Making A Meal Of Things

Making A Meal Of Things

“Is that all you get for $30?”

The completely undisguised disappointment from the adjoining table at Auckland’s rather flash Sale St. bar where the present Mrs Grimley and I decided to dine on Saturday evening caused us to hastily dismiss our choices from the finer dining section of the menu and plump for the reassuring bulk that comes with pizza. Given that our plans for the evening involved a prolonged tour of Britomart’s newer hostelries in the company of some of our more alcoholic acquaintances, a minimalist approach to dining would have been nothing short of bad planning.

In deference to the restaurant the portion of snapper which was causing gustatory angst looked – and I’m sure tasted – absolutely magnificent. And I suspect the reason that the portions were, to put it in estate agent parlance, bijou, was down to the fact that the ingredients needed to put the thing together were not sourced in the Pak n’ Save aisle of values and therefore dishing up a more sizable plateful for the same money would have been tantamount to commercial suicide.

It looked like the kind of dish you could imagine a food writer getting rather excited about and then spending many column inches eulogising on the ‘balance of flavours’ and ‘contrast of textures’. And that is all well and good, but it didn’t really matter a jot to the hungry folk who were having to come to terms with the fact that they would now almost certainly need to splash out on a kebab to mop up the rest of their evening.

And a portion of chips please.

No matter how hard people pretend in an effort to impress their peers, it is a fairly universal truth that the nuances of textures and flavours are completely lost on Janet and John Average. Despite being forced to watch endless episodes of the umpteen million incarnations of Masterchef currently available, my palate is still about as subtle as a rugby league shoulder charge. Sure, from taste alone I can make a fairly accurate stab as to whether a bit of dead fish is going to make me violently ill by the following morning, but beyond that everything is basically yummy, horrid or somewhere in between. I’ve got more chance of winning Big Wednesday than ever being able to spot if a sauce contains star anise and therefore I really only care that food tastes good, fills me up and isn’t going to mean the next 24 hours can’t be spent more than twelve feet from a lavatory.

Which is why I’m getting in a bit of a tiz about the impending arrival of Subaru’s BRZ and its twin sister the Toyota FT-86.

Put me in any flash sports car and I can tell you exactly where the first $70,000 or so has been spent; the looks, the power, the herd of mooing animals which have given their lives for the upholstery and even quite a bit of the handling. Unfortunately I – like most of you reading this – have very much average abilities behind the wheel of a car and therefore any extra which has been spent on the finer details is completely wasted.

Because I’m not Greg Murphy the balance in high speed corners is useless to me; if I get anywhere near a bend at supercar speeds I become so frightened I simply climb into the back and start crying. And because I don’t understand suspension like Adrian Newey the only purpose of giving me buttons with which to tweak it is to allow me to get to my next accident faster.

And while I’ll have to reserve final judgement until the press cars land on our shores, I’m keeping digits firmly crossed that Subota will go with the ‘less is more’ approach and keep it basic. With a large engine at the front driving some fat tyres at the back and not too much electronic tomfoolery in-between you have all the ingredients for the motoring equivalent of a steak pie. Not necessarily flash, but deeply, deeply satisfying.

I accept that ‘basic’ has to be taken in context here; we are, after all talking about cars that hail from Japan, a land where toasters generally have enough processing power to land a 747 and it would be stupid in the extreme to think that they will come with anything less than a skip-load of technology. But while the interior will be akin to a wheeled Dick Smith store, I hold out high hopes that the engineers will have exercised a bit more techno-restraint on the mechanicals. For sure it won’t be the wattle and daub technology of a Caterham Seven, but in the same way we use tomato sauce on our chips it should be kept to a little dash here and there rather than stealing the show.

Because although we might live in a world of Michelin stars, it would never pay to forget that New Zealand’s favourite restaurant is still the humble fish and chip shop.

“Is that all you get for $30?”

The completely undisguised disappointment from the adjoining table at Auckland’s rather flash Sale St. bar where the present Mrs Grimley and I decided to dine on Saturday evening caused us to hastily dismiss our choices from the finer dining section of the menu and plump for the reassuring bulk that comes with pizza. Given that our plans for the evening involved a prolonged tour of Britomart’s newer hostelries in the company of some of our more alcoholic acquaintances, a minimalist approach to dining would have been nothing short of bad planning.

In deference to the restaurant the portion of snapper which was causing gustatory angst looked – and I’m sure tasted – absolutely magnificent. And I suspect the reason that the portions were, to put it in estate agent parlance, bijou, was down to the fact that the ingredients needed to put the thing together were not sourced in the Pak n’ Save aisle of values and therefore dishing up a more sizable plateful for the same money would have been tantamount to commercial suicide.

It looked like the kind of dish you could imagine a food writer getting rather excited about and then spending many column inches eulogising on the ‘balance of flavours’ and ‘contrast of textures’. And that is all well and good, but it didn’t really matter a jot to the hungry folk who were having to come to terms with the fact that they would now almost certainly need to splash out on a kebab to mop up the rest of their evening.

And a portion of chips please.

No matter how hard people pretend in an effort to impress their peers, it is a fairly universal truth that the nuances of textures and flavours are completely lost on Janet and John Average. Despite being forced to watch endless episodes of the umpteen million incarnations of Masterchef currently available, my palate is still about as subtle as a rugby league shoulder charge. Sure, from taste alone I can make a fairly accurate stab as to whether a bit of dead fish is going to make me violently ill by the following morning, but beyond that everything is basically yummy, horrid or somewhere in between. I’ve got more chance of winning Big Wednesday than ever being able to spot if a sauce contains star anise and therefore I really only care that food tastes good, fills me up and isn’t going to mean the next 24 hours can’t be spent more than twelve feet from a lavatory.

Which is why I’m getting in a bit of a tiz about the impending arrival of Subaru’s BRZ and its twin sister the Toyota FT-86.

Put me in any flash sports car and I can tell you exactly where the first $70,000 or so has been spent; the looks, the power, the herd of mooing animals which have given their lives for the upholstery and even quite a bit of the handling. Unfortunately I – like most of you reading this – have very much average abilities behind the wheel of a car and therefore any extra which has been spent on the finer details is completely wasted.

Because I’m not Greg Murphy the balance in high speed corners is useless to me; if I get anywhere near a bend at supercar speeds I become so frightened I simply climb into the back and start crying. And because I don’t understand suspension like Adrian Newey the only purpose of giving me buttons with which to tweak it is to allow me to get to my next accident faster.

And while I’ll have to reserve final judgement until the press cars land on our shores, I’m keeping digits firmly crossed that Subota will go with the ‘less is more’ approach and keep it basic. With a large engine at the front driving some fat tyres at the back and not too much electronic tomfoolery in-between you have all the ingredients for the motoring equivalent of a steak pie. Not necessarily flash, but deeply, deeply satisfying.

I accept that ‘basic’ has to be taken in context here; we are, after all talking about cars that hail from Japan, a land where toasters generally have enough processing power to land a 747 and it would be stupid in the extreme to think that they will come with anything less than a skip-load of technology. But while the interior will be akin to a wheeled Dick Smith store, I hold out high hopes that the engineers will have exercised a bit more techno-restraint on the mechanicals. For sure it won’t be the wattle and daub technology of a Caterham Seven, but in the same way we use tomato sauce on our chips it should be kept to a little dash here and there rather than stealing the show.

Because although we might live in a world of Michelin stars, it would never pay to forget that New Zealand’s favourite restaurant is still the humble fish and chip shop.

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