What Happens Next: Travels in Perth

Do you know where Ballarat is? Well, for fans of DSTV’s The Doctor Blake Mysteries, it’s the Australian town where Doctor Lucien Blake works as police surgeon. In real life Ballarat is indeed in Australia and lies close to Melbourne, Victoria.

In the lift of the Rendevouz Hotel in Scarborough, Perth

I’ve never been to Victoria but on a recent trip to Perth, Australia, I found myself thinking of this charming mystery series, drawing a number of parallels with my experience. Blake is played by Craig McLachlan, who, according to his IMDB profile, is an experienced all-rounder. In his role as doctor-cum-detective McLachlan/Blake always looks dapper in a suit and hat and is the perfect 1950s gentleman. Today’s Perth, like McLachlan, has much to offer: a superb public transport system, beautiful beaches, and a growing business sector. But, like Blake, Perth also has a sort of ‘old’ feel about it. The bus service, the litter-free suburbs, the single-storey shopping areas that appear en route without fanfare, the quietness, the tree-filtered sunlight (even in desert-like Perth).

We stayed on the 23rd floor of this 25-level hotel that actually has only 17 floors. Huh?! It’s not like they could slot the missing floors in…

Although The Doctor Blake Mysteries doesn’t feature much humour a lovely Australian film that does is the The Dish (2000). It’s the based-on-truth story of how a huge satellite dish in a remote farming town in Australia was surprisingly used to assist in the 1969 Apollo space mission to the moon. The dish is manned by overawed locals who make several huge mistakes (like losing the rocket). I enjoyed the quirky, non-Hollywood characters and the gentle pace of the story. In The Dish, something big and important – like working for NASA – was cloaked in likeable, down-to-earth characters. A little like Perth. Perth is a place of obvious development and opportunity. But dressed in a certain simplicity and quaintness. Almost like you’re waiting for something to happen.

I’ll be watching episode seven of Doctor Blake season five tonight. To see what happens next.

Melanzane pops up as quite delicious

A review by Brenda Daniels

Do you know what Melanzane is? I didn’t until a recent lunch with two friends at a lovely home restaurant in Durban North. The eatery we visited was a “pop-up restaurant” run by MasterChef S.A., Joani Mitchell. It is held on select days during the month of April at a beautiful big house in Old Mill Way.

Our little round table was set for three with unmatched crockery, ivory-handled knives and an embroidered tablecloth. It was peaceful while gazing across the wooded, coloured-leaf garden, filled with plants well suited to tropical KwaZulu-Natal. And lavishly decorated as it was, even a visit to the loo didn’t diminish the charming ambience.

Back to the Melanzane; after some enquiry and a quick Google search I learnt that this Italian dish is made with brinjal (aubergine) and layered with tomato in a cheese sauce before being baked like lasagne. Yum!

And yummy it turned out to be. I vowed right away to look up the recipe when I got home so I could make it for myself. While we were enjoying our meal, the chef visited our table and explained that she used a combination of haloumi, mozzarella and cheddar cheese to make the dish more tasty.

But even more interesting was her reason for including this dish on her menu. Many patrons had asked Joani to offer meals and snacks that fitted with the new Tim Noakes diet (the controversial new one advocating high fat and protein with low carbohydrates). She obliged with the Melanzane, using rice flour instead of wheat flour to exclude the use of refined carbs.

Whether I support Noakes’ “caveman” diet or not is beside the point here. Our enjoyable luncheon, finished off with Rooibos tea in dainty china cups, was delicious, elegant and relaxing. I didn’t feel like a caveman at all.

Follow Joani Mitchel on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MCSA.JoaniMitchell.

(Left to right) Isabelle Luker, Lee Currie, Brenda Daniels (all freelance journalists) enjoy a lovely luncheon. (Photo: Waitress Akhona)

(Left to right) Isabelle Luker, Lee Currie, Brenda Daniels (all freelance journalists) enjoy a lovely luncheon. (Photo: Waitress Akhona)