It’s Thursday lunchtime and we find ourselves at Fireworks Cafe in Austinmer for the second day in a row. Julie remembered it from ages ago, and it wasn’t hard to find, just off the main drag in a quiet row of shops. Fireworks is a simple cheerful room with a patchy concrete floor and handsome blue and white tiled walls. At one time I’m guessing it was a local butcher’s or maybe a fish shop. They write the menu straight onto the tiles with a chunky black texta. We like this a lot.
We have arrived half famished and promptly place our order. We are mountain women inspired to go for the seafood. Herb fish cakes with aioli and a salad which I think has wild fennel in it. There’s loads growing on the verges and scrub in the backstreets of Coledale.
The fish is flakey and the aioli creamy sharp. We also get prawn and sugar cane with green papaya salad and rice. They mince the prawns, as far as I can tell, and make them into little koftas, and then they skewer them onto sugar cane strips. They are sweet and tangy and very structural, exactly the kind of thing Julie likes to draw. Problem is we were so hungry we ate it before this had a chance to take place. I swiftly recognised that this was an opportunity to have dessert. Pistachio and cardamom yoghurt cake with lime syrup turned out to be wonderfully sticky and very good for drawing. But we felt to do justice to Fireworks it was important to go back.
Today’s lunch was shared – a Vietnamese chicken noodle salad with mint (my favourite) and coriander, and spicy lamb sausages with asparagus, onion jam, kipflers and greens. (Note: just discovered kipfler autocorrects to killer. I thought you should know.) Not only an unorthodox combo of South East Asia and Spain, but also quite unstructured dishes for Julie to draw. She persevered and did this lovely illustration of the Vietnamese salad with those tender glass noodles and rough and tumble mint leaves.
Fireworks is a great little place full of thong footed locals and smartly run by friendly staff. We have rather fallen for Coledale and the strip of villages thereabouts so we’ll be back regularly.