Hairy hipsters were at it again. Not my hairy Hipsters of the Barbecue from next door, but at-large hipsters who showed up en masse for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s free Wednesday evening concert at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Unlike the theme of the night, ‘Summer Nights in Budapest’, the weather was pretty crap. And it sadly didn’t keep away the hipsters in their various-shades-of-khaki wool drapery.
I’d been looking forward to this evening … well, for a day at least. My symphony companion and I had scheduled our arrival a little before the concert was to start in order to get a nice spot. I’d made Hungarian-style schnitzel with red cabbage coleslaw, in keeping with the theme. The bad weather hadn’t kept crowds away, as I had hoped, and so the best spot we could wedge ourselves into with our picnic blanket was in between two clusters of hipsters – one from the north of the Yarra and the other from the south.* We had also managed to find a spot in which we wouldn’t actually see the orchestra, conductor or MC, just a sea of bodies and a bunch of loudspeakers, as well as signs directing people to the toilet. When the MC finally finished her lengthy introduction, which featured some rather cringe-worthy statements concerning Liszt’s sexuality, the sounds of his piano concerto began to fill the air with both its grandeur and serenity. It also seemed to be a cue for the north side hipsters to begin their wine fest next door. Elvis could have been playing and they wouldn’t have noticed. Determined to ‘lose myself in the music’, I did as the south side hipsters did and closed my eyes to try and take in only what I could hear. It worked for about a minute. The funniest conversation ever in the history of conversations seemed to be taking place next to me, and I saw red. I looked to my companion for solidarity, but he had passed out. The music had obviously taken a hold of him, so much that it had rendered him unconscious. Lucky him.
A sudden downpour saw a few flee for their lives, never to return. But the winos stayed and talked and stayed and drank and stayed and talked. Did they even know what a Liszt was? Or Budapest for that matter? I pondered this as my ‘companion’ fell back asleep and left me to my own bitterness. I did the whole staring at them intently thing, hoping they would sense my displeasure at their private festival without me having to actually tell them to shut up. I couldn’t bring myself to do that. Then I would know for sure that I was the downward spiral to becoming a scarier version of Mrs Mangel.
Thankfully, the full force of the orchestra was felt in a climactic moment of musical drama and woke my companion from his slumber. ‘Let’s move’, he sleepily but resolutely proclaimed, and so we passively-aggressively moved a few metres away. With only fifteen minutes left until the end of the show it was a tad useless, but we had made our point, sort of. And I’m sure they totally didn’t care. Feeling more one with the hipsters and less with the music, we trudged off home with a whole lotta uneaten coleslaw.
1 red cabbage, finely sliced
1 red capsicum, sliced lengthways
1 small red onion, finely sliced
half bunch parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons whole egg mayonnaise
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1 large sweet potato
1 cup corn kernels, cooked
50 g good quality cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat your oven to . Wash and then cut the sweet potato in half with the skin on, and then again lengthways, into submarine-style pieces. Place the potatoes onto a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Season the potatoes well and dust with the cumin. Toss the potatoes around in the tray so that they are all well coated and then place the tray in the oven. Allow these to cook for at least 30 minutes, so that they’re nice and crispy and super sweet, and so that the skin almost takes on a life of its own.
In the meantime, prepare the coleslaw by preparing the dressing first in a large bowl. I use the bowl I will be serving the salad in for less washing up. Add the oil, mayonnaise, vinegar, two-thirds of the parsley and seasoning, and whisk until combined. Be sure to taste, and when you’re satisfied with the dressing, add the washed and sliced red cabbage, capsicum and onion to the bowl. Toss well to combine, and adjust the dressing if necessary. At this point you may wish to add a little more mayo or vinegar for punch. Or salt for that matter. Cabbage unfortunately loves it. Add the extra parsley on top.
Hopefully the preparation of your salad coincides nicely with the readiness of the sweet potato. Remove the potatoes from the oven and set aside, then carefully scoop out the fluffy flesh of each potato sub into a bowl, leaving the skin as nicely intact as possible. Add the cooked corn (microwaved or steamed frozen corn is great) and grate in the cheese. There are a few varieties of cheese you could use, but a nice, bitey cheddar does the trick well. Add in the spices for a bit of depth, some seasoning to taste and then give it a gentle mix so as not to turn it into mush.
Spoon the potato filling back into each potato skin, distributing evenly, and when ready to serve add the coleslaw. This will serve four people for lunch or as a starter, or two hungry people as a main meal. Eat and be merry on whichever side of any type of waterway you may reside on!
*The Yarra River slices through Melbourne in a way that naturally divides folks into North of the Yarra humans and South of the Yarra humans. This has resulted in the phenomenon in which most Melbournians do not like to cross the Yarra in order to visit those on the other side. There is also a peculiar resistance to changing sides, but it does occur. For the record, I have lived on both sides. In my experience, north side hipsters tend to be more authentically hipster – the real deal. Op shop clothing, skin sheltered from the sun, mucho grosse beards. South siders have an air of having recently visited the beach, and wear tighter clothes, usually with sandals. My apologies for the gross generalisation and probably highly offensive musings.