Eating solo 5: Melbourne Cup Day, 2005

I just love the Melbourne Cup. I’m not into going to the races all tarted dressed up wearing ridiculous looking hats and drinking too much champagne (and spending too much money!). But I love watching the race on the telly and trying to pick the winner. In the couple of weeks leading up the big race, I read all I can and pay attention to the news stories on the horses, and on Cup day, I can make a fairly educated casual bet on the winner.

I must say, the main thing I miss about not working in a big office any more is the Melbourne Cup Day lunches. In previous jobs, I loved taking part in the office sweeps, and always, we would have a catered/organised lunch, such as Red Rooster (a couple of pieces of barbecue chicken, and chips, with choice of salads like coleslaw, potato salad and pasta salad) or pizza. All morning leading up to race, there would be a feeling of distraction and pent up energy as we tried to do our work. At least an hour before and an hour after the race there would be no work done. It was great. My office at uni is too small to really do Melbourne Cup Day lunch properly. Maybe in the future if I get a proper teaching job I’ll be part of a faculty lunch (fingers crossed).

Anyway, yesterday I went into the city in the morning and dropped into the special TAB tent that had been set up especially for Melbourne Cup punters. It was open from 7am so that people could place a bet on their way to work. I didn’t know what time the local TAB near our house would be open, and since it was a lovely sunny morning I thought it might be nice to catch the train to town, where I knew the TAB tent would definitely be open.

I placed a few bets: $5 on Eye Popper to place, $5 on Railings to place, $5 on Makybe Diva to win, and a $6 Trifecta (any order) on those three horses. Makybe Diva was the favourite to win, and although a lot of people were sure she couldn’t win for a record third Cup in a row, I had no doubt. (I won’t bore you with any more about my rationale for the horses I picked.)

$5 on Makybe Diva

After placing my bets, I couldn’t resist having breakfast at McDonald’s. I had a Big Breakfast, of course. Most disappointingly, they only had sachets of Vegemite. No honey! No strawberry jam! But the hash brown was very fresh and crisp and satisfying.

McDonald's Big Breakfast

I got home just after 8am. The Seal-A-Fridge guy rocked up at around 10am to reseal the bar fridge. I must say not bad for him, $90 for literally 5 minutes of work (OK, I realise the price also included the new fridge seal and petrol to drive over here, but still!). After he had written out my receipt and picked up his toolbox, fridge guy said “You should leave the fridge closed for a while”. “For how long exactly?” I asked. He frowned and thought about it. “Well, at least an hour. But really, as long as possible.” Heh. Now, wouldn’t it make sense for fridge guy to tell me this BEFORE doing the job so I could have taken out anything I might need from the bar fridge before the new seal was put on? It wasn’t that big a deal, just a little annoying. My lunch and the big bottle of pineapple juice were both in the bar fridge. Grrrrr. Poor scores for customer service in that regard (and if keeping the fridge shut isn’t that big a deal, which is perhaps why he didn’t tell me beforehand, why tell me at all? If it is fairly important that the fridge is kept shut as long as possible, then he should’ve told me before! OK OK, enough whinging). In the end, I had lunch about 12:30pm. The fridge seal seems fine. That char bee hoon I bought the day before was delicious. See how I’ve arranged it so the prawn, chicken and the other non-noodle bits are on top?

Char Bee Hoon

I don’t tend to cry at movies, but I get all emotional when I see triumphant moments in sport, such as when Australia gets wickets in the cricket (yes, seriously), and when we win anything at the Olympics. And yesterday, I got a pain in my throat and my sinuses like I was going to cry when Makybe Diva crossed the line (I didn’t cry, though). I was so happy! I clapped my hands and jumped up in excitement, saying “YESSSS!” much to Billy Lee’s surprise. Of course, immediately afterwards I kicked myself for not putting all of my betting budget of $21 on Makybe Diva. But that’s why I’m only a casual once-a-year better!

Now dinner. The day before, I’d marinated four chicken thighs, cut into chunky strips, with my favourite combination of dark and light soy, brown sugar, white pepper, cornflour and sesame oil. I used our two woks (one small, one big) to make my dinner:

The small wok: I cut two smallish brown onions into rings and fried them with roughly chopped garlic until browned, then threw in the marinated chicken. When the chicken was just about done, I switched woks, setting the small wok with the chicken aside.

The big wok: I stir-fried more garlic (I think all up I used three plump cloves between the two woks), broccoli and green beans, then added sliced champignons and sliced tomatoes. I cracked black pepper and splashed dark soy over the vegetables, and added bit of water to make the sauce.

When the vegetables were just about done (not soft but no longer green-tasting), I added the chicken/onions/garlic from the small wok and stirred this all together. Last of all, I added freshly cooked rice and stirred it all together until the rice had soaked up the dark savoury sauce. Voila. Something resembling not-fried-rice and not-risotto. I have leftovers to eat today, which was always the plan.

Another dish with no name

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