In keeping with the ocean theme of the last few weeks I thought I would dig out this tale from a couple of years ago, but firstly you need to meet a few more of the Coolatai characters.
Col you have already come across as he stumbled down the dungeon with us. Then there is Reg who builds small planes (www.aerokits.net.au), which we may, or may not, have referred to as flying lawn-mowers in the past. And then there are Al and Lis, who run one of the finest properties in the district.
Ever since Al found out Brian used to be an abalone diver he has been nagging. What’s an abalone? What do they look like? What do you they taste like? I’ve never tried one. I want to try one, Brian. All this delivered with incessant clapping of the hands and an increasing volume of voice.
So Brian relented.
Being land-locked here at Rocky Springs we obviously needed some assistance in procuring the seafood. Enter the magnificent Brownes. Keith Browne and Brian used to dive for abalone out of Eden. Kath Browne is one of my best friends, united as we are in the affliction of being married to Kiwis. Together Keith and Kath have established South Coast Sea Urchins , processing the roe from sea urchins and sending it flying around the country. Keith also still dives for abalone.
Recently some of that sea urchin roe (kina) and abalone (paua) flew to our nearest airport at Moree – an hour and a half a way. Being exquisitely fresh (caught two days prior) and exquisitely expensive ($43 per kg for abalone in the shell and $100 per kg for kina) we didn’t want to stuff around getting it home so Brian hopped in the Rocky Springs corporate jet with our private pilot (Reg) and picked it up.
Then to the table were invited Reg, Col, Al and Lis. We split the price of the seafood and freight to Moree. Reg, of course, supplied air transport to Rocky Springs, Col supplied premium New York cut grass-fed steak, Al and Lis provided wines befitting fine cropping country and Brian and I catered, hosted and cooked.
That meant I had to do housework (thank goodness for visitors, otherwise it would never get done).
We went all out with white linen, matching cutlery and wine glasses from our engagement party many moons ago. The veranda was swept, cobwebs removed, bougainvillea strategically placed and candles arranged.
However, we told our guests, “this is not just a meal, this is an experience”. We set about educating them at the same time. The table became littered with souvenir diving postcards. Abalone shells were on display along with Dad’s commercial fishing licence. Newspaper articles from 1985 were removed from storage and the “Diving and Subaquatic Medicine” bible was dusted off. Even Dad’s diving partner, Cuts, was represented with his laminated diving card. The night morphed into a celebration of our connection to the sea.
We also told our guests that as it was to be a five-star dining experience their attire should be appropriate. I put on a dress although there are no photos to prove it but Col missed the message and turned up in jeans. We let him in anyway (well, he had the steak, didn’t he?).
The sun went down, the candles were lit, the guests arrived and the seafood extravaganza commenced.
A tapas selection of fresh “A” grade West Island Kina, caught in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria.
Kina butter and cucumber on French bread; Steak on a bed of salad with kina sauce; Natural kina roe
Fresh black-lip and tiger abalone, caught on Big Pressure reef NSW, lightly sautéed in olive oil.
Brigalow Park New York Cut steak with Rocky Springs Jack Daniels sauce, served with potato wedges and a salad of red onion and tomato, drizzled with tropical lime chilli salad dressing.
Sticky date pudding with cream and cointreau.
Expressions of interest are now being taken for the next paua and kina night.