June 2010 - alvers.info

Just a place for my old thoughts

Ok, no more wine. Really.
Monday, 28 June 2010 1:12 am

A quick recap on the weekend. Friday I had another crack at mushroom risotto, this time with smoked chicken. I think that the flavour that I am looking for is mushroom and duck so I'll just have to keep an eye open for duck breast.

Saturday we actually had a pretty lazy start to the day then packed, boxed the cats and headed for Serena's. After a very nice lunch we all fell asleep for a few hours. This was ahead of the "Young Guns" wine dinner that night at the Hyatt Coolum.

The evening was actually fairly mild which made the walk down there fairly pleasant. Deb had chosen to wear her new boots so let me know her considered opinion a few times about walking to the Hyatt.

I have to say that food was absolutely excellent and the wine matching was spot on. We had Kym Teusner from Teusner Wines at our table. It was great to hear from someone so passionate about what they are doing. And the menu was refreshingly devoid of Shiraz for once.

After dinner we headed outside to the bar where Tim from Diggers Bluff and Ben from Tomfoolery were in full form after a days 'golfing'. At about 1am I could see that it was either time to retreat or charge. I will admit that I took the side of caution and we headed back to Serena's for tea, vegemite toast and eventually sleep.

I have to say that I was feeling fairly good in the morning but knew that damage control was definitely going to be a requirement. So a couple of panadol and then out for a big breakfast at Fratellini Ristorante at Sunshine Beach. There food is a little outside of the normal and very good.

This is what a BIG BREAKFAST looks like...

Now, no more wine for me for a while and I am sure my liver will start speaking to me again at some point.

Decks and stuff
Friday, 25 June 2010 1:59 am

The builders are back, the old deck as been removed and is now being replaced. The new builder is the owners son, whom I am told will take over the business. So far the work seems to be going well. They have substantially changed the design of the railings to return to some of the style of the original railings.

So tonight when we get home from work we should hopefully see the results and I am so very very hopeful that we will be impressed.

Tomorrow we have a wine makers dinner up at Coolum so we're headed up the coast in the morning to Serena's. That comes after Wednesday night at Anita & Simon's for a dinner and wine tasting. That had about 20 people so it was actually a really good exercise to see how it was done.

With that in mind we've started our planning for the Christmas in July dinner. When you start talking about steak in terms of kilograms you know it is going to be interesting.

Friday, 25 June 2010 3:52 am

Really looking forward to Christmas in July! :)

Friday, 25 June 2010 12:29 pm

It's more terrifying when you start talking about how many grams of potatoes, onions and beans per person. And then multiplying by fourteen.

Not to mention how many bottles of wine we estimate fourteen people can drink...

The saga of our deck
Monday, 21 June 2010 5:36 am

Ok, so Deb mentioned, and posted some pics, of the progress of our decks. I had worked from home for few days over the last couple of weeks to keep an eye on the progress. As a general rule it seemed to be going OK.

By OK I mean it was undertaken how I am starting to expect all trades people do things. Fairly quickly and without a massive regard to the aesthetic finish. You know, a couple of extra nail holes or a bit of scuffed wood. "It'll be right...". That sort of thing.

So I was away in Sydney for the last part of last week but Deb was sending me pictures and telling about the progress when she got home. It seemed ok from the pics even when Deb had some concerns about knot holes in the wood. It wasn't until I got home on Friday night and checked it out that the real horror of the finish hit me.

I won't give you a full listing of the problems but apparently I said "Amateur Hour" and "Monkey with a nail gun" enough times that even Deb was saying it. Most of the timber was damaged at some level from either defects, rough handling or plain out damage. The pickets were different lengths, spacings and alignments and they had managed to crack the chamferboards on the house in a couple of places. And that is just the big stuff.

So Saturday we called the builder and left a message and then drafted up an email listing the issues and sent that off. By the time I had compiled the list and hit send I had no choice but to say that we wanted all work to stop until it had been inspected by the builder.

I got a call back shortly after but I don't think he'd read the email. The builder said he could be out Monday. Not perfect but fair enough. By Sunday morning he must have read the email because he offered to come straight out and inspect the work. On arriving I tried to remain calm and he was probably in fear of another "Nit Picking Client" showing him every splinter and missed nail.

After about 2 minutes of me pointing out the faults...(and asking about Monkey's with nail guns)...he just shook his head and offered to remove all the new railings, send out his head builder and start it all over again. I agreed and he high-tailed it out of the place. He was very very very embarrased at what his crew had done.

So since then he has called up to apologise three times and to tell me that he is going to make me very happy with the quality of work that he 'normally produces'. To his credit he has shown such horror at the work that he hasn't even tried to defend his crew. Heaven knows what he would say if this was someone else's work.

So, a few more days again unfortunately until we get our back deck cleared and re-started. I might even think about a new BBQ which would be perfect for our Christmas in July dinner.

Monday, 21 June 2010 6:24 am

Sent you an email

Happy Birthday to Deb
Sunday, 20 June 2010 9:51 pm

Happy birthday to Deb who is getting through her birthday month. We have her Mum in town for a few days and have been delighting in some very pleasant winter weather.

Yesterday we went back out to Cuttlefish at Manley and the weather and food were even better. Deb even managed to get a little sun burnt which is an achievement on the shortest day of the year.

Tonight we're off for some hardcore french food so we're really looking forward to that.

Happy Birthday Deb!

Monday, 21 June 2010 6:25 am

A great big Happy Birthday to Deb :)

Monday, 21 June 2010 11:25 pm

Can't I have a small happy birthday, the big numbers are scaring me :(.

Queens birthday sailing
Monday, 14 June 2010 11:42 pm

I can't believe that it has been a whole year since we were last sailing. As part of Deb's birthday month she asked to go out on a boat. Now, my idea of sailing is sitting around having a wine at the end of the day before a nice hearty dinner so we chartered a boat for Saturday & Sunday so we got a night out on the water.

You have to book the whole boat with a skipper so we had an extra berth available. We had invited Libbette and Jaron but Jaron couldn't make it so Shellie, Libbette's sister, came along instead. Everyone seemed to have a great time.

We chartered the boat from Southern Cross Yachting who are the group we did our comp crew training with last year. It was good going through a training school because the skipper, Rob, took plenty of time to actually teach us something about sailing. It also meant that the time could be logged against future training.

We had put together a shopping list which Serena picked up for us on Friday. We did a fairly accurate job of groceries with only a few of the dry items not being eaten. We did over-do the wine but better to be safe than sorry.

Given that the weather was supposed to be a little wild the weekend turned out beautifully. No rain and very little swell make for very nice conditions. On the first day though we started out well but the winds dropped off after lunch and by early evening the water was like glass.

After a few drinks I headed below and made my carbonara (a birthday month request) for six and then Deb made mulled wine. By the time I headed to bed it felt like 1am but apparently it was only 9:30pm. Sailing sure takes it out of you...or is that just the mulled wine.

Sunday after breakfast we sailed out for the northern part of morton bay and had pretty good winds for the whole day. Deb was at the helm and we got the boat up on one side quite nicely as we ran hard into the wind.

Even Shellie and Libbette took a turn at the helm as we headed back into port Sunday afternoon. From there we cleared out the boat and headed home for a well deserved steak down on Oxford street and then an early night.

Monday was the public holiday so we just took it extra easy. Deb had crawled into a book for the day so I did a little shopping and then made fresh bread rolls with minestroni soup. I also made another batch of chocolate chip cookies but made them too large which caused them to basically collapse when I took them off the baking sheet. So I now have a box full of cookie monster vomit. Tasty, but not very attractive.

Sailing pics...
Monday, 14 June 2010 11:30 pm

Sailing pics...
Monday, 14 June 2010 11:30 pm

Sailing pics...
Monday, 14 June 2010 11:29 pm

We went sailing
Monday, 14 June 2010 11:29 pm

Well we are back from sailing and the floor has stopped rocking which is always a good thing. I'm going to post the pictures in separate items so that they all show up on our photo frame at home.

The decks are underway
Monday, 14 June 2010 11:27 pm

Well, the back deck is progressing well. I stayed home on Friday as they were putting the roof on the rear deck. The work is going well although they have had to replace the floor joists because they were so crap. So Rafficat had the most awesome playpen all weekend with piles of timber and ladders to play on. And with the decks missing the pickets she could cut the corner when going up and down the stairs. This game me the willies but she didn't seem to mind at all.

I finally managed to make bearnaise sauce
Sunday, 6 June 2010 11:15 pm

Friday night I headed home and made creamy chicken soup and fresh bread rolls. We had been out to a Japanese restuarant called Oshin for lunch and were pretty full so didn't really eat until nearly 9pm. I've been working on the bread dough recipe for a while now and with Deb's artistic assistance we quickly had eight knot rolls cooling on a wire rack. Not a bad effort.

Saturday we got the house cleaned and then Deb made chicken curry a couple of different ways to see which makes the most tender chicken. I thought that both were very good although my favorite was the one simmered in the curry sauce. With that we served dhal and chapati to make little wraps. Very very good.

Sunday I really felt like getting out of the house so we headed over to Manly for lunch. As we drove down the road beside the water we noticed a place called
Cuttlefish so we stopped and checked out the menu. They have a brilliant assortment of things that I love to eat such as platters and tapas so we gave it a go. I have to say the food was pretty outstanding. Everything was freshly prepared and delivered with some really great service. And the wine list is short but well priced. So lunch was pretty awesome.

On the way out we had dropped in at a place that has recently opened at the back of the industrial cold stores estate. They sell fresh fruit and veg as well as premium meat in semi-bulk. So we had grabbed a piece of sirloin with the intention of me attempting to make bearnaise sauce again.

I should point out that I have had a rather mixed relationship with bearnaise and it's parent hollandaise sauce. These are egg & butter sauces made into an emulsion, in the same class as mayonnaise.

I had made it a while ago, and occasionally for special breakfasts, but was never really happy with the result. As mentioned last weekend Deb managed to salvage my last attempt with an extra egg but it still wasn't right.

So for the week I have been searching the web and watching dozens of videos on Youtube in an attempt to figure out what I was doing wrong. And I got it...I figured it out. I had been expecting the heat to 'cook' the sauce and make it thicken. And previously I had cheated by adding up to 6 eggs which did ultimately stiffen. What I discovered was that you cook the egg yolks oh so very very gently over oh so very a low heat and then beat the living be'jesus out of it as you introduce melted butter dribble by dribble. I also found that my flavorings such as tarragon infused vinegar were not of sufficient quantity. So with all of that resolved I managed to make enough bearnaise sauce for 6 people that stood for 30 minutes easily while the steak was cooking. Almost an hour after dinner Deb found the sauce was still thick and holding although it had got pretty cool by then.

So yes, I can make bearnaise.

Not so fast mister...
Wednesday, 2 June 2010 5:56 am

Looks like I spoke too soon. Turns out that we have a Demolition Control Precinct directive over our property that means we are unable to modify the front without special council approval. We have hand-balled that back to the builder and will see if the BCC considers our extension to be keeping with the look and feel of the property in the area.


The decks are back on!
Wednesday, 2 June 2010 12:58 am

Over the last week the builder has been working hard to suggest an alternative approach to our deck setup. As you might remember Deb had originally found the current Brisbane City Council building codes and knew that we couldn't build within 6 metres of the back fence. I, and all the builders who quoted, thought that we could and this was the line of attack that everyone took. Then the company that we picked for the build realised that no, Deb as usual is right, and we couldn't have our new super back deck.

Not to be deterred, or miss out on the business, Mike from Add-a-Dek came up with a suggestion to extend the front patio. Add to that my 'romantic idea' of having the deck run the full width of the house and include french doors from our bedroom onto the deck and we started to see the seed of an idea.

So we just verbally accepted the revised plans and quotation. Work could start as soon as next week for repairs to our back deck. And the front is going to end up looking something like this.

And what it looks like at the moment.

Not to forget the start of the birthday month
Tuesday, 1 June 2010 1:48 am

It's that time of the year again when we take the month to celebrate Deb's birthday. As you would know I instigated the concept of celebrating your birthday for the entire month of your birthday. Just seems like a better approach really.

Anyway, we are planning to go sailing for the weekend after next, then a winemakers dinner up the coast the weekend after that then Deb's actual birthday with a table at Montrachet. Deb's Mum will be up for that one, I wonder if I can get her to eat a snail!

Yep, this is going to be a jam packed month.

I like feeding people
Tuesday, 1 June 2010 12:01 am

Well, a very food focused weekend. Friday night was chicken skewers in pita bread while we watched the new-ish Sherlock Holmes movie. Saturday was pretty rainy so we spent the day looking in catering shops and picking up wine from storage.

We also found a wholesale butchers that sells premium and wagu beef. It is probably where we'll get our cow from for the dinner party. We ended up grabbing a couple of wagu rump steaks as well to see if there is a difference to normal beef.

Then we embarked on a recipe quest to try and find the right recipe for our dinner party. I won't disclose any details but we have settled on a vegetarian version that will work a treat with red wine.

By now you would know that we love cooking. So here we were cooking up a storm on Saturday when Serena called about a trip we are putting together. It suddenly dawned on me 'Come done for dinner'. Now it is a 1.5hr drive for Serena but she happily took us up on the offer and a few hours later we were sampling our wares to pick the right option. I had also made a batch of bread rolls that turned out better than I could have hoped. I think I have my recipe pretty well nailed now in terms of texture and taste. That was all washed down with entirely too much red wine which saw me a little hung-over the next day.

Sunday was a really really quiet day. We had the builder Mike coming around in the afternoon to have another look at our house and make some suggestions on what could be done to the decks. He is now fully schooled in all the Brisbane building regulations so was able to give plenty of good advice. So we chatted about extending the front deck, fixing the back one and going from there. He headed off with those ideas and a few more measurements with a promise of having some rough sketches through the next day.

For dinner we did pesto potatoes, green beans with the wagu beef cooked medium rare. I had tried to make Bearnaise sauce but the rotten thing split and with three saucepans and premium steak going cold I gave up. Deb came to the rescue and managed to salvage the sauce but beating it back onto another egg yolk so it turned out pretty good. Deb was also testing her vegetarian main course options as well but I had filled myself up on steak and veg so couldn't really do her dish justice. Oh, and the wagu steak you ask? It is absolutely beautiful and worth the money. Given though the prices the supermarkets are charging for even basic steak it really isn't that expensive.

The late night the night before and the start of maybe Deb's residual cold laid me out on the coach and I found myself nodding off about 9pm.

Monday Mike sent through some updated plans that have me quite excited. He is going to repair and re-roof the back deck to bring it up to scratch. At the moment it is not a very pleasant place to be with the roof leaking and the hand rails falling apart. Out the front we are looking at extending the deck forward to double it's current width, running it right along in front of our bedroom, putting a roof over the whole thing and then punching french doors into our bedroom. It is going to be radical but I think it will look an absolutely million dollars and give the perfect entertainment space. We just need to see what that would cost.

Monday night Janette had swung around to drop off some towels. As I mentioned I love feeding people so it wasn't long before we had a glass of wine in her hand and Deb had conjured up a vegetarian lasagne. A simple leaf salad, a couple of glasses of red and it was all good.

Friday, 11 June 2010 4:13 am

Did you read on Montrachet's home page that it is truffle season when they reopen on my birthday? Truffles are vegetarian ;).