Archive for the ‘restaurants’ Category


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…


The empress’s column

March 24, 2009

It’s a source of continual frustration to me that the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Living online section does not include the regular ‘Three of a kind’ column by Stephanie Clifford-Smith, she of the chick pea majesty …

Anyway – if you are a Sydneysider, get today’s paper and check out the Empress’s three Miang kham recommendations, page 8 of Good Living. The pics alone will have you desperate for one of these delectable little wrapped-up morsels of spicy Thai goodness… not to mention the Empress’s always concise, witty and knowledgeable summations. Knows her miang kham from her tom yum, that one.


In praise of salt

March 19, 2009

saltHave you noticed how, if you cook a meal for folks who like eating but aren’t as obsessed with cooking as One is, that they often rave about the incredible flavours you produce? I realised early in my cooking career that this has sadly little to do with how amazing the fish/snags/bombe alaska really is, and more to do with the fact that the said dish is seasoned. i.e., contains salt (and my second love, pepper).

I am frankly astonished at the number of people who don’t cook with salt at home but always find restaurant food and food at cooky friends’  houses delicious. It’s SALT, people. Delicious, crunchy, subtle or serious – it’s salt that underlines every bit of good cooking I’ve ever done.

I’ve been discussing with my chick pea empress friend Steph (the best all-round cook I know) the whole salt-scare issue. We are both firmly of the view that unless you have high blood pressure – when it really does matter that you cut down on salt – then one should go for one’s life on the salty goodness. Read the rest of this entry ?


Adriatic Salad and other fictional foods

March 4, 2009

adriaticsalad1When my novel The Children came out I received several very gratifying emails from readers who particularly liked the family barney in the fictional country town of Rundle’s RSL Club restaurant, which featured an escalating  argument between two adult siblings, Mandy and Stephen, sparked by a dish on the menu described thus: ‘Adriatic Salad: Cajun prawns, sweet potato, snow peas and lime mayonnaise.’

For some reason, lots of people liked the sound of this dish. A couple of people even wanted the recipe. That salad actually exists, in a motel restaurant in a country town that will remain nameless, where I did a bit of research for the book – it seemed too good to be true, so I pinched it.  I quite enjoyed writing that scene actually – and now I find myself scanning menus hopefully at all times now for fictional fodder. Tricky though –  it would be so easy to repeat oneself, but there’s such a wealth of material out there I’m not sure I will be able to resist bad menu items for the book I’m writing now (I’ve got three words to say to you, Kimmy: Gourmet Pizza Kitchen).

On the topic of food in fiction, here is a wonderful New Yorker article by Adam Gopnik about cooking real dishes after  their fictional appearances in books, with varying results. He says, for example, of the eponymous dish from Gunter Grass‘s Nobel-provoking novel The Flounder:

Eating Günter Grass’s flounder was actually like reading one of his novels: nutritious, but a little pale and starchy.


Expense Account Benefactor

March 2, 2009

Everyone should have one of these. The corporate world doesn’t seem so evil when one of its members takes you out for a sly expensive dinner on the company account. Our corporate fairy tonight took us to Becasse, which was pretty  transporting.

My entree, which will sound weird, was an amazingly delicious smoky affair – Jamon de somethingorother (beautiful, soft, smoky stretchy prosciutto-style ham) with smoked eel, a few droplets of a little mayonnaisy number and something called a matelote jelly, which I believe is a fishy reduction of some kind, but to be honest I forgot about it in the feast of smoky ham and eel. Who’d a thunk that could be SO good. Everything else was incredible as well – wine divine – and our dear EAB’s company the best of all, of COURSE, but – ah, that smoky eely hammy thing.