Now that we've got that bloody pesky summer out of the way, it's time to get back in the kitchen for some warming fare.
Cooking on the fly is plenty of fun, albeit fraught with the danger of failure (a danger in who's face I laugh, incidently). Thus loitering handily in our fridge this evening was a spare housemate chook that wasn't looking too likely to fulfil its sandwich-esque destiny, so in the finest vultural (yeah I just made up a word - what of it?) traditions I picked that sucker dry.
A generous knob of butter helped me sautee a white mirepoix of leeks, onion and celery all finely chopped, with some fresh thyme in late into which I turfed (Aussie for throw for you international folk) some corn off the cobs, chicken stock and our flaked up chicken. Beauty.
It came to the boil very helpfully, and with a healthy pounding of seasoning (that's my term, by the way) I let my flavours simmer and marry into delicious oblivion. Crusty toast with - you guessed it, more butter, and a spoon of double cream stirred through the soup had me and the lady sittin' tight and cosy as the winter bite chewed at the plate glass.
Apple and raspberry crumble for dessert with Grand Marnier cream. Bangin'!
A sombre pot of beer is raised today to all the Aussie boys who lost their lives during the Great War that was number 1.
Anzac day is a sober reminder to us all that people can be, well, pretty poor to each other and we owe it to the fallen to do better.
Now a lot of focus is put on Gallipoli and the ANZAC's efforts there (even though it was a massive strategic bungle) but I'd like to remind all that the 8,000 or so lives lost on the rocky hills of Turkey's beaches needs to be viewed in light of the 53,000 lives we lost overall. The soil and clay of the Western Front was a brutal testing ground for a young country, but it went a ways to forging our national identity.
It's perhaps typified by the loss of Tasmanian school teacher Ivor Margetts, a football ruckman with kind eyes, he was loved by all and some said he had the potential and leadership qualities to become Prime Minister. He was killed by shrapnel under the shelling at Poiziers and the private who was there when he died said "I cried like a kid when he died. I think he went because he was too good for the beastliness of war"
It's less well known that the British had command of all Australian forces till near the end of the war, and their blundering, pig-headedness and stiff upper-lipped attitudes sent our boys into withering machine gun fire set against barbed wire time and time again. They were responsible for the bulk of our casualites. Thanks very much!!!
No drinks today in our remembrance. Just the timeless and delicious Anzac cookie. Golden syrup, coconut, butter and oats when baked together right are a sublime, and timeless reminder. Bake some anytime.
Classic cocktails are fantastic relics our our past. Beautifully traditional cocktails from a bygone era are again in vogue, and are carefully crafted by passionate industry figures who dedicate their lives to research, recipe tinkering and the craft. The classics are often shrouded in mystery regarding their origins too which helps add to their mystique, and cocktail lore in general.
Well stuff all that - because we're abusing tradition and blending them all!
Such is the sport and fun of Blend the Classic at the Carlton Yacht Club with the legendary Bobby Yeung. There's nothing like taking a stuffy old niche and dorking it up!
Thus we small merry band gathered and stalked the bar last Monday the 19th of January - in serious need of icy refreshment. There are few rules at blend the classic, but these must be adhered to.
Classic cocktails can be blended only once.
Classic cocktails must be slushy-ish in consistency.
Classic cocktails must be finished - regardless of how foul the final result.
Round one saw a solid representation of some very famous drinks. I enjoyed a Monkey Gland (gin, orange, grenadine, absinthe), Marty corrupted the famous Mint Julep and Chris tricked out a side car. A very solid first round!
Round two got a bit silly and I suffered through a Pimm's Cup with fruit and cucumber blended in, while Chris smugly enjoyed a delicious Port Stinger (port and creme de menthe is truly sublime!) and Ryan knocked off Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon (champagne and absinthe).
Having warmed to the task, things got a bit out of hand when we started convincing hapless German tourists that their Scotch and cokes needed the treatment - the only thing they could do do drive away the pain was to enjoy a large herbal cigarette on one of the busiest strips in Melbourne. Clever. But we carried on with espresso martinis, Scofflaws (delicious rye whisky, vermouth, lemon and grenadine) sazeracs and fogcutters all falling before the small shiny swords of the blender.
Chris finally copped an ordinary one with a disgusting Black Velvet (champagne and stout) which made me laugh in his face before our round of blended Cowboy shots, and we made it out of there barely intact.
As I write this, we're all steeling our stomachs for the destruction that will be the impending blended dirty martini, or the Gibson (complete with cocktail onions).
There are seven weeks remaining before Bobby jets off to Hong Kong, and we've got our work cut out to smash as many classics as possible. If you wanna get involved remember the last rule: No one talks about Blend Club.
Mexican food is awesome. Melbourne's ability to produce it is not-so-awesome. All I want is cheap, fresh, spicy and well seasoned kit. Such was my feeling after seeking relief from my worryingly traditional Monday hangover.
Mad Mex on Chapel st was my latest beacon of hope for good Mexican food yet one soggy burrito with a side of hard, flavourless tortillas later I detected a salty liquid trickling down my face...
Now I'd heard about the fabled Mexi-tears which can happen when one suffers too many consecutive bad experiences, but have never been afflicted myself till now. It's a horrible feeling and one I hope not to repeat, lest I need to get my entire flavour gland removed which would be a massive travesty.
Can someone please, please open a cool cheap and cheerful Mexican diner!? I'll love you forever and promise to eat there twice a week!
Fitzroy this week loses one of its favourite orphans. A staple of Melbourne's North for many a year, big daddy Josh Danart's itchy feet have resulted in an au revoir. Know fondly for his top-class, grade A, platinum and tungsten encrusted banter (which is the top banter rating achievable by a human) the stool next to his at the bar was the place to be to lose a few hours, and ruminate on things over a sazerac or three.
His legacy stays with us in personality and form represented by the insidious and creeping Trinidad Sour. If you can stomach this potion then you've earnt your pay - and your spot at the bar next to America's favourite son. Weighing in with a hefty ounce of Angostura bitters (told ya) it needs to be shaken hard with half ounces of rye whisky, orgeat (almond syrup) and lemon juice with a dash of egg white. Serve it straight up, lift it to your lips and go hard. There's no pussy-footing the Trinidad Sour!
Josh you're a dirty Texan but we'll miss you. I'll catch you on Royal street some time. New Orleans is slow to leave the blood!
Wednesdays are spot on for a bit of home cookin', and a great chance for me to work with fish. Miss and I stopped by on the way back from Mordor (Chapel st) to grab some fresh rockling fillets from Oysters in Richmond (a solid fishy providore in Richmond).
I've seen loads of aromatic fare produced from baking in parchment, and I had a reasonable idea about how to go about things (the danger being, that once I reach this point - I stop reading books!) but what can go wrong...!?
Well not as much as usual, but I'll tell you this; I can make a paper plane fly 80m (a record that's stood un-challenged since '88) but making a bag to stick in the oven ain't so easy, particularly when you're wingin' it. So it happened that four misshapen parcels got popped in the oven for ten minutes laden with fare.
Our rockling was covered in Maille dijon (buy, buy! American juggernaught Kraft have just purchased Maille and plan to shut it down therefore removing them from the competition! 250 years of tradition down the drain!!), thinly sliced lemon, vine ripened baby Roman tomatoes, dill, delicious chardonnay and salt and pepper.
The steaming parcels were prized open over mash, and the plump gems of fish were tastily imbued with the aromatics + we had the great resultant sauce! Mountadam '07 Chardonnay and some pan fried asparagus rounded out a pretty tasty meal which happily led to clean plates all round. Yummy.
Glenmorangie Nectar 'd Or and some football saw the later hours slip by once the fairer guests had departed. Life doesn't get much better.
P.s Thanks to the kids at Babka today for their candour; sincerity will get us back everytime...ta!
P.p.s Best croissant I've had outside Paris - get involved now!
Under the weighted veil of a hangover the week un-rolls. Classic Aus fare was enjoyed thoroughly yesterday with a crackin' football match all tricked out with plastic beers cups and meat pie burns; the hallmarks of any good birthday celebration. Why is it that steaming gravy and Tommy K smell so good together in their proper context!?
Not content with our prize of sporting prowess however, we rocked on with more cold lager beer by the mighty (ish) Yarra at sunset. Appetites of course needed to be whet with a couple of cheeky aperitifs at Black Pearl before the classic Sunday roast at The Rose Hotel. Sure, dining can be great, but sometimes a good pub meal cannot be topped - particularly when given the option of upgrading your plate to large for just $13 total! Awesome. Crackling, lumpy/salty/mega tasty gravy and roasted spuds all gave my pork its necessary props. Guinness provided an excellent score to the production. Satisfaction incarnate.
My enduring mistake is to believe that digestif cocktails are innocent and friendly - whereas a glass of water and the couch are probably much more beneficial in the long run! Rye whisky and sweet vermouth'll put a dent in anyone's bonnet if you let them including mine! All good, if you enjoy a dose of next day penitence...
Looking forward to having our tiny cooking class tomorrow night - I'm thinking seafood!