The magic of truffle time

Written by admin on 10/04/2019 Categories: 南京夜网

Kipflers are perfect mashed in an impressive truffle dish. Photo: David ReistThe frost is tingling the toes – freezing them actually – as you dance around at 4am trying to round up your pig that is trying to get into the house, and you have that feeling that her time is about up.
Nanjing Night Net

Yep, it’s truffle time. You can almost hear them form underground, pure flavour, a microbial gift found at the feet of oaks and hazels. Their coming gets your adrenalin pumping and it’s time to get the usual suspects ready – eggs, butter and pasta.

With the first dark gem I had under my supervision this year, I made a simple fondue. For the event, I found some slacks and a turtle-necked jumper, metaphorically at least. It’s a bit too weird eating fondue in skinny jeans and a man scarf.

Fondue is made by reducing white wine and slowly melting in cheeses that might come from an alpine region – emmental, gruyere, Swiss cheese even, although I’m pretty sure they don’t eat Swiss cheese in Switzerland.

Into this little cauldron of molten curd you grate a good amount of truffle. It’s hard to be exact; truffles are expensive, so as much as you can spare.

Dip little pieces of bread on skewers, wrap the stringy, melted cheese around, making sure you have plenty of truffle grits, then down it. You’ll probably remove the layer of skin on the roof of your mouth but there’s no question the flavour of truffle is piercing.

But as I eat this, I’m thinking it’s a little too strong. For me, truffles should be about enhancing the food they’re cooked with; otherwise, all you get is that sweaty, earthy character and you might as well just eat the damn thing neat, a la Paul Bocuse.

So if you want to try it with cheese, buy a Clarines or Epoisses cheese. Both are expensive French washed rinds. Remove the plastic cover but leave the cheese in the bamboo basket it comes in. Chop up the truffle and wedge the pieces into the cheese, pour over a glass of riesling, place on a barbecue or in a heavy-based fry pan and cook until the cheese starts to bubble. Now you can spread this on to sourdough and have one of the world’s greatest food experiences.

Or just grate the truffle on to scrambled, just-laid farm eggs, with salt and pepper. These are simple foods that gods would eat.

But I’m looking for a new way to express the truffle, a recipe that doesn’t require a food lab handy and a week free. Now I have a pig, I have neither spare time nor cash. I’m looking to the brilliant books by chefs Rene Redzepi and Mark Best for inspiration. In Redzepi’s Noma I find what I’m looking for. It doesn’t require too much truffle but gives you a pretty intense expression of the flavour. What makes this special is a secret ingredient, smoked pork fat.

It’s a little like lardo or the Spanish tocino. It’s the back fat, cured and smoked. It’s not easy to find but you can buy a piece of smoked speck and just use the fatty part. You cook it down, freeze it, then shave it over warm food and it’s just a beautiful garnish. It dissolves, leaving just a shimmer of fat and a whiff of smoke.

This gives a lot of bang for your buck, adding a smoky bacon character to the earthy truffle flavour and it’s all bound together with mashed kipfler potato. We’ve got a lot of kipflers at the moment. They’re a full-flavoured, buttery spud and with the milk, cream and butter that you whip into it, there’s plenty of dairy fat to carry the truffle flavour through the starch.

So a potato dish using kipflers, topped with a truffle puree, smoked speck fat and the piece de resistance, a buttery whey sauce. At first glance, it didn’t look like much, but, wow, it worked a treat at a recent wine dinner to say goodbye to our vintage workers. Simple but complex in flavour, an elegant dish that shows you how interesting truffles can be. I used truffle oil to augment the flavour, as the recipe suggests, since the early truffles tend to be light on flavour. But by mid-July the real gems will start to arrive at the markets and you could back off on the oil if the truffle really stinks. You be the judge.

Now to the pig.Truffled kipflers with smoked lardo and whey

200g speck fat or tocino or smoked lardo

250g plain, unsweetened yoghurt

700g kipflers, peeled

salt

150g milk

150g cream

75g butter, diced

25g truffle, smashed

2 tbsp reduced stock or jus

20ml truffle oil

30ml grapeseed oil

pepper

30g butter, diced

Cover the smoked fat with water and simmer for two hours. Drain, place between two plates and weigh down in the fridge to set, for about an hour. Wrap and freeze.

Set the yoghurt in a colander lined with cheesecloth and collect the whey over 24 hours. You should have about 120 millilitres of whey at the end. Keep the drained yoghurt for another use.

Cover the potatoes with salted water and boil until soft, then drain and remove. Put the milk, cream and butter in the hot pot, bring to a boil and return the spuds. Whisk to form a very loose mash, pass through a fine sieve to remove lumps and season. Add more milk if needed. It should be a soft puree that holds its shape. Keep warm. (Note: a Thermomix makes the most amazing whipped potatoes, just saying.)

Crush the truffle in a mortar and pestle and mix in the stock. As if you were making a mayonnaise, slowly drizzle in the oils, whisking well to form a black emulsion. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the whey until it’s hot enough to dissolve the butter in, being careful not to boil it. You will have a milky-looking liquid.

Take the speck out of the freezer when everything is hot and ready to serve. Shave this into curls with a sharp knife.

In the centre of each plate, place a good spoonful of potato. Top with the truffle emulsion and a few shavings of speck fat, and drizzle with whey.

That’s it! If you’re looking for something special to serve with this, look to burgundy. We enjoyed an 11-year-old red Corton, with its own slightly smoky flavour.

>> Bryan Martin is winemaker at Ravensworth and Clonakilla, bryanmartin南京夜网.au.

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Teen shot McGurk says the ‘new guy’

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Shot dead … Michael McGurk. Maintains his innocence … businessman Ron Medich. Photo: Ben Rushton
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Haissam Safetli, pictured during his arrest in 2010, has pleaded guilty to the murder of Michael McGurk. Photo: Vanda Carson

In a dramatic development in the murder case of businessman Michael McGurk, a Sydney court has heard a teenager fired the fatal shot.

Christopher Estephan was 19 on the night McGurk was killed outside his house on September 3, 2009.

The revelation is contained in the agreed statement of facts for Haissam Safetli, 47, who has pleaded guilty to the murder of McGurk.

Safetli also pleaded guilty to taking part in the subsequent stalking and intimidation of McGurk’s widow, Kimberley, Central Local Court heard on Tuesday.

Police allege millionaire property tycoon Ron Medich wanted McGurk dead because the two were embroiled in a series of lawsuits over a soured business venture. When Mrs McGurk did not drop the lawsuits after her husband’s murder, Mr Medich is alleged to have paid thousands of dollars to have her threatened.

Two months before the shooting, Mr Medich’s right-hand man Lucky Gattellari introduced Safetli to Mr Medich as ”the new guy” who would carry out the hit.

The police facts allege that Mr Estephan, who was a friend of Safetli’s nephew Adam Chahine, ”was keen to become involved” and he was to be paid $30,000 plus expenses for his role in the killing. Safetli allegedly received $250,000 for ‘‘the job’’.

At 6.25 on the night of the murder,  McGurk and his nine-year-old son pulled up outside the family’s Cremorne home in a dark blue Mercedes-Benz.

‘‘[Safetli] maintains that Estephan, upon seeing the deceased arrive home, grabbed the modified rifle, got out of the utility and walked quickly over to the deceased’s side of the Mercedes. He then shot the deceased behind his right ear, fatally wounding him,’’ said the police statement.

‘‘The Crown cannot disprove the offender’s assertion that Estephan was the shooter beyond reasonable doubt,’’ the  statement continued.

Within months of the shooting, the court heard, the police were closing in on Mr Medich, Gattellari, his driver Senad Kaminic, Safetli and Mr Estephan.

Police bugged their phones and installed surveillance devices in Safetli’s home in mid-June 2010. They listened as Safetli told his family about his  involvement in the murder and the subsequent intimidation of Mrs McGurk.

Once Safetli learnt   his nephew Mr Chahine had been summonsed to appear at the highly secretive NSW Crime Commission and that Mr Estephan and his girlfriend, Serena Rodrigues, were providing ‘‘induced statements’’ to police, Safetli rolled over and agreed to co-operate.

For a month leading up to the  arrests in October 2010, Safetli co-operated with police. He pointed them to the murder weapon and wore a listening device to secretly record Gattellari and Kaminic.

The pair tried to convince Safetli to ‘‘take the rap’’ for all of them. In return, they would fund his defence and also look after his family.

Last month, former boxing champion Gattellari was sentenced to a non-parole period of seven years over his role in  McGurk’s murder.

Kaminic, 45, received a two-year jail term. The  reductions on their sentences was for agreeing to give evidence against Mr Medich.

Outside the court, Safetli’s solicitor Dennis Miralis said that negotiations between his client and the Director of Public Prosecutions had been under way for some time.

‘‘As a result of those negotiations he has accepted full responsibility for his involvement and has agreed to give evidence against Mr Medich and Mr Estephan,’’ he said.

‘‘This has been an extremely stressful time for him as well as for his family. It’s clearly the most serious charge you can plead guilty to.’’

Mr Medich will face a six-week committal hearing in August.

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Japanese husbands’ pocket money at 30-year low

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The average Japanese husband’s monthly allowance slumped to the lowest level since 1982 at the start of the country’s financial year as workers await the dividends promised by Abenomics.
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Salarymen’s spending money, typically set by wives managing family budgets, was 38,457 yen ($418), down 3 per cent from last year and less than half the 1990 peak, according to Shinsei Bank.

The survey of 2000 people was done April 20th and 22nd via the internet, the report published June 28 showed.

With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledging to revive the world’s third-largest economy through unprecedented monetary expansion, fiscal stimulus and business deregulation, salarymen allotted more of their budget to going out drinking.

They went out an average 2.2 times a month, spending 3474 yen a time, up 21 per cent from last year, the Shinsei report showed.

“Husband’s allowance is the most lagging indicator of Japan’s economy, while female spending is the first to increase,” said Hiroshi Miyazaki, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities in Tokyo, who says his own ration has been unchanged for a while.

“Japanese salary men don’t have to be pessimistic. Their pocket money should gradually increase to reflect Japan’s recovery.”

Stagnant wages

In a sign that the benefits of a growing economy and rising company profits aren’t yet flowing through to workers, salaries were unchanged in May from a year earlier, the Labor Ministry said in Tokyo today. The average monthly wage for a Japanese worker was 314,127 yen last year, according to the ministry.

The government will create a panel to encourage companies to raise wages, Yuzuru Takeuchi, parliamentary secretary for finance, said in an interview last month.

Wages fell or were unchanged in 11 of 12 months through May even as Japanese companies’ stockpile of cash rose to a record, exceeding the size of Italy’s economy, Bank of Japan data for the first quarter showed last month.

Abe’s three-pronged strategy of ending deflation and stoking growth has helped household’s net worth, by propelling gains in the country’s stock market.

Household assets climbed even as salaries have dropped, rising 4.7 per cent to 1207 trillion yen in the first three months of this year, the highest since 2007, before the global financial crisis.

Bloomberg

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Dollar dive coaxed RBA to hold

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“Bottom line? The Central bank can cut again” Photo: Louie DouvisRBA holds fire on interest rates
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The Australian dollar’s descent since the Reserve Bank last met on June 4 probably tipped the scales in favour of its decision this afternoon to leave the cash rate on hold at 2.75 per cent.

In its 2.30pm announcement the central bank notes that since the June 4 meeting, markets have been more volatile in reaction to the US Federal Reserve’s announcement of a provisional timetable for the withdrawal of its $US85 billion a month quantitative easing cash crutch for the US economy.

The QE cash spreads around the world, so its withdrawal has implications for money supply and has pushed up debt yields everywhere, including here.

The Reserve goes on to say however that the Australian dollar has depreciated by about 10 per cent since April. The currency is still strong by historical standards, the Reserve says, but ‘‘it is possible that the exchange rate will depreciate further over time, which would help to foster a rebalancing of growth in the economy.’’

The Reserve may sit on the sidelines until that possibility of further falls in the dollar is confirmed or disproved, because the dollar’s descent adds another layer of stimulus to the economy, supplementing the boost the cash rate delivers as it feeds into lending rates generally.

The cash rate was at 4.75 per cent in October 2011 before the Reserve began to lower it. It has been at 2.75 per cent since May this year, but in Tuesday’s statement the Reserve says. as it has in previous months, that it could go lower.

Inflation is within its medium-term target range of between 2 per cent and 3 per cent and likely to remain so for at least a year and perhaps two years ‘‘notwithstanding the effects of the recent depreciation of the exchange rate,’’ it says, and as a result there is ‘‘some scope for further easing, should that be required to support demand.’’

The national accounts for the March quarter that came out just after the Reserve’s June 4 meeting confirmed that economic growth is slightly below par, at 2.5 per cent in the year to March.

The Reserve has been saying consistently however that it expects signs that low rates are boosting activity to grow, and is sticking to its guns with the latest decision to keep the cash rate on hold.

Rate cuts over the past year and half have ‘‘supported interest-sensitive spending and asset values,’’ it says, ‘‘and further effects can be expected over time,’’ a view that it held before, but one that is buttressed now by the stimulus a lower dollar is delivering.

Bottom line? The Central bank can cut again, but wants a clearer picture of how much stimulus the rate cuts it has already announced  and the more recent fall in the Australian dollar’s value deliver before it either pulls the trigger or puts the rate-cut gun back in its holster.

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Double-edged dollar doing it for the RBA

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“Some of the higher imported costs that are passed can act as a brake on consumers” Photo: Glen HuntRBA holds fire on interest ratesMalcolm Maiden: Dollar dive coaxed RBA to hold
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The Reserve Bank doves are a bit quieter today as the weaker Australian dollar starts to do its part, helping “to foster a rebalancing of growth in the economy”. Another official rate cut remains a possibility, but is a perhaps little less likely given the tone of Governor Glenn Stevens brief announcement.

Not that there’s much difference between last month’s statement and today’s. Indeed, the final paragraph is exactly the same:

“At today’s meeting the Board judged that the easier financial conditions now in place will contribute to a strengthening of growth over time, consistent with achieving the inflation target. It decided that the stance of monetary policy remained appropriate for the time being. The Board also judged that the inflation outlook, as currently assessed, may provide some scope for further easing, should that be required to support demand.”

The RBA ready and able to lend a hand with a touch more monetary stimulation, but the present low interest rates are already at work, supporting “interest-sensitive spending and asset values and further effects can be expected over time”. Sure, borrowing remains “relatively subdued”, but “there are signs of increased demand for finance by households”.

Importantly, the Reserve Bank isn’t looking for or expecting a quick fix to growth being below trend in the March quarter. After all, the year-to GDP growth of 2.5 per cent is about what the central bankers were already predicting for the rest of this year as the economy adjusts to lower levels of mining investment. Now, though, the dollar is helping and might yet help a bit more:

“The Australian dollar has depreciated by around 10 per cent since early April, although it remains at a high level. It is possible that the exchange rate will depreciate further over time…”

And the 10 per cent depreciation hasn’t changed the RBA’s view that inflation isn’t a problem for the next year or two while the labour market remains soft.

Whether that stays the case if the dollar takes another leg down remains to be seen. The post-meeting announcement is very brief, but there are opportunities tomorrow and on Thursday to flesh it out when the government and deputy-governor deliver speeches and, presumably, take questions.  Those doing the asking could do well to pursue the bank’s attitude to the Federal Reserve’s announced hope of winding down its printing presses and just how double-edged a falling currency could be.

Yesterday’s RBA June commodity price index illustrated how the weaker Aussie is already cushioning the economy. In special drawing rights terms, Australia’s weighted commodities index fell 4.1 per cent in the month and was down 10.5 per cent over the year. In Australian dollars, the index rose 1.8 per cent last month and is only down 5.5 per cent from a year ago.

Many Australian businesses that were barely hanging on with a dollar worth US$1.05 are suddenly doing nicely at around 92 US cents. That’s most obvious for our exporters, especially the straight price takers in primary industries, but also in parts of our manufacturing industry – arguably a factor in yesterday’s improved Australian Industry Group manufacturing index .

But the weaker dollar is indeed a double-edged sword, cutting both ways and sometimes in ways that are less than obvious. The miners and farmers like what the Aussie does for their export prices, but much of their machinery and the price of fuel is imported. Many of our manufacturers use imported parts in what they make – more expensive parts added to local labour costs don’t suddenly result in particularly more affordable end products.

A cheaper currency will encourage foreigners to spend a little more when they visit, but it’s by no means clear that a 10 per cent depreciation is going to keep us locals down on the farm now that we’ve seen Paree, or at least Bali. That’s a point that the hard and knowledgeable heads at Flight Centre have already made.

There also might be more to be discovered about assumptions behind the governor’s statement that the dollar’s depreciation will leave the core inflation rate within its target band for the next “one or two years”. Some of the depreciation will be absorbed by the supply chain and the extremely competitive nature of global manufacturing in the present climate of over-capacity. It becomes more interesting if various forecasts come true of global growth improving next year.

And, in the meantime, some of the higher imported costs that are passed can act as a brake on consumers. There are already squeals of pain to be heard about petrol prices rising.

There’s no doubting that the net impact of a weaker currency is a positive for the economy, but some sectors of it might heed the warning of being careful in what you wish for.

Michael Pascoe is a BusinessDay contributing editor.

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Top 5 Tuesday

Written by admin on 10/03/2019 Categories: 南京夜网

A night spent in the back of a car is often out of necessity, convenience, for thrills or a right of passage.
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The experience can be endearing or tedious – think cold morning air, fogged-up windows and dishevelled hair. But it is usually always memorable.

Most Australians can vouch for sleeping it rough in a vehicle at least once in their lifetime. Some can even lay claim to being conceived in the back of a car.

So in honour of those circumnavigating Australia or planning a budget trip to the snow, Drive has assembled a list of the five best sleeping cars.1. Holden Sandman

The Sandman is the doyen of all sleeper cars.

Developed by Holden and sold on the sales pitch of ‘a vehicle for work and weekend’, the Sandman became deeply etched in the popular surf culture of the ’70s.

On top of GTS dash and steering wheel inserts, many owners individualised their Sandmans with features including shagpile carpet, analogue televisions or pedestal fans.

Despite the sales moniker “Everything is standard except the paint job”, original models can be hard to track nowadays, particularly those in good condition.

The Sandman was sold from 1974 to 1979 (HQ to HZ) and equipped with the choice of a six-cylinder or eight-cylinder engine.

Like the drive-in movies they were once (rather notoriously) synonymous with, Sandmans are few and far between nowadays.2. Volkswagen Kombi

The Volkswagen Kombi is the iconic campervan.

Introduced in 1950, the Kombi joined the Beetle as the second tier to Volkswagen’s burgeoning line-up. By the ’60s, it was the poster car of the hippy movement.

Today, original Kombis are an appreciating commodity. A quick browse of drive南京夜网.au yielded few results under $10,000, but there plenty in the five-figure range.

Sadly, Volkswagen will formally end production of the Kombi this year because of more stringent safety rules.3. Toyota LandCruiser troop carrier

Here is a vehicle that can accommodate and navigate in some of the most extreme circumstances imaginable.

The only candidate listed with a high ground clearance and four-wheel drive capability, Toyota’s troop carrier is a popular choice of travellers and residents in outback Australia.

The current 70 series (produced from 1984 to present) replaced the 40 series, which included the FJ40.

Most troopies are equipped with in-line six-cylinder diesel engines. In 2007, Toyota upped the ante and introduced a 4.5-litre turbo diesel V8 to the range.

It is not uncommon to find a tinnie or canoe strapped to the roof of a troop carrier. And with space for 11 seated adults, they are also a favourite for footy trips and pub runs.4. Volvo 240 station wagon

Volvos are traditionally known for their safety features and ability to raise the ire of other motorists. But it turns out they are quite capable in accommodating occupants, too.

The Volvo 240 was one of the first passenger cars to be fitted with split fold seats, with the feature dating back to some models from the 1980s. According to wagon owners, the layout allows enough room for a double mattress with the seats down.

About one-third of all 240s sold worldwide were station wagons which featured an admirable cargo space of 1.2 cubic metres.5. Toyota HiAce

A favourite among surfers, motocross riders and kart racers, the HiAce is undoubtedly the sleeping choice for Gen Y drivers.

Launched in 1967, the latest generation model (2004-present) comes equipped with a choice of refined 2.7-litre petrol or 2.5-litre turbo diesel engines, plus a host of safety features which separate it from early iterations.

One overriding issue for HiAce guests is the bulky wheel arches which protrude from the floor. Many people have overcome the problem by building an elevated timber floor, which also gives more space for luggage or surf boards.

HiAce owners have followed their forebears in individualising their trusty steeds, adding subwoofers and DVD players, among other personal touches.

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State of the market

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It’s too early to make a call about just how long the recent pick-up in housing prices will last, and whether it will gather pace, says Bank of America Merrill Lynch chief economist Saul Eslake.
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As the data houses agree that property prices are generally rising, the talk is now turning to just how long they will stay in positive territory.

Eslake says the current upswing is weaker than past cycles and is being weighed down by a general reluctance among first home buyers to enter the market and a desire by existing home owners to make hay from lower interest rates by paying down their mortgages rather than trading up into shiny new abodes.

Eslake says investors have driven much of the recent price growth. He suggests big income earners may have been influenced to re-enter the property market in the wake of muted changes to superannuation rules for those earning over $300,000 a year.

Commonwealth Bank economist Gareth Aird says the two bigger factors driving house price increase have been lower interest rates – down 2 percentage points since late 2011 – and pent‑up demand created by years of slower housing construction.

Could further rate cuts drive up prices? The consensus is an interest rate cut remains on the cards for later this year but it’s probably not just around the corner.

The Reserve Bank didn’t see the need to cut rates this week, noting: “The easing in monetary policy over the past 18 months has supported interest-sensitive spending and asset values and further effects can be expected over time. The pace of borrowing has remained relatively subdued, though recently there are signs of increased demand for finance by households.”

However, the RBA, which believes it has inflation in check for at least the next year or two, also stated “the inflation outlook, as currently assessed, may provide some scope for further easing, should that be required to support demand”.

On the supply side, building construction rates remain sluggish.

However, building approvals, which are a leading indicator of housing construction, have been trending up. “In April, building approvals surged by 9.1 per cent and are now 27.3 per cent above year-earlier levels,” a note from the Commonwealth Bank says.

Aird cautions that building approvals are notoriously volatile though, and can be skewed in one month if a large apartment development is included, as each unit is counted as a dwelling.

When the May building approval rates are released this Thursday, Aird is betting there will be a drop of about 1 per cent. “We are expecting a statistical payback,” he says.

Aird says if the current cycle of residential growth continues it could add two to three percentage points to Australian GDP growth over an average two to three-year cycle.

Do you think the current pick-up in housing process will last? Or are you waiting for the market to cool somewhat?

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Why Gerro’s victory left me dizzier than stage’s 10,000 corners

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AS IT HAPPENED – STAGE THREE
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Simon Gerrans never ceases to amaze me. When it comes to athletes in any sport, he must to be a standout for delivering when it really matters. When Gerro targets a race, more often than not he hits the bullseye. And he did it again on Monday in the Tour de France when he won the third stage – his second in the Tour – in a bunch sprint, beating, of all people, the big favourite – Slovakian Peter Sagan.

People often refer to Gerro as an opportunist, and some of his early wins may have come that way. But I think his stage win on the 145.5km third stage from Ajaccio to Calvi of this year’s 100th Tour proved once and for all that he is not an opportunist, but an all-round, classy, smart bike rider.

Gerro showed that when he won Milan-San Remo last year, but his win over Sagan into Calvi in the tightest of sprints re-inforced that reputation.

I mean Sagan, he is the Slovakian rider who everyone has talked up as the star who can win everywhere – in sprints and on climbs and against anyone. Fair enough … in reality, Sagan does not win every race he enters. But taking the Slovakian’s scalp at least once is a major feat for any rider.

And now Gerro can say that he has done that. But knowing Gerro, who lives in Monaco where I do, he will take more pride in the fact that he has added a second Tour stage win to his name – and, more importantly, that he has done it wearing the colours of his Australian Orica-GreenEDGE team.

He will be as happy for how the win came his way – that being, off a tremendous collective effort from his teammates to set him up for the victory.

Heading into the Tour, I knew he was confident. I sensed that on our last ride together – and in the gym where we also do weights sessions together.

On Sky, we were close to the front coming into the finale to avoid the potential carnage from crashes – that, thankfully, we did not have on Tuesday. But I got to see a great finale unfold and Orica-GreenEDGE rode great. But of all their riders, Simon Clarke and Daryl Impey really pulled out great rides.

It was a great ride by Clarkey in the break. Impey’s lead-out for Gerro was pretty savvy. He got Sagan out of position a bit … but it was nothing illegal.

After I eased up in the finale knowing we were all safe and crossed the line, and rolled across the line, I heard Sagan had won and that’s what I thought until I heard otherwise. And it was only until I watched the replay on television that that I realised how tight that finish was.

But then nothing was simple – or easy – in these three stages on Corsica; as beautiful as the island really is.

Monday’s stage was spectacular for the view – well, it was during reconnaissance of it earlier in the year. In a race, it’s far different.

But I can see why they called the course we raced over the “Stage of 10,000 Corners” – it leaves you feeling pretty dizzy by the time you reach the finish after a helter skelter race.

I have to say, I was relieved when it came to leaving Corsica for Nice where the Tour will resume on Tuesday with the stage four team time trial.

We have one rider hurting, Geraint Thomas, with a slight fracture of the pelvis from his stage one crash; but we have otherwise been lucky for injuries.

Since our ‘recon’ of the Corsican stages a number of us had lost sleep for fear of what could have happened on the sinewy roads of the island.

Still, that doesn’t mean the rest of the Tour will be stress-free. I’ve learned every day offers up dangers. The stress is a part and parcel of the Tour.

Read Richie Porte’s exclusive daily Tour de France diary throughout the race in Fairfax Media.

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Husic abuse shows Australia’s racist rump

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Ed Husic, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Parliamentary Secretary for Broadband, during the swearing-in ceremony at Government House with Governor-General Quentin Bryce. Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe abuse dished out to Ed Husic on social media, after he became the first cabinet member to swear an oath on the Koran, is as depressing as it is predictable.
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On one hand it’s tempting to dismiss the abusers as an ignorant rabble – the kind of mouth-breathers who couldn’t even find Mr Husic’s ancestral homeland of Bosnia on a map.

The kind of people for whom any Muslim – even a non-devout one such as Mr Husic – who contributes to public life is automatically assumed to have an agenda that includes Sharia law, or compulsory burkas, or some other dog-whistle rubbish.

The kind of people for whom the debate barely rises above the level of “Urrggh, Muslims, un-Australian, this is a Christian country, God save the Queen, waahh”.

On the other hand it’s important to ask why such regressive views persist in an era when those with power and influence have realised the importance of not alienating other cultures.

Remember that Mr Husic, while the first to swear in on the Koran, is not the first minister to opt against using the Bible.

In 2010, new MPs Josh Frydenburg and Michael Danby both swore an oath on the Jewish holy book.

Julia Gillard, when swearing in an Prime Minister, chose to take an ‘affirmation of office’, rather than an oath.

Ms Gillard’s atheism has been the subject of much hand-wringing from Christian conservatives (not that it seemed to affect her policy stance on issues like gay marriage).

But these choices didn’t provoke a national controversy. It seems that things become instantly more fraught once the Koran is mentioned.

At the ceremony itself, Governor-General Quentin Bryce proclaimed Mr Husic’s oath as a great moment for Australian multiculturalism.

Other politicians voiced their support for Mr Husic. Mr Frydenburg tweeted that a democracy “must respect freedom of religion”.

But the prism of social media also sheds light on the racist rump that still persists when it comes to Muslims, or indigenous affairs, or any multicultural issue in modern Australia.

There are people who see suburbs with thriving Muslim communities – made up of people born and bred here, as well as immigrants from Africa, Asia or Eastern Europe – and think they are being overrun and turned into ethnic ghettos.

But they fail to ask what the people who live in these communities want. In most cases, it is simply to work, live and raise a family while maintaining contact with their cultural heritage. The thousands of Poms living in Perth’s north want exactly the same thing, but you won’t hear rednecks yelling that Joondalup is being ghetto-ized, even though by this definition it most certainly is.

There are people who still struggle to separate the words ‘Muslim’ and ‘terrorist’. But they fail to appreciate the vastly differing worldviews of a Bosnian ethnic minority Muslim and an Al-Qaeda hardliner.

Some of these people will never be convinced – their mistrust of other cultures is too entrenched. They can’t see past the fact that a misguided minority of extremist Muslims have inflicted terror and death on others, even though multicultural society has united in condemning this barbaric violence, which has everything to do with Islamism, and nothing to do with Islam.

But Ed Husic’s critics should pause and ask themselves what exactly they expected him to do. Would they prefer a politician who stays true to his values, stands up for his heritage, and does what he feels is right? Or someone who toes the line, and does something he doesn’t believe in for the sake of the status quo?

The first set of values sounds much more ‘Australian’ to me. Perhaps if we gave politicians a free hand to choose their oath-signing literature (Shakespeare? Gandhi? Darwin?), we could all focus on something a bit more relevant instead.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Certifiable green KFC opened in East Maitland

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ENVIRONMENT Minister Robyn Parker opened KFC Australia’s first certifiable green store in East Maitland on Tuesday.
Nanjing Night Net

The fast food restaurant features the latest in environmentally-friendly building design, operations and technology.

It is expected to reduce energy use for lighting by 50 per cent, reduce water use by 20 per cent and re-direct 40,000 kilograms of waste from landfill each year.

The venue is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] certifiable and, once certified, will be the ninth addition to KFC certified restaurants worldwide.

Ms Parker said she hoped the building would encourage local business to incorporate environmental sustainability.

‘‘The NSW Government is committed to supporting local businesses to become more water and energy efficient so they too can drive down operating costs and help the environment,’’ she said.

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