Summer

Summer

By
Annie Smithers
Contains
4 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781743792643
Photographer
Patricia Niven; Illustrations: Robin Cowcher

In my little world, summer days exist in three parts: the cool of the morning, the respite of the evening, and the long bit in the middle. Most of the blazingly hot middle part of the day is spent in the kitchen. It doesn’t seem to matter what’s going on outside, a restaurant kitchen is always hot in the summer. And I actually don’t mind this; the sweat and the toil make me feel really alive.

The cool of the morning is the most wondrous part of the day. Tommy and I walk daily down a meandering path that rarely changes. For most of the year we walk so early that it’s still dark, but for the duration of summer we get to actually see where we are walking. The little village of Malmsbury is an old settlement in Australian terms. It is a tiny town with extraordinary evidence of man’s strength, ingenuity and vision: an amazing multi-arched bluestone railway bridge, an old botanic garden where Europe still tries to flourish in the antipodes, and a water reservoir with a dam wall of bluestone cut and laid entirely by hand. I often think of the men, long-since dead, who created this legacy. I wonder how harsh the world would have been for them, and why they saw Malmsbury as such a promising site when now, 150 years later, it is a tiny hamlet, quietly existing among the grandeur of its structures. It’s a beautiful walk, and a quiet time to reflect on what the new day will bring. Once home, Tommy and I busy ourselves in the garden, picking and sorting fruit and vegetables for the day, before the relentless heat descends and picking anything becomes a waste of time.

The evenings are devoted to watering – watering everyone and everything. Those big cats, Fenn and Kitten, appear from wherever they have been hiding from the heat, and chase and tumble and fight as I drag the hose from one garden bed to the next. When they’ve finished their boisterous routine, Kitten will usually assume his position on my shoulder to get a bird’s eye view of the world and Fenn will roll endlessly in the loose gravel of the paths, scratching his back on the grit. Tommy trots up and down the paths, looking for lizards or vermin that may be silly enough to come out for an evening stroll while he is on patrol.

Sometimes, during those long, languid summer nights, I wish my world was a little different. If only it were possible to pick up my restaurant and put it in my garden. I can think of nothing nicer than starting a long casual evening of feasting as the sun begins to set in the western sky. A barbecue, a wood-fired oven, a long table set and ready for company. Plenty of Champagne, beer and chilled rose. And glorious platters of simple food, whether it be French farmhouse or something a long-gone quarry master might have eaten. Some say that food is simply the fuel that we need to survive. But who wants to go to all that trouble just to survive? Good food and the joy of cooking is all about the pursuit of love – the love of friends and family and those you strive to make happy.

Recipes in this Chapter

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