Chips Rafferty meets Laurence Olivier

From a column I wrote for The Melbourne Times, 12 July 1989:

I’ve just read a description of a dinner held at Emu Plains, New South Wales in 1948. (The Gourmet’s Week-End Book, edited by André Simon, Seeley Service, London 1952).

The setting was “Leonay“, the home of hosts Mr. and Mrs. Leo Buring. Their guests included Sir Laurence Olivier and Lady (Vivien Leigh) Olivier, and Chips and Mrs. Rafferty.

Among the wines served were an 1893 Great Western Hermitage, a 1920 White Hermitage from Dame Nellie Melba’s Coldstream vineyard, a 1932 Coonawarra Hermitage, a 1934 Hunter River Hermitage, a 1944 Drayton’s Hunter River Semillon and a 1940 Leonay Liqueur Brandy.

The 1893 Great Western red, says the report, “had retained a beautiful ruby colour, and was a remarkable wine despite its 55 years.”

Courses comprised Oysters a la Leonay, fresh oysters on the shell with halved avocados containing cocktail sauce. Then a six-pound snapper marinated in champagne; baked with onions, tomatoes and herbs and basted with butter and champagne. Followed by lamb chops barbecued over wood coals and green eucalyptus leaves, accompanied by potatoes roasted in ashes and green peas.

Sweets were strawberries flambées and ice cream. Coffee was served after Mazcola (an Australian gorgonzola style) cheese. Yum.

I imagine overhearing a snippet of cross-cultural conversation when they met:

Chips: “G’day Lazza.”

Olivier: “I’m afraid you have the advantage of me, my good man.”

Chips: “Well ain’t we posh? Chips is the moniker, meet the missus. An’ oo’s the good lookin’ sheila yez brung along? Would she be tonguin’ for a cold ale before we repair to the backyard barbie? Waddaya reckon, Lazza?”

Vivien: “How very quaint these Orstralians are Larry.”

Chips: “Jeez, cut the cackle and save me some of the plonk for when the real grog runs out, or I’ll see yez in hell!” etc.

Wish I’d been there.

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