And here we slide, headlong into the colder months. Again. The drought means it is no longer socially acceptable to complain about the rain, but I don't have to like it, do I? Especially when it kind of just drips all day. I'd rather a good downpour and then be done with it.
I don't understand why people even like cold weather. I've never met a heatwave I didn't like. What's there to like about grey, dripping skies, a howling southerly direct from Antarctica via King Island and shivering and catching cold for five months of the year? Ah, they say, it's all about snuggling up in front of the fire. So you do like heat, I reply. I prefer my heat in its natural environment: summer.
The only good thing about winter is the food. In colder months good eating seems homelier, more robust, stronger of flavour. I grew to like winter food as a schoolboy fortunate enough to be able to go home for lunch. I would still be halfway up the street at one o'clock on a freezing, grey Melbourne day when I would catch the aroma of a freshly concocted batch of vegetable, lamb shank and barley soup or some chicken and vegetable soup or an oxtail stew or whatever my mother happened to be making that day. I'd be salivating by the time I walked in the door.
Quite frankly, even the occasional bowl of hot Rosella tomato soup with a slice of cheese on top and buttered toast on the side was a treat compared with chewing on a rainbow-lunchwrapped cheese sandwich in a glacial concrete schoolyard.
The only problem was I never wanted to go back to school.
Rigatoni with chicken and ricotta sausage and butter beans.
I cooked this the other night and it was delicious.
Gourmet sausages from Jonathan of Collingwood are now stocked in independent supermarkets and I found some chicken, ricotta and herb ones at Piedimonte's.
I had some fresh rigatoni from Donnini's in Lygon Street left over; the first batch I had cooked with a sauce of onions and tomato puree flecked with chopped black olives, anchovies and capers. Puttanesca, I suppose, if you want to give it a name.
I boiled the sausages, peeled away their casings, sliced them into discs the size of $2 coins, opened a tin of butter beans, cooked the rigatoni, drained it, combined it with the sausage and the beans and gently bound it all with a swirl of home-made pesto. I didn't bother with any cheese because of the ricotta in the sausage and the parmesan in the pesto.
Pour a red. Here's one of the best I've tried for a long time: a Munari Beauregard Shiraz from Heathcote. To think I used to drive past the cellar door six times a week when we lived in the country and I never called in.