Kangaroo Island ( known as Australia’s Galapagos) is one of the most unique spots in the world. Secretly (or not so secretly) this was the place that I most wanted to see during our Australian adventure because of the opportunity to spot kangaroos ( lots of them) in their natural habitat. The closest I’ve ever gotten to a wild animal in their natural environment was Angel the cheetah, who was the first large cat ambassador for the Cincinnati Zoo. There’s nothing like feeling your heart beat like crazy because one of the fastest animals on the earth is sprinting towards you, then feel her hot breath and sharp, sandpaper tongue as she starts licking your leg. No, she wasn’t washing me before taking a bite…she was just saying “hello.” Angel was a gentle, beautiful animal and this was one of my “all time best” life experiences. Jeff and I “met” her before a photo shoot we were preparing to do. The shoot never happened, but the experience has always stayed with me. You can read more about my friend Angel, here.
So, when I heard that we were going to visit fields of kangaroos and get “up close and personal” with them, I was very excited. As you can see from this pic, they’re pretty close, but I was expecting a different experience. As I said a few posts ago, my chance encounter with a kangaroo on Hamilton Island was much closer and more spontaneous, but I still will cherish all of my time with these beautiful creatures.
Every foot of this area was covered in “roo pooh.” Really, I kid you not…you could tell where they had been just by looking at the ground.
We took every opportunity to view the natural flora and fauna on the island. We went “bushwalking” along the steep trails of the coast with a naturalist guide. It was incredible to see how the plants and animals have adapted to their surroundings.
In an area where fresh water can sometimes be scarce, these plants funnel water towards their roots.
While these plants “sacrifice” some of their leaves to survive the harsh conditions.
I’m glad that we didn’t run into this “critter” on our walk, but we did see the dens where the Goanna lives.
We traveled to the wildlife sanctuary to visit koalas, birds and the occasional kangaroo. Koalas are VERY picky eaters. Of the 20 plus species of eucalyptus found on the island the koala only eats 6. The blue eucalyptus is their fav.
Next stop: the Remarkable Rocks. Formed 500 million years ago from granite that has eroded from the corrosive effects of sea spray and wind. These boulders balance on a large lava dome. We may not fully understand how they got here, but we can all understand their grandeur and beauty.
Then off we went to Flinders Chase National Park and Admiral’s Cove where the New Zealand fur seals live. Can you spot them basking on the rocks?
After our morning adventures, it was time to stop for a proper tea and admire the view.
The New Zealand seals are not the only seals on the island. Later we visited the Seal Bay Conservation Park to get a glimpse of Australian sea-lions. We visited them as they were waking up from their naps and heading out for dinner with friends and family.
I think this little guy just wants to stay close to his mom and have dinner at home.
Kangaroo Island is also home to Ligurian bees. They were brought to the island in 1881 and in 1885 Kangaroo Island was declared a bee sanctuary. It’s now the oldest bee sanctuary in the world. The bees on Kangaroo Island are extremely special because they are genetically pure due to their isolation. If you would like to read more about the Ligurian bees, Native Food and Wine has done this knowledgeable post.
Due to their purity, these bees are actually helping stabilize the rest of the world’s bee population and are also involved in cancer research. I’m a big proponent of honey, and Dana will soon be writing a post explaining some of honey’s benefits.
We were still plagued with bad weather, but right before sunset the sun came out to play and Jeff grabbed these wonderful shots.
Flora, fauna and fun in a very special and beautiful place.
This week’s recipe has to include some of the golden, sweet Ligurian honey, right? This is what we were served as an entree (remember that’s Australian for appetizer). Fresh, local ingredients served in simple Sunday Supper style.
Kangaroo Island is truly one of the most magical places on earth…I’m so glad that we went and that I got the chance to take you there with me.
Crostini with Blue Cheese, Honey, Walnuts and Figs Recipe
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
A sweet, savory and crunchy appetizer of toasted crostini, blue cheese, honey, walnuts and figs.
6 thin slices of baguette grilled or toasted
4 oz. good quality blue cheese (can substitute goat cheese)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 figs, sliced in quarters
6 tablespoons honey (local if possible)
Micro greens for garnish
Grill or toast 6 thin slices of baguette and place on plate. Sprinkle blue cheese then walnuts evenly on top of bread. Add 2 slices of figs per plate. Drizzle with honey and top with a dash of micro greens. Serve.
This really is by far the easiest recipe EVER! So, if you have friends and/or family that pop over for Sunday Supper unannounced, don’t worry, you can pull off this elegant dessert in an instant for them…you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen.
We were served this dessert several times in Australia, including during our brief stay in Adelaide. Adelaide was a “stopover” for us. We arrived late at night and took off early in the AM, so we spent time at the airport and that was about it. I’d heard that Adelaide loves to promote the best of Australian food and wine via their many food festivals. Sadly, we just missed one!
Our biggest decision when planning this trip was whether or not to stay in Adelaide and then drive up to the Barossa Valley wine country, or, go to a place that very few folks (even Australians) have ever been, Kangaroo Island. Well, the island won, which means that the next time we’re in Australia, we’ll be going back to Adelaide and on to explore the Barossa and all of its lovely, world class vineyards.
Our visit was short and sweet and so is this week’s recipe. The hardest part might just be picking out what dish you are going to use. I opted for small, vintage compotes, but you could use wine glasses, martini glasses, or if you don’t want to get fancy, just a tumbler.
If you like this recipe, but are saying to yourself, “I don’t have an espresso maker,” you can either use instant espresso, or perhaps just make a pot of very strong coffee. Pour a jigger of the aromatic brew over a scoop of rich, creamy ice cream…add an optional cookie or two, and “voila”…the easiest dessert ever!
I recommend that you use good quality ice cream. I went with classic vanilla, but feel free to change it up with another flavor if you’d like.
Affogato Ice Cream Dessert Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Rich, creamy and easy! Hot, dark, rich espresso over cold, buttery ice cream.
1/2 cup (4 jiggers) freshly made espresso
4 - 8 scoops ice cream
Scoop ice cream into whatever container you choose...glasses, compotes, tumblers.
Pour 1 jigger (or more, to taste)) hot espresso over the ice cream. I like to use a small, glass pitcher (as shown) and pour at the table.
Serve and eat immediately.
Last Sunday’s recipe included Spicy Pumpkin Seeds. The ones that I used for that recipe were purchased from the grocery, but I kept thinking that I’d like to make them differently… a little sweeter and a bit less spicy since hubs is not fond of a lot of heat.
Since fresh pumpkin is not always available, and not everyone likes to scoop out the seeds and rinse them, I wanted to start with something that would be available year round. I purchased plain pumpkin seeds that are available at your local store and started to “doctor” them with a bit of this and that, and here is the finished product. I had a few taste testers in the kitchen that day and they all agreed that they liked these much better than store bought.
After they cool, you can store them in a glass jar. I also think these would be great sprinkled on top of soup. Or, you can do as we did and just scoop them up by the handful warm from the oven as a savory treat. Have to say, they lasted less than an hour at our house!
Spicy Pumpkin Seeds Recipe
Yield: 6 - 12 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Simple, savory, sweet and salty!
6 oz. pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
5 drops Tabasco sauce
5 drops Liquid Smoke
Several grinds course salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Pour pumpkin seeds into a small bowl.
In a small saucepan melt butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, light soy sauce, garlic salt, Tobasco sauce and Liquid Smoke. Stir until blended.
Pour over pumpkins seeds and stir until seeds are evenly coated.
Bake in oven for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with several grinds of course salt.
Cool and serve.
May be stored in container for up to 2 weeks.
What do Dana, Oprah and Elvis have in common? Nothing, till we got to Hamilton Island.
Our visit to Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef was supposed to be the highlight of our trip. We’d seen the brochure for this tropical paradise and decided that this was where we wanted to spend a very special anniversary.
As we were landing, the song, “Bali Hai” from South Pacific kept twirling in my brain. Azure skies, water the color of sapphires, dramatic clouds…wait, clouds, there aren’t supposed to be any clouds…just sunshine!
We arrived at what I have to say is the most gorgeous place that I’ve ever been. No sooner dd we step out of the taxi that we were greeted with frosty glasses of champagne. As we sat and sipped, the manager came over to tell us that we should plan all of our outdoor activities as soon as possible because the weather didn’t look good.
We were shown to our room and decided to throw on our bathing suits pronto and get out into the pale sunshine. For the next 2 hours we enjoyed the only sunbeams that we were to see our entire stay.
We made the most of it…we didn’t even stop for lunch, but did slice a few apples that were waiting for us in the room. Much to our surprise, someone wanted to join us for lunch. Out of nowhere, a very large cockatoo landed on the railing. He perched there for a few and then came closer, and closer until he was on the lounge chair right next to us sharing our snack. I don’t know about you, but big birds with large, sharp beaks scare me…must have something to do with Alfred Hitchcock.
Later, we discovered that our new feathered friend has relatives all over the island that like to join you for lunch. We were witness to one who seemed to have a penchant for pizza. He swooped down and grabbed a whole slice before making a quick exit.
Somehow, instead of Hamilton Island being our sundrenched, relaxing spot, it became our spot to meet Australian wildlife. Besides the cockatoos, one morning returning from breakfast I was flabberghasted to turn the corner and stand eye to eye with a kangaroo, I don’t know which of us was more startled… our eyes met and with that, he hopped away. Now we were not supposed to see kangaroos on this part of the trip, that was to come later. Ironically, this was the up close and personal “roo” experience we were going to have, and sadly, I couldn’t get my camera to my eye fast enough.
Hamilton Island is lucky enough to have their very own Wildlife Sanctuary right in town which is where we spent an afternoon having a cuddle with the koalas. Koalas are mostly nocturnal, which probably explains why they rouse them from their beds to come and cuddle with well meaning strangers while they’re too sleepy to say “no”. When it was Dana’s turn, they brought out the adorable, Elvis…as you can see, they became fast friends. Ironically, Elvis is the very same koala that Oprah had a cuddle with on her visit, http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Oprah-and-Gayle-Meet-Koalas-in-Australia-Video.
So, what do you do when you’re in paradise and it’s raining? That’s right, eat! Luckily, there was no shortage of great food, just a shortage of sunshine. This week’s recipe is my interpretation of the lovely salad that we were served for our anniversary dinner. I’ve made a few changes, but the theme’s the same…bitter, crisp arugula, sweet blueberries and spicy pumpkin seeds…I added the tangy sliced oranges and citrus vinaigrette. A little bit of paradise for your next Sunday Supper with family and friends.
Arugula, Bluberry, Spicy Pumpkin Seeds, Oranges and Citrus Vinaigrette Recipe
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
A flavorful summer salad, packed with citrus, blueberries and just a bit of spice.
4 cups arugula
1 orange, peeled and cut into segments
1/4 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons spicy pumpkin seeds
!/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Several grinds of fresh pepper
Divide arugula on to 4 plates. Add orange segments. Sprinkle on blueberries and spicy pumpkin seeds. Drizzle on citrus vinaigrette.
In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, orange juice and salt then whisk in olive oil till emulsified.
We kept gawking at Sydney Harbor and tracking the boats and ferries as we walked by with our guide, Margaret. She suggested that a great way to get out into the harbor and also see a bit of the residential side of Sydney was to take a ferry to Watsons Bay, and while we were there we could grab lunch at one of her favorite places, Doyle’s on the Beach.
We purchased tickets and joined the line waiting to board the ferry. After scrambling on board cameras in hand we found spots near the railing. Soon, with sea spray in our hair and grins on our faces, we were scooting past the Prime Minister’s house and the lovely residential areas that border Sydney Harbor.
We piled off the boat at Watsons Bay and immediately spied Doyle’s…you can’t miss it, it’s right at the end of the boardwalk. We were lucky enough to get a table outside and were immediately immersed in the harbor scene. Couples strolling by hand in hand, children playing peek-a-boo with the gentle waves, families loading their boats to go out for the afternoon. We exhaled all of the stress of the city and inhaled the laid back, sunny atmosphere.
Doyle’s is known for their seafood, so it should come as know surprise that’s what we ordered. Though I have to say, I tried to be good and ordered my fish grilled and later regretted it when I saw the crisp, golden fish and chips delivered to the next table! Memo to self, (if a place is know for their fried fish, get the fried fish.)
They are also known for their Sangria, though theirs is way different from mine. But, it got me to thinking about Sangria and the warm summer days ahead and all the guests that I’d like to invite over for Sunday Supper. Sangria is perfect paired with summer and friends.
Soon we were in a happy food coma and on our way back to Sydney which seemed like a world away, but as you can see, was surprisingly close.
I’ve made this simple recipe for years and have tried adding this and that which made the flavor more complex, but no one liked it as much as the original.
The secret to my Sangria? First, NEVER make and serve Sangria. This is something that needs to sit and let the flavors blend for at LEAST 8 hours, but preferably overnight. The other secret? Take all of the lovely rinds that you’ve just squeezed the juice from and put them BACK in the pitcher. Then, after they’ve had a nice long stay in the fridge, strain this mixture into another pitcher, add a few slices of fruit and/or mint for decoration and serve. It will just glow with citrus flavor and is pretty to boot.
Now, I personally like white Sangria, but some folks love red wine…if that’s you, please go right ahead and substitute red wine…and you don’t need to buy the best bottle… a nice, modestly priced, fruity wine will do. For mine, I like to use Sauvingon Blanc.
Susie's Simple Sangria Recipe
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
A fruity, fresh drink for a sunny day.
1 bottle fruity white/red wine
2 oranges (I use organic) washed
1 lemon (also organic) washed
1 lime (also organic) washed
3 tablespoons simple syrup
10 oz. soda water
Slices of oranges, lemon, lime and mint (optional) for garnish
In a large pitcher add wine. Squeeze the juice of the oranges, lemon and lime into the pitcher. I use an old fashioned juice squeezer to do this, but you can use an electric juicer or by hand is fine. Add the rinds from all of the fruit. Add the simple syrup and stir. Now, pop it into the fridge and hopefully you can wait 24 hours...if not, at least 8.
To serve: Strain Sangria into a new pitcher. Fill 6 glasses with ice, pour in an equal amount of soda into each glass, then pour in Sangria. Garnish with slices of oranges, lemon or lime and mint (optional).