welcome to the white mountains


“Oh you should see it, she told me with two hands clasp together in front of her chest and eyes wide with excitement.  New England and the White Mountains in the summertime is just so beautiful.”

NH White Mountains The KancThis was part of Tommo’s pitch as we locked in our plans to leave Australia and move to somewhere in New England. In all my visits to the US and New England it was true, I had never seen her in the summertime. Always in those nondescript times of year. No longer fall but not yet winter. No longer winter but not yet spring kind of months. Always echoing the cold of winter with grey skies, brown grass and leafless trees. Of course I was curious, maybe even a wee bit excited for the new adventure. Beyond summer I was even excited for winter and to see falling snow and a white Christmas for the first time in my life ever.


Now anyone who knows the northern US and New England specifically would see through my wife’s pitch of a beautiful New England summertime and its Anne of Green Gables painted eternal bliss.  Lacking were a few simple meteorological nuances that any sun kissed Australian looking to follow my lead should probably know. Have you ever wanted to visit Siberia… well the winters in the northeast are essentially the same, yay! Don’t like spring? well not to worry, in northern New England did you know it doesn’t exist, just a couple of weeks in May and you can move straight into summer, phew! And summer, well that equates to a only 10 weeks, maybe even less if your lucky before the first yellow hue appears in the landscape and leaves begin to turn and your soul slowly begins to wither on its journey to January.

franconia village NH

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Strawberry Rhubarb Scone “Biscuit” Cobbler

strawberry rhubarb cobbler ice cream

“Now at least, I understand. As it turns out, a “biscuit” is what one is to call an ill used scone.”

strawberry rhubarb cobbler

The first time I saw it was well before the turn of the millennium. That would make it something like 16TBT. I was working aboard a replica of the HMAV Bounty, the square rigger built for the famous film, Mutiny on the Bounty starring Mel Gibson and Sir Anthony Hopkins. It was all very theatrical little job and damn good fun. Each crew member with a role to play dressed in buccaneer type garb all sashes and bandanas, ooh arrh-ing and aye aye captain-ing and all that kind of pirate talk melarky. We would take the old girl out with our guests and steam into the wind, somewhere into Sydney’s vast harbor. It was different everyday and as with all things sailing, our itinerary was dependent on the wind.


We would steam past the Opera House and turn under the Harbor Bridge or out past Fort Denison pointing out Sydeny landmarks and historical sites as we went. Once a destination of nowhere in particular had been reached we would come about, that being to turn the ship around. We would set those heavy square canvas sails to the song of sea shanties and sail back the way we had come, in  silence except for the sound of wind through the rigging and a hum of a generator keeping the beer cold and food hot. Lunch was a spread of roasts, grilled meats, seafood, salads, a giant tropical fruit platter and Australian cheese board and to finally finish the meal off–tea, coffee and the humble scone was served with King Island Dairy’s double cream and strawberry jam.

Waiting patiently to do as a sweet scone was born to do.

That is when the question first arose.


Why oh why are those mad Americans dipping our “for the end of the meal” scones into their “middle of the meal” roast beef and gravy, what kind of barbarity is this?


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Spaghetti Carbonara with Tomato and Basil


“They stemmed the flow of my alcohol rich blood with the aid of a kitchen towel roll tied to my head with electrical tape and gave me a pint of Irish whiskey and waited until I passed out.”

electric tomatoes

There is something to be said about blue water sailing, to be amongst the elements far out to sea with the waxing and waning of the moon. Wooden boats and iron men as they used to say. Now much more plastic boats and plastic men, but the thrill is still the same. That being said, there is something pretty fantastic about being stuck in port for six months within walking distance of a pub and with not a guest to be seen. This is exactly how I finished yachting on what was to be one of my favorite gigs with an awesome bunch of people, siting at the dock in the birth place of pesto genovese or simply put, Pesto. In the Italian city of Genoa.

spaghetti carbonara with tomato basil

Now don’t go all “goo gah” on me because it’s Italy, like you guys seem to love to do. Spend enough time in Italy and you will quickly learn that nothing works, everyone is a con artist and its really hard to find a fekking salad. Unless slice tomatoes on a plate is your idea of salad then knock your socks off, book a flight cause the salads are awesome. So as Italian cities go Genoa is some what of a shit hole.

spaghetti carbonara with tomato basil

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Crispy Duck with Candied Orange Raspberry Sauce

crispy duck with candied orange raspberry sauce

“Are you thinking some Peking duck action from Chinatown right now?”

candied orange

So I get a call from a mate who lives down in Boston. Not a new mate, an old mate from my home town in Australia, we’ve known each other since we were kids. Him a couple years younger, my brothers age but he spent most of his growing up at our house and standing in front of our fridge. We did all the things boys in high school do, before moving on. After high school we took very different paths but we both traveled a lot and we just so happened to wind up in New England and call her home.

crispy duck

Now the pure coincidence that a childhood best friend from a dusty farming town in the middle of Australia is only a skip and jump away from me, both of us 10,000 miles from where we grew up…now that my friends very much gives me something to be thankful for.

Something I pull out each and every year since landing in America and throw in the “Thanksgiving hat” so to speak. This is no small thing and you’re probably wondering why I bring up Thanksgiving in June. See we as Australians don’t celebrate this day of giving thanks, no not at all, not in the very slightest. Not because we have better things to do or lack appreciation for what we have, simply because the Mayflower never arrived in Sydney harbor; no pilgrims on our doorstep. So as this thing of thanks is something I’m not entirely used to, I like to really save up a couple of things to be thankful for throughout the year and pull them out to throw in the Thanksgiving ring, show you all that I am up for the occasion.

Okay so waaaayyyy off topic, but I’m glad we shared that moment.

So as I was saying,
said mate (Wax) gives me a shout, “Hey I’m coming to the mountains!” Just so happens Wax is still playing Rugby and there is a tournament on ……… and that tournament just so happens to be In. My. Village.

What!? My wee mountain village of 1100 strong hosts a bloody Rugby tournament for all of New England? Holy crap how fecking awesome is that. Now I’ve got two things to be thankful for this year. Three if I count the wife.

Unfortunately I’m busy on the day which is a major bummer, doing all sorts of businessy business stuff a couple of hours away in Vermont, but I should be back in time I say, to catch him and the boys having a run in the afternoon. Bit of a round about story but this actually brings me to duck and this post.

crispy duck with candied orange raspberry sauce

Let me start by saying that duck is the first thing I’ll gravitate to while scrolling through a menu, always. I love this damn bird and it’s rich flavour and crispy skinned goodness. I don’t care if it comes Thai and curried, Chinese and crispy or French and confit. I love preparing it, serving it and eating it up. Such a versatile ingredient that always makes you look like a pro from starters to main course and even dessert, that’s right I said it. Duck fat caramels, yes it’s a thing!

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Oysters Kilpatrick

Oysters Kilpatrick | The Burnt Chef

“These oysters couldn’t be any more American than if they were served in a pretzel roll with a pickle”

Oysters Kilpatrick | The Burnt Chef

Nothing says summer more than freshly shucked oysters and a crisp glass of Sémillon on a beach bar’s sun deck watching the Pacific Ocean.

Yes it is an acquired taste.

Yes they feel like cold salted snot.

Yes we have all been there and no, judge you I will not.

If your first response to the thought of oysters is to cross your arms, spread your stance and shudder with one eye half closed as you over exaggerate dry retching, then I get you, I do, but you need to relax, there is a segway;

A delicious half way point full of sweet ketchupy and salty bacon goodness.

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