Michael and I finished 2006 and began 2007 with a whirlwind tour of Queensland, with much eating and a little cooking to be had. I prepared two trays of spanakopita, and my friend and host Justine and I gradually ate our way through them, in small microwaved episodes, as we finished our last week of work. I baked the very American butter pecan turtle bars for a very Australian Christmas party, a beery barbeque on the verandah of a Queenslander-style home. For our Cairns Christmas, we passed round eastern vegetarian burgers with raita, and I had a complete home-made mayo failure. The potato salad survived, but was a pale imitation of the Soulmama version. A few days later at Redcliffe, we wowed my dad with our fried brown rice and ability to give the recipe to him in seconds from my USB memory stick.
Christmas arrived a little early with a surprise package from Michael's mother, Robyn. Inside was a bunch of Oxfam goodies! Indian Chai, Za'atar, Hot Chilli Sauce, Swazi Fire Chilli Sauce, Hot Mango Chutney, and a box of five fragrant spices. I'm looking forward to blogging about our uses of these in the coming months. Some of my family members gave us an Oxfam goat, which we hope will provide food and income for a family that needs it more than we do. Michael's brother, Matt, presented us with a book that got me more excited than Michael - tempted: 150 very wicked desserts. This saw me retreating from the group for at least half an hour, absorbing page after page of luscious, chocolately photos. Watch this space as I recreate them!
I visited some old favourite restaurants (most notably Punjabi Palace, my local Indian takeaway with the killer korma; and Babylon Restaurant, with the largest Turkish banquets you will ever encounter), discovered some new eating (the Green Ant Cantina in Cairns) and adventuring (the incredible new Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane). Many of our favourite folks took us out on the town, prepared fabulous food and company at home, or gave us a bed for the night. We're grateful that we know so many generous people.