Day 7: Pineapple Carpaccio

Onto the first dessert recipe, Pineapple Carpaccio. Although carpaccio is typically a dish consisting of very thinly sliced raw meat or fish, this particular dish does not contain either; instead, it is merely thinly sliced pineapple with a delicious rum dressing.

The dressing contains seeds from a vanilla bean, 100 ml of white rum and 50 g of sugar. Heat the rum and sugar, and flambé. The rum takes to a flame very easily, getting a reasonably large flame quickly. As there was sugar in pan I found that if you let it sit there too long the sugar would start to burn and the flame would get even higher (see video). Once all of the alcohol has been burnt out, add the vanilla bean seeds, the zest and juice of a lime and mix.

Finally, pour the mix over the pineapple and enjoy!

Day 6: Oysters With Rice Vinegar

Oysters, yuck! I’m not a fan of Oysters at all — they taste like runny, salty, snot. Eck! But I have set out to complete ALL recipes in the book, so here goes.

This recipe is an easy one. Raw Sydney Rock Oysters, some sake, some rice vinegar, some wasabi, and a bunch of radishes. Flambé the saké (Perhaps I got some dodgy sake, but it did not take to a flame at all. Or perhaps there was something I was missing), mix together and spoon over the oysters. Bottoms up.

Yuck! The sake mix is relatively nice, but the oysters just don’t go down well at all.

Well, fortunately, they weren’t too expensive, so I’m not too worried if they don’t all get eaten.… Bonzai!

Day 5: Sea Bass With Parsnips

OK, so I understand that the name of the dish is Sea Bass with Parsnips, however… well… I did not use either ingredient. Unable to find Sea Bass at a local seafood market it was decided that instead, the dish would consist of Bream (yum!). As for the parsnips. I just plain don’t like them!

The fish is pan-fried, with olive oil, and the parsnips (or potato in my case) are boiled with sliced onions and then puréed with pouring cream and nutmeg. Additionally, a gremolata (flat-leaf parsley, French shallot, and lemon zest) is sprinkled over the top.

Nothing special with the fish, although it did taste very nice; the puréed potato’s with pouring cream and nutmeg, on the other hand, was a little different (from standard mash potato).

In summary, an excellent, tender bit of fish with some soft, creamy potato. Can’t go wrong with that!

I am not looking forward to tomorrow night. Oysters…

Day 4: Boiled Hen With Vegetables

Moving on to something a little more substantial, Boiled Hen With Vegetables, although still a pretty simple dish. The recipe calls for a Bresse hen and a bunch of different vegetables including turnips, onion and parsnips, all thrown into a pot of boiling water for a couple of hours.

This dish is the first recipe that ingredients have been hard to find, in particular, the Bresse hen. The Bresse is a breed of chicken which originates in Bresse, an area of the Rhôné-Alpes region in France. As such we were unable to find anywhere in Brisbane that sells them. In fact, we could not find anywhere in Brisbane that sells Hens. A few butchers weren’t even too sure what we were asking for. Other butchers said that they could not get any Hens from their suppliers. So we settled on a free range chicken.

The chicken was a bit too large for the pot, filling most of it up, leaving little room for the vegetables. After squeezing in the vegetables and filling the pot up with water, all that was left to do was sit back and let it stew.

After approximately 2 hours it was done; A nice juicy chicken with some soft, well-flavoured vegetables. Plus the remaining water will make for some nice chicken stock…

Day 3: Carrot and Orange Purée

This meal continues with the trend of being a simple and quick; requiring only a few ingredients, a short boil, followed by a quick puréeing.

To be honest, I didn’t think that carrot and orange together would make anything special. I was wrong! Served with some chicken and herbs it made for one very nice dinner.

Much better than last nights oysters…

Day 2: Cabbage-Soy Salad

Another simple meal for day two; Cabbage-Soy Salad. Comprised of — you guessed it — cabbage. Lots and lots of cabbage!

I know that is is only day two; however, I think that this recipe is going to be my least favourite recipe for a while. Maybe it is just me, but I’m just not excited by a bunch of raw cabbage tossed together with oil and soy sauce (amongst other things).

Didn’t end up eating most of it; instead, we had a lovely roast lamb dinner; thanks, mum & dad! Plus I forgot about it and left it in their fridge.

Hopefully, tomorrow’s Carrot and Orange Purée will be more satisfying…

Day 1: Detox Soup

365 Good Reasons To Sit Down To Eat (by Stéphane Reynaud) was one of the great gifts that I was fortunate to receive this year for Christmas. The book contains one dish/meal for every day of the year, and as such, I have decided to go ahead and make every single recipe in the book; starting with Detox Soup.

Detox Soup is a nice and simple one to start with, consisting of onions, leek, celery and some chives.

The only issue with this soup was the overinflated price of leeks at supermarkets; $4 per leek. Usually, we like to head to Brisbane’s Farmers Markets for fresh produce at a reasonable price (however; because of the Christmas / New Years holidays the markets were not open this week) for example you can get a bundle of 3–5 leeks for around $3, depending on the stall.

However, the price of leeks is only a small issue which I am going to face while cooking my way through this book. As the book was written by a French author, for a European audience, there are going to be issues around ingredients being in seasons or available at all. For example, Day 4 the recipe calls for a Brêsse or boiling hen, neither of which are available around Brisbane (after many phone calls to local butchers).

Then there are the recipes who’s name alone is enough to turn you off; such as Calf’s Head…

Must Do: Explore Girraween National Park

Kookaburra Sits On The Old Gum Tree

Girraween National Park is located approximately 260km south-west of Brisbane and is home to numerous large granite boulders, many of which are precariously balancing on top of the granite covered landscape. Some of the more notorious balancing formations include the Granite Arch, The Sphinx, and Turtle Rock — all easily accessible by various length walking tracks.

The park covers 118 square kilometres (~45 square miles) and consists of 10 walking tracks, spanning a total of 17km, ranging from class 2 to class 4. The tracks that we decided to take were Dr Roberts’ Waterhole and Underground Creek. Both of the walks start a short drive from the main Information Centre and campgrounds — the start marked by a small car park. A couple of hundred metres down the track the path split into two, one direction leads to Dr Roberts’ Waterhole the other to Underground Creek.

Although there was plenty of water at Dr Roberts’ Waterhole, unfortunately, that is about all that was there — well that, trees, and granite boulders. The signs promised an abundance of wildlife, from frogs to birds… but all that we got was nothing except the distant call of birds. Perhaps all of the locals are hibernating during the colder winter months? Trying our luck with Underground Creek, we were once again slightly disappointed — with the “underground” creek merely being a section of the mountain where granite boulders have fallen over the creek creating an underground section. None-the-less the granite structures are still an amazing site.

For us, the best part of the park was the camping. Located a short walk/drive from the main Information Centre are two camping grounds; Castle Rock camping area and Bald Rock Creek camping area. Castle Rock camping area is an open, flat area with more of a communal tent placement suitable for larger groups. The only separation was for the caravans, with large trees and foliage separating the parking spaces, followed by another large area for additional tents. Wood-fired barbecue places were also available at various locations in the camping area. Bald Rock Creek camping area, on the other hand, is a hilly, segregated camping area with what appeared to be less area for caravans. This camping area also allowed for cars to be parked right next to the individual camp, which also had its own wood-fired barbecue available. A few of the large camp spots also sported a set of wooden park bench and table.

While not one of my favourite must do’s Girraween National Park is undoubtedly a good weekend away and worth a visit, although I would recommend choosing one of the different walking tracks during a warmer season. If you do decide to go during the colder months, then a warm sleeping bag and thick warm clothing is a must. As a bonus, the campgrounds do provide gas heated hot showers (which are on a timer system to conserve water consumption), toilets, and drinking water (must boil first).

For more information on Girraween National Park (and other parks) visit the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management page:

Gumnuts Farm Resort

Gumnuts Farm

Gumnuts Farm Resort is a horse riding resort, among many other things, situated on 140-acres in Canungra, QLD which is found in the Gold Coast hinterlands, approximately 70km south-west of Brisbane. Owned by the Webster family since 1985 the farm started as riding school for children during the school holidays and has since come to be a full-fledged farm stay, offering outback experiences for Australian and Japanese couples, families, tour groups, school camps, and holidays camps.

Although the farm has quite a few activities, including cow milking, boomerang throwing, whip cracking, shooting, Cattle & Dog Shows, and 4WD tours, the main focus of the farm is the horse riding tours. The horse riding tours range from half day tours to full day rides and includes all gear required (and a horse of course). According to the Gumnuts MySpace pages the farm has approximately 25 horses at their disposal; however unfortunately when we visited we were not given appropriate horses.

During our visit we were fortunate to have been the only people staying at the farm for the weekend, another couple was supposed to be arriving but did not show. Greeted by a very friendly group of Japanese farm hands we were quick to get started with the horse riding. Having only ever ridden a horse once prior to the farm stay it was fair to say that my horse riding skills were lacking, and as such, I would have expected to have been given a fairly relaxed, calm, and slow horse which I could feel comfortable upon… this was not the case.

The horse that I had been given was named King. He is a standardbred Gelding, with a stubborn nature and scares easily. The ride started off well, with four of us trotting along the main road, but then King decided he had had enough and decided to turn around to go back home. After some persuasion, he turned back around on the track and continued on our journey… that is until a car passed us, giving King a fright, sending him into a gallop. Luckily I was able to quickly bring him to a quick stop (before being thrown off). This was the first, but not last time this occurred. In the end, we decided that it would be best just to turn around and go back to the farm.

After arriving back at the farm we proceeded with the rest of the activities on our schedule; milking the cow, boomerang throwing, whip cracking, and shooting. The friendly staff were kind enough to let us take our time and enjoy each of the activities at our own leisure. Included in the farm stay were 3 meals (lunch, dinner, and breakfast) which were nothing fancy, but edible meals cooked by the farm hands. During the evening, after having completed all of the activities we had free roam of the farm, taking in the beautiful areas and getting some nice photos during sunset.

A great bonus of the farm is that it is extremely close to O’Reilly’s in Lamington National Park, for a significantly cheaper price than staying at the O’Reilly resort. All in all Gumnuts Farm Resort is a cheap and fun way to get back in touch with nature but is more suited for larger tourist groups then a couples/family getaway.

See Additional Photos From Gumnuts Farm Resort.

Fort Lytton

Fort Lytton, Brisbane, Australia
Fort Lytton, Brisbane, Australia

Fort Lytton is a pentagonal fortress, built near the mouth of the Brisbane River, erected in 1881 to aid the controlled river mines in defending the Port of Brisbane until the end of the Second World War. It was Brisbane’s front line of defence and is regarded as the birthplace of Queensland military history. The fort is surrounded by a water-filled moat and connected by underground passages (although these underground passages do not appear to be visible anymore). After the Second World War, the fort was no longer deemed ‘useful’ and as such fell into a state of disrepair until Ampol took over the site in 1963 and later became a national park in 1988.

By the turn of the century, the Fort consisted of six gun pits and two machine gun posts. The arsenal included (Most of which can be seen at the Fort either in their original placing or in the historical museum – some of the larger fixed emplacements are replicas now):

  • 2x 6 inch BL 5 tonne Armstrong guns
  • 2x 6 pounder QF Hotchkiss guns
  • 1x 4 barrel 1-inch Nordenfelt machine gun
  • 1x 10 barrel 0.45inch Nordenfelt machine gun
  • 2x 64 pounder RML guns

The Fort is open every Sunday and on public holidays from 10am until 4pm. Entry fee is $4.50 for adults (includes a tour or self-exploration if you wish) but is a small price to pay for a good afternoon of historical exploration. Additionally (unconfirmed if this is every Sunday or only during certain times throughout the year) they fire one of the cannons three times during the day. When I visit the site the times posted were 11am, 1pm and 3pm. If you’re a budding photographer I would suggest arriving just prior to 11 am to catch the first cannon firing and then after spending the next two hours wandering around and having a bite to eat (great spot for a picnic lunch – portable bbq’s are welcome) it will be time for the second firing. You might be surprised how quick the firing happens, I certainly was!

See additional photos from Fort Lytton.

Update: I’ve been told that they fire the cannons the first Sunday of every month.

Historical information from: Continue reading “Fort Lytton”