Thursday, February 21, 2008

Catering For Vegetarians

I had to pay a visit to Oamaru last night as two of my favourite musicians were playing the Penguin Club. They sang and entertained with wry stories about spending days on the road until about eleven. As I had had to make a quick exit from Dunedin and even then arrived at the Penguin Club after the thing had started, I'd not had a chance to eat. Surprisingly, Oamaru does not have many options for food at 11:00 on a Tuesday night - no McDonalds, no Subway. I was thinking it would have to be an awful service station pie, but was surprised to find a fish and chip shop might just be open. The street sign had been taken in, but there was still a sign on the door saying open. I stopped outside - there was a woman wiping the door, but she paused in her activity when she saw me watching her, trying to decide if she was just doing the last cleaning up before going home, or was in fact open for business.

I took up the only way of finding out for sure - I went in. While she was cooking my fish and chips, I had some time to investigate the menu. Unlike most fish and chip shops I have been in, and in fact unlike any fish and chip shop of this particular style, which had a range of western and asian foods on offer, there was a Vegetarian Menu. Taking pride of place at the top of the menu? Cinnamon donuts. Then jam donuts. Something called a "jam rap" was last - the only plausible vegetarian dinner item was a chopsuey fritter (sounds worse than a service station pie, to be honest).

But my fish and chips from JRS Diner were better than expected. As were the musicians at the Penguin Club. Of course, I expected a lot from Victoria Girling-Butcher and was not disappointed (except for missing half her songs) - she did a bunch of Lucid3 songs, along with what seemed to be a couple of new solo ones. But my expectations of Age Pryor were not high - I'd only seen glimpses of his performances in the past and been left underwhelmed, so last night's show was a revelation. I'd only ever seen Paul McLaney as part of a bigger lineup, never doing the solo singer-songwriter thing. He still strikes me as the most unlikely looking musician - I was watching him closely last night as he did his thing, and decided that he looks like a pastry chef, mainly because I have no real pre-conceptions as to what one looks like. He sings fantastically, however, and ain't bad on the guitar either. The best song of all, however, was when they all joined in together at the end and sang Dylan's I Shall Be Released.

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