Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Kensington Peking is a very simple restaurant, just across Anzac Pde (and down a bit!) from Peter's of Kensington. There are menus (in Cantonese and Mandarin) all over the walls and the decor is fairly standard. There is an upstairs and a downstairs section, though I have only ever dined downstairs.
172 Anzac Pde
Kensington 2033 NSW
Phone: (02) 9313 7100
Friday, March 19, 2010
My sister A and our friend J wanted to revisit Churrasco, a place they have previously been to a number of times. As I have never Brazilian BBQ, this grabbed my attention, plus the place is practically legendary with the Eastern beaches locals.
Anyone I talked to was in awe when I mentioned I was going to Churrasco. In fact, a number of A's friends were seasoned Churrasco experts and offered me plenty of helpful hints. Their enthusiasm scared my a little bit, as did their predictions for the aftermath of Churrasco.
1)They recounted horror stories about boys who had visited and simply could NOT stop eating and had subsequently had to physically dispel some of the food after eating (disgusting piggies!);
2) Apparently a certain friend (not mentioning any names J) and her boyfriend had come home and were so exhausted after eating so much meat, that they both fell asleep, fully clothed including shoes and slept through until the next day;
3) That when I got home, it is possible that I would sit on the couch with the 'meat sweats.' According to these 'so called experts,' meat sweats are when your body cannot physically take any more meat and so your body sweats profusely and it smells like the meat you have been eating. Charming.
Gee, by the time I had listened to all these stories I was seriously grossed out, but my curiosity had the better of me, and I conceded that most people wouldn't behave like barbarians, as A's friends had!!
I wasn't sure what to expect the decor to be like at Churrasco's after all the beat up. In actuality, there is a long bar with small tables of four seated along side and then a larger room out the back. The decor is simple wooden tables that are livened up by the gorgeous Brazilian pictures covering the walls.
The standard entry cost is $35 per person which includes all the BBQ meat you can eat, rice, potatoes, beans, bbq'd pineapple and cheese, cheese bread, polenta and a handful of accompaniments such as farofa, chimichurri and vinagrete.
There are salads available for $10.50 and desserts are $9.50(not that you'll be physically able to eat it!)
On J's advice we ordered a Churrasco Salad @ $10.50 and some cocktails @ $15 to accompany the meat.
When we were seated, the rice, potatoes, cheese bread, beans and accompaniments arrived promptly. The rice was really yum, incredibly garlicky. The potatoes were similar to a rich potato and bacon bake and were very moorish.
The salad was bought to the table and soon after we started being offered the many different types of meat. A and J warned me to only get one piece of each dish so I would be able to try everything. All the meat is premium and slowly roasted on long skewers over a flaming pit of coals.
The first was the 'green sauce' chicken - not exactly sure what was in the green sauce, but the chicken was moist and tender and absolutely delicious. Garlic was obviously a base ingredient and perfectly suited the chicken. In fact, I wanted more of this chicken straight away but thought I should just pace myself to avoid the meat sweat situation.
Chicken and Chicken also followed, the second version was a much more familair taste (similar to portugese) with a hint of heat. Still not as good as the green chicken!
The BBQ flavour Beef was a favourite around the table, and was incredibly tender. The plain eye fillet was also wonderfully simple but went well with the chimichurri.
Pork belly was on offer, and obviously I wouldn't refuse. The pork was thinly sliced and nicely crisp, without being too fatty.
The ribs had an incredible depth of flavour due to the BBQing and none were left on the plate.
I was't really a fan of the cheese, it really didn't do much for me but the pineapple was beautifully caramelised and lovely and sweet.
We were starting to slow down, but didn't want to change our circle over to red, in case we missed out on something good! It got to the stage where we would just share one serve between the three of us, because we were well and truly full. I did however, manage to fit in one last helping of green chicken when it came around a second time!
The food at Churrasco's was beautiful. I have never eaten Brazilian BBQ food before, but this set the standard high for me. The variety of meat was astounding, and all the flavours from the marinade suited the style of bbq so well. The service is polite and the bar menu offers some delicious brazilian twists on the classics.
Churrasco's isn't a place you would go for a quaint, small meal. It's loud and vibrant and a wonderful destination if you a big group of friends, want never ending-good food with great cocktails and beer on a Saturday or Sunday night.
Now I feel I should share some hints with you for your next visit to Churrasco's!
1. I would advise sipping on cordial all day before hand to stretch your stomach a little;
2. Take it easy- only get one serving of each dish so you can try the other- more will come if you love a certain dish. This doesn't include green chicken. Get about 10 green chickens;
3. Don't be too greedy- the food will NOT run out, I can guarantee you will not leave hungry;
4. Don't take bogans who are likely to eat so much they will have meat sweats;\
5. Make sure you book;
6. Don't bring a vegetarian.
So tell me, Do you have some all you can eat horror stories?
240 Coogee Bay Rd
Coogee NSW 2034
(02) 9665 6535
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The understated gem provided the perfect place for me to look at beautiful things, whilst C could sip on a coffee. We headed to the back of the store to order and suddenly the lucious looking chocolate brownies caught my eye. I also saw that C was eyeing off the brownies too- luckily there were 2 left!
Aside from the sweets, they do have a limited menu available i.e in the cabinet there seemed to be a couple of savoury items such as filos and quiches. The usual coffee menu exists as well as some interesting, not-so-run of the mill cold drinks such as New Zealand brand Phoenix's organic creaming soda.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I must say, walking into Ortiga felt like walking out of Brisbane. Recently Brisbane eateries have been seriously showing panache, and Ortiga is a classic example of this.
Upstairs the bar is casually elegant whilst heading downstairs reveals exposed bricks, white table cloths, a fabulous wall long cellar and a very sophisticated open kitchen. The exposed beams give rustic charm and whilst the place does not feel like typical Queensland architecture, it really works.
I'm definitely a fan of the open plan kitchen, it really shows off the mood of the kitchen. In this case, Pablo was calm and collected and I spent the night peering into what was going on rather than having any discussions with my co-workers. I think they are used to my behaviour by now and were hardly surprised when I would interrupt an important conversation to 'oo' and 'ah' at the goings on in the Kitch.
Friday, March 5, 2010
I received a number of tickets to Jamie Oliver Live in Melbourne on Friday 12th March and sadly can't attend. I still have 2 tickets left when it occurred to me that I do my first ever Gastronomy Gal Giveaway. Yay. I also hope to be doing little giveaways more often so stay tuned!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
My friend, fellow foodie and fabulous photographer Paul Mathews alerted me to Blue Belle at Deepwater near Glen Innes. Deepwater is a tiny town so Cafe Blue Belle also serves as the tourist information centre and stocks art and crafts made by local talent. Paul tells me that Blue Belle is fabulous and I can't wait to visit.What's even nicer is there are always characters about in small towns and Paul encountered some wonderful people on his last visit.
For Paul, the main event was the "famous, quirky lemon meringue tart." He was so in love with the tart, he sent photos through to me. I usually travel home by going much further west but in this case I'm willing to risk the windy roads after seeing these photos!!
The lady pictured is the owner of the Lemon Meringue Tart Recipe. Sadly, it is believed that the lady has passed away but the silver lining is that her daughters are still carrying on the tradition (luckily for prospective diners!!). The cuteness factor of the blackboard is to- die- for and the prices are so cheap!!
Paul insists that the wonderful food does not stop at the lemon meringue tart and suggests the Pie with musy peas for a main. The peas certainly look delightful!
I love hearing about places like this, because without word of mouth, they are so easy to pass on by. Even though I haven't eaten there yet, I thought I would share the news with you guys, in case any of you are travelling south at Easter time and are in the area. It's definitely worth a stop in.
Tell me - what unlikely places have you uncovered some fabulous homecooked meals?
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
It’s funny how you can be oblivious to your own quirks until somebody helpfully points them out. In this case, that somebody was my boyfriend, and the quirk is my obsession with food. I was having one of my routine whinges about ‘not knowing what to take for lunch’ when he piped up ‘No wonder you have these problems, lunch at your house is always a fiasco.’
The ensuing dialogue involved a bit of shouting from me, a bit of laughing from him and went a little something like this.
“A FIASCO?! What do you mean a FIASCO?”
“Well lunch at your house is always so complicated. You either go out for lunch or have some elaborate meal inviting everyone around. What ever happened to eating a sandwich?”
“A sandwich? I haven’t liked sandwiches since Year 10- the year of the sandwich.”
“My point exactly! Think about it. When it comes to food, you are not normal.”
And so I did - think about it. And I came to the conclusion that he was probably right. I had finally realised that I was/am properly obsessed. Until this time, I had not admitted how intrinsic food is in my life; memories and dreams, past and present. It shouldn’t have come as a huge shock. I mean how many 23 year olds do you know whose favourite movie is Ratatouille?
Songs, smells and photos are common triggers for memories. For me, food is what whisks me away to years gone by and most easily explains how I ended up here, thinking about food, blogging about food, writing about food, thinking about food.
With all this soul searching, it dawned on me that the easiest way to introduce myself to you is through my food print, which just might give you some hints as to how Gastronomy Gal, food tragic, came into existence.
FOODPRINT: The connection to an experience, a person, a place or a time that is felt through food.
My foodprint, was influenced greatly by my parents who were always chasing the next culinary adventure, never satisfied with meat and 3 veg. And so, this obsession was almost bred into me. In any case, my food printed started to take shape when I was very young.
Early on in my school career, I opened my lunchbox to reveal a little container of olives and three neatly wrapped green parcels. I was happy to see the dolmades, one of my favourites, make an appearance. Until I looked around and spotted every other classmate eating plastic cheese and vegemite sandwiches on white bread, cut into four little triangles. I quickly shut away my delicious lunch to save face whilst eyeballing the numerous packets of hazelnut chocolate spread that kids love to eat.
Six years old is the first memory I have eating Yum Cha. For me, this was a life changing experience. I’d only ever seen different countries on T.V., but walking through Chinatown had me convinced that I was already in one. I remember being, thoroughly confused as to how we had arrived at this magic destination .The loud shouts of the markets, mixed with the vivid colour of this magic new country are now a blur but the regal red staircase with the gold railing lining the entrance to the restaurant, are etched into my mind. If my memory serves me correctly, the first time I tasted a prawn and garlic chive dumpling, my eyes widened, I started laughing and reaching towards the basket for more, and (this part may be superimposed, but I felt like it was happening) little fireworks started exploding around my head ala ‘Ratatouille.’
Birthdays were a spectacular event, and accordingly, had a big impact on my food print. Every year, my Gran would bake a delightfully light, fluffy, soft as clouds sponge cake and served it smothered with whipped cream. To aid diplomacy, half was covered with strawberries and half covered with sprinkles or violet crumble. The tables were laden with the weight of hundreds of different meringues, slices, homemade sausage rolls with some of Gran’s famous vol-au-vents and gazpacho thrown in to appease the grownups.
Grandfather is from the school of old. Ironically, everything he passionately argued for, is now back ‘en vogue’. Grandfather makes the sweetest green tomato pickles and the most peppery, creamy mayonnaise. He has always been a strong believer in home grown and now I concur, but this did cause a few problems in the past. When my two sisters and I were young, it was nothing for us to hear some commotion, walk out to the wood shed to see some feathers flying into the air. Grandfather would be sitting next to Granny, plucking freshly killed chickens, laughing at us screaming. Walking into the cool room was never a simple task- if you forgot to turn the light on, chances were you would end up face to face with your next meal - hanging upside down. This was particularly distressing when your best friend’s cow had recently disappeared and you were pretty sure Missy was now resting peacefully in the cool room.
My penchant for Ginger Beer can be directly attributed to my other Nan and Grandfather , Johnny. In their back fridge lay a source of unimaginable pleasure; home made ginger beer that was oh so fizzy, packed with bite and always induced hiccups. In fact, I have spent much of my life searching for the next best thing, only to be thoroughly disappointed. There is nothing quite like the taste of your own family’s home made. It sets a precedent for what you want ‘it’ to taste like in the future
The seasons always played a big part in our cooking and eating. Long, hot endless days were the perfect excuse to relax by the pool and drink slush puppies which, as I got older, became alcoholic versions of a slushy. BBQ’s were frequent and Dad brought out many of the family favourites like bang bang chicken.
With the falling leaves, came annual showtime . The air was crisp with excitement but the dusty dagwood dogs, distant squeals of sideshow alley and passing parade held no appeal as we contentedly tucked into Autumn picnic feast – freshly baked bread rolls served with lashings of moist, baked chicken with sage and onion stuffing. Bags of fairy floss were left untouched, dropped in favour of some award-winning passionfruit slice.
Cold winter nights meant tummy aches after eating too much chicken drizzled with mozzarella, doused with rich marsala sauce. The smell of the dry red wine boeuf bourguignon wafting through the house never seemed to leave in those colder months, and if we were lucky, Mum’s world famous rissoles would make an appearance. The end of winter was marked by a feast at our house, with pigs basted in fennel, red wine aplenty, and 100 of our closest friends celebrating in style. This celebration has now become known as ‘Porchetta Day’, a foodie festival, in my home town.
Spring will forever taste like chargrilled asparagus, snow peas to die for, and not quite ready lychees.
The later teenage years were less pleasurable, yet no less memorable. 16 marked my introduction to slop- aka dining hall food. My food print had never involved anything quite like it. Boarding school seemed like a world away, and it was here that I suffered two years of hideous ‘classic’ dishes that were slaughtered by lack of care, lack of budget and lack of knowledge. At least we had the memories of the weekend. Perhaps a lingering taste of marinara or fresh BBQ’d pork, cooked by some generous, sympathetic day girl’s parents. If I was lucky, I’d feel the comfort of a lunchbox packed full with leftovers poking out of my bag, which often saved me from the clutches of culinary despair. There was a silver lining, If you can call it that. I did learn about being resourceful, which was a specialty of the lunch ladies. One dish five ways- curried sausages and rice, curried sausage salad, curried sausage pie......
21 was a time of decadence. Not a care in the world, a credit card to burn and a year filled with oysters, champagne and my boyfriend taking me for meals at sophisticated restaurants I previously would have only frequented if Dad was paying. Cocktails and Noosa became our regular weekend haunt. It marked a time of a certain culinary maturity. No more bingeing on bags of chicos and my changing palate meant I could finally understand the notion of ‘too sweet.’
21 was also a time when old became new again. After an unfortunate ‘too much pink rock salt’ incident years earlier, scallops re-entered my food print, and I took this re-introduction very seriously. Eager to make up for lost time; I consumed that fresh, plump, salty flesh at no less than 17 establishments over the course of the year. Scallop connoisseur was added to my title.
22 meant I had grown up a little, incurred a lot of debt and started cooking and eating more seriously. 22 was also the year I realised that I wanted to be doing ‘something in food’ so I started blogging and writing, and baking and cooking, and drinking and mixing.
23 has only just begun has so far has included my first fondant iced birthday cake, my new lunchbox and importantly, eating for health as well as pleasure.
By becoming so aware of my own food print, it made me wonder about yours; Australia’s food print. What were and continue to be the main food influences in the average Australian home? I am hopeful that my food print, and your food print, have yet to experience some amazing culinary adventures. With food culture currently exploding in Australia, it seems the possibilities are endless.
To catch up with Gastronomy Gal between editions, visit her blog at www.gastronomygal.com