Monday, May 17, 2010

Cooking May

Photo: Anne Zahalka

If you are vegetarian, own a pet rabbit or loved Watership Down, please don’t read this month’s entry of our blog because last night we sharpened up our incisors and feasted on two of your beloved bunny friends. And boy, were they good! In fact, after cooking up May’s recipe Coniglio al Vino Rosse (Rabbit in Red Wine) we’ve come up with the solution to Australia’s rabbit plague. Forget calicivirus. Let’s just get rabbits on the menu, in the oven and on the barbeque. Delicious, especially shared with friends on a chilly autumn evening over a bottle of De Bortoli Melba Reserve. But perhaps we should go back to the beginning.

Last night we descended on the beautiful Australia Street Guesthouse owned by our hosts, acclaimed photo artist Anne Zahalka, her TV producer husband Ian Collie and daughter Alice. Drew and Rachel were in the kitchen together, each slightly daunted because neither had cooked rabbit before. Thankfully the process was not at all like the rabbit boiling scene in Fatal Attraction. Far from it. With Drew taking the reigns as Head Chef and Rachel taking the supporting role of Sous Chef, things went surprisingly well. After frying bacon, onion and garlic, then browning the pieces of rabbit, Drew deglazed the pan and left the bunnies simmering in red wine and herbs for an hour. Meanwhile Rachel busily prepared side dishes of baked carrots, green beans and polenta. Daniel poured some wine and watched.

Photo: Anne Zahalka

With dinner underway, we had the opportunity to get a bit sauced up too with our hosts. And there certainly was a lot to talk about, from Anne’s latest exhibition HOMEGROUND!, to Ian’s new television series Rake and of course the Biennale of Sydney that just opened last week. Amidst all of this, the very talented young Alice performed a haunting piano piece she had composed herself, then an interpretive dance of a Greek myth. Clearly talent runs in the family. Soon dinner was ready and it was time for us to pull our rabbit out of the hat, so to speak. And we think we did that with aplomb. Drew’s dish was rich, succulent and had everyone asking for more. Rachel’s polenta ,which alarmingly resembled ectoplasm, was rather less popular. But hey, you can’t win them all…

Photo: Anne Zahalka

After dinner, we were joined by two of Anne and Ian's American relatives, Lauren and Nate, who were staying in their popular in-house Bed and Breakfast. And that’s when the wigs came out. How did we end up here? Not your typical Sunday night dinner but then we weren’t dining with a typical family. In the spirit of Anne’s art practice, we’ll let the photos, taken mostly this time by a famous guest photographer, tell the whole story.

Don't forget to check out Anne's fantastic show HOMEGROUND! and join her for an artist walk and talk on 22 May at 3pm at the Zanzi Bar and ending at the Union Hotel at 4pm in Newtown. That will sure be a pub crawl to remember.