Taking the plate is a jarring note

Due to great plate shortage and the knife and fork famine circa 2012 and ongoing to this day, cafes are serving things up in jars and the plate has gone the same way as the tonka bean.

Why?

It’s like a pair of smelly old sandshoes is in charge of table service and thought it would be classy. Either that or Manu, in a French-flavoured fit of pique, cried, “They don’t like ze escargots infused with duck fat?! Let them eat splinters from chopping board wrapped in a salmonella jus. I’ll even throw in this old set of steak knives.”

You know, those in the know will say it’s an attempt to juxtapose the complexity of modern life with a pared down existence, walls, lighting, table settings, all pared back to the underpants.

Those not in the know, will just think that’s a lot of jam to get through to empty out all those jars.

As for death of a plate, food is now presented on chopping blocks, bricks, anything but a plate which has done the job for approximately 30 centuries but that hasn’t stopped inner city hipsters from having a go at it.

Knives and forks are still floating around, but brought to the table in another jam jar. They are trying to make everything look homestyle by having it mismatched. But weirdly, nowadays, thanks to pressure from Better Homes and Gardens everything at home now matches.

It’s not all restaurants or cafes that have no cutlery. Just the expensive funky ones, usually with one word names like Roast, Grill, Sal and Whip (sorry, ignore that last word, I got carried away).

There is no point complaining. This is an actual conversation in Sydney today.

Restaurant goer: Waiter, I’m eating soup off a bathroom tile with an eggbeater and a fish knife.

Waiter: well, sir/madam/gender of choice this is a hatted restaurant. What did you expect? A plate? (insert Sydney waiter sneer).

It’s hard to know where this will end. Will it end? Will your next meal be served on a an old vinyl record, car wheel, playing cards, the kitchen floor.

On that note, excuse me,  have to go and open a jar of jam. I have run out of cups.

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Sydney drivers are bamboozled by rain

What is it about a splash of rain that makes Sydney drivers wet their pants?

A spot of rain and Sydney drivers act like a new life form has arrived on our shores, specifically our roads. Rain takes on biblical proportions, it’s like a plague of soggy locusts teeming down on all the land, which must be defeated by Team Australia, car by car, windscreen wiper by windscreen wiper.

When it rains, Sydney motorists, with their sad wet weather faces (a cross between dentist appointment face and airport queue face) take driving to new passive aggressive heights. They slow down, then weirdly speed up. Like they think the weather will be better on the M2 if only they could get there by driving fast through puddles.

Windsreen wipers sound like some kind of manic water feature. At traffic lights you can see a little windscreen wiper malfunction action going on, as drivers try to find which wiper does the back windscreen.

As for buses, a little rain and they get even more bumfuzzled than usual. They drive aggressively past entire bus stops filled with umbrellas but then they approach roundabouts slower than a wet week.

Of course, you can try to pretend that everything is fine, and turn on the radio. Only it doesn’t help. In a stroke of breathtaking originality, Sydney radio stations play any song mentioning rain on high rotation, just in case you hadn’t noticed IT’S RAINING!

There’s only so many times I can listen to Belinda Carlisle’s Summer Rain. There’s only so much a girl can take of It’s Raining Men. Especially when I have on my wet weather face combined with my rain hair, which I have to go and fix up now. But that’s a whole other blog.

 

Ground down and queued up at Alexandria

I read recently that the insanely popular The Grounds at Alexandria is expanding and will soon have a cider bar, burger bar, child minding, a children’s cinema and woodchopping. This is on top of the potting shed, chickens, artisan bakery, coffee “research” facility, barnyard kitchen, waffle stand and free yoga.

They could have just stuck to being a pie factory.

This restaurant, which is a smidge bigger than Rooty Hill RSL, bills itself as serving consciously evolved fruit and veg (sorry, holistic produce), and hand-raised Mayan chia sourdough. The Grounds wants us to be so flaming rural that, by heck, we’ll find a haystack in our underpants. It wants us to hold a flaky apple crumble in our hand and see a house on the prairie wrapped in a rainbow. It wants us to do a happy dance after spending $72.38 on a slice of Himalayan yak jerky.

There is no seating, which will lead to enlightened conversation with fellow customers, huddling with plates on knees by the piggery.

“I’m having the dandelion milk fed organic, hand-raised cow called Hendrick. He liked listening to Gregorian chants.”

“Oh, really, I’m eating Hendrick too.”

In real country life we’d be getting up at 4am to shoot some sheep and skin them with our bare hands then clean out the blood from all the pigs we castrated in the pig pen. We’ve all seen the movie Babe.

But still that hasn’t stopped Sydneysiders. They are prepared to queue all morning and twice on weekends just to takeaway a slice of country life. And a waffle. And a hotdog and some “researched” coffee.

Confession: I’ve never been to The Grounds. On the grounds that I don’t want to spend three hours queueing for a bit of bread, however hand-embroidered it is. I’m not in any particular hurry to go, it seems like a kind of theme park for people who haven’t set foot outside the inner west.

Besides, I have my own garden, sorry, house-grown organic holistic produce. Excuse me, I just have to go and accidentally eat a caterpillar.

 

Jackie Lambie is no package deal

Jackie Lambie does a spot-on impression of a bull terrier when she talks tough. Which is all the time, as she is always angry at something whether it be Tony Abbott, tax breaks for millionaires or kale.

Without doubt some people find her a bit scary, loud, bogan, bossy or aggressive. She is no shrinking violet, she’s certainly not waiting around for Edward from Twilight to come and rescue her. Instead she will bear her teeth and kick some butt-ugly butt to get stuff done.

She’s an easy target to lampoon, now that we don’t have Pauline Hansen any more. Jackie Lambie with her 200 hi-vis yellow scarves and her unfiltered and unfettered thought bombs. Her radio interview about her ideal partner being built like Thunder Downunder with a bank balance of Clive Palmer was roundly ridiculed. Her statement that Tony Abbott used his daughters politically was accurate but she was demonised anyway and her other statement about him being a political psychopath was put down by the press corp, they were probably just jealous they hadn’t thought of it.

The press corp don’t really know how to interpret her. They don’t want to be seen to be too sexist, too boganist or too Tasmanian-ist. After all, she knows how to use a gun. They want to be mean, but not too mean, after all she is a PUP, and the media are enthralled by Fat Clive.

So, the media do what they do – pounce on statements about big packages and bank balances, find every utterance she makes about the “puppies”, every barb about Tony Abbott and dress it up as politics when its just run of the mill argey bargey. If she wasn’t Jackie Lambie saying these things, say if it was someone tedious and unknown like say, Darren Chester, it wouldn’t be news.

I get the feeling I don’t fully agree with some of the things Jackie would do if she was Prime Minister for a day. But I do think she should be judged on policies not her sound barks.

And so what if she thinks kale is a carseat or likes big packages, let’s get to policy first before the hi-vis scarves.

The fable of the giant canetoad and the fat man

When Tony Abbott gets into his jim jams at night and hops in the sack, he must surely dream of a time not so long ago, when he made the government look ridiculous.

Those halcyon days when he was Opposition Leader.

Nowadays he is making the government look ridiculous for another reason. He’s in government and the no-surprises-no-excuses government has turned into a big fat disaster. With him at the helm.

The Liberals certainly have kicked some home goals (I’m talking paid parental scheme, GP co-payments, ill-advised winks), but they couldn’t have known that Fat Clive would mess with them so much.

Tony Abbott must be having nightmares about a fat cat in a blue and red checked loose shirt, who despite being a shirt size of XXXXXL is so politically nimble he outmanoeuvres the government at every turn.

No matter what the policy, even the ones Clive Palmer actually likes (free M&Ms to mining magnates for instance) there’s another false start and another rabbit comes out of Clive’s Big Bag of Tricks. He scoffs, he rails, he gives an interview, makes a folksy joke, walks out of another interview and generally throws magic dust at the media.

Meanwhile, the Liberals, Tone E. Abbott, in particular, are looking weak and King Clive reigns over all of us.

It’s surreal to watch the Liberals look chastened. They who looked so masterful and in control the last election now appear to have the political nous of parsnip and are attempting to govern as though they are starring in a Lego movie and Everything is Awesome. The budget is resembling a limp lettuce sandwich and only now, months since the budget was handed down, are they realising they need to sweet-talk the crossbenchers after all.

I do not mean to sound in any way judgemental, but a reasonably intelligent labradoodle could have done a better job at selling the budget.

But, as usual in this wide brown land, we get the government we deserve. If the voters thought that Tony Abbott, with his cane toad eyes and Medieval policies was going to be any good, they too must be dreaming.

 

Restaurants hardly provide soft furnishings

Every time I go to a restaurant I feel myself becoming more and more like an old person yelling. Restaurants are now louder than Clive Palmer’s ties (and that’s a Julie’s Rant Fact).

Gone are all the stuff that makes you feel at home: carpet, curtains, wallpaper, comfy chairs, paintings and a working toilet. Instead there are concrete floors and walls, aluminium benches and tables, mismatched cutlery and the occasional potplant about 20 metres up a wall (I mean who is going to water that? Hagrid?).

But still I go out, as it beats cooking. And come back with a cricked neck from leaning forward to hearing what gem of wisdom my dining companion has to say (usually complaints about the noise) and from shouting my order at the waitperson. It goes like this:

Me: I’d like the pork and a salad

Waitperson: You need another fork and a side of lard?

This was an actual conversation apart from the bit I made up.

I don’t know who started this minimalist trend. Did it start in a zen garden (no, zen gardens are quiet!). Or did it start by some evil superchefs who wanted to punish people for not pronouncing jus? Yes! Or did it come from restaurants wanting to save on carpet cleaning costs? Yes!

I think we should only go to eating establishments with carpet, curtains and tablecloths and matching crockery. Oh hang on, that’d mean eating at home.

 

 

 

 

How to get ’em queueing

It’s easy to make money in Sydney. All you need to do is not do anything people actually need and instead buy a struggling old business, do a Mexican streetfood refit and then advertise your new eatery.

There are virtually no post offices, old-school garages and butcheries left in this town, they’ve already been transformed into The Garage, The Butcher’s Block or La Stazione or Il Postino. Bookstores have already turned themselves into cafes, and next will surely be newsagents and banks.

Meanwhile the owners of the themed cafes are laughing all the way to the bank. People are queuing up faster than you can say doppia macchiato to get a slice of contrived action.

As for menu, well, basically sorted. Pepe butter, Sonoma bread, Hanks Jams. There must be macaroons, vine-ripened tomatoes and hay-fed pork sausages from Bangalow. And it must be overpriced.

Then – cue stroke of genius – the business doesn’t take bookings, giving the impression that they are really popular, cool, hip and in demand. And sit back let em queue, let ’em queue and sit back and walk to the bank. Hold on, it’s already a new cafe, La Banque. Heard it’s good.