Thursday, June 28, 2012

Very noisy concert

On Tuesday, P. was ill so was able to join me for lunch with Jane N., whom I hadn't seen for a while. She is well, though not working at present and pondering house renovations. We had a pleasant lunch at our local, Rita's. We hadn't had lunch there before: Jane and P. had pizzas which they pronounced good, and I had the house minestrone which filled me well. In the evening, P. and I went to Frank's place for dinner. We had a pie from the pie lady at the Convent market, which was delicious as usual, then poached pears.

On Wednesday, we joined again for dinner (good) at Petaling Street, our little piece of Malaysia in Swanston Street, then went to the Town Hall for a night of Wagner (first half) and Strauss (second half). German soprano, Angela Denoke, stood in very capably for Deborah Voigt at short notice, and went through Sieglinde, Isolda and Salome in one night, quite a feat. The new chief conductor, Andrew Davis, performed well, though nearly knocked over a microphone stand and a couple of music stands. The orchestra seemed to have a good time, and will fly to Sydney and do it all over again in the Grand Old Opree House.

Details are filtering in of the overseas trip. Stopover will now likely be in Bangkok, and European hub Zurich rather than Geneva, flying Thai to Bangkok, Swissair to Zurich, Turkish Air to Istanbul (hoping that Syria does not bring us down) and back, Swissair to New York, thence Qantas to Orstralia (a long haul).

Monday, June 25, 2012

Culture vultures and shoppers

As P. had Friday off, as a rostered day off, we picked up Vincent the GoGet car and Frank and did the mall shopping on Friday. We followed up with a Convent market shop on Saturday morning and got the usual milk, lamb for roasting (oddly from the pig people) and fish. On Saturday night, Frank came round for dinner for Chinese five-spice roast chook cooked by P.

On Sunday, after the Sunday crossword, P. and I headed off to the State Library for the exhibition of 'Persian' books and miniatures, where 'Persian' covers a wide range as far as the Moghul rulers of India. It is a very fine exhibition which only has a week to run (to 1 July) and the Bodleian Library has let a lot of very fine stuff out of its clutches for this showing. Apparently, it is likely to travel back to them, they like it so much. There is also some material (not quite as good) from our own State Library.

We then went down to the St Kilda Road gallery for lunch at the tea rooms, where P. had the rare roast beef and I had the crustless sandwiches (my favourite) followed by cakes, chocolate (Pierre) and iced coffee (me). We then went round the corner to the Recital Centre for the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra which did a Pure Strings concert (is Ann Morgan on harpsichord strings or percussion?). There were works by Vivaldi, Donizetti, Bach and Tchaikovsky, two of them rearranged for string orchestra from quartets. The Tchaikovsky was particularly impressive (Souvenir de Florence) and the musicians played with gusto and obvious enjoyment at the sheer brash bravura of it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Busy weekend

On Friday, P., Frank and I went to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. First up was Shostakovich's violin concerto no. 1 played with bravura by Julian Rachlin, a Lithuanian maestro. It is intriguing that probably the only time Stalin is now remembered in the west is for censoring musicians. Then came Mahler's symphony no.4. Benjamin Northey, the stand-in conductor, and the orchestra did a great job (at short notice, the program said) and Emma Matthews sang well in the last movement.

Up early on Saturday to head off, P. and I, in Vincent to Geelong and Queenscliff (the town) and Queenscliffe (the borough). We stopped at the Geelong Art Gallery and enjoyed the various exhibitions including an exhibition of pictures of picturesque ruins, including some splendid Australian examples by Drysdale, Olley and Blamire Young (Rat's Castle in Hobart, a splendid work). We empathised with the picturesque ruins. The permanent exhibitions contained some gems too. We had a drink at the Courthouse Art Centre, which you could hardly blame for being a bit arty.

We then headed to Queenscliff and the Vue Grande where we booked in, and after inspecting a drizzly Queenscliff, decided to dine in house. It turned out to be a good choice: we both had pork belly and samfire entrees, then P. had duck mains and I had a scallop entree. We finished with a very nice cheese platter and P. had a Spanish Pedro Jimenez. Very satisfied we toddled the short distance to bed (we were on the ground floor).

Next day, we looked at swans and other waterbirds on Swan Bay and headed back to Geelong, where we lunched on the waterfront, which was again a bit drizzly. In the evening, we went with Frank to Noel's for dinner. As usual, he produced a splendid meal, soup, then cottechino and lentils, then soused apricots and yoghurt. He is pondering what to do about his various medical procedures.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hare & Grace

Thursday was Frank's birthday (someone said it was his thirtieth, but I don't believe them). P., Frank and I went to Hare & Grace in Collins Street. It's the restaurant cousin of eatery Marmalade and Soul which we have frequented a bit for brunches. Though Hare & Grace is hardly an everyday eatery, it is well worth a visit for its eclectic and slightly zany cuisine: for example, I had for entree the Eton Mess, which is normally a dessert. This version was mainly seafood and savoury, with beetroot meringues and three yummy oysters. I then had a very superior chiko roll for mains with roasted cucumber and tomato, and aoli. I finished off with a 'storm in a teacup' which included, among other things, parsley icecream.  Peter and Frank had slow cooked lamb and beef (separately) for mains and Frank had candied parsnip for dessert. That should give you the idea.

Yesterday, I went to the travel agent and booked the Turkey and Greek Islands trip. The resourceful Ingrid is now preparing a couple of quotes for the whole deal with different options.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fred and Kevin

On Monday (Queen's Birthday), P. and I went to Fed. Square to see the Fred Williams travelling exhibition from the Canberra gallery.  It was a great retrospective (with very few loans from the AGNSW) of all periods of Williams life. Williams is an artist who looks much better 'on the canvas' than in reproduction as this exhibition demonstrates. Don't miss it: a true artist, unlike certain others (dare I say a certain Sid).

On Wednesday, it was clinic day and Dad arrived early to whisk me off to the hospital. There, the doctor said my biopsy was excellent with no sign of rejection, and gave the okay for overseas travel. So it's off to the travel agent. Kevin the kidney is performing very well, according to blood tests and the biopsy. My only 'sin' is high tachrolemus levels, but the number of those was reduced last week, so they'll keep monitoring.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Opera XS part two

On Sunday, after P. and I had completed the crossword, Frank and I went to the next part of Opera XS at the Malthouse. The first show, at 3pm, consisted of Deborah Cheetham's work-in-progress, at present a song cycle based on Paul Keating's Redfern address. It also includes a Mahler lied in deference to P. Keating's love of Mahler, and it works well in the piece, being about the death of a child. The cycle is performed mainly by a Keating in the present, regretting that his vision was not realised (in the Howard era). It is therefore fairly melancholy, and in its final version might have an ensemble finish which is more positive. It was well worth seeing and well performed. An afterwork talkfest gave feedback and suggestions.

After a long dinner break, we went to the next offering which was put on by Opera Victoria, a tribute to the troubadors which consisted of various troubador numbers with contemporary interpretations by Casey Benneto. Richard Gill compered and was on piano. It was a lot of fun and included singalongs and audience participation. However, the size of the audiences for all the offerings we attended means it might not be repeated, though the Chambermade piece was booked out and we missed it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Biopsy and musical outings

On Thursday, my father took me into the hospital early for a regular nephrology visit, followed by a 'routine' kidney biopsy, which was fairly easy except for having to lay on my back for four hours following. Very boring. I'll get the results next Wednesday, but according to the nephrologist, from my blood results, it should be okay.

On Friday, P., Frank and I went to the ANAM concert after a good meal at Wasabi in Clarendon Street. It was directed by very serious cellist, Nicolas Altstaedt and included works by Dutilleux, Honegger (cello concerto) and Faure's piano quartet no. 2. It was a wonderful concert of fairly unfamiliar pieces, very well performed.

On Saturday, we did the farmers' market, the mall and then another new eatery, Bayle in Johnston Street (Collingwood) opposite the old tech., soon to be Circus Oz headquarters. It was brunch with a middle eastern flavour and the three things we had were all delicious and spicy. We will return and continue to participate in the revival of old Johnston Street.

Later in the evening, P. and I went to the Malthouse for the first of our opera festival events: Open Mic. A bevy of operatic wannabes strutted their stuff, accompanied by Richard Gill. They were surprisingly good, with a few exceptions and the winner and runner-up were very good (though I would have placed them the other way round). It was an unexpectedly good show, though good to hear slightly less than perfect voices.

More of the festival today.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Arriving at Bress winery and cidery

 Pic.: LE
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Cooking the mushies

Jo Corrigan of The Commoner cooking up the mushrooms. Pic.: LE

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Everyone enjoying lunch at Bress winery

Pic: LE

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Mushroom extravaganza

On Saturday, Lorraine E., Peter and I took off early in Vincent in the direction of Harcourt and the Bress winery and cidery. It is in a beautiful location among the hills with bucolic chooks, guinea fowl, ducks and geese. We were given mulled wine and cake on arrival then went off with Matt the Mushroomer to forage for mushrooms in a nearby pine forest. We did well, especially Lorraine, then returned for lunch, provided by Matt and Jo of The Commoner (120k off location) but who did a magnificent job providing lunch for nearly 100 people. We had croquettes and sauted mushrooms, followed by beef cheeks and polenta, then brown ale pudding with salty caramel sauce and cream. Yum! We were sitting with Matt's mum and her partner so got the inside running on The Commoner and Matt.

It was a wonderful day, sunny and pleasant. Thanks to all the organisers, Matt and The Commoner, Bress winery and the Fringe Food Festival.