As I type this post, there is snow falling outside the my London window. It seems a far cry from the week I spent on Avoca Beach, just north of Sydney, back in January. It was the final week of a three week Australian adventure. And it turned out, to be a culinary adventure.
Food is rich, on so many levels. In a psychological context, one’s relationship with food can speak to an ability to take in, or a need for control, amongst other things. I’ve blogged before about the social symbolism of food. But as I put this post together, I was reminded that food can also hold the emotional richness of a moment in time. In fact, putting this post together has conjured up my hunger for a beach north of Sydney.
The first morning after our arrival my “feeder” tendency kicked in. I was with family who I hadn’t seen for a few years. So making brunch was a way of showing my love.
Food blogging has surfaced in my life in the time since I’d seen them. So it was important to me in a way to show my family this part of my life. They even got involved. It created a bit of buzz. My sister and I arranged this shot. By the end of the week everyone was on Instagram.
An old mate arrived for the final few days. Although he’d been following foodstinct it wasn’t until we laid out a bunch of ingredients to make dinner one day that he understood the essence of it.
As well as loads of fresh fruit and veg, there was a Catalan inspired Zuchinni soup and some chargrilled eggplant (aubergine) we had made the night before.
The kitchen became frenetic as the dishes were prepared. Anyone with a spare pair of hands got pulled in. Everyone got using their own intuition and creativity. It was a bit of a marathon and a lot of fun.
The marinated aubergine we made into a tapenade, spread onto toasted sliced baguette then topped with roast pepper and smoked cheese. The photos here are a bit over edited, I apologise. But you get the gist.
A wild rice salad, with macadamia nuts, cucumber was prepared. I found plum jam in the fridge. It added a bitey sweetness to a vinaigrette that went really well with the wild rice. It added an almost Japanese influence to the flavour.
Then desert. We made a compote of mixed berries (a last minute addition, always good to have them in the freezer), crushed amareto biscuits, whipped cream, all topped with fresh passionfruit. It’s interesting, the biscuits and cream could have been so many things, but a mess allows you to pull a lot of ingredients into one delicious concoction.
We grilled some steak and chicken, made a fantastic green peppercorn sauce, and ate the evening away with a few bottles of red wine on the deck, overlooking the waves.
First course was a courgette soup inspired by my recent stop off in Barcelona.
What goes around comes around
The best thing for me about free style cooking, is that you do sometimes end up with more than you can use. Store it right, and think creatively, and your ingredients can be the basis of great tasting meals the next day. Lunch time we made sandwiches with sliced chicken breasts, aubergine tapanade and fresh bread, lettuce and tomato.
We made far too much salad. But the next night we recycled. It had been stored without dressing, so the remaining salad was freshened with nuts and a new dressing, a home-made side to some local vietnamese take-away, after a long day of lounging on the beach.
The Point Cafe – Avoca Beach
I had ambitions of sampling some local culinary delights. And we found them, though not in the up market dining that I had imagined. The local beach side cafe was really quite wonderful. We must have gone three times. Each visit, a different moment, but each was immersed in a delightful beach front vista, with good value, well presented, fresh cooked Aussie food.
The kids loved these ice cream spiders. The gleeful squeals at foaming ice cream took me back to my own childhood. Treats like this were rare in my early years
, and in a nutritional sense, rightly so. But the joy they unleashed on my nieces and nephews were worth the extra calories.
The cafe served fresh seafood lunches. A lightly dressed prawn salad like this…
Or a spicy calimari with hoisin dipping sauce. The calimari was so meaty and chunky. I forgot how deliciously soft it an be. This massive lunch was only about $12, what a bargain.
Oh my last day at Avoca we had a great veggie breakfast. Complete with banana smoothie and soya latte. My australian cafe experience was complete. As we sat and watched the ocean waves, chatting about the passing of life and new directions, we noticed the pace. The locals stood in groups, watching kids in the waves. Overlooked by the local surf life saving club. There was a sense of community. Of belonging. A complacency about the beautiful nature of life here.
The standout thing for me – spending a week at this relatively out of the way part of the NSW coast was the pace of life. We crammed so much in, but it felt easy. And every day was punctuated with ocean swimming, good food, relaxed conversations and great friends.
Point Cafe – Avoca Beach, NSW
10 Vine Street
(02) 4382 2760
Reviewer: Jared –
January 12, 2013