Friday, 30 April 2010

Oh ok now I get it!!!

Ok .. I never understood the Hills ... but now I like totally get it ... totally!!

I especially love Audrina's "ceiling eyes" and how Brody asks Spencer whether he's coming to his birthday party when they're already there. This is actually pretty cool viewing despite the fact that I am not a fan of poncey ankle-biting tryhards (don't let me get started on the parents!!).

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

This is not a complaint ... but

Ok ... what is with all the music videos these days?? Is it a reaction to the stultifying wave of conservatism that is sweeping the world today? Not only are our youth (and my own fucking generation for that matter) apathetic, but we are so easily shocked it seems, why else would the vanguard of new thought and movement (i.e. our popstars and up and coming cinematic auteurs) dip its collective toe in all things subversive like explicit violence and sexual perversion masking as black comedy ... and/or irony. As I said, I ain't complaining!!! But its something to ponder ... I've already mentione MIA's Rangercide and the tranny horror that is Health's "We are Water" well here's another shining example: Devendra Banhat's newie "Foolin":

And in other music news, this one is for all you Rice Queens out there!! This is actually pretty good!!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Quail Pancakes, Yabbie Gnocchi, Chocolate and Raspberry Cake = Another successful Cookup Part 3

Ok ... I promise this is the final installment with the great reveal at the end. When you last left these pages we were about ready to make our Pancakes.

This is a 3 person job. One to separate the rolled out pancakes, one to fry in the pan, the other to slap onto the board and separate in 2. So it was pretty much an assembly line and it would have been great to have a video of this. But alas we are but 3, and it was all hands on deck.

One to separate, one to fry and one to slap on board
Waiting for the bubbles
Slapping on the board and peeling into 2
The final product

I was convinced that the pancakes weren't cooked enough so some of them were a little burnt and the blame laid squarely at my feet. To which I say "whatevs!!" Let him who doesn't creepily take the shopping with them despite having a car to leave said shopping in cast the first stone! (I got it in P!! Not quite as successfully but its in nonetheless!)

But it was well worth the effort. The Quail was absolutely heaven. Combined with the sweet and sourness of the salad and the texture of the pancake, we were seriously in danger of turning this into our main by gutsing the lot (all 24 pancakes!!)

Plated and a-table!!
No hard and fast rule but P starts with the quail meat
Then the cucumber and citrus salad
One fold
Second fold
Ready for the mouth

Thankfully, there was only so much Gnocchi that it divided into 3 in just the right proportion - not too much and not too little. I'm still unlikely to be ordering gnocchi at a restaurant anytime soon - its just a little too heavy for my liking. But the yabbie sauce was sweet and rich, yet light at the same time. I would repeat the sauce but use another kind of pasta (like linguini) instead. And perhaps I would add a sliver of preserved lemon to cut the richness.

Stock for the Gnocchi sauce
Gnocchi con Yabbie - plated
A simple salad for accompaniment
Accompanying our main was P's Lost Valley Cortese 2007 - a rather Viognier-like white which went perfectly with the seafood flavours in the Gnocchi.

Now for the dessert. Before I proceed, let me confess that I am not the biggest berry and chocolate fan. In fact I like my chocolate unadulterated by fruit of any description, fresh, dried, candied or otherwise. I know .. please feel free to yell at the screen while you read this. But in my defence I did take one mouthful to see if I could come at a Chocolate and Raspberry tart. I had to scrape the chocolate layer off the evil vein of raspberry hideousness underneath (I feel your side-eye) and you should have seen the look of complete incredulity on P's face - it was priceless!!

A menstrual Mess (I know .. I went there!!)

So let me critique this the best way I can. The crust was perfect and the chocolate to die for. And by all accounts, the whole confection (raspberry mess included) was divine.

Chocolate and Raspberry Tart
Another one to put to bed. P feels like something meaty for the next one - I would love to do some game poultry like guinea fowl or pheasant or better yet, goose!! Fun times ahead. And of course I couldn't leave you without evidence of the happy punters concerned!!

PS I did exaggerate about the tart for effect and to get a rise. It was trully scrumptious but I simply don't like the 2 in combination.

NSFW - MIA's new clip for Born Free

Ok soon to be obliterated off all free video posting sites ... so watch and backup now before it goes away.


This is MIA's vid for soon to drop newie Born Free, which ticks all the painfully trendy boxes:

Up and coming director in Romain Gavras - tick
Digicam - tick
Short film length - tick
Artist noticeably absent - tick
Violence - tick
"Real" people - tick
Black comedic element - tick

Be warmed, if you're a redhead - prepare to be offended or indeed galvanized - really depends on which side of the 1950's your sense of humour lies.

This is queasy filmaking in the vein of every other so-called "horror" movie coming out of France these days. I'm thinking "Martyrs" "Inside" "Haute Tension". But as with everything in life, you should really make up your own mind and have an opinion so let me know what you think.

M.I.A - BORN FREE VIDEO OFFICIAL (real and... by elnino



Monday, 26 April 2010

Quail Pancakes, Yabbie Gnocchi, Chocolate and Raspberry Cake = Another successful Cookup Part 2

Ok ... After a harried voicemail message from P about the glucose syrup, and his subsequent arrival at the house, we got stuck into preparing the dough for the Chocolate and Raspberry tart. We wanted it done so that it could rest while we finished off the rest of the shopping.

After our trip down to the shops we came back with our most exciting acquisition to date - a bag filled with squirming yabbies ... and our heads filled with thoughts on how best to cook them humanely. I wanted to follow the recipe to the letter - 10 seconds in boiling water and then straight into ice-cold - peel shells - finish off cooking in the sauce. But the others went all RSPCA on me ... and our eventual compromise took it a little beyond where it should have been.

P continued with the crust of his tart as it needed a fair amount of cooling and setting time. He also concentrated on the filling in order to get that out of the way as it would have to be all hands on deck for the Mandarin  pancakes.

M started on the pastry for this and I continued working on both the salad and noodle accompaniment for the pancakes as well as prepping for the stock that would contribute to the Yabbie sauce for the Gnocchi.

Meanwhile lubricating proceedings was M's tipple du jour which is Zinfandel (Don Nicola Zinfandel 2007). I think its an excellent quaffing wine - quite light on the pallate. And doesn't cost an arm and a leg and would most definitely have James May's stamp of approval.

Pretty soon it was time to put the yabbies to rest. We were going to split the diff and go a full 30 secs, but P reckons we went well over a minute. When I eventually peeled the shells off, some of them were cooked right through, others were still quite transluscent in the body. I set aside the flesh for later and use the shells along with a few other bits of veg and herbs for the stock.

M began ricing the potatoes for the gnocchi, and after the resultant mash had cooled down, he commenced adding flour and rolling the pastry out to form little balls for the gnocchi.

I began frying off the quail in the griddle and cooking some vermicelli for the cucumber and herb salad. Before long it was time to turn our attention to the Mandarin pancakes ... which will be in the next post!!!

Quail Pancakes, Yabbie Gnocchi, Chocolate and Raspberry Cake = Another successful Cookup Part 1

Ok ... lets just go ahead and say it now - RESULT!!

We had our 2nd cookup of the year spurred on by a variation on Peking Duck found on Chubby Hubby's essential (!) blog using quail instead of duck. And the sweetener was the promise of a recipe to make the Mandarin Pancakes from scratch!! And a rather quaint illustrated version it was indeed.

Subsequently, having seen Esposito from Esposito at Toofey's fame cook a lobster and gnocchi dish with Guy Grossi on Italian Food Safari, we had found our main course. Although in the era of the GFC, we pondered the use of Yabbies (readily available round the corner in Footscray) instead of lobster, which meant paying $40 to the kilo instead of $68.

P was hooked on this chocolate and raspberry tart recipe which he found in the Australian Financial review. So it was really just a matter of locking in a day. Cue the long weekend. Perfect!

I had to prepare the quail before hand. It required at least 12hrs marinading time with the preference of 2 days. And so many different elements went into this marinade, Let me tell you.

First I had to learn how to debone the little blighters. I found a brummie friend on youtube who had a sharp knife and plumper quails to work with. I had neither. So I'm afraid to say that it was a hatchet job and I pretty much mangled the little birds. Although I figured it wouldn't matter too much as they were eventually going to be cut into strips anyway.

It was then simply a matter of combining the various sauces, bruising some spring onions and mashing some garlic. The meat went in, bowl covered, and  safely esconced in the outdoor fridge. No further action required until the day itself.

How we got our freak on at DTs ...

Ok it was another one of those catch-up nights with the rest of the girls. This one teetered on a knife edge of discombobulation and dissimiltude. It was like we were re-learning the paths of friendship and engagement. The food and the ambience of our selected venue did not help. Having completely stuffed up the address details it was almost a comedy of errors of keystonian proportions. Ok I exaggerate but I need something to focus on as a mosquito bite of my forehead drives me to distraction. Also, lets face it, Chapel St and its environs give me the willies!!! And where were we headed? Well the South Yarra branch of Pacific Seafood and Barbeque.

Plainly speaking there are better places to sample this type of food, and probably with better service!! I don't mind service that is slightly indifferent ... but when it bashes, knocks and looks away while you speak ... wel there's no tip at the end of the night thats for sure. All of this could be forgiven if the food was even slightly over the up to scratch line ... but this was way below par. The complimentary bowl of soup was the first red flag. It smelt and tasted like it had been scooped out of the gutter!! Even M couldn't stomach anything beyond the first couple of taster mouthfuls ... and thats saying something!!!

And it had to be said that none of us seemed overly enthusiastic about ordering from the menu and as a result we ended up with a dish we saw brought out to another table which was squid fried with kangkong. We were "offered" a variety of sauces and we settled on Belecan ... and it was the most anaemic sambal belachan style dish I have ever had ... and the squid certainly did not taste all that fresh.

As D was feeling like something in a claypot, we also ordered a seafood como claypot which was marginally better tasting but not especially exciting.

As we were at Pacific BBQ, we ordered a roasting plate of duck and pork. It was not hard to see why this chain gained its popularity. The roasted meats are a highlight. Just the right amount of crispy and flavour, but the accompanying sweet plum sauce was not to my pallate. I would have preferred the usual robust chilli sauce instead.

Feeling quite full but strangely unsatisfied, we traipsed down Chapel Street to Prahran in search of a decent watering hole. We walked into a very much refurbished XChange and had the worst Gin and Tonic (tanqueray mind you) EVAH!!! Needless to say we didn't stay there long. CC kept trying to get us to go to Revolver ... but I have bad memories!! And good ones too I must say ... especially in the hey day of Mash Ups.

Eventually we decided to head out to DTs for somewhere reasonably low key to have a drink away from the testosterone fuelled hetero aggro that was on thus far on display. Firstly, I have to say that although small in stature, this is one of the better beer gardens I have been in with loads of Palm trees and balinesque touches as well as a white tiger's mounted head!!

We managed to score an area with seating by the water feature as most of the clientele were busily occupied by the drag by numbers show going on in the front bar. Once that was over there was a rush of bodies out into the beer garden for a bit of "fresh" air. D felt a little claustrophobic and I had to agree. CC was already relaxing into his usual self ... and I'm sure that had to do partly with the fact that he was garnering attention just by being himself.

Our crazy night started with the arrival of our old landlord completely blotto!! In his Dior and Prada ensemble which still had a slight sheen of tack he was all kisses and "I love you's" even to people he didn't know. It was pretty much a revolving door of freaks throughout the night. The empty cushion near D seemed to be the place to be for all the freaks in the joint that night. Lets just say it was interesting if nothing else. It ran the gamut from a Sydnesider waxing lyrical about his drag (Orphelia Snatch .. get it?!) days at the Albany, his size 15 feet (and I guess that was a boast of sorts ...) and his idea about running a Nightrider bus servicing all the gay clubs in Melbourne and his denial of his posh status residing in Glen Iris. The Joseph Gordon-Levitt lookalike caught onto the nightrider idea and promptly declared that he hated Knightrider, the show and went onto to bemoan the hairstyles and boast about the fact that he was NOT a slave to fashion; then there was Mr Suit and Tie who was barely comprehensible and who we kinda asked to piss off once his novelty wore off; and in between I'm sure I wished JL happy birthday, met a German named Tom and tried to get Q and K together for a night ...

But you know what, it seemed like you just had to glance at someone and you were already starting a conversation ... which I actually appreciated .... and even though most were under the influence and getting gradually more vociferous ... there wasn't even a hint of aggravation ... saturday night is not a night for fighting after all!!!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

The English Assassin - Re-accessing Science Fiction

Ok ... after a brief spat (the length of 4 novels) of feeding my literary obsession via a free iphone app in which I devoured 2 Agatha Christie mysteries, one Sherlock Holmes and an Edgar Rice Burrough foray into Mars, I have now returned to the printed word (courtesy of Kill City 2nd hand bookstore and a comparably more solvent bank account this month) with Michael Moorcock's The English Assassin.

I've always had a precarious relationship with Science Fiction. I think its the overwrought philosophizing that seems to make up the oeuvre of many sci fi writers that bothers me the most. There's always some Adam and Eve slash God complex underpinning these stories which I don't find terribly interesting ... and don't get me started on authors that try to invent an alien language ... unless you're an experienced linguist like Tolkien, don't even bother!! Its like books that have quotes in foreign languages without a translation to assist (hello Umberto Eco) ... we don't all know latin/greek/french/celtic!! And some of us don't like pretending. (and this is all for the benefit for the less erudite amongst you ... I being the accomplished linguist that I am can usually work these things out without climbing the tower of babel ... yeah we're going there!!)

Anyhoo, what can I say about Moorcock's English Assassin - a romance of entropy (to give it its full title). There is indeed an entropic sheen to proceedings .. this is post-apocolyptic Europe and arguably an early proponent on what is referred to as Steampunk these days with its technological and structural anachronisms ... although I think this is more a proclivity towards the reshaping of fundamental english life and society.

The characters are incredibly well drawn but more importantly these are intriguing personalities: there's the dancehall ingenue turned sexy lesbian mercenary ... the retired colonel chasing after old glory ... and of course the English Assasin himself who washes up into a briny cove on the coast of cornwall and spends the better part of the novel in a catatonic state. Admittedly I am jumping in at the latter end of the Jerry Cornelius story - this is the third book in the Cornelius Quartet. But it makes no nevermind ... this is a great sci-fi/fantasy romp in spite of the overlapping narrative strains ... which some people find disorienting. I'm only about a quarter of the way through but I've read enough to thoroughly reccomend this.

And now I'm extremely curious about the movie that was made on one of the JC stories called the Final Programme in the UK and The Last Days of Man on Earth in the US (Paging Mr Torrent and Mrs Backup!!)

Which leaves me wondering why there are not more movie/tv adaptations of Michael Moorcock's books? Its criminal. Likewise William Gibson (we shall not mention Kennunu's disaster). And someone televise a Jasper Fforde series already!!!!
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