Friday, 28 December 2007
So, armed with my copy of "A Year in Provence" (standard Boxing Day reading at Chez Fur), I prepared the above. A piece of whole wheat pita, slathered in said moutard, an organic lettuce leaf, torn, several slices of home-cured ham topped with a poached egg and some black pepper. Eat in the early morning sunshine, on the back porch whilst reading trashy novels and planning a lazy day.
The rest of the day involved naps and a half-hearted effort to read "A Garden on Lucca", but somnolence and Xmas digestion won out, and I napped some more.
Happy Holidays, everyone!!
PG WILL BE OFFLINE UNTIL JAN, SLEEPING IN AND EATING, DOWN AT CHEZ FUR. YOU'RE ALL WELCOME TO DROP BY ANY TIME, THE HAMMOCK IS STRUNG UNDER THE FAERY TREE AND THE VIETNAMESE MINT IS JUST WAITING TO BE TURNED INTO A CONDIMENT. BRING WINE AND ICECREAM.
Thursday, 27 December 2007
1 ½ cups pure icing sugar
1 cup almond meal
½ cup plain flour
5 egg whites, lightly beaten
180g. unsalted butter, melted
1. Pre-heat oven to 200deg.C. Lightly grease 6 large friand moulds. If friand moulds are not available, muffin tins can be used.
2. Place dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add egg whites and butter and stir again until the mixture is smooth. Spoon evenly into friand moulds and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the tops have started to crack and the edges are golden brown.
3. Remove from oven and allow to rest in moulds for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire cake rack to cool completely.
Variations: I made 3 dry mixes. One lot got the zest of an orange and a tablespoon of poppyseeds. One got 4 fresh raspberries and 4 white chocolate buttons per friand and the last got a 250g of 72% Ghirardelli Twillight delight and a teaspoon of chilli powder.
It's the silly season. Our first without my beloved Hobbit. Mater Beige is fending off sadness with food. And she's not even a wog!!! good on her, I say. My Mum, Mater Beige. She of the Cat's Vom Stew (one day I will have the intestinal fortitude to post about it, but not now. I feel a bit queasy just thinking about it. It does, however, hold the ubiquitous honour of being one of only a handful of recipes ever deleted off Chowhound for being so bad.)
So, the whole fam were there. Furry, myself, Madame Mouse, Lima Bean. Mr Charisma by-pass, The Princess, Jazzy-J, Stew'Em, Uncle Maximus, Auntie Beige, Bluey and Naxaw and Purple niece (I told them I'd list them and give them all "internet names").
Mater Beige is a self-confessed "quick" cook. She doesn't like cooking, and lives by the maximum, "eat to live, not love to eat".
I was always the cuckoo in the nest.
Not for her the slow and languid basting of a turkey, the brining of the ham. She buys her turkey loaf and her pork. in Oct. Bakes and slices it. And freezes it. Out it comes on Xmas morning, into the Pyrex dish and is popped into the micronuke to defrost. It hits the oven about an hour before lunch to "crisp up".
The was one memorable year when she, in her "quickness", didn't seal the alfoil quite tight enough before she froze it, so we were treated to some lovely freezer burnt, micronuked and crisped meat of uncertain aetiology.
This year, she got it right... well, as right as frozen, micronuked turkey loaf can be.. it's all relative, yes?
Only at Castel Della Beige, an alcohol-free home, do you get Pepsi Max in the Xmas wine cooler.
The one thing Mater Beige does SENSATIONALLY is Xmas lollies. Stickjaw toffees, white Xmas, espresso balls, coconut ices... platter and platters of them, and it's traditional at our Xmas to scarf as many of them as you can. Before main, during main, between courses, with coffee, after coffee...
We all left with full bellies and a lovely feeling that the Hobbit would have adored it!
Merry ChristnukahyuleSaturnailia to you all!!!
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
So, This is what DP's tasting room looks like now, a little bit different to last time Furry was there!!!:
So, once again, we tried their local tasting platter.
Unfortunately There was a Monty Python moment with my favorite cheese, no the cat hadn't eaten it, but it HAD been accidentally frozen when someone turned up the 'fridge.
No matter.. All the more reason to go back NEXT weekend!!!
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
She got the way to move me, cherry
She got the way to groove me
She got the way to move me
She got the way to groove me
Our noses led us down yet another path less traveled, right to the farmers door.
Where the ubiquitous farm dog came out to say hello.
We tasted cherries of various quality and price.. all were fresh and sweet
We purchased a kilo of "eat 'em now's" and Thanh took home a kilo or so of better quality ones, to munch on this week.
Never EVER buy cherries from ANYWHERE other than the farm gate... It's worth the trip.
Take a bunch of fresh rosemary, still dewy and fragrant from being picked that morning, slice up a fennel bulb. Halve and bruise some lemon grass, help yourself to a goodly bunch of your neighbor's mint.. grown without pesticides. Lay these fragrant goodies in a baking tray and top liberally with organic garlic cloves (no need to skin them), a lemon ( from the tree in your back yard) quartered and a the same for an orange or two.
Buy the best leg of lamb you can afford. Mine was not organic, but it was local. Make lots of holes in it, and stuff each hole with either a) a piece of garlic, b) a sliver of anchovy fillet, c) some rosemary tips or d) some mint leaves.
Be random about it...
Add whatever vegies you picked up at the farmer's market...
Some new potatoes, a kumara, some vine tommies, some red onion, some red capsicum.
Add enough water to come 1/2 way up the side of the baking pan, and give the lamb a goodly splurt of local olive oil.
Cover in foil and bake in a wood fired oven (but a conventional would do as well) for 2 hours.
Drink and laugh with friends.
Uncover and give another 1/2 to crisp and brown.
Serve with oven warmed pitas to soak up the sauces.
You want Smell-O-Vision right now, don't you??!!
Monday, 17 December 2007
Just got given a bottle of Penfolds Bin 389 Cab Shiraz, 1998.
I admit I like a drink or seventeen, but it's usually a rough red (Morris Pressings) or a Darling Park 2005 Shirah (my current fave).
I proudly admit I know NOTHING about wine.
I drank a bottle of Cyril Henshcke's last vintage when I was about 25.. and I knew it was a great wine.. don't know HOW I knew, but I did.
I know nothing of tannins and balance and "blueberry after tones".. and I really don't give a toss if Jeremy Oliver-Smythe gave it a 9.5 out of 10 at last years "Viticulture's Wanker Awards"
BUT..... I do know that this is a wine to respect (Warning: cue random Python quote: "This isn't a wine for drinking it's a wine for laying down and avoiding")...
So, dear readers, WHAT do I do with it?? Cellar it? Quaff it tonight with a McCain's pizza? Save it till Winter and sloooooowly sip it with a rabbit and foie gras terrine?? Regift it? Add some lemonade and call it Sangria?? What about breathing?? Decanting??
Take my wine-wanker virginity and tell me how I should treat this unexpected bottle of loveliness??
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Don't you just love summer in Aus???
Monday, 10 December 2007
As part of the Menu for Hope campaign, we have donated a weekend for 2 at Chez Fur. As you will know, dear reader, this is our beloved holiday house, down at Dromana on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula.
The prize consists of 2 nights for 2 people. You will have access to our famous wood-fired outdoor oven!
The house itself, is walking distance from Dromana beach. Take a stroll along the pier at sunset. Have brekkie at Jett, book a lunch date at Salix, grab a haggis burger at The Flash Duck, or head up into the hinterland and check out Darling Park Winery. Explore the wonderful food world of the Mornington Peninsula and you'll see why Furry and I love it so much!!
If you're expecting resort-style accomodation, this ain't it. This is our family owned holiday house, complete with trashy novels and jigsaws with one piece missing!!
The house is open plan style, with warm polished floor boards and semi-matching furniture. It is spotlessly clean and a bottle of local wine will be chillin in the fridge for you. Your bedroom is furnished Asian style, with a futon and gorgeous antique Chinese altar doors on the walls. The bathroom is semi-painted!
The kitchen comprises of a stand alone Eurolec chef's quality oven and the world's dodgiest bench tops.
It's a bit like pg and Furry, and the MP itself, stunningly beautiful in parts, and a work-in-progess in others!!
It's a bit of an anomaly, but it IS a fabulous, central place from which to explore the MP.
The house is yours alone, if you want it. Or Furry and pg are happy to host you. Furry will have you in stitches with his raconteur wit, and pg will cook pretty much anything you heart desires.
Weather permitting, Furry will take you fishing on The Butt, and show you our secret Gummy Shark spots. On return, pg will have a local tapas platter waiting for you, and the wood-fired oven ready to cook your schnapper in!!
If this sounds like your ideal weekend get-away, go.. get bidding!!!!!
Prize code is: AP18
To check out what other lovely goodies you can bid on (not that you'd want to win ANYTHING but a weekend at Chez Fur!!)
I can hardly believe that a whole year has passed since we raised the whopping $62,925.12 to support the UN World Food Programme last December. Time really does fly.
Anyway, it's that time of year again for me to remind you that Menu for Hope is approaching, this would be our fourth annual campaign, and we do hope you join us.
You don't know what Menu for Hope is? What, you've been living in the mountains somewhere, cut off from the food blog world? Well, fret not, here's a list of frequently asked questions to answer your every query. Read it and join us! (If you're on Facebook, join us there too.)
What is Menu for Hope?
When will this year's campaign take place?
Who is the beneficiary of this year's campaign?
Who collects the money?
How can I help?
I'm a blogger
I'm a restaurateur, author or food/wine producer/seller
I'm a food blog reader or a food lover
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Menu for Hope?
Menu for Hope is an annual fundraising hosted by me, Pim Techamuanvivit, here on my food blog Chez Pim. Five years ago, the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia inspired me to find a way to help, and the very first Menu for Hope was born. The campaign has since become a yearly affair, raising funds to support worthy causes worldwide. In 2006, Menu for Hope raised US$62,925.12 to help the UN World Food Programme feed the hungry.
For two weeks every December, food bloggers from all over the world join the campaign by offering a delectable array of food-related prizes for the Menu for Hope raffle. Anyone – and that means you too - can buy raffle tickets to bid on these prizes. For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual raffle ticket to bid on a prize of their choice. At the end of the two-week campaign, the raffle tickets are drawn and the results announced on Chez Pim.
When will this year's campaign take place?
Who is the beneficiary of this year's campaign?
Once again we've chosen to work with the UN World Food Programme. WFP is the world’s largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Program helps hungry people to become self-reliant so that they escape hunger for good.
With a special permission from the WFP, the funds raised by Menu for Hope 4 will be earmarked for the school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa. We chose to support the school lunch program because providing food for the children not only keeps them alive, but keeps them in school so that they learn the skills to feed themselves in the future. We chose to support the program in Lesotho because it is a model program in local procurement - buying food locally to support local farmers and the local economy. Instead of shipping surplus corn across the ocean, the WFP is buying directly from local subsistent farmers who practice conservation farming methods in Lesotho to feed the children there.
Who collects the money?
Certainly not me, nor is it the other bloggers participating on the campaign. We know our readers trust us, but we also want to be completely transparent in our fundraising. So, we use a very good online fundraising company called Firstgiving, who has worked with us since the first Menu for Hope years ago.
Donors can make an online donation with a credit card. Firstgiving collects and processes the payments and, at the end of the campaign, transfers the donations in one lump sum to the WFP. This is a win-win situation for all parties involved. The bloggers never touch the money. The WFP don't waste overheads on processing mini-donations, the majority of which were between $10-$50, that's a whole lot of tenners to make up 60K. Firstgiving does all the work and collects a small fee, which include the credit card processing charges.
Last year, Firstgiving gave back 1% of the total amount raised in lieu of a discount on their processing fee. Thank you Firstgiving, we appreciate it very much!
Here is this year's FirstGiving fundraising page for Menu for Hope 4: http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhope4
If you are a blogger:
Participate in Menu for Hope 4 by hosting a raffle prize or by promoting Menu for Hope on your blog. The prize you offer need not be of high monetary value, but it should appeal to your readership. A small rule of thumb we'd like to suggest is that each prize offered should have the potential to raise at least $200. That means, don't offer a prize unless you are pretty sure you could get at least twenty of your readers to donate $10 for a raffle ticket toward that prize.
Please do not solicit prizes from restaurants or producers whom you do not know. A big part of our success in prior years came from the personal connections between bloggers, food producers/restaurateurs/authors, and the readers who donate to the campaign. Basically, if they know your name, it's ok. If you pick up the phone and introduce yourself and the person at the other end of the line goes "huh?", you shouldn't be asking them.
Each blogger is also responsible for shipping their prize to the winning donor. Make sure you have enough in your budget to cover shipping. It's important that you specify where your shipping area will cover when you offer the prize.
Bloggers who do not offer a prize can also participate by becoming a Menu for Hope supporter. Use our banner on your blog. Link to us. Post about us. If you have ads space on your blog, consider using one of them to display our ads, or consider using our Menu for Hope ads as a backup for your unsold inventory. (Logos, banners, and ads are up here, more will be added soon.)
Forward this post to all other bloggers you know so they can participate too.
Contact you corresponding regional host for more details.
Johanna of The Passionate Cook and Jeanne of Cooksister
Fanny of Food Beam
US: West Coast
Bee of Rasa Malaysia
Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen
US: East Coast
Adam Kuban of Slice NY and Serious Eats
Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess
Asia Pacific, Australia, New Zealand
Helen of Grab Your Fork
and, last but not least, our special Wine Blog Host
Alder of Vinography
If you are a restaurateur, author or food producers/sellers:
Consider offering your products and services as raffle prizes. If you have a corportate blog, you can host the prize yourself. If you don’t, find a food blogger to host your prize. If you don't know any, contact me, I'll see what I can do.
If you are a food blog reader or a food lover:
Come back to Chez Pim on Monday December 10 when the campaign goes online. You can browse our amazing array of prizes by type, or find a prize near you by searching by region. Bid on as many prizes as you'd like. Buy raffle tickets as holiday gifts to your loved ones. Just come back and check us out on December 10. Help us help the WFP end world hunger.
Here's what you need to do...
- Go to the donation page at http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhope4
- Make a donation: each US$10 will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. In the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form, please specify which prize or prizes you'd like, using the prize-code and detailing the number of tickets per prize you'd like to purchase. For example, a donation of US$50 can be 2 tickets for AP01 and 3 for AP02
- For US donors, if your company has agreed to match your charity donation, please remember to tick the box and fill in the information so we may claim the corporate match.
- Please make sure you tick the box to allow us to see your email address so we may contact you if you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.
- Winners will be announced on Chez Pim in mid-January 2008.
GO TO Helen of Grab Your Fork NOW TO CHECK OUT THE LATEST ASIA PACIFIC PRIZES!!!
Thursday, 6 December 2007
Hi, I'm pg and I'm.....
And my organic grocer is my enabler.
There I was, quietly buying some salad mix from the grocer, when, I saw it... well.. them actually, but it was THE ONE.
I had to have it.
corriander, sea salt, chilli and kaffir lime rub.
It's pay week.. I can afford it.
I don't neeeeeeed it.
(but I want it)
I bought it.
And then realised that it's the SIXTH packet of rub I've bought this week.
I am helpless.
I see a rub and I MUST have it.
How can I resist when I read this on the back of a rub:
BED OF ROSES
Massage into lamb shanks or chicken thighs for a sensuous tagine, or rub onto a deboned leg of lamb
See??? My hands get all shakey just being NEAR a rub.
Could hardly take the photo with the jones I had going!!!
I'm like some women are with shoes. Or hand bags. Or chocolate.
I got home and realised I have purchased 9 different rubs in two weeks.
Something is wrong with me.
I've already opened it, so I can't take it back. ... and I want it so bad.
(Corriander, chilli, SS and kaffir lime potatoes tonight )
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
So, I preface this review by stating clearly that reviewing food is subjective. Meat and poison and all of that.. so the below review reflects nothing save my own opinion.
M Bar, in Toorak Road, describes itself as "buzzy" and "trendy", "Australian eclectic with a touch of Europe"
It's loud, crowded and boring. The ubiquitous chrome and neutral colour scheme, prevalent in every other "trendy" cafe in Toorak, indeed in Melbourne. The tables were so closely packed that the waiter was close to having an intimate act that I usually only perform on my own husband attempted on him every single time he had to squeeze his groin past the back of my head.
If I'd turned around at an inopportune moment, I'd have had to have given him my phone number and expected respect in the morning.
I like my frottage on trams, thankyouvery much, NOT in dining establishments.
The other issue that stemmed from having the restaurant that jam-packed was that it was loud... I mean Unreasonably loud. We were a table of six, and I could barely hear what my neighbour was saying to me. Requests for more wine from the other end of the table were met with blank looks. A quick game of Charades was eventually enacted to get the salt passed from one end of the table to the other.
I was close to calling Di on her mobile to get my glass filled.
At sitting, small bowls of oil and balsamic vinegar were present on the table, but no bread. We stared, longingly, for a good 1/2 hour before it arrived. The bread was bog-standard Safeway bread stick, tasteless and chewy... NASTY.
The prices were steep. Mains were anything up to $34 for the porterhouse. ($35 for the flouder with chips and salad on the specials board), and when you can get Chargrilled 250gm grain fed Wagyu rump cap $34 from Bistro Vue (see Melbourne Foodie's review here...) it seems a little overpriced.
The menu consisted of basic pub fare. A porterhouse, a steak sandwich, a chicken schnitzel, some pastas and a couple of salads. The specials menu was long on fish and short on inspiration.
I went for the house pasta, $19.95 for the main serve. Glad I went the bigger size, as what I received was a slightly bigger than entree size of very VERY overcooked spaghetti with some generic sun dried tommies, a handful of baby spinach, some pine nuts and some fetta. The fetta was tough and salty. The pasta had seen al dente sometime last week.
My friend's salad looked good.. a large serve of rocket with a goodly portion of beef, but the rest of the table's offerings were decidedly ordinary looking. People actually may have raved about the food, but unless they'd drawn me a diagram, complete with arrows to indicate movement, I'd not have known over the noise.
We tossed up the dessert option, yet again nothing inspired, tired old sticky date pud, a baked cheesecake offering, an orange cake and gelati option, a creme brulee and a cheese platter, all at $12, but again, when I know you can get
Dessert: “Soufflé au chocolat” ($12): This is a dessert that certainly attracted a lot of attention. The smell that drifted across the restaurant was amazing and there were guests swooning all over the place. After a 20 minute wait, the time taken to prepare the dessert, the masterpiece arrives. On a board sits the chocolate soufflé in a cast iron pot. In a separate dish sits a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and in a jug to the side is the wonderful chocolate sauce. As the dessert is placed in front of you the waiter creates a hole in the middle of the soufflé and pours in the chocolate sauce. The traditional idea of a soufflé being more of a pudding is embraced here, and the end result certainly does not disappoint. This is one of the lightest and most indulgent soufflés I have eaten, and at $12 it certainly beats most other desserts around the city on taste, value and ultimate satisfaction. A lot of people in the restaurant were ordering this, and many of those who had not couldn’t help but glance over with big eyes and comment on how wonderful the dessert looked and smelled, trying to convince their partners that they should order one (next time).(Taken from Melbourne Foodie)
Given the crushingly mediocre fare we'd been served, we skivved off.
The house wine was not named and was $8 a glass. It took over 15 mins for my single glass to arrive.
Nearly $50 for 2 serves of very ordinary pasta and a single glass of instantly forgettable wine.
Don't bother. Go next door to Romeo's for cheaper, better, more consistent fare.
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
Godd bless Auntie Jean and her ilk. Most families have got one, you know, the Auntie in her mid eighties that still treats you like you are 12, but in a good way. Last weekend, Furry caught up with Auntie Jean and despite being on a pension, you NEVER leave Auntie Jean's house without some scones, or some fruit, or a sponge. We've had to pat each other down, leaving her house before, as the odd twenty dollar bill sometimes find its way into your handbag or back pocket.
The kids, all 5 of them, get a Hallmark card with a twenty in it each birthday, and we get a hundred in the Xmas card to buy then all something at Silly Season.
So, it wasn't unusual to see Furry stumbling up the drive way with a huge porto-cooler bag last Sunday.
In it was simply, the BEST lamb I've ever tasted.
Auntie Jean gets her lamb delivered to her door, from Rutherglen Lamb, and with all this talk of SOLE food, it fits the bill perfectly. You get a minimum weight of 12kgs delivered for $205. And this can be cut in various ways, the Roast Pack, the Cook's Choice... that sort of thing.
Each pack contains a whole lamb fully boned and each product is vacuum packed and labelled for your convenience. It can be frozen to extend shelf life.
The property of origin of each lamb is identified in your carton. Specially trained butchers at the Finer Food Pantry in Wangaratta and our carefully selected contractors carry out all processing and delivery in strict accordance with State and Federal food handling requirements
They also provide milk-fed lamb for the restaurant trade, Darren Daley (Sud), Sean Duggan (All Saint's) and Nicky Reimer (Bottega) being fans.
The first thing I noticed was the lack of lamb "smell", and after the Great Curly Tailed Chop Vom of Pregnancy No. 2, this is a VERY good thing, and one of the main reasons we don't eat a lot of lamb.
I marinated the cutlets in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and some tandoori spice mix and pan fried them for about 2 mins a side and served them on a salad of cos, tommies, cukes and raita.
And sat back and watched our brand spanking new copy of "Long Way Down"
Saturday, 1 December 2007
Well, I am as full as a Mallee bull and it's only 1pm. This morning, Thanh from I eat therefore I am, and Vida from, well, Vida, and Furry and I embarked on a "take-one-for-the team" Bakery Eat-Off.
Four bakeries in 2 hours.
The Force was stromg with us today, young jedi as we met at
Haley's Bakery in Noble Park. It's a Chilean bakery and serves lots of yummy things that Vida is going to identuify for us. Apparently the cartoon pic on the window is a famous Chilean cartoon character.
I have no idea what these thing we bought are, but here are some of the delights we sampled...
doughnuts with custard filling
puff pastry roll, filled with dulce du leche
mille feuille-y things
Thanh, who has a hangover that could kill a spotted dog, gets some sweet, sweet, custardy goodness into him!!
Next stop is:
And we try....
cheesey empanada goodness...
meaty, oniony, olivey, eggy empanada goodness...
And a final stop, for...
(and no, that's NOT a brie)
I'd post more, but my liver is processing the 45 basquillion calories I ingested this morning, so it's off for an afternoon nanny nap for me!!!