The car is in probably better shape than its owner (a week of shitty flu will do that) as the countdown to the big trip looms ever closer.
My LandCruiser is looking like an absolute beast right now … new Sunraysia rims with all-terrain BF Goodrich feet, a new canvas canopy (under which I can sleep should the need arise), a new heavy-duty roof rack (on which I can sleep should the need arise) with a high-lift jack and shovel bolted to the side, an alarm system (when it goes off I could not sleep), a new multimedia system that is a GPS, a music system (I have 25,000 songs on my iPod), a hands-free phone system, a net surfer, email system, two USB ports … OK, it does everything but make a cup of tea.
I’ve also added to the collection of must-haves: MaxTracks for getting out of boggy situations, a hand-cranked washing machine (ya gotta have clean undies), a CryoVac machine to keep food fresh for longer, a hot-water system and shower tent (no point being dirty if you’re putting on clean undies), the list goes on. And talking of lists, I’m in the throes of making one for what to pack … two columns per A4 page and I’ve filled three pages. Right down to toenail clippers (yeah, I’ve got a good knife, but you know, a little luxury goes a long way).
There’s (at this stage) just a couple more purchases to make … a recovery kit and an extra spare wheel. And I have plans to get a gun licence. No ulterior motive there … just something to be a safeguard should a big lizard (read saltwater croc) get frisky and too close for comfort. And, I guess, there’s always the possibility of hitting wildlife with the car (let’s hope not) and if it’s not dead, it would have to be put out of its misery. Other than that, should I break down in the middle of nowhere for an extended period and food is running short, then I’d take the gun shopping for some tucker.
The biggest and best news is that my eldest son, Liam, is hitting the road with me. Given that he’s a builder, he’ll no doubt get plenty of work along the way. He’s working his arse off at the moment to get a stash of cash behind him so we can indulge in the good life on the road, and indulge we will. I’ve been working my way through the wine in the cupboard and have plans to take just a couple of bottles with us, one being a 1990 Grange Hermitage (which is listed at about 800 bucks a bottle in the cheapie wine shops), which will be about as indulgent as we can get. You get the picture … middle of nowhere, dinner cooked over a fire, nice glasses and a bottle of Grange. Bring it on.
I’ve just bought a domain name … mickeypedia.com.au … which will be the new home of this blog once I get the site designed and up and running. I’ve spoken to good mate Luke Buckmaster, Crikey’s resident film critic and web know it all (I mean that it a good way), and he’s agreed to do the work to get me up and running.
OUT AND ABOUT
I recently headed out to dinner with my friend Julia and some of her friends. Julia’s tall … she’s on the plus side of six feet tall and could hunt ducks with a garden rake … and a great foodie, a great cook for that matter. We nabbed tickets for a Greg Malouf dinner at the West Beach Bathers Pavilion on the bay … and not too far from home. It was labelled as a Middle Easter banquet and the menu included, on arrival:
Little cheesy pies with black Turkish chillies
Crunch oysters with green harissa
Sultan’s eggplant delight with brik shards (brik is a Tunisian dish consisting of thin warka pastry)
They were all washed down with a Turkish delight cocktail, a bit too sweet for me, so I made do with the bottle of Bell Amie pinot, one of quite a few that we cracked on the night.
Oh, and there was some camel racing on the beach. I had a good chat to my jockey, a girl who was aboard a camel for the first time. I told her that her mount was my preference. “What’s in it for me,” she asked. I told her that if she won, I’d share a bottle of bubbles with her. “You’re on,” she said. Close, but no cigar. She came third (OK, there were just three camels racing).
Once the camels were done, we settled into our table of 11 and I was the only bloke … some would say a weed in a garden of roses. Then came the mains:
Quail wrapped in vine leaves with Lebanese-style white cabbage salad
King prawns in parmesan, egg and coriander batter
Burrata (which is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella while the inside contains mozzarella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture) with dukkah, baby beets and ox heart tomatoes
Roast, milk-fed lamb with oregano and lemon
Organic chickpea-pumpkin tagine with almond couscous
Whole salmon “Tarator style” walnuts, coriander and yoghurt tahini
Salad-e Shirazi with edible flowers
And then there were desserts.
Lemon curb baklava, orange Turkish delight and candied pinenuts
Watermelon, strawberries, rose syrup and pistachio halvah
Yeah, it was quite a feed although the absolute standout was the candied pinenuts followed closely by the company and the many bottles of pinot .
I got three offers of a place to crash, all near the beach on Mornington Peninsula, when I return to Melbourne. Good thing, that.
It was bloody freezing when we left the beach and Julia and I did the only sensible thing. We went back to my place and cracked a bottle of Moet. Yeah it was a good way to end the night.
I reckon, without question, the best thing to pass my lips recently was a bottle of Poet’s Corner Henry Lawson 1997 cab-sav from the wilds of Mudgee, closely followed by a 2010 Petaluma riesling, which had more body than Elle. Then there was a 2012 Sancerre Roc de l’Abbaye and a 2006 Blackets pinot from the Adelaide Hills.
LUNCH TAKES CENTRE STAGE
At the office, we’ve got a bit of a Tuesday tradition up and running.
We all, after consultation, bring home-cooked meals (sometimes we cook in the office) and have a big spread.
We had a curry day … lamb curry (my recipe is below), fish curry, veg curry, chicken curry by two, salads, naan, pappadams and sundry chutneys, pickles etc … the an Italian day, with Bianca’s fantastic meatballs, salads and Momma Lasagne’s (OK, it’s Anna) homemade cannelloni, Jane’s super home-baked haloumi bread and then a huge tray of tiramisu. We’ve also had an English lunch … (another) Jane’s shepherd’s pie, roast potatoes, veg of all sorts and a huge wine trifle with ice-cream. Yeah, Tuesday at the office is not doing anything good for anyone’s waistline.
BREKKIE AT BEN’S
Herbie Mills in Middle Park has become my new breakfast haunt … and with good reason. My friend Ben, the opera singer, is part-owner and a great host. My favourite is poached eggs, on multigrain toast, smoked salmon with a quenelle of horseradish cream and a tomato, cress and quinoa salad, washed down with English Breakfast tea (made with real leaves, not a teabag). I had breakfast there recently with a friend (she’s in the food industry) and she said it was one of the best brekkies she’d had.
High praise indeed.
Herbie also has live music on Sunday arvo, with a Mauritian-inspired menu and a decent wine list. There are also plans afoot to host an afternoon of opera. I’ll be there.And speaking of high praise, someone said to me recently before we went out to breakfast: “You know what, Michael, for a man of your (ahem) advanced years, you have a beautiful bottom.” She was stroking it at the time. Who doesn’t enjoy a compliment every now and then? I know I do.