Thursday, March 31, 2011

refreshment break

Time to take a short break while life whirls on around me. My head and a heart are in NZ with my family at the moment, though the rest of me remains on the other side of the Tasman.

While I'm contemplating the universe and the complexities of aged care, help yourself to a drink. This one's for the kiwis. Not the ever popular L&P but a family favourite from my childhood.

Camroc was a dry ginger ale, popular in New Zealand in the twentieth century.

In our house, where soft drinks were a rare treat, camroc was reserved for when we were ill. Being bought a small glass of camroc, by mum, while languishing in bed with a malady made being sick worth it. If camroc didn't bouy our spirits, she knew something was desperately wrong.

Click to enlarge. An ad for Camroc, (Wellington's) Evening Post, 1913

Does anyone know when and why Camroc went out of production? Sorely missed by at least one Wellington family.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

the art of the chalkboard

In hospitality a board can share so much more than the fish du jour.

Here's a couple of random iphone shots.

Cafe, Forster, NSW

"Service and quality depends on customer attitude!"

Sadly the coffee was average but the owners were a delight to find in a sleepy town. Had a great mushroom burger (tempura batter and aioli) and got rewarded with a free game of space invaders on their retro games machine.

Bottle shop, Melbourne, Vic

"Buy champagne it makes you look good".

You gotta love the inner city. I really did laugh when I read this.

Though didn't buy and bubbles, I already look good!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mist, fruit and a lychee salad

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

From Keats Ode to Autumn

As the city is blanketed in morning fog and the last of the tomatoes wither on the vine, Melbournians enter a dance of not quite knowing what to wear at this time of year, making the commute to work most amusing. One young thing will be flashing the flesh in cut-off jeans, while another hides under a heavy coat. The men of late stay clad in t-shirts exposing a vast array of forearm tattoos. Yesterday I spotted a classic be-hearted “mother” on one thirty-ish lad and the stark number “29” on another. I itched to ask their stories.

The fruit that Keats so elegantly wrote of are on the turn. At the market exotic lychees and longans nestle next to apples and pears. I’ve convinced myself that fresh blueberries cost less than a glass of wine, so why not enjoy them a little bit longer?

But cooking with exotic fruit has never been my thing. I blame the toxic red “sweet and sour” sauce that clung to deep fried Chinese morsels that haunted my childhood. And let’s not get started on the 1970s Women’s Weekly curries featuring lamb, curry powder and a whole fruit salad bowl of apples, raisins and canned pineapple.

Over time my sweet 'n savoury-averse taste buds have undergone a re-education. It began with the delicious “summer rolls” at a long gone Gertrude Street Japanese kitchen. How could I guess that ice paper rolled around vegetables, nuts and mango could taste so good? Then as the diversity of Asian menus grew wider, the Chinese fluorescent sticky sauce was mercifully replaced with the tangy combo of fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar.

Time to take the leap and add fruit to the main course I reckon. This weekend I whipped up a variant on this Asian coleslaw, in the form of a rice noodle salad. The sauce remains the same – that heavenly combo of lime, fish sauce, palm sugar and a little heat from this season’s searing red chilies.

Toss together a bundle of thin rice noodles, softened in hot water, with cucumber, grated carrot and a handful of aromatic herbs (Vietnamese or ordinary mint, coriander etc). Shell some fresh lychees and rip into pieces, top with chunks of smoked trout, add dressing and mix thoroughly.

I loved the bursts of sweet fruit in this old favourite. Ripe mango, papaya or pineapple would work equally as well. Definitely one for a warm autumn’s day.

Enjoy the mellow fruits while they last!

Much nicer fresh but the packaging is cuter!

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

a recipe to fight compassion fatigue

Hold someone you love close (a small furry creature will do).
Close your eyes.
Breath in their scent.
Feel comforted.
Take your ball of compassion, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place 'til doubled in size.

Once risen, protect your compassion from undue battering from the media.
Keep the temperature constant, lest cynicism toughens the consistency.
Shape into a heart and bake in a moderate oven.

Once cooled, share your compassion with friends and strangers. Sprinkle a touch salt from your tears but balance with honey to sweeten.
Drink a little wine if you need to lift your spirits but not too much, hangovers have been known to cause fatigue.

Don't forget to keep a little starter-ball of compassion aside. Whenever you feel jaded or sad, repeat the recipe. Offer it to those who need it. Be kind to others and gentle with yourself.

Sorry no actual recipes this week. As sunkissed as I am from a week of beach and sea, gushing about food while others go hungry doesn't sit well with me right now. My heart goes out to those I know in Japan and all those I don't.

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Sunday, March 06, 2011

a quickie from Sydney

It's official. I'm in love.

Weekending in Sydney en route to a quiet beach on the mid North coast, I've managed to clock up at least two blogworthy food experiences in the last 12 or so hours.

Number one was a degustataion at Oscillating Wildly. Eight courses, including the most sublime sweet treats, for $100 is a special night out but worth it. They worked around my food intolerance issues with aplomb, serving a pescaterain feast. I flagged a little towards the end. After all eating for three and a half hours is a tad exhausting. I only just managed to pop a fresh marshmallow into my mouth before stumbling up the street before pumpkin hour.

Equally as orgasmic was this morning's jaunt to the Marrickville organic market. Food nazi heaven on a stick. Vibrant fresh produce, crispy corn fritters with kick arse chilli jam, handcrafted breads and a friendly vibe.

I'll be back in a bit. Enjoy the autumn weather while I'm gone.

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