The snow this morning was the most I’ve ever seen in the 16 years that I’ve been living in this part of the world. What better activity to finish a chilly day than to warm up with old summer holiday photos? This one is from 2018 at Great Oyster Bay in Tasmania, between Swansea and the Freycinet Peninsula, where the kids and I camped on the beach and ate oysters by the dozen.
Butter makes everything better. However, not all butters are made equal. My favourite butter is the beurre salé de Bretagne – salted butter from Brittany. Whatever the cows in the west of France are munching on makes delicious milk, which is then churned into butter. The butter is then liberally salted with tiny, crunchy salt crystals, harvested from local salt producers. Slathered on fresh, warm baguette, it is simply heavenly. Interestingly, I find it satisfies the same cravings as vegemite on toast.
Towards the top of my list of things that make me happy is an unctuous, ripe, raw milk cheese. It is entirely worth the 24 hour flight to Europe to experience the delicious taste and texture of a perfect cheese. The ultimate is, without doubt, the Mont d’Or. It is a seasonal cheese, only available from September to May, and is produced from the milk of Montbéliarde cows in the Jura region. It is so soft you have to eat it with a spoon. Who needs a baguette?
One of my favourite fruits is Ruby Grapefruit. Grapefruit is an accidental hybrid that originated in Barbados when the sweet orange cross-pollenated with the pomelo. Apparently the ‘grape’ part of the name refers to the way the fruits hangs in clusters. Like many, I always thought it was a terribly bitter fruit until I learned that if you remove all the membrane you also remove the bitterness. Thus, there is serious commitment involved – it takes a good ten minutes to segment and remove the membrane of a grapefruit (significantly longer than it takes to eat it), but it is a surprisingly satisfying task and worth the effort to have a plate full of jewel-like segments bursting with flavour, zing and citrus juiciness.
Yes, you read it correctly. It definitely says Decorative Cabbages. These many layered pink cabbages are a cheery addition to the streetscape. I spotted a planter box filled with them in Hobart last week. After the first sighting, I then seemed to see them around every second corner. Some white, some pink, their frilled petals contrasting against the rich green leaves of the background. And if you ever get super peckish, you know you can nibble on a leaf. In truth these are Ornamental Kale, identified by their serrated leaves, but I like the sound of Decorative Cabbage better.
I am always delighted to discover clever design work, especially when it includes coffee. The Telegram Coffee booth is located in the grand and beautifully restored State Buildings in central Perth. I was there late on a Sunday afternoon when the windows were closed, but I enjoyed it as much for what I imagined to be inside the box. My eye was drawn to the wheel handles and the way the whole box seemed to sit there in its allocated space. Although quite unassuming in its demeanour, it seemed to silently ask so many questions: How does it open? Are the wheels just decorative or do they really open the doors? Can you send a coffee telegram? What would I write if I could? (… bring coffee now stop undying love if you do stop …) One day I shall have to return to sample the coffee and solve at least some of the mysteries.
Is there nothing a lemon can’t do? Ask Professor Google about uses for lemons and you’ll be met with hundreds of different applications for the humble citrus, from cleaning the bathroom to speeding digestion. Apparently the even the smell of lemon is therapeutic, which explains why pruning the lemon tree makes me feel so good. My lemon tree has been busy making babies for months, and now it has a dozen or so large, bright fruits hanging from its branches. I love their pendulous nature – like a big round body part – and the juxtaposition of the bright yellow against the vibrant green of the leaves. They hang out their begging me to add them to a zesty cocktail!
Some flavour combinations appear more like a novelty match than a treat for the tastebuds, but looks can be deceiving. Red wine with chocolate falls squarely into this category – it seems like a gimmick (and some of the advertised tasting events are certainly pitched that way) but it is actually a great combination. It was pure chance that led me here tonight – I had a splash of wine in my glass as I walked past pantry and was lured by the sirenesque song of the dark chocolate. Before I knew it the two were dancing in my mouth and I was reminded what an excellent flavour match they are. Go on – try it for yourself! The good news is both red wine and chocolate rejuvenate aging cells, according to research at the University of Exeter.
Waking up on Monday morning and realising I don’t have to go to work – that makes me happy! The novelty of public holidays is still exciting even though I’ve been in my job for seven months. Instead of being at my desk today, I’ve cooked and gardened and done the dishes and the washing and fixed the chicken door (to their house, not mine) and tidied and played music. So nice!
This is the last of the quinces on the tree out the front. I’m letting them hang like Christmas tree decorations until they drop.
Cheese is probably my favourite food. It’s not really fair to say that because there are so many different cheeses – everything from stinky old washed rind to a mild creamy feta – and I love them all. Having lived in France, the range of cheese available in Australia is a bit sad, but there is joy to be found. One of those happened this evening: I finished my gig, popped into the supermarket to pick up some bread for school lunches tomorrow, and stumbled across a stack of seriously discounted King Island Camembert.
Now the joy here is not really about the price. It’s about ripeness. The cheese was cheap because the ‘best before’ date is tomorrow. What Australian supermarketeers don’t understand is that for camembert it should actually say ‘best after’. Any earlier than that date and the cheese is underripe, like a green banana. This means that all the camembert in the supermarket needs to be matured in your fridge for weeks or months after purchase. Courtesy of tonight’s late night shopping, I now have a stack of camembert in my fridge that is perfect for eating this week – soft and creamy, and if you let it warm up a little it will become gooey. Heaven!