Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Best Instant Noodles Ever - if you can get hold of them

Ok ... if you're a Singaporean abroad, you will probably be aware of the Prima brand of sauce packets running the gamut of local delights from Mee Siam through to Singapore Chilli Crab.

You may also be aware of a fairly recent health scare when a food poisoning epidemic broke out at one of their deli stores. But they have fixed this so lets move on.

In addition, if you have had the opportunity to test out some of the flavours available, you probably swear by their authenticity and idiot-proof qualities. (And at the $5-$6+ price point, you want to be sure you're getting value for money!)

Well now they have 2 Instant Noodle offerings:


Curry Noodles

And they are AMAZING!!! Many thanks to the bro for the heads up and the free packets. And bless Melbourne customs for not confiscating.

They're easy to make and taste the real deal. But be warned, these aren't your usual 2 minute bang ups, they will take at least 10 mins to prepare, but are worth the extra seconds.

Haven't seen them round the traps here, but I'm sure they'll surface soon. Look out for these. Thoroughly recommended.

Meanwhile, my Taiwanese friend CC swears by these vego/no msg instant noodle packets. Not sure what the brand name is, but I quite like the herby ones ... although I think they had a bit of a laxative effect on me ... ok .. perhaps not the best recommendation then ... but they were pretty yummy.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

At the risk of sounding conceited!

Ok ... I have been back from the Lion City for more than a week now, and have finally got round to putting up a few posts ... and yesterday the number of hits spiked at 158 (not including my own) ... so why are you all soooo quiet??? Let me know what you think. I don't bite ... well not unless you want me to.

So to make me seem all that more humane and/or approachable ... here's an "awww" pic of me and the nephew.

Nomiya Maki - 30 years in the biz!!!

Ok ... my Japanese friend Y has finally come through! I now have in my hot little hands Nomiya Maki's 30 - Greatest Self Covers & More!!! - I didn't add the exclamation marks . They're part of the title ... and well they should be. You can take your MDNA and shove it!! This is how you celebrate 30 years.

Not only did Y score the CD, but the LP version, a T-shirt AND a poster of which there are only 300 copies!!! Am I in heaven or what!

Sorry folks, busy now. See you on the other side of the disc.

Monday, 26 March 2012

A whole Ampersand of Goodness - Cutler & Co

Ok ... thanks to the largesse of PO, who organised our evening via text message, we scored a table at Cutler & Co on a Saturday night at very short notice! It pays to be in the know, or at least to know the right people. And having an indirect line to Andrew McConnell didn't hurt and well and trully pays its own culinary dividends.

On arrival and after being seated, we were met with 2 complimentary glasses of Champagne - french, no less - Larmandier Bernier · Blanc de blancs - the most fancy bubble available by the glass. We were also served a plate of seaweed crackers topped with eggplant mousse - the perfect starter to get the juices going.

Earlier that day we had gone through the menu with a fine-toothed comb and decided to eschew the degustation menu for a number of items from the a la carte list. This way we spent a little less (marginally - this is not a cheap place to dine) with about the same amount of food and with drinks included.

Cutler is a great space with a few interesting little nooks if you're lucky enough to score them. And the Fitzory postcode doesn't hurt either. Acoustically, all those surrounding distressed bare walls play havoc with conversation, but there's still a welcoming feel, and it doesn't feel cramped even though they do pack 'em in.

After settling on our menu options, we chose to have the cutest little sourdough buns topped with salt. These were delicious. (The bread servings seemed to be free flowing at our table - not sure if this applied to all and sundry, or just to our Andrew-sanctioned table).

We were hoping to try the Peppers de Padron as an appetizer but they had just sold the last portion. So we decided to go for the Fois Gras Cigars (one each) and the Pickled Octopus with aoili and paprika instead.

The Fois Gras cigars came in their own pre-loved cigar box - cute touch. These were amazing. Fois Gras is a difficult thing to come by ethically ...  like sharks fin ... so I'm not going to enter into that discussion here.

For me, Fois Gras is the only type of liver I will consume, partly because it doesn't taste like liver at all, but like a very rich savoury custard. And, I must admit, partly because of the french tag and its inherent exclusivity.

Also, I love wafer rolls and love letters, so the intrinsic shape and texture of the cigar as a carriage of flavours is one that appeals to me very much.

Needless to say, we enjoyed these immensely.

Our pickled squid was served in slivers full of paprika goodness alongside dollops of the aioli. Perfect.

To accompany our appetisers, M had a glass of 2009 Josmeyer 'Le Fromenteau' · Pinot Gris from Alsace.  I had a glass of 2010 Fighting Gully Road 'Aquila' · Chardonnay/Viognier/Petit Manseng. Both of these whites were a revelation and developed in complexity with the food.

We decided to share an entree of  Hand Picked spanner crab and abalone served in a sesame flavoured broth. A slightly different version of spanner crab than the one on their online menu. The broth came in its own science lab beaker which was then poured over the pieces of crab, abalone and mushroom at the table. This was heavenly. Light and rich at the same time, a dish that I would gladly repeat when (yes when not if) we come back here again.

Then, thanks once again to PO's connection, we were served not only another box of Fois Gras cigars, but another dish from the appetizers list, which was the Smoked Trout on rye with avruga (a caviar substitute made from herring) ... ok readers ... this is an absolute must if you come here. It was fantastic. FANTASTIC!! (just in case you didn't get it the first time).

M had a repeat of my Chardonnay/Viognier/Petit Manseng blend, and I chose the Sicilian 2008 Benanti Etna Bianco 'Bianco di Caselle' · Carricante. I wasn't entirely sure of my choice, so perhaps approach this one with caution. It may or may not suit your palate.

For mains, we decided to opt for the Pork option on the "To Share" list - Roast Golden Plains Suckling pig for two, braised endive and cauliflower. This was served with an endive, witlof and apple salad which help to cut the richness of the meat.

The pork was super tender and the crackling just the right amount of crispy without being too hard. We saw the Angus Rib Eye (the other "to share" option on the menu) being served at another table and it was massive! Definitely to share amongst 4 or more. So we were glad of our choice because the calvacade of dishes so far were already starting to hurt!!

We switched to reds at this point. M had the 2008 Vecchie Terre di Montefili Chianti Classico · Sangiovese from Tuscany, and I went for a 2006 Vadio Tinto · Baga from Portugal. Both reasonable wines, but the whites were excelling tonight.

We rounded off our evening by sharing the dessert - Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwhich, vanilla parfait and salted caramel. If it has parfair and salted caramel then I'm like "where do I sign"!! This was not a dissappointment by ANY means. Now for that word again - AMAzing!!

Love your work PO, and love your work too M!! We made it! So Thank you Radiohead scalpers! We wouldn't perhaps have dined here if it wasn't for you.

PS - Maybe because we looked like we were having so much fun but the our neighbouring tables wanted to join in the action as well. Fun.

Final (yes definitely) demise of the CD format

Ok ... so is this the final nail in the coffin? JB Hifi gets rid of its import back catalogue at $5 a piece. And I lose about $100+. Was it worth it? With some of these gems, I think so!

Early incarnation of the Sugarcubes - post punk new wave madness - KUKL's Holidays in Europe

Post Suzuki Krautrock relevance from CAN - Soon over Babaluma

Amazing early 80s Belgium label compilation - les disques du crepuscule 1980-1985 - packed full of rarely heard gems from Michael Nyman through to the Pale Fountains

Dimitri from Paris presents the Idjut Boys with a slew of classic 80s dub mixes including the likes of Raw Silk, Rah Band ... and erm ... Wham!

Essential Annie DJ Kicks compile - loungecore, post punk, electroclash ... brilliant

Nina Simone live - colour is a beautiful thing baby!! - Fodder on My Wings

Rufus and the inimitable Chaka Khan funking it out on Rufusized!

And finally, the best find of them all - Polysics "Hey Bob! My Friend" The Japanese Devo with a rocking cover of Pizzicato 5's Good!

Ah JB you've done it again!

Ok just for good measure here's the original P5 number:

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Crashing date night at MoMo's

Ok ... we were fortunate enough to experience a meal at a restaurant in the final throes of its own demise ... and what a way to go!! I'm talking about Greg Malouf's MoMo ... that temple to modern Middle Eastern in the depths of the Grand Hyatt straight out of the pages of a Bret Easton Ellis novel.

Already slightly trepidatious at having crashed our friends' anniversary dinner, the long trek down the glamorous hotel lobby, all muted glamour and undeniable wealth, did nothing to calm the nerves.

Signage is almost deliberately obfuscating (if you need to ask darling, then ...), but veer left and press the button on the elevator and you'll be right. One floor down, the elevator doors swish open on the opposite side and you're in a world of plush fabric and spangly bling! Welcome to Momo ... indeed.

This is old skool fine dining, with decorative place settings, starched linen and individually served portions ... a far cry from the cheeky banter of the white stone and blonde wood settings of the current crop of blog endorsed eateries.

Your first decision to make when approaching the menu is whether you want to pay this month's rent/mortgage repayment or actually eat and drink something ... or forgo meals for the rest of the month and splurge it all in one go. What the hell, the joint closes at the end of the month, lets join in and go out with a bang!! We split the diff and opted for the Arabesque Sharing Menu ($130 pp minus drinks). Unlike most other tasting/sharing menus, you get to pick a choice of 2 entrees, 2 mains, 2 sides and then a dessert mezza which is set.

As for drink, let me warn you that there is a lot of choice in terms of wine, but not so much in terms of pricing. Perhaps one or 2 in the nether regions of round about $60+ ... and then a big jump into 3 figures. So its either all about the food or all about the drink ... unless you're name ends in Bailieu, you will need to decide one way or the other.

To begin with, they serve a complimentary starter of Raw vegetables drizzled with celery salt and served with the fluffiest jou jou bread. A definite highlight. There's something about the crunch of raw vegetables that feels at once exotic and rustic at the same time. I would not have thought of eating some of these raw, but they've shoved it in a glass and brought it to the table ... so what the hell!

For our entrees we had the Seared Whole Young calamari, in Persian spices served with a Nicoise Salad and Walnut Tarrator Sauce:

In one word ... amazing!! This was the highlight for me. Slightly smoky, and tender with just the slightest give.

The second entree was the Poached fried Quail with Turkish black chili salt and melting onion salad with goat's cheese. Quail is delicious and so underused in the home kitchen. MoMo's take was beautiful. And I want me some of that Turkish Black chili salt!!

For mains we had Malouf's duck bistayeea with almonds, cinnamon and Lebanese white cabbage salad. Basically pulled duck pie! Nice but not especially memorable. And K's version of Malouf's lebanese white cabbage salad was infinitely superior. I think I mainly found this a little too heavy for my asian palate. I hate to admit it but I wanted to douse the whole thing in chilli sauce (god I'm turning into my father!!).

Our second main was the Slow Roasted lamb with Middle Eastern sweet spices served with stuffed white zucchini cooked in tomato and feta. The stuffed white zucchini was a revelation and something I'm eager to try in my own kitchen. Fresh to the palate and a perfect foil for the richness of the lamb ... which btw, we all agreed, could have been a little more tender.

For sides, we ordered the Salad-e Shirazi with edible flowers. I am a sucker for edible flowers. I don't personally feel like they have much flavour, but they look oh so pretty.

And we also had the Goat's milk haloumy fritters with almonds and leatherwood honey ... a no brainer ... and TDF!! I could have just had a whole bowl to myself.

Now for dessert ... the mezza basically includes everything listed on the desserts menu ... which trust me you will be struggling to enjoy at this stage of the meal. But we soldiered on!!

So this is what you get on your dessert mezza:

Seasonal fruits, watermelon and rose petal sorbet, pistachio halva and dried strawberries
Chocolate Mahallabia - Lebanese style milk chocolate pudding, Arabic coffee cream, barazak biscuits
Pavlova stuffed with Turkish apple tea jelly, vanilla bean labneh and crushed raspberries
Frozen orange Turkish delight parfait, peaches and puree, leatherwood honey wafer

And it arrives a-table looking like a set design for 1001 Arabian Nights!! All Moonlit turrets and basilicas.

The Pav was hands down my favourite but do not discount the watermelon and rose petal sorbet ... yum!! Even M was digging into the pistachio halva ... and he is not a fan of halva. I'm not sure if Karen Martini's sister Odette still mans the helms of the dessert menu here, but they were amazing ... I know I should synonomize (sic) this word ... but there's no better than amazing! It says it all!!

All in all, we lived like arabian kings and queens for a night ... and our household expenses have paid the price for this reckless abandon ... but no regrets. Speaking of household expenses ... we just had dinner at Cutler and Co. Oh.

In My Hometown ... Memories are still fresh ...

Ok ... I'm back ... back from a world once familiar and also painfully strange ... far removed from my misspent youth, yet close enough to remind me how nothing's really changed within myself apart from my age.

I haven't been this clean for a very long time! I was having at least 2 showers a day, sometimes 3 ... but the stench of helplessness is barely kept at bay. I realise that I have wasted too many golden opportunities that others not so fortunate as myself would have used wisely in gratitude.

I walk the oddly familiar streets soundtrakced by the songs of my youth. Every corner a suprise throwing me into a disorienting spin, leaving me with an overwhelming sense of yearning and regret.

I look towards the next generation and marvel at the lack of guile and cynicism ... oh to be a blank slate once again!!

I'm glad I'm home ... and it is home. There's no where else I would rather be.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Life in the Lion City

Ok ... guess where I'm headed peops ... so no more posts for at least 10 days ... and then I will need to tell you all about MoMo!!!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Grub Food Van - Stationary Mobile Food in Melbourne

Ok ... the scourge of the food truck in Melbourne ... Tacos, burgers, Po' boys ... take your pick ... tweet, fb, blog, flog ... its social media epilepsy ... and the stress of not knowing where and when ... and will it all run out before I get there! At least the Grub Food Van is stationery ... yes dear readers ... it has a permanently fixed address ... outside a wild and wacky greenhouse with an equally wild and wacky colour scheme with an Irish wolfhound to boot.

Its Fitzroy, so time to slap on those ironic tats, grab those crazy "we love geometry!" sunnies and pull that savers top out of the closet and stomp down to Moor Street in your Size 10 Varvatos converse.

In amongst the flaura and fauna, you can sit on rusty chairs and sip flat whites, or a glass of two or three or more from a decent wine list, and munch on very reasonably priced grub. So the hot dog wasn't that crash hot, but at 8 bucks a pop, and on such a beautiful day and in such quirky surroundings, and with decent coffee, I'm not about to make too much of a fuss.

I can't wait to hang out here and chew the fat over a few bevvies. Its a pity that the weather is starting to turn ... but then again, it is a hothouse, and its an excuse to cuddle.

I dig.

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