My Facebook status has belied that I’m limping, rather than frolicking, through these final weeks of the year. This has resulted in making grown up decisions about how I use my energy – consequently I’m not en route to Sydney today to celebrate my favourite de facto uncle turning 80, nor did I make it to best Christmas party of the year.
My state of exhaustion has been both helped and hindered by the following high and low lights of the past week.
1. “Note to self”
– tossing mustard seeds in a very hot wok licked with vegetable oil is not a good idea, unless you want to be pelted by an instantaneous explosion of miniature molten cannonballs. Nothing like a tattoo of little burns across ones cleavage to celebrate the festive season! You’d be surprised by just how many mustard seeds quantify a heaped teaspoon, how far they can fly and for how long they reappear lodged in nooks and crannies.
– I’ve fallen in love with the simplest breakfast on earth. A small, ripe banana augmented with a handful of strawberries or half a mango. My preferred milk is now rice, yes it’s rather thin and insipid but the banana turns it into a thicker substance, creamy with mouth feel. Pomegranate molasses continues to be the magic ingredient; it really lifts the flavour and enhances the fruity tones. Any smoothie without a teaspoon or two of the ruby syrup is lacking by comparison.
3. A drink or two at the Westin Hotel
. On the only perfect summer’s day this week, when the barometer hovered around 30 in Melbourne, I met old friends and hung out in the opulent air-conditioned lobby and caught up with refugees from the London winter. Though I swear the waiter forgot the vodka in my VLS, the company and ambience was perfect place to catch up on the last 9 years, while waiting for tardy dinner guest delayed on a trans-Tasman flight.
4. Dinner at Gingerboy
, I’m sorry but food wise this was an equal lowlight (though not as painful as the mustard seed tattoo). While I didn’t miss the reflux caused by my first visit
there was a serious lack of “wow” through the whole meal. We had fun popping the son-in-law eggs, whole, into our mouths but the vegetarian dish featuring asparagus was bland and starchy. The biggest disappointment was the previously loved corn cakes. Apart from them not appearing until the last dish was served, despite saying “we want lots of corn cakes, give us corn cakes!” enthusiastically when ordering – the sad balls arrived a sunburnt shade of brown, burnt on the outside but damp within. Nothing like the fluffy balls I’d remembered. Waiting staff were fab though, along with the calibre of my dining companions but the kitchen let them down big time.
5. Nibbles and drinks at Gerald’s Bar
. How lucky am I to have this bar as my “local”? I don’t know any other “all occasion” kind of place that hits the right note every time, let alone one a short walk from my front door. A quiet drink with my partner while dinner cooks slowly in the oven at home, the perfect end to a night out with overseas visitors, a catch up with my favourite wine, liqueur or coffee snob, a celebration with some close friends, an impromptu dinner at the bar or a quiet table in the back room – Gerald’s manages to deliver whatever I need with ease. The place can be rollicking, packed with high energy on a Friday night, yet perfectly cruisy on others. Last night the place was on a roll but a moment after squeezing through the door one of the bartenders eyeballed us and ushered us to a table for two in the backroom. Perfect for a planned catch up with a friend. The next minute the elusive Gerald appeared from the kitchen door “What can I get you girls*? A G&T? Some bubbles?” No, a perfectly priced rosé and a bowl of freshly fried crispy whitebait. Another glass and some of his delicious smoked salmon and a plate of vegetable pickles. All served with aplomb from the host with the most.
6. Fish burger, hold the chips
. The tapas and rosé were wonderful but a few hours later was tweenie hour. No more wine for me, grazing plates had knocked the edge off my hunger but there was room for just a little more. Getting a late table at any of the Rathdowne Street eateries would be pushing it and all we wanted was a small serving of something simple. A brilliant plan was hatched, a fish burger to go from the anonymous looking takeaway place next door. Cooked to order for a mere $7, a classic spongy white bun burger, with a freshly grilled fillet, lettuce, tomato and tartare sauce, piping hot and eaten on my neighbours couch. Feet up, pussycats patted, music playing, water consumed – a perfect end to a hectic week. I’m so glad I conserved my energy, selectively picked and chose my social life.I might just make it to Christmas after all.
Speaking of which, next Friday will find me trawling the providores of Wellington. I have no idea what I can feed my picky family this year
(if only I could import my Melbourne favourites
– fresh Aussie prawns, luscious mangoes, Chicken Pantry’s perfect turkey sausages that my father declared “the best turkey he’d ever eaten” and a swag of Noisette mince pies). It will be whatever is fresh and local, seafood and vegetable-wise and if I can unearth my mum’s trusty Kenwood, a batch of chocolate mousse
. To be honest, a bowl of cherries, a glass of bubbles and a touch of chocolate is all I need, other than being grateful my rather fragile parents are still here to celebrate another yuletide. How are your (meat-free) Christmas food plans going?
* I’ve now hit the age where being called a girl no longer annoys me, a far preferable greeting than “madam”…a greeting that makes me want to splutter an Ab Fab response of “mademoiselle!”
Labels: Christmas, drinking, Gerald's Bar, gingerboy, mustard seeds, North Carlton, smoothies, tasting