Sunday, December 09, 2012

A Saturday Night Alone

Just the two of us - the boys went to a music festival in the country. Not a country music festival but something more to their liking as 20 somethings.

So Sue and I are home alone - just the two of us. "Why don't we do that cooking thing that we do sometimes", I said - she said, "you mean you want ME to do that cooking thing that I do sometimes?"
Well, really, I take the photos, write the blog and wash up afterwards........

We drove my father Jack to the airport in the arvo to catch his plane to where he lives with my sister in sunny Gold Coast, Queensland. A slight detour on the way home took us to the Prahran Market to buy duck and a few other ingredients for that thing that Sue does sometimes. A lovely bottle of wine, a Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley suited the duck perfectly. We bought this from our favorite wine shop, Dan Murphy which has a great selection of worldwide wines. We selected the Pinot from the Yering Station label.
The Yering Vineyard was the first to be established in Victoria. It's maybe 50 to 60 kms from home.
Here's a link to their website;

A Pinot Noir from
 the Yarra Valley.
Perfect with Duck
Yering Station History
Victoria’s first vineyard was planted at Yering Station in 1838. The Scottish-born Ryrie brothers ventured into the Yarra Valley as they moved their cattle south from Sydney. Taking up a grazing license of 43 000 acres, they named the property ‘Yering’, its Aboriginal name. The Ryrie’s planted two varieties, the Black Cluster of Hamburg and a white grape variety called Sweetwater. During the early 1850’s they returned to Sydney and Paul de Castella took ownership of Yering Station, developing the property from what remained primarily a cattle station into a landmark of winemaking in Victoria. 

Paul de Castella arrived in the Yarra Valley after traveling from his home town- the Neuchatel district in Switzerland. Many Swiss settled in the Yarra Valley around this time due to the sympathetic presence of the Victorian Governor’s wife, Sophie La Trobe, who also came from the region. Without them, the story of wine in the Yarra Valley would have been very different.

During the 1850’s Yering Station began to take shape. Paul de Castella extended the vineyards and cultivated the varieties with new cuttings imported from France. The winery was built to accommodate brand new equipment imported from the 1859 Bordeaux Exhibition in Paris. A new house and garden were constructed and an avenue of 330 elms was planted along the driveway to welcome De Castella’s bride.

Just a heads up on the different colours - I may have mentioned that Sue talks in green..........
Whenever we go to the Prahran Market, Sue always finds something else to whack in the pantry.
This time it was a bottle of Merlot Verjuice. She uses it as an ingredient in sauces and to deglaze pans that meat has cooked in.
I think she might already have some Maggie Beer Verjuice - Maggie is from the Barossa Valley in South Australia also markets Pates, Quince Paste and Gourmet Ice Creams.
My favorite shop ever is at Prahan Market. It is called Essential Ingredient and carries everything you could think of for cooking as well as many things you could never think of!
We arrived back home to unpack and the first thing was to pour a glass of wine and relax - no one home but us two oldies. YES!!!!!

Sue's menu for the night is always my favorite and we've posted on it before but it was a winter meal last time.
This time duck breast and crispy potatoes cooked in duck fat had a summer edge to it.
A salad joined the duck this time - the salad consisted of watermelon chunks, mint leaves and feta cheese with a dash of balsamic to tart it up a little. It's a bit of a twist on a Nigella Lawson thing but she uses black olives where Sue chucked in the feta. On a balmy night in Melbourne's summer, it was very refreshing.

OK, here we have watermelon, gorgeous and sweet at this time of the year, with feta cheese and mint for the salad. I have plenty of mint in the garden, but it was 36 degrees with a hot gusty wind, and I thought we might get home to find it looked very sad. Also some kipfler potatoes, my favorites to cook in duck fat as they're very waxy and crisp up well.
Waxy, well dried,  with a high heat, (Diane).
The duck breasts still have the first wing bone attached. Probably because it weighs heavier for the butcher. Go on,  call me cynical. I have scored it so the fat will render. Please note I used the wonderful Sabatier knife I bought in Marseille on our last trip. Wish I'd bought two!
My current favorite, watermelon, feta and mint with balsamic.  Made some canapes for a friend's party recently, and made this and served it as a mouthful on Chinese spoons. Nice.
The finished product with the duck breast, crispy skin and golden crispy potato slices but the watermelon, feta and mint salad just added that freshness on a 30 plus degree evening. I had made an aioli the previous night, and that went very well indeed with the duck. Then again, garlic goes with everything, I think. Well, almost.
A dessert of mango, rasberries and blue berries. Served it over vanilla ice cream. Oh yum. I LOVE summer fruit.
I ate the leftovers for breakfast this morning!
There was much more to our Melbourne Weekend but being home, just the two of us on a Saturday night while watching for the fourth time, the West Wing DVD series might sound boring to some, but to us, it was so relaxing.

Anyway its time to get ready to go out and meet friends for a BBQ and to help celebrate another 60th birthday - Oh, we are social butterflies... Back to reality and work tomorrow.

And to conclude:

With apologies to Diane in France who has crappy broadband.


  1. I never heard this song before but it is a nice one. What I like about older songs, is the memory of a more "innocent" time.
    That meal looks really delicious. What a good idea for a summer night to make watermelon with feta and mint!
    (You guys really know how to live. I raise my glass to the cook [and the bus boy]).

    1. We raised many glasses on the night Nadege. Why don't you find time to start a blog. I'm sure you would have lots to share.

  2. Yep you are right, crappy broadband :-))) That meal looks stunning from beginning to end, Sue you are a fantastic cook and Leon is just so lucky. Keep well D & N

    1. I thought I might just ask Sue to consider posting "A week in the kitchen" posts. What do you think - or maybe I have an ulterior motive.

    2. I would be very happy if Sue did a whole blog just with some of her fantastic recipes. Even if it was only once a fortnight or so I would be following straight away. Diane


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