Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yummy Yum Cha

It's almost criminal that it has taken me this long to experience the delights of Yum Cha but there it is. Perhaps it has something to do with the pre-frozen packs in supermarkets tainting my vision of what yum-cha actually is (i.e. deep-fried, frozen mini spring rolls), but it wasn't until I stumbled in to T-Chow in Chinatown that I experienced a fantastic yum cha.

Almost as soon as we sat down the teapot was delivered to our table and mere seconds later we were presented with a selection of dishes from the waiters. My only regret is that we slowed down a bit as we didn't turn down any of the first 6 or so mini-dishes we were offered, which meant that when some really interesting dishes came along later we were both WAY too full to accept them.

The stand outs for me was a lovely braised Tripe dish, almost nauseating to look at but don't judge a book by it's cover. It had a lovely anise flavour to the braising gravy and suprisingly tender (I've been put off by some tough tripe in the past). Also, the chicken feet, whilst they sound pretty awful were fantastic. I had attempted to make these myself in the past, but took them way beyond cooked to the 'falling apart' stage (not good when there are so many tiny bones involved). The soft, padded, collagen-y bottom of the foot where the toes meet providing the tastiest meat.

Of course it wasn't all offal, (I just can't turn these down) many of the dishes fell into the more conservative area that would appeal to wider tastes. The only dish I wasn't a fan of was the scallop 'dumpling', though my husband quite liked these. Each to their own.

Anyway, next time I go I will be bringing a much larger group so we can have many more dishes without having to undo the pants. We left with a very reasonable bill of $45 for roughly 7-8 dishes and tea and literally were unable to fit another bite in, though I really did give it a college try!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


'Cerberus, a ruthless and fantastic beast,

with all three throats howls out his doglike sounds

above the drowning sinners of this place'

- Canto VI line 13-15, The Divine Comedy Volume 1: Inferno, Dante Alighieri

The above passage describes, in Dante's great work of fiction 'Inferno', the Glutton's punishment in hell where Cerberus, kind of a big guard dog with 3 heads who routinely terrorises the hapless sinners. The beast represents the unrelenting gorging and hunger of those who committed which, when you think about it, isn't the worst thing to do: Gluttony. Supposedly, stuffing one's body like a Goose in a Foie Gras factory is disrespecting the body, and therefore somehow disrespecting God? (I know, I know; like I said; it's a work of fiction). I wonder then, why smokers or drug addicts aren't punished in a similar way.... seems a bit unfair to me.

But scary fiction aside, let's look at gluttony. I have touched on the topic of food abuse previously but now I find myself pondering this topic again. This might have had something to do with a throwaway comment made by Personal Trainer Michelle Bridges on her recent time in the home of the 4 men she will be training on 10's 'The Biggest Loser Families'. She claimed she initially was looking forward to having a week where she might get to enjoy some fabulous, gourmet foods but instead had to tolerate plate after plate of greasy, sugary, fatty rubbish. What is funnier is that she was surprised!

When you think about it, when someone gets to such a large size it can simply not be about the food any more. I think this is where the show falls down a bit and you tend to see a situation where many contestants put the weight back on. Food as an addiction is really no different to drug or alcohol addiction, it's outcome is just a lot more visible and therefore more easy for people to discriminate. Clearly, the food is medicating a much bigger problem and a more practical way to deal with the issue is to treat the cause rather than the symptom. Diet and exercise are obviously important but if you are not dealing with the underlying psychological issues.... well that's when the weight piles back on.

I think it's strange that Bridges would lump those with a serious weight problem together with people who truly adore food. True, I've never been seriously overweight so it hard for me to comment with authority (I did carry a couple of extra kilos in my first year of marriage but I shed those with some serious hard work!) but I imagine when you are obese the food is as much an enemy as a love. There's nothing loving about sitting down and eating 2 Litres of ice cream after a dinner of a whole pizza. It almost seems like a punishment.

On the other hand, as a person of healthy weight who loves food in a serious way (and who has a very handy gym membership to work off the calories that result), I don't have that love/hate relationship with food. I can think of nothing better than a glass of wine and a gorgeous cheese that I most likely spent too much on (it's always worth it) or a square of 85% dark chocolate. I'd rather enjoy small amounts of that type of luxury than the 'cheap and nasty' equivalent which may consist of a few cheap beers or cask wine (gah!!), a whole chunk of cheap club cheddar and the whole family block of chocolate.

Anyway, I haven't really drawn any conclusions (as usual), but I guess I have established (thanks to Dante) that people have always been cruel to the obsese (I don't feel that the punishment described in his poem fits the crime) when really what they need is not to be told to 'put down the fork', (which is like telling an anorexic 'Just eat something') but a bit of understanding and access to the right help that treats what is causing them to medicate with food.

Pondering over... I'm going to go enjoy an espresso and a square of 'Steven ter Horst' chocolate, yum!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why Baking is better than modern technology

(and yes, I am aware of the irony of using a blog to air my opinions on this matter)

1. Eggs don't require software updates

2. Flour doesn't suddenly crash for no reason and lose your work

3. Butter doesn't get infected with 'Malware' and require you to return it to it's original form and start making the butter from scratch before you can use it again.

4. You don't need to call Customer Support when your cake doesn't rise properly, ususally it really is just your fault.

5. Cream doesn't require you to remember 100 different passwords and login names.

6. You can't get a virus from using your Kenwood Chef.

7. Recipes don't ever require expensive upgrades to remain usable.

8. You always know that a croissant takes about 15 minutes to bake, it doesn't slow down or speed up based on how many other people are 'baking' (i.e. downloading)

9. Talking to a tech support rep who cannot speak a word of English is not necessary when I am having trouble aerating a sponge.

10. Eggs, flour, butter and sugar don't have complicated moving parts that require expensive reapirs.

Friday, June 11, 2010

An ode to the lemon tree in my neighbor's backyard

O tree so laden with fruit
you stand so tantalisingly close
yet you might as well be far away
guarded by steel and yappy critters as you are
Why do they ignore your bounty?
If you were mine I would not neglect you so..

In the dark of night I may come,
and snatch one or two of those fragrant, golden orbs
They will be zested into a single, fresh pasta dish;
with pecorino, murray river pink salt and grassy olive oil
.... and a grinding of freshly cracked black pepper....

Friday, May 21, 2010

A few food memories from Thailand

(left) 'Tiger', my little restaurant buddy on Phi Phi Island, I wanted to bring him home!

Below; The beers are just better in Thailand! Not to mention the food...

Little Tiger Restaurant, Phuket, Thailand, the happiest place in the world :)

Berkshire Pork + The Silver Spoon = 1 very happy foodie

Tomorrow night I am finally trialing the much-praised Berkshire Pork, which I have heard great things about. I have decided I’m no longer comfortable with buying meat unless I know for sure if the meat is produced without causing the animal to have an unhappy life.

Growing up we always had our own meat butchered, so I know for certain that up until the moment of their death, our animals were fat and happy. I’m sure this is why the meat tasted so good!

Ever since I have found it hard to source good quality meat, and pork has been the hardest (we didn’t have pigs but they still seemed so much better back then). The pork of my childhood had a good half inch at least of fat in the rind, now the shoulders/loins etc that I see in many butchers or supermarkets barely have half a centimeter and the roast is always a dry, crackling-free letdown. Why on earth breeders tried to lower the fat content of the pigs is beyond me. If there are some fatties out there who can’t say no to a normal pig then that’s not my problem; I want my pork as fatty as possible (I just work it off at the gym).

Anyway, after hunting around for outlets of the much-lauded ‘Berkshire Pork’ I have a lovely loin cut that I plan to roast up tomorrow night.

And of course such a beautiful piece of meat deserves the best treatment so I will be using a recipe from my latest favourite cookbook; ‘The Silver Spoon’; I can’t believe that it has taken me this long to buy this classic. It is stuffed so full of recipes so I did the math and found if I cooked one of the recipes a night it would take me about 6 years to cover the whole book! This is my kind of cook book, not full of lovely styled photos (these have their place, but really you’re paying for pretty pictures and not many recipes), just packed with as many recipes as can fit on the pages.

Anyway, stay tuned as to how this dish turns out. I am reading ‘Everything but the squeal’ by John Barlow at the moment, hence my minor pork obsession at the moment.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm not a food snob, I swear!

Reading back on some of my posts, it has occurred to me that I must come across as a pretentious twat! I swear I’m not a food snob and here is proof in the forms of some of the more low-brow guilty pleasures I indulge in:

  • Kraft Macaroni & Cheese; the only reason I don’t keep this on stand by in my pantry for emergencies is because of the calorie count, but it’s unbeatable for a massive carb-fix!
  • Cadbury ‘Wipsa-Gold’ chocolate bars: The ones that for some inexplicable reason only Coles supermarkets sell; probably a good thing though because I’d probably eat one every day if I could get my hands on them more easily. Kate Moss once said ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’; she obviously hasn’t tried these!
  • ‘Emergency pasta’ – 1 can of Rosella Tomato Soup (it must be Rosella brand!), pasta, 1 cup grated cheese. One word; awesome
  • KFC potato & gravy with KFC chips (don’t knock it til you try it)
  • Mee-Goreng instant noodles (picture me hiding my face in shame)
  • Cookies and Cream flavoured anything – enough said
  • Fried haloumi cheese; nothing added to glam it up; just fried and eaten immediately; how can anything that tastes so good possibly be so bad for you?