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August 28th, 2010

Australian Dinner

One of the things I like best about staying somewhere with a kitchen when I'm traveling is the luxury, when I happen upon a farmers market, of buying stuff and cooking it.  We'd bought some fresh ravioli a couple of days ago, knowing we'd want to have a dinner at home, and a pack of snap peas, but nothing else.  Here were pastures of plenty:  new young spinach for salad, apples, fresh quince jam--and a lot of other stuff I didn't get because we're not moving in here, we're just visiting for a few days.  I wanted garlic, and found a couple of cloves (not heads, cloves) of what has to be elephant garlic, which was more than enough for both salad and pasta.  And I was set.

The rest of the day, sightseeing-wise, was one of those days one has from time to time while traveling, where you take your best guess between options and discover that your choice was not, after all, what you wanted to do at all, at all.  In this case, it was going to the nearby, upscale craftsy street market instead of the funkier, further-away one.  We could walk there, and did.  But it was uphill, we were tired, we couldn't find anywhere to eat, the crafts for sale were too fancy (and expensive), and there were far too many people.  We wandered around a bit, finally found a sushi-on-a-belt place for lunch, then caught a bus down to Central Station, where all good buses in Sydney end up sooner or later.  We intended to go to the other market, but the bus didn't come and didn't come, and it was getting later and we were getting tireder, and finally we looked at each other and knew we should just go back to the flat, sit in the sun, and read.

And dinner?  Well, our friends have rosemary and thyme and flat-leaf parsley growing on their balcony, so Ellen picked a little of each, and I chopped them fine, along with quite a lot of garlic, most of which I sauteed in some excellent olive oil our absent hosts had in their cupboard, along with most of the snap peas.  I boiled the ravioli, dumped them in the pan with the snap peas and garlic, added rosemary, parsley, salt and pepper, stirred it around a bit, let it all mingle happily while I made a dressing with some wine vinegar and the thyme, and poured it over the baby spinach and some sliced, raw snap peas.  And then I served it all out, poured a couple glasses of Australian Semillion Blanc, pried Ellen away from the book she was reading (Kathe Koje's Under the Poppy, coming out this fall from Small Beer Books, I'm a huge fan and will write about it closer to its pub date, because many of you will love it to pieces.  Promise!), and we ate it all up, yum, yum.

And now I want something sweet.  Toast with quince jam?  Sauteed Pink Lady apples with honey?  Hmmmmmmm.

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