Monday, October 29, 2007

Ladro is still hot...

Unfortunately for readers of this blog, I am often too vain to take photographs in Melbourne restaurants, which was the case at Ladro last weekend. I just can't bear it to drag out my camera and make all the waiters look at the tourist taking photos, generally, and I know this is a bit of an oxymoron for a food blogger that loves restaurants, I think cameras don't belong in restaurants.
When I worked as a professional waiter and would be asked frequently to take a group shot of guests, my cheeky line would be, "Well, I can't guarantee you will have heads... " hehehe
Anyway thats my excuse for not having any photos from Ladro.

Ladro must be in its 3rd or 4th year now and I have to say that it is as 'hot, hot hot' as it has ever been. Great food, interesting well priced winelist and smart, passionate service (and Geoff, my favourite waiter...!)
I'm very fond of classical flavours and was excited to see stracciatella soup. Whenever I see it on a menu, I have to order it. A classical rich chicken broth with whispy bits of egg white, parmesan cheese and parsley. The Ladro version was a classic and as I would expect a perfect example of what I love about the place. Simple, elegant and produce driven.
Love it.

October dish of the month
Stracciatella - Ladro


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Carefully, read the label

10 months, I don't think so...

Fresh almonds

Wandering through South Melbourne market yesterday, I stumbled across these...
Stephanie Alexander tells me that the season is December and January, yet here they are. And a bargin at $7.99 a kilo.
Now what to do with them??

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Rocket from my garden

The possums have not cottoned on to this tasty addition to my garden. They manage to eat everything else but I think have not (yet) worked out how spicy and fresh this is, perhaps they prefer the young leaves out of the center of my succulents :(

I sprinkled a few seeds onto the soil outside my kitchen door a month ago and now I have a dark green, peppery spiced hedge.

I made a lazy salad tonight from the rocket and a few other bits in the fridge. A big day in regards to work so I felt I deserved the decadence of some cooked king prawns from a local fish monger. The highlight of the salad was a fresh nam prik style Thai dressing. Balancing the richness of the prawns and avocado the dressing livened up what would otherwise be a boring, if perfect warm weather salad, especially with a glass of Eden valley riesling.
When I think about this salad though, I realise what an Aussie salad it is ... smart fusion, no confusion, just great simple produce served fresh and alive on the palate.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Poached rhubarb and strawberries

The rhubarb lady, Di I believe her name is, that frequents the local farmers markets is very passionate about her rhubarb, perhaps to the point of being a bit bossy about the way it is prepared... She has a little printed slip of paper that she gives out about how to prepare it which I think is great, but she can also be over heard constantly saying, "don't add anything to my rhubarb, no apples, just the rhubarb..." on and on. Of course, I and I'm sure many others comply, and have been rewarded with what has to be a some of the best stewed rhubarb on the planet (trust me it really is that good!).
When I was queuing to get my hands on some at the St Kilda markets last weekend, Di was advising that due to the lack of rain the rhubarb may need some orange juice to stop it sticking. I felt like I had been given premission to fiddle with 'the rhubarb'.

Poached rhubarb and strawberries
A bag of Di's fabulous rhubarb (or about 500g of the ordinary stuff)
A punnet of strawberries
A couple of tablespoons of brown sugar

Cut the rhubarb into bits as long as your thumb
Place in a large saucepan with the brown sugar and gently heat on the lowest stove top setting.
Once a little liquid has dropped, place the strawberries on top of the rhubarb in the pot, cut the larger ones in half, don't stir
Cover and gently cook until just before the rhubarb pulps down

I love this rhubarb for breakfast with bircher muesli or perhaps with some custard for dessert.

The Saint Marcellin I had on the train...

I was thinking about the last post and remembered that I took a bit of a tongue in cheek image of our lunch on the fast train from Paris to Lyon. All the bits were brought from a morning Parisian market (except for the 1/2 bottle of Beaujoulais, of which PDC brought back very proudly when he went looking for a bottle of water! Only in France I can assume...?)
The pot the cheese is in is the same one that was in my previous post that we brought home, but the key thing from this image is the sticker that I was looking for. It clearly is labelled 'lait cru' - raw milk, this was the remarkably rich and luscious St Marcellin and yes definitely superior to the pasteurised product available in Australia. One consistent factor is through, the incredibly ripe state of which we enjoyed it, the knife wasn't required just a crusty bit of baguette as a spoon and a quick tongue to stop it dripping everywhere.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


This is one of my favourite cheeses, perhaps because of the amazing disc of it that PDC and I ate for lunch on the fast train between Paris and Lyon.

We had been to one of the local markets that morning and purchased the cheese in the cute little glazed terracotta pot in the image above (we had to pay an additional Euro for the privilege of the pot, but how could we not?).

Since we have been back to normal in Melbourne, I noticed a few key cheese focused stores selling these beautifully ripe St-Marcellins in little plastic moulds, but they are so much more exciting when you have your very own St-Marcellin ceramic pot! A bit wanky, I know but when you don't need a knife to eat it, just crusty bread as it is softer than yoghurt, the little ceramic pot comes into its own.

What is it?
St-Marcellin - White mould, cows milk cheese from the French region, Dauphine, east of Lyon. The cheese is often eaten, quite ripe and creamy, the small surface areas allows for quick ripening and development of the creamy internal texture. In France we ate the local usual, unpasteurised version, but unfortunately in Australia is just a pasteurised version that the government allows us to buy. Not having tasted the pasteurised and unpasteurised side by-side I think my memory may be a little swayed due to holiday fun, but my experience in France seemed richer and more luscious.

Roast goat

I was inspired by the sticky roast goat that I ate as my last meal in San Sebastian, Spain, when I saw the suckling goat signs at Prahran market. Enquiring about the different cuts, I brought the shoulder and then came home to work out how to cook it...
After referencing several sources and being surprised at the lack of listings for goat or kid in others, I settled on a slow, wet cooking method with hot dry heat at the end. To be honest essentially I was making up, but knew that if it worked, I was really(!!!!) on to something.

Roughly the recipe for my roast goat is
~1.5 kg of goat shoulder
~3 carrots
~half a celery
~a leek
~lots of rosemary and thyme
~light stock (I used chicken)
~dry white wine

Dust the shoulder in well seasoned flour and then brown all over in extra virgin olive oil, in the roasting dish you intend to bake it in.
Remove the goat and add the roughly chopped vegetables and lightly caramelise
Position the goat on top of the roast vegetables and with half stock half wine cover the bottom of the pan up to where the goat sits on top of the vegies.
Cover tightly with aluminium foil
Bake in a 180C oven, turning every 40 minutes until the meat is tender enough to feel loose on the bone when you wiggle it with the tongs, mine took about 2.5 hours.
Remove the foil, heavily salt the skin of the meat and turn up the heat and on the oven fan if you have one.
Brown until it looks dark golden brown and is tender to touch.
Rest the meat.

During the final stages, I cooked some truffled polenta that was served quite wet and sauteed some asparagus and peas as a little side dish (you can see it below, in the background).

The meat was flaked off the bone and plated with the polenta and drizzled with a little of the reduced goat cooking broth.

I know I am biased but this was one of the most interestly, simple yet divinely sophisticated meals that I have cooked at home in a long time.

I usually struggle with eating left overs, but these where eagerly treasured...even better than the first time around.