The Ekka

Brisbane Breakfast

Any self-respecting individual that has spent some time living in Brisbane knows that once a year, in August, the Brisbane Showgrounds on Gregory Terrace come into their own when the Ekka arrives. Officially ‘The Royal Queensland Show’, those from Brisbane know the only real names for it are “The Ekka” or “The Show”. If you’re my Grandma you can get away with calling it, “The Exhibition”, but anyone who is not my Grandma should not take that risk.

In Brisbane, there is a public holiday to go to The Show. It is very originally called, “Show Day” or, “The Ekka Holiday”. It is better than Melbourne, who take a whole day off for one 40 second horse race that promotes gambling and a somewhat liberal concern for animal welfare. It is also better than the Northern Territory that take a day off for picnics. While I applaud the concept, the fact it has to be taken in the middle of winter to prevent everyone from sizzling to a crisp is somewhat telling. Show Day is, without doubt, the best localised public holiday in the country. (Ok, it’s subjective. Proclamation Day marks a massive advance in society, so it’s pretty good too).

The real beauty of the Ekka is the way it has maintained its essence as an agricultural show, despite being plonked in the middle of a city. A part of this success is due the enduring favourite foods that show up year after year. Grabbing a strawberry sundae before heading in to the arena for the fireworks, eating a pile of fairy floss the size of your head before 10am, the CWA scones that are equally fantastic year after year, and the risk of eating a dagwood dog on a stick because everyone knows someone who became violently ill eating one, but there’s also the risk you didn’t really go to the Ekka if you didn’t eat one.

Largely, I’m pretty down on Brisbane, but the Ekka is a real saving grace of the place. And somehow, T2’s Brisbane Breakfast manages to remind me of all the nice parts of Brisbane, without the humid, disappointing aspects. It’s a blend based on a smooth black, with a light fruity flavour, but not a bold fruitiness. The mango notes make the cup fresh and sunshiney, like a morning in early spring, when the air is still cool, provided you stay out of the sun that already has serious bite to it. This brew is a pleasure to remember Brissy by.

Brisbane Breakfast: 4/5
Enjoy with: a strawberry sundae and the sheepdog trial.

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What’s In a Name Pt 2

Grand Yunnan

Things that are mightily improved by adding “Grand” at the start:

Pianos
Fathers
Mothers
Parents
Children
Central
Canyon
Canal
National
Final
Old Duke of York
Yunnan

I’m a pretty big fan of bog standard, run of the mill Yunnan, so it really takes something serious to turn “Yunnan” into “Grand Yunnan” and for that to be meaningful. Grand Yunnan is a dark and musky brew with a bold flavour. The full bodied fermented black tea flavour has the necessary amount of tannin to appreciate the richness of the tea It’s woody, a little bit smokey and has a mild sweet aftertaste. This is the kind of tea I drink because I can’t drink alcohol. It’s one to sip, savour and appreciate the complexity of, like a good whiskey (I imagine).

Grand Yunnan: 5/5
Enjoy with: any moment you want to make grand.

Look At Me!

Arctic Fire

What it feels like writing a job application:

Tell us a time when you were unequivocally amazing.

Being unequivocally amazing is as much a state of mind as it is an action. Maintaining this state of mind takes years of practice, but in the roles I have held in the past, I have taken the ample opportunities provided to hone this skill. A specific example of a time I utilised this frame of mind, was when I called a team meeting under the guise of actual work. Once I commenced the meeting, taking charge like a good leader, I unleashed a torrent of my unequivocal amazingness on my team. I received stellar feedback, and many of the team commented on how they felt like better people having attended the meeting.

 

What it feels like writing a job application for a Christian organisation:

Tell us about a time when you were unequivocally amazing, but make it sound spiritual.

Only God is unequivocally amazing. But I am a close second. I spend 97 hours a week doing God’s work, even if 50% of that looks like me fiddling on my phone or chatting over coffee. I don’t so much sleep as have extended sessions of deep meditative prayer where I can seem asleep. My family are the most important part of my Christian work. If they weren’t in the background to prop me up, I would just look like a raging workaholic with no soul.

 

What it feels like writing a Government job application:

There exists, in some parts of this role, the need for you to believe in unequivocal amazingness and in your ability to deliver measurable, timely, on budget unequivocal amazingness. Explain the process you would undertake to fulfil this expectation.

Both of us know that ‘on budget’ is a very loose term when it comes to Government initiatives. Similarly, ‘timely’ and ‘measurable’ have a degree of flexibility unseen in the private sector. This said, I would probably just go about the task the best way I know how, delivering the best result I possibly could. But in order to veil that reality, I will now deliver a series of buzzwords so that my application shows higher in whatever computer system screens these applications. Synergy. Efficacy. Narrative. Conversation. Stakeholder. Convergence. Growth. Cross-platform. Adaptability.

 

What it feels like applying for a low-paying job at a company with high profits:

We are unequivocally amazing. We know it. We make money. We make money like you’ve never seen. You wish you could see the amount of money we make, because it would blow your tiny mind. You will only ever be able to hope to see the kind of profit we turn, because if you could see our genius, you would die. Your eyes would explode out of your head and then you would die. We are so important and we do so much stuff and make so much money. SO MUCH MONEY! But none of us want to do any administration, so we want you to. We don’t value your contribution to our company, because we make all the money, no matter how much essential support you provide.

Ok. I can do the administration.

 

What it feels like drinking Arctic Fire:

A bit of a rip off. This tea is such a mongrel to brew correctly. It needs rinsing, it needs second by second observation and adjustment to find the right time to make it palatable. It’s the avocado of teas: underdone, underdone, underdone, 10 seconds of perfection, ruined. If you taste an over brewed cup of this stuff it’s like knocking back a couple of packets of fisherman’s friends at the same time. A wall of menthol charges through you, leaving only despair in its wake. When it’s brewed correctly, it’s genuinely a nice tea. It’s a hearty black with a floral pop. The herbal menthol flavour makes it a perfect winter warmer tea, made specifically for a frosty morning. So Arctic Fire, much like real fire, can be pleasant if handled appropriately, and will destroy you if handled carelessly. (I rinse the leaves under cold tap water, then a 90 second brew with boiling water).

Arctic Fire: 3/5
Enjoy with: meaningful work, wherever you can find it.

It’s My Own Recipe

Creme Brûlée

When I have the energy, I really enjoy cooking. I find it so much fun to get in the kitchen and create something delicious. When I was 7 years old, I insisted I was capable of making pancakes. It turns out I was. I have never looked back.

I also enjoy reading cookbooks for leisure. I have a cookbook full of French desserts that I have never made and that I refuse to part with, mostly because I think it’s a good read. This is the primary way I have ingested the theory of cooking, and in doing so, have become confident in my ability to create a meal from scratch without any instructions.

One of my favourite creations is Creme Bru-Lamb. It’s a layered dish serve in a ramekin with mint yogurt cucumbers, tender diced lamb, creamy garlic blue cheese sauce, topped with fried Turkish bread. It is a decadent masterpiece, if I do say so myself.

Another delicious treat is T2’s Creme Brûlée. This is a black tea with a sweet streak. Hints of caramel, honey and nut dance around the cup with a mild smokey and woody backdrop. It is a superb afternoon tea for when you want something sweet without committing to cake. It screams dessert, but drinking black tea after dinner is not really great for your health (but hey, I’m not your mum, do what you want). Be warned, it’s easy to over brew.

Creme Brûlée: 4/5
Enjoy with: a good (cook)book.

Read the Signs

Aussie Wattle Breakfast

There is a difference between silver wattle and gold wattle. These are trees that spontaneously burst into bloom multiple times per year like they’re on fire with flowers and send the pollen count skyrocketing. I’m ok with that, because I am fortunate enough not to suffer from hay fever or asthma.

The thing I was told is to look for is gold wattle flowering in August and silver wattle flowering in May. Gold wattle in August is supposed to mean a stinking hot summer is on its way, and you should book an extended period in a snowy northern hemisphere location to avoid it. Silver wattle flowering in May is supposed to signal a mild winter, in which case, you should book a an extended period in a snowy Tasmanian retreat to avoid it.

Aussie Wattle Breakfast signals that a good cup of tea is ahead. You’re in for a bright, woody brew with muted floral notes. It’s a smooth black with an earthy aftertaste. The hint of tannin gives it a hearty boost. You should book an extended period per day enjoying this sip.

Aussie Wattle Breakfast: 4/5
Enjoy with: your own company, especially in a snowy hideaway.

Snap Snap

Daintree

If you haven’t been to Far North Queensland, I can recommend it. I also recommend driving to get there is you live anywhere south of Far North Queensland. Queensland is an ever changing landscape of rolling hills, rocky crags, bulldust swept plains, arid desert, sparkling coast, and scrubby bush. The journey only makes it easier to appreciate the destination. Even for someone who hates the heat like I do, it’s worth the visit.

Something to keep in mind though. It is not safe. Not even remotely. Nearly everything can kill you immediately, or kill you before you get anywhere near adequate medical help. Snakes, spiders, other assorted venomous bugs lurk on and under every conceivable surface. The ants are vicious and the flies are plentiful.

But the scariest thing that can happen is that you realise you are swimming in the same body of water as a crocodile. I stayed exclusively in fresh water sources, meaning the worst I could encounter is a freshwater crocodile. They can still leave you with a nasty bite, but they’re much more docile than saltwater crocodiles. Unless you threaten them, they’ll leave you alone. But when you see that the floating stick further out in the river actually has eyes, you lose the desire to swim, no matter how hot it is.

Still, the top end is worth a visit because it is spectacular and ancient and spiritual.

I’ve not been to the Daintree Forest specifically, but if it’s anything like Daintree tea, it’s a winner. Daintree is a smooth black tea that leans towards savoury in taste. With the right brew time, it can almost taste a tiny bit salty. It has light black tea notes, without any dark and musky flavours. When taken black, it’s a real pick-me-up. But this tea was built for milk. Milk smooths out all the rough edges in the flavour, but somehow the cup still tastes like black tea once you add milk. It’s a magic trick in your mouth.

Daintree: 5/5
Enjoy with: everything good in the world.

A Morning Together

Panyong Congou

Up, up, up we go,
Kick up your legs and giggle and follow,
Dance the house from end to end,
Spin around and start again.
Sing your song,
Clap your hands,
Tell your tale,
Make your demands.
It makes you wail
When I say no,
Denied freedom
Is all you know.
With my best intentions,
With all of my love,
One boundary renders you
A mourning dove.
A story is needed!
Books reinstate calm,
Turning pages acts
As the soul’s healing balm.
And so we read,
And then another,
And another,
And another,
And another,
And another.
Surely that is plenty,
But you insist one more,
And when I say no,
You flail on the floor.
It’s time to eat,
Here’s something to munch,
You’re always happier
After lunch.
One final story,
You’re weary at best.
It’s time to lie down
And have a long rest.
And while you slumber, I marvel
That you truly belong to me.
Though I love you, you’re exhausting,
And now I need a cup of tea.

Panyong Congou is an outstanding black tea. Smooth, mild, light and friendly, this brew has no astringency, and is less overpowering than a normal black. It’s a great starting point for people who ordinarily don’t like black. There’s a woody maple note, amongst the slightest sweetness and creaminess. The mild base makes it a prime candidate for blending, and the cup sparkles with magic when milk is added. Once the dairy hits it, it becomes extra smooth and creamy and full of flavour. This is the perfect morning or afternoon tea cup.

Panyong Congou: 5/5
Enjoy with: a mum, dad, or carer who made it to nap time!