Very Merry Tassie Christmas

By the time I arrived at M&J’s house in North Hobart I had been traveling for over two days (48 hrs and 35 min).  But seeing A&S and M&J’s big welcoming smiles was more than P1110965enough to melt away any weariness I carried with me.  This journey had me go from the mountains of Kerala to Mumbai, Bangkok to Sydney, then to Hobart, an island off of the southern coast of Australia.  I really had to pinch myself.  Never in a million years could I have imagined that I would be spending Christmas in Tasmania, that meeting A&S in Argentina would give me a chance to explore this part of the world.

I felt tired and disoriented, but I rallied hard to stay awake and sound coherent.  After taking a quick shower I met the rest of A’s family and with A’s friend J from Brisbane, we walked into town in search of “team Irish.”  The three Irish traveler friends of A&S were found down at Salamanca Place (at an Irish pub!) and our jolly party of 13 was complete.  For Christmas lunch, we had the Aussie family of A&S, M&J, J (his partner C arrived the next day), and their the parents (M&J).  Then we had the Irish (C&C, T) and the women (two Americans A and me, and Australian J).

I couldn’t possibly imagine cooking for this large group of people for Christmas but A’s sister J, a brilliant musician and chef worked for days to put together one of the most amazing meals of my life.  She and her musician husband M are vegetarians, and as such our feast was mostly vegetarian as well.  But she graciously prepared some very special Tasmanian seafood for us to try; unbelievably fresh oysters, giant prawns, and beautiful salmon.  Also on the menu were some of the most delicious local cheeses that I could have easily lived on for weeks on end.

Here is the full menu of our feast, which was accompanied by Tasmanian and Australian wines.

: Cheese, crackers, and Barossa bark
: Antipasti of olives, gherkins, dates, quince paste, pate, dried fruits, and cherries
: Corn chips with mango guacamole

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: Potato and courgette cakes
: Courgette and tomato rice sformato
: Savory butternut squash cake
: Baked onions with vino cotto
: Mushrooms with verjuice and thyme
: Roast potatoes
: Mixed bean salad
: Pistachio couscous
: Jamie’s rustic 80’s prawn cocktail salad with tomato basil flatbread
: Baked salmon

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: Vegan chocolate mint ice cream
: Mum’s Christmas pudding with custard

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There was plenty of sunshine, laughter, music, and dancing that lasted the entire day and well into the evening.  We were visited by Christmas carolers and our hosts M&J played for us as well.  With the exception of A&S, I was surrounded by total strangers but it couldn’t have been a better Christmas.  I already feel a great bond and chemistry with all of them, and I can’t wait to spend the next two weeks in their company.

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More food & wine from our Christmas feast-

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