Archive for May, 2009


Cry me a river

May 17, 2009

onion gogglesSenor and I are having an argument about whether I should purchase a pair of these exceptionally snazzy onion goggles.

My view, of course, is yes! Although since our earlier discussion on the topic I have to say Hamish and Jamie were both right, and while I still bawl each time, practice is making – well, marginally better. My dice are neater and the chilling and sharpest knife does make a difference. But still, I can definitely see myself in these.

Senor, however, has been rolling his eyes. I’m used to that. Then, warming to the topic, he quite seriously suggested a scuba mask, because then “at least you can use it for snorkelling as well”.

Please. I can just see myself welcoming the guests at the front door with one of those on my head, I replied. At which S looked for a minute from this picture to me and back again, incredulous, and said, “Are you telling me you’re concerned about what they’re going to look like?”

I still think they’re funky.


Quote of the week

May 16, 2009

mfk fisherOne of the reasons I love this blog is that you folks keep leading me to new discoveries I would never have found otherwise – like Hughesy’s and the Empress’s references to MFK Fisher, author of How to Cook a Wolf and Consider the Oyster, both of which I’m now on the hunt for.

Anyway, a little zip around the net looking for Ms Fisher revealed this lovely remark of hers, after the deaths of her beloved brother and husband within a few months of one another. As I’m reading a lot of books about bereavement at the moment for the Sydney Writers’ Festival next week, this quote struck me with particular force.

“One has to live, you know. You can’t just die from grief or anything. You don’t die. You might as well eat well, have a good glass of wine, a good tomato.”   

– MFK Fisher 


Empress online at last – keep her there…

May 16, 2009

stephSteph’s 3-of-a-kind restaurant column for Good Living in the Sydney Morning Herald is finally up online – go visit to get the clicks happening and make sure it stays that way.

After the sheer joy of our Lao trip to the west where we encountered the sticky rice heaven of Song Fang Khong, I look forward to our next suburban adventure with the Empress, which I believe is going to be a Filipino fiasco of some kind … can’t wait. 

Also, my thanks to her for pointing out yet another excellent-looking whole orange cake recipe here. And it’s a non-boiler, for you extra-idle types…


Tray bien

May 16, 2009

room serviceIf you are like me and travel for work just occasionally, you may still feel a childish thrill at the very idea of room service. I always get the steak, with as retro an accompaniment as is available – cafe de Paris butter, perhaps – and Dijon mustard on the side … and chips, and a green salad. My beau, on the other hand, is a sucker for the club sandwich, apparently. And you?

I’ve been trying to work out just what it is that’s so appealing about the whole thing. Is it the laze factor, that you can just lie on a huge bed and command others to bring you whatever you fancy? (sounds quite good, you gotta admit!) Or the power trip – that no matter the time of day or night, the poor schmuck on the other end of the phone line has to pretend nothing would give them greater pleasure than to pan fry a chicken breast for you right now? Read the rest of this entry ?


Pancetta with a pulse: beany soupy stew

May 11, 2009

pancettaAs the Empress is fond of saying, “there’s nothing in life that can’t be improved by bacon”.  

I nominate pancetta as one of life’s essential ingredients – toss a few scraps through everything from steamed beans & peas, brussels sprouts, boiled taties. Throw it into pasta sauces of all kinds, wrap a chicken breast in it, throw a bit into stuffings of any kind (like the zucchini flowers), wrap a bit of salmon or a sardine in it, or go stuff a quail with it if you wanna get fancy. 

Tonight I made a beany stew adapted from Karen Martini’s delicious looking “Northern Italian olive mill soup” in yesterday’s Sunday Life mag. Hers was made with dried borlotti beans but I took the usual open-a-can route, and hers included radicchio and cavolo nero, whereas I just chucked in some silverbeet instead. Read the rest of this entry ?


More bad literary food

May 5, 2009

bookplateI have found a fellow bad-food-in-fiction-admirer in Geoff Nicholson, with his nice piece on literary food in the New York Times this month.  In his mini-essay, Go Ahead. Spoil My Appetite he says:

I’ve realized that the moments of literary eating I like best are the ones in which the characters suffer because of their food. In “Gravity’s Rainbow,” for instance, there’s an early scene in which the wartime inhabitants of a London maisonette enjoy bananas served in myriad forms, including mashed bananas “molded in the shape of a British lion rampant.” This is good stuff, but the truly magnificent scene in the book has Tyrone Slothrop sampling various hideous English candies, flavored with the likes of quinine, pepsin, eucalyptus, tapioca, until, choking, he’s offered a Meggezone, “the least believable of English coughdrops.” This is a real product, a nasty little black lozenge, still available, and if my childhood memory is reliable, Pynchon’s description of its effects — “Polar bears seek toenail-holds up the freezing frosty-grape alveolar clusters in his lungs” — gets it about right.


Simplest lunch in the world

May 5, 2009

prawns2A flying visit to the tropics for the weekend, with family at beautiful Magnetic Island in far North Queensland. It is an excellent escape and we plan to do it again before winter is out. Perfect swimming weather, and still warm enough to eat outdoors in the evening.

So if it’s cold where you are, and you want to pretend it’s still summer, turn up the heat and whack this on the table for the easiest lunch in the world.  

1. Cooked prawns. We had tigers one day and red spots the next – succulent, flavoursome, delicious.

2. Bread. Sourdough best, otherwise any good crusty white.

3. Green salad with good oil & balsamic dressing.

4. Mayonnaise – preferably Norganics Soya Mayonnaise, otherwise Hellman’s (or homemade, obviously, if you can be bothered).

5. Two glasses of Veuve Clicquot.

Happy, happy, happy day.