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


Sun shines in.

I was reading an old cooking magazine from about 1999 when I came across a recipe featuring a 'cappucino' of something, demonstrating that some fads last longer than others. Except now they call it a froth or foam, and although these substances of tiny bubbles oozing across your food undoubtedly provide a memorable dining experience, they merely remind me - as they will anyone who has ever owned dogs - of the latters' more emetic moments.

Which, changing the subject very quickly, makes me wonder how long you maintain a trend before it becomes simply boring or mindlessly imitative, if not outright plagiaristic. After all, plagiarism in writing is a hanging offence, even in places that no longer allow capital punishment. There's always an exception. Remind me never to copy someone else's writing.

Anyway. The death of fads: one day soon a chef will place a piece of meat next to the mash instead of on top of it and the sauce on the meat instead of squirting it around the plate in pointless circular drips, and the moment will resonate like the culinary version of a collision of tectonic plates.

And another thing: restaurant names with no capital letter at the start is becoming tiresome. Soon typographers will no longer need capitals at all and no-one will know what a proper noun is any more.

Which brings me to coast, an eating place across the road from the bay beach at Blairgowrie. Sit on a north-facing chair at one of the weathered timber tables under brown umbrellas outside on the footpath and you'll see ships smudging across the horizon. When two pass they look like they will collide, until one suddenly slides out of sight behind the other.

Coast (the idiocy of a lower-case name is exposed at the start of a sentence when grammar trumps design - but for how long?) is in the style of a timber-lined boat shed lit dimly by tea light candles, with old surfboards strung from the ceiling, banquettes lining the walls and a bar running the length of one side behind which a thousand bottles await their fate. It's well-stocked. The place functions as a de facto hotel bar, as Blairgowrie does not have a hotel. (Nor, incidentally, does the town have a tattslotto agency in the newsagent's; which means you never have to queue for ten minutes for a newspaper while dozens of people in front of you spend fortunes to have less chance of winning a million dollars than flying to the moon.) Both of these omissions make Blairgowrie a quieter place than the towns it shoulders along the bay.

Coast opens onto the street via full-width fold-back windows across a timber deck. The deck is a gathering place for the locals; retired media and business types, old lawyers and sailors or both, and ex-Brighton or Sandringham types who have tired of the city. On Sunday nights a resident band (keyboard, sax, banjo, vocalist) plays Proud Mary and Sweet Caroline and everyone thinks it's 1969 again.


We walked past the deck and sat on banquettes. It was close to empty inside and the dim lighting was compensated by the glare of the lowering sun on the street outside. It's a nice place to eat. I stared out beyond the deck, the footpath tables and the ti-tree on the shoreline to the sea beyond. It was a warm night. The female waitperson, also known as a waitress, brought a very cold bottle of Scotchman's Hill chardonnay and we read the menus.

Coast offers appetisers, entrees, main courses and sides. We mixed them, ordering an appetiser of spiced wild olives, main courses of grilled whiting and fettucine marinara and a side of broccolini with green beans.

The bowl of wild olives contained dozens of tiny spiced brown-to-black berries, more than enough to while away an afternoon with a cold drink. The warm broccolini and beans were trimmed to six-inch lengths and dressed in a citrus butter sauce.

Four-sided plates are a fad I can put up with if the food on them is good. The large oblong of white china bore several pieces of very good fast-grilled whiting, accompanied by a woodpile of chips, a salad of tomato, rocket, red onion and cucumber spears and a bowl of house-made tartare. The seafood pieces - fish, scallops, prawns - accompanying the pasta had also gone via the grill before being tossed through the strands and were succulent, briny and smoky all at once against the oily softness of the pasta. Four out of four. This place is good.

Coffee was nut-brown and perfect; dessert was an explosion of chocolate sauce moating a stranded upside down chocolate pudding and a cruet of cream to play with. Why don't they call them cruets any more?


I paid the bill and we left. The sun was going down now but it was just as warm as before. The band was still channeling 1969. Something about the age of aquarius. It must have been a good year.


breadchick said...

I am so glad that the use of all small letters doesn't only annoy me. Unfortunately, the meals I've had at all-small-letter-restaraunt-d'jour has never been as good as yours sounded.

It's not 1969?! When did that happen?

kitchen hand said...

Breadchick, affectation in the name usually means affectation in the food.

(And the first moon landing feels like yesterday!)