Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lobster lunch with the birds

We spent some time over the weekend trying to work out how long we've been celbrating our annual lobster lunch at Rosedale. Judy and Jurgen started the tradition in early 2006 to celebrate Jurgen's 50th birthday.

In those days Sophie, Maddie and Thomas looked like this...

We did another lobster dinner at Rosedale in 2007, but waited until December, using Maxie's birthday as the excuse.

In 2009, we started the tradition of lunching in March - April - when the seafood is at its most plentiful off the beautiful south coast beaches. I can't find any pictures of a lobster lunch in 2008 - maybe that was our year off?  The pic below was taken in 2009 on the Anzac day long weekend.

We're pretty sure we've kept up the tradition of celebrating our annual lobster lunch at Rosedale every year since then.

This year we missed the chance for Chef Jane to cater - so once again it was a DIY affair. Judy and Jurgen "catch" and prepare the lobster (gi-normous this year) and the 5 dozen oysters (Sydney rock oyster variety - my favourite).

James creates a stir as he arrives, dressed in full Afghan regalia - what was everyday wear for him until very recently - doing important work in the law courts of Bagram. For the past year James has been stationed at the US military base near this ancient city. It's the largest military base in Afghanistan.

The first of many Majella bottles is popped and Judy hands around trays of "nibbles", as we settle in to "party".  All the girls want their picture taken with Afghan James! I think they might be trying to get in good with our new "Northern Commander".

Leaving the other boys to their own devices (for a while).

There were only two young things at lunch this weekend (even Maggie the dog is officially middle aged now). Sophie is busy enjoying herself in France and Thomas is too busy with Uni study to get away.

It was a perfect 23oC day yesterday in Rosedale - perfect for enjoying our sublime outdoor setting . First course oysters were sublime (of course) and paired beautifully with Maxine and Rod's choice of (Cofield) Riesling.

The young things aren't as excited by lobster as we are - but their satay chicken looked pretty good too.

It always impresses me how this holiday house size kitchen copes so well with producing a feast like this!

My salads looked colourful but it's the taste of the simpler embellishments that really impress me: the perfectly roasted potato, Maxie's lobster dressing with Himalayan salt and grapeseed oil, the beautiful bread from Dojo's in Braidwood - with the best, freshest, cleanest lobster available anywhere on earth - YUM!

Fiona's and James's dessert was a wonderful climax to our feast: butter pecan, chocolate and berry sorbet - all hand made, all delicious.

Throughout our long lunch the birds did their best to distract us - obviously trying to be the stars of the show. They treat the Rosedale verandah as their own - completely untroubled by the unaccustomed presence of people.

King parrots, lorikeets , magpies, kookaburras - they turned on a Broadway worthy show of colour, sound, light and movement.

 This kookaburra developed a taste for satay chicken.

In the late afternoon light we rolled ourselves down to the beach in a vain attempt to walk off some of our long lunch.

Observers may wonder what these people in Middle Eastern / Indian dress think they're doing walking around the Rosedale rocky platform.  James says there is certainly nowhere like this anywhere in Afghanistan.

I'm sure Rob is saying to Jurgen something like - on behalf of us all - thank you for hosting these wonderful Rosedale celebrations - we're so lucky!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Folkie

It always feels like we're on another planet at the Folkie (Canberra's National Folk Festival - an Easter institution since 1966)...a planet where creativity, giving and sharing, and children, are the top priorities, where whales are safe, refugees are welcomed and food is organic and fair trade, and where every second person is wearing a felted pixie cap and/or Doc Martens. 

It's wonderful, of course, and we'd really like to live on this planet a lot more often.

 We only had a day pass this year - so missed a LOT of acts. There's so much on offer: hundreds of concerts, music and craft workshops, buskers, street performers, art happenings, stalls and lots of food choices. You'd really need a four day pass to get the most out of the festival.

We really enjoyed the Rusty Spring Syncopators, a Sydney band who play with a "cruel brand of crusty blues, rusty rags and manky-janky jazz".  (Mental note - must make sure we go to see them at the Petersham Bowling Club sometime)

My hero Archie Roach was a big name drawcard for the festival this year - He gave an incredibly generous lunchtime concert in the Budawang Pavillion - and seemed much stronger than when we saw him in concert in Sydney early last year.

But the best part of the day for us was meeting up with Lotte and David and their three boys, a great music making family from Wollongong, and old friends of ours. David is the director of the "Con Artists", an alternative community band  that is part of the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music Program.

The band plays music from all around the world - including Klezmer (the exuberant music of Eastern European jews), Celtic, African, Gypsy and New Orleans - all with a jazz fusion overlay.

Lotte is a trained opera singer and sings with the Con Artists occasionally - it was amazing to hear her singing Macedonian folk songs like they were on speed.

We loved seeing David playing with his two big talented boys: 16yo Miles on trumpet and 14yo Marley on trombone (that's him half obscured in the pic below wearing the wool poncho).

 And 5yo Lonnie doing a great job (mostly) on percussion.

We spent a long while catching up after the Con Artists gig - until the sun was setting and Canberra's first bout of really cold weather started to roll in and settle on the crowds at Folkie 2014. It eventually went down to 0oC - making me feel really sorry for all those festival goers camped under canvas.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Good times

We've had some good times over the past three days. It started with a beautiful lunch with J&W at Murrumbateman on Friday, an opportunity to celebrate the end of the 2014 grape harvest (not the best of years with half the crop lost in two savage late frosts last October) and a chance to enjoy some great food and wonderful wines (especially the Arras sparkling from Southern Tasmania and the amazing 2004 Castagna Syrah from Beechworth (WOW!)).  

After the 6 inches or so of rain we've had in the last month, the country looked lush and green and the sheep somewhat soggy.

Saturday we spent with Ella: two hours at the Erindale Pool in the morning while she did her lesson and then at least an hour after practising handstands and diving in at the deep end......

 ..then a short break to eat a couple of toasted sandwiches and work on the 350 piece Christmas jigsaw....then off to kite flying at the local oval....

She ran around the oval for at least an hour with varying degrees of success flying that little kite in the gusty winds ..never losing her temper at the inevitable frustrations.  She finished off the afternoon with another half hour or so on the monkey bars and climbing wall of our local school's playground.

We felt we'd had a workout just watching and admiring her joy and energy all day.

Today we were invited for one of Joshy's Sunday roast. Ella had dressed up for the visit, putting the rest of us to shame. We enjoyed canapes and a glass of Shiraz (not for Ella though) while we worked on elastic band jewellery together - the latest craze.

 While Rob and Abi played Jumping Monkeys.

 Abi has lots of nicknames; Percy Pud being the most popular. She's just started to insist that her name is Aa-ee (Aa - bee), and definitely not Percy Pud or any of its derivatives!