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Showing posts from January, 2009

Slice of lemon required.

45.1 a couple of hours ago. 44-point-something yesterday. (At this scale of heat the points are about as significant as a matchstick thrown into an inferno.) This stretch of 40 degree-plus days is unprecedented in Melbourne weather records. Fires are burning near Mirboo North. (There is no Mirboo.) I drove through that district just last week on the way to my sister's property in Toora, taking a short-cut through dense forest up to Mt Best overlooking Wilson's Promontory. Shade, gin and tonic, an old book, yesterday's newspapers and light food. How else do you cope? 37 tomorrow. Where's that lemon?

Heat is on.

42.9 in the city today; outlying suburbs were reporting 45 and 46. The display thermometer at Blyth and Lygon read 49 at 4 p.m. The Nylex sign always used to overstate the temperature as well. 43 tomorrow, but with an ugly northerly instead of today's tame light breeze. Not nice. * I picked up a jar of pesto in the supermarket. (What, with all that parsley and basil in the garden? Yes. Sometimes I get lazy.) The label read Pesto Genovese with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I looked closer. The back label gave the contents in 6-point type: Sunflower Oil 42%, etc.; and the last ingredient, EVO 3%. I put the jar back. The label wasn't exactly lying but it wasn't truthing neither. I went home and picked a bunch of greens and made some pesto with macadamias, my current favourite nut. * We spent most of the day at the Rathdowne Street pool, an oasis at the bottom of what must surely be one of Melbourne's most beautiful streets. Lunch under sailcloth and trees of tuna, onion an

Holiday.

Happy Australia Day. The weather gods were merciful today, serving up a warm day without a temperature high enough to provoke a total fire ban. Barbecues are burning! Right now, the aromas of grilled lamb, fish and chicken marinated in a hundred different flavour combinations is drifting across the suburb - or maybe just from the house three doors up - and I can detect along with these barbecued corn, grilled zucchini and eggplant, potato slices crisping over rosemary and garlic and wedges of pesto-smothered cooked polenta sizzling on a hotplate. I hardly need to cook. I can just sit out here in the shade of the lilli pillis and the old grapefruit tree with a cold beer and smell everyone else's dinner arriving at intervals on the breeze, which tonight is a pleasant south-westerly. * In fact, we are not joining in with the barbecue set tonight but cooking up a large pot of seafood balchao with rice and fenugreek roti and very cold beer. Recipe here . Replace the kilogram of roc

Radio Nowhere.

Even before video killed the radio star small films were made to accompany songs. It seems the director of this late 1960s slow-motion black and white artefact complete with squirrel had been watching too many Ingmar Bergman films. Or perhaps it was just the default three-minute clip style of the time. Why post it? The song came on the car radio yesterday as I was crossing Bolte Bridge with a setting orange sun on the left and a gilded city on the right. Nice. The tight drum barrage in the chorus raises goosebumps. Not sure why. The haunting piano line was apparently played on Paul McCartney's white grand when the song was recorded in the Abbey Road studios thirty-nine years ago.

Heat and pumpkins.

40.5 degrees in the city yesterday. It was just a little cooler at the beach, the northerly blast slightly muted after its trip across the bay. The water was warm and William played in the shallows. Early in the afternoon the wind turned around and a southerly got up and rustled the ti-tree and came in at the kitchen window. I closed up the house and we drove back to town, surfing the cool change around the bay and along an almost empty Eastlink all the way through to Alexandra Parade. It was still 29 degrees at 8 p.m. but that's 11 degrees cooler than forty. It's all relative. The heat is to go on for the rest of the week and into next. I wish they would drop the predictions of showers from the forecasts because they just don't happen. * Back home: the pumpkins are coming. Three vines are in. One, a Queensland blue, has climbed out of the garden bed and is stretching itself across a vast expanse of lawn. One of the pumpkins is already as big as a basketball. Another, a b

There goes the neighbourhood.

Nando's has opened in Sydney Road. Call me a food snob, but Nando's is just KFC with a different flavour, a xerox chicken shop with a few fancy ingredients to hide the homogeneity. What will be next? Subway? Once, Brunswick residents were treated on warm summer nights to the irresistible aromas of Turkish and Lebanese barbecue drifting across the suburb from the chimneys of scores of small independent cafes and restaurants that lined Sydney Road. Will it now be the smell of every other franchise-crazy food mall packed with the same half dozen fast food outlets selling the same food packed in the same wrappers to the kind of clientele that feels the need to drop the wrappers exactly where it is they finish gulping down the contents? Support your independents. * I had forgotten. Children grow. You have to keep changing the house around. They go from bassinet to cot to bed and each time, a new room configuration is required. This flows through the whole house because everything

Lighten up.

I don't know why we eat heavy food in summer. Yes, I do: Christmas. They should move it to July. The northern hemisphere might object, but I say to the northern hemisphere: you try eating turkey on a forty degree day. And that's our celsius forty, not your fahrenheit. Fortunately Christmas was only mid-twenties this year so squeezing in the baked ham and the stuffed chicken and the plum pudding with brandy butter sauce wasn't as difficult as it might otherwise have been. But it is still nice to move on to cleaner food; salads and light pasta dishes and the like. This is a pasta dish I made the other night. Rigatoni with tomato, herbs and chick peas. Chop an onion finely and toss it into a pot with a can of diced tomatoes. Warm through gently. Toss in half a can of chick peas. (I used Durra brand 7mm chickpeas - smaller, sweeter and softer than most. Available at the new food store at Sydney Road and Albion Street.) Now run around the garden and gather herbs. In my c

Global financial crisis: Mrs Bryant not interested.

Here we are, dumped unceremoniously into the new year like a sack of Coliban potatoes being dropped in a darkened pantry and not knowing whether they are to be mashed, chipped, baked, grated or fried. Ouch. Is that pessimistic? Maybe it's the hangover talking. The 2008 hangover. * Nobody knows what will happen otherwise it wouldn't, because we could avoid it. If that makes sense. It's just that if I were a close friend of mine, which I am not, I would not right now, just at the minute, be buying a house at a price five times the friend's annual salary on a deposit of 5%. * Know what annoys me about this whole financial crisis thing? The media regularly tout it as being something no-one could foresee. It was not. Many commentators have maintained - some since late last century - that a never-ending boom is an oxymoron. Yet the world forged on into debt like there was no tomorrow, secured against a future of ever-growing wealth that had to come from somewhere. So