The Mediterranean

Sunday Life: October 2016

It has been a lovely start to spring in Sydney, plenty of beautiful sunny days to enjoy the outdoors: long walks in Rushcutters Bay, along the wonderful Bondi to Bronte coastal walk, and from Rose Bay Park to Lyne Park.

Sadly, other parts of the country have been struck by severe weather earlier this week, and my thoughts and best wishes go out to those affected by the storms in South and Western Australia.

This is a big weekend in Australia: it’s Labour Day long weekend in New South Wales, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory, and the weekend of the football grand finals for both codes, the Australian Football League and the National Rugby League – congratulations to the victors, and my commiserations to those who are bested. Just remember, there is always next year!

If you haven’t set your clocks forward by an hour yet, let this be your reminder – daylight saving time started at 2am this morning in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory. As usual, Queensland, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory won’t be joining us.

This month’s spring-themed cocktail is courtesy of the wonderful French liqueur Pavan, with the sweet flavours of muscat and orange blossom, the perfect match for the season. After a winter of whisky-based cocktails, it’s nice to dust off a few bottles of bubbly for some refreshing champagne-based offerings.

Spring Champagne

30ml Pavan*
5-15ml Cognac**

Method: pour the Pavan in a champagne glass, add a little cognac to taste (or not), and top with champagne.

* Pavan is a French liqueur made with Muscat grapes and orange blossoms. It has a lovely, delicate, sweet flavour.
** Try to use a decent cognac in your cocktails. Meukow VSOP works nicely for me as it has a natural sweetness that complements cocktails.
*** For champagne cocktails I am partial to Veuve Clicquot.

While you are enjoying your Spring Champagne, here are a few of my favourite tunes I am currently listening to …

‘The Greatest’ by Sia

Sia’s latest stirring single, featuring and old favourite Kendrick Lamar, is accompanied by a music video with a very special message.

As usual, the video stars Sia favorite Maddie Ziegler, but this time she’s surrounded by 49 dancers, in memory of the 49 lives tragically lost at the Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

Don’t give up; I won’t give up
Don’t give up, no no no
Don’t give up; I won’t give up
Don’t give up, no no no

The video ends with the dancers all moving and shaking together in a setting that resembles a nightclub. As they fall to the ground, a wall is revealed behind them that appears to be riddled with bullets, and Maddie Ziegler is seen with tears flowing down her rainbow coloured face …

‘Perfect Illusion’ by Lady Gaga

Perfect IllusionI love the much-anticipated new single from Lady Gaga.

When I first heard it, it felt like a raw and vulnerable Gaga and, I may have read something into the song that’s not there but, I thought I felt the pain in her voice over her failed relationship with Taylor Kinney.

However, that interpretations was dispelled by Gaga during an interview, assuring us she wasn’t pulling a Taylor Swift …

Gaga noted that she still loves Kinney very much and the song should not be seen as hitting ‘out against Taylor.’

This song is just about, I’m sure not only feelings that I’ve had but that he’s had, that my friends have had, that, you know, my sister has in her relationship. It’s a record about all of us, you know? And I would never use my song or want to use the public to hurt anyone that I love so much.

Either way, ‘Perfect Illusion’ is a great, toe-tapping, rock ballad.

‘#WhereIsTheLove’ by The Black Eyed Peas ft. The World

The record was first released by The Black Eyed Peas in 2003 on their third album, Elephunk.

This 2016 re-release of the song is re-titled ‘#WHERESTHELOVE’ by ‘The Black Eyed Peas, featuring The World’.

The song samples the original, but also has additional music composition and lyrics written by Fiona Davies, and features vocals by the who’s who of the music and entertainment industry: Justin Timberlake, Jhené Aiko, Usher, Jamie Foxx, The Game, Mary J. Blige, Cassie, Jessie J, Nicole Scherzinger, Krewella, Diddy, DJ Khaled, Andra Day, Tori Kelly, Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, Jaden Smith, ASAP Rocky, Charlie Carver, Max Carver, Daniel Sharman, Vanessa Hudgens, Veronika Bozeman, Nikki Reed, Jessica Szohr, Snoop Dogg, Connie Britton, LL Cool J, Kris Jenner, and Kendall Jenner.

People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach?
Or would you turn the other cheek?

Proceeds from the new version will go to’s Foundation established in 2009. The charity funds educational programs and college scholarships and aims to inspire and transform lives through education, inspiration, and opportunity.

‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ by Truman Capote

Breakfast at Tiffany's

If you prefer a literary journey with your Spring Champagne, this month my choice is ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s‘, by Truman Capote. A classy read for a classy cocktail.

If your only frame of reference is the movie with Audrey Hepburn, you are in for a treat. While the movie is marvellous, and it is one of my favourite movies of all time, the book is quite different.

A little darker.

And it’s more a realistic character sketch of a girl who belongs to no one, than the Hollywood fairytale you may know. To make a movie out of the book George Axelrod, while retaining the major characteristics of the main protagonist and many of the familiar storylines, used creative licence to reimagine her story … However, the book is delightful in its own right and has many little gems the movie skipped.

‘Incidentally,’ she said, ‘do you happen to know any nice lesbians? I’m looking for a room-mate.

Truman Capote’s Holly Golightly, a.k.a. Lulamae Barnes, is a 19-year-old girl who likes money, parties, and the company of socialites – those favourite pastimes are captured nicely in the movie.

But there are many significant departures. For example, the narrator in the book is nothing like kept-man Paul of the movie, and the sexual and romantic connection between the narrator and Miss Golightly is not in the original story.

Joe Bell, a significant character in the book, the owner of the local bar didn’t make it into the movie, despite the fact he has a significant connection to Miss Golightly, and her snooty neighbour Madame Sapphia Spanella was also cut.

At one point Madame Sapphia Spanella, the coloratura and roller-skating enthusiast who lived on the first floor, circulated a petition among the brownstone’s other tenants asking them to join her in having Miss Golightly evicted: she was, said Madame Spanella, ‘morally objectionable’ and the ‘perpetrator of all-night gatherings that endanger the safety and sanity of her neighbours.

The movie retained the character of Mr Yunioshi, but the less said about his cartoonishly racist portrayal by Mickey Rooney, the better.

And then there is the wonderful mystery of a wood carving which features early in the book, tantalising the reader with a story out of Africa …

The book is a delight, and will entertain even if you have seen the movie, because it offers a story that’s arguably more intriguing and superior to the movie version. But that’s Truman Capote for you – a brilliant and flawless story-teller and writer.

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