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Showing posts from January, 2005

Happy Australia Day.

Yesterday, Melbourne was a cauldron. The official top was 36 degrees, but a thermometer at Melbourne Park registered 47 in the shade. They halted the Australian Open quarter finals and drew the roof over Rod Laver arena. It was far too hot to eat any earlier than eight-thirty; sat outside, beneath the apple tree, with the sun burning angrily away on the horizon before dropping out of sight, turning the trees to liquid gold as it did so. The dogs lay exhausted on the lawn. We ate a cool salad of lettuce, tomatoes, onions and a simple vinaigrette followed by an easy pasta dish of spirals folded through with cannellini beans and a rich pesto with extra basil leaves on top. * We sweltered overnight, the temperature fell no lower than 25.6. Today's top is an expected 36. Despite this, the CFA has not imposed a total fire ban, so the traditional barbie will go ahead. Lamb fillets, kebabs, sausages. Steaks, chicken fillets marinated in soy, ginger, garlic, lemon. Calamari,

Three minutes.

My brother is a super-8 film maker, as well as being a musician. He has been shooting super-8 movies since he was fifteen, when he made sci-fi super-8 movies using sets he constructed from blackened polystyrene foam stuck to large pieces of three-ply timber and painted backdrops with stars, planets and moons. I made super-8 movies as well, from 1976 through to 1989. In 1990, my house was burgled, my Canon super-8 camera was stolen and I never made another movie. I also never again watched my collection of super-8s because my projector was stolen as well. The reels just sat there in a box as I moved through four addresses in seven years. This past Christmas, my super-8 musician brother gave me the best Christmas gift I have ever received. It was in a large unwieldy box wrapped with Christmas paper and string. He warned me not to drop it. I unwrapped it carefully. It was a super-8 projector, of course. In perfect condition. Where had he found it? Some flea market somewhe

Running a food business? Maybe you'd prefer a career in law.

Sydney Road from Brunswick through to Coburg has maybe a hundred or so restaurants and cafes, Turkish, Lebanese and others. Alasya Restaurant is the most popular. Many others serve only locals but people flock from all over Melbourne to go to Alasya. It has two branches. It also runs a bakery supplying other restaurants and cafes. Alasya is at the centre of a food poisoning scare . The outbreak reportedly occurred between January 9 and 18. The food poisoning story broke on Tuesday at which time several people had reported ill. Mr Bekir, the owner of Alasya, which has been trading since 1978, said: "We were devastated, absolutely devastated, all of us. It was disbelief. If it's definitively linked (to the restaurant). All we can do is absolutely, absolutely apologise. This has never, ever happened to us, and you don't want something that happens once to hurt you forever. We've been here so long and served hundreds of thousands of customers." By


They lost two thirds of their medical staff , or so say reports, making foreign intervention such as this vital. And Australian expertise such as this is the best in the world. Yet, some sections of the Indo government want foreign forces out soon. Who to believe. I don't know. I don't even know what to think about foreign governments who have cavalier attitudes to human suffering while western nations pick up the pieces - nations which are sometimes criticised in turn, often by their own constituents. Funny world. No. Stupid world. And yeah, I do know what to think. I'm thinking it right now.

Two more hot days.

Wednesday. We ate an early camp breakfast (poached eggs, canned spaghetti, bread rolls, tea) in the relative cool of six a.m. The sun was just an ominous red glow on the horizon. Around seven, just after the sun's first rays hit the tops of the trees, the cockatoos and galahs started their racket. They perched in their hundreds on top of the concrete water tower, dropped off in graceful dives, flew around in ragged circles. By eight we'd packed up the tent and moved on. Mid-morning found us at Tocumwal, on the New South Wales side of the Murray river. People retire here to fish, boat and do nothing. Just out of town lies what was once a World War Two airfield. Purpose-built in 1943 as a USAAF base during the height of the Japanese assault on the Pacific, it was at the time the largest airfield in the Southern Hemisphere. Three of seven hangars remain - massive concrete, timber and iron constructions - a fourth burned down a couple of years ago after a farmer

Two hot days.

Monday. From my northern suburb, it doesn't take long to drive out of town. Left out of my crescent onto a short avenue, then right up a long wide street until you hit the highway. Turn left and Australia is yours. An hour saw us dropping Goldie at the Seymour kennel. Another two and the Murray River was in sight. On the way, stopped at a couple of small towns for cold drinks and lunch. At one stop, I saw a hastily-chalked sign outside the only store in town. The sign read: BIG YABBIES BEHIND SHOP. I decided it was an advertisement rather than a warning but I didn't buy any as the ice-cooler was already full. The camping ground was in a small town just north of the Murray River, on a lake and protected from wind by a ring of magnificent ancient pine trees. Mature garden beds followed pathways and bordered sweeping lawns. Ducks wandered around. I pitched the tent five metres from the edge of the lake. We stayed there two days. Two weeks would have been better.

Heading north.

Unstable weather over Melbourne has brought rain and cool conditions for the best part of a week. We're heading north, towards the mighty Murray , looking for a nice camping ground and some fierce sunshine. Tomorrow's forecast: 38 degrees. Mmm. Camp food!

Short-cuts. And Barbies.

After a Christmas and New Year of intensive food preparation (the preparation was intensive? what about the eating? that was exhausting ) it is a sheer joy to throw all your fussy ideas about home preparation into the trash and live out of a jar and a packet for a while. So we did. And it was good. Monday looked nice enough to have an evening barbecue. High twenties, not a breath of wind, maybe just a light zephyr climbing over the back fence and sighing at the apricot tree. Possum damage aside - and I'm ignoring them, pretending they don't exist - the garden is still looking pretty good after its pre-Christmas haircut and shave. Well, no trees have blown down or anything. So I trundled out the cast-iron grill. It weighs a ton, has brakes on the wheels, is prehistoric and cooks the best barbecue in the world. It lives in the garage all winter long, collects dust and never complains. It is low tech and high output. If today's grill of choice is a Ferrari 612 Scag

Australia on a plate.

Alright, for a weblog supposedly about food, the headline is misleading. Australia is a flat country on a large tectonic plate. The plate stops, at one end, near Sumatra. That is where the crunch came last week, causing the undersea earthquake and the resulting waves. Another edge of the plate is somewhere between Tasmania and New Zealand. On Christmas Eve, a little-reported 'quake occurred. It was said to have been the world's largest 'quake in four years . There were no casualties, no damage. But it sounds as if the entire plate moved. There was a double blowout. Were the two connected? Did one set off the other? Or were they both the reaction to another movement? If that is the case, should scientists place all points along a plate's perimeter on high alert following a major occurrence? I don't know. This is just idle speculation. I'm no scientist. I'm just recounting my thoughts as I sat on Blairgowrie beach on a 37 degree afternoon, a