|Cafe Bravo, Tamborine Mountain|
Late Friday afternoon a couple of weeks ago frenetic activity ran riot here in my little corner of the universe, but I wasn’t the frenzied one. My personal preening and primping seldom occurs during daylight hours let alone when the sun pauses briefly on the western horizon as a prelude to the nocturnal hours.
My bizarre, eccentric behaviour caused my housemates much consternation. As I readied myself they grew highly agitated by the minute – by the second, even. My two furry rascals were displeased; notably vexed to put it mildly. And not only because the preening and primping, which, on any given day, is mostly done by them not me - but how dare I go out at night; particularly without their permission!
Like them-who-must-be-obeyed I never go out at night; or I rarely ever do, but they never do. THEY don’t have MY permission to do so.
Furthermore, my bossy best mates only venture outside each morning for about 30 minutes at most; more often than not for less than 30 minutes. They then scamper back inside alerting me of their reappearance as they head straight to their bowl to see if breakfast is awaiting them. If it isn't...I make sure I hop to it immediately!
Remy and Shama are even more reclusive than I am; and that’s saying something! I’m not sure who caught the hermit virus from whom. Did they pass it on to me or vice versa? The three of us are content to keep to ourselves, and mind our own business. We do our best not to cause disruption to the outside world and its inhabitants. So far we’re doing okay, I think. Our footprints/paw prints barely leave an impression.
With great reluctance they allow me enough leeway to go to IGA, aware, naturally, it’s where I purchase their meat, canned food, dry munchies and litter.
I made a point of forewarning them, often and at length of my Friday night plans.
As a sweetener I promised them a reward for giving me the key to the door. I told them they could choose whatever programmes they wanted to watch on television for a change!
However, no matter how much I bowed and scraped for me to be going out at night still didn’t sit well with them. They’re tough task masters these two! You’d swear I intended to desert them. They were not amused.
To impress their displeasure they placed a strict curfew on me; one I was fearful of breaking. Even though I returned home well within the prescribed hour I was harshly reprimanded. Rigorous restrictions have been placed upon all future outings; the main one being I’m not allowed out after dark ever again.
And I will come clean…I confess…while on my Friday night release I behaved myself and, although tempted, I didn’t dance on the tables – not one!
Even when approached the previous week by an acquaintance, and feeling like a deer caught in the headlights when out of the blue she cornered me in the IGA supermarket car park to ask me to join her for dinner the following Friday, I’m glad I did accept Dianne’s invitation to dine with her at Café Bravo.
Initially, her invitation had surprised me; and being caught unawares and unprepared I had no time to think of a suitable excuse to politely decline. So I was stuck; and had a week to dwell on my “stuckness”!
Café Bravo is more than a café. It’s a welcoming restaurant serving fresh, tasty fare. Until that Friday evening a week or so ago Café Bravo opened for business only during the daylight hours, for an ongoing breakfast and lunch. They are now operating for dinners on Friday and Saturday nights. The Friday night Dianne and I visited was the first night of their new trading hours.
I was a stranger to the establishment until that night, but Sylvia, the manageress, Rick and the two cheerful lasses waiting tables greeted and treated me warmly.
What an aesthetically graceful, elegant building it is.
Dianne and I dined outside on the expansive deck beneath a ceiling of effervescent stars. The timber deck is built around many olive trees. The original name of the restaurant was “The Olive Tree”.
I prefer al fresco dining. If given the choice that’s where you’ll find me, even on a winter’s eve.
Of course, don’t go looking through every restaurant’s al fresco area hoping to trip over me because in 99.99% of your searches you won’t find me. Remember - I don’t go out at night - I’m not allowed to! As it is I’m let off the leash only briefly during daylight hours!
Keep this to yourself - don’t tell my furry guardians/wardens – I relished my few hours of freedom at Café Bravo. I managed to quell my anxiety of being free from their clutches, if only for a brief while!
I appreciated my delicious meal. I also enjoyed the non-stop, laughter-filled conversation my dinner companion and I shared. Even the ease of our time spent together across the dining table out beneath the starry, starry night surprised me, in a pleasant way. Dianne and I have known each other for a number of years…but not well; not as “good friends” – just acquaintances in passing.
Her daughter works at Café Bravo during the day as a barista, I discovered.
Sylvia, Rick and the waitresses bestowed genuine hospitality, a necessity in the hospitality industry. Some places do; unfortunately some places don’t. Bravo Café Bravo…they do!
At evening’s end I was in for another surprise…our meal was complimentary. I went to pay and that was when I discovered we were guests of the “house”. No doubt because Dianne’s daughter works at Café Bravo and because I write my weekly article for the local rag up here on the mountain – and Dianne works at the local rag!
It is said there is no such thing as a free lunch…but there was a free dinner! I rang the following morning to thank Sylvia for her hospitality; and I wrote an article about the restaurant and the pleasant time I enjoyed there.
Remy and Shama have now forgiven me…sort of….
Potato-Kale Soup: Cook 180g diced bacon until browned; drain; set aside. In pot heat 1tbs olive oil; add 1 chopped onion; sauté until soften; add 8c quality chicken stock, 8 peeled, sliced potatoes and 6 garlic cloves; bring to boil; then simmer uncovered, about 15mins. Transfer potatoes and garlic to a bowl; lightly mash; return to pot; bring to simmer; add 1 bunch trimmed, thinly-sliced kale, a handful at a time; simmer until kale is tender; add bacon.
Winter Vegetable Stew with Dumplings: In large Dutch oven sauté 1 diced onion and 3 diced celery stalks in 1tbs olive oil; then add 2 diced carrots, 2 diced parsnips, 3 minced garlic cloves, 6 quartered mushrooms, 2 chopped potatoes, 1 chopped kumara, 2 chopped zucchinis, 1 chopped turnip, 1 can diced tomatoes, 2tbs tom paste, 1 can cannelloni beans, 1tsp dried oregano, 1tbs minced fresh rosemary and 2 bay leaves. Cover with 5c vegetable/chicken stock; simmer 15mins. Dumplings: Mix 1c S.R. flour and 1/2tsp mustard powder; cut in 1/4c butter with fork; rub with fingers until crumbly. Combine 1/2c milk with 1tbs grain mustard; add to flour; stir well; add 1tsp snipped chives. Form into loose balls; drop over simmering stew; cover, simmer 25-30mins.
Crunchy Blueberry Tart: Preheat oven 180C. Melt 170g unsalted butter. Combine 185g plain flour, 150g caster sugar and 70g rolled oats; stir into melted butter; press dough into 10-inch spring-form tart tin. Bake 10mins; then set aside. Topping: 85g butter; mix in 125g rolled oats and 150g caster sugar; set aside. Filling: Combine 270g fresh/frozen blueberries, 1c blueberry jam and 1tbs balsamic; stir in 2-1/2tbs cornflour; pour into tart case; sprinkle topping evenly over top; bake 25-30mins, until topping is golden.
Sticky Date Pudding: Put 200g pitted dates and 1-1/2 cups water in saucepan; bring to boil, add ¾ teaspoon bicarb soda; stir. Cream ¾ cup brown sugar and 60g soft butter; add 2 eggs; then add cooled date mixture and ½ cup chopped walnuts, fold 1 cup self-raising flour through lightly. Fill 1/2 cup lightly-greased dariole moulds to three-quarters; place in baking dish, fill with hot water to 1/2 way. Bake in preheated 180C oven for approx 45-50 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Walnut or Almond Praline: Melt 1 cup caster sugar, swirling until golden brown; pour over ½ cup chopped walnuts or chopped blanched almonds on cooking-paper lined tray. Let cool; then chop into pieces. Split a vanilla pod; scrape out seeds and add to 1 cup pouring cream; refrigerate to infuse as long as possible. Butterscotch Sauce: Put 50g butter, 1 cup cream, 1 cup brown sugar in saucepan over medium heat; bring slowly to boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally until thick. Add 1/3 cup brandy; be careful…the brandy may flame; simmer 2 minutes. To serve, invert the hot puddings onto a serving plates; top with butterscotch sauce and shards of praline.