Egg noodles with beef and snow peas

Originally uploaded by bobochan_bobo.

Whenever the couscous lets you down, a girl can always turn to noodles. Why are noodles so good? I was thinking about this in bed last night.

If we are to say that there are only two true staples in the world — rice and noodles — we would conclude that noodles are far superior to rice.

Noodles come in all shapes and textures, can be made from different ingredients — wheat, rice, egg — and, depending on how they’re prepared, can vary so much in taste. Whereas rice is always the same. White and tasteless.

How is it possible to have a bowl of oily fried noodles and not feel happy? I ask you.

Originally uploaded by bobochan_bobo.

Here is Nonna Giusy’s fish with couscous, as found in Jamie Oliver’s Italy. It all sounds fine in theory: red mullet, onion, garlic, chilli, passata, seasoning, couscous (pronounced ‘coo-coo’ by some flight attendants), parsley, olive oil, and more garlic and onion.

Yet this dish was terribly bland. One of those eating experiences during which you just can’t get any satisfaction, no matter how hard you try. At the end of the meal, you register that there’s food in your stomach, but you feel completely emotionally detached.

I ate some potato chips afterwards to deal with my depression.

Where did I go wrong?

What the heck is this?

June 20, 2006

The machine

Originally uploaded by bobochan_bobo.

It’s pink. It spins. It eats a lot of sugar.

Yes, it’s a fairy floss machine.

M and I bought it for E’s birthday. We were in Myer, early on a Saturday morning. M said to a fairly affable middle-aged Myer man: ‘Excuse me, can you please direct me to your fairy floss machine section?’ But of course. It was over with the popcorn machines and waffle makers. Also pink.

Let me make this clear: the machine has pink bits, the box is bright pink. The instructions are in pink type. It comes with pink-and-white-striped paper fairy floss cones. The dang thing sure is marketed towards six-year-old girls. Oh, and 39-year-old women, like E.

The swordfish

June 19, 2006

The swordfish

Originally uploaded by bobochan_bobo.

M was away, so I couldn't help myself. I shopped around for a home-cooked dinner. C and I had agreed that we'd spend Saturday night together, so when she half offered to have me over for dinner, I said, 'OK,' and tried to sound nonchalant. I also did that really lame thing where you offer to cook entree or dessert. Of course no host can say yes to this, as there's a risk her guest could rock up with supermarket-bought potato salad for entree. Or a jam roll for dessert.

C sensibly declined my offer, and just told me to show up with some wine.

As you can see, dinner was excellent. C is one very well-equipped closet housewife. The swordfish, baked in a Le Creuset, is prepared from a Silver Spoon recipe. (C also owns the Le Creuset grill pan.)

As all good housewives know, sometimes it's important to have simple recipes on hand. This is why C likes Silver Spoon so much: recipes are unfussy and reliable.

Italian Man, meanwhile, did not contribute to the dinner. This was mysterious, since he is famed for his regional Sardinian fare.

All he said all night, in fact, was, 'C, she is very lucky .'

To have him, I presume.

Dates from Dubai

June 13, 2006


Originally uploaded by bobochan_bobo.

Who would’ve thought dates could get so fancy?

K was in the Middle East the last few weeks, and kindly brought these back for me. Each is a different type, with its own special name, and each is prepared in a slightly different way.

Is it a fountain pen?

June 13, 2006


Originally uploaded by bobochan_bobo.

The Melbourne Wine Room

June 12, 2006

The Melbourne Wine Room

Originally uploaded by Fat Duck.

There are some very inspired types at the Melbourne Wine Room, St Kilda. Take this light fitting, for example.

And these people are not just clever and talented. They're understanding. By the time it was my turn to order, I found myself a little tongue-tied. (Drunk.) I looked up from the menu.

"I'll aregh greumph calraphrumph."
I'd had two chocolate martinis by this stage, and A and I had already decided that sex was a suitable topic of conversation.
"Aregh grumph?' The waiter replied. Bless him.

I tucked into calamari frites with rocket and house tartare sauce. Meanwhile M snuffled up a couple of enormous oysters. It didn't end there, of course. I had a 300g scotch fillet with herb butter and onion frites. (Also known as 'onion rings.') The fillet was quite rare — I had ordered medium rare, but no matter — but mouth-watering and juicy.

M outdid me with his 500g aged eye fillet. He found it a little on the tough side, but it was an impressive piece, especially with the rock salt crust.

Karen Martini's new cookbook was displayed on the bar, propped up there next to a giant polished turtle shell. On the way out, I tapped it with my nails. It seemed real.

So two questions:
1. How does tapping something with your nails determine its authenticity?
2. What is a giant turtle shell doing on the bar?

Tea set, the Windsor

Originally uploaded by Fat Duck.

At somewhere as salubrious at the Windsor, you'd expect service to be polite. Cordial, at the very least.

Sadly, the girl who served us was like a stroppy 15-year-old who'd just been told by her parents she wasn't allowed to go to Crown on a Friday night. This gal did not want to be there. And she didn't want us there, either.

Tea finished at 5.30pm. It was 4.55pm.
'Uh, it's very late. I'll see if I can get you a table,' she muttered, glaring at us.
About four empty tables were clearly in view. She came back.
'The buffet finished five minutes ago,' she said.
'That's OK,' I said. 'We just want a cup of tea.' She stared at me blankly.
'Please?' I said.
Eventually she slunk back, flung her hand in the direction we were to sit.

I felt like I'd forced my way in.

At least the tea was good. I'd never had tea in a silver teapot before. And I'd forgotten how heavy — and handsome — silver spoons are.

Most worrying at the Windsor, perhaps, was the disproportionate number of Indian staff. Is that for colonial-inspired ambience?

Mee goreng

Originally uploaded by Fat Duck.

What do you do when you’ve been eating well beyond your means? When you’re too knackered to spend two hours bent over the pasta machine?

Nip down to Baba House, Errol St, North Melbourne, for some mee goreng ($9.50).

Whole baby chicken

Originally uploaded by Fat Duck.

On Monday I found out that W would be in Melbourne, just for a few days. He’s only been to Melbourne once before, and has lived in Japan for the last 14 years or so.

So obviously I couldn’t take him out for Japanese.

Some European was in order. When I first glanced the menu at the European, I said, jokingly, ‘I might eat an entire baby chicken.’ Then I realised that this was no joke: I would, in fact, eat an entire baby chicken.

It was fantastically done, as evidenced in the photo. The veal ragu with stacchetti was another highlight. Exceptionally rich ragu — perhaps a little too rich — with fresh, handmade pasta. D certainly enjoyed it.

Dessert was pistachio baked custard. This was similar to a creme brulee, without the caramel. Topped with crushed pistachios and smashed toffee. The mascerated fruits set the creme off perfectly.

Is this enough to impress visiting W? I hope so.