Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Everything in the garden is lovely.

Well, right now it isn’t. Right now, it’s a blistering 36 centigrade at just half past eleven in the morning. Summer, true summer, is finally here and out in the garden, the yellowing leaves and drooping stalks attest to the unrelenting Western Australian heat.

But I’m not writing about my garden today. 

There’s a little corner of Fremantle where I like to go because I have friends there and because their gardens are that happy mix of form and function that I can only dream about. I have every admiration for people whose gardens are full of little crops and fruiting trees; where the water from the laundry goes straight onto the banana plants and where the happy ranks of nodding sunflowers are destined to become chicken feed eventually.

Such a garden is Katy’s garden in South Fremantle where we went for a truly memorable meal the other day. I have been privileged to watch this garden transform since Katy bought the house just under a year ago and am even luckier to have been able to be on the receiving end of the goodies it is now producing.

A shady veranda is a good place to drink a cold glass of sparkling wine on a hot day. Home-grown cumquats, preserved in vodka and spices, gave a great marmalade taste when the fruit and the liquor were added to improvise a cocktail as well as providing a golden Christmassy colour. It is the season to be jolly and after six or so glasses of marmalady fizz, jolly is all that you can be.

 Drunken cumquats
 Cumquat & liqueur in a glass (and a bit of free promotion for Happs Winery in Margaret River...)
 Golden cocktail

Once the sun is down, however, the back garden, a wide space, flanked by eucalypt and Norfolk pine, and with brick-edged beds of veggies, was also pleasant as the Fremantle Doctor rolled in off the ocean.

Our meal came from the veggie beds in front of us and from the chicken coop at the side of the house. A fluffy frittata was the tasty combination of heirloom tromboncino and the eggs which Kay, Effie and Celia (the names are a chicken joke, you work it out) had laid.

 Curly tromboncino

The cherry tomatoes were superb. Pulled from a vine outside the kitchen door and slow-roasted in herbs and olive oil, they were sweet and flavoursome and my favourite part of the whole meal.

 Sweet scarlet tomatoes

The salad was home-grown peppery rocket with shaved parmesan. Once again, the freshness was so apparent in the crispness of the greens. 

 Homegrown deliciousness

As darkness fell, Katy got out a mosquito coil (it’s a West Australian summer – you have to keep things real) and some dessert wines. We had the choice between a Redgate white port and a Talijancich 10 year white liqueur. We decided on the latter because it smelled of Christmas pudding and it went down so well with coffee.

 A Tale of Two Stickies

 Vintage glasses

If there is anything better than good simple tasty food and plenty of good wine to drink, with friends, outside, in the summer, I have yet to find it.

I came away with a box of fresh eggs, a full tum and a wonderful sense of well-being. Yes, everything in the garden was indeed lovely - the food, the setting and the friends.