Done being busy

“I can’t Mum, I’m busy”, uttered Master Three. I stopped in my tracks – how can a three-year old possibly be too busy to do anything? It seems the little guy (who really is rather big) has picked up a not so good habit from his parents.

I know the world is busy being busy. Or are we? Is it perhaps a lazy and habitual way to respond to the “how are you?” question, as so many do? Or, are we all caught up in self-importance and want to brag about our to-do list and achievements?

How tiring is it to hear about a workmate’s half marathon/report written/batch of cookies baked/kids off to school all ticked off that morning before getting to their desk at 8.30am? I learnt long ago that there’s no point trying to measure up, because they’ll always be one exhausting step ahead and you’ll always feel like a massive under achiever. And, the reality is, they are probably kicking as hard underwater as the rest of us are.

News flash, while many of us think we’re busy and the world will stop if we slowed down, it won’t. Most people are only interested in what affects them. This is not to say that we shouldn’t work diligently and put our best effort in, just that perhaps we should put things in perspective more often and stress a little less. Maybe we should focus on trying to be a little less busy and a lot more about enjoying the moment?

As it’s the time of new beginnings and resolutions, I’ve decided that mine is to try to not use the word ‘busy’ – at home or at work. Almost a month down, and it’s going OK. Yes, there is quite a significant amount of work to get through at the moment. There’s a surprise – I’ve been out of the office for over three weeks. If there was nothing for me to do, it’s probably a sign I’m not needed there.

On the subject of work, I’m lucky in that I can call going out for dinner ‘research’. My new favourite local restaurant is the gorgeous Ombra in Cuba Street. It has been designed as a Venetian bacaro, and is bustling and customer focussed. It would be fussy person would couldn’t find something to eat on the vast and varied menu. Ombra epitomises cool without being try hard. On both visits, among a feast of small plates, the lamb and mint meatballs with pecorino fondue was a feature. I could be developing a scary addiction to them – after thinking about them night after night, I decided I had to try and re-create them.

Here’s what I’ve put together – not exactly what Ombra served, but delicious never-the-less. And, mine have parmesan in them as that’s what I had in the house. You can always substitute for pecorino which will, of course, impart a different flavour – especially in the sauce. As for the fondue, I’m still working on that – have had a few disasters (I don’t much like sour cream, so trying to make fondue without it), but will post what did work.

What you’ll need


30g (about 1/2 C) fresh breadcrumbs (I make mine from old bread and keep them in the freezer for when I need some)

1 Tbsp sultanas, roughly chopped

50ml dry white wine

*Pour the wine over the breadcrumbs and sultanas and set aside.

400g minced lamb

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

3-4 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

3 Tbsp grated parmesan

1 small/medium egg, lightly beaten with a fork


100-150ml dry white wine

Clove garlic

50g parmesan cheese, grated

50g tasty (edam or mild will be fine too) cheese, grated

1 1/2 tsp cornflour

To make

Turn oven to 225C and lightly oil an oven dish (mine was about 22 x 22cm).

Mix all the ingredients together. I use disposable gloves and mix with my hands.

Roll golf ball size meatballs (or any size – as long as they are all a similar size). Lightly oil each meatball as you put it in the oven dish. Place the meatballs into a grid so they are reasonably tightly packed together (see my meatball posting for more info).

When the oven is ready, put the meatballs in and bake for about 20 minutes until cooked through (about 74C when thermometer probe used).


Remove from the oven and sit for a few minutes before serving. (You may want to cover loosely with foil to retain the heat.)

While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the fondue. You’ll want to serve this straight away, so time the making of the fondue for when you’ve got 5-10 minutes left of meatball cooking time.


‘Smash’ the garlic clove and put into a small saucepan with about 70ml of wine. Heat.

Meanwhile put the cheeses together in a bowl or bag and mix through the cornflour.


As the wine is about to come to the boil, remove the garlic clove. With a wooden spoon (better than the metal spoon I used!), mix in about a third of the cheese and continue mixing. Add another third of the cheese and keep mixing until melted. Add in the rest of the cheese and mix until you get a runny texture.


You may need to add some more wine to loosen the mixture. Keep playing, you will get it. There are plenty of fondue recipes out there – find one that works for you.

These taste fantastic. Maybe not quite as phenomenal as those at Ombra (a good reason to get yourself there quick smart), but something you’d be happy to pay for.

Here’s to 2014 – a year less ‘busy’ and more full of three-year-old play – unless of course that play is cricket!

Give it a go yourself, it’s amazing how liberating it is deleting the ‘b’ word from your vocabulary. Oh, and you can give the meatballs a go too!

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