Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Doubting the late lunch

Why is it that freedom feels like such a luxury? In some cases it is, but in the modern, civilised world that we know I suppose we just get used to it and completely take it for granted. In which case I'm not sure whether that feeling of luxury is a good or bad thing. Good in that we appreciate it; bad in that we would normally apply the notion of freedom to something trivial like work or obligations.

Another late lunch in Glebe and a bit more doubt over the concept of a meal between lunch and dinner. Sure, it serves me as lunch but then dinner inevitably turns into something like a bucket of salt and a rather tall cup of artificial sweetener. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'm a fan of Badde Manors in Glebe for several reasons: they open till late; they have an above-decent selection of gelati, sorbets, cakes and pastries; I love the 'olde worlde' feeling of the interior furnishings; they do tasty vegetarian meals that even a carnivore can appreciate; and did I mention the desserts? And they also do a proper chai tea latte - none of that syrup business.

Seated in the ample courtyard and checking out the postered wall for gigs, plays and festivals to fill up my 'free' time, we decide on a light shared meal and start with drinks. My companion dares to attempt a macchiato for the first time, and finds it initially "strong" - I can but chuckle. I, however, am on a non-caffeine phase yet still having difficulty sleeping at appropriate hours.

I have a weakness for odd and quirky sounding menu items, especially of the sweet variety. My eyes light up at the sound of pumpkin cupcakes, chocolate shortbread with a salt crust and today it's the apple, mint and yoghurt whip that gets me.

Apple and yoghurt is an uncommon pairing but not really all that odd. It's brought together by the mutual friend that is mint, which in this smoothie rather dominates the flavour and appearance. It's a thin, whipped drink speckled with blended mint leaves and seemingly devoid of apple presence. I'm sure it's in there somewhere though, hiding behind the slight sourness of the yoghurt.

To munch we order a Mediterranean platter with its promise of a bazaar of headily spiced flavours and delights. Okay, perhaps that wasn't promised as such but it's what the platter evoked in my mind, and it wasn't too far off.

Mediterranean platter from Badde Manors, Glebe

It doesn't look huge but I'm fairly certain that I couldn't attempt this alone. The first thing that jumps out at me are the radiant tomato slices. Boldly red and easily hogging the spotlight - even away from the falafels on rocket. Rocket! The platter comes with a generous basket of fresh, warmed Turkish bread and we need no invitation to dip in.

Aside the glorious tomatoes - which, by the way, are perfectly ripe and firmly juicy - are some crisp cucumber slices next to a pot of tzatziki, which I think is home-made. The yoghurt is of a thin consistency and looks to have been recently mixed (air bubbles and all) with thin strips of cucumber and a slightly heavy-handed application of garlic.

Next to that is a presentation of three hot falafels on a bed of rocket and a halved pickle. The rocket is undressed, which is more than fine, but the falafels are a standout. They're crunchy and spiced, though I scoff them so quickly that I fail to pick up specific flavours. Next to them is hummus, exceedingly fresh and creamy in texture, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. In the middle a huge slice of surprisingly mild fetta cheese obscures a hidden mine of grilled eggplant and olives, the former of which is most definitely fresh and not out of a bottle.

We cross forks and arms many a time as we dip, cut and spear platter items and generally make merry of the dish in no order or time whatsoever. I'm grateful to have had this (late) lunch that has clearly been made lovingly with quality ingredients. It makes me feel ever so much less guilty when dinner is a movie (Doubt, with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep - which I'm still attempting to digest) with the aforementioned bucket of salt with some popped corn and a really quite tall cup of a small Diet Coke. With a dinner like that, there's more than a little doubt cast over the benefits of the late lunch.

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