There’s a building right at the edge of North Sydney with a giant digital time and temperature display that I’m kind of obsessed with.
Every morning, as I drive past, I mentally take note of the temperature. Without fail. It’s kind of a morning ritual for me, like coffee and newspapers. I think it might be an Irish thing; as a nationality, we do tend to be unreasonably fascinated by temperature.
Take your annual summer holiday for instance; sure you couldn’t be expected to have a good foreign holiday until the mercury reaches at least 30 °C. You see, you just wouldn’t be getting your money’s worth. Sure what would be the point of leaving the country if you didn’t get pure roasted alive?!
Likewise, hot days at home are monitored with fascination – jaysus, the winky weatherman said it’s going to be 23 °C tomorrow! Oh holy god! I may dig out the shorts, let’s bring the kids to the beach, and ring the neighbors, we’re going to have a barbeque, god it’ll be great to get a bit of tan! – would be the typical thought process of many an Irish person on the annual day of summer.
Neither would a Skype conversation with anyone from home be complete without an enquiry about the temperature. It’s one hot topic!
So, true to my race, I check the temperature on my drive to work every morning, and think about what a mental country Australia is. Last Friday it was 19 °C at 7.03 am. I kid you not.
Let me just put that into context for you: at seven in the morning, in the spring, it was as warm as it sometimes ever gets in the middle of the day in Ireland in summer.
I think that means summer is officially on it’s way. Australian summer, obviously.
To celebrate, I made a wonky heirloom Caprese salad, because nothing tastes more like sunshine than tomatoes and basil. I used some juicy heirloom tomatoes and chopped everything up so roughly, you’d swear I don’t even own a knife. Then, I sat in the back garden, soaked up some rays and enjoyed it.
Wonky heirloom Caprese salad
For this salad, I adapted a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italy.
Makes enough for 4
8 balls of bocconcini (mini buffalo mozzarella balls, but you could use the larger ones either)
6 medium-size ripe heirloom tomatoes
handful of cherry tomatoes
1 red onion, very finely sliced
Splash of extra virgin olive oil
Splash of Apple cider vinegar
A For the dressing:
A handful of basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Splash of extra virgin olive oil
First off, Jamie recommends making the dressing. Roughly chop about three quarters of the basil, then pound the leaves in a mortar and pestle with a good pinch of salt. Add a splash of olive oil and stir well, the smell will be phenomenal.
For the salad, very roughly chop (or tear) the mozzarella and tomatoes into a large bowl or serving plate. Add the finely chopped onion and a dash of olive oil, a little vinegar and some salt and pepper. Drizzle the basil dressing over the top and sprinkle on the remaining basil leaves. Serve in your back garden with a glass of sparkling white and a crusty roll of bread.
If you don’t manage to finish this salad all in one sitting (it’s unlikely, but I guess it could happen), save the leftovers and mix through hot pasta for a seriously good lunchtime treat.