Monday, February 29, 2016

Leisure Time

Calamity Sue and I had a day off together and spent it wisely, by going for lunch at Poachers Pantry.

Calamity Sue at Poachers Pantry

After we'd eaten a fine selection of meats and cheeses, we walked around the vegetable patch. That's a balanced diet, you know.

Spiky cucumber and spotted ladybird
Calamity Sue: she knows her onions. And her leeks. And her runner beans.
Red hot chili peppers
Purple beans
Red earth
Dandelion sculptures by Al Phemister

The next day I cycled around the neighbourhood, getting to know it a little better by checking out the cul-de-sacs and bus-stops.

And then met up with Calamity Sue again and went out to Adore Tea. They do lovely pots of tea, but also tea-inspired cocktails. I had a White Peach G & Tea (gin; tonic; white peach tea syrup), while Calamity Sue had a Turkish Apple Schmapple (vodka; Turksh apple chunky tea syrup; lemonade; fresh apple).

Calamity Sue at Adore Tea

Later in the week I had a Very Important Visitor - Nephew Aidan was on a school trip to Canberra (seeing Parliament, the National Gallery of Australia, Museums, Archives and his aunty!). The school has a packed itinerary of events for them to attend, but they also had a free evening, so I took him to Guild.

They do finger food (pizza; antipasti; arancini balls; etc.) so that you can play board games uninterrupted. They have a great selection and cater for all ages. The staff are helpful and knowledgeable and the 'guild masters' will recommend new games and explain the rules so there really is something for everyone. 

I had a lovely evening, playing games and chatting to Nephew Aidan, and we went for ice-cream afterwards.

Nephew Aidan at Guild, playing Mr Jack
At the weekend, the Old Canberra Inn was holding a Battle of the Brewers between 3 Ravens Brewery and Van Dieman Brewing. They contrasted five beers from each brewery and punters voted for their favourite in each round and the winner overall. 

The Samurai Catfish is a most peculiar beverage, based on a dry-hopped gose style (salty, sour German wheat beer) and including ingredients such as Yuzu (Japanese citrus), wasabi, katsuobushi (dries, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna), komb (kelp) and shiitake mushrooms.  Did I mention it was odd? It was also very tasty, perhaps surprisingly so.

Round Two of the Battle of the Brewers

Monday, February 22, 2016

Having Your Cake and Eating It

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos
One of the best things about going to the theatre is the debrief afterwards. We went to a performance of a new work called 'They've Already Won', and then discussed it at length in the Mint Bar.

T von G
On the never-ending voyage of discovery, I went for a short walk one morning before work with Him Outdoors in Kama Nature Reserve.


And in the evening we helped eat a birthday cake. This is only the half of it - it was enormous and toppled over under its own weight. Those layers include chocolate caramel mud cake, dark chocolate mousse, salted butter caramel, milk crumb, butterscotch popcorn, honeycomb, freeze-dried blueberries, and torched Italian meringue. Yes, you could describe it as rich. We like to call it diabetes in a box.

Less than a third of the chocolate caramel mudcake

Monday, February 15, 2016

Arboretum, Yarra Valley Tasting and Multicultural Festival

I met Little B at the National Arboretum for a coffee and a chat about theatre, and then we went for a wee walk over the hills to look at the views. The Arboretum was created in response to the bushfires of 2001 and 2003, which wiped out much of the city's forests. It features threatened, rare and symbolic trees from around the world, many of them ceremonial trees planted by visiting heads of government and ambassadors.

There are lots of little trees that will grow into big trees and help to reforest the bush capital. The National Bonsai collection is also held here. They won't grow into big trees.

I like the sculpture 'Wide Brown Land' by Marcus Tatton, Futago Design Studios and Chris Viney. It depicts words taken from the poem 'My Country' by Dorothea McKellar, which describes her perception of Australia. The sculpture is based on McKellar's handwriting, and was designed to be large enough to be seen from miles away on Canberra's roadways, while also inspiring visitors to engage with the artwork.

Little B with Wide Brown Land
Canberra panorama
Wide Brown Land
The Pod Playground looks like a lot of fun. Apparently it is designed to challenge and excite, encouraging children to climb, swing, slide and explore. Giant wooden acorns and banksia seedpods are connected by slides, chutes, net tunnels, climbing frames and ladders.

Little B says it is relatively easy for an adult to get stuck in the chutes. She claims to have this information on good authority.
The pod playground at the National Arboretum
For my work I attended a trade fair for producers of gin, wine and cider from the Yarra Valley. Four Pillars have a new gin called Spiced Negroni, which is inspired by the classic cocktail. It is highly aromatic with spicy characteristics of Tasmanian pepperberry leaf, cinnamon and Grains of paradise (an exotic West African spice with notes of clove and sichuan). It is also distilled with organic blood oranges and ginger. It's spicy, refreshing and intense. I liked it a lot.

Four Pillars Spiced Negroni Gin
Cheese from Yarra Valley Dairy
Yarra Valley Dairy supplied us all with delicious cheese. The white savourine (white mould goat's milk cheese; robust, tangy and slightly nutty) and black savourine (ashed white mould goat's milk cheese) were subtle yet flavoursome. The Persian fetta, marinated in garlic, fresh thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns and olive oil, was creamy and salty with a big finish, and I particularly enjoyed the Gentle Goat with its creamy citrus texture and flavour.

The Soumah 2013 Single Vineyard Chardonnay was spectacular and my favourite wine of the evening. The tasting notes explain, 'the delicate yet complex bouquet displays a struck match, yeasty brioche character with a fresh and vibrant palate of citrus and cashew with a clean finish of great length.' For once, I agree entirely with the tasting notes. 

Soumah Wines
Mandala Wines
We did a circuit tasting the chardonnays and the bubbles. Mandala (as well as having a glorious Renaissance-inspired label) did a fine Blanc de Blancs (nutty, biscuity notes; aromas of honeysuckle and lemon zest; flavours of golden apple and ripe nectarines) and a peach/pear - lemon-lime style chardonnay in The Compass (2012).

Giant Steps Single Vineyard Wines
At the weekend the Multicultural Festival filled the city centre with colourful costumes, food and drink, and music and dancing. We sat and watched the Indonesian contingent as they returned from the parade. 

It's thirsty work watching all these people in costumes on a stinking hot day, but fortunately there were some watering holes.

The Plonksters
Him Outdoors as Handsome Barman

Children ignoring the Peruvian panpipers
Latin American music, apparently. It sounded a bit like rockabilly to me, which was rather entertaining, but I left when they got out the banjo. No one needs to hear that.