Opera Cantina


Venue: Cantina Mobil
Date: 2 February 2014
Location: Opera In The Domain, Sydney
Price: $10

The date was 2 Feb. The occasion was high-brow: opera in the park at Sydney’s Domain.

I’d rambled home in a pickled state the night before after attending of all things “Buzzfeed’s” (yes, the cat list mafia) launch in Australia. I’m suffering list fatigue and am flat-out counting past 10, so I’m indifferent to its charms. As a mea culpa to my girlfriend, I decided to take her to the opera, an annual love-in for rich people who like opera and like it better for free.


The event is a model of corporate welfare, one big editorial for, in this case, Mazda. A lengthy wait for the music (it was late I think) ensured any benefit of the doubt was long gone. There was a flurry and up onstage popped “Christopher Lawrence” the quintessential and loquacious voice of ABC Classic FM. The finishing school worked wonders for him, he’s like a real-life Terrence & Philip. Next up after the obligatory welcome to country (music) was some Valium in the form of the Mazda rep: blah blah blah I. As Paige said, he should have sung it! Why do speakers always resemble Niles Standish at these events?

An opera aficionado warming up the crowd

Nationalistic fervour must be at an all-time high these days, as shortly thereafter the conductor launched straight into an over the top rendition of the national anthem. Everyone snapped to attention tin-soldier style. At first I thought the sprinklers had come on. I soon realised, however, that this rod up backsidery was the handy work of Pavlovian indoctrination: a populace clutching at nationalistic cliché in lieu of common value. Now I don’t mind our banger of an anthem, years of belting it out at an all boyz skool wired me thus. But this was just weird, made me recall Keating’s bulldozering of the ANZAC myth.

Then the happy horse-shit unfolded. Keeping with the stiff upper lip flavour, the poncey Carmen theme galloped out of the stalls, racing bareback into my rattled ears. After the shock wore off, the good Christopher got back up on stage to waffle on some more. The waffle food truck behind me was more appealing to say the least.


“Ooo and did I mention Mr Blah Blah Blah?…I did?…Ssssspledid!”

After fanfare worthy of Puccini himself, the “propera” singers finally swelled onstage. They’re so tub happy. And talented, within moments my qualms over this sort of corporate welfare evaporated as I was whisked away into the melodramatic tones of Spanish infidelity.

Amusing highlights included: the long-suffering programme vendor, looking decidedly in need of cash and very unsuccessfully flogging off copies of the programme that’s free online anyway.


Will programme for food

And a gaggle of Golden Girls who were locked in pole gas bagging position, yelling out “Beryl, Beryl over heeere” with no discernible impact on Beryl’s direction.


“BERYYYL!!!…over here you old battle axe!”


So about the food…there are a number of food trucks at these events. By and large the comprise a smorgasbord of Asian, fatty English and mexican offerings with a bar thrown in. Food trucks complement well the relaxed ambience of these events and tonight was no exception.

I sniffed around the salt and pepper squid stall for a bit, but pulled pork had me in its clutches again so we gravitated to the Cantina Mobil truck.

If you’ve checked out my Guzman y Gomez post, you’ll know I have hot peppered opinions about mexican food in Sydney; usually positive ones. Cantina Mobil used to be a subsidiary of Exon Mobil, until they realised adding pork to oil could make them even more dark cash. They keep it short and simple here, which lends itself to reliability.


“I’ve always despised the laziness of the common worker, but then I realised, while his heart was willing…” ah Monty Burns

We ordered the naked pork and chicken burritos. The term still makes me think of that vascillating blob who streaked at the rugby league final last year. And come to think of it, I did think I’d seen my pulled pork before.


A horde of porcs

The dish came in a salad box and thankfully they’d concentrated on carnivorous cultivation: barely a few shreds of cabbage got in the way of a meat pyramid worthy of Teotihuacan itself. Thankfully no bodies being rolled down this pyramid. So lot of meat and guac with some slightly tart sauce made for a respectable finish.


Not much to say: two friendly girls running the show and our food didn’t take long. The truck itself is kitted out ready for smuggling anything across state lines. It’s designed especially to make Minutemen anxious, which makes me love it.




Score: 3.6/5 (it’s hard to score highly for food trucks)
Quote: “I can see why falsetto rhymes with rich-ghetto”

In all, Cantina Mobil delivered the goods, unleaded with only a hint of ethanol. The opera did so as well. Reliability is the take-out message here.








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