Monday, November 30, 2009

Tried & true or bold & new......

Eating out in Melbourne offers the diner anything from cheap and cheerful comforting classics to awesome offerings which have the potential to make you and your wallet twitch. Whatever you decide there is little doubt that Melbournians are spoilt for choice – a week of outs rather than ins has included:
Day 1 - Vietnamese pork and prawn rice paper rolls

Day 2 - Steamed Chinese custard buns - and a few custard bun converts

Day 3 - Taxi's "Stockyards Wagyu porterhouse marble score 7+ with horseradish cream & yakiniku"

Day 4 - A colourful Korean Bibimbap Hotpot

Day 5 - Embrasse's "Meli melo of vegetables, sprouts, herbs and flowers"

My dining companions as diverse as the culinary adventures - thanks one and all! Keep up the gastronomic exploration and don't forget to share the gems!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Preserved........for today and tomorrow

So often my mantra is 'fresh is best' but climate, economics and traditions provide the foodie world with flora and fauna preserved for another day. No better example than cheese, found in the cuisines of so many regions and such a diverse array. From the soft moist fresh curd to the aged pressed cooked curd varieties, cheese  = preserved milk.

A global platter of spicy pickled cucumbers, juicy salty olives, chewy chorizo, sweet pariser, garlicky Polish sausage, tangy tomato relish, crisp grissini and sour sourdough can be achieved from the archives of the pantry or fridge no need to venture out.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Eggplants, aubergine & brinjal....

Does eggplant belong in Laksa? - two trusty Malay foodies say no, but is seems to be used by all my favourite Laksa makers! Laksa King includes eggplant in its beautifully balanced chicken incantation.

As the season for this fabulously versatile vegetable approaches my list of loved eggplant dishes is ever expanding.......
11 eggplant dishes to cook or seek out!
1. Fried as a garnish in Laksa
2. Braised in Thai green chicken curry (purple striped or small green Thai variety)
3. Smoked over the open flame for Baba Ganoush
4. Spiced with pea’s in Baingan bharta
5. Fried in olive oil and layered between rich passatta and stracchino cheese in Eggplant Melazani
6. Yaki nasu - baked eggplant with miso
7. Marinated olive oil fried slices as part of an Antipasto
8. Whole marinated baby eggplants filled with walnuts on a Mezze
9. Layered with potatoes and minced lamb in Moussaka
10. Sautéed with onions, garlic, zucchini, capsicum, & tomatoes in Ratatouille
11. Bouranee Baunjan - Afghani eggplant with yogurt sauce
 Laksa King 320 Racecourse Rd, Flemington.
 Happy Eggplanting!!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tofu lovers rejoice!

The elegant simplicity of Japanese cuisine brings us Agedashi tofu (or agedashi dofu) – generous cubes of firm cotton tofu ever so lightly dusted with potato or corn starch before being deep fried to golden then served in a steaming tentsuyu broth (dashi, mirin & Japanese soy sauce), the finishing flavours a topping of grated ginger, shredded spring onion and dancing bonito flakes, pure delight! (No time for pics or my cube will disappear.) Longrain has a cracker tofu dish too - Salt and pepper silken tofu with stir fried Chinese broccoli and snow peas (also in a fabulous broth).

Hidden in Glen Waverley, Shira Nui is a gem for Japanese cuisine. You'll have to book in advance but the 8pm sitting will keep you entertained if at the bar as chef Hiro Nishikura prepares 'Omakase' - stunning sushi - the grilled eel a must (even my non-foodie dad loves this one!). Shira Nui 247 Springvale Rd Glen Waverley, Longrain 44 Little Bourke St, Melbourne or if heading to Phillip Island take a detour to Tomo 23 A’Beckett St Inverloch - Tomo's miso braised duck pictured.

Shira Nui @  Shiranui on Urbanspoon 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pizza, cake and mozzarella!

Q. What takes 2 dinners, 1 lunch, 2 cakes and 10 pizza's? A. A 17th birthday celebration so it seems!The pizza's are the local takeaway variety - not my preferred of course! And in fact when I go to my fav pizza establishment its not actually the pizza I order first, its the velvety Italian buffalo mozzarella served simply with a few slices of sweet and salty capocollo (or prosciutto) and thin crispy grissini. The pizza’s at D.O.C. are also good – thin crispy base and chewy crust with a few but simply combined toppings. For supplies to make your own or anything else Italian, a trip to Mediterranean Wholesalers or a recent discovery Roma Deli will have you leaving with shopping bags of E.V.O (extra virgin olive oil for the uninitiated) Mazzetti balsamic, Gragnano pasta, pecorino cheese, olives and tomatoes and and and ....... D.O.C. 295 Drummond Street, Carlton South, Mediterranean Wholesalers 482 Sydney Road Brunswick, Roma Deli 32 Gladestone Road Dandenong. Bellissimo

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dumplings, dumplings, dumplings

I never can decide which ones to have, the vegetable or the pork, steamed or fried but I do know what sauce I want and its not soy. Its Chinese black vinegar for sure - the sourness a perfect contrast with the doughiness! Take care when you bite into one of these packets of bliss - besides being chokka's with filling they have the tendency to squirt steaming liquid at either you or your dinning companion!!! A trusted foodie friend tells me Camy Shanghai Dumpling House, 25 Tattersall’s Lane Melbourne (off Lt Bourke St) is the go! I have a few favourites in Box Hill for the eastsiders including Tempura & Dumpling House, Centro Box Hill 17 Market Street Box Hill.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Sydney Road Shimmy.

Sydney Road, Brunswick - yes home to my favourite haunt Tom Phat - but heading further north one can find a plethora of business's devoted to Middle Eastern delights. Pistachio nuts and spiced broad beans to greet friends; garlic laden dips of eggplant, chickpea or beetroot for a mezze; delicate Iraqi breads filled with cheese and spinach or Lebanese topped pizza of minced lamb & tomatoes and to finish sweet syrupy nutty baklava or even better Zanoud! One might head home with a bucket load of sumac or za’tar (spices to use on everything especially lamb!) or even some Syrian sugar lumps to soothe a sore throat or a giant Tagine to make Moroccan stew. But best to taste your way along as you shop and even better bring along some like-minded foodies to share the fun! Amir Bakery 819, Balha's Pastry 761, Phonecian Bakery & Cafe 774, A1 Bakery 643 - Sydney Road Brunswick. Enjoy

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Scones, jam and cream!

That's it really - sometimes one just needs a little comfort food. The best scone recipe is not my grandmother's, though - she would have gently rubbed butter into the flour. I use this one: 1 cup of SR flour, 100 mls cream and enough milk to make a soft dough (slightly soured milk is great or add a squeeze of lemon juice - this changes the chemical reaction with the baking powder which can cause the soapy taste). Don't be too gentle with this mix it needs to be well worked - my scone cutter IS what my grandmother used, a small can with top and bottom removed! Bake at approx. 180 C until golden.

I’m sure there’s no need to tell you that scones must be eaten warm!