Where were we? Oh yes. My brother, Dad, and I discovered a fabulous new relative on the streets of Canberra and bundled her away to Grazing for Easter lunch, where we joined my mother, grandparents, and great aunt for much feasting, laughter, awesomeness, and drunky-dinobird-mimicking. Let’s continue, shall we?
For his main, Grandpa had the above “Grazing Pie: cod, scallop, mussel and riesling pie with root vegetables, creamed leek and potato mash”. Afterwards, he and I engaged in our ritual pastime of a staring competition*. He who blinks last laughs loudest!
* This is a lie.
My main was the “chickpea battered zucchini blossoms filled with tea soaked dried cherry risotto, apple and hazelnut salad, herbs and parmesan”. I loved how the tart and slightly tannic cherries played off against the tender risotto and zucchini flowers, all encased in a crispy chickpea batter perched on a zingy apple and herb salad.
For his dessert, my brother chose the “baked chocolate fudge terrine with frosted blueberries, espresso marshmallow and pine nut flavoured ice cream”. As averse as I am to chocolate desserts, I dutifully tried this creation (all for you, dear readers) and was pleasantly surprised. The fondant was like a dense brownie and the pine nut ice cream nutty, almost floral. Nicely done.
I may or may not have wriggled on my seat when my “strawberry semifreddo cone with maple and hazelnut crunch, Persian fairy floss and strawberry clouds” appeared. The semifreddo was softly sweet and studded with sugared nuts, the “clouds” were ethereally light, and the fairy floss gladdened my soul. I had only a momentary pang of jealousy over Charlotte’s “fennel pollen scented free standing crème brulee with fresh blackberries, carnation milk sorbet and puff pastry biscuit” and Dad’s cheese plate.
Charlotte and I explored Grazing’s vibrantly green kitchen garden, then perked up our ears when my mother announced that there was an old-fashioned lolly shop in Gundaroo, just up the road on the right. (Old-fashioned lolly shops are always on my hit list when visiting country towns.)
Charlotte and I scampered off and, lo and behold!
We found what looked to be the lolly shop Mum had directed us to. We clapped with glee and stepped towards the wooden cottage with its “open” sign, steeling our bellies for a surfeit of Warheads, Fun Dips, and more.
Guess what? I think my mother was trying to kill us.
As Charlotte and I pushed open the door to this alleged lolly shop, we were greeted with a pitch-black room, creaking floorboards, a smell of mustiness, and a wheezing, whimpering sound that could have been the wind but was most likely an axe-murderer hiding behind the wonky doorway across the room.
I took a faltering step into the blackness, my mind still trying to find the candy.
Then someone – I’m not sure whether it was Charlotte or me – shrieked, and a split second later we were outside again in the bright sunlight, the door of Sally Paskins’ Store slammed shut behind us. We laughed the hysterical laughs of two young women who have just seen their lives flash before their eyes, and then we ran away.
Here is what I think the store should have looked like:
After a good four hours in Gundaroo, we began the journey back to Canberra. It was on this homewards journey that I truly came to know, deep down, that Charlotte is not just a wayward girl we lured into our car from the street. You see, just a few minutes out of Gundaroo, I mentioned something about being a Disney fan. Charlotte pounced on this offhand comment, and before anyone really knew what was happening we two were excitedly jabbering about and singing our favourite Disney songs.
“Yep,” Evan said from the front seat, looking back at Charlotte and me as we re-enacted Part Of Your World word-for-word complete with fake American accents and hand motions, “you two are definitely related.”
Darn tootin’. And I couldn’t be prouder. (I would’ve loved Charlotte even if she hadn’t baked chocolate cupcakes, but let’s be honest. They helped.)
And Charlotte? Cakespedition soon, my dear.