The city was bleak at 6.30 p.m. I walked diagonally across Flagstaff Gardens from King Street towards the market, in softly falling rain. The paths were dull yellow and slippery with wet fallen leaves. It had been windy and the leaf carpet rolled out onto William Street. I waited at the tram stop for the 55. Out of the darkness lit by pixillated orange, a giant mechanical monster emerged and ground its way slowly along the track heading towards the city. It was the leaf-eating machine that patrols the grid in winter, removing leaf mush from the inset tracks.
The 55 came along and we sailed along William and into Flemington Road and then up into the blackness of Royal Park and behind the zoo. Is this the best tram ride in Melbourne? I like the part where the tram slams around the sharp turn under the rail bridge and cuts through the golf course. I was looking forward to dinner: home-made kebabs.
Question: do you eat bread that is older than a day? My routine is eat bread on day one or two, on day three it goes into the freezer for toast or bread-and-butter pudding.
But one kind of bread absolutely has to be eaten on day one: Lebanese flat bread. You can feel the freshness; it has a slippery feel in the pack. Ater that it hardens up, which is how you buy it in the supermarkets. Better to buy it in the Sydney Road bakeries where it is fresh and half the price of the supermarket.
Home made kebabs.
Nothing special; it's just fast-grilled meat in Lebanese bread; or any other kind of flat bread. But when the bread is super fresh, the result is heavenly.
You don’t need an expensive cut of meat; I use topside steak and cube it, thread it onto skewers, roll the skewers in some salt and pepper and throw them onto the cast iron pan when it is very, very hot. A squeeze of lemon and a shower of chopped garlic halfway through keeps the meat tender and fragrant.
Meanwhile, chop a fresh, ripe tomato and slice some iceberg lettuce. Chop half an onion into rings and cut them into semi-circles.
Arrange lettuce, tomato and onion on the southern hemisphere of one round of flat bread. When the meat is done to your liking, de-skewer onto bread, quickly add some yogurt and chilli sauce (optional), roll up tightly and slice through the middle, arranging halves so that leading edges of bread face each other (so the kebabs don’t unwind on the plate).
Options: Lebanese turnips (the red ones), a squirt of tahini, a sludge of babaganoush, or some tabouli. Or all four.
For leftover flat bread, cut into segments, toast or bake, paint with olive oil and add zatar; dip resulting crackers into babaganoush.
Above: the 55 tram in brilliant 1970s livery, circa 1979.