The beach is good for the soul. It puts niggles in perspective and snaps the big picture into focus. And water is King for kids! They’re so active on the beach – running, swimming, cartwheeling – busy being happy and content and revelling in nature. I can kick back and congratulate myself on being such an effortlessly wonderful parent (NB – This is not always the case!). We’re really lucky to live in Sydney at the moment and spontaneous after-school trips to the beach are common – we often stay for dinner, dragging our sandy butts home when the sun sets.
Our local beach is Balmoral in Sydney, it’s absolutely divine with an island connected by a little bridge, a rockpool and snorkelling spots. There’s a shark-netted swimming area with rumoured seahorses and circling pensioners in swimming caps. Away from the ‘drink’ there’s a playground and ginormous Moreton Bay fig trees for the kids to climb if it gets too cold to swim.
The main fish and chip shop is ‘Bottom of the Harbour’ and as far as chip shops go, it’s fancy – not the all-in-one super-portion-wrapped-in-white-paper variety. It’s not cheap but the fish is fresh and their awareness of gluten free issues will have me coming back.
Firstly – they offer grilled fish. It’s grilled on cotton seed oil and is made in a separate area to the battered and crumbed goods. There is no flour used on any of the grilled fish – the only dusting is cracked pepper.
Also – the chips are cooked separately to the battered bits so are not contaminated by flour particles in the oil. This is really important for coeliacs, where even a crumb of flour will cause internal damage. At Bottom of the Harbour, the production line is visible and the chip frying area is reassuringly separated from other frying by a work bench – the battered fish and potato scallops (that’s potato cakes to you Victorians) are fried on the other side.
So my advice is to try to plan if you’re off on a beach adventure. ‘Grill’ the chip shop on the phone before you set out – don’t wait until you’re exhausted and hungry and desperate to eat.
And once you find a good one, let them know you appreciate their awareness and care – top spots need to be nurtured!