66 shades of grey

66 shades of grey
66 shades of grey ... this pic of me was shot by Kim, of Kim Thomsen's Photography at Daly Waters in the Northern Territory. Kim just wandered over and asked whether it was OK to get some character shots.


The cross is in front of the church in Karumba and it seems TV antennas have a greater reach for the sky.


I went fishing out of Nhulunbuy on the Gulf of Carpentaria. We anchored in a bay about 10 hours from Nhulunbuy and went ashore. This poor fella had been snared in the locals' overnight net and then had a run-in with the resident 14-foot saltwater croc - named Nike by the local indigenous fellas - and came off second best.

the rock

the rock

oodnadatta track

oodnadatta track
What a tough place to live ... this is out on the Oodnadatta Track


My photo
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.

Monday, October 21, 2013

When fast-food becomes farce food

There are misnomers and there are misnomers.
This blog is a bit of a misnomer. Blogs, by nature, have regular contributions, so I’m led to believe. To those who read this regularly and dare I say it, expect something fresh to read occasionally, I apologise. I plead the time-poor argument. OK, that’s bullshit. I get easily distracted. I keep meaning to put pen to paper, alas, distractions prevail.
Anyway, as George Costanza would say, “Baby, I’m off my arse, I’m back for another crack”. OK, maybe not the arse bit, but you get the picture.
Now back to the misnomer bit.
I’ve been getting lots of things done to prepare my LandCruiser for the big trip, most recently getting an alarm system installed, which necessitated a trip again to the wilds of Moorabbin/East Bentleigh.
Given that I had to fill in three hours while the work was being done, and it was lunchtime, I made a beeline to the only food outlet (and, on my experience there, I use the term loosely) within walking distance, Hungry Jack’s, which is something that rarely happens.
Ah, Jack, what a contradiction you are, a misnomer, if you will.
There wasn’t a big crowd in … think about enough people to fill four, maybe five, phone boxes (do we still have them?)
I fitted in well, being one of a couple of blue singlet-wearing patrons, although we were outnumbered by tracksuit pants and Ugg boots. Oh, and there was a bloke with no shirt. I said g’day to a bloke who works at the place doing the work on my car and he dropped the first hint. “Get set for a wait,” he said.
I eyed the menu above the counter and settled for a premium (no, seriously, it says premium) tender crisp chicken burger/bacon/cheese meal and a large serve of onion rings … that is, I thought, a burger, fries, a drink and said rings. I ordered, clearly and concisely and paid. Then I waited. And waited. And waited. Then I waited some more. I said g’day to another bloke from the car shop. He, too, dropped a hint. “Get set for a wait.”
By the way, the company’s website describes said meal as: “The unbeatable combination of bacon, cheese and golden crispy chicken. Made with 100% chicken breast, premium eye bacon, ripe hand-cut tomato, fresh lettuce and creamy mayo on a tasty corn-dusted bun.” This is what it looks like on the web.

My wait had become 15 minutes during which time four disgruntled patrons returned things that weren’t what they had ordered. That’s right, about one every four minutes returned and replaced (eventually).
Finally, at the 20-minute mark, my order was mentioned by a rather harassed-looking young fella. I made my way to the counter and was greeted by a burger wrapped in paper with some handwritten ID (I assumed the CB indicated crispy bacon or perhaps it was code for crap burger. Yeah, that’d be it). It was a wrapper for another type of burger … obviously the stock of wrappers had gone the way of so many food orders. Alongside the burger was a bag of onion rings. That was it except for the empty drink cup. I should have burred up, and I really felt like I should, but I was at that stage where I just wanted the experience to end. I picked up the tray and then said, in a very polite voice, to a girl behind the counter: “Excuse me, but it’s called fast-food for a reason. A 20-minute wait is just unacceptable.” She said nothing and offered only what could best be described as a very hurt expression.
Another misnomer. I unwrapped the wrong-wrapper burger and looked for the bacon. No appearance, your worship. Wait, there it is. Any similarity between the premium chicken burger you’ll find on the company’s website and this one is purely accidental. This is what I was served.
As I was eating this thing (yeah, I was hungry), the bloke for the car shop came over, armed with his takeaway order. “I cracked the 30-minute wait,” he said.
I can only assume that the business was named Hungry Jack’s because, after you’ve place an order, you’re really, really hungry by the time you get it. And then it’s wrong, you return it and wait again, by which time you’re really, really, really hungry.  Fast-food … now that’s a real misnomer at this Hungry Jack’s.
I intended to forward this account to Hungry Jack’s head office and keep tabs on how long it took to get a reply. The company website rejected my attempt to send it because of, apparently, bad language …. I assume the word “crap” offended Jack’s spam filter. Sorry, Jack, but I refused to change it because it seemed an apt descriptor.   


I was watching telly the other night and as something was about to start, the ratings warning flashed onto the screen. “This program may contain bad language and sexual references.”
What does “may contain” mean?
Either it does or it doesn’t have offensive bits. It may also contain nuclear waste, crispy bacon, too much salt or corked wine, too, but they never tell you that. Get it right, will ya.


I was at the local market (there’s a surprise) the other day to stock up on some food bits and I made a beeline for the deli to grab, among other things, a slab of flat pancetta that was to be a mainstay of a pasta-dominated week.
The woman behind the counter, to whom I chat regularly, said after she’d got my goodies together: “Have you tried this new smoked speck? It’s Australian. I’ll cut you some.” I hadn’t tried it and she proceeded to whip off six good slices for which there was no charge.
I shared it over a glass of wine on my front verandah with my friend, Julia, the foodie. “It’s very good,” she said. God I love the South Melbourne Market.
Julia is a great friend, who said to me “I know you’re really going [the big trip] but you can always use my house as your Melbourne base whenever you come back. There’s plenty of room in my garage, too, if you need to store anything.” She’s a very good friend.
In a couple of weeks, we’re off to dinner for a spring carnival adventure under a big top on the St Kilda foreshore. The food is by Greg Malouf, which will be spectacular. Oh, and there’s also something called a Turkish Delight cocktail, doubtless some excellent wine and camel racing on the beach. Bring it on.
And speaking of wine/s, there has been a shitload pass my lips since I last deigned to write something here.
To go with the first pasta of the week, I chose the Deakin Estate viognier, a full-bodied beast that sits well with me. I bought a mixed case of six viognier with six Heathcote shiraz from the Wine Box Warehouse to be my quaffers. A good decision, that.
The pasta was a cracker. After dry-frying some pine nuts, I cut the pancetta into lardons and pan-fried it until it was crisp. There was plenty of tasty fat as a result, which, with some extra virgin olive oil, finely chopped garlic and a splash of pasta water, would be the sauce. Then I shredded some silverbeet and tossed it in with the spaghetti for the last 60 seconds of the cooking process. I combined it all and the added a huge dollop of mascarpone and some cracked pepper. I ate and drank well.
It’s hard to keep tabs on just what has passed my lips of late.
My local Vintage Cellars has had a special for a while … two bottles of Paringa Estate pinot for 50 bucks, a great price given that its somewhere between $33-$38 a bottle. I’ve bought two lots. There may be more. OK, there will be more.
Also on the wine list of late at Chateau Mick:
·    ·   2010 Darling Park Chardonnay
·   2010 Chateau Tahbilk shiraz
·   2012 Sanguine Estate Progeny Shiraz
·   2011 Willow Creek Pinot (I prefer the 2010, which is an absolute cracker)
·   2009 M Chapoutier Domaine Touron Shiraz or Syrah
·   2011 Reserve Mont-Redon Cotes du Rhone
·   2011 Cosme Palacio Rioja
·   2011 Les Vignes De Bila-Haut
·   2012 Ingoldby Shiraz
·   A super beer called Hopi-Nator from Holgate
·   2011 Jean Reverdy La Reine Blanche Sancerre (amazing)
·   2010 Baileys of Glenrowan Petite Sirah
·   Caudillo Tempranillo (can’t remember the vintage
·   2009 Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz
·   2012 D’Angelo Lady Chardonnay
·   A Spanish white called Inedito Blanco
·   2012 Bourgogne Aligole
·   Vignoble Gibault Sauvignon
·   Dopmaine Charles Audoin  Bourgogne
·   Inedito Rioja
·   2011 Bourgogne Les Taupes Maison Dieu
·   I reckon there are some more that slipped through the cracks, but them’s the breaks … although the favourite pre-dinner pint of Campari and soda did have pride of place several times on the kitchen bench during cooking.
Like I said earlier, distractions are the main reason I don’t write here as often as I should. Pleasant distractions though.
And speaking of drinks, my son, Liam, said to me recently: “What about a couple of beers before dinner at the Albert Park Hotel. It’s a nice night and we can sit outside.”
We grabbed a table out the front of the pub (yeah, we both smoke) and he went inside and ordered two schooners of Carlton Draught. He came back $15 lighter in the pocket.
Yes. It was a nice night and we had two each, but 15 bucks?
I got home and told the pub on Twitter to shove it fair up its clacker. Two Carlton Draughts for $15. Jesus wept … and yes, he’s still crying over it.


Roll on the weekend when I take the LandCruiser to have a canopy fitted, with supports for a roof rack, which I have ordered for a very good price, along with a high-lift jack and shovel kit. It’s a 4WD warehouse in Campbellfield and the prices there are fabulously cheap.
While I was in the area, I checked out Terry, the bloke who built my camper-trailer. I hadn’t seen him for three years. It was great to catch up and suss out where he’s going with his business, which, from what he said, it very well.
I mentioned that I have a small tear in the canvas and he kindly gave me a large piece to patch it. He’s a good man is Terry.


I also took time out to go to a wine launch held in an art gallery near the office. It was a company called Naked Wines … and there were about a dozen and a half wines on taste.
After being stood up by my friend, Emily (she had work commitments), I wandered along and took in the tastes. I reckon I got a bit worried when I tasted what was supposed to be The Diamond Shiraz from Jen Pfeiffer in Rutherglen. “Sorry,” she said, “but we got the label wrong. It’s merlot.”

Out of all of them, I didn’t really find a wine that I would buy by choice. The finger-food was good though, especially the Peking Duck and the beef sliders.

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