Monday, 31 January 2011

We interrupt this programme to bring you news of Josie Bones

Ok ... firstly celebrity spottage at the Station Hotel - Claire from Masterchef! And apparently she goes there often ... but I digress even before I have begun. To celebrate M's birthday, we went to the newly minted Josie Bones, the beer and nose-to-tail love child of Masterchef alumnis Chris Badenoch and Julia Jenkins.

Was that a segue or what (and if you said what, then you are one smart cookie!!)

Anyhoo, the beer list is like the first volume of a 3 set encyclopedia, but never fear, the resident beermellier (whats the beer equivalent?) is on hand to help. M was all excited as they had some kind of Sierra Nevada special terroir hop shit, I'm a bit of a beer Luddite I'm afraid, I prefer my tipple from a grape, hops, yeast and wheat all scream irritable bowel syndrome to me. But I must admit that I did enjoy my Anderson Valley (USA) Wheat beer and M was pretty impressed by his Amber Ale.

After a slightly overwrought discussion about the various types of beer available, they got right down to brass tacks and suggested a plate of crackling to go with the first round of drinks. And to provide us something to munch on while we decided on our menu for the night.

As with all these new fangled "no booking" joints, the menu is a series of small plates designed to be shared. In some ways, I do like this way of eating. The idea of sharing dishes is very much a part of the culture I grew up in. But its ths sort of menu that is dangerous for me and M as we have the propensity to order way too much and ruining a good night by overeating.

How we generally approach these sorts of menus is to order what seem to be the most exotic dishes or include ingredients that we are not familiar with. Having said that don't go past the Onion Bahjis as they are some of the best I have ever had. Not too powdery dry and not too sludgy wet.

We also had the Trotter Fritters with Romesco Sauce. The romesco sauce was slightly eclipsed by the prefectly fried fritters. The crisped sage leaves could have been a little better salted, thus strengthening the sage flavour. But all in all it was exactly what you would want as a bar snack.

We also had the Octopus and bone marrow cigar with green mango salad and nam jim. Lets face it, its a glorified spring roll, but it was just oozing flavour (literally) when you bit into it. Surprisingly not a strong favour, but we both agreed that we could have easily gone another serve.

As a trade off with the Onion Bahjis I had myself a Miniature scotch egg which M also dove into with gusto. Not sure if Schmaltz mayonnaise is a technical term or just an affectation, but the entire combination was a success. Again not the strongest of flavours ... but you have to excuse me ... we just came back from Singapore which is mostly flavour dialled up to 11!

One of a seemingly unending number of friendly young staff recommended the Lamb Tartare and the Duck Parfait (part of the specials) to us. We were a little hesitant but decided to go hell for leather (I think I was on my glass of Schwarzbier at this stage).

The Lamb Tartare with the raw yolk centre was delicious ... but mainly because of the Brioche! Brioche and anything really ...  brioche and brioche even!

The Duck Parfait was pretty much what I expected - rich rich rich. And  perhaps not the best of choices at this point in the evening. But I did enjoy the barley rice.

We had to compromise with the last of the savouries. I really wanted to try the Rolled Pig's head with sauce gribiche (kinda like a mayo) and crackling, but M wanted the Grainfed beef rib meat served with thrice cooked  chips and horseradish Mayo, and since it was his birthday, we compromised in his favour.

It was a great way to finish on a slightly sweeter note, which paved the way for what I think was the absolute highlight, Chris' infamous Beerimisu!! And let me tell you this, even if you were full to bursting, stick fingers down your throat and make some room, you can't go past this. It is to die for. The espresso porter just goes so well with the rich biscuity mush. Its light and heavy at the same time ... and I think a little on the aphrodisiacal side ... definite date food!!

So its a little rough round the edges, but I really enjoyed Josie Bones, the man himself even managed to crack a smile and offer a "how's it going" ... and I can't wait to go back soon. Here's hoping they make it past the 3 year mark.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Everything for $2.00 - Literally!!!

Ok ... this is how you do a $2.00 shop - DAISO!!!! And let me say that there is alot of crap, but there's also alot of really cool stuff!!! If ever you are in Singers, go!!! There's one in Vivo City and also in ION.

Apparently there's one here in Melbourne:

Name : Hive
Address : Shop 23,Hive Shopping Centere,313 Victoria Street,Abbotsford,VIC3067
Floor area : 3,164ft2(294m2)
Opened : 28 October 2010

I wonder what its like.

Friday, 28 January 2011

While I gather my thoughts ... I turn to PJ Harvey

Ok ... while I gather my thoughts and master what paucity of writing skill I possess to parcel my recent trip to Singapore into succint and mildly interesting vignettes, let us turn our thoughts to an artist who can rightfully claim to be one of those magis who make music interesting ... and will make 2011 in itself an interesting year for music ...

BACK!!! - music, colour, bling and self mutilation! - The Indian Festival of Thaipusam

Ok ... I'm back!!!! So much to show and tell but lets start with something a little off the beaten path - the tamil festival of Thaipusam where devotees carry Kavadis (or burdens) as an act of devotion and placation.

Kavadis can take many forms, but the most spectacular are heavily adorned with bling and colour ... and are generally carried by devotees via spikes to the chest and back and also a spear through the cheek and tongue.

I love Thaipusam, everyone seems genuinely festive and appropriately festooned, despite the rather gut churning "mortification of the flesh" aspect to the ceremonies. I've always thought it most unfair that it has never been a designated public holiday. Now as a tourist, I can at least enjoy it without guilt or threat of censure from school and/or employer alike.

Please enjoy the video - (I'm loving my present to M - the idiot proof flip camera!)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Welcome to Queensland ... beautiful one day ....

Ok ... so we knew we were in for some rain when we scheduled our trip to Mooloolaba ... but we weren't really expecting this! When we arrived we were told that they were having unseasonably heavy rains since October ... I was already thinking 40 days and 40 nights.

We did have a couple of days at the beach, and we had a nice meal out (Fish on Parkyn - thoroughly recommend it!!) and by and large enjoyed each other's company despite being cooped up for periods of time when the weather provided no respite.

 My Moreton bay bug risotto - apart from the half shell on top, there were chunks of flesh in amongst the rice

M's snapper

Our 3 bedroom apartment was ideally situated, almost right on the beach and within walking distance of the main town. And lets face it we got it for chips! But there were times we were climbing the walls and I trully wanted to just go home. Bless them, but there is a reason why M and I do not have kids.

On what would have been our second last day, most of us were woken in the early morning hours by the onset of a torrential downpour (no longer hairdresser rain as MN calls it) that still hadn't let up by the time we finished breakfast. The flood disaster was all over the news and after seeing the state of some of the roads leading to Caloundra, we were all starting to foster panic, some quietly, some visibly, and some vocally.

View from our balcony - this was soaking wet on the day we left

M & MD decided to take a drive to the airport to see if the roads were passable. Meanwhile I tried calling the airport to see if flights were being cancelled.  I didn't having much luck getting through. I called Jetstar and spoke to a customer service rep and she confirmed that the early flights had left and no further cancellations were expected. She also confirmed that there were plenty of seats available on the other flights if I needed to change. Seeing that it was only the start of the day (about 8am) I wasn't feeling terribly reassured.

The beach we swam at

But when everyone had made the decision to try and catch the next flight out, it all kicked into gear. After several attempts at getting through to Jetstar I finally spoke to Indonesian Mark. There were 57 seats available and because of the flood crisis, Jetstar had waived the changeover fee. After about 20mins on the call, we were all booked on the 1pm flight out. We were cutting short our holiday by a day.

The little rainforest walk behind our street

When we got to the airport, I was surprised at the lack of queues checking in, but there was a whole bunch of people waiting out in the transit lounge as all flights had been delayed. It was almost like a movie set outside when they try to simulate the onset of a typhoon or hurricane ... it was both frighteningly real and mesmerisingly fake at the same time.

Another view of the little rainforest walk behind our street

The Tiger Airways flight cancelled (I will never ever ever fly Tiger), which didn't bode well for us. But after about 3 hours at the airport (thank god for our leftover cheats murtabak) we were on that damn flight outta there! And feeling very much relieved. Our hearts and thoughts go out to all those suffering and doing it tough in Queensland at the moment. Really peops, shouldn't we finally start paying attention to global warming???

PS - Surfers have the best bodies - I have severe whiplash now!
PPS - even the old people are fit here!!
PPPS - Mooloolaba is a tad WASPy - except for token indian at 711 and also trolly boy at supermarket
PPPPS - Mancakes - hahaha - which is really the opposite of Moobs
PPPPPS - Mooloolaba is relatively Mozzie free - how does that work?

And finally hunt this Pinto Gris down forthwith!! It is divine - Monowai Hawke's Bay Pinot Gris 2009

Thursday, 6 January 2011


Ok ... dear blog you will be going into enforced hibernation until February! We're off to soak up the rains on the Sunshine Coast and then its the Lion City for 2 artery hardening weeks. See you on the flip side.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Back at Bulleen for an impromptu cookup

Ok ... wow they move further out and we see more of them than ever. How does that work? Anyhoo, in a sort of indirect way we once again invited ourselves to dinner at J & CC's over in Bulleen.

Indecisions pushed the hands of the clock along faster and we had to satisfy ourselves with a shop at the local supermarket. We had visions of porcini mushrooms and tinned snails at Leo's but had to succumb to the god of compromise.

Feeling rather lethargic and somewhat over it, it was amazing what we achieved once we got going. DV was thumbing through a pile of recipe books and came across a roast pork recipe that he liked the look of. This called for said porcini mushrooms, but we settled for dried chinese mushrooms instead.

This was a straightforward dish that took hardly any effort. I had to salt and oil the Pork Loin and roast it on high heat for 20mins to crisp the skin. In the meantime I had the dried mushrooms soaking, and fried up the Swiss browns in olive oil with rosemary and dry sherry (which we didn't have, so I used a combo of white wine vinegar, riesling and sugar) with salt and pepper to taste. After 20 mins in the oven, you simply pour the soaked dried mushrooms with the liquid and the fired brown mushroom mix into the roasting pan, bung it back in the oven and roast on medium heat for another 2 hours.

There was a short kerfuffle over the cooking of mussels, but I won out at the end, as seafood really does go very well with pork.

The spanish tapas styled Mussels cooked in a tomato sauce fairly leapt off the page in deliciousness, but Compromise welded his sabre of division and smote us down, so we had to settlle for Basa fish fillets instead.

I found an intriguing Paper Wrapped chicken recipe which was a play on peking duck, incorporating the sweet pappy flavours with spring onion, lao cheong and vietnamese rice paper. This turned out to be a bit of a disaster as the rolls stuck to the alfoil we used to line the baking tray. Still, they pretty much all got eaten in the end.

DV suggested a cheats version of Murtabak and yet again Compromise proved a vertiginous child and we couldn't find any ready made roti, so we bought pastry sheets and made samosas instead ... or rather singaporean 711 curry puffs as DV said. And they really were like the triangular shaped curry puffs you find in Singapore 711s. DV pan fried some of them, and baked the rest. I preferred the Baked ones as the fried ones were a little limp.

 Cheats Murtabak - fried

 Cheats Murtabak -Baked

DV's curried mince filling was typical South East Asian style - the usual spice suspects but with the added sweetness of tomato ketchup.

To cut the richness, I made a warm salad using a sweet mirin like vinegar in my dressing which really made the dish. I will be hunting this down once I find out exactly what it was from CC.

And the evening ended with a lovely coffee that had a dash of brandy in it ... I will recommend this to you as the perfect nightcap after a heavy meal.

PS - I reckon one of my New year's resolutions should be to take better pictures ... ok to be more patient AND to take better pictures. What do you think?

2011 Off to a good start with a little lamb

Ok ... sometimes all it takes is a simple short text and before you know it you're tucking into something delicious and enjoying scintillating company. And what better way to start the year off than with a hearty hotpot meal.

When we bandied the idea of having dinner, DV was craving himself some steamboat. We eugoogle-ised steamboat melbourne and clicked on the ADOR link which gave us a long list with ratings. Unfortunately most of these referred to hotpot styles where everything is prepared for you and served in a pot! We were looking for the Chinese style steamboat which provides you the option to cook the ingredients yourself.

We thought we had lucked onto First Choice as the blurb mentioned Taiwenese Hot Pot which we mistakenly took to mean the Chinese style steamboat and it had a great rating. But we had to make our apologies and leave for a better option.

Not really knowing where else to go, DV liked the look of Little Lamb which advertised Mongolian hotpot. When we looked in we realised that it was as good an approximation of the Chinese Steamboat as ever and the place smellt inviting.

So we took a chance and sat down to one of the yummiest Asian dinners we have had together in a long time. We ordered:

Thinly Sliced Beef Brisket
Beef balls
Chai Sim
Chinese Cabbage
Black Fungus
Fresh Tofu
Tofu sticks

And we asked for a split hot and spicy and normal stock hotpot.

Our meal came with 3 different sauces:

Bog standard Chilli sauce
Garlic Sauce - heaven!
Chive Sauce - which DV hated and me and M absolutely adored.

In fact I had a mixture of all 3 in my dipping plate and if I could bottle this blended mess and sell it, I reckoned I'd build an entire retail empire on it alone.

Our friendly waittress was the cutest thing, but she came across as being quite pushy in terms of trying to get us to order more. Initially I thought she was working on commission, or for a frighteningly severe Tai Tai who whipped her and shoved herin the cupboard if she didn't maintain her quota of food ordered. As it turned out, we had inadvertently ordered the all you can eat buffet hotpot for $25 a head. Which meant that everything we ticked on the ordering sheet would have been included in the price. So she was encouraging us to scam as much as we could!!! Bless her little heart. She even said at the end when we asked for the bill that we should have ordered something cheaper since we weren't eating as much. Better not let Madam Tai Tai know!!

I believe there are a couple of other Little Lambs around the traps but I can recommend the Box Hill branch for good service and great food.

I think its a fantastic excuse for a regular catchup.

PS what was the one thing we didn't have at Little Lamb ... you guessed it! Little Lamb!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

2011 eleven!

Ok ... the New Year starts with, you guessed it - Food:

A Bedtime Story:

And a Bang!

Happy 2011 Everyone. Thanks for all your comments and for staying faithful! And to my silent readers out there ... don't be shy! Tell me what you think. It should be one of your New Year's resolutions.

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