Friday, 28 October 2005

When straight boys attack


You wouldn't see this happening at Pound.

No.

You'd probably see much worse.

Where everybody knows your name

Ok so maybe I met GN for lunch today and maybe with the sun shining and all somewhere with outdoor seating was stan's plan and maybe Astoria is sporting a new menu and maybe eating there also provides easy access to a veritable cornucopia of over-dressed eyecandy.

Well...

I won't comment on the lovely Kerry taking our outside table. I like her far too much to dislike her.

I won't comment on the seeming absence of certain someone who normally works the counter for the lunch shift.

No.

Let's instead focus on the ever-satisfying lunchtime combo of Ploughman's Lunch and San Pelligrino Limonata that I enjoyed. Let's also focus on the evident delight GN drew from her Grilled Haloumi Salad and Diet Coke. Actually no let's not. They were fab but something more interesting struck me at lunch.

Now it may come as no surprise to some that I am a creature of habit and that usually means obssessively visiting the same store before unceremoniously moving on to more novel pastures. This happened with the since departed The Box, Wishbone on both Featherston and Hunter Streets, the Kirks Cheese Store... I could go on but I shan't. Now a consequence of frequenting a place so... well... frequently is that the staff eventually become comfortable enough to give you shit in front of other customers.

And thats exactly what happened at Astoria this lunchtime. Steve, the floor guy (I don't know if floor manager is what he is), felt comfortable enough to give me shit for confusing the staff there by going there outside my standard breakfast shift. Quite audibly to those around too.

I feel quite chuffed. It's nice being a regular. Kinda like Cheers only minus the poor people and so much better than being a regular at the Feathers.

Astoria people are my kind of people. It is amazing who one will run into there. Every visit sees at least one person I know and am happy to shoot the breeze with. Oh and they now have mince on toast on the breakfast menu and no it isn't anywhere near as white trash as that might sound. It is very nice and I do recommend it. The chicken caesar baps are quite nice too. Oh and the bowls of fries. They do a good steak. Oh and the scrambled eggs and bacon is pretty good too. They do wonders for the wakey wakey this jakey jakey needs most mornings.

I'm feeling a bit peckish.

My God what have we done to You?

I'm wondering that myself as I sit here listening to Depeche Mode's latest effort, Playing The Angel.

My expectations were high with the advance release of the first single, Precious, after seeing them perform it on the normally oh-so dreadful CD:UK. I liked it so much I pre-ordered the CD singles (because there are always more than one CD single of the same song) and the DVD single with even more DM goodness. I enjoyed those goodies so much I pre-ordered the CD+DVD release of the full album.

Although a number of the songs are quite good, DM seem to have gone back to how they sounded in the days before Violator.

I'm still working out if thats a good thing.

Maybe a few more listens will help.

I hope so.

Wednesday, 26 October 2005

So… that climate change

In recent weeks and months we've seen a fair few extreme weather events to lead many to say this is all due to global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. I don't know enough about the science to know or care. I also have a professional conflict of interest on the issue so I'll try and tread this path as delicately as I can.

Earthquakes happen.

Floods happen.

Storms happen.

Droughts happen.

Tsunami happen.

Get.

Over.

It.

I really struggle to see why I have to sacrifice so much of my quality of life in the extremely vain hope of halting the suffering of others. Does my having to pay more for a cabride mean four less people will die in the next floods of Bangladesh?

I really don't think so.

Now, here's a radical concept! What ifocusedussed on helping people survive floods and earthquakes, droughts, etc. instead of vainly wasting time, political coin and already-limited resources trying to stop the unstoppable. If Australian homes keep getting swept away in bush fires, perhaps they shouldn't be living amongst stockpiles of dry fuel. If levy banks break in the Southern states of America, then maybe people shouldn't be living in flood plains. If floods keep hitting the same area then perhaps insurance companies need to send a signal through their premiums.

I'm not suggesting they lose their quality of life for a vain effort. I'm suggesting they move or they will lose everything including their lives.

I consider the depths my character will plumb for self-preservation as something that has served me well in my life. Granted there has been some collateral damage along the way but survival is something innate in all living things.

That we as a species feel the need to change our environment to suit us as opposed to the other way around speaks volumes about our arrogance in the face of nature deciding on a few changes.
So, like I was saying earlier... Ladies and gentlemen... Can't we all just get over it?

My apologies to the black guy that got beat up by the LAPD when they dragged him out of the cab of his truck. I can't remember his name. It was all pre-OJ of course and the cops got done like a dinner. Roasted good and proper. Ah huh.

Was it Rodney King? I think the dude's last name was King.

What do you think of your new life/face/body/house folks?

There are people out there in the world who desperately want to be something or someone different and they are prepared to go to any lengths to see that change happen. These are the people prepared to go to any length to degrade themselves before national audiences for the dignity, respect and comfort with themselves they so obviously lack.

I know that many of the shows like The Apprentice and Fear Factor have big prizes awaiting the winner at the end but there must be a point where people decide that they are so uncomfortable with where they are and who they are that signing up to become the latest TV stereotype is a good thing. I know I’m getting damn close to some holier-than-thou pontificating but this all strikes me as incredibly sad and only serves to perpetuate an industry of false hope within television.

As if volunteering to eat raw animal innards, obscure insect varieties or that Donald Trump is a good businessman (question of the day: how many times has the man declared bankruptcy?) isn’t enough, but we now have people surrendering their bodies and homes to the designs of others. Although Extreme Makeover is by far the most graphic example of striving desperately to become a better person, other shows like the-one-on-TV3-whose-name-escapes-me-right-now (the one with people in orange jumpsuits) for some reason force people through unnatural almost like trained dogs through hoops.

Which again strikes me as incredibly sad that people have to resort to such extreme measures to feel better about themselves and where they are.

I was watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition a few nights back and despite the house looking just awful when it was all done up (OTT in every respect), I couldn’t help but think the show had just screwed this family over on national and international TV. A family of far too many were struggling with a cutesy young boy with really fragile bones. His can-do American attitude, disease of the week condition and suitably white trash family obviously ticked all the reality TV boxes. And so the family goes away for a holiday while their house and the lives they knew were radically demolished and rebuilt anew.

And herein lay the tragedy. A show that was meant to leave the family better off just when needed a little help with their tragic lives, ends up leaving people with a house that’s more of a liability than an asset. More often than not the houses are so heavily over-designed for specific people within the house that the rooms can’t be changed except at great cost to the family and with every family having the ubiquitous slew of young kids their tastes will change and so too must their rooms and the house. One kid had a room decorated with guitars and picks and other musical instrument… well… stuff and I couldn’t help but think that he was screwed if he one day decided he’d had enough of the guitar. Similarly the house has the latest technology installed with widescreen plasma TVs hidden in retractable settings, house-wide broadband and big wide open living spaces. The power bill alone will send this family down to collect their social security. Given the expense of everything in the house they’d either be stupid to get comfortable lest anything need repairing or replacing. If they did have such things in mind I don’t really see them enjoying their new homes. It’s a lot like the protective plastic covers some people put on furniture to protect the fabric. The fabric is protected but you can no longer enjoy the couch.

My point, and I am getting to one, is that people should probably look to make what they can of their lives and be happy with what they have and can manage. I know that seems terribly fatalistic but the sooner this happens the sooner I can enjoy something better on TV. Like Deadwood and Carnivale.

Now that’s some good TV.

Yet another Wellington photo essay

Noticed while someone was at a "stats conference" at Te Papa, this from Room 5 S class...


Noticed on a meeting table at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade this afternoon...

The Age of Hotness is no more

What once was the Wall of Hotness, or to some the 'So Hot Right Now Board', has since become the Wall of Weird.


I'm not sure why hotness is no longer valued higher than weirdness but hey its the Banana's board and she calls the shots. Mr October certainly wasn't anything to come out to one's parents about but he was much tastier eyecandy than the crazy looking bodybuilder chick.

Contributions should be forwarded to the Banana.

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

"Would the term bi-curious apply to you?"

Has your mother ever asked you this question while you were hunched over a stove making dinner?

Mine did last night.

Oh the awkwardness!

Thankfully dinner was FAN...TAS...TIC Seared eye fillet served with roasted root vegetables and pan-fried asparagus with a dijon roux sauce to bring it all together. Not bad for a last minute whip-up on the fly. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

I dislike Eminem as much as the next guy...

But boy am I glad iTunes Music Store finally accepts purchases from New Zealand!

No longer do I need to wait days and weeks for CDs from far-off lands when I can download them almost instantly!!!

Oh my credit card is going to take a serious pounding this week!

Ooooh! Where can I get one of these?

And a giraffe will spunk up over a load of old biddies


This is out on DVD.

Buy it now!

Go on.

Off you go.

Monday, 24 October 2005

Looks like a dance epidemic to me


Ok so some of us went to Indigo Saturday night to see Electric Six. I don't know about the others but I quite enjoyed it. If they said anything I wasn't in much of a state to make anything out. My ears are still ringing from the gig but less audibly than on the night.

Warm-up act OdESSA were pretty good. Much better than their CD does them justice. As for pre-OdESSA warm-up act the Offbeats I'm sorry but ska has never done anything for me.

The numerous bottles of Becks were tasty if pricey at $6 each.

Pre-dinner drinkies at Pondo was much better. I forget how many hi ho silvers (with lychees) I worked my way through. The wad o' cash I started off with didn't see too much of a dent but the pavement was definitely swaying on the way to Indigo.

Chatting to the bouncy blonde behind the bar, cursed with a crop top that required constant attention lest it reveal more than her charming personality, the view of the barchicks on Blair and Allen Streets was that a combination of rugby and Labour Weekend had effectively killed their business on normally frantic Friday and Saturday nights. Feigning contempt to oblige the raging concern for their once-fecund finances, I couldn't help but think the service wouldn't have been anywhere as good as it was that night if not for the absent masses.

I did some other stuff and got home in the fullness of time. All in all Saturday night was a good'un.

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

I know you wish you were me right now

I don’t want to be lonely anymore

Rob Thomas’ music video was on C4 earlier.

Am I the only one who wished Rob Thomas would just give it all up and do something less offensive to one’s audible sensitivities?

Have we not suffered enough?

From crusaders for church and country to Don Quixote?

I did a paper on European politics in my second year of university. I quite enjoyed it to be honest. Every week we discussed such heady and thought provoking issues as the influence wielded by organised crime organisations on national political systems within the European Union. I remember during that particularly interminable hour there bellowed from a very determined young woman a very determined argument.

From the front was proclaimed the Sicilian Mafia to be the ultimate influence in Italian politics with their expansion into America as evidence of such eminent authority. All the while with her every word swirling around the room a smug beaming grin did slowly sweep across my face. Her rambling complete and the basking in vainglory in full swing up crept from the back the most modest of coughs. Heaven strike me down if my sonorous voice didn’t then fill the room, prick their ears and capture their attention. I do enjoy a good fight and this was no exception. With dignity and presence there did fall on her pride a statement decrying her very diatribe. Heaven forbid one as modest as myself should point out the Sicilian Mafia couldn’t compete for Rome’s favours when much stronger and vital criminal organisations did exist. In Naples the Camorra and in Calabria the N’Draghetta did dominate Rome and its fair territories so very deeply that poor Sicily could do nought but flee to verdant pastures in the land of liberty and opportunity. The Godfather belittled as little more than romantic fantasy and American pop culture decried as genesis of the myth that is the mighty Sicilian Mafia I concluded triumphant and confident in the applause of my fellow students. We didn’t like her that much so with a spirit crushed, my work was done and the A for the paper was gravy baby.

But I digress.

On another occasion we discussed the mobilisation of the general public as a political force in Europe and quickly came to accept that much had changed since the rise of Fascism in the 30s and 40s, rampant left-wing terrorism of the 50s, and anti-war sentiment of the 60s and 70s. Nowadays the public had little to unite them against the government. Certainly nothing that warranted the pounding of pavements and waving of crude placards that we’ve seen in recent years. Society had become less and less homogenous, developments in transport technology meant more and more people were able to travel further and further afield. The ties that used to bind us as communities were swiftly falling aside to more selfish pursuits. Society used to consider political largesse a travesty only to then find itself cosseted in the trappings of their own lives and forgiving of such injustices. In short, people no longer gave a damn.

And to a large extent I still consider that to be true. The protests of late against the War in Iraq brought out every marginalised interest group from the left-wing students desperate for their own Vietnam to define their generation, anarchists and anti-globalisation miscreants caught in the headlights of something bigger than the corner Starbucks, and the ageing communists and socialists nostalgically mourning the loss of support from artless academia and guilty champagne elite. These people would get out of bed to protest against anything and it spoke volumes, at least to this brown face, that so many of these white, educated faces stood in solidarity with us cuzzybros when the foreshore and seabed hikoi hit Wellington.

My point is this: are we as a generation so bereft of political consciousness and our lives so empty of meaning that we must bear the misery of others like a badge of honour and charge at imaginary monsters?

Monday, 17 October 2005

Curious George is coming to the big screen


I'm going to cry I'm so happy. Curious George was the dogs bollocks as far as kids books went. Curious George made Babar cry he was so cool.

When six attacks


Ok so maybe I've become double-booked for Saturday night any I blame the number six and an ever-loosening grasp of the past and one's memory.

Electric Six are playing the same night as Ladi6 and I have tickets for both. EKG and SPFW seem to favour my attending Electric Six with EKG going so far as to suggest that I could see Ladi6 anytime. Which isn't altogether untrue.

I saw her play Sandwiches a while back when she was with Verse2/VerseTwo (I forget which). She was gooooooooooooood.

But then so are Electric Six.

Oh the humanity!

Can you feel the cut-throatedness?

I know it sounds tragic but last night saw the first episode of Project Runway finally hit the screens down here and as against reality TV as I am I am afraid I enjoyed this show immensely.

Following on from the 'heady' heights of The Apprentice and America's Next Top Model (ok I am really trying to type with a straight face here people), Project Runway sees a bunch of fashion wannabes compete in episodic competitions to see who will win everything they need to kick-start their own fashion label.

I know that sounds terribly underwhelming but there is something about watching Americans take themselves far too seriously. Last night for instance saw the elimination of one of the most sickening self-confident and affected people I've ever seen. Imagine my glee when he was told the six hours he'd spent slaving over a tunic made of butcher paper and tinfoil were all for naught. You really should have seen what the chick that almost lost came up with. Oh dear lord it was like waste disposal had thrown up on her.

The guy that won the competition was so gay its amazing there was any left for the rest of us. The seven hours he spent trying to weave corn husks into a bodice were tragicomic. It looked like shit and he had so little time left one was almost left to wonder if he shouldn't just give up. And then we next see him when time is up and he has this amazing bodice and skirt, a veritable symphony of cream and lime green. Ladies and gentlemen it looked almost wearable.

And that ladies and gentlemen is why I like the show. You don't need to give a shit about the designers. Just get off on the interpersonal antics and see people transform the mundane into the melodramatic.

PS: $50 says the big gay guy is hiding his bald spot.

Thursday, 13 October 2005

Staring into the abyss

Blogging has generally been more therapeutic than anything else. It has helped to have something relatively simplistic to focus my attentions on, whether it be the distraction from the minutiae of normal life or the simple act of getting something off my chest.

I’d seen friends of mine have a go and naturally (those that know me can vouch for my more than healthy ego) thought that I could do a much better job. Spelling and grammar had always been strong points of mine so I was already sorted in that department. The one thing that I needed to come up with was content.

I learned prior to embarking on this online literary odyssey that most blogs fail within the first three months for any number of reasons. The novelty wears off. The blogger ends up saying everything they wanted to say. Priorities change. Take your pick and apply to any one of the thousands of abandoned blogs.

Although I’ve survived well beyond the three month honeymoon for most blogs, the frequency with which new material is posted is reaching the almost shameful and the quality of the material posted of late is much less favourably regarded (at least by this blogger).

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed regaling one and all with tales of my shopping habits, personal observations and occasional abridged accounts of my nightlife.

However things have changed.

My head is in a space that leaves me apathetic towards talking about what I’ve just bought, seen or done. I thought that the fine dining of recent weeks would reinvigorate my interest but I have instead swung from one extreme (2000+ word account) to the other (a couple short paragraphs) and an author ultimately unsatisfied by his efforts.

I’d rather not get all geeky over topics because as one of my readers reminded me on my previous foray into blogging, cheese is boring. Similarly, talking about shopping gets boring too. I also suffer enough of a disinterest in sport as to not warrant engaging in posts on that particular topic.

Things have also reached a point where I am very reluctant to mention what I get up to with friends lest my modest yet loyal readership get the wrong idea and assume far too much simply from the number of mentions a nom de plume may receive. Sometimes a poetry reading is nothing more than supporting a friend with the added bonus of enjoying something different to break the tedium of a weekday lunch hour.

Adding insult to injury I can’t exactly blame all this on suffering from a lack of inspiration. My writing of late is probably more productive than it has ever been and yet I find most of the material I have originally intended as posts has either shared more than leaves me comfortable or delved into topics and issues I’m not sure should be posted on a blog devoted to leading an epicurean lifestyle in Wellington. Either way the material lies unpublished and largely ignored.

So with the appropriateness of posting matters personal and the material on this blog swiftly losing interest, I find myself in the unenviable position of considering the fate of this online literary odyssey.

A friend of mine once described blogging as akin to screaming into the void. I liked the description so much it took me a fair while to work out how seductively misrepresentative it really is. I am reminded Nietzsche once wrote that one must beware of looking into the abyss lest they find the abyss staring back into them.

And so it is with one’s readership. With every online offering one must understand that their screams are heard, considered and possibly understood in aspects unintended.

I guess I’m just a bit wary of sharing too much lest I see things move in awkward directions or end up revealing too much of what I’d rather was kept to myself. With my thinking and interest focussing more on previously undiscussed territory this is something I’m really struggling with.

I’m not sure where this leaves this blog, this blogger or you my modest yet loyal readership. I just hope you understand why the posts have become sporadic and questionable in their quality.

Friday, 7 October 2005

Perfick!

Dinner at Citron with Mistress Z last night was a symphony of perfection, decadence and delirium.

I almost cried it was so good. I'm serious. The dessert had me weeping from the very first taste.

We're going back in early December. And again in January next year. And any other time we can get a booking really.

It made the White House seem like a visit to KFC.

Thursday, 6 October 2005

I went shopping today

I think I bought too much.

I’ll write more when I’ve had a chance to enjoy all that I have bought.

I promise.

Bon Appetit?

So last night mi familia and I went to Francois on Murphy Street. I’ve always enjoyed going to Francois and was expectant of another enjoyable dining experience.

And it was… in some respects.

The Bott Geyl Pinot d’Alsace (a pinot blanc from Alsace) was formidable and the cassoulet (duck confit, pork sausages and haricot bean ragout) insanely savoury and flavoursome. The service as always was pleasant, considered and attentive without being over-bearing in the least. The blonde waitress was rather tasty eyecandy too. Same goes for the french guy at the table next to ours.

But the seats were uncomfortable, the table was too narrow for us, the menus were not exactly clean, and my entrée (baked potato and onion gratin with reblouchon cheese) was neither what I thought I ordered nor served warm all the way through.

I will go back, just not sure I’d hurry back too soon.

Sorry to disappoint with this modest review but I’m afraid my Francois experience wasn’t quite worth the 2000 word treatment.

Citron tonight with Mistress Z to discuss babies. Not ours. Someone else's baby. We're not allowed to have children. They'd be criminally hairy. Anywho, dinner should be good.

Hmmm... chocolate

Fi bought me a brownie yesterday.

Not just any brownie.

An American chocolate fudge brownie.

From Pandoro.

The big one they sell in the fancy wrapper.

You don't need to know why.

This is all that’s left.

It was yummy.

Thanks Fi.

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

I've got something to put in you

Pinstripes has secured for me a ticket to Electric Six when they play Indigo in a few weeks time.

I don't have the ticket myself but Levi's ticket looks like this.

Thankfully Electric Six doesn't play music quite gay enough to play in a gay bar. Standing in a gay bar to hear a band play Gay Bar surrounded by straight people would be... well.. weird.

Gosh. Aren't you the glutton

With the White House out of the way that means two fine dining establishments down and two to go.

Francois with mi familia tomorrow night. Citron with Mistress Z the following night.

Normal food will never taste the same again. *weeps*

Sad but true.

She said suck! Or Friday Night At the White House

Friday night saw the eventual partaking of what was for some a much long-awaited fine dining experience at the White House. Attended by a gaggle of good friends once bonded by a common workplace, the dinner was in my summation a most excellent culinary symphony in five simple courses.

I am however getting ahead of myself.

The evening’s official proceedings began a brisk walk away in one of my favourite haunts, namely Ponderosa. Occupying the space once inhabited by the Champagne Bar, Pondo (as it is affectionately known by those of us already accustomed to its cocktail list) is an almost kitschy cubby hole of wild west goodness. The mighty taxidermed moose head hanging from the wall near the door (Howard to his friends) is perhaps the one questionably western memento in this space responsible for such alcoholic delights as the Dirty Clint (very fruity), the Cool Hand Luke (I’m sorry did someone say creaming soda), the Hi Ho Silver (loving the lychee) and the gone but not forgotten Gay Roy Rodger (my personal favourite).

Four Hi Ho Silvers later and we were away. My comrades and I faced the elements in an almost Herculean walk along an unprotected and might I add dimly lit Oriental Parade. The waterfront conversation was convivial if punctuated sporadic blasts of dust and sand. Crunchy. The airborne debris notwithstanding it seemed that nothing was able to get in the way of discussing how a born and bred Wellingtonian could avoid going to the White House with further discussion of whether one could go to the Tugboat on the Bay for a laugh much like one would say for Valentines. I wouldn’t know myself. I’ve never been to one.

Moving on…

We haphazardly wended our way in two huddled masses towards the warm embrace of the White House. Heading up the interior stairwell to the front door I thought the wind outside was swaying me from side to side. In hindsight it was probably the four Hi Ho Silvers.

Warmly welcomed by the wait staff and with coat and scarf safely stowed away we made our way up yet more stairs to the upstairs dining area where we were promptly placed at a large round table near the bar.

First up were dinner rolls accompanied by soft rolls of handmade butter. I was wondering to myself why noone was tucking into theirs until one of my companions asked whether it was ok to start eating them. I had a quiet chuckle to myself. The dinner rolls themselves looked almost lost in the sea of linen before us but proved to be warm to the touch and subtly sweet to the taste. Although obviously not fresh from the oven, the dinner rolls were more than ably compensated by the divinely rich and creamy butter provided. The soft balls of golden goodness were enjoyed by all with much oohing and hmmming.

As nice as the dinner rolls were I was waiting for the imminent arrival of the taster. These are generally provided by restaurants as a pre-dinner palate teaser and often comprise the restaurants specialty or chef’s evening special. Francois generally provides a snail pate taster, Copita provide a soup of the day taster (it was jerusalem artichoke and gypsy bacon when I was last there *drools*). Past visits to the White House saw prompt delivery of a mushroom veloute taster with truffle oil. Divinely delicate and a savoury delight in almost every sense the mushroom veloute was as close to a culinary orgasm I’ve ever come.

And so it was with a collision of exaggerated expectation and some disappointment that our table were served cauliflower veloute tasters with truffle oil. Now cauliflower has always been a rather hit and miss soup base in my experience. Use too much of the stem and it becomes mushy, use too much of the head and it becomes gritty. That is why I was pleasantly surprised the taster was as rich and savoury as it was. My one gripe with the taster though was that the roux base left too strong a taste of flour and suffered for needing truffle oil to mask the floury aftertaste. That said I did enjoy a second taster and my thanks to Jay Bee and Pinstripes for their very generous offer.

From an aside to Geekonomist it seems my rants about the mushroom veloute taster was the primary impetus for Pinstripes coming to the White House. Fingers crossed Pinstripes wasn’t disappointed with the taster.

A fair amount of time passed between the taster and the entrees. More time than I was expecting but the conversation was moving along at a fair trot and I didn’t pick up on any concerns from those around me.

Well except for the lovely lady to my left. She thought the waiter a grumpy bugger and the ladies bathrooms leaving madame decidedly underwhelmed. I remember something about the bathrooms lacking amenities like soft tissues and an analogy describing them as redolent of public toilets. I couldn’t possibly comment myself. Comes with not being a woman. Well in the gender sense at least.

The entrees arrived at long last and it emerged that half the table had ordered the cervena. It was served as a carpaccio (thin marinated strip) with a green bean compote and a grilled cherry tomato as garnish. Balsamic syrup and olive oil were drizzled over the carpaccio. You’ll have to ask one of the girls to see if it was any good.

For my sins I ordered the duck liver parfait. I’ve always been a sucker for a good pate and past visits to the *chokes* Black Harp has seen many a request for extra crackers (it is not my fault they never provide enough of them). Sublimely delicate in every sense of the word, the duck liver parfait was a slice of smooth creamy decadence served with toasted doorstops of oil-sprayed bread and an onion chutney of overwhelming tart character (I dared not spoil the parfait with such an unnecessary condiment). Although not as voluminous as Pinstripes’ octopus or the Geekonomist’s smoked eel, the richness and subtle flavours of the exquisitely constructed parfait were satisfying in ways that prove quality is so much more satisfying than quantity. The dish left me almost giddy it was that good.

Consumed with gusto, the entrees were quickly cleared for the then imminent arrival of the palate cleanser. Traditionally a sorbet has been provided between the entrée and main courses to cleanse the palate. Coffee beans are used for much the same purpose at perfume counters in higher class establishments. The palate cleanser has since become an opportunity for the kitchen to showcase its abilities with desserts with any number of sorbets provided by different establishments. The evening we dined at the White House, feijoa sorbet was served in frozen shot glasses and seemed for many of my companions an odd thing to enjoy at this stage of the dinner. Given my historical bias against the feijoa I consumed my palate cleanser with such speed that limited the misery of memory (feijoas give me nightmares – sad but true). Although effective in its overall purpose (cleansing one’s palate for the next course) I did find the sorbet a bit gritty and it probably could have benefited from being run through a coffee filter. My companion to my left countered that suggestion by commenting the sorbet would seem artificial if not for the grit. A fair point.

Palates cleansed the shot glasses were cleared away and the main course brought out soon afterwards.

The mains arrived and they proved to be quite the mixed bag. The spatchcock was resplendently roasted with a chevre and quark (or similar cheese) stuffing. The duck was served on a kumara mash and accompanied by a gravy jug (I love that they have jugs! It is a shame no-one ordered the soup or we would have seen them serve it from soup jugs). Pinstripes ordered the lamb fillets served with haricot beans, the beef fillet was served atop a flat mushroom and the potato column filled with béarnaise. My warning that Red Pants be careful about how she deconstructed the potato edifice only seemed to confuse her. The Geekonomist ordered the boneless oxtail and to be honest I was rather jealous. Oxtail is always extremely tender and flavoursome from the cooking process required to extract the meat.

I ordered the cervena served with an orgy of mushrooms and what seemed to be a mushroom and polenta base. Cervena is normally a risky proposition at most restaurants as the gamey meat seems so very difficult to cook without it becoming overcooked and tough as leather. Thankfully the almost rare cervena steaks were cooked to perfection and almost buttery they were that tender. The truffle oil added to the cervena jus formed a delightful gravy that helped bind the orgy of mushrooms into a manageable mass. As a dish, the cervena was neither too voluminous nor too mean on the portions. The flavours were clear but restrained enough not to overwhelm the subtle cervena. I was very happy with my main course.

Whipped potatoes with truffle oil, winter vegetable mash and peas vinaigrette were also ordered and shared by all. I avoided the whipped potatoes in favour of the winter vegetable mash. Comprising root vegetables of the carrot, parsnip and kumara persuasion the winter vegetable mash was made in such a way that the palate could discern the different vegetables in the dish. The Designer asked if it was like the dinner gum from Willy Wonka. I was enjoying the mash far too much to respond with anything remotely resembling wit. Sad but true. The peas vinaigrette was fantastic as always. Fresh peas no doubt depodded by the prep staff that very day, they were served still slightly crunchy with parmesan cheese, feta and the lightest vinaigrette I’ve ever had. It was neither oily nor suffocated by the vinegar. An ideal side dish for the White House.

I think I may have enjoyed the side dishes just a little too much with an intense struggle raging between my palate yearning for more and my digestive system begging for respite. My digestive system won with a few very tasty mushroom morsels left on my plate. This has never happened before and I can’t help but feel shame. Maybe with more time I could have finished the dish but alas I had to concede defeat.

Thankfully we were given some time between the main course and the inevitable questions about dessert. And what good questions they were. My asking the once-grumpy now-convivial waiter which was larger of the desserts left me blessed with two servings of raspberry sorbet with my chocolate fondant.

And what magnificent fondant it was. Chocolate fondant, much like crème brulee, are age old simple desserts that if done properly can satisfy people in ways not often seen outside the bedroom. If there is one thing you should go to the White House for it would be their chocolate fondant. Baked to perfection the fondant was firm to the touch yet when pierced immediately oozed some of the finest chocolate I’ve ever had. The chocolate was obscenely rich and I was forced to pace myself lest I repeat my main course shame. The raspberry sorbet was superbly sweet and very nicely added a tart character to the weighty and deathly rich fondant. Suffice to say I was the last person to finish their dessert.

The evening almost over it was time for coffee and tea to finish off the dinner. This ladies and gentlemen was perhaps my underwhelming moment of the evening. Although asking for earl grey tea I’m not sure I was served earl grey tea. The bouquet was far from fulsome with the aroma of the oil of bergamot that gives earl grey tea its very specific character. Suffice to say I only partook of a cup of disappointment.

The dining experience at its conclusion it was time to settle the bill and my thanks to the Designer and the lovely lady to my left for helping bring the per head cost down to $100. I checked the bill and everything was there. Not bad for a fancy dining experience. Not bad at all.

Gathered briefly outside the White House we parted ways and headed off into the night. I for my sins enjoyed a few more cocktails before winding up back in my own bed. I won’t say when I that happened.

All in all a fantastic dinner with good friends. Priceless.

I can't stop yawning

It was a late one last night

Monday, 3 October 2005

Patience is a virtue

Forgive the hiatus but the events of last week proved at times too moving for words.

Red pants’ speech at Carporn’s farewell drinks at the Feathers. The venison meatballs taster at the Tasting Room later that evening. Mister Chris’ folio of often humorous poetic writings. 1960s samurai movies on DVD.

I'm sorry but such occasions defy description.