No, not ‘mate’ as in your Australian friend, ‘mah-tay’ as in the Argentinian tea. Everybody drinks it constantly here to the extent that water dispensers have hot water so you can top up your mate on the go. The Yerba Mate plant is a species of the holly genus and is a native of southern Brazil, and the tea drunk throughout South America. It is quite bitter – a herby bitter rather than a coffee bitter – although it can be served dulce, (sweet with sugar). To make it, you put the leaves straight in the cup and add water. I bought myself a little mate cup this morning at the street market (made from a gourd) with the obligatory filtering straw to sip it through.
Five weeks off work would make anyone happy, and I’m no exception. An adventure across the Pacific awaits with tango shoes and a foreign language. Sleeping in, dancing late, discovering a new city with its food, culture and songs, meeting people, having time to think, create, wonder and wander. See you Friday, Buenos Aires!
It’s a good day when dinner is a bottle of French pink bubbles accompanied by fried potatoes, so slowly cooked they taste like salted caramel. So soft and delicious they melted in my mouth, perfectly matched with the strawberry notes of the wine. She’s a keeper, my friend Michelle, for much more than her potato frying expertise, but also for that very skill.
Here’s a recipe ( I haven’t tested it, but it looks pretty good)
The prunus (the genus of stonefruit trees: plums, peach, cherry, nectarine, apricot and almonds) are in full bloom, bringing a splash of pink the urban landscape. The trees stand proud, offering their display of pinks to the world, with the promise of delicious fruit in summer and autumn. Exactly which fruit the trees will bear remains a mystery until then.
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?
As a genuine Mont d’Or is illegal in Australia I have borrowed the photo from countrycheesecompany.com
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.
Find out more at telegramcoffee.com.au