Saturday, 2 February 2008

Hard Copy

Travel and travel writing is quite an art. What got me started on this thread was an essay by Linda Jaivin. No not the one from Eat Me that could be made into a cheeky new age Safeway ad, but an essay titled Where Travel Stops in Meanjin Leaves Town 2003. Jaivin begins with an observation on the one-upmanship of contemporary travel writing where “One travel writer rides on the single most bone-rattling bus over the single most inhospitable territory known to humankind. The next one comes along and rides the same bus, but hangs off the roof-rack. The third one does the same – with a rifle between her teeth…”
Contemporary food travel writing loves themes like eating live snake heads in a steamy Borneo jungle amongst unexploded landmines using nitro-glycerine for stove fuel, you get the picture.
With our attention focussed Jaivin takes us through some of her more hardcore travel adventures and gently eases us into probably the most frightening travel destination in Australia, a Detention Centre: the Place Where Travel Stops. She waves her velvet glove with a final plea to our writers to remember to record the journeys of those travellers who having fled torture and persecution in their own countries, to arrive, only to be caged and silenced in our own.

Then the mail arrived with my second volume of Edawrd Behr’s wonderful quarterly the Art of Eating that Flavour Addict from Sydney very generously [of soul] signed me up for last year when he realised that the itch was getting a bit out of control. Of course it only added to the scratch which I am sure was part of the plan.
Thank you it worked.
The Art of Eating is one of those now rather rare publications that give authors room to get into a subject without the commercial restraints of the dailies, glossies or some aspects of the web. Link Here . We can remember Andrew Wood’s Divine a journal that launched many of our contemporary food and wine writers.

It has also been a season of travellers passing through Mr. B called over summer he is living proof that those students with the most chutzpah get the rewards. Michael Benyan [I’ll out him here, he’s not shy], is possibly the most successful expatriate Australian restaurateur/hotelier in London in recent years. It has only taken Michael 18 years to become an overnight success in London. He was with Sam and Samantha Clark from virtually the beginning and now with Mark Sainsbury in a very special Hotel/Restaurant called the Zetter in Clerkenwell central London.
One of the most exciting aspects of this quirky cool hostelry is that it is built over an ancient aquifer hence the name of the district Clerkenwell. The area was an 18th Century spa and had a number of breweries.
The underground water is fresh, sweet and plentiful and not only serves as drinking water bottled for the restaurant but uses the temperature differential to drive all the air-conditioners in the building, so no ugly water coolers have to placed on the rather picturesque roof. Michael was one the cheekiest, naughtiest and most likeable students I have taught at TAFE. You always knew he would crack it. No small part of his success I am sure is attributable to his ability to play cricket. If you think the Ashes are competitive, there was/is a game between Nick Smallwood's Hospitality Eleven and Chris Jagger’s Allsorts that meant if you could wield a bat or spin a ball, it assured you a place in the best hospitality houses in London. Michael has translated his Australian/Melbourne hospitality sensibilities to conquer one of the most difficult markets in the world. They’re planning the next Zetter now.
My apologies to those that missed out on booking for the Itch but soon on Sundays

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