carbo loading comedown

There’s been some serious carbo loading going on.

On Sunday The Hungry One finished his first Olympic distance triathlon. To the uninitiated that involves a 1500m swim, a 40 km bike ride and a 10 km run. On any given day that would be more than you would want to do before breakfast, but when you’re buffeted by winds that could pluck umbrellas like stray hairs and cosseted by 12 degree temperatures- well let’s just say it’s an impressive feat.

Luckily the day before we found a sturdy source of carbohydrates, right next to the race registration. As I’ve said before- we learned from the master and carbo loading is an important part of any race preparation.

The Honeysuckle precinct of Newcastle is an interesting counterpoint to Sydney’s Cockle Bay. Clean, modern, new, it too faces the harbour, yet instead of luxury liners and cruise ships you look out onto tankers.

For lunch The Hungry One carbed up with a hefty serving ($24) of paparadelle with flaky braised beef, pebbles of green olives, garlic and bound by tomato and a little fleck of chilli for curiosity. Complimentary warm polenta bread and Hunter Valley olive oil paved the way for a generous entree serve ($19) of anorexic tagliatelli with blue swimmer crab, lemon, shavings of zucchini flower stem and fried breadcrumbs. I’m usually not a fan of double starching- but I was carbing up in sympathy.

Don’t worry- it wasn’t arduous- somehow the lemon binding it all together trilled and tricked you into feeling like you were eating light.

Acquazul was a place we luckily stumbled into, but enjoyed so much we vowed to return.

All in all the service was so prompt, the space so pleasant, and the space age/ boat cabin style bathroom at our room back at the Ibis so unnerving that we returned just four hours later for dinner. I’m not sure we were hungry again, but we were eating for a cause.

The next morning as the boys lined up to start at 7 am the wind was so wicked I’m sure it was only the mound of portobello mushroom risotto ($26)as ballast that kept The Hungry One afloat in the churning harbour. My rectangular margarta pizza ($18) topped with slices of tomato and quarters of buffalo mozarella proved worthy insulation as I stood dutifully on the sidelines as bicycles zipped past. The rocket, parmesan and pine nut salad was earnest enough to provide the oomph to cheer while the red faces and firm feet plodded past, while its dressing was sly enough to tempt you to tease “Run Forrest, Run!”

Next time we return we’ll be sure to investigate the non carboriffic options further, from the whole roasted fish, to the insalata caprese. And as much as we decreed we wouldn’t be drinking the night before the race, it should be noted that a cheeky glass of the Margaret River Tigers Tale Cab Merlot ($8) is mighty helpful in calming pre-race nerves.

So- the race over and it’s back home for celebrations and rest.

The choice for carb comedown involved a gradual step down- a little bit of carbs with a lot of flavour.

That night, after a two hour nap and a bath with epsom salts the triathlete sat down to a roast chicken with lemon, herbs and garlic up its jacksey, with bread sauce and a tricolor salad of wilted spinach, basil, sliced fresh tomato, crumbled goats cheese and a dusting of fingernail sized organic pepitas.

For dessert there was a cherry clafoutis with chocolate icecream -because every hero deserves a treat.

It might be easy for The Hungry One come down from that many carbs and from being an athlete superstar. There’s even leftover clafoutis in the fridge.

But for me- to step down from being that good a wife? That’s going to be take a while. Start your stopwatches.

Bread sauce

I’m not sure if this is the official version of bread sauce, but I made it up along the way and I like it. It’s slightly creamier than gravy and a bit rounder and gentler. It’s like chicken with a brown blanket hug.

Make a gravy by adding a quarter of a bottle of Rose to the bottom of the roasting pan half an hour into the chicken’s roasting.

While the chicken is resting put the roasting pan on the top of the stove. Use a spatula and start scraping all the good crusty bits around together. Sift on top of that two tablespoons of chickpea flour. You can use plain flour, but the nutty flavour of chickpea flour is really fun. Stir the flour in and try and work out some of the lumps. Add a generous splash more of Rose from your presumably full glass (about half a cup) and stir around while the gravy thickens. Then add half a cup of milk and two tablespoons of breadcrumbs. Stir with the spatula until it simmers and thickens. Spoon on top of the carved chicken.

Newcastle dining recommendation: Acquazul.

Leave a comment