Columns

Fond farewell to our Kibbled King

I have just been helping Herself make this year’s Christmas cake. The Christmas puddings were made a few weeks ago and at the moment, they are sitting in the fridge waiting for the flavours to meld and develop. Actually, there are two different puddings in the fridge as we now have family members who are gluten intolerant and others who are vegan and run screaming from the room if confronted by any ingredient that, at some time in its life, has had a face. The result is that for any extended family meal, before a dish can be made, all ingredients must be scrupulously scrutinised for evidence of gluten and uttering eyelashes.

When Christmas Day dawns and we are all around the table and the puddings come steaming to the table, Herself, saint that she is, will assuage the questioning glances by indicating which of all the offerings on the table pass muster. I don’t remember Mum having to worry about such things. The food was served and if you didn’t like it, wouldn’t eat it or were philosophically opposed to currants or orange peel, then you would be assured that there was always the dog waiting for your leftovers. My fading memory suggests that the dog usually went hungry.

But back to the cake – let them eat it! I am eternally amazed at how recipes come into being. Surely there wasn’t some tireless cook who was chained to a kitchen bench, endlessly experimenting with the proportions and types of ingredients. And I cite the Christmas cake as an example.

My bench chaining was brief but in that time, I was instructed to weigh several tonnes of currants, sultanas, cranberries, raisins and candied peel. To these was added a sack of our, several kilos of brown sugar, slabs of butter, a lorry load of slivered almonds, a farm load of eggs, most of the remaining spices from Batavia, salt and all the orange juice and zest from Sunraysia. All this was poured into a cement mixer and moistened with the odd keg of Muscat, Port and Brandy. All this is now regularly churned and left to ‘prove’, ‘cure’ or do whatever a mixture like this does over night.

How on earth was this recipe concocted? Perhaps a castle was besieged and there was nothing better to do to while away the months than experiment with whatever was left in the cellar pantry. How many failed, trial Christmas cakes were fed to the chained prisoners and how much reheated and tipped over the ramparts onto the vegans below?

Eventually, perhaps over generations of trial and error, we arrived at a recipe that works. Over that time the excesses have been eliminated and what remains is a balanced, fail proof recipe. It seems that we only advance through trial and error.

I suppose the same is still going on. In the never ending quest for novelty or to gain a hat for a restaurant, chefs seem determined ‘to go where no man has gone before’. Occasionally, I glance through one of Herself’s food mags and I’m gobsmacked at some of the offerings. Why, in the name of baked beans on toast do they have to try and convince us that turnip and lime macarons are worth trying? Yes, I know I’m a boring old fart but I’d like to think that I’m a BOF with some taste and discretion.

I know that on Christmas Day, I will devour the turkey and ham, gobble up the roasted potatoes and whatever vegetables are deemed suitable. I will have a few servings of pudding, complete with delicious animal by products. Both before and after CD I will enjoy the slabs of Christmas cake, subtly complemented by shortbread and chocolate-dipped, candied orange peel. All without a politically correct thought! You see, it’s time to pass over that task to others as this is my last ‘Kibbled’ column.

It’s sobering to reflect on the fact that some of you out there were not born when I started writing ‘Kibbled”, 34 years ago. Of course, I was just a youngster at the time. We had built a house in North Warrandyte, our two kids were going to WPS, I was involved in the Warrandyte Drama Group, Herself was at the Eltham Living and Learning Centre and we were ‘happy locals’.

In my years with The Diary, under the professional editorship of Cliff Green and more recently, Scott Podmore, I have been privileged to be able to share my life with you; my joys, my gripes and reflections on life. Throughout those 34 years, Jock’s fabulous cartoons have improved whatever I have written.

I have kept copies of all my articles and one day, I will sit or lie down and read the lot to discover what sort of man I have been. Whatever I discover, I know that without Herself I would have been a lesser one.

That said, all I have to do now, is press my … last … full…stop.

ROGER KIBELL

Ah Roger, it’s a sad, sad day saying farewell to one of our greats! On behalf of the Diary I offer a heartfelt thank you for all your wonderful columns, engaging and entertaining turns of phrase. We also thank the lovely Herself for being the subject of so many great yarns. You will always be a part of the Diary. – Scott P, editor.

Wine and dine at Dolans

Say hello to our epicurean super hub

Two years after being awarded Best New Winery in Australia by James Halliday, Rob Dolan has opened his schmick new cellar door in Warrandyte South. Set on 100 acres of rolling farm- land and vineyard, and just 30 minutes from Melbourne CBD, Rob has “location, location” sorted.

The space is open seven days per week (10am-5pm) offering complementary wine tastings of 15 wines (we recommend the Black Label Four + One – a Mediterranean style blend of Grenache, Sangiovese, Barbera, Tempranillo and Shiraz sold exclusively at the cellar door).

The stunning tout was designed by Dale White and Bek Gallagher (The Public Brewery, The Cellar Door by The Public Brewery, Bekendales and The Farm Yarra Valley) and makes a statement with restored original features, reclaimed timbers and a huge wrap around recycled timber deck. Wine is available to purchase and take home or enjoy on site with picnic blankets and games such as Finska or Bocce provided free for guests.

The winery is also home to the Stone and Crow Cheese Company’s “Crow’s Nest”. Founder and cheesemaker Jack Holman may be better known for his role as head cheesemaker at Yarra Valley Dairy for the past 12 years, making him an integral part of our region’s food and wine heritage (some like to refer to him as “Cheesus”).

Ever the innovator, Jack sees Stone and Crow as a vehicle to move the Australian cheese scene forward by creating his own styles without boundaries, and this is his opportunity to be truly experimen- tal. The core range of cheeses are readily available in the cellar door to take home or enjoy as part of a platter on site. Our personal favourite would have to be the Galactic – a 1-2 week old cow’s milk cheese – think soft and delicate with bread flavours and some acidity – perfect with the True Colours Field Blend.

To complete the offering Rob has commissioned the chefs at neighbouring dining and events venue The Farm Yarra Valley to source and make in-house a selection of crackers specifically to suit Jack’s cheeses. Chef Ben Van Tiggelen has worked for the likes of Jacques Reymond, Dan Wilson and Neil Perry so knows a thing or two about sourcing the best produce.

It also doesn’t hurt to have kitchen gardens on-site that are lovingly tended to by Fabian Capomolla (aka the Hungry Gardener). Fabian also co-founded The Little Veggie Patch, the company behind the famous Pop up Patch at Melbourne’s Federation Square.

And if for some reason you still find yourself wanting more why not try something from Rob’s accompaniments range – perhaps the Cucumber Pickle or the Pinot Noir Jelly? All of his accompaniments are made exclusively for the cellar door by Caroline Grey from A Bit of Jam and Pickle.

Rob Dolan Wines Cellar Door, 21-23 Delaneys Rd, Warrandyte South. Open 7 days 10am-5pm.

Council elections arrive

Elections are underway. Look closely at the candidates…and their promises, writes Val Polley

We’re having elections again – this time it’s local government elections this month.

We don’t have to turn out and queue this time, however. It’s a postal ballot in both Nillumbik
 and Manningham but if we intend to treat it seriously there’s some work to do. Local government is the closest level of government to where we actually live. It deserves some of our time to give some attention to the candidates and their promises.

North Warrandyte sits in the Sugarloaf Ward of Nillumbik Shire Council. This is a single councillor ward and there are 14 nominations to ll the seat left vacant by Ken King who has retired. Warrandyte is included in the Mullum Mullum Ward of Manningham City Council. It sees the three sitting councillors renominating as well as a further 10 nominations for the three seats. With the move to postal ballots the only guaranteed information voters can access comes via the candidates’ own 200 or so word CV.

These can be found on the Victorian Electoral Commission website. They should also be included in the posted out papers.

If you care about the issues in Warrandyte then it pays to read through the candidates’ CVs and what they have to say on our two page spread showcasing them on pages 14-15 of the Warrandyte Diary, October 2016 edition.

There are very few public meetings, door knocks and personal interaction. Very few of us will meet our candidates before we fill out our ballot papers. It comes down to their words to capture your interest and encourage you to vote for them.

When looking for your ideal candidates there are a few things to keep in mind. Have they submitted a CV?

If so, look at what they write. Are they truly involved in the community through sport, schools, organisations or other interests or just paying lip service to community involvement? This can be a major indicator of their real interest in being a councillor. If they haven’t provided a CV then are they really serious about their chances of election?

Are they standing on just one particular issue? The work of a councillor is all encompassing and councillors have to be involved across the range of subjects that will come before them.

Do you want them to be independent or can they represent a political party?

The Greens candidates have clearly stated their allegiance. Other candidates’ possible party allegiances appear more opaque.

Are they setting preferences in their CV to benefit one particular group looking for specific outcomes? Recent Electoral Act changes were designed to eliminate the practice of dummy candidates, it remains to be seen if this will be the case.

Would you like them to live locally?

Both wards are very large and a truly local representative can often be a major asset. Incumbents enjoy a privileged position. Their names are usually more recognisable particularly if they have played a major role in the local community.

That said, do you want to re-elect a sitting councillor? Is their record good enough, how long have they served and have you been pleased with their efforts on your behalf?

Being a councillor is an arduous four year long round of meetings, decisions, negotiations and con- stituent involvement across the whole of the City or Shire. It is not for the faint hearted and indeed it is very encouraging for local democracy that so many of our fellow residents are prepared to put up their hand for the privilege of serving their community.

If we want the best possible out- come for these elections and the next four years then we must take the time and make a balanced and considered decision on how to mark that important ballot paper. If not we will have no-one to blame but ourselves if we don’t like the result.

Gold adventures

What to do when the school holidays arrive and winter has the whole family shivering in its collective boots?

You head north, hit the east coast and soak up the sun in between theme parks, that’s what. But it’s not for the faint-hearted.

A Gold Coast adventure with theme parks on the agenda in a Griswald-style escape may be an oldie, but it’s certainly a goodie and the perfect way to elude the Victorian winter chill for a week or so. With five kids – aged 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 – stacked into a people mover, the good news is cabin fever only lasts in small doses, especially if you prepare, book and deliver properly, so the “are we there yets” are few and far between. This is how we did it…

First on the list is book flights and accommodation early. For a party of seven you’re crazy if you don’t, and one of the first things you should do is be registered for updates from low cost carriers Tiger, Jetstar and Virgin. Tiger was the winner for us as we got in early and managed to snag seven return airfares for under $1200. Next on the list was self-contained accommodation and the ultimate scenario was to have a venue right smack bang near all the action – in Helensvale – so a three bedroom cabin was locked and loaded at Gold Coast Holiday Park, but more about that later. For more visit Tiger Airways, Jetstar and Virgin websites to sign up to newsletters.

Book a people mover at DriveNow for the best deal. Yep, you can’t go past this website which is akin to Wotif in the world of car hire, and we bagged a big Hyundai Imax, an eight-seater, plenty of room for suitcases, aircon and auto for less than a grand for 10 days! The process is simple in that you search for people movers in desired location and eight or 10 options pop up with the best deals. We had wheels and there was a party going on in the cabin above them! A great website that’s easy to navigate, book quickly and be all sorted for transport while away. More drivenow.com.au

Gold Coast Holiday Park, a big kick-arse cabin with the works. You can either shell out and get a fancy hotel on the Goldie or you can lower your sights and get a home away from home in a more down to earth location like a modern caravan park – which are like mini resorts these days. GCHP is not just any holiday park, but a Big 4 holiday park and anyone who has stayed at one knows exactly what I mean: they’re the upper echelon for raising the bar in facilities and standards. Aside from a superb spacious cabin, with kitchenette, bunk beds, great lounge area and widescreen TV was the fact Gold Coast Holiday Park is an entertainment hub in its own right with an amazing pool and waterslide adjoining Nibbles Cafe, an upmarket camp kitchen, bike track, tennis court, outdoor cinema and loads more. But the piece de resistance? It’s literally five minutes by car to Movieworld or 10-15 minutes to Dreamworld! All the kids admitted a holiday spent entirely at this great park would be worth the trip to the Gold Coast alone. More goldcoast holidaypark.com.au

Brace yourself for the rides of your life. The instructions were clear from the kids: leave your fear of heights back in Victoria and strap yourself in. The best thing about staying at Gold Coast Holiday Park is they can offer the best multiple park ticket deals going – a must if you want to save some serious dollars. So with our stomachs flipped upside down, sideways and round and round multiple times over the next few days what were the highlights? The kids voted Dreamworld and Movieworld and their accompanying water parks as the best for all the action. Here are some rides that rattled our bones and insides: The Giant Drop, Wipeout, Shockwave, Superman ride, Scooby Doo Spooky rollercoaster, Arkham Asylum, the Batwing, and the Tower of Terror. Speaking of which, see inset for how we grown-ups were processing the Superman ride while our two blonde teenagers in front of us were already looking for something more dangerous! Of course, there’s plenty more features to explore and absorb, including a tiger cub being walked around the grounds at Dreamworld which is a cute surprise. More movieworld.com.au and dream world.com.au

The NightQuarter night markets in Helensvale are unmissable. When you’re not kicking back in the great facilities at Gold Coast Holiday Park or going nuts in the theme parks, this market experience is an absolute treat for both grown-ups and the kids. A hive of activity, there are more than 120 food trucks/stalls, micro-restaurants, bars, craftspeo- ple, musicians and other quirky points of interest in a real carnival atmosphere. Otherwise known as “shipping container city”, the concept is catching on all over Australia. The food is everything from tapas, oysters, BBQ ribs and Asian choices to cronuts, chocolate fountains, amazing icecreams and more. More nightquarter.com.au

Warrandyte in the 1950s

Growing up in Warrandyte in the 1950s was pretty special. We had the river and the bush and a strong feeling of belonging. Call it plenty of community spirit if you like.

We McAuleys were a mongrel breed, part Irish, part German and with a bit of English and Scottish thrown in. Back then Warrandyte was still a country town but quickly developing into a suburb. My family had lived here for generations, my grandmother Eva Belzer came from German stock and attended the local stone-built state primary school that was built by my great-great grandfather William Masterton back in the 1800s. She married Sam McAuley, whose father James was born in County Tyrone, Ireland.

My grandparents set up their orchard and stable on a tract of land next to the school, raised their own livestock, baked bread and grew vegetables for their dinner table.

There was no electricity for cooking, heating or light. It was a time when people made their own music at special events such as births, weddings and wakes. My grand- father played the concertina and people danced and sang in the old homestead in the light of flickering hurricane lamps and candles. They had six children Evelyn, Gertrude, Jack, Bill, Lillian and my father Ralph, the youngest.

The family suffered many setbacks over the years, losing their home in the devastating Black Friday firestorm of 1939. Three years later, during WWII, my uncle Bill was shot dead as he led his troops across a beach in what was then New Guinea. I was proudly named William in memory of my Uncle Bill when I was born six years after the end of the war.

My father came home from WWII after serving in the Middle East and New Guinea. He met and married my mother Patricia and built our family home from fieldstone gathered in nearby hills and transported back to his building site on a horse-drawn dray.

In due course, my sister Sue and I were born and we grew up running gloriously free in the small town, through which the Yarra River meandered.

The river was the focal point of our lives. We kids met by the river, swam together in the river and with a trembling heart, when I was still as innocent as an angel, I had my first kiss by the river.

Our village consisted of a series of shops and included the Mechanics Institute Hall, the Post Office and a pub.

Across from the pub was Jack Moore’s general store. The atmospheric old shop was full of sacks of grain, hardware items and tools, glass jars filled with nuts and lollies and rows of biscuit tins. Buying a brown paper bag full of broken biscuits was a heavenly treat for us kids. Scotch fingers, Iced Vovos and Milk Arrowroots were my favourites.

The store was crammed with little treasures hiding in the shadows on the dusty wooden floor, a great place for a child to explore. Unfortunately, the old shop, a remnant from another age, burned to the ground when I was still a child; it was never rebuilt and the site has been used as a car park for the Grand Hotel ever since.

Jack Moore’s sister Aggy ran the milk bar next to the Mechanics Institute Hall, right where the community centre is today. In the late 1950s, matinees were shown at the hall every Saturday and the town’s young film-goers would gather in her shop at interval to drink the ‘spiders’ she made and to buy more Jaffas to roll down the aisles during the Hopalong Cassidy or Tom Mix feature.

Lime ‘Spiders’ were Aggy’s specialty and consisted of a scoop of ice cream stirred into a big sundae glass of lime cordial and lemonade. The delicious creamy concoction fizzed and oozed over the rim of the glass, the bubbles tickling your nose as you tried to drink it before there was too much spillage.

In June, winter rain turned the river into a muddy torrent that coursed through the valley. Rising above the yellow-brown river, the rain-misted hills were mostly capped with grey leaden skies. Winter months were cold, wet and depressing, the dullness broken only by local football matches, which were the absolute highlight.

In summer, the ever-dwindling river ran through tinder dry gum trees that shimmered in the oppressive heat. Wattle trees were laden with bright yellow blossom and the sharp scent of eucalyptus hung in the hot January air. The crack of ball on bat could be heard as the local cricket team crafted their way through another innings.

Sometimes during stinking heatwaves my father would wake me at first light and we’d drive down to the river in his 1951 Bedford truck for a swim before school. Steam rose from the cold muddy river as we waded in together to cool off. I’d cling to my father’s broad shoulders as we swam clear across the current to the tall rocky cliffs on the other side. I felt safe in the water with him.

The other local lads and I climbed cliffs and trees and dived into shallow water from heights of up to 20 metres. We were fearless and I suspect slightly mad, as we risked life and limb every day with our daredevil stunts. We congregated at a swimming hole called ‘The Log’, where a rope hung from a tall gum tree on the other side of the river. Time after time we’d swing out over the water and let go of the rope, flying like acrobats through the air as we somersaulted down into the owing brown water.

Our bread was baked in a wood fired oven in the village and delivered daily to each house, sometimes still warm. And milk was delivered each day by a local character, “Tiger” Flowers. He always wore a sleeveless Richmond Football Club guernsey.

He was our unofficial town crier: all our breaking news came from Tiger as he called out during his milk deliveries, “Mrs Chapman has had a baby boy”, or “The bush fire is coming from the north”. Though I knew Tiger all of his life, I never knew his Christian, or given, name; I always called him Tiger.

The iceman came once a week, a huge block of ice carried on a shoulder protected by a potato sack. Once in our kitchen he’d hoist up the heavy block and unceremoniously plonk it in our icebox. It was the time before electric refrigerators were common in 1950s homes.

The “dunny man” came once a week, too, to collect the pan from our outdoor toilet, with a grunt he’d lift the frighteningly full pan up and on to his head and carry it down to the dunny truck. It was an endless joke with us kids: what would happen if the bottom of the pan gave way as he balanced it on his head? Shit and disaster! That’s what!

Our old-fashioned telephone was attached to the wall. To make a call you held the earpiece at the end of a cord to your ear while winding a handle to ring the local exchange. Mrs Fitch, the operator, worked her magic from the post office, now the Historical Society Museum. Speaking into the mouthpiece on the wall, you’d tell Mrs Fitch the number you required and she’d connect you via telephone lines tangled like spaghetti on her switchboard.

Our mail was delivered by horse- back each day by old Bill McCulloch. Wearing a pith helmet, he’d ride his horse Silver right past our letterbox, up the drive and deliver the mail by hand saying, “Good morning, Mrs McAuley.” When we heard the clip clop of Silver’s hooves we’d scurry outside to pat the friendly old horse.

NEXT MONTH: The coming of television and the Melbourne Olympics.