I’ve got this thing going with one of the homeless blokes I see around my neighbourhood. I collect all my change and when the bag has about 10 bucks or so in it, I look out for him and give him the dough.
He kinda gets frowned upon by the locals because, no doubt, they are put off by his many facial tattoos, but he’s a really good bloke.
Recently I gave him a bag of coins: his face lit up and he said: “Thanks, Roy.”
I said “I’m Michael”, to which he responded, “Nah, Roy’s easier.”
A couple of days later, he was walking along the other side of the street and when he saw me, he shouted: “G’day Ray.” Roy, Ray? What’s a name between mates anyway?
Now I’m not desperate for a drink (although if you read on, you may have a different opinion), but this thing is for those people who are … desperate, that is.
The website says: The Winerack is every girl’s best friend. Turn an A cup into double Ds and sport you favourite beverage for yourself and your friends. Go to http://www.thebeerbelly.com/The_Winerack_Small_p/200-007.htm and see what the hell it’s all about. Oh, there’s also a beer belly for blokes.
A FINE PLACE FOR A FEED
A few blokes in our office recently farewelled a mate who is now enjoying the delights of Paris (he’s probably in England by now) … lucky bastard, although I’m not sure that he’ll be all that enamoured of the shopping that his wife will no doubt foist upon him. I shouldn’t have said that because there was no luck involved; he worked bloody hard for it. Good luck to him.
For the farewell lunch, we went just around the corner from the office to suss out Bellota, a new establishment next door to the Prince Wine Store.
We were in and out within an hour (yeah, we had lots of work to do), but it was an eye-opener. The food was terrific and the service was even better.
Minute steaks for four, veal for one and a shared bottle of tempranillo got us there, although the trip along the way included water bottles constantly being topped up, and the same with the bread basket … no need to ask, it just happened, as it should. The steaks were great and the veal (my mate asked for the recipe) was super. It was on the must-revisit list for me.
And revisit I did a week or so later when I had planned a catch-up dinner with my friend, Jane (she of @winematters on Twitter), a wine writer with The Age, wine judge and all-round good person.
Jane was meeting a supplier there and planned to be through by about six, which was about the time I finished work. Done.
I arrived at 6.04 and she was already ensconced with the staff, who had just finished their shifts, all of them enjoying the fruit of the vine.
I started to chat with the staff and one of the waiting staff said: “Welcome back. You were here last week with four friends … four steaks and a veal.” It was a serious display of knowing the business, as was the wine suggestion from the waitress: “Try the 2010 Charvin Cotes du Rhone Le Poute. It’s a very good drink.” Bingo. I did more than once.
We each opted for a simple dish … pork schnitzel, with a small salad and a clump of browned potato cubes … and simple turned into simply fabulous. The meat was as near to perfect as it could be; in fact everything on the plate was great. You’ve gotta love a place that does the simple things really well.
One of the best things about the place is that it’s part of the Prince Wine Store (it’s next door) and you can go in there, select the wine you want, and take it back into the restaurant. That means that the wine list is 3000 strong.
The owner (sorry, I forget the name) explained that there are also plans to do takeaways from the fantastic selection of charcuterie in display. Bar snacks are $5-$12; tasting plates $8-$28; mains $10-$26 and; desserts $10. It’s open Tuesday to Saturday from 11am-late
It’s at 181 Bank Street, South Melbourne. Go to it, it’s fantastic.
Some things are best left alone and done at home (OK, a lot of things are best at home).
I caught a tram to work the other morning and took up my usual spot standing just behind the driver’s cabin. (It’s just a five-stop trip, so there’s no point in sitting.)
A woman got aboard at the next stop and sat opposite me. Quickly, she retrieved a small mirror and some tweezers from her bag, and she started to pluck the hairs on her chin, grimacing each time she extracted one. She made me grimace too.
Like I said, some things are not meant to be done on a tram.
I had a crack at dinner with someone a couple of weeks ago and, although it’s winter, took a summery approach to the food.
I reckon there aren’t too many better ways to start a meal than with some freshly shucked South Australian oysters … natural, of course, with just a lemon wedge or two.
They were washed down with a bottle of Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve Brut NV, described by The Age Good Wine Guide as the best non-vintage Champagne.
“More than 15 years of reserve wines are kept on hand for blending. There’s a lot to like about this wine even before you open the bottle: family estate, grand cru vineyards and a DIAM cork. And there’s a lot more after you do! The bouquet is enticing with its linden blossom, lime zest and lemon flesh aromas. A pure, fresh and vinous palate is like biting into a chardonnay grape from an ultra-cool vineyard (in every sense). This is about as primary as NV champagne comes; it’s all about the finesse, fruit and minerality of Le Mesnil (two-thirds of the blend), without an iota of interruption from any form of winery-infused character or dosage. An enticingly refreshing aperitif style, and a bargain!” (94) TYSON STELZER, The Champagne Guide 2011
Nuff said. There was still a drop or two left for the second course: ceviche, made with some terrifically fresh snapper fillets (There’s a recipe that I follow somewhere on the blog).
Then, some fat tiger prawns, served in a brioche bun with some kewpie mayonnaise and some homemade, finely sliced pickled shallots (I used verjuice and some raw sugar … kinda made it up as I went along) and some organic rocket. Some of my favourite Greywacke pinot gris was a great friend to the prawns, as was the Margan (Hunter Valley) 2010 Botrytis Semillon with the triple French brie and creamy French blue.
If that was a great feed in winter, then roll on summer cos I’ll be doing it again.
FIRST PASTA POST
My son, Liam eats about four meals a day, which is why I spent all of yesterday afternoon cooking: to wit, about six litres of mainly vegetable soup (there’s some slow-cooked beef steak in there as well), and about 20 serves of bolognaise sauce (yeah, there’s plenty of veg in it, too) … to stock the freezer, although given his capacity to eat, it won’t last much beyond a week.
Last week, I offered to cook dinner with a difference … i.e. he’d not tried this recipe before. I made what I reckon is one of the world’s simplest dishes; spaghetti with butter, lots of cracked black pepper (about a level tablespoon), broad-leaf parsley and some three-year-old Parmigiano Reggiano. While the pasta is boiling, microwave a shiteload of butter with the pepper, then add the parsley and grated cheese and stir it through. Dinner in just seven minutes. That’s as tough as it gets. What it did get was the thumbs up from my resident eating machine.
I don’t reckon I need too much incentive to leave the city for good, which is what I’m gonna do anyway, sooner rather than later.
But last week, another reason emerged to reinforce it.
My son’s car, which was parked at the front gate, was broken into … the bastard/bastards literally ripped the dash apart to get the sound system out. They also nicked the GPS, a $300 jacket, a backpack, which was hidden under the seat (it was his emergency pack, with a first-aid kit, among other things, in it. Liam reported it to the local cops, but I said to him: “There’s bugger all they can do. I don’t reckon they have the time to follow-up on things such as this.”
But follow up they did. The next night, the forensic squad from the next suburb dropped by to dust for prints and whatever else they do.
They were great blokes, who stayed and chatted for about half an hour. Liam let it all hang out when he told them that he probably wouldn’t be responsible for his actions if he’d caught them in the act. The police were very understanding
Speaking of cars, both of us are getting new ones. I’ve decided to sell the LandCruiser and get a tricked-up HiLux twin cab ute. They’re tough (you couldn’t kill it with an axe) and there’s a bit of luxury about the i.e. infinitely more comfortable than the Cruiser … and there’s room for passengers.
It’ll be just the trick for the long haul.
I spoke last night to my mate, Perrie, who is currently working at a campground somewhere between Catherine and Kununurra. I’ve met him all over the country and stay in regular touch. He did little to diminish my desire to get out there again … only this time it’ll be in a brand new car. Roll on the departure.
DAYS (AND NIGHTS) OF WINE; HOLD THE ROSES
I’ve stopped more than the odd drop going stale of late. It’s a bloody long list of tipples that I've tried lately. Oh, and this is what the dining room table looked like at nine this morning as I was researching:
2011 Stanton & Killeen Durif
2011 Cofield Provincial Parcel Durif
2007 Anderson Durif
2010 Kendall-Jackson Zinfandel
2010 Bailey’s of Glenrowan Petite Sirah
2010 Mount Avoca Chardonnay
2011 Yalumba Merlot
2010 Estella Cab-Sav
2011 Mandala Pinot Gris
2012 Deakin Estate Merlot
2012 Brown Brothers Tempranillo
2009 Deen De Bortoli Petit Verdot
2010 Seppelt Sparkling Shiraz
2010 Saint-Esprit Cotes-Du-Rhone
2011 Maycas del Limari Resereve Pinot Noir
2010 Terre a Terre Cab-Sav
2012 Jaraman Shiraz
2010 Estella Shiraz
2010 Campbells Durif
2011 Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Merlot
2009 Lake Breeze Langhorne Creek Cab-Sav
Dandelion Vineyards Shiraz
2010 Shingleback The Gate Shiraz
2008 Gemtree Obsidian Shiraz
2012 St Leonards Durif
2008 Scion Durif
I learnt a lesson with one of the above wines (not gonna say which one). I had written ages ago about poncy wine writers referring to “the smell of fresh cowpat” and I finally found it. It was not a good thing … it was the sole smell and taste of the wine. It was Brettanomyces or "Brett aromas" and, frankly, it tasted and smelt like shit.
You can throw in some fabulous beer and the absolute standouts include Mountain Goat Cross Breed limited edition, Boris Russian Imperial Stout from the Feral Brewing Company and Ass Kicker Smoked Porter Ale. The Ass Kicker, from San Jose, is aged for 90 days in bourbon barrels, and is a mouthful of smoky chocolate and caramel. It’s a kick-arse 8.9 per cent and even though it’s about 20 bucks for a long-neck, it’s worth the price of admission.