Pineapple jalapeno salsa (an ode to Avoca Beach)

Just as there are sounds that can whisk you to memories, there are tastes that take me straight to a place.

This salsa is one of them. I rarely make it when I’m not at Avoca Beach, an hour and a half north of Sydney- because the tang and burn that I’m not there is almost too much to bear.

Avoca to me, is magic.

It was where I spent some summer breaks as a teenager, coddled in the comfort of my god mother’s holiday flat. It’s a small town and a long smiling curve of a beach, with a rockpool at one end and a mix of galumphing waves and a tepid lagoon. I remember bonfires on the sand, illicit sips of booze on New Year’s Eve and walking to its heritage movie theatre to watch Baz Luhrman’s Romeo and Juliet for the third time- and still ugly crying at the close.

Avoca was where we’ve gone with some of our best friends for weekend breaks, luxuriating in their parent’s beach front palace. We’ve made one of The Hungry One’s black forrest cake feasts there. We’ve carbo loaded there before sending the boys off to do an Olympic distance triathlon in Newcastle. And Avoca was where we ran after The Hungry One’s mum was taken from him. Two days after we’d spent time in the grey lighting of Paddington Police station we drove fiercely towards the beach, tight hugs of friends and the hope that the salt on our faces would soon come from the surf.

It was 12 months later at New Year’s Eve at Avoca that I first made this salsa. We were feeding a hoard; fifteen of us at long tables balanced on ankle length grass. There was slow cooked pork and a big pot of beans. There was enough guacamole to feed an army. There were Coronas and margaritas. Pink wine. And a huge pot of a spicy and sweet jumble made from pineapple, jalapenos, coriander, lime and red onion. 

Last weekend we were in Avoca again, for the happiest of occasions. Two of our best friends were getting married at a property just five minutes up the hill. For two days before a football team of us piled into a rented house and alternated tying bows on the backs of chairs, running on the beach and drinking cocktails in the sun.

I made this salsa for our first meal all together, battling with blunt knives in a rental kitchen and missing my microplane desperately. Despite all of that- it was perfect. 

As was the wedding.

Running around Sea Farm doing some prep

Now the ‘party’s over’ syndrome has descended a little. We’ve left the beach, though there’s still some sand in the bottom of my bag. We’re flying back to London tomorrow. 

I think this is going to be one of the first meals I’ll make when we land.

Even if it hurts a little, it’ll be worth it for the memories.

Pineapple jalapeno salsa

Serves 6-8

Is perfect with slow roasted pork and a cabbage and radish salad. Serve with tortillas and plenty of lime. Also plays nicely with fish or prawn tacos.

A sharp knife and a microplane are ideal, but it can be done without.

Shopping/ foraging

Half a pineapple
1 small bunch of coriander/cilantro
1 tablespoon of jalapenos in a jar
1 fresh jalapeno
1 lime
1 red onion

Here’s how we roll

1. Finely dice the red onion.
2. Cut the skin from the pineapple and cut into small cubes.
3. Add the zest and the juice of the lime to the red onion and the pineapple.
4. Finely chop the stems of the coriander/cilantro and add that to the salsa.
5. Finely chop the jalapenos in the jar and the fresh- add the seeds if you want it hot.
6. Add the coriander leaves/ cilantro just before serving.

  1. That whole section of coast around Avoca and Terrigal is just beautiful. I used to go to a friend's holiday house at North Avoca, and every night her mum would look towards the south and say "Oh look, it's just like fairyland" – and it really was.

  2. Love the write up..
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  3. Just beautiful Tori. Brought a tear to my eye – not unlike that trip of ours to Romeo & Juliet! x

  4. beautiful!! Since I am moving up to Sydney shortly, this seems like a great place to visit. I love love love beaches.

  5. I am planning a trip to Oz next year. Haven't been back in a few years so will surely use your tips! Thanks for this. Its great.

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