Saturday, June 25, 2016

Masterkurt or Disasterkurt?


Its four pm on a dullish, coolish winter’s eve … I’ve restauranted twice this week and I don’t feel like doing so tonight … so that means my intensely inexperienced home cooking. Hmm supplies are a bit low. But I feel like soup … and I have a nice cabbage …

Well. All sorts of variations. Carrot? Celery? Don’t have those things … so let’s combine a couple of the recipes with a bit of impromptu and see what happens.

In my big new iron stewpot, I put a good slurp of olive oil and slowly cook
(a) A large onion chopped and sliced
(b) 3 cloves of garlic crushed and sliced
and (c) 1 good teaspoon of Patak’s curry paste

Then when they’re all glabrous and limp, I add the chopped up bits of last week’s peppered sliced brisket, pour over four veggie stock cubes dissolved in 2 litres of water. Put in a quarter of a big cabbage, rough cut, two chopped taties and a big teaspoon of cumin.

It’s coming to the simmer. I have parsley and chives from the terrace garden and one nice hard chopped tomato to add at the end.

Should I have put more cabbage? Its supposed to be a cabbage soup? It's not too late … its hasn’t come to the boil yet …
Done. The yummy stalk makes an excellent fresh nibble with my (first) apéritif …

Oh ho! I can smell the cumin!

Quick, chefs and cooks out there. What else should I have done? Pepper! In with a spoonful of peppercorns. Soy? Instead of salt. Maybe not. That’s about all I can do. The frig now contains limes, cheese, ginger-beer, frozen spinach, ice-cream, one lemon, eggs and margarine. So it will HAVE to do!

Here goes. It’s three hours till Masterchef comes on the TV. By that time I’ll know whether I’m a Disasterchef!

Ornithologia, or the Birds in my life ....


Birds. Don’t know much about them. John and I used to have a Bird Book when we were little. And a pack of cards with Birds of New Zealand on them. Of course, you could go out in the bush, around Lake Rotoiti, and spot the tuis and bellbirds and fantails … and oh, how Dad teased us that we would find a kakapo. Or even a kiwi.

I think my favourite bird memory dates from the 1970s, when, visiting my parents, and taking off my mountain boots on their cottage steps, I saw five different species of native bird perched on one and the same manuka shrub. Never forgotten that.

Of course, it’s all different now. There’s hardly a native around on our farm at Gerolstein. The plovers, starlings, blackbirds, sparrows, finches and horrid magpies scare away any there might be. Sometimes we just hear a bellbird…

Well, if you can’t beat ‘em … so we’ve given way to the immigrants in a big way. Gerolstein’s birds are now dominated by forty peafowl…

Of course, over here I guess it’s I who am the immigrant. Even though I don’t chase the locals away. Far from it! But Australia seems to have done better at preserving its own creatures …

Last time I was here, I met these fellers (are they locals?)

Loie Fuller the shag

And in Sydney we had fun feeding flying meatballs to the kookaburras …

But the reason I’m blogging this blog is to post, on something less ephemeral than facebook, some of the ornifotos I’ve snapped, mostly on my own terrasse, these last weeks, so that I don’t lose them  ...

The colourful lorakeet with his/her pal/baby

 And the grumpy, get-outa-my-way-fellers one that likes to eat out of my hand

While the little one just says ‘Please sir, I want some more’

Then there is the lovely blue-eyed Honeycatcher

And the stern looking Noisy Friarbird. "I sentence you to be burned at the stake...'

And all sorts of black-n-white fellers who seems to prefer cake

There’s a tiny black one, with a big tail, too. But he won’t sit still long enough for me to get an unfuzzy snap … his tail seems to be wagging his body rather than vice versa. I guess he has to be the wee wagtail

And another tiny one, with a Gonzo beak …whom I have only seen once ... up there ....

Who would have thought they would give me such pleasure, as they swoop across my terrasse, dangle from the palms, gobble up the crumbs and, yes, occasionally pay the kitchen or the lounge  a visit…

Is this ALL for little me … oh boy!

Yes, you cute wee feller, it’s all yours …

And here's a post-scriptum latecomer

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Saving one of the bestest till last ...

Well, I’ve lived in Yamba now for nearly two months. I think it may be proving to be one of the best decisions I’ve made in my ageing years. And I’m gradually getting my little home in order. A few essentials, don’t you know. Powerful shower, yeah!

Sun lounger … for very short sunbathes on my terrasse … it’s helluva hot here!

 Hand vacuum for the clean-ups. 

All sorts of delicious kitchenny things …

Yes, here, I’ve actually started cooking, after a 40 year gap.  Gently. I’ve got a lot of (re)learning to do. But omigosh, fresh produce from the Wednesday (early) morning market …  this week there was a chap selling cold, sliced, peppered brisket. I ventured 200g. Come back! I want a kilo …

 But you can’t cook at home, alone, every day and night, so I make frequent trips to the lunchtime Beachwood Café and the eventide Fusion on the Hill … yes, I’ve done pretty much all the eligible eateries in our town/village, and those are my frequently repeated favourites.

But sometimes an old boy needs a change. And when nephew Harry arrived in town with wheels … well, last time we ventured out to the very nice ‘Boardroom and Bar’, but somehow (in spite of many family plannings) we never got to the one reputed restaurant on the other side of town. Angourie.

So tonight, we did. It’s called Barbaresco. I’m not quite sure why. The sign said Bar Baresco. And I HAD been there before! On my very first visit to Yamba, I had sheltered under the awnings of the then nascent resto, from one of our local storms! Sheltered? Blimming heck, I wish I’d gone inside!

Well, thanks to Harry-with-the-wheels, I got there tonight.

I had a delightful meal, in charming surroundings. When I came in, I thought ‘oh!’. Two kiddies to the left of me, a baby at my back … whaaaat! Not my scene at all. But they were dollies, and everyone was enjoying their food. So ….

Finally, I get to the meal. Well, Harry has this idea that I’m an occasional dipso, so – since he was doing the driving -- I thought I had better have one of the cocktails he recommended, to set things rolling. Blood Orange Margarita.

Delicious! A little more ‘bite’, maybe? But hey, I ordered a second!

The food?  The menu is attractively small. But one dish popped out from the wee entrée list: beef carpaccio. Well, I thought I knew what I was going to get, but nooooo! No hashed up mince. This was an absolutely (for me) different dish. And hellishly tasty …

Harry (who can’t do gluten) had a quail dish which looked marvellous … next time (oh, and the next time there are wheels, here I come!) I’ll try that.

Main course. A lamb rag(o)ut.  No, not a plate of stewed meat (which I would, anyway, have loved) but a delicious combination … of… of … I was so IN to my dinner by then, I not only forgot to foto-my-food … maybe it was the second deceptively smooth blood orange margarita …  but … I simply remember, the day after, was that it was bloody special-super!

I went on line to try to find the menu, but all I found was a really boring menu from a homonym restaurant in New York.

Barbaresco. I see it is genuinely Italian-connected. Chef: Davide Adorno. But his food didn’t have the glaring faults of so much hometown Italian cooking. Oh my heaven, will I ever forget that tomato paste swimming in oil that was forced on me in Verona and San Remo! No, this is just delicious, imaginative, whiff-of-the-Italian, food. And the key word there is ‘Delicious’. With a big D … my, oh yes …

Hey, you all, I’m coming thoroughly back!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Parrot chatter ...

OK, team. This is it. Yeh, I checked it out the other day, and it's Fresh Baked Bread from Yamba Bakery. Served by hand, do you mind.

Whaddya mean, it’s not classy bread? Course it is. I sent our super-spy into the heart of action, yesterday, to test that it was still the real thing.

 Now just take it casually, don’t play your cards too quickly.

Right … about … turn, and look pretty!

 George, don’t do that! You''ll frighten the horses.

 Here he comes. See, bread! Don’t be scaredyfowl, he’s harmless. Watch me. Hel-lo Kurt!

 See, that’s how its done.

 Awwww. Chickens!  OK eat off the floor then ..

 I’ll have the whole waiting staff to myself. Best service and best restaurant in town.