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.