Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spanish Grind-out

Alright kids, and flavour seekers alike - tonight I'm getting my Spanish on. It's not enough for me to be a commentator on other people's creativity, so I'm keen more often than not to put my money where my stove is and get involved.

It's big Joe's last night on our fair shores and we're getting together to say au revoir in style with some (hopefully) tasty food from my motherland. On the menu tonight therefore is a line-up of oil clad Spanish hits to satisfy the hardiest of hungers. The ever-green classic croquettas done all the way with rich sauce imbued with Jamon, mushrooms and stock were bangin shallow fried (no one give me any jip about them supposed to being deep fried - I know!) and coupled with some char-grilled peppers peeled, sliced and steeped with garlic, thyme and rosemary. I'm feelin' grilled bread rubbed with garlic and tomato combo, but then again - I'm always feelin' that!

For mains I'm having a crack at Catalan Noodles which is really just an excuse to throw various types of pork together in with some noodles - it's a pretty straight forward lid-on brief braising affair but has an interesting looking stir through addition at the end of pacada, which is a paste made of garlic (no surprises) parsley, hazelnuts and breadcrumbs. It should liven up the proceedings a bit, and hopefully bring balance to the force of all that pork fat - bring it. Patatas a lo pobre on the side, the famous poor man's potato which is straght up oil, onion, pepper and salt and which the heads should be all over it like a granny on a jumble sale.

Cutting through all the tasty kit'll be some crackin' tempranillo finished off with some moscato for the sweeter toothed folk afterwards. Phew. Can't wait! Inevitably I'll F%$& something up so stay tuned for a wrap up and maybe a tale of kitchen rage or two.

If I can work this techno hoo ha out maybe I'll even work out how to get a pic up! See you round Joe boy, we'll miss you. Cheese 4 life.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Settle Down Melbourne Bar Folk!

Right. Enough. Can everyone stop playing musical chairs and just get normal jobs!? After a fortnight of getting rogered by F%#@book bombardments and messages about venues seeking gap-staff coupled with the turmoil of one hapless bar team getting turfed onto the street only to be taken back in again (very Godfather 3) I'm throwing down the gauntlet.

Listen up Melbourne - the public are thirsty! Get on with it.

That being said, good luck to the Seamstress cats who have a fresh start and a chance at a do-over. If you can sort those bar stools out (i.e get rid of 'em for Pete's sake), I'll be a happy participant in your delicious flavours once again.

Good luck!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Izakaya Rising

The latest thing in Japanese food at the mo' is Izakaya. It's been heavily documented in the press recently and I'm very late into the game, but we got our chance last night to kick it to Maedaya Sake and Grill to get involved. For those not in the know, Izakaya is pretty much after-work drinks with hot tasty snacks; a great, and very accessible concept.

Well, we rocked up without a booking and got shunted upstairs to a nice table in a relatively rowdy Japanese student-filled-with-sake kinda space - with loads of smoke billowing off the table grills and a nice sense of organised chaos. The guys looking after us were lovely however, and managed to convey enough information to aid in the navigation of what...six menus!?

There's nothing quite like simply going for it when ordering in places like this, and soon enough we were surrounded by tea, over-colourful mixed drinks with odd names, sake (although they wouldn't let me order any Daiginjo sake (the nuts) which is a privilege reserved for people sitting downstairs annoyingly), pickled beans, spicy cabbage, soba noodle salad and our own smouldering grill.

The idea here obviously is to get your cook on, and we happily seared away at beef rib, pork loin, chicken thighs and various vegetables, while having oodles of fun coming up with custom blends from all the delicious complementary sauces. Team Joe and Becky dropped the best combo with a tasty and simple blend of creamy sesame and teriyaki which was perfect with the beef rib!

Anyway, we had a great night, with great banter - although you need to be prepared to do a great deal of cooking because the grills don't hold much (only if shunted upstairs!) and just a dash of drama too: A couple of lightweight kids at the next table were pounding the sake, and by the time we were waving the signature gesture, they were literally on the floor with large scale vomit inclusive - which is an abrupt and pretty sobering end (well, for us) to a dining experience! All in all pretty good, but come on guys where's the RSA!?

We're forgiving types and one ball-drop isn't enough to keep us away, and we left feeling buoyant enough to venture onward for cognac, coffee and cake - not an easy combo to find on a fresh Monday night in Melbourne!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Monday Rant

Happy Monday, happy folk! Something that I'm incredibly passionate about is fisheries. The fruit of the sea is very damn tasty and makes me excited in an almost unhealthy manner. Having grown up by the ocean in WA (oops, did I just admit I'm from WA!?), I've spent most of my life there diving, surfing fishing and spear fishing vis a vie I've got a massive soft spot for our aquatic friends.

Thus it pissed me off to no end to learn that the Japanese successfully opposed the ban of export on Bluefin tuna at the UN's Conservation of International Trade of Endangered Species summit last week. Ok, this is all a bit dry, but the skinny of things is that we're running out of fish! The tuna may head the way of the mighty Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon or the Orange Roughy (never heard of that? we'll we've all eaten it, and Aus/NZ are largely responsible for their overfishing) unless something drastic is done.

I'm not talking about throwing a brick through your fishmonger's window, or crashing your tinny into a pesky Asian fishing vessel invading our waters - but what I do implore is the support our endangered stocks by choosing not to buy these fish, and encouraging your friends to do the same. It's easy to forget that while we eat farmed terrestrial meats almost exclusively,we eat a great deal of wild fish; most of whom can't be farmed.

Species to avoid then, if you want to grind out on our slippery friends with a free conscience: Flake (yeah, that's shark), Halibut, Hake, Sole, Tuna, Orange Roughy, Cod, wild Salmon and skate (N.b - these are just species that appear on the Aus market - and listed by Greenpeace as being in the "red" zone of extreme danger, other species are in trouble too!).

Enjoy your supper, and if you happen to come across a Patagonian Tooth fish, don't eat that either - but at least take a pic, I'd love to check it out!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

And the Dust Settles...

Wow, what a cracking week. Drama, intrigue, excess protein, a bit too much to drink here or there and some laughs just to keep things fresh. Lady Melbourne has delivered again, and there are great of tales flooding in about Food and Wine Festival experiences - with plenty of one up-manship to maintain the competitive fires.

I've learnt about lamb, sake, how to own Melbourne trams, wallpaper, and how not to treat people. It's gonna be a lively weekend, and I hope the punters down at the Pearl tonight go easy on this old bartending dog, as I try remembering the recipes again!

As it's Friday - a cocktail for celebrating the fact:

Bar La Florida's Chic Cocktail

30mls sloe gin
30mls sweet vermouth
20mls grapefruit juice
5mls mararschino liqueur

Shaken and served straight up. Have a good weekend all!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Rest in peace lady Seamstress. You shall be missed.

Vieux Carre and the hurt locker

Dining and friends is a solid combo. Art deco and pubs is a solid combo too, and we were happy as clams to head to the Court House Hotel for all 'o that. What an awesome pub! Give me dark wood and white table cloths over and over and over again.

We were probably a touch loud and inappropriate for the emptying dining room (no, we weren't one of those tables) but the food was great - I made short work of perfectly rare kangaroo fillet with finger lime and lovingly sliced blood plum, and the little terrine I managed to poach from my lovely lady was a cracking combo with fig paste and crostini.

Mains time was fun, and I got to monopolise the delicious Chestnut Hill chardonnay (go and buy some right away!) for my fish while the kids went red meat/red wine. A couple of great bream fillets on tender braised celeriac weren't, to my pleasant surprise, over-powered by a well weighted pesto.

Our waiter may have been a touch down in the mouth, but he made us all feel very cosy by pouring us ridiculously large measures of Calvados and Cognac when we were cheesing. A fitting end to a great dinner, but alas not quite filling enough to send us home! So it was that we cabbed it swiftly across town to the notorious Black Pearl.

If you wanna start your day like a fresh fish (and by that I mean; clear eyed and not smelling) avoid repeated rounds of the tasty, tasty Vieux Carre cocktail. Cognac, rye whisky, sweet vermouth, DOM Benedictine and bitters stirred thoughtfully sounds great, but will place you squarely in the hurt locker the next day - and i have to do it again tonight!

Watch out for Broadsheet, I'm covering Melbourne Food & Wine festival's Beast on the Block. Let the butchery begin.


Oh Lamentable World!

Discovering that you've been using the "grill" function on your oven for 6 months instead of "bake" - absolutely bloody priceless!! I just thought I was a crap baker....those that know me, please be gentle!