My Italian man and I visited his sister in-law at work, she works for a fine foods company called Sandhurts. They distribute and sell products like succulent olives, sweet artichokes, tinned ‘Sole Mare’ tuna you can eat straight from the tin, nothing needs to be added to this simple pleasure. Plump & juicy sun dried tomatoes and this time I came across semi sun dried cherry tomatoes, which I have never seen before, I cant wait to pop the jar open to taste them. They also import tantalizing ‘Mutti’ tomato products straight from Parma in Italy, you can taste the richness from the earth and the warmth of the sun have combined to provide you with this unique fruit. Almost anything Italian that you would need for your pantry they will have it and because we are family she took us to the store attached to the business (which is also open to the public). We were like kids in a candy store, the car was loaded up as though we were setting up our own store. But it was all for us, to be created into beautiful meals.
Nonna doesn’t use a lot of prawns in her cooking, they’re not used much in her region, fortunately we have friends that do it right.
A few Saturday’s ago, our friends had us over for a BBQ lunch. He had been to the fish market that morning and bought an array of fresh seafood. He was most excited about the huge jumbo prawns he got. Now, before I continue, In Australia we do not call them shrimp. Shrimp are the teeny tiny ones that we have in dishes like fried rice. Prawns are usually at least the length of your index finger – sweet and juicy. They are versatile crustaceans and used in many dishes in different ways – deep fried, grilled, sauteed in garlic, honey, salt and pepper, laksa, spaghetti, salad – the list goes on. There are many varieties of prawns you can eat ‘natural’ and have their own unique taste. Tiger, which have an exquisite nuttiness, Banana, with there yellow tints and black tail are great for adding flavour to, King Prawns, great meatiness, salty and perfect natural or with a cocktail sauce. Yes prawns have varying degrees of saltiness, sweetness and smokiness.
But my all time favourite way to have them is chargrilled on the BBQ and there’s no other way to eat them but with your hands – the classic fingerbowl invented for such delights. There is such a simple pleasure in the way you peel and eat a prawn. The warm juices running through your fingers and trying to find the patience to wait until they have cooled down to peel them is very difficult. Snap and twist the head, trying to pull the shell off in one continuous rip, gracefully remove the poo tube, hold it by the tail and bite! It does sound a little gruesome, but you will know what I’m talking about if you have had the pleasure of doing it before.
Our friend had marinated them overnight in chilli, lemon, lime a few herbs and fried them up on the bbq. They were delicious. Their subtle chargrilled smokiness and lemony, sweet tang with a warm hum of chilli was exquisite. We sat on his balcony all day feasting on all of the seafood and soaking up the warm sun. A perfect summer lunch, washed down with some ice cold beers. I hope there are a few more warm sultry days with a cool breeze left before Autumn comes too quickly.
This Australia Day we were invited to camp at a friends farm in Kangaroo Valley. His uncle had recently brought it off an old Italian man, that had to sell the property as the vineyard and orchard were getting too much work for him. My Italian man and I heard the word ‘vineyard’ and we were in. A group of us drove down with all our camping gear ready for a couple of nights. Usually I would be busy the night before excitedly getting all the meals prepared, because normally when we camp the guys build a fire and that’s what we cook from. When we have gone camping before I have made stews, sandwiches, veggies in foil to roast, pre measured ingredients for a damper, banana smore’s and other snacks. Unfortunately for me (only) this time it was not campfire camping, the farm we were going to was only about an acre and they had a shed with a bbq. This would be a nice break from cooking, to be able sit, relax and enjoy the weekend. Our plan was to have a bbq lunch, dinner at the pub which was just a few minutes walk from the farm and bacon and egg rolls for breakfast. The Farm was very charming with heaps of potential, I can see why our friends uncle brought it. We set up our tent’s and got everything organised to start relaxing and exploring. We did so much in a day but a few highlights were, watching the guys shoot a compound bow, one of their new toys. I tried to have a go but there was no way I could pull it back, I did enjoy watching the guys search for all the stray arrows. My Italian man and I went exploring the small vinyard tasting a few of the grapes and mixing flavours. It felt like we were in Tuscany, inspecting and blending grape varieties getting ready for harvest. We were told they were Shiraz and Verdicchio grapes and were given a bottle from the uncle to try, it was honey like and very smooth I could’ve had another bottle.
Our lunch was your typical sausages on the bbq, defiantly nothing wrong with that though. There is nothing better than a sizzling sausage on white bread with melting butter and tomato sauce oozing out of it. We did cut our trip short as we got rained out but we did so much in a day it felt like we had been there for longer. The only think I would be happy about was saying goodbye to were the flys, it was cow country and I think they were even immune to Aeroguard. It was a great Australia day full of friends, food and good times