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Showing posts from June, 2008

Gold in the hills, part one.

It was another bleak morning, an anonymous winter Wednesday. The sun was up there somewhere but you couldn't see it, which made the morning grey as well as cold. I loaded the car and slammed the door. A stiff south-westerly was blowing as we drove west and then north-west out of town on a freeway shining steel-grey with wetness. The rain spat at the windscreen. On this side of Melbourne, you hit green fields far sooner than you do when you're going in the other direction. Head east and you endure entire suburbs of vast furniture barns and endless homemaker centres and then you hit Ringwood. Hello, Car City. But go north-west and the farms start as early as the airport. Directly south of Tullamarine, jumbos roar off over acres of cabbages and rhubarb and radicchio in the Keilor plains. This road once wound through scores of towns on its way to the goldfields. They have fallen away, one by one. Keilor in the early days: imagine all of today's Bendigo traffic going along
Three candles and a chocolate cake.
Sunday lunch at Brunetti. Then a little Lygon Street window shopping: gazing at the coloured rocks in Crystal Heart. William turns three tomorrow.

Extra-ordinary.

Last week, the Herald Sun launched its new 'extrafood' liftout following a blaze of publicity featuring Britain’s most famous Gordon (ahead of the Prime Minister, the gin and the Big Engine). Gordon's face - with lines as deep as the cracks in an overcooked orange sponge - filled the front page of the launch edition. But how would the editors top Gordon for the front page of edition two in yesterday's paper? The answer was sheer genius: Gordon Ramsay! Again! But a different shot! Just in case you happened not to see the cover, another shot of the celebrity chef dominates page two. And then you turn to read what Gordon Ramsay has to say. And the answer is: nothing. Extrafood has picked up five recipes from a Gordon Ramsay book – without any introduction or writing at all by the chef himself - and called them 'exclusive'. Exclusive? Gordon Ramsay is about as exclusive as a city-bound tram on St Kilda Road at 5.30 on a Friday night. What a con-job on Heral

Saturday night special: lobster tails.

I first ate lobster tails at Fairy Stork, a Acland Street Chinese restaurant that used to be known as St Kilda's Flower Drum. The food was as good, the waiters were as plentiful - and friendlier - and you could eat a banquet there for the price of a Flower Drum prawn cracker. I spent many a Sunday night there in the eighties and early nineties. I was in the habit of passing on dessert and picking up cakes from Le Bon or Monarch instead. So that makes it long time since I've eaten lobster tails. I hadn't forgotten how good they are, however. Just don't overcook them. Lobster tails with scallops in ginger and garlic. Before you cook the tails, set some white rice to cook on the stove. It will be ready when the lobster is done. Using scissors, cut the lobster tail shell through the under-middle side to the end of the tail and and then peel back the shell from the left, across the top and away at the right. Easy as taking off a shirt. Segment the tail into half-inc

Forty.

This week my youngest brother turned forty, making this family officially Old. He was born in the year in which Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience topped the charts (is it any wonder I grew to hate guitar-free '80s music?); Carlton pinched an Essendon flag by three points; Melbourne University runner Ralph Doubell pinched gold in the 800 in Mexico and Rain Lover strolled to an eight-length victory in the Melbourne Cup*. On the food scene, I ate my first Chinese meal at David Wang in Little Bourke Street and, just around the corner, Hofbrauhaus opened. (The latter restaurant must have saved thousands of dollars over the decades by never having to print a new menu.) My mother had brought home to the older ones a younger sibling in each of the winters of 1963, '65 and 68. I kind of believed that babies were a winter phenomenon. Being fourth in the sequence, I hence became Mr Middle. This meant that while I watched the older ones sail serenely up the decades as time went by, I

For a cold night: baked sweet potato gnocchi with roquefort.

Queen's Birthday Monday. A northerly blew all morning. It wasn't particularly cold until around lunchtime when the wind flipped around and found some rain somewhere and spat it at us. That made it the kind of afternoon best spent in front of the fire and the television, so naturally I went out. I took Thomas, above, with me. William has a cold and stayed in. The picture was taken about 4.30 p.m. on Portsea back beach. That red stain on his coat is spilt raspberry couli from the giant slice of hummingbird cake Tracy and I tried to eat at the Blairgowrie cafe earlier, until Thomas hijacked it. William passed. He's not a cake boy. And then it was dinner time and the long weekend was all but over. I peeled a large sweet potato, chopped it into two-inch cubes, boiled it until it was soft and pressed it through a ricer onto the marble workbench, let it cool for ten minutes and made a crater in the top. Into the crater I cracked an egg and added the yolk of another. Then I a

Fog. And a jar of green curry paste.

I was driving home late on Sunday night when it rolled in. I turned into my street and the fog swirled and billowed and seemed unreal, like movie set fog. I pulled into the driveway and got out of the car and slammed the door in a kind of surreal amber atmosphere made by the pixillated orange light from the lamps in the street. The fog hasn't lifted for days. The obscured sun has been a gleaming silver disc, like the rear vision mirror on an old motorcycle. Tonight, the cold, heavy fog was counterbalanced by a large pot of boiling rice steaming up the windows inside. That was accompanied by the fragrant aroma of a Thai-style curry. Winter? It's not so bad. Thai-style chicken and green beans. Gently cook a kilogram of cubed chicken breast in oil - add a few drops of sesame oil to the cooking oil - in a large pan or a wok. Cook until the chicken just loses its pinkness, no longer; and then remove to a bowl. To the pan, add two chopped onions, three scored garlic cloves a