Thursday, February 26, 2009

Post maturity stage in the life cycle

A business life cycle (I feel all my high school business studies flowing back to me now) is said to start with a development stage followed by an introduction phase, then one of exponential growth to be followed by a peaking then flattening maturity stage. In squiggly line terms, something like:

whereby the x-axis represents time and the y-axis sales or profits or something like that. The maturity stage is generally follwed by a stage of decline unless some smart thinker comes up with a renewal. At which point the line resumes the direction of the introduction and growth stages and starts all over again.

And it's not just business. I was just thinking about how it applies to a professional 'life cycle' as well, if the y-axis were to represent learning or fufillment. If one gets to the nice, stable maturity stage without considering the need for renewal and further growth, there's only one way to go. I suppose one could try to prolong the maturity phase - but where's the fun in that?

Maturity is fun when you can deem a weekday afternoon suitable for a long lunch and perhaps throw in a visit to the pub. This day it's Surry Hills although any suburb surrounding the city these days is bursting at the seams with a heady, tempting throng of cafes and pubs. Not so helpful for the indecisive.

Indecision is not much a problem at Il Baretto - a little Italian cafe on the relatively quiet Bourke Street of Surry Hills - as their succint menu does most the work for you. The street is quiet but that's not to say that you won't run into a friend or, I don't know, comedian Judith Lucy on her way out of there in the middle of my meal.

The space is tight but friendly with equal doses of Surry Hills grunge and funk. It's a lovely afternoon to enjoy the wide open window and we're certainly not the only ones making the most of these final summer days.

There's a big selection of panini and salads on the menu, but I can't go past the pastas of which there are also two daily specials on offer.

Pappardelle with duck ragu from Il Baretto, Surry Hills

Pappardelle is probably my favourite pasta type and the lowering of the plate in front of me wafts steamy meaty, creamy smells into my nose. I can barely wait to attack but for a bit of freshly ground black pepper.

It's a pretty huge plate, very generous with the pieces of duck meat. The duck ragu wins in the what-do-I-taste-first race and it turns out to be an appropriately light, mildly creamy sauce with the tender, gamey meat starring. With a tomato base and addition of baby spinach leaves upping the vegie quotient, I'm more than happy to indulge in the meat and carbs fest.

The pasta was a little flatter than others I've had and so lacking the al dente aspect. Instead the long, wide ribbons took on a silky smooth texture that made the dish a lot lighter than expected, and welcomely so given the late onset richness of the duck.

I think there was a bit of mutual plate envy as the dishes arrived, especially when I looked over to my fellow diner's beautifully-vibrant salad.

Chicken salad

Again it was huge and looked appetisingly simple despite the myriad of ingredients. Fried chat potato slices were a surprise and a delight - a naughty , sophisticated chip. The pile of dressed mixed leaves propped up golden grilled chicken tenderloins, topped with a thick, creamy, herbaceous sauce. Wedges of tomato, olives and roasted capsicum slivers completed the simply dressed salad.

Plate envy got the better of us as there was a mid-meal plate swap, seemingly to the amusement of the waiters. I couldn't fit in dessert nor a coffee after the meal so a little lounging about is order of the day. Leaving Il Baretto we take a tiny stroll before making the next crucial decision - which pub?

My inevitable Bermuda Triangle of pubs on Crown Street is the Clock Hotel, the White Horse and the Dolphin Hotel. And fated polygon not necessarily in a disastrous way, just in a way that does not see me surface for several hours. They all have sunny balconies, the distinct feeling of being in some friend's inner city uber apartment, booze and food of varying levels.

The marine mammal wins this time and within moments we're sitting in the Dolphin's upstairs swinging cane cocoons on the cloudy but warm balcony with glasses of yet another interestingly-labelled bottle of sauv blanc. (Promise next wine choice will not be a sauv blanc - renewal is a good and necessary thing).

Zilzie Selection 23 sauvignon blanc at the Dolphin Hotel, Surry Hills

Lazy weather, straightforward wine, swinging seating - it's a dangerously tempting combination and makes one wonder why anything ever needs to change.

Il Baretto on Urbanspoon

Dolphin on Crown Hotel on Urbanspoon

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