Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Italian Job and a great deal of bouncing.

Well, there was no gold, mafiosi, car chases were few, but we had an italian dinner, anyway. We got a group of friends together to try the theory of meals in the style of a different country every month. I missed a glorious opportunity to serve squid ink Rissotto to my friend Bill, but the raw fish challenge is on. Somehow we WILL treacherously insert raw fish past his clenched teeth. We had various antipasta, and cheese thingy with authentic italian seaweed buscuits. I did home made pasta, with a sauce of flaked roasted peasant (what else do expect us to do peasants here on the island?)... er Pheasant (as plucked yours truly) -which I pot roasted with lots of garlic and rosemary and 3 rashers of bacon, with an apple in the cavity. I flaked the peasant... pheasant, chopped the bacon, softened more garlic (just in case) and made a sauce with 200 ml of cream and about sweet fortified wine (should have been marsala) a little more rosemary and the juices from roasting. To this at the last minute I added briefly cooked broccoli (picked shortly before cooking) and a small handful of roasted pine nuts and italian flatleaf parsley. It was pretty good for a 'entertaining' meal for fairly little not foraged or grown input - the bacon I had bought (but we will be making our own, as soon as I have the pink salt), the cream too, the sweet wine, and the flour for the pasta. The pine-nuts were a gift, but we have discovered we have the right tree right here in the garden.

We then had Tiramisu with all the marsala I should have cooked with and some extra, and Italian style gluwein.

I learned a great deal, especially about how to inflate a blow-up whale. You never know when you will need to know these things.

Today I went to try and stock up on some fish for the coming of the 5000. Dear willyweather promised good weather and light winds and small swell. He's a liar, although it did look promising in the morning.

But the current, sea, windchop and swell running longshore all mixed up horrifically. I got the most amazing tangle in my handline, and it was bitterly cold and windy. Still we got 3 gummy shark and 15 flathead and a gurnard perch (scorpion fish-- nasssssty-- but tasty, and about 8 kg of huge wrasse for the cats.

The weather coming in was a lot less nice, and you could see storms devour first Strzlecki and then mount Tanner, turning the the island landscape into some sort of sepia-tinted artwork... which I really wanted a picture of, but as I was trying to squat (sit and I'd have no bum, and possibly a broken and definitely a bruised cocyx) and cope with bounce and splash, photos did not happen.

The landing was relatively painless (beach extractions can be... interesting) and then we gutted the fish. With quite an audience in the bleak late afternoon.

spectacular for a chilly passtime.


  1. I've got to ask--why are you determined to "treacherously insert raw fish past his clenched teeth"? Is he not an adult? Is he not allowed to choose what he does (and doesn't) eat? I've never understood this attitude.

    Lisa S. in Seattle

  2. Seaboe: It doesn't strike me as much of a challenge to a master chef to feed prawns to a seafood lover. However it takes a real master to feed them to a person who cannot even stand the sight of them.
    There is a certain satisfaction breaking a person's preconcieved notions about food, and convincing them that most things are more than edible if prepared wonderfully.
    Perhaps it is childish, but it certainly is a fun game, especially if the subject knows that somewhere in the food he is eating is a trace of prawn

  3. (chuckle) Paddy has the right of Seaboe. Bill is a good friend, reads this (or his partner does and tells him) and this is my way of telling him the challenge is on. He'll try it (possibly unknowingly) and I would certainly not force him to eat more than the mouthful (preferably without pre-conceptions, which is the problem here, IMO). He's a good friend, good enough to know that if he said 'bleugh!' after tasting it I would not press him to eat any more. There will always be other things to eat. Actually, my dear family and friends are used to being told 'you're guinea pigs tonight, and if you don't like it, the dogs will be delighted'(these days 'and chooks'). It's, to be serious, not actually 'adult' behaviour to condemn something (which based on the evidence of at least 100 million people, humans can and do enjoy) without having any real idea what you're condemning. If someone said to me: 'I tried that, didn't like the taste/texture/smell, unless I could substantially alter that I would never offer it to them. But the boys Godfather, for example told me on first ask 'is there anything you don't or can't eat' (which I always do ask) 'Cabbage' - a vegetable I don't like much myself. On asking: He'd only had it a boarding school, boiled grey, and oozing sulpherous cabbage-water. So I bought a cabbage (we were all students, and Gary was one of my two best friends (the other is the other Godfather)) and worked on putting cabbage into various things, in ways that it was not revolting. When he'd had third helpings - Gary was in digs living on rice, I'd tell him where the cabbage was.

    It's something I do in my books too ;-).

  4. I've actually been thinking about this almost all day, trying to figure out what about it bothered me so much. I don't think it's actually you and Bill, Dave. I happen to agree with the 'try it' philosophy, even though there are dishes I won't try (based generally on the smell).

    ...and I think the rest of this doesn't belong in a comment on someone else's blog. :D

  5. Well when he went to Japan to visit me, I sneaked sushi with raw fish into my father by providing a numebr of maki (rolls) in different colours and contents. The green were cucumber, the yellow pickles etc. and the dark red was tuna...

    My wife has subsequently managed to feed him all sorts of things he professes to dislike without him noticing and indeed often with him saying "this is very nice" or similar.

    PS we also had Italian food yesterday, on the beachfront in Italy. Accompanied by random shots from a child wielding a toy sub machinegun (I think/hope it was a toy) and a couple of arias from an opera singer.

  6. Dave, I do much the same with my children. I'm an adventurous eater (about the only thing I wouldn't do again would be brains) and I have no idea where 4 picky eaters came from. Working on them this summer! Last night it was venison. Tonight will probably be dock, as I need to weed a bunch of it out of the greenhouse.

  7. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and posted my thoughts to my blog:

    Lisa S. in Seattle