Butter, the standard staple for cooking in the kitchen, has changed! For my whole life [quite some time now] butter came as 8oz or 250g in rectangle blocks that were square in depth and height. Their appearance was like two cube shapes joined together in a block of acceptable symmetry. Even the conversion from Imperial to Metric didn’t change the shape of butter. The new shape has a different length on every side: height, width and depth. It is flat, like a tile. I was thrown for a moment in the supermarket by the new shape, but it makes sense. The flat stack of tile-shaped blocks is actually more stable in the dairy section of the store, but more importantly it melts faster on the stove or in the microwave as a thinner piece of butter when used in cooking.
Who gave so much thought to butter to suggest such a change? It’s mind blowing so see this innovation. Someone looked through the accepted norm of decades and made an improvement. But then again, every thing tastes better with butter.
An innocent looking apple on a plate – maybe, but no. This was a modern cuisine of deception where food is disguised as other delicacies. It was billed on the menu as “Stewed apples with native pepper berry ice cream”, but the reality was something else, something better. We had the buttery crumb for crunch, the lemon curd peaks for tang and the vanilla ice cream with a zing for smoothness. The apple remained a mystery until tasted. There were stewed apples with a hint of cinnamon within at the base, but the remainder of the delicate white chocolate frame housed a fluffy and creamy chocolate mousse. The colouring of the of apple and the mirror-like glaze where stunning and flawless. The stalk was a solid dark chocolate stick.
Such gastronomic marvels captivate dinners with their duplicity. Deception doesn’t have to be negative; it can lead to a child-like delight of discovery. Remember when the world was full of wonder and intrigue. Revisit that world with an open mind and enjoy being surprised.
Sometimes a mired slog through very fine soft sand is worth the resultant view. At the very end of Surf Beach Rd, Cape Patterson, at the Second Surf Car Park, begins a track that brings you out to this stunning view. The sand dunes are steep, the sky is vast and the ocean is inviting.
This stretch of beach provides an excellent opportunity for a wander along the shoreline – your choice as to whether you get your feet wet or not! The casual ambling nature of a walk allows for relaxation and introspection. Deep breaths of unadulterated ocean air clears the mind and delivers a sea-salty tang to flavour your thoughts. Salt has always been the simplest seasoning in all cooking. Time is its partner. Adding these to your future can bring unexpected results. So take some time at the beach and a deep breath of ocean air and you will find clarity or your epiphany as to what is next in your life. Some things are worth putting in the effort.
Yet again, another splendid affair from the MCC. Tasty canapes of unexpected flavours packed into bite-sized morsels paired with a glass of Bollinger. A great start, setting the bar very high. The following courses did not let me down either. Seasonal mushroom and truffle soup, roasted spatchcock, baked Camembert with Tasmanian old growth honeycomb, bread and butter pudding with spiced apple and chocolate truffles to finish. But amongst this culinary delight, something even better was going on.
I had invited three long-time friends from my High school days, two of whom are turning 50 this year. We have known each other for most of our lives, almost four decades and are still in touch, though not regularly and usually in one-on-ones when calendars and schedules allow. To have us all together in the one place was special and to feast on amazing cuisine whilst catching up was extraordinary. So any chance you can to combine great food with old friends – grab it, savor it, enjoy! You’ll come away richer every single time.
A bit of pretty and a bit of perfect. What better way to spend an afternoon with the sisterhood. This decadent High Tea was found at the foot of the Dandenong mountains. Each morsel was delicate, delightful and delicious. The presentation detailed, exquisite and colourful. The tea was tasty and plentiful. Several tea options were available to match with the sweet or savory. Sometimes we need to stop and take the time to enjoy lovely company, food and conversation.
It is important to feather these activities into our lives. It keeps us grounded, sane and connected to the real world. We touch base and check in with our friends; it’s a two way street of benefit. It also adds a richness (not just a sugar hit) to your world that other people and experiences bring. Go ahead and make a calendar entry to catch up with friends in a novel way.
This morsel of tastiness was an entree to a great meal courtesy of The Strand in Williamstown. The fat, juicy scallops nestled on a pea puree with a drizzle of grapefruit sauce were magnificent. They were sprinkled with a zesty toasted gremolata that provided another texture to the dish. This inspired offering was followed by a squid ink risotto topped with seafood, and a citrus tart with mango coulis and macadamia ice-cream. Beautiful quality food that left you enjoying the meal, but not overly stuffed by volume.
As decadent and delicious as this meal was, the celebration was to mark the success of a project at work. Big wins are to be acknowledged and reveled in. Reinforcing the great work with a sensory experience builds a lasting memory. Make sure that you enjoy and pay tribute to the moments of success, as it will sustain your energy and drive. Celebrate the victory!
It’s been a while since I drooled over a dessert in this blog, but this was exceptionally yummy! It was called a Hazelnut Charlotte crunch, from a restaurant in Southgate on the Yarra. The complexity of food in this day and age is amazing. Not just a chocolate mousse. There was a thin base layer of chocolate cake, upon which a milk chocolate mousse with a liquid cherry center sat. This morsel was then covered in a chocolate glaze with gold dust and crunchy bubbles of chocolate puffed rice. The plate also contained a smear of red velvet chocolate, chocolate soil and Persian fairy floss.
No longer is food cooked once and then served. No longer is a food served solo. Hours of preparation and stages of construction are involved to present a rich and decadent experience. The flavours blended well, along with the textures. The one curiosity – How something so delicate can be plated up without fingerprints or squashing of any elements? These desserts are something to be savored, so when indulging, take your time and experience all of it, even the mental stimulation.
Devonshire Tea to be exact. Simple recipes are the best. Simple ingredients makes it even easier. In a bowl add four cups of self raising flour with a tub of cream and a can of lemonade. Mix with a knife. Flour a board and flatten the mixture (not too much) and cut out scones with the rim of a glass. Makes approximately 16 scones. Bake at 200ºC for 15 minutes. Done. Too easy.
The scones are best enjoyed straight out of the oven with jam and cream and friends. Something to try, something to taste, something to share. So give this simple recipe a go. It is a good excuse to have friends and family over. You don’t have to follow the traditional Devonshire tea with jam and cream, you can mix it up and add cheese (or anything else) and enjoy them with a spread of butter. Just use your imagination.
The tartness of blackberries and the vibrant purple of the juice made this tasty and delicious blackberry sorbet a lovely counterpoint to the rich chocolate mousse with a bitter dark chocolate glaze. The fruitiness of the sorbet complemented the creaminess of the mousse, and the overall smoothness of both was balanced with crunch from the obligatory chocolate ‘soil’. Who calls food on your plate ‘soil’? When did we start eating dirt? For those uninitiated, the ‘soil’ is crumbled biscuit toasted lightly with real butter for a distinct salty crunch. It adds another dimension of flavour and texture to the dessert.
Visually simple on a plate, but a lot of technical preparation in the background. All these elements combine to be elegantly presented as a dish. Food is life, but good food is to be celebrated. I tripped over this morsel at a luncheon at the ‘G’ – and celebration it was, with several courses and matching wines. Is there a better way to spend a Wednesday afternoon? Is there a better way to finish a lovely luncheon? I ask you!
As a treat, I took myself and some family off to a regional longest lunch event. The food and wine was delightful as expected, but there were two unexpected morsels of serendipity.
The first was the stalls of local tastes with knowledgeable produce purveyors. We could sample and enjoy a range of breads, olives, dips, jams, vegies, etc. Try before you buy! all whilst being plied with bubbles and delectable canapes made from these ingredients. The second was the luncheon menu which explained the picturesque and fragrant offerings on one side, and on the reverse side gave the supplier names and distance in kilometers to their farms. It was a delicious and very local affair, very low food miles indeed. Special mention goes to the rhubarb and macadamia tart. The crumble crunch, beautiful treacle, tart sorbet and smooth quark were lovely subtle counterpoints [Yes, we had a quark – and it wasn’t a subatomic building block of physical matter]. The flavours were delicate and unexpected, an enticing and light finish to the meal and a treat to the senses. See what you can find that is yummy and local!