Friday, May 13, 2016

Blue Bananas

Stop me and buy one!
And welcome to Tropical Fruit World! With hundreds of varieties of tropical fruit on display, some never previously seen by mankind, we were in for a treat. Greeting us at the entrance was a giant avocado gleaming in the sunlight. We paid what seemed to me to be quite an expensive entrance fee, however it was well worth it with a bus tour of the farm, a trip on a boat, a train ride and a fruit tasting we had a great day out.

Tuppence a pound - roll up fer yer tasty Rollinia's! 
There was even a veggie shop where we could buy the delightful produce grown onsite which we'd just tasted. Wasn't sure about Rollinia (the 'fruit of the week'.) This was supposed to taste like lemon meringue pie but it seemed a bit slimy to me. However we tasted excellent Papaya, Star Fruit, Dragon Fruit (three varieties) and Lady Finger Bananas. And in the shop they had Pummelos, Jak Fruit, Santols, Hog Plums and Babacos and various other shady stuff.

Yes we have blue bananas!
So, back to the bananas.........back home we are restricted to the Cavendish Banana which Fyffe and Chiquita import in vast quantities. The Cavendish Banana works for Tesco, etc because it travels well, its a fairly uniform shape and it can be picked green and ripened off just before being delivered to the supermarket in big containers full of ethylene gas. Compared with Lady's Fingers and the other myriad types grown here and freshly picked off the tree there's no comparison. Fresh bananas are divine. We didn't get a chance to taste Blue Java (see the picture) but they are described as the 'Ice Cream Banana' because of their exquisite taste.

Who me?
Parkrun of the week was New Farm in Brisbane - very slow for me despite the flat course - I was somewhat virally afflicted but determined to get my 50th in and earn the T-shirt. 23.29 for me and 34.39 for Vicky on a picturesque course along the riverbank. I was called out at the start because a little bird had told the organisers that I was reaching a milestone - despite the smile I was a bit embarrassed (no really!)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A wee beer update!

I'll have some of that!
Nice little pub-crawl in Brisbane starting with Mr Edward's on Edward Street which is entirely devoted to Cooper's brews. Coopers is a long established Adelaide based family owned concern that has vigorously resisted all takeover bids. (Their products are available in bottle in the UK if you know where to look.) Coopers  have a wider range available on tap over here - this bar top depicts a tasty range - the best was the Vintage Ale 2016.

Not too far away we found the Embassy bar, an old, slightly jaded building that has reinvented itself as a craft beer bar and music venue. At the bar we spotted a British style hand pump - hooray! Most of the beer in Oz is in kegs, it might not be filtered or pasteurised but nevertheless it is in a pressurised container and even the best microbrewed craft beer can sometimes be cold and fizzy. Real Ale in the British sense is rarely found, part of this is that the tradition for cask conditioned beer never survived, in part due to the weather - beer here must be ice cold! However some of the more adventurous new-wave brewers will try their hand at British style real ale and a hand pump can occasionally be spotted tucked away at a corner of the bar in some of the craft beer pubs. Often this solitary pump dispenses nothing, but even when it does there never seems to be a pump clip attached. Whatever if I see one I will make sure I ask the question. And what we found at the Embassy Bar was a perfect pint of Double Dragon - amazing! Double Dragon, as Welsh beer drinkers know is a legendary ale from Felinfoel Brewery in South Wales. Here Bacchus Brewery of Brisbane had somehow managed to faithfully recreate this dark malty bitter - two pints were called for each as we watched the antics of the brave open mic singers.

The Trannie?
And finally to the Transcontinental Hotel, a fine traditional building. Tucked away among the skyscrapers are a surprising number of beautiful Queenslander style pubs that have survived and thrive - the archetypical one in Brisbane is the Breakfast Creek Hotel (see below). The Trans was fine for our purposes - we had excellent Pacific Ale from the Stone and Wood Brewery. Pacific Ale is a new style of beer originating down here - it's a light citrussy beer, neither too hoppy or too sweet and it is so moreish.

Here it is, AKA as the Brekkie, The Breakfast Creek Hotel. It's a bit out of town and not easy to walk to, but it's a must visit for all visitors to this part of down under.

Best Corn Flakes this side of Sydney!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Happy Parkrunners

Well tie me down!
Just eating my porridge on the back verandah and I looked up to see this huge fellow - I hadn't noticed him at first as his colouring blended in so well but he was about thirty yards away and standing about 5 and a half foot tall. He didn't seem in the least bit concerned about my interest in him and he carried on grazing for another twenty minutes or so before bouncing back into the forest. This is an Eastern Grey Kanga and they can reach 6 foot in height! The Western Reds are even bigger with the largest recorded standing 6' 9" tall.

Here's well up the field!
Parkrun this week was at Central Lakes, Caboolture, about an hour north of Brisbane. On the face of it not a bad course, right round a lake (undulating though) and then along a flat corridor of trees and shrubs to the turn and back. Only it wasn't as simple as that because it was already 22 degrees and with very high humidity and no wind the corridor that I mentioned was like a long greenhouse. I know that folks back home in the snow will have no sympathy but it was hard going. I came 4th, Vicky was 51st and we both won our age groups. Next week is my 50th park run - there's supposed to be a special '50 Parkrunner' t-shirt awarded but I've no idea how that works!