Saturday, August 1, 2015

New South Wales on a plate

 When I drop anchor in a new place, it is obligatory to seek out the local (1) fine to quite fine dining and (2) massage parlour. Well, I’ve been a whole month in Grafton with the Hankinson family, with side trips to Stradbroke Island and Yamba, but I get so well fed ‘at home’ that excursions to restaurants haven’t really happened. I’ve also had the ‘flu which puts even the fondest foodie off his tucker. As for the massage: my body hurt so much from the twenty-four-hour-a-day hacking cough that goes with the flu, I couldn’t really stand being pummelled where I was painful …

However, Paul’s sister, Renée, has put me on track ... and I’ve got into gear. While the family were escorting Paul to Straddie, we two went down to the riverside, to a nice-looking place called Austin and Co for a little lunch. Nice menu, too. Renée had the Thai Pork Mince Salad, I opted for the Seafood Gratin.

Wholly scrumptious. I even ate the tomatoes (having carefully removed the skins). This is a must-repeat place. I scanned the dinner menu. A must repeat for dinner!

With one thing and another (and the flu) the repeat didn’t happen for a couple of weeks. In between, we visited Straddie, Rod and Veronica drove me to lovely seaside Yamba, where we had an excellent pub lunch with a superview at the Pacific Hotel, then finally we all got to go out together for supper at Austin & Co. Sadly, ingredient availability meant the menu had undergone a change, but it still looked pretty good. Although the fact that one dish included iceberg, another noodles, another brussels sprouts (add anchovies and tomato-skins and you’ve got almost the whole of my personal no-no list), limited my choice. Never mind, I went for a splendid lamb rump with bulgar wheat and beetroot. Lightly cooked and delicious. The pork with cauli and prunes looked just as good, and the salmon with celeriac and radish … I don’t think anyone was game to try the Turducken. It didn’t sound like a good idea at all. And anyway it came with sprouts.
Other folks had sweets, filo with honey and pistachio, bloodorange with plum mint youghurt … I don’t often have sweets, but I tried a spoonful of beetroot soufflé … next time I will!

A highly enjoyable meal … must investigate the menu further. A bientôt!

And now, we’re all back in Yamba. A family gathering to pre-celebrate Rod’s 70th birthday with four children, spouses and most of the twelve grandchildren. Fiesta!!!!! We’re all holed up in the Blue Dolphin Holiday Resort, in cabins in the front row of the stalls, inches from the beach and the river, amid the lorakeets, pelicans, ibises, cranes, crows et al, and under clear blue skies and warm winter sun. And last night, a real ‘blue moon’. I didn’t know, I was expecting it to BE blue.

Today, Saturday, was a copybook day. The beaches of Yamba were glistening …

as all the children shepherded off to their preferred activity. This child fell to Renée and we headed for main street and the Beachwood Café. Yes, more food. The Beachwood Café is a Turkish restaurant-café. Par excellence.

You mightn’t know that from its frontage, but I knew, once again, from its blackboard menu.

Trouble is choosing! Well, I’d been tempted from my sun-drenched torpor by the prospect of peppered chicken livers … so that was for me. Yesssss! Perfectly pink and bulging little beasts … great! I couldn’t eat all the greenery and bread that came with them, but the man at the next table did. I just revelled in my livers. A splendid and succulent lunch. Again, I’m in a hurry to try the rest of chef Sevtap Yuce’s menu … especially after glancing through her cook books, full of yearning Turkish dishes …

While lunching, I glanced to the side and saw a sign for Massage, two doors down. Ohhh. My poor flu-aching neck and back, my poor limpy leg. I’m a little wary of masseuses in holiday-spots. Too often the ‘body-polish’ kind. But Renée knew this lady, and in five minutes I had an appointment. Amanda doesn’t go in for body-polishing. I had a top-notch tough massage … oh! places that have never hurt before were sooo tender … and oh! now five hours later, how much better I feel.

Home to collapse. But up soon, as Renée arrived with a huge package of Yamba prawns.

I ate … well, a large number … while the pelicans a few metres away queued for their supper, just like Gerolsteiner peacocks …

And dusk falls over the Clarence River ...

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