Friday, 6 July 2012

Noosa - Day 5

Today we went kayaking.

We left a little later than planned, as we turned both our flat and next door's upside down trying to find Jos's hat. The one we'd bought less than 48 hours earlier. That he was told he'd be paying for its replacement if he lost it. Fortunately, Mum found her hat that she'd misplaced (and had bought a replacement for), so lent that to Jos. Which is why he was wearing a big, red, woman's hat while we were on the river.

We got to the boat rental place around 11:15 and hired two two-seater kayaks for a couple of hours, and set off upriver. It was quite a bit windier than it had been previous days, so we stayed close to shore, protected from the wind by the trees.

It took around 45 minutes to get to Tewantin/Noosa Marina (where the ferry stops), but we figured with plenty of time up our sleeves, we'd continue up river, after it took a turn north. With a good southerly behind us we made good distance. Until I remembered we'd have to row into that to get back. So we turned around, I passed my hat to Jos (so it wouldn't blow off) and put some real grunt into it to make our way back. JD and Ky struggled to keep their boat into the wind, but managed eventually. The boys, sitting at the front, copped the cold spray as the boats bounced on the whitecaps. (And of course, the clouds had also covered the sun by then, so it was extra cold.)

We got back around the corner, and back over to the lee of the shore, and could relax. Better still, the sun re-emerged from time to time. We drifted, meandered and chatted our way back down the river, arriving back at our hire place about five minutes early, around 1:15pm.

We then found a local place (Lazy River) for lunch, that wasn't so posh as to frown at our dripping wet bums and sandy feet, and enjoyed, respectively, two generously large burgers, a steak sanga, and some deep-fried vegetarian spring rolls (which were mouth-burningly, straight out of the fryer hot).

A pleasant potter about in the afternoon, reading, soaking in a little more sunshine, napping, and the like. I then made a rather nice risotto (chicken, baby spinach, ricotta and fetta) to feed JD, me and the kids, while the folk went out to a very snazzy Japanese restaurant, called Wasabi.  All up, a good day. Better still, the exercise helped get JD out of his funk.

(All photos by iPhone 4 - I didn't want to take my DSLR onto the river. They came out pretty good!)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Noosa - Day4b - Dinner Date

Whether its because it gets bloody cold very quickly once the sun goes down, or because it's a town of retirees, I don't know, but chefs tend to close the kitchens around 8:30pm.

I'd asked the folks to mind the kids one night while JD and I went out for a dinner date. Last night was our night. Because restaurants tend to close early up here, we set out around 6:30pm. And the place was as dead as you'd expect Melbourne restaurants to be at 6:30pm. Up here, the excuse was the decider State of Origin (rugby union) match - Qld v NSW. (Something few Victorians give a toss about.) The restaurants were dead. One restauranteur suggested that many places would close up around 8pm if they were still empty.

After walking most of the length of Gympie Tce, the main restaurant strip in Noosaville, and surveyed the menus of a score of restaurants, we eventually settled on a tapas place about a third of the way up. It took a while to get seated, and even longer to get menus, and longer still before they came back to turn on the heater. At that point, ten minutes in, we gave up. I was just going to get shitty with the service, provided by two hipster dudes or didn't really seem to have much clue on dealing with an unexpectedly full house (hint: don't stand around talking to your colleague).

So we went to our second choice, Sirocco, and were immediately pleased that we did. The service was  welcoming and proficient, and menu more appetising. We ended up having tapas there - a selection of wonderful entree/starter sized meals - and rather a bit to drink.

  • Bruschetta, with lovely ripe, flavourful tomatoes, fresh basil, olives (JD had those) and balsamic glaze
  • Cuttlefish, slow-cooked and exquisitely tender, in a lime, chilli and palm sugar dressing with a spicy chipotle dipping sauce (highly and appropriately recommended by our knowledgeable waitress)
  • Octopus, chorizo, potato dish, and again, the octopus was magnificently tender
  • Lamb meatballs, in a long-simmered spicy tomato sauce
  • Whitebait, individually battered and fried, with a delightfully garlicky aioli (fish chips)
  • Rocket (arugula) in a goats cheese and hazlenut dukkah, with roast sweet potato
For dessert they offered a good selection including our respective favourites - sticky date pudding (JD) and tiramisu (me). I was sorely tempted by the pomegranate-soaked pudding, with a toasted cardamom marscapone, but was swayed by the recommendation of the waitress. The sticky spiced date pudding was one of the best I've tried in a long while - light and flavourful (not stodgy and boring, as they so often are). The tiramisu was blissful - Belgian chocolate, espresso coffee, ganache, raspberries, sublime.

Short version: Very highly recommended. A++++. Will dine there again.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Noosa - Day 4

Noosa National Park

We left the menfolk at home, and the kids, Mum and I spent the better part of the day at the Noosa National  Park. We piled into the Prado, and Dad dropped us at the gate. From there we spent a delightful day walking along the coastal track, peering in rockpools, scrambling over boulders and just enjoying the view.

The entry to the park has several information boards, with gorgeous mosaics at their feet.
Rockpools at Tea Tree Bay
Another little secluded bay, almost empty of people
Jos, Caitlin, Leesie, Ky
Jos looking out over Dolphin Point, with a pair of sea kayaks rounding the point.
Heaps more pics after the jump

Noosa - the Croissant Man

Each morning, around 8:30am, the Croissant Van arrives, selling fresh croissants ($3), danishes, pain au chocolat, and other yummy things ($4).

Each morning, they do the rounds of the resorts/tourist accommodation places, ringing a handheld bell out the window.

We all line up to buy delicious things we wouldn't consider an appropriate breakfast in the real (aka non-holiday) world. (That's Noni in the blue and white dressing gown.)

Warmed up in the oven so that the chocolate softens, a pain au chocolat (rod of chocolate rolled inside a croissant) is a delightfully indulgent breakfast. 

Noosa - Day 3

Today, Tuesday, was much more of a sitting around day than initially planned. K & G and the nieces set off around 10:30/11ish for a bus to the Heads, and then some pleasant walks.

My right eye got the irits Monday down at the beach, so I removed my contact lenses once we got back. (I did bring my glasses, but not my prescription sunglasses.) It was still very red and muscle-achy Tuesday, so I didn't want to put then contacts back in. Which means the kayaking plan for me was out - splashy action on the glary water.

No-one else seemed terribly enthusiastic, so we ended up sitting around reading and pottering.

Around 1 pm-ish, we set off down the street for some lunch, and after reading many menus ended up choosing Maisie's. Regrettably, neither my husband nor children are big seafood fans, so we couldn't justify the massive $50 seafood platter for two (but easily 3-4). Instead, I went for the $25.50 cold seafood platter for one.

Maisie's cold seafood platter for one
It included a whole Moreton Bay Bug (flathead lobster), a shelled crab, marinated mussels, king prawns, marinated baby octopus, oysters, as well as a generous salad, and some fruit. Followed by a rather nice apple and rhubarb pie.

Put it this way: I didn't need dinner. (I did need a bandaid - Bug shells have some really sharp bits.)

Monday, 2 July 2012

Noosa - Day 2b

Mum, Dad and I then caught the afternoon ferry, departing our stop at 4:45pm, for a return trip to Tewantin. The setting sun bathed everything in a golden glow, including my parents.

Mum and Dad, aka Noni and Gopa
The sun just dropping to the horizon
There was even a full moon out
The way back was cooler, with the sun down, but no less gorgeous.
Mum, wrapped in a blanket for the return trip

The moonlight playing on the water
Not a bad way to end a day
We got home at the tail end of dusk, to a glass of wine and a lovely massaman curry Dad had made earlier in the day.

Noosa - Day 2a

So we went with plan A: ferry to Noosa Heads, few hours on the beach, back for fish 'n' chips on the river's edge, and finally a sun-induced nap. Absolutely perfect!

Waiting on the dock for the ferry

As  you can see, the beach was jam packed (that's Ky heading towards the water)

And the boys heading back from the water

Actually, there were plenty of people at the beach

They were swimming  between the flags

It really is a rather gorgeous place. But you can't sit under the boardwalk.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Noosa - planning the week

So Dad's already trying to plan the day for next Saturday when we fly back. Indication they've done too much international travel of late: Dad assumed we had to be at the airport at least two hours before our flight (it's only half an hour for domestic). Seems he's an even bigger plan-and-schedule-everything type of person than I am (gosh, I wonder where I got that trait from). I pointed out that I would be prepared to discuss that by, say, Thursday, but was not going to just yet.

Forecast has weather of much the same (fine, sunny, max ~20deg) for the next few days with the clouds and possible showers starting Thursday.

Today is lots of pleasant sitting around.

Except if you're K & G who have gone for a walk/wander for a bit, taking Caitlin.

[Pic to come - they left before I snapped one]

Tomorrow might be a beach and explore the river via a river cruise/water taxi day. We'll get on at around the corner, go up to the Heads to play on the main beach in the morning, find some lunch, and then complete the rest of the round trip (about an hour). And then some more sitting around.

Tuesday could be trip up to Rainbow Beach. JD has fond memories of rolling down the sand dunes as a child. Biggest problem there is that all eight of us won't fit in the Prado at once, at least not with each person having their own seatbelt.

Wednesday may be Eumundi markets, a huge craft and food market held each Wednesday and Saturday. The folks went yesterday and came back with various bits and pieces including some curry pastes and some neem soap. Depends whether the kids are all that interested. Could be done by bus trip (~1/2 hour each way) if only a selection of us are interested.

Otherwise it could be some pleasant walks around Noosa Heads - there's some large swathes of green nearby, with walking tracks through them.

Thursday and Friday, eh, we'll sort that out in due course, and Saturday we fly back to reality. If there's anything you think we should consider doing while we're up here, let me know via the comments.

Noosa - Day 1

The kids were very keen to try out the pool first thing. Gopa graciously offered to supervise them, but no earlier than about 8am. In the end, it was about 9am as we had to nom nom nom on the fresh croissants delivered each morning around 8:30am by The Croissant Man.

JD and I took advantage of being on holidays, and did what one should always do on holidays - not get up until you really have to.

Meanwhile, the kids had the pool to themselves.

Later, Gopa got in the water with them.

Caitlin and Leesie did lots of diving for pooltoys

The sun is shining, and delightfully warm (but not hot). There's not a cloud in the sky. There's nothing we have to do, nowhere we have to be. Couldn't have scripted it better. Jealous?

Noosa - We're here!

We got here!

Around nine months ago, the folks decided to trade their time share entitlement to have a week in Noosa, taking my nieces for part of the school holidays. Six months later, I decided that would be a fine place and time for us to go on holiday too. JD wasn't confident he'd be able to take leave, so I booked for me and the boys. A week ago, JD decided that he actually did need to have a week off (an idea his team very warmly encouraged when they heard about it). I managed to get him a seat on the same flights as us (at twice the price, naturally).

The flight was chockers - not a seat spare - with lots of young, unhappy children. Poor Toby in the row behind the kids, aged around 2yo, was very unhappy about having to sit still during take-off and landing (we'd seen him in the airport lounge - he's like my nephew Sam in that he Does Not Sit Still). And lots of kids whose legs neatly reached the seat in front, making it difficult to remember not to kick the bum of the person in the seat in front of them. Eh, for two hours, it was tolerable.

Dad met us at the airport, and drove the seven of us (Dad, us four plus my two nieces) in the Prado, and we negotiated the series of roundabouts that constitute Queensland motorways. Mum met us at the door with dinner for the kids and a glass of sparkling wine for the grown ups. The adults dined a little later, including some old friends of the folks who were up this way for one more night.

Reasonable pillows, a good firm bed, and windows that open made for a pretty good night's sleep.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Saag Gosht (Lamb in spinach)

I'm part way through making this again, because (a) it's delicious, (b) the kids love it, (c) it's got the greens built right in, (d) it reheats fairly well, which is important as we generally eat late/at weird times Mon-Thu, and (e) it's my favourite Indian restaurant dish.

This version is from Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni (publ 1980). All the recipe titles are in English, although three decades on, the recognition of the Indian names would be much wider. For example, the suggested appetizer is "Savoury Pastries with Spicy Potato Filling" (aka samosas). "Whole Wheat Flaky Bread" (roti?) or "Baked Whole Wheat Puffy Bread" (naan?) are two of the suggested breads.

Saag Gosht is essentially a slow cooked meat casserole, which had a whole heap of spinach stirred through just before serving. Like any good slow cooked meat casserole, it takes time, and further improves with resting. But other than the time factor, it's pretty straightforward. I haven't modified the recipe much here (except to convert it to metric), which makes a very subtly flavoured curry - no kick, no kid-unfriendly flavours. If you do make it (which I highly recommend), let me know what modifications you make, and how it goes.

Oh, and it's fairly easy to scale up or down - I made a full recipe tonight; previously, I've made a 2/3 scale, as the meat was only 1kg.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Jodhpur Bazaar (part 2)

They do market gates well - gorgeous red sandstone confections.
Photo by K
Other buildings around the market
This was an active temple, with a cafe in the forecourt.
Another view of the temple buildings
Some other building
A number of touts kept trying to direct us to the Textile Warehouse (or similar), claiming it was five stories, and sold goods to Prada and Ishka and something and something and something. We never did find it (having refused the kind offers of our would-be guides to take us there), although K&G had been there previously. They noted that it wasn't five stories, and it certainly wasn't all that.

There were lots of shops selling ribbons. Just ribbons. Lots of pretty ribbons.
Photo by K
Photo by K
Photo by K
Photo by K

I don't know why there are so many shops selling ribbons - I wan't particularly aware of them adorning clothes, or hair, or anything else. They may be used for decorating saris and kurtas, but I don't know.

More practically, there were also shops selling ropes.
Yup, just ropes.
And bright fabrics/clothes

And all sorts of other things. I just felt like too much of a rubbernecking tourist to take the photos I should have. Oh well, you'll just have to go yourself to see what else is there!

Bazaar, Jodhpur (part 1)

Our first encounter with the bazaar was by tuk-tuk (called auto-rickshaw in India), as we had to got through it to get to the hotel, and our minivan was too big to navigate it. The seven of us piled into three tuk-tuks (Dad and I shared one), and a fourth brought our luggage. It was a little hair-raising, as our driver nearly got us killed within a minute of leaving the carpark (by turning in front of a large van, which had to slam on the brakes). He also picked up a mate, who sat beside him on the (single) front seat and distracted him the whole way there. That particular driver is no longer retained by the hotel. (The others were very good, and tipped accordingly.)

Anyway, that afternoon, we left the boys with Dad/Gopa (they planned to go for a swim, but scotched that when they discovered how cold the pool was) and Mum, El, JD and I went exploring in the old bazaar.

Market gates, uphill (or hotel) side
Market gates (downhill side)
At the centre of the walled section of the market is a clock tower, apparently built by Maharaja Sardar Singh (after whom the markets are named).
Clock tower, at dusk.
I saw several sensible statements about tea (there was another one, in a small shop in the downhill gate itself, but I didn't get a photo, and now I can't recall what it said.)
(If that were true, both Mum and I would be exceptionally fit.) 

The market is divided into sections. One of the first JD and I encountered was the spice market. And, no, I don't know what half the things are. They're pretty, though!

I think that's asfoetida powder in the foreground (Hare Krishnas use it instead of onions and garlic;
be warned, there's a reason "foetid" is at the root of the word!)
Anyone know what this is?
No? How about this one?
(Actually, even though it looks like ultra-rich mud cake, I think it might be asfoetida resin.)

Here's a good description of it, randomly found on the web, which evokes the experience pretty well.