Photo courtesy of Australian Navy website http://www.navy.gov.au/ifr
Tall ships and war ships from around the world arrived this week to commemorate one hundred years since the first Royal Australian Navy’s fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour in 1913. As part of the week long International Fleet Review celebrations a fireworks and laser light show extravaganza was scheduled for Saturday evening. What better excuse to pack a picnic, head off to the Royal Botanic Gardens and enjoy the festivities from a prime viewing position on the Mare and Foal Lawn directly on the Harbour foreshore.
We arrived at our allocated spot late in the afternoon, spread out our picnic rugs and outdoor chairs. The gardens were full of bonhomie. Small groups of fireworks and naval enthusiasts enjoying the spoils of well prepared picnic baskets. Wine, cheese and pate. Selections of dips and flatbreads. Conversations periodically interrupted to marvel at the perfect synchronicity of aerial fly overs in formation.
As the sun set and anticipation began to build, those baskets yielded more substantial fare. In our case parmesan, parsley and lemon crusted lamb cutlets and a fennel, rocket and cos lettuce salad. A rhubarb frangipane tart for dessert. A very pleasant and civilised way to spend a Saturday evening.
Once the harbour plunged into darkness, hampers were packed away in readiness for the main event. It did not disappoint. For thirty minutes the night sky was illuminated with panning searchlights and laser light projections of naval imagery and history onto The Sydney Opera House sails with a simple but powerful message “We Salute You”. Our picnic spot was perfectly positioned to give us a box seat view of the unfolding extravahanza. The crowd fell silent as first notes of The Last Post bugle call drifted across the water in poignant memory of those who died in the service of their country. That moment of sombre reflection punctuated with a spectacular fireworks finale launched from the decks of illuminated warships, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and city building rooftops.
The photo, borrowed from the Australian Navy’s website as my photographic skills are way off the mark, provides but a glimpse of the beauty of the illuminated harbour. Below is the recipe for the Parmesan, Parsley and Lemon Crumbed Lamb Cutlets we enjoyed on the night to give you but a small taste of our picnic.
Parmesan, Parsley and Lemon Crusted Lamb Cutlets
12 lamb cutlets, trimmed
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
zest of 1 small lemon, finely grated
1/4 cup plain flour
25 g butter
50 ml olive oil
USING a meat mallet, gently flatten the meat on each cutlet.
Prepare the coating ingredients
COMBINE breadcrumbs, lemon zest, parsley and parmesan cheese in a shallow bowl.
WHISK eggs in a separate bowl with a splash of water and a pinch of sea salt.
COMBINE flour with a little sea salt and pepper in a third bowl
COAT each cutlet in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg. Coat in breadcrumb mixture. Place on a plate. Repeat with remaining cutlets.
COVER with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
PLACE butter and oil into a large frying pan. Heat over medium flame. The butter and oil should cover the base of the pan.
COOK three or four cutlets at a time for about 3 minutes each side for medium or until cooked to your liking. The cutlets should be crisp and golden.
DRAIN well on paper towels. Season with a liberal sprinkling of sea salt.
SERVE immediately or allow to cool a little before packing into an airtight picnic container lined with paper towel to absorb any moisture.