books we’re reading
I’m reading Marion Keynes – The Break. And then I’ve got about 50 books piled up by my bedside ‘to read next’ and yet I still find myself reading all the book reviews in the Sunday papers, browsing all the online book stores and spending a small fortune at BookFace in Port Macquarie.
foods we’re eating
Neil has been experimenting in the kitchen looking to make use of our abundance of fruit – mangos have been made into chutney to accompany curries and mango cheeks frozen to create the most delicious sorbets and ice-creams. Our nectarines and peaches have been used in stone fruit tarts, and peaches have been poached in orange juice and Grand Marnier to make one of our most popular desserts.
Passionfruit and citrus are all being turned into glorious little pots of sumptuousness for our guests. Oranges and mandarins are being turned into tangy marmalade, figs into jam, and our soon to be ripe cumquats will be marinated in brandy to create a heavenly topping for ice-cream!
Neil made his first batch of British Bangers last month – there’s nothing like a really simple pork and sage sausage – we love them for breakfast or for those all-time classics, bangers and mash and toad in the hole. Perfect Autumnal fodder. Next up – Neil’s Italian sausages.
We’ve also been a little bit obsessed with Paella recently. It probably all started when Neil chose this to cook for his demo at Tastefest in January. It went down so well with the audience that we didn’t get to sample any on the day, so he made it again for us the following week…. Then by request for a friend’s party.. and now it’s become a firm favourite with our guests.
wine we’re drinking
A forever favourite is the Great Lakes Sparkling Lily – we have a repeat order with Robyn and Steve and drink it all year round.
I’m also really loving the Jim Barry Reisling which I was introduced to by Donna Carrier of Bent on Food – and she knows a thing or two about wine!
Neil’s red tipple of choice at the moment is the Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir – he’s obviously getting a taste for it before we take our 1 week break in March to visit Queenstown and the Central Otago wine region.
things we’re doing
We’re still swimming every morning with views of the Manning River and Valley. Loving seeing the seasons change, although we could do with some more rain… please!
In his spare time, Neil has turned carpenter and welder – and is creating a 3.5m table out of a lump of red gum. This will form the centrepiece of our other new project….. a free-standing event space on the site of the current straw bale shed – which is in desperate need of a bit of tlc. We’ve been scavenging across the Manning Valley for gorgeous old corrugated iron and timber and now have enough to build a barn! More to follow on this exciting addition to Mansfield on the Manning!
things we’re planning
In addition to the new barn, we’re also planning an outdoor film night – watching a movie under the stars with Neil’s homemade burgers sounds pretty good to me. We’ll share details as soon as the date is agreed.
And we’re about to host our first ‘cookery school’ event. By popular demand this is to be a ‘teach my bloke to cook’ occasion – to extend the repertoire of the many BBQ kings out there! If you know a bloke who would appreciate improving his kitchen skills, send him our way.