Sunday, July 17, 2011
thanks for checking in.
I got fed up with Blogger being so slow to post (and often not being able to publish for days), so I have moved to:
I hope you will follow this link and find me again!
Fill Up On Bread
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Ackee and saltfish was delicious, easy and cheap to make for dinner. If we needed more jerk seasoning or pepper sauce (a traditional Barbados favourite), we popped down the road either to Tesco or to any of our local groceries, and picked up a jar of Walkerswood or a bottle of Windmill.
Now we live in Australia, we have to remember to stock up if either one of us goes to London. Happily, our trip to Barbados afforded us the chance to send back some decent quantities of jerk seasoning, pepper sauce and tins of ackee.
But how to become more self-sufficient? A few of our West Indian acquaintances here in Australia make really decent home-made pepper sauce or jerk seasoning, but I have never been able to come close. Perhaps it was the fresh Bajan air, or the amazing assaults on my taste buds every evening at dinner, but upon my return this time I think I have cracked it.
The most important thing to get right is the fresh chillies. Australia-dwellers, this is important: you will not find the chillies you need in Safeway. What we really need are habanero chillies but they are not sold in this country. So you need to go down to the local market or your local Asian grocery and ask for the hottest fresh chillies you can find. I get mine from Bharat Traders here in West Footscray, tiny green ones that look like this (they are on a side plate if that gives you an idea of size). I used about 12 of these for one batch of seasoning (enough to season about 1 kg of meat) and to be honest I could have done with a bit more heat still. Deseed before you use if you wish - I didn't bother.
Serve with rice and peas: soak 2-3 tablespoonfuls of black beans, black-eyed peas or similar overnight. Alternatively use azuki beans which are easily found in Asian markets, and don't need soaking. Bring to the boil and cook slowly in plenty of water until cooked. DO NOT THROW AWAY THE WATER. Add your white rice and a dash of salt to the cooked peas in the same water (this makes the rice turn a different colour and adds flavour). Stir occasionally until cooked through, then strain the last of the water away and serve up.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1-3 large green chillies, fresh, chopped
1/2 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 star anise broken into pods
2-3 cardamom pods
1 piece cinnamon, broken up (optional)
1/2 tbsp garam masala
1/2 tbsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp other meat masala (if available from Indian shops)
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped finely (optional)
2-3 carrots, chopped
1-2 potatoes, chopped (optional)
Throw in the black mustard seeds and cook until they just start popping.
Throw in the chillies and cook for 2-3 minutes until pungent.
Add the star anise, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, turmeric and both masalas. Stir vigorously and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add a little more olive oil to moisten if necessary.
Add the garlic and chopped onion, stir into the mixture and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened and beginning to brown.
Add the chicken pieces, stir in well and cook for 3-4 minutes or so.
Add the carrots (and potatoes if you wish) and enough water to just cover all ingredients. Stir well.
Cook slowly over a very low heat - or transfer to a low heat in the oven - for about an hour. Check occasionally, adding more water as necessary to make the curry have as much or as little gravy as you wish.
The longer you cook this curry, and the older the pot you cook it in, the better it will taste. Works pretty well in a slow-cooker too, but you have to cook all the spices manually first (method up as far as adding the chicken) as laid out above, then you can leave to simmer in the slow cooker if you wish.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Sadly, Waterfront is gone forever, replaced by the shell of a new restaurant called Atlantic Bar & Grill. So we wandered into Giuseppe, Arnaldo's no later than noon to see what they could do for us.
It's a funky place with a serious pedigree, and I have heard nothing but good stuff about the place. On a 40C day in the city, we sat alongside the strange folding windows, opened out to show a sleepy riverfront, and the coolness of the interior still won out. The wait staff in their butcher's coats, jeans and Converse were attentive but not overpowering, and it didn't take us long to order two plates of the spaghetti with crab.
The wine list didn't really attract for wines by the glass, so I went with the house red, a tempranillo blend straight from the tap behind the bar. It worked. Beside us, a man about my own age entertained a gorgeous young four- or five-year-old to lunch. She sat imperiously at table, knowing how good she looked in that hairband with the huge pink flower, and looked like she was pretty good company.
Behind me the big salami showcase glistened, and we are not sure how we succeeded in not ordering a plate of everything, with a hunk of the fresh artisan bread lining the walls beyond. But we stuck to our guns, and awaited our pasta.
Not sure why the pasta was served wrapped in a baking sheet parcel. It was a lovely, garlicky, tomatoey pasta sauce with plenty of fresh crab meat, and I just know it was only in that oven for a few minutes. It didn't need to be oven-baked. But the visual impact was pretty good on arrival, even if the baking parchment then got in the way for the rest of the meal.
The pasta was too saucey for Lee. I didn't know what she meant. There is no such thing as too much sauce for me.
At the next table, a couple chose the chicken cacciatore which looked and smelled amazing. Nearby, somebody else chose the Sunday roast - suckling pig. Now, that looks like a dish to come back for.
I can't comment on the value for money, as lunch was Lee's treat, but the menu looked tempting enough for a second, more leisurely, visit another time.
Monday, January 24, 2011
(03) 9681 8289
A casual afternoon lunch with friends on a sunny Melbourne Sunday. Where to go? Initially I balked at the idea of Docklands, even on such a perfect day. Everybody knows that despite the developers' and Melbourne City Council's best efforts, Docklands is a wasteland, and only barely acceptable for about three weeks of the year when the wind is at its lowest and the mercury at its highest.
But no, this little gem of a place is on South Wharf, over the curly pedestrian bridge from Docklands proper, or a pleasant 10-minute stroll west along the river from the Polly Woodside. If you are a shopper, it's less than five minutes walk from the South Wharf DFO complex. The tables outside face north, so they are a bit of a sun-trap, with a small marina spread out in front, and city views all around. Perfect.
Over the course of four hours we grazed on perfectly-cooked thin-crust margherita pizza, fresh and flavoursome thai beef and black-seared tuna salads, generous panini, a pretty stunning Aussie burger, and a couple of excellent Jamaican dishes - curried goat and Jamaican-style snapper with pumpkin rice and okra.
One of the co-owners here is Jamaican, and on the third Sunday evening of the month they host a West Indian evening. We missed the last one being out of town, but February's is firmly in the diary.
The wait staff were lovely. Well, I admit one of them was the daughter of the friends with whom we were eating, but the other waiter didn't know who we were initially, and was most welcoming and accommodating. On paying our bill, one of the owners looked after us, and his civility gave us every reason to give him our custom again.
I have to say the pizzas alone are worth the wander down to this little-known corner of Melbourne city, and I know it is going to become a bit of a regular haunt for us.
So if you're looking for a new corner of Melbourne with some pretty good food and a laid-back riverside vibe, head down to Loading Dock. It's worth the detour.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
87 Hudsons Road
A mid-week day off from flood response saw me, Kerry and Nina meander down to their new(ish) local eatery, the Duchess of Spotswood. This place is not open that long and has a huge following already, so I was looking forward to a late breakfast with good company.
We sat at the big table right at the window, in a sparsely-decorated but bright and welcoming main salon. One or two tables sat outside on the pavement. On a late Wednesday morning the place wasn't hopping but we were still three of about eight or nine punters.
The breakfast menu was interesting and full of lovely names - breakfast of champignons, anyone? - but nothing on there for one of us who did not fancy eggs. Everything bar the muesli and the toast (Zeally Bay sourdough, thankyouverymuch) included eggs. Happily, they cobbled together a breakfast of sides for our eggless one, whilst Kerry chose poached eggs with spinach and tomato on Zeally Bay sourdough. I chose the Prince of Wales: house-smoked salmon with a poached egg served with potato pancakes.
My weak English Breakfast tea came out in a proper pottery teapot with a tea-leaf holder inside that meant I could stop the brewing anytime I wanted. Marvellous. Kerry's latte was perfect. I believe they use Auction Rooms small batch coffee.
We didn't have to wait too long for our dishes to arrive. My smoked salmon was small but perfectly-formed, and although initially I quailed at my portion size, it was indeed an elegant sufficiency. My poached egg was perfectly cooked, a delight. The tiny potato pancakes were lovely, but with one slice of bread were insufficient for my carb-loving body, so I followed through with some more toast and home-made rhubarb jam for afters. Or it could have been the hangover I was nursing.
The service was fine: efficient enough, a little hard to raise at times, and bordering on the unenthusiastic if I'm honest. All in all, some lovely food and great company, but I am not entirely sure the place is worth all the hype I'm hearing about it. I would like to re-visit for lunch sometime, to see if this place really is the next big thing, or just the Emperor's New Clothes.