Category Archives: tasmania

after a few minor stacks and unpleasant jabs in the arse…

Today we actually did something other than watch telly, shop or eat.
I woke up really sore and achey from sitting on the couch, watching telly and eating (and sleeping in a terrible bed), and decided we needed to go for a proper walk to work our muscles. After a bit of discussion, The Squeeze decided we would walk over the Derwent Bridge. 100304936_e91c951d03.jpg At first he declared that we would walk to the bridge (about a kilometer and a half, or maybe two kilometers), then over it and on to the cenotaph. But we eventually decided to drive so that we could get a bit further than the cenotaph – into Salamanca as well.
We drove to the bottom of the bridge on our side (which is the east side), and carefully planned to walk up the left side of the bridge. The Squeeze estimated a couple of hours there and back, but we actually made it across the bridge in only twenty minutes (it’s only one and a half kilometers wide, though it looks far bigger). Ten minutes up I realised neither of us had brought a camera, but that was ok. I also realised that neither of us has hats, nor had I worn a shirt with sleeves (and I’m still recovering from an inadvertant roasting I gave myself last week riding to the city in a singlet). So I put on a jumper to cover my shoulders.
The bridge, though it looks quite steep, doesn’t feel it when you’re walking. But the footpath is actually quite narrow, so we had to press ourselves against the railing to let the occasional cyclist past (we saw about four in our twenty minute ride). The Squeeze and I spent most of the walk discussing whether we could ride over the bridge to work every day (yes from The Squeeze, who rides 10k to work every day and is currently made of iron, and maybe from me who is very competitive and hates being left out, but is more aluminum (foil) than iron these days), ogling the amazing view up and down the Derwent (it really is the most beautiful river valley – Hobart is the most beautiful city in Australia, I think, though Sydney’s harbour does trump it), pointing at jelly fish and shouting. I discovered that no one can hear you on the busy bridge, and that a good bit of shouted singing when combined with endorphines makes you feel really nice.
Twenty minutes later, we negotiate the underpass and start the hike into town to the cenotaph. This took us about twenty, twenty five minutes (it was only another kilometer and a half), but was a bit sunny and bright. There’s a bike path (called the intercity bike path because it links all the ‘cities’ on that side of the river – Hobart, Glenorchy, etc – separate city councils) which runs along the river below the main road which is kind of interesting. Well, not really, but we did see a seagull … If you call the place where rooks roost a rookery, would you call the place where seagulls roost a gullery? A gallery? ahahahahah. Anyway, they roost all along the train line there (which had resulted in a number of fatalities), and we saw many teeny fluffy seagull chicks. And were scared by a few aggressive seagull parents.
When we reached the cenotaph we decided (after a little negotiation, and some pleading on my part) to hire bikes and ride into Salamanca, and perhaps on to Jackman and McRoss in Battery Point. We did begin with a tandem, but decided (after a few minor stacks and unpleasant jabs in the arse) to go, for the sake of our relationship and my groin, with two normal bikes instead. The Squeeze was disappointed, but it all turned out for the best.
We rode on into Salamanca (I had a lovely time on the bouncy, wide-tired suspensioned mountain bike – no worrying about popping tires or slipping on gravel here! But much leaping on and off curbs and other serious Stunt Work), and I discovered that riding uphill (egads – Battery Point!) on that bike with slightly soft tires after a week on my arse was a bit of a challenge. But we had nice pies and then nice cakes (and a frightening bill) and then rode back downhill (woo-hoo!) into Salamanca.
I have to say, there’s nothing more wonderful than riding around a newly-emptied Christmas Eve Salamanca on a bouncy stunt bike. We zipped around and through traffic (they’re afraid of bikes here – and we found the Hobartians far tamer and less frightening than the Brunswick drivers), zoomed through the docks looking for the seal again (no luck) and then back to the cenotaph to return our bikes. About another three or four kilometers round trip.
And then back across the bridge through a bit of light rain, into the car and back up to Rose Bay.
Where we said hello to the ps, then went downstairs, took off an item of clothing or two, lay down and fell asleep immediately. Three hours later we awoke, consumed another lovely salmon dinner and embarked on the second round of mince tarts and a spot of tree decoration (we always do the tree christmas eve in our family). The father declared that we would watch all of the Star Trek films in celebration of the birth of our lord and saviour, and the tree decoration has consequently been interrupted by moments spent admiring William Shatner’s divine brilliance.
I have quite a few more photos to blog, but I’m being told to come and fiddle with ornaments.

marsupial

I don’t want to perpetuate any stereotypes about Taswegians, but…
Yesterday we were walking down Collins Street (a main street in Hobart Town) when we saw a man walking along with a small wombat over his arm. He had his hand palm up, supporting the sleepy-looking thing under its chest and belly. It’s little legs were dangling, giant claws displayed to advantage. It wasn’t a very big wombat, and it looked a little like we felt – in need of a serious nap.
The Squeeze told me to “Pat the wombat! Pat the wombat!” but i was too shy.
I don’t know where he was going with the wombat, nor what he’d do with it once he got there*, but it’s not everyday you see a wombat being taken to the shops. But I guess it is Christmas time…
*The Squeeze did say he saw it coralled in a sort of ‘suitcase enclosure’ (to use his words) in the mall later on.

tokyo drift

We do actually intend to do something besides eat this week.
Perhaps.
So far I’ve had a couple of naps, eaten way too much, sat on the couch and ‘watched’ The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, a film which, strangely, has caught my interest.
I am fascinated by the way each of these films seems to be using the same story line, but with different male protagonists, and a host of equally interchangeable booby girls of indeterminate ethnic origins. I’d like to say that my interest was caught by these sorts of things. But I was actually fascinated by the cars and the driving – the way these were ‘superlight’ cars with ‘powerful engines’. Basically, the ‘Tokyo drift’ involves taking corners really quickly in these light cars. You kind of ‘drift’ around the corners. Especially if you’re in a parking lot or driving down Mt Fuji (I think it was meant to be Mt Fuji – I wasn’t really paying much attention, and it seemed the obvious choice). There was a series of scenes very much like the ‘learning to dance’ bits of Footloose. And of course, a car-makeover.
In addition, there were a number of thinly veiled ‘American = best’ bits, including the necessity of fitting out an American Metal car with a full-on Japanese engine for the Big Race sequence, the protagonist making friends with an African American kid at school, lots of full on Japanese teen fashionistas buying ‘American’ sports shoes, a kind of narrative reworking of the term ‘gai jin’ by the protagonist and so on.
I think I want to see what

more fewd

Last night we went to Fish in North Hobart. The father had the stripey. The mother had flounder. The Squeeze and I said ‘no thankyou’ to interesting fish dishes, opting instead for the glutton option. I love seafood more than anything and simply can’t pass up the opportunity to stuff myself on it when we’re down here. So we ordered a platter thing. It had giant fresh prawns (of course) half a dozen oysters (of course – huge and awesome and fresh, though a bit gritty for my liking. I take that as a sign they didn’t do an excellent job shucking them), some calamari in an interesting batter, some giant, lovely white fish in a light batter, some interesting fish cakes (sort of shaped like fat little sausages and very tasty), some awesome smoked salmon and… it all came with their house salad – rocket + pear + parmesan.
All extremely awesome.
Tonight we had some family friends around for dinner, and because The Squeeze loves ham, we baked one for him. The mother and I had had a minor miscommunication and she’d ended up scoring a raw ham. From a butcher in the glorious Eastlands shopping center. Now, a raw ham is a rare beast (ahahhaha… sigh), and I had to ask for advice from the butcher about what to do with it. He suggested simmering it (ie boiling it) for 2 – 3 hours, then roasting it. So I did. In fact, we over cooked it a bit, so it was kind of falling off the bone when we took it out of the pot. I can assure you, there is nothing so unappealing… no, so utterly gross as a giant, boiled ham joint with the fat still with a few bristles in it and kind of slobbering away from the meat. And the smell…
So the father and I quickly peeled away the fat (though, in retrospect, we should have left it on to keep it moister… but I don’t like to cook ham with the fat on), poked in a few dozen cloves, and popped it in the oven with the glaze. The glaze is an orange and mustard one from Gourmet Traveller 2004 and is very very lovely. It cooked longer than it should have, looked a bit dry to me, but tasted quite spectacular.
We really like that glaze – it’s very tasty. And while the boiling was a pain in the arse, it sure added to the depth of taste (like I know what that means).
We had it with a nice big green salad (our standard – baby spinach, rocket, tomatoes, red capsicum, a few boiled eggs, some pieces of cheese, fresh mushrooms and with a dressing of olive oil + red wine vinegar + garlic + honey + seeded mustard) and the potato salad with the red onions, capers etc (though not the chilli – :( ). It was all very lovely. After that we had some blueberries, raspberries, assorted other fruit and some King Island Dairy yoghurt (insanely expensive but very lovely) and/or mascarpone. It was quite lovely.
We also put together the mincemeat for the pies yesterday, so had some contreau left.
I don’t drink, ordinarily, but the father has such good taste in wine, I’m always tempted to a half glass of something. This time it’s been a few nice New Zealand wines – Vavasour savignon blanc last night at Fish. And tonight a guest brought another nice New Zealander. Then we had a spot of contreau.
The food has been really bloody ace so far. And I haven’t even mentioned the pies we had at Jackman and McRoss yesterday lunchtime.
But here’s the ham glaze recipe. I thoroughly recommend it if you’re doing a ham this festivus.
Cider-mustard glazed ham (serves 15-20 as part of a buffet)
560ml dry apple cider
100g firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dijon mustard
2tbsp cider vinegar
40ml port
finely grated rind of 1 orange
1/4 tsp each ground allspice, ground mace, ground cloves
5kg leg of cooked ham rind removed and fat scored in a criss-cross pattern
cloves to decorate
1. Combine 1 cup cider, sugar, mustard, vinegar, port, rindand spcies in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then simmer for 2 minutes.
2. Stud ham with cloves, then place on a rack in a roasting pan, brush with cider mixture, then pour remaining cider and cider mixture into base of pan and bake at 180 degrees celcius for 1 hour or until glazed and golden, brushing frequently with pan juices. Remove from oven and stand for 10 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.
I often cut off as much as the fat as I can and it’s plenty moist enough. The layer of fat can be really quite revolting, and I say this as the sort of person who quite likes a bit of fat on meat. As I said, the boiled ham was far tastier than the usual supermarket one we cook (we prefer a ‘boneless ham’… though it disturbs us to think of the boneless piggies on the farm – all that fat comes from an (understandable) lack of exercise on their part), but it was a pain in the arse. If you’re up for that action, just boil it on a low heat for 2 – 3 hours.
We also find that there’s a lot of the sauce left (make sure you baste regularly, btw), so we pop it in a little jug on the table, just in case people are after a little sauce. The Squeeze prefers to add his own mustard, though.
And, of course, this ham action is perfect for sandwiches the next day.

some more salad recipes

Here is a ‘salad’ I’ve been making a lot lately. It’s one I ripped off Maria in Brisvegas taught me and it’s very nice.
Basically, you make some couscous (I just rinse it under warm water, then sit it in a bowl with some warm water til it gets fluffy. I usually have to nuke it to make the consistency right as I’m crap at making couscous).
While that’s sorting itself out, you chop up some tomatoes (I’ve found just slicing cherry tomatoes in half is good enough), chop up some fresh coriander and fresh basil and put it all in a bowl. Add a can of rinsed chickpeas (of course, avoid brands like master food – use a decent brand). Make a dressing of vinegar, olive oil and crushed garlic. Mix everything together.
I like to make enough dressing to make everything taste nice.
I’ve made this a few times lately, serving it with barbequed sword fish (my most recent passion) and another salad:
dice one green apple
dice a small cucumber (you know the type – not the giant ones, but the small ones)
slice some mint finely (not too much, but not too little)
add a generous handful of bean sprouts (the usual type – mung bean sprouts I guess)
and mix in a bit of white vinegar to give it all bite
This is an awesome salad to have with fish. I often make it with pineapple instead of apple, though I simpy can’t bring myself to pay more than a dollar for a pineapple… and when they never seem to get below $3 in Melbourne… It sucks, because I have a few really good recipes which use pineapples, but they were so cheap in Queensland, I just can’t bring myself to spend up big on them.
Anyway, these two salads go awesomely with fish. Especially big, fat swordfish steaks.

I am in TASMANIA

And it’s very nice, thanks.
The temperatures will apparently get up to 28 degrees tomorrow, so the Taswegians are all at the supermarket buying bottled water and sunhats.
Right now I’m sitting at the kitchen table looking out at Mt Wellington under a perfect blue sky, with the Derwent all twinkly and blue. Later on I might wander down to the Cascade brewery to drink beer (well, softdrinks and juices, actually), utilising their ‘taster’ pass, and later on we’re going to have people around for dinner.
Tomorrow we’re going to go for a big long walk (along the water at Salamanca) until we get to the shops, then we are going to have a sit and eat some restorative fish and chips on the pier.
On Tuesday, sitting about at gate 6 at Tullamarine, waiting to board the plane, we watched at least 2 dozen strangers discover they weren’t, and we were reminded of the (slightly disoncerting) friendliness of Taswegians. Yesterday at a cafe I nearly made a nice waitress at Jackman and McRoss cry because I was using my Melbourne manners*. Tomorrow I will take her some flowers and shower her with anecdotes about my family (most of whom she will already know), invite her to a barbeque (at which she will run into her brother and at least 2 ex-boyfriends) and then go hiking with her on the weekend.
*Dave told me to stop being a bitch. I agreed that not asking her about her plans for christmas was perhaps going too far.