The Mysteries of the Ages …

King Tut. Omar Sharif - transported to the tombs

8.32am, Sunday 15th May, Russell Street 24 Hour internet cafe, Melbourne, Victoria
There’s no one up and about but me and the streetsweepers. I know this isn’t about wine today, but I wanted to share a special moment from my Saturday off in Melbourne. I had a top day yesterday and am off to the video store to buy the back catalogue of Omar Sharif movies – I’d forgotten what a fabulous voice the man has! He narrates the tour of the Tutankhamun exhibition under way right now at the Melbourne Museum. Here’s a tip folks – book your ticket now. The crowds for the exhibition are as big as the ones headed for the MCG! And for a good reason.

Let’s be honest – most of us won’t be anywhere near Egypt anytime soon. So yesterday, with my ears wrapped around the mystical honeyed tones of the real Big O – Omar Sharif – and my eyes dazzled by the treasures of the tombs – I was able to go there – just for the afternoon.

It is an exotic moment.

The shifting sands and centuries of a civilisation still signposted by huge stone carvings and the pyramids that we still can’t fathom how they’ve survived – let alone how they were built. Just to see the incredibly intricate work of the ancient enamel and gold smiths on the neckwear of the pharoahs – astonishing. And what you’re looking at has lasted thousands of years! Yes folks – Omar got into my head and the boy king Tutankhamun got me by the heart. He took over a bit of a mess of an empire at the age of 9 and very nearly had it all patched up when he died far too young at 19. So I bought the DVD of the exhibition that Omar narrates with a plan. We have a mate in Angaston that has a giant flatscreen telly – and I’m going to arrange a viewing night where we’re all going to bring a plate of something exotic and aromatic to eat, then crowd into the lounge room with the lights off, the volume up, and we’ll hop on our magic carpets and whiz back in time with Omar to check out the mysteries of the ages. Can’t wait.

Now I do also have a food and wine moment to add.

I looked after a group of wine enthusiasts from Melbourne when they were over at the Barossa Vintage Festival, and when we got talking about Thai food in this city, they said the one name I needed to know was Paladarr. I had never heard of the restaurant out in suburban Alphington, but after going out there last night, I can see what the fuss is all about. I’m just going to mention two dishes – and the master chef in charge of putting this sensational stuff together – who is Chaloem. I’m very old school, so whenever I see the word ‘sausage’ on the menu – I’m gone. ‘Sai Ua’ is Paladarr speak for Northern Thai style minced pork sausage made with soy, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, shrimp paste, chilli & garlic. Served with macadamia nuts and shredded ginger on the side – yum. And then there was the bowl of aromatic duck curry folks. “Home roasted duck, sliced and prepared in a dark rich red curry with fresh sweet pineapple” – yep – and they had some whole fresh lychees floating around in there as well. I’m not usually a duck gal, but they’ve converted me. I spoke to the sommelier later – lovely young bloke Stuart – and I’m going to send in a botle of our Single Site Moppa Grenache for them to try as an aromatic crossover experiment. With the long but laid back middle weight palate and the raspberry lift – I reckon it might jus fly! I will let you know how it goes. So if you have been to Paladarr – I can see why. And if you haven’t – you should.

Ok – I’m off folks. I have a sporting afternoon planned. Yes, I am still a St Kilda Football Club supporter – even if they are currently travelling woefully! But today could be the day they turn it around against Hawthorn, and if they do – and I was in town = I’d hate to not have been there!

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