Sunday, 19 January 2014

Seafood, Shelly Beach, Swimming, Snorkelling, Stingrays, Spaghetti!

Well dear reader, the title sums up one of the best days we have had here. Yesterday, Saturday 18/01/2014, we planned to go to Sydney Fish Market. For those of you that have no knowledge of this amazing place, allow me to enlighten you. It is large, very large. Fish of all kinds, most of which I have never seen or heard of before, many different stalls selling raw, cooked and packaged seafood, so fresh the darn things are still gasping. Live lobsters, crabs, blue swimmers, mussels, etc, etc. On arrival, courtesy of my son James's girlfriend Sijia's driving skills, we parked in the shade, (always wise here if you want to be able to touch the car metalwork later) and proceeded to inspect the wares for the second time in a few weeks.

Having now had some little experience, we selected our oysters and I duly purchased a dozen. No, I am not going to mention the time old joke of  "only ten of them worked". Blast, I just did!

For those of you that have never tried oysters in their shell, a little advice. Do not, under any circumstances have them tampered with in any way. By this I mean having cheese put on them and grilled (known as "Mornay"). Nor any other flavourings as some Asian sellers would do. This is totally unacceptable to the true oyster connoisseur such as myself and a measure of their disrespect for such a fine and natural food. Yes, a little fresh lemon juice squeezed over the delightful bi-valve mollusc is most acceptable, but nothing else. Oysters should be brought to the mouth, the shell tipped slightly upwards and the oyster itself allowed to slide gently on to the tongue, together with the accompanying juices. In this way, the texture, taste and salty tang of the sea can be fully appreciated. The oyster can be bitten, chewed lightly or swallowed whole, according to preference. Yum! Having finished our starter so to speak, we moved on to other delights.

Soft shell crab, squid, octopus, noodles, chips and other fish were consumed. Having satisfied our appetite, we returned to the car and made our way to Shelly beach, near Manly beach. Shelly is a lovely secluded bay, the "sand" consisting of finely crushed shells which gives the beach its name. Beach shelter put up, swimming togs on, down to the sea then!

Ah, the water, delightfully warm, calm in the shallows, a great way of cooling down. But, an added and indispensable bonus, I have my mask and snorkel. Donning these, I made my way with James and another friend that we met up with at the beach to the outskirts of the bay and to a rocky area nearby. There, we swam for a long time, alongside and above large stingrays, diving, to try to touch them without letting their tails whip around and cause injury, saw huge schools of fish of various sizes and colours, zebra striped, those with iridescent blue and green colouring, some that had fins that made them look like dragons and others like streamlined eels. Best of all though was spotting a large grouper, just laying side up on the rocks and allowing itself to be "cleaned" by other fish. At first it seemed dead, but then I saw the eye move and knew what was happening. I dived towards it and it moved off. Following, I was able to almost hold it in my hands, but only succeeded in being able to hold it by the tail- fin which in itself was as large as both of my spread hands. The grouper was a beautiful dark blue in colour and after I had touched it, then it swam to deeper water and once again settled itself on the sandy bed awaiting the cleaning by other fish to resume. A sight and experience that I will never forget and treasure for all of my days.

Returning to the shallows and the sunny beach, we all chatted for a while before packing up and heading for the car. Driving back, we decided to stop at a suburban "China town" area to get a take away. Well, all except for me, as I had decided that I wanted to make a simple pasta dish that I love so much.
(My wonderful lifelong friend Kev knows the one I mean). We arrived back, enjoyed a wonderful evening together, watching old video's of Morecambe and Wise and the Two Ronnies, before retiring for the night and a well earned sleep.

A magic day? Yes. There are some that you will never forget. This is one of them for me, thank you Lord.

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  1. Great blog grandad! Perfect description of how Oyster should be eaten.