Friday, January 30, 2009

Macarons at Noisette

If you have the patience of a saint these macarons from Noisette, could be the best available retail in Melbourne.

You see, the problem is that a macaron needs time after being filled (I can't remember the time 'rule') but enough time for the filling to meet with the shell and they become one. The outer shell is the gentle crunch and then the base of the little disk is moistened by the filling, soft and a little texturally chewy, almost.

I've had some devastating good macarons at Laduree in Paris and also in Melbourne at the first food bloggers banquet, courtesy of Duncan. And these were fairly close, if only I could wait until the day after I brought them, as they were too 'fresh'.

A great little piece of Paris in Port Melbourne; well priced breads, great small petit four style sweets and fantastic macarons - for patient people only.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A 'hot' salad

So what to cook when you don't want to cook?

What about a hot smoked trout salad.
This is some of my 'lazy' cooking, a bit of an assembly job really but done with a balanced, kick your taste buds into gear flavours. A just can't bear to eat dull, boring food. Life's too short.
Whole foods are an important part of what I eat day to day but like all other normal people I have a soft spot (visible at bad angles! ;)) for dark chocolate Tim tams or those kettle potato chips.
Note to self: must find a smart way to convince Mr Run Half Marathons, aka PDC, that we don't need them in the pantry, especially since I have been making a concerted effort for our 'Fancy Party' in a couple of months.

Any way we are actually here for the hot salad, and god Melbourne was hot today and this salad made it feel a whole lot saner!

Hot smoked trout salad with taramasalata, baby pink eyes and fennel

About 100g smoked trout, flake straight off the fish skeleton
1 tbsp taramasalata
1/4 avocado, chunky bits
1/3 lebanese cucumber, sliced
1/3 baby fennel, shaved with your vegie peeler, tips reserved for the salad
A bit of spanish onion, sliced as fine as possible
1/2 a baby cos, rough shred

splash of sherry vinegar
larger splash of EVOO
A squeeze of lemon

A soft boiled egg
Baby potatoes (baby pink eyes rock), steamed
sugar snaps, steamed

Smear the taramasalata on your plate
Toss the salad together with the dressing ingredients and season
Serve over half the smeared taramasalata, add the other seasoned bits

Eat with a glass of 'far-too-cold-to-be-kosher' Beaujolais

Bring on tomorrow, 43C again!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

MoVida Next Door - the making of my October Dish of the Month

You may remember my Dish of the Month from October, a crumbed Spanish anchovy on a disc of impeccable fresh curd from MoVida Next Door.

Even after writing about it late last year, I couldn't stop thinking about making the cheese myself, it sounded so easy but I knew, as it is with things like this, it's all in the technique.
If I was going to be able to make it I'd need a good mentor and I knew just the people.

So as the perfect excuse, I called the incredibly hospitable people at MND and asked if they would show me, and how nice are they... they agreed, in fact Michael and Dave were charming.
This video is a joint project between myself and the passionate people at I eat I drink I work, of whom I've know since I was a featured blogger last year.

I had so much fun planning and filming this, I hope to do some more in the future.

I hope you find this as inspiring as I do...,

...oh and a little disclaimer, my sincerest apologies to the people of Spain and all Spanish speakers around the world... my pronunciation of the dish even makes me wince!

Monday, January 19, 2009

What's that burning sensation? Chilli and mustard explained...

I used to always buy New Scientist magazine but slowly over the years replaced it with food mags, and more food mags. Something caught my attention in the first edition of the new year and I purchased a copy - my first for years.

Flicking yesterday I came across my favourite section, The Last Word were readers can write in and ask questions about "everyday phenomena". One particularly had me ah-ha-ing out loud...

Hot to Trot
Mustard and chillies are both hot, but the burning sensation
from a chilli stays in the mouth for ages while the sensation from hot mustard
disappears in a few seconds. Why is this?

Answer 1 (written in by another reader and edited by NS)
The chemical mainly responsible for the burning spice in
chilli peppers is capsaicin, a complicated organic compound that binds to
receptors in your mouth and throat, producing the desired (or dreaded)
sensation. Capsaicin is an oil, almost completely insoluble in water. This is why
you need a fat-containing substance like milk to wash it away - watery saliva
doesn't do the trick. On the other hand, the compound responsible for the hotness
of mustard (as well as horseradish and wasabi) is called allyl isothiocyanate.
This chemical is slightly water-soluble, and can be more readily washed away
into the stomach by saliva. Further, the chemical in mustard is more volatile
than capsaicin so it evaporates more readily, allowing its fumes to enter the
nasal passages (explaining why the burning sensation from mustard is often felt
in the nose). These fumes can be easily removed by breathing deeply, a useful
strategy if the sensation becomes overwhelming.

Another response also added this information about capsaicin
It is soluble, however, in alcohol, which raises the question: which came first, the lager or the vindaloo?

So to summarise...

If you are like me and love a chilli kick but can't deal with the elongated pain, drink beer, wine or if its really bad go for the vodka!
Now if I only knew that when I was in Thailand a few months ago, perhaps I would have been tempted by the Sang Som rum.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Melbourne Food Bloggers Barbie

If you haven't already heard, Duncan, Sarah and Thanh have organised a bit of a barbie and get together for local food bloggers.

You can read all of the details here, let us know if your coming and make first dibs of what food you will be bring to share. I'm making some Thai style fish cakes with a knock-your-socks-off dipping sauce.

So don't be shy, if you have a food blog and are up for a chat, come a long and meet us. We don't bite, or at least on Saturdays!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Roast goose in Hong Kong

A friend is heading off to Hong Kong soon and I was ranting wax-lyrical about of food places that must be visited.

The friend politely retorted but "I didn't read about this on your blog..., or did I miss it?" Well I was put in my place, yes, caught out in my own blog back log.

So in an effort to validate my recommendations - and thinking about this I really should post a list of Paris and Barcelona, so I don't have to keep writing it out - please may I share with you roast goose in Hong Kong.

We made a fleeting visit to Yung Kee in Central just before we jumped a ferry to Macau. It was meant to be a more relaxed affair with the opportunity to savour more of their menu over an extended meal but courtesy of Qantas we drank free champagne instead.

Yung Kee is a bustling multi-level building in the expats section of Hong Kong, lots of very steep hills and roads, but lots of spots to stop in for a drink and snack to refuel.

We were served these century eggs and pickled ginger as a complementary appetiser, a generous offering, that no doubt many tourists would waste.

The yolk was softer and I had seen in century eggs before and had a green tinge to the charcoal grey colour. They may look scary but the firm jelly texture and the thick, rich, creamy yolk are just to die for. The ginger perfectly cuts this richness, if its all a bit too much.

I love the idea of the techniques involved in this... image discovering it for the first time, what a game person it was to try eating it! But I guess there are lot of foods like that, the percebes I ate in Spain a couple of years back were hilarious, especially when you read through the comments of the post... we ate some bits we shouldn't have.

But I am getting off track, we were here for the roast goose and here it is.

Texturally the flesh was quite firm with glossy lacquered skin on top of a little layer of viscous fat. The exciting thing about roast goose in comparison to roast duck, is that you get so much more breast meat on the larger bird, a definite thick fillet of flesh between the skin and rib cage.

I've eaten goose many times before but cooked in a French method, so I was not surprised at the coarseness but increased flavour of the meat, but did think that the skin could have been a little more blistered and crispy.

Next time in Hong Kong, I'd perhaps seek out a less touristy goose destination but was none the less, pleased to be able to squeeze this experience into our trip. I should also note that the staff worked the space like clockwork, friendly and professional and extremely unhindered by our request to mind a mountain of luggage while we ate. Thank you!

Next backdated post is the best cheese of my life, at Atelier Joel Robuchon. Oh, I can just taste it now!
And perhaps even my yum cha round up, three days, three experiences and not even close to my benchmark experience 3 years ago... in Vietnam.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What are they talking about?

I happened across this article tonight, one of the most uninformed, professionally written pieces in a while...
I guess, why try and understand the reasons, just bitch about it. Perhaps Jordon should get a blog, they say we don't know what we are talking about, and the the SMH paid for this.

A quote from the piece about why restaurants don't take reservations. She just doesn't 'get' it.
Restaurants do this because they can.
Supply and demand is a more persuasive principle than customer service. But
it's also less reliable - and it looks like the tables might be turning on the
hospitality industry.

This person does though, published in the SMH today.

Why are non-food writers entering into these types of waters? Some people seem to agree with Jordon, my question is; but why do they wait then?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Australian Food Twitterers?

I've decided that I need to become a bit more techi. There is an expectation when you have a blog that you actually understand how all this stuff works, I don't, I just love food but have decided that I should give twittering a go.

So as they ask, what am I doing now?

Have a look at the column to the right of this, and have a look.

Apparently it's addictive but I'm not in the habit yet to send in my moment by moment food experiences. I've noticed that other international food bloggers are uploading 'what am I doing now's' every few hours!

I'm yet to find other Australian food twitterers.
If you're one, say hi and I'll follow your every meal... perhaps maybe I am addicted!