Saturday, 28 November 2009

Celebrity Spottage - Fred Schneider of the B52s

Ok ... guess who we saw at Lost and Found in Smithers .....


Damn I wish I had my camera on me!! You will just have to take my word for it. And what was Fred buying? Vintage Australiana Tea Towels!!

And here's one of my fav B52 tracks:

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Ants on a Tree

Ok ... M IS IN THE CLEAR!!! So we are sorta out of the woods at the moment. I just have to concentrate on what ever the hell it is I'm doing. But it makes no nevermind, M had his appointment on Tuesday just gone at 4pm. He was out of there by about 5-ish and I suggested we have a meal to celebrate.

He swung by to pick me up and we ended up parking across the way and going to Trunk for a couple of drinks. They do a mean Mojito there by the way. But I tell you that now, and when you go, some work experience nit will end up making yours with half a plantation of lime and you'd be like what the ... this is a shit blog!!!

Anyhoo, we popped over to the Seamstress to check out menus, and deciding that the food would serve us better if we were in a big group (mental note - organise dinner at drinks at Seamstress forthwith!!), we moseyed down Ltl Bourke St checking out potential places to eat at.

Feeling a little more adventurous than usual (i.e. I couldn't get any of my usual asian food "kakis" - don't stress its a malay expression, meaning legs, and by extension support and is basically a way of saying "partners in crime" or "friends" - on the phone) we ended up at ANTS BISTRO on Corrs Lane.

The Matt Preston review I have hyperlinked to gives its a resounding "meh"! But we actually enjoyed the food.

Let me preface this by saying that we were in a pretty excitable mood. And I have decided that we really know how to order food, in that we always luck on the prefect combination of complementary flavours (yes let me beat my own drum every now and then!!), and this night was no exception.

We decided to go for 2 starters. I was in the mood for something clear and fresh on the palate, and something pungent to go with it.

So we had a plate of Jellyfish:

I love jellyfish, although I'm used to having the strips a little smaller and thinner. I love the crunch and the freshness of the coriander and the hint of sesame oil ... its the thing I go to most on Cold Dish platters that you get as first course in a traditional 10 course chinese meal. (haven't had one of these for a very long time ... and they don't give you a free packet of Marlboros for each table anymore!!!)

We also ordered a 5-spice smoked fish:

M really liked it but I was looking for something more pungent so it those terms in was a little dissappointing.

For mains we had to try Ants on a Tree!! It was what attracted us to the menu in the first place. Of course it wasn't really Ants (although I have had those and I'm not a real fan of that slight ozone tint they have) but minced pork with glass noodles and finely chopped pickled veg, mushrooms and eggplant.

To complement this, we ordered tea leaf smoked duck:

Although parts of the duck were too dry for my liking, it was conveniently deboned and the smoky flavour was just right, not too heavy.
We were drinking a fair bit of Evans and Tate shiraz so perhaps there should be a disclaimer to this review - "flavour may vary according to amount of alcohol consumed"
But if you're ever stuck for a quick cheap no fuss meal ... you should check this out.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

People actually read this shit ... and take note!!!

Ok .. P I know you're a friend but I'm absolutely chuffed that someone (anyone) has read my music recommendations and actually bought something as a result. Although your 2 choices couldn't be further apart in terms of style and attitude.

So what did P get?

(i) Bibio - Ambivalence Avenue (our mutual friend MN is also a fan and much enamoured of his vinyl copy)

(ii) Health - Get Color (one word - Righteous!!)

If you want to know how my recommendations were worded, please feel free to peruse the Year in Music so Far section - Fave Picks 2009 on the Home page. You may discover something new yourself - just remember to tell me about it!!

Un-Panna-Cotta - of lukewarm pouring cream and a lovely rainy night

Ok ... it was the cook up that nearly did not happen, thanks to Mr G&T and Mrs random shots! In the end we delayed proceedings by an hour and then had to scurry round trying to find the right ingredients and failing on 2 counts, one not so important - Broad beans, the other, slightly more important - gelatin sheets - hence the unpannacotta!!

I was determined to make crab cakes for entree and we were also contemplating a consomme. I fully intended to use a tub of pre-cooked and peeled crab, but was stymied at the gates by the cookup (and card playing) nazi. I was also looking forward to the clarifying process of the consomme, but this time the Time nazi reared its "chronoloco" (Ha!! got it in!) head.

P had already bought a nice piece of Beef rib from South Melbourne market. We wasted no time in rubbing it with salt and pepper in preparation for a slow cook in the oven.

This was meant to slow cook for about 3-4 hrs in an 80 deg oven ... not something we had possession of. So I put it on the lowest setting and we trundled off to the shops. We really should have hung around and checked on it every half hour ... by the time we had completed all our shopping, the outside had already started to caramalize and quite a fair bit of the inside had cooked through ... it should have been barely breathing really ... still oozing blood as there was still one more step in the cooking process ...

P had to debone the meat (and of course we each had a bone to gnaw on with relish ... certainly no vegos in this fold), sear the resulting fillet on all sides and it was back in the oven for another half hour or so. This by rights should have brought it right up to a nice pink ... but it came out a little on the overcooked tough side ... yummy nonetheless ... but not our finest.

Now I've ballsed up the chronology a little, so just imagine that this is all happening whilst we attend to the crab cakes, the spinach sauce and the potatoes.

This is the first time I have done crabs entirely on my own - i.e. cook and clean them. I have always been fascinated by crab cakes ... it just sounds like the perfect recipe ... what with the salted crackers and the mayo and of course the crab itself ...

We bought 4 Blue Swimmer crabs at Little Saigon for about $14. They went straight into a pot of boiling water (no they weren't alive) until cooked .. roughly 10mins:

While waiting for the crab to boil I mixed up the rest of the filling - salted crackers, sage (in place of tarragon) Parsely, eggs, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper:

Once the crab was cooked and cooled, M helped me with peeling the flesh out with his handy crab claw tool:

Yes the man is very proud of his tool ... ;-) (shit its my first emoticon!!)
Pretty soon I had the luscious mess moulded into 6 plump crab cakes nestling in a warm bath of olive oil.

Meanwhile P was scurrying around making the most delicious Spinach sauce and also being creative (I use this word loosely) with some baking paper and a splodge of anchovy butter:

The Spinach sauce was something else entirely. Its subtle, but the aroma and the flavour combined was the encapsulation of what the notion of savoury is ... well to me anyways ... and the rich green colour was visually appetizing ... onya P!! This makes up for your butter rolling skills, or lack thereof, one day I'll show you what a medallion should like.
M went to work on his potatoes which went in with the meat for its final blasting:

M also started work on the Rasberry Coulis for our dessert. We couldn't find any fresh so had to make do with frozen. I love the colour of raspberry coulis ... its so christmasy:

Propping up this hub of industry was a lovely bottle of Gewurtztramminer from Pipers Brook, Tasmania.

P you're a deft hand at this picking the right wine lark. You make sophisticated choices.
We were pretty much ready to plate up but P was desperately trying to get the pannacotta mix to thicken. Mental note - eugooglizing weights and measures doesn't always work. We were disadvantaged on 2 counts - (i) we couldn't tell what thickness to get the mixture to (ii) we were using gelatin powder instead of sheets. The moral of the story is - never stray from a pannacotta recipe - unless you have done it 50 million times before!!
So this is what the menu for the evening looked like:
Entree - Crab Cakes with Spicy Cajun Sauce (i.e. I threw in some pickled jalapenos to spice things up).

Main - Roast Beef Rib Fillet with spinach and cream puree and oven-crusted potatoes (yes I am taking liberties ... but at least I didn't babel it).

Accompanying this lovely repast was a bottle of Pol Roger (many many thanks P and Cheers!!) - which always reminds me of JH becoz he used to crap on about the cases he and D consumed on what seemed like a daily basis ... all lies ... freak!

And how did the pannacotta turn out? Well ... soup ... basically!!

Dessert - Vanilla Bean Pannacotta with Raspberry coulis (a la zuppe)

It tasted mighty fine regardless of its watery constituition. We were happy punters all the same.

And wasn't it just magical having the french doors open and the rain pelting down outside. Wish I could have captured the experience for you, but all I have is this woefully inadequate photo. This felt more like a spontaneous event than one of our official cook-ups per se ... but I couldn't think of a better salve for a crappy hangover-induced mood.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Rant No. 2

Ok ... I feel like I'm stuck in a never ending episode of the Little House on the Prairie ... or worse ... Highway to Heaven ... I've never met anyone so pious!! Pass the sick bag.



Temasek wrote:
In the words of Diamanda Galas:

I am the girl,
and unblessed,

I am the open mouth
that drags your flesh
and will never rest
24 Nov

dan cope wrote:
I will pray for you... :P
24 Nov

Another Bouzy (sic) Christmas

Ok ... as another year catapults itself towards the silly season, going to the Bouzy Rouge for our Christmas celebration seems oddly like coming round one full circle ... only because the pub under its previous divy moniker was an afterwork drinks hangout for many a year ... and would have continued to be so had it not been for a panicked re-structure ... much like the one I am currently facing now ....
In fact some of the people left behind were still hanging out at this now upgraded watering hole ... I saw P's cheery surprised face as I got out of the taxi with the lovely JM (one of my stalwart referees) beside her. Some things never change I guess! And the lovely D was there ... I'm glad I wasn't around for the fall out from his relationship with M!!!
In its recent nebulous past,, 470 Bridge Road was home to the Dover.
Or the Bendover as we used to call it .... many a Friday evening spent drinking and smoking in its bare as bones courtyard with the wonky umbrellas and the dodgy gas heaters threatening to blow up at any minute .. or at least it felt like it .... getting suitably slushy before respective partners came to collect us for dinner ... those were the happy times of raucous laughter and good-natured bitchiness .. but never a false word spoken between us ...
The Bouzy Rouge is a whole different kettle of fish ... overwrought and sumptuous but suprisingly comfortable, apart from a few structural similarities, there is narry a hint of its strikingly blue predecessor ... the building now presents itself as a white block with subtle middle eastern touches ... the food is modern australian but of suitably high quality to match its prices ...
Tonight however was absolutely gratis ... and our motley crew (for the most part) resolutely out to wring every last cent possible from purse strings soon to be tightened so close as to allow only the minutest grains of sand to pass through ..
We started our evening with champers in the kitchen and the traditional kris kringle ... I was pleasantly suprised by my itunes voucher which I will spend unashamedly on Pop! Things were starting off with just the right amount of crazy ...
We were saying farewell to another year and to a couple of our partners in grime .... but this is giving too much away .... all I can say is that  my mates can be proud of the fact that in their efforts to harrangue as much free booze into our collective systems, they have managed to provide me with the experience of having a hang over like no other the day after ... and apart from being extremely lethargic I have never had a hang over the next day ... so its officially a first and threatened to get in the way of our scheduled cook-up ... but do not fear ... our cook up went ahead and more of that later.
I digress ... again ... not giving too much away lets concentrate on the food ...
We opted for the $55 a head set menu (we didn't really opt for the numerous shots and G&T's that came our way ... but we downed them just the same ... erm TN ... I can't believe that was your first taste of a G & T?? How is that even possible?)
After everyone had turned up at our relegated table, we were greeted with bread and some Humus? And the cutest bottle cooler out ...

For the small plates we got:
chilli salted calamari with mixed cress salad
The calamari was cooked to perfection but it was the cress salad that was a revelation - the dressing had just the right salty acidity that I like ... I couldn't really figure out the flavours although there was certainly a hint of balsamic ...
 king prawns with chilli garlic and lemon
There are still those amongst how who cannot look their food in its face ... (erm ... pathetic!!) so I scored 2 prawns which like the calamari was seared just on the edge of being over cooked ... sshh ... don't tell my doctor.
Charcuteri plate
Most people baulked at the Pate ... KQ said it tasted like sick ... hehe .. kinda!! Who knows what the other 2 prosciutto type meats were, but the darker one was superb ... the menu wasn't really much help and I got the feeling that the waiters were a little run of their feet .. so not breezy convos on what we were eating or drinking for that matter ... tetch!!
roasted peppers, mozarella and basil
The only vegetarian component (we had 2 in our midst) for the entrees ... you could whip this up at home ... its nice ... particularly as a palate cleanser ... but if I was ordering .. then this would have been an afterthought.
For mains, the star attraction was the paella which was not too bad ... it led us to talking about the Robbie Burns hotel in Smith Street ... now there's some excellent paella ... and apparently Movida has opened another branch in bigger surroundings ... so they're now serving up paella as well ... 
bouzy rouge paella
We also had beef fillet with garlic and some lovely oven baked fillets of fish ... could have been snapper ... but whatever it was it was yummy.
roast beef garlic and rosemary
 oven baked fillets of fish
The vegos had to order ala carte, but AP's Gnocchi was superb ... I'm no gnochhi fan but I could have easily finished that plate off.
 house made potato gnochhi with gorgonzola and pear
We were pretty tanked at this stage but were pleasantly surprised when the churros turned up ... although we were soon mildly dissappointed at the taste and texture ... most of the peops at the table had recommendations of better.
Let me just say that I work with a pretty crazy bunch ... the young 'uns are a source of constant amusement ... I don't try to keep up ... some try their darndest (clue!) to keep up and fail miserably ... others do and succeed with sheer exuberance and the wit to back it up ... I must say that WF paid me a great compliment (but that is our little secret)!! And if I was straight ... well ....
So from a bunch of crazies a very early-ish Merry Christmas to you all!!
(i wanted to insert a pic of TN here ... but ... respect!!)
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