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Since I know people who take photos for money and stuff, I’m a bit reluctant to be HERE’S HOW IT’S DONE BITCHEZ! but since I’m very experienced at not knowing what I’m talking about and a few desperate lucky ducks got cameras for christmas and had to resort to me as some kind of authority, here is my explanation I can point to.

Actually before I do, a couple of disclaimers. Firstly, I realise this may qualify as a ‘here you are’ shot and to deflect any criticism, it was shot live so it is in fact ‘un moment decisif’. As an experienced adult educator, I feel the need to come across as incredibly patronising. OK we’re good.

If you’re Ansell Adams and you’re at Yosemite Park and you see a nice cliff, you may want to see everything. When you take photographs of food there are bits you want to see like a prawn; and bits you don’t want to see so much like boring lettuce, or a wall; or you want to hint at like a contextual saucepan, the bottle of wine you’re incidentally having, or the KitchenAid you’re a bit embarrassed about but still want everyone to know you’re got.

So you can signify this hierarchy of importance in you photo by using focus. The things which are important are in focus and the ones that aren’t so important are out of focus. How much is in or out of focus is called depth of field. The above photo has a shallow depth of field - you’ll see the spoon, index finger, and narrow line of almonds are in focus. Watch, wineglass, elbow, etc are out of focus. This picture would therefore be for Spoon Monthly or Pudding Almanac rather than Elbow!

So, how can you get this shallow depth of field thing?
First you’ll need to change your camera to aperture mode. This is usually indicated by an A.
Then you’ll need to understand aperture. Aperture is how much light is let in by the camera. A large aperture lets in lots of light and a small aperture lets in a little bit of light. Aperture is represented by an f-stop e.g. f/2.8

Here is the mind bending bit: small numbers mean a large aperture and big numbers mean a small aperture. f/2.8 large aperture. f/22 small aperture.

In an olden days camera you’d adjust the aperture to get the photo exposure right. Bright and sunny – less light in; bit dark – more light in.  A by-product of this is that aperture also affects focus. A pinhole camera will be in focus from the pinhole to infinity and then as the aperture increases from the size of a pinhole, you have increasingly less depth of field.

Lets recap: A larger aperture, represented by a smaller f-stop, will let more light in and also give you a shallow depth of field which will mean less of the picture is in focus such as in the above photo.

Other things: 

Shutter Speed
In low light situations you increase the aperture so shallow depth of field is a great double bonus for food shots, which are often indoors. Eventually you’re going to get to the other side of the light trade off – as the light decreases your shutter (opening) speed has to decrease to allow more time for light to get in. 1/60 of a second is usually seen as the point to stop for good hand held shots and the 1/30 second and below for resting your hands or something or a few hand-steadying pints.

Film Speed
I love you digital film speed. In the olden days you could get slow film, which was beautifully detailed and enlargeable but needed lots of light. If you were shooting say, Herman’s Hermits at an indoor ‘gig’, you’d use a fast film, which needed less light but looked ‘grainier’ when enlarged. To do both you’d have to swap film or have two cameras.
With digital cameras you can just find the ISO setting/button and increase the ISO until you get the exposure right. ISO 200 is the standard slow and ISO 1600 is fast.
The trade off is there’s more noise and grain but if you’ve got a good new camera or a digital SLR, the pictures are large enough to not worry about grain too much. If you do want to take the perfect shot that’ll be 6 feet high in MOMA, you’re not going to do it with a flash on top of your camera anyway, so use ISO.

Focus
Do I need to tell you you need to have the right thing in focus? No. But if you’re not aware that your camera has a grid of focus sensors and you can choose which one to use, then you are now. There are other ways but journey of self discovery begins now.

To summarise: Depth of field can be used to emphasise parts of a photo and this can be exploited by using your aperture setting.

Boring

Here let me set up a premise where someone does X and I think it should be Y and pretend to be all sciency about it to pad it out to meet word length on a piece about onions.

preserves

it’s lemons, it’s a pufferfish, it’s hitler’s head

I was a bit sad to find that the Flannery O’Connor facebook fan site’s nicely quoted punchline (“Joyce who?”) from her short story The Enduring Chill had been spoiled by a few holy joes trying to find the tale of redemption in it all – stamping on the funny in the process. You can only be lectured so long by a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, who believes that death, offering the hope of resurrection, is no bad thing and was once a paramedic. It’s not surprising, comedy and organised religion have never been equal partners. They fight over the same epistemological turf [sex, death, walking into bars] and in the end humour needs serious people more than serious people need humour. Eco covered this well in Name of the Rose, with the heretical book [spoiler alert] being a book of gags by Aristotle. While the book was about a deductive proto-Holmes unravelling superstition, there was enough slack in the mystery to force the reader into interpretation and interpretation based on context. As he says in KANT and the Platypus

I would not say we can have any real knowledge; if anything, I would maintain that we have an excess of real knowledge. Some are prepared to object that there is no difference between saying there is no truth and saying there are many truths. But we might likewise object that this excess of truth is transitory; it is an effect of our groping our way along , between trial and error; it indicates a limit beyond which these different perspectives (all partly true) could one day be combined in a [jar].

The relatively simple tale of preserving lemons in salt in a jar suffers from an excess of knowledge on the internets and is widely open for interpretation by both readers and writers on the internets. There are at least three different cutting techniques, at least one glaring omission of a hygiene step and differing values placed on perceived taste over cretinism.

This is what I can tell you:

- obtain lemons from your tree or a neighbourhood tree. Don’t buy them, I thinks it better if you just face up to your lack of social connections and your eventual stabbing – Kitty Genovese style – to indifferent neighbours

- don’t bother being too choosy, the ugly ones can be put to good use later.

- give the lemons a scrub and then lop the last few eights of an inch off the ends of the lemons.

- the lemon is then cut into quartered claw; an x made at one end that continues through to all but the last centimetre. The lemon is then stuffed with a tablespoon or so of salt and the salt gets to work on the freshly exposed lemon innards.

- somewhere it’s argued that commercial salt has a metallic taste and that their many mattresses have a pea underneath. Elsewhere it’s said that the added iodine is no bad thing when compared to the goitered life of a Catskills cretin. I used sea salt, if only for the reason that the coarse size allows for a good fill of the lemon, where a finer salt would smother.

- sterilise your jar. Food safety is something you don’t want too much vagary for. In the fridge or a cool dark space? I’m assuming there was a time of preserved lemons before the refrigerator and went for a cool dark space

- in the pantry, behind the booze. One suggestion I followed, and didn’t see elsewhere, was to top the jar up with a sealing layer of a 1/4 cup of olive oil. It seems sound advice.

- most of the action happens over three days. The lemons release their juices and soften. This means that extra lemons can be added to get a nice snug fit and you will need to fill with extra lemon juice to cover the lemons (from the uglies)

- cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, coriander seeds, cloves and peppercorns can all be added in their twos or threes or tablespoon or so.

- from here you’ve got about a month long wait. I’m planning on holding out until christmas, when it’ll be distributed up into gifts and hopefully put to good use. I’m freshening up tagines with mine and they also make for a lovely citric seafood pasta sauce.

**********
And this post is my yellow contribution to LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow 2009 – once again organised by the inestimable Barbara of winosandfoodies. The events is part of the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s efforts to raise cancer issues worldwide. I’d be surprised if you haven’t got your own experiences. Even in my own fortunate life I’ve got a grandfather I never met, a friend who scared the shit out of us last year, and a colleague who’s on the mend. Keep an eye out for the round-up on the 3rd of October.

UPDATE: it’s up and it’s awesome.

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Keith Floyd, actually dead.

teeth will be provided

I was a tad premature before.

And it’s a very sad thing but really, on a happier note, I can’t see in the league of reasonable expectations how he could have packed more into his life.

Not so Jay Rayner of the Guardian who, as if Floyd had donated himself to a medical school, manages to get a few salutory lessons out of his corpse.

And now he’s gone. In truth of course he went a while back, a victim of his own capricious appetites. But at least as he was taking his leave his importance and brilliance had finally been recognised.

If only the bad boozing Floyd could have been removed like a cojoined twin with unshared vital organs, he may well have been presenting into the 21st century, seen financial success as owner of the British franchise of Kenny Roger’s Roasters, and eventually died at the ripe old age of 108 surrounded by his 43 grandchildren and great grandchildren. It’s a story I will tell my child to and may even sneak in a deathbed confession to a priest to nail home the dangers of drink.

Did you know Floyd set the coordinates on TV for Reality TV by being realistic? Jay does. Did you know a “subdued” [read sober] Floyd saved Jay’s dinner party? Now you do.

As I was coincidentally reading today from Kay Steiger.

Hesse is like other unimaginative journalists. She cannot possibly comprehend that what’s going on in her own personal life isn’t interesting to the rest of the world.

Now I suppose you’re wondering what chefs had to say?

*****************

coda update:

Floyd was prone to depression and grumbled incessantly about the burden of fame. Inebriated barristers were forever waking him up on trains, he complained, with dull questions about how to cook geese.

Anyway a cock walks into a bar and says “I’ll have a pint of heavy” and the barman says “Sorry we don’t serve genitalia here but I hear there’s a job going for a food writer at the Guardian.”

I popped into 399 yesterday, while Toni was having emergency dentistry from an aggressive piece of walnut bread. I’d heard nothing but good things and wanted to try their mulled wine for a Tiger Tiger comparo and it was very good.

The interesting thing though was the bartender was laboriously making an Old Fashioned. So given they haven’t been done properly for ages, would this make it an old fashioned Old Fashioned? And if they updated it in a decade’s time, would it be a newly fashioned old fashioned Old Fashioned? Also, if Ray Davies died around that time and they made a tribute drink, would it be a newly fashioned old fashioned Old Fashioned follower of fashion?

A story that goes nowhere

Back when, I found an apple so I wents to my my mom and said “hey mom, I’s got an apple.”
And so she says, “apples are for hogs and you ain’t no hog.”
“That’s true,” I says. “But I ain’t no hog and if I eats it, then it ain’t so that apples are for hogs.”

The End

I think this meal would take approximately one hour and a half to two hours to serve and eat, allowing for conversation.
While the hostess tidies the dining-room and kitchen the guests will have time to collect their coats and prepare to leave for the dance at approximately 9.30 pm

Mrs Roseann Johnston The Australian Hostess Cookbook (1969)

As the first forkful of scampi sidled gingerly into his mouth, my friend’s head snapped still in surprise, then began to oscillate gently in ecstatic bemusement. “I can’t believe it,” he whispered. “I didn’t give the place a chance. When the waitress said, ‘Is there anywhere you’d like to sit?’ I wanted to say Melbourne. Or Belmarsh. Anywhere but here. This is bizarre.”

Firstly, forkfuls of scampi don’t sidle any more than turds flush; angrily or no.

Secondly, what’s wrong with his friend’s head?

Thirdly, ‘ecstatic bemusement’?; was ‘hysterical contemplation’ busy that week?

Fourthly, friends don’t let friends become esprit d’escalier proxies.

Fifthly, an unexpectedly good restaurant is a ‘nice surprise’. Bizarre is a Fortean stick mag for gothy youth.

It wanks on and on (with erratic repetitiveness) and the world of dining, and indeed the entire world, is a worse place for it. I’ll now sigh in a disappointed fashion.



Sincere congratulations to America. Coinciding with the feeling of having an old friend back, I had an actual old friend over for dinner, last week* The main course was a deeply symbolic with the zucchini, freshly flowering, representing birth and growth; the pancetta a tribute to that distinctly Chicagoan measure of value – the pork belly; and in turn the use of pork and shellfish as a triumph over religious constriction; and the linguine as a well-wishing metaphor for long life. I would have had I not simply decided to make this at the suggestion of an Italian chef and student during a particularly quiet and hungry moment.

Broad Beans with Cacciatore
Take the beans out of the pod and boil them in salted water for a minute. Drain and cool under running water. No need for second shelling.
Poach a pork and fennel cacciatore sausage in dry sherry and then slice thinly. Brown a little in olive oil in a pan and then add the broad beans. Stir well until the beans are heated through and the sausage is golden [hello Mark Faga] sausage IS GOLDEN![/hello Mark Faga]. Season and serve.

Zucchini Prawn and Pancetta Linguine
Dice a zucchini very finely and then finely grate a couple of tablespoons extra. This will spread itself more widely over the pasta. Cube cigarette packet sized block of pancetta. Chop up about 300 g of prawn meat and leave a few whole tails for garnish.
Heat a generous combination of clarified butter and EVOO. Add the pancetta and cook until lightly browned. Add the prawn meat, toss and then add the zucchini until it’s all cooked through.
Season and serve with linguini. Mix most through and then garnish the top of the pasta with with the remainder and place a prawn tail on top.

The zucchini was provided from the garden of the photographer who does all our wine shots for the mag (his site’s here). He’s also got one of these, which is pretty cool. They were supplemented by a few baby zucchini from my garden – they still have a way to go.

Tarte Fine aux Pommes
It’s my lazy favourite.
If prepping ahead, thinly slice apples and then mix in the juice of a lemon and some sugar to keep them going brown.
Roll out a sheet of sweet and cover with the apple slices.
Mix an equal combo of butter, sugar, and calvados and heat without burning.Pour over the apples.
It is, after all simply an apple pizza.
Cook in a very hot oven.

*[The parallels kind of stop there as I don't think my friend mounted a deceptive hostile invasion of a nation resulting in millions dead, displaced, or wounded; tried to bring torture back; validated gross levels of stupidity and anti-intellectualism; stuffed up an economy; behaved like an ass over international treaty efforts; or did stuff all while people drowned. And its part America didn't start going out with a really nice guy who used to be in cover bands]

First in a series of recipe cards from around the world - the souffle


Keith Floyd – he’s alive! ALIVE!! Sure we were curious as to what happened to that large boulder and were dead impressed when he offered us to pop our fingers in the wounds all the while casually emptying a couple of bottles of Pouilly Fume but really we were just happy to have him back. What we really liked about him (apart from being the only person apart from Mark Oliver Everett that can wear a bowtie and not look like a berk) was his humanity. A weakness for booze, rubbish at finances, and a deep and sincere need to be loved. He also had the improbably rock star name shared with greats such as Keith Richards, Keith Moon and Keith Urban.

So the Keith Floyd tribute dinner of Smoked Trout and Cucumber Souffle with Rice Pudding based on second-hand Cornish scuttlebutt was not so much a time for mourning but celebrating. He had, much more so than my souffle, risen. While the miracle of birth is one thing; forgetting what it was like being a kid and being genuinely surprised when you actually woke up is another; it’s to have, to lose and to get back that’s the real trick.

Here’s his Real Rice Pudding recipe – it’s simple so don’t skimp on the vanilla pod, the milk or the cream. It’s an unseemly luxury for its simplicity.

3tbs short-grain rice; 600ml full cream milk; 1 vanilla pod; 25gm caster sugar; 150ml of double cream – whipped until softly peaky

Bring all the ingredients, except for the cream, to the boil and then put in an ovenproof dish with a lid and cook at 150˚C for 2 hours. Remove the pod, allow to cool slightly and then fold in the cream.

UPDATE

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not-Spanokopita

spanakopita

A lot of people have been asking me what I did with that tin of tin of Bulgarian not-feta that I bought a while back. Well the answer is nothing, but then I used some to make leftover sausage scrambled eggs (slice the sausage thinly, fry up in a bit of harissa and pretend it’s chorizo) with not-feta. It’s not-feta because it’s Bulgarian white brined cheese. I’d assumed this was part of the Protected Designation of Origin Laws but the hot gossip is that feta was originally made in Trakia, Bulagaria and they call it sirene. I can’t pretend to know how pissed off Greeks would be about this but according to this post at Balkanalysis.com suggests they’ve had an initially antagonistic start to their relationship in the 7th Century; a brief period of amity; complications when Greece discovered that Bulgaria was only going out with it because of a bet with Romania; and then finally “strong relations.”
Read it all because it has the best bitchy
caption about a British PM ever:

In 1912, British fixer J.D. Bourchier was honored with a Bulgarian postage stamp; today, Tony Blair warrants only a babushka in Sofia’s flea market.

It’s a shame Crass aren’t still around to write “How does it feel (to be not half the man J.D. Bourchier was)”

My own Bulgarian- Greek nexus occurred in 1989 (stop me if you’ve heard thins one before) when I visited Sofia. Fresh from eating my body weight in dishes with paprika cream sauce, politely drinking pepsi and red wine, and dodging tram fares in Budapest, I should have realised something was up when I became the only person with a backpack on the train. When I got off the train at Sofia station, someone made it their business to walk over to me and call me a “tourist” much like you’d call someone a variation of twat. I went there to catch up with the last known link with my family. I’m pretty sure the last visit to Bulgaria have been in the 1920′s by my grandfather. The evidence being a black and white photo of a somber group of locals who may have been at a funeral, or a wedding; hard to tell.

The address was 234-64 something something Sofia and 64 referred one of the randomly placed Stalin-style apartment blocks around town. I wasn’t deterred and had spent no small amount of time thinking about what it would be like to be welcomed back by my ancestors; the great-grandson of my great-grandfather who eloped with his fiance eighty years or so earlier. A kind soul, who spoke a little English and a bit of Russian and a bit of French and smoked Malborough Reds, found the apartment block for me and wished me well. I found the door and knocked. And knocked. And knocked. And then a neighbour came out, I said the person’s name and then the neighbour made a driving gesture and indicated that she wouldn’t be back for a few days.

In mandatory hotel room fees (with roof views) and compulsory currency exchange, Bulgaria was too rich for me and I decided to leave the next day. No pigs slaughtered; no young women giggling demurely while they worked how distant a relation, I really was if at all; and no lashings of yoghurt. I hung out in a bar in Sofia, actually it was more like a cafeteria selling beer, and the night life was surprisingly not good. The next day was shops are closed day except for the shops that didn’t seem to sell anything except skis so bought my ticket to Athens for the equivalent of three dollars.

I shared a compartment with some holidaying Poles who gave me food and then when the ticket inspector arrived I found out, as everyone pulled out large bits of paper to my small stub, that the ticket was remarkably cheap because it wasn’t a ticket but a seat reservation. The conductor thought it was pretty funny at least and rather than being turfed out in chains, I was able to buy a ticket to the Greek border with the money I hadn’t been able to spend with two lev to spare.

A day later I made it to Athens to find the last two thousand years hadn’t been quite as grand as the previous two and that if you go to the Parthenon, don’t look at your watch with a carton of orange juice in your hand, and if you got to visit the Oracle in Delphi, wear a jumper.
Anyway, the recipe is here. I used a bunch of silverbeet and a bunch of spinach (60/40 greens to cheese ratio) and finely diced a zucchini and when you rinse your greens in, make sure you lift them out of whatever you’re rinsing them in rather than pouring them, along with assorted grit, into a strainer. Then wash them again.

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farm lamb sunday roast

It’s been quite a big fortnight for me and I mean quite big in the same way that a werewolf Sean Connery would be quite hairy (although not on top, which would raise the possibility of a combover werewolf; terrifying yet also funny in a sad kind of way. “You know you’re not fooling anyone…aiiiieeeeeeee”)

Anyway two weeks ago Eva was born and it does not so much turn your life upside down as create its own space in your brain that squashes everything else out of the way. Although not in a way that creates a large bulge in my forehead and the urgent need to take a piss every thirty minutes. She’s also absolutely adorable and makes me laugh, which are great qualities to start life with.

We also managed to get issue 10 of SPICE off to the printers. Well when I say we, I mean everyone else and me distractedly checking commas and apostrophes and asking if it’d kill us if we got it out on the 7th instead of the 1st.

The other thing was the family farm’s clearing sale, last Friday. A clearing sale is a kind of garage sale but with heavy machinery and drinks afterwards. It also means that the family farm is sold and so ends my father’s forty years on a wheat and sheep farm and my family’s 80 year ownership of the wheatbelt property.I grew up there and it was as a good a childhood as anyone could want – I was rarely priveleged. By my teens, the appeal had waned; it became holiday farm work through uni; and by my twenties I’d supplanted my home town of twenty with the 14 million person megalopolis of Tokyo. Although things changed on the farm there was always something I could relate that linked to some part of my life. On the day, most of theses things were lain out in straight lines in the paddock and all that was left in the workshop were the neatly painted labels of where the tools once went.

It was a hot day, the wind blew with dust all day, my first car struggled to raise $50, and I’ve never enjoyed a can(s) of mid-strength beer so much. The sale went well beyond all expectations, I only got one ‘why didn’t you take over the farm’ question, and a lot of people weren’t shy in saying how they’d miss my Dad.

I took two things with me; the Cramphorne wool bale stencils and a leg of lamb from the freezer. This was from one of the sheep on the farm and, as they aren’t there anymore, it’s the last of the lamb. I roasted it old-style with garlic and rosemary stuffed into slits in the meat and we had our Sunday roast together. Eva didn’t quite make it up to the farm and she’s a few months away from solids but whatever Toni eats, she gets eventually. And so in an odd, indirect way, the farm became part of her.

filing cabinet farm lamb

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shun cleaver

I’ve been meaning to show off my highly desirable damascan steel Shun cleaver. It’s been a torrid three month’s and I don’t want to kiss and tell but lets just say “cabbage” “all night long” of you know what I mean and I think you do. It’s a sharp metal testament to the fruits of blogging thanks to the Kitchen Warehouse ad rightwards (thank you clickers).

If any of you have been wondering what Spice magazine is actually like apart from my rambly blurbs and can’t get access to a paper copy, you can have a butchers at some sample pages here.

I was at a vertizontal tasting today (2004! 2007!) and was asked in front of a group of twenty people what I thought of a 2001 shiraz. It was a year 10 algebra what do you think x is Georgeff? moment. I think I’ve got a repertoire of 1.4 intelligent things I can say about a given wine before bouncing the question on. I’m actually pretty happy with this amount, winemaking is an enormously complex process and 1.4 is about what I deserve. The more I learn the more respect I have. That said, I was reading about a South Australian winery that named their wines after rock albums. It’s a swell idea with lots of potential – Paranoid Pinot Gris, Master of Puppets Mourvedre, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back Sem Sav and the 2003 1984.
They chose Joshua Tree.
God weeps.
Some say Gram Parsons died at Joshua Tree, I say it killed him.

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but actually preferred this. And it’s in a church, natch! I’m not sure if Josh Homme is taught to shake off his repressed feeling through the power of food by a mysterious woman or gets eaten. Given the “split pea and hand” soup in the Conan DVD I bought, strong chance of synchronicity suggests the latter. The Police are back together, is that good or bad? Either it’s a three act resolution with the second act crisis being the entire solo career of Sting; or it’s an endlessly recurring cycle.

[Yeah I know youtube is pretty slack but I'm a bit overwhelmed by having two meals in four days which comprised of 16 courses in total]

Oh yeah, I made a beef stock you can bounce a coin off.

the sad state of lard packaging today

- Raymond Loewy gently weeps. Its not so much economy as despair at the potential.

- Gracianne pays me a very large compliment at Un dimanche a la campagne by doing my lard based lemon meringue pie in French.

- You’ll get your money’s worth in the opening credits of Casino Royale, rest is gravy. Sad to see the optimism of the 60′s with lasers has been replaced by the naked man and a chair of the current zeitgeist.

- Lingot d Argental from Lyon is as gentle and creamy a soft cheese as you could want. They’ve got some at Herdies.

- You, Me and Dupree is the best French comedy of 2006.

- I’m a complete bum. Pim nicely asked me to join Menu for Hope III and I’ve done nothing. Keep a sharp eye on it, it aims to raise a motza for the United Nation’s World Food Program and you can help.

- Van Halen’s Jump sounds surprisingly fresh thanks to a very dirty bit of background fuzz on the synth. 1984 is the only concept album to last one song. Rather than apollonian/dyonysian as the two dichotomies of our culture, I think we could learn a lot from Lee Rothian/Hagarian divisions. I think the Age of Hagar of the past six years is one the wane and welcome the waxing of Lee Roth (not literally, hairiness is part of his charm).

- hirsute means hairy, who knew?

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Finished

beer and trowel

Hooray the mag is off to the gestetners. Which leaves me to indulge in my three favourite things – beer, country music, and trowelling.

And I’ve a hankering to make a lemon-meringue pie so maybe I might actually put some food up here.

deathbyvolvo1


I’ve had a burst of guilt. Chubby Hubby had tagged me for my first meme for a while two months ago and I never got around to posting it – Five things to eat before you die.

1. Something you’ve killed
I think everybody should eat something they’ve killed and it should be as far up the animal food chain as possible. Yes, yes you should. Can’t go passing the buck all your life. Not that I’m buying into this whole great white hunter bollocks. I’m obviously suspicious of people that surround themselves with every modern comfort and their way of reaching back to their ancient past just happens to be shooting something. There’s a time and a place but any more significance placed on hunting than ‘killin’ stuff’ is bollocks. And yeah alright it’s not very practical so check with your local council and try not to stuff it up, actually don’t bother it’s just too hard.
I dunno, buy a live lobster, kill it properly (they’re fiesty if they wake up!), and pat yourself on the back. Or go vegetarian.

2. Uni
Not the place where I sent five yeards faffing around doing a Philosophy and Accounting double degree but the gonads of sea urchins. It’s like a turd wrapped in a hand grenade. So why have it? Well it’s gorgeous, it’s like dessert for savoury people, a sweet salty buttery aromatic mousse made from the creamiest of cream. It’s sweet like a really good champagne is, that’s not really sweet at all. But why not just make a sweet salty aromatic mousse from the creamiest cream? Because you don’t have to, because it just is as it is, untouched. And it’s something you really shouldn’t have in any rational world but you try it and it’s good, geniunely good. You can’t say that about sea cucumbers

3. A suitably effective hallucinogenic
Not suggesting for a minute that you go out and buy these or even enjoy them in a nice pastoral setting on a sunny day but, while not the most tasty of eating experiences, they do give more ride for your dollar than any other ingestible I can think of.
What it will teach you about food is the effect that small amounts of chemicals can have on your body. Compare this with the large amounts of beer required to get up to the level of “dancing” and the tardy side-effects of eating crap food, you can almost see the genesis of the organic food movement.
Other than that, there’s little better for appreciating how tenuous our strongly held beliefs can be – my! carpet *can* undulate after all, and what a sharp little knife edge of perception and reason we live on. It’ll also teach you that if things do get bad, they will pass with patience, that acceptance can trump struggle, and fear is illusory – very Tao.
Otherwise: play dizzy whizzy and fall backwards and look at the clouds.

dirty


4.
Spam and Noodle Casserole
God help me the world of food is a relativist one. It’s all bloody well we’re busy, or we can’t afford this,
or but I liiiike it, or ooooh what a fucking food snob. It’s getting so hard you can’t even pop into the Scottish Restaurant on a Saturday morning and shout you must hate your children if you’re giving them this shit anymore without someone feeling all aggrieved. Thank you Spam and Noodle Casserole because you have taught me that there are absolutes and there is evil.

5. A Giant Bouncy Castle Made of Jelly
I don’t know if this is feasible but the thought of dying and not having eaten this just breaks my heart.

clear soup mackeral

My significant other-in-law Chris runs a charter fishing boat out of Darwin. He has five top fish and not only refuses to keep any fish outside of the five for himself, but refuses to give them away either. Picky to be sure, but it meant we got five bags of immaculatey packed and filleted pieces of Darwin’s finest when my sister in law came to stay.

Mackeral in a Clear Soup
Mackeral is a strong tasting fish so the idea was to place it in a milder context of the mild fishiness of dashi stock. The dashi has mirin added to it for a bit of sweetness and soy sauce to fill in the gaps with a bit of meaty saltiness. The amounts of the latter two need to be tested with tasting. Dashi has a short cooking time so there’s more variance than with a stock that has a longer cooking time and a greater margin of error.
I was also happy to find katsuoboshi in a pack of 50gm bags at the small Asian deli next to Herdies Grower’s fresh. All that seemed to exist before were two kilogram bags, which is quite an amount of of dried bonito shavings. 50gm is also exactly the right amount you need for 1.5 litres of dashi, along with a 6x4cm square of konbu. Konbu is a large sea grass that contains glutamic acid. Glutamic acid is used as a neurotransmitter but also stimulates the umami receptors of our tongue. Umami is the mysterious fifth dimension of taste, which I find personally relevent as Age of Aquarius was the number one single in the year of my birth. It’s also the source of the much maligned MSG.
Traditionally, dashi is made with the water used to rinse rice but untraditionally, I didn’t have rice so normal water had to do.

Dashi
- Add the konbu to 1.5 litres of water and heat over a medium heat. Just before it comes to a boil, remove the konbu from the pot.
- Bring the water to a boil. Add 50gm of katsuoboshi and just as it starts to sink, strain the stock. I’m not sure of the exact degree of sinking and whether it’s as soon a one flke heads downward. Just don’t go wandering off.

Soup
The soup is based on a bamboo and prawn clear soup recipe from Kosaki and Wagner’s The Food of Japan. Theinteresting thing in this is the prawns are dusted with cornflour and quickly cooked in boiling water and then chilled. I’ve no idea what the cornflour does, it’s usually great for coating chicken for frying though. In this case, it did wrap the fish in an interesting texture.

- Add 5 tsp each of mirin and soy sauce for every three cups of dashi.
- Cut the mackeral into manageable pieces and cook as for the prawns above (there aren’t actually any prawns or bamboo in this in case you’re confused, because I replaced it mackeral didn’t I? And try getting fresh bamboo shoots at 6pm on a Sunday night in Perth).
- Add the mackeral pieces to the soup and heat through.
- Distribute the soup and mackeral pieces to the bowls and garnish with sliced chilli, steamed asparagus, and bean shoots that you’ll have spent 15 minuted trying to tie into four neat bundles with a lightly boiled bean shoot stem.

golden snapper


Golden Snapper with Artichoke Barigoule
Yet another Michel Roux Jnr recipe, I’d explain it in detail but I really think you should just go out and buy Le Gavroche Cookbook and get the Food of Japan while you’re at it. Artichoke barigoule is actually quite an old French dish. This one is best described as a mirepoix of roughly equal amounts of fennel bulb, onion, carrot, and diced and browned parma ham cooked in olive oil with thyme and garlic with two peeled artichokes in sixths added and then simmered covered with greaseproof paper with a glass of white wine, 60ml of warm water, and the juice of half a lemon for 15 minutes. Think of it as a nascent stock.
The fish is cooked in a very hot ovenproof pan in a very hot oven with olive oil, rosemary and thyme.
Serve on mash with the barigoule, garnish with freshly shredded basil leaves, a splash of olive oil and some of the barigoule juices.

Very nice. The snapper is fantastic and the only thing that can be “done” to it is stuffing it up, but a careful eye should prevent that. I liked the barigoule too, the finely diced pieces blended together without any particular one being dominant with the citric aspects of the wine and lemon juice matching the fish.

Bonus Motor Reviews:
00 V6 Holden Commodore Executive
If you’re an executive that makes his or her own cup of coffee and brown bags their lunch then you’ll appreciate the modest touches like non-electric windows and a cassette player. The steering wheel feels surprisingly like a stress ball, handy for times of refuelling, and connects to competent enough if uncompelling handling. The treasure though, is the engine which throttles the loaf-like sedan at a rudely entertaining pace, which, when couple with underperforming tyres allows for many squeal like a pig moments.

’06 620 Ducati Monster
Traditional no fuss naked home of gentler Ducati engines makes for simple biking pleasures accompanied by a beautiful Termignoni note. Sit up and beg riding position with wide handlebars allows for confident drop in cornering. Slipper clutch avoids traditional Ducati requirement on manly bear grip but does make for uncertain starts. Lower power requires more judicious gear selection than with larger torquier twins. Apparently the front shocks can’t be adjusted , so firmer springs and a bikini screen a good accessory choice.

’06 Volvo XC90 D5
Smooth spinning and with a creamily compelling engine howl, it handles as effortlessly as it does seat five with ample luggage space. Quick, quicker with autotronic, but be soothed by Nordic utilitarian design and soft lights.

Next Week! 240 series redux

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croquembouche


Back when I was catering in the early nineties, my business partner Nic would always talk about making a croquembouche one day. “It’s gonna be three feet high,” he’d say. “Yeah Nic, it’s going to be three feet high and sparkle like gold,” I’d respond knowing there was no way we’d ever be able to afford to make one with the money we had. But I didn’t want to to crush the dream that kept him going.

After a while it was all he talked about, croquembouche this, croquembouche that and it all got too much and I just had to tell him straight that there was never going to be a croquembouche. I’d never seen him so angry as he pushed past me and ran out the door, grabbing the keys to the limited editon Group A Walkinshaw Camira I’d been working on to try and raise some more money. He was half was down the street before I could get my shoes on. Back then, during the recession and before flexible home equity financing, there was only one way you could get your hands on money quickly – speedway racing.

I must have used all 10 speeds on my bike getting to the track, only to hear the sound of metal. Pushing my way through the pits, I got to Nic just as they were pulling him out of the crushed body of the Camira. “I guess I screwed up pretty badly this time,” Nic whispered, trying not to put pressure on his broken ribs. “No Nick, you did great. Now try to relax.” “It’s gonna be three feet high…” and with a smile Nick said his last words. And in the middle of the track I cried hot tears that day, fifteen years ago – so this one’s for you Nic, we finally made it.

Some notes:
- choux pastry is, funnily enough, like a roux but with egg yolks incorporated.
- crème pâtissière uses milk rather than cream. For this one I flavoured it with passionfruit pulp passed through a sieve to remove the seeds and dark chocolate.
- if the chocolate isn’t melted properly it will block the pastry bag and cream will come out the other end, onto the bench and cookbook and then floor.
- melted sugar is facking hot so wear shoes
- for fine golden threads, put a little of the hot caramel on a puff and pull the spoon back and stretch the thread.
- you don’t need a cone, although it helps
- I’d like to try a savoury one with pate.

trout bound in pink


Four caught trout given to me by a friend on return from a trip down south, wrapped in silicone ties sent to me by a Flickr friend in California in return for sending a song with the same name as her by a Japanese punk band which was downloaded by shareware from somebody with that particular song on their computer somewhere. Eaten with friends who bought beer and wine while we faffed around with a guitar that had been given to me in Japan with a distortion pedal that my brother in law loaned to me when I had birthday breakfast with my Dad who had given me two boning knives previously, one of which I gave to our guests at the end of the evening.

trout


Trout rubbed with ras al hanout and stuffed with almond, date and orange couscous. Served with an orange and fennel salad, and kipfler potatoes with fennel and mustard mayonnaise.

And speaking of good stuff, Chika reviews my ahmmm house さようなら、おうちレストラン. Kind of like Hello! magazine but not naff.

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tapioca

Sinful. Unless it refers to torturing chickens to save a few cents off the price of an egg (and I’m not sure that actually is a sin), it’s a naff word to use in regards to food. And if a supercreamy tapioca pudding is someone’s idea of a ticket to their own circle of hell then we all have much to worry about. Actually I’m sure the high point of my own stygian repose would be being able to listen to wails of “But Lord, it was but one Milky Bar!” as they reached up to a particularly smug group of lactose intolerants. The circles of dairy hell are:

low-fat milk
havarti cheese
cafe latte
prurient thoughts regarding milkmaids
milk
chocolate
600ml choc-milk
whipping cream
chocolate mousse
double cream
double brie
triple brie
mascarpone
Nestle Infant Formula


Anyway tapioca, in the hunt for a recipe sometimes you think it’d been invented by ‘Grandma’ who had a prediliction for jello and cool whip (They still talk about it in Normandy). The others involve eggs and I don’t remember tapioca involving eggs. Well there’s a recipe
here, that’s merged it with zabaglione,hence the marsala, and that made sense. I also learnt what ‘half and half’ is when it’s not half lager, half ale. I substituted vanilla and port for the marsala

- soak 1/3 cup baby tapioca pearls for two hours, drain
- add to 2.5 cups of half cream and half milk and bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Stirring often with a whisk (or constantly if you can be bothered and you’ve got a heater and a telly in the kitchen)
- add 1 tsp vanilla essence and a shot of port. Simmer for another 20 minutes.
- whisk one egg and one egg yolk with 4 tbs of sugar until combined and light in colour.
- add 1/3 of the tapioca mix to the eggs, stirring constantly.
- return to the saucean and over a low heat, stir constantly for five minutes.
- pop in a glass and top with berries and whipped cream.

Sadly you can’t see the multi-coloured eyes of tapioca gazing out and the $1.50 ikea glass looks like a $1.50 ikea glass (and I didn’t iron the placemat) but it was independently assessed as ‘the yummiest tapioca ever…creamy and dreamy’ . So there you go.

Bonus pic is the Kylie Kwong steamed oysters that I had in a not very successful thai dinner. They tasted nowhere near as nice as they looked – largely due to a poor decision between Malaysian cooking wine and a four day old of bottle verdelho (it was fine on Tuesday before POTC). I chose the latter and as a further blow, the oysters weren’t steamed enough to be hot, but rather not quite cold.

steamed oysters

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How many blogs have a theme tune, hey? Made this yonks ago on garage band and it’s been sitting gathering dust on my lappy. Mercifully free of vocals or any actual playing of music. Although look out for “Spiceblog! – The Iron Man Variations.”

Or you just go and enjoy this via The Poor Man.

NEWS JUST IN! – filed by Crafty

His pistol melted, Yamanaka tai-i had no choice but ancestral weaponry to defeat the iron beast

Is there a more stunning opening to a TV program, or a movie for that matter, than the 6 Million Dollar Man with its montage of different formats – the flashing lights of computers, the rotating precursor to autocad, the overlaid radar, the voiceover, the radio voice, the cut to the grainy footage of the crash, the string heavy music accompanied by a winding up to speed turbo following a soundtrack of beeps and ventilator wheezes. It also surprised me what an ambiguous character he was, obviously half-man half-machine, but also on the earth but yearning to be back on the moon, desirable to women yet with the unresolved question of how much he was damaged – if you know what I mean, a civillian yet under the control of the military, a man but defined only in terms of coin, a reluctant killer, and with powers that are simultaneously a curse. Smile at the jump-suits, chill at the anxieties of ’70′s modernity.

Anyway, what I wanted to say was that immaculate Singaporean food blogger, Chubby Hubby is assembling a list of the objectively and (a nice touch) subjectively best Asia-Pacific restaurants and needs your help doing so. Have a good loook here – Asia Pacific Best Restaurants List

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Guest Post

It’s Friday, I’ve got three days to get a mag to the printers, finally nail the ending for an article on a butcher (for the love of god give me a simile!), and just I’ve realised I’m dressed like Shakin’ Stevens. Activate group blog team nippon!

seaweed broth sample lady

Irrashai! I’m the seaweed broth sample lady. I’m here to offer you a sample of seaweed broth while there aren’t any postings. Oops here comes my supervisor.

motteruwrestler


I am a wrestler who grapples with things. These savoury snack sticks represent the burden I am carrying on behalf of Anthony. Am I being a bit obvious?

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freshness burger coffee

As someone who finds most delight in Little Britain in the Dennis Waterman sketch and my most vivid childhood dreams being ones where perspective expanded and contracted regardless of retreat or advance, I felt at home with my tray at Freshness Burger on my last day in Tokyo. It would be quite a diet. Wired and hungry.

when life gives you lemons and unnaturally good pastry skills


As I’m not likely to be heading to Paris any time soon, Tokyo would be as convenient a place as any to try the wares of the highly rated Pierre Herme. Pierre Herme is a pastry chef that brings delight to more discerning women than any other, additionally and not entirely unrelated he is also the patron saint of large hairy men who hope to attract the avid attentions of large numbers of women. The shop is in Aoyama, by coincidence, a five minute walk from where I was handily going to pick up a wad of cash. Off I went, found it, and waited 20 minutes out the front anxiously trying not look like somebody waiting for the pub to open so they could have their first pony of sherry for the day (see also clinic, methadone).

I’m not sure what I was expecting, given the praise heaped upon his macaroons I would have been disappointed with anything less than the sensation of a thousand angels brushing their sugar dusted nipples across my tongue in ecstatic unison. Discretely, for such a moment, I was fortunate enough, in lieu of a booth, to have the second floor cafe all to myself. One small potentially embarrassing situation was with the menu with a set containing three items and I wasn’t sure whether I just ordered the set and got all three and looked like a glutton or asked for one and seemed unusually parsimonious. I settled for saying signature set and them mumbling mousse with an airy hand wave that could suggest etcetera if need be.

espresso-herme


First to present itself was a small spongy treat accompanying my espresso. Me and the waitress managed to communicate that it was fig and that was the filling with cinnamon of a raspberry sponge thing. The sponge thing actually had the same texture of an extremely fresh licorice allsort and was much enjoyed for it.

The signature set arrived and it was three glasses which could be described as three ways of making desserty chocolate and then putting something on top. The first was coconut milk, tapioca, and passionfruit. The next was coffee ice-cream. And the last was mascarpone with cubes of pain d’epices on top (can’t catch me, Je suis le pain d’epices homme!). This was the best I could distill from the friendly waitress pre-espresso, fig was hard work enough. Mind you not friendly enough to turn a blind eye and let me snap away with my indiscreetly large camera.

And yes it was nice. Since I don’t sensorially respond strongly to desserts and I don’t make enough to appreciate from a technical perspective. It’s like showing the innards of an F1 engine to someone who only knows they’re the things that go broom. Undeniably it was charming, the mousse part begged to be dissassociated with hair volumisers, the other chocolate part was chewy like toffee without being chewy like toffee, and the ganache had the buttery sensual import not seen since…well…I won’t go there again.

pierre herme interior

As I absentmindedly pecked away, trying to get the spoon to fit that not quite distance to the bottom of the choccy shot glass, in the flicker of light from the leafy mirror I imagined Pierre himself appear in front me. ‘What did you think?’ he asks. ‘Well it was nice’ … ‘like grandma’s biscuits’ we say in unison. I suggest he use some meat or fish and maybe instead of ice-cream he could have a nice rich gravy or perhaps a tasty hollandaise…it would at least make you a little less unsavoury. And as I look up to see the response to my imagined tremendous joke he has vanished and I was back to pecking at my glass under the watchful gaze of the third attendant in the cafe to watch over me.

I pay. It was around $25, not a ridiculous amount by any stretch but I then go and spend a similar amount downstairs on three macaroons, a couple of chocolates and a Pierre Herme tattoo sheet, hoping perhaps, his charms might rub off on me.

macaroons

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Mail!


Dear Anthony

As much as I like long accounts of food preparation, I was wondering if you had any pictures of Buzz Aldrin next to a giant green apple instead?

Best regards
Craig

Why as a matter of fact I do.

Buzz Aldrin and the Giant Green Apple

Happy to oblige Craig.

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chicken and mushroom quiche


Today is International Women’s Day. Spiceblog is well regarded as a leader in gender issues on the internet in Australia so I shouldn’t let this slip by. As is often said, where the mirror cannot be found, the dish will do. Last Friday I went to the outdoor movies and I made a quiche. For those around at the time, the quiche was a minor celebrity in the crisis of manhood in the early 80s – second only to the manbag. It managed to inspire a book “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” with the punchline being “they eat ham and egg pie”. Hoohoo indeed! I’m not sure where this animosity came from, I mean it’s not as if half our language isn’t French already or that manliness is derived from an earthy literalness that would have us saying that’s not a carburettor, it’s a device to regulate the flow of fuel and air into the cylinder. Possibly it was a kind of no-nonsense response that played into a myth of the fall. The fall being the defeat in 1066 by the Normans which destroyed the priveleged position of good honest monosyllables and all things Arthury or something. So ingrained in me was this that there was a moment of hope that since I didn’t have a quiche tin and had to use a cake tin, the lack of scalloped edge and the relative heightiness meant that it would be a pie. It wasn’t

Get yourself some short-crust pastry, butter a tin, cut a circle of pastry out, place it in the bottom. Cut some strips out to go around the edge. Seal up any gaps and blind bake for 10 minutes at 220C. If you haven’t done this before, it’s just to get it nice and crusty. Place some dried beans on the pastry to stop it puffing up. I disn’t have any beans so I used some ceramic hashioki. Just put a sheet of baking paper under them.

Mix was one chicken breast which I left to marinate for an hour in Ras al Hanout spices. Pan cooked and shredded. About a cup of chopped field mushrooms and then a third as much chopped spring onions and a third as much of that in chopped scallions all gently cooked in butter. Mix together with the chicken and a handful of chopped flat leaf parsley. Four whole eggs, half as much cream, and half again of cheddar I had. OK alright there’s maths here but are you going to have the same amount of spring onions as mushrooms? No. Half as much mushrooms as chicken maybe. I wanted mix with eggy bits just holding it together and I got it. How much cheese do you want? Make a decision. Salt and pepper. Cook at 180C until you dip a knife in it and it comes out clean and then take it out and cool it on a rack. You can then pop it back in the tin for easy transportation to said French film.

Film of which was French film The Story of My Life – dealing with thirthysomething doubt regarding artistry versus commerce versus success versus failure versus risk versus identity versus vulagarity versus the woman you have versus the woman you want all mixed together in a second act snarl up with comedic result and character switchovers.

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I’m still at Jackson’s every Thursday but I still live in a kind of titular haze. [For those coming in late] I’m certainly not a chef, I’m not technically an apprentice, and I’ve lingered longer than the typical work experiencer. Dilettante, duffer, hanger-on, kitchen fop, thirtysomething man in kitchen scene… I think I was settled on gentleman chef in the sense of the gentleman farmer rather than any particular gentility. A kind of jolly good involvement while others go about the work they do every day, well. I described this in a separate conversation and I was asked like wandering in and spending 20 minutes fixing your apron?, which is exactly what I do do, so I guess there must be something in it.

What I do after I carefully arrange my apron and check my hat’s on OK varies from week to week. Last week I was taught how to do chocolate decoration using a small piping bag made from baking paper and made orange and poppyseed biscuits as part of the meal’s end. The week before that I seemed to have spent a couple of hours taking the leaves off herbs. Not quite as straightforward as it seems, coriander goes in the salad spinner to dry, mint doesn’t because it’ll break the leaves and they’ll blacken. Parsley varies from leaf to leaf and the tougher ones should be the ones left whole as garnish. Vietnamese mint gets separated into shoots and leaves. The best way to rinse them is in a bowl but don’t do what I did and pour it through a strainer because you’ll just pour the sand over the leaves again. It’s good if you can guess the right amount that will fit into a container and they should be covered with a dampened paper towel.

During service I’d do my regular tasks of veg and two salads but as there’s an extra person on I thought I’d ask if I could go down the other end and watch mains being done. The last Thursday I got to work the mash and pour the lamb sauce. This may seem a quite small thing to do and, out of context it is, but for me it’s a big deal. There is a direct link between what I put on the plate and what is put in front of a guest.

kitchen

Last Thursday was a great day. As well as the usual small picking and prepping I made the bread rolls for the day, had dinner, and then took my place at the mains end with Michelle and Mark. It takes a little while to get people in, ordered and their entrees sorted and then it goes. It’s a small space and I try not to get in the way but I was assured I’d be worked around and over if I was. My first task was to make small “shepherd’s pies” in small tarts – the trick is to cover it neatly with mash without spilling gravy over the sides or dragging it up over the mash, it took me a couple of goes. As well as this I did over a dozen different things to my usual four or five. Four salads and two veges, zapping darioles in the microwave, saucing, truffled mash for side orders and roquefort mash for the plates – trying to get a balance between under and overcompensating for serving size and taste, cooking brussel sprout leaves, grabbing plates, making small piles of couscous and chutney, making sure I kept things hot, deep frying rabbit meat croquets and small pappadums, taking on criticism and adding a bit of chat, dashes out to the cool room AND, and this is the yes moment, plating a plate on my own. Centering a dob of mash in time for Michelle to place the wagyu beef on top; then on with the sauce; taking the chanterelles, bacon, and onion mix from the pan balancing it on top; further balancing several brussel sprout leaves; giving the plate a clean; and then calling the order. Mark was good enough to say “that’s the Jacksons there” *blush*, I learnt that if you faf something up, e.g. my unsuccessful balancing act, you only get about two goes at fixing it up before it just becomes a mess. But yes someone’s steak course in the degustation menu presented by me, bang right between their cutlery. Should have taken a picture.

The experience so far has been entirely positive for reasons well beyond just the culinary aspects. As a person who is fond of instant gratuity, the process has been slow but entirely appropriate. Things learnt well are always learnt properly from the basics and worked up to. In one sense it resembles a dojo where you don’t start by practicing head kicking 20 encircling challengers or insisting that you be taught the crane kick. I’m also a person who generally takes criticism very badly and very personally and I’m getting this worked out of me. Frankly being told off by a seventeen year old apprentice is humbling and appropriate all and the same time and I’ve never been told anything that was unfair or incorrect. It’s the small details that get picked up on that make the staff so professional, if I couldn’t accept this I’d be a sobbingsniffy wreck. Learn, move on, and do it right the next time. It’s also eight or so hours of work, worky work, work that is referred to as real or honest work, and unlike, I dunno, digging ditches, it’s interesting and demanding. And what’s more it’s team work in the way that a thousand catch me I’m falling workshops aspire to – I think people are too good at what they do and too busy to have time to develop a dysfunctional workplace. And they feed me pork belly, I should return the favour by not singing at work – they deserve better.

Mental note: winged plates, entree bowls, veg bowls, rectangular rabbit plates.

salmon salad


Salad salad salad. There are a lot of platitudes about healthy food but it does make sense. Every time we eat we have an opportunity to eat what will do us good or eat something shite. Better if it’s tasty shite, worse if it’s shite shite. If it’s good for you and tasty, then doubly plus good. Mucho macho delusion is at work. The movie running through the head is that unhealthy eating is vindicated by being oh so tasty and a willingness to stare death in the face to do it. In reality it’s a failure to develop reasonable adult tastes and an unwillingness to work beyond the hot, the salty, and the fatty as the pinnacles of food pleasure. The result is usually to work most of the way through it to justify getting it in the first place and then spend the rest of it wondering what you were thinking, case in point – the Whopper. Then it’s the useless loop of validation and the fruitless search for the taste that you thought you’d get. Not forgetting the whole forbidden fruit thing but it’d be nice if the forbidden fruit wasn’t forbidden froot, if you know what I mean. Perception: wildly pushing risk parameters on a thundering hunk of hot metal. Reality: riding Virago into back of vehicle while looking back at outrun Excel.

Why don’t I make more salads? I dunno. Salads are subordinate clauses to the controlling idea of meat and have the Tontoes about them. We rarely, if ever, make a course of them. The trick is to make them more like bongos and less like drum kits. Actually I hate bongos after many a perfectly good boho party in the early nineties was ruined by squads of percussionistas. Somebody had put a mirror on the lawn so you could like look at the stars and this vibe was demolished by a lumpen faux salsa chorus. Anyway this is a healthy salad and more meal in a bowl like the Vietnamese Beef salads and an amped up version of the token bits if browned bacony things in a Caesar, the Japanese do a nice line in a seafood salad. With the recipe I was looking for gone missing, I kind of made it up with repeated finger dipping tastings (not hygenic I know but better food poisoning than relying on some kind of palatal telepathy). As a meal you’ve got your meat, your veg, and your bread.

Wash and dry some lettuce – the further away from the nutritionally empty iceberg the better. Grape tomatoes and trimmed and steamed asparagus refreshed to a chill immediately after steaming in ice water.

Pan fry salmon cutlet in a little vegetable oil. I marinated the salmon in a little saké for 15 minutes. Flake it while it’s still hot (builds finger character) and make sure no bones get into the salad.

I was distracted and let the asparagus oversteam and become soft so I thought croutons would add a bit of crunch. Thick slice of sourdough bread, toasted in a toaster, and cut into cubes. The innovation was to quickly fry them in the pan I’d just cooked the salmon in to give it a nice coating of fishy flavour goodness

Dressing: 4tbs soy sauce; 2tbs lemon juice; 2tbs white vinegar; 2tsp sugar; 3 spring onion whites, finely sliced; 2tbs ginger, finely grated; 2tbs of white and black sesame seeds, lightly dry pan toasted. Pop in a jar and shake and pour over salad. The measurements are recollected guesstimates, accurately replicate it at your peril. If you want a bit of a guide, the soy sauce is salty, the lemon juice adds fresh tangy sourness, the vinegar a bit of spare sour fruitiness, the ginger and spring onions a bit of pungency, the sesame seeds add crunch and toastiness, and the sugar add sweetness to offset the saltiness of the soy. Adjust accordingly.

A fine addition to the mid-week warm weather repertoire that’s as healthy as it is tasty and as crusty as it is trusty with the cruton hitting the futon and the pisces balancing any nutritional crises.

Note: in a break from food photograph narratives, neither the book, garlic, watch, or mango were in the salad. Apologies for any confusion that may have resulted.

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angry slavic man angry slavic man angry slavic man angry slavic man


A bit of housekeeping to catch up on with memes. First was from feisty MM with 7 memes for seven bloggers

7 things before I die
Put decking out back; Paint pantry door; Finish car port; Find a suitable plant for the spot in the side garden; Tidy up book pile next to bed (done!); Get steel bins for outdoor table; Fix chain guard on bike

7 things I like about blogging
No need to dress up; Or go out; Can be done individually or in groups; Able to turn thoughts into action; Abundance of inspiration on the internet; Practically free; Avoid potentially uncomfortable physical contact with others

7 Movies/DVDs I Watch Over & Over Again
Hard Boiled; Tonari no Totoro; Stone; Led Zeppelin live DVD; Spinal Tap; The Right Stuff; Spinal Tap.

7 Books I Love
The Cordon Bleu at Home; Reader’s Digest Book of Strange Stories and Amazing Facts; Don Quixote; Anything by Sven Hassel; Gravity’s Rainbow; Heart of Darkness; Candide.

7 things I don’t say most often
And as you can see, this is why the equation won’t work; no I’ll stick with the soda water thanks; and the amazing thing is, I’ve never had professional dance instruction; *that’s* how you do a fifteen minute Jimmy Page guitar solo my friend; there you go kitty, it’s your favourite, Salmon!; no it doesn’t need butter; wait, what are you doing to my trousers?

Thank you to egglerati Jeanne for giving me the Too Much Information meme which requires you to share with the world 10 little-known and random facts about yourself. All my work’s been done for me thanks to the Kateometer! About as reliable as anything I could come up with, some are spookily accurate.

1)Anthony can be very poisonous if injected intravenously; 2)Anthony was originally green, and actually contained cocaine.; 3) All of the roles in Shakespeare’s plays – including the female roles – were originally played by Anthony; 4) Pacman was originally called Anthonyman; 5) Apples are covered with a thin layer of Anthony.; 6) Anthony can eat up to four kilograms of insects in a single night; 7) Long ago, the people of Nicaragua believed that if they threw Anthony into a volcano it would stop erupting!; 8) The pharoahs of ancient Egypt wore garments made with thin threads of beaten Anthony; 9) Influenza got its name because people believed the disease was caused by the evil “influence” of Anthony; 10) The difference between Anthony and a village is that Anthony does not have a church.

Finally, a bunch of fives from TEd

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:
1. Bring the Noise- Public Enemy; 2. Power in a Union – Billy Bragg; 3. Minimum Wage – They Might Be Giants; 4. Holiday in Cambodia – Dead Kennedy’s; 5. White Riot – The Clash

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
1. give it to charity; 2. not change one bit; 3. find happiness elusive; 4. invest diversely; 5. pimp my Volvo

Five bad habits:
1. not paying attention for more than 10 seconds; 2. not remembering stuff and not writing it down; 3. writing things down but illegibly; 4. forgetting people’s names 5. not chewing my food

A while I’m at it, iPod 10
Who Needs Forever? – Astrid Gilberto; What Who the Fuck – PJ Harvey; Ave Maria – Tsukamoto Isao; The Darker Days of Me and Him – PJ Harvey; One of the Truth – Piggies; Milk Tea – Piggies; Comment Te Dire Adieu – Tokyo’s Coolest Combo; Trading Air – Athlete; Rame no Pantaron – Yura Yura Teikoku; Planet of Song – Pixies

That should do it for a while. Have at it if you want it.

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Slow

Work progresses slowly at spiceblog


My lackeys lag. Trying to finish off a story for Spice mag and all I can say is that if I cooked like I wrote I would be a lean 23kg instead of my actual 72. Onions would be replaced by garlic which would in turn be tossed out in favour of yams before eventually settling with onion again and then not having a clue what I was going to do next. Can somebody else out there gently stroke my hair and tell me that they can’t hammer out 500 words like a short order cook either (or just tell me to get on with it ya precious git).

Once done, and it will be tonight, good things will happen – stories from Sydney, an archive with pictures, recipes, and more gnome pictures. Back to it cheetah, and you too cheetah.

wagin ram


I do do recipes here but in the mean time, the ram! Fresh digs for inter-regional poly-cultural chit-chat. While I’m here I’d just like to note that visits here topped 10,000 a month for the first time and we reached triple figures in the comments (well done those involved).

Have at it as you like, but I’ll have no tall tales of Christmas being sabotaged, distended testicle sacs, or nectarines.

There is a time

Fish Fingers


Ah yeah fish fingers, best thing in the whole frozen food section that I can think of. No? For a bit of magic, make yourself some tarragon and basil mayonnaise. A general guide to mayonnaise here.
[I'm looking forward to the time when I can just have this blog completely self-referential so I can sneak out the back for a vanilla slice and a soda pop.]

Winosandfoodies
I’ve met quite a few bloggers, all good folks but I’ve never met another food blogger in person. This has since changed. I got to meet Barbara from winosandfoodies on Monday. She was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule and bring me a bottle of wine and an egg whisk and hang out with me for a few hours. This is after I drew a complete blank on Sunday morning when she called and stringing out the phone call until I realised who she was. My generally guilty conscience assumed it was a call from work over something I’ve ignored. Had to scratch my head for a lunch venue but it was a lovely day so I suggested we have a picnic. We stopped in at the Boatshed Markets for some cheese, marinated sardine, honey and soy chicken, Holy Smoke trout paté, marscapone stuffed figs, and a baguette. Grabbed a bottle of Alkoomi Sauvignon Blanc, dodged a reversing 4WD, and set up camp under a tree by the river in Freshwater Bay. I’d say good food begets good company but I’d imagine she’s just as smart and charming with a can of spam and a warm glass of Bacardi Breezer.

Who wants second chances?

Moira has lost most of the piccies for DMBLGIT? – 11th Edition. If you’ve sent her one, please send it again. Perhaps we should make her draw them all from memory. What say you people? Yes! Shame on you, she’s a nice lass and did a top notch job on EoMEoTE#12

The circle of life
This is a time of transition. I feel that as summer approaches in the south, it leaves the north, like two trains passing in opposite directions on a circular line. I was also reminded of the interesting phenomenon of how water will spiral in different directions in the commode depending upon the hemisphere. This intriguing fact got me thinking. Before dispatching the contents with a flush, what if bloggers from around the world were to take a photo beforehand and then compare the differences between, for example meat eaters versus fish eaters, or what about where people mostly ate brown bread or white rice? Or what if it was the same shit all over the world wherever you went? And wouldn’t it make a great meme, I thought. Unfortunately, I’ve been beaten to it.

Coopers
Point
Yay! – Australia’s Coopers says rejects raised Lion Nathan bid

Counterpoint
God forbid that we should prevent the flogging off of Australia’s last large independent brewery to a company that specialises in bland tasting lagers and protect a bit of culture and competition and leave some shareholders with a bit less jingle in their pocket! – Treatment of Coopers shareholders leaves a sour taste

[Note: It's lambic that's sour by the way]

Food
No cookies this weekend, I’m off to Kalgoorlie for “research”.

Faux-Filet Henri IV

This is straight offa page 266 of the Cordon Bleue at Home. It seemed like a nice idea at the time for Sunday dinner but it took forever because of poor planning and timing and a desire to keep the number of pots and pans to three. You’ll notice that the béarnaise sauce has de-emulsified because I had to reheat it and wasn’t paying attention – tsk.

The artichokes were prepared as per The Tart Heart of the Artichoke Folk and boiled in salted water for 20 minutes. The potatoes were parboiled and then roasted in a very hot oven in preheated vegetable oil and goosefat. The steak was scotch fillet and you can make the marks by cooking it on a very hot grill plate and then turning it 90 degrees and that’s it.

It’s actually called Coeur de Filet Henri IV. I would tell you what the name would be in French for using a scotch fillet but it was all too hard and frankly (if you’ll excuse the pun) Henry IV of France was much more interesting. Twice the man Henry VIII was and, in addition to helping end the religious war with admirable tolerance and dedicated to public works, was quoted as such:

Si Dieu me prête vie, je ferai qu’il n’y aura point de laboureur en mon royaume qui n’ait les moyens d’avoir le dimanche une poule dans son pot.
(If God allows me to live, I will see that there is not a single labourer in my kingdom who does not have a chicken in his pot every Sunday)

Huzzah!
Sadly, killed by a loon.

pizza

A voice in my head said “make a pizza” on Friday night while driving home from Fremantle. It also said “make your own dough too“, “sleep no more” and “look out that car’s braking in front of you” as well as “mmm mmm black betty bambalam, mmm mmm black betty bambalam“.

I’m afraid you have to make your own pizza dough too. It’s not that hard: Basic Pizza Dough – Recipe Pizza Dough. It’s really good and you’ll never want for a prepared base again much less something on a piece of pita bread. Lovely little airy bits all the way through it. Make it nice and thin while you’re at it. Four a sauce I just used a jar of pasta sauce with some onion and garlic and marjoram. Toppings were mozzarella, basil, proscuitto, tomato, field mushrooms, eggplant, and anchovies in various combinations.

The trick, and this is why people use wood-fired ovens, is to get the base nice and crispy without overdoing the top. This requires a very hot base. What I do is use a cast iron bessemer pan that my Mum bought in the seventies from a woman that was convinced she was reincarnated from Mary the Queen of Scots that I get really hot* on a wok burner to get it crisp and then finish it off in the oven as hot as it goes.

Reviews are in: “delicious”

*the pan, not Mary Queen of Scots, or the woman.

Henry IV en admiration devant le blog de épice
wagin ram

While I’m writing up the recipe for the rabbit thingy I thought I’d open up some new digs for the Mingénew Country Chat Room to have at it.

Also opening the comments for – long time readers first time commenters saying hi; album reviews; Rupert Sheldrake; personal questions; the crisis of masculinity as portrayed in mid-strength beer ads; embarrassing things done with fruit or cider; erotic kitchen poetry; and Mario 64.

Before I was taught how at work, every time I’ve attempted to do anything with an artichoke, I’ve ended up with just a pile of leaves and bits.

I imagined that they’re a kind of bleak French existential joke for the rest of us. You know the one where at the end of our quest there is nothing. Not that socialist nihilism is doing them too badly according to Ahmed Bouzid [thanks Brian Bahnisch] . Although one has to ask if the assumptions are all wrong and France has insufficient teen pregnancy and too high maths skills to aspire to God’s chosen free market. But I wander off.

Artichokes are, in short, where one of the truck drivers in Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear reveals to us, just before he dies, that behind the fence was nothing. (Nearly the finest moment in cinema) And what was it that Kurtz saw before his death? What does one see in the darkness? And if we cannot see it, is it there? Let me light a candle, dressed like Dorothy Lamour, and show you where the centre lies.

artichoke artichoke

First, make yourself a bowl of acidulated water with the juice of a lemon. This will stop the artichoke browning. Cut the stem of just as it begins to taper out to the base. Peel the stem back until the white is shown. Place it in the water.

artichoke

Lop the top third off. A bread knife makes it easier.

artichoke artichoke

Peel away some of the leaves and trim around the base to the white up to the part where it break up into individual leaves.

artichoke artichoke

Slice the rest of the top off and use a teaspoon to to scrape out the fibrous centre that is the choke.

artichoke artichoke

Trim the top. And tadah! Place it in the acidulated water and then do what you like with it. It’s traditionally tasty boiled and the placed on a steak with a bernaise sauce.

Unrelated but quite important: Thanks to Sue

and Saffy for pointing out I had a nice plug written for this blog in the Sydney Morning Herald. Hello if you’ve come from there. I’ll share one part: “tempting recipes that go well beyond the basics” . Which is kind of true but I’d hate to think people had the impression that they were difficult. I suspect it may be a lack of clarity in the instructions – so if you aren’t sure what I’m going on about, I’m always happy to explain further*. And cheers to whoever was responsible for the piece.


*assuming I know what I’m going on about.

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chilli and soy scrambled eggs

Are you ready Jeanne? Aha
Stephanie? Yeah!
Uma, Emma?
Alright girls lets go!

Oh it’s getting oh so hard
Thinking of the things to do with eggs, aha
Oh once again it’s carbohydrates
unspecified, but subjected to heat

I see a chilli in the crisper
Chopped up it’s as hot as the sun
And the cream it was creamy
It thinks it’s the buttery one

The eggs, they were free range, which isn’t at all strange
The butter was danish, unsalted and delish.

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah
And the chilli was deseeded
and soy sauce interceded
And it turned into the scrambled eggs
With the cream it was padded
And sugar was added
And it turned into the scrambled eggs
Scrambled eggs, scrambled eggs, scrambled eggs

It’s it’s scrambled eggs, It’s it’s scrambled eggs
It’s it’s scrambled eggs, yeah, it’s scrambled eggs

Scrambled eggs.

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we ate bluey

Sorry, no tales of Jackson’s this week, day job intervened. So instead:

Pseudo (aren’t we all) Chef has nabbed me for Food memories of my childhood

- Getting the strap for making spaghetti hair.
- Sardine Sandwiches – three years straight, by demand.
- Insisting the rind be cut off my bacon – fussy little bastard.
- Knowing that the fresh sheep brain patties had sheeps brains in them while my sister didn’t. (sorry Nat)
- Coke Spiders

Robert Corr tagged me for a Name Haiku Meme so Anthony Michael George[ff], here we go:

The opened flower
It is likened to a god
Who is the gardener

Here’s some food from Leederville – Fibber McGee’s and Cafe 130 – out with a couple of folks.

beef and oyster pie T for Toni Beer cake and cocoa

but the best thing I could come up with for the Katrina [neutral understatement] disaster was a list, a cell, a pistol, and the suggestion that the honourable thing be done.

Welcome sweet inspiration.

Joanna at BlondeSense has a plan, it’s as angry and inspired as it is decent and right. Farewell sweet beer money.

banana delight

Kate, who makes a very nice paella I must say, has tagged me as to who would play me. Trickier than it appears when I’m not even sure if I’m actually playing myself all the time. Michael Ironside seemed appealing. I think I’d be great with a robotic hand.

Also very tempting was Christopher Walken, he’s running for President you know. Personally I think this is an unnecessary ploy for my affections – Adam Sandler playing yet another idiotic yet loveable man-child would be a preferential candidate to the current idiotic yet dissembling and cowardly war criminal man-child. I’d love to have ludicrous hair yet retain dignity and be able to switch into a tap dance or a karaoke spot. Yet it wouldn’t be right, playing roles isn’t what he does best. What I’d love is Christopher Walken playing me in someone else’s movie so “I” could walk on say a couple of lines. People could go “wow! who the fuck was that” and then I could wander back to the kitchen and check my gravy.

So it’ll have to be Daniel Auteuil. Despite actors being some enhanced projection of self, he seems to be resolutely the everyman. Not handsome but interesting and prone to the absurdities of life, faced with a light and appealing touch. He also gets to throw knives But then again, I’ve seen barely a tenth of his films and I’d hate to pretend I’m an expert on his work, should my bluff be called.

So I’ll have to go with Owen Wilson for his good humoured faintly crap taoic ambivalence maybe and at the very least for his spectacular car crash in the Royal Tenenbaums. But then again the more anxious anal aspects of Ben Stiller certainly…

Ahh fuck it Michael Ironside will play me and if you want to caramelise bananas just slice them, coat them in a mix of raw sugar and cinnamon. Pop them in a very hot pan and turn when caramelised. You can release the sugar in the pan with some butter.

Oh tagging three people, if you would like someone to play you, let me know. First three.

Oi!; and speaking of Kate, she’s nicely remembered to remind us about Perth blogger awards at the Brass Monkey tonite! People will be there and speaking of whom, Crafty has just given me an idea. Oh wait java script polls don’t work in blogger posts – bugger! And it makes my text all small if I put it in the sidebar. Gah!

Two Words: Jackson’s and RODD.

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Jackson's restaurant

And so it was that Anthony Georgeff, food blogger, suburban cook, caterer of dishes to house guests, and amateur dabbler in food, came to be standing at a metal door at the side of the best restaurant he’d ever been to in Perth at 1:42pm yesterday wondering whether he should attempt a days work experience and find out that what he loved doing he wasn’t particularly good at, or just run for it. Mildly sweaty, quick-eze still clinging to the molars, wondering if it would be better to stake my claim at mostly ignorant or completely ignorant. I gave the bell a twirl and committed to the anxieties that had started a week ago with my fingers hovering over the phone like a teenage courter. I was, at the very least, exceptionally good at cringing.

michelle the sous chefI was let in by Mark, the fourth year apprentice chef, this alone was a good start a friendly greeting a bonus. Within about 10 minutes, the sous chef Michelle, had me in an apron, had showed me how to stop my plastic cutting board from slipping away with wet teatowel, and kindly told me my knife that I’d be pondering whether to bring or not would be fine. We were going to make gremolata and I was hating myself for always thinking of it as a kind of sweetened ice treat and only knowing otherwise that it was some kind of salsa (which it is in a kind of citric parsley way). I’d managed to make a nice pile of orange and lemon peel shavings. So far so good and shaving got this far, she showed me carefully how to slice them into couscous grain sized pieces. My turn and my fingers turned to numbed chipolatas and I managed to make a dozen cuts, none of which cut through. Michelle was then looking sideways at my knife and a solution. It turned out the board was concave so she deftly kneed it into convex in one smooth action. I think at this point I worked myself into the belief that next would be my groin if any of the peel was larger than a couple of millimetres. Slowly but exceeeedingly finely – they could have snuck through a pepper shaker. Onwards. Check what I’d done was OK, then to garlic, and then to parsley, patiently tutored with each check. Bless. The gremolata would be used to mix in to braised shanks before serving. Next was a herb mix to pluck and puree. Busy busy. Get to meet Neal Jackson, relaxed and friendly and wearing the finest set of reptilian footwear I’ve seen since ever. I am beyond impressed. He gave me a copy of the menu and wished me well.

kitchenThe next person I meet is Tanya. She’s worked with Neal since forever and turns out to be Tanya who I knew as a kid and hadn’t seen for a couple of decades. Tanya’s family and mine used to holiday together every Christmas at a caravan park in Mandurah for about 7 years. Asteroids and Timewarp at Rollerskating stuff. Mucho laughter and small worlds. I feel at ease. I’m taught how to slice an onion finely, I’m assuming I know nothing at this stage – being shown how not chop a pumpkin into chunks was both humbling and necessary. An explanation on how she makes a rissotto. A careful demonstration of how to debone a quail, and I managed to do two of them over accounts of post high school life. Pureering curries pumpkin soup with the world’s largest bamix. Scrubbing oysters and then shucking them, steadying my hands so I didn’t run a shucker through my wrist. Separated half a dozen eggs and then we were all off for dinner out in the alleyway.

The second half would be service and my biggest worry was keeping busy without being in anyone’s way. Mark took over babysitting and talked me through making mashed potatoes. Next was my job for the night. I was fennel and rocket salad and vegetables with oyster sauce. As with everything so far, all carefully explained. The routine was this; Mark would yell out fennel and I would stare like a deer in headlights for a few seconds and get busy making one. The first went pear shaped as it needs a light hand, not an anxious grasp and another quick coaching. The next one had a stray leaf on the side, I was picked up on that. By the third set, an “is that your salad?” followed by “good job”. Huzzah! Felt like my culinary triumph for the year. Veges were a bit stingy on the oyster sauce but fine after that. I also carried out admirably, the thirty second microwaving of small containers of stuff. I had to like Mark, everything he asked me to do was made with the requisite theatricality to make it important. He’ll make a great dad. I did this and watched the work in the kitchen unfold and build in pace, never getting out of control. I was safely away at the other end being helped by Susan the first year apprentice 20 years my junior, who showed me how to make the cos salad.

The food here, by the way, is fabulous. I’ve been here twice and the food always seems to have an angle of smartness over and beyond the way it satisfies the senses. The dishes I had in the tasting menu all seems to have something new, something sharp, or something well chosen would eat through a yard of Spam to get to a scrap of their pork belly with scallops. I was given a couple of pieces of wagyu beef and the lipids did a happy dance with protein on my tongue. It left the otherwise excellent in any other circumstances and just so doneness of the duck in its shadow. I was also witness to a steady stream of luscious desserts from at my end of the kitchen. I got an explanation of parfaits and to try a couple of the sorbets they had. The rice and truffle was interesting tasted of the dusty bits of a shiitake mushroom, and the beef tasted like frozen beef stock but the lime and chili that goes with oyster is exceptional. Apologies for the lack of food pictures but, as you could imagine, I was reluctant to get in anyone’s way.

It was all over for the service with my last bowl of vegetable a little before ten. I made myself useful by carrying out the rubbish and gladwrapping bowls. I was well chuffed by this stage. Eight hours of work and every single interaction I’d had was friendly, patient, and instructive. The modern mythology of the angry chef was nowhere to be seen, just amiable professionals working well together. By 11 I was having a beer and a chat, with a sore back and hands, but satisfied and happy. I said goodbye and gave a heartfelt thanks. I could enjoy this. Go there. Soon.

post work refreshment

Jackson’s Restaurant 483 Beaufort St, Highgate, (08) 9328-1177

At last! A food stoush!

I feel all giddy.

Next week on spiceblog: “Chocolate – looks like poo, tastes like poo”.

Johnny One-Cup

“All you need for a movie is girl and a gun and a bowl of cooked white rice, a raw egg, a can of tuna, some wasabi, and sprinkles.”
Jean-Luc Godard


Extra Bonus: Ah hear ya go, bonus Cook sister!: EoMEoTE #8 – all the drama!! round-up is up release of original drafts:

Johnny Noguchi stepped off the Yamanote line smelling of booze. He didn’t care. His station was never what it seemed. Maybe it should have been more like it he thought it should have been like if he thought more about what it was like but the Lets Kiosk was long shut. A night not spent following up a lead ended up at Pub Honeybee


Johnny Noguchi stepped of the freshly opened doors of the Yamanote line. Fuck ‘em if he smelt like booze. Following up a lead ended up at Pub Honeybee wondering why the manko singing yesterday got to chat to the college student and he got matronly comfort. Lets Kiosk shut a while back. No drinks from there. Up the stairs, were they always this high? No ticket.


Fuck! thought Johnny Noguchi as he looked at the bowl of hot rice he’d cooked earlier before going out to find a lead where he’d ended up again at Pub Honeybee where he’d drunk sho-chu while waiting get the attentions of the younger hostess who spent all her time with the blue suited manko who sung Yesterday. Mixing in the raw egg that he’d bought at the Lawsons


Johnny One-cup walked up the station stairs that he’d walked down earlier in the day. He might have thought about this some but he had too many other things on his mind like how he’d ended up at Pub Honeybee instead of following up leads and what to eat when he got back to his apaato.


Into the conbeni, past the racks of pudding breasted bikini cover girls, sweeping past the rows of snacks – cronky, blinky, spinky, and honk, and chocolates that looked liked mushrooms. He wondered why mushrooms never looked liked chocolates and then remembered the expensive autumn mushroom matsutake that looked like a penis, not a chocolate though, but good to remember. He grabbed two eggs in a plastic container, two large cans of Sapporo black label, and made his way to the counter.


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EoMEoTE8

Been noticing a few people wondering where EoMEoTE#8 is and I’ve been wondering myself. Last communication I had from Jeanne was an extremely cryptic part of an email:

Never had a craving for macarons but now I do.

Normally I wouldn’t think anything of this but the spelling of macaroons is a deliberate attention getter. She lives next door to the largest macaroon factory in the United Kingdom and would constantly tell me how she was never without macaroons. The missing “o” refers to the double ovoid of IMBB?#16′s Eggs and EoMEoTE#8. With the second “o” missing one can only conclude as thus

Never had a craving for macaro[removing EoMEoTE#8]n but now I do.

But the curious thing though is that the number of letters in macarons is eight rather than nine. Eight in Japanese is hachi, coincidence I think not – not only to hatch an egg but to hatch a plot. Eight is four and two, or shini which is also the verb stem “to die”. Eight is also the cube of two. Another word for a cube is a die. The two must die. But which two? Can two people be one? Well only if they’re a gemini. And there’s only one gemini in our EoMEoTE foundation duo, and that’s me. Fuck!

I’m a dead man. Only one place to hide. In the outback.

Ha! Come and get me Jeanne Horak with your murderous intent.

You picked the wrong man to mess with Jonty Terreblanche

Well, so much for feared Rhodesian Special Forces mercenary Jonty Terreblanche. The hunter becomes the prey. Winchester lever action .22, only rifle known to drop a charging rhino head-on. Didn’t know what hit him. Now I can get around to doing my EoMEoTE post.

And if you’re feeling Aussie, Saffron’s got the first Omnivoribus Australis up. Aussie Food Blogging, in one handy location. Go see.

omni-2

carousel cookbook

Nicky at delicious:days started this meme and I can’t complain because it’s kind of my fault in a way. As you sow…Anyway I would accuse Lyn of Lex Culinaria of being the teeth in my buttocks but she made me a cake so I can’t mix the metaphor that feeds me. Apparently this is a way of getting to know me but the food me but there’s so much more you could find out about the other me. Go on ask me about something else like ahm erm…

What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own
?
I grew up on a farm in the rural idyll of Muntadgin. Despite access to a large number of things like guns, vehicles, and power tools as a child, I remember being quite excited when we got our microwave. I don’t think we had anything else that went “beep” at the time. Except for my pong game, which kind of went “bwok”. Child geek, I managed to set the clock and boil a cup of water before “Dad came home”.

This ramped up to a much acclaimed “Microwaved Rice Pilaf” before settling down to a steady routine of “Microwaved Cabbage with Pepper”. It’s sad that such a thing of wonder is now relegated to defrosting and hot water for gargling with salt.

Who had the most influence on your cooking?
When I was a child I had a book and in that book was a bear and the bear lived in this house with a winding staircase. This impressed me because we didn’t have a staircase when I was a kid. No-one did. Which made slinkies kind of a disappointment. Anyway this bear made soup for his animal friend (maybe a rabbit) and used carrots and he also had these herbs which he was chopped up with a wooden handled mezzaluna and at that point I thought, if a bear could make a carefully prepared meal, then so could I.

Do you have an old photo as evidence of an early exposure to the culinary world and would you like to share it?
No but here’s a pic of me bringing apartheid to its knees in ’88.
sharpville six
They got a reprieve!

Mageiricophobia – do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?
Cake sized amounts of sugar and mandolines.

What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest let down?
Valued- Wusthof Trident chef’s knife
Biggest Let Down- What’s that Toni? Oh, our wedding night, oh ha ha I don’t think.
Tofu making kit, just too hard and my blender’s pretty crap with anything tougher than a milky smoothy.

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like – and probably no one else!
Always been partial to a bit of roadhouse cheese inside a sausage.

What are the three eatables or dishes you simply don’t want to live without?
Butter, Mushrooms, Yeast

The quickies section:

Your favourite ice-cream?
Pistachio

You will probably never eat?
Fois gras

Your own signature dish?
I’d like to think I make a very nice seafood chowder.

Three people….
I’ll have to think.

Hokay, an under no obligation hello Perth: diverse of background Ted of TEdALOG Lite (up!); would do it very nicely Karen Cheng ; and man friday, Two Minute Noodle Cook.

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4 minutes

 tonkotsu ramen with googiesRelating a modest off-broadway event like End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza with it’s big time inspiration Alberto’s Is My Blog Burning? is a difficult thing to to do at the best of times. Is it the shadow? Is it the reflection in the puddle? Is it the opposite but equal reaction? Is it Sewamono to Kabuki? With IMBB doing eggs this month it feels like Josef Stalin giving a cheeky khryu-khryu.

And speaking of Animal Farm, while on the money politically, does anyone else think the animals in the barn farm of Orwell relatively quaint? The industrialised base of the totalitarianism that we managed to dodge, but animals mostly didn’t. In short it’s like a searing allegory of battery farming done with a Tuesday evening wine and cheese night of the Fabian Society.

Personally, I can’t imagine anybody in these foody spheres not willing to cough up an extra dollar or so on the safe bet that proper free-range eggs are significantly better for the chook and the happy moral free-ride that they’re tastier. Even so, not one to let a neat segue go past, classy Viv of Seattle Bon Vivant has blown open the cage door by opening eggs to IMBB and I’m still standing there going bwoak with my boiled eggs.

Why boiled? Well I thought I’d do something simple that I couldn’t do well. They are deceptively easy as I noted by the eggs in the ramen pic up above and how they were hard boiled en masse but with an accuracy that allowed the very slightest sheen of undone yolk. I can also never remember how long it’s supposed to take and even a sad knick knack collector like myself, finds egg timers a complete waste of time (no pun intended). While I could probably nail a good time for myself, cooking for others ranges from nice and runny to those who see each drop of raw yolk as a festering pit of salmonella. I took the times from James Patterson’s Kitchen Essentials and saw how it worked for myself. As for the times, well what is time really? I’d choose the passing of an appropriate length song as a handy guide.

Boil the water. Pierce the rounder end of the egg with a drawing pin to allow the gasses to escape. Place the eggs in. Bring back to the boil and then a high simmer. The eggs pictured are taken cold from the fridge and were they warmer, freshly taken from the nether regions of a chicken for example, the times should be shortened.

4 minute egg:

4 minutes The Propellerhead’s Spybreaks’(short one) bass line is one of the most compelling bass lines this side of Cannonball. And while Cannonball has a tentative lope before turning it on, Spybreak is all skinny arms and ski-rope. It is of course better know as the theme of the Matrix and should have most leaning over backwards and dodging imaginary bullets while the eggs cooks to a lovely runny conclusion. Other possible alternatives: The Whore Hustle and The Hustlers Whore, PJ Harvey; Down To Mexico, Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her; or Auto Pilot, Queens of the Stone Age. A second longer gets you Always on My Mind, the Petshop Boys – worth a thought.

6 minute egg:

6 minutesRight on 6 minutes gets you a good balance of runny and composition with 電気GROOVE’s ボクの姉さん. A cute piece of cod reggae that’s charming enough. But a few seconds runnier and you’ve got Black Sabbath’s medieval rock masterpiece Iron Man. A bit firmer, and it’s disco in the kitchen with Groove Armada’s Superstylin or run out and punch someone after your egg is done with Rage Against the Machine’s Wake Up.

8 minute egg:

8 minutes Nothing 8 minutes on the knocker but some interestingly similar dilemmas. Slightly runnier with Black Sabbath’s masterpiece of chops and retarded drumming, War Pigs/Luke’s Wall or Groove Armada’s chillier relaxo tunes of Inside My Mind. Better done would be a little over for Dimitri from Paris’ frankly more fun Back in the Daze or the tchicka tchicka faux spy groove of Dirty Larry. Very tempting to push further on with Ministry’s Jesus Built My Hotrod (redline version) and yank it out just as the fade-out becomes nearly inaudible.

10 minute egg:

10 minutes 10 minutes was a little overdone with no shininess. The Stooge’s We Will Fall is a little over but is also a tremendously boring song for them, if not anybody. Boris’cover of Me and the Devil Blues would make for a more interesting 10 minutes. But the perfect ever so slightly under hard boiled egg is Metallica’s To Live is to Die. For my liking take it out as the lute takes over at the end and walk like Sir Lancelot to the egg-cup.

Marbled Eggs

marbled eggs As an added bonus. These are commonly known as tea eggs and are a gently cracked hardboiled egg allowed to simmer in a mix of tea, soy sauce, and star anise amongst others for a few hours. I used red wine, rosemary, and peppercorns in the hope it would end up tasting like steak and eggs with a red wine jus. I was, of course, deluded. A little bitter but pretty enough though wouldn’t you say? Yes.

cheese and gherkin delight

Sometimes the difference between party food, and exceptional party food is just a few minutes of care and attention.

Take a jar of sweet gherkins . Select a couple of suitably well shaped gherkins and slice to 5mm thickness, much thicker and the gherkin taste will be overly dominant. You may need to adjust as the gherkin thins (overly thin parts can later be added to a gherkin dip). Cut a block of processed cheese, mild cheddar or colby, to a similar thickness but you may vary the shape. Guests can then select according to their preference to cheese. Aim to achieves a rough balance of dimensions with the gherkin piece. Choose a well coloured and nicely shaped orange and cut off a third to provide a base. Doing this will prevent the orange toppling over during service. To assemble place a piece of cheese (centred) on top of a piece of gherkin and then pierce in the middle with a toothpick. Some cooks will place the cheese and gherkin on the toothpick, but I find this can lead to “running through”, not only unsightly but a source of potential injury. Place the toothpicks, food outwards in a radiating fashion until the orange is filled. Be careful not to crowd the orange as it will not only ruin the effect but make the toothpicks more difficult to remove for guests. While the pattern is pretty, I feel there is a need for a dominant central statement and this I’ve done with the top 4/5th of a gherkin placed proudly on a satay stick.

Enjoy, but be quick.

hampshires

You wouldn’t believe the number of emails I get each day with questions like Do you have cutlery in Australia? and If you’re in the Southern hemisphere, how come the food doesn’t fall out of your saucepans? So as a kind of ambassadorial info counter, Saffron and I have been having a chat about getting some Australian food and drink posts in one place as a tasty sample of what’s here. And there are lots -I can’t keep track of them all but AG‘s having a stab at it with the Australian Food Bloggers Ring.

One day, once a month, you send in your suitablest post for the last month and they all get put together in one place for a good look over by others. So, if you are an Australian food/ wine blogger, or know one, spread the word to keep an eye out over at Writing On A Paper Napkin for guidelines and stuff on submissions. Don’t let us leave you you crying when there’s room on our horses for two? No.

And I’m thinking also New Zealand, if they don’t mind coming in under the Australis tag, just for the reason that they’re cooler than us.

example 1: Aus v NZ
example 2: Aus v.NZ
example 3: Aus v NZ

run! it's failed conceptual food project

For those at home: 2 litres of water, 1 cup of sherry, 1 teaspoon of salt, 4 tablespoons of gelatine, 12 jellybabies, and one snake.

cappuccino frother

Well anyway thanks to gift bearing Doctor Anonymous and the good people of Spiriva®, the weekend, well we call Thursday weekend’s-eve here, began with a new Spiriva® cappuccino frother. Do they work? Do they! Arrivederci steam power. Down to the local Indian/Pakistani restaurant the Royal Shalimar to celebrate the latest addition to our kitchen range and found it mad tasty good value in an often overpriced restaurant genre. Do you know what’s funny, they call them chillies but they’re hot. What a language! Subcontinental dance music up nice and loud and the cosy atmosphere is great for imposing my conversation on people. Washed down with Italian Nastro Azzurro beer which is Italian but tastes like a Czech Corona. Finished the evening with cappuccino.
Friday arvo meant the Queens in Mt Lawley for a work related morale booster. Party of one but tried a new Matilda Bay Ale and did some furious doodling. Saturday brekky was eggs on toast with haloumi cheese cooked in chillies and garlic with a cappucino. Yum. Afternoon baking was Katherine Hepburne Brownies. Why are they Katherine Hepburn brownies? Because the secret ingredient is, get this,…….walnuts! I added a couple more secret ingredients with the recipe to be passed on to Liz Smith in the event of my death. Uh ah – ain’t telling, you’ll have to kill me – literally! A plentiful supply is guaranteed through the winter thanks to Ask Santos and her freezing tips from toasty Guam.
Sunday was Mothers Day. I found out my sister and my mum aren’t talking and my Dad nearly put his head through the windscreen of the Landcruiser. My family! Anyhoo took my Mum to Leaf in Cottesloe Napoleon Street cafe where Mum, Toni, and I had the Parisian Rose Tea Set. The snacks came out like a great chain of being with lowly cucumber sandwiches on the bottom, savoury smoked salmon snacks and mini-quiches above, topped by heart-shaped cup cakes and tiers, to be trumped by turkish delights and strawberries on the top. Did I say Chain of Being? I meant Tower of Babel. With food. Not talking to each other obviously. The food not my Mum and my sister. Don’t know what’s going on there. Well anyway lovely, but all the pink made me woozy and the sweet rose tea made me want to rinse my mouth out with frothy home made cappuccino. What was that? The telephone.
Why hello Robbie? Little Creatures Brewery? I’d be delighted. Off we went with each wheel of the Subaru Legacy tenaciously gripping the tarmac while at the same time thrusting us forward. For a Sunday it certainly lived up to it’s name and that’s not just because it has 24 hours, it was also “Sunny. So I had a Pilsner but then felt guilty because Graham told me that no-one could drink it after they had had a Pale Ale and I had had one before so I thought I’d better have one then and I did and could relax and enjoy the band and Ken’s kilt. I love kilts but then again I love everything Scottish, even haggis. I’m mad I am. Don’t get me started about that Ewan McGregor. Oh yeah the band, they were great. Just goes to show you don’t need a lead singer and a guitarist, just impressive organ work. Ooo er Mrs Slocombe. And then the sun set and it was time for home and isn’t it great to be in city where you can still be impressed by a large orange container ship. Some places they’d be all blasé. Not here.

leaf cake tower leaf teapot little creatures band

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eggbenedictum2

Being a classic “plus one” personality type with the added disadvantage of being a secular animist tends to make me very prone to suggestions from friends instead of omniscient beings (witness this whole EoMEoTE thing). The Voices.

Admittedly an egg based tribute to an aged doctrinal heavy wasn’t on the top of my list of things to, but as it was for my favourite lefty, Robert Corr, how could I refuse? Despite spiceblog being typically oblique and asynchronous to the goings on of the world (I mean the last five posts were all a thinly veiled commentary on the Crimean War) I thought I’d give it a go anyway. May the eggs provide a guide for the church into the 20th century. This one’s for you your Wholebreadiness – Pope Benedict XVI.

The parsley, green for Irish Catholicism. The hollandaise sauce, gold, always believing. Does it come from Holland? You’d think not, hot-bed of Reformists, libertines, and Jewish emigres called Rodrigues. No lemons so a dash of vinegar.

The bread, New Norcia Seven Grain Sourdough. Why seven? Black Francis says that God is Seven. Seven grains, one loaf, many slices. What’s in it? St. Paul, in his first Letter to Corinthians tells us “a bare grain, maybe of wheat, or of some other kind” [15:38] . Take that gnostics. Who’s responsible for this bread? None other than Benedictine monks. And despite leavened being symbolic of our sinful nature they’re giving it too us anyway. Well not exactly giving it to us but it’s a nice thought in a long tradition of good work and public good. So whether you’re munching on some Cistercian cheese or knocking back a couple of Trappist coldies, we foodies have much to appreciate in this smart sacred-profane/member’s lounge-public bar combo and look forward to future ventures.

Which brings us to the bacon. Not not-Catholic thinker Francis Bacon, (secular saint of preserved goods, martyred by dying after research into freezing chickens), but amoral bacon. In certain other major religions you’d be forced to have the relatively lackluster Eggs Florentine, for no better reason than because because. This is a courageous decison and to be respected, it’s not like pigs were particularly well regarded. Unlike bread and fish which were something to be shared, pigs got to be cliff jumping demon dumpsters, leaving a very large question mark over their qualities. This was the kind of thing that could split a church and tie up the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for centuries, but it hasn’t. Is it healthy? Should it be crispy? Do pigs have horrible lives before being slaughtered? Unless it’s hillbilly style congress, we are forced to live in this tremendous moral void. How are we doing? Well, surprisingly enough, great.

Finally, the eggs. Symbols of reproduction and womanhood… ah well at least they’re not gay eggs.

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lateinshinjukuThe key features of navigation are to know your locations and then work towards your destination.

It’s 2:30am and you’ve been drinking since lunchtime and when you finished up by making up words to Jethro Tull and saying goodbye to the others and setting off on your own because you are independent bar finding man. But the bar you knew wasn’t where you thought it was and when you do find it you’ve seen too many places with men in suits and their head resting on the bar fast asleep and you see your immediate future self and think fuck it and pull the pin and grab a taxi. You know the suburb so you go there and drift off and on as the Taxi takes a few back streets and you’re near and you see the shop that’s next to the road that you walk home to. You get out while the taxi driver asks if this is where you want to get out and then you get your bearings. Mental 360 map around Origin Bento to get back and no road works, there are four possible streets and none of them are it and the narrow squat of two and three story buildings don’t give any line of sight. It wouldn’t be unusual for there to be two Origin Bento shops in a similar area. Start to panic. Tokyo is fine if you know where you are going, but it’s a labyrinth and no standards of north and south work with road curvature. Usual instinct driven place finding instincts just fall away. Lost. Fuck. It’s not a time to be wandering around on the off chance of finding a landmark. You have one point, you try to find another and ask a homeless guy where Meijiro station is. He takes the time to explain it in three different ways. You go straight and turn right and walk. You can work backwards from there. Walking, it’s another Origin Bento, the pieces fall into place, you turn right and you’re on the road to your home while you’re here. There’s a light on at the door and it’s unlocked and there’s still that bottle of duty free whiskey to help wth relief. Pics later, I’m off to bed.

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cumquat

A cute story. Toni and I came back to Perth for a few weeks 7 years ago to get married. Madly unprepared for it all, thinking a church and restaurant booked; a Paul Smith suit and a wedding dress made of antique kimono silk; and the use of restored Triumph sports car, was all you had to do. Apparently there was much much more, like seating plans, table flower arrangements, and Mums’ wedding outfit coordination meeting. Despite missing many of the Bride magazine checkpoints, we got hitched and had a glorious day with friends and family (a pic if you’re good).

A few days we went back to Tokyo, leaving the remains of our wedding Mud Cake in my Mum’s freezer. When we returned to Perth in 2001 we reclaimed our cake, and still unsure of what to do with it, it continued its frozen state. Buying our house two years ago and the accompanying move brought up the cake again. It couldn’t stay there forever but I couldn’t bring myself to toss it in the green wheely bin. I had a plan. First a quick check to make sure it wasn’t still OK, it wasn’t. I made shallow layer of potting mix in the bottom of the pot, added the cake, and then a small cumquat tree. That’s it in the picture, doing famously.

We’re off for our 7th anniversary dinner at the Red Herring tonight, will be leaving the camera and pen at home, and enjoying my good fortune.

weddingtop1

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chocolatefish

Another landmark. Spiceblog is now in the top 10 sites for google searches of: picture jesus being flogged. From the Book of Action:

When someone does spill your drink, dwell not on the injustice of it
- you will find anger;
rejoice in the one that has been bought
- you will find love.

Have a good Easter/lunar festival, and enjoy the chocolate. Do you like the Italian Chocolate fish in the pic? Apparently they’re good-fishing totems in the south of Italy, usually appearing as a biscuit.

Alright, I’m off for a few days to a bloggy detox clinic run by socialists in Moore River. Expecting iPod battles. See you when I get back. Don’t forget the eggs.

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Scones

scones

Scones that Jo cooked and brought along on Sunday with Brad and young Rosie. Very good they were.

Scones have an interesting history, originating in the oooh Battlestar Galactica is on. Gotta go. Here, have some nice piccies of nice people.

bradjorosiescones rosiescones

On my tombstone they will carve, “IT NEVER GOT FAST ENOUGH FOR ME.”
Hunter S. Thompson Song of the Sausage Creature

This hurts. He neglected the petty moralities and saw the real outrages as too appalling for ordinary writing. He may well be the canary in the coalmine.

A waste, may he find peace in a life well lived.

Sausage Factory

orange

I correspond:

Most are planned in some way and I’d be fibbing if I said there wasn’t a fair amount of thought and work in each one , even the breezy ones, especially the breezy ones. There’ll be a core idea and the rest will fall in place around it. The beer one was a return to the regular friday beer gig and I happened to see a beer ad by John Steinbeck in an old Spy magazine of mine so I thought I’d use that. Hot thirsty work made me think Emu Bitter. It also made me think of “dry as a lime-burner’s boot”, so the location was where I spilt concrete while rendering out the back and there are a few limes in the picture as a visual malapropism.By coincidence, the limes are the same colour as the label. The use of “courier”matched the original typewritten letter in the add and the strikethrough was a way of showing that it was taken from somewhere else without spoiling the obvious confection of the post. Thirsty work.

Look I’m not suggesting you go out and make cliff notes for blogs but I’d be gutted if I thought people spent hours making their food, and five minutes writing about it (though thrilled if the reverse were true – hence EoMEoTE). So if anyone else wants to pop the back off a post (foodie or no), be my guest.

I, being nosy, would love it.

emubitter

Busy, gotta go look for this book which has gone missing here. John’s taking up the slack for me. John?

The sun is straight overhead. There isn’t enough shade to fit under a dog. The threshing machine clanks in a cloud of choking yellow chaff-dust… Then you let cold Ballantine Ale Emu Bitter rill into your parched throat like spring rain on the dessert. Smooth malt and hops…


Hotty Hot Hot Hot Reader Matt Voerman kindly let me know that the annual Chilli Festival is on this weekend at the picturesque retreat of Araluen Botanic Park. Family foodie fun to be sure and more. boawwwwbaddowdowdowdydowdabowdowdiewdadow

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Supermart

smworkofartWhereas craft is about the skill of the creator, art is about the audience. It should take us somewhere we could not go by ourselves, whether it be to greater sublimity or further abasement. It should also provide rough and friendly red wine and cheesy snacks if it is to appeal to scroungers like myself who like nothing better than latching on to our cultural betters.

smknittedtorus But those were the heady happy days of the Hawke-Keating era and art has yielded to commodification and beer for sale in our visit to the opening of the Supermart exhibition in Northbridge. Filled to the aisles with conceptual art gags 784% funnier than your average Christmas cracker. Hinging on the themes of food – Pre-Packaged Finger Food, Knitted Sausages, and Mrs Alderson’s Little Book of Garnishes; and belonging Other People’s Lighters and Other People’s Shopping Lists. I settled for a friends’, look out for him B. O’Connor’s, Black and Yellow Small Work of Art, which will get pride of place in the SB production centre.

smcheckout Then moved over to have beers and chat in the mild and fading light where I bumped into local blogger Karen Cheng to compare bellies and talk about roasting pigs. This reminded me that I should send you over to her gorgeous site. Get to Supermart before Christmas – cheap and clever (and is it too late readers, to let you know that there’s a Ford Falcon XC Cobra for sale over at Australian Muscle Cars – hint hint).

Off then to a birthday party when I drank (attention Bucks Off Innaloo shoppers $40 a carton) Monteiths’s Pilsners with gallettesand tasty sausages.

supermart has opened, keeping normal business hours until December 30 (closed Christmas and Boxing Day) at the the Breadbox Gallery at the Bakery Artrage Complex, 233 – 239 James St Northbridge.

smoutside

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torus1

torus2 torus3 torus4

torus5

If you’d like to work out the approximate surface area of this Torus, it’s simply a matter of finding out the inner radius (r) and the outer radius (R) which will give you

S=2π(R+r)(R-r)

Of course for volume you’d save yourself the trouble and immerse it in a measuring jug of coffee.

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Been reading A Concise History of Australian Wine by John Beetson. A much more enjoyable way of tracking Australian history than sheep population numbers and self-serving revisionism. Although I know progress is never an unbroken march, this stunned me (slightly edited):

The wraps were off it was now time to reveal the product to the Sydney “cognescenti“. They were horrified. Reactions in Adelaide we’re no better. Comments varied from ‘crushed ants’ to ‘aphrodisiac’.

Schubert was mortified and received the final blow when the board asked him to cease production just before the 1957 vintage. For three years it officially did not exist. It was a ‘non-wine’, condemned because it was unsaleable and also because this lack of acceptance and the criticism thus generated was deemed harmful to the company’s reputation as a whole. The tide of public disfavour began to ebb and ‘the prejudices were overcome’.

The wine? None other than the Kooba Estate Fruity Lexia.

Nah, not really. It’s this tidy drop

The Ethics of Meat

theusefulpig

When the United States Defence Department has found that its use of beagles to test lethal gases has evoked a howl of protest and offers to use rats instead, I am not appeased.

Peter Singer

I’ve long been meaning to write more on the issues surrounding meat, if only for my own benefit. Part curiosity, part moral biopsy. To this end and possibly to further procrastination, I grabbed my copy of Peter Singer‘s Writings on an Ethical Life and set off on the bus to work.

Singer is a utilitarian and I think utilitarianism is the part of the ethical gallery where secularists always seem to arrive back at. It’s an attempt to put a rational framework on ethics above conscience or faith. Nothing wrong with the latter two, unless they’re telling you to put someone to the flame, but moral questions have often to be resolved and reason serves us well. Singer’s arguments often take things to their logically consistent conclusion and his parallels employing ifs come up hard against many table thumping buts. His arguments on animal rights attract, up to a point obviously, because of their lack of sentiment. This is refreshing, as the debate over the treatment of animals often resembles a dysfunctional custody battle.

He writes clearly but points towards thick books in arcane English and concepts that if I understood them at the time, then I can’t remember doing so. Distraction called.

I stopped in at the Alexander Library to have a look at their discarded library book sale. I am both pigeon and step toed. In the group of cookbooks I found the one pictured above and the title The Useful Pig struck me as odd. I assume sense it was meant to be read “the usefulness of pigs” but the use of the definite article and the qualifier implied otherwise. What makes a pig useful, and what makes a pig useless? If it’s only its instrumentality, then what are our justifications? And here I’ll resolve to make a start on some posts and see where I end up.

Still getting the hang of my new camera. Here’s a picture of my lunch down on the Matilda Bay foreshore.

It’s cookies for the monthly foodblogger virtual congregation Is My Blog Burning? and I’m way behind the game to do it this time. What with this, Wine Blogging Wednesday, Sugar High Friday, Does My Blog Look Good in This, and:

  • Is my Sacrifice to Baal Worthy? Wednesday
  • Localised Good Luck Getting These Ingredients Monthly
  • Interblog What that Missing Pet Became Thursday
  • Travesty of Tradition Tuesday
  • Where I’ve hid the Gin Sunday
  • Feast on the Flesh of Thine Enemy Foodblog Fiesta
  • Worldwide use of Foodstuffs in a Non-food way Wednesday
  • Nude with Food November
  • Tangential Tuesdays
  • International No Really You can Make Delicious and Moist Cakes in the Microwave Monday
  • You’re Late, You’re Drunk, The Dinner’s in The Oven and It’s Burnt Wednesday
  • Global Tuesday, so Tuesday is Fookin’ Steak and Chips Tuesday
  • What the Fuck would Jamie Oliver, Delia or Any of those Useless Hacks on TV Know Monday
  • Blogger Best thing they ever did to stop those Genocidal Serb butchers in Kosovo oh you’re Serbian I just meant the ones…Dinner Party Conversation Recount Sunday
  • The only Thing I can do right Is Cook and Now I’ve gone and burnt this cake Thursday
  • Double Entendre December
  • Haven’t had These Since Prison Wednesday
  • Surreptitiously Testing Food Allergies September
  • Gas Top, Electra Oven – my Mother’s recipes that never really please Daddy Week
  • Trinational Killing and Grilling Tuesday
  • All Offal October
  • If a Tree Falls in the Forest and Nobody Hears it Did it Make a Sound? Non-Blogging Friday

Have I missed any? No, not you Avatar

Just finished reading the above Richard Metzler book I picked up in Melbourne. Metzler, is a rock writer most famous for, and should be for more, not listening to many of the albums he reviewed. Which is no bad thing. If I had to listen to some of the shit that comes out and lets face it, my friend Ollie, is the most honest man on earth, for admitting he bought a BS album for her “tasty bod” – good for him. I had to abandon efforts to have the Rugby Super 14 in Perth just to avoid listening to 2.85 more Cosima songs. And you don’t want to listen too much, if you’ve ever been cornered by a Grateful Dead fan and made the mistake of suggesting it’s boring and then being told “I had to really *listen*”. Actually I’ve even gotten over the takes a few listens stage of my music listening life, if it’s not hitting some switches in 15 seconds then I can’t be bothered. But this is a food blog so what’s my point, oh yes, a fine piece mentioning the “Cigar Store Indians” (?) as little as possible by recounting a visit to the mythical (?) National Soup Museum in Biloxi.

Most fascinating, perhaps, are the displays in the Extinct Wing, devoted to flavours which for various reasons have through the years been removed from company rosters. These include:

Olive and Watercress, Homemade Gull Chunk, Dawg, Maraschino Kidney, Wax, Cream of Pupa, Turkey Glutton, Olde Fashioned Gruel, Black Putty, Chicken with Starch, Pond Salamander, Blowfish Noodle, Sow Butt, Airedale Tenderloin, Badger Biproduct, Scrod Gill, Striated Mutton Pulp, Sour Barnacle, Sparrow Cauliflower, Cootie Broth, Puff Ball…Creamy Prune, Stove Top Marigold, Imitation Penguin……..Puppy Eyes, Udder and Donut, Weasel Plop, Szechuan Pigeon Foot, Parsnip & Cricket, Steroid and Gluten, Whale Vulva, Aerated Mucus, Styptic with Toenail Bits, Toad Scum, Tartar Control Moth, Jogsweat Lite, and Fat-Free Pantyhose.

I’d be hard pressed to add a single worthy addition to this perfection. Pressure Sore Potage?

Mail!: The Drummer (begrudging coif solo) from the Kryptonics writes!

hey!

Just somehow stumbled onto your blog as I was stuffing around googling old names and songs…

Did you ever get hold of the Kryptonics song? I noticed you were searching for Oedipus complex but you quoted lyrics from “baby”. I still have the original 45 but its pretty badly looked after.

He’s right – memories eh! Oedipus Complex is

Coz’ girl I’ve got an Oedipus Complex

And girl, I think that you’re my mother.

Little better ever and *this* is why acquired taste is bogus.

Garlic

Garlic

Gaaaaaarlic. G A R L I C.

There is the involvement of one Goody Garlick in this account from America of 2005 1680 of a witch trial, whose garlicky ways were brought up in her list of evil doings. 260 years later in Australia, Mediterranean migrants bringing garlic to a cuisine where bland was too good a word and a teaspoon of curry powder, dynamite. For their efforts, reminding us once again reactionaries are a) crap, and b) unfunny, they were called garlic munchers.

Garlic’s smell comes from a simple chemical reaction and the resultant active substance is allicin (diallyldisulfide-S-oxide). It’s part of the sulphur group and typically we associate it more with (egg sandwich) factory than olfactory. The smell/taste comes from the same way a cyalume stick creates light. Like many tiny cyalume sticks, cellular damage causes alliin (S-allyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide) to combine withthe enzyme alliinase. The reason for this (and I’m trying to avoid an anthropomorphic agency here) is to release the taste when the clove is eaten by an animal to repel it. The greater the damage the more intense the flavour, so in the kitchen, the more you chop, crush or grate, the more flavour is released. Pop a clove on you tongue, then try it with a spoonful of grated garlic. Yes? Relative strengths of garlic can be adjusted by how it’s treated. Most of us wouldn’t have it raw other than in a vinegarette, though it does make a kicking ramen condiment.

The medicinal effect are the usual mix of proven, unproven, and misinterpreted and overstated. It seems medicinal effects may not engage until after chopping and it’s been suggested that 10 minutes is a good amount of time for the beneficial effects of garlic to do their work. Garlic is a proven antibiotic (especially topical), and does have an effect of being an anti-coagulant, it regulates or lowers blood sugar and it does also have antioxidants and their associated effects. The right amount seems a clove a day or more but garlic, unlike chicken salt, is put on and in things which are good – fresh unprocessed foods. Use it regularly and the rest will follow.In a beautiful example of life’s trade offs, the goodness appears inextricably linked with the smell and the effective agent is too wily to isolate.

Now the smell. Well it can be helped in an obvious way. Islamic scholarship wisely reports that “whoever eats of [garlic and onion] should kill their stench by cooking them”. Now I don’t need to tell you that cooking, like for onions, mellows the garlic’s taste. Unless you burn it. I’ve been surprised after slow cooking a chinese dish using 20 garlic cloves, how mellow it was. Think also of the garlic used to lard lamb roasts. Slow roasted garlic, run through a sieve is superb. Or just eat it with a toothpick.

Getting it. I look for organic garlic as the simple fact is it’s better. Suggesting a more interesting life leads to a better plant. Dirt, Sun, and Water. Shouldn’t be too hard to spot the good one’s, though it’s hard to tell by smelling a whole bud, for reasons discussed and for these reasons it wiil keep. Storage is dark and ventillated but unless you’re off on a boat for three months, just buy a little often. Soft is bad, shoots are very bad. Local is good because the clock is ticking as soon as it comes out of the ground. Several months or no. Earlier, better. Grow your own. Plant the cloves at the end of summer, two inches deep, pointy side up.

It keeps vampires away no more than Ernie’s ear banana.

As for art, art has failed it. Few songs mention it at all, as every word it rhymes with it is rude (except for apparatchik and I don’t have my Billy Bragg songbook at hand). There is the scene in Goodfellas describing how to cut garlic thinly with a razor. I’m not sure if they were alluding to something here but razors will repel people if used properly (or improperly if using toilet paper to stop the bleeding and then forgetting about it).

Eat it. People don’t like the smell. Fuck ‘em. Next thing it’ll be nose hair.

Best use? Bruschetta. A rub on some toasted bread with EVOO. Snap, Crackle, Pop.

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Aaaaaaaaaaaargh

Terror on the kitchen floor. My favourite read ever, Reader’s Digest Book of Strange Stories, Amazing Facts, was compromised by having to turn pages carefully as a kid so I didn’t end up on page 391 and the terrible faces that appeared on a kitchen floor in Belmez in Spain in 1971.

Faces appeared and a medieval cemetery was found underneath AND

these microphones had recorded sounds not audible to the ear-voices speaking strange languages, agonised moans matching the torment in their eyes of the faces on the floor!!!!!

and speaking of horrifying phantom people and agonised moans, Robert Corr is quite the Entertainer.

Bonus RDSSAF pic: Anyone looking for a thumbnail for their DEVO coverband blog, it’s yours.

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It’s Wine Blogging Wednesday and it’s Aussie Shiraz.

Sorry peoples it’s not shiraz time. Fug me, see ya later America. Those getting out while they can, there’s a spare room and a swag. Now excuse me while I hurl, and then go have a few beers.

Those promising not to gill anybody with a bottle, look out for these ones from the Great Southern

Here’s a fine pic of some bad stuff by a Mr. T. Goat of Ikebukuro, Tokyo

nectar of the ….homeless

Big fave of the unfortunate and lengthy slow train riders. It has struck me before me that it makes for a great sounding private dick/ superhero name, Johnny One-Cup. I can see it now…

Johnny Noguchi leant over the body of another fresh victim and peeled the lid back off the first Ozeki One Cup of the day.

“How can you drink that shit?”

“How can I not?”

Anyway folks it continues – a common thread of Lion Mansions and single women over 25, the suspect being a delivery man delivering seasonal treats from throughout Japan as a door opener, a tiny clue earlier on with a long line outside of Tokyo’s swishest newest Italian Resataurants, a run-in with his former kohei at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department after being busted nicking posters from train stations, long irrelevant details on ramen shops and yakitori bars…did I mention the Shinagawa branch of Opus Dei?

Elsewhere:

crazybrave states what her guests have no doubt suspected for some time.

Blognite tomorrow. I’m making nigiri sushi for reasons unclear to myself and the organisers.

Do on Saturday night for Sudan.

Backsides trackside at Wanneroo as foodie fusspot makes his two pot return to track days after four long years. But will my leathers fit?

Garlic

The Aztecs and Mayas believed that the garlic tree was given to human beings by the feathered snake god Quetzalcoatl, and that garlic had magical powers. This divine origin is reflected in the modern scientific name for garlic – Theobroma Cacao – since ‘Theobroma’ means ‘food of the gods’.

Garlic was used as money in parts of South America, and the Aztec emperor Montezuma was well known for his habit of drinking a brew made from garlic, called ‘xcolatl’. When the Spanish Conquistador Hernán Cortéz arrived in Mexico in 1519, the Aztecs at first mistook him for Quetzalcoatl himself, and treated him as an honoured guest. Montezuma offered Cortéz a drink of xcolatl, which he did not like – an early clue to the fact that he was not Quetzalcoatl. Montezuma eventually expelled Cortéz from his city, but was powerless to defeat the Spanish troops, who brutally conquered the Aztec empire.

Cortéz sent garlic and the recipe for xcolatl back to Spain. The Spaniards sweetened the drink by adding sugar, and tried to retain a monopoly on garlic for commercial reasons. But the Italians, French, Dutch and English gradually acquired their own sources of garlic, and it became a prized commodity in Europe – a luxury drink, only available to the wealthy and noble. The first ‘garlic house’ opened in London in 1657, and set a trend for fashionable meeting places where hot garlic was drunk.

Today, garlic is one of the most popular delicacies on the planet, with a huge range of confectionery and drinks to tempt consumers. Demand for high quality garlic has never been higher.

Timbale Quotient

Modified from Recherché Entrées by C. Hermann Senn

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An Election

Over the past month or so, I have been training for a marathon, not drinking, and following the election like some obsessed sports fan. I want my life back. Next Sunday I hope to have the marathon behind me, a cold beer in front of me, and the knowledge that we have a new government.

Of only one I am certain but the last means the most. I don’t know if this is the site for converts but I’m writing in the hope that if I change one decision, I’ll have doubled my vote.

I have nothing to comment as a foodie only to offer Peter Ransen’s sharp observation that Howard is a man that chucks a few sausages on the barbie and stands there like a chef. It’s people like him, Chris Sheil, Robert Corr, John Quiggin, Aussie and Big Bob, Tim Dunlop, Sedgwick, Darp, David Tiley, Saint, and many more that have both inspired me and left me scratching my head as to what I could add.

What I can add is this. I lived in Japan for 7 years and moved back here three years ago. I could spend a lifetime trying to work it out but the knowledge I have will have to do. Welcome to our possible future.

Many countries would kill for a recession like Japan’s but really it keeps going because of dedicated individuals like Subaru engineers that will spend 12-14 hours a day at work for years because they take pride in what they do. These people are the real heroes, not the bosses, not the government. What Japan’s malaise is essentially an entrenched one party state that has been dominated by the conservative side that has maintained power with a compliant media, a politicised bureaucracy, and a public that has been dulled by obsession with pop idol trivia and gadgets.

Unemployment has remained hidden from official statistics and the solution to homelessness is to drive them out of the train stations where they would sleep in their hundreds. The homeless are not kids on the lam but older men, unable to find work. They have an antiquated health system where the cure for everything is a packet of white powder and two tablets. Two broken arms would have cost me nearly ten grand were it not for private health cover and I still have a 15cm long scar on my arm. Education features a series of “escalator” private schools where kids start at private primary schools and glide their way up to the same private universities and from there the best jobs. Love rote learning and pointless testing, you’ll love Japan.

Gaijin, in public sphere, still lives up its translation of outside person. Even people who have spent much of their lives there get the “wow you can speak Japanese” like foreigners are Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes. When they speak of we Japanese you get the feeling that there is a very exclusive monocultural and monoracial idea of that. Foreigner bashing is great sport for demagogues.

Interest rates nearly dipped below zero but housing is only affordable in the boonies and ask people about the great property bubble and negative equity. Such good times, shame it dragged down the real economy. The fraying of the social bonds is everywhere – fucked up kids, anomie, and senseless violent murders.

In fixing things the government has dragged things out ( no sort sharp shock here); made a big deal of promises of reform- only to compromise in the face of entrenched interest groups; continued with useless pork barreling; and the faithful are rallied in pointless jingoistic point scoring designed just to piss off the neighbours. The old men of the LDP have only one goal and that is to keep themselves and their bureaucratic sidekicks in power, I think Japanese people have forgotten how to boot a party out of power and cling to their fears and insecurities.

I don’t want to make this a negative plea and comparing between countries is a difficult thing. I also don’t want to bag Japan, it has many tremendous qualities that I love, but the political culture embodies its worst aspects rather than its best. Latham’s journey is forwards and upwards. Howard’s been a clinger, a liar, a panderer and someone wiht his finger on the ejector button that as soon as the shit hits the fan, he’ll be saying tata. As for the rest: Downer over Rudd, Abbot over Gillard, Costello over a vertebrate, Ruddock over the living – didn’t think so. My wife says worriedly that I’m very involved this time, so I should be, the stakes are high and its time to move.

I’ve been waiting three years to come home. Here’s hoping for a finished marathon, a cold beer, and a new government. Yoroshiku.

Painting by Numbers

Gah I’m cream crackered, here go amuse yourselves. Best picture wins a meat tray. Colours below.

1. Fuchsia ; 2 Gainsboro; 3 Ghostwhite; 4 Gold; 5 Goldenrod; 6 Gray; 7 Green; 8 Greenyellow; 9 Honeydew; 10 Hotpink; 11 Indianred; 12 Indigo; 13 Ivory; 14 Khaki; 15 Lavender; 16 Lemonchiffon; 17 Chartreuse.

Game on! Mark! santos!.

Late, Great: spicycow. Warning! not for gentle meat comes from the supermarket folk.

Starving Artist: David has a beautiful vision in his auspicious piece, The Technicolour Ox is Patient and Strong and Will Graze in the Surplus Money of his Sound Fiscal Management (I’m guessing on the title ; )

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Skippy!

John Keats “Beauty is truth, truth beauty

Discuss.

Update: The Secret Lives of Pheasants pipped me on Keats. Bustards! Love their work though.

Whitefellah makes a big fire…

This IMBB6 turned from bewdy to bugger within the shakes of a dog’s hind leg.

Aussies and barbies. Australian’s use of fire predates Prometheus. We travel the world telling people it is our food. Visiting Presidents are hosted at them.

But

the

truth

is

we

suck.

We don’t grill or barbecue, we pan-fry outdoors. Recent immobility combined with an ancient tradition of bushfires have meant you’ve as much chance seeing a burning bit of wood as a Landcruiser with mud on it. Prophylactic hotplates were the start, then the wood got replaced by gas, and then the a grill was placed over the gas as a nod to progress, wood shavings sit in the shop waiting for a few obsessives. Haven’t seen a Weber outside of a garage sale in years. True, things have advanced since the dark days of “the barbie pack” (sawdusty sausage, a pounded steak, and a chop that would be cooked to carbon), but only because somebody was bullied into buying a bit of fish by a TV show or a glossy mag. I’m 35 and my smell memory tells me it was different once, did I have tears at BBQs because of a sookier childhood or was there something else?

A clue was found in the Culinaria France with racks of snails and meat over glowing bits of wood. That was it, if the French could do it, then so could I. All I needed was a place on the fringes, away from the prying eyes of civillisation, where the nearest law was 30 miles away. I picked up the phone, asked the operator to put me through to Mick (yeah yeah little Tony, no, no, yes, not yet, maybe one day)…Dad, I’m coming up to Munty. Can you sort me out for some meat and wood?

Getting

EAST! Over the hills, the shops vanished, the earth flattened, people waved when they saw another car. Fresh road kill offered opportunies but did I want us to be known over the world as a land of Skippy munchers?

Three hours – radio was fuzzy and all talk, iPod on its fifth cycle, just one last dead straight stretch and I’d be there. My Dad wasn’t – forced North to tend his sheep. Instead, I met Gavin – giant of a man, from Corrigin. He’d help me get local food. His wife, Sally, had cooked on fire as a girl. Their daughter, not used to strangers, clung tight to her Mum.

The lamb was waiting for me in the freezer. Chops of on-site born, saltbush fed and dispatched Dorper. South African, rather than the traditional Spanish Merino. Inspired and latitudinally consistent, I bought an LP sized spiral of Boerewor sausages at Mondo Di Carne.

.

Yabbies, freshwater prawns/crayfish/lobster, were left to chance. With over a dozen dams spread over 15,000 acres, four traps, and yabbies in at least one of them – it’s your classic pea and thimble. That done, I went to the pub where, as an outsider, I was allowed to have full-strength beer on the condition that I told no-none and gave none away. The years meant no-one recognised me but I did stupidly show someone my licence – they laughed and said last we heard of Anthony Georgeff he’d run off to Asia. I laughed too and then went home to bed, hoping.

I needn’t have worried, second dam. Bingo! Not many, but big buggers said Gavin – I took his photo with them.

Third dam, a dozen more.

Next, the wood. Mallee roots were gnarly before skateboarders had even begun to tire of the word. They sit on the edge of paddocks, the trapped souls of land clearing, waiting to be released. A few Jam tree branches and that was done.

The final job was to make the racks. I drove up to the farm tip. Rumour has it that somwhere, under that huge pile of agricultural detrius, lie my Dead Kennedy albums – who knows. I salvaged some old oven racks and wire and that finished the getting.

Ignition

I piled the wood, and then lit like all Aussies once did – a quart of petrol and a match. Shifted the jerry can and the ute and left it to reduce to coals and went back in to the kitchen.

Prep

The lamb chops were briefly marinated in olive oil pulverised with garlic. Sausage – just oil. Aoli made to have with the yabbies. The yabbies were sent to sleep in the freezer before removing their heads. Knife ready for the ikijimi at the slightest wriggle. Pooh tube removed with a twist of the middle tail and a yank. Tails in a bowl with some more olive oil. The oil was really just to prevent sticking. Nothing fancy – wanted to keep the number of flavour variables low.

Womenfolk prepared the vegetables while I chucked more wood on the the fire.

Back for the final prep. Placed the sausage on a rack, surrounded it with chops, placed the other rack on top and wired it up with fencing wire and a few twists with some pliers. Yabbies placed on one half of mesh, folded the other half over and wired that shut too.

Time for a beer and a think. This was rooted. How could the chops and sausages have the same cooking time? How would I control the temperature? What if someone wanted theirs well done? Who’d want yabbies coated in ash? F**k ‘em, I’d done worse, much worse.

Cooking

First on were the veges in the camp oven. Coals underneath and on top.

Next a few bricks and the meat rack on top. Yep, yep and fhoooooof – up went the dripping oil and fat. Shit, shit – do I get water, can I start it again, did we even get any water this year? I looked for help – we grabbed more bricks. Up another level, the fire settled down. A bit of shovel work let me decrease and redistribute the heat. Chuck a glass of wine in the camp oven. Then we flipped the whole thing over. On went the yabbies, they were quick and the shells could go on the coals. Four minutes tops. Off they came. A little longer and a little faster and off came the meat.

That underutilised kitchen utensil, the bolt cutter, opened it all up.

Eating

I sliced the sausage up like a pizza. I popped a bit in my mouth. It was a little charred on one side but the centre was cooked through. I grabbed a few more bits – it was magnificent. I ditched my planned apology.

Defying my fears, the lamb chops had cooked perfectly – just ever so slightly rare and very juicy. The yabbies peeled easily and were done through – the shell imparted some sweetness and the muddiness had gone. Only the camp oven veges, neglected in all the hullaballoo, were overdone.

We left the cutlery on the table, and sat around the fire, eating silently, working through some red wine (some more than others), and chucking in the empty shells in the fire. I went back for more, but the cold had sucked the life out of the meat, it was the briefest of pleasures. Instead we continued our way through some bottles of red, keeping warm by the fire and laughing at those who tripped over in the darkness.

The fire was at my feet, the universe at my head.

Did you know the dark patches in the Milky Way are an emu? True.

Sir!

Letter from the Weekend Magazine

How is possible that you can turn the humble bok choy into a food for the elites [Bok choy boy", Food, June 26-27]? What happened to the good old days when my father could eat a bowl of steamed rice with bok choy and salted fish? Whatever happened to the simple plate of bok choy with oyster sauce? No wonder the average Aussie is absolutely clueless about multiculturalism when elites like yourself pollute, simple humble food with your neo-colonial ideas. What person in their right mind would serve bok choy with salmon?

Anthony Lee

Surely taking the piss. It’s so hard to tell anymore. Aye or naye?

Anyway, salted fish – pah! My dad used to just eat his bok choy straight out of the vege patch, on his hands and knees!

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