Gone in 60 seconds….

There’s no Angelina, there’s no Nicholas Cage, there’s no questions about what’s better, sex, or stealing cars. There’s just a pretty tame question that’s much more relevant to my life at the moment.

How easy is to spend $60 on dinner in 60 seconds?

For me it’s now a pretty easy thing to do on the walk home.

I used to work in Ashfield, land of cheap Asian grocers. I’d walk up the road at lunch and dither over what I’d buy.

It was ok to dither- at the cheap fruit place mixed leaf was $10.99 a kilo and I’d occasionally get told “you have pretty hands”. At the butchers, where chickens still had feathers occasionally breasts could be $4 a kilo. Sure the shops weren’t the schmickest, but there was plenty of anything and it was cheap to boot.

Back then I didn’t earn a lot of money, but we managed to eat pretty well.

On the nights I couldn’t be bothered cooking there was a plethora of dumpling places to pick up bits and bobs to fill the Hungry One. To him pretty much anything tastes great when it’s smothered with chilli.

These days I work in Surry Hills- land of the expensive salad lunches, great coffee and no grocery stores to be seen.

My 30 minute walk home now takes me through what was once glibly referred to as the Mayfair of Sydney’s food scene.

Dank St Waterloo.

Or Debt St as I now call it.

Between Fratelli Fresh and the new Whole Foods market which has just opened up, the chances of $60 being gone in 60 seconds is pretty easy.

There’s baby boconncini, pancetta and teeny tiny eschalots at Fratelli Fresh. And that’s even before you go upstairs to the olive oil and chocolate.

At Wholefoods there’s organic pepitas the size of petals and du puy lentils by the kilo . And more things made out of spelt flour than you ever thought were possible.

Sure on my way home I could also stop at Coles at Surry Hills, where it seems every screaming child in the inner west comes to marinate in their misery, you have to pay to use a trolley and the fluorescent lights in the toilets stop you from having any that special kind of injectable fun- but then I’d have to carry the bags further.

So we come to Dank St. Just as in Monopoly, it was always best to quickly get around that navy blue corner of the board. Pass Go. Collect $200 dollars. Because after you’ve been around there, the chances are you’re going to need them.

After a couple of trips through the blue zone of Dank St, I know I have to be efficient. No more dithering. That’s dangerous. Dithering is what leads to the $60 being $100.

The dithering leads to the slippery slope when you start to think “maybe it’s ok to buy organic baby rocket at $38 a kilo. Maybe I should grab that organic Creme fraiche to dollop over the top of dinner. Maybe it will taste that great.”

And maybe it really did. The sausages we had from Wholefoods were plump, not greasy and full of flavour. The lentils were lovely. The creme fraiche gave the whole thing a silky tartness that punctuated it pretty pleasantly. I felt earnest and healthy after my purchases.

The problem is when you finally get home, you’re so hungry from the walk and from the work that you eat it all just as efficiently as you bought it . Down goes the creme fraiche, the organic rocket, the leek, zucchini, bio dynamic tomatoes.

Then the $60 really is gone in 60 seconds.

If I’m going to keep walking that way, I think need to devote some more time to contemplating Slow Food movement.

Or collect a few more sets of $200.

Dank St Dinner

Organic sausage and lentil bake.

Buy 8 organic beef, tomato and spinach sausages, 300 grams of du puy lentils, 2 tins of organic tomatoes, 2 leeks, 1 red onion, 12 button mushrooms, 1 eggplant, 2 carrots, 2 zucchini, a bunch of thyme, some porcini mushrooms

Sautee together the onion, a clove of crushed garlic, the eggplant, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, leeks all together into a rough ratatouille. A big Le Cruesset casserole pan is good.

Cut the sausages into quarters and cook them in a fry pan until they’ve caramelised.

When the ratatouille is starting to mellow and shrink add 2 cups of du puy lentils, 2 cups of red wine, 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, a handful of porcini mushrooms, a handful of picked thyme leaves, the sausage nuggets and let it simmer all together until the lentils have cooked.

Serve in bowls with rocket, a teaspoon of creme fraiche and a good drizzle of lemon juice over the top.

This will make enough to feed 4 hungry people, or me, the Hungry One, a lunch for me, a lunch for him and a Tupperware to freeze for another night when neither of us have been paid yet and we can’t afford to go shopping for dinner.

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