Saturday, September 30, 2006

A 3-tier brunch

Anne and I Humbered out to my favourite seaside suburb -- Wynnum -- to have brunch this morning.

We went there to go to the English tea-house. It is run by a patriotic Englishman who has filled his cafe with memorabilia and photos of England. Last time we were there we noted that he was offering a traditional English morning tea served on a 3-tier cakestand like the one in the pic below. I had never had such a morning tea before but Anne had encountered them before in her travels -- at the Raffles in Singapore, for instance.

We chose Darjeeling tea, which was served in a pot! A change from the teabags that have now become the norm in Australia.

We ordered rather a lot of food so we got a first course of pastries before the cakestand arrived. That man sure knows how to cook pastries! There were the best mini sausage rolls I have tasted plus some excellent slices of pork pie, which I had with English mustard.

When the cakestand arrived it had sandwiches on top (cheese and ham), filled sponge-cake and a lemon meringe tart on the middle tier and scones (which Americans call "biscuits!) and jam ("jelly") on the bottom tier. And it was all served up in a most polite and helpful way by the proprietor -- who was obviously modelling himself on a traditional English butler.

We could not eat it all of course so waddled out of the shop with the leftovers in a box.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A long weekend

Anne and I had a more eventful weekend than usual last weekend.

It started out on Thursday night, when Anne and I went to the local Stones Corner Indian restaurant. I had Balti curry (my favourite) and Anne had Moglai curry. We also ordered two spinach and cheese naan, which were superb. We ordered two lots but could not finish it so we took the remainder home and polished it off later as a midnight snack.

On Friday morning we Humbered out to K& K's Austrian Konditterei at Sinnamon Park.

Anne has recently returned from a trip to Austria but finds that the food at K&Ks compares favourably with what is available in Wien ("Vienna"). I usually have the Bauern Groestl at K& Ks but I changed for once and had their big breakfast. It included some herbed sausage that was especially good. Before we left, we bought an Austrian teacake for later.

We took the teacake with us that night as a contribution to the supper at a classical music soiree we went to. This soiree was a bit humbler than some we go to in that the music was recorded rather than live but it was very good nevertheless. We heard an Italian group playing the popular Vivaldi Lute concerto that was quite inspired. Plus lots of other good stuff.

On Saturday morning we Humbered out to the seaside at Wynnum and visited an English teahouse for brunch. Anne had a ploughman's lunch and I had roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. I am something of a devotee of Yorkshire pudding but you have to get a good version of it. This version was OK. We went for a stroll along the esplanade afterward, which was pleasantly breezy.

On Sunday we attended a family gathering to celebrate Ken's birthday. It was held in a park beside the sea on the South Coast at Paradise Point. It is a very pleasant park. The gathering centred around a BBQ lunch. Anne and I brought along Cevapi for the BBQ, which went down well. I gave Ken a bottle of Tyrrell's Verdelho for a present. Ken and I of course had our usual long chat -- this time about abortion, guns and other serious stuff.

A much more active weekend than I usually have.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Joe Green and British cars

I had an unusually interesting weekend just past.

On Saturday afternoon, Anne rang and informed me that there was to be a performance of the Requiem by Joe Green (Giuseppe Verdi) at the metropolitical cathedral of St John here in Brisbane.

St John's is a magnificent Gothic revival church with soaring stone pillars and arches inside that give a brilliant sound to music performed there and it is in fact a popular concert venue when not being used for services. There is not much faith left in Anglican churches these days (about the only thing sacred to most western Anglicans these days seems to be homosexuality) but they sure own some magnificent buildings.

St John's is only 10 minutes drive from where I live so we went along to listen. I am not much into 19th century opera (opera for me stops at Mozart) and Verdi is of course an operatic composer so all I really know of his music is the famous arias. So I had never heard his Requiem before.

It turned out that St John's was a magnificent venue for it. It is the strangest Requiem you can imagine. There was nothing religious about it at all. The music was pure opera -- with lots of crashing and thundering and drama -- all of which came across splendidly in the vast stone cavern of St John's.

I enjoyed it but the contrast with the dignity and restraint of the Mozart requiem or the Brahms Deutsches Requiem was severe. Still, the most famous piece of religious music there is was written by an operatic composer -- Handel's Messiah -- so Verdi cannot really be criticized for his approach.

And on Sunday morning we went along to an "All British Day" -- a gathering of British made cars -- mostly old -- held in a local park. I of course drove my 1963 Humber Super Snipe and joined fellow owners of Rootes Group cars. Anne and I did however have quite a big wander around the many wonderful old cars that had emerged out of Brisbane garages for the occasion. There was a big old Jag and a Riley that I particularly admired but there were all sorts of rarities there. Most pleasing.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Father's day

Today was Father's Day in Australia and I was delighted that my 19 year-old son came over in the afternoon and joined me in a drive down to Wynnum (another Brisbane seaside suburb) in the Humber. Joe (my son) has now got very high marks in all three years of his university studies (in Mathematics) so I am of course very pleased to have such an academic son. And he has never given me a moment of worry about his personal life either. There is a picture of him here with his Asian girlfriend.

We bought takeaway coffee and cakes as soon as we got to Wynnum and sat down on the grass a few feet from the sea to eat, drink and chat. We had no sooner sat down than Joe spilt his coffee. I am myself a bit clumsy so it is no mystery where he got a bit of clumsiness from. He was apologetic about the spill but I gave him half of my coffee and remarked that he would probably learn from what he did. I pointed out to him that I give him thousands of dollars every birthday and Christmas precisely so he can make mistakes on the stockmarket and learn from them. I want him to have learnt investing by the time I die and he gets my money to manage.

We talked about politics and current affairs and I pointed out to him the number of fronts on which I am doing battle at the moment. Some of the things I mentioned to him were:

On my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog I am doing battle with the obesity warriors and trying to get the results of the longevity studies known -- which show that it is people of MIDDLING weight, not slim people, who live longest.

On "Dissecting Leftism" I try to demolish the great Leftist coverup of their prewar liking for Fascism and I also pointed out what a myth is the Marxist claim that Fascism was "bourgeois" by referring to a scholarly study which shows that it was WORKING class people, not middle class people, who were over-represented in the Sturm Abteilung (Brownshirts).

I also mentioned to him a couple of things that I have publicized on my Scripture blog -- in particular that Christ plainly did NOT die on a cross but on a single upright stake. The words in the Greek New Testament that are usually translated as "cross" are "Xylon" -- which is simply the ancient Greek word for "wood" -- or "stavros" -- which is simply the ancient Greek word for "stake".

I did however advise him to keep out of all politics at university as it would be bad for his career. So we in fact spent most time reading poetry together. I read him poems by Keats, Coleridge, Blake, Burns, Fitzgerald, Hopkins etc which I myself had mostly read at school but which he had never heard of. Schools these days have robbed our kids of their literary heritage but I am doing my best to see that my son is not robbed in that way.

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Life in a backwater

Anne and I got into my 1963 Humber Super Snipe this morning and motored down to the seaside for brunch. We took sandwiches with us and got takeaway coffee from a cafe close to our destination. When we got there, the park had a few people wandering around but the picnic shelter where we sat down was uninhabited. So we sat there in perfect peace and quiet and had our brunch looking out to sea across Moreton Bay. And there were no "minorities" to trouble us.

The English used to "motor" down to salubrious places once too but from what I hear these days, all that they now do is crawl along in traffic jams. I encountered no traffic jams or holdups at all and we drove through some quite nice green countryside on the way -- so if any English person had been with us it would have seemed to them like a trip back in time.

We did stop at a liquor barn on the way to pick up some choice Tokay. The liquer Tokay that Australian vintners produce is lightyears ahead of the rough red that Hungarian vintners make out of the same grape. Australian liquer Muscat is remarkably good too -- so, if you are a drinker of fortified wines, scrap the Port and go for Australian Muscats and Tokays. It will be a definite step up.

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of Anne and I meeting so we are going to celebrate by going to the smorgasbord at the Hilton. The Brisbane Hilton does an impeccable smorgasbord with lots of seafood -- of which Australians are usually very fond. They seem to do the best Sydney rock oysters in town -- large and succulent. If you have never eaten raw Sydney rock oysters, you haven't lived. I know of no other oyster remotely as good.

It is so nice not to live in a "vibrant" place.