August 2005

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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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will listen to crap for charity

There is triumph over adversity, there are great feats in the field of human endeavour, and then there is hitting the half-way mark uphill with steadily increasing rain with a back to back triple of Kenny G, Charlene, and Bec Cartwright. [Anthony Georgeff is available as guest speaker and for motivational workshops. His book Visting Paradise, Visting Me will be out next Summer] Missing is in the capture the starting tune of Girls on Film – Wesley Willis and the finishing one of Panama (Panamaha). Sadly no Benny Goodman and no Bop Girl. Had I trained even less, they may have been included.

Big thanks to pledgers who have already coughed up and for the others, a very large thank you in advance. To get to Oxfam:
Oxfam Australia
Oxfam America
Oxfam International

By my sums we should have raised over $200. Wooh!

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”.

fun run

Alright people, elaborate fundraising idea for those who like to keep their sado-altruistic yinyang in harmony for this Sunday’s City to Surf.

The last race I, erm man of action did, was only possible through the sweet relief my carefully chosen iPod playlist [see:vanishing pointless: A Man of Action Dislikes Eye of the Tiger With a Great Passion]. On the theory that you can put up with anything for an hour or so, I thought I’d open my playlist for sale for a good cause as penance for my narrow minded music related sanctimony [see: innumerable yah! boo! Iggy Pop/ Johnny Cash/ John Cale/ New Order/ adorable Japanese girl bands did it better comments on the interweb]. Here’s the plan:

1. You nominate a song/songs in comments at $10 a pop. Now this could be Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You, but then why not get your kicks by having me listen to Whitney Houston’s version. Or imagine the fine pleasures had at the thought as I struggle up the final hill at the 11km mark, lungs aburst, only for the bowel loosening sounds of Aga Doo or anything from Rattle and Hum to come through my headphones.
2. I put these songs into a playlist and press play at the start.
3. If your song comes up during the race, you donate $10 to Oxfam. If it doesn’t you don’t have to.

Goddit?

To keep myself sane and get the ball rolling, I’m treating myself to 5 songs for a total of $50. They are:
Comfort Eagle – Cake
Panama – Van Halen
Cinnamon – Piggies
Apple Tree – Wolfmother
Little Sister – Queens of the Stone Age

And further ,and not all crap it looks, additions from sponsors in the Will Listen to Crap for Charity Playlist are:
Never Been Any ReasonHead East from Stephanie
Boys of Summer – DJ Sammy from Kate
Car Song – Cat Empire from Vic
Signed Sealed Delivered – DJ Smash from Reid
Hangin’ Tough – NKOTB from Saffron
All the Cats Join In – Benny Goodman from Rob
Bop Girl – Pat Wilson from Ampersand Duck
I’ve Never Been to Me – Charlene from santos

Keep them coming people, don’t make me use guilt.

More!
Lola – the Kinks & All seats taken – Bec Cartwright from Mindy
Girls on Film – Wesley Willis from Chook
Sweet Child o’ Mine – Guns and Roses from Jon
Celebrate – Namie Amuro from Heech (can’t find it yet – anybody?)

And here we go…
Breathless – Kenny G from Nat
Ghostbusters[techno mix] – Ray Parker Jnr from Jean
Metal Machine Music – Die Krupps from Yellowsupurinter

That looks like it. 20 songs. Cheers all. Might psyche myself up by watching Atanarjuat.

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scrambled eggs

The reward of being interested in cooking is not so much in doing the ambitious things as it is in doing simple things better. Omlettes are are vexatious candidate for this, seemingly impossible to get just right. Scrambled eggs however.

Use free range eggs. If we’re going to harness sentient creatures to our own benefits we may as well pass a bit of humanity their way. If this sounds like animal rights by noblesse oblige, well yes it is. Crack half a dozen of them, pick some chervil and flat leafed parsley from the garden, a gentle whisk, not quite smoothing over the distinctions between yolk and white and let it sit for half an hour; adding a splash of milk and a sprinkle of pepper.

Heat a heavy fry pan and then switch to a very low heat. A heavy pan will distribute the heat evenly. Another slower alternative is to use or make a bouble boiler. Melt some butter in the pan. Add the eggs and keep scraping the base of the pan with a spatula, regularly turning and flipping. The goal is to have little grains of doneness in an otherwise cream like consitency. Don’t be afraid to just turn the heat off and let it coast. It should pour.

As a side boil some spinach for a minute and then strain. Cook up some sliced ham in butter and add the spinach to it with the pepper.

Very softly cooked scarmbeld eggs are marvellous and travel well in the mouth. Creamy, warmy, tasty. The only chew should come from the accompanying bread. The spinach is there for the colour and the iron.

[insert segue later]

A couple of things of import for Cmdr. Peter Quincy Taggart. One. I’ll be writing for and setting up a website with a new food mag coming out in Perth called Spice. Familiar yes. Entirely coincidental, although I like to imagine a kind of localised Rupert Sheldrake vibe slowly seeping out. It will be good. People starting it up are sharp, earnest, and dedicated. Opposites attract. Two. Thanks to Crafty and Chris I get to have a go working in the kitchen at Jackson’s Restaurant this Thursday. It’s a brilliant restaurant, best in Perth, I’m not worthy of removing the peel from their potatoes.

Go play your hand, you big talking man,

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deporte del sangre

A reader shares a moment of triumph. Details at ten.

Elsewhere: Those looking for a handy dandy node of culinary things Auskiwian should get over to Omnivoribus Australis – Edition II

From London: That old black magic has me in its spell That old black magic that Jeanne weaves so well
End of Month Egg on Toast Extravaganza#9 round-up is up. It’s like giant easter egg with eggs inside it and inside those eggs, more eggs.

tonkotsu ramen

You have bones and you make soup. This simple economy that results in pork bone ramen is a great love of mine. AG also feels this love at Grab Your Fork with a ramen shop in Sydney. Not for Perth though, I haven’t had good ramen here. Instead of pining, I have finally made my own. Most of the recipe came from a Japanese cookbook called 自分でつくるプロのラーメン“DIY Pro Ramen” and has enabled and frustrated my efforts. It’s a very busy book and the Japanese characters swim in front of me, laughing probably. It’s been more like the Voynich manuscript than cookbook. I was sure I was missing an important, whatever you do, don’t… line. The recipe ended up being a mix of recipes in the book, a bit of research on pork bone stocks, and the kind help of Keiko of the ah! Nordljus.

Tonkotsu Stock

release my porky delights
2kg of pork bones; 30cm piece of pork fat with skin; two pigs trotters; 10l of water

All the ingredients were bought at Wing Hong Butchers at 402 William Street in Northbridge. The place was heaving on Saturday morning, big run on pork bones. Not good for pop-in-the-oven crumbed schnitzel or whatever but great for getting all the bits.

The pig’s trotters are surrogates for a pig’s head, being an appropriate mix of skin, meat, fat, and bone. Just split them half way down. The bones are off-cuts from around the spine. Lacking is a couple of larger thigh bones, which no doubt have their own virtues. Not being completely sure about just putting the bones in water, I roasted the bones and the pigs trotters for half an hour before putting them in the boiling water. Roasting tends to make the flavour richer and you can deglaze the pan with a cup of water and add it to the stock. Let the bones and the trotters simmer away for half an hour making sure to scoop out any scum that rose to the surface. Roll and tie the pork fat and place in the water with the bones, skimming whatever comes up for another 10-15 minutes.

tonkotsu vegetables

4 onions; 5 carrots; a bunch of spring onions; two apples; one head of garlic; a large piece of konbu; a thumbsized piece of ginger.

Add all the ingredients. The only exception is the konbu which should be removed after 15 minutes. Konbu provides a natural form of the flavour enhancer MSG. Let it all simmer for 5 hours. tonkotsu stock

Chasyu Pork

chashu pork
1 piece of pork belly; 1 cup of shoyu; 1/2 cup mirin; 1/2 cup of sake; 1 cup of the stock; a thumb sized piece of ginger – sliced.

Take a strip of pork belly, remove the skin and any bones and roll and tie. Let it cook in the stock for one hour and remove. Let it simmer for 20 minutes in the soy sauce mix and then leave to sit.

Assembly

Strain the stock. Using a trick from making Cassoulet, I pureed some of the pork fat and added it to the stock. Tonkotsu is unapologetically fatty.

Place a couple of tablespoons of the cha shu cooking liquid in the botom of the bowl. Add some eggs noodles and a couple of slices of cha shu. Pour the stock over, add a couple of strips of nori and garnish with finely chopped chives.

Tasting

It made me happy. I can see further room for improvement, the stock could have been stronger. Maybe it needs some chicken carcasses or the big bones. It would do for now, these people dedicate their lives to making thier ramen. My journey has just begun. I pondered this as I went off to see Shihad at the Rosemount, where I was assaulted by an unknown woman who squeezed my nipples. (hard!) With this and the huggy man of the QoTSA gig, I have to wonder what is going on in Perth’s live scene. On the night went. The Grapeskin Wine Bar will sell you a bottle of red wine at it’s after midnight gentlemen’s night, and if you’re hungry at 2am, then the City Garden ? Chinese Restaurant Shop 11, China Town, 66 Roe St, Northbridge will sell you food like ermmm szechuan chicken maybe.

Perth, it has everything.

Burger

burger

Home-made burger
and a bottle of booze
ain’t takeaway
takes away my blues

Hand-minced rump steak with egg, chilli powder, spring onions breadcrumbs, soy sauce,salt, pepper, and a splash of lemon juice burger. Melted cheddar, finely grated beetroot, lettuce, avocado, tomato, mushrooms, and fried onions finished in beer.

It was OK. Could have been hotter but that’s what happens when you mess around taking pics.

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Captain Jim's Rhubarb Chutney

Bought this eye-catching locally made chutney in a fruit and veg shop in Toodyay over the weekend and I’m ashamed to say it was a kitsch purchase. Marketing has made Captain Jim’s as feasible as Captain Pete’s Arrr Me Hearties Fish Bits. I’m actually so jaded these days that I’d be suspicious of Jeff of Product Development’s Cheaply Flavoured Leftover Carb Bits or Mamma Maria Not Only Has Never Worked Here She’s Got Nothing To Do With This Pasta Sauce Pasta Sauce as some kind of reverse marketing ploy. Can’t even do aspirant any more and the less said about the British Raj range of overpriced curry pastes the better. I think I’m down to Hey! Spunky Guy Have You been Working Out? Organic Sound of Cowbell Goose Fat in the all that could appeal to me stakes.

Joy. Captain Jim is real. The site is here, have a look at the Background and you’ll see him about 50 years on. It’s a delight. The chutney is really good too. Not at all like the rhubarb in desserts, softly piquant. Just went on a chicken and sweet potato yoghurt and tomato curry. Sadly, good luck finding it in supermarkets.

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green eggs and hammer of thor

“Excellent” exclaimed Thor “Thought I’d never be rid of the specky twat. Now, where’s that Sven Hassel book of mine?”

THE END

Thanks Jeanne!

What? Oh alright, values reaffirming coda then:
Be wary of those who claim to make omlettes.
Now off to bed with you.

Places to go

bootsute

Australia can be a dry place. So it’s worth celebrating the times when we have more to eat than clompy booted Swiss agricultural exchange students. That’s why we have Omnivoribus Australis. Get yourselves signed up before the end of the week at Saffy’s new home. Onya.

And yes it’s that time of the month again again – End of month egg on toast extravaganza . Go harry Glorious Host for All Eternity Jeanne of Cook sister! and have the question answered “on cheap recreational drugs: yes or no?” Month after month? I say yes. I was knackered after two.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, the podium is up for DMBLGIT at Lex Culinaria. Go look, it’s nice.

And for those in Perth, don’t forget it’s The Avon Descent this weekend.

Anything else I’ve forgotten? Oh hi Stefan.