Saturday, August 31, 2013

Posh Dinner Perfection

Koots Salle à Manger on Urbanspoon

I've learned that if I put some things out there, there is a good chance it will find it's way to me in the end.

A couple of years ago, on my bucket list I had a line reading that I wanted to go to a degustation dinner at great restaurant as I'd never done this before.

A day or so later, Millie from Hold the Peas contacted me and said she was on for the challenge - and ever since this, we've been treating ourselves to a degustation dinner every few months. It's always a lovely evening picking through some of wonderful restaurants of Melbourne.

This time, the restaurant in question was Koots Salle a Manger in Kooyong.

I'd never heard of it, but Millie said that it had a good name for a degustation. Looking at the price, we'd left this dinner until we had a bit more money to our names. At $140 a head without wine, the degustation was up the pricier end of the degustation dinners we've been on.

Thankfully, we were not disappointed at all.

Joined by Jonella, we embarked on the seven course meal. Our hopes were high - the last degustation we'd gone to we all left hungry despite the five delicious courses. Being a Tuesday night, we were a little surprised to see that there was only one set of diners in the restaurant. On questioning the Maitre D' he said that this wasn't normal, but not unusual. They'd been filled to the brim at lunch. It was really lovely to have to place to ourselves.

Koots is a traditional French Restaurant - right down to the Maitre D', the wine and the amazing food.

As is tradition with our dinners, we started with a glass of French bubbles. I rue the day that Millie introduced me to French wine and champagne... This time, a glass of Paul Bara Brut Grand Cru Reserve. Wonderful is all I will say. Another wonderful element to the restaurant was the bread basket, which was refilled regularly and served with salted butter. The bread was fresh and light. It was great not to only get bread at the start of the meal.

Jonella and I ate off the card. Millie, who doesn't eat fish or seafood, had a couple of alternates. For her take on proceedings see her blog here.

The first course - Freshly shucked Coffin Bay Oysters with vodka, ginger and lime granite.

There was a wow factor to this dish. simple, clean, elegant and just perfect - or maybe I'm biased because I come from South Australia and Coffin Bay oysters are some of our best.

Millie was served a cold pumpkin soup with a dollop of creme fraiche which she said was lovely.

The second course was a scallop mousse with roasted king prawns, leek compote and shellfish foam. Now I'm one to occasionally refer to the use of foam as "wanky" however this foam was the perfect foil for the mousse and the prawns. Two dishes in and we knew we were on to a winner for the night.Millie was very happy with her duck liver parfait that she had instead.

The next course was a palate cleanser. A salad made of witlof, pear and walnut with Woodside goat's curd, sourdough toast and a shallot dressing. This was a brilliant salad - clean flavours with a sharpness that cleaned the palate beautifully.

Next cab off the ranks was the dish of the night. Roasted pig's trotters and ham hock in brick pastry, sauce ravigote and frisee salad.

Now I'm all for the nose to tail eating, but go into it with some trepidation. You just don't know if a pig's foot is going to be presented on your plate - like I'm a reflexologist - I like feet, but I wouldn't want to eat one. I shouldn't have worried. This wonderful mix of rich meat, crisp pastry, creamy, garlicky sauce and salad was just perfect.

The next fish course came. A fillet of wild barramundi with caramelised fennel, herb spaetzle and dill cream came out. Jonella was keen to try the spaetzle (a German noodle type arrangement) knowing it from her childhood. This was a lovely light dish - and with no foam, I was happy. However, Millie did even better, being presented with some gnocchi with walnuts and goat's cheese. This gnocchi was made the French way - half potato, half choux pastry. She gave us a taste - and it was AMAZING.

The last savoury dish for the night was a seared veal loin, with local wild mushroom and penne pasta gratine with Comte.

Ethically I'm a little hesitant over veal. Raised on a farm, I spent many a morning before school feeding poddy calves. I look at veal and I think about Laverne - my first calf. Then I see the beautiful food in front of me. It's something I'll eat but prefer not to order as a rule.

It was a lovely dish. The veal sous vide then pan finished with very posh macaroni cheese. It was divine - even if I could see Laverne's big eyelashes batting at me in the back of my mind.

And then, after all of these perfectly timed and delicious courses - dessert.

On the menu, pear and chestnut mousse trifle with salted caramel foam and spiced pear doughnut.

Now, Millie is a chocolate fiend. I'm more a lemon or citrus dessert person. This was absolutely perfect. Millie puts it up there with one of the best non-chocolate desserts she's ever had. It was glorious. Even better than the St Katherine's salty caramel parfait. The doughnut had a warm pear puree in the middle of it - like a not too sweet jam donut. The mix of salty, sweet and fruity was just sublime.

As we were about to finalise the bill, we were presented with some vanilla and chestnut macarons for petit fours.

A few minutes later, we rolled out the door, happily replete, but the maitre d', who provided excellent, knowledgeable and friendly service for the evening. We all said that we'd go back in a heartbeat.

This is a seriously good restaurant - perfect for a special occasion. I wish I had more special occasions so that I could go back sooner.

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Book Blog

This meme was snaffled from The Plastic Mancunian who, like me, blogs about stuff - but we have very different views on the world - and that is a good thing.

But it let me think about books for a bit - and this is never a bad thing. 

1. Favourite childhood book?I used to love Enid Blyton - and remember loving "The Magic Faraway Tree". When I was much younger, there was a Golden Book about the Saggy Baggy Elephant and Mickey Mouse's picnic that I remember making my father read to me again and again. he knew them by rote.

2. What are you reading right now?JK Rowling's "The Casual Vacancy". If you've ever had the misfortune to be on a committee or know somebody in local government, you will understand...

3. What books do you have on request at the library?To my shame, I don't have a library card or visit libraries to borrow books - the only exception to this is when I'm studying and I'll use the reference library.

4. Bad book habit?
I have a bad habit of buying books that look interesting from the ten dollar shop, then never reading them. Or doing the buy three for the price of two (or occasionally nine for the price of six - but I'm trying to stop that)

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

See question three.

6. Do you have an e-reader?No, but I have an iPad, which I'm starting to buy books to read on that.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?I normally have two or three on the go - a main book that I'm reading and a couple that I've started, waiting to finish.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?
No, not really. Maybe I read a little less.

9. Least favourite book you read this year (so far?)Kate Grenville's "Sarah Thornhill". We read it for book group - and though not a bad book, I didn't resonate with it - and in general, I don't resonate with Kate Grenville as an author. Nothing wrong with that - just not my cup of tea.

10. Favourite book you've read this year?We read it for book group - and I was thinking I was going to hate it - Christos Tsiolkas's "Dead Europe". Confronting, gross, happless, unhappy and some of the best writing I've witnessed in a very long time. Not for everybody however.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone?
Not that often, but fairly regularly. I like to be challenged. Then again, I don't really read science fiction or fantasy. But I have the first Game of Thrones book on my iPad which I'm enjoying.

12. What is your reading comfort zone?
Modern literature, modern classics, good kids books a la Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl. I do read crap too, just to make sure that I know what people are talking about - I've unfortunately read Dan Brown, The Twilight books and 50 Shades of Grey.

13. Can you read on the bus?
I can read on public transport - though I have to be facing forward to read - if I'm sitting with my back facing the front reading makes me feel sick.

14. Favourite place to read?
On the tram, in bed, in the Fitzroy Gardens sitting under a tree on a balmy day. Anywhere really.

15. What is your policy on book lending?I'm good with lending books to friends - and I will not necessarily demand that they give them back, unless it's something I find very special. Case in point - The Book Thief, which was loaned out on the proviso that it came back. My copy of "Gone Girl" has gone walkabout. If it comes back, it comes back. If it doesn't, it doesn't.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books?
Depends on how long it gets stuck in my handbag. I try to keep them in reasonable condition, though I'm not militant about not cracking the spine like my friend Bernadette. I do respect them, but I could do better - average B.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?No.

18. Not even with text books?Okay, I used to occasionally make marks in text books but it's been a long time since I've done any study.

19. What is your favourite language to read in?English, though I've read a couple of books in French in my time.Saint-Exupery's "Le Petit Prince" is still a favourite.

20. What makes you love a book?
Great characters, fearless writing and strange situations.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book?

When a book is one that I find hard to put down - books that make you think and feel in equal measure - and this is a hard call. I like books with twists (For example, Chris Cleeve's "The Other Hand" (or Little Bee as it's known in some countries)
Books I recommend regularly include:
Louis De Berniere's "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"
Markus Zuzak's "The Book Thief"
Chris Cleeve's "The Other Hand"
Michel Faber's "The Crimson Petal and the White"
Christopher McDougall's "Born to Run"

22. Favourite genre?Modern Literature - Booker long list type of stuff.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did?)I really should read more non-fiction.

24. Favourite biography?Oh, don't rubbish me for this. I've only read one or two biographies in my time, so Kenneth Branagh's autobiography "Beginning" is a favourite.
Kate Holden's "In My Skin" is exceptionally written.

25. Have you ever read a self-help book?Oh hell yeah. Though it's not a regular occurence and I tend to get a couple of chapters in then throw them against the wall and pick them up when I clean. Louise L Hay's "You Can Heal Your Life" has had a huge positive impact on my life.

26. Favourite cookbook?
My stepsister, JD, gave me a dessert cook book called Delicious - I use it regularly - it's brilliant. My flourless chocolate and raspberry mud cake comes out of it.

27. Most inspirational book you've read this year (fiction or non-fiction)?
I hate to say it, but Christos Tsiolkas's "Dead Europe" - just from the quality of the writing.
In the last few years I would name, "The Book Thief", "The Other Hand" and "Born to Run" up there in the inspirational books.

28. Favourite reading snack?Little bit sweet, Little bit salty popcorn. Love that stuff - with a cup of tea nearby.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience.
The Twilight series. The first book was great. The second was okay. The third was alright. By the fourth book I was ready to clobber the author over the head with her word processor.

30. How often do you agree with critics about a book?About half the time. I can watch The Tuesday Night book club show and normally find somebody to fight with. And I try look for the good in most things, I'll normally find something to agree with - then again, there are times when I don't agree at all.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews?I always temper my bad reviews with what I find good in a book - but will then give the other side of things. Case in point. The Great Gatsby. Hated it for many years - now love it - but I can see what some of the negative press is about (like NOTHING happens)

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose?Probably French as it wouldn't take too long to get my up to speed - and Spanish, as I want to read Pablo Neruda in Spanish.

33. Most intimidating book you've ever read?Probably Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses". Which I ended up loving - wonderful book - even with the Fatwa.

34. Most intimidating book you're too nervous to begin?
James Joyces "Ulysses". I dip into it ever so often, then put it down - but I'd love to read it cover to cover one day. I need to read Moby Dick at some stage too. Cloud Atlas was pretty intimidating until you got into it (and it is wonderful - just takes a bit of time to get there)

35. Favourite poet?
T.S. Eliot. Love T.S. Eliot. Quite partial to Carol Ann Duffy, Adrian Mitchell, WH Auden and Philip Larkin as well.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out of the library at any given time?
None - as I don't have a library card. Though when studying it's normally three or four.

37. How often have you returned a book to the library unread?
See above - but one out of the three uni library books I'd have out , one would be returned unread.

38. Favourite fictional character?
In no order:
Pelagia and the Doctor from "Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Little Bee from "The Other Hand"
Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird"
Hermione Granger and Professor McGonagall from the Harry Potter Series
Holly Short from the LEP Recon Unit in the Artemis Fowl books
Amy in "Gone Girl" (You have to love to hate her)

39. Favourite fictional villain?
Both are from kids books. Severus Snape and from the Harry Potter Series. And Count Olaf from the A Series of Unfortunate Events.

40. Books I'm most likely to bring on vacation?
Normally I take something of calibre and something that's a bit trashy - take the last trip to Bali - I took The Crimson Petal and the White and the first "Game of Thrones" Book.

41. The longest I've gone without reading.Probably a few days. I get antsy when I don't read regularly.

42. Name a book that you could/would not finish.I've had the second "50 Shades of Grey" book half finished on my bedside table for over a year. It's that poorly written that I doubt I will get back to it.

43. What distracts you easily when you're reading?Music. People talking loudly on the tram. Loud noise. I like reading when it's quiet.

44. Favourite film adaptation of a novel?
I've loved the following: Atonement, Harry Potter and the Prisoner from Azkaban (Alfonso Cuaron directed - wonderful), The Great Gatsby (Luhrmann)

45. Most disappointing film adaptation?Not that I've seen it, but if I did, Captain Corelli's Mandolin. I refuse to see it - I've heard it's bad - really bad. And it's my favourite book ever.

46. The most money I've ever spent in the bookstore at one time?
Probably around $100 - buit in my defence, I was doing Christmas shopping at the time.

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it?
Occassionally - normally have a look at the first page to see what it's about, but that is far as it goes. Unless it is a cook book - that can be considered food porn.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book half-way through?If I tire of a book it is normally by page 30. If something's becoming just plain boring I'll stop. The second 50 Shades of Grey book is testement to this. Oh, another soft core whipping scene. Ho hum.

49. Do you like to keep your books organised?
Nope. they're generally not on the floor - isn't that enough. Though most of the shelves are in vague genre order. And the serious literature is grouped like with like.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once you've read them?
A bit of both. I sell on or give away popular fiction and things I know I'll never read again - and keep the literature - which does get re-read from time to time.

51. Are there any books you've been avoiding?There are a couple of things I should get down to, other than Ulysses and Moby Dick. Dan Brown's last book - I know I don't want to but I will.

52. Name a book that made you angry.
Helen Brown's "Cleo - The Cat that Healed a Family" See here for my review. WORST BOOK EVER.

53. A book you didn't expect to like but did?The first Hunger Games book. Exceptional, in spite of the hype.

54. A book that you expected to like but didn't?We did a book at book group called "Tigers in Red Weather". Wasn't bad, but I thought it would be better. It took me 20 years to appreciate The Great Gatsby too - thought I would love it when I was a young adult - hated it. Love it now.

55. Favourite guilt-free, pleasure reading?Please don't tell anybody, but I do have a soft spot for the following:
Dan Brown
Marion Keyes early stuff
Jane Green's early stuff
Anything that screams "You have to read it!" (A la 50 Shades of Grey)

And I'm not above picking up a Mills and Boon every now and then. But don't tell anybody.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bingle Bonanza

My friend Millie has shamed me into writing once again - and yes, I know that I've not been blogging, but with the last two weeks being so busy it's been really hard - time has not been on my side. With a birthday, the parents over for a few days, Elk's meetings, work, book group... the list just went on and on. I've wanted to write  - just haven't had the time.

So, on the good side of being busy:

My birthday was wonderful. A group of friends and my parents went up for a jaunt on Puffing Billy the day before I finally turned, (cough, splutter, argh).... A great day was had by all and I was made to feel loved. I'm so very lucky in that respect.

Having the folks over for a few days was lovely. They took me out for dinner for a couple of nights - that was lovely too. Even better, my mother had a knee replacement operation six weeks before and I was a bit worried how she was going to get on. Thankfully, she's doing brilliantly. She got an A+ from the surgeon the other day, saying that she was healing better than 90% of people recovering from the same operation. She's been sensible and done everything she was told to do. I'm thrilled for her.

I also participated in the City to Surf in Sydney  - this year I walked it with a friend, Mal and her Mum. This was a fantastic day - my Mal's mother had always wanted to do the City to Surf before she turned 70. She made it with six months to spare. A breast cancer survivor she managed the 14 kilometre walk in just over 2.5 hours. Mal and I walked it with her as support crew, not that she needed it. I was blown away by her courage - and I hope to be that fit when I'm in my late sixties.

However, the biggest thing to happen to me happened on the way home from Sydney on that trip. A few minutes drive away from Blarney's place, where I was due to be fed after the long trip home, I had a bingle - or to those not in Australia - a small car accident. Turning a corner, the driver in front of me hit the brakes rather than accelerating round the corner. Thankfully, I was only going about 10 kilometres an hour, thankfully I hit the brakes and hard - but it still didn't stop me from connecting with the tow bar of the car in front.

The driver in front and I got out and had a look - the car was still driving well. With flailing English the guy in front apologised for braking - saw that there was no damage to his car and drive off.

My car, Neville, had no apparent damage. I made my way to Blarney's, passing by a very nasty accident in the street round the corner from hers. I was grateful nobody was hurt, my car appeared to be in good nick and I wasn't in the prang that I witnessed. I counted three ambulances, 20 or so paramedics and emergency staff and two written off cars. Blarney gave me a cup of tea and calmed me down a bit. I've been driving for nearly 30 years - this was my first prang - and I was thankful it was a minor one.

I drove home a few hours later after a spot of dinner and a cuddle with the Maow Maow.

The following morning, I had a better look. I knew that the front plastic grille would need replacing from the night before.What I couldn't see the night before was the large scrape on the bumper and that the air conditioning condenser looked like somebody had shoved a fist into it. Great. There was also a bit of green water under the car. The signs were ominous.

Called the mechanic later that morning after a chat with my cousin, who's also a mechanic. My local mechanic said he couldn't have a look at it for a week - and I was told not drive it out of Richmond, if at all. I said that I'd driven it home okay - but I'd take care.

Push comes to shove, the car is now at a crash repairer. $2500 of damage - needs a new radiator, air conditioner condenser, bumper and a few other small tweaks to the internals - all for connecting with a tow bar. Bloody things should be outlawed!

So here I am, car-less for a little while longer. I'm hoping that I'll be getting it back by the end of the week - but in the mean time I'm a bit tethered to home.

This is not a bad thing.

Gloria has become my taxi for meditation and dream group. I feed her for the privilege of the ride - and for the first time in a long time, I've been on time for dream group.

The gym is walking distance away. I'm in there a bit. It's only a ten minute walk away, but not that fun to get home from when it's late and raining.

Public transport is being used for getting out to Blarneys and anywhere else I really need to get to - if I don't really need to be there, I've postponed the appointment. It's forced me to look for a new hairdresser - not really wanting to spend an hour an a half on public transport to get to my old one.

And I'm doing a lot of cleaning - and going to bed early - and just enjoying not having the mode of being out every night and racing around like a blue bottomed fly.

Tonight was set aside for blogging and cooking. We're having a bake off at work tomorrow - so I've made bark. One lot is a mix of Milky Bar, dried cranberries and pistachios. The other, dark chocolate, pistachios and raisins soaked in Pedro Ximinez liquer. Should go down alright.

The crux of the matter is this - the car can be repaired. Nobody was hurt. I have comprehensive insurance, it's the first time I've ever used it to repair a car - mine or anybody elses. Nobody was hurt. I get  few weeks of taking it easy.

A bit of time off is a real bingle bonanza.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Shame, Shame, Shame

Anybody who's seen my Facebook page will know that I'm not particularly happy at the moment. Not happy at all.

Although life is going well. I like my job, I'm solvent, healthy, fit... life is good in all things bar two.

Our freaking Federal Election and the Mainstream Media.

You can't turn on the television without seeing the mug of Tony Abbott attempting to kiss a baby or Kevin Rudd trying to brush the hair out of his eyes. I will put on record that it really looks as if Tony Abbott is a really, really bad kisser - one of those open mouth dribblers types - poor Margie.)

If it's not a politician spouting some of the most vitriolic, abusive, short-sighted "policy" (Abbott and his cronies have a pamphlet that's posing as their manifarto - whoop de f%^in' dooo) it's something about the Essendon Football Club and the fact that they've been caught doing naughty things with performance enhancing drugs.

So tonight, heading Channel Nine news - Essendon Football Club.

Like what the hell! It's football! Leave it for the last ten minutes of the news bulletin, not the first thing. Besides, it's Essendon. Who the hell cares?

Then we go to the online papers. With the exception of the Guardian, the lead story - effing Essendon, Rudd not being nice to his make up artist and Abbott making a fool of the public with an advantageous to the rich paid maternity scheme.

Practically nothing on policy from either party. Zip - Nada. It's all taking pot shots at each other and cow towing to big business.

Mind you, the #askbolt fiasco on Twitter was a sight to behold. Newscorpse (as it is often referred to) asked their readership to as Andrew Bolt questions about the election. Andrew Bolt is a little right of Hitler in most things political - appalling man. The Twittersphere got hold of this and hilarity ensued.

My question to the nutter "When are you going to get off our televisions on Sunday morning and give Ren and Stimpie their slot back?"

And don't get me started on the printed media. Why is it that a former Australian Citizen, one who rescinded his citizenship to become an American, wants to influence our election so badly. Like sod off Rupert - we can think for ourselves thank you very much.


Why the hell is this AMERICAN octogenarian up to his old tricks here - he's a criminal - look at the News of the World Scandal in the UK. Look at that sewer called Fox News. At least Rupert, being in his eighties cant have that long left - then again, they've said that of Mugabe and Castro - both are functioning with formaldehyde in their veins.

It's criminal that we, the public, are being so badly treated - treated like imbeciles.

Why are we hearing nothing about sensible health policies?
Why are we hearing nothing about the aging population?
What about sustainable extensions to public transport?
What about making this nation a smart one, not a mediocre one? A nation that aspires to be innovative and excellent?
How are out universities going to be funded so that they can be world class?
What are we doing to stop the march of climate change?
What are we doing to protect the environment?
Why can't gay marriage be legalised? Just get on with it.
Why aren't we reminded daily that the church and state need to be separate.

So many questions.

No answers.

The Liberal National Party are spewing their three word propaganda rantings.
The Labor Party are making some rather desperate calls.
The Greens have been rather silent, though not in my electorate where they have a chance - I do hope Adam Bandt gets in again - he's a good local member.
There are a heap of strange and odd parties going for seats in the senate - as always.

I've got a bit to say on senate selection.

With the Liberals preferencing some major league religious, right wing, racist, homophobic wing nuts, there is only one thing to do. Vote under the line. The Victorian Senate Ballot paper is over a metre long. Seriously! Something like 107 candidates, which you have to put a number in  every box. I don't care how long it takes. The Shooters Party, Family First (may they rot in their respective hell) and the rest of the right wing religious nutters can be placed from 80 onwards.

Need I remind people about the outgoing Cory Bernardi who In September, 2012, Bernardi resigned from his position as parliamentary secretary as a result of statements he had made the day before, when he argued that permitting same-sex marriages will lead to legalised polygamy and bestiality.(And this guy comes from South Australia - SHAME SHAME SHAME)

This is one of the scariest times I've seen in Australian Politics.

I like living in a caring, rational, forward-thinking, smart, funny, respectful and tolerant society. One that has the views and concerns of all catered for. One that strives for a better place for all - not just the few.

(Oh, Mr Abbott giving five million dollars to the Brisbane Broncos - a club owned by Rupert Murdoch - greasing the palms of your hyper-rich mates is a REALLY BAD look)

It's all too much to contemplate.

I just want to know why nobody is talking about the real issues and being smart about this.

That feels better. Rant over.

(images sourced from Luke Mansillo and the "Tony Abbott will Never be Prime Minister" facebook page. The meme is mine.)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Shouting at Buildings

They're at it again, shouting at buildings. 

Walk out the door to go find some lunch and there's a group of about a hundred people, mainly men, shouting at the building next door, placards flying, their rage contained but apparent.

"No Military Rule in Egypt!" they cry - a plaintive wail on a breezy Melbourne afternoon. They're not making much of a nuisance of themselves. They're not on a main thoroughfare, they're not clogging the streets and interrupting the traffic - they're just shouting at the building which contains the Egyptian embassy.

And good on them I say.

Peaceful demonstrations have a good feel about them - as long as they remain peaceful.

Looking around the city, I see a lot of demonstrations - and have friends who are actively participating in demonstrations. 

The ongoing Tecoma McDonald's fiasco for one. I've walked in regularly to find a group of Dandenong dwellers shouting at Parliament House. You look at why they're shouting and shouting loud. The local council held a meeting to look at McDonald's opening a 'restaurant' (I use the word loosely) in the township of Tecoma. The planning application was overruled unanimously after a few thousand complaints about the planning application - there were over a thousand people at the town meeting, something that rarely happens in this age of apathy. McDonald's took their application to a higher body, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) who overturned the decision, citing that what the people of the town wanted was 'irrelevant". Hmph. there have been protesters outside of the proposed site as well as the VCAT offices and parliament ever since.

Protesting gives you a voice - more than likely a voice that will not be heard, but it does let you get things off your chest.

Another friend is active in the protests around out paramedics. These modern day saints have one of the most stressful and thankless jobs in the country. And they're paid a pittance for their years of training and ratshit conditions. A few years ago they were promised pay rises to make them the best paid ambulance crews in the country - with better conditions. Never happened - and they started to yell, very loudly, at the Department of Health, among other places.

The Ambos also have a very active social media campaign, in essence, shaming the politicians over their bad conduct. Will they be heard? I hope so.

Once a year or so, the CMFEU (Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union) get a bee in their bonnet about something and the streets are filled with bearded, high-vis-vest wearing type in overalls for a few hours. My sympathies with this mob aren't as strong as they already appear to have a seventeen day working month with some of the best benefits in the country - although I'm with them if they're protesting about safety measures.

I can't say I'm an avid protest marcher - but I have been a part of the odd protest. When Australia was about to send troops to Afghanistan, when they were looking for those non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction that the Axis of Evil had in their beds, that I got fired up about. I remember Sam and I sneaking out of work early to join about a million others in Swanston Street. The rally was peaceful - and filled with people of all creeds, colours, ages and students. Grandparents marched with children, students talked with business people, families walked together - all opposed to what are then government was planning on doing. There was no anger at the rally. It was more a feeling of outraged befuddlement. Why would we, a peace loving nation, want to send troops over to a country that had not attacked us. It appears the Brits felt the same way. Thousands took to the streets.

'Not in my name' screamed the banners.

The offences that the then governments were about to perpetrate reverberated among the crowd with astonishment. Our allegedly peaceful government was doing what?

In time, we would be just as outraged at such joyful acts as Tampa, Work Choices, the Mandatory Detention Policy, the lack of Environmental awareness... so many things that went on that had me screaming obscenities at the television.

I haven't yelled much at the telly for a while. I've started again. I've started screaming at the television.

May as well get the anger, distaste, distrust and ignominy out of my system. At least the telly is an inanimate object. Take it out on that.

And get writing letters and marching for what I believe in.

A very wise woman once told me that when the idiots get in power, those that have no social conscious or feel for what a democracy, it is then that the right minded, compassionate and intelligent people have to start speaking out, and speaking very, very loudly.

I hope and pray that I get to stay silent for a little longer and that my time for shouting at buildings is not now.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

In Search of the Perfect Pasty

Home Grain Bakery on Urbanspoon

I'm a South Australian.

It is a fact of which I'm particularly proud.

My football team is the Adelaide Crows.
I have been known to pour Farmer's Union Iced Coffee over my cornflakes.
I possess the 'long A' found in dah-nce, prah-nce and cah-stle (not the nasally inflected dance, prance and castle found in other states of Australia)
There is a great pride in being half an hour behind in time and fifteen years behind in fashion.
I'm aware of people who still sport mullets, shoulder pads and chambray denim.
Like most in Adelaide, I fear having to tackle the Dequetteville Terrace roundabout - even though I drive in Melbourne traffic doing hook turns regularly.

I''m also very, very fond of the humble pasty. Possibly because I'm mostly from Cornish stock, maybe because in my nearly 45 years of life I've never eaten a meat pie. Mum was telling me that when my aunt visits from Canberra, she has a pasty for lunch every day. Must be a family thing.

I love pasties - but living in Melbourne, I really find that I'm at a loss to find a good one in the city. One of my workmates discussed this today - good pasties are not going to be found in the Melbourne metropolitan area - prove me wrong in you must.

For me, finding a good pasty takes a trip home to Adelaide.

And I think I've found one of the best pasties I've ever had.

The Home Grain Bakery, found on Old Coach Road, Aldinga,  is on the way home to my mother's place at Myponga.

And here I was thinking that the only things that came out of Aldinga were school bullies and the odd almond
and olive tree.

My friend SJ tipped me off to the existence of the place the last time I was in Adelaide. She shared some muffins and 'snot blocks' (vanilla slices) to die for.

Finding myself driving down to Myponga last Saturday lunchtime, I made a beeline for the joint - after calling my mother to tell her to not to make me any lunch. I value SJ's recommendations - her knowledge of the food of the Fleurieu Peninsula is encyclopedic - and she did not let me down.

I was greeted by friendly staff on entering the door. Blown away by this, I was then stunned at the array of cakes, pies, sausage rolls and pasties on display. It's incredible.

First things first - lunch. I asked for a pasty - I was offered a selection of four or five. They have Cornish Pasites, wholemeal pasties, vegetarian pasties.... such a selection.

Being a simple South Australian, I ordered a traditional Cornish Pasty - as well as a snot block - oops, vanilla slice - and a coffee for the trip home. After detailing what a snot block was to the girl behind the counter and paying my money I was given my manna.

The coffee and the snot block were eaten in the car before driving the last 20 minute stint back to Mum's. The vanilla slice was one of the better ones I've ever had - glorious, not too stodgy, not too sweet, flaky pastry. Wonderful. The only thing that would have made it even better would be if I had let it rest to room temperature. Snot blocks are even better when the custard is allowed to soften.

The pasty I kept for when I got back to Mum's place - where it was duly heated up and drowned in tomato sauce - which is just the way I like them. Five minutes in a readied oven when I arrived home and lunch was ready. The lightest of flaky pastry, a good mix of vegetables, meat and spice - and a great ratio of pastry to filling. Just what you want from a Cornish pastry.

Just what an errant Croweater living in Melbourne craves on a trip back home.

This is a seriously good bakery - seriously, wonderfully, sinfully good. Their muffins are just amazing (Thank SJ for introducing me to them), the vanilla slices are excellent, as are the pasties. The coffee reached Melbourne standards as well.

This is place that begs a visit, whether you're on a road trip to Victor Harbor, wandering the wineries of McLaren Vale, or like me, making my way to Myponga to my mother's place to fix up her computer (That's why septuagenarians have adult children - isn't it?)

Going by the traffic going through when I was there, this place is pretty legendary.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Starting Over

It's early August - and it's finally time for me to start some things over again.

After what was a miserable May and June, it's taken me most of July to get myself back to where I like to be - which is happy, healthy and writing. I never knew how badly being totally miserable could be on you - until now.

It's taken the month to get my confidence back fully. It's taken the month to work out that my right arm was really in a bad state a - and get some help for it. What appeared to be tennis elbow in my right arm turned out to be pains and strains through my shoulder as well. A few remedial massages, no weights or boxing, using my mouse with my left hand and lots of stretching and it's starting to come good.

Anyway, I've been sadly neglecting my blogging for the last few months - so that is coming to an end. It's time to start writing again. I've missed it - really missed it. Even though I write all day, I've missed the creative element to writing. At least work is a good place to be once again.

And the will to write has come back.

So now life is in a better place it's also time to get running again. Once again, injury put pay to anything resembling running at the end of last year - and ever since, I've lost my running mojo - and I want to get it back. This weekend is the City to Surf in Sydney. I'm going to be walking it with a friend and her Mum this year so there is no pressure to perform or run a great time. It's going to be in the early twenties in Sydney on Sunday so this is for the best.

In the mean time, I've started the Couch Potato to Five Kilometre plan once again - slowly getting my head and body used to running once again.

There is a sadness in the fact that I'm starting over in some of these elements of my life - that I have to start over. But I'm not looking and what I've lost, or the time I've lost (or the runs I haven't run, or thoughts I haven't written...)

It's just nice to be back.