Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is all the shit worth going Organic!?

Well, it's certainly been a while and I guess I had to have some kind of epithany or some life changing experience worth sharing, that would bring me back to the the world of food blogging. Well dear reader, I have had such an experience. Birth by fire you might say! First of all I would like to say hello to all who have ever read my blog and sorry for being away for such a long time. I was last incommunicado in Christchurch New Zealand, starting my chef course and loving every bit of it. During the space in between, I finished my course, which was everything I had dreamed of. Fell madly in love with my girlfriend, who was so supportive of my life changing careeer choice and then ventured to London. In London I had a short spell visiting my mate Neil (fellow food blogger who introduced me to an amazing man Iqbal Wahhab, the founder of Roast, a fabulous restaurant in the Borough Market. During our meeting/lunch, which I have to say was marvellous, he told me he knew a man who needed a private chef and he would put me in touch. True to his word he exchanged contact details and while I was travelling in Italy, visiting Lisa, who had ventured off on holidays of her own, I arranged to meet one, Jody Scheckter. A millionaire who was once a Formula One racing driver winning the Grand Prix in 79, who then became a fabulously successful innovator of gun training machinery and made his money there. This was not enough for a man who likes a challenge - he then decided that he would buy a farm in Hampshire and establish an organic farm that produced the best food his family could eat. Well he didn't stop there and now he has a unique farm of gargantuan proportions (a word easily slipped in that Daryll Hannah would be proud and envious). A farm that is not only massive in scale, but of such diverse and original complexity to make it a 'one of a kind'. Its a "bio-dynamic organic farm", producing everything God ever intended for us the way nature is supposed to nuture and provide. Organic chicken, geese, pigs, boar, buffalo, beef, lamb, wheat, barley, hops, milk, eggs, fruit and veg, cheese, ice cream, salami, biltong - the list is endless.

Well I met him after my holiday in Italy and a day later I was working for him as House Chef and something more that I am not quite sure has even been developed yet. And if it does get developed it will be by me. What I am saying is that i need to create the role. So I am now esconced in immediate employment, infatuated with "this place" (Laverstoke Park Farm) and the fact that everything is produced and consumed on the farm (sold elsewhere also, but the main plan was for the Scheckter's to eat and enjoy). During my time here, I have involved myself in understanding the place and have therefore worked in various divisions to get a better understanding.

Now I get to the crux of the moment when I felt this all was worth writing about and hopefully will inspire me to write more again, regularly. Well today, during my induction into this escape from reality farm world, I worked in the Dairy. I got to milk buffalo and cattle, feed calves, hold a piglet, let the free range chickens run not just free but rampant around the fields and watch a few bulls have an almighty scrap, determining which one is boss in the neighbourhood. Well a bull got thrown out of a field (one tonne of animal) Afterwards, he looked kind of sheepish about it all. The chickens clambered all over the car and in the passenger seat (teach me to close the doors when working). The pigs were gorgeous, although I was emotionally wrecked during, as two little piglets had died overnight. And although I felt the milking would be incident free, I was appalled and disgusted at the fact that having to hold down a buffalo that unfortunately had been in a fight earlier and as a result suffered from blood in her milk. Said buffalo decided to shit while I was holding her and then proceed to wipe my face with her shitty tail. Later when I thought I had recovered from such a disgusting attack on my person, another buffalo decided to wipe her piss drenched tail accross my face while I was managing the suction cups.

I was disgusted and appalled and the other workers laughed on as if it was the most normal thing in the world and I was behaving like the buffalo had just given me herpes. So, I have determined that I like cooking them, love their milk and cheese, but if another buffalo wipes its dirty disgusting shit and piss drenched tail over my face ever again it'll be Tesco's all the way for me, organic or not. Farming is fun but just aint my thing!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vinegar or Wine, Delicacy or dogs dinner!

As we come to a close of the second week in my cookery course, what have I learnt? Well, I now know there is a competitive streak in me determined to have my presented dish look better then the next persons. I think I want to be the best student, definitely in this group, that NZSFW has ever had. I am sure that will be a ridculous statement to make so soon into the course and my abilities are still so naive and young. Nurturing the passion to develop grand menus and challenging dishes that excite and delight will take longer then the requisite 16 weeks. We have worked on vegetables and stocks and sauces so far and no the heat in the kitchen will be turned up because these things although difficult in themselves are the boring and back to basics of cooking. However, when we are grilling a fish or baking a lamb shank or have a nice steak on the gridle we have to be thinking "veggies?", "sauce?" and make and ensemble piece.
First set of homework handed in and no one is quite sure what was expected of us. Guess we shall find out on Monday and just how little prepared we all are for the amount of effort they are expecting of us. Do we wanna shine. Well I bloody do so I know I need to write more and get reading more and devour cookery books by the truck load. Heston Bleumenthal's Fat Duck book was on a stand in a bookstore yesterday and I skimmed through it. Massive and full of amazing colours and things that dont quite look like food. He has laid out the challenge, as has Jamie and Gordon and I am not looking to emulate Floyd with a bottle of red in one hand. Do I wanna be like Nigel Slater - he at least is down to earth and no nonesense. Like Nigella - no we already have the porn star celebrity chef - no emulating that, besides she has it in spades.
Had our first wine day as well and looking forward to more of those. Keri our instructor seems very well versed and a lot of fun. Tasting jelly babies as the initial instruction on how the tongue works in conjunction with our nose. Olfactory senses appear to be bloody important in being able to taste food. My liquorice jelly bean tasted like sugar and nothing else when I held my nose. When I released it all the aniseed smells emanated around me and filled my mouth with new sensations. I guess thats why chicken soup is subjected to people with colds/flus - they can't bloody taste it anyways so why not.
I made French Onion Soup today and was dissapointed in the final colouring of my onions. Was I too lacklustre in the browning process - afraid to burn - I dont now, trying to impress the boss (head chef) I tried to be too careful with my cooking heat. As a result I lightly sauteed and braised my onions until browning was just turning them to mush. It still tasted delicious though in the end. Smothered in toasted sourdough bread and melted gruyere cheese with a sprinkling of parsley.
Eggs next week. Poached, omletted, in salad, in baking, fried, boiled the team will be toyed with and taunted to create little gems of genius. I have some secret ideas up my rolled up chef sleeves. Will let you know how I get on.
Signing off for now - have a yoga class.
Thanks dear reader for listening to me rant.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Twenty One things to do with a Carrot!

Now the title for this blog could sound extremely rude and some might say, I will get loads of porn surfers looking up my blog now for food porn suggestions. However, as I am writing a blog about my new found wisdom in culinary skills and the course I am on is currently focusing on vegetables - I am surprised myself, with a carrot's versatility. Julienne, Jardinere, Paysanne, (types of cutting techniques). They are used in soups, stocks and as decoration. You roast them, boil them, grate them, puree them - I could go on. Well its interesting for me anyways.
So the course is one week in and I am delighted by the prospects of another 15 weeks. True a week on vegetables may sound boring but we have to have a grounding and build our way up. It was sauces today! - All the french words keep getting stuck in my throat and make me jittery about whether I will remember them all, but I will get there. Bechamel sauce, mornay, mushroom, some easy, some meant to drive you mad, but once you know the technique - its tre terrifique!
So I am bringing home all the food I cook, which means trying to get ellaborate with its uses. Todays mushroom sauce and mornay sauce has been used to make my diner tonight and lunches for the next two days - Just add a little fettucine to the sauces and with the mornay I added a little streaky bacon so carbonara tommorrow. Friday was theory day and we had a day at looking at how to run a kitchen and more importantly what to think about to ensure it makes money. So budgeting and menu planning - I suppose this is what its all really about. getting creative but making it financially viable. Sort of takes the romance out of it all. Sure I would love to order fresh truffles from France - flown over in a lear jet, for that perfect over the top dish that's gonna wow the patrons, but then I would need a patron willing to pay over $25,000 for a dish. I have several projects to work on over the next few months involving setting up a menu for a select group of people (different each project) but ensure I budget accordingly. I have $17.60 to cook a Mediteranean meal for two - that includes starter, main and desert. I pay over $10.00 just for a sandwich for lunch most days. Fuck me its gonna be hard! But enjoying the "wake up and smell the roses" nature of it all. Wish me luck and I will tell you all about my menu decisions.
Thanks dear reader. Speak again soon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

If Only One Day I Could Say Fuck Like Gordon!

Well I have started my course. The first day they announced that we shall get our equipment the next day and we should be careful when dealing with our knives. I was eager to have a decent set of knives to cook with and my mate in London of Lambshank fame asked me if I had cut myself yet and that it was a right of passage into chefdom. Well you will be pleased to note that I did incur a little nick on my middle finger. Only a little blood and the knife impressed me rather then scare me due to the easy way it sliced into the flesh. I have cut quite a few pieces of paper in front of people since to demonstrate just how sharp my knives are.
Its now the 4th day which is slack that I have not written a daily account so far due to the important nature of this course for me and my one day hopes to fucking swear with the best of those celebrity knob chefs. Day one was all hellos and meets and greets. Talk about the course which would follow and in the afternoon a fabulous history lesson in French Cuisine by Celia Hays the founder. She has a history degree so she was eager to share her knowledge in this regard. Her knowledge both old and new of chefs in the know was fascinating and exciting. Having dined at the Fat Duck she could attest to the quality and ingenuity of Heston Bleumenthal. What I did not know was the history of the Michelen Star. Developed by the tyre company of the same name (I never knew - Just always thought it unfortunate that they had the same name), and created as a result of the developments in the motor car. People began to travel in the early 1900's and Michelen wanted them to burn rubber so to speak. Travle far and wide and wear out those tyres. So they encouraged people to visit restaurants further afield then their local areas and rated restaurants worthy of visiting. As a result the michelen star was born and people drive to these bastions of fine dining. As a result the chef's that managed to impress the critics of michelen and earn their stars became the first real celebrity chefs. Right up to Gordon and others who now adorn our TV screens some with amazing insight into food and others with utter drivel. The next day was vegetable cutting (the day I cut my finger). Never knew that there was so much science to the simple sliced carrot. Even faces in a diced carrot will allow even colouring and enhance flavour. So cutting needed to be precise and although it seemed a little anal I can appreciate perfectionism that one bit better.
Day three was soups and we made two vegetable soups which I was lucky enough to bring home and serve to my darling's family for starters in a birthday dinner I had eagerly volunteered to cook. So the guests got two soups, a cream of vegetable which I boosted with fresh coriander and a French Provincial soup called Soupe de Pistou which I spiced up and served with a lovely baked foccacia bread from a local bread artisan (can't wait for my own baking week on the course). She wanted Vienna Schnitzle, which although not fine dining was her birthday request - so I delved into the request with gusto. I made the schnitzle with garlic and parsley butter in its centre so when you cut into it the delicious buttery juices poured out. Vegies where, two types of potato (they are an Irish family afterall) one roasted chips and the other a mash concoction where I blended the potato with three seeded mustard and gruyere cheese then piped out into baking tray in lovely swirls to be lightly roasted. Roasted carrots in honey and seseame seeds, courgettes, shallots and mushrooms fried in butter and parsely, Broccolli and snow peas. It was a veritable feast. I even managed an angel cake with hokey pokey icecream and white chocolate and cream sauce.
Today we did more vegetables. A ratatouie and braised cabbage dish and I got to invent a egg plant dish of BBQ'd eggplant, olive oil, garlic, green peppercorns, parsley and cumin. Fuck knows what I will call it - mayber Patlican a la Dazza. It'll be nice on some of that fucking bread I bought.
Tommorrow is budgeting for restaurants so will have t use my brain and also take a calculator. Eugh - maths.

Its a great course though and can't wait to get stuck into some of the more interesting ingredients. Oh and the wine.

Speak soon dear reader.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Update before the whirlwind!

Well its been a while and I have stopped berating myself for being slack so dont you start on me. I came back from Thailand to Australia. Met my darling at the airport and we ventured accross the country visiting friends and family and in the middle had a bit of break in lovely Byron Bay where I turned 40. There was no great fan fare, I did not feel any different afterall. I did however undertake my first ever Yoga class and despite it being advanced and grueling and I sweated like a 40 year old pig I had a ball. Had a cleansing bath to remove toxins through my feet and all around had a holistic experience. We even fit in some comedy at a festival. Back up to Brisbane after the break and said farewells to family again ("boy not another farewell" said my brother). Lisa sung the national anthem at a race meeting on the Gold Coast to raptuous applause by me and thousands of others and we flew to Sydney and saw Tim Minchin perform. He is a genius and had us in stitches. Then it was off to New Zealand.
Christchurch is a fantastic city and for those of you at all interested I will start a new blog this week called A Life Less Ordinary where I will describe the antics I encounter in this fabulous city over the next four months. Working in factories, writing for magazines and checking out the night life. This blog Squeezing Grapes, will continue with my adventures in food as I embark on a 16 week intensive chef course at the New Zealand School for Food and Wine. Starts Monday, so thought I better get back in the swing/saddle so to speak.
One thing I guess I shall admit before going to this course is that my baking skills are slightly lacking. Having been frightened I could never cook perfect rice I have had two attempts prove perfect of late so I can scratch that one off the can't do list. Baking however. I made a fabulous Carrot cake guessing volumes of ingredients like a man refusing to look at directions when he's lost and it worked out brilliantly although I stuffed up the philly cream icing. Still pefecting that one. Then I tried a big Chocolate Cake. Guessed the ingredients again and added a load of choc chips into the mix. The consitency looked good and it tasted lovely prior to baking and watching it grow in the oven was exciting at it rose perfectly. Then when I tried to see if it was cooked all looked good and i decided to cut it in half so I could add a layer of caramel in its centre. Damn it was still soggy in the middle so I had to bake it again cut in half and watch the goo solidify. I then added the caramel and then smothered it in the thickest glumpy icing made with icing sugar and a chocolate mousse packet (didn't really work but those that ate it agreed the icing tasted lovely). The cake itself was stodgy to say the least and was more like a chocolate brownie cake. Thick and heavy. I blamed it on the choc chips melting and stuffing up the sponge effect but I think I just fucked up the mixture because I refused to look at a recipe. Then little kids arrived at the house so the challenge was to bake cup cakes. Had all the ingredients and then at the last minute decided to throw caution to the wind yet again like the idiot I am and cook 'em "guess stylie". You suck at baking dog - says a Randy Jackson in my ear. Gonna get booted off the cooking idol show me thinks. You cook like a bad kareoke singer says Simon. Oh hell the cup cakes looked great although they grew in the oven like scones. I lathered them up in four different coloured icing toppings with freckles and choc chips and other decorations and although I was unhappy with them the kids gobbled them down. I must start using bloody recipes. Who the hell do I think I am.

I made a big Thai meal for Lisa and friends last week and it was a huge hit - and guess what I used my cooking books from the thai cookery class I attended. What a surprise. Well lesson learned and as I am about to enter school and take instruction from a real chef soon I had better start using the tools they give me.

Speak soon dear reader.
Hopefully with cup cake recipes to blow you away with. Gonna make choc chip cookies to a recipe right now and later whip up a bowl of home made hummous for Lisa. I can do that!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Back To Basics!

Well, you would have thought that after my last blog and the reverence I paid the simple hotel in Krabi compared to the electricity bare bungalow of Koh Jum, that those days of slumming it are behind me (slumming is a big word for the bungalows as they were quite quaint, had their own shower and toilet and did have electricity for 4 hour night). I arrived yesterday afternoon in Kuala Lumpur armed with a budget hotel guide. I chose my hotel based on the symbols you get above each. Air-Con (tick), Shower (tick), Internet (tick) the rest were really supplementary or should I say, elementary. I had decided on a budget (usually unheard of by me) and limited myself to MYR100 per night (about £10). That should do it. The last hotel I stayed in the last time was only MYR120 a night and it was quite reasonable and I had a lovely view of the city, it was close to the shopping district and had internet although its strength was so poor in the room it was almost non existent some times. But I had a mini bar and TV and the bathroom had a bath. So back to my current search, I had agreed on The Green Hut Lodge also near the shopping district so that I was familiar with the best places to eat and shop. It had all the criteria I needed and maximum room was MYR85. I thought bargain.
I had back up hotels should this one be full, but if you ever get to see my travel bag, you will realise getting about fills me with dread. The place looked nice enough. I was asked to go see a room and low and behold the upstairs sections of the building had been raided by Irish builders. Now I am not being racist here when I say this I merely have first hand knowledge of their quirky building ideas. Walls were there shouldn’t be walls, stair wells that seemed to grow out of nothing and find there way to the next floor like some Escher painting. The room I was shown thankfully was not the one I stayed in but I am still not sure whether I got the better room at the end. It had two small single beds squeezed into a space meant for a toilet. The air-con was there – well half of it. The other half went into the wall presumably so that the next room could share. I wonder who gets the control or is it battle of the remotes. Also to my surprise the shower and toilet was a shared one. Well there were several on each floor in crazy haphazard places that only Paddy could of conceived of constructing but no room in the hotel had its own shower/toilet. Bit of cheek that they got away with sticking that little symbol in the budget book I say. When I came down I was reluctant but couldn’t be arsed to move besides it looked clean at least and it had internet which was my pre-requisite. Thankfully / or not I was saved staying in that room by the manager who berated the guy behind the counter for being stupid as they could put two people in that room and make more money. “You want single? I have best room for you with double bed and window” and then the best line I have ever heard in a hotel “you have your own air-con – no share!”, “That’s me sold”, I said. So the man behind the counter helped me up the steps with my gargantuan bag. Seems the Wi-Fi would not stretch to that part of the building so I was told I could use it down in foyer. Seems even though the Wi-Fi was down in the foyer I couldn’t use it there either so had to resort to chatting with my girlfriend on an antiquated computer with a dodgy screen. Well they did not lie….. but!!
I eventually went out and dined in the street market I had used as my source of food the previous visit and had drunken duck hot pot. I personally think they used chicken and hoped I would not notice. I noticed but did not pull them on it. It was nice, the hot pot is infused with rice wine therefore reasoning behind the name “drunken”. What perturbs me is the fact that Thai and Malay people spend so much time cooking and eating fabulous meals and yet appear very lazy with their preparation. They all had mad axe cleavers to cut meat with which is effective and quick but means when eating chicken its like pieces of road kill, with shattered and splintered bones throughout. Not a pleasant experience when eating. The last time I came I decided to be adventurous and ordered frogs in spicy black bean sauce. It all looks appetising and certainly the flavours all worked together but fuck me, did they have to chop the little mites up with a cleaver so that every miniscule portion was saturated with tiny cracked bones and splinters. It was worse then eating little fish were every mouthful is a dance with potential slow death by swallowed fish bone.
Stick to the char sui pork and satay sticks I say, at least the only bone is the stick that runs through the centre and with the pork all you get it the occasional gristle which can be crunched and eaten anyway (Neanderthal, I hear you say!).
After some brief window shopping, I ventured back to my room. Not having been too observant the first time I realised, there was a fitted sheet on the bed but no top sheet or blanket, so presumably I would have to just lay there on the bed cover non-gratis, flagrantly nude to the world. Furthermore there was no towel, so I guess no shower for me then. Presumably, the other backpackers that would stay at this establishment came with there own top sheets and towels. With the size of my bag you would be excused for thinking I had a whole array of linen and bathroom accessories in side – but sadly – no! One saving grace was that the Kuala Lumpur city area has limited Wi-Fi service throughout the city and from the top floor of my salubrious hotel I was able to connect and surf porn for most of the evening. During my sojourn with computer on the bed, of which the bed was the only piece of furniture in the room, I noticed the scurrying of a couple of baby cockroaches on the wall. Damn – well I guess I could not have expected to avoid them in a place like this. After squashing a couple including one which had crawled on the bed and up my arm, you would have thought, he’ll pack now and go find another hotel. One with its own shower and a towel. I am not that much of a snob, well actually I am but I am also interminably lazy and I couldn’t be arsed traipsing around at the time of 11.00pm in search of another hotel. I would also have to argue about getting my room fee back although I would have gladly foregone the MYR52 they charged me (I should hardly complain for a room worth £5 a night, should I). But it crawled up my fucking arm!!
I decided I would brave it and after spraying the contents of my mozzy spray around the bed and luggage (who knows whether it would keep the cockroaches away but at least lying on the bed I should be spared mozzy bites. I slept disjointedly and at one stage felt one in my hair. Oh this was intolerable. Then the neighbour came home at around 3am and was banging and clomping and making all sorts of racket – someone should complain (I am shy! – well lazy at least). I survived the rest of the night without noise or bug incident although I am sure if I taped myself they all must have swarmed all over me the moment I went into deep sleep the little bastards. I had a wash and blow dry at a shopping mall today and have decided on a full body scrub when I arrive in Coolangatta. After my girlfriend reads this she will probably make me wash again in Sydney before I can even kiss her.
So Now I am in the airport, ready to return to Oz and more tastes of adventure and food odysseys await. Thanks for joining me.
You will be hearing from me again real soon.

Monday, March 16, 2009

This Land of Sun, Sand and Spills!

Well nearly at the end of my jaunt in Thailand and its been full of fun and unexpected adventures and delights. I will take away with me the smells and the excitement over cooking. Just today in the night market of Krabi Town the vibrancy and energy surrounding the place makes you feel you are in a circus. The chefs all around in the makeshift kitchens with flaming woks some flames shooting high into the night (mostly for effect I dare say), the waitresses grabbing couples and families and singles to sit at the nearest chairs to their stall so that they can win another customer. The menus juggled like ten pins and the plates jostling all around the hub bub finally making it to their respective tables with eager faces, forks and chopsticks at the ready. For tourists and locals alike this market produces a prodigious amount of food on any given night. With the piquant smells of lemon grass, ginger and chillies filling the air its like the piped piper calling to the rats - and oh we scurry.
So on ending this holiday i am nursing an injury from a motor scooter accident of which I have only myself to blame. Sober and with pillion rider in tow I ventured around my island haven of Koh Jum (Pu Island for those who can not remember previous blogs). We entered terrain meant for 4WD only and carelessly ventured forward even after we had reached the point on the map the hire company had told me to avoid. With danger on every slippery rock we pressed forward until on the top of an escarpment with wondrous views of the Adaman Sea to be admired I lost my nerve on the impending swooping hill. So retreating back to safer roads we thanked ourselves lucky for no misadventures. Beer was beckoning and lovely forest floated on either side of me on a normal relatively safe dirt track for the island. Low and behold a bloody big goanna (iguana type lizard from these neck of the woods closely related to the Kamodo Dragon - I kid you not) was sun bathing on the path. The fact that he was 2 metres long meant he took up the entire path. Now normally my brain does not work this quick but in succession the following thoughts flowed through my head. If I run over its tail it may swing back and bite me or Silvia my Scottish pillion rider. If I hit it dead on its large enough to topple the bike without killing it and therefore I will be on the ground with a huge pissed off lizard. Thirdly I registered that slowing down may just prompt it to scurry off but that braking hard to stop will surely cause pre-goanna crash. In the split seconds that these thoughts occurred I braked softly at first and when realising darn goanna was not scurrying on, I hit the brakes harder. I was aware of yelling to the girl on the back "we are going down", before the bike even started to lose grip on the road and suddenly I was down. Losing my watch and silver bracelet, which no doubt saved me from larger injuries. Silvia, sadly went down behind me and immediately lept to her feet before I had even stopped sliding. She asked what happened and then I saw the blood pouring from her knee. I think I got off lightly. Now, what is it with nearly deserted islands that you don't see anyone for ages and then if you do something stupid three people come along immediately to gawp at you. So sadistic nurse in town, after a very careful ride back, cleaned our wounds and gave Silvia a bandage (bless her she was brave and only a few tears came out). Said sadistic nurse relished dabbing iodine on my scraped up elbow. I nearly cried like a baby.
The next morning I had booked a snorkeling trip around the nearby islands. Being told not to get my arm wet until the seeping wounds had scabbed did not deter me. Besides drinking loads of beer and smoking some local weed from the island helped my determination to see some lovely sights the next morning. We went to Bamboo Island (I say we - I mean I joined a group of two couples from Germany and from Birmingham). We snorkeled in some of the loveliest waters I have seen with the exception of places in the Whitsunday Islands in the Barrier Reef. We then ventured to the island itself were a National Marine Park fee of 200 Bahts was required. We all agreed that as long as beer was sold on the island we would pay. Lovely chicken and fried rice was prepared for us for the day trip and Singa beers washed them down. The sand on this island was as white as snow and the water a crystalline green. If you stood up to your neck in the sea on the beach and looked down you could see your feet as if you were on dry land. We later ventured to Mosquito Island and thankfully that's a misnomer. No bugs at all, just weird rock formations and staggeringly beautiful vistas. The ride home was interesting for the fact that our Thai captain had to undertake repair work on the engine when we were still 3km's off shore - nicely making us all confident in our vessel.
Drinks and a feast that evening with Sarah and Duncan the Brummies, together with two other couples I had met in the resort and pretty soon we had ourselves a fare gathering which they all started calling a farewell party. I was quite chuffed, they were all very sweet and one friend I had met actually woke at 6.30am to see me off as well - The owners were asking whether i knew all these people before the trip as we all seemed to act like we had known each other for ages. Enough to bring a tear to the eye. Sal the woman who owned Woodland Lodge on Koh Jum surprised me by cooking me her favourite dish, Seafood Peanang Curry. It was amazingly sweet and spicy at the same time and a faint taste of peanuts. Sal even took me to the main land and dropped me at the current hotel I am staying at in Krabi (to make sure she got me off the island she joked).
Oh the delights of modern technology. Having spent 10 days on Koh Jum with electricity available in my room when I was never in it (between 6pm and 10.30pm meaning I am in the bar or at a restaurant), meaning arriving in the bungalow hot and in pitch black with no fan, I can definitely say I am happy I now have air con. I once would never have been bothered by this lack of comforts. Now however I have developed a taste for some of the finer things in life (no I don't mean a fan in my rickety bungalow would have been "finer things"). Nearly all my fellow islanders were backpackers on a budget and had not seen air con for months - washing their own clothes whilst having a shower themselves - that is when they have showers. Of the small bunch of friends I made on the island however there was Sharlene and Grant (friends I had briefly met in Sydney at a mates BBQ) who just happened to be on the island (see previous blog about "perfection and the barracuda carppacio"), well all I have to say is that I would have much preferred their bungalow. Bloody Luxury compared to mine. Well they still only get a fan and I have now got 24 hour free Wi-Fi and air con at will.
Kuala Lumpur tomorrow and perhaps a blog about the 3 days I had there before I came to Thailand as well as tomorrow's adventure. Maybe I will have started adding photos as well by then. We can only hope.
Catch you all soon.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Perfection Found In Paradise

So as not to labour the point, I am having a marvellous time in Thailand, obviously too good a time to sit and write blogs in the blistering heat, so i will apologise no more. But having some time and some exciting things to say I thought I may tolerate a sweat fest for an hour for your pleasure. Having left the mainland of the Krabi Province for a small island 2 hours south, I was expecting white sandy beaches and cute bungalow huts in rows between palm trees. Lazy days rocking in hammocks and reading books that I have been meaning to read for ages, sipping Singha beers as the sun slowly drops down on the horizon in glorious technicolour - and I wasn't dissapointed. However I was not prepared for my idyllic paradise to be so cut off from modern technology - like electricity. Yes of course there is some on the island or I wouldn't be typing this blog right now but when you realise its because they run a generator out the back and charge an arm and a leg for sitting in baking heat as the electricity can only charge the computers and internet and could not possibly cope with a fan or two as well. Well you get a slight idea. My resort (the word resort makes it sound swish doesn't it) is a collection of updated bungalows following the disaster of the tsumani that have been updated merely by the attachment of a toilet and shower at their rear. A minor neccessity I would suggest. No electricity during the day and the generator fired up at 6pm and executed at 10.30pm sharp, so if phones and other technological necessities are not charged during said time your royally screwed. What makes it even worse without electric in the dead of night you have to crawl around in the dark to find the toilet and hope the breeze from the sea picks up to stop you from sweating. But to give the island its fair do, it is stunning, rustic and has a lovely charm to seduce even the sweatiest.
Food fare is your standard thai meals with the occasional incredible crab curry when freshly caught in the local area. However I stumbled upon a little slice of heaven, which wasn't even Thai food. After stumbling accross some friends from Sydney who just happened to be staying down the beach (love coincidences), I was invited to dine with them at their far more exclusive resort (fucking 24 hour electricty). The decor and set up at their resort was nothing less then sumptuous so I settled down to expect an exorbitant bill at the end of my meal. It was nothing of the sort and to my astonishment on the specials of the day was something that made my mouth water and my anticipation impatient. Barracuda Carpaccio with capers and olive oil. Now I know that sounds amazing right! Having tried barracuda for the first time in a curry the night before I was squeeling for the waitress to come over and take our orders. It sooooo reached my expectations of deliciousness I was overjoyed. Like any good sashimi but with the Italian edge and what marvellous capers and olive oil on my tin pot no electric island. The rest of the meal was average due to the fact that the chef in this plush resort europeanised (if thats not a word sue me) the food by making all the spice seem non existent. So after ordering some prik nom plar (a fish sauce and fresh chillie accompaniment) I was able to spice up all three of the main meals on the table to suitable Thai standards. Later we strolled along the beach as the full moon rose high and gave the sand an opalescence, arriving at the dubious Freedom Bar painted in reggae style. The evening was meant to be a short one due to the encroaching high tide which would eviscerate the beach for a couple of hours. We ended up staying out until 2am by which time the tide had begun to recede. This particular druggie den is owned by the mayor of the town so its often considered a safe haven for hippies and backpackers looking for a little bit more than a cheap beer to get their thrills. I hired a moped earlier that day and there was no number plate on the back. the man renting me the bike said quite straight faced, "thats ok there are no police on the island". So perhaps with the mix of wealthy and beautiful resorts and cheap backpacker accomodation striving both for a standard of living that matches peoples requirements, the perfect setting of this gorgeous island and the terrific food found at all corners, this is a little bit of perfection in paradise.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Exotic Ready Steady Cook!

Well, having proclaimed my desire to write about everything I do and hopefully daily in an effort to get me ready for my New York jaunt, I must unabashedly apologise to your dear reader. I have been cooking up culinary delights aplenty, drinking copious amount of Singha beer and a strange rum substance known as Sing Som, kayaking through stunning scenery between vast karsts (the craggy rock islands of Krabi Province), lounging on beaches and partaking of the odd Thai massage (no happy ending!) and all I have written so far is two measly blogs. Well apologies are all I have and of course the power of the keyboard. I can found solace in retrieving some dignity by writing several recapping blogs for you over the next few days. That is if we have internet connection at our next destination, the strangely named Pu Island. Koh Pu or even Koh Jum as its sometimes known as, is about 2 hours south of my current destination and will involve not one but two boats to get me to my destination. The first boat will drop anchor somewhere at sea and await smaller boats to come and drag bags and tourists from the ferry to the topsy turvy unstable long boats that will take us to respective hotels. So far, I will leave my judgements about Pu Island until we get there. It will be shit if my bag ends up in the Adaman Sea mid transfer however. But I have been recently informed that Pu is Thai for crab so it may mean crab will appear on the menu when we arrive (yippee I can escape the shit jokes).
The last two days I have been cooking up a storm at the Siam Culinary School where the lovely Pin (my teacher and chef) rushed me through 12 dishes in the space of only 4 hours. Yes that's 12 (over two days I must say) and you have to eat them as you go as well, although I learnt the art of will power and doggie bags from my first visit, much to the delight of my house mates. Wonton soup from scratch - I loved making those little morsels and the soup was the best I had ever tasted. Thai fish cakes, chicken spicy salad, spring rolls, steamed fish in lime, steamed fish in banana leaves, chicken in pandanas leaves (getting good at all the origami for food), fried fish with three flavour sauce, paenang curry and massaman curry. On top of all that we had to empty the fridge out tonight at the apartment, so I rustled up a calamari salad in mint and coriander and lime, and some morning glory in an oyster sauce, compliments of Jesse the speckled yank who looks like Harry Potter. With doggie bags from the cookery school it was veritable feast yet again. This is in a kitchen without running water now, I must add - it would appear the local villagers are having water cut off in some political move, which is so inconsiderate for the farangs (us poor foreigners who have decided to stay in a village rather then the resort areas). We need our regular showers in this heat and to be able to flush the toilet in the middle of the night - yuk! (that was for you readers who were still salivating at the food itinerary above - cruel aren't I). I have been told by a very sexy woman that she will not read my blogs at lunch times any more after I described the anuses of kangaroos in detail in one of them. I bet she is reading at lunch time again - darn, I'll get another irate mail. Death threats will follow.
We actually headed to the local river for a dip this afternoon thinking we may not get a shower tonight. Then we had a downpour like no other, with lightning that lit up the sky and still no running water.
Anyway I digress - I seem to do that a lot. I was talking about Pin and the 12 dishes she rushed me through. I don't necessarily think she usually rushes people but it was one on one rather than a whole class as I was doing some advanced cooking class with her and at one stage I had 4 dishes all cooking at once which is cool because if I want to be working in a kitchen someday soon I should be easily able to handle this small challenge. It was like Ready Steady Cook though only without the clock just a Thai chef on speed or late for a date. Rushing along with assistants preparing some chopped vegetables first, my mortar and pestle crushing ingredients into exotic pastes at rates normally set for industrial food blenders. In one photo of me (with cleaver in hand) I looked positively insane. But it was all extremely fun. everything tasted so powerfully, and over and over I heard Pin's mantra "you want salty you use fish sauce, you want sweet you use sugar, you want spicy you use chillies, you want sour you use lime - salty, sweet, spicy, sour". She was lovely and when it came to spicy we had a few chuckles. Pin's idea of a little spicy was 30 chillies in a paste meant for one serving. My idea of spicy would be around 5 which is sweaty face burning mouth hot. Then she would just look at me with that comical look which said "OK farang let me see you sweat - how hot you want this dish huh!!!!" So obviously I had to rise to the challenge and go for local Thai hot. Pin thankfully admitted that I had asbestos for a throat as even my Thai fish cakes were hot for her. Once again in the cooking class the desert was the only dish fully polished off without doggie bag required. Thai deserts are usually sickly sweet but our sticky rice and mango or the banana in coconut milk and the black rice with coconut had both a salty and mild sweetness, that, combined with the luscious creaminess of coconut cream, made each dish heaven amongst burning fire spicy dishes.
So that was the cooking and the home kitchen has certainly had a workout this last few weeks. Now fridge is clear, the bags are packed and we are off to Pu tomorrow. So I will say goodnight and adieu for now and promise little prequel blogs about Malaysia and stuff (if we have internet on Pu that is). See ya for now.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Too Many Cooks!

Its not true what they say about too many cooks spoiling the broth. We have three cooks in our house at the moment and we are bloody eating like royalty. We are all on holiday but forget restaurants and cafe's they have nothing on us. Surrounded by little rustic villagers, at any given moment markets pop up around us selling local produce, of which we laboriously sift through for the good stuff. the Shangrila of galangal, the prize winning kaffir lime or the aromatic delight of the most pungent lemon grass. As a result our curries and thai soups and stir fries have attained mystical proportions. The locals are curious, "What goes on in this house full of farang's (foreigners)", "what does it mean when they wander back into their house with traditional ingredients - they can't possibly be concoting real thai food". But we do and we do it with glee. In these stinking hot days were the kitchen with the fan is the coolest part of the house, we vie for the chef's hat and relish producing meals fit for kings. Having all gone to Thai cookery classes now as well, we get adventurous and daring and try our hands at new things. Its comraderie and assistance not competiveness and bitchiness, Gordon would be shocked. Although as we all settled down in the living room to listen to music last night and let the swelling of our full bellies subside, a new more intrusive delinquent invaded the space of our oasis in the kitchen. As I wondered into the kitchen to refresh my glass of another vodka (the tipple of choice last night) I encountered these marauders. Six fiesty little bush rats ran up the wall and rushed to their freedom through the eaves. Our kitchen is merely a lean-to at the back of the house so it is open to the elements (we are very tidy and clean cooks so they had no spoils to ransack). So in my best Ozzie Bushman swagger I screamed and ran from the room announcing "fucking rats, fucking rats" and everyone else laughed at me and said they thought I was Steve Irwin. Well, I will venture into this dangerous lair everynight from now on declaring my entrance with vigour and a lot of noise. Rat stew anyone!?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back due to popular demand!

I must admit its nice when people start commenting that they miss your blog. "When are you gonna write again", "I have not seen a new blog from you in a while". Well yes this is true and its about time 'I climbed back onto the horse' so to speak. Its been a bumpy start to my illustrious blogging career so far. No consistency in subject matter, lack of technology in some instances and just plain too busy on the road all the time. I have travelled from Brisbane at my brothers to Melbourne, Sydney (you got a short run down at this point as I saw Leonard Cohen), then off to New Zealand where I fell in love with not only the stunning scenery the constant shifting tastes and flavours that this country had to offer as well as the numerous consumption of lovely wines, but I also fell in love with a beautiful woman. She kinda side swiped me you might say and I got way laid on a different adventure altogether, but I digress. New Zealand then led me back to Brisbane, then Kuala Lumpur and now currently I am in Thailand in the sunny paradise of Krabi. All freaky jutting mountains and all. No way could you describe the landscape as undulating. It positively explodes out of the ground in great abandon. Sheer cliffs and abutments vie for skyline domination in every direction and in between, cute villages, sandy beaches and bubbling streams of pure delight. And I have not even begun on the food. So apart from missing my sweetheart in New Zealand terribly I have the privilege and the ecstatic good fortune to eat lovely exotic foods but also to cook. Luckily I am staying with friends in a village outside the touristic area of Ao Nang in Krabi. We avoid tourist, buy local produce and cook indoors - we are the only 'pharang' or foreigners in town which is kinda lovely. They do laugh at us though when we wander the streets looking at the foods on display and we think "what the fuck is that!".
I cooked a lovely prawn red curry using locally made red curry pastes and great fresh herbs and spices. I prawn stir fry noodle dish that closely resembled a Pad Thai. Some greens in oyster sauce and garlic, and a carrot and sultana salad typical of Thai style salads, guessing all the ingredients along the way. My friends and I must say it was a bloody good meal, and the seconds that were left over were mightily sought after. My friend Sam from Turkey, who I am visiting in Thailand, also taught me that eating a pot noodle was not always a dodgy slack thing to do especially when livened up with a few spoons of the red curry from the night before. As for whether or not it is a newly concocted hangover cure is yet to be seen but we all managed to pull ourselves together with said pot noodle in belly in order to make our way to the Siam Cuisine Thai Cookery School. Here I learnt the secrets behind curry pastes and how to create the basic model for many a Thai dish.
We cooked Stir Fried Noodles and Prawns (Pad Thai), Fried Rice with Seafood (Khao Phad Talay), Hot and Sour Prawn Soup (Tom Yam Koong - both clear and red - made red by adding sweet chilli paste and a little milk), Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup (Tom Kaa Kai), Papaya Salad (Som Tom Thai - which had a very versatile sweet, sour and spicy sauce that can be used for a number of other dishes, which I made by pulverising garlic, chilli, palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice together). Finally we made fried chicken with cashews (Kai Pad Met Ma Muang) and fried chicken with ginger (Kai Pad Khing), followed by the all important curry paste and its resultant green and red curries (Nam Phrik Kaeng Key-au & Dang). The curry paste was exhausting and exalting in equal fashion, as I have always wanted to know how to make it just did not know how much bloody effort went into it. Its exhausting due to the lengthy pummeling involved with mortar and pestle. Grinding was not only useless but further time consuming, you had to bash the ingredients to a pulp for about 20 minutes before the teacher was satisfied we had all sweated enough. A bloody blender would have made me very happy at this point but it was nice getting the hands dirty.
So chillies (a lot! green ones for green curry paste and red ones for red curry paste - seems kinda elementary now but I didn't know at the time), shallots, garlic, galangal (Thai ginger), lemon grass, ginseng, kaffir lime peel, coriander root and shrimp paste. Said blender would be used in future at this point, but mash away we did and a fine result furnished us with the tastiest curries any of us had ever had - mine was green and I mean green, not the anemic green I was used to. You may be wondering what about desert and you won't be dissapointed. A sticky rice with mango and coconut cream - it was to die for!
Another thing you may be wondering in between runs to the fridge for a snack after I hopefully have made you all hungry is, what did we do with all the food. You start cooking around 9.30am and each dish you create you have to eat. I tell you by the time we brought our curry's to the table we were begging for doggy bags and only able to dip spoons in to taste. But when the desert came out despite our distended bellies and groans of near stomach exploding proportions, a taste was all we thought we could manage and the second stomach in humans reserved for deserts allowed us literally lick the plates clean.
So as I relish the impending further classes intended, I leave you with the thought that I am a lucky bastard indeed to be in this position. I shall cook for my friends again tonight, a pork red curry with local Thai aubergines and wash it down with Singha beers, which have become my new friend for the next three weeks. More exotic sandy and deserted beaches await me and treks on khayaks through caves and canyons. The feeding of monkeys and the washing of elephants and perhaps a little shopping and bargaining on the tourist streets to buy interesting tid bits for my darling back in New Zealand. Hopefully I can bring you more mouthwatering discussions about Thai culinary delights in the next day or so. Until then try not to bare me any grudges or wish harmful things on me due to jealousy. Thanks dear reader.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The gap in the spaces in between!

My God! You would have thought I had fallen off this godforsaken earth and wound up in an episode of lost. I have been sorta lost for the last three to four weeks! I even had one dear reader beg me to start blogging again as they were hanging out for more intrigue and adventure. Something to hinge their life upon even though I think their life is quite interesting without me. Anyway it was cute - he said he felt like my bitch! Then there was the UK contingent. "When you blogging again mate" is everything alright. Well I was in Melbourne for a stint but this was before the fires. I do feel sorry for the people that have lost their lives and those continuing to struggle with this massive tragedy. I left just as the temp started hanging around the 42 degrees mark everyday. ooooofff thats bloody hot. We had Australia Day celebrations at an amusement park for the clinically boring. Every ride was slow enough for a yawn to seem exciting. I then flew to Sydney to meet an old friend. She was attending a concert of some repute and I decided to surprise her by buying my own ticket and just show up with champagne in hand and a wry smile. Maryanne is in a wheelchair, although her disposition does not stop her from being one of the most loveable and exciting people I know. When I arrived with my auntie and hid behind a wall, as the initial hello's transpired (was trying for surprise you see) she caught a small glimpse and assumed I was my aunties secret lover. Thank god that got cleared up in a jiffy. Well we went off to grab a Chinese in Chinatown and not many were in the mood for being grabbed. However, we settled on one which tantalised our tastebuds, although Verlyn (auntie) had to have a 'heated debate' with the waiter to the point were I believe he intentially then caused her food to arrive tasteless and bland, which is a hard feat in a Chinese restaurant with so much MSG and soy sauce. We tarted it up with chillies and various pastes demanded from the kitchen until she was satisfied. Although she remained annoyed at the fact that everyone else's meals came out tasting deliciously Chinese. It was then off to the concert. Only one Leonard Cohen. 75 in the shade and well known for his maudlin depressing lyrics about lost love and pain. So what did we do - we sat through 3 hours of the most tantalising and inspiring music I had ever heard, with a band that could make you weep. but all the applause needed to go to this man who skipped and cajolled the audience into laughter and adoration. He kneeled on stage to evoke prayer and determination and we could not hear his knees crack as he stood. I think he was fit as a fiddle. He went through his repetoire and I thought I had only a small knowledge of his greatness but it seems I knew most of his songs. He read some as poetry and also encouraged his band and backing singers to steal limelight and take centre stage - he was most ecstatically irreverant when in postures of humble pride for his own band and singers. Hat on chest in supplication. I wanted to kiss him!
It's times like that when you feel quite small and insignificant. This man has written poetry and music and written novel after novel in a career that spans more than 50 years and he was still on the top of his game.
I then on impulse - (I do that!!) flew to Christchurch in New Zealand to attend a wedding of some complete strangers, so that I could get to know a bit better an 'amazing' friend I had met some one whole year earlier. Invited as her guest to this wedding was crazy and exciting in equal measure. I will no doubt bore you all with many stories of my adventures in New Zealand in seperate blogs as some will delight in wine tasting and some in the thrills and spills of Middle Earth and what it has to offer (swimming with dolphins). Some readers will further delight in the antics of local artisans. Comedy shows (although I missed out on Billy Connelly by a wee smidgen), Comedic Theatre in the park, and even some entertaining made by ourselves (kareoke reared its ugly head again). The sights tantalised and the people (and horses) took my breath away. So stay tuned my dear reader and I shall divulge the reasons for my Gap month over the coming days! Heading to Thailand next so stay tuned for even more.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's a Wilderness and It's in My Backyard!

Over the last few months I have been to wildlife sanctuary's, zoo's, been down the Great Ocean Road and seen koalas in the wild for the first time in my life as well as echidnea's. Kangaroos ate out of my hand and wild king parrots landed on my shoulders to feed. Its all been magical really. I have had to pay to see some and travel miles and miles for others. Today however was a 10 minute drive from my brothers to the local golf course and it was wild. Literally. There was lazy kangaroo's languishing in the shade all over the course. Flocks of galas and cockatoos, lorikeets and ducks (even baby duckings waddling around the 9th hole below the bunker). We also had about a million fruit bats hanging from every branch available along one edge of the course. Some of the kangaroos looked like ground keepers observing the players with disdain. Most looked like models stretched out under jacaranda trees, pouting and postulating looking like they have just asked for diet water from a waiter and been rudely rebuffed- I have decided that kangaroos have very strange potruding anuses. I know, not something you really wanted to hear but its the truth and apart from that they are perhaps one of the most graceful and beautiful animals on this planet. My brother mark has promised me a kangaraoo vindaloo before I leave (I know I am evil aren't I).

Where Do The Children Play

Yesterday I slept badly. The weather was hot, the air still and my thoughts restless. I woke in the middle of the night uncomfortable and so aware of the stillness in the night. It was 2.30am, and I was not sure whether the window was open as the air was - well there wasn't any. I got up and approached the window and sure enough the window was wide open but no wind at all to circulate. As I stood there contemplating a cold shower, a poo, mastturbation or continued restless and uncomfortable sleep I thought of the futility of time and the time I was wasting in Australia when I could be studying in New York or something else that would be beneficial for my career. Then I remembered the fact that the two children sleeping in the nearby bedrooms would only have a few more days with their uncle before he heads off and thought this is all worth it as I will sadly miss so much of their formative years. We had DVD's to watch and Wii games to play and the pool to swim in and other activities to look forward to in the morning. I showered and had a colonic movement. Felt slightly better and tried to sleep again.

Morning broke and the kids already had a movie playing before breakfast. After breakfast they wanted more DVD's but I encouraged them to go for a swim before their eyeballs went square. We played water fights and then chase. Soon I was Patrick Duffy performing all sorts of aqua manouvers, outrunning or catching, it was great fun. When exhaustion was achieved I crawled out of the pool and got changed and no sooner had I retreated to the house, the kids opted for another film. It is difficult for them, what with school holidays lasting an age. Its too hot for them to enjoy outdoor activities for more then a few minutes. I had taken them to Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo on one of the hottest days of summer so far and although their excitment can distract them for a considerable time the heat slowly sucked all the fun out of the day by the end and the kids where saying "can we go now" as I slowly dragged them to the front gates in a catatonic state myself. Good parenting skills shown that day!

I had plenty of things to do in the afternoon and felt a bit guilty to leave them behind but their Mum was taking them to the coast Sunday so they would have things to do later. Presently I was rushing off to dinner with another brother for a metre long pizza and then the football at Suncorp Stadium. The football was great and although my brother thinks by wearing non colours at the game he is a talisman of luck for the Roar (Queensland's football team), I think it might be me that's the good luck talisman, as they have been unbeaten since I arrived and the last two games I saw at the stadium they have won. 3 to 1 last night and a hatrick to Van Dijk. Speaking of football, my own team back in the UK, Arsenal won against Hull City and I was fortunate enough to have been woken by my brother at 3.30am to watch it (did that sound sarcastic - it was meant to be). I bet I wake this morning at the same time as this is habit forming even though I am exhausted. Well its cooled off tonight and there is no football, so it will only be for toilet matters or masturbation. Or Both!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lets Whip Up A Storm!

Friday was Thai Curry night, I was collecting bits and pieces for the dinner throughout the week and in between moments of extreme heat and diving into the pool for some form of relief I slowly began to prepare dinner. I started with a Thai Carrot Salad, with carrots of course, grated and spring onion and sultanas and a chilli. This dish can be far spicier if you want and the sultana's always take the edge off it. I then added coriander and parsley and huge dollop of fish sauce and some honey. I have done it before with extra chilli in the form of tabasco sauce and some cumin powder. I also grated a small amount of lemon grass into the salad for extra flavour. Next was time for another swim - boy it was hot yesterday and today seems to be warming up in similar fashion. I am sitting here covered in a light coat of sweat from head to foot like I have just passed through a steam machine. I think a swim after this will be in order as well. I cooked the Chicken Green Curry in a slow cooker (the one Lyn used a few days before to cook the silverside. We were not too sure how it would work but thought the process would achieve similar results just over a longer cooking time. The great thing about this is you can just add all the ingredients in at once and Bob's your uncle. Leave it all to its own devices. So Thai Green Curry Paste, with coconut milk, chicken, roughly chopped onions, garlic, a good helping of coriander and parsley, roughly chopped lemon grass so you can notice it before biting into it, chillies, some dried shitake mushrooms, which I had softened in hot water 30 mins before (don't forget to use the water in your curry for the flavour is all in the water). Add snow peas at the end of the cooking process and if you can find them Chinese artichokes (little pea like vegetables that suck up the juice and explode in your mouth). I then used the left over shitake mushrooms, chopped up some bok choy and stir fried it in a frypan with oyster sauce, a little fish sauce and some thai sweet chillie sauce, together with some ginger and garlic. MMMMM yum yum. Rice in a rice cooker with some coconut milk and the whole feast was a delight for the senses. We all ate heartily and washed it down with refreshing Sol beers and lemon (we had run out of lime) and a bottle of Ned's savignon blanc. I think I am ready to eat it all over again having just described it all. There was enough left overs for a feast again today so may do just that. Off to the football tonight at Suncorp Stadium and a few days at my other brothers (Golf on Sunday). So while I sweat away in front of this computer I shall say adeiu once again and hopefully have more stories to tell you over the next few days. My golf on the Wii is far better the my golf on a real course but looking forward to the excercise. Drank way too much and eating far too much these last few weeks. Have to put myself on an excercise regime next lifting beers with my left hand for a while instead of my right I think! Speak soon dear reader.

Let Me Entertain You!

Well the last couple of days have been a wurlwind. Went to my mates Thursday and saw Slumdog Millionaire, which was fabulous and deserves a best film nomination at the Oscars this year but may be overlooked by more Hollywood fair, as its gritty and alive and a bit too real for Oscar. This was followed by a play in my mates pool with his two adorable children, me doing the ubiquitous monster, chasing and throwing and spinning the kids around to screams of delight. We all swallowed way too much pool water, which I am now blaming for the way I felt the next morning - after drinking about 20 JD and cokes and singing my lungs out at the local kareoke. Yes it was kareoke night and we all knew how the night would play out. I arrived at the pub and helped my mate set up (so much gear for a kareoke night - I was quickly getting intimidated). There was a bloody stage for christ sakes - this was no tin pot affair - we were going for Idol re-enactments. I started to squirm in my seat. I needed alcohol and fast. The beer was taking too long to drink, even though it was low carb for my figure, so I switched to old faithful JD and diet coke. I scrolled through the song lists - Damn - No Robbie Williams, Feel. Whenever you decide to embarrass yourself with a night of kareoke you must start with a song that you feel comfortable with, so that sliding down that slippery slope into embarrassment hell seems acceptable. I procrastinated, I moaned and lamented and then I wrote down about 15 song requests like a lunatic eager for his lobotomy. I murdered the first song "Hotel California" singing in a droll tone completely off key, but strangely got applause (they mock you with their false appraise to place you into a strange sense of security). I then went onto to sing a John Cougar Mellancamp song and followed that with Robbie's "Angels" and now I was on top of the world. I was the new Idol singer, nothing could stop me, born with a new sense of freedom I sang songs I never would have dreamed off and joined in with the ever intoxicated crowd to sing along to my mate singing "Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again" - "No Way, Get Fucked, Fuck OFF". Apparantly I danced like a loon to renditions of "It's Raining Men" and "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" (I learnt this as I was leaving my mates house the next morning. Tail firmly between legs - reputation bruised and sullied).
So despite being cautious I was no match for the JD lubricating my ego and making me feel like a superstar. I am only pleased that I did not drop my pants on stage or writhe erotically and suggestively to stupid lyrics, which it has been known that I have succumbed previously in my time. Thank god for small favours huh!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Truthful Allusions - Self Proclaimed Mcarthyism

So I have been at writting my blog for a week now and had encouragement from friends and family far and near. I have struggled with technology but I now have jumped that hurdle, this software has an autosave and I had no idea where it was saving to but I am hip with it now. I have managed to blog with a general foodie theme in each, although this will be developed especially as I get involved full time. In the meantime I have to make do with events in my life at present (still in lazy bum mode on holiday in Australia), eeeking out interesting stories and views from the mundane. What I didn't think I would be doing this early in the juncture if at all was to censor myself from my free, open, honest and frank vision of expression. Remember my first blog - you will not be seeing the expegated version. It was gonna be warts and all. Not that anything has happened yet that god forbid I might be embarrassed about or would shock my mother into a nunery. Although, should it, could I muster the courage to say what I want. I am opening myself to the world, not individual readers and why should I be worried about how I am perceived by others. Surely the pleasure I may acheive in writing these blogs is because I can write from my heart knowing its me and I am proud of who I am.
So before I go any further I must first of all banish this Mcarthy fellow in my head. I will not be painting pictures that I think you dear reader will want to read but rather my pictures and whether or not you like what you see and read then you can be the sole judge and jury of your own conscience and decide to read on or not.
Care not I that you may decide to take this journey with me. I am already on it and freedom of expression is one of the last great bastions in this scary world full of political correctness, terrorism, religious fervour, and sadly, ready cooked meals. I have just been talking with a friend back in the UK who has now also decided to take up this blogging idiom and we both agree that we can create code for the things we may want to hide from eyes not adjusted to worlds which may shock or offend. But telling the truth through metaphor and clever disguise - is this not a lie in itself about what we are doing or saying. Too right and if the shoe fits or poetic tryptich works, use it I say! So my description of a wine or a tasty dish might indicate a woman or a mood I am in. Or a woman I am describing may only be a metaphor for a full bodied pinot noir. It may be food porn, real porn, wishful thinking or just plain poor writing. I will not let on and not apologise for any of it - with the exception of poor writing.
So Kareoke session with my mate tommorrow and Thai curry on Friday - read into that what you will. I will be sure to update you all as and when. Until then goodnight.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wasting Time!

Wasting Time! Yesterday was a non event. I woke up and wrote my blog and apart from the computer glich, which saw me lose a whole blog and have to write it all over again, the morning worked out pretty well. There was discussion that we would have guests over in the evening and I offered to make a Thai curry. I was left to my own devices for the rest of the morning and I answered the phone to the supposed guests of that evening to find out that they were otherwise engaged (going to watch the 20 / 20 cricket live at the Gabba - much to Lyn's jealous chagrin). So I felt kinda dissapointed that I would not be cooking, but I promised myself I would go into the shops later to shop for bits for a dinner party later in the week. Whilst at the shops I thought I would scan the sales, not that I needed anything or even should be spending my money, but for something to do and I thought I would catch a film.
Now, 'The Tale of Despereaux' was on at 11.30am and Lyn and the kids were, I assumed somewhere in the shops I was currently in. However I had an intuitive thought that perhaps she would be otherwise busy being harrassed by two bored children, whilst she tried to get them kitted out in new shoes for the upcoming new school year. Besides I had already checked out the film schedules and wanted to see 'Twilight'. What's a grown man doing wanting to go see a pubescent vampire love story for, I hear you ask. Well there was plenty of screaming teenagers in the cinema, which annoys me beyond belief (they dont know how to shut up even after the film begins - "you know Billy tried to finger me behind Macdonalds last week" - pretty crude huh! However, there was also plenty of single women in their 30's who all clocked me as I sat down (ego talking!) - probably thinking "bloody weirdo - looks like a peado to me!" - bloody charming. Well the film was rather enjoyable, I knew it was going to be full of sexual tension between teens but it actually was slightly more clever than I would have first given it credit for. Nicely acted and well filmed. So the future installments will be much anticipated (much like the Harry Potter series). After the film, I ambled amongst the shoppers and lamented my homeless condition (as I am always wanting to buy things and have nowhere to put em). I should be sticking to 20 kg's of clothes and paraphenalia and I keep buying DVD's and CD's and new clothes. My latest acquisition even though I promised myself I wouldn't (I actually walked in and out of the shop twice), was a copy of the director's cut for Tropic Thunder. I just love Robert Downey Jr's performance in that film. So much so that I felt merely renting the DVD for another viewing would only wet my apetite for watching it again and again. As for the mesmerizingly foul mouthed Tom Cruise performance - for critics that think he is talentless and I know you are out there (he's up for a Rasberry this year) "Go fuck your own face!"
I tend to watch a film I like several times with the excuse that I am presenting it to others for their enjoyment. "Brother come watch this film you will love it" - you know, that sort of thing.

Well, eventually I dragged myself away from the shops, did my food shopping and headed home to my brothers. They were home and drinking a beer on the deck. Gorgeous! Later we cracked open a bottle of Monkey Bay Chardonnay. I'm telling you I am kinda hooked. Lovely grapefruit overtones and beautifully smooth. Gonna do a whole blog on that winemaker shortly. Lyn had put a piece of Silverside beef in the slow cooker with vinegar, cloves and bay leaves and we heated up the leftover gargantuan pan of roasted veggies from the night before. Having not made a bread sauce which is traditional for silverside I opted for a wild concoction of Mark's home made chilli pickle with sour cream and dijon mustard. Woweee it worked a treat and we settled down to watch the Ozzies eeek out another victory in the 20 / 20 series, this time at the Gabba.
Another great day in paradise!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Different but the Same!

I just wrote a long blog and thinking all was safe, pressed the button for publishing it and little did I realise that my 3 wireless broadband had died on me. This resulted in the catastrophic event that my blog was lost. Must remember to save. A lesson learned is ummmm a lesson that really hurt!!!

I shall start again and try and remember all the funny and amazingly insightful quips I had written. The pessimistic outlook I have for such sucess means I fear my memory for such witty play will be mediocre at best, so please dear reader, imagine the coruscatingly brilliant prose that you should be reading right now and feel for me. Feel for me!

Where was I .....
I met up with a good friend of mine yesterday for the first time in around 18 years and you would think that the distance of time between such meetings would have severed any connection we once had as mates. "We are different but the same" - it was agreed between the two of us. He has a lovely wife and two smashingly goregously cute children (destined for kid modelling jobs - to feed the parent's hugely expensive drug habits - jokes!). He has not travelled and managed to change his career ages ago (we met both working in banking) and I feel he has had a very interesting and creative life since - although you can tell he yearns for a shot at the creative big time, which must only be just around the corner. I shall encourage where I can, which means I will see him rise in sucess while I languish in creative limbo (always happens I tell you!). I, on the otherhand, travelled the world, whilst maintaining a career in banking to support my expensive lifestyle. When I realised how hollow and futile that dream was, I moved on. But his creative juices have been flowing for far longer than mine I feel and have cultivated themselves into far better ideas. I am rambling - what I meant to say is that we are both so different and yet still retain some of that sameness that made us good mates all that time ago. Different but same! Which surprisingly meant our meeting was not droll and infused with awkward silences and discussions on the state of the world ecomony and the weather. Our conversation was spikey and fun and full of banter about film, food, comedy and music. We had similar likes and dislikes and our conversation rolled off the tongue like rather good duet kareoke singers, entertaining patrons in a cool bar. Bad metaphor, I hear you gasp, but it leads me to the point that I have agreed to meet again this Thursday for a kareoke night - I invited myself along more like, with eagerly anticipatory excitement that only a crack cocaine addict might feel. Cut to evening, poor lighting and a load of drunken misfits and my wailing voice emitting from a speaker in the corner whilst women moan and children in their beds in nearby homes have inexplicable nightmares. Well let me embarrass myself in front of my long lost mate if I wanna.
We went off to Tambourine Mountain to attempt some male bonding (a break for Dan from his family holiday) and we had lunch in the Eagle Heights Hotel. A bar, restaurant and hotel on the top of a mountain overlooking the entire Gold Coast. It used to be owned by Mel Gibson back in the day I lived here and it sadly has seen better days. I think the staff all needed a slap to wake them from their stupified fugue states, which sadly have infected the whole establishment. But despite that I feel it is amazing how much an ordinary meal of rib eye steak, chips and salad can taste so inexplicably nicer when in good company and in a fabulous locale. We later ventured further into the heart of Tambourine Mountain to Gallery Walk, to perhaps buy a little treat for Dan's wife. So we attempted to not look like a gay couple strolling down touristville looking in souvenir shops and looking for chocolates and fudge going ooooh and aahh. We settled on a chocolate shop at the end of the street, which had a heavenly huge selection of hand made chocolates. I saw out of the corner of my eye a stand displaying a selection of chocolates from the Cocoa Farm , they announced themselves as "wine chocolate" (now we're talking) and if I can manage to ship some to my mate Neil in London I am sure they will knock his socks off. Its dark and milk chocolate teamed with juicy vine fruit infused with fragrant Australian wines. I opted for one of each of course. The Pinot Noir was first to be tasted and it had a strong robust pinot flavour. My hands trembled as I opened the shiraz - oh my wordy lordy me! I was positively drooling by the time I opened the merlot. I even tried a mango, lime and chilli one which was delicious but was not spicy enough and left me wanting more of the wine chocolate. We settled our transactions with the grace of too men in a chocolate store (feeling ten again) and "yes can we have seperate bags, we are not together!" and "noooo.... I would love the bright purple bag thanks" - sooooo not gay!
Yesterday, I promised my brothers kids that I would cook dinner and they could have their favourite meal. More fool me - that meant I cooked three dinners last night. Calamari in a light breaded crust infused with lemon thyme and chives with roast potatoes for Brent and pasta with a light creamy cheese sauce for Alex. I then attempted to impress my brother with my baked barramundi steaks in a Balmain Bug and ginger sauce (although I swapped bugs for scallops - which worked I must add) and it went down a treat. Finishing off the whole meal with a massive tray of roasted vegetables (so Lyn could have her brussel sprouts - her favourite veggie) Mark could have his potatoes and Brent could have his broccolli and Alex her carrots. Note to self - never start a conversation about favourite foods with people. We all ate way too much (including the garlic foccacia bread) and sat swollen on the coach later watching Top Gear which was hugely entertaining. I got many complimentary comments and requests for free meals at my future restaurant so I think my stomach was not the only thing swelling last night - my now big head needed something more dietary this morning so I whipped up a blueberry, rasberry, mango and bananna smoothie for everyone this morning so now I am set for the day.

I am hoping to whip up a thai meal for guests tonight so stay tuned.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Peel Me A Grape!

Being on holiday has many advantages. Visiting friends and relatives usually means they are entertaining you and not the other way around and despite my determination to help, to offer assistance in the kitchen (so I can attempt to show off) I keep getting offered a seat and a glass of wine and told to relax. So as I slowy get larger and larger from my lethargic existance I am getting to enjoy some interesting new tastes. Last night was an indian curry with king prawns and spinach. The spinach uprooted from the neighbours garden. My friend cooking asked "should I have taken the whole plant out of ground or just cut the leaves?" I think the neighbour will be less inclined to offer his greens next time. But the result was quite delicious and washed down with a good portion of Oomoo cabernet savignon. Although remind me not to act so manly and wolf down the home grown chillies that were placed in a bowl beside my curry. ooooooofffffff they were hot!!!
They were friends from a past long ago and it was great to catch up. I feel my memory lane has meandered way to far in to alien terrains that when i try and look back my mind cannot picture all the path. It was great to tell stories (thankfully she forgets also) and the joy of remmebering encouraged renewed memories. We laughed into the wee hours of the night and I am delighted to say that Brisbane looks more lovely this trip back with its colourful streets and gorgeous old houses. There are fruit bats flying low over the houses at sun set and prior to that the beautifully coloured Rosellas and Rainbow Lorikeets have been chirping and frollicking in the skies and the Pink Galas have cawed all afternoon. Cold beers in stubbie coolers (wetsuit like gloves for the beer bottles to keep your beer cold and your hand from freeezing). Its bliss - someone peel me a grape!
At my brothers at present and the sun is shining and the pool is enticing. His determination for the perfect coffee means he has acquired a state of the art coffee machine called a Grimac that weighs a tonne, produces cafe quality espresso's and means I get a perfect coffee whilst I sit here typing. Oh no my idyllic haven has been interupted by the kids playing Mamma Mia and singing away to the songs. I must go and pierce my ear drums before i start to sing along as well.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Establishing a grounding!

As with movies there comes a point when a bit of back story is required. Therefore to provide grounding for my adventures, cue the wavey picture and nostalgic music. I lived in Oz until i was 21 and began an adventure that followed an adventure. At 18 I travelled around Oz, circumnavigating the country in 6 months, living like a backpacker but with our own car. My friend Valentino and I explored some amazing locales and in order to save money on food caught our own fish and sometimes crayfish and picked mangoes off trees and well lived a good life. I worked in a topless restaurant in Darwin for a month for some spare cash working not as a topless waitress (which would have been wrong) but as a kitchen hand. Although I already loved cooking at this stage I was messmerized by some of the lovely dishes being concocted by the chef. I helped with preparing salads and chopping vegetables but it was the baked barramundi with balmain bugs in a garlic and ginger sauce that tantalised my tastebuds as well as my cooking desires. As for the topless waitresses - a mild distraction I must admit and nothing more needs be said on that subject.
After the Australian adventure, I worked for a few years in banking and then plucked up the courage to fly overseas. Los Angeles being my first destination (boy was i wet behind the ears). But I met some cool locals and soon discovered that although I was not working my way accross America like a tourist and traveller I was experiencing life in LA like a local. One friend I met (a fantastic hippie by the name of Michael) showed me visions (sometimes with the help of mind altering drugs mind!) that delighted and thrilled me. I drove in a Tucker, a rare and incredible car which I was told was priceless at the time and boy did we turn heads driving down the esplanade on Hermosa Beach. I learnt to cook artichoke's with a mint yoghurt dip (although marajuana was used instead of mint on the first encounter), steaming the artichoke until the fat meaty leaves could be easily dislodged from its heart. Then dipping the meaty leaf into the dip and biting off the soft flesh from its mostly inedible tough exterior was both exquisite and dreamy. From L.A. I soon travelled to New York, on my 22nd birthday to be exact and there I fell in love with the Big Apple. Its mad and bustling streets and amazing collection of restaurants. I met Valerie a wonderful woman who will enter this story again when I return to New York and hopefully you will all come to know her as my guaradian angel. We ate Ethiopian one night and the meal was an eye opener (apart from the "do they have any food in the restaurant" type of pun) it was a delightful experience. Sitting on small stools, no table, no cutlery and an awfully sweet apricot coloured wine, the food arrived in one huge bowl, our portions distributed around the bowl all on a thin layer of what initially looked like tripe but was actually partially cooked bread. This bread was then used to scoop up mouthfuls of the delicately flavoured curries. Oh and the wine was delicious with the food and we ended up all being very merry and polishing off about 5 bottles between 4 of us.
I then arrived in London (skipping along quickly I know but some experiences can be relayed at later points if necessary) and soon re-entered the world of Banking as a means to an end. I lived in London for over 16 years and was lost in a world of love and happiness. I cooked, I laughed, I loved, I DIY'd, I worked and eventually all these things came to pass (wow that's one way to skim over 16 years of my life isn't it!). I did manage to complete a degree in film and literature which i used during my spare time to write movie reviews and eventually restaurant reviews with my best mate of all time Neil Davey. You would have heard us complimenting each other in previous blogs.
I then left the world of banking behind me and moved to Turkey to try my hand at holiday property investment. Wasn't that good at that, but became really good at being a bum. The beach and the holiday landscape was like a drug to me and my old world evaporated like dream. I continued to cook and love and play and met some great people along the way. One such woman, Sam I will introduce you too hopefully in Thailand. She is a fabulous cook and we shall try our hand at a Thai cookery course together before I shoot off to New York.
Turkey had a natural ending to it as I could not be a bum all my life. I did attempt to join a sailor on a jouney in a yacht from Northern Australia back to Turkey, which would have been my grand opus or been the sure fire death of me. Arslan the skipper had second thoughts at the last minute and decided a non experienced sailor on his boat for three months was too much of a responsibility and perhaps at that point he saved my life. But as a consequence I ended up in Australia again before heading to New York and here I have visited family and friends and begun my preperations for my next journey - New York.
So hopefully that gives you all some small background. The filler story between future adventures. Some basic knowledge of my jounry so far. I have seen and done much in between but I will leave them also for filler story when I feel my dear reader is waning with boredom or I need to make a point about something I discover or encounter which relates to a past event. Until then I hope you are enjoying (something!).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

An Eye for an Eye!

I am over here in Oz visiting relatives at the moment and like my profile, I have no fixed abode, which means I flit from one family member to the other, sleeping wherever there is space and testing out their fridges and cupboards. Over the Christmas period these vessels for food fill up with all the lovely things we deny ourselves of throughout the year. Although my brothers would like to think it's Christmas everyday at their houses (no rationing there). I lived in Turkey for the last two years and I guess out of respect for my fellow man, I have denied myself the pleasures of ham, bacon and other piggy bits (no offense to vegetarians out there but you don't know what you are missing). So whilst in Oz I am determined oink my way through a years supply during my short visit. Lovely thick lashings of sliced ham off the bone on toast for example for breakfast. Yum Yum! Last night was also time to indulge and we ventured to the local butchers and went for a gorgeously tender slab of rib eye fillet beef. When I sliced it into thick steaks, my mouth watering as the knife sliced through it like butter. We had the ubiquitous BBQ of course and I was instructed to cook the steaks all to different desires. Well Done for Barry - he likes the flavour totally extruded from the succulent meat, although meat this tender despite having the consistency of cardboard was still delicious to taste. Mum went for medium to well but i sneaked it onto her plate at just medium with the faintest of pink at its heart. She was most pleased. I opted for the running around on the plate rare which is my favourite - no seasoning so the flavour is all rib eye in all its glory. Big thick cut too so the centre has only been warmed to the BBQ and not fully introduced. Mum also wanted to know what to do with aubergine so we BBQ'd it whole til its skin was black and then I cooled it and peeled the skin, leaving the soft velvety flesh underneath. Mash that with some lemon juice and olive oil and crush a couple of garlic cloves in salt on the chopping board (to stop you getting garlic breath I hear) and mix the lot up. Then I toss that in a normal salad of lettuce leaves, tomato and onion and the gluttonous mixture coats everything like a salad dressing and turns boring salad into an extravaganza. You could also just finely chop an onion and a tomato and add some parsley and mild to hot paprika into the aubergine gloop and you have a rather interesting mediteranean dip. Delightful.
What will today bring - well I have a box full of wine and people to visit so anything is possible. Last night I introduced Mum to Oomoo a Hardy's wine from the Maclaran Vale area. Oomoo is an aboriginal word meaning 'attractive' and I could not think of another word that most aptly describes this smooth Cab Sav. I am addicted and at only $14.99 its affordable enough to be a regular at my table whilst in Oz.
Weather is a bit overcast today despite being warm so beach not so enticing, but nice enough breeze to encourage a sit on a balcony somewhere enjoying a view and a glass of Monkey Bay Savignon Blanc, from New Zealand - another drop I am quickly getting addicted to as well.

See you soon! Hic Hic!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Auld Lang Syne

How weird! Deciding to write my second ever blog I felt I should use the opportunity to recap the last week or so incorporating New Years and perhaps the remnants of Christmas. For a title I thought perhaps the title of Robert Burns' new years song Auld Lang Syne and for the first time ever I actually found out what he was talking about. The English translation means literally 'Times Gone By'. Quite apt I thought. More thorough a translation and we get "We'll drink a cup of kindness yet for times gone by."
The kindness has been cruel to me - as it is every year during this crazy festive season. Drinking too much, eating too much, spending too much and discovering yet again why families don't spend too much time together during the rest of the year. Ooooh furthermore the beer and wine I have consumed this last two weeks would both make rehab sound not only necessary but a relief and make my mate Neil Davey (who by the way has a cool blog on foodie stuff call The Lambshank Redemption ), green with envy at some of the lovely wines on offer 'Down Under'. We have mutally consumed many a lovely drop of some interesting and captivating New Zealand and Australian wines all purchased from stores in the UK but the eclectic range on offer here has meant i am a lucky bastard with too much choice. I will comment on actual bottles in future Blogs - at present my memory is shot from all the alcohol. Neil - you will also be pleased to note that the two bottles of Woodford Reserve I got my brothers is going down nicely.
So back to eating and drinking myself to death. We all do it over the festive season. Over consume even when we promise ourselves we won't. I have eaten my way through cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, even a kangaroo (dont admonish me for eating Skippy - us Ozzies do it all the time) and a school of prawns and several salmon. All amazingly cooked on the BBQ. The great Ozzie tradition of using the BBQ for cooking anything extends these days to roasts, cakes (yes that's right cakes), even full english breakfasts. You name it my brothers can fire up their BBQ's to cook just about anything, which i have to admit BBQ's in Oz are like behemoths in their gardens that have pride and place in the centre like shrines to the gods. Thanks must be given to my brother Mark for his mango dacquiri's over New Year which went down smoothly between solid reds without a single miss step.
I ate Italian spiced lean sausages from a wholesaler in Brisbane this week, laced with fennel, which were exquisite and had very little fat in them (I will get the name of the company off my brother this week). These were accompanied by king prawns and a Hungarian potato salad, washed down with Bavarian beer and a Chardonnay. Almost every BBQ in this country must have the cliche "prawn on the Bar-Bee" but wow does it taste good or what.
Australian cuisine is such a mixed bag as the above attests. Today i tried dukkah, a spiced sesame and hazelnut concoction that you dip into with bread once coated with a good olive oil. Very Egyptian or Turkish in style. The one I tasted was from the Gourmet Spice Blends in Tambourine Mountain was with macadamian nuts and lemon. I later tasted chilli fudge and my mum is now eating the kahluha flavoured fudge (also from Tambourine Mountain - Granny Macs). Far too sweet to be eating at this time of night.
By the way it's way past my bedtime - I am way too sober for this time of night and I have hardly done any justice to my Times Gone By piece. Perhaps I have bitten off more than I can chew. Food puns at this time of night - oh dear! Well on that note - night all (will perhaps fatten this calf more tommorrow).

Monday, January 5, 2009

If you build it they will come!

The beginning of a new era in my life. Blogdom, I am here. Despite promising to myself that i will have this up and running months ago, I will not harp on it and admonish myself no more. Will I have the determination and conscientious objective to write one of these daily. This is yet to be seen but this is the start and hopefully I will not fall into laziness and use excuses like i was too busy to write every day.

My aim! To document my travels and exploration on a number of levels. I will be writing about food, feeling it, obviously eating it and delivering to you dear reader my views on what, where, who and how. Not merely recipes or inventive takes on a theme but hopefully a new look. I will be studying to be a chef so maybe i will have insight and educated, intellectual views on such a charter. I will try and be interesting and amusing (yet to be seen! - although when I have written this shit in my head I have made myself smile). I have lived in Australia (my current disposition), the UK, Turkey, and will be travelling to far flung places and spending considerable time in a foodie central called the Big Apple, where i will live and study. Maybe from this mixed up collection of locales i will be able to bring fresh landscapes to a somewhat over populated mellee of cookery shows, books, celebrity chef's. I want to change peoples views. I want people to get excited about food, passionate about food, mad about food. Reject poor quality and become obsessive and delighted when confronted with a bloody good tantalising dish of exotic and exquisite whosiwhat, thingymagiggy (i will add a gorgeous dish in this slot later).

I will no doubt get up to all sorts of antics in my adventures and some will not be food related and you will not get the expegated version my dear reader - oh no. Full frontal, non censored, graphic embarrassing detail awaits you. Food porn? maybe! My mate in the UK pointed out that my choice of blog title summoned images of food porn but he's a sick puppy. I felt "Squeezing Grapes" was both a title that evoked the "reap what you sow" adage as well as have foodie connotations (although more likely, copious drinking sessions involving that beautiful elixer we call 'Wine' will come to mind - and no doubt i will relay these sessions on more than one occasion).

So welcome to my blog. I hope you will join me on my adventures and enjoy what i have to say! See you soon.