Autumn is my favourite season. I quite like Winter too. Sounds like a pretty straightforward view to express, doesn’t it? Well ...you have no idea of the grief this penchant for the months March to August has caused me.In my mind it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that one can select their favourite season. Apparently this isn’t so if one resides in QLD. Liking or (and dare I say it) LOVING Autumn and Winter strictly isn’t allowed in the Sunshine State.
I mean, I (sort of) understand. QLD and even Australia’s reputation is all about fun filled sunny days. QLD is where people come to escape the cold and if you believed the advertising, you wouldn’t even bring a jumper when travelling north. The benefits of the colder months certainly aren’t touted around town like Spring and Summer. Spring Carnival, Summer Holidays etc etc You could be forgiven for thinking that these cooler months just slip on by with no frosts or tracky worthy days.
I am going to reveal a dirty great secret. QLD does experience Autumn and Winter! Shock horror. It may be a milder version than it’s southern frienemies, but the cool change, for me at least, is very welcome. After all the partying and socialising in the warmer months, it is nice to go settle into a hibernatory state and embrace all that is warming in a bid to keep out the chill.You practically have permission to be slothful and to gain ‘a bit of padding’ whilst enjoying some of the cooler seasons beautiful produce. Root Vegies, tantalisingly tangy mandarins- long slow cooked meals !I've always loved the colder months and have put together 5 of my favourite things to do in Winter (funnily enough they all revolve around food) for some of my whinging QLD friends so I thought I would share with you too.
1. Tea tea tea. Sitting cuddled up on the lounge reading the latest edition of Gourmet Traveller when it's grey outside is completed by a beautiful cup of tea. For Brisbanites, I personally like The Tea Centre in the Brisbane Arcade and Albert Lane. The Tea Centre also has shops down south so visit their website to check out where. You can order from them online too. They have a HUGE selection of teas and some particularly beautiful herbal and fruit infusions. Anti Stress ($18 for 100g) has quite a lovely flavour and is made up by Cinnamon pieces, liquorice root, orange peel, fennel & cardamon husks. Yum, another fave at the moment with an almost earthy touch is the Rooibos (red bush tea) African tea. If you have read the No 1. Ladies Detective Agency you may recognise the name. There are heaps of different blends, like Rooibos and vanilla ($13 for 100g) although I'm pretty sure Mma Ramotswe would only approve of the straight version.
2. Soups, Stews and slow cooked something just before settling down to watch masterchef (or when the crying gets too much- Food Safari) under the a throw rug. There is nothing quite like walking in the door after a hectic day at work and finding the room filled with delicious smells that have had time to permeate through the whole house. Even better, most of the work is already done for you and the meat will fall apart. I live in a self appointed trendy area and even though the butchers around here are really good - they are also REALLY expensive- so I have been heading to Super Butcher lately to stock the freezer. They have heaps of great cheaper cuts for the slow cooker. If you didn't have time to chuck something in before work and you are still craving slow cooked, go to Simpatico in Paddington and order their braised beef cheek with polenta and baby carrots ($18). This dish is incredibly tender, you literally only need a fork to eat these- no cutting required.
3. Breakfast in Bed. I don't know about you, but in Summer I feel like I am wasting my days if I lie around inside for too long. In Winter, it's the complete opposite! I love embracing my bed and enjoying old school rituals like Brekky in Bed. Slipping down to the kitchen to poach some eggs and make some tea then jumping back under the covers to eat it. I think I'm even going to get myself a cute granny styled breakfast in tray so I can easily make the trip upstairs. The only thing that enhances the experience is if you have someone else to make it for you (hint hint C!)
4. Baking. Ahh- there seems to be a (great- if you ask me) attitude in Winter that it is permissible to gain a little bit of padding to 'keep you warm.' In this day and age (when we have clothes!!) I am not really sure this is necessary for our survival but am totally happy to go with it! When it is miserable outside, I love spending the days baking. For all of those of you who are avid Gastronomy Gal readers (Waves hi to you!) you will probably know that I am not the best baker! I am however, getting better as I spend more time on the craft. By the time fresh green starts to shoot, I hope I have a little repertoire of baked goods that I am comfortable making. The other day I came across The Country Show Cookbook which is a gorgeous selection of award winning recipes taken from show societies across NSW. Some of the most beautiful recipes come from country Grannies (bless them) who have spent a lifetime baking and perfecting their recipes. I have made a banana cake and some cookies already- and the results were really good- particularly for an amateur baker such as myself. Perhaps the best bit about this book is the fact some of the revenue goes back to rural communities and the show societies. This is really close to my heart as I grew up in the country, and the Annual show is one of my most wonderful memories. It's also really important these show societies keep going as they are part of the life blood of small communities and as all you food lovers know- we really need farmers to be happy and to keep farming so we can enjoy fabulous Australian produce.
5. Red Red Wine – There is no better time to indulge in a bit (or a lot) of red wine. Although I am not a master of wine, I know what I like and I'm starting to experiment and drink many more blends of red than just my usual Shiraz. I recently came across 'Some Young Punks' wine and love their 'Passion has Red Lips' blend of 55% McLaren Vale Cabernet and 45% Clare Shiraz. If you haven't seen their retro inspired labels (i.e "Passion has red lip's" original concept came from Pulp Fiction) you really need to check it out. These guys are making red wine cool and have an AMAZING website- possibly among one the coolest I have ever seen. When winter arrives, you feel like you are anywhere but here which is nice because sometimes ... cringe at the cliche ....a change is as good as a holiday. So if you feel like tackling the cold from somewhere other than your couch, why not head out to London Club, Claret House or The Lark which are the perfect spots to sip a nice glass of red. Anyway, I'm a bit off track- winter is cold- red wine is warming- drink it up!
After all those lovely tips- I hope winter doesn't seem so daunting and I hope my QLD friends stop their whining and embrace the cooler months! If I haven't convinced you, just check out Gourmet Rabbit this month whose issue is dedicated to warming up.
Tell me readers, what are your favourite things for winter?
P.S just a little disclaimer- I have talked about all these places because I like them. I have no relationship with any of the companies listed and have never been approached by any of them. Just so you know. Food Bloggers are getting a bad rap at the moment apparently accepting 'cash for comment' or food for comment or whatever. That doesn't happen on G.G. (or on most of the food blogs I read!) so you have peace of mind that all the opinions I express are because they are my real opinions. Even if I did get something for free (which I rarely do, and clearly state in those instances) I still wouldn't change my opinion- I'm kind of hardarse you know!