| We dine out to celebrate John’s birthday and I give my opinion on the Sydney Biennale
I mentioned earlier that we were going out to dinner for John’s birthday tonight at Lucio’s in Paddington. Even though the site hasn’t been updated since 1997 (!!), if you read the link you will see that Lucio’s prides itself on the art they have hanging on the walls. They also brag that they have the hard to get 2 Hats rating from The Good Food Guide (the highest rating being 3 Hats). Unfortunately, the art on the walls is the vile kind…boring paintings that belong in a corporate lobby. These mediocre paintings, all done by “well known artists”, cover almost every spare inch of wall space, and the parts that are not covered with mediocre paintings are covered with mediocre ceramics.
Our dinner was very enjoyable, although I can see why they are only rated as 2 Hats, rather than 3. I would have rated them at 17 or 18 out of 20 for food and service, but they lose 2 – 3 points for the hideous decor.
- I had Eggplant and Taleggio (a kind of Italian cheese that is sort of a cross between Gruyere and Brie) Ravioli, tossed in butter with Tomato Salsa and Walnuts. It was the nicest ravioli I have ever had. The taleggio melted creamily into the eggplant while the salsa and walnuts lifted the taste without being too heavy.
- John had Green Noodles with Crab Meat as his first course. It was tossed in a Napoli sauce. Again, simple but flavourful.
- We both had Lamb with Green Pea & Ricotta Terrine, served with roasted baby tomatoes. Quite nice, although it didn’t live up to the promise of the first courses.
- I had wanted to order the Veal Brisket served with Lentils, but as John wanted to order the Cannelini beans as a side dish, I decided not to.
- John had a Caramelised Quince Pudding with Rhubarb and Cold Zabaglione. Now I had a mouthful of this and it was DIVINE.
- I selected a Chocolate Terrine with Pineapple Sorbet. It sounds unusual, but it worked as the chocolate was semi-bitter. It was served on a plate with small dices of caramelised pineapple, which I don’t think was necessary…it should have been left simple.
- I had a glass of an Italian dessert wine (Zibibbe? Zibbibo? something starting with ‘Z’ anyway) which the waiter recommended to me. It was nice – quite sweet and fruity – but it was too sweet to complement my dessert as it sort of clashed with the pineapple taste.
This was a relaxing and intimate evening to follow up on a great day. After getting up at about midday (although I cooked John breakfast in bed for his birthday) we went to the Botanical Gardens for a bit of a stroll. In the herb garden, we were really excited to see a little honeyeater hopping around on top of a hedge covered in little purple flowers. We were right next to it, but it didn’t care – it just kept hopping and sipping. We were close enough to see it’s little tongue flick in and out of the flowers.
Our next stop was the Gallery of NSW to see the Biennale exhibition there. Some interesting works. I especially liked the Russian Submarine and nonsensical flying machines constructed by Panamarenko, and Michael Parekowhai’s works on species that have been introduced to Australia and New Zealand. My favourite work that I have seen so far (at the MCA) is Susan Hiller’s Aural Sculpture which is an installation of mini speakers hanging at different heights in a room. Visually it looks good, but each speaker plays a different soundtrack of someone recalling their close encounters (yes, with aliens). To hear each story, you need to walk amongst the speakers, and hold your ear next to a speaker as you would to the mouth of a whisperer. Occasionally, one of the stories is played over a loud speaker. What I like most about this work is that it engages the viewers on a number of levels and draws them to participate in it without the laboured clunkiness of some allegedly interactive art.
Overall, though, I am finding this year’s Biennale a little disappointing for what is supposed to be a high-profile international art show. I guess, being in Australia, the curator was restricted as to what could feasibly and not too expensively be shipped over here, but I did expect at least some of the work to push boundaries and be a little bit challenging. Very little of what I have seen so far is “bleeding edge”.