Friday, July 15, 2011

A week of dislikes!

I'd like to think of myself as 'broad-palated', willing to have a go at whatever is offered and I am able to scoff at the ever increasingly uttered phrase 'do you have any special dietary needs?'. (I hope I don't develop any nasty food intolerances/allergies in the future). But recently I seemed to hear myself saying, 'I don't like that’ far too often. What’s more this occurred in the workplace where I am frequently striving to encourage students to try something new.

It all started with a traditional Indonesian salad. An otherwise excellent Gado Gado (well done Vivien), which featured a wonderfully balanced satay sauce, included some fried tempeh. Made from soy beans much like my beloved beancurd, tempeh with its whole bean texture and fermented 'twist' is just plain nasty to my taste. It didn't make it on to my Love 'em or hate 'em list last time probably because it is so far off my radar but is definitely one more to add. Often described as having an earthy flavour - all well and good if you like to eat dirt! When I heard a Nutritionist suggesting that she might modify Hestor Blummenthals 'Masterchef' burger with a tempeh pattie - really!!!! Good luck with that!

The next in my week of "I don't really like that", was a canapé on a base of pumpernickel, perhaps equally one could describe this too as having an earthy taste and with the added bonus of a dry cardboardy texture! Perhaps I just haven't had good pumpernickel yet. I do like all sorts of fungi and truffles in case you're going down the anti-earthy road.

And to finish the week a student bought to class some Zongzi he had made for us to share (thanks Roy). Traditional Chinese steamed glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves each with a different filling including pork, Chinese dates and red bean paste. And there it was red bean paste - it's the texture I struggle with when it comes to red bean paste - claggy.

I feel purged now having exposed more of my dislikes. Given the range of cuisines I indulge in I still think my list of dislikes is minimal and I can continue to proudly take my place amongst the food lovers of the world. Besides at times it is the simplist of foods that can provide the greatest of pleasure.

“Plain fresh bread, its crust shatteringly crisp. Sweet cold butter. There is magic in the way they come together in your mouth to make a single perfect bite.
- Ruth Reichl

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I confess.....

I've been reading all the hype about St Katherine's since it finally opened in May and its a very mixed bag of comments. Wanting to to give a new venture, especially such a huge one, a fair go to get up and running I've waited for a bit. But there still seems to be what I see as teething issues and I have to confess (that's a pun!) that I'm in two camps. Yes I'd go back, because I like the fact that it's close by and saves the usual drive to inner city/city establishments to enjoy that cosmopolitan feel and on the whole the food is good. BUT not all the dishes hit the mark and neither does all the service.

Here's a little insight of my experience - After enjoying a range of shared savoury dishes the table was cleared in the most ungainly of manners reminiscent of the local 'ladies' who staff the pub in the small country town of my raising. And all before all of the ordered dishes had been served. When our original waiter invited us to order dessert and coffee we inquired about the quail, which he checked on, came back to ask 'if we were sure we hadn't received it' and then promptly returned with said quail. It was a little dry - perhaps because it had been sitting under lights for awhile and a serve of 'leaves' (salad) never eventuated. The later baklava also a little dry and chewy. St Katherine's labels itself as a blend of Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern so dishes such as Vietnamese style duck spring rolls are a tad surprising on the menu. If you like a little theatre then the food is fun, bread in a bag, mini buggers, KFC, Mr Whippy style ice-cream and all manner of service plates/trays/platters. The hummus is creamy, the pide excellent and coca-cola lamb ribs tasty and moist.

In response to the some of the many criticisms - I don't mind the cutlery in the tin on the table, I might be able to get cheaper pide in Sydney Road but I won't have the diversity of fillings and I too dislike 'I'm too cool for my waiters apron' attitude. So it may well be all about customers preferences although I am curious as to whether anyone thinks aloof service is suitable in a service industry??

One would expect there to be changes over time. Are the 'faults' part of the casual style or will they be remedied or will the customers just accept things as they are? I have many questions. No doubt time will be telling on whether St Katherine's is the success of the groups other ventures.

St Katherine's, 26 Cotham Road, Kew
 St Katherine's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bloggers Block!!!!!

Help me, I have bloggers block! There are 20 drafts sitting in my posts awaiting completion and I just keep adding more and posting few. They vary in state of production, some just a title and a few ideas. Others a mere series of pics from the last few dining experiences. And no that’s not why the last post (Attica) was so minimalist re text – I felt the pictures informed the occasion, leaving me just a few supplementary observations to add. One draft is all but complete just waiting for the pics then it's ready to go.

A friend suggested that possibly it's just the dreary winter weather impacting on my capacity to get things finished. Nah, I love winter, it is my preferred season. Nothing better than settling in at a cosy eatery or a long afternoon in a steamy kitchen. After all it is the season for slow cooked beef cheeks, root veg mash and hearty puddings. So it's not the weather.

I mused over what else may be impeding my usual enthusiastic undertaking to upload yet another of my perhaps self-indulgent views on subjects pertaining to the culinary world. Maybe I just don’t have sufficient to do right now while I’m on semester break, admittedly the biggest incentive to blog or cook or knit for that matter is usually to facilitate procrastination of paid tasks or domestic drudgery that should be winning priority. Well holidays pass quickly and all too soon I shall return to the typical plenitude of responsibilities. In the mean time I'll just bake a batch of Anzac biscuits (take a pic for the blog – lol) have a cup of tea and wait for the bloggers block to pass.....