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Showing posts from February, 2012

Shiraz undaunted by strong flavours.

Eye fillet with garlic butter. Slice two inches off a 250 gram stick of butter. Allow it to soften but not melt. (Not difficult in this climate: at the time of writing it was 32 degrees outside (we’ve gone from Fahrenheit to Celsius in two posts) with black clouds and storms approaching the city). Assist the softening process if necessary by cutting into smaller cubes. Chop a sprig of parsley as finely as you can including the fine stalk. One way to do this is by placing it in a glass and chopping it with scissors. This works surprisingly well. Peel four cloves of garlic and chop them as finely as possible. Combine the butter, parsley and garlic: best done with a fork, in a cup. Add salt and cracked pepper to taste. (Vary the relativities in this mixture depending on your preferred garlic Beaufort Scale.) Transfer to a piece of aluminium foil, roll up and shape into a cylinder. Refrigerate. Meanwhile peel, chop and boil four large potatoes; trim twenty green beans. If you are n
Sunday, 19 December 1971 It was another brittle morning, one of those summer daybreaks that brings a gentle roar from the horizon like distant thunder. The last cool breeze had long gone. Eight in the morning, and I was dripping sweat onto the back seat of a 1967 Valiant that had already been laboring for two hours. People collect them these days, but then it was just a car with green vinyl seats and an AM radio and no headrests and windup windows. We were heading directly west and it felt like the home straight, if any home straight was ever 600 kilometres long. Earlier the sun, rising behind, had made a long shadow of the car on the road ahead. Now it was rampaging across the sky. Like so often before, I dozed. If you happen to doze because you are trapped in a stifling car driving across an endless lanscape, you start dreaming the heat. First I was standing too close to a campfire; then I was shovelling coal into the firebox of a 4-6-4 steam engine; then I was a steelworker in

Populist books kill bookshops: independent bookshop owner.

She says chain bookshops often failed because they were overlit, treated customers like cash cows and sold populist books that ironically catered to a small, occasional reader market. They neglected the 'real readers' who read voraciously but wanted intelligent staff and a wide choice. Paradoxical? Condescending? No. The owner seems to have a very good instinctive grasp of the business. The fact is, buying books is difficult when you have to reach your purchase across a counter stacked high with ephemera designed for the impulse purchaser. Into this category, I place books with one ‘wisdom’ quote on each spread opposite a picture of a sunset; books filled with pictures of cats; books filled with pictures of flat white buildings in Greece; books filled with pictures of cats sitting on flat white buildings in Greece; books that spin off from television shows; and books with ‘Little’ in their titles (e.g., The Little Book of Calm ). This last has sold two million copies, accord

Food destinations, and how I got there.

Souvlakis: Carlton When I was a student (because only students eat souvlakis) I was in the habit of crossing five suburbs to Twins, on the corner of Elgin and Lygon streets, for what were the best souvlakis in Melbourne. Soft, fresh pita were jammed with juicy lamb drowned in yogurt and lemon juice and served in a greaseproof-lined brown bag that collected all the lemony, garlicky juices in the bottom. Slurp. On one return trip, the exhaust manifold came away from the engine. English cars are great until they break. Navy blue 1964 Morris Minor Traveller (the wood-panelled estate) Hamburgers: Ballarat I used to drive to Ballarat for hamburgers. It was a small shop on the Melbourne side of town on the north side of Victoria Street opposite one of the old churches. The burgers must have been good, because it was a three-hour round trip. The crazy things you do in your early twenties, but it was a fun car to drive. White 1965 Ford Falcon XP Lebanese: Russell Street In the o
Friday, 17 December 1971 The day before, during the torrid drive northwards, I had wondered why someone hadn’t built a detour; a giant hypotenuse to slice a triangle off the journey. I did some back-seat mental calculations. Norseman to Kalgoorlie, 191 kilometres. Okay, build a road north-west to strike the Great Western Highway the same distance west of Kal. That’s a saving of 112 kilometres, I figured, thanks to third-form mathematics. I turned my head. What do you think, cousin? Cousin, bored - even with the music now, at this stage of the journey - was drily not sure the Kalgoorlie chamber of commerce would like passing traffic diverted 179 kilometres (mid-point of the hypotenuse) away. To hell with the chamber of commerce, I said, and we kept driving up the first leg to the right-angle vertex. After a few hours of this nonsense, we had arrived. Like far too many places in this story, mining town Kalgoorlie was surrounded by desert. Its gold rush occurred during the 1890s dep