threatened.

The outdoor pool at Brunswick is not cold enough to give you a heart attack when you jump in, but not hot enough to choke you with evaporating chlorine, like at some indoor swimming places.

If it wasn't for the lack of scenery, water-running is a fine alternative to running in the park or on the road. Certainly gets the pulse going. It's a good alternative to actual swimming, for that matter.


Outside the pool's walls, a few metres down Dawson Street, is the art deco part of the town hall built in 1926. It is Brunswick Library now, but in the late 1960s and early '70s it was still a hall. My older brother's speech nights were held here; tedious affairs that went close to midnight and featured dramatic and musical items; groups of combed and ironed boys standing on tiered dais singing Westering Home and a Song in the Air and others that harked back to a time of the mother country and Baden Powell and imperialism and two wars not too long gone. I got to watch my brother for years, but by the time I reached secondary school speech nights were no more. Try getting boys to do group singing now, let alone combed and ironed.


The first fifteen minutes are the worst. Then you stop looking at the clock and concentrate on paddling north and then south without going under.

The sky, a roof over the pool's four walls, was a swirling mess of stormcloud buffeted by a fierce westerly. For a second, I thought the pool was moving beneath it: that sensation you get on a stationary train when the next one - the train through the window - starts to move.

The rain started, drops hitting and bubbling and rippling. Heading south now, looking towards the aerobics room at the bottom end of the pool. The wind couldn't quite obliterate the disco beat. Thump, thump, thump. Through the glass, the flick of twenty arms one way, twenty ponytails the other. Thump, thump, flick.


We were married in the old part of the town hall, the Victorian building, shortly after it was refurbished in the mid-1990s. We filled it with potted trees and white-clothed tables and a jazz band in the corner and the food and drink came out all night and what else do you need?


Now north again. The gum trees to the east of the toddlers' pool were doing their own kind of flickering, wildly, to the roar of the wind. The rain was harder now, drumming on the iron roof of the old indoor pool and lashing the water. The veteran swimmers ploughed past in the next lane, arms slapping out another hundred laps. Now it was dark. Above the western wall of the pool, the electric wires on the Upfield line were buzzing in the rain. Every twenty minutes a pantograph slashed past under the wires. That was all you could see of the peak hour trains carrying hundreds of city workers to Brunswick, Jewell, Anstey, Moreland, Coburg stations and beyond. Home to a warm house on a cold, bleak night.


The hamburger you can't eat.

It's four kilograms with the lot. If you ask the Cavendish Cafe to hold hold the onion, bacon, tomato, lettuce, beetroot, pineapple, egg, tomato sauce or whatever else they put in it, you could probably get it down to around the three kilogram mark; but that's still a monster.

You turn right at Hamilton to get to Cavendish. It is beautiful country. The Grampians rise away to the east; Horsham is further north. They don't get a lot of through traffic. A giant burger gimmick is as a good a way as any to generate some publicity. Times are tough.


The chair and the book; late winter’s evening.

It was after nine. Dinner had been another winter favourite, a plate of spaghetti laced with sliced avocado, grilled red capsicum, chicken breast pieces braised in white wine and garlic, snow peas and home-made pesto; all tossed through nicely with a little cream and a lot of cracked pepper and showered with shaved parmesan.

So back to the comfortable chair. One of a pair I bought with a matching three-seater lounge (1930s self-patterned green flock, polished cherrywood timber framework) for $200 in an antique shop in the hollow of Buckley Street in 1978, and had completely rebuilt and reupholstered in 1995 - after the first round of children - for $1800 at John’s Upholstery in Glenlyon Road. (John is Melbourne’s best upholsterer. Moreover, you will pay one-third to one-half of the price you'll pay in the inner east antique-and-afghan-rug belt of Armadale and Malvern.)

I finished the glass of red and switched on 3MBS. It was the Tuesday night new music program called Contemporary Visions and it was another round of glass instruments being played in a half empty wheat silo while someone outside banged a 44-gallon drum, creating a faint bass echo. I picked up the book that I hadn't been able to put down until the aroma of braised chicken and pesto made me do it.

The plot was thickening nicely: a husband flies interstate to investigate the apparent disappearance of his sister-in-law from her estranged father’s house. Husband enters the house and is immediately knocked unconscious by someone or something hiding behind the front door. He wakes with life-threatening injuries next to his sister-in-law. Both are bound with wire, but manage to free each other just as his phone, thrown by his assailant into the kitchen tidy – but left switched on! - rings. He fishes it out and answers it. It is his wife.

Tell her to call the police! the reader shouts. He doesn’t ask her to call the police. He tells her he is busy and will have to call her back. And hangs up.

The hell I couldn’t put it down. I did more than that. I threw it across the room. I hope I didn't wake the children, I thought. Stupid book.

Hilary Norman’s novels are packed with such plot non sequiturs. Things people would never, ever do in real life. Or not do things they should. The above scenario is from Shimmer, Norman's latest.

I picked the book up again. The husband had been busy. He had taken a knife from the kitchen drawer and crept up the groaning stairs, having told the sister-in-law to wait by the front door. The front door? That was where he was knocked unconscious when he entered. Good luck, sister-in-law. I don’t like your chances. Now the husband is on the landing and there is a strange groaning coming from behind a closed door.

Why do I keep reading? Drawn back to it despite the irrational behaviour of her characters, I suppose.

Or maybe because of it. Norman is employing a curious literary device. When characters act contrarily they are reduced to a kind of child-like state, becoming impotent pawns in a horror tale. You fear for them even more, even though you want to slap their silly faces. When it works, this literary sleight-of-hand turns rational mystery into unimaginable horror; logical suspense into sheer terror. There are bodies everywhere in Norman’s novels. Under floors, in concrete, in cellars and sheds. All counterpointed by the genteel middle class conversational styles and the mild English manners that characterise her players. Well, most of them. The rest are murderous psychopaths.

I'm up to Hilary Norman novel number six. There are several more to go.


Two-episode dinner.

Episode One: Monday.

Baked spring lamb.

This is a simplified version of the Italian spring classic Abbacchio alla Romana which traditionally comprises all manner of things including anchovies, but all you really need are good herbs to let the superlative flavour of Australian spring lamb shine through. This is easy to assemble with no complex preparation, it cooks fast and it tastes delicious.

Take a kilogram of spring lamb pieces - six centimetre cubes - and rub into them one chopped fresh red chilli, a teaspoonful of chopped rosemary, a tablespoonful of chopped parsley and two crushed sage leaves. Place the herbed meat in a heavy baking dish. Now scatter over the meat one chopped onion, two very ripe chopped tomatoes, and three crushed cloves of garlic. Pour over two tablespoonsful of olive oil and a cup of white wine. Season lamb generously with salt and black pepper.

Add a little water, just enough to raise the fluid level; about half way up the lamb pieces. Sprinkle over the meat 50g of grated parmesan mixed with 100g of fresh breadcrumbs.

Place in a moderate oven 45 minutes or until the cooking aromas are too much to resist. Serve over a bed of polenta (my staple of the moment) with a side of zucchini steamed with butter, onion and a dash of cayenne pepper.

Our in-house jury of two (not the boys; they had eaten earlier and were asleep) gave this 8.5 (Tracy 9; Me 8).

Episode Two: Tuesday.

Easy lamb pie.

There was some baked spring lamb left over. A day later, the juices had intensified in flavour. What to do?

There is something about the aroma of baking meat encased in pastry that brings out an almost primeval appetite, a longing to eat that bears no true relationship to actual hunger. Of course, it helps if you are hungry. Then you can eat more. Does anyone remember that bizarre sporting club fund-raising function of the 1960s called the 'pie night'? There, in the kitchen of every dusty hall across the nation, stood a chrome pie warmer about the size of a small truck, the racks of which contained hundreds of Four'N Twenty (round), Herbert Adams (square) or Noon (oval, in foil) pies. No-one went hungry. The vegetarians ate cornish pasties, which had their own distinct aroma of heavily-peppered parsnip and carrot.

I digress. The leftover lamb pieces went into a pie dish and were tucked in under a layer of pastry with a neat vent in the middle, and sealed with a one-inch ring around the rim. Into the oven for 30 minutes. Seved with mashed potato, baby peas and last summer's home-made tomato chutney.

The verdict: 9 (unanimous).

The pie wins!


Plain rice.

After the calm of the previous week, the ancient wind got up and blew for days; as it has each year for millennia, when Spring heats up the great red centre and the vast desert prepares for its sixty millionth hot season.

A buffeting kind of wind, dropping to dead silence one minute and roaring like a dragon the next, rattling every sash window in the house. Trying to blow it away as if the house never belonged there anyway. The wind can smash a low building yet a hundred-year-old eucalypt with untold weight in its sixty-foot canopy rarely sustains damage more than the odd dropped limb. The evolution of trees.


Nothing of note in the kitchen lately. Sometimes, great lumps of time seem to roll by heavily, like unevenly round rocks rumbling away. One minute it’s early afternoon on a Tuesday; then you look up and three weeks have fallen off the calendar into the abyss. Twenty-one ‘x’s and nothing to show. Times like this, cooking and eating take on a strictly routine and practical flavour and we eat by rote. Not to say we don’t enjoy it; on the contrary, mealtimes are an oasis in the desert of anonymous days. They are something you look forward to, rely on. And you remember fleeting moments. One of these passing images was last week, when a basic vegetable risotto was set in front of the boys; and Thomas, who took to cutlery early and well, spooned it down lustily, vegetables and all. Not for him William’s technique of carefully removing all foreign items before eating the plain rice grains, leaving a neat pile of carrot pieces etc at the side.

On the other hand, William eats cheese. Tom won't.


During the week, the papers reported that the Australian Football League had determined that this weekend was to be its ‘green’ round. Football was once played on Saturday afternoons, under perfectly natural, if sometimes winter-dim, afternoon light. By contrast, this weekend’s ‘green’ round includes no fewer than three night games illumined by billions of lights. Night games provide greater audiences for games broadcast on television, which works by electricity.
"Mr Demetriou said the AFL would encourage fans to use public transport, ride a bike or car pool to games this weekend. Footy fans will also be reminded to turn off the lights and heating when they leave home for the game and to make sure electrical appliances are switched off at the wall."
No better example of cant.


"Don't forget to type."

The sky has dripped for days with the kind of precipitation that wets everything without making an impression on the gauge. You could hardly call it rain. When it rained a few weeks ago, in the evening, I sat in the day room - the one that overlooks the back garden - for a while just to hear the sound of it beating on the iron roof. That room is an extension added in the 1950s to the original 1948 roofline. Rain on an iron roof is music. Until it leaks.


Everything seems to have stopped. Against the grey sky the trees are black fretwork bending to a cold, raw northerly. The lawn has returned but I haven't mown it for months. It's winter’s last gasp.

Look closer. Everything is in bud. All waiting, tense, silent, like sprinters on the blocks of an Olympic final.

Next month, the gun will go off. Until then the buds lie in wait. Of course, the magnolias are running a different race. Bare a few weeks back, they are now loaded with hundreds of absurdly large flowers from pink to white to crimson. They look like angels with outspread wings. We had magnolias in our last house. We moved when William was four months old, and he spent some of the waking hours of his first months propped up in his pram and gazing out the west window of our old house at a magnolia unfurling its angels.


Work. An archivist at the school handed me several pages of neat handwriting, a teacher's contribution to the oral history I am editing. Can we have it typed, I wondered. Sure, came the reply. Later: the secretary can't read it, the archivist told me grimly. So she can't type it, she added. It wasn't bad handwriting, it was a perfectly readable cursive script enhanced with a few copperplate details here and there. Exactly the kind of writing you'd expect of a teacher in his late fifties.

But she couldn't read it. It took me a moment to realise the shocking implication of this disability. Nothing to do with the secretary personally, of course.

We are heading into a world in which people are able to read only typed words. This is the death of handwriting.


Well, actually, it was a dark and stormy night, since you mention it.

The 2009 winner of literary parody contest, the Bulwer-Lytton awards, was announced some time ago. The winning line:

"Folks say that if you listen real close at the height of the full moon, when the wind is blowin' off Nantucket Sound from the nor' east and the dogs are howlin' for no earthly reason, you can hear the awful screams of the crew of the "Ellie May," a sturdy whaler Captained by John McTavish; for it was on just such a night when the rum was flowin' and, Davey Jones be damned, big John brought his men on deck for the first of several screaming contests."
The awards have become a parody of a parody, of course. The contest judges would not look twice at the line on which the contest was originally based. Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton's 1830 novel Paul Clifford opened with the words: "It was a dark and stormy night." The opener took on a life of its own, assisted by Snoopy of Peanuts.

Having said that, there's a Bulwer-Lytton candidate lurking in the next book you pick up. Here's a few I noticed, selected at random from the shelves:

"Rachel Collins, warrant officer second grade, shifted, her boot heels scraping the hot corrugated roof of the metal shed where she lay spread-eagle."
- Last Rights by Philip Shelby

You can't beat the old hero-spread-eagled-in-the-first-line technique for getting the high drama off to a rollicking start. Or the half-conscious thought with furious action culminating in an absurd wordplay:

"The whole hospital’s a madhouse, Pilar Ramirez fumed as she hurried through the corridors to the ER, her half-unbuttoned lab coat flapping and swishing about her like ruffled wings."
- Argonaut by Stanley Schmidt

Ruffled wings in a madhouse. Then there's the surely-you-can't-be-serious angle:

"I know, I know - it seemed crazy that the alien had come to Toronto."
- Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer

Well, why not Toronto? It seems as good a place as any. Or just try the bad-taste shock technique:

"Cancer is a wonderful thing."
- Otto by Lisa St Aubin de Terán

One more:

"There she blows," Brune said.
- The Game of Treachery by Alan Savage

Whales ahoy!


Product of the month. #2 in a series.

I'll do two this month, because I missed July.

The first is this small can of peppercorns. It lurks innocently in the spice section of most supermarkets, where it sells for around three dollars.

These peppercorns have a sustained heat. Not like the fiery blast a very hot chili pepper assaults you with, but more of a sustained slow burn. They don't overpower your cooking but you still feel the heat hours later.

Pepper steak.

Or steak au poivre if you like to affect Frenchisms at the table. I have posted this recipe once or twice in the almost six years I have been writing this online diary, but 'search' is being recalcitrant today and won't find it for me.

Take two steaks, some cream, a can of Moulin peppercorns and a bottle of cognac or brandy.

Heat your heavy duty cast iron frypan. Oil the steaks, throw them in and sear them. Ask everyone how they like their steak first and stagger the cooking accordingly. This is tricky. Why can't everyone eat steak rare, like me?

Now ignite the steaks. (Or flambe, see previous note on French words.) Pour on some cognac or brandy (not from the bottle) and tilt the pan to ignite the alcohol.

This is trial and error. Too little and nothing happens; too much and you need new kitchen curtains. When flames die down, throw in the peppercorns with their fluid. This will evaporate slowly. Remove steaks to plates. Add a good tablespoonful of more of cream to remaining fluid and peppercorns in pan on high heat to reduce. Pour pepper sauce over steaks.

Serve with creamed spinach and garlic mash, or good quality fries, remembering to extinguish the curtains.


The Moon and Carrots

Wednesday, 6.15 a.m.

Dark and cold. I pulled on a coat and went out for the paper, a habit I haven’t been able to break. I dragged the front gate open on its dead bolt and hoped the metallic screech it made as it crossed the concrete didn’t wake the neighbourhood.

I walked up the street and around the corner and across the road, and there it was. A giant ball of creamy yellow, low down near the horizon. It was the moon, setting. From where I was standing it was directly behind a giant eucalypt that must have been a hundred years old. It sat in the silhouetted tree like an overfed, fat white owl. Five minutes later, after I had fetched the paper, the yellow ball had climbed down the trunk and was slipping into the horizon, taking night with it.

The day passed in a haze. There was writing to be done. Something about a boring subject that I tried to make it sound interesting. Not quite succeeding. It’s hard to write about a boring subject without sounding like you’re trying to make a boring subject interesting.

Around lunch time there was a knock at the door. A courier. I opened the parcel, from my sister who lives in the hills of South Gippsland overlooking Wilson’s Promontory. Inside the parcel were colour copies of some new water colour illustrations for her next children’s book. They were good.

Recently I’ve had about as much work as an outback cellist; now it’s getting busy again. The room in which I write overlooks the back yard, where today William and Thomas Heavy Haulage and Earthmoving Inc. was at work as usual. They sounded like six Caterpillars bulldozing a hill. I tapped away for a while longer, writing a few useless words about index funds. Then I stopped. Index funds can wait. They do anyway.


Late afternoon. Time to cook.

Carrot soup.

This sounds ordinary on paper but is very good in the pot.

Peel and chop six medium carrots into thin rounds and cook them, along with a chopped onion and a scored clove of garlic, in 30g of butter over a medium-high heat for three minutes. Just to get it all going.

Then stir in two large peeled and diced potatoes, turn down the heat, and let it sweat for five minutes.

Now add four cups of chicken stock. (I had only vegetable stock (Massel cubes), so I used half a cube in two cups of boiling water and supplemented the stock with a strained cup of sauce left over from last night’s chicken provencale: chicken pieces stovetop-cooked in white wine, tomato puree, garlic, fat strips of red and green capsicum, olives, a sprig of thyme and lots of cracked black pepper. I made up the volume with another cup of boiling water. The leftover sauce gave the soup a more complex flavour with redolence of the capsicum and olives.)

Now bring the soup to boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Puree and serve, adding sour cream and a sprig of parsley to each bowl. Perfect late winter lunch. Or supper.


Ten to six. Dark now.

I saw it again. It must have just risen. It caught my eye as I passed the window in the room beyond the kitchen. There it was, fat and round and creamy yellow again, sitting in the east now; this time behind the thin bare bones of a wintering poplar. Laughing at me.

I stared at the full moon rising and wondered at the vastness of the distance it had travelled in between my seeing it twice on one day, and I felt a tinge of vertigo.


"Middle of a drought, the water commissioner drowns."

July 1974 was the middle of an unusually cold and nasty winter. I was in the last year of school. That month, I saw an evening performance of Oedipus at Colonus at the Melbourne University Union theatre and froze on the tram on the way home. That July, I also had my first cinema date.

I took the girl by tram to the newly-opened Cinema Centre in Bourke Street. Acres of electric blue velour chairs swept down to a giant screen about half a mile away, and more acres of electric blue velvet draped the walls, downlit in the folds by continuous hidden fluorescent strips. The walls concealed new sensurround speakers that made you think you were going down with the ship in The Poseidon Adventure. It was the last word in 1970s cinema décor and it was hideous.

Oh, the movie: Chinatown. I had kind of forgotten about it. I half-remembered the darkness, Faye Dunaway and a score that sounded like a Formula One race in slow motion. Or something. Then it all came back, thanks to this Terry Teachout item by from the Wall Street Journal, reprinted in The Australian last month.

Every neo-noir film released since then has borrowed from Chinatown, which looks as fresh today as it did in 1974. Yet a preview audience hated it, and studio executives were sure that it would bomb at the box office—until Jerry Goldsmith, working against the clock, wrote a brand-new score that helped turn a costly disaster into an unforgettable hit.
It was coming back to me.

The tension between the dark romanticism of the string-accompanied love theme and the crisp, bristly clatter of pianos and percussion is what gives Goldsmith’s spare score its powerfully individual quality. Though “Chinatown” runs for 131 minutes, it contains only 23 minutes of music — but every note counts. Instead of the usual wall-to-wall underscoring, Goldsmith saves his fire for the film’s key moments ...
Teachout writes that while the soundtrack album has been out of print for years, the music comes through clearly on the remastered DVD version. I'll be looking out for it.


It was our one and only date. Perhaps she didn’t like the movie. Perhaps she didn't like the cinema. Perhaps she didn’t like me. I don’t remember. We went home by tram. It was freezing.


What to do with two Dutch Cream potatoes.

Dice a couple of Dutch Cream potatoes, cook until just soft, drain. Dice an avocado (Halve, de-pit, peel, invert halves, slice). Open and drain a can of corn. Chop - finely - some coriander. Dice a stick of celery. Toast some pine nuts (or use fresh walnut halves).

Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl. Dress with oil and vinegar. Warm, fragrant, potato and corn salad.

Spring is a month away. Just getting into practice.