Yesterday was our 48th wedding anniversary and not to be beaten by this damn virus, we have tried to celebrate in style.
We had originally planned a trip to Singapore and expected to have a week in a warm tropical climate and an elegant meal with lovely spicy Asian flavours in a nice restaurant. COVID-19 killed that completely. We tried an alternative of booking into the boutique Royal Mail Hotel at Dunkeld in the Grampian Ranges for a few days. It has a famous gastronomic restaurant and we thought that may be a substitute, although not quite the same as our original plan. That was cancelled a few weeks ago because of our re-introduced lockdown. Then, we moved our booking forward to a date in September but even that has been cancelled.
Ultimately, we were resigned to having our celebration at home. What else could we do? Our next best option was to find a nice order-in meal that might have some resemblance to fine dining. We found that on a site called providoor.com.au which delivers packages that only have to be assembled or heated. Ours came from a week known-middle eastern restaurant named Maha that is ranked as being one of the best restaurants in Melbourne.
A box was delivered to our front door overnight with the food inside and chilled long enough to last for nine hours without refrigeration. It was delivered at 12:32 am.
When we opened the box, we were a little bamboozled at first by the number of packages that it included. Each dish had a number of components.Fortunately they had included some details of what went with what and some instructions for heating and assembling each dish. These really made it very simple.
We began our in-house meal with a toast to each other and then started assembling and heating.
This grand celebration meal consisted of four courses, all with very delicious middle eastern flavours. Our first course was a group of three Meze dishes. These are a selection of small dishes served as appetisers in parts of the Middle East, the Balkans, Greece, and North Africa. Ours were simply delicious and set the tone for the rest of the meal – baked kataffi prawns, chemen cured kingfish and humous with a swirl of spiced olive oil.
Then we moved onto some delicious Turkish dumplings that just had to be heated in the microwave for a couple of minutes. These were topped with a dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkle of mint and sumac.
Next, came the main course – slow roasted lamb shoulder. This needed to heated in the oven and was so tender that we hardly needed a knife to cut it. It came with green beans and basmati rice with coriander seed, apricot, parsley and toasted seeds.
We finished off the meal with one of the two deserts – white chocolate and rosemary milk pudding with a drizzle of Turkish Delight jelly. (By this time, we were so full that we decided to keep the other desert – a chocolate and peanut butter mousse with baklava for dinner the next day).
Well, that was a truly delicious meal and a great way to celebrate our wedding anniversary, even though it had to be at home. We couldn’t but help compare it to the first meal of our honeymoon night (not our wedding night) which we spent in the town of Lakes Entrance on our way to Port Macquarie. (That was about as far as people travelled for their honeymoon in those days). It was a Sunday night and nothing was open but the fish and chip shop. It was like a scene from the movie that starred Ava Gardner called ‘On The Beach’.
That movie was made in 1957 and based on a post-apocalyptic novel written by British author Nevil Shute after he migrated to Australia. The novel details the experiences of a mixed group of people in Melbourne as they await the arrival of a deadly radiation cloud spreading towards them from the Northern Hemisphere following a nuclear in the previous year. As the radiation approaches, each person (including the crew of a US submarine) is forced to deal with their impending death differently.
In those days, Melbourne was a very quiet and dull city. Shops closed at 5.00 pm and pubs were only open until 6.00 pm. There was no trade at all over weekends and certainly not on Sundays. I remember Ava Gardner commenting that this was an entirely suitable place in which to film a movie about the end of the world while she was here for the filming. Things are now obviously very different – we can get home delivered packs of delicious food in the middle of the night!
Today is also the date for another celebration (commemoration) and that is the 75th anniversary of the date on which the Japanese surrendered and World War Two ended. I watched a wonderful ceremony at the The Australian War Memorial (complete with Covid-19 spacing) which was live streamed and broadcast on television. That was certainly a commemorative ceremony, but the old photos from that day clearly showed that it was a true celebration.