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Showing posts from February, 2022

Know your pasta shapes: Capunti Paesani.

Now, yet another pasta: 'capunti paesani' by Squisito turned up in Vinnie's Fresh in Sydney Road. ‘Capunti' resemble pea pods (the name does not translate directly: it refers somehow to fingers pressing the pasta, making the indentations look like peas in a pod). All these varieties are not mere novelty: the different shapes provide texture and taste variables. Perhaps radiatori (resembling automotive radiators) and ruote (wheels) take the concept a bit too far. Or maybe they're made in Turin or Modena for revheads. I cooked the capunti for little more than ten minutes although the label prescribed thirteen; apparently the type of flour used in their manufacture means they stay al dente and hold their shape longer where softer floured types tend to throw gluten and fall apart. While the pasta was cooking I fried a chorizo sausage chopped into halved discs along with a chopped red onion and a chopped sweet capsicum (the long conical one). Just before these were done

This sporting life: Friday night.

Time stands still on a steamy hot evening at a country cricket oval, a pale green circle in a vast sweep of brown stretching to the west horizon, a high plain almost outside the suburbs of Melbourne. A pavilion of corrugated iron and timber sash windows, 1950s, leans tired like an old man pausing on a walking frame, and a brick farm shed on the other side of the oval is shrinking into the advancing wild shrubbery. Behind a long fence, off-white shapes are stealthy: sheep in the front paddock of an adjoining farm. The scene is as timelessly bucolic as a nineteenth-century George Cole oil painting - if you ignore the unending traffic murmur to the oval's north, an arrow-straight freeway to the new gunmetal-housed suburbs beyond.  The oval had been in full sun at five o'clock, but as the game wears on a dark line hatted by the corrugated pavilion's shadow creeps across the green as the under-16 away team, batting second, slowly racks up runs, chasing 117. The eleven-year-old,

Pappardelle al ragù: revisiting one of the world's most popular dishes.

The world doesn't need another spaghetti bolognese recipe, so I've given it the title above. However, what passes for bolognese can sometimes do with improvement, so to go back to the source (no pun intended) occasionally could be a good idea. The concept is simple: it should be homely, robust and appetising: and that's just the aroma. If you ever walk down Little Italy (Lygon Street or even Hardware Lane) at eleven-thirty in the morning, what stops you in your tracks is that steamy, herbal aroma of a sauce in its early stages; carrots and onions and wine bewitching the air. The pasta best suited to this sauce is a flat, thin one made with eggs; last night I used pappardelle which provides greater surface area for the sauce to cling to; a kind of fork-driven conveyor belt to your mouth. I diced a few slices of pancetta and fried it in a little olive oil in a large pot before adding a diced carrot, a finely chopped stick of celery and half a chopped onion. I chased these aro

The sighting, part two.

I had been listening to strangely squeaky hold music, and now I was talking again, trying to negotiate some understanding of what had been stolen and what hadn't; if anything. Yes, I said, my car was a green 1999 model, but the plates it is currently wearing are, as you said, from a silver 2003 model. Therefore - (yes: I actually said 'therefore' in a telephone conversation with a cop) - if you check the VicRoads database (I continued, doing his job for him) you can compare the VIN (vehicle identification number) of the two cars. That will show you that the 924-suffixed plates do not align with my car. I'll make a note, he said, an answer that was both non-commital and non sequitur-ish. He hung up. Nothing happened for three months, except that I saw my car again, wearing the same plates, and I phoned the sighting through to the police again. Last week, the phone rang. This is Corey, the caller announced, from the police. We've found your car, he told me brightly. I

The sighting: part one.

The fleeting glimpse I caught of my car as it flew by was like seeing a girlfriend on a train with another man; except I was not on a train and nor was my car. It was driving west along Bell Street, having been stolen a month earlier. I noted the registration plates which had obviously been stolen from another vehicle, went home and looked them up on the VicRoads public database. Then I rang the police. Can you still see the car, they asked me. No, I said. I saw it going down Bell Street. Was I supposed to chase it? No good then, said the police. Can't do anything. That was kind of obvious, I thought, but the important thing was that telling them what plates the car was wearing would help identify it. Well, here's the registration number, I carried on, imagining the cop noting it down on a scratch pad. He put me on hold for five minutes while I listened to something that sounded like twenty people wearing crystal-soled shoes learning to dance on parquetry. Looks like it's n

After many a summer ...

One very hot day eleven Kodachrome-memory years ago I was reading Ernest Hemingway's Islands in the Stream  while sitting in a fold-up chair on the lawn in the dappled shade of a ti-tree at the Oak Park pool. It was mid-afternoon. The boys were lightning streaks in the white-blue water. Echoed shouts could be heard from the waterslide that is no longer there. An unseen train's rumble crossed Pascoe Vale Road from the parallel track behind the high apartments on its east side. From one of these apartments, a dark figure emerged from its second floor to hang some wet clothing items on the wrought-iron balcony before disappearing again with the faint thud of a slammed door. A plane made a buzzsaw drawl as it inched across the sky. All of these things were half-noticed; a parent's instinctive mental note-taking while monitoring children around water.  In a while the boys came back into the shade for food, splashing and shaking like spaniels, a five- and a six-year-old with rave