31 December 2016

My Summer: Elias Hallaj (aka CBR foodie)

| Elias Hallaj
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For RiotACT contributor Elias Hallaj, summer in Canberra is all about spending more time with his family and doing some of the activities he doesn’t have time for during a normal busy working week and the school term, when helping his better half feed, clothe and raise five small children is a challenge in itself.

This summer I’m most looking forward to … catching up on all the things I missed out on during a very busy year at work. Thankfully I can look back through the RiotACT and easily spot some must-see and must-do activities that I can enjoy with my family. If I do get down to the South Coast for a few days I’ll definitely follow John Thistleton’s advice about how to make the most of the trip.

I’m least looking forward to … the heat. Our 40-year-old air conditioner which sits in the dining room window of our our old, poorly insulated, 40-year-old house, finally carked it last week. It wasn’t very good but it did reduce the temperature in the living rooms and kitchen and it’s really hot without it! I might have to spend more time at numerous air-conditioned places around Canberra while we work out what we should buy to replace the aircon we now sorely miss.

The best swimming pool in Canberra is … (for us because we live within an easy drive of both of them) CISAC in Belco or the new pool at Gungahlin. When it gets really hot or really cold we tend to choose Belco because its closer, has good protection from the sun in summer and cold in winter, and the kids are at an age where the added thrill of the water slide make a powerful argument.

My favourite freshwater swimming hole is … Kambah Pool. That said, I’ve recently read some good things about a few other spots so will hopefully get a chance to explore some more over the next few weeks. Our family has also been known to get wet in Lake Ginninderra.

The best beach on the NSW coast is … the one that I am closest to at the time. Over the next few weeks I’m hoping to be visiting mum and dad in Sydney a few times and the two easiest beaches to get to near where they live now are Little bay and La Perouse. Both are pretty lame compared to most surf beaches around Sydney and the South Coast but they’ll be convenient, and our four year old daughter doesn’t like surf anyway.

When I’m on summer holidays I like to … eat and sleep. Obviously that will eventually kill me so I am also hoping to get some exercise as well: maybe take the kids for a roll down a famous hill, walk and play with the dogs more often (maybe check out some of Canberra’s awesome dog parks!), visit some galleries and museums, do some reading, cooking, drawing and spend some quality time with our kids (mostly breaking up fights and applying band-aids).

My favourite summer drink is … home brewed beer. I love the sense of achievement and the frugal high I get from making my own brew. I just use a simple Coopers home brew kit but hope to get the ingredients and time to do something from scratch. Time is the biggest obstacle.

My ice-cream of choice is … anything that is in the freezer, or if I’m in Braddon – Mr Frugii Desert Laboratory!

The salads I like to eat in summer are … usually full of colour and numerous ingredients. I’ve made tabouleh in the past and although it is time-consuming the taste and satisfaction of a long-time favourite are worth it. I’m planting more parsley in the back-yard to ensure there’s a regular supply in future. You need a lot of parsley to make it taste authentic.


The al fresco dining spots I’ll be hanging out this summer … are mostly in my back yard while I tend to the garden, feed chooks, amuse children and dogs and cats AND SMOKE MEAT!

The sport I’m looking forward to watching this summer is … baseball! Mostly because of the food!

When it’s too hot to be outside I’ll probably be at … Questacon or a similar child-friendly national institution.

The summer flicks I’m planning to see this summer are … Rogue One (seen it already) and a few zombie movies that I have bought on DVD but haven’t had a chance to watch yet. And maybe some Veep!

On my summer holiday reading pile are … about 20 political books, blogs and films as well as this baby pictured below (The World Atlas of Beer). Due to heightening cholesterol and sugar levels I’m probably going to be spending as much time in the future reading about and talking about beer as drinking it. It’s better to live vicariously than not at all!

Elias Hallaj (aka CBRfoodie) is a part-time food blogger and full-time political staffer who has joined RiotACT as a regular contributor. All opinions are his own. If you have any tips or feedback you can find him on Twitter @CBRfoodie.

If you’d like to share your responses to our My Summer cues, please log on and upload your own version for publication in coming weeks.

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Elias Hallaj (aka CBRFoodie)11:14 pm 02 Jan 17

Thanks Suzanne and Rachel. I’m happy following recipes from various cookbooks and I’ve found with smoking it just requires a bit more patience than regular grilling. I tried smoking trout for the first time today and it tasted so good that sadly now have a new addiction. ?

Rachel Moore6:21 pm 02 Jan 17

I feel this article would be best named “My Summer Kitchen”. Yumo! I am starving just from reading your article and seeing the pics of all that delicious food!

Suzanne Kiraly4:20 pm 02 Jan 17

You are a true foodie, my friend!
I am so envious that you have the skills to smoke your own meat – that’s a seriously impressive skill! And it looks wonderful. Unfortunately, I only know how to eat it – and even then, not without guilt because two of my three kids have turned vegan:-)

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