I had a terrific weekend down the coast, at Michael & Belinda's house. We did a little shopping at Bateman's Bay - I got some black pearl earrings and a nice cheap red knit cardie - and had Friday night dinner at Monet's. We had a couple of walks, one round the Eurobodalla Botanic Gardens, and one rock hopping at Guerilla Bay. We had a fabulous dinner at the River Moruya on Saturday night. Everyone except Michael slept very late on Sunday, and I made pancakes for our afternoon breakfast.
My usual pancakes, the ones I can do without looking anything up, are my Mum's Welsh pancakes. They're a little bit unusual, being rather thicker than a crepe but a lot thinner than a pikelet or an American pancake. Here's the recipe.
2 cups self-raising flour
milk, 1 to 1 1/2 cups
butter, about 1-2 tablespoons
currants, about 1/4 cup
Put the flour in a bowl, make a hollow, and put in the eggs. Whisk them in gradually, adding milk as you go, incorporating in more flour from the edges until it's all mixed in and not lumpy. Add enough milk to make the batter easily pourable, just a bit thicker than single cream.
To cook the pancakes, heat a small chip of butter in a frypan (nonstick is helpful). It should sizzle, but not burn brown. Pour on a dollop of the batter, swirl the pan around a bit to spread it out, and sprinkle over a few currants. Wait until the batter looks quite set - bubbles coming up - and flip it over to brown the other side briefly. They won't go very brown, as the batter contains no sugar. Just a nice light gold.
Sprinkle with some caster sugar and lemon juice, and roll up to eat. Makes about 12 pancakes. Yummy.
Notes: The vague quantities are deliberate. Recipe can be halved for two people. And I swear the weather seems to affect the amount of milk the batter needs. And how big a dollop of batter and chip of butter depends on the frypan you use - I use about a soup ladle and about 1/8 teaspoon per pancake. And as for currants, sugar, and lemon, that really is a matter of taste. I like lots of currants.
Regional reviews follow:
North St Cafe, Bateman's Bay
Good coffee, unusual cakes, many of them gluten-free. The lunch salads were very fresh and packed with fresh herbs. I had corncakes and salad, which was the lunch special, at $8. No meals over $20, I think. It's urban in style, with banquette seating and bright open space. I'd go back regularly if I lived round there.
Monet, Bateman's Bay
A French restaurant, BYO or a short but decent wine list. Decor runs heavily to French country, with lots of Monet posters. Not too bad for a local cheapie - the service was decent; the food was reasonable, but very Australian country provincial. The charcuterie plate ($18 for two) was just basic supermarket cold cuts; all the dishes had way too much iceberg lettuce everywhere. My fish with risotto ($25) was competently cooked, but too bland. The highlight was the outstanding Grand Marnier zabaglione ($12.50) - no iceberg lettuce there, but it did have redundant icecream. I suspect this might be a better lunch spot; it's a pleasing atmosphere and the crepes and salad looked like they'd make much better lunch dishes than entrees.
The River Moruya
Wow. My second visit and I'm just as impressed. This is a great place for a seriously good dinner out; though I think it's even better for a long lunch, because you get the river view in daylight. The Canberra Times didn't favour it as much as I think it deserves, but I hear on the grapevine that the reviewer had very poor service. It must have been a bad night. We've twice now had excellent service there.
I had an entree of scallops with pea puree and crisp crumbed cubes of ham hock - a terrific blend of flavours and textures. The assiette of lamb three ways had morsels of roast loin, slow cooked shoulder and crumbed sweetbread; all excellent. We had a side of green beans, with butter and almonds, cooked perfectly to just three seconds past squeaky. My dessert was another mixed plate, this time of citrus. I had a scoop of a stunning campari and grapefruit sorbet; a tiny but intense lemon creme brulee; and a flourless orange cake. The cake was pretty normal, good but not up to the amazingness of the others.
It's not a cheap night out - with my three courses and a share of a bottle of white, plus a couple of other glasses, I chipped in $90. But it seemed well worth it to me. We were celebrating a birthday and an anniversary; definitely a special occasion.