Sunday Territorian 18 May 2014
Sunday Territorian; NewspaperNT
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Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
Nationwide News Pty. Limited
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Nationwide News Pty. Limited
18 LIFESTYLE SUNDAY MAY 18 2014 NTNE01Z01MA - V2 Posh nosh simply too rich for our unpretentious appetites The era of snobby astronomical gastronomy is fortunately being replaced by friendlier restaurants with reasonable prices THIS is the story of two Italians; one I had on Thursday night, the other on Saturday. To protect their reputations lets call them Luigi and Sergio. First up, Luigi. He looked proud, almost haughty, standing above one of the most spectacular beaches in the country. Formal, starched, impeccably-mannered, he boasted a menu that oh you thought shame on your filthy minds. Yes, Im talking restaurants and thanks to a generous gift voucher from a friend I enjoyed a night of old-school fayn daynin for the first time in years (most dosh over the past decade has disappeared on nappies and swim lessons). Anyway, Luigis was the real deal: a wine list as thick as Berlusconis, er, wallet, tablecloths as stiff as a nuns wimple and dishes so unctuous Brodo di Pecorino, fregola, topinambur affumicati, castagne e olio di aneto (transl. cheese soup) the words alone justified $45 for a main course. But heres the thing; I loathed it. Loathed the formality of the staff even though they were so authentically Italian theyd clearly arrived from Roma that afternoon. Loathed that the smoked eggplant had been rendered into a deep violet smear that bore no resemblance to that most gorgeous and glossy of vegetables. Loathed that a dozen leaves drizzled with a splash of macadamia oil should cost $12. If Luigi was like a visit to a stuffy, gilt-framed Florentine art gallery, then Sergio was the poppy-strewn field you skip through afterwards. Paper tablecloths, shared plates, juicy olives, pizzas melting with mascarpone, a waiter who clearly loved his job. I met my friend Sally there after work, shared some meatballs, grilled vegetables with eggplant still recognisable and the sort of easy honest conversation that only comes when the surrounds are likewise. Not for the first time, I realised I am over posh. Its all such a bore isnt it? Its not just the cost; a night out at Luigis was $283 for two versus Sergios $88. Rather, its the oppressive, manufactured fanciness of astronomical gastronomy. All the posturing, the sixmonth waitlist for a table, the verbose explanations for what is, essentially, Eat, Pay, Leave. Ill never forget being invited to one of the countrys most celebrated restaurants (nine courses, matching wines, constant interruptions) and laughing in the bathroom the next morning at my $200 ablution. Ignoring for a moment the fact that no one can now afford it cheers, Joe Im glad that fine dining is sinking as fast as a twice-baked souffle. Luxury, hatted establishments, towers of ingredients, the uncomfortable hush, over-upholstered chairs its all being replaced by something far more casual, democratic and fun. Christel Lane, professor of economic sociology at Cambridge University, says top chefs no longer try to cultivate a culture of elitism in their restaurants. The snobbery of fine dining is gradually being eroded, she remarks. Far better and ultimately more profitable is to attract the armchair diner, the millions who tune in each night to My Kitchen Rules and MasterChef. Matt Moran, Manu Fieldel, Pete Evans, Kylie Kwong; theyre not all jumping on the bandwagon because a TV studio is any less hot or busy than a kitchen. These days viewers are customers. Its the same philosophy behind so many fashion designers creating diffusion lines: only a handful of people can afford top-end so why not sprinkle a bit of special truffle oil, 80 per cent cocoa solids? on something accessible to the masses. Its not just what we eat, but how we eat. We want wine by the glass not the bottle, rooms that feel like a sexier extension of our kitchens, bar spots for two, all-day dining, raw materials metal, concrete, light bulbs character not perfection, tables that invite mess, not tablecloths that forbid it, wait staff with personality and charm, not an exhaustive knowledge of 2002 Bordeaux. Ive had four memorable meals in the past year: a shared plate of barramundi and green apple salad at Melbournes hawker-inspired Chin Chin; dumplings and tick-your-own menus at the rapidly-expanding Miss Chus; bangers, garlic mash and a crack at winning the meat tray at the RSL in Port Douglas; fried cauliflower, currants and smoked almonds ($14) at Gerards Bistro in Brissie. Yes, the company was excellent on each occasion but it was the relaxed vibe, the reasonable prices, the friendliness of the staff that made the evenings sing. Were not just spending more of our income eating out a 33 per cent increase in six years according to ABS stats were documenting our experiences on sites like TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon. If I think Luigis lamb neck was a bit tough or Sergios meatballs were bloody delicious, I can tell the world. Hockeys grab at our wallets aside, we now govern the hand that feeds us. TERRITORY CHILDCARE GROUP INC. Murraya Childrens Centre 89271080 Bees Creek outside school hours and vacation care 8983 3290 Darwin Family Day Care 89200600 firstname.lastname@example.org www.territorychildcare.org.au think child care, think Territory Child Care