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.