The god of small things and other snacks

Monday 27 August
I’m beginning to realise now why people talk and write so bloody much about food. Minimum controversy, maximum flavour. You grow it, buy it, kill it, chop it and cook it. Occasionally in that order. You can have an opinion on it that won’t get you jailed or killed (unless you live in Sydney and eschew dude food). I mean, what I’d really like to blog about is the evangelical type my husband and were bailed up by at a restaurant launch in Nowra last Saturday.

Nowra – pearl of the near South Coast. But perhaps not, I hear you murmur, gentle blog follower, the most promising of environs for a restaurant opening; nor, indeed, the most promising of destinations in which to avoid a Christian Democrat.

But you’d be wrong – on the first count anyway. The restaurant, Wharf Rd, proved to be a riverbank paradise of blond wood, white paintwork and witty details, with an interesting enough modern menu (local produce: tick; home-cured charcuterie made from local produce: tick; Himalayan salt brick curing cabinet with local produce arranged à la Damien Hirst in front of a picture window in the private dining room: tick) at a reasonable price point. David, the chef, and his wife, Nicole, are young, entrepreneurial, clever, charming, handsome and talented, so I wasn’t in the best of moods to start with, despite the way my VW Golf TSi had held the bends at 100km/hr through Kiama. God, I love my overpriced European car.

After a couple of beers (the silver fox) and a pisco sour (moi), and several brief, cordial exchanges with people our own age but with more jewellery, my spirits lifted. The deliciously salty snacks were coming thick and fast – smoked local alpaca, who knew?

Not only that, but, with what I suspect was a canny nod towards nose-to-tail eating (something I’m more than happy for anyone else but me to do), there were even local-alpaca-skin throws draped over the white banquettes. Sitting on what you’ve just eaten. That witty detail could be one step too far.

And suddenly there he stood, his flushed face just inches from ours, only lower – silver fox and I are both taller than average – Paul, the relentlessly outgoing mayor of Shoalhaven. Paul, who, he told us at biblical-proportion length, had been given a sign by God to move from preaching to politics. Paul, whom God had also blessed with a dry, warm, firm, outgoing handshake and six children. And yes, I truly believe that these two things were related.

We bit our irreligious tongues (neither locally produced nor cured, unfortunately) and waited for divine intervention. None arrived of course – probably because neither of us believe in it – certainly not before the speeches started. So we left instead. Apparently Paul is heading to the Upper House to be with Fred Nile and his heavenly host of assorted Christian Dems and Shooters and Fishers Party cronies, leaving Nowra’s mayoral duties open to all manner of godless political opportunism. I favour a certain Joanna Gash. But not for the reason you may immediately think.

Tuesday 28 August
Writing in bed on a laptop is a new experience to me, and one I can see becoming a regular and pleasing pastime, despite the pain in my neck from a poorly positioned pillow. Watching TV hasn’t proved that fruitful a source of inspiration recently, certainly not in the way that long hours of Olympic™ dressage did. Trying to follow the conversation on a show such as The Newsroom as I write just gives me a headache, despite its occasional funny moments. Those people talk so damn fast – I can hardly make out what they’re saying. Save me – I’m sounding more and more like my mother/grandmother/aunt/the lady who mutters to herself on the escalator at Westfield. I don’t understand the words to songs anymore either. But fortuitously, I am a rather fine whistler. So I just whistle along to everything. Even to Frank Ocean. Kill. Me. Now.

Wednesday 29 August
So… tapas – a collection of snacky stuff that you eat while you’re drinking. Great idea and, in a perfect world – say, San Sebastian – they make perfect sense. On a corner of Oxford Street in Darlinghurst, not so much, no matter how charming the shaggy-haired, bristle-chinned ex-derivative-trader-owner. A five-centimetre square of over-seasoned potato omelette served on a piece of slate does not a tortilla make. Certainly not when shared among three hungry women after a hard day at the coalface drilling down, moving forward and working smart. Give it up now, boys, put the chef out of his misery and go back to stripping businesses’ assets instead of customers’ wallets. No amount of smouldering eye contact will lure us back.