I am not in Italy. I am not in Menton. And the closest I currently am to the turquoise sea and cliff bars of Dubrovnik are the motivational photographs I’ve printed out to take to the hospital with me.
Yet that is what this dish makes me itch for.
Instead, I am ferrying around something the size of a melon to places with names like Baby Kingdom, Baby Universe, Baby Galaxy and Baby insert-ridiculously-aspirationally-sized-domain-here.
I am attempting to put together flat pack furniture, then rage-quitting when in folly I hammer wooden studs all the way through to the other side of a pristine, trim white change table/chest of drawers and splinter the once baby-smooth side.
I do not have the patience or dexterity for flat pack at the moment.
I am spending spare hours sourcing hypo allergenic washing powder and transferring onesies, towels and singlets in size denominations that sound mostly like the first line of one of my favourite Nina Simone song through the washing machine- then swearing like a sailor when it stalls. I do not have the energy to deal with faltering appliances at the moment.
And I am being told (by my father-in-law no less), that I waddle.
As much as I hate it; it’s true. A lifetime of smug ease in doing full lotus in yoga classes is coming to bite back, hard. The sudden influx of end of relaxin in my system means my hips are now essentially attached with half sucked jelly snakes. Add to that the frequent searing, stabbing pain of a bold head onto my sciatic nerve which causes me to yelp like a puppy snagged in barbed wire. As you can sense; I’m a real treat to go for a stroll with right now.
This has been the last week in which I’m feeling ok about travelling outside of Sydney. So off I went to my mother and sister’s country-town, about 2.5 hours down the coast of NSW.
I plucked limes from the bowers in my mother’s backyard (not after first confusing them with the unripe oranges) and experimented with a lime and coconut delicious pudding. Based on popular demand we returned to week 31 of this gestation and made the lower fat cauliflower mac and cheese, which was eaten by a fire pit with roast lamb, spiced pumpkin puree, duck fat potatoes and greens with feta.
And in the middle of all of it I fell deeply into abyss of baby brain. It appears that I’ve returned to Sydney without my keys to the flat, or the car.
I can recite to you what supplements I’m trying to stalk in the vain hope that they will make this whole pushing-a-melon-out-of-a-smaller-place process easier. But I can no longer parrot enough passable Italian to be able to order elegantly at a restaurant. I can’t grab the name of the trattoria where we ate sublime prosciutto con melone just north of Pisa. And I can’t recall the not-so-distant life in which if I wanted to re ignite that taste, we would have just jumped on a flight next weekend to go and source it again.
So instead, in this week of melons, I’m left with this.
It’s a warming and novel twist of the complimentary flavours of melon and prosciutto- but leaves the cured meat to the sidelines (if you’re feeling shy about eating those sorts of things). The fruit gets a dance through a fire of a barbecue, or a quick twist on a griddle pan. This side step adds char and interest- and also some life to the slices if you’re facing a lack lustre melon.
There’s basil and toasted pine nuts, balsamic, salt and pepper and some toasted breadcrumbs for crunch. But most important of all, is a milky orb of burrata. These balls of buffalo mozzarella have a placid centre that will seep and weep once the sphere is plundered, providing soft threads of cheese and a DIY dressing when muddled with balsamic. (They will also exactly resemble the side of a pristine white flat pack change table that has been punctured by excessive force. Except in this instance, a broken centre will bring nothing but delight).
This dish is the taste of escape, sunshine, pink wine and pleasant days. Which when the only packing you’ll be doing now is for a hospital bag and you’re seriously contemplating strapping your hips with sports tape to enable you to navigate down a fluorescent lit aisle to collect another change table topper, because the first one you bought was oversized- is a good thing.
Let nobody ever tell you that this growing-a-human thing wasn’t glamorous. I’m living the dream I tell you. Long may it reign.
Griddled Rockmelon with Balsamic, Buffalo Mozzarella and Basil
Serves 3-4 as a light lunch, or a group as part of an antipasto spread. Is lovely with cured meats and bruschettas
2 tbsp rustic breadcrumbs, fried in 1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium rockmelon/cantaloupe
1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 small bunch of basil
2 balls of buffalo mozzarella (check that it’s pasteurised if feeding to pregnant ladies)
2 tbsp pinenuts, toasted
Good quality olive oil, salt and pepper
Here’s how we roll
1) Preheat the bbq, grill or a ridged pan.
2) Cut the rockmelon/cantaloupe in half. Scoop out all the seeds. Then cut each half into six slim segments.
3) Use a sharp knife to trim the rind from the melon slices.
4) Brush each slice with balsamic vinegar.
5) Transfer to the grill and cook on a medium heat for 2 minutes on each side, until you have a light char.
6) Divide the basil and pine nuts among the plates, or serve on one long platter. Arrange the griddled melon slices and top with roughly torn pieces of mozzarella. Scatter the breadcrumbs, season well with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil and the remaining balsamic vinegar.
Forty Weeks of Feasting
Each week mad websites and baby books will tell you how big your baby now is in comparison to a seed, fruit or vegetable. It starts as a poppy seed and goes from there. To make this process a little more palatable, join me as I bake my way through. Here’s the journey so far.