Friday, December 31, 2010

"So this is Christmas..."

... as the great John Lennon sang, "And what have we done?" Our answer is eaten ourselves to a stupor! As 2010 draws to a close, we reflect on the special meals we shared with family and friends and thank each and every one of you for being a part of our lives for another year. A word of caution, I hope you've got yourself a cup of tea and a few biscuits and you're sitting comfy on a lounge because this is going to be quite a long read...

Part 1: Dinner at Etch.

Circumstances having kept us from organising our annual (birthday) degustation dinner earlier in the year, we settled on this well frequented venue. Entering via a recessed doorway in the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel, we meet up with friends in a small waiting area populated with low lounges. The dining room looks busy and well patronised.

The food is certainly well presented, each dish was a work of art and we almost felt guilty hoeing in.

This night, the menu consisted of:

Beetroot cured Petuna ocean trout, horseradish cream, baby beetroot.
Easily my favourite of the evening, the trout was reminiscent of Tetsuya's signature dish but with a smaller portion, less overwhelming and not fatty in the least.

Duck Terrine, pickled cherries, coffee reduction.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Yummers @ Yayas

Wow!! How fast has this year gone. There's usually a 3 week period before Christmas where everything starts to wind down. This year Christmas has just walked up to me and double-slapped me in the face.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mulled wine granita

One thing I'll miss from living in Europe, is the northern hemisphere Christmas. Wrapped up in your many layers, at Christmas markets outside, holding a steaming, cup of mulled wine .. Awesome! An experience I recommend to everyone!

Still, hardly an experience I can replicate here - Christmas here in Sydney is glorious and hot. We're outside, but holding onto an icy cold drink.

So how to somehow combine the two? Mulled wine granita!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Shanks So Much for L...inner?

There is much to be said for technology:  it helps us to be more efficient, to have more leisure time, to have more fun, to get places faster, to cook things in ways that our forefathers never imagined, to provide experiences we would never have anticipated. And last but not least, to help us to waste more time!

To explain the headline (and no, I didn't write this while I was on one of my vodka-fuelled, I mean medicinal, binges) the Shanks recently sent out an invitation for a family get-together. It started as an email which progressed to a facebook event courtesy of Lobo. Aside from the fact that I'm not monitoring "fb" every minute of the day (she says to people at work who are reading this!), electronic communication as opposed to a phone call or face to face leaves plenty of room for interpretation, or in this case, mis-interpretation!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Luke Nguyen's Affair ... with Clinique

Affair? More like a marriage made in Heaven!

On a mellow evening in Sydney (soon to be repeated at Zinc in Melbourne), a 350 strong crowd of (mostly) women flocked to Doltone House to enjoy a 6-course degustation menu including 25 so-called super foods designed to make your skin glow.
Deep down inside, we all know “we are what we eat”. Cosmetic company Clinique uses specially selected ingredients in their products to help us look good on the outside, how great would it be if those same ingredients could be used to make a meal that would help us from the inside?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Zeta Bar. Happy Birthday Buddy!

Zeta Bar turns 5! And what an adorable little 5 year old she is. The 5th birthday is really something to celebrate, it's when a child truly gains their own identity. They are no longer just a laughing, crying, eating, immobile mass of meat with liquids coming out of every orifice. They have passed the terrible two's and have gotten over the fascination of making things disappear down the magic 'flush hole'. Yes 5 is a momentous age, if not for the fact that they can be palmed off to public schools for 6 hours of the day, then for the first memorable beach trip where they can truly enjoy the wonders of the sea rather than just getting wet and rolling around in the sand (a kid schnitzel). Mama Hilton and Papa Belvedere organised a fantastic beach themed party for their little woman. Happy birthday Zeta!

cw: Papa Belvedere, Baby Zeta, Aunties Patty and Selma Chandeliers (aka Aunt Chandy), Mama Hilton. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gentlemen! Gird your loins!

For what I am about to show you may make you squeamish!

So what do these little morsels remind you of? And what might they be made from?

You have no doubt watched Heston Blumenthal feed chickens' testicles to the English public and there are more articles online than I had expected discussing the eating of sheeps', bulls', goats', lambs', turkeys' and even kangaroos' testicles. Could a Chinese company (duck feet, tongue & giblets, chicken wings), really have gone to this extent?

Well, I'm happy to reveal that these are NOT testicles, they just look like them! He he! They are in fact:

Yes folks, "Porky Jujubes"! Now when I see a name like that, my imagination goes into overdrive as to the texture and more importantly the taste.

Well, to put you out of your misery, they are basically a more voluptuous form of beef jerky, only it's "pork-y"; which in itself seems wrong as I find jerky palatable only in very thin sheets and only once in a blue moon. Admittedly the volume of these "Porky Jujubes" makes them a little moister than your average jerky - but not much. Cross section alert!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Food tour of Japan

14 days isn't a lot of time. When you break it down, that's roughly 42 meals excluding snacks. My goal for this holiday, as it is with any holiday, is to sample as much of the local food as my digestive system will allow. When you find yourself in Japan, you realise you have a formidable challenge before you.


Potentially deadly unless prepared by a trained chef, many people wonder what all the fuss is about. I had a fugu course consisting of sashimi, fried fugu and fugu hot pot. The flesh is quite firm so the sashimi had to be sliced very thin. The texture that made the sashimi underwhelming in first course, really shone in the second. Fried fugu was a revelation! Firm and juicy, this fish was made for frying. The final course was a hot pot with mixed vegetables. The firm flesh was again very tasty and easy to pick from the bones. Looks like my chef passed his/her fugu preparation exams!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sydney "Mad Hatter" Spring Picnic, Saturday 9th October

We started walking towards the unfamiliar woods, strangely serene and quiet despite the sighting of family picnickers, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists and horseriders.  Tick! Tick!

Was that a floppy eared bunny running off into the bushes? No, it was only a 6 foot Ninja looking for his trousers.  Tick! Tock!

What strange Wonderland had we walked into?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Seven days in sunny Sept[ember] - Day 5

She says to me "Whilst you're over there, can you look for a picture? That wall's looking bare and when people walk in they need a picture to grab their eye."
And I said "Yeah, sure thing. What kind of picture are you after?"
And so she says "Something colourful, like you know, like those abstract paintings with splats of colour all over."
And so I said "Umm okay. I mean, it's not Montmarte with painters on the side of the road, but MoMA's probably my best shot."
And then she said "Yeah, just lie it flat in the bottom of your suitcase like I did in Paris. It'll be fine."

In short, never made it to MoMA. Now, whilst the food blogger's code of conduct dictates the taking and displaying of photos on absolutely everything plated in front of them, it wouldn't have mattered since Dovetail (and possibly all of NYC fine dining) enjoys mood lighting, thus killing any food shots. Fail.

Here's one I prepared earlier (but still post-meal)...

click on for the real pictures of on for the real pictures of food...

And so they say "But what abt the fooooood??"
And so I say, on the other hand, highlights included the foie gras - much much better than any canned-mushed-cardboard-pate, melt on the tongue, no chewing - guaranteed!; the warmed cornbread-as-a-dinner-roll was a nice change - yes refills are allowed; however, the pièce de résistance for me was the sparkling apple cider - Duche de Longueville. Nevermind the $18USD per glass pricetag. Easily the most brilliant tasting, alcoholic-looking non-alcoholic drink I've ever had! Darn you Sainsbury's for the £1.99 pricetag! Where can I get this in/to Sydney?! Time for another jet set off to London methinks....

Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm A Small Potato

No mistake about this headline at all, that is the name of this snack pack.

I love it when manufacturers call a spade a spade, except when the "spade" also contains 17 other ingredients which presumably add something to the product and the packaging then needs to include the words "Potato Sticks" to ensure that consumers don't take legal action when they feel they've been mis-led.

I also have to ask, when there are so many alternate potato products out there, why package what are effectively potato chips in a can?!!

Having become more environmentally aware, part of me dislikes what I think of as excess packaging.  On top of the can is a small plastic cap - yes, it bears the Calbee label and provides a nice place to stick the importer's details and is obviously meant to provide the consumer with a means to re-seal the can, once the inner ring-pull is opened.
But given how the contents "settle"during transport giving the consumer only this much ...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cupcakes for Food Bloggers

(Party Time!!)

To all my fellow Food Bloggers out there, to all that enjoy reading food blogs, to all who have a passion for food, to all people who eat food, come and share some cyberspace cake with me.

Why you ask?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Momofuku Crack Pie - (for us XGLUTs)

Hi, my name is Shanks ... and I'm an XGLUT.

What is an XGLUT you ask?
XGLUT is the self-proclaimed-name (patent pending) I call a person whose world is turned upside down through the diagnosis from a blood test. A person who has loved and cherished gluten-based delicacies but is no longer loved back in return. A person who can no longer tolerate a loveless relationship, who takes hold of their life, and divorces (ex or X) the constitution of Gluten (GLUT). A person who is unique and now lives abroad (ex-pat) from the world of gluten.

Well it's not official but I am the chairman, secretary and single honorary member of the XGR, XGLUT Revolution. And to celebrate this occasion ... we're having pie!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Salmon Pastrami - yes Salmon!

Taste of Sydney this year was just huge and I got stuck at some really good stations, trying out all the great things they had to offer. The problem with this though was that there was much I didn't have time to sample.  Also I got easily distracted by shiny things and flashing lights, so bouncing around like a moth from light bulb to light bulb I missed a lot of stores that way too. Reading all the great reviews from other bloggers of the things I missed doesn't help reduce the feelings of regret, but samples from the kind people at Pead PR does, as missing out on New Zealand Regal King Salmon was one of those regrets. Well not anymore.  

Smoked Salmon Pastrami. What is there not to love about those words. Sustainably farmed king salmon, cold smoked and encrusted with a mixture of cracked peppers.  

These king salmon are raised in the pristine waters of the Marlborough Sounds. 
Welcome to flavour country.

Monday, August 9, 2010

well i just blog the way i feel

stop breathing!
imagine none of this is real...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Food Adventures in July


Yes folks, I have finally taken the plunge! After years of eating everyone else's fabulous crackling pork, I was encouraged to "give it a go" by Huey's Cooking Adventures, a half hour programme which airs on Channel 10 daily at 4.00 pm. Why I happen currently to be a daytime television junkie is another story (and to be honest, I don't always tune in) but on this particular day, Huey made this look so simple that I thought even I could do it. He called it Rack of Pork with Turnip Gratin. I'm not a big turnip fan but on another day he demonstrated Salt Baked Potatoes and I put the two together with some greens on the side.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sydney Good Food & Wine Show 2010

First impressions? The stand layout is much better this year with lots more space between the aisles and the wine tasting stands have been spread out between all the food stands instead of all congregating in the southern end of the exhibition centre. I think the organisers have finally realised that with all the trolleys, prams and other wheeled devices navigating the stands, more room is safer and makes for happier foodies!

Best showbag? Definitely the Barilla sample box for $10 which includes 3 bottles of sauce, 3 types of pasta, a cute 100% cotton apron and a chic pasta tin for storage.

What did I buy? Josophan belgian chocolate peanut brittle, a pretty jar of Ajvar capsicum and vegetable relish from Marco Polo Foods, Rochester Dickensian Ginger Drink (ok it's non-alcoholic but I'm partial to the idea of sticking a hot poker from an open fire into a mug to heat it up!) and some gold grade leaf gelatine, porcini powder and vanilla cocoa nibs from Equagold. Ideas for using said ingredients welcome!

Hmmmm - There's enough room for TWO super absorbant chamois ok shammy stands in a food show? Being the systematic type, I like starting from one end and making my way up and down each aisle to make sure I don't miss a thing so starting at the northern end my first stands were a couple of escapees from a lifestyle show! Ok, ok I know people who love food also love feeding their dogs well and want to erase the lines from under their eyes too but couldn't we have filled the spaces maybe at a cheaper rental for little artisanal places who have a special product but can't afford a stand? I'd say 80% of what was on show can already be purchased in local supermarkets and shops but what I want to see is the stuff you'd normally have to travel a long way to find.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Cupcake Gallery - 2D Workshop

I was going to hand this one over to my better half, the W, as she experienced this first hand. But she prefers to stick with her crocheting and baking, and left the blogging to me. Since I got to do my photography workshop a few weeks ago, it was the W's turn to pursue her passion in the form of cupcake decorating.

As big fans and long time admirers of The Cupcake Gallery's (TCCG) work we were both very excited to find out that they are starting cake decorating workshops.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

When the dog bites, when the bee stings...and it's freezing cold!

Steamboat or hotpot has got to be one of my favourite things of winter (the other being the chance to wear luxury woollens)! Nothing like having a crowd of favourite people around 2 or 3 portable gas stoves or electric hotpots full of chicken or abalone stock and lots of nice things to dip into them, taking hours to cook and eat slowly and catch up with the gossip!

This one took 2 full days to organise - cleaning and decluttering the house (happy reading to the lucky person who picked up 2 years worth of Empire magazines), buying 101 ingredients, making sure all food groups (including dessert) were covered and reconfiguring every table and chair to ensure all could sit around the food!

Chicken stock on one side, abalone on the other

Thinly sliced lamb, wagyu beef, chicken, pork, calamari -

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Table for Fifteen - (ATFT Workshop)

The Shanks and Lobo show were lucky enough to get into Billy's of A Table for Two food photography workshop. Seats were limited to fifteen per session and held at Mumu Grill function room in Crows Nest. At $85 for the workshop + meals, it was well worth the experience.

15mth aged Jamon Serrano with Catlan bread

Billy has a reputation within the food blogging community for his unique style of photography. Us Yummers have admired his work since his work on the exhibited Victorian bushfires, Tex Mex menu photo shoot, and his regular updates on his blog ATFT (particularly for me the Cambodian/Laos blogs). So this was an opportunity to learn from the jedi master.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Home cured olives

Have you ever wandered through a market and come across an overflowing tray of green olives? Did you then wonder how you might prepare them? Until that moment, olive preparation was a mystery to me. They always came in a little bowl at a restaurant or out of a jar.

After some research, I bought a kilo of the glossy green fruits ready for curing. Green olives are the unripened fruit and black olives are the ripened versions that are allowed to stay on the tree that bit longer. Olives contain the bitter compound oleuropein. This gives raw olives an extremely bitter taste which is a bit like rubbing panadol tablets on your tongue bound in rubber bands. Hence, birds tend to leave the olives alone and seek other tastier stone fruits. In order to make them edible, the oleuropein must be leached out from the fruits.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chocolate (Pork) Crackles

This Fall......

The epic saga continues...

Of one man's fascination of matching pork with chocolate to make edible bliss...

From the creators of "A Chocolate Porking"...

Starring Lindt as the gingered flavoured hero, "Chocolate".

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kiroran. A Uygur Restaurant


Kiroran, one of a couple of Uygur restaurants on the much forgotten side of Dixon street, probably the restaurant I would have chosen if just walking by because they had a picture of a entire cooked lamb in their front window.

Whole friggin cooked lamb! Nice.

Unfortunately the menu said a days notice is required to order the whole lamb so sorry folks, not this time. I'm not sure if that was a typo on the menu but if they can prepare an entire lamb on a days notice....respect.I would give them a few more days notice just to avoid disappointment.

After taking a minute to accept the fact there will be no whole tandoori lamb this night, we focus on the other delicacies on offer.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Farewell warm days....sort of..

Well it's the end of spring/summer, no wait it's back again. Ok now it's the end, hang on here's another warm day. Should be autumn now for sure, heck where did this heat wave come from?? It's probably safer to say, it's the end of the spring crop season. This season my green thumb was pointing me in the directions of tomatoes.

This Saturday, 22 May is the International Day for Biological Diversity. So I hope this post tempts people to get out there and try a heirloom.  

Mixed box of heirloom tomatoes from Eveleigh markets.

From my limited knowledge I'm guessing it's a Black Russian species. Can anyone confirm?

I've never grown my own tomatoes before but people were always telling me it was easy. Doing my own research on the internet it all sounded a bit daunting. Beware the descending swarms of aphids, don't shock the roots during planting, water daily or the fruits may split, keep the plant off the ground to avoid fungus, pinch the suckers, prune the plant to concentrate sugars to the fruit but don't prune it when you have fruits else you may get sunscald. arrrgh! The most helpful advice I got from one of these websites was this - 'just have a go'. So in that frame of mind I went to a nursery to pick up a plant.

Next challenge, which type of tomato to plant. Beefsteak, roma, plum, cherry tomatoes, the list went on and on. In the end i decided on a nursery branded plant which just said tomato plant on the label. Heck at only $2 for the pot what did I have to lose.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

City of Jetties - South Australia

It's time again for Family Shanks to take another holiday. Our destination this time was semi-decided as we had already planned to visit friends that have moved to the city of churches/jetties. They call it the city of churches but where we were staying every suburb had a jetty with an adjoining Jetty Rd, hence my slant of the state's moniker.

MS.Glutamate, a former resident of the city of jetties gave me an extensive list to keep me busy. Due to time restraints and diet restrictions here's what I could rustle up...

Yiros - Sovlaki Brothers - Glenelg.

Forget Kebabs...there's no such thing in SA - it's all Greek baby!! And the Greeks make Yiros. Similar concept to kebabs using super tasty meat off the spit, only using a slightly thicker wrap. The one I had in Mykonos a couple of years ago had the whole happy meal in the Yiros, where the salad, meat and fries was all wrapped up together - yes it was a happy meal :)

When seated I found it puzzling to find two massive holes in the middle of the table. I thought maybe cup holders for our drinks? but they took up valuable real estate on the dining area. All was revealed when our chips came out, served in cones.

Souvlaki Brothers' Lamb Souvlaki Salad & Yiros

The photos do this meal no justice as the salad and the yiros look like a messy pile of lettuce and meat. But it was a very tasty pile of salad and meat smothered in Souvlaki sauce - Yummo!!
The chips were freshly fried, super crispy and mighty tasty when dusted with chicken and herb salt.