Posts Tagged ‘Calamari’


August 13, 2018

Grapes, strawberries and figs.

We sometimes like  to eat out.  This eating-out is usually a lunch. The winter cold keeps us inside more than is necessary. But, winter-cold and getting older seem to result in an increase in staying indoor. However, when we do take the courageous step to eat out we chose venues for value and lively atmosphere. This usually means either a pub or a well-run restaurant or café. There is nothing worse than eating in a place that is empty. So, a good lively crowd is part of our occasional lunch or dinner.

Our choice of eating out last week was a buffet dinner at a Returned Soldier’s League (RSL) club of which both of us are members. They do give exceptional value. I play my twice weekly indoor bowls at different soldier’s clubs. The value those clubs give are due, to no little part, to gambling and poker machines. The income from gambling gives discounted meals and cheap drinks to members and friends. I feel a bit ambiguous about that. No-one seems to care much about socials ills that gambling brings. The ‘free choice’ is often muttered. But many mums and dads go home to hungry children. How free is that?

Part of this generosity are discounted meals and drinks on member’s birthdays. Mine was last week. I received a letter congratulating me with an enclosed list of vouchers which gave free meals and discounted wine and something called ‘Tombola’. I don’t know what Tombola is. It might have something to do with winning a meat-tray or a chance at Karaoke gift.

One gift I received was a discount of $25.- on a buffet bought by at least two people costing $37.50 each. Last Thursday we braved a fierce evening’s arctic storm and drove to the RSL club at Mittagong. This buffet includes table settings on white linen with an impressive assortment of cutlery only outdone by a linen napkin the size of a bedsheet and in red. I suppose the red is to camouflage any wine stains.

It was a self-service which we both are very comfortable with. Nothing worse that a waiter hovering about like a drone on a flattening battery. The entree was impressive. Cooked prawns, Pepper Calamari, Potato and leek soup, chicken Vol au Vents etc.

The mains including Roasts; Glazed ham Yule, Penne Boscaiola, Peppered medallions of Steak, Curried Prawns & Rice. You name it and it was there.  Breasts of some poor Turkey. Pork and Crackling. All that with vegetables/salads.

But, the best was yet to come; Desserts! Being mid-year, Christmas was thrown into the mix. Christmas Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce& Custard. Pavlova with Fresh Fruit Salad including Figs. Triple Chocolate Torte, nut Tartlets and so it went on. And for those still standing up, Tea and coffee bread roll & White Christmas.

Now here comes something totally amazing and worth mulling about. A couple, both ruddy faced and corpulent did the same as everybody was doing. Getting the cooked Prawns, Calamari rings followed by generous helpings of many Roasts and Main courses. You could tell they enjoyed it all. He, I assume a husband, was very quiet till he had his fill. His wife looked at him waiting for the moment he would say something. And he did. His became animated and you could tell they were enjoying themselves.

After they had eaten all the choices and varieties of the food courses, both ambled towards the table with the Pavlova with Figs and Fruits and Cakes.  We too ate some dessert. We are not normally given much to desserts, but what the heck? We too enjoyed the eating out, and the size of the napkins really gave the experience a totality normally missing. Part of the table setting was a small dish of water and slice of lemon swimming. We could wash our hands in this. This is how I came to understand the size of those napkins. They seconded as towels.

At this stage and after the eating of the Pavlova we thought the evening was coming to an end. The couple near us seemed to also had their fill. The husband got up again. I thought perhaps a call of nature, after all that drink and food. No, I was wrong. He came back with a plate of prawns and rings of Calamari. We were flabbergasted. How could he? But, that’s not all. The wife got up, all shiny with mirth and pork crackling. She came back with a plate of curried Prawns and rice. They hoed into it with gusto, yet again.




Going Danish in Queensland.

August 24, 2017


When I tried to make an attempt to increase my social life by joining an indoor carpet bowling club, I never expected friendship to grow so quickly. From a mere first timer, the progress of bowling, rapidly went to competition bowling. It still is social and not at all serious. We drive around now to other venues whereby we meet new groups just as keen on the game. Most are elderly and so am I. We might well all have reached the age where social intercourse is better.

Before the idea grew of getting about between more people, I considered taking up ballroom dancing. You know how it is. You see those elderly couples keenly trying to keep their marbles about them, (and so am I.) The music’s urging gliding along the parquetry floor taking slowly tango’s rapid littles steps, turning their heads this way or that way, taking care their interlocking legs and noses don’t collide inappropriately. It was the fear of collisions that I feared most.

In a way, the game of bowling does or can appear to resemble dancing as well. The experts seem to almost force the bowl to go to its intended journey by slow body movements alone.  A keen observer might well notice a form of ballet in action. Of course, with  ageing the ballet becomes less agile. Even so, by squinting eyes, some of us could easily have been performing Swanlake if not the dance of the Valkyries.

The friendship was further enhanced today by a lunch invitation held at the Scottish Arms Hotel. We arrived spot on at 12. I ordered my favourite salt and pepper calamari. Helvi had the flat-head fish. The price included a schooner of beer or a glass of wine. We both had a schooner of beer. The group consisted of about twenty five all seated around a long table. I think the women outnumbered the males.  Half the males were bald, but most of the women generously bouffant.

I am still battling to remember names. I suspect that I have reached a stage whereby names seem to get stuck into a colander without going through. A Kevin becomes an Eric and Jill became Joan. I am going to suggest people should wear name tags. It is funny but at clubs one needs proof of identity but not in pubs. Both serve drinks and food,  people play games, especially poker-machines. Yet, the clubs insist on proof of identity. It is something to do with liquor- license laws. I suspect there is a lot of money involved in all that.

It all came to a head when the Danish Crown-Prince Frederik tried to enter a club in Brisbane and was stopped because he could not produce proof of identity even though the  accompanying security police vouched for his identity.

You can just imagine how this piece of news went viral around the world. It is true though. There are some things that seem impossible to change and that includes outdated and archaic license laws.

The prince was let through, but…there were ramification. It appeared the club had made an erroneous exception for the Prince. The police ended up apologizing for not insisting that Prince showed proof of identity. He just did not have it on him.

Australia at times can appear very quaint. The High Court at some distant date will have to decide if Australia is being governed by rogue foreigners. Row after row of parliamentarians are queuing up having discovered they have another nationality, which according to the present constitution is strictly outlawed.

What with bowling and all this, how could life not be fascinating? I can’t wait to get up early and welcome the day.

Byron Bay 2.

May 10, 2014

The readers

The readers


The timing of trip was perfect. An opportunity to get away from the politics of Abbott and cohorts with his threat to pensioners and the disabled having to lift the country above its fiscal disaster and imminent collapse. The nightmare of us being forced to work in salt-mines or hacking at rocks for road-base was upsetting H and I even though we are still fairly fit and hale.

Have we reached a phase were our passivity is now permanent? A country so beset by materialism that the formal structures of social and political life offer no hope? If there is anything positive to be found, one must turn elsewhere? The thought often passes of pitching a tent somewhere. ( perhaps behind the big banana). A recluse or hermit have often been given respite to torments not of their choosing. Some individuals, have managed to survive the horrors of past governments without succumbing to the sterility of the present, but how?

Our trip to Byron Bay has given us a shot in the arm. Time to renew the fight. I have again re-joined the Labor Party which I left a few years after the demise of the Whitlam Government. The ‘remain the rage curry’ had finally collapsed and gone sour at Michael Hourihan’s abode. He left to live in Italy after learning 400 Italian words which he reckoned would get him through. We don’t know what happened to the tormented soul of Michael. Pray he found his pane di casa in Umbria. I am going to the first meeting this coming Monday at the YWA hall here in Moss Vale.

At Byron Bay we sat many hours at the front of the Beach Hotel sipping beer and eating insanely delicious salt and pepper calamari on copious beds of fragrant rice. The time gave us ample musings, to read, ponder and talk. It seems that with age, orifices get plugged more and more. I am not only wear hearing aids but am also now getting used to wearing …’euphemistically… called’, ‘partials’. Partial of what?

It never stops…what next?

Cooking a perfect Salmon Cutlet.

April 26, 2014

DSCN2895 - Copy

We often used to go camping when the kids were small. The car would be packed with tents, poles, water containers, esky cooler, and, last but not least, the kids. The seventies and eighties were still relatively adventurous and one hacked the bushes to provide space for the tent and a wood-fire to cook on. Christmas time was mid summer and busy but even then it was possible to really camp under the stars and clamber down rocks to get access to the beach. Now, most of that is gone. The camping areas are properly licensed with flush toilets and bitumen driveways. Some people have put permanent caravans and mobile homes down, including dreaded lawns and petunias with mock-stone lions guarding the fly-screen entrance door.

They give names to those aluminium semi-camping residences like “As is, is”, “Braving the foaming waves” or the exotic “C’est la vie” and empty beer bottles are left outside to litter where once there would be a wood fire with family sitting around. It seems that getting away from ‘home’ now means imitating home as much as possible. Perhaps it is all too frightening to go bush in Australia. All those spiders lurking under the dunny seat ready to bite bum, snakes curled around the fire place, serpents slithering in the water. It might all be a bit too adventurous for many. The compromise might be to forego the dish washer but feel happy with washing machines and micro wave ovens on site.

Some years ago we drove from Alice Springs to Port Augusta. A trip that goes on and on for 1200km, it was very hot and nothing to break the monotony of a dry and desert like heat vibrating shimmering moonscape for most of the way. The most perplexing sights were the cars that had broken down. It would have been very common at earlier times when it was nothing more than a dirt track. A very hazardous trip. One could easily perish if wandering away from the car and got lost or overcome by heat. The broken cars were always upside down with the remnants of wheels poking upwards. Like dead animals, especially the top-heavy wombat. The cars would litter the landscape. Were the wheels stolen and how did they manage to turn those cars upside down? Is it a cultural thing in South Australia, a sign of having somehow survived. It is not easy to turn a car upside down and in the heat, why would one go through so much effort? Most had turned a red rust and melted into their background perfectly. I suppose nature finally reclaims everything, even old rusty cars. I wondered what happened to the inhabitants? Where were they now? Did they survive?

I remember ending up in a motel on the way from Port Augusta to Broken hill. This was another long trip but the upside derelict cars were absent on that trip. I had bought some salmon cutlets and thought of cooking those in the motel. On a holiday before we had frozen calamari rings and ended up cooking them in the motel’s toaster. Some motels have a restaurant but that one did not. The timing was perfect and if you put the toaster on the side it will prevent the thawed out calamari from collapsing to the bottom when cooking. It is best to shake out the toaster afterwards as a courtesy gesture for the next user.

When we arrived at the motel in Broken Hill I did the same with the salmon cutlet. This time I used the iron. You switch the iron on without steam. When the iron has reached top heat you then wedge the iron upside down between some books. ( most motels have a bible and phone directory) That’s how we cooked the salmon. The salmon was very nice and with a bottle of rough red we had a memorable little meal. We were too flaked out after driving all day to look elsewhere for a meal. We slept like angels.

Hope this helps.

Life is but Ginger and Dates.

April 1, 2014
Ginger and date cake

Ginger and date cake

As the the overall economy edges down, patronage of cafés and eating out are going up. Economists point this out and the stats proved that the change in our consuming habits were in equal proportion. You wonder what the connection is. Here, where we live, dress shops are closing down or if not, the owners look forlornly towards the street hoping for customers. The customers however are next door sipping a short black or a macchiato before sauntering off to the charity shops that sell second-hand top brand names at $ 5.50 a pop or $12.50 the max. Money saved is spent sipping coffee or munching on deep fried salt & pepper calamari with fashionable red and greed lettuce leaves and chopped Spanish onion. Happy dogs are tied to the tables forever hopeful of a spare piece of Apfel-kuchen or beer battered squid.

We walk past one such café almost daily with our JRT ‘the incorrigible Milo’. Today, while waiting for the traffic light to turn green, H pointed out a man deeply immersed in his food. The immersed in his food man was sitting directly next to where the cars were driving. The patrons in this café are seated inside as well as on the footpath. The outside patrons are shielded from the sun by white umbrellas. The traffic separated from the diners by heavy concrete barriers and some greenery.

I noticed him, the enthusiastic eater, as well. His jaws were firmly locked on whatever he had partially managed to stow inside his mouth. In between he managed to masticate, eyes manically focussed on his plate. His wife/partner or girlfriend looked on in amazement. Such was his level of concentration.

I was in awe.

“That’s how you eat too”, I was told after we reached the other side of the intersection. “Like an animal”, she added. The walk was taking a nasty turn. Milo sensed it and looked up. He is acutely attuned to our marital squabbling while crossing streets.

I have to admit; my eating habits sometimes include an unnecessary concentration on the plate directly below my chin. H often asks me; “can you look up a bit and converse with me.” “I am your wife.” I then stop eating and rack my brains off in finding something amusing to say. I am overwrought with guilt and that’s not helpful in steering the lunch or dinner into something in a more entertaining direction than just the forking in of mouthfuls of squid or potato wedges.

Our dietary habits are different. I eat as if in an emergency. H has more of a slimming or keeping slim attitude towards food intake. She maintains and remains a svelte figure much admired by many but achieved by few in our age group. My problem has always been putting and keeping weight on, no matter how much I ate, I remained somewhat slim. As a child, but after the war, when food once again reached our tables, I used to skim cream from the bucket filled with milk. In those days milk was delivered by a person called ‘the milkman’. He had a horse and carriage. He would go from door to door selling just milk by the litre. My mum used to shout down the stairs “4 litres today please milkman”. The milkman had a long handled steel scoop which held exactly a litre which he used to fill our green enamelled bucket with.

When the accusation of my animalistic eating habits had calmed and cooled a bit, I offered to have a latte with a ginger and date cake. “We can share the cake”, I added, always considering her keenness in remaining svelte. “Yes, that would be nice”, she smiled happily.

All was well.