Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Weekend in Melbourne

We figure that the weekend starts on Friday nights and this Friday was no exception - I rang home on the way and Sue said she was feeling a cooking thing coming on.
Most of our readers probably know how much we enjoy duck, well it was on the menu but I'll ask Sue to tell you it was prepared - just have to say it was the very best.

I have to say I feel embarrassed to speak about cooking duck when I know we have people from France reading this blog. Never mind..we like it and I'm learning.
The guy at the shop got two ducks and cut the breasts off for me. They had the top part of the wing with bone still attached. Not what I really wanted, but I'm sure he was happy because they weighed a lot heavier.  Go me a cynic!
Pan to get a crispy skin then in the oven for  8 minutes. We don't like them rare, just pink, medium I guess you'd say. While they rested I did a caramel with just sugar in the pan they cooked in, then stopped it cooking with red wine vinegar, then added orange juice and chicken stock. Cooked it down for a while then mounted it by whisking in a little butter (French butter, I really am a tragic)
I love muffin tins. I never make muffins! Sliced potatoes very finely and stacked them in a muffin tin, a little milk, butter and Parmesan cheese and in the oven, then turn them out and they look and taste great. I don't know what to call them. I have done them this way with cream and they are wonderful, but not this day.  I cooked some halved eschallots in EVOO with a little fresh thyme until golden, then added balsamic , covered lightly and cooked still soft.  Popped in muffin tin (did I say I love muffin tins?) topped with puff pastry and baked for 10 minutes. Instant eshallot tarte tartins. Look great, taste great, easy...winner I reckon.

The wine was from France, a Guigal Cotes du Rhone. Its a wine that brings back memories of two days in Vienne on the Rhone river just south of Lyon.

Dinner for three, our son Mitchell has developed a palate for good wine and food at 23.
From across the Rhone from Vienne - a favourite of ours, especially with duck.
Available from Uncle Dan's (Dan Murphy) at less than $20

Saturday started out as one of those perfect sunny mornings as we drift towards autumn. I'm sitting here on Sunday writing this blog and listening to Beatles songs while the rain drizzles down our study window.
That's Melbourne - they say that if you are bored by the weather, wait for an hour and it will change.
Back to Saturday morning - the bay was still, no wind and Beach Road was full of people enjoying this part of heaven on earth. Joggers, walkers, cyclists all enjoying the early morning. I like to do an early morning ride to coffee at 6.30 am before our "real ride". We stop at a little cafe in Brighton on North Road. My friend Darren told me that the Cafe started as the local sailing club's boat shed and that the beach actually came much closer. Reclaimed land is now a car park.
The view from the Cafe extends across the bay to Melbourne central and the Westgate bridge that links the west of Melbourne is an imposing site on the horizon.

My mate Darren wanted to do another ride after our "real ride" in the late morning that took us back to Brighton Beach. As we rode along in the balmy morning sunshine, we noticed many keel boats on the bay - there was a race about to start.

From the point where we stood, we could see the start of the race, but then I looked back over my shoulder and there were two Brighton Beach historic icons. Brighton Beach railway station and the Royal Terminus Hotel (1840s).

The hotel was supposedly the second hotel established south of the Yarra river. Back then it was a fair distance from Marvelous Melbourne and was in fact bailed up by Bushrangers back then.

Brighton Beach station based on Wikipedia information was opened December 21, 1861. The area was a popular bayside destination from its inception and many grand homes still stand in the area - many have also tumbled under the wrecking ball to make way for some very bland modern homes.

The tram also was another way to get to Brighton Beach - the line running from St Kilda. It no longer exists, nor does the the pier seen in the background. Just opposite the tram can be seen some brickwork just visible to the side of the road. This was a tunnel leading from the station and from my research it was a way of getting baggage from the station, directly to the  beach. Although not functional, the tunnel still can be seen from the beach.

Taken in 1982, Brighton Beach Station. To the right shows where the line came to an end until the government extended the line to Hampton and  then to Sandringham, seen to the left.

The entrance to the Brighton Beach Railway Station.
 On the foreshore of Brighton Beach and further up the bay to Beaumaris a bluestone retaining wall was built during the Great Depression to relieve unemployment. The bluesto ne blocks came from Melbourne's Old Gaol. Some of these blocks have initials and dates on them. They signify the initials and dates of inmates of the Old Melbourne gaol who were hanged and buried there. Many of the bones were exhumed and reburied at Pentridge Gaol in Coburg. Infamous Bushranger Ned Kelly was one. On being hanged, its said his last words were "Such is Life".

Next month in Melbourne is the MELBOURNE FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL and runs from March 4 to 14. Do I have a chance of not being there with Sue - NO!!!!!! CLICK HERE for more


  1. Mmmmmmm I love duck and what a brilliant idea for potatoes in a muffin tin. Love all the bits of Brighton history, wish I could join you for the wine festival! Diane

  2. Diane,
    Maybe one day you can come to Melbourne for the Festival - OR, you can follow it on our blog..
    Its 9.30 pm and time for bed - early morning start.

  3. Like Diane I would also like to join you for the wine festival! Still as you say we can enjoy it virtually, the duck looks delicious and those beach huts remind me of Southwold!

  4. Sue - those shallot tatins look delicious. I shall write the details in my little recipe book and try them for myself. And I love the way of cooking potatoes in a muffin tin. I shall definitely try that myself, too - they sound like mini dauphinois.

    Leon - that picture of the beach hut is great.

  5. She's very creative with food isnt she?

    Those colourful beach sheds litter the bay area in Melbourne and sell for amounts in the 80K - 100K plus.


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