Thursday, March 13, 2014


After a fairly tedious overnight flight, we're nwaiting at Norman Foster's not-very-distinguished airport for our flight to Shanghai. The service on Cathay Pacific was very good though, but I hardly slept. China here we come.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Coffee concert and Ethiopia

This morning, Frank and I went off to the first Musica Viva Coffee Concert of the year. The idea is that they serve 'coffee' and cakes from 10am and then there is a one-hour concert at 11am in the Recital Centre. It's a great idea, though you wouldn't go to a Coffee Concert for the coffee. It's awful. The best that can be said for it, according to Frank, is that it contains caffeine. The cakes are nice though. Today's concert was by Korean-Australian pianist Young Kwon Choi who played Chopin, Ravel and Kapustin (Ukrainian) very ably, especially in the bravura Ravel 'Gaspard de la nuit'. In the evening, P., Frank and I went to Konjo Ethiopian Restaurant for a Melbourne Wine and Food Festival event, 'Brewing Precious Black Gold'. This consisted of tea, then their splendid platter of dishes eaten with their own bread (no cutlery), then their splendid Ethiopian coffee, which was delicious. The only problem with the whole deal was no licence, so we retired home for a glass of farewell champagne. Tomorrow: packing.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

The hours creep on apace...

Trying to find time to read up on China. On Friday night, I went into town to have dinner with P. and Robin S., who started a new job this week, ex-ATO with another government agency. We ate at Ciao, in Hardware Lane, and had a good traditional Italian meal. On Saturday, it was Farmers' Market and Frank joined us for a modicum of shopping there and at the mall. Lunch followed at Bayte with another tasty meal. Their Bloody Mary with chili and garlic was volcanic. In the evening, P. and I went to 'The Government Inspector' at the Malthouse. It wasn't really the Gogol play but more of a riff on it but very funny and full of energy. There were fine performances by all of the actors. It is definitely worth catching before the season ends. Today, more China preparations, as well as the perennial Sunday crossword.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

A social bonanza

On Monday, I had a very pleasant lunch at the farm cafe with Sally and my Dad. Their goat's cheese dish with egg, minced beetroot and avocado is delicious (and more or less healthy). On Tuesday, Frank, P. and I had a good dinner chez Noel, who seems to be going well, though with some inevitable problems. On Wednesday morning, Frank and I went to a free rehearsal of part of a Hindemith symphony at the Australian National Academy of Music in the old South Melbourne Townhall. Brett Dean mustered the forces of a huge orchestra which had only first met on Monday. It is a big ask to get them together to play a difficult work by Friday night. It was intriguing watching him gently guide the orchestra together. Last night, we had an old Penguinis dinner at Melati in Camberwell Road. It was good because it was quiet so we could talk easily. It was a very pleasant dinner though our diversions into current politics and workplaces were very gloomy. Preparations for China are continuing. I picked up some Chinese yuan yesterday and am starting to get to know the Shanghai subway.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Molto Mozart

We had a quiet morning doing the crossword in the new 'compact' Sunday Age and spending a bit more time on Morry Schwartz' Saturday Paper, which had quite an auspicious debut, in spite of the spareness of its reviewing. Then we were off to the Recital Centre for a mainly Mozart program with small bits of Mendelssohn and Sibelius. We had to suffer a cliche-ridden season opening speech by Arts Minister, Heidi Victoria. Anna Goldsworthy was a limpid soloist in Mozart's piano concerto no 27 in B flat major, while the orchestra made a good fist of the symphony no. 36 in C major 'Linz'. Back home, P. made David Herbert's roast chicken which was tasty but not as good as Saint Stephanie's version.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Seafood Day

Yesterday, we picked up Frank in Harley the Corolla and did the mall shopping (no market this week). Then, instead of our normal brunch, we dropped Frank off and went into the city to the Duke Hotel, once the Duke of Wellington, one of the oldest remaining hotels in Melbourne (1853). It was our first Melbourne Food and Wine Festival foray: a crab and crayfish lunch. The menu was very trad.: seafood cocktail, a crab and half a cray with potatoes and salad and chocolate mousse. It hit the spot very well. As a bonus, sharing our table was a party including Andrew Rule, the journalist, and his family and friends, so it was all very congenial. We retired replete then back home had only a light dinner of oysters and garlic scallops, so had an (almost) entirely seafood day.