Jan O'Connell
Jan O'Connell

Food to go

Tales from the Railway Refreshment Rooms

How Australia’s first Prime Minister missed his train after stopping for a tot of whisky; how the mobile catering unit nearly caused a train wreck; and other stories from the history of Australia’s Railway Refreshment Rooms.

Sky

A poem from the thesaurus

I was working on an ad campaign for a client’s new building, Sky Plaza. So I consulted an online thesaurus looking for “words associated with sky”. The words on the screen sang to me. Some line breaks and a little punctuation turned them into a poem.

High wire

Trials of the over-endowed

Popular history has it that the underwired bra was, in fact, invented by Howard Hughes to prop up the truly remarkable breasts of Hollywood legend Jane Russell. But I’ve had a love/hate relationship with these frustrating pieces or ironmongery.

Easy to get a lawn with

Where's the pun in that?

Along the roadside as you approach Bungendore is a series of signs promoting the product of one of the town’s major industries. (Perhaps its only major industry.) Canturf.

Salt from the earth

Discoveries at the Dimboola Food Festival

A short drive from Dimboola towards Adelaide takes you to the Pink Lake, where salt harvesting started in the 1860s. We took a tour, as part of the Dimboola Food Festival.

Truffle Kerfuffle - or Truffle Oil Kerfuffle?

Manjimup, 2016

It’s not snobbery. Truly it isn’t. It’s just that truffle oil doesn’t taste like truffles. Or rather, it has one note that resembles the truffle flavour in a very unsubtle, strident way. In fact, it’s a chemical – a chemical called 2,4-dithiapentane – and it’s made in a laboratory,

A blast from the past

From missiles to microwaves

The name Raytheon is one you see every time you hop off a flight at Canberra airport. They make weapons. Very big weapons. But they also invented the microwave, which was followed in due course by some very earnest microwave cook books.

Where are you from again?

Regionalisms in Australian food

Pity the Brisbanite who moved to Melbourne and ordered “scallops” at the local fish and chip shop. Expecting slices of potato dipped in batter and deep fried, he was astonished when he received shellfish. It’s one of many Australian food regionalisms.

The Easter Feaster

Our family's Easter tradition

In Europe, Easter coincides with the arrival of spring, so Easter dishes typically feature spring vegetables. Here, it’s autumn. Still, we persist in alternating Greek and Italian Easter dishes, just because we can.

The world's best restaurants

Elite Traveler magazine has named three Sydney restaurants among their 100 Top Restaurants of the World. Their list of the world’s best restaurants is decided by a reader poll and in 2016 has put Sydney among the top dining destinations in the world

The Truffle Cookbook - Rodney Dunn.

Book review

The Truffle Cookbook starts with a quick education in truffles – what they are, how they’re grown and harvested and how to buy them. And there are dishes here that will satisfy accomplished cooks and sophisticated palates – chicken broth with marrow and truffle dumplings, for example.

Summer of '62

Celebration menus in Sydney

The menu for New Year’s Eve 1962 at the Rex Hotel offered Oysters Naturelle or Fruit Cocktail, Sole Bonne Femme, half a Spring Roast Chicken with vegetables in season, followed by Tropical Fruit Salad and Ice Cream.

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