Adios amigos! (not really)

July 17, 2013

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Sometimes you just want a fresh start, you know? 
I'm moving to tumblr. Same over-indulgence, cleaner design. 
Come join.

a review to kill

January 13, 2013

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The silly season is pretty brutal. It turns caring mothers into aggressive, stressed out bitches, sweet children turn into spoilt brats, shy co-workers turn into drunken fools at the Christmas party, your wallet get's emptied and your waistline expands. It's a crazy time and I'm blaming my significant absence on it. 

Well that and the fact that I scored a gig reviewing bars, restaurants and cafes in Sydney. No biggie. Just one step closer to achieving the dream of getting paid to eat food. Have a gander:




"I don't know anyone actually who does care what a critic says". 
- Lou Reed

Going Blind

July 19, 2012

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I’ve never been on a blind date before. But if they’re anything like the awkward regular dates I’ve been on, I’m not interested.  I’ve sat through countless boring facts about Lyndon B. Johnson, had cigarette smoke blown in my face by an arrogant hipster, got awful career advice from a failing actor and even asked for a donation for medical help for my date’s ex-girlfriend’s mother. Yep, definitely still single.

But I lie, I have been on a blind date before, just not in the usual sense. This date involved 2 of my best friends, not being able to see my food and eating 90% of my meal with my hands.

Inbetween swearing at French Canadians on the d-floor, getting mugged and drinking and shopping my life away, my time in Montreal involved a hell of a lot of eating. And restaurant O.Noir was a definite highlight.



O.Noir is a culinary experience that’ll change your eating life. Firstly, all your waiters are blind. Yep, they’re not going to be able to get that fly out of your soup, but then again neither will you because the restaurant is pitch black. Not just Steve-Buscemi-looks-good-in-this-light kind of dark, but so dark it’s like you’re blind too.

Apparently when you eat without your sight everything tastes and smells better because your remaining senses go into overdrive. The concept comes from a Swiss blind pastor who used to blindfold his dinner guests at home so they could share his eating experience and then decided to open up a restaurant with the same idea. 

If you’ve ever tried to eat with your eyes closed before, firstly why? and secondly you’ll know it’s not a very graceful experience. Cutlery is rendered useless as you can’t see where your food is and more importantly cant see where your mouth is. But the redeeming factor is it's so dark no one can see you shove your steak in your mouth with your hands like a ravenous baby.

I had the grilled octopus salad for my entree. Eating tentacles is weird at the best of times, but when you can’t see them, trust me it’s even weirder. I’m not sure if my sense of taste or smell was all that heightened but it was an extremely cool experience, and as a former waitress myself, I give mad props to anyone who can deliver 3 hot coffees in the dark without resulting in 3rd degree burns for all.
Not such a great place for a blind date though, because the great guy you just spent 2 hours chatting in the dark with may not look as Ryan Gosling-esque as he sounded.

You wouldn’t talk incessantly about LBJ would you Ryan?
my perfect date
One time I laughed at a blind guy eating spaghetti! Sometimes I pee in the shower if I'm really tired! I saw my grandparents making love once, and I didn't leave right away!
~ Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

It's always 5 O'Clock somewhere

June 18, 2012

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Alcohol has a lot to answer for. Countless drunken stumbles, bad beer-goggled decisions, a myriad of  unwanted numbers written on napkins, buckets of regrets, tears and of course, spew. Despite fuelling the great minds of Kerouac, Thomas and Chandler, it was also their greatest downfall. And despite tasting pretty damn good at 5.01 on a Friday afternoon, it causes a pretty phenomenal headache the next morning. Regardless of all this, I will always say yes to an offer for a drink.

Before full time work slapped me in the face, living the drunken life as a poor student wasn’t easy. It often involved 5 litre goon sacks, extensive pre-drink sessions where the kings cup defeated us all, or a sneaky Mt Franklin bottle full of ‘water’ being passed around in a toilet cubicle.

But now that I can afford to actually buy nice drinks at the bar that aren’t just spiked with an inch of 'Mt Franklin', I’ve had the pleasure of trying some really amazing cocktails that make me almost as euphoric as dinner time.
The Toasted Rose Mellow courtesy of Awkward

Take the Toasted Rose Mellow from Awkward on Kings Cross. There are plenty of awkward things in the Cross and getting handed a Marshmallow cocktail by a guy wearing a vest made out of chains is definitely one of them. It’s Marshmallow Vodka, Cream, Lemon, Lime, Rose Tea and Orange Blossom Syrup Topped and Toasted with a Vanilla Vodka Foam. Too saccharine for my taste but I did enjoy the whole Willy Wonka goes R18+ theme.

Super Awkward Milk Julep

Also quite awkward is trying to look sexy drinking a cocktail out of a milk jug. But sexy isn’t really my forté anyhow and it's not like I was trying to impress chain vest guy. The Milk Julep is Fig Infused Monkey’s Shoulder Scotch (Say what now?), Roasted Macadamia and Condensed Milk Syrup over crushed ice and a dried fig. It tastes just about as good as it sounds; not very. But it was extremely potent and that, as all us great drinkers know, is the most important thing.

Big Pimpin'



One of the greatest finds has been The Carrington, whose drink menu is as thirst quenching as it is appropriately named. The Carrington’s Spanish influence can be seen in the Spanish Pimp; Spanish gin, Pimms, Passionfruit, cucumber, lemon juice and violet syrup. A twist on the traditional Pimms cocktail - this is light and fruity with a freshness perfect for sunny summer Sundays. So winter, you can eff off now.





But the winner of this drinking contest has got to be the Dionysus Martini. Homemade Fig vodka mixed with Honey vodka served with - wait for it - a wedge of honey-dipped blue cheese. Hell. Yes. As you know, in my eyes there really is nothing greater than a wedge of cheese. The only thing that surpasses it is mixing it with alcohol and the Dionysus does just that and more. For those of you who have screwed up your nose in disgust at the thought of this baby, please don’t judge this cocktail by it’s wedge. The fresh martini mixed with the sweet honey and the incredibly bitey cheese is what dreams are made of. And if you’re still not convinced then believe this; it’s a hell of a lot better than a swig of ‘Mt Franklin’.

Can you hear the angel's chorus?



"Here's to alcohol: the cause of, and answer to, all of life's problems."
~Matt Groening

Food Sins: Wrath

May 27, 2012

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When you’re hungover, life can seem pretty cruel. The sun hurts your eyes, the TV hurts your ears, your empty wallet hurts your brain and the thought of having to do anything pertaining any effort can drive you to murderous thoughts. There is one thing that always cures a hangover. Going out for breakfast. If you’re in a state to leave the bed/friend's couch/gutter that you woke up in, some perfectly poached eggs and a rasher or 10 of salty, greasy bacon can be all you need to say sayonara to that bastard of a hangover.

Hangover cure from Clipper Cafe

This was the case for me and wifey on our first weekend in our new city. Unfortunately it was the Easter long weekend so our breakfast place of choice, Clipper Cafe, wasn’t open and we were forced to resort to what we thought was a decent alternative nearby. It was packed so we figured it’d be alright and sat down at a newly free booth and started browsing the menu. Disaster dawned on me; every hungover carnivore's nightmare. We were in a freaking vegetarian café!!!! Scrambled Tofu? No bacon?? Too starving and committed to our booth we decided to order a couple of eggs Florentine to shake off our zombie brains and regain a bit of humanity.

appetising?
A very hungry 45 minutes later two alcohol stressed hearts broke. This blog is not meant as a medium for food critiquing or restaurant bashing, but when your tired, starving and all you need is a hot greasy breakfast and what you get is a piece of poo on an English muffin- anger ensues. Cold ‘chat’ potatoes and a not-really roasted tomato aside the main problem was the lack of hollandaise and it's substitution; ‘two-cheese’ sauce. Clearly from a packet, flavourless and with a completely unnecessary addition of mustard seeds (mustard for breakfast? Please.) Hollandaise sauce has got to be one of the most heavenly liquids God created and for it to be substituted for that crap would truly make a grown man/twenty-something, hungover girl cry.

Ok, bitching over.

The Bourke St Bakery window of heaven
Needless to say 20 minutes later the ‘two-cheese’ sauce hit us like a ton of bricks and after a necessary, cough, rest break we needed something to wipe our mustardy palates clean. And what better but a visit to the Bourke St Bakery. Me and baked goods, we’re good friends, but this isn’t your typical donut and sausage roll haunt, this is French pattiserie/ rustic Boulanger at its finest. Bourke St Bakery has been a Surry Hills trendster tourist attraction since 2004 and like all food havens, is worth the line-up. The chosen medication was a fluffy, moist carrot cake with a cream cheese filling and a strawberry and white chocolate brulee tart. Many weekends and many hangovers later, we’ve since medicated ourselves with flaky lamb and almond rolls, beef pies, lemon tarts and crusty green olive and rosemary bread.

So my friends, the moral of this story is not to stop drinking. Go on, take another shot, pour another beer and open another bottle. In fact, now that I'm done sinning, my next blog will be dedicated to just that. But whatever you do, if you want your Sundays to be as painless as possible, stay away from the two-cheese sauce.

Better than a bloody mary




"I feel sorry for people who don't drink.  When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day."  ~ Frank Sinatra

Food Sins: Envy

May 19, 2012

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A year ago today I was sitting on a probably rainy beach (and I  use the word beach loosely here) in Vancouver, Canada on a sweltering 19 degree day (and I use the word sweltering with fierce, sarcastic animosity) feeling pretty rejected, cold, confused and probably a sick looking shade of milk. I had no idea what I was doing with my life, why I was on the other side of the world from all my family and friends and why no one wanted to hire me apart from an extortionate Shylock-run bagel place. Then I got a skype call from one of my best friends-turned-housemate-turned-wife and next thing I know I’m packing my life into two suitcases and moving to Sydney to try and make it in the big smoke.

the big smoke indeed

With no jobs, no home and but a mere sprinkling of friends in Sydney, there was a lot of scepticism about our blind move to one of the most expensive cities in the world. But 3 weeks in we have a bitchin’ apartment, ballin’ jobs, and even though I don’t have my Bondi Vet looking husband (yet) I do have an amazing Wifey who cooks me Cider roasted chicken, wrapped in bacon served with thyme roasted potatoes, apples and caremilised onions.

not just a pretty face

I normally don’t like chicken breast. Dry, bland, chewy and stringy- it's hard to get it right. But paired with my Wifeys amazing talent in the kitchen (that’s where she belongs ya hear me) and the fact that it was wrapped in a fat rasher of crispy bacon, the chicken turned out succulent and juicy and tender to perfection.

Rule of the apartment: All meat must be wrapped in more meat.

I hate to call myself a foodie, so I wont, but I do f&*cking love food- so Sydney is my Mecca. Only a few weeks in and I’ve already tried an amazing creamy chicken and grape pie, scoffed countless vanilla and strawberry brulee tarts, had greek lamb skewers with fried haloumi and put many a jalapeno and smoked cheddar croquette down the trap.  So friends that I’ve sadly left behind and family who I miss dearly- prepare to be very jealous. Me and my wifey are ruling at Sydney life- and not afraid to rub it in yo face.

Oh, and just in case you’re not green enough, now I live in a city where ice cream looks like this:

The Royale with Cheese from Gelato Messina


George: Look at me! I was free and clear! I was living the dream! I was stripped to the waist, eating a block of cheese the size of a car battery!
Jerry: Before we go any further, I'd just like to point out how disturbing it is that you equate eating a block of cheese with some sort of bachelor paradise.
~Seinfeld

Food Sins: Greed

February 28, 2012

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I’ve been out for dumplings 5 times this month. By the end of February, if I don’t slip in a sneaky visit to the ‘King’ and bump up the numbers, I’ll have eaten almost 60 dumplings and 7 pork buns. March is already looking good as I’ve convinced the folks to buy me a dumpling dinner for my 23rd birthday (blerg)(blerg at 23 not at the dumplings, obviously).

Don't mind the extreme green vegetarian dumplings from Dumpling King, Gouger St

I love getting dumplings for your obvious food deliciousness related reasons but I also kind of masochistically enjoy observing the typical Asian restaurant service. Being a waitress myself, I like having a giggle at the perpetually confused wait staff, the sporadic dish readiness and the extreme fluoro plastic chopsticks ….I find that with most Asian restaurants the service is always inversely proportionate to the tastiness of the food. For example, the best dumplings in Melbourne can be found at Shanghai Dumpling House where the disenchanted waiter/resses take un-happy snaps of you like this…

but serve you food like this...



Fried pork dumplings and Pork buns from Dumpling King
The key to a good dumpling is the flavour. You don’t want a mouthful of salt and MSG but at the same time you don’t want to have to drown each dumpling in soy/sriracha just to get it down the hatch. You want to be able to taste the meat and let the juices whisk you away to dumpling heaven.  The casing is also important. If they’re steamed dumplings, they mustn't be over cooked. Meat falling out of a slimy casing isn't pleasant at the best of times (cough) so they have to be perfectly steamed. If they’re fried they've gotta have that crispy brown outside and juicy tenderness on the inside.



The best dumpling I’ve ever had was at a Chinese restaurant in Vancouver where the mushroom and prawn dumplings in their dumpling noodle soup were so fresh and tasty you could actually differentiate the flavours of the shitake and oyster mushrooms and the fresh British Columbia prawns.
Vancouver's Congee House dumpling noodle soup


Some of our Yum Cha haul at Eastern Garden, Greenhill Rd
Something else I did this month was lose my Yum Cha virginity. I wasn’t nervous, it didn’t hurt and it went longer than I expected. But I definitely should have worn protection of the high-waisted jean variety because it did result in an unplanned food baby. Yum Cha is like something of a Chinese Tapas, you sit around your lazy susan and get offered every dumpling, meat filled bun, gelatinous ball, deep fried whatsit known to Mao.
Dumplings from Eastern Garden, Greenhill Rd
But it’s hard not to be greedy when cha-ing the Yum. The bamboo steamers of goodies are endless and it's not easy rejecting your already grumpy waiter/ress who wheels around trolley upon trolley of steaming treats. Not to mention it's dirt cheap and there’s nothing better than feeling frivolous when you only have $20 to spend. So if it'll make your waiter/ress smile and your belly full, then it's ok to be greedy. And the best thing about being greedy at an Asian restaurant- you can always afford dessert.

Fried Icecream from T-Chow, Chinatown

10 seconds later

Jesse: No. No. See, all I want is the three orders of the garlic chicken and the three orders of the white rice 
Chinese food lady: And then? 
Chester: And the soup dude. 
Jesse: Oh, and the wonton soup. 
Chinese Food Lady: And then?  
Jesse: So it's just the chicken, the rice, the wonton soup and the fortune cookies and that's it. Chinese food lady: And then? Jesse: And then you can put it in a brown paper bag and come put in my hand coz I'm ready to eat. Chinese food lady: And then? Jesse: I refuse to play your chinese food mind games!

-Dude, Where's my car?

Food Sins: Lust

February 13, 2012

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Being a single gal now for over 2 years, Valentine’s Day should render me couch bound, sweatpant clad, gripping a tub of ice cream, weeping to The Notebook, muttering cynical quips about a dumb Hallmark holiday and cursing God for not just making the whole male population Ryan Gosling. Or so Hollywood would have you believe.  

Well I would like a billion Ryan Goslings, but I don’t care about Valentine’s day. Talking to basically every one of my friends and work mates, both single and in relationships, nobody else cares either. We don’t have any bookings in our restaurant for our special Valentine’s Day dinner, all my single friends are spending the night with other pals, and I don’t know any of my friends who are actually buying their significant others a Valentine’s Day present. So there.

Historically, Valentine's Day is about as deeply founded as Ryan's love for me. There were actually a bunch of  different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs and none of them sweeping anybody off their feet.The day has no romance behind it either and was only made so in 1382 by poet Geoffrey Chaucer. But if you are someone who celebrates February 14 and you do have someone to celebrate it with, make sure you make them a delicious meal and enjoy some alone time with the one you love. Or even just lust. Or even just want to make out with.

And now here’s what I want to make out with:
Un-brie-lievable

Well maybe not make out with- just eat. My Oxford dictionary defines Lust as to have a passionate enjoyment or desire. That pretty much decribes my relationship with cheese. That and unhealthy.  I’m kind of a little bit, don't-want-to-admit-it, mildly lactose intolerant, but will endure the bloat for yoghurt, ice cream and a good wheel of Brie. As most of my friends know, I’m definitely not in lust with my hometown of Adelaide and counting down the days until I can GTFO, but the so-called Festival State does have its perks. Cheesefest. It’s what you think it is- a festival just for cheese. Stall upon stall of local Australian cheese makers that let you sample their goods all day long. And here's the kicker, you get a free wine glass upon entry where you can taste wines from all over South Australia. So in lust.

Last year’s Cheesefest lived up to all expectations. After doing the rounds tasting every fromage in sight we settled on a wheel of  the Locheilan Farmhouse triple cream brie, which was intensely creamy and buttery and with a healthy amount of bite. We also chowed down on some grilled Halloumi from Barossa Valley Cheese Co. I love Halloumi because it's got the strangest squeaky texture and although it is usually super salty this one had a lot of flavour to it but was still pleasantly light. We chose a bottle of the Nepenthe Tempranillo to wash it all down with as we basked in the late spring sun. And with good friends, great cheese and a delicious bottle of red, who needs a boyfriend?




“If I eat a huge meal and I can get the girl to rub my belly, I think that's about as romantic as I can think of.”
~Ryan Gosling

Food Sins: Pride

January 22, 2012

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Pride. I’m not so sure it’s a sin. When I was in year 7 I was voted the Terrific Kid of my primary school (Yes. It's an award). Because like any Josh Hartnett-loving, Bring it On-quoting, Eminem-singing year 7 of the 2000's worth their salt- I was pretty terrific, and proud of my win. High school came and 5 years of braces, awkward haircuts and general averageness ensued until my final year when I wrote a god damn polemic expose on Dolphins, and my English teacher gave me a 20 out of 20 and thought I had plagiarized it from the internet he was that impressed. I’m still proud of that. I graduated university while working 2 jobs and drank copious amounts of cask wine on the weekends. I’m pretty proud of that. And why shouldn’t I be? My ego’s still tame and if I achieve something and rock it like a boss, surely I deserve to feel good about it?
Now everyone feed me grapes, give me foot massages and call me Queen Basuki for the rest of my life.

But in all seriousness, one of my proudest achievements to date are the creation of my Nachos. They are awesome. I’ve never had a disappointed customer. All my housemates have been glad they chose to live with me despite the fact I hog the TV which is on a constant loop of Seinfeld, The Office and some cake show on The Food Network, because I make up for it with some flippin' good Nachos.
Some very happy amigas

But it takes two to tango and lesser known, to Nacho. My compadre Lex helped concoct this perfect recipe; he would layer the corn chips and the salsa like a pro while I whipped up a Guac that could break hearts.
I know what you’re thinking, "Here she goes, tooting her horn again, my cousin/friend/whatever is Mexican and SHE makes the best Nachos. Mo-mo-mo-mo". Well stop right there Señor/ita. My horn tooting is muy justificado. When Lex and I travelled to Mexico in 2010, night after night we were disappointed with greasy tacos, bland corn chips and chewy meat dishes. “Real” Mexican food was not so bueno and Nachos- ¡¡¡No exisitir!!! Apart from the expensive American resort restaurants (Señor Frogs anyone?) Nachos are not on a typical Mexican menu. Chips and salsa, sure, beans and rice of course. But Nachos? Solo Americano!

So don’t worry about going all the way to Mexico- they're better from your oven and I have a special present for my avid FFS readers. I’m giving all 5 of you my baby. My pride and joy. My Nacho recipe.



No-need-to-fly-to-Mexico-Nachos
By Eloise and Alex
Serves 2 hungry gluttons or 3-6 grazers


Nachos
2 bags of Doritos (We use original so the recipe isn’t too salty)
1 jar of Old El Paso Medium salsa (Old El Paso> Doritos brand for salsa)
2 cups of grated Tasty/Cheddar cheese
1 tub of light sour cream (using light is not just to watch your waistlines- it dollops much smoother for an even spread)

Guacamole
2 RIPE avocados
1 small tomato diced
½ red onion diced
Freshly chopped coriander
1 Tablespoon of Old El Paso Medium Salsa
1 red chilli (if you want the extra zing)


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Layer a large oven proof dish with just over half a bag of Doritos. Top with a slight sprinkling of salsa and cheese. (Don’t go overboard or your nachos will turn to mush)
3. Repeat the layers until all the Doritos are finished. Reserve one tablespoon of salsa for the Guacamole. Top with salsa and lots of cheese.
4. Place Nachos in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. You want the cheese to be fully melted and the Corn chips hot and crispy but not burnt so keep an eye on them.
5. While the Nachos are cooking scoop out the 2 avocados and mash with a fork in a small bowl until smooth and slightly chunky.
6. Add the tablespoon of salsa, tomato, onion coriander and chilli to the mashed avocado and mix slightly.
7. Place the hot Nachos on a table preferably in front of Seinfeld, dollop on the sour cream and the Guacamole, drool, eat, share with some amigos and be proud.
I am.

"Nachos can have meat, they’ve got starch, they’ve got dairy, and they have vegetables. That’s pretty much every food group except beer."
-Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster At Brooklyn Brewery

Food Sins: Gluttony

January 04, 2012

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Despite my faults, (messy, drinks too much wine, enjoys shortening words- totes soz…) I wouldn’t call myself a sinner. I’m not greedy, jealousy is a waste of time and anger doesn’t get you anywhere. But I’m starting to realise when food is involved, the morals my parents have tried to instill in me tend to fall by the wayside. Don’t plan on taking a bite of my food unless I can have a generous one of yours and I can get pretty cranky if you try and get involved when I'm cooking. But it’s the new year and it’s time to be a good person, lose the Christmas pudding stomach and stop the sinning. Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman taught me all I need to know about the seven deadly sins, and as much as I love food, I never want to end up like the poor sinners in Seven. So here comes the latest series- Food Sins. Firstly, and very appropriately: Gluttony.

Diagnosis: OD on Spag Bol
If you’ve been reading this blog or have ever had the (dis)pleasure of witnessing me consume a meal, you’ll know how much I can eat. Even to this day I constantly surprise myself with the sheer volumes of food I can ingest in less time than it takes to order my meal off the menu. To celebrate my last day in North America, the continent of all you can eat popcorn/dispensable butter, Animal fries, bacon donuts and pizza slices bigger than your head, I decided to go out with a gluttonous bang. The Anaconda sandwich at Vancouver’s Factory Pub. Not just a burger, not just a sandwich. This is a BLT inside a cheeseburger topped with fried onion-rings all sandwiched between 2 grilled cheese sandwiches. 4 sandwiches for the price of one... well you know how I like a bargain.

Toothpicks won't hold this sandwich together
Cheesy-bacony-oniony-burgery-bready. All the important food groups.


It was worth the clogged arteries. The grilled cheese sandwiches were crisp and buttery and the fried onion-ring added a nice crunch against the tender burger. If I could change anything I would have added more to it! A slice of avocado here, some jalapenos there and maybe even a nice gooey egg to help the numerous carbs slide down the gullet…

Yep, I’m a Glutton. But I don't care. Stuff you 2012. Cuff me up and call Brad Pitt. (Please?)


"I believe that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich."
-Liz Lemon (30 Rock)