Tuesday, November 30, 2010



My final Serendipity Dinner for 2010 was the most popular of the four, with thirteen guests crammed around an extended dining table that snaked out of the dining room and into the kitchen. I was disappointed with my main course, which felt a little ramshackle, but the entree turned out well and the dessert was, I think, the best of the year.

Entree was sundried tomato bruschetta. Main was a gourmet barbecue: rump steak with red capsicum and chilli jelly and balsamic onion relish, pork and apple sausages, barbecued corn cobs, a green salad, and baby potato salad with rosemary and red onion. Dessert was ginger marmalade icecream with persian fairy floss and spiced pastry chopsticks.

The ginger marmalade icecream was even better than I imagined it would be. Using ginger marmalade rather than plain ginger softened and expanded the ginger flavour, making it distinct but not overwhelming. As for the persian fairy floss, it's one of those trendy new foods that hasn't yet become available in downmarket suburbs like mine, so I had to drive over to Mt Lawley, in the heart of the Foodie Belt, to find it. If you're not familiar with the area, Mt Lawley is the sort of place in which one doesn't batt an eyelid at paying $90 a freakin' kilo for spun sugar.

Since it was a) the best of the bunch and b) my own creation and therefore not subject to copyright, I'm giving out the recipe for this serendipitous dessert below.

Ginger Marmalade Icecream with Persian Fairy Floss and Spiced Pastry Chopsticks

Icecream - stir together 200mls cream, 200mls milk, 200mls no-fat greek yoghurt, a pinch of salt, 1/4 cup caster sugar and 1/4 cup ginger marmalade. Pour into icecream maker and churn for half an hour, then pour into suitable container and place in freezer.

Persian Fairy Floss - drive to painfully posh supermarket in fashionable suburb and pay $90 a freakin' kilo for a small bag. Please note that you need significantly less than a freakin' kilo to serve thirteen people.

Spiced Pastry Chopsticks - place a sheet of frozen puff pastry on a baking tray, and sprinkle liberally with caster sugar and powdered mixed spice. When it has defrosted, slice into long, finger-width strips with a butter knife. Bake in a hot oven until puffed and golden.

Monday, November 29, 2010


I’ve been bemused for quite some time by the modern mania for Betty Boop. She has all the merchandise of a character from a current hit cartoon without the current hit cartoon itself. She’s been cut adrift from her place in the animation archives; a cultural signifier that doesn’t signify anything. Somehow – and I would kill to know why – she’s achieved a critical mass of cachet that makes her image desirable to bogan women for no appreciable reason. She is simply The Thing To Have, with no further justification.

As a result, it is possible to find things like this on gumtree.com.au:

The tone is set by the Care Bear in the background, who seems to have been anally impaled on some sort of plastic spire, and the Jim Beam bar fridge with an appallingly low energy efficiency rating. And is that a replica sword on a wooden plaque hanging on the wall? I certainly hope it is. But let’s concentrate on Betty herself, as covered by the reluctant vendor:

reluctant sale i have decided to sell my beautiful betty boop statue she is in as new condition she costs my husband over $2000 when he bought it for me she is stamped on the bottom of her foot i am not prepared for her to go down in price as i stated she cost over $2000 when my husband bought her for my birthday ,to a collector this is a must have i have other statues of betty boop but i am not prepared to let them go as yet ,,, i just made the decision today to sell my beautiful statue ,so please contact only if your interested ,, please only genuine people reply no dreamers please ,, $1200 is the price no lower ,,,

It would be easy to sneer and scoff at these people, but I’m going to look for the positives in this situation. And hey, I’ve found three!

1. There is a man out there who is not simply willing to spend $2000 on a giant resin statue of Betty Boop for his subliterate wife, but willing to do it more than once. That’s true love, my friends.

2. You have to admire the tenacity of a woman who has managed to produce a sales blurb despite the fact that both the shift key and the full stop on her keyboard don’t work. I suspect that Betty Boop’s moxie is contagious.

3. There are two types of buyers who might want a giant Betty Boop statue – genuine people and dreamers. This implies that, for some people, owning a giant Betty Boop statue is a long term, carefully considered life goal, not just some idle fancy that occurred to them in the moment. I envy those people. If only my life goals could be met with $1200, a few square feet of spare space, and a severe head injury.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


After a couple of comparatively subdued Serendipity Dinners, they roared back into overdrive last Friday with eleven people attending the third one. On the menu was barbecued tiger prawns with mango and ginger mayonnaise for entree, a retro 70s style pork and chorizo jambalaya for mains, and an artery-hardening baked honey and vanilla cheesecake with mulled wine sorbet for dessert.

However I made the mistake of serving Manhattans as aperitifs. While this is an exquisitely tasty cocktail, it's not the best thing to drink on an empty stomach, and as a results virtually no one drank the wine as they were all lightheaded before they even sat down at the dining table.

Ah, alcoholic pacing; my old nemesis.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


... who promptly lost it, leaving them both up a certain creek without a paddle.

Monday, November 15, 2010


The second Serendipity Dinner for 2010 was the smallest one yet with only four people. I put this down to the fact that I smell. But at least the other three of those four people were delightful, and smelled like new mown grass and summer rain.

On the menu was a salad of honey roasted pumpkin, spinach and pine nuts for entree, penne in creamy blue cheese sauce with black olives and asparagus for main, and a very crowd-pleasing hazelnut cake with a filling of mashed strawberries and cherry brandy for dessert.

Unfortunately now I have to come up with something similarly crowd-pleasing for next Friday's dinner. I will go to the supermarket and see what speaks to me. Last time it was a bottle of drain cleaner, and it told me to kill the President, which while tempting wasn't all that helpful.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


The internet throws up many weird and interesting things, such as this picture from a tumblr blog:

I think that there's something intensely adorable about a little girl having Simon the Enabling Giraffe as her imaginary friend.

Friday, November 05, 2010


I had a lot of fun with my Serendipity Dinners last year, so this November I've decided to run them again.

For those just tuning in or suffering from amnesia, the Serendipity Dinners are a series of dinner parties held every Friday in November. I invite virtually every person I know to nominate which one(s) they want to attend, then sit back and wait for serendipity to arrange the guest list for me. The only stipulation is that people give me 24 hours' notice that they're coming, so that I can buy enough food.

I left the advertising fairly late this year, so there were only six of us for tonight's dinner: clearly serendipity needs a fair lead in time to work its magic. But we were six quality people (or at least five quality people and one idiot who's too lazy to draw up his own guest lists), so the evening went swimmingly.

As per the rules I set down last year, the menu was entirely made up of new dishes - it forces me to try new things rather than relying on old faithfuls. For entree, taleggio and mushoom tarts with a little garnish of baby rocket. For main, roast turkey with a port, fig and cranberry sauce, with roast pumpkin, roast sweet potato and buttered peas. For dessert, grilled pineapple slices with toasted macadamias with homemade burnt banana icecream. As you can probably tell, the oven got a good workout on this occasion.

If you're a local reader of this blog and you'd like to attend one of the three remaining Serendipity Dinners, drop me a line at yevadwerdna (at) hotmail (dot) com. I've already had confirmations for each dinner so at least it won't be just you and me staring awkwardly at each other.