Friday, January 29, 2010

"Mum, we've just become a Melbourne institution!

....and the lemon tart's not bad either." The daughter of a foodie proclaimed as we enjoyed the ambience of Melbourne's legendary laneway culture in Degraves Street - just off Flinders Street. Doesn't matter whether its lunch, morning or afternoon tea, a quick coffee or just to people watch 'hanging out' here can be an excellent venture.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The WOW factor.....

Not for the first time, I say Melbourne foodies are spoilt, but it seems we want more. Today’s lunch (gotta love a job that calls eating out “professional development”) at The Courthouse was good honest food at very reasonable prices, efficient service and definitely worth the visit. The dishes were well executed, flavoursome and offered generous portions without being over the top. But at this end of the market it seems my dining companions and I are looking for the WOW factor! But what is the wow factor? A sublime combination? Exquisite textures? Opulent ingredients? Eating is such a subjective experience and for food lovers ‘love is in the eye of the beholder’. The Courthouse, 86-90 Errol Street North Melbourne

Monday, January 18, 2010

Food is for sharing!

A new variation of the family salad - this ones smoked trout, shredded fennel & red onion, orange segments, grilled kiflers and greens with a sourcream & dill vinaigrette.  Add a comment, tell me about your food experiences or ask a question - food is for sharing!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

To market, to market to buy……..

I have been making regular pilgrimages to Queen Vic market for 30 years, ever since moving to the ‘big smoke’ to start a cooking apprenticeship. I now have a favourite butcher, baker, deli, fruiter etc and look forward to slices of Polish grandma ham, pickled octopus, great sour dough plus scouring stalls for something new or interesting. Nothing better for a foodie than a food market!!!! I’ve also recently visited another once regular haunt - Preston market - where I found all my old favourites and a few newies including a van selling freshly made Turkish gozleme – feta and spinach filled pastries crisped on a hot grill, even better with a squeeze of lemon.

But my trips to these markets are not as regular now that farmers markets are common place – buying just picked produce and chatting to the producers is a real highlight. One does need to be careful as some market organisers allow non producers to sell at their markets, just buying in bulk and reselling! Usually the most reliable stalls have a limited range of commodities, sometimes only one or two. I love the lady who grows just tomatoes and cucumbers – a perfect salad combo, flavour in raita, souvlaki veg or half a gazpaccho. The only down side is getting up earlyish on a Sat/Sun, a tough call for those of us on cooks time!

I do like the Abbotsford Convert farmers market on the 4th Saturday of each month and I also rather enjoy the ambience of the Wheelers Hill market on the 3rd Saturday

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

More time to cook....yay

Gotta love time off work - more time to cook! Chinese last night, Middle Eastern tonight, who knows where tomorrow!!!!

In the beautiful book 'turquoise' by Greg & Lucy Malouf, Greg introduces imam bayildi by saying 'purists will have to forgive me for messing around with Turkey's most famous dish'. So I trust Greg will forgive me for messing with his recipe, for the eggplants in my fridge where not of the long Middle Eastern variety and I had no pekmez (grape molasses) in my larder but I did have pomegranate molasses - so that’s what I used! My dining companions enjoyed these eggplants none-the-less with lamb & sumac sausages from Istanbul butchers, creamy yoghurt and Lebanese bread to mop up the delicious juices. …..and I’ll add pekmez to my shopping list! Istanbul Halal Meat, 609 Sydney Road Brunswick.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Fish ball noodle soup

A family favourite:
  • Start with a good chicken stock, add some garlic, ginger, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and a little chilli, simmer so the flavours infuse
  • Add some vegetables, julienne carrot, shredded Chinese cabbage, soaked and sliced shitake mushrooms - simmer for a little longer
  • Add fish balls or sliced fish cake from the Asian grocery, we use both and sliced fried beancurd puffs, just to warm
  • Pour boiling water over hokkein & vermicelli noodles - strain
  • Put the warmed noodles, bean shoots and shredded spring onion in large noodle bowls pour soup over top
  • Enjoy ....or experiment to make it your own!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Good-bye 2009...hello 2010

The year finished as is customary with a plethora of seafood, turkey, ham and trifle accompanied by way too much champagne (yes French) and Aussie bubbles. Christmas and New Year traditions run strong and heaven forbid if the Christmas pudding (made to my grandmothers recipe - yes that includes suet) did not appear on the 25th of December each year, although the partakers seem to have duly accepted my Drambuie 'twist' to the custard which adds to its rich lusciousness.

….and before the year finished I finally made it to Gigibaba! Yum, yum, yum all the wondrous flavours of Turkey – the complexity of the smoky eggplant ‘salad’ truly exciting and the capsicum butter on the steamed prawns – wow! The desserts are just an incy mouthful but again combinations to savour like the dried apricots filled with pistachio nuts and rosewater infused cream. A bit tricky to find - Gigibaba, 102 Smith St Collingwood.