Category Archives: australia

From blossoms to broccoli…

Just came across this photograph of my family’s Applethorpe farm in the 1950s with the orchard in flower and realised when I was there doing research for Mezza and Joe’s, I happened to take a picture from almost the same spot 60 years later.

 

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patting ‘the little pigs’ for luck…

Patting il Porcellino, ‘the little pig’ for luck, (left) in Sydney, (right) in Florence. These bronze, wild boar (cinghiale) sculptures are replicas of the original by Pietro Tacca (1577-1640) commissioned by Cosimo II de Medici in 1621 that is now in the Museo Bardini. Apparently since at least 1633 visitors to Florence have ‘rubbed the snout’ for luck and to ensure their return to the city and tourists now rub it so much they have to replace the sculpture every decade or so.

The Florence ‘piglet’ is located in Mercato Nuovo also known as the Porcellino market and the Sydney one, (donated by Marchesa Fiaschi Torrigiani in 1968) is outside Australia’s oldest hospital, Sydney Hospital, in Macquarie Street. There are dozens of others around Europe, America, Canada, the UK and Asia so perhaps unlikely I’ll get to pat them all but hopefully might have just enough luck from these two!

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sign of the old shop…

In this photograph of my family’s fruit shop and milk bar in its earlier days, it’s apparent how it began very modestly with my grandparents standing on the footpath in Ann Street selling produce from a ‘hole in the wall’ before they expanded the space to include a milk bar. Visible in the top left is some of the sign that hung over the footpath from around the early 1950s. It was white with ‘milk bar’ in red Perspex letters and lit up at night.

Below is the only part of the sign we managed to salvage after Brisbane’s 2011 floods (and happens to be the bit seen in this photograph taken almost 70 years ago!) It might be broken but it’s one of only a handful of items my grandparents kept when they closed their milk bar and with now no trace that it ever existed, it seems lucky to have this piece left.

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the gentle work of nest building…

Have some long, solitary hours ahead for a little while as I do the edit on the next book… so it was lovely to sit at my desk this morning and look out into the tree to see a honeyeater building a nest right by my window. I may even get some baby birds for company come spring!

A while back I read in a book (Nest: The Art of Birds by Janine Burke) that as well as using their beaks to build their nests, birds also press their breasts against the inner wall to make it round, imprinting their shape on their home and forming it with their beating hearts. As I sit here I can see the bird doing just that! (Apologies the picture isn’t better but didn’t want to move too much and scare her off.)

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Connecting through old cookbooks…

I love cooking from old cookbooks for their connection to the past and family recipes.

This 1934 Goulburn Cookery Book belonged to my grandmother-in-law whom I didn’t get to meet but I know and much admire that she cared for her eight children in their country town through prudent circumstance and for many years independently after she was widowed.

I love that her middle name was Philadelphia and that in this cookbook she pasted cut-out recipes and wrote some in as well. (Roger has made the grapefruit jam like his grandmother’s handwritten recipe.)

There’s even a recipe for Eggs in Purgatory, albeit a bit different to the version likely cooked in 1930s Italy or the ‘eggs in tomato’ my great-granny Maddalena cooked!

Interestingly, recent studies have revealed that despite the use of ingredients like butter and eggs, most recipes in 1930s cookbooks have a third less calories than current ones, often due to their smaller portion sizes.

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Festa della Repubblica from afar….

Brisbane’s Victoria Bridge lit in the colours of the Italian flag for Festa della Repubblica – Italy’s national day… if only my grandparents and great-grandparents could see this!

So lovely to have my hometown honour its history of Italian migrants in this gesture. Auguri per Festa della Repubblica to all those with an Italian migrant connection!! xx

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spaghetti per cena…

This is one of the first photographs I chose that I hoped would make the cover of Mezza Italiana (it’s on the back). Taken in the 1960s, it was dinner for my uncle’s birthday and one of the rare times the family got to eat together since one of my grandparents were usually doing a shift at their milk bar.

I love how the young, fair-haired friend (second from left) looks happy to be at the dinner table eating spaghetti among three generations of an Italian family (reminds me a bit of how Roger was when he first came to eat at my grandparents’ house). And of course that is my Dad in the front right corner, being his usual larrikin self!

 

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Old photographs and family stories…

Even though Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar is completed, it is a pleasure to keep hearing more stories from my older relatives who always seem to have a little more to reveal about this era of their lives.

Talking to my great uncle Vincenzo recently I found out the varieties of produce they grew on the family’s Applethorpe farm included Granny Smith and Delicious apples, Santa Rosa and Wilson plums, Packham pears and green beans, also known as French or string beans. And the beans were the easiest to pick come harvest time.

(My great-grandmother – back left – was in her 50s when this was taken and though having recently lost her husband was working hard to keep the farm going.)

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back roads…

Love roadside stalls with honesty boxes… cooked with some of the wood smoked chillies last night and they were actually pretty hot!

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Christmas shopping…

Christmas shoppingCouldn’t resist taking a quick picture of these Italian products I saw as part of a Christmas display in the general supermarket of a country town in Australia. And both northern and southern Italy represented!

There was once a time when it was unusual to see even a panettone in the supermarket of an Australian capital city let alone a smaller town. So lovely how food can quietly keep on bringing different cultures together!

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flowers and the scent of memories…

carnationsThe first carnations are in bloom in the backyard and have a lovely scent…
I could smell their perfume on the breeze as soon as I walked outside. Decided to grow some of these to remember my great-grandmother, Charlotte who had them in her front garden. (Charlotte got a small mention in Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar when I wrote of her scones, along with Granny Maddalena’s frittata, revealing a bit of their everyday lives through what they cooked.)

Perhaps carnations are considered somewhat old-fashioned at present but I never worry about fashion when it comes to things like flowers, to me they’re all lovely and bring a little happiness…

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a stone house among the lavender…

Swiss Italian, Aquilino Tinetti originally built this stone farmhouse at Shepherds Flat in central Victoria circa 1860. He and his wife Maria had thirteen children and the 100 acres were run as a dairy farm for the next 120 years.

In the 1980s, Carol White purchased the property, restored the historic stone buildings and planted lavender and it is now called Lavandula.

It is a beautiful place to visit and as part of research for the next book especially interesting for me to see the original 19th century farmhouse set up including a great cellar below a very steep, internal staircase, and also some friends in the kitchen garden…

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first fig for the season…

first-figUsually we end up eating most of these picked straight from the tree in the backyard but perhaps this year some might last long enough to cook with…

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From 6th June, 1946…

Annibale, Francesca and Remo outside shopToday it is 70 years since my Italian grandparents, Nonno Anni and Nanna Francesca signed the lease on premises to start up their fruit shop and milk bar in Australia.

And so began many years when they opened the shop from 7am until 11pm, only the two of them working there (with a baby in tow) and closing just two days a year at Christmas and Easter.

Thinking of them with much gratitude for all their hard work and sacrifice to make it such a success.

 

 

 

 

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last day of autumn Australis…

Tree of Life by Diana SudykaDiana Sudyka

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Ethel’s Chooks…

Ethel's chooks webPerhaps it’s old-fashioned but I still have a wall calendar where I write up all that’s happening. This year it features paintings by William T. Cooper (1934-2015) an Australian artist who painted mostly natural subjects, especially birds. He painted with extreme precision so if there were a certain number of a certain colour feathers then that is exactly what he depicted.

While he painted many exotic species too, I love this painting, Ethel’s Chooks, which Cooper painted of his neighbour’s chooks that free ranged around the farm. When I sit down to my desk each day, seeing the work and precision Cooper put into his art is inspiring. His career as an artist spanned more than 50 years and he continued to paint into his 80s.

williamtcooper.com.au
paperparrot.com.au

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Italian Australian Easter…

Brisbane News articleWith Easter coming up, I was asked about my Italian family’s gatherings for part of an article in the latest issue of Brisbane News. In the photograph, I have in front of me a Colomba di Pasqua, an Easter dove cake similar to the Italian Christmas panettone.

I also fondly recall Nanna Francesca making Pane di Pasqua, Easter bread, with whole eggs in their shells tucked among the plaited dough (the eggs became like hardboiled as the dough baked).

By the way, to the left in the photo is her Sunflower coffee set, which I treasure. It is now almost 70 years old!
Buona Pasqua!

 

{Click on article for a larger version.}

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Backyard harvest…

grape harvestFrom the Isabella vine that grows over the pergola, some of the grapes harvested this year (in one of Nanna Francesca’s salad bowls circa 1960s/70s.) Each year the grapevine yields enough to make about half a dozen bottles of wine…a modest, homemade vintage but a tiny bit of Italy in an Australian suburban backyard.

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19th century Italy in regional Australia…

20151104_121733Recently, while in Victoria I visited the Bendigo Art Gallery and it was wonderful to see their collection of 19th century Australian art (inspiration for the next book!)

It seems Italy is never too far away however as I couldn’t help noticing this circa 1879 painting of women carrying their copper conche to collect water, such a common sight in Abruzzo especially.

Titled, ‘Peasant Water Carriers’, it was painted by Pietro Barucci {1845-1917} who was mainly known for his paintings of landscapes in the rural areas surrounding Rome.

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keeping the past present…

Hotel TrenthamI have been in central Victoria doing research for part of the next book and am completely taken by all the beautiful, historic buildings still being utilised and looked after in so many towns. This hotel in Trentham was badly damaged by fire a decade ago and yet rather than being given up on, it is great to see it brought back to its former self. Seeing the new corrugated iron roof you can almost imagine it when first built back in the 1860s…

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Milk bar glassware, circa 1950s…

milk bar glasswareOriginal, circa 1950s glassware from Nonno Anni and Nanna Francesca’s milk bar… milkshake glasses, the glass for the homemade orange drink and the bowl used for ice cream sundaes and fruit salads.

Built to last, once they were used everyday, often banged down on the milk bar counter and washed ready for the next customers. Funny how time changes objects – these days I keep them in the ‘good’ glass cabinet in the lounge room – smiling.

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the Astoria Café…

Astoria cafe Astoria cafe buildingThe Astoria Café in Brisbane, where my grandparents worked in the 1940s, had long been demolished by the time I wrote about it. I relied on my grandparents’ stories and old pictures and wished it had still been around for me to see.

Recently, I was in Sydney to talk about Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar at a conference and author, Estelle Pinney, who’d been in the audience, approached me afterwards. Estelle told me she’d enjoyed reading Joe’s very much and that she had frequented the Astoria Café many times in the forties. (I don’t think Estelle will mind me saying that she is now in her eighties and extremely sprightly!) It was wonderful to hear her recollections of the café and as always, I’m so grateful for the insights into the past that writing this book has opened to me.

Thank you to all of you who have shared how Joe’s has connected with your own lives, past and present.

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the “cash register”…

Cash boxThe “cash register” at my grandparents’ fruit shop and milk bar was this wooden cash box. For decades, pounds, shillings and pence made their way in and out of it and for the final few years, dollars and cents. All calculations were made in one’s head (and no doubt at lightning speed when the pressure was on with a crowd of customers waiting!)

The wood feels very battered from much use, the lid has come off its hinges and has some watermarks as though much opened with hands damp from retrieving wet bottles of soft drink or making ice-creams. I love how a band-aid has been stuck on the bottom corner where the wood began to split! It looks like an old timber box perhaps ready for the tip but for me it contains so much history as an integral part of the fruit shop and milk bar.

Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar

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Inside the milk bar…

Annibale behind counter in the shopNonno Anni behind the counter of the milk bar – one of very few photographs taken inside. Great to see the milkshake machines to the right. It is difficult to decipher some of the brands of sweets, cigarettes and biscuits around the counter though I can see Mars chocolates {first made in 1932}, Violet Crumbles {since 1913} and a sign for Peters ice-cream {since 1907}.

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milk bar glass, circa 1950…

milk bar glassAn original glass {circa 1950} from Nanna Francesca and Nonno Anni’s milk bar. These were mostly used for my grandfather’s sought-after, homemade orange drink but customers would also request milkshakes in them too if they preferred glass to one of the metal canisters.

The milkshake flavours available at the time were chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, custard, lime and caramel, with chocolate always the most popular. The only flavours I had in the house to make this one were maple syrup and vanilla bean, which turned out quite delicious. And yes, that is an old-style, waxed paper straw!

Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar

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Classic lasagne…

LasagneTraditional lasagne, for me, is in the same category of favourite, comfort food as a good, old-style hamburger with the lot. {Perhaps a reflection of an Italian-Australian upbringing!} I learned to make lasagne when I was about 11 or 12, and must have made hundreds over the years.
Recently, I cooked the first in my new lasagne dish from Umbria. My previous lasagne dish that my Mum gave me I used for 20 years {sadly, it got a large crack in it}, so this dish has some work ahead of it!
Some say Italy didn’t have spaghetti until Marco Polo discovered noodles in Asia and that may be the case, however Italians did already have pasta. In Roman times, they cooked sheets of pasta in a dish similar to lasagne and therefore it is possibly one of the original pasta dishes.

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Italian internees, Australia 1942…

Internees and tent at Western CreekItalian internees at the ‘secret’ Western Creek internment camp in 1942. My grandfather, Annibale (far right, standing) was 18 years old and working as a farmhand at Applethorpe when he was interned.

Those familiar with Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar will know that despite much searching I have to date been unable to uncover any document that officially shows this internment camp existed. This is despite much anecdotal evidence gathered from internees, a guard and residents of the nearby Queensland town of Millmerran. As well as photographs taken inside the camp (see tent to left) and a tiny newspaper article that appeared in The Western Star and Roma Advertiser in 1942.

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Joe’s milk bar, circa 1950s…

Annibale and Vitale in milk barOne of the very few photographs taken inside my family’s milk bar in the 1950s (and also one of my favourites). Nonno Anni is behind the counter and Bisnonno Vitale is leaning on it.

This is the era when my grandparents were working 7am-11pm, 363 days a year at their fruit shop and milk bar. My great-grandfather Vitale helped out at the busy times yet continued in his own job at the Brown and Broad sawmill beside the Brisbane River in Teneriffe.

Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar

 

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Mercers Lane Mosaic…

Ingham mosaic 2Ingham mosaicA beautiful, mosaic artwork is emerging along Mercers Lane in Ingham, Queensland to commemorate the history of the local sugarcane industry. Really inspiring to discover around 2000 local volunteers and tourists so far have taken part in creating the mosaic and it’s wonderful to see local history recorded in art like this, particularly all the different cultures that have been a part. Ingham mosaic 3

more on Mercers Lane Mosaic…

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New life between beautiful old walls…

Laidley old bakeryRecently, I have been travelling in southwest Queensland for research for the next book. In the main street of Laidley, I happened across this beautiful old building that was originally a bakery when it was built back in 1905. It is currently empty and seemed to be being renovated inside. Lovely how so many country towns value and utilise their historic buildings. Seeing the words ‘Soft Drinks’ in faded paint across the glass over the front entrance, I could not help imagining turning it into an old-style, 1950s milk bar…

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Stonehenge Boarding house…

Stonehenge 157 Leichhardt St BrisbaneStonehenge Boarding house at 157 Leichhardt St, Spring Hill, Brisbane, where three generations of my family lived during the 1940s. It is amazing to see how steeply pitched the roof is considering my father climbed to the top of it when he was not quite three and a half and my Nonno had to get him back down. Sadly, this house, built circa 1859 of convict-hewn stone, was demolished in the 1950s.

 

Photograph courtesy of the Fryer Library, University of Qld and http://www.yourbrisbanepastandpresent.com/

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Official opening of Anzac Square, Brisbane…

Anzac Square 1930Official opening of Anzac Square in Brisbane on 25th April, 1930 (taken from Ann St looking towards Adelaide St).

image courtesy State Library, Qld.

More about Anzac Day…

{For those familiar with the Astoria Café in Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar, this building can be seen  in the far right of the photograph.}

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Queen Street, Brisbane in 1939…

Queen St 1939….as it looked when my grandfather, Annibale arrived alone in Australia at the age of 15. Met by his father, Vitale, who took him straight from the ship dock to this street to buy some new work boots. The very next day, they left Brisbane for Annibale to commence work at a farm 200km away. After seven years apart, father and son got to spend just 24 hours together.

{image courtesy State Library, Qld}

 Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar

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Milk Bar in the Regent Theatre, Brisbane circa 1936…

Regent Theatre milk bar{image courtesy State Library, Qld}

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a seat by the cove…

Sydney seat

— Farm Cove, Royal Botanic Gardens

So lovely that whenever in Sydney, despite the hectic traffic and millions of people, it is still always possible to find an empty seat to watch the harbour…

 

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from Italia to Australia…

remo ship in SydneyThe ship, RemoThe Italian ship, ‘Remo’, which is linked to four generations of my family… my great-grandfather, Vitale arrived in Australia for the second time aboard it in 1932, my grandfather, Annibale sailed from Italy in it when he was just 15 in 1939, my father was named after it, and my nephew shares with it his second name.

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‘Sali e Tabacchi’…

sali e tabacchiThis sign might be familiar to those who have bought a bus or lottery ticket, tobacco or, until recent years, salt in Italy. Yes, the traditional ‘Sali e Tabacchi’ or ‘Salt and Tobacco’ shop was for a long time the only place to buy salt while it remained a monopoly of the state, (a nod perhaps to ancient times when salt was worth as much as gold!)

However, we took this photo in Australia, not Italy, after spotting the sign hidden along a Melbourne laneway. Another little bit of Italy in the hearts of those in Australia. Looking forward to heading back to Melbourne again in March!

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uno zufolo ~ an Italian folk flute…

zufuloGiuseppe (Joe) Castellana was taught by his Nonno in Sicily how to play the zufolo (an Italian flute dating back to the 14th century). After he migrated to Australia, Joe continued the tradition – playing the folk music that he learnt from his grandfather in Italy at performances in Australia over many decades.

He swapped between playing the zufulo and the accordion at the launch for Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar and I was touched when, at the end of the evening, Joe, who is now 82, gave me a zufolo that he had hand-carved himself.

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Italian street painting in Sydney…

Pepe GakaGiuseppe, aka Pepe, is a Madonnaro whom we came across by the harbour at Circular Quay in Sydney. Since the 16th century, Madonnari from Puglia in Italy’s south have been itinerant artists who originally went to cities to work on the cathedrals and when the job was done found a way to make a living by recreating paintings from the church on the pavement. Aware of festivals and holy days in each town, the Madonnari would travel to different provinces throughout Italy to eke out a living from observers who would throw coins if they approved of the work. Pepe explained he makes a living based solely on donations and never sells his paintings. Once they are completed, he gives them away to charitable organisations that then raise money by auctioning his paintings. His most recent work sold for $16,000.

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the Book House…

book house malenyHappened across this gorgeous Little Free Library in Maple Street, Maleny where you can leave a book and swap it for another. Such a lovely idea. I’m definitely going to take a couple of books to leave there next time…

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Mulberry pie for supper…

Mulberry pieOn a Sunday afternoon walk, we discovered mulberry trees growing wild along the creek and were not the only ones who picked the berries – the largest, plumpest and sweetest we’d come across in ages. Almost half an hour later the trees were still heavy with fruit, plenty left to share with others, the birds and flying foxes. That night Roger made mulberry pie with crumbly, buttery shortcrust pastry for supper. A little bit of ‘Sunday afternoon’ to last throughout the week…

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un piccolo pezzo di paradiso…

Hermitage Foreshore Track SydneyAlong the Hermitage Foreshore track in Sydney Harbour National Park a couple of Sunday mornings ago…. absolute magic!

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After the storm…

After the storm

….Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens,
Daylesford, Victoria.

 

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Piano accordion orchestra

Piano accordion orchestraFor the first time, we recently saw a piano accordion orchestra concert. It was great, some of the music taking me back to attending those big Italian weddings when I was a child and also our family gatherings when my uncle sometimes played the piano accordion. Of course, there were a couple of classics played, including Volare and Funiculi Funicula.

{Photograph courtesy of Germaine Arnold: http://deptford.tumblr.com/}

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Beautiful old buildings…

Wiss Brothers General Store, Kalbar, Queensland, 1921Wiss Emporium 2014One Sunday morning, we came across the Wiss Emporium in the town of Kalbar and came away with a number of vintage finds including an unusual wooden picture frame circa 1920. It was really wonderful to see this one hundred and five year old building with its original long counter and pressed metal ceilings being utilised and looked after so beautifully, its history and character much valued by its current owner.

Original Wiss Brothers store on the same site circa 1890

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Little finds…

PecansCrunchy pecans from a farm roadside stall {with a little honesty box} on the Blackall Range. Quite unlike any pecan I’ve ever tasted from a packet. No thought of cooking with them as they are so delicious straight from the shell!

 

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Restoration…

Glengallan ScOn a bleak, wintry day, the caretakers gave us the opportunity to explore this abandoned, sandstone house in south west Queensland. As we walked through the high ceilinged rooms, the wind whistled through cracks in the walls and I longed to find out all the stories it held. After many decades of dereliction it is now being restored. http://www.glengallan.org.au/Glengallan today

 

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Katoomba magic…

waterfallI can’t take credit for the cockatoo in flight, it just happened to appear as I clicked the camera.

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a little bit of Italiana…

IMGP3701Anyone with Sicilian connections or who have been to Sicily may recognise this doll in folk costume (right) and the decorated cart, carrello or carrozza…

Came across the display as part of an Italian migrant exhibition at the Commissariat Store Museum in Brisbane.

Along with some bomboniere… (below) familiar to Italian weddings, christenings and communions.

IMGP3697

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the old macaroni factory…

Macaroni factoryThe Lucini macaroni factory (circa 1859) is said to be the oldest building in Australia built by Italian-Australians. There are 150-year-old frescoes inside that unfortunately remained hidden as it was closed the day we came by. Sitting in the main street of Hepburn Springs in Victoria, the building was also the location for Jan Sardi’s film, Love’s Brother, about two Italian brothers in Australia and a proxy marriage to a girl in Italy.
Macaroni factory 2

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art in nature…

View from the Tweed Regional Gallery in Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Australia where we recently went to see the new Margaret Olley Art Centre housing rooms from her Sydney terrace house, her artworks, and exhibitions by other artists. This view from the café was like an artwork in itself.

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a lovely spot for lunch…

Lavendula cafeLavandula – the Swiss Italian farm at Shepherds Flat not far from Hepburn Springs in Victoria, Australia. The air was filled with the scent from fields of lavender growing nearby and a friendly flock of geese (not on the menu!) kept us company.
http://www.lavandula.com.au/

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Homemade arancini with ragù alla Bolognese…

homemade aranciniIt is claimed that arancini originated in Sicily as far back as the 10th century. The balls of rice with various fillings are shaped, crumbed and fried, resembling an orange – the Italian for orange being arancia. (Rice cooked the day before and cooled in the fridge works best.) In Messina, they can be more cone shaped, while in Naples they are pall’e riso (rice balls) apparently. I think ours (made 11 centuries later in Australia!) ended up being influenced a little by both cities.

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Late afternoon walks…

a beautiful end to a Sunday, walking along Obi Obi Creek, Maleny…

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In the Land of Submarines…

by Tim Sharp

 

http://www.laserbeakman.com/

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The Dome…

The Dome 1977 Jeffrey SmartJeffrey Smart, 1921 – 2013.

 

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freshly, baked bread…

“…whenever the loaf is put on the table, few foods will produce such joy and delight in others as when freshly baked bread appears, the aroma of fresh memories rising with every slice, and all things – poetry and miracles, friends and family, food and love – for a short time are as they ought be: one.”

Richard Flanagan, from The Food of Love.

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Hotel open for bees…

Bee hotels… and also ladybirds, lacewings and other garden friends.

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Maremma sheepdogs and penguins…

Abruzzo postcard picturing Maremma SheepdogThe Maremma Sheepdog is indigenous to central Italy, particularly Abruzzo and the Maremma area in Tuscany and Lazio, and has been used for centuries by Italian shepherds to guard sheep from wolves.

Recently I discovered a project in Australia where Maremma Sheepdogs are protecting a penguin colony almost decimated by foxes, and under their protection the penguins are increasing in numbers. {The dogs also guard free-range chickens.} A little mezza italiana/ australiana perhaps.

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Next step in the coffee process… dehusking.

Each bean must be done by hand. Grazie mille to R for a great ‘dehusking’ effort over many nights in front of the television!!  {Many more than pictured here.}

Left – dried beans (seeds) from inside the coffee cherries.
Centre – the outer husks once removed.
Far right – the green beans…

… ready for roasting next!

Related articles…
Coffee bean harvest… (zoeboccabella.com)
Coffee beans drying in the sun… (zoeboccabella.com)

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Coffee beans drying in the sun…

Next step in the coffee process – the beans (or seeds) from inside the coffee cherries have been washed and are now drying.

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Coffee bean harvest…

It’s coffee harvest time again… these we picked from our backyard tree. Then, by hand, R extracted the beans from inside the coffee cherries and the beans are now spread out on wide sieves drying.

Next comes the {lengthy!} husking process followed by the roasting, the grinding, and then the drinking!

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Watching over…

Maki Horanai is an artist whose beautiful paintings we discovered by chance when we came across her first exhibition in 2005, and have been following her exhibitions since. Maki’s main influences are the works of Italian artists Giotto (14th century) and Fra Angelico (15th century), and Japanese artist, Kano Eitoku (16th century). This painting is called, ‘Watching Over’.

Related articles: Lightly, lightly…

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Roasted chestnuts….

Autumn means chestnuts, castagne and I always think of my Italian grandfather, Nonno Anni whenever we roast them. In the Abruzzo in the 1930s, Nonno Anni harvested chestnuts beneath Gran Sasso, later taking them to turn to flour at the stone mill with the wooden water wheel on the canal below his village of Fossa.

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