Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Arm Band

Tonight, P. and I went to the Princess Theatre to see the Black Arm Band and the Melbourne Symphony perform 'Ngangwurra Means Heart', a group devised show which attempted to show an Aboriginal perspective on history and white contact (that's my supposition). Like anything this experimental, parts worked and parts didn't and which is which would be very subjective. The performances from all participants were outstanding. Beforehand we went to a place we've wanted to try for a while, the Shimbashi Soba and Sake Bar in Liverpool Street, the first lane after Spring Street in Bourke Street. We had an excellent and reasonable dinner, quickly served and very delicious. Try the two desserts, sake blancmange and green tea icecream with beans.

Van Remembered

Last night, P. and I went to the Palais for 'Here Comes the Night', a tribute to Van Morrison, starring Joe Camilleri, Vika Bull and Vince Jones. They were accompanied by a three-strong brass section and a string quartet as well as the usual three guitars, drums and piano. Not to mention two very good doo-wah girls. It was a very well-calculated concert to a rather aged audience (on the whole). I felt like I was back with classical music again. Beforehand, we had an excellent meal at Cicciolino's (Acland Street). We each did the two entree routine. P. had brains wrapped in prosciutto, and a blue swimmer crab souffle, while I had a kingfish ceviche with lemon and garlic aoli, and vitello tonnato. All four dishes were very well made, not nouvelle cuisine but fresh and delicious.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Inspirational talk

Last night, after a tasty meal at Chocolate Buddha (Fed. Square), P. and I went to the Deakin Edge for the annual Peggy Glanville-Hicks address, put on by the New Music Network. Genevieve Lacey gave a talk which revelled in art, especially music and provided incidentally ample justification for paying artists properly. She used as punctuation six pieces by contemporary musicians, including herself, played solo on various recorders. In other news, the longstanding government job reared its head again, then promptly pulled itself back in! We await further developments. I was counting on it to keep myself occupied in the run up to Christmas. I suppose I can't put off the tidying any longer. In another miracle of modern technology, I got paid for my China job. I always thought I would, but wondered how. The money just popped up in my bank account after notification by the Commonwealth Bank (not my bank). I wasn't really expecting to be paid yet as I was hoping to proof the proofs before printing. Maybe not!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sedate weekend

On Saturday morning, we did the marketing at the Convent, then the mall, then brunch at Gutz in Brunswick St (Turkish brunch). On Sunday, after a leisurely crossword, we went off to the Athenaeum to see Vika Bull channel Etta James in a very well played and produced show (with Lorraine E.). Well sung, well played, well produced, it was a very good account of a life well led, not without some pain. Odd that racism seemed to be left out.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Penguini dinner

Last night, there was another old Penguini dinner, again in the upstairs room at Zen Japanese eatery in Hawthorn. The food is okay but having a separate room makes talking easier, and did we talk. This time it was Jo, Rosanne, Pat, Julie, Andrew, Ann, Jackie, Bryony and me with special guest, Carla whom many of us had not seen for a very long time. It was great to catch up.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

At home dinner

Last night, Frank was coming for dinner and Sally S. became a late starter. Between us, P. and I had cooked a pork belly recipe from Karen Martini with apple, potato and fennel. I was only responsible for the crust and the 'pressing' of the belly in the fridge. It turned out to be delicious, and we had a very jolly dinner with cheese to start, then the pork belly dish with beans, then strawberry icecream as a cleanser.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Launch with an Indian flavour

Last night, P. and I went to the Eltham launch of Alexis Wright's 'The Swan Book'. It was an unusual launch. We each trained out to Eltham, in peak hour after work. Then went to Ginger Garlic, an Indian restaurant. The launch was over dinner with talk from Ivor Indyk (the publisher of Giramondo), two students from Melbourne University who read extracts and gave appreciations of the book. Then there was a small amount of Indian music and dance. The food was excellent and it was good to catch up with Alexis, Toly, Ivor, Phillip Morrisey and others. Our table of four locals was very congenial. All-in-all it was an exceptional launch.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Scandinavian Mozart

Last night, P. and I with Robin S. went to the Australian Chamber Orchestra (after a cheap and cheerful at the Southbank food hall). Satu Vanska was the lead violin (she's from a Finnish family via Japan and England!) and the soloist was Martin Frost (Swedish). They performed two Mozart works (a symphony and the famous Clarinet Concerto) accompanied by Swedish, Finnish, Russian and one Australian modern works. The world premiere of Brenton Broadstock's 'Never Truly Lost' was tonally very impressive, though to borrow from Paul Keating's comment on Peter Costello, 'he's all tip and no iceberg'. Well this work was all finish and no start. It seemed to me to finish about five times in false finishes, but perhaps I missed something. But what with finish and Finnish, it was an excellent concert. In spite of a somewhat gimmicky (even hammy) approach to conductography (I'm not making this up) in the Australian premiere of his brother's piece, Martin Frost played superbly in the Mozart. His 'carnival' pants didn't add anything to the performance. Perhaps musicians should be heard and not seen.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Well spent weekend

On Saturday, we did the Mall, then had a very good brunch at Breakfast Thieves in Fitzroy. We felt as if we were venturing into alien territory a bit, where if you weren't on a bicycle in skinny jeans, you were out of place. But the brunch was very good. I had a vego baked eggs with all sorts of things: sweet corn, mushrooms, chickpeas etc. In the evening, P. and I went to the Academy of Early Music performing, among other things, Purcell and Handel with Sara Macliver, singing purely and gloriously. We had a good meal first at Yoyogi, cheap and cheerful. On Sunday, it was the climate change demo in the Treasury Gardens. A good roll-up, but the Rabbott crew will believe it was a chardonnay sipping, latte drinking group of watermelons, rather than a very mixed group of Australian concerned citizens. A quiet day at home for the rest of the day, with some treats: crab meat and prawns with lots of garlic.

Friday, November 15, 2013


After a week finalising this stage of the autobiography and the Chinese translations (both are back with the originators), P. and I went last night to 45downstairs for a playreading. The play, by Angus Cerini, was a three-hander with Betty Bobbitt, Sue Jones and Leroy Parsons. Their performances were all good and the short play was quite rivetting, though at times a bit hard to follow. It is an excellent program of 45downstairs to do these 'tryout' readings, which may or may not result in later full performances. The show was full, though was not a 'sellout' as it was free. Beforehand, P. and I had a quick meal at Wagamama nearby. It was very tasty, but we each ate alone, as we didn't see each other.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Full-on Saturday

First yesterday, we went with Frank to the Farmers' Market at the Children's Farm and stocked up on various goodies including a turkey roast for this week. Then we picked up Vincent the car and did the mall for groceries, more veg and fish. Brunch at Madame Sousou's followed and was tasty as usual. In the afternoon, the three of us went on the Collingwood Historical Society walk, centred around Alexandra Parade (once Riley Street) to see some of the changes which will be wrought if the East-West Tunnel goes ahead. A number of heritage houses and industrial buildings will be demolished, just to provide building yards for the tunnel. When it is completed, they'll be vacant spaces. The historic shot tower will remain, mimicked by the larger tower in the giant flyover, but its foundations could be under threat. It was a very informative and interesting look at the more industrial side of Collingwood/Clifton Hill. In the evening, we went to Noel T.'s for dinner. He is walking well and as usual provided a wonderful meal.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Miss Jugoslavia plus Cumulus

After a week of fairly steady work on the autobiography and the Chinese operas, P. and I went last night to 'Miss Jugoslavia and the Barefoot Orchestra' at FortyFive Downstairs (or however it is meant to be spelled). Devised by Tania Bosak, it purports, according to the program notes, to be about her father's escape from Jugoslavia in the fifties and emigration to Australia. Given that there is no dialogue and the songs are in Croatian (?), the whole business is a bit opaque. However, the lively playing, dramatic presentation and great, extremely varied music make this an engaging and absorbing show, which is justifiably booked out, except for one extra performance. Beforehand, we went for a meal at Cumulus Inc., our first time (we had previously been to Cumulus Upstairs). The food was excellent (more of that soon)and the staff amenable and quick. The ambience, for a venue of its price, left a lot to be desired: crowded, noisy and feeling rather rushed. Perhaps I'm old, call me old-fashioned but I prefer a more leisurely, laid-back chance to enjoy my food. The pleasant and comfortable dining at Merricote in Westgarth last Saturday stood in marked contrast. The food: started with peppers. I scored an eye-watering one first, but the rest proved relatively mild. Then a delicious chowder followed, small but perfectly formed. P. had ordered black pudding with smoked tomato topping which was superb, while I had ordered a tuna and smashed pea salad dish which was equally good. We then had superior pork chops and cabbage, beautifully flavoured with very tasty garlic roast potatoes. We ended with coffee and retreated downstairs to the show, a bit roly-poly. In the space, it would be impossible to be more relaxed and it seemed to be fine for most of the mixed audience of ages and classes. But I don't think I'll try it again; for the price, you deserve better.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Strings, strings, strings (and a Steinway)

After a quiet Sunday morning doing the crossword etc., P. and I went to the last Melbourne Chamber Orchestra concert of the year. Robin and Elaine S. joined us on a promotional deal. The program included works by Barber, Elgar, Mozart and Schubert (his Rondo for violin and strings, beautifully played by Shane Chen). There was also a new work, 'Trinitas', written and played by Benjamin Martin (on piano) with Shane Chen (violin) and Katie Yap (viola) plus the MCO. As usual, it was a varied and enjoyable concert. Now back to work, for another busy week: the autobiography and one more Chinese opera. The last opera is due at the end of the week.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Munch, munch

Yesterday, with Frank back from his travels, we deviated from our usual shopping and went to Mediterranean Wholesalers in Brunswick for lashings of grana padana, anchovies etc. Thence to Piedmonte's in Fitzroy for a change from the giant supermarkets. We brunched at Backstreet Eating which was good as always. In the evening, P. and I went to Merricote restaurant in Westgarth for a fixed course Dutch menu with a modern twist. I swear that not a touch of stodge was to be seen and all seven (!) courses were splendid. We passed on the extra cheese course, even though it looked wonderful. The stand-out was the Waterzooi, the fish soup, which contained seaweed and other goodies, as well as a deal of King George Whiting, beautifully cooked. We also had their matched wines, which sommelier Bronwyn had chosen very well as they were all wines we didn't know, including a a Pignoletto from near Bologna in Italy which is a 'white' with an orange hue from being left in the skins. The 'mains': 'a playful interpretation of brined pork loin, liver, carrot, mash and crackling', came with a Salo Syrah from Hawkes Bay in NZ. It was very nice, but I think I would have preferred a Rutherglen Durif with more body. The dessert wine was a Singla 'Heritage du Temps' from Rousillon in France, 'made from Macabeu, the fermentation is stopped which alcohol is added, aged five years in barrel. Nuts, honey, spice.' It went well with the almond cake and strawberries and goat's curd. We'll definitely return to Merricote for their normal menu.