Meat Free Weakling

Pelicans, Mogo, NSW

It’s now Wednesday, and I’ve been meat-free since Monday – along with a host of other good folk who are now also on Meat & Livestock Australia’s hit list.

Except I didn’t read the rules properly, so last night’s dinner wasn’t strictly negatively meat-geared, seeing as I made a salade niçoise (or at least, a semblance of a salade niçoise, as I’d not been shopping since arriving home from my Driving Miss Rosie road trip – of which more later). Mine had no green beans for a start (the salad; not the road trip), but instead, the inspired addition of peeled frozen broad beans (ah McCain, you’ve done it again). It seems the rules say that seafood’s out – even canned tuna, though that hardly resembles fish as we know it, surely.

Dammit – I’m going to have to add a day on at the end so as to not lose face. This is not the first time I’ve not read the instructions properly before embarking on a project. That’s what men are for, isn’t it?

Thankfully, tonight’s meal was far more vegetationally appropriate – falafels (no, I didn’t make them myself – what am I, someone with a life?) with grated beetroot dressed with pomegranate molasses (you can tell already that I’ve not been following any of the great recipes provided to the Meat Free Week website by luminaries such as Maggie Beer, Bill Granger and Simon Bryant, can’t you?), a head-spinningly garlicky tsatsiki, and spiced couscous with pinenuts and loads of chopped fresh coriander. Not ’alf bad actually – even the deeply carnivorous silver fox went in for seconds.

We will, however, be housebound for a week due to our fetid garlic breath.

Marco Pierre White should definitely cut out the meat. His odious, incessant screaming during the finale of MasterChef: The Professionals was a sure sign of too much animal protein, and enough to make me yearn to feed him to a herd of ravening pigs. Or at least see him explode in a million high-blood-pressure pieces. I’ve been to a few exceptional restaurants recently, and in each one, the atmosphere emanating from the kitchen was one of calm, creative purpose. No 1980s histrionics, no sweaty, eye-rolling, hair-flicking blunderbussing – just clever, dedicated young chefs making gorgeous food.

MPW – you’re a bloody dinosaur. And you’re even more repugnant when you come over all posh and silky and spout platitudes that would make Oprah blush.

And sorry, blog-mates, if I’m a bit late with this tirade – but it’s taken me a couple of days to stop feeling soiled by the experience. I’d managed to avoid the entire series, but it was all we could get on the telly at our holiday home last Sunday night. Leek and lobster terrine. Give me strength.

So, despite that one low point of our road trip, Driving Miss Rosie proved, for the most part, to be hilarious, scary and delicious in equal measure – full of bad puns, mispronunciations and piss-taking – and that was just reading the restaurant menus. Typically, the highlight for Miss Rosie was a Sunday outing to a dust mote of a place on the Princes Highway called Mogo, where a quaint row of shops can be found positively busting at the seams with knick-knackery.

It was retail heaven for my “shallow” mother (her words, not mine) and a source of much photographic pleasure for moi. The third member of our party (a chocolate labrador of some repute, as those of you who’ve read today’s previous post will know) bore this particular sortie with uncommon fortitude, or perhaps it was simply exhaustion from her twice-daily bush-walking, rock-scrambling, tide-defying, stick-fetching, sand-digging and wave-riding. Suffice to say, a forest-worth of greetings cards was purchased by Miss Rosie, along with funny presents for her cronies back at the retirement “village of the damned” (again, her words, not mine). These comprised five centimetre-square blocks of wood, with instructions written on them to set them on the ground, and then walk around them, thus allowing the perambulator to say they’d had sufficient exercise, as they’d “walked around the block”.

That was the scary part of the trip.

The delicious part of the trip I can’t talk about yet, due to aforementioned contractual obligations. And fair enough. But I can say that when it was good, it was very, very good; and when it was bad, it was horrid.

I also ate quite a lot of meat, so Meat Free Week has come at just the right time. And not just for the animals.

Should you be feeling generous, or just sorry for someone who should have learned by now to read the sodding instructions first, you can sponsor me on my page at Meat Free Week. The silver fox has – even though I had to fill out all his stuff on the website myself. All donations go to Voiceless, the organisation dedicated to animal protection and welfare, particularly with regard to factory farming. And thanks, if you do.


It must be love…

We’re both very excited to appear in the latest issue of the snazzily revamped Gardening Australia magazine. Editor of the pets pages, Jenny Baldwin, who has always seemed somewhat bemused by my tragic devotion to this great boofhead of a chocolate labrador, recklessly asked me to write the first of a series of columns on people and their pets, titled ‘It Must Be Love’.

It’s a brief but heartfelt little homage to our relationship and our common passion for food, gardening and getting caught in the rain (although Lucy doesn’t like pina coladas so much). The magazine’s on sale now, and we’re both very proud – although we’re never going to live it down at the dog park…

Driving Miss Rosie

Auckland in April’s delicious. magazine

This is a quick hooroo before Monetise This, her mother and her dog set off on a week’s road trip tomorrow. It will be a mystery tour (to you, at least, gentle reader – I know where we’re going, and I have a strong suspicion that that dog does, too; my mother not so much). Unfortunately, contractual obligations mean I can’t divulge where we’re going, for fear of scaring the butchers, bakers, candlestick makers, restaurateurs, bartenders, chefs, producers, entrepreneurs and hoteliers we may meet along the way. Not that any of them would have a clue who we were, anyway, even if we told them.

This road trip is also a pre-emptive celebration of my mother, Rosalind’s birthday in April. She intends to make it to her 80th if it’s the last thing she does, just so she can cock a snook at the rest of her pathetically short-lived relatives ensconced in that great, bustling salt-beef bar in the sky.

But I hope it won’t be.

So for the time being, I’ll leave you with this now-ubiquitous piece of blogoriphic self-promotion for my Auckland travel feature in the April issue of delicious. magazine (OUT NOW!!!). With thanks to Mimi Gilmour, tireless locavore and the fastest talker in the Southern Hemisphere, and all the lovely folk at Tourism New Zealand.

V is for vanity… and Vogue

Here’s looking at me, kid.

Well, that’s an hour and a half of my life I’ll never get back, scrolling through photos of very beautiful, gamin, perky, whimsical, cheeky, sexy women with short, curly hair. None of whom was me, and none of whom I will ever remotely resemble, no matter the cut of my jib.

I then frittered away another half hour downloading and printing the ones I liked on a sheet of A4. But not the one of Sophie Okonedo – I have no self-delusions there. I just like looking at her.

Suffice to say I am hoping to find a new ’do that’ll do me as a reference for my long-suffering hairdresser. Both he and I need to get on with our lives.

Annie Lennox has never had this problem, and continues not to do so, judging by the picture of that goddess of short-hairedness in the Herald a couple of days ago as she railed against the iniquities of TV talent shows in the UK. Sisters (and brothers) aren’t doing it for themselves, apparently. It’s all about ‘the brand’, according to our Annie – a little tardily, n’est ce pas?

Come and work in magazine publishing, honey – we’ll show you ‘all about the brand’…

Just ask former Vogue Australia editor Kirstie Clements.

Nice young Richard Fidler tried to on the ABC radio the other day, but, in much the same way as Clements has assured everyone that her memoir, The Vogue Factor, is devoid of gossip, revenge and intrigue (in fact, devoid of anything of worth to a fashion dag such as moi), the conversation proved mild, elusive and diplomatic, and therefore no effing fun at all. Publishing is waaaaay too small an industry in Australia for any kind of ratbaggery – we have to maintain our consultancies, right?

Still, food writer and chef Matthew Evans managed to give Vogue Entertaining + Travel a fabulously bitchy serve in his book Never Order Chicken On a Monday a few years ago and he’s done all right for himself.

If Kirstie had just taken that memoir and shoved it up ‘em, she, too, could be carving up pigs in Tasmania right now.

I digress. So, that was one chunk of semi-precious time lost. For me, that is; I’m assuming you’re reading this because you’re here of your own free will. Or you’re my mother.

Large gobbets of my time and vanity this week were also consumed by lengthy, slimy tussles with my new Best Eye Friends, Contact Lens Left (reading) and Contact Lens Right (everything else). The first, getting them in; the second, getting them out, which was only marginally more excruciating.

Getting them in was followed by 20 minutes of banging into walls, missing door handles and jabbing at the wrong keys on my iPhone (nothing new, really), as Right Eye and Left Eye once again battled for optical supremacy. All so I wouldn’t have to wear my glasses to lunch with my mother.

Eventually, equilibrium was restored, which was handy, because by then I was driving.

Getting the lenses out that evening was merely a matter of fortitude and a certain dexterity ‘twixt thumb and forefinger. Neither of which I have much of (not thumbs and forefingers – I have my fair share of those).

I just can’t see them catching on.