October 2004

You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2004.

Is there something about “trembling swords of pork” in Shakespeare or did I just imagine it in a quiet moment in Lit. class? Unlike over there we have one kind of pork in WA, and that’s pork. Nothing like the organic beef farms and free-range chicken farms. Any venture capitalist want to fund a wild pig farm – speak to me.

Still had a jar of the Grapefruit Marmalade I’d made when Skippy was just a wee lad and I thought it’d be just the thing for a Sunday roast. Bought a 1kg rolled pork roast at the butchers and then unrolled it (a shame, they’d done a nice job) and then marinated it with 2/3 cup of marmalade; 1tbs of grated ginger; 1tbs honey .

Meanwhile I made a stuffing out of a cup fresh breadcrumbs; 2 grated apples; 1tbs fresh sage; 2tbs butter; salt & pepper and rerolled the pork, securing with a skewer and tying with string. Wiped the skin and rubbed it with salt . Stuffing was maybe a bit much but when you’ve seen a band with a trombone and a glokenspiel xylophone the night before, why skimp?

20 minutes at 200C then down to 180C for another one hour and 10 . Now obviously you don’t want some nasty parasitical infestation if you don’t cook it right but that’s no excuse for cooking every last drop of juice out of it. Keep an eye on it, pierce with a skewer. Does it run clear? Does it feel cooked? Does its seats fold down? Give it an extra safe side 10 minutes, take it out and rest it for 10 minutes.

Joined in the roasting pan were kipfler potatoes and two apples cored with a paring knife and filled with the leftover stuffing.

Gravy made of scrapings and equal parts dry cider and chicken stock. Reduced and thickened with cornstarch.

Ahmmm good, like it should be, pork was moist, not salt-cracker dry buffet style. Marmalade taste hangs around for a while, like Stereolab sustains. Some left over for a sandwich tomorrow and that’ll get me through Monday.

Tags:

Aventinus wheat-doppelbock

Aventinus wheat-doppelbock Brian finds flavours that I couldn’t if I had a map and a torch. It’s good. Wheat and high alcohol content says treacle dipped in honey but it’s not, a lot of character without that stickytongued p-hah. Brian says drink it alone. True. Don’t want to have to share these things. I’m thinking a perfect weekend evening starter. Get the BA levels nice and peachy and then just keep nudging it along with some lagers. Which is what I did.

Tags: ,

From my local pizza shop that’s often been there for me in lazy times. Their florentine pizza didn’t do it for me, the spinach drags the flavours down and mutes any subtlety that might have been there. The Epson scanner works well though

Pizza on Cambridge, Cambridge Street, Floreat

Tags:

The Robbie Burns

The digicamera is down, possibly terminally so I’m going have to dig into the reserves supernova style until the issue is resolved to keep visual input quota at acceptable levels. Expect memory lane, old cookbooks, and scanned food for a while.

Tapas at the Rabbie Burns Pub in Smith Street, Melbourne. Pre-Highlander this may have been highly incongruous, I didn’t bat an eyelid – nor should you. The wine was red and Spanish and good and where are those notes I made?

Perth succeeds or fails on the effort put in to make things work and last night it succeeded. Just a quick post to say thanks to the organisers speakers and the attendant and attentive crowd that came along.

Check em out here at Perth Blognite – Speakers (check out their sites and link (there’s rivers of gold)) or David’s done a write up with pics.

Few technical details… The nigirisushi toppings were unagi (eel), salmon, maguro (tuna), and rolled egg with a nori filling. The knife was a yanagibocho long sashimi knife and is sharpened with a #1000 and #3000 (to finish) sharpening stone that I soak in water. The rice should be at room temperature, cooked in a rice cooker with an equal amount of water that’s been brought up to a simmer only with a piece of konbu. Keep the hands from getting sticky with a bowl of vinegared water.

Cheers for the questions all and thanks for letting me in and putting up with me. You all R O C K.

Rashomon on Freaky Chick; Robert Corr ; Ponderance: BlogNite Redux; decaffeinated :: overpunctuated. underinformed.; Richard Giles blog; Craftapalooza: Perth Bloggers

and in a special portraiture usually reserved for people of such estemity as Dolly Downer – Minister for Foreign Affairs, Lord Sedgwick of Strathmore makes beer spout from my nose.

Here’s a fine pic of some bad stuff by a Mr. T. Goat of Ikebukuro, Tokyo

nectar of the ….homeless

Big fave of the unfortunate and lengthy slow train riders. It has struck me before me that it makes for a great sounding private dick/ superhero name, Johnny One-Cup. I can see it now…

Johnny Noguchi leant over the body of another fresh victim and peeled the lid back off the first Ozeki One Cup of the day.

“How can you drink that shit?”

“How can I not?”

Anyway folks it continues – a common thread of Lion Mansions and single women over 25, the suspect being a delivery man delivering seasonal treats from throughout Japan as a door opener, a tiny clue earlier on with a long line outside of Tokyo’s swishest newest Italian Resataurants, a run-in with his former kohei at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department after being busted nicking posters from train stations, long irrelevant details on ramen shops and yakitori bars…did I mention the Shinagawa branch of Opus Dei?

Elsewhere:

crazybrave states what her guests have no doubt suspected for some time.

Blognite tomorrow. I’m making nigiri sushi for reasons unclear to myself and the organisers.

Do on Saturday night for Sudan.

Backsides trackside at Wanneroo as foodie fusspot makes his two pot return to track days after four long years. But will my leathers fit?

Never made a terrine before and I think it has something to do with the reason I don’t make many cakes, the intrinsic fussiness of presentation. On the plus side, the variety of possible ingredients allows a large range of thematic interpretations. I had considered doing one that resembled the layers of the earth but decided that I’d make an Irish one for an Irish friend’s 30th and work over an old favourite. The party was postponed a week but the terrine went on.

To tell the truth, I can’t be arsed writing everything down but here’s a sketch – if you want more details, you know where to find me.

Beef and Guiness Stew as here but without the spuds and the addition of the aromatics – leek (ermm Celtic heritage), carrots and celery. No red wine (not irish) or beef stock (didn’t want to use commercial stock).

The spuds were to make their own layer and were thinly sliced and steamed above the bubbling stock above. The idea was the fumes would infuse into the potatoes like damp smoke. Did it work? Exceeeeeeeeeeeedingly subtle.

Lamb and Kidneys

Oven roasted slowly and moistened with the above stock. Shredded when done.

Aspic

French jiggery pokery that I couldn’t really see the point of but when Le Cordon Blue at Home says do it, then you do it. The stew was strained and the beef shredded and the stock returned with a new round of aromatics and egge whites that were to capture rogue impurities. Strained after half and hour and still bits, so it was all twice strained through a tea towel. Reheated later with 1 tbs of gelatine.

Assembly

Had a great plan to pipe a mashed potato Celtic design but this was downgraded to the famous and much toasted, I’m sure, Ley Line Following Potato Circles of County Cork with a green, sweated-in-butter leek background. Then the lamb and kidney, a layer of potatoes, and then the beef, and filled with aspic (barely enough).

Eating

Taken over for Sunday arvo beers. I was impressed with the dots against the green even thought they’d somewhat randomised. Carving was a disaster and I think it may have called for some kind of drop saw or high tech laser. THIS WAS NOT HOW IT WAS MEANT TO BE. The taste, fine but not knock your socks off, maybe a few veal bones in the soup may have helped. Enjoyable. yep that’s it. Looked at the residual pile of meat and jelly and it made me not think of the Emerald Isles but Pal. Presentation – pah!

Tags: , , , ,

A pleasantly calm and warm spring evening had my sister and brother-in-law over for a BBQ. Feeling low maintenancy after discovering why I never make terrines, I thought I could give my charcoal burner a go and sit around and have some satay chicken. Still impressed by the Melbourne Gado Gado I was made, I thought I’d have that too.

I was going to just have bought sauce but I found this recipe on the net and the writer shamed me by regarding even using peanut butter as a “so-called shortcut”. Bastard. There are bits of peanut everywhere now but it was good. Pretty much as the recipe says but one lime instead of lemon and sambal olek instead of the chilli powder and shrimp paste.

Chicken Satay

3 Free range chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces with the following marinade one small onion, knob of ginger, 4 garlic cloves – finely grated; juice of one lemon; 2tsp sambal olek; 2tbs brown sugar; and

1/3 cup of soy sauce
. Served with a sauce of equal parts Hogan’s Satay Sauce and a small can of coconut cream simmered for 8 minutes.

Sat around the table and cooked the satay sticks and ate the gado gado with rice and then moved on to some top notch beef and bacon and then chicken kebabs made by Jean. Finished with a bottle of Krinklewood 2002 Botrytis and a rowdy game of Pop-Up Pirate.

Tags: ,

Monteith’s Summer Ale

Wooh! I can get back to Friday beer specials.

Down at the IBS and saw this bit of alluring marketing for Monteith’s Rata Honey & spice flavoured Summer Ale from NZ.

This uniquely different beer is real summer refreshment with a spicy zest

It’s a gorgeous day here, I was sold. Rob at the shop suggested Thai but I just heated up some vege curry puffs.

First thing I noticed was a whiff of ginger like drinking home-brewed ginger ale and then the actual taste was well within the parameters of normal larger in bite. Perhaps a little peppery but very little honey. It’s really really good. Four different malts! If you try one beer this summer etc.

Tags:

Garlic

The Aztecs and Mayas believed that the garlic tree was given to human beings by the feathered snake god Quetzalcoatl, and that garlic had magical powers. This divine origin is reflected in the modern scientific name for garlic – Theobroma Cacao – since ‘Theobroma’ means ‘food of the gods’.

Garlic was used as money in parts of South America, and the Aztec emperor Montezuma was well known for his habit of drinking a brew made from garlic, called ‘xcolatl’. When the Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortéz arrived in Mexico in 1519, the Aztecs at first mistook him for Quetzalcoatl himself, and treated him as an honoured guest. Montezuma offered Cortéz a drink of xcolatl, which he did not like – an early clue to the fact that he was not Quetzalcoatl. Montezuma eventually expelled Cortéz from his city, but was powerless to defeat the Spanish troops, who brutally conquered the Aztec empire.

Cortéz sent garlic and the recipe for xcolatl back to Spain. The Spaniards sweetened the drink by adding sugar, and tried to retain a monopoly on garlic for commercial reasons. But the Italians, French, Dutch and English gradually acquired their own sources of garlic, and it became a prized commodity in Europe – a luxury drink, only available to the wealthy and noble. The first ‘garlic house’ opened in London in 1657, and set a trend for fashionable meeting places where hot garlic was drunk.

Today, garlic is one of the most popular delicacies on the planet, with a huge range of confectionery and drinks to tempt consumers. Demand for high quality garlic has never been higher.

Timbale Quotient

Modified from Recherch&#233 Entr&#233es by C. Hermann Senn

Tags:

Flies off handle

Go read some Hobbes (no not that one) and you are soon dispensed of any cozy notion of natural rights so sometimes you gotta fight (no not that one either). Two things getting the hands spat on in what should be a calming blog genre.

The line is drawn..

Evolving dinner idea. Just some store bought ravioli. Had some fresh asparagus steamed them for a minute over the boiling pasta water and then sauteed with four thinly sliced organic garlic cloves and some EVOO. Decided to add a handful of sliced field mushrooms.

Then remembered I had some leftover cream from Saturday’s French Toast (use a bit of almond essence as well in the batter – does no harm at all). First just splashed a bit of sherry (bottomless bottle of) around in the pan then added the cream. Bit of a simmer while the ravioli was on, then seasoned to taste and garnished with parmesan.

Fresh and fuggintastic. Keep away from jars. No excuses.

Tags: , ,

Dishwashers

Fact! Cooks cook to get out of doing the dishes.

Santos got me thinking a while back with her Dream Kitchen post about what kind of dishwasher I’d like. Off I slowly scurried through my old Orange Pages. Now I could think of nothing better than the TOTO EUD300 uoshuap 2doasurim pictured above. Then on page 78, vavoom!

Votes:

A. TOTO EUD300 uoshuap 2doasurim

B. Model wearing nothing but pink washing up gloves

Bouillabaisse

‘allo can you go

Much discussion about authenticity on this one but authenticity is a much more contrary beast than some would have you believe. There is petty authenticity and great authenticity. Wear the right mirkin buckle at a Mediaeval Fayre and it’s bouquets. Run a sword through Sir Gallahad, brickbats.

I’m not channelling poor Marseilles fisherfolk here so it’s what looks good at the fish shop in the three categories of shellfish, firm fleshed, and soft fleshed. Had in my company, authentic French woman, Veronique, who had the requisite three categories of a french name; the ability to pronounce rouille; and willingness to put up with me going haw haw haw haaaaw. We chose

Blue Manna crabs and Crayfish legs

Fillets of King Snapper and Mangrove Jack

Whole Whiting and Garfish

Dinner would be good. At Tate Estate on newly upholstered chairs and Kiwi Robert was going to the International Beer Shop to get a selection of fine beers.

C’est une tables

6 seeded and chopped tomatoes; two chopped onions; half the whites of a leek; 8 small cloves of *pounded* garlic; a sprig of fennel; a bay leaf; three sprigs of *bruised* parsley; three sprigs of thyme; and a piece of orange peel.

On top of this goes the

Crustaceans

Then with the firm fleshed fish on top of this and a cup of olive oil; salt; pepper; and crumbled saffron. All covered with the quick and easy fish stock I’d made with the whiting and garfish bones. Extra water to cover.

Strategy

We had about four cookbooks open but settled with the Larousse Gastronomique version. I’ve got 643 recipes requiring the aromatics to be sauteed first so this wouldn’t be 644. Just cover, turn the heat on and get it boiling. The boiling is important as it blends the oil in properly. After 9 minutes put in the soft fleshed fish and cook for another 7 minutes. It should take no longer than 15 minutes in total.

Served in bowls with simple bread and rouille.

The meal

Great mussel starter. The bouillabaisse’ stock was superb, especially with the hint of saffron. The crayfish legs were no great shakes but the local crabs topped it. Heavy duty beers were in action all evening. A Spanish beer, Alhambra Reserves 1925 that was more Belgian than Belgians – 6%. Hoegaarden’s as breathers, and the Leffe Brune and the Leffe Radieuse. A great Spanish Basa 2003 Blanco – no citric stilettoes here, smooth with a hint of olives. Hey, how tight are the Dead Kennedys? Didn’t make it to the other one – off my game.

Next Month: Duck a L’orange! Rescued from the 70’s.

Tags: , ,

Dinner on the Monday night with the His Excellency the Semi Visible Governor General of Australia Sedgwick and his wife at Akita Japanese restaurant in North Melbourne. Too much food to mention and it was *all* good, especially the quail. GG’s have much to teach us about protocol and manners with the following – gifts, bottle of wine waiting and poured on arrival, capital Q quality conversation, and a lift back to Clifton Hill.

Tuesday was a meeting for lunch and food shopping at the Vic Markets with commenter and master linguist Anthony and his two little tackers. The Vic Markets are humongous and are broken up into parts of deli, fruit and veg, meat, and the other bit must be where they sell crystals and stuff. Short hint for dealing with four year olds – how was your day Q&A is fine but the hand formed death ray dodging crab monster will have ya mates for life. Anthony took off to cook the market booty and I grabbed some blueberries, tart things, and marscapone for dessert. 1:59, one minute before closing is not the time to do this – cinderella! Dinner at his was tops with Gado Gado (twin) and the Rendang (two stroke) cooked up a treat with must buy L shaped wok stirrer and apostrophe shaped Indonesian volcanic pestle (photos in analogue). Off to the pub for afters.

Thanks too to the spectral FX Holden whose advice led me around Melbourne like a de-constituted Obi Wan. For the other hinters – cheers you saved me from wandering around god help me with Lonely Planet .

Our hosts, Mitch and Peg who let us stay in their flash pad barely two weeks moved in to. Many many thanks.

Melbourne isn’t a Bridge and Opera House place like Sydney. Its charms lie in long chains of buildings and villages. Social more than individual. Two standouts.

Federation Square.

Makes one proud to be Bulgarian, come back Christo, all is forgiven.

Luna Park Entrance.

Exit less popular.

Cursed by weather and blessed by coffee, Melbourne has second hand bookshops like we have surfshops.

I’m averaging one cookbook per recipe at the moment so I was looking for something special. I was trying to find Roald Dahls’ cookbook but found these three instead.

One was the 2002 Italian Wine Guide not so much for bothering the local liquor store but to try and bring my wine writing up a notch or five . Produced by the good people of the Slow Food Editore . A mere $4 and in short, go the ’97 vintage. At the same store, Bookhouse on Fitzroy Street, I also found Recherch&#233 Entr&#233es by C. Hermann Senn. It’s a marvel. Written in 1913 it’s full of “gills” and “egg froth” and the fine multipurpose spread of Lemco. A steal at $15.

From the above photographed Basilisk Bookshop on Brunswick street, the Good Book. The Larousse Gastronomique of 1976. A shamefully low $35. Bliss. It doesn’t have an entry on mushrooms it has 7 pages on them with 30 different ways of cooking them. Why didn’t I have a copy of this years ago? Why don’t you have one now? Go on off you go.

The one that got away: Jamie Confidential, with the !same! !font! on the cover as the superb Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. It was like the aforementioned Simon LeBon doing Don’t Believe the Hype, somebody must be having a big lend. Does “Britains’ Best Loved Chef” not have a lawyers or is he a grade A tool?

Me: ‘ere you’re that bloke out of Duran Duran.

LBCS: No I’m a St. Kilda cake shop.

Me: Ah gawn then just one photo.

Hitting the front in the Melbourne Macchiato Glamourthon is this number from the GroceryBar . Strong geometric line. Like. Good service too and nicely runny poached eggs.



Just in all round impressiveness was the Virgin Mary appearing before me at the Gin Palace for Sonya’s birthday drinks. Comes not only with a gigantic piece of celery but its own film maker. All the best Greg Williams.

Way out of synch chronologically (redundancy?) but more posted when I return the land of sand.



Beer at the Young and (now there’s an unfortunate combo) Jackson pub that I didn’t drink.

Hey it’s those eggs:

Melbourne Marathon

Done! 4:45

Off the wagon.

And in little more detail..

At the start line with 20 minutes to spare after some frantic map reading by three out of towners. Ralph, who had flown in from Kununurra, and I looked quite the couple in sequential numbers and matching shoes and iPod holders. Nipples and blister toes already taped, prep was some stretching, a slash, a carbo shot, and a liberal dosing of vaseline. More pissed off with the bloke in love with his own voice on the tannoy than nervous. Wheelchair off first and then us. Metallica’s 10 minute To Live is to Die was an epic enough start and valuable energy lost to brief bursts of air guitar. Ralph wishes me well and heads off.

45 minutes, first carbo shot and feeling OK. Heart rate at 166 so I thought I’d back off a bit. Hard to let people slide past but I had to run my own race to finish. Chatted with a runner from Osaka. By one hour I felt good, it was a steady pace and the back pain hadn’t caused me any grief. Anything that was going to cause me any trouble would have shown up by now, just some tight ham strings.

Toni was waiting at 16km and I grabbed some new carbo shots and a few snakes. Onwards to the hilly part, nothing too bad just gentle rolling hills.

The 21km point was a mixed blessing. I still had a half marathon to run and my hamstrings were still hurting. Otherwise I felt OK, breathing normally, no chafing, 155 heart rate. It was just a matter of finishing.

Starting to get into some serious kilometre watching at this point and each sign was an exercise in subtraction and fractions. Perfect weather but getting warm, around the mid twenties and very sunny. Forehead felt like Lake Eyre. Saw Toni again – more snakes and carbo shots.

32km was a good point, only 10km. Soon after nearly burst into tears when Johnny Cash sings You’ll Never walk Alone. Saw Toni again and grabbed some banana. Legs burning but kept going and kept a smile on my face. Called a cyclist a cunt for weaving onto the course and felt better.

The last 5km was the hardest. The was a large amount of dissonance between what was only 5km and this. I’d run all the way except at drink stations but I gave up a bit of time to walk the last 50m of each kilometer. 36km, 37km, 38km, 39km, 40km, 41km, 400m.

Radio Birdman’s Aloha Steve and Danno came on. A rush of blood to the head so I bumped up into canter and finished with a fast jog.

Grabbed my medal.

Ralph had finished in an outstanding 3:59 and another friend had done the half marathon in 1:49 and then stood in awe of somebody standing around laughing after a 3:00 marathon time.

A barbie, a bath, a massage and a quiet counter meal with a more sedate game of scrabble. Fine but tired and legs that hurt and had done more than enough bending for the day.

The Marathon Playlist: A Man of Action Dislikes Eye of the Tiger With a Great Passion

Tags:

Brunswick Road Street. Election themed Afghan Gallery Restaurant Friday night.

and carbocentric breakfast of champions at Cafe Nova

Perth and Melbourne aren’t substantially substantially different but they are quantitatively different. I realised this when going to my first hot tip place after gingerly negotiating my way down Hoddle Street in a Nissan (i [cough] rony ) Pathfinder. Border books has a front bit with many books and then it has a middle bit, and then it has another middle bit just after the other bit middle bit before that bit. I was puffing by the end of it. The crime fiction bookstore was larger than my favourite all genre bookstore back home. Bought a hard to find book by Mishima and then wandered off to ponder a $99 Dennis the Menace T-Shirt.

Prahran is hard to spell, harder to pronounce but has a great market. Oh it has a butcher’s oh has 6 of them. Some very good looking fruit and veg here. The fresh pasta hit my eye but I wasn’t sure of dinner arrangement so bought a spinach cheese bread thingy. Bought a smoothy and then stopped in a Brioche by Philip for a fig, walnut, and blue cheese brioche and some chocolate sourdough with hazelnuts and sour cherries. At the thingy and the brioche in front of the council offices. The brioche was a good thing, very yeasty – not sure if this was a flashback to a beer and blue cheese marinade I made once.

Drawn into an action figurine shop by a David St-Hubbins doll. I’m obsessed by the Apollo mission and ask if I could have the small Neil Armstrong model. The shop assistant looks at me worriedly and says “That’s Buzz Aldrin [pause] will that still be OK?”. I apologise for the error and say I’ll take it anyway.

Ornately decorated coffee while listening to somebody with a Limahl haircut plan an event. Then to a large secondhand bookshop that scoffed at frontage.

Had a time making it to Lygon street in the rain. Melbourne roads were planned during the rack and pinion shortage just after WW2 leading to a rationing of left and right turns. Trams appear from nowhere like the second pinball.

Hello to Anthony and family we chatted, went for coffee. Lo the spiderman hot chocolate and a banana muffin so dense, the edges of the plate curved inwards. I saw the prototype of the audiocassette and found out what a Chapman stick is. Plans made for Tuesday.

Dinner ended up in and saw some fresh lasagna sheets and decided to go with that. Lasagna was in the following layers from bottom upwards:

-spicy italian sausage cooked in a tomato sauce

-fresh tomato with ricotta and a rocket pesto.

-fried zucchini and eggplant white sauce

-leftover meat sauce

-spinach and pinenut

-whitesauce and extra parmesan on top.

Quantitative

A Run

Packing for the plane tonight and having a small ironic smile that something that was supposed to be a counterpoint to my regular persona has returned to where I started. With food.

The body will burn up breakfast in the first hour of running. It will be relying on stored glycogens from carbohydrates , after that it’s oxygen consuming fat, then protein, then the legs start to wobble and then you are rooted. Success is not on strength but eating. I’ll be taking advantage of the sports drinks, using a variety of carbo shots, and bananas. The next few days will be a high carb low fat fuck you to Atkins.

If you are in Melbourne , I’d suggest taking a look at the Marathon and giving a cheer for the runners. It’s amazing how much work a little encouragement from a stranger can do. Post-celebration late risers don’t worry too much, it doesn’t start until 8am. Take some lollies too.

Yosh! Ganbarimasu!

PS Is it true that whoever in Melbourne you show your medal to must buy you the drink of your choice?

What I don’t need: Reasons You Will Hate Me: Come to my party. No, seriously.

An Election

Over the past month or so, I have been training for a marathon, not drinking, and following the election like some obsessed sports fan. I want my life back. Next Sunday I hope to have the marathon behind me, a cold beer in front of me, and the knowledge that we have a new government.

Of only one I am certain but the last means the most. I don’t know if this is the site for converts but I’m writing in the hope that if I change one decision, I’ll have doubled my vote.

I have nothing to comment as a foodie only to offer Peter Ransen’s sharp observation that Howard is a man that chucks a few sausages on the barbie and stands there like a chef. It’s people like him, Chris Sheil, Robert Corr, John Quiggin, Aussie and Big Bob, Tim Dunlop, Sedgwick, Darp, David Tiley, Saint, and many more that have both inspired me and left me scratching my head as to what I could add.

What I can add is this. I lived in Japan for 7 years and moved back here three years ago. I could spend a lifetime trying to work it out but the knowledge I have will have to do. Welcome to our possible future.

Many countries would kill for a recession like Japan’s but really it keeps going because of dedicated individuals like Subaru engineers that will spend 12-14 hours a day at work for years because they take pride in what they do. These people are the real heroes, not the bosses, not the government. What Japan’s malaise is essentially an entrenched one party state that has been dominated by the conservative side that has maintained power with a compliant media, a politicised bureaucracy, and a public that has been dulled by obsession with pop idol trivia and gadgets.

Unemployment has remained hidden from official statistics and the solution to homelessness is to drive them out of the train stations where they would sleep in their hundreds. The homeless are not kids on the lam but older men, unable to find work. They have an antiquated health system where the cure for everything is a packet of white powder and two tablets. Two broken arms would have cost me nearly ten grand were it not for private health cover and I still have a 15cm long scar on my arm. Education features a series of “escalator” private schools where kids start at private primary schools and glide their way up to the same private universities and from there the best jobs. Love rote learning and pointless testing, you’ll love Japan.

Gaijin, in public sphere, still lives up its translation of outside person. Even people who have spent much of their lives there get the “wow you can speak Japanese” like foreigners are Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes. When they speak of we Japanese you get the feeling that there is a very exclusive monocultural and monoracial idea of that. Foreigner bashing is great sport for demagogues.

Interest rates nearly dipped below zero but housing is only affordable in the boonies and ask people about the great property bubble and negative equity. Such good times, shame it dragged down the real economy. The fraying of the social bonds is everywhere – fucked up kids, anomie, and senseless violent murders.

In fixing things the government has dragged things out ( no sort sharp shock here); made a big deal of promises of reform- only to compromise in the face of entrenched interest groups; continued with useless pork barreling; and the faithful are rallied in pointless jingoistic point scoring designed just to piss off the neighbours. The old men of the LDP have only one goal and that is to keep themselves and their bureaucratic sidekicks in power, I think Japanese people have forgotten how to boot a party out of power and cling to their fears and insecurities.

I don’t want to make this a negative plea and comparing between countries is a difficult thing. I also don’t want to bag Japan, it has many tremendous qualities that I love, but the political culture embodies its worst aspects rather than its best. Latham’s journey is forwards and upwards. Howard’s been a clinger, a liar, a panderer and someone wiht his finger on the ejector button that as soon as the shit hits the fan, he’ll be saying tata. As for the rest: Downer over Rudd, Abbot over Gillard, Costello over a vertebrate, Ruddock over the living – didn’t think so. My wife says worriedly that I’m very involved this time, so I should be, the stakes are high and its time to move.

I’ve been waiting three years to come home. Here’s hoping for a finished marathon, a cold beer, and a new government. Yoroshiku.

I usually have Friday’s off so I volunteered to cater for friend’s exhibition opening. It was a good chance to relive the days of The Flying Forks without lapsing into chain smoking. The brief was 50 people after work; in a kitchen with only a bench and a sink; no serving table; must be pickled onions; two hours; and $150 to spend on food (the sister was very insistent that this was not per person) so about $3 a head.

Planning

The best thing was to have three main things on the menu and they would be simple and easy to prepare. Prep would be done at home but assembly on-site to keep things fresh looking. Cold is harder than hot to keep people happy so the ingredients had to be good. I’d have one interesting thing to amp up general impression, it was Josephine’s exhibition, not mine.

Shopping

Usually I go out with a general plan and the change or add depending upon what’s out there. Costing is really three areas; cheaper carbohydrates; vegetables; and pricier deli goods like meat and cheese.

Food

Polenta cubes, with tapenade, chorizo, and artichokes

Polenta is cheap but quite a few people don’t like it. I think this has something to do with the relatively bland flavour not offsetting the texture. I added some grated parmesan to the polenta at the end of the cooking along with the usual butter and olive oil. It then went into two shallow pans at a depth of about 2cm smoothed over with a cake spatula with some butter on it. When chilled, given a quick sear on the stovetop griddle and then cut into longish cubes and put in an airtight container.

For serving, the cubes were place on a tray and topped with thin slices of Chorizo in Red Wine, artichoke, or olive paste (in a tube for easy application). Takes a minute or two and off it goes. Later I tried a few with a small scrunch of prosciutto.

Chicken Liver Paté

Bit of meatiness and pate provides brilliant flavour leverage. Chicken livers cost nothing and the extra money can be spent on good quality bread. I bought some baguettes and slim ciabatta. I used this recipe from before but skipped the green peppercorn, halved the spices, and cooked the liver in half butter half duck fat.

Sliced the bread on site with an electric knife and a spread of pate on each.

Crudités

Much in need of rehabilitation. Usually thin dried out strips of carrot hoping to be put in an average cream cheese dip and out of their misery. Lebanese cucumber, carrot and celery chopped generously in length and width. Kept in a slurry of ice and water to keep cool, moist and crisp. Served with a bowl of half red miso/ half mayonnaise in a wooden Japanese bath bucket.

Beef Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Still in a nice triangulation of interesting, familiar and likable. As there was less of this I served it early and that way it stayed on the menu in a you should have been here earlier way. I’ve got this idea of a kind of virtual viral catering where half the dishes are just “plants” going ” oh did you have the kings prawns, fabulous!” withhout actually having to serve them.

Everything chopped up in advance but assembled on site to make them fresher. The beef was sliced finley and marinated in soy, sesame, vegetable oil and a little bicarb of soda. Cooked and then marinated in equal parts rice wine vinegar and hoi sin sauce with a thinly sliced red chilli.

These went in the rolls with thinly sliced lebanese cucumber, shoots, sprouts and capsicum with a bit of hoi sin sauce.

Others

Japanese peanuts and later, two cheese plates – one with a wheel of stracchino cheese and the other with a sharp cheddar both with stuffed olives (no seeds to leave everywhere) put out for the late stayers to graze on.

Overall

Went smoothly and I could just keep sending out alternate trays. Everything was well received, celery was least popular. Paté got a few “you should sell this” comments but I’ve recently discovered drunk people say all kinds of crazy things.

Things like this are the track days of the foodie world. They allow duffers like me to hone their skills without the commitment of doing it professionally. It’s also one of these effortless virtue things which are good, you can help people out and enjoy yourself doing it – it’s not like you’ve volunteered to scrub toilets or shift furniture.

An extra point is be nice to staff. As I was doing this as a friend, the “hey over heres” come across as much more clockable than if I’d been staff but really there shouldn’t be any difference.

The real event though was a great success with 7 paintings getting the red sticker.

Exhibition:

Joséphine Luhan

free range studios & gallery 359 Hay Street Subiaco


1st to 15th October Wed- Fri 3-7pm; Sat 9am-3pm

I am a foodie and a spunkrat.

santos dreams of kitchens.

As requested, a pic of my Metters. It had its day but it’s newness and improvedness had come and gone and it was time to move on.