Monday, 30 June 2008

The Do Not Disturb sign is on

Ok ... its all been a little quiet on the southern front - its been full lock down over here due to work commitments. I have 2 days off this week to replenish the well and truly depleted energy supplies ... so hopefully things will be back to normal soon.
Here are some random thoughts to tide you over:
(i) Internet - font of knowledge - does this spell the loss of innocence or the loss of ignorance? Or does the glut of information mean that everyone is struggling for the perfect soundbite to grab your attention? Which means that the fundamental posit of capitalism is the underlying driver behind semantic choices, which in turn means that you may not be receiving information in its entirety - so perhaps loss of innocence but an increas in ignorance is a more accurate summation?
(ii) ABBA - watched a repeat of that "Super trouper - 30 years of ABBA" doco. You know the one where you're tricked into thinking that you will witness the momentous ocassion of the 4 members at the same event at the same time ... only to find out in the last few minutes that Agnetha is a no show ... still painful pangs of nostalgia!!!
(iii) The Thread Den was featured in the age - men taking up sewing - why am I always one step behind???
(iv) Our yum char buddies down from NZ - its always a great way to spend a sunday morning - if you're on a diet and are a fussy eater ... why the fuck would you go to Yum Char???
(v) The car crash that is Amy Winehouse continues to roll on - this time at Nelson Mandela's 90th bday bash - managing the slight incline with those teetering shoes and ridiculous beehive threatening to topple over ... coming in early on the 2nd verse of Free Nelson Mandela during the saxophone solo ... covering up memory lapse on the lyrics with a few choice "yeah yeah yeahs" ... priceless!!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

The Smarts about Jeffrey Smart

Ok ... so jeffrey smart was on Talking heads last night. They showed a clip of him at a retrospective that they held at the Art Gallery of NSW ... and guess what he was doing??? He was touching up his paintings that were already hung!!! Outrageous ... bless his little artsy muthafuckin soul! I Love it!!!

You know how, quite pointlessly, people always talk about what they would do if they won tattslotto (I know, I know its a completely futile exercise - except for maybe that 30 yer old who scored his 50 million dollar win in Reservoir), well one of things I would do is buy art ... and Jeffrey Smart is on the list along with Peter Booth, Bill Henson, Del Kathryn Barton etc...
I remember seeing my very first Jeffrey Smart at the Arts Centre Foyer ... M has a print of this - a whole row of brightly coloured freight compartments of a train. I hope he's taking care of it ... its a limited edition!!
I love the fact that he sees mudane industrial landscapes as things of aesthetic beauty, he imbues these cityscapes with an incredibly strong sense of colour with a nod to both naive painting and surrealism.
Anyways ... twill remain a pipe dream .... maybe one day ....  But for now, there's always the art galleries ... and for the most part they're free.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

A Day in the City - Covered in Lace

Ok ... so it was one of those days in the city which started at the gallery.

 a shot of the eureka tower with the mobile phon enroute to the NGV

We always seem to end up walking up through the arts centre to get to the gallery, and invariably M wants to stop at the performing arts gallery which always has interesting performing arts related work - you know like costumes, set design models and drawings, sketches of the stage etc etc ...
I can breeze through the space in under 20 mins, M likes to read all the details, the techniques, the history surrounding the subject matter so on so forth. The main reason I'm not unduly excited by this space is beacuse it has too much of a hint of the nanna crowd for my liking. But, now and then, you discover something truly fascinating as I did with Susan Wirth. There's sweet FA about her on the web, so I'm afraid all I can tell you is that she works in Melbourne and that she uses stretched fabric to "paint" her pictures based mainly on old photos. Its the uncovered areas of the canvas which show ut the details, so each picture is in relief as it were.
I took some photos with my mobile phone - but there are marginally better shots found here:
Still doesn't quite do it justice. Its more of a textural thing and being all in tones of black, its hard to capture this on film - digital or otherwise.
The main reason we were at the NGV was to see that Art Deco exhibition thats been written about and advertsied - well it hasn't quite started yet has it??? Duh!!
We couldn't really find aything else we wanted to look at, and we were feeling a little peckish, so after a quick run through the shop (of course, you have to!!) we headed out to Swanston Street on foot.
I actually really like doing this little stretch between the art gallery, pass south bank, over the yarra, then flinders street station onto swanston and into the heart of the city. There's so much to take in and such an interesting mix of people at this end. I made my usual comments and helped pick out who was EMO from the crowd for the benefit of M. He didn't quite get it at first. He kept pointing to the "too cool for school" crowd as they had skinny jeans and floppy fringes. I helped set him right. In fact there was a big group of them milling just outside the Hifi bar - I couldn't have hoped for better examples!!
Anyhoo ...there were a couple of places along swanston street that I've always wanted to check out. But as we were walking towards one of the joints, we passed by a new place called Dumpling Plus. It was reasonably packed and the smells coming out well and trully piqued our interest. We had a quick look at the menu, found a few interesting dishes and decided to go in.
I am soooo glad we did. It was just the perfect meal for a perfect wintry afternoon. We scored a table in in front of the exposed dumpling making part of the kitchen:
We ordered some shanghai pork dumplings - which were so delicate and juicy with that chinese stock flavour that is both intense and fresh at the same time. They had the best example of shanghainese chilli sauce which I've ever had. I'm not sure exactly what goes into this, there's a darker tinge to the sauce, and if we were in south east asia, that would signal prawn paste or belacan, but not here. And it has whole pepper corns and nuts and all manner of unrecognizable condiments, but the whole fiery taste is salty (in a salted soy bean way) and sweet (maybe xiao shing wine?). Anyways, I reckon we scooped out at least 3/4 of the pot.
We also had some radish and chive dumplings, a fried minced lamb cake and these minced pork balls in that dark soy with coriander style sauce that the chinese do so well. This was the highlight for me. It was a tad more expensve than the other dishes ($15 for this one, the others came in under $10), but you get 4 pretty heavy balls and some bak choy and a whole lot of sauce. Just order this and a bowl of rice and you'll be happy. I swear you'll have the biggest smile after you put that first bit in your mouth.
By the way, no offence to other mandarin speakers, but I really love the way the Taiwanese speak the language (and please I'm not trying to score a veiled political point here). There was a table of 4 Taiwanese girls next to us. Skinny binnies that can eat a whole side of pig and still fit into to zero-sized jeans. Sometimes its an advantage to know a bit of mandarin - peops can never guess that I am from the region myself, so they let down their guard when speaking in their mother tongue, which is unfortunate for them, as I had 12 years of chinese lessons, and can hold my linguistic own. But anyhoo, there's something about the clarity and the nuance of the accent and pronounciation. When you listen to formal mandarin, it just sounds so theatrical and ott, and then the other end of the scale are those mandarin speakers who shorthand and drop endings so much so that what is essentially a very mannered language ends up sounding as rough as hokkien. The Taiwanese accent in many ways is fairly neutral, but when they talk, the inflections sound intelligent, erudite somehow ... I'm not explaining this very well ... I'm sure there's a chinese idiom that will encapsulate what I want to say in 4 characters.
Our day ended with a krispy kreme en route to the car. Original Glazed of course!!! Its the ONLY one worth queueing for.
More weekends like these I say!!!

hardly birdman eating!!!

Ok ... this has been a weekend of baccalanian indulgement ... totally unplanned ... we have managed to eat our way through 3 delightful meals ... all new discoveries in one form or another.

I have had the pleasure of having a great cup of coffee at this joint previously ... this time round M and I had the pleasure of sampling their breakfast menu ... and never more pleasurable a task could have been devised (sorry .. glut of sunday night Austen viewing!!)

Our main reason for traipsing down to Gertrude Street (like you even need a reason) was for me to show M the light fixture that took my breath away when I first saw it in "three quarters" ... M was abosolutely blown away ... having been put into such a good mood, what better way to soothe the hungry beast of envy and lust then with something warm and delicious.
Having laughed at Clement now being called Clemente!!, and browsing through the title and film music bookstore, we made our way to Birdman Eating which is one of those melbourne breakfast haunts that you simply must check out!!!
Don't be intimidated by the "too cool for school" crowd, the staff here are friendly and unpretencious.
We ordered a decidedly old fashion late lunch of fried kippers with rocket and a horseradish sauce accompanied by 2 little nugget sizzed hash browns, and a serve of welsh rarebit.
The kippers were scrumptious when combined with the rocket and a slice of truly yummy toasted bread. On their own, they were a bit salty and I guess this type of smoked fish is not to everyone's liking. But in combination with all the other flavours, it really really worked. They do go in for more smoked fish in England. I wonder why that hasn't transferred out here to the "colonies"!! I love smoked fish, especially lightly smoked fish without the artificial colouring.
The Welsh rarebit so reminded me of home. I do believe it was one of the first things my mum taught me to make. I remember making this as an afternoon snack with el cheapo kraft cheddar - i had an almost proustian moment when I took my first bite.
After finishing our coffees we felt like a wine, so I went for a mornington pinot noir - Voice of the Vine - and M had a tuscan chianti. It was a great way to finish off a wonderful afternoon, and indeed a wonderful weekend all in all. I think we have found our replacement winery for Turra Murra. Can't wait to check them out at their next cellar door opening -
On the way back, we giggled at the window sized photos of chimpanzees lining the top half of the Builder's Arms .... it felt just like courtship!!!

mama ganoush

Ok ... as this post is primarily concerned with our recent culinary discovery, the title maybe unchareacteristically prosaic, but:
The Place: Mamma Ganoush
The Time: A wintry Friday Night 8pm
The Company: Excellent
How we rate it: Oh.My.God - pigs-at-a-troughingly Good!!!
Thanks to D & M (and there is some kind of familial connection with the chef, but this is on the private side of the bloggers line) we beat the not so well worn path to good ole Chapelli Street, my ertswhile "home" for 2 dower and dull years, to 56 Chapel Street, to be exact, the Windsor end.
Mamma Ganoush has already garnered the requisite culinary praise by all the usual suspects and in all the usual broadsheets, so getting a table here requires some forethought and preparation. In these cases, my cynical mind trounces immediately on the axiom "style over substance", but I must say that it is well worth the effort.
As you would expect given this restaurant's moniker, the food is of a meditarranean/middle eastern bent, and like all meals of this nature, is best eaten by a large group in a communal setting, i.e. you should go in a big group so there's lots more to share and sample. It also cuts down on the costs. In fact, the staff will recommend this to you when they take your order.
There was 6 of us, and in all we had 5 entrees, 4 mains and 3 sides. We could have ordered less and been more than amply satisfied, however we got sucked in by our orange eye-shadowed, buddy holly bespectacled waitress who was concerend that the portions maybe too small - SMALL MY ARSE!!! She either needs to check the perscription on her glasses or stop using Agent Orange as a beauty product coz the portions are big. So bear that in mind.
Forgive the dodgy mobile phone pics. Hope you can make out whats what, I can be discreet with a mobile, not so with a camera. And desciptions of the dishes are made up by me - can't remember every single desciptive ingredient - but you'll get the gist.
 Gozleme with wild nettles
This was easily K's fav pick of the night.
The wild nettles were slightly bitter but the combination of spices and perfect pastry really lifted this dish. It came with a creamy sauce which I'm sure consisted of a plethora of spices, so the flavour was at once evolvingly complex, and yet so so simple.
In fact the use of spices was so deft in all the dishes that we had, you could never ever replicate these at home, even though the basic ingredients are commonly found in the average kitchen, or certainly within reach in your local supermarket, and the combinations deceptively mundane.
 Buffalo wings - mamma ganoush style
Now you know when it comes to fried chicken wings, I could eat a bucketful all by myself. Here again, outwardly simple, but so crispy and juicy and the accompanying sauce - sort of cheesy creamy ... who knows what went in there ... but really who cares.
Each single piece of morsel throughout this dinner that entered out mouths was met with the same resounding x-rated YUUUMMM!!
 Spicy Stewed Muscles
All I have to say to you is that I ate one and loved it!!!
THis would be my pick of the entrees - the quail was obviously butterflied and almost completey deboned. It was coated with a spice mix that turned black in the roasting - so tender - supported by a salsa that was tangy and sweet - absolute heaven!!
 Wagyu beef steak tartare
This was the one dish that the yellow peril said might be a bit small and she recommended getting 2 lots - when she cupped her fingers to show how big, it was like the size of a 20 cent coin - when it came to the table, the tip may have been the circumference of a 2  cent coin, but it branched out further on the plate - imagine a 500gm steak minced and piled up - not to mention how heavy and rich it was on the palate - we were struggling to finish - and thats 6 of us!!! It comes with bread and lettuce and a relish - so here we have the asian influence that australian chefs love to incorporate and punters are so much the richer for this, the bread was reminscent of peking duck and the lettuce - well sang choy bao of course!!
 Chicken with cous cous and dates
This one is like a tagine - heaps of cinnamon and star anise - so a tad on the sweetish side for me - but still pretty good - 
Ox Cheek
A large chunk that came out all gelatinous, dark and rich - visiually it was so appetizing and when you put the meat in your mouth - it simple melted. You know we were already starting to fill up at this point, so I can't say that I was enjoying this part of the meal to its full extent. But its definitely a dish I would have again. I can almost taste it just while I'm typing this. This would have been my favourite pick of the mains if not for the Bream ...
(no pics - was too busy orgasming over the fish - and getting more giggly tipsy)
What can I say about the bream. It was my pick and a last minute one at that, thanks to the specky four eyed banana who thought that 3 mains were not enough, god if she was paid commission she would be earning more than the chef. It was just a whole piece of bream on the plate - but the flesh was soft and white and fresh and just the right combination of salt and pepper - simple but perfect! I kept picking at it all through the night, even though I was full to bursting, I just couldn't stop. Nobody else seem as elated by this so I wasn't complaining.
(no pics - see above)
M always orders the duck. I generally don't, not because I don't like duck, but because I like my duck with strong flavours, something a western kitchen doesn't quite have a grasp on. The duck at mamma ganoush was good!! But I can't wax lyrical about it. M assures me that it was one of the best ducks ever ... considering he is the conneisuer of duck-ordering, I would certainly take his word on the subject.
We ordered two of the same serve of potatoes for sides and a cucumber salad with labne. I love labne, crispy bits of fired dough always lift a salad. And I love cucumbers so it was a given that this would have been a great choice by my books. The potatoes were a revelation.
They were just the perfect soft texture and the spice combination in which they were cooked ... I would love to be able to make these potatoes - I would have had them as a main if I could .... I actually decalred that the absolute highlight of the dinner for me was the potatoes - everyone else I think thought it a bit wierd that I was so overwhelmed by a simple side - I hope they didn't take it as an insult  ... but when I took my first bite, I was instantly transpoted to a bedouin tent in some dry dusty desert with the ringing sounds of a belly dancers veil tinkling in the distance ... scrumptious.
And lets face it, its even more of a compliment when a restaurant can devote the same gastronmic expertise to the sideshow as they do the main event!!
As you can see, it gets the big tick from me. So get out those diaries, galvanize your friends, lock in a date and book that table before it gets its chef's hat, raises its prizes even more, and the chef quits in disgust becasue its no longer about the food and more about the cash, and goes downhill all the way.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Gratuitous Becks

Ok ... let us cheapen this blog a little but ...
Posh Spice = Lucky Bitch!!
To quote la ciccone ... "my bottom hurts just thinking about it"

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Someone throw me a line

Ok ... indulge me a little. We've had one more casualty at work, AT resigned and was given his marching orders pretty much straightawya, so my portfolio has now increased to include medical and health libraries - totally bummed!!! Along with corporate and government clients I'm stuck doing shitloads of work for very little profit ... one word - soul-destroying.

my hometown

pretty pictures at a gallery
our sunroom



So I need a little cheering up, so this post, more than ever, is just for me!!!! Apologies to all those who take the trouble to peruse this humble little blog of mine.
You may determine my fate in some ways Mr Man, but I have my soul and my dignity and my respect.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Diana from V - Could you die!!!

Ok ... firstly ... OH.MY.GOD.!!!! I have to explain. Way back in the 80s, for a period, one of the few things that made school bearable was that you could see your friends and talk incessantly about last night's epsiode of V!! What am I talking about?? Well, V was a miniseries on TV about alien invasion of earth.

It had all your basic american stereotypes dripping in acid wash and shoulder pads, frizzy perms and bodywaves!! But central to all this hairsprayed polyester madness was the character of Diana - the acid queen, cat suit wearing, big haired, redlipsticked, rodent eating head of the aliens!!

diana - aka Jane badler in V

Well nothing has changed really ....

jane in recent permutation

Turns out Jane Badler not content with just being erstwhile TV queen, is also a singer ... of the torchsong cabaret variety.

Anyhoo, let me say how fortuitous it is that I just watched tonight's CSI where Grissom expounds on his "string theory" because this is the perfect encapsulation of the notion that there is no real coincidence in life.

When the DVD of V came out several years ago ... I shat my pants!! M had never seen it but it didn't take long before he was hooked. We then mention this to DK who as it turned out remembered it from her childhood and got an aboslute kick out of watching it again ... P apparently was not allowed to see it because of its appalling cheesiness?? I dunno ...

But despite being in different states, towns even countries, we have all been touched in some way by V ... and extending this further ... we have all been touched by Jane!!

But the real gem of this story was when I read about how she now is married to an Australian, resides in Melbourne and had hooked up with local band SIR to record and perform. I shat meself for the second time and couldn't wait to share this extraordinary piece of coincidence with someone, anyone who would indulge me. But I never got the opportunity and when I did, I forgot about it entirely, until one day I blurted it all out to R, who is my 80s "friend in the fridge".

He'd never seen a single episode of V but he goes "funny you mention it ... " The world stopped spinning right there and then!!!

Turns out he's doing BVs for her and the band (are you dying at this moment ... coz I'm reliving death as I type this!!!) Oh the questions the questions ... and none answered to my satisfaction ... betch!!!

Well forward the reel to a few months later and I read about the album launch of The Devil has my Double at Toff in the town - Jane Badler and SIR. So I text R to ask if he's performing and he says Yes and do I want names on the door (Dead!!) so I says to M we're going!! and as we were planning to meet up with P anyways I say Lets go!! So off we went.

We parked the car at P's and trundled off in the cold on foot to one of Melbourne's finest drinking holes - the Toff in the Town:

We get there before 9 so Toff wasn't that packed. We even managed to score a banquette all to ourselves (well you say Booth, I say banquette .. i just like the word). The whole Curtin House joint on Swanston Street is one of the many reasons I love this town. Its all here in one building ... cookie, metropole, order & progress, toff in the town ... warms the cockles of this aesthete's heart!! Creative nirvana!!

  M looking all ghostly and nosferatu-like in our banquette

After pretty much sculling a divine glass of Gewurtztramminer ... we headed off to the performance space to bags a seat.

Its an intimate space, but all the tables were filled so we had to put up with chairs at the back of the venue in front of the support for the support, Jess something or other, who we naturally bagged without knowing that her posse was in earshot behind us ... typical!!!

  blurry shot of Jess in her velour catsuit - hhmmm

In between we played a game of spot the crap celebrity ... sigrid thornton won hands down .. is there a more annoying tv personage??? what is it about her?? She's relatively harmless ... is that cockscuker's mouth ... its like she permanently has a costume duck beak's mask on!!!

Finally it was Jane on stage!!! I absolutely loved it!!! Technical difficulties and all! She had the voice, the outfit, the poses ... it was truly "melodramatic pop/jazz" as described by her myspace page. I kept saying to P that I felt like I was in a david lynch movie ... all we needed was a coked up dwarf and some backward masking.


R looked nervous but maybe it was more to do with the fact that he also spotted Nanouk of the ice in her siberian fur hat!!! Should have taken a photo of that one ... what a waste!!

  crap zoom on mobile phone camera ... but that's R with the white tie

Will be buying her album at the earliest convenience.

Apologies to any friends still reading this but I will be dining out on this story for awhile.

Hope you all had great weekends too!!!

And here is THE scene!!:

And here is the hotness live!!!:
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