Friday, 12 December 2008


“To change one's life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions.” - William James

One of the duties that I have to attend to as the Festive Season draws closer is to host various Christmas parties and formal dinners that we organise in order to thank our staff for their contributions to our organisation during the past year. Today I have been in Brisbane, mainly in meetings all day and then this afternoon the final College Council meeting for the year. This was quite a large meeting with much business and it went on for over two hours. At the end of it I was quite out of breath and sounding a little hoarse as I had done much talking. This meeting was followed by a dinner in one of Brisbane’s fine restaurants at the Emporium Centre close to the City, adjacent to the new Emporium Hotel in Fortitude Valley.

The restaurant we went to was “Buzz” which is a comfortable, unpretentious, almost café-style restaurant. It nevertheless has class and a quiet appeal. The restaurant serves contemporary Australian food where the multicultural influences that have shaped Australia mix with modern touches and classic dishes from various parts of the world presented in a fresh way.

There were about a dozen of us and the service was rapid, with good attention to detail and staffed by experienced and discreet waiters. The décor and ambience were relaxed and sophisticated, with no pretentious overtones. The restaurant was busy enough but not overcrowded or noisy and we sat outside in the gloriously balmy evening under the almost full moon.

We sampled all three courses on offer and everyone was very pleased with the quality of the food. I was particularly pleased with my choices: For entrée I chose the porcini mushroom arancini, accompanied by exotic mushrooms and watercress velouté. The arancini were slightly overcooked, but they tasted delicious. The wild mushrooms, especially, were very good. For my main course I had the eye fillet steak, truffled mash, asparagus, semi-dried tomatoes with raisin and onion jam. I always have my meat well done and this can often result in a slightly dry portion. However, this was the best well-done eye fillet that I have had for a long time. The mashed potatoes were delicious and the asparagus were cooked to perfection. I wasn’t too impressed with the raisin and onion jam, but it was mainly because I like my sweets served separately to my main courses. The dessert was baba au rhum with poached pear and citrus cream and fresh strawberries, a little dry, but otherwise very tasty. The strawberries were ripe and sweet, a perfect counterfoil to the rich dough of the baba.

We had the Toolangi Reserve Chardonnay for the Yarra Valley in Victoria with our entrées and the Firegully Cabernet Merlot from Margaret River in Western Australia with our main course, both wines being excellent. At $90 per person, we found the meal and service quite good to excellent.

The highlight of the meal was the conversation with cultured, educated people where the topics varied from current affairs, politics and educational matters to travel, family, art, music, theatre and topics pertaining to our work (of course!). The convivial atmosphere of the end of year celebration was tinged with a little sadness for me. This always seems to temper my sentiments on such occasions and no matter how a good time I have there is always a sweet melancholy in the background that helps to make the happy occasion even more vivid, just as in the brightest most sunlit days of summer, the shadows seem to lend a special brilliance to the highlights. I can’t exactly explain it, or maybe I could but don’t want to talk about it.

In any case the evening was most enjoyable and was a happy and successful conclusion to a year’s of hard work. A small price to pay in order to express our gratitude to these people in the community and sister tertiary institutions that give up their time in order to sit in our Council meetings and contribute to the good governance of our College.

Enjoy the weekend! Do it now, utilise fully the essence of the good inherent in your life; the future is promised to none.

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