I am a meat eater. I eat kangaroo and I eat bacon. I eat whatever is indigenous to the culture I am visiting.
This morning I ate fake bacon. It was my first time.
That’s because I’m staying with an Australian family that is variously meat-free, gluten-free and dairy-free. Two of them left the house this morning for a two-week sojourn. I faced a kitchen of intriguing leftovers including bacon-style rashers.
First, the heritage building (a bakery in 1886) is neatly positioned at the foot of the daunting Willunga Hill. The long, winding hill is challenging enough to be part of the route for the annual Tour Down Under road bike race.
Many MAMILS (Middle-Aged Men In Lycra) pedal up the hill on their road bikes. Sometimes they pause here for a fuel stop and I get a chance to chat with them. It’s kinda fun because I’ve worked and written on the bike industry and know more than the average gal about cycling; but they wouldn’t know that looking at my borrowed Fluid sidewalk bike.
Second, owner Bec is friendly as could be and she’s included bicycles as part of the outdoor decor.
Third, La Terre serves a fantastic, all-day breakfast. There’s a wonderful chef/baker in the kitchen who concocts a hearty, meaty “Farmer’s Breakfast” that includes bacon, sausage, greens, grilled tomato, mushrooms, potatos, eggs, toast and a marvelous sweet tomato chutney.
It’s a breakfast I can count on to sustain me when I roll out in the 40-degree Celsius heat for a practice-run of cycle-touring South Australia later this month.
They invited us to join them for a coffee and tour of their heritage home the next day.
Willunga’s Old Post Office and Telegraph Station
While Leith made coffee, Sue led us through the 160-year-old building and pointed out odd features.
For example, the City council at the time taxed buildings according to how many windows they had. When it came time to build an addition for the new telegraph station, the builders added a large glass doorway, but blocked in a window space next to it.
Apparently, you didn’t get taxed for doors.
Wine, quince and a surprise
The four of us settled into the front verandah and Sue and Leith started telling hilarious stories about their days as tour guides and hosts in Adelaide.
Leith disappeared and then reappeared with tall flutes of sparkling red wine.
After the second or third bottle, Leith brought out a tray of local cheeses, home-baked crackers, and his very own quince chutney paste. He told us he named it “Black Ninja” after his little black cat.
Leith makes the quince in small batches, and local wineries snap it up to offer at their own cellar door tasting rooms.
I told a few stories of my own and when Leith heard me say that I’d like to get on a motorcycle to sightsee South Australia, he made a call.
A few minutes later Brett arrived on his Harley-Davidson and asked if I wanted to go for a ride. Did I?
I jumped on the back and Brett roared us out of town, along the winding B34 to Myponga (map), and then north along the coastline back into Willunga.
When we landed I asked Brett what our top speed was. 160 kilometres per hour, he answered.
It was nearing 5 pm and Mémé begged off our spontaneous dinner plans, saying she needed to be elsewhere.
Sue, Leith and I crossed the road to the Old Bush Inn, which locals call “the top pub” because there are two other pubs on the same road, on the same side of the street, further down the hill. Naturally, they are Willunga’s “middle pub” and “bottom pub.”
Leith told us it was “Rump and Red Night”—a roast beef dinner with a glass of wine for $18.
Brett whipped home and reappeared at the pub with a gift bag for me. I opened it and gingerly pulled out almost three metres (nine feet) of snake skin.
“I thought you might like it,” Brett grinned. “My Inland Python shed it.” Brett does welding, trailer repairs, and building maintenance.
It was beautiful. I gently looped the snake once, twice, three times around my neck like a boa scarf.
Brett promised to help me find a motorcycle of my own and we all settled in for a social dinner.
Jared and I watched the film and I learned—through the lens of Hollywood cinema—that the real Ned Kelly drank horse blood, hid in the Wombat Ranges, wore a suit of armour, and fetched a reward of £8,000 for his capture. Enough citizens of the time resonated with his Irish-Australian idealogy that more than 30,000 of them petitioned for his release.
After a hostage-taking, gun battle, and capture in Glenrowan, Ned Kelly died by hanging in 1880. Rumour has it that his last words were, “Such is life.”
“Okay,” I turned Jared when the film credits started rolling. “But why is a meat pie with egg and cheese on top called a ‘Ned Kelly’ pie?”
“I dunno,” he answered. “I guess we’ll have to watch the documentary too.”
We did, but my meat pie question remains unanswered.
Watch Outlawed – The Real Ned Kelly from ABC (Documentary, 52:18):
According to Bernard Salt, you are a wastrel hipster if you order smashed avocado on toast for brunch. Wrote Salt in The Australian magazine in an opinion piece titled Moralisers, We Need You! (October 2016),
“I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more. I can afford to eat this for lunch because I am middle-aged and have raised my family. But how can young people afford to eat like this?… Twenty-two dollars several times a week could go towards a deposit on a house.”
“Bernard salt can pry my smashed avocado from my cold dead hands” tweeted Simon Xmarse. “Skipped smashed avocado for breakfast this morning. Excited to buy a house next week.” responded Tony Broderick.
As a visitor from the hipster neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant in Vancouver, Canada, I have mixed feelings about this.
I’m a foreigner who really likes avocados, especially for brunch. At home it’s a treat you might see next to your eggs benny—two or three slivers of avocado alongside your heritage tomatoes and organic yams. It will not be cheap.
Here, it is a part of an admittedly expensive brunch, but that price tag includes tax, and there’s no tipping.
I admit I may be a mature hipster. But I also own an apartment with a paid-off mortgage. Does that make me a Moralizer (as Salt puts it) who is entitled to eat over-priced avocado breakfasts as I look down my nose at younger people who share my love of smashed green stuff on grainy toast?
It’s a trivial topic at first pass, but it touches on an issue that is huge to cities such as Sydney and Vancouver: housing affordability.
Hard-w0rking people can’t afford to buy a home because global market issues—foreign investment, aggressive developers, slow-moving policy-makers, and Airbnb greed—are sucking it out of their hands. These are the same hands that merely want to enjoy an open-faced vegetable sandwich.
Today I settled on a compromise: a couple of ripe, New Zealand avocados from Coles (two for $5 AUS); scooped out with a round spoon, piled on multi-grain bread moistened with Nuttelex, and sprinkled with a tasty spice mixture. A salt mixture, to be exact.
I miss out on the hipster bistro culture here in the kitchen (sorry Jared and Ruth), but I do get to defy Salt and his posse of Moralizers in my own, rebelliously East Van way.
Ice? Check. Beer? Check. Chicken and sausages? Check. Barbie? Fire it up.
It’s Sunday evening and my hosts Jared and Ruth tell me they’ve invited some friends over for a barbeque. Naturally, we’ll need some ice in the Esky (portable cooler) to keep the Coopers (pale ale) frosty.
Jared preps the retro grill, Ruth marinates the chicken, I sweep the shed (covered patio area), Delilah wipes the kids’ table, and Tilly tunes her guitar.
There’ll be three little kids running around, three guitars jamming, one dad bongo-drumming, a backyard fire burning, stars twinkling, and me pushing twigs into the fire and quietly taking it all in.
“Based at the vintage and charming Aldinga Airfield, Adelaide Biplanes is all about delivering some of the most awesome flying experiences it’s possible to imagine. From the joy and sheer romance of a gentle Waco biplane flight at 1,000 feet, along the scenic Adelaide south coast, or a vintage Tiger Moth flight with a stunning sunset as your personal backdrop, to an extreme Great Lakes biplane open cockpit Aerobatic Flight that offers a totally unique, adrenalin-pumping experience, that literally puts all your senses on overload. To the ultimate buzz of actually learning to fly at the most motivating, challengingly-fun, inspiringly-easy going and singularly safe Flying School. At Adelaide Biplanes, we have a passion for pretty much everything there is to do with aeroplanes.”
I was grounded this time, but rumour has it Santa Claus has logged a flight plan with the tiny airport. Maybe I’ll bump into the big fella next time around.
Ruth called them jaffles and I had no idea what she was talking about. I wondered if it was a blend of words like jandals. Jandals are a New Zealand contraction of “Japanese sandals,” also known as flip-flops or thongs. However, in Vancouver, thongs are a type of uncomfortable women’s underwear. Some of us call them “butt floss.”
But I digress.
this morning I cycled to the neighbouring village of McLaren Vale to buy some sensitive-teeth toothpaste that doesn’t cost 22 dollars (as I was shocked to discover at the Willunga local pharmacy).
“…one of the most sustainable, lean and delicious meats that Australia produces. Kangaroo is a 100% natural lean meat that is sustainably and ethically sourced from the open ranges of Australia. Kangaroos are free-ranging animals, the range over extensive pastoral areas of Australia, graze on natural vegetation and are harvested in their own environment…”