Sunday, January 8, 2012

The winner takes all (the honey!!).

Yes, you are looking at a winner. A sweet, sticky, gooey winner... Intrigued?

Thanks to the wonderful woman who is theHoney Lady, I was the lucky winner of an amazing honey pack!! You see before you 3 jars of pure, raw honey... one Orange Blossom, one Chai flavoured and a medicinal Tumeric blend. I first stumbled across Honey Lady close on 2 years ago at the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market. And with her infectious passion for her bees and her product, Ms HL won me over. In that time I have sampled a wide range of the honey's available (yes, there is a difference between honeys!). The flavoured ones are especially a treat; Cinnamon was my favourite, but today it was abruptly usurped by the Chai. Eating Honey Lady honeys is just like eating liquid candy... with a spoon. Really, what more could you ask for? And the best part is, RAW HONEY IS GOOD FOR YOU!! It's not been heat treated, so it retains all the goodies that the bees work so labouriously to put in. In fact I don't think we appreciate just how hard these little gals and guys work!! The next time you see a wee honey bee buzzing around your garden, take a minute to appreciate it's labour intensive life. And also give thanks that people like the Honey Lady exist to extol the benefits of raw honey!

Our little sojourn to the markets today also yielded (among other nommy goodies) the most amazing zucchini fritters I have had the pleasure of consuming.

Served here with a salad of cucumber & Thomy mayonaise (I TOLD you! This condiment is KING in our house!) and a few grape tomatoes with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh basil. I bought these from Bubble'N'Sqeak. Cute name, and cute little fritters! I admit, when I saw them, they made me do that 'squee' noise that is normally reserved for cute furry LOLcats and roly poly puppies. At $8.80 for 6, it seemed like a damn good deal for a lazy Sunday lunch. And they certainly didn't fail to disappoint!

The Boo insisted she have her handy work in food styling broadcast on the interwebz as well. The arrangement of basil leaves on her fritter is her interpretation of a flower.

Bubble'N'Squeak also specialise gift boxes of local goodies, tapas treasures and great ideas on food presentation. (Personally I love the idea of using an old metal trophy plate.)

After a day of fantastic food headiness, I'm quite exhausted... maybe just a few Taronga Orchard coffee flavoured almonds....

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Land of the Long Weekend

What I love about Australia is our capacity to embrace the long weekend. We dig it. And the best part is that most of our long weekends are in the warmer part of the year, so that you don't have to write-off that 'extra Sunday' as a miserable, wet, teeth-chattering, freezingly frigid day. (So do you get the distinct impression now that I'm a summer person??)

This time of year is rife with these long weekends. Any excuse for one really. This time around it was the extra day for those of us to nurse the end of year hang-over... which I am proud to say I was not suffering from!! (See my last post: I had a very quiet transition from 2011 to 2012, thank you very much!) As such, The Wife and I were very much eager to try The Boatshed. This little gem is tucked away on the rocky shore of Hallett Cove Beach. I must admit my knowledge of the building and area is limited, however it looks to literally have been an old boatshed. The transformation into a cosy cafe-cum-restaurant is very impressive. There is al fresco dining, however as there were only a few umbrellas to stave off the radiating heat of the midday sun we chose to sit inside. It was unfortunate that the day was tipping the thermostat at 40 degrees celcius - and the airconditioner didn't seem to be able to keep up. However a cold beer and (possibly could've been colder) white wine helped to keep the creeping heat-rash at bay. I do feel that the addition of a shade sail or two would help to encourage customers to sit outside and take in some of the amazing sea-breeze that still managed to make itself apparent on such a blisteringly hot day. Regardless, the view of the coast is enough to cool you (along with that cooling beverage of course!).
The Wife was feeling that a health-giving salad was in order, and went for a roasted vegetable salad with cubes of fried haloumi cheese (the squeaky cheese!). The only criticism that The Wife had for this salad, was the slight overuse of olive oil. Although, she wasn't complaining... but could see this being a turn-off for those with more delicate constitutions.
The lure and aroma of the wood-fired pizzas were just too much for me to bare, and I decided to go for their margarita.
I'm a bit of an aficiendo when it comes to margarita pizzas... I'll gladly pass on any pizza which has more than 4 toppings. I think that the idea of the pizza has been basterised by modern cuisine - tandoori chicken pizzas INDEED! I'm pleased to say that at The Boatshed, the margarita is pretty darn close to perfection. Cheese and tomato which mingles well, set off by a hint of basil. The only downfall would be the heavy handedness again of some olive oil. But this can be forgiven by the taste explosion one receives when they bite into the gooey goodness.

There were many other delights on the menu that we are keen to try, and will be trying our best to return soon and sample these.

I'll finish off my post by showing off my simple yet effective dessert that I whipped up this evening. It sounds like it should rot the teeth in your head the minute you bite into it, however it works on some crazy sugar-infused level. It's a recipe that I found somewhere some years ago.... where I cannot remember. But it works incredibly well!

Dollop good quality whipped cream into some bought meringue nests.
Top with a swirl of Pashmak - Persian fairy floss (I went for strawberry flavoured).
Add half a strawberry, and voila! Instant fancy looking dessert!

Actually, it looks like some sort of Kawaii fascinator. What with the crazy weirdness of the fairy floss - which resembles some sort of creepy doll hair. But what delicious doll hair!! :O

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 - awesomic it.

By now I think most of the world has entered 2012. I hope that yours was as pleasant as mine.

Before I descend into writing about the evening, I will just make special mention of New Years Eve Day. The Wife, The Boo and I braved the blistering heat to travel 2 hours north and visit the matriach of my maternal family, and one of the driving forces behind my love of food and cooking - my Oma. She migrated to Australia with her husband and 3 children (including my mother) from Germany in the early 1950s. They epitomised the very meaning of 'self-sufficiency' - living on a farm and growing / milking / slaughtering a majority of what they ate. Money was scarce, but they enjoyed their lives and I have been incredibly blessed to have a lot of this passion for and knowledge of the simple pleasures of living off the land passed down to me. Anyway, I digress - on our way through to the small town of Blyth where my Oma lives, we stopped at Clare. Clare, for those of you who are unaware, is a wine and foodie gem. The Clare Valley is well known for it's vineyards, and specifically it's reisling wines (which I unfortunately just can't bring myself to overly enjoy). This day I was specifically excited at the prospect of dropping into Wild Saffron which is known for it's gourmet eats, great coffee and local produce for sale. My main aim was to grab a bit of the latter to take home for later nomming sessions. I was severely disappointed though when we entered and found that access to most of the produce is hindered by tables and chairs, and therefore the people who are sitting at these tables and on these chairs. Aside from asking these poor people to move, it was almost nigh impossible to get to the alluring jars of pickles and preserves. And so, we left empty handed. So note to Wild Saffron, please make your stock more accessible!!! I'm sure that not only the punters, but the local producers will thank you!!

Once home though, we spent the early part of the evening with my parents where we shared a casual dinner of vegetable fritatta, pork and chicken dumplings and garlic bread - yep, we were mixin' and matchin' it up in the food stakes. BOOYEAH! We then watched the 9pm Sydney fireworks via the wonderful world of television, scared ourselves stupid with My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, before getting home at the reasonably respectable hour of 10pm. The Wife and The Boo retired to bed, while I sat up to see 2012 in with a glass of bourbon on the rocks and The Theme to S-Express:

I can't think of a more random, yet totally satisfying way to welcome a new year.

And already, my year is looking awesomic*! I fried us up a load of pancakes this morning for breakfast, served with maple syrup and mixed berries. Had a refreshing swim in the ocean (for those playing in the Northern Hemisphere, it is currently sitting at around the 40 degree C mark today), and then cobbled together a pretty fab salad - if I do say so myself!
It was just a mixture of 2 small tins of tuna, a tin of mixed beans, 1/3 cucumber, 1/2 punnet of grape tomatoes which have been halved and some beans from my mother's garden. However it was the dressing that made this salad a bit on the spesh side...

Anita's 'On The Spesh Side' Dressing
Juice from 1/2 lime
2 generous dessertspoons of whole-egg mayonaise (we are Thomy mayonaise loyalists in this house!)
2-3 anchovy fillets chopped finely
Large pinch of dried dill
Large pinch of Sunaami Salt (An addictive mix of seaweed, horseradish and dill with sea salt. Check out the range at Green Farmhouse.)

Put everything together into a bowl and mix/whisk. (Note: when entrusting the mixing process with a 4 year old, ensure this bowl is large and preferably non-breakable so as to counteract over-enthusiastic mixing.)

I'm by no means the best recipe writer, as most of what I cook comes from knowledge of what goes together. I find it hard to write down what I do to make food taste reasonably edible - enough so it ellicits satisfied food noises from my willing guinea pigs. Perhaps I'll work at that over the coming year... yes, my sole resolution is to write down my recipes while I cook.

So, 2012... what amazing culinary delights will you descend upon me? My tastebuds await!

*Awesomic - the made up word I made up. My goal is to get this word to go viral. Use it, abuse it and spread it thick like my Oma spreads her butter ("OMG! It's as thick as CHEESE!").)