Dinner has taken a few of strange turns lately … and not necessarily for the better, especially the fact that I’m not having dinner with my favourite person in the world. But that’s another story and not for this place.
I’ve had a house guest the past couple of weeks … a mate who lives down the coast who has had some work in the city. A commute is out of the question.
Given that I’ve also been working my arse off of late, we decided to grab a quick bite at a local pizzeria called Basilico … one website describes it as “Basilico offers the epitome of chic, modern Italian dining …”
Be that as it may.
I had a hankering for a chicken parma … I’d had it there a couple of times … it’s close to home, so an easy walk after a couple of glasses of something to wash down the said parma.
My mate ordered some garlic bread to kick off. Mistake one.
What arrived at the table was a small basket of mainly blackened, sliced baguette. “Bit on the burnt side,” said my mate.
The waiter countered with something like “Oh, is that not satisfactory?”
Well no. “I’ll replace it, shall I?” That would be good, ta.
And so it came to pass.
Then the mains … a pizza for my mate and my parma.
We were busily chowing down when I had a good look at the parma. It was cooked on the bottom and as pink as all get out on the top. It looked like it was dressing the part to go to a Pink concert. Raw.
Sweet mother of Jesus, it’s not that hard, is it?
I called over the waiter and asked whether they were serious in sending this out of the kitchen.
“Shit, that’s not good enough,” he said, “I’ll take it back to the kitchen. Can I bring you another one?”
Ah, no, but thanks anyway. I was done and dusted in terms of food for the night. And done and dusted in terms of ever again giving my hard-earned to Basilico.
Oh, there was no charge for the pink bits.
Then a few nights ago I went with some friends to a restaurant in South Melbourne. It was to be a wind-down after working 50-odd hours for the week.
Great venue, great atmosphere, great wines.
We also had some great things to eat … an antipasto plate to die for, snapper, flathead, fantastic cockles and seafood fettuccine. Yeah, the fettuccine.
The pasta was cooked to within an inch of its life. The fish bits in it were overcooked (I was assured the prawns were great), my serve included a mussel that didn’t open (alarm bells for me) and the scallops were at tough as footy boot stops. (For those of you unfamiliar with the term “stops”, they were little leather things that were nailed onto the soles of the boots. These days, they are studs moulded to the boots.) But you get the picture.
Again, it’s not that hard. If you’re paying good money, it’s not unreasonable to expect good food. No excuses. Who cares if the chef’s dog has just gone into labour or that he or she got a puncture while riding their bike a couple of days before?
A YARRA VALLEY WINNER
If you fancy a value-for-money drink … and don’t we all? … you could do a lot worse than find your way to Vintage Cellars and have a crack at its 2008 Yarra Valley cleanskin chardonnay.
At about 11 bucks a throw, it’s a cracker. There’ll be a case at my house today to ensure that there is always a quaffer on hand.
Talking of cases, I got a note (OK, it was an email, but I’m still a note kind of bloke) from my mate, Ben Thomas, the most excellent wine writer at The Weekly Review.
Ben wrote: “Here's a good option to stock up on some booze for Christmas. You can drink the bonus Moet on NYE.
“Haven't tried the wine but Hardy's rarely puts a foot wrong with the Oomoo range.”
The website says: Oomoo Sparkling Shiraz and Moet SPECIAL SALE. Buy a dozen Oomoo 2004 Sparkling Shiraz for the SPECIAL PRICE of $9 A BOTTLE AND GET A 750mL BOTTLE OF MOET CHANDON FREE!!
A slack delivery man notwithstanding, there should be a case wending its way to me now.
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.