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Showing posts from September, 2011

Barbecue season off to a shaky start.

The boys have been trained well and, as we head towards summer, are already asking to dine en plein air . Not that I would use such a pretentious foreign phrase in conversation, much less attribute it to my children; but I must say I do prefer the French version to the cliched al fresco , even though the former refers more correctly to painting. I relented and we ate outside despite several very good objections to the plan, including having no table to sit at and no barbecue coals. The first drawback was fixed by a blanket on the lawn and the second by cooking inside. (The table problem was caused by a very cheap outdoor table purchased from Bunnings cracking after one summer. Perhaps you're supposed to store outdoor tables inside to stop UV damage. To replace it, I'm looking for a cheap old op-shop table instead of wasting more money on plastic that falls apart.) I sliced four red-eye potatoes and fried the slices in a mixture of ghee and oil. These were presented piled hi

The literary event in the library.

Barry Dickins used to write satirical restaurant reviews about real restaurants. He took his material from life and then embellished it, but in character. The embellishing brought the lawsuits. He liked to destroy the egos, the pretensions, the fake grandiosity - like theatre without drama - of an industry whose bible was a guide for travelling salesmen published by a tyre company. One of Dickins' best, and possibly most notorious, reviews was about a long-gone restaurant in South Yarra (Glo Glo's? Two Faces?) in which he savagely satirised the French-accented waiter whose real name he alleged was Wayne. They sued. Dickins lost. It wasn't Wayne. It was Craig. Or something like that. Dickins wrote books, plays, poetry. He wrote for The Age , the Herald Sun , the Melbourne Times and anyone else brave enough to publish him. He supplied illustrations for the articles he wrote. Some were unpublishable, others got through. Dickins was fringe because he didn't fit anyone&

Spring lunch: omelette with leeks, capsicum and cummin seeds.

Omelettes? Who makes omelettes any more? I can't even spell them. I took three tries to get it right and I'm still not sure. Omelette? I haven't seen an omelette in years. My mother made one once with cheese in it. Mmmm. I'm warming to the idea. Forget the spelling. Take a cast iron pan. Oil it. Chop a leek finely into thin rings. Chop a red capsicum finely into equally thin albeit larger rings. Lightly beat half a cup of milk into four eggs. Add salt and pepper. Add three cummin seeds and a pinch of dried basil. Line the cast iron pan with the leek rings. Add the capsicum. Place the pan on the stove and turn on the heat to get the pan warming up. When it's almost hot pour over the eggs. Place a lid over the pan. Turn down the heat. Walk away. Come back in ten minutes. How it turns out depends on your pan and the heat and your technique. I placed a plate upside down over the pan, and flipped them over, and it came out cleanly, like a tarte tatin; the leek

What happens when everyone is 'LinkedIn'?

I keep getting invitations from people on LinkedIn whose 'profile' says they have, for example, 438 contacts. And they're on Facebook as well? I glanced into the window of a Brunswick Street North restaurant the other night on one of my evening runs. The snapshot image was of diners oblivious to each other and staring into smartphones, right thumbs flicking obsessively, while a lonely ignored waiter forlornly distributed plates of food. They call it social networking.

Child wins wine vintaged in birth year.

One of the benefits of working from home is that I can pick up the children from school and kindergarten. Last Friday William came out of school with a heavier bag than usual. He pulled out a wrapped package. The wrapped package was a prize in the annual Father's Day raffle. He gave it to me. I opened it. Inside was a bottle of Mt Avoca sauvignon blanc and two carefully boxed crystal wine glasses. In this nanny state era of juvenile warnings on food products and alcohol bottles there is something amusing about a 6-year-old winning a bottle of wine at school. The wine was a 2005 vintage, so someone had had it for a while before donating it for the raffle. Most SB is young and acid, but this had some colour and tasted of butterscotch or something else sweet and rich. Sacher torte? Almond tart? Key lime pie? That's probably closer. We drank it - 'we' meaning Tracy and me - on Sunday night, Father's Day, with pasta with asparagus in a light cream sauce. Nothing sp