Vale Aaron

In what I think were the small hours of the morning, a few weeks ago, after enjoying a beautiful meal at The Noise Bar, followed by a night of friendly drinking, I was to my happiness and surprise, offered unsought encouragement to get stuck into writing.

Aaron asked me what I thought of his cooking, and I had to confess it was awesome, although I never quite got to express things (it being the small hours) exactly how I’d wanted. As per normal, I thought I’d have more time. I thought I’d be able to come back to the conversation, perhaps on my next visit to Melbourne, when I could pick his brain more extensively to find out what made him tick as a chef.

He asked, in brief if I was “that writer”, which I downplayed to “aspiring writer, blogger really”; to which in a kind, yet no-nonsense fashion, he replied ‘”oh well, you’ve got a profile; use it!”

Very straightforwardly, my indulgent modesty was punctured by the mind of a fellow who very obviously intuited a practical sense of how life is lived. While I only met Aaron that one night, I feel I owe his memory a debt of words, I hope not presumptuously – as “That Writer”.

Sadly, Aaron’s life reached its end only this past weekend.

***

Legendary television chef, restaurateur, and raconteur, the late Keith Floyd, explained during his filming tour of Spain, that he had a test for chefs in his kitchen; simply, he’d get them to fry him an egg.

Obviously, it wasn’t a test of technical skill, which the aspiring chef would have already had – it was a test of character. If the chef approached the task with contempt, considering it beneath them, Floyd would know. On the other hand, if they had an all-encompassing love of food, Floyd could taste it in their work, this being exactly what he sought.

I can’t get this notion out of my head, that if Floyd had asked this of Aaron, Aaron would have delivered gentle Mediterranean sun on a plate, taking Floyd’s imagination on a tour from Seville through to the island of Rhodes, absorbing every beautiful colour, taste and aroma along the way.

Floyd on Spain? Floyd on The Mediterranean? Floyd on Aaron.

I doubt I’m the only one to have ever inferred something of Aaron’s character from eating one of his meals, being as unambiguously made with love as they were. I also doubt that anyone making any such inference would have concluded much differently.

***

It’s only natural to find great sadness when a young person, especially one of talent and enthusiasm, leaves us altogether too soon. One week you find yourself wondering about their potential, and the next, while hopes for their future are still fresh in mind, they’re no longer here.

But there’s also fair consolation to be found, when a young one, so full of life, finishes their last chapter early. Many people for whatever reason, simply aren’t capable of expressing the level of passion Aaron exuded, and many more never will. Some never even get to meet a single person who lives with such intensity.

Anyone who got to meet Aaron, or taste his food, if even like myself, only for a day, were lucky.

I respectfully envy those who knew him more, and who knew him well. I wish Aaron’s family and friends every needed condolence, while also feeling happy for them, knowing they must have been able be so very proud.

If I’m right about Aaron’s character, it’s the things that make his loss seem so great that could also give strength to persevere in this time of sadness. Aaron’s passion, his love of friends and his caring attitude, in memory, and continued in deed by those who loved him, could help people in getting though.

It’d also seem a fitting way of honouring the man’s memory, and I hope I’ve managed to do so to some extent, for Aaron’s memory, and for his loved ones, in writing this tribute.

~ “That Writer”

RadiCool Melbourne #008 (Serious Edition): The Noise Bar

For readers who couldn’t already tell, I have a confession; I don’t have a hate-hate (or even love-hate) relationship with Melbourne. I do rather love it, in a way – the way you continue loving your dog, even if it drinks from the toilet bowl.

So with confessed affection in mind, breaking with the mood of the previous ‘RadiCool Melbourne’ posts, I just can’t bring myself to be even mildly sarcastic this time around… Such is the subject of this entry.

noise

The Noise Bar

Okay, a totally unsolicited plug;  I’ve developed a severe crush on this pub.

From memory, at the time of writing, on Wednesday nights there are $8 jugs of beer. In good company, several of these were downed the other week.

And I can still see the back of my hand, which is always welcome news.

But it’s when you try the food after the kitchen opens in the evening – it’s then you’re in for something cooked up with a little extra joie de vivre (wanker speak for ‘oomph’).

The menu isn’t too pretentious – it looks a little swanky-minimalist on paper, and the items have fancy Proper Names… but by fuck (which is quasi-sacred in my lexicon), the food is so incredibly good that the right to any mild vestige of trendiness is more than paid for.

I’m still trying to work out just how exactly, the bun on my burger was prepared. The very edges of the bread, almost caramelised, and how they interplayed with the sauce and the juices, mystified me (and as you can see, prompted a certain level of obsession). Although I suspect effect was probably an uncalculated idiosyncrasy of the chef’s (bless ‘im) handiwork, rather than a deliberate ploy.

(No, I didn’t have the munchies at the time, nor did I pop any psychedelics).

Obviously it wasn’t all bun-edges, my meal, but often it’s these little details that let on that your food has been prepared by a chef who loves what they do.

Naturally, there were several selections on the menu my picky vegetarian self was able to chose from.

***

Gig posters plastered the passageways, and the walls of the men’s loo (I can’t comment on the other half’s decor, having stayed where I belonged), and I’m told there’s a regular gathering of left-wing, Melburnian poets. I’m wondering how the locals would handle a Paroxysm Press Spoke n Slurred, or BorderCross SLAM*.

Whenever I hear of poets or literati from Melbourne, some small part of me always interprets the news like it’s fightin’ words… sporting like, etc..

The surrounding locale’s pretty interesting as well. There’s some nice old industrial red-brick buildings out back, with a bloody great old red brick chimney in the middle (I suspect, disused). The graffiti in the previous instalments of ‘RadiCool Melbourne’, for as long as they’re there, can be found along the Upfield line, north of The Noise Bar, which rests right next to the Brunswick station on Albert St.

With the daylight hours being what they are this time of year, on a not-too-hot day, you could take in a little graffiti on a walk, pop in for a beer, and try out the menu. You may even run into a performer or two if you time it right**.

Sobering back up, I can see my infatuation is leading to one of those long-distance type of affairs where I’m not going to get much face time. Almost regrettably, I’ll be seeing other pubs while I’m back here in Adelaide, but when in Melbourne, I’ll make it a priority to pop in to The Noise Bar for a drink, burger and chips.

Those lucky enough to be in closer proximity would do well to take advantage more regularly. Spoiled, Melburnians, you lot are.

~ Bruce

Update: There was some very sad news delivered to me, just a few days after I wrote this post. My compliments to the chef

* The first of which is on the 9th of February, 2013, in Melbourne. More details will follow as they are announced by the venue.
** Checking out events on The Noise Bar Facebook page would possibly help.

Back to old Melbourne town…

In the wee hours of tomorrow morning, I’ll be boarding The Overland for another train trip to Melbourne, following my previous adventure down that way for the Global Atheist Convention in April of this year. I’ve got some more time off, and this time around, I’ll be taking it easy.

I have to say I’m a little worried by my inability to ‘feel’ the land over the border in Victoria. It’s not that it appears barren – I can ‘feel’ the arid lands around Port Augusta and Whyalla in South Australia just fine.

There’s something that doesn’t quite click, and I want to give it another go at ground level, albeit with a change of season.

I’ve got no events booked, and just a couple of meet-and-eats on the cards. Of course, I’ll do a little Christmas shopping at Embiggen Books.

I’ll try to take more photos this time around as well.

Updates will be sporadic-to-non-existent until I got back to Adelaide though. (Except in instances of convenient access to free Wi-Fi scammed from Melbourne’s fine coffee shops.)

It’s  only a few hours until the train chugs off. I’d better tuck in for a few hours sleep.

Goodnight my darlings.

~ Bruce