About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Monday, December 18, 2006
Ready, Steady, Christmas
It's amazing how the intensity lifts the closer you get to Christmas.

This weekend we've been run off our feet, okay part of it was pure pleasure for me when I went fishing overnight on a boat. I didn't catch much, but what was landed was premium quality - a 1.2 metre (4 ft) gummy shark and one large King George whiting. I bet there are a few of you that are thinking shark, yuk, but a gummy shark, so named because it has no teeth, is probably the most popular fish in Victoria, served as it is in every fish 'n' chip shop as flake, which is what the flesh does when cooked and as a bonus, there are absolutely no bones in it. My wife D also has a recipe for it where it is cooked with morel mushrooms, elevating it to the ranks of haute cuisine. Which is also the exact dish D's sister asked her to cook for Christmas Eve.

We fished just off Tooradin, which is at the top of Western Port and we could see the fireworks which were the culmination of Carols by Candlelight on the foreshore. Shortly after the fireworks apparently finished, what looked like a huge firework rocket arced across the starlit sky, towards where the fireworks were! Strange, but then we heard on the radio that a comet had just broken up over us, what a fantastic celestial show.

The next day there were two birthday parties for our daughter M to attend, so D and I took shifts. I've always felt some sympathy for those whose birthdays fall in late December as their special day tends, not unnaturally, to be swallowed up in the moment. One of my sons has this dilemma, with his birthday the day before New Year's Eve, but we have always tried to keep things separate, so he has his own special time.

That night when I put a tired M to bed, I was treated to a puppet show as M shyly retreated under her doona cover and pushed out Ariel from the Little Mermaid, who spoke her lines to be joined by Sebastian the crab, Flounder the fish and a certain purple seahorse who all spoke their lines in turn. I think it was the sweetest show I've ever seen and couldn't but help a little tear of happiness as my girl momentarily threw off her autism.

The next day saw us up at Silvan picking raspberries. It looks like the height of the season is here right now as all the berries were very ripe. We picked about three kilos which cost the princely sum of $27 - think of a punnet of raspberries that weighs a meagre 150 g and costs about $3, so ours were about half price. There is one standard preparation in our house and that is raspberries and cream....not any cream, but Chantilly cream, cream that is flavoured with icing sugar and vanilla extract then whipped to soft lusciousness. M liked it so much that she clean forgot to eat the raspberries!

When we finished picking it was lunch time so we headed into Olinda for some fish 'n' chips. We parked the car and headed past some shops on foot when I noticed a small, cottage like shop called metisse and on a sign it said amongst other things, kitchenware. Honey to the bee, baby. In we went and over on one side was the most wonderful looking copper cookware, not the plated stuff, but the genuine, French, pure copper pots and pans, for the most part tin lined. I picked up one frypan about the same size as my cast iron one at home and I swear it was about twice the weight and at $185 a lot cheaper than I would have thought. I had a long chat to Vicki Growse, the owner and she told me that all the Yarra Valley chefs are sourcing their copper from her.

We bought our lunch and then headed to the top of Mount Dandenong to picnic there and were somewhat surprised to find they are now charging $4 a family entrance fee. It is one of the top scenic sights of Victoria, with locals and tourists alike coming for the stunning views over Melbourne from our closest mountain. The gate fee was somewhat softened by the new landscaping works that have taken place and we had a very pleasant picnic in the English garden. It was a bit strange for us bayside people having a picnic in the open and no seagulls in attendance!

We drove back to Melbourne and rested for a bit before a final foray to Caulfield Park for some Christmas fireworks, the exclamation mark to a great weekend.

C'mon Christmas, I'm ready.
 
  posted at 12:18 pm
  6 comments



6 Comments:
At 2:16 pm, Anonymous kitchen hand said...

Picnic in the Dandenongs, how wonderful. Haven't done that for years. Used to motor up in grandfather's Vanguard as a kid. Last time I was there we visited the Rhododendron gardens. Sensational.

 
At 10:19 pm, Anonymous Tanna said...

Exclamation mark I'll say. That was wonderful Neil. Exactly what the Christmas week should be. Congratulations.

 
At 11:12 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah King George Whiting I love it. There is a great fish and chips shop in St Kilda that is just fantastic. It is the first place I have tasted it and they do a fantastic job. Queensland Whiting just isn't the same. I love Victoria. You are very lucky Neil. I would give my right leg to live down there. Sounds like you had a great wkd. Good for you. Merry Christmas.

 
At 8:48 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi kitchenhand, in a Vanguard? It has been a while :), well worth another visit, I think the rhododendron garden is still there with a stack of other interesting places to see. I have the feeling Miss Marples tearoom would be right up your alley.

Hi tanna, we were right underneath them, the noise was incredible, but who doesn't love firewoks?

Hi squishy, King George is a really great fish and I think I know which fish 'n' chip shop you mean, is it in Acland Street? Merry Xmas to you and yours.

 
At 9:23 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds liek an amazing weekend, much better than being stuck in Melbourne finishing off the xmas shopping - how did you get away with that one?

 
At 8:47 am, Blogger plum said...

Do Silvan Estate do pick-your-own now? Last time we were up there, the chap told us they didn't, just as F and the little one emerged from the bushes with red smeared faces?

Am going to make some raspberry truffles for Christmas and was just thinking how much cheaper their jam rapsberries would be than paying full price in the city.

 

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