Saturday, June 17, 2017

Friday 16 June


Very little to report on the reading front, as I've just started Denise Mina's Still Midnight. It opens with a badly executed home invasion: two blokes break into an Indian family's house, demanding a bloke called Bob ["Son, we're all Indians here. There's no Bobs here, wrong house."] take away the father as hostage for a two million pound ransom. There's a sort of cute feature to this as Pat (one of the perps) and Aleesha, a teenage occupant of the house, find they're into each other - until she playfully pulls at his balaclava and he shoots her hand, accidentally.

There are two unexplained Indian blokes sitting in a car - they follow the hostage takers but are pulled over by the Police and, being brown are treated as criminals. The Police do end up at the crime scene, and I meet DS Alex Morrow - Mina's lead character. She's obviously good at her job but offside with the powers that be, who're all about favouring the mediocre white man.


I spent so long the other night writing about Rachel Cusk that I didn't say anything on this front. I've started watching Masterchef Australia - it is on here this year much earlier than last year, when it ran on into my summer holidays and I missed the last ten or dozen shows. This week I saw episode 4, the first involving the op 24, where they brought in last year's winner to set a mystery box challenge. Most of the ingredients were pretty standard - chocolate, grapes, macadamia nuts, crab, goat's cheese and cucumber - but a couple I have never used. At least I've heard of lemon myrtle, but not Kaiserfleisch: I'm told it is a type of ham made from the eye of the pork loin, marinated one day and cooked the next. From memory, when my parents made ham, it would brine for about a week.

Although I've seen all episodes so far, the names haven't really stuck and I have no favourites yet - I liked Emily, and the dessert she made was apparently very good but not quite enough to get her the last apron. But then we get wee character studies of some of the contestants in their homes, which helps a bit - Pia is Italian, Brian is a fairly chunky Asian dude who fronts up with what he calls a deconstructed cheeseboard, Rashedul is an Indian bloke. They're mostly young - Benita is the only one my age. Her crab bisque with roti just doesn't sound like a sensible dish - roti is not absorbent enough. Bearded Benjamin is obviously going to have trouble when he knows he has made a mistake, thinks he should fix it, but then thinks he has no time to. Not only has he made his pasta too thin, but he then over-cooks it. Benita has more sense, realises her dish is not working and starts again, uses her roti (which don't look that great) for a wrap. Eliza seems nice, and George loves the test chocolate fondant she cuts open for him. Right as the cook finishes, Rashedul has a disaster - the fridge door catches his hand and he drops most of his dish, smashing the plate and laying waste to the food.

Judging time. Bryan is first up with his "cheeseboard" and the judges pick the plate clean, even fight over some elements, always a good sign. "Absolutely bloody delicious." I find it heartwarming. Pia produces something of equal quality - goats cheese ravioli, although it seemed to me that the dish would be a bit dry. Judges love it. They rund through the large number of pasta dishes - no raves, and Benjamin's is the only bad dish, bad enough to put him in the bottom three, along with Benita and Rashedul. Eliza came through with great fondants, and Sam turned in a novel cheese, wine and chocolate dish which went down well. The star of the first show, Callum, brought in caramelised Kaiserfleish, pickled grape sorbet, a crumb and the judges went mad over it ["completely gnarly and I love it"].

Tuesday is my main watching night - for the past while I've been watching an episode of Breaking Bad with a mate, which we wash down with cake and tea. This week it was episode 7 - Say My Name. Last week was a bit of a cliff-hanger: Walter has taken the thousand gallons of pre-cursor, which puts and end to the deal Mike has put together which would have seen 2/3 sold to a rival outfit and allowed Mike and Jesse to retire. Walter's idea is revealed this week: he will take the money from the other gang, keep the precursor but give them an equity stake in the business: for handling distribution, they'll get 35% of the returns. That gets Mike paid but leaves Jesse without payment, still in the business as far as Walter is concerned. But Jesse really does want out, so Walter has one of the pest control family learn the ropes.

The other major development is with the DEA. Mike has a lawyer put the cash into safety deposit boxes for the nine men he is paying to stay quiet, plus a fair chunk for his grand daughter. The lawyer is the weakest link, and the DEA grab him. Before he even says anything to the DEA, Walter acts, and Mike is dead. Not sure he meant to kill Mike, or things just go the better of him, but it does mean they're now in a world of trouble as there is nothing to keep Mike's men quiet - Walter doesn't even know who they are.

This week, we finished the evening off with a movie (the original Goodbye Pork Pie), boysenberry pie and ice cream. The movie held up pretty well, still funny, still counter-cultural, particularly in its attitude to the Police, who are made to look ridiculous. One thing I really noticed was that it doesn't actually pay close attention to geography: they're in Cromwell (pre-dam) and then they're coming down above Port Chalmers - not the most logical way to get to Invercargill. I did have one big surprise - the fellow who played Blondini is now a lawyer up in Whangarei.


I've mainly been eating at home, so apart from the normal visits to RdC and other cafes for coffee, the only eating out was at the Best Cafe on Monday. It was packed - half the customers were Lions supporters (the match was Tuesday) - and very noisy. I don't think the food was as good as at the Wharf Hotel, where I've been twice in the last few weeks to eat their cod, oysters and chips.

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