|Newry Island Foreshore|
|Bluespotted ribbontail stingray|
|Victor Creek Boat Ramp|
There are some things that can’t be wrapped, though. Gifts can be wrapped, as can garbage; a long-running, or even short-running, television series can be wrapped up. Some wounds can be wrapped. And then, there are those wounds that cut too deep making wrapping impossible.
Many years ago when working in a Brisbane restaurant in the role as “Functions Coordinator” I donned a different disguise during the daily busy lunchtime trade, something I’d not expected when offered the previous position.
Ever-ready for a challenge, I thought why not add another string to my imaginary bow. Being “imaginary” I had no idea how many strings it had, or if it even had one string!
Once 11.30 am struck I operated the cocktail bar. It became my domain for the next three or so hours.
Those were the years of “long business lunches”.
Those were the years of “long business lunches”.
I may not have been able to spin liquor bottles and cocktail shakers in the air with the expertise of the characters played by Bryan Brown and Tom Cruise in the movie “Cocktail”, but I was fleet of foot and flexible of wrist.
Even if I am blowing my own trumpet (again - an imaginary trumpet), I was pretty good at mixing drinks for our clientele, most of whom members of advertising agencies, radio stations, corporations of varying descriptions etc; a suited, eclectic mixture of businessmen.
When leaving home one morning, at the front gate, a wasp decided it didn’t like the look of my right hand, so it stabbed me with unwarranted vengeance.
Bees and I have a hive of admiration for each other, but the relationship between wasps and me is malicious. They started it!
Wasps are a different kettle of stingers. They are mean little critters that show me no mercy.
As the morning progressed my hand grew in size. The pain was excruciating. I’d done nothing to that wasp or its family to deserve the throbbing pain I was experiencing.
It’s amazing how much discomfort a little prick can cause.
Battling through, I mixed and served drinks to the drinkers, all the while with my right hand buried in an ice bucket filled with ice. A one-armed bandit had nothing on me that day.
Around 10 am on a sunny day when I was running the small resort on Newry Island I waded out to the channel where my boat was moored. The tide was low, but it was on the turn, and was on its way back in.
The water out to the edge of the drop-off that alerted the start of the channel was rather shallow. The further one waded out from the main beach the sand became quite muddy, making the water murky and the floor of the sea difficult to see.
If the tide was in when I had to go out to where the 21 foot Trojan De Havilland was moored I rowed my little red “tinnie”, which was always tied to a tree on the foreshore, out to the mooring and the Trojan with its 175 hp Johnson outboard motor. Once I’d secured the tinnie to the mooring, I’d jump aboard the bigger boat, and head off across the waters.
The particular morning, to which I’m referring, was similar to many other mornings. At the Victor Creek boat ramp over on the mainland new guests were eagerly waiting for me to pick them up.
As I approached my boat, barefoot, of course, I was struck on the top of my left foot by a small coral stingray aka bluespotted ribbontail ray...a fairly small ray, not exceeding much more than 35cm/14-inches in width.
They may lack in size, but they sure can pack a whack with their stinging spine. The pain in my foot grew by the second as I powered forth to Victor Creek, and my waiting guests.
Smiling through gritted teeth, I helped the folk climb aboard the boat. They were none the wiser of the torturous agony I was enduring while ferrying them across to the island. Making a big fuss wouldn’t have been a very welcoming welcome to them, I believed.
The first thing they wanted upon reaching their destination was to sit at the bar for a drink or two before settling into their cabins - of all days!
If that wasn’t bad enough, some of my existing guests were already waiting at the bar - their tongues hanging out.
While everyone was introducing themselves, I used the moment to excuse myself briefly. I rushed through to the kitchen to boil some water.
I then proceeded to serve drinks to the thirsty guests with my foot immersed in a bucket filled with the near-boiling water. The bucket was on the floor behind the bar, out of sight of the guests. Keeping my predicament to myself, no one was aware of the pain and discomfort I was suffering.
I was relieved when the group finally had had enough...I certainly had had enough, and was glad to see them head off to do whatever it was they wanted to do!
Remember - ice is for wasp stings. Water as hot as you can tolerate for stingray stabs...no wrapping required.
Lettuce-Prawn Wraps: In med-bowl whisk together 1/4c chicken broth,2tbs soy sauce,1/4c apricot jam, 1/4c honey, 1tbs cider vinegar, 3tbs tom paste, 1/2tsp sesame- chilli oil, 1/2tsp each garlic and ginger powder, 1/4tsp black pepper, pinch of chilli flakes and 2tbs cornflour. Set aside. Preheat pan over med-heat. Add 1tb coconut oil; melt. Add 1 small onion, cut into ½-inch pieces and 1 red capsicum cut similarly; allow to soften 8-10mins. Remove from pan; set aside. Add 700g peeled, de-veined prawns; cook on one side, 3-4mins; flip; add the reserved sauce. Cook 2-3 more minutes. Add capsicum and onion back to pan; toss with prawns and sauce. Spoon into lettuce cups; top with chopped roasted cashews and thinly sliced shallots.
Beef Lettuce Wraps: In base of slow cooker combine 1/4c each soy sauce, honey and brown sugar, 2tbs rice vinegar, 2tbs sesame oil and 2tbs garlic chilli paste. Cut 1kg round beef roast in half lengthwise; coat beef in the sauce; arrange side by side in base of the slow cooker. Cook on lowest setting 6-8hrs. Keep an eye on the beef during the last 2hrs of cooking. Remove beef from cooker to large bowl. Shred with two forks. Toss with remaining cooking liquid to taste. Sesame Cucumber Salad – combine 3tbs sesame oil, 4tbs rice vinegar and 1tsp sugar until sugar dissolves. Toss 3c cucumber matchsticks, 1-1/2c bean sprouts and 3c thinly sliced radishes in dressing. Place salad and shredded beef in lettuce cups; sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
Rapture Wraps: Melt 2tbs butter in pan over med-low heat until sizzling; add 240g boneless, skinless chicken; cook, turning once, 13-18mins or until golden brown on both sides and juices run clear; remove from pan; cut into strips. Mix together 1/c salad dressing and 1/4c shredded parmesan; spread onto 4 warmed tortillas; top each with shredded Cos/Romaine lettuce, sliced Roma tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and Italian-herbed flavoured, slightly crushed croutons. Wrap up burrito-style.