Saturday, December 19, 2009


I have this morning to myself, so I've hit the smart shopping precincts of Darlinghurst, Surrey Hills and Paddington. As might be expected, I get the impression that the whole area was designed to subtly discourage riff-raff like me. The expensive stores are intimidating, with lots of signs bearing simple white text on a black background, stating the nature of the store in the most fashionably minimalist way possible, and thus suggesting that if you need a store to have a "name", you probably can't afford to shop here. The Grocer. The Butcher. The Baker. Presumably in the shadier parts of Paddington there's The Prostitute and The Pornographer. Which is coincidentally also a fantastic name for a pub, especially in this area.

Paddington is one of the wealthiest and most stylish enclaves in the city, which means that everyone here is cooler than me. Even the homeless people wear their urine-soaked rags with a certain panache. And the dogs lounging outside the cafes and boutiques while their masters shop give me a superciliously curious look as I pass by, then no doubt growl to each other...

Dog 1: I say, Baxter.

Dog 2: What is it, Hampton?

Dog 1: I may only be a dog, and thus not well-versed in these things, but I'd swear that the human who just walked past WASN'T wearing Wayne Cooper!

Dog 2: Good gracious!

Dog 1: If only I had a mobile and opposable thumbs, I'd call the police.

I'm currently hiding in a bohemian book cafe, where the black-clad staff have politely sold me books and cake. No doubt they mistakenly assume that my Harbour Town jeans and $25 haircut are part of some ironic cutting edge meta-statement, and thus haven't felt the need to organise a mob and run me out of town.

Friday, December 18, 2009


There may be views like this in Perth, but I'm generally not privy to them. I'm in Sydney this weekend, and this is the view from the window I'm sitting at right now. I'm in a tiny garret room in Darlinghurst, listening to Beirut on my iPod punctuated by the occasional police siren or thud of dance music, if the breeze happens to waft in the right direction. I think that there are also possums in the trees across the street, scrabbling about, squealing and making a nuisances of themselves.

Possums – the Britney Spears of the marsupial world.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


From an item picked up by the Blandwagon News Service via The Times:

Tiger Woods quits golf ‘to be a better husband and adulterer’.

In a press conference this morning, conducted on the hallowed grounds of St Andrew's Golf Course, in the shadow of the impressive rack of Miss Tiffani Swallows, 22, Tiger Woods announced his retirement from golf to concentrate on his marriage and adultery.

“In recent weeks the media has hounded me over a number of transgressions,” said Woods, reading a prepared statement from note cards wedged in Miss Swallows' ample cleavage. “This has been very hard on my family. It has disrupted my game. And my golf is suffering too. After a lot of soul searching, discussions with friends, and some therapeutic threesomes, I came to a decision. I looked at the things that are important to me - my children, my wife, my bevy of mistresses, golf – and I realised that one of these things had to go so that I could concentrate on the other three.”

“I love my wife and children, and I really like banging skanky cocktail waitresses and high-priced hookers. Golf... meh. Once I'd decided to simplify my life, the choice was actually pretty easy.”

“We see this as a new chapter in Tiger’s career,” said longtime manager and mentor Sandy Montag. “He’s proven himself to be a driven perfectionist and role model for young golfers everywhere. I’m sure he’ll do the same for every man who’s ever dreamed of illicit sex with tacky bimbos named Jaimee or Candi on the professional sleaze circuit.”

Woods has not ruled out a return to golf at some time in the future. “Once the kids are in college, and if I can't find any Viagra, then yeah, I might consider picking up a club again. After all, golf has always been my fourth love.”

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Last Monday was my blogiversary, the fifth birthday of Get On The Blandwagon!

Calloo. Callay. Frabjous joy, and so forth. I sometimes have a momentary twinge of regret over the name of this blog, as it was chosen more or less on the spur of the moment and I gave it less thought than I have over far more trivial decisions. But the regret is, as I say, momentary. My life is one big blandwagon, about as sexy and exciting as a carpet tile, and going for a ride on it is like going to the fairground, ignoring the rollercoaster and the ghost train, and instead going for a slow drive around the park in a 2004 Toyota Avensis. It’s dull and modern, but it’s comfortable and hopefully people get a laugh out of it. Again, just like a 2004 Toyota Avensis.

According to the not-even-slightly patented Get On The Blandwagon! Modern Blogiversary Gifts List, the fifth blogiversary is traditionally celebrated with gifts of porn. Hmmm. Well, the internet it involved, so this should come as a surprise to no one. Fortunately over the last few years the concept of pornography has expanded (or become engorged, if you will) to include lust-inducing media of any kind, such as food porn, design porn, lifestyle porn, car porn, disaster porn – basically anything you slaver over in a way that shames you to a greater or lesser extent. So, if you feel the need, you can shower me with gifts of porn without risking either of our eternal souls.

Monday, December 07, 2009


Individual Sticky Date Puddings

Simmer 1.25 cups of boiling water and 1.25 cups of chopped dates in a saucepan for a few minutes, until the water has become syrupy. Remove from heat, allow to cool for five minutes, then stir through 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Stir through 0.75 cups of brown sugar and 90g of butter, then stir through two beaten eggs. Finally fold through 1.25 cups of self-raising flour. Pour batter into a greased muffin tray (12 muffins) and cook at 180 degrees celsius for twenty minutes.

As the puddings are finishing cooking, mix 60g butter, 0.5 cups of brown sugar and 150mls of pure cream in a saucepan, then simmer, stirring constantly, until the mix is uniform and reduced slightly. Pour the caramel over each pudding once it’s plated, with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

They're just like grandma used to make, when she was trying to kill grandpa with cholesterol and diabetes.

Friday, December 04, 2009


If you're interested (and frankly even if you're not) here are the ice cream recipes I created for my Serendipity Dinners.

Orange and Cardamom Ice Cream

Pour 300mls of milk, 250mls of cream, 0.5 cups of caster sugar, a pinch of salt and 2 teaspoons of ground cardamom into an ice cream machine and set it running. Finely dice an entire large orange, including peel. When the ice cream machine has turned the mix into a thick slurry, stir through the orange, then transfer into a sealable container and freeze.

Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Ice Cream

Pour 200mls of milk, 200mls of cream, 200mls of zero-fat greek-style yoghurt, 0.5 cups of gourmet strawberry dessert topping and a pinch of salt and into an ice cream machine and set it running. Hull and quarter a punnet of strawberries, then arrange them on a baking tray. Spray them with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with caster sugar. Place under a hot grill until the strawberries just start to blacken. When the ice cream machine has turned the mix into a thick slurry, stir through the strawberries, then transfer into a sealable container and freeze.

White Peach and Ewok Ice Cream

Peel, dice and remove stones from six white peaches, then saute for less than two minutes in 100mls of grappa. Stir in 0.5 cups caster sugar, then put aside to cool. Kill and skin one small to medium sized ewok, kicking it a few times just for good measure. Ball up the bloody pelt and mail it to George Lucas, with a short note explaining that this is what you think of his frikkin' ewoks. Mince flesh, then feed it to your dog, especially if you don't like your dog much. Discard remains. Returning to the peaches, add 300mls milk, 250mls cream and a pinch of salt, then blend and put in ice cream machine. When the ice cream machine has turned the mix into a thick slurry, transfer into a sealable container and freeze.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Throughout the month of November I held a series of dinner parties I called Serendipity Dinners.

The system was thus: I invited a wide variety of people from all areas of my life to dinner on a Friday of their choice. The only stipulation was that they let me know which dinner they wanted to attend by 24 hours beforehand. There were no limits on numbers. The mix of people, and the overall number of people, who attended each dinner would be left entirely to fate.

The other angle for the Serendipity Dinners was in the menu. My policy was that the dishes had to either be old favourites that I hadn't made in years, or new recipes that I wanted to try, or my own off-the-cuff creations: I denied myself the luxury of falling back on my safe, regular dishes.

A few days before the first dinner I steeled myself to the possibility that it would just be me alone with one embarassed person whom I knew only slightly, or that it would be a dozen guys and one horrified girl, or that there would be awkward silences as a bunch of strangers sat around the dining table avoiding each others' gazes.

However the odd thing is that, left alone, serendipity works. Each week I had around a dozen people. Each week I had an almost perfect gender balance. Each week everyone chatted and got on fine. If I tried to interfere, such as suggesting that a potential guest might be happier in one week than another, the whole scheme jarred like a scratch on a vinyl record, then inexorably sorted itself out to the usual numbers and balance.

The menus came out as follows:

November 6

Roasted beetroot and goats cheese salad with a grilled walnut vinaigrette

Dukkuh-crusted salmon fillets with roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes and steamed asparagas

Hazelnut and poppyseed cake with orange and cardamom icecream

Lesson learnt: Too much cardamom makes icecream taste like detergent (fortunately that was a test batch).

November 13

Grilled peach and proscuitto salad in a chilli yoghurt dressing

Spanish-style barramundi, prawn and chorizo stew

Roasted balsamic strawberry icecream with crostoli

Lesson learnt: Grilling enough peaches for thirteen people in a sandwich press is both expensive and time consuming.

November 20

Creamy carrot soup with bavarian rye bread

Balsamic chicken on thyme and garlic cous cous with mixed vegetables.

Chocolate cherry liqueur cake with white chocolate marscapone cream

Lesson Learnt: Never pour hot carrot soup from one saucepan to another while wearing a $600 suit.

November 27

Red onion and rosemary tart.

Porterhouse steak topped with blue cheese butter and roasted pear, with asparagas, brocollini and candied sweet potatoes.

Individual sticky date puddings with hot caramel sauce.

Lesson Learnt: Butter + Sugar + Easy + Yum = Sticky Date Pudding.

The end result of the Serendipity Dinners was that I got to know a bunch of people who I didn't know all that well before, I discovered some new recipes that I will definitely try again, and I got to spend time eating and drinking with my friends. It was indeed a series of happy accidents. If you like the idea, I recommend that you try it.

As long as you invite me.