Working full-time for the past seven weeks or so has not been particularly conducive to blog-fecundity. Monetise This has been editing her eyes raw on a new delicious. magazine cookbook at her former NewsLifeMedia haunt in Alexandria (which, extraordinarily, hasn’t undergone yet another name change since last I worked there). Its big brother (hmmm, how apt…), News Corp, however, now has a new part-script, part-sans serif logo so screamingly daggy and indecipherable, that at first glance it reads as ‘Nems Cornmp Australia’, the last word writ large in what looks like a default font). But maybe that’s not such a bad thing – at least with a logo like that, nobody’s ever going to accuse you of being smart enough to tap phones.
Despite the temporary blindness and considerable weight gain brought on by a surfeit of recipe reading and the seemingly daily sampling of baked goods, there are many perks to be had when working in-house at a food magazine.
Earning money is one.
The triple-ginger biscuits that I was inspired to cook yesterday afternoon were another (they’re called ‘cookies’ on epicurious.com, where the recipe originates, but not on my watch), courtesy of Yasmin Newman. She’s about to launch her first cookbook, 7000 Islands: A Food Portrait of the Philippines (a beautiful, beautifully written book with great recipes of a less gingery bent). Hers were far lighter, crumblier and generally all-round nicer than those pictured above. But she is a baker of some talent, as well as being rather all-round nice herself.
My default baking state is one of floury anxiety, but those biscuits are worth any increase in my blood pressure for their sheer, unadulterated gingerocity.
Yasmin first won a place in my heart, and on my waistline, with a collection of chocolate brownie recipes, each inspired by her friends’ various personalities. I wouldn’t have the imagination or insight to invent anything, baked or otherwise, that was palatable enough to reflect the personality traits of some of the people I know. I don’t think unsavoury features in the flavour spectrum.
Best of all, seven weeks of daily toil at the editorial coalface gave me the perfect excuse to do nothing but slump, dozing intermittently, in front of Foxtel every night. Which fetched me up at The Dragon’s Den. No, friends, not a metaphysical descent into work-induced despair, but a television program inhabited by people with enough shrill self-belief to occasionally persuade stern-browed investors to finance products such as self-adhesive ‘eye flicks’.
Oddly, that enterprise didn’t pique the interest of the backers it so richly deserved – not even ‘Dragon’ Hilary Devey, who seems to already have a problematic relationship with her make-up mirror. Had I had a spare 50,000 quid, I’d have jumped at the opportunity. Hell, there was even a sub-range of ‘party eye flicks’. How could it lose?
Perhaps my non-existent life savings would be better invested in crowd-funding some quality theatre, although I can’t seem to find any anywhere, even when the participants are of the calibre of Cate Blanchett, Isabelle Huppert and Elizabeth Debicki.
I was hoping to write a searing, insightful post about Jean Genet’s The Maids, but I lost the will to live about 2 minutes after Debicki left the stage. All that kept me going for rest of the performance was my increasingly resentful fascination in how damned good all those women looked in their underwear.
But I felt vindicated by the time Debicki, Blanchett and Huppert had coaxed out three curtain calls, as everyone else seemed to have lost the will to live, too. Perhaps it was just that we were all desperate not to miss out on a table at Cafe Sopra up the road.
Fools. Gone are the halcyon days when the matchless Andy Bunn was, um, peaking at the Sopra stoves. A dismally flaccid ‘mixed mushroom’ salad (which, I’ve since concluded, meant ‘mixed with a trowel in a large bathtub’ rather than any evidence of fungi variety) swamped in dressing with some sodden potatoes does not a happy philistine make.
If you want a salad – go to Kepos St Kitchen and be done with it. I cooked chef/owner Michael Rantissi’s cauliflower salad (the recipe can be found in the April issue of delicious. magazine) as part of the fresh, vibrant, seasonal, local (and all manner of other foodie buzzwords) vegetarian spread I put on for the third, dispiriting Australia v British-and-everywhere-else-Lions test match. That’s why we lost. Not enough meat.
Years ago, when my friend who accompanied me on last week’s theatre date and I were at Sydney’s University of Technology studying (and I use the term loosely) a degree in Communications (looser still), we frequented many a cinema and playhouse in search of entertainment and enlightenment, with varying degrees of bafflement.
So how we both chuckled ruefully last week after the applause (rather quickly) faded at The Maids, and the audience rushed off to order their stuffed zucchini flowers.
My how we laughed, not only at their reckless veering from the hallowed path of vibrant seasonality on that cold winter’s night, but fondly remembering the credits rolling at the end of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive some 10 years ago, and turning to each other to mouth as one, “What the f**k was that all about?”
But I didn’t really care what The Maids was all about. All I wanted was for the shouting to stop. And for Cate Blanchett to just drink the damn tea, already.