Tuesday, September 09, 2014

I MIGHT CHOKE, ARTY!



My first wedding day...6th April, 1966
From left...Mum, Nana, Me, Mervyn, Mervyn's father and Graham, my brother
The Bride & Groom...I was the ripe old age of 21 years.







Part of Fortitude Valley, Circa 1968  (Brisbane trams ceased running in 1969)

Many years ago which, for me in lots of ways, could be referred to as the Enlightened Age of 1969-1970 while working within the fashion industry I also had a casual, part-time job a couple of nights per week at The Pelican Tavern, primarily waiting on tables.  

My first husband, Mervyn and I had separated, amicably, in September, 1968.  I moved out…my choice…to a flat/unit not far from where we’d shared the previous two years of our lives. Mervyn helped in the move…not because he was happy to get rid of me…but because he was a nice guy.  We knew our run together had come to an end.  We’ve remained on good terms ever since.  That’s the way life should be, in my opinion.  Spite, hate, vindictiveness and all the rest of the nonsense that some people carry on with is wasted emotional energy.  Relationships break down…it’s a fact of life.

Wanting to earn a bit of extra pocket money over and beyond what I was earning in my five-days-a-week-full-time job I started working, at first, only two nights a week at the Pelican Tavern…Friday and Saturday nights, but before long I was working sometimes up to five nights a week; never less than three. 

The Pelican Tavern was situated on St. Paul’s Terrace, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.  Don’t choke!  I know I’ve written about the Tavern and my times spent there in previous articles throughout the years, but bear with me…please allow me to write another one.  As you see, no matter what you say - I’m going to continue writing this, anyway. 

I enjoyed working for Kyriol Wypow, the owner of The Tavern.  Born in Kiev, Ukraine, Mr. Wypow didn’t like what was happening in his country of birth after the Russian Revolution. He wasn't a big fan of Communism - I can't say I blame him!  (If he was still alive, he’d hate what's happening in Ukraine today even more).

As a young man in his early twenties, Mr. Wypow high-tailed it out of there as soon as he was able to do so.  He trekked down through Turkey, eventually arriving in South Australia; and then, after a few years, he moved to Queensland where he lived until his death in the Eighties.  He built the Tavern with his own hands, blood, sweat, and tears, even if the tears remained invisible.  The Tavern was as strong a structure as he was a man.

Unfortunately, The Pelican Tavern no longer exists; and unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of it.  The floor of the tavern was slate. Sturdy wooden tables, some built to seat two; others to seat four; and some to seat eight were strategically placed throughout the interior.  Empty Raffia-clad, melted wax covered Chianti wine bottles along with empty Mateus Rosé bottles bearing candles sat on the table cloth-free tables. They lit the dining area during service giving it a “bohemian” feel.

Kyriol Wypow and his wonderful Pelican Tavern were probably to blame (in a nice way) for heightening my interest in the hospitality industry; in cooking and in all areas pertaining to the industry. 

Mr. Wypow was a self-taught cook, and proud of it.  Come Saturdays he’d pick me up on his way to the restaurant. We lived only a couple of suburbs apart; and he didn’t have to detour out of his way to collect me.  He and his wife lived at St. Lucia and I lived in Toowong.  Their next door neighbours were Sir Raphael and Lady Phyllis Cilento…the parents of the now late Diane Cilento – the well-known Australian actress of the Fifties and Sixties, and one-time wife of Sean Connery (the best James Bond, in my opinion).  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raphael_Cilento


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_Cilento

On those Saturday afternoons I’d help Mr. Wypow prepare for the evening service.  I learned a lot from watching him.  He didn’t like to give away any of his tricks of the trade – but I had my antennae on high alert.  Nothing much got by me.  He was cagey, not wanting to let go of too many of his secrets, but I was cagier!  He wouldn’t give me the recipe for his Lamb Shashlicks, which was his own, put together from when he lived in Turkey; but by power of elimination, I gleaned the ingredients out of him.  If he was aware of my craftiness, he didn’t let on.  He probably was, but enjoyed the game of cat and mouse; and he willingly played along with it.  Nothing much, if anything, got passed Kyriol Wypow.

I loved serving the diners who enjoyed the food and the ambience the Tavern offered

Sometimes the behavior of diners caused me to lose interest in them, but that’s another story (or stories) for another day. Overall, to be fair, good customer percentages over-ruled the bad.

One fellow visiting from Sydney spat the dummy one Saturday night.  The rest of Brisbane and I learned he was from Sydney because when I confronted him, while in the meantime purposely blocking his escape route, he declared the fact clearly, proudly (read “arrogantly”) and loudly for the rest of the world to hear. 

He tried to leave the restaurant without paying for his meal; a meal he’d devoured.  His plate was bare with not a skerrick of food, not even a crumb, nor a scraping of sauce left on it when I cleared the table.  To make matters worse he left his knife and fork skewiff; not that I should’ve been surprised from such an ill-mannered person as him.

Remaining at high volume, he said he’d never set foot in the place again.  To which I calmly replied, with a slight smile on my face: “That’s the best news I’d heard all night.”

Before departing never to darken our doors again, he paid his bill. 

Mr.Wypow looked on, amused, from the kitchen; his monocle placed comfortably over his left eye. He didn't use his monocle all the time, but he did wear it always securely attached to his jacket or shirt; and used it when the occasion suited.

Another evening I walked past a table of two diners; not an unusual occurrence. They were lost in an intimate conversation as they enjoyed their juicy, thick steaks. Without warning, the male diner began spluttering and acting like Mel Gibson after a night out on the “turps” (as is said here in the land Down Under).

Stopping dead in my tracks, I asked the female of the two how well she knew her date. Had she known him long; did he have a medical history of taking fits, perhaps; but she was useless. Like “Fawlty Towers’” Spanish waiter, Manuel, she knew nothing! She was less than useless. While she sat there gaping, her date’s face went from red to a darker shade of purple.

Remember - this was circa 1970 – four years before the Heimlich Manoeuvre was created by Hank Heimlich. Time was of the essence.

Taking a punt, I figured the bloke was choking on his meal; not from his dinner being bad in any way, but from the way he’d ingested it.  Perhaps he’d gotten a little over-excited while talking with his date, dreaming about what might lie ahead, and he’d forgotten, for a brief moment, where he was and what he was doing. 

Cat Woman to the rescue! With all the force I could muster I gave him a humongous thump in the middle of his back.  I didn’t hold back; I whacked him good and hard!

Out of his mouth flew, not a surprise engagement ring, but a huge hunk of steak!

Fortunately, the projectile missed his date, the surrounding diners and me.  Reasonably controlled applause echoed throughout the Tavern.

I’ve never seen a diner abscond from a restaurant so quickly…after paying his bill.  He had no reason to be embarrassed. After all, Cat Woman had saved his life! Following my life-saving good deed I hung up my leather outfit, mask and claws.

I was never asked, nor did I have the opportunity again to come to anyone’s aid, so there was no point in getting around in my Cat Woman outfit.  It only drew unwanted attention.

If you find yourself choking…don’t call me…I might choke!

Three Cheese Artichoke Bites: Preheat oven 162C. Spray mini muffin tins. Sauté 1 chopped onion and 1 minced garlic clove and 1tbs olive oil until just tender; remove from heat. In bowl, combine 1 can marinated artichokes, drained and chopped, 6 beaten eggs, 1c each shredded cheddar, mozzarella and grated parmesan, 1/2tsp Italian seasoning, 1/4c chopped parsley, 1/4tsp pepper, 1/8tsp Worcestershire sauce and 1/8th tsp chilli sauce; stir in onions and 1/4c Italian-seasoned dry breadcrumbs. Scoop mix into muffin tins; fill almost to top; bake 15-20mins, until firm and golden. Remove from pan; serve warm.

Artichokes on Horseback: Drain 2 jars artichoke hearts. Place each heart on one end of bacon rasher; sprinkle with a parmesan and pepper; roll up; secure with toothpick; deep fry in 2-inches of hot oil, 3mins.

Prawn-Artichoke Pasta: Cook 240g linguine al dente. Sauté 1 chopped onion, 1 crushed garlic clove in 2tbs olive oil, about 5mins. Remove to bowl. To the pan drippings add…1-1/4c artichoke hearts (or fresh artichokes*), 1/2c dry white wine, 2tbs lemon juice, 2tsp lemon zest, salt, pepper and cooked onion. Heat over high heat; reduce to simmer, covered, 4-5mins. Toss with the pasta and chopped parsley. *If using fresh artichokes rather than canned; Trim and halve lengthwise about 10 baby artichokes with stems; discard outer tough leaves. Put artichokes, 2tbs lemon juice and 6c water in saucepan; bring to boil; reduce heat; simmer until crisp-tender, about 5mins. Heat grill pan over high heat; place chokes cut side down on grill pan; cook 6mins per side.  You could also add sun-dried tomatoes to pasta, if desired. 

30 comments:

  1. Love your attitude.
    Hate is an energy sapper. Energy which can be used for better things usually.
    And you are still Cat Woman - with or without the costume. Your furry overlords make sure of that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi EC...so true. I can't stand hassles...and if they can be averted, why the hell not, I say. :)

    My furry overlords lord over me every minute of every day...I hope they don't read this...their heads will swell more than they already are!!

    Thanks for coming by. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ah...Mateus! Whatever happened to Ben Ean and Sparkling Rhinegold?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey Cosmo...Wow! Flashes from the past. I could always tell the young couples who were on their first date...they always ordered- or brought with them - a bottle of Ben Ean Moselle!! Sparkling Rhinegold! I hated the stuff and never drank it! lol

    Ahh...thanks for coming in. :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a lovely wedding photo of you Lee. Artichokes are not something I gave eaten often. Hmm?

    ReplyDelete
  6. The artichokes on horseback look so good - I love anything wrapped in bacon. :)

    And you were such a beautiful bride. I was 20 when I got married. I wish I could say my divorce was not without rancor, but it was (on his part anyway.) He quibbled over stuff. Sigh.

    Good job with the Heimlich!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey, Lynn. Artichoke hearts drained canned or those in jars marinated for a few hours in lemon juice, crushed garlic and freshly-ground black pepper make for a good canape (or entree/first course), too. If they are fairly large, either halve or quarter them.

    Rightly or wrongly, I couldn't be bothered arguing over who took what etc. For me, I believed just having peace of mind was all I wanted.

    Thanks for popping in. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey Carol...have a look at my response to Lynn's comment re another way to use canned artichokes.

    I loved my wedding dress. I had it made to my preferred design. It was just a simple cotton-linen blend with a lowish back; and my head gear was in a similar fabric.

    Thanks for swinging by. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. You were a beautiful bride.
    Nice that you divorced as friends.
    And lastly - is that where you learned to cook?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for your kind words, Sandie.

    I always loved to cook from when I was a kid. I guess I began learning at home watching my Nana cook our meals etc. I was always interested in the art of cooking.

    And when I started the job waiting on tables at the Tavern, as I said I watched and learned a lot from Mr. Wypow. And I began helping him prep in small ways during our Saturday afternoons...and I went from there. I then became a self-taught cook/chef. I never did the official training to be a chef...but over the ensuing years I sure did a lot of cooking in the professional capacity.

    Thanks for popping in. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. You and Mervyn were a lovely couple. Mervyn's dad looks like he belongs in the Italian mafia, very dapper in his light suit. I'm still friends with both my ex husbands and both have helped me move house at different times.
    Glad you were able to save that man choking on his steak. Waiting tables isn't something I think I could do, I'd probably drop all the plates!

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Jock", Mervyn's father may have been part of the Irish Mafia...he was of Irish stock. :)

    I'm glad I'm not alone in being friends with exes, River. We're a rare breed, you and I, I think.

    Fortunately, I never did drop a plate...or anything...fortunately! lol

    Cheers...thanks for coming by. :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. What an interesting life you have lived! Mervyn was a handsome devil and you--such a BEAUTIFUL Bride!

    Saving that man from choking to death----FABULOUS!

    I enjoy reading your recipes and seeing all your pictures....I love bacon wrapped anything. Have you ever done Dates wrapped in Bacon with a little cheese---warmed in the oven? YUM!

    ReplyDelete
  14. G'day Naomi...Devils on Horseback (prunes wrapped in bacon) were so the thing to have back in the Sixties at parties, weren't they? I've never done them filled with cheese though...but that does sound delicious. The prunes are great stuffed with almonds, too. And, of course...Angels on Horseback...oysters wrapped in bacon. Now I'm hungry!!!

    Yes...Mervyn was a good looking fellow...he had a few of the girls eyeing him off. He was a lifesaver at the Noosa Surf Lifesaving club...as was my brother Graham.

    Thanks for your nice comment, Naomi. I hope you're well. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hmmm I can imagine you in a Cat Woman outfit....

    ReplyDelete
  16. Good job catwoman! Gotta love restaurant stories especially the people that complain yet wipe their plate clean. I was glad I never had to do the Heimlich while we owned our restaurant.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Are you choking there, Jerry? You'd better watch out...I'll give you a solid whack on your back!

    Thanks for coming by. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Not these days, Mr. Ad-Man! lol

    Thanks for popping in. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hey Dexter...yes...restaurants are a cause for many a good story, that's for sure.

    Good to see you. :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Love learning new things: Skewiff'. It's one word meaning 'awry' or 'out of alignment' (skewed, or askew).

    Also on the "turps" is out drinking alcohol.

    You did a good job introducing us to Kyriol Wypow. Fun stories.

    And I hope Cat Woman is around when I start choking in a restaurant.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hey Annie...I'm glad you did some research! I have to keep myself aware that some of you up there in the northern hemisphere are unfamiliar with some of our Aussie terms/slang. We do have some weird ones...and I hope we never lose them.

    Cat Woman is now retired, but Kit-Kat might be running around somewhere!

    Thanks for coming by. :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks for sharing so many things!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. You're welcome, Arlynda. It's nice to see you...I hope all is well with you...take good care. :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ah Cat Woman was a cutie with our suit. I guess the suit is hidden away. It is very sad to what is happen in his country and others at the moment. The candles in the wine jugs were a 70 thing here. Peace

    ReplyDelete
  25. That's amazing, Lee!

    ReplyDelete
  26. G'day Lady Di...yes...the old candle in the wine bottle trick! They were a must...a decorating necessity! :)

    Thanks for coming by. :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. Hey there RK! Short, sweet and to the point! Thanks for popping in. :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Relationships break down…it’s a fact of life. Very true.

    Excellent post, Cat Woman :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Miaow, Wendy! Thanks for coming by. :)

    ReplyDelete