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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Village Markets Rozelle

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Saturday morning in Rozelle and by 8.30am the street is buzzing with locals and heaps of incomers descending on cafes and the wonderful Rozelle Markets, situated under the spreading trees in the grounds of Rozelle Public School.

The feel is definitely flea market, where everything second hand is sold: books, vinyl and clothes, clothes, clothes. You can get food too, like blini, fruit salad, coffee, even designer cup cakes.  But second hand bargains are the order of the day.

My friend Ken, purveyor of vinyl par excellence, has a stall where you can also pick up some real bargains – I acquired a beautiful tagine, crimson red ceramic top with heavy cast iron base for a mere song. While I was passing the time of day on the stall on another Saturday with Ken and partner Laurel, a passer-by snaffled up an Atomic coffee maker in mint condition, which Ken gallantly guaranteed to accept the return of, if not in perfect working order!

Like any market worth its salt, you have to be there for the bargains and the one offs. Don’t go with a purchase in mind, just be serendipitous.

The Markets:

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And the tagine:

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The Corner Bar Rozelle

Although I have a wonderful old sandstone pub just a few doors down from my house, which I suppose would be described as my “local”, I have been frequenting of late a not so new Rozelle bar up the road which seems to fulfill all the criteria of what makes a bar a bar.

Long and narrow, perched on a corner, dimly lit and at peak times packed to the seams, it has a distinctly 60s vibe. Much more Melbourne cool than Sydney brash.

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Nice cocktails (my favourite is the Moscow Mule), some interesting wines including a biodynamic, organic shiraz made especially for the Bar by the Blind Corner winery in the Margaret River, and a couple of ciders make for some pleasant drinking.

The food come in tapas form as well as burgers, pizza slabs and a couple of great salads (the chicken fajita salad is well worth trying).

The Angus beef burger is my standout. Big, succulent, dripping with fried onions and lot of melted cheese and barbecue sauce.  And it comes with a beer mug full of hand cut chips. Yum! On my most recent visit, the burger had lashings of beetroot relish, much to the dismay of Quirky sister the elder. A riot was averted with the promise of dessert. I’m a beetroot freak so I was happy.

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The promised dessert was a soft and creamy chocolate mousse served in a large glass with cream and fresh raspberries. It would possibly serve two average diners but was perfect as a dish for one for the greedy Quirky. Quirky sister and Quirky niece also managed one each.

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I was excited to see that the Corner Bar is advertising vinyl Sunday afternoons  – can’t wait to go! The music playing when we there was very Big Chill, and suited the food and late summer mood perfectly.

The Corner Bar is also great for coffee on my dawn walks round the neighbourhood.

Penfolds RWT: Nectar of the Gods

Dionysius is the Greek god of wine, of possession and ecstasy, pursued by wild female followers in ecstatic trances.  He was the protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and symbolizes everything which is chaotic, dangerous and unexpected, everything which escapes human reason.

He is also attributed with the origin of theatre as we know it.

Thus it’s easy to see how his festivals and followers could lead to the development of  western theatre. Theatre requires its actors to commit utterly and totally to what is often a dangerous and unexpected art.

As this quirky writer is quite familiar with the art form, it’s not too great a leap to observe that the rituals of wine tasting and appreciation are clearly highly theatrical and very definitely require the rigour of a seasoned actor. On this particular musical weekend, however, the performance was all music, and rock and roll to boot.

We didn’t quite emulate the wild women (and man) of Dionysian possession, as we gathered on a beautiful Indian summer day at Lindemans in the Hunter Valley for a private wine tasting.

The band was under the capable direction of the lead guitarist, the debonair Doc M.

With the other doc, DD, keeping rhythm on drums, the senior rock chick on laid back bass, and this writer on lead vocals (never short of a word or a hundred), we gave it our all, tasting our way through some outstanding Treasury wines.

Possessed we were, but not in any drunken ecstatic trance. The euphoric mood just kept on getting better, as we worked our way from semillons to chardonnays to pinot noir to arrive at the precious shiraz.

The standout white was Lindeman’s Reserve Semillon 2011. We liked the Pinots –  Etude 2008 from the Napa Valley and Squealing Pig 2011 from Central Otago.

Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 also from the Napa Valley did not immediately seduce but got there in the end, at least for me.

Doc M was becoming more and excited as the Holy Grail (on this particular occasion) was within his grasp. Seppelts St Peters Grampians Shiraz 2008, Saltram The Journal Shiraz 2006 and then finally the wonderful Penfolds RWT 2009 Shiraz.

Savouring this latter wine, it produced a hazy and laid back ecstasy in the fab four. Doc M was definitely floating under the gentle influence of this rich and velvety wine and kind of swept us all up in his rapture.

Nectar of the gods!

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Breakfast with the Doctors: Buttermilk Pancakes and French Toast

Two amazing breakfasts were cooked for a very lucky Quirky in the Hunter Valley on the weekend by the debonair Doctor M and his partner in cuisine, DD. The fourth member of band, the senior rock chick, was another appreciative recipient.

Bill Granger’s buttermilk pancakes and French toast were lifted to new heights by the thoughtful recipe tweakings of these two experienced cooks. I don’t know whether their prowess with the frying pan is down to professional dietary knowledge, or familiarization with so many of Sydney’s eateries or cooking on demand for several discerning male offspring… my money’s on the latter!

Bill Granger’s Buttermilk Pancakes

Ingredients

250 g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
750 ml (3 cups) buttermilk
75 g (2½ oz) unsalted butter, melted
unsalted butter, extra, for greasing the pan


Method

1. Stir the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in a bowl.
2. Add the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter and whisk to combine.
3. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and brush a small portion of butter over the base.
4. For each pancake, ladle 80 ml (1/3 cup) of batter into the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, until bubbles appear on the surface.
5. Turn the pancakes over and cook for another minute.
6. Transfer to a plate and keep warm while cooking the rest of the pancakes.


Serving suggestions

Serve the pancakes in stacks with the plums, a jug of maple syrup and some yoghurt. Makes 16

Doctor M and DD served with grilled plums, strawberries, low fat yoghurt and honey.

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Bill Granger’s French Toast

Ingredients

3 eggs
185ml (3/4cup) milk
8 thick slices of brioche or panettone (Doctor M used sourdough bread – worked well)
30g (1oz) unsalted butter

Method

Whisk the eggs and milk together. Place the brioche or panettone in a shallow dish and pour the milk mixture over the top. Allow the milk to soak in thoroughly, then turn the bread over and soak the other side.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium to high heat and melt half of the butter. Add four slices of bread to the pan and fry for about one minute, until golden. Turn over and cook until the other side is golden. Repeat with the remaining bread.

Bill’s recipe suggests serving with berry sauce and a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Doctor M served with banana, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, low fat ricotta, low fat yoghurt and honey.

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Neil Young and Crazy Horse in the Hunter Valley March 2013

Another glorious starlit night. The cirrus clouds swept in, but the rain did not.

The audience gathered on the Green on a balmy March evening was anticipating the arrival of the Legend with a distinct frisson of elderly excitement…

The usual Woollahra meets Wahroonga middle class set were less in evidence last night than at previous Clapton,Taylor, King or Santana gigs. Instead, pony tails, dreadlocks and tats were de rigueur for much of this audience of die hard old rockers.

But if they were expecting Heart of Gold and Harvest and a warm and fuzzy acoustic set from a gracefully aged rocker they were in for a rude shock.

In-yer-face grungy, gutsy heavy metal cum neo-punk is this writer’s description of the assault on the minds and ears of the audience. I loved it! It took a couple of numbers for me to get its measure, but by then I was swept into the tidal wave of the music in a some what trance like state.

The set list was pretty much dominated by the 2012 album Psychedelic Pill. But no amount of my previous playing of the album – at whatever volume – prepared me for the business of the night. Some of Quirky’s companions were less impressed and resorted to covering their ears once or twice for fear that the hearing aids already ordered for their twilight years might be needed sooner rather than later…

Some charmingly annoying English guys in the row behind us gave a running commentary on the gig, kind of epitomising the vibe with their vociferous debate about how long was too long for a guitar solo, and continually punctuating the escalating drunken discussion with “it’s Neil Young!” Yes we know! Their good humour and Python-esque banter made for a really great atmosphere and an entertaining evening.

Crazy Horse is a tight lineup. Despite my worries that an ambulance should be on standby in case of heart attack, stroke or burst blood vessels, their energy was phenomenal and the playing consummate – Billy Talbot on bass and vocals, Ralph Molina on drums and vocals and Frank “Poncho” Sampedro on guitar and vocals. The camaraderie between Neil and the band was so obvious  – a regular love-in – as shown in the photo below from the gig.

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Yes we did get Heart of Gold, and although I am absolutely converted to in-yer-face rock I’m nostalgic and I just loved the rendition.

Walk like a Giant and Ontario were fantastic, but for me Ramada Inn was the standout. I was only sorry they didn’t do Driftin’ Back, my current listening fave from Psychedelic Pill.

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The gig over, the thousands strong crowd made their way to the fleets of buses, with good natured banter, as we patiently waited for the buses to make their slow progress to the exits. Much discussion on the bus home about how loud is too loud, Neil’s faded Aboriginal flag t-shirt and the mysterious bra that appeared on his guitar at the end of the gig….

For me, contented, it was home to bed, the Quiet Space on RN, and the dulcet voice of Paul Gough.

Last of the summer dining

Eating in summer has been very simple and outdoors if possible. If it can be cooked on the barbecue, all the better!

And as promised, at last something savoury.

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Smoked salmon salad with stuffed eggs, sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes from Quirky’s sister.

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The simplest meal. Barbecued steak, jacket barbecued potato with yoghurt, avocado and cherry tomatoes.

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Chargrilled chicken in green herb, garlic and olive oil marinade with green salad.

Documenting the dawn

This contented insomniac – and therefore early riser – loves the dawn.

Here is my selection of photos so far:  photos 1-3 December 2012 in Sunshine Beach QLD; photos 4-10 January and February 2013 in Rozelle NSW.

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