Entries Tagged 'Lunch' ↓

Late Winter Vineyard lunching action

My dear friend Katie recently had the decency to move from Dangar Island to the same suburb I live in. We loved visiting them on Dangar, which is in the Hawkesbury river near Sydney and very beautiful, but it really is much more convenient to live around the corner and see each other several times a week.

It was her birthday recently, and she wanted a nice lunch out. Well, actually she wanted dinner but what with her and partner Aneal’s three year old, our children, two sets of babysitting arrangements and a desire to drink wine we ended up at lunch at Shaw vineyard’s Flint in the Vines in Murrumbateman, about a half hour drive out of Canberra. It’s being run by Grant Kells, one of the guys behind the swanky but by some reports over-promising and under-delivering Flint Dining Room and Bar in Canberra, and front of house is run by former Longrain sommelier Jai Dawson.

And don’t worry, I am not missing the irony of my first post in forever being a restaurant review, which I never do.

Aneal eats fish occasionally, but not meat or gluten, and Flint’s menu seemed pretty flexible. There’s a very decent kid’s menu and there were well behaved and charming children of all ages enjoying lunch in big family groups.

The wine list is very, very reasonable, particularly if you stick to the Shaw wines. We had some shampoo to start, the Shaw sparkling semillon for $26. I was enjoying the slightly sweet lemon-y and biscuit-y flavours until Owen said “lemon cheesecake!” We had the Isabella Riesling, $33, with mains and it had the same lemon myrtle kind of flavours – must be the house style, hunh?

It’s a comfortable but unponcy joint, a dining room with an open fire adjoining the vineyard’s cellar door tasting area.
We were planning to take our time, so all had entrees and mains and shared a couple of desserts.

Katie had “Pork Belly and Toasted Hazelnut Terrine, Red onion jam, toasted brioche”

The terrine was just past nicely crumbly and heading towards dry, but as you see it was tasty.

Aneal had Seared Yellow Fin Tuna Green asparagus, baby herb mix, white truffle dressing

I Do Not Approve of white truffle dressing in Canberra in August. For quite a few reasons. Or asparagus, really, but the tuna separated softly to the tooth and was quite delicious.

I had a special, tempura prawns with a something sauce and nori

I don’t know what’s happened to me, but I’m losing my tolerance for sweetness. I can remember thinking as I tasted it that I should have known from the menu description it would be too sweet; cloying. Lovely bouncy prawns, though.

The final entree was Owy’s Quick Fried Spiced Calamari, Blue cheese aioli, lemon.

This is one of those “Masterchef Aaron YumYuk” things. Horrible and wonderful at the same time, although I’m not sure it’s on purpose.

For mains, Katie and Owy had the Wood Fired Weekend Roast

It’s pretty cheap at $26, but even for that you don’t want the beef cooked beyond medium. The yorkshire puddings, on the other hand, were perfect.

Aneal had beautiful Wild Barramundi Meuniere , brown lemon butter, steamed Kipfler potatoes

and I had “Master Stock Braised Pork Belly, Sautéed king scallops, Ginger soy mirin glazed wild mushrooms

again, too sweet, and again, beautifully cooked lovely fresh seafood.

I’m over sweets, but I was really looking forward to some cheese – but they were out. Sniff. The desserts we shared aren’t on the current menu, so I’m struggling to remember how they were described. We had a pannacotta with a chocolate and hazlenut gelato

The other, much less successful, dish was a trio of chocolate desserts:

On the left was a chilli-chocolate mousse, which was fine. In the middle was a chocolate and banana brulee. There is no reason, however, to put banana in a chocolate brulee. Or any other kind of brulee. If I’m going to have a hot banana, I want it flaming in rum, goddamit. The final element was a large, crumbly dry cakey type arrangement that seemed liked it should have been served up by someone wearing a nosering and birkenstocks.

The service was brisk enough, and the waiter responded very well when I replied to his question about how our mains were by holding up a long, curly blonde hair. We’d all thought it was unfortunate but no big deal, but as expected the cost of the dish was removed from the bill. If I was the owner, I would ask that in future he not carry it suspended from his hand, face aghast, all the way back to the passe and shout out “Chef! A hair!” quite so loudly. The other staff were an endearing mix of country girls with painstakingly dishevilled updos.

For a long enjoyable lunch and plenty of wine, the bill came to under $100 a head. If you’re going, I’d stick to the seafood and pick up a bottle of the sticky on the way home. It was a very nice lunch, and we all had a lovely time.

On the benefits of being a good cook

I’m fasting today in preparation for a colonoscopy tomorrow. Ew, I know. No symptoms, (thanks for asking!) it’s just a preventative measure given my family history.

Anyhow, if you are a really good cook, and all you’re allowed to eat for a day is “clear salty soup”, you can still have a really nice lunch made from your light Chinese stock which you infused with a shiitake, some more chicken and herbs last night.

I just thought I’d share that.

Kirsty Presents: High-Tea Princesses

This time last week I was in the throes of preparing to cater for my niece’s 7th birthday party. Last week, right about now, in fact, I was studying the shelves at Woolworth’s Indooroopilly, hesitating between the standard packet of Dollar Sprinkles and the fairy-themed one. At that point I hadn’t fully decided on how I was going to manage to decorate the requested princess cake. I knew I was going to attempt to fashion a semblance of a princess atop a coconut cake using icing and my cheap cake decoration piping set, but as to the details of the glitter and sparkles, well, I was making those up in the supermarket.

I had offered to host my niece’s birthday party a month ago, after my family had celebrated my sister’s birthday at a garden centre cafe. While the garden centre’s cafe was perfectly fine, as we discussed Hannah’s forthcoming birthday, most of us still had memories of the over-priced outing that was my mother’s birthday a few months earlier: $45 for an average high-tea amongst some very pretty decor. The decor, while lovely, certainly wasn’t worth $15 dollars more than the usual price of a high-tea in these parts.

I’m not certain why my family has this high-tea obsession. Something to do with coming from England and wanting to play at being the Ladies we’re not, I suppose. Or perhaps it’s an excuse to eat way too many cakes, the sandwiches merely being a face-saving preliminary. Yes, the latter is more likely. Anyway, it seems the older members of this family have had a corrupting influence on the youngest member, since Hannah now associates all birthday celebrations with fancy, miniature cakes, delicate sandwiches and champagne-flutes of sparkling apple juice. When I volunteered to host her family party–her mother’s side of her family, anyway–Hannah put her own twist on the occasion and requested tiaras and sparkles. And since I’m a total push-over when it comes to my niece, I was determined to throw the best princess-themed party I could.

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Helen’s Easter Cooking – Tea Eggs

At the last blogmeet, FXH and I were talking about Taiwan. I spent six months there in a gap as a student, while FX spends quite a lot of time there. Now that Easter’s almost here it got me to thinking about the Tea Eggs I used to buy in Taipei, from a street vendor with a bucket just like the one shown in the linked Wikipedia article.

Tea eggs are great picnic food, and they’re a nice salty/savoury change from all the chocolate eggs you’ll be eating. Their main claim to fame is that they take on a fabulous marbled appearance, so that they’re also sometimes called Marble Eggs.

tea-eggs

To make them couldn’t be simpler, and all the ingredients will be available from your local supermarket (if they don’t have star anise, your Asian grocery will, of course.) Measurements aren’t needed for this recipe. Just think “strong, brown salty liquid.”

Take however many eggs you want to cook, and make enough very strong black (not green) tea to just about cover them. Chinese is best of course, but I use Indian tea sometimes and it’s fine.

Add a few sloshes of soy sauce and some star anise – about one piece for every three eggs I guess, but YMMV once you’ve made this recipe yourself. You need to put in a fair amount of soy so the mixture is dark and salty. You can also add some Chinese Five Spice if you have some. The information I’ve googled up says that most people put salt in as well, but once the soy goes in, to me it’s well salty.

Bring the eggs, in their shells, to the boil until they’re hard boiled. Now take them out, let them cool a little, and gently crack them all over on a hard surface, without removing the shells.

Return them to the soy mixture and soak them overnight or for a few hours. The soy/tea mixture will soak in through the cracks and create the beautiful marble effect that you see in the photo. (H/T)

Georgina presents: I like

chinese header

I think I’ve mentioned it before but if I haven’t: I really miss Chinese food. Country Chinese just doesn’t cut it. It’s ok once in a while, like when I’m feeling nostalgic for the food I ate at Chinese restaurants as a child: the sweet and sour that looked radioactive, ‘combination’ chow mein, beef and black bean, lazy susans, back pages of menus that listed ‘Australian’ meals of steaks and chips. They probably knew what they were doing. Not everyone would embrace the food. There would invariably be someone who turned up their nose at the bright red sauces and the battered pieces of goodness-knows-what, not for reasons of taste but to demand something with which their palate was familiar. As kids we used to wonder why you would turn your nose up at Chinese. You would have to be mad.

Some adults went too far in the opposite direction, wearing their imitation cheongsams in an embarrassing attempt to…do I don’t know what. Fit in? Send them up? When in Rome? Who knows. Whatever they were doing seemed denigrating and small.

dash porkAs kids a big treat for us was to go to the food halls in Chinatown when we visited relatives in Sydney.Usually we would end up eating from the “all you can cram on a plate” buffets because it was all so good and we didn’t want to miss anything. And probably because it was food like that we were used to in the country. And then there was the bbq pork. Dad used to buy a kilo or so and we’d sit in the back of the Kombi, Mum doling it out on pieces of paper. We’d demand more and guzzle and fight until it was gone and we’d be at Hornsby on our way back up the coast. Our parting gift from Sydney.
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A turnip for the looks

Five weeks now without a car, although the insurance company promises me it’ll be fixed on Wednesday. Promises, promises.

Having no car, even in Canberra, even in winter, has been absolutely fine until this last week when I’d already been sick for a week when both the kids got really crook. Bit of a bugger walking a five year old home from the doctor and having to wait while he vomits because he’s been coughing so hard. Could be worse, of course, as no-one has cancer (we hope) and everyone has all their limbs, but I felt sorry for the little bugger all the same.

So on Saturday morning I pounced on my dear friend Steevy when he dropped by IN HIS CAR and inveigled him into taking us to Choku Bai Jo. It was lovely to see Cristy, Paul and Lily there, even though I had to confess that I was buying a bunch of baby turnips just because they were tiny! (the largest nearly an inch wide) and cute! although I had no idea what I was going to do with them.

Pasta with baby turnips, bacon and turnip greens

This needs about 10 minutes preparation time and up to 15 minutes to cook, depending on the pasta you choose (wholemeal spirals for us). Will serve 3 adults or 2 adults and two kids.

Ingredients

1 bunch baby turnips, washed thoroughly with the greens cut into 3-4 cm lengths.
2 rashers bacon
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
toasted walnut fragments
romano cheese, grated finely
black pepper
a sturdy pasta that you like

Preparation

Put on a big pot of water to boil.

I’d planned to leave a little of the stems on the turnip bulbs, Japanese-style but was defeated by the tiny grit filled folds of stem and cleanly beheaded them before slicing each one into two or three thick slices. Go with whatever you’ve got the patience for.

Parboil the turnips for a minute or so and retrieve them. Add the turnip greens to the pot for just a minute and drain them, then add salt and the pasta to the pot.

Chop the bacon into 1 cm slices and fry gently. I only had that poxy flabby packet bacon – thanks, Dad – so cooked it veerrrrrrry slowly until it had crisped gently and then splashed on some some Camellia Oil. I have fallen in love with Camellia Oil thanks (again) to Fuchsia Dunlop – it’s earthy, peppery and delicious. Add in the crushed garlic and turnips and after a few minutes stir through the greens. In just a minute the pasta will be ready, and you can throw some in the pan.

Serving

Serve in a nice deep bowl, and sprinkle generously with parsley and walnuts and a bit less generously with cheese and pepper. The turnips are mellow and subtle, the greens are zingy and delicious and the pasta gives you enough energy to chase children all afternoon. Ann, you may omit the bacon, but then you’d want to add some salt.

So now I have to work out what to do with the cavolo nero (aka Tuscan kale, black kale or dinosaur kale) that was the other thing I couldn’t resist …

cavolo nero


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