Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Panzella ...

It’s Monday evening and a hot night, and the salad you bought on Saturday is nearly gone, and that half eaten designer sourdough loaf is turning into a house brick. And, no you didn’t think to stop off at the supermarket on the way home

What to do?

The answer is Panzella - italian torn bread salad. To make i a reasonable quantity for two people you need

  • half a can of good diced canned tomatoes
  • a decent glug of olive oil
  • a couple of garlic cloves
  • half a slightly stale artisan loaf
  • dried tomatoes/capers/anchovies to taste
  • parsley
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Combine the canned tomatoes, olive oil and crush the garlic to make a chunky cold sauce. Chop the bread, say around 250g worth, into 2cm cubes, into a decent sized bowl. Pour the sauce over and release your inner child byturning the bread cubes over several times so that the start to absorb the liquid.

Add some dried and semi dried tomatoes to the mix, along with two or three chopped anchovies and some capers. If you have some small cherry tomatoes cut three or four in half and add them to the mix.

Taste the sauce and add any extra salt or black pepper. Cover in clingfilm and place in the fridge for half an hour to fully absorb the liquid while you watch the news.

Garnish with parsley and serve.

Panzella’s best served along side something else. Last night we had some left over barbecued chicken so we chopped it up, added some walnuts and what left over salad and rocket we had, and dressed it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. If you don’t have any left over chicken you could try a simple tuna salad, or even chickpeas with oil, lemon juice and garlic - it really depends on your imagination and what you have left in the fridge ...

Monday, 2 December 2013

Merimbula - rainforest and goannas

December 1st is officially the start of summer in Australia, and this year it conveniently fell on a weekend, so we decided that the only way to celebrate the start of summer was a night on the South Coast at Merimbula, about three hours away and conveniently situated between two national parks.

Merimbula used to a busy summer resort but these days, with cheap flights to Bali and Thailand, it’s less popular than it was, but it still has a range of good cheap motels and you can walk into town,

We were up uncharacteristically early on the Saturday and off to Merimbula by eight thirty. Instead of the main road through Bega we cut off via Candelo, a pretty little farming town, and across the Bega valley to Merimbula.

We stopped off at a supermarket outside of Merimbula for petrol and some stuff for a picnic lunch and then off to Bournda and Hobart beach.

Hobart beach is a long, empty stretch of beach fronting onto the Pacific Ocean. It is deep, shelving, unsafe for swimming or surfing, and so almost always completely deserted. The real secret of Hobart beach is that you can walk along it for several kilometres, and then cut back along a track through the forest back to the national park car park.

On the way back through the forest we saw a goanna, the first of many. Goannas are large lizards, really small komodo dragons, but mostly harmless. Clap your hands and make a noise and they’l usually scuttle off, or up into a tree out of your way.

After Hobart beach, it was back into Merimbula for a coffee and to check into the hotel.

We’d half a plan that instead of eating in Merimbula, we’d go to the fish co-op in Eden, about 8km south, where the local fisherman’s co-operative runs a good fish restaurant. Typically, we couldn’t remember what it was called, and neither the yellow pages or google was any help, so we decided to drive down earlier than we would normally do so for dinner, to see what was happening, reckoning that we could always go for a walk on the wharf if necessary.

Good thing we did. When we got there we discovered that the restaurant roof had blown off in a storm in early November and they were understandably closed. Nowhere else in Eden looked worth eating in, so we headed back to Merimbula.

Determined to eat fish we tried a fish restaurant on the wharf, but it was fully booked. However there was a slightly incongrous Mexican restaurant across the road and they had tables, well actually they squeezed us in, which was good of them, given that they were busy with several large groups.

The food was good, freshly cooked, and they had fish. We were happy.

The next day we walked down to a cafe  in town for breakfast, and then went of to Ben Boyd national park for what we thought would be a relatively easy coastal walk to Green Cape.

It was less so than we thought, there was quite a bit of timber down and while the worst of it had been cleared from the track, there were a few scrambles along the way.

The track tantalised us - mostly through scrubby rainforest it would periodically veer towards the cliff top as if offering us a view, and then dive back into the forest before quite delivering.

Mostly it was just us and the goannas. Eventually we came to an open section and a track down to Pulpit Rock, so instead of carrying on to Green Cape we walked down to Pulpit rock, had lunch on the cliffs and then walked back to the car. It didn’t feel particularly hot but it was humid in the rainforest and we both sweated a lot on the walk back.

Then it was a case of dipping our feet in the ocean and a drive back to Canberra, back through Candelo and up over Brown mountain to be greeted by the cat, who miaowed accusingly at us for daring to leave him behind with only his automatic catfeeder for company.

A pizza from what we had in the fridge, a glass of wine while watching the sun set and that was us - a long but truly enjoyable weekend