ANOTHER TRAM BEEF
It must be time for another small tram whinge (OK, the tram was big). I’ll fess up to having the odd McDonald’s, usually after a prolonged morning/afternoon/evening/day/week/month on the singing syrup. It doesn’t happen all that often … the Maccas bit that is … but what better way to face a Monday, I thought, than to do it on the back of an alcohol-free Sunday … lots of water, decent food … I was feelin’ OK. Until I squeezed onto the No.96 bound for the city. Someone close to me (that didn’t narrow the field any) had just eaten/inhaled/scoffed a Maccas beef product and the smell was … Jesus, it was almost nauseating … not a pleasant thing for a five-minute tram trip that seemed to take a hour. Maybe I was way off the mark and someone had stood in something on the way to the station … but I’m still going for Maccas theory. And bugger me (should that be burger me?), I managed to get the Hungry Jack’s quinella on the return trip, courtesy of some uniformed school kids. The lack of a crowd made it just bearable.
CHIPPER … BY THE DOZEN
Wine, in a shock twist, seems to be at the forefront of things of late. Ben Thomas, the most-excellent wine writer for The Weekly Review (www.theweeklyreview.com) weighed in last week with a most welcome tweet, advising me that he had doubled up on some All Saints Rutherglen Muscat and “if you call by the office, I have a bottle for you”. I haven’t yet tried it … I’m having a good old standby as I write this … a Charlotte Sound pinot noir (from Marlborough) … but try it I will when the occasion presents. Follow Ben at @senorthomas on twitter. And get online at www.theweeklyreview.com to check Ben’s archives. This week’s column is headed “Life is a cabernet, old chum”, and has some excellent cabernet sauvignon words and recommendations including Ben’s food matches. For the record, I work as chief subeditor for The Weekly Review. A subeditor is one of those people that The Age doesn’t need apparently, something I can relate to after taking a redundancy package from the paper after almost 20 years, depending on whether you believe me or the tight-arsed bean counters at the said Age.
But I digress.
The Weekly Review is without question the best, friendliest office in which I have ever worked. Big call, I know, but it’s on the money.
How many people get to work in an office where, amazing (read the best) camaraderie aside, someone cooks lunch every day? Not too many is my bet. The Weekly Review editor (no name, it’s a modesty thing) every day sends me a text message at my other job (I work at Crikey, too), saying simply “Lunch here”. If it’s not the editor in the kitchen cooking, it’s the IT boys whipping up anything from a roast chicken and vegetables to soup to kebabs to steaks to a barbecue mixed grille to pasta, salads, chilli beans, stir fries, whatever, (again no names … I know Damien is really private). Damo can cook (and he loves chillis), big time. And it doesn’t hurt to mention that today he gave me a bottle of Tre Viti, a crisp white produced by food legend Stefano de Pieri in Mildura. It’s a blend of Monscato Giallo, Grego Di Turo and Malvasia and is for drinking in the short term. Oh, and thanks gang, for the birthday cake, even if you had to borrow my lighter for the candles (sorry that it ran out of flint and you had to look further afield).
Seems everyone kicked in a fiver ages ago to get a Weekly Review pantry started and we pay the said fiver each day to keep up supplies. Today, for the record, was Damo’s spag bol and it was a cracker, with some crusty bread on the side.
I did manage to keep off the cigars for a whole week which was no mean feat (yes, I even jogged and did some of that other exercise stuff), given that there was wine consumption aplenty. But the rails apparently were something to come off.
I went to a farewell dinner for the staff at Randall’s (it’s been sold to Coles), more particularly a send-off for Nico, a smooth Italian operator who knows about wine, works the crowd and is an all-round good guy, who is being lost to this country, which is a shame. I wandered into Randall’s to grab a bottle of something (it was BYO at Basillico next door) and on the staff recommendation, opted for what I thought was a half-decent bottle of shiraz. I knew I was in trouble when one of the guys said to me: “Did you bring this shit?” He was half kidding, of course, but on the money. We had that night a dozen or so wines, each one a cracker, and one was the best thing that has ever passed my lips, Grange notwithstanding. I’m still waiting for a list (the memory plays tricks) but have been promised that the list will be delivered … and yes, I will post it. Suffice to say that it was a French chablis and my God, what a wine. I’ve ordered a bottle of it (OK, it’s about $145 a throw so I’m not buying multiples here) and I’m waiting patiently. When and with whom to drink it is going to be the biggest dilemma. Maybe it’ll now be a solo job (and that’s not a soft drink reference).
I was scheduled to be taken out for a birthday dinner a couple of days later (an ideal opportunity to try it), but that went pear-shaped after a yum cha at Shark Fin in the city and a break at the hairdresser’s to have some of the excessive grey removed from my head-top thatch. Thank you, Sheridan, for another splendid job. With the best laid plans of behaving, it went off the rails courtesy of a French rose … in multiples. And it was a never-to-be-repeated birthday dinner. Sad, that, in the extreme.
Birthday eve had suddenly gone from scorched almonds to boiled lollies … although there was the lure of an early-afternoon wine tasting at Randall’s the next day … Nico’s dozen they called it. And what a dozen. But not before a trip to the market to get some goodies to line the stomach. The weekend choice was a slow-cooked casserole (made with aged Black Angus beef at about $18 a kilo and a tonne of vegetables). I got it onto the stove top, gave it a run for its money and then deposited the cast-iron pot into the oven for up to four hours. Worked a treat … still is. Suddenly I was Randall’s bound.
OK, the list of wines:
2010 Boschendal Chenin Blanc
Waterdon Riesling 2009
2008 Fontaine-Gagnard Chassagne ‘Les Vergers’
2008 Fontaine-Gagnard Chassagne ‘Clos des Murees’ (both down to $105 from $125)
2007 Simon Bize Bourgogne Blanc
2008 Faugeres ‘Les Fusionets’
2008 Sempar Duro (seems I remember the conversation suggesting that the name means something like “always hard” in Italian … OK I’ll go with that. Thanks Lou.)
2007 Dugat Gevrey-Chambertin (on special at $120, down from $160)
2008 Clos St Jean Chateauneufdupape
2007 Jasmin Cote-Rotie ($75, down form $130)
And then there was Nico’s mystery wine, carefully decanted and described by him as something akin to a cleanskin.
Not even close.
It was a 2001 Giuuseppe Quintqarelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore.
Sweet mother of Jesus. Nuff said, other than it was amazing.
All of the wines are available at Randall’s just in case anyone’s keen on the idea of emulating a wonderful Saturday afternoon.
Given that dinner was a thing of the past, what better thing to do when returning home than opening a refreshing bottle of Grande Cuvee 1531 Aimery Cremant de Limoux bubbles? It worked a treat, as did the bottle of chardy later in the evening. Oh, and the slow-cooked beef casserole. Yeah, it was a big day and the perfect prelude to spending my birthday alone. Them’s the breaks. Phone calls from my kids and my ex-wife (one of ‘em) helped cheer me up … so did a quick visit from my youngest son, Joel (he was on his way to work, dealing poker at Crown). Thanks mate, I appreciate it and am looking forward to dinner on Thursday night.
Single life? Do what you gotta do, when you gotta do it.
Oh, and it’s why Sunday was the first alcohol-free one in a long time.
ME IN A NUTSHELL
- G’day, I’m Michael and I have two fantastic grown-up kids. I’m a jeans and singlet/T-shirt, cowboy boot, tattoos sort of fella, who knows a bit about this and sometimes a lot about that. I'll have a crack at most things, although having a relationship? ... well that ship has sailed. I'm past my use-by date anyway, so I'm gonna make it all about me and surviving life as I know it ... or make it.