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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Monteith's Summer Ale

With temperatures reaching even up to 44.3 C in Melbourne, some inevitable results come to play - 200 train service cancellations from Connex, a total fire ban, and a sampling of Monteith's Summer Ale.

Refreshingly light, this spiced ale is made of 4 different malts and rata honey. It is a limited release especially made for summer, and at 5% alcohol stands a notch lower compared to its winter equivalent. Incidentally, it was paired with a nice cold seafood salad of iceberg lettuce, shrimps, crab sticks, tomatoes, spring onions and cucumber with a mustard-olive oil-lemon juice dressing... good enough to beat the summer heat!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Scribe's Notes : Wilson's Promontory



Wilson's Promontory, nicknamed the "Prom", is the southernmost point of the Australian mainland. Take the car and drive 3 hours from Melbourne to the South Gippsland Highway, exiting at Fish Creek, and it will be one of the great things you'd never regret doing.


Taking advantage of the long weekend and the much awaited opportunity to do a proper hike, a quick call to 131963 and the bookings were easily done. This is a must for overnight hikes, especially to this route where camping is by permit only. At $14.20 per night (per tent), $28.40 was a very affordable price to pay. The camp sites have a compost toilet (properly enclosed comfort rooms with a toilet bowl dropping your excrement to an enclosure, no water, bring your own toilet paper - inhale before entering the room, do your gig, and remember to put the seat cover down!) and a water source.

Due to a huge number of people flocking to the prom, the original plan of doing Telegraph Saddle - Refuge Cove - Sealer's Cove had to be changed to Telegraph Saddle - Oberon Bay - Refuge Cove. Turned out to be an excellent way to ease in back into the hiking scene in terms of difficulty levels, hours of hiking per day and the awesome scenes that require a bit more time to take in, simply because it was insane not to do so. The hike is a counterclockwise take towards the eastern side of the prom.


Day 1 : Telegraph Saddle Carpark to Oberon Bay

Summary
12 noon : Depart from Telegraph Saddle Carpark (6.1 km)
1:49 pm : Arrive at Oberon Bay (3.4 km)
Total : 9.5km


By 8am the drive to the Prom had commenced. A portable breakfast of bananas sandwiched in homemade wholewheat pancakes with buttermilk and orange zest gave a good start for the day. By around 11am the booking reference number had been provided to the receptionist by the gate of the Prom and the intrepid trekkers were advised that the road up to the Telegraph Saddle Carpark was closed and a shuttle was provided. This is a normal undertaking during peak season.

Around 30km from the entrance is the Overnight Hikers Carpark where the car was parked (!!!) and the shuttles depart on designated times for the drive up to the Telegraph Saddle Carpark. A good number of hikers were geared up for the challenge, and with the weather forecasted to be hitting 33C, it would be a sweaty day. The hike commenced at 12 noon.

Fortunately, it was not as hot as anticipated, and the good cool breeze from the sea was invigorating. The trail to Oberon Bay was quite easy, made a bit more challenging from the Telegraph Junction because the rocky, pebbly pavement became fine sand. With a backpack to weigh you down further then the footprints in the sand go deeper.

along the way


Nice and early at the camp, a late (packed) lunch of adobo and rice (only because it was decided there would be no stopping along the trail!), an afternoon snooze, dinner of chili, lentils and couscous, and a nightcap of gin and tonic with a squeeze of lemon... No complaints there!

The campsite was quite limited and the water source was like a creek (if that was the proper term). Having known beforehand that water in the campsites require treatment, a pack of Aquatabs Water purification tablets was purchased from the local chemist and brought to the trip. One small tablet can purify 1 liter of water, but if gathered from a creek, a filter may also help remove unwanted grass and silt. In this case, a spare quick-dry t-shirt made of highly breathable material served the purpose!

Easing in for the long trek for the next day was made easy by the tune of the crashing waves. Life has become simpler once again.


cheers!
Featured Drink : GSM Blue
the nalgene flask cap has an included shot glass



Sunset at Oberon Bay



Day 2 : Oberon Bay - Little Waterloo Bay - Refuge Cove
Summary
8:45 Break camp and head to Little Waterloo Bay (8.2 km)
10 am Arrive at Little Waterloo Bay
11:15 Depart Little Waterloo Bay, head to Refuge Cove (7.1km)

1pm Arrive at Refuge Cove
Total : 15.3km



breakfast - omelet with chili and coriander, with wholewheat pita bread and coffee

Backtracking to the junction and then branching off to Little Waterloo Bay was not too hard either. Most part of the trail is still sandy and with an early start ahead of the rest of gang sleeping still in their tents, the trail is mostly quiet, only with the birds and rustling of the leaves (perhaps a shy wallaby).

sandy green, or greeny sand?

Boulders that look like a part of Easter Island stand mighty and proud atop a hill, while the trees burned to reduce fuel provide a slightly eerie foreground to the scene. Several steep areas make the heart skip a beat (or thump a little).. or perhaps that was because of a snake crossing the trail? The reptile did slither away quietly though... perhaps the human stink of sweat was a bit too overpowering for the amicable scaly fellow.


Is it Easter Island? And see the snake slither away?


And Little Waterloo Bay.... It was just simply a magical place. The sea was so blue (or turqoise, as they say) that you sometimes can't tell where the sea meets the sky.



beauty beyond words



the awesome white beach

The water was freezing cold but it would just be a shame not to indulge in this paradise!

After an hour in Little Waterloo Bay it was time to resume the walk towards Refuge Cove, the destination for the day.



Campsite is somewhere behind the trees by the shore (a bit to the left side)

The trail to Refuge Cove had a good mix of uphills and downhills, it was very much enjoyable. It was very sunny but most of the trail was covered and the cool breeze was still a constant companion. The campsite is bigger than Oberon Bay, and the water source was flowing water from a hose connected to the creek. The tablets did their magic for drinking purposes, while the rest was boiled away for the pasta dinner that evening.


3-minute rollini with sundried tomatoes, black olives, green peppercorns and mackerel,
finished with freshly grated parmesan cheese!
while the happy tent breathed again, out of the closet and into the wild


The drink of the evening was a flask of Jameson whiskey, unfortunately not enough to knock the living lights out of these trekkers. In the middle of the evening, the girls in the tent-next-door screamed "Help me, help me", while a possum attacked the food that they have left outside their tents. Next time, have more whiskey, and perhaps it is the key to sleep in peace.

Day 3 : Refuge Cove - Sealer's Cove - Telegraph Saddle Carpark
Summary
7:45am Depart Refuge Cove and head to Sealer's Cove
9:15am Arrive at Sealer's Cove (6.4km)

11am Arrive at Windy Saddle
11:30 Arrive at Telegraph Saddle Carpark, end of hike


the long stretch of beach at Sealer's Cove

The park notes described this leg as "A steady climb to Windy Saddle and then downhill through a beautiful ferny glade and forest to a boardwalk over Sealers Swamp"... but this is from Telegraph Saddle to Sealer's Cove. Hence, because the route was inverted, the trek was uphill after quite a while in the lovely boardwalk in the midst of the forest. But the ascent posed no threat to the "greyhounds" (a remark from an overtaken lady with a nice smile). A five minute break at the Windy Saddle was an attempt to finish off the homemade trailmix made from organic sultanas, raisins and pine nuts, before almost sprinting downhill to the Telegraph Saddle. At this point, the aches and muscle pains were beginning to be a bit more noticeable.

In the car park, some hikers have regrouped to compare notes and discuss separate itineraries. A quick stretch may take the niggles away temporarily, but the experience itself is unforgettable. A pat on the back for a job well done, having enjoyed the hike and achieving hiking times well below the published estimated average compeletion time....an awesome hike to one of the most beautiful places in Victoria, worth a return visit for the southern circuit!!!

The drive back to Melbourne was punctuated with lunch at the Fishy Pub in Fish Creek (a small town called the 'gateway to the Prom'), on the menu was an irresistible kangaroo steak and rabbit snag (it was supposed to be an Emu snag, which would have made it more exotic, but unfortunately it was not available during that day).


ending the hike with a bang-er

For a nice day hike there are options for short walks along the many beaches within the prom, just check out the website and take your pick on the very enticing list of things to do... especially now that the concept of going to "the Prom" requires no fancy dresses, high heels nor make-up!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Delirium Tremens

Delirium Tremens is a Belgian beer quite famed for its ceramic looking bottle featuring pink elephants, a design reminiscent of cologne ceramics. While the bottle may be a fake…it’s just a regular brown beer bottle with a little paint :)….the beer is certainly not. It’s a Trippel, using three different yeasts, and packs quite a punch at 8.5%.

Light in colour this beer has a rich creamy head and is packed full of flavour. Lightly hoppy with a stronger malt flavour there are also the fruity characteristics expected with similar Belgian varieties. This is a real treasure that just keeps getting better sip after sip.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kilkenny

Last weekends featured tipple was Kilkenny Irish Ale. Found on tap at a number of Irish theme pubs, the local draught version is actually brewed in Australia, this time was the turn of the can variety. This version is imported from Ireland and appears to travel quite well.

This is a creamy ale, featuring the draught “widget”, which once poured needs a little time to settle. This is not an ale for fans of the sweet varieties, instead has a rich creamy texture, nutty and malty with a smooth slight bitter finish. Well suited to a sustained tasting session.

Sinigang and Risotto - Sinirotto?

This recipe is a result of sitting down in the sofa contemplating about life.

Not.

It is actually a fusion sort of recipe, inspired by a previous success of experimenting with risotto, and a Filipino dish called sinigang, which is (ahem, because wikipedia said so), "a Philippine dish famous for the variety of ingredients one can use as well as for its taste. Though considered a soup, it is not eaten as is, but rather combined as a viand with rice. Sinigang is typically sour and is most often likened to Thailand's tom yam.

Sinigang often incorporates stewed fish, pork, chicken, shrimp, or beef. Sinigang's characteristic taste is attributed to the ingredient that gives its sour taste, not to the meat's flavor. Meat is stewed with tamarind (which provides the sourness), green pepper, tomato, and onion." Vegetables that can be incorporated into the dish would be morning glory, radish, okra, taro, long beans or eggplant.


sinigang - from the archives!
shown here made with fish, long green chili and eggplants.
the souring agent is tamarind

It is an all-time favorite at home, very simple to cook (just boil the meat with tomato and onions, then add the souring agent, then add the vegetables, then serve hot!) and not very hard to enjoy either. It was made even simpler with the introduction of the powdered mixes which were both tasty and convenient at the same time. My personal choice of eating this dish would be to inundate a bowl of rice with the sour soup, still steaming from the pot, mash some taro with the rice, and slurp the thickened consistency of soups with heaps of vegetables.

So, with the familiarity of how to cook arborio rice, knowing its properties which make up a rick thick creamy consistency of a risotto, then why not make a risotto, sinigang style? Of course that addresses a personal choice!


ingredients, from top left to right

(serves 2)
200g arborio rice
5 pieces of okra, sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1 small radish, peeled and halved... half is minced, half is chopped into circles
1 small onion, minced
5 pieces of fefferoni pepper, minced (similar to long green hot chili peppers) - decrease if you don't want it spicy
fish broth (homemade in this instance, made by boiling the remnants of a baked giant red snapper)
1 big basa fish fillet (or any white fish)
1 tablespoon olive oil
dash of fish sauce, to taste

Bring the fish broth into a gentle boil and poach the fish fillet for a couple of minutes, until cooked. Keep broth warm in low flame, take the fish out, flake half of the big fillet and set aside remaining half.

For the soffrito - heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan and add minced onions, peppers and minced radish. When the onions become translucent, add the rice and mix until coated with oil. Then add the broth, one ladle at a time, continue adding when the liquid is absorbed and stop when rice is al dente. Add in the rest of the radish, tomatoes, flaked fish, and a dash of fish sauce to taste (a common Filipino condiment used with sinigang). Serve with the remaining fish fillet on top and garnish as preferred.



shown here with alfalfa and onion sprouts..
best enjoyed with a glass of white wine!

Option for mantecatura (final step in making a risotto creamy) for this would be to add in some mashed boiled taro.... and it would have been one of those sublime fusion recipes that someone may have already thought somewhere on the web.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tinned Spaghetti

I searched long and hard and looked at every inch of my childhood memory, and there never was a reference about tinned spaghetti. Spaghetti would have been something from Jollibee, (a famous fastfood joint, pinoy version and great competitor of McDonalds), or a dish at a birthday party (kids or adults), usually with a sweet tomato sauce, slices of hotdog mixed with ground beef, or an aunt's quick dish whipped up at the dark ends of the kitchen with a store-bought packet of 'Filipino Style' spaghetti sauce (i.e sweet, like the one from Del Monte.)

Pork and beans would be tinned, yes. But spaghetti, no.


but it exists!

So here's to folks back home, feast your eyes on Tinned Spaghetti on toast.





Apparently this would have been a typical European style snack, or breakfast for some. To me it was an experiment just to see what it's like - would there be any notion of 'al dente' (ha!) , would the tomato sauce be nice and tasty (more ha!), would there be any tiny morsels of meat....

But because the label says "tomato sauce", then it was just tomato sauce.

And some gooey, soft tendrils of white stuff which may have been the spaghetti. :)

Ah well, at least now i know what its like!

*

In case the previous photo has ruined your notions of "toast" hope this one can neutralize it :


smoked salmon on toast with poached eggs and homemade hollandaise sauce
(sprinkled with some homegrown parsley which are not sooo green!)
and cracked black pepper

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Chilis

Cayenne

Named after the city of Cayenne in French Guiana, this chili will eventually become red and hot and probably tossed into a stir fry (if not crushed into a dipping sauce...). Seen here as still green, we'll give it a bit more time. The same goes for all the other flowers!



Habanero

One of the hottest chilis, this perennial plant (meaning it can produce flowers, and hence fruits, all year round if good care is practiced!) Thrives in hot weather, and only should be watered when the soil is dry, otherwise the fruit produced is bitter.



Sweet Pepper

Watch this one grow! Check out the previous post. Unfortunately the other chili appears to be quite not much of a grower...seems like all resources are going towards fattening the other one!



Jalapeno

This pepper probably needs no introduction, although some may not know that the chipotle pepper is actually a smoked jalapeno. The red fruits are considered a bit inferior compared to the long green ones. It is also known as huachinangos or chiles gordos in some parts of Mexico, where it has originated.



What contributes to the spiciness of these fruits? Factors include growing temperature, hours of sunlight, moisture, soil chemistry, and the type and amount of fertilizer used. Dried peppers usually end up spicier than their fresh counterparts, and it also depends on the conditions to which they were dried that contribute to their spiciness. Ultimately, it is because of the naturally occuring compound called capsaicin that makes chili spicy (or 'piquant'), and there is a form of measurement known as Scoville scale which measures the hotness of peppers. Wilbur Scoville devised the Scoville Organoleptic Test which determines how much capsaicin there is in the pepper. The sweet bell pepper (capsicums) have a rating of zero. Check out the heat scale here.

Herring Island

Most people living in Melbourne are probably not familiar with the island existing somewhere near the city. Herring Island, though man made, is 3.2 hectares of land intentionally built to reduce the risks of flooding. Originally a basalt quarry in the last century, it is 4 km upstream from the Melbourne CBD, and is only accessible by a watercraft ($2 fee, in just a couple of minutes, kids ride free). It is now known as a an Environmental Sculpture Park, with several artforms around the island, and a gallery that is currently hosting the Herring Island Summer Festival of Arts. There are barbeque facilities that make an experience seem to be far away from the city - so it would be an interesting venue for the next get together!



some of the scupltures around the island

After a quick tour of the island, we dropped by at the Kanteen Cafe which is just a couple of steps away from the landing. With an excellent view of the river, an outdoor area which gets a good bit of sunlight and shade from the trees (and pretty strong coffee!), it is amazing how being away from the noise, hustle and bustle of the city can actually be this close!

More about Herring Island here.

Mosquito Repellant

While browsing through the shelves at a Kathmandu clearance sale I came across this little item branded a mosquito repellent device. Powered by an AA battery, this belt clip sized device promises to repel mosquitoes within a 1.5 to 3 metre distance by emitting a signal that acts as a deterrent.

Having been easy fodder for these little winged blood suckers over the years and having wasted countless dollars trying to keep them at bay a paltry half price $6 seemed a small price to pay the escalation of my war on mozzies!

An interesting story on an SBS show telling how an Austrian radio station emits a 20 kHz signal with its regular radio broadcast to great effect against mosquitoes only added to my optimism.

The Christmas break in hotter conditions allowed ample opportunity to try it out. The result: despite an initial one or two nibbles the mozzies certainly seemed to keep their distance. Further tests seem to prove the earlier conclusion. This little gem will be one of the first things packed on all future outdoor expeditions!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Circle Of Ale

A trip to the Port Stephens Winery brought about a chance encounter with the produce of Murray’s Craft Brewing Co.


The winery, while being…well…a winery, also touts itself as the future new home of Murray’s Craft Brewing Co. going to great lengths to illustrate the fact by stocking a pretty decent range of the micro brew beers both on tap in bottle form. Being the well mannered guests that we are we thought it rude not to try out the fruit Murray’s hard yakka.

A look at the beer list brought about a little consternation…so much choice so little….and lo and behold there it was….a “Circle of Ale”! A selection of six ales served in a wooden circle…selection dilemma solved.

The selection:

Murray’s Icon 2IPA
Murray’s Grand Cru
Murray’s Sunrise Wheat Beer
Murray’s Nirvana Pale Ale
Murray’s Pilsner
Murray’s Best Extra Porter

Such beer certainly isn’t for those who prefer the more commercial low taste varieties. All in all it was a pretty tasty selection, although perhaps a little too sweet in some cases, the Wheat Beer having just a tad too much honey and the 2IPA leaning a little too much towards it’s sweeter American cousins to allow extended sampling over a couple of hours :). The stars of the show were definitely the Porter and Grand Cru, the Porter full with a slightly bitter finish and the Grand Cru again full, slightly spicy and with a nice slightly bitter finish.

Well worth a little detour if in the area!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ham?

Playing post Christmas catch up, a little pestering has brought me to finally post the recipe for the “ham” portion of the Sample Christmas Dinner post.

This version of ham is an Irish tradition. The ham in question is cured in salt brine before being cooked and served for the Christmas table. In Australia this is known as “pickled pork”…you don’t want to know the effort it took to unearth this fact :)

Once one has procured a ham or piece of pickled pork the method of preparation is as follows:

Soak the ham in water overnight. This is to help remove excess salt.

The next day drain the ham, place it in a pot with fresh water and bring to the boil. Discard the water, cover in fresh water and again bring to the boil. Discard the water cover with fresh water and add the following:

2 Carrots (chopped)
1 Onion (quartered)
2 Celery stalks (chopped)
2 Bay leaves
6 Black Peppercorns (whole)

Bring to the boil again and simmer the ham for 25 mins per 1lb/550g. Remove the ham from the water and allow to drain/rest. The ham is cooked at this stage and can be served as is.

Some prefer to remove the rind, score the fat, cover in sugar and breadcrumbs, stud with cloves and brown in the oven. I don’t, hence this is all you’ll get :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Summer Drinks

Temperatures rose to up to 37 C in Melbourne today so what could be better than to seek refuge in a cold, refreshing beverage. The cooling effect of moisture outside the bottle, from the hand and translated into the mouth with a big gulp, evoking a contented Ahhhh..... and there you go, have someone take a video and it's almost a beverage TV ad. Or maybe with a couple more bottles of something alcoholic then it would really feel like a TV ad!

So this post is about some alcoholic refreshments that were recently sampled - and potentially enjoyed further during the course of this hot season!

BAREFOOT RADLER

From the German word meaning "cyclist", Radler is beer flavored with a mixture of lemon and lime. Story was that a German dude by the name of Franz Xaver Krugler mixed dark beer with juices from lemon and lime to produce a refreshing drink demanded by cyclists who wanted to continue riding while drinking! Barefoot Radler the Aussie version of this Bavarian beer. It is a very refreshing drink that is so easy to drink, and at full strength (4.2% alcohol), remember that it has alcohol, and it is NOT carbonated juice!


DOS EQUIS

The name directly translates to "two X's", this aromatic lager was named as Dos Equis to commemorate the start of the 20th Century. Wilhelm Hasse, a German (surprise!) founded the Moctezuma Brewery and invented this beer. The label reflects Moctezuma, a 16th century Aztec ruler. Fresh and light, this beer is a must try.





MAGNER CIDER

Made from the fermented juice of apples, a cider is an alcoholic drink that may look like a sparkling drink when poured onto a glass. Magner Cider was launched in Australia in 2004 but has been enjoyed in Ireland for a long time under the brand Bulmers. Poured on ice and enjoyed on a hot summer's day, it revives memories to Irish folks away from home. A highly enjoyable experience, especially with the idea that traditionally prepared cider has high content for antioxidants... so it could be good for you, at some point!

More refreshing drinks to be explored as we approach boiling point!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Nata De Coco

The coconut tree is widely available in the Philippines and is also known as the "tree of life", as every part of this tree has a use. Even in Sanskrit, it is called "kalpa vriksha" meaning "tree which gives all that is necessary for living", for the same reason.

One of the products derived from the coconut tree is the nata de coco (Spanish for 'cream of coconut') made from fermented coconut water.Produly Filipino in origin, nata de coco is usually used in desserts, eaten by itself or as an ingredient in "halu-halo", a concoction of assorted sweetened fruits with shaved ice, milk and sugar.

Today, one of the visits in an Asian shop in Mitcham revealed a new form of nata de coco, this time as a pickle, aimed as an appetizer. This was hence worth a try, as it was just surprising!

By itself, nata de coco can easily absorb the liquid that it has been soaked with, hence the concept of it being pickled is not unlikely. Made with organic papaya vinegar, sugar, garlic, raisins, bell peppers, black peppers and salt (which are usual pickling ingredients), this tart version of the nata de coco is a quite a pleasant surprise. However, if the preference is to savor the sweet version, then better not go for the hunt of this jar!

Cherry Tomatoes

from flower (previous post)...


to power!

Pizza!

For the passionate home cook, making pizza right in the corners of the kitchen is as easy as dialing the pizza delivery hotline number. Ofcourse, an ordinary pizza just won't do, it has to be something special, especially if its the first time!

The goal was to make an exotic thin crust pizza using some leftover ingredients in the fridge! Hence the output is not for the faint-hearted. Kids, please DO try this at home - it's yummy!

The pizza base is very simple -
1 cup pizza flour
8 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon active yeast
pinch of salt

Dissolve yeast in water, let stand for a couple of minutes, then mix into the flour and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. This can be done either by hand or by a mixer. Then knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth, and then roll into a ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm, and let rise until it has doubled its size. In this instance, after it has risen, it was punched down a bit, then rolled again into a ball and refrigerated.

The next day, the oven was pre-heated to 250C together with a rectangular baking sheet drizzled with a bit of oil. The aim was to have the oil sizzling hot so that when the dough is placed into it, it would help it crisp the underside.

While the oven and baking sheet were heating up, the dough was taken out of the fridge, and with a rolling pin, was shaped into a rectangle (that would fit the baking sheet, of course!). The tomato base was some leftover spicy salsa, and the toppings were composed of :


black pudding, available at Safeway, or at the butcher near you!

  • black pudding - a type of sausage made of pork's blood mixed with other porky parts, onions, spices and barley. This is common in Europe, particularly in the UK and Ireland.
  • leftover (cooked) chicken liver - chopped into smaller bits
  • fresh rosemary (1 sprig), leaves torn away from the sprig
  • sprinkling of red cracked chili, salt and pepper
  • black olives and sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • garlic shoots, chopped
  • a good drizzling of extra virgin olive oil
When the tray is hot, take it out of the oven and carefully (because it is very elastic!) lay the dough on top of it. Evenly distribute the toppings and finish with the olive oil.


hold the anchovies!

Bake on the bottom part of the oven for 15 minutes (yes, it is THAT fast), until the dough is cooked and golden in the edges....


it was surprisingly nice!
makes 8 giant square slices of pizza
With a final garnish of chopped coriander leaves = 100% yum.



extra crisp edges... serve with a cold glass of beer!

Very pleased with the outcome of this particular experiment!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

B-u-t-t-e-r-f-l-y


butterfly!
(also at the Shark and Ray Center, upstairs)

Shark and Ray Feeding


some of the rays at the center


If you would like an up close and personal encounter with the sharks and rays, and even feed them yourself, try the Shark and Ray Center at Port Stephens. These animals are indeed lucky - people pay to actually feed them with squid and small shrimps, which you can attach to a clothesline peg at the end of a stick (provides extra 'reach' for the lower part of the giant pool with the rays).

For an extra closer encounter, hire snorkel gear and chase the rays around, even the little sharks (although there was one that was around 2m long). Perfectly safe, as the staff had said (and as the website has mentioned). For an EVEN closer touchy-feely-feeding frenzy, put on a dive suit and get right into it. The water is 25C all year round!

This experience would be great for adults who have not done much snorkelling and diving, or would like to try, as it is a highly controlled environment. For the experienced older ones, it may get a bit boring after the first 10 shrimps handed out to the rays (you can actually touch and pat them). Kids would love this! Recommended for a highly educational encounter with your little ones and develops an appreciation of the aquatic creatures.

Tea Flavored Noodles


'Cha Soba' - tea flavored noodles - are exquisitely lightly flavored and actually quite refreshing. Try looking for one in your nearby Asian shop.

Tossed here as a cold salad with
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon macadamia oil
alfalfa and onion sprouts
chopped coriander
chili flakes
salt and pepper (to taste)
sesame seeds for sprinkling

This was served with freshly shucked Tasmanian oysters for breakfast. Would you believe that ;)

Those Who Stopped By

Scribe's Notes

This pitstop is where incoherent ramblings seem to have meaning, where things or events are thought of and assessed, where great things are documented and perhaps any not-so-good happenings are written down in attempt to be forgotten!

So from the diversely abstract to the intensely specific, it's off to making tracks, and it is here where it stops for a thought or two.

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