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Showing posts from July, 2021

Roll your own.

There was a little sun as high morning swung into early afternoon. I sat at the kitchen table. The radio sat on the fridge, Off the Record playing the result of a station survey about the best songs ever recorded in Melbourne. There had been three opened rice paper packs in the bottom drawer. It's one of my pet hates, several of something all open at the same time. I had them on the table, along with chicken thigh fillets poached in garlic and a few drops of soy, capsicum, carrot, cooked rice noodles, beanshoots - and a jar of that Vietnamese dipping sauce that tastes like what a rollercoaster feels like to a teenager. A massive salt attack followed by a sugar plunge with a chilli chaser. I had hot water in a shallow bowl to soften up the rice paper, and a damp teatowel to roll them on. Brian Wise on RRR-FM played the predictable Daddy Cool, Spectrum and Skyhooks songs and then announced the number one, towards midday, as a controversial choice: From St Kilda to King's Cross ,

That list again.

That Top 100 was meant to demonstrate the sheer arbitrariness of list-making. An example: I deliberated over No. 2 before choosing the Aretha Franklin version of Lucky Old Sun over Ray Charles’. Why? I don't know. Something to do with that old novel title, the singer not the song. Later I found as good a performance of Stardust as Nat King Coles’. Ultimately all of this is inexplicable human subjectivity and it changes day to day, like moods or seasons.

Virus to be 'stopped in its tracks' by state premier of South Australia.

Last weekend's front page Covid story led off its third paragraph with: 'Friday marked another grim milestone ...' . Bodies piling up in the streets blocking the view of jaunty kangaroos bouncing along in the distance? Black-hatted cart drivers, medieval-style, yelling 'Bring out your dead'? No. The sentence continued: ' ... with 97 new cases recorded.' 97 Covid infections in New South Wales is another grim milestone? More than half of Australia - 14 million people - are currently under house arrest. No, wait. It has just gone 3 o'clock Tuesday. The following breaking news just hit the ticker (the radio speaker in my case): South Australia has recorded a new locally acquired case on Tuesday as the state is plunged into a full lockdown. One new case - later revised up to four - and the entire population of South Australia has been placed in lockdown. So add almost two million more people to the 14 million above. The South Australian premier, greedily pur

Ravioli with beef ragu.

Fusion or confusion? This melding of a cliched Italian staple with an English-style slow-cooked beef casserole results in my favourite winter dish ever . Take a kilogram of gravy beef (shin beef in Britain), cut it into 5cm pieces, flour and season it and brown it in olive oil - in batches - in a large pan. Set it aside in a big round casserole dish. Add a finely chopped onion to the vacated pan and stir until soft. Add a garlic clove and a sprig of fresh thyme and stir until aromatic. (Add more oil as necessary.) Add the beef back to the pan, along with a can of diced tomatoes, a cup of beef stock, half a cup of wine (red or white - I used white), and bring almost to the boil. Transfer to the casserole, place it in a low oven (150-160 celsius) and let it burble away quietly for three hours. (The gravy beef, laden with gelatine, will separate on prodding it with a roasting fork after the long slow cooking process.) When almost ready to serve, cook 250g of ravioli, which is about half a

Turkish bread with garlic potato mash.

Saturday night, went down to Melbourne Kebab Station for some insta-grilled chicken and Adana wrapped in Turkish bread that floated through thin air like cotton wool it was so fresh. Folded all through with lettuce, tomato, fresh cut onion and squirts of garlic and chilli sauce for flavour and aroma overpower. The air is cold and the music is hot; the music of the perfect kebab. An extra loaf of Turkish bread right out of the oven, black seeds burning. Take it home and feast. Red wine. Saturday night.  Sunday morning. Leftovers. Magic Carpet Ride on the radio. The bread had been the size of a flat pillow, and there’s still over half left. Cut into small squares and make a dipping sludge of leftover potato mash welded with olive oil, a ground garlic clove, plenty of salt and pepper and some thick yogurt. Then out into the chill air with the basic picnic watching the kids play football, one eye on the steel sky.  Eight degrees. Wind. Garlic-swept bread. Heaven. Winter.