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).
I’d like to thank all of you who are checking in again to view this post as it was meant to be seen last Sunday. Next week, I’ll be back with more tales from Down Under.
I have had a love affair with Charleston, South Carolina all of my adult life . I was swept off my feet in an instant while walking beside the elegant, architectural matrons on the Battery, peering like a voyeur into the walled, moss covered gardens filled with languid camellias and trickling fountains. Oh, and let’s not forget the food! I was a novice to sweet oysters and rich she crab soup till then, which became the prelude to many culinary adventures. I fell hard for Charleston, and the romance continues to this day. Many years later I share my love with someone who just might love Charleston even more than I do, my daughter Dana.
She was a little girl on her first visit and we thought that she would enjoy a carriage ride. Now, not every carriage gets to go to the “must see” areas. At that time, your tour locale was picked by chance. That morning, the driver turned to the cute, dark haired girl at the front of the carriage and asked her to pick a name out of his hat and as luck would have it, Dana picked the desirable Battery and College of Charleston tour. We drove through Charleston’s lush beauty and listened to its history. Little did we know at the time, our personal history would be entwined with this special city forever.
A few years passed and our next visit was when Dana was looking at colleges. Within the first 10 minutes, Dana announced that the College of Charleston was where she wanted to go. We went on to visit the “backups”, but we all knew that she had fallen under the spell of Charleston and her best Christmas gift that year was her acceptance letter.
If you’re not familiar with the College of Charleston, then you wouldn’t know that graduation is on Mother’s Day weekend. The year of Dana’s graduation there was a new President at the College and he announced that something that had never happened in the 200 plus year history of the school was about to take place. We were wondering what that might be, when staid, classical music began the procession of new graduates from the stage… all of a sudden it was replaced with the Beatles “Roll over Beethoven”…and then, very appropriately they were playing “Charleston.” The whole mood lighten and it was befitting when some students began dancing off the stage. The “Charleston” (song and dance) will always be associated with this lively city and of course, the Jazz Age.
So, in honor of the many special Mother’s Days I’ve spent in Charleston, for this week’s Sunday Supper I’d like to raise a glass to mothers everywhere, a glass filled with a cocktail that might have been served during the Gatsby Era…the Pink Lady. There has been a resurgence in classic cocktails lately, this one looks so demure, but don’t be fooled, back in the Roaring Twenties the main ingredient was bathtub gin!
Charleston Pink Lady Cocktail Recipe
- 3 Jiggers Gin (I recommend using Hendrick's Gin)
- 1 1/2 Jiggers Heavy Cream
- 1 Jigger Applejack
- 1 Teaspoon Grenadine (I recommend using Jack Rudy Cocktail's Grenadine)
- Handful of ice
- Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker or jar with lid. Shake vigorously. Strain into cocktail glasses. Serve.
Return to Sunday Supper
My family and I have been dreaming about traveling to Australia for a long, long time. We’ve wanted to travel there ever since our Australian exchange student, Hayley, arrived years ago telling us stories about koalas in her backyard and penguins on her beach. In Australia, many backyards flow right into the bush making sightings of kangaroos and koalas as common as squirrels and robins in Chicago.
Our journey did not start in the bush though. We landed in cosmopolitan Sydney and were lucky enough to stay right smack in front of her most recognizable icons: the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge.
Day 1, we were led through the historic area known as “The Rocks” by our extremely knowledgeable guide, Margaret. She introduced the tour by saying that she would like to “thank America!” For what, we wanted to know? It seems that the American Revolution put a damper on British plans to make the U.S. a penal colony. When we were no longer available for that task, Britain decided to send its criminals to Australia instead.
After an extremely long and horrible sea voyage, the convicts (or should I say offenders because some did nothing more than steal a loaf of bread) were unloaded upon the unforgiving “rocks.” What followed was a life of incredible hardship and hard work by the men AND the women. Eventually, some of the prisoners became gentry…some were kind, some were not, but Australia was born.
Looking at the city today, what you see is a bright multinational conglomerate of sights, sounds and culture. Our first stop was at an Italian café for cappuccino and pizza…not what I thought would be our first meal in Australia!
Like any big city, the food scene varies. We are not much for high end “sit on your hands” meals that are highly touted and very expensive…we’d rather search out the hidden gems where locals eat. Since we were in the middle of the tourist mecca, this wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be, but thanks to local recommendations, including our guide Margaret, we found our way to Fish at the Rocks. There we found bright flavors and a casual atmosphere.
Of course, seafood was the focus, but presented with a bit of Asia flair. Dana had a dish similar to this for her entrée (which in Australia is your appetizer); your main course is fittingly called your “main.” Even though it is Autumn in Australia I think that this dish would be perfect for a warm Spring Sunday supper with your family and friends.
Curried Crab Salad with Apple and Fennel Recipe
Yield: 4 dinner servings, 8 appetizer servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
A light fresh salad with a touch of curry, apple and fennel.
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (use remaining juice from lemon to squeeze over apples slices)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon curry powder
1 pound can of fresh crab meat (pick over to make sure there are no remaining bits of shell)
1 Granny Smith apple, sliced
1 large bulb of fennel, sliced
1 stock of celery, minced
fennel tops for garnish
After slicing the apples, squeeze the remaining lemon juice over them to prevent browning, stir to coat them evenly.
Whisk the mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest and curry together till well blended. Fold in crab meat, apple, fennel and celery.
Chill, garnish with fennel tops and serve. I prefer to chill overnight to let the flavors really blend, but it can be served immediately if you need to.
I found this little “recipe” written on a creased, well worn 3 x 5 note card tucked into my mother’s recipe file under “miscellaneous”. I thought that it would be perfect to share with you on this Easter Sunday. I hope you agree that this recipe is the perfect treat to serve your family and friends today and every day.
A heaping cup of Kindness
Two cups of Love and Caring
One cup of Understanding
One cup of Joyful Sharing
A level cup of Patience
One cup of Thoughtful Insight
One cup of Gracious Listening
Mix ingredients together
Toss in Smiles and Laughter
Serve to Everyone you know
With Love forever after
Wishing you all a very special Sunday supper with your family and friends today.