On the road again

I just thought I’d blow my own trumpet once more and put the word out about the fehhhbulous July issue of delicious. magazine, out now, and made even more compelling by the presence of my locavore feature on Mudgee and Orange, NSW.

Of course, the true heroes of the hour were (and still are) Hannah and Peter Logan of Logan Wines, whom I met, blathered with, ate and drank with, then subsequently plagiarised, to write this story.

Surprisingly, this was all condoned by one Danielle Oppermann, editor of said magazine, who set me loose on the roads of NSW’s Central West, with nought but a map, a crap sense of direction and an innate mistrust of disembodied voices stuck to the inside of hire-car windscreens. Had my four-day road trip been mapped in the vintage Hollywood manner – with a tiny, childishly wrought automobile icon plotting an illustrated route across a cartoon map of ye olde New South Wales, it would have closely resembled a Spirograph drawing. (Oh – just Google it, kiddies.)

So many U-turns, so little time. But what a time – this is a gorgeous part of the world, my friends, so my thanks also go out to Tourism NSW, for helping me get there in the first place, no matter how long it took me to find it…

Robert Stein Vineyard, Mudgee, NSW

And, despite the fact that my mission was to showcase (oh, how that word has been hammered into the ground by me and my editorial ilk in recent times; forgive us, for we know not what we’re doing) the many and varied gustatorial and libationary splendours of this region, some of my most  enjoyable moments were spent taking photographs of oddities like this, at Robert Stein Winery.

That, and finally discovering the names of all the songs on Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange CD (the hire car had a CD player that flashed each track’s title as it played – revelation!). As has long been the case, I’d been singing completely the wrong words.

Polly Jones” – I ask you…

But then, I also used to think Neil Young was singing “Hey, Hey, the Purple Green Fairy”, on After the Gold Rush… (and you can Google that one, too).

Coming soon, how to get the best out of Chile on four hours’ sleep a night.

Sweating the small stuff

There are times in your life – well, my life – when the big stuff is just a bit too big to sweat. So this post – a long time coming, and clearly not worth the wait – is how I’ve spent the past week or so. Just kicking on back and sweating the small stuff.

Working backwards then.

Today was a roller-coaster of emotion. The restaurant (which I will call Queenie’s, because that’s its name) that I’d booked just over a week ago for eight of us (and, of course, the whole of the rest of Australia throughout this official Silver Fox Birthday long weekend) to salute his continued existence for another year, called me around midday today, the day before we were booked in for dinner. At 8pm for eight people, on the 8th of June. My. Husband’s. Birthday.

The voice at the other end of the phone at midday on the 7th of June  tells me that we’ll need to change our booking from 8pm to 7pm because “a function has just been confirmed here for tomorrow night, so the kitchen won’t take orders after 7.30pm”.

Ropable.

But I am lucky. A very nice man, whom I know through that wonderful wacky world of food around whose perimeter I tiptoe, helped me out. Noble, his name is – John Noble. And verily the man is blessed with a fitting ’andle for his nature.

So it’s The Balmain Hotel – newly groomed and steam-porked-bunned-and-taco-ed up – that will be enjoying the fruits of our custom, as we toast our release from the curse of Surry Hills indifference.

Happy again.

And then.

There’s this group of people in a room talking about restaurants. A big group of people. And there’s someone talking about a “somme” at a restaurant who’s “fantastic”.

A somme. Since when were sommeliers abbreviated into ‘sommes’? And how come this person said it three or four times through the course of an otherwise mildly enjoyable two-hour exchange without one among us slapping him? And how come I’d found myself sitting in this place with people who seemed familiar – nay, comfortable – with this abbreviation? How could I have missed this? I obviously just don’t care enough.

Depressed.

But then again.

Now, I love commas as much as the next man. Quite possibly a lot more. I love their soft little curl, the way they trip things along.

But, my friends, there are those among us who love those commas just a little too much. Really love them. In a dirty way. Recklessly, shamelessly, unapologetically. They flourish them so regularly, intently, relentlessly, that it can cause a splendid, monstrous, gulping gag reflex in your most humble servant, especially when coupled with their voracious, stupendous appetite; no, hunger; yes, passion, for writing All About Their Life.

This is a recurring small thing for me, and one I relish every Saturday. I have touched lightly on it before in one of my very early posts. I call this small thing of mine ‘gemmelling syndrome’. It makes for compulsive reading.

Obsessive-compulsive, in fact. I actually do break out in a sweat while I’m reading it.

And now it’s Saturday again. May the full stop be with you.