30 degrees at 7 p.m. and not much wind. Let's eat out. And let’s see how the boys are at outdoors dining this year. Seems not so long ago at least one of them was asleep in a pram at this hour. Time goes by so quickly, not slowly.
I like to commence the barbecue season with my personal King of Fishes - Tasmanian Atlantic Salmon. The cost of this fish stops it being an everyday choice, but it is cheaper at the market and is occasionally marked down in the supermarkets. And there it was at $19.95 a kilogram instead of its usual $30-$36.
I wrapped two fat fillets in foil together with two chopped spring onions, the juice of half an orange and a squirt of good quality soy sauce. That's it. The fillets were an inch at their thickest ridge and cooked in ten minutes over the coals. Never overcook this fish. I opened the foil and out burst an aroma of Chinatown and orange groves.
As if that wasn't cruel enough to the neighbours, my onion and garlic kebabs were even more fragrant: on a skewer, alternate sections of onion and garlic cloves and then brush with Thai red curry paste. Place these on a slightly cooler area of the grill or coals so that the onion almost caramelizes and the garlic - you can leave its skin on - bakes. You can vary the Thai paste to whatever you have in the fridge. Keep it vaguely East to suit the fish. I wasn't about to use Branston pickle, although come to think of it ...
One of the reasons I like dining outside is to watch the sky show put on by the clouds. Dinner beneath a ceiling of burnished cumulostratus in the shape of an elephant drifting southwestwards on a next-to-nothing breeze and slowly turning into an open-topped sportscar as it disappears over the horizon - which here is a line of fifteen-foot lilypillies - beats TV dinners any time.
Something of an accidental citrus theme continued through the salad: baked pumpkin pieces tossed through spinach, fresh from the garden, showered with toasted pine nuts and dressed with lime juice and olive oil.
Of course, we had started with citrus as well: a large half moon of lemon twisted back on the peel to release its oil and drowned in a long glass of one-third Gordon’s and two-thirds tonic. Drink a couple of these and you'll see your children's behaviour improve before your very eyes.
Actually they were very good: sat and ate their meals, perfectly behaved, before rounding out the night with locomotive laps of the table on their tricycles in the growing darkness. Then to bed.
By then, the cumulostratus sportscar had left the scene, leaving just a little wispy deep orange cirrostratus higher up in the sky. It didn't look like anything. Then the sky faded to black. The show was over.
*Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book, c. 1744.