Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First Visitations Of The New Year

Yesterday it was the New Doc and his family.

Natalie's been rumbling on for a year or so about a 'new doctor' coming out from the USA. He's been "due to arrive" for so long I'd pretty much forgotten he existed. Apparently there were a truckload of paperwork issues. That's always the case, bringing an overseas doc into Tas, though.

The thing I didn't know was that the New Doc was actually jumping ship. I thought he was just another locum, passing through -- but he and his have sold up, packed up, waved goodbye to the Stars and Stripes and declared their intent to dwell under the Southern Cross.

Anyway, Nat phoned me at about two in the afternoon to ask if I could handle another four guests for dinner. I thought about it for a couple of seconds, and asked her to pick up another half-kilo of pork mince, and maybe some nice cheeses and dips and stuff.

So they all turned up -- the doc, his wife, their 19-year-old son who's off to UTas this year, and their 13 or 14-year old daughter. And I made a decent won-ton soup with plenty of pork dumplings, and a great big batch of fresh yeast doughnuts (the doughnut cutter worked a treat, Murasaki!) that I filled with a raspberry-mango jam and topped with whipped cream.

It was a really nice night. Once the sun went down, I took the kids out with a torch, and we spotted wallabies. It's funny walking around with people for whom wallabies are still a novelty. We saw a half-dozen or so, and that was impressive enough that I had to do a second tour for their mother's sake. Not that it's much effort... I think we walked all of twenty metres outside the house.

My kids were delighted with the visitors. I swear, the little bastards are turning into performance artists. They brought out their cellos and double basses and the Mau-Mau did her turn on the piano, and there was trampolinage, and then Jake and the Doc's daughter went down to the raspberry patch and came back with a bowlful of raspberries and blackberries, and the Mau-Mau danced frantically to music only she could hear, and by the end of the evening, I reckon maybe they felt a little more at home.

Heh. I know they're a little more comfortable with Australian food now. When I mentioned 'whipped cream' on the doughnuts, the Doc looked a little puzzled, and explained that it wasn't something they saw much of in the US of A. Mostly they just use this stuff from a can. You can spray it on, see? "Cool Whip", or something.

I shrugged, and said - yeah, okay. I haven't got any. I'll just whip some cream.

So when the time came, I tapped the Doc's daughter on the shoulder and invited her to the kitchen to learn how to make whipped cream. (Her mum said she liked to learn how to cook, you see.)

The lass gave me a doubtful look, and said she didn't like whipped cream much.

I nodded, and asked if she meant whipped cream, or the stuff that comes in a spraycan.

She said, well, I don't really like 'cool whip'.

That's okay, I said. Neither do I.

And then I put the cream in a bowl, and added some brown sugar and a little vanilla, and handed her the beaters. A few minutes later I made sure she didn't turn it to butter, and we were done.

She ate at least three of those doughnuts, each with a couple tablespoons of whipped cream, and announced that they were utterly delish. I guess 'Cool Whip' has its drawbacks, eh?

Today was another matter, however. Today was Beeso Day. The estimable Mr Beeso and his lovely lady rocked up here just on six in the evening. Beeso was promptly set upon by the children, who dragged him out to the trampoline, then wrestled him up and down the property. Meantime, we set out a bunch of nibbles including an amazing prosciutto-wrapped cheese they'd picked up on Bruny Island.

After that, I loaded them up with: steamed prawn dumplings with lemon verbena and vietnamese mint; smoke-grilled vegetable salad with sea-salt and balsamic vinegar; char-grilled salmon fillets, and finally the inevitable leatherwood honey/ mascarpone ice cream. Somewhere in the middle there was a palatable Bay of Fires bubbly, a few beers, a bit of cider, and a whole lot of conversation.

Good people. Really lovely to put faces to names, and make contact in a way not mediated by electrons. Tomorrow morning I'll fill 'em up with bacon from the local butchery, free-range eggs, whole milk and some espresso coffee. Then we'll go for a walk and see if the platypus is willing to show off for us...


  1. Awww Beeso and The Wife are there! Yay!

    I'll tell you, my mom makes homemade whipped cream when she bakes.

    And Cool Whip isn't from a spray can. That's Redi-Whip. Cool Whip comes in a tub.


  2. We make it at home too for the holidays. Heavy cream and throw in some confectioners sugar. Same for the restaurants I've worked in. Cheap, easy.

    I have to say I'm more interested to know why the good doctor uprooted his family and moved them thousands of miles away to a foreign country. Long long way to go for home made whipped cream.

  3. Puma - I haven't asked him yet. I figure it's a bit like the Foreign Legion, y'know? It's such a big move that they must have had their reasons, but I guess I'll find out when the conversation meanders in that direction.

    Jen -- they've headed off now, with directions to Pipers Brook and Jansz wineries, and to the rather incredible 'Cocobean' hand-made chocolate cafe. It was a really lovely visit. The platypus refused to come out to play, but the weather was cool and clear and utterly gorgeous after a rainstorm last night. Oh - and I made salmon omelettes for breakfast, with bacon from our local butcher on the side. Mmmmm!

  4. I know what you mean about spending time with and meeting people face to face. My partner and I just made our second & third friends (Yes! Count them!) here in Launceston. We met up with them at the gorge on the 25th December and had a lovely lunch.

    I tell you what, with all these posts about the guests you have and the food you lay out I'm tempted to invite my partner and myself out there just for the hospitality! Seriously, you could charge for that shit!

  5. had an awesome time, great place, great food, great kids!

  6. sounds good, sounds very very good!.

  7. Mad damned kids... and madder guests who are prepared to jump on the trampoline with them.

    Xavier - email me sometime. Flinthartas at yahoo dot com will do just fine.

  8. Just catching up on my reading and was touched to get such a hearty mention. It was so nice to meet you, Nat and your very talented kids in person.

    It is no wonder the new doc was impressed... I was impressed at what an enchanting little place you've got yourself there and I've seen plenty of wallabies in back yards! Your house is beautifully warm and welcoming and your property is an inspiration... and your cooking, well like xavierc said, you could charge for that shit. BEST OMELETTE EVER and dinner and drinks were exceptional too.

    On a side note, I'm loving the Zumba Nat gave me too - please thank her for me.

    Anyways, if you're ever up our way you, Nat and the kids are all very welcome to come stay and we'll see if we can be half as good as host as you. xx

  9. Awwww... you're way too sweet, V. It was a real pleasure having the pair of you aboard. Beeso did yeoman work wrangling the offspring, and cooking for appreciative folks is always fun.

    If/when next we see Briz, rest assured we'll let you know.