Archive for month: December, 2010

Happy New Year!!

31 Dec
December 31, 2010

Happy New Year guys and Happy new decade.  Wow this year has gone so quickly.  Actually the decade has whizzed by as well.  This time 10 years ago I was up at Daydream Island with stupid fluorescent “2000″ glasses on, seeing in a new century.

What an awesome foodie year it has been as well. I have had a wonderful time experimenting and pushing my cooking skills in the kitchen.  Travel was big on the agenda for me this year and there have been many memorable restaurant meals had as well.

One of the most emotional kitchen episodes I had this year was when I went and bought live yabbies from the Sydney Fish Markets.  Rule number one, don’t name live produce before you off it and make it a meal, also try avoiding giving them personalities and little voices.

A few of the many yabbies

I have expanded my culinary knowledge through the Daring Kitchen with their Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers’ challenges.  I would rather forget mysuet pudding disaster, but loved making my owngreen chilli sauce.

The horrible steak & oyster suet pudding

Stacked green chilli chicken enchilada

Josh turned 18 and I really put my skills in the kitchen on the line by making a steampunk cake for him.  Was the first time I had ever used fondant or constructed a cake in that particular manner, was fun getting creative using dry ice for the steam.

The steampunk cake

My most memorable meal this year was at WD-50 in New York where I had the pleasure of meeting Wylie Dufresne.  I was like a star struck idiot that had trouble stringing sentences together.  He is one of the nicest chefs I have met, creative, talented and presented me the most memorable degustation meal of my life.

Wylie & I

There were some very memorable gatherings with fellow food bloggers, which I haven’t actually blogged about.  There was”A feast for the senses” dinner at Bistro CBD, where the tables were turned on four very talented food bloggers and it put them in the kitchen preparing a fantastic dinner.

Fouad, Josh (not one of the talented cooks), Karen &Billy(missingLinda from the picture)

Celebrating foodie friends birthdays,Suze from Chocolate Suze at the  City Hotel, it was school fancy dress, earlier this year.  Then in November it was Helen from Grab your Fork’s birthday at Signorelli Gastronomiawhere we polished off  Trevor a truly delicious crispy suckling piggie.

Trevor – totally delicious

The year ended on a big gathering of bloggers for the annual Bloggers Christmas party held at Centennial Park.  Food, food and more food and for the first time ever we had blogger Olympics.  I was on Team Diva with Billy from A Table for Two, Shez from One More Bite and  Deborah from Vintage Macaroon, we won, Yay Team Diva!!

Billy, Shez & I (photo credit Simon from The Heart of Food)

The amazing amount of food!

Josh eating the cutest strawberry Santa

So what is install for me next year?  I have some personal goals that I want to fulfil, but on the food side I would love to share with you some of my want to dos;

  • Make my own salami
  • Advance my skills regarding preserving, bottling, pickling and making jams
  • Create a gourmet meal for one of my hikes next year, instead of eating 2 minute noodles, porridge and muesli bars.
  • Make my own cheese
  • Enjoy a Friday lunch at Assiette
  • Take a chocolate making class
  • Play around a lot more with molecular gastronomy
  • Spend more time making stock to keep on hand in my chest freezer (I am slack!!)
  • Prepare more vegetarian meals
  • Have dinner at Tetsuya’s
  • Shop more at the local growers/farmers’ markets
  • Shop less at Coles and Woolworths, and support the little guys, again pure laziness and I need smacked!!
  • Hone my French cooking techniques
  • Learn more about and use more Australian native ingredients
  • Lastly, be successful in keeping that damn possum out of my herb garden and vegie patch!

Whatever 2011 holds in store for you I hope it is delicious

Sara xxx

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Christmas Eve & Day, the Belly Rumbles way :)

26 Dec
December 26, 2010

Merry  Christmas everyone, I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas day filled with family, friends, food, love and joy.

This Christmas has been a bit of a strange one for me.  All my good intentions and plans were shot to pieces when I came down with a rotten virus.  I have been extremely sick for 2 weeks, continuous coughing and feeling like the living dead.  They thought I had whooping cough and I was quarantined until the results came back.  They were negative, but to be honest, made no difference, I still felt horrid.  No sleep due to coughing makes for one very emotional shell of a girl.

I am still coughing and I have actually lost my voice, but I will get better.  So being hit by this horrid thing really threw my plans out the window.

All my planned Christmas baking did not happen, did not have the strength or energy.

I missed out on my soon to be sister-in-law’s hens night, as I felt like death and at that stage had no idea of how contagious I was (was still under quarantine).  That was the last wedding present I wanted to give to her, the wedding is on the 28th December.

My best bud, Ms Lily, was heading overseas for an epic 2 month trip.  Our planned Christmas lunch was cancelled and proper, goodbyes of have fun, enjoy etc did not happen. Read more →

Rustic Pizzeria

18 Dec
December 18, 2010

It was the last night in New York.  A full day of walking, playing tourist and basically trying to fit in as much as possible.  My feet were hurting.  Flu had completely wrapped it massive germy infested arms around me and I was not feeling great.  One thing on my list I still really wanted to do and had not achieved as yet, pizza.  I wanted to try New York style pizza.

Not really feeling like venturing far, with luck, Rustic Pizzeria was just a couple of blocks away from my hotel.

I love the way New Yorkers do pizza, Aussies have a lot to learn.  The fact you can buy by the slice is awesome, no need to buy a whole pizza.  Pick and choose as your taste buds desire.

The pizza is pre-made, you choose which slices you would like and they are popped back in to the pizza oven to finish cooking.  Pizza the way I love it, not heavy on toppings, served piping hot with a thin and crisp base, perfect!

I decided two slices would totally fill me up.  The slices are like they are from a pizza made for a giant.

I chose a slice of nice simple mozzarella, basil and tomato and a slice of pepperoni.  Simple and totally delicious.

Sara xxx

Pizza Rustica on Urbanspoon

Daring Cooks’ Challenge, December – Poach to Perfection

15 Dec
December 15, 2010

Jenn and Jillhave challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

I know that poached eggs are not up some peoples’ alley as the gooey runny yolk goodness can give a major gag reflex.  Not me, give me my eggs runny, gooey with golden molten seeping goodness, oh yeah.

Eggs Benedict is probably my favourite Sunday brunch meal beside yum cha.  They are the two things that I get cravings for.  Eggs Benedict, large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, decent latte and I am in heaven.

Originally I had planned to do my challenge the Sunday after the Sydney Food Bloggers Christmas Party, but I woke up feeling like death warmed up.  Sore throat, chesty cough and basically incapable of doing anything.  So my original brunch idea became dinner on Monday evening.  I still felt like death warmed up, but I actually really felt like this for dinner. Read more →

MasterChef Live

11 Dec
December 11, 2010

I will be honest with you guys, originally I wasn’t even going to go to this event.  Sure, I love watching MasterChef on TV, as do a lot of people, but the program line up for this event didn’t really get my heart racing to part with cold hard cash.

Tickets available are as follows and the event has been on all weekend, Josh and I went Friday, and is on again tomorrow;

VIP $120: Includes premium seating in the theatre and access to Jaguar VIP lounge in the festival before and after the show.  Jaguar VIP Lounge is an “exclusive” lounge where VIP holders get to have a comp glass off wine and relax.  Plus access to the festival.

Gold $70: Premium reserved seating and access to the festival.

Silver $55: General unreserved seating at the show, plus access to the festival.

Family Pass: $170

Festival only pass: Adult $25, Junior $10

I received an offer via email for 2 for 1 tickets, gold and silver only to Friday’s show.  I decided Josh and I may as well go and see what it was all about.  I went for the Gold tickets, 2 for 1 at $70.

We scooped parking easy enough at the Entertainment Quarter car park and headed over to the massive line to get in.  I hate to think what it is going to be like to get in over the weekend when they are busier, but today was a little painful.

“The Show”

The line to get in to the Horden Pavilion, where the 1 hour MasterChef Live show was being held, was the biggest joke on this planet.  Unorganised, people jumping the queue left, right and centre and it took a good 5 minutes to actually work out where the end of the mess, I mean queue, was.

Once in we needed help to find our seats as the seating was  a little confusing.  What made it even more fun was the tickets I had been supplied with were for seats that actually didn’t exist, oh yay.  Plonked up at the back on the end of a row, we were told to wait there while our usher went to talk to his supervisor.  Eventually he came back with other tickets for horrid seats, not what I would call premium, for us to use if somebody came to claim the seats we were in.

Have I mentioned unorganised?

The show itself started 15 minutes late, no biggie.  It was fun and light hearted, and basically what we see on TV during the season.  There was a master class where 4 members of the audience were pulled up to have a go.  Marion and Adam made an appearance as well as Donna Hay.  There was talking, cooking demos and audience participation for an hour.

“The Festival”

Basically it was like a smaller version of Good Food & Wine Show.  To be honest MasterChef Live is the Good Food & Wine Show on a smaller more expensive version involving different cooks in the show at a higher price to attend.  There were about 100 exhibitors.  An organic section and a gluten free corner.  There are opportunities to get hands on, watch cooking demonstrations, get to listen to some well known chefs, book signings as well as meet past MasterChef contestants.  There is also an area called “The Park” whichh as a few restaurants and some more exhibitors.  We actually missed this completely.

“The Exhibitors”

I mentioned that it reminded me of  Food Food & Wine Show.  It does on a smaller scale, there are just over 100 exhibitors, but also they are what I consider boutique exhibitors that pride themselves in their product.  Not saying that the Good Food & Wine Show  does not have high quality exhibitors, it does, but it also jam packed with exhibitors that products are commonly available in the supermarkets which we know very well and already use.

Today I discovered a few that I hadn’t seen before and that was a nice surprise.

Poachers Pantry – Stand 89

www.poacherspantry.com.au

Was thrilled to find these guys as on my recent trip to Canberra their address did not show up on either of the GPS systems we had.  They have wonderful smoked meats.  I ended up purchasing their Thai smoked chicken thighs and Sicilian chicken breast, traditionally cured and smoked.  The flavours are incredible, I highly recommend stopping by for a taste test, you will want to take something home being so close to Christmas, their range is perfect.

Pilpel Fine Foods – Stand 17

www.pilpelfinefoods.com, www.darikay.com.au

Joseph is obviously very proud of their product, lots of tastings available.  We purchased their Lima Bean Egyptian & Lemon Mertyle dip and Chickpeas Persian dip both made by Pilpel, and Gazpacho (chilled soup) by Darikay.  I strongly suggest you ask to try the Gazpacho, oh yes, it is fantastic.  This is coming from a person who does not really like to buy premade soups.

Whisk & Pin – Stand 45

www.whiskandpin.com

Yes I have heard of these guys before, wasn’t born yesterday.  Have never tried their Snowy Road, perfect for Christmas, a block came home with us.

Saltt Trading – Stand 8

www.saltt.com.au

I have wanted a salt block to cook on for a little while now and having it right in my reach was a purchase too hard to avoid.  The salt block is made from Himalayan salt, you can also pick up Himalayan coarse salt, fine salt and salt chunks.  Stay tuned for my cooking adventures with this one.

Wild Sugar – Stand 46A

www.wildsugar.com.au

I have been following Skye since she finished up on MasterChef, was aware that she has started her own business and has been selling her range of whole food desserts and ice cream at markets etc.  Saying that, had not had a chance to track her down to try her creations.  We picked up finger lime tart & coconut cream and chocolate avocado mouse & raspberry cream.

Captain Coffee – Stand 102 (they are not listed in the program)

www.captaincoffee.com.au

Coffee and chocolate coated coffee beans.  We picked up the chocolate chilli coffee beans.  Three of my favourite flavours all wrapped up in one, awesome, plus milk chocolate coffee beans.

Duck Creek Macadamias – Stand 53

www.duck-creek.com

Great range of macadamia products including macadamia nut oil.  We picked up roaster garlic macadamias, which have just enough garlic to make them moreish and not over powering.  We also picked up a large jar of Supremes which are macadamia nuts that have been honey dipped and then coated in dark chocolate, Josh fell in love with them.

Herbies Spices – Stand 16C

www.herbies.com.au

Okay again not a new player, I love and use their products.  Found something new to me, large cinnamon sticks, looks a little different to quills, nothing like what you find in the shops and you just crumble off what you need.  They last a long time as the cinnamon flavour and smell is only active when you crumble it.  Small $1.20 or large $3

Flying Fish – Stand 30

www.flyingfish.com.au, www.gourmetrabbit.com

Flying fish are there showing their food range which includes their highly addictive chilli salt that they use on their chips in the restaurant.  Drop by and check out their range, how about black pepper caramel.  We found Denea Buckingham, AKA Jess Rabbit, manning the stand.  Denea is the Editor of Gourmet Rabbit, you can also pick up a copy of this great foodie mag.

Patisse – located near the Sunbeam Creative Kitchen

www.patisse.com.au

Ever wanted to eat Kylie Minogue, okay take that anyway you want.  Drop by and pick up an éclair (truly delicious) with a picture of Kylie on white chocolate as its decoration.  Available for $6 each or a box of 3 for $15, 10% of your purchase goes to Kylie’s favourite charity, the Breast Cancer Foundation.

“Synopsis”

It was nice to find some exhibitors I had not seen before and discover some new products.   Really enjoyed listening to Kyle Kwong and Neil Perry and having the opportunity to ask them questions in a small group atmosphere.

I am glad I didn’t pay full price for my tickets, if I had I would have felt very ripped off.  Today there was free entry to the Festival, which I think was a good thing otherwise I believe it would have been dead as a dog for the exhibitors who paid good money to be there.  I already feel paying $70 for both Josh and I was not great value.  If I had gone for a VIP ticket?  Nope, sorry again not worth it.  Was it worth $55/person for the show and festival, I have to compare it to GF&W  and no it’s not.

I am sure it will be held again next year as it is revenue for the MasterChef brand.  Would I go again, probably not,  I felt it was way too expensive for what you got.  I would also not recommend anyone purchasing anything more than the Silver ticket if they did want to go.

Sara xxx

Russ & Daughters Appetizers

08 Dec
December 8, 2010

Yes, still New York posts heading your way with a couple more to come.

Russ & Daughters was on my definite hit list when I was planning my trip to New York. I had seen Russ & Daughters on various food shows previously but it was a pod cast that I had subscribed to, “The Bowery Boys”, that really made me want to go visit.

If you are heading to NYC I strongly suggest their pod cast. The Bowery Boys are about the history of NYC which is presented in an entertaining way. The history to NYC is amazing and I really had a great feel of how the city was built after listening to them, and will admit my favourite ones were their Halloween specials, spooky New York, very cool.

There are two main things I love about Russ & Daughters beside the food, the rags to success story and the fact that “Daughters” appears in the business name.

Joel Russ emigrated to the USA from Europe, like so many Eastern European Jews, in 1907 and settled in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This area was the centre of immigrant Jewish culture in NYC. He started his business selling polish mushrooms which he would cart around on top of his shoulders and sell. Eventually enough money was saved to buy a pushcart, then a horse and wagon.

He married Bella and they had three daughters, no sons. In 1904 Joel can finally afford to open his first store and then starts to sell salted/cured herring/salmon along with other produce. He does well and moves to larger premises in 1920, Russ & Daughters current location, but the store is called J Russ National Appetizing Store.

His three daughters learn the business and work with their father. Apparently men would come to see Joel’s beautiful daughters just as much as the great produce, and they all meet and married their husbands through the business.

Now this is the part that I love about the history of Russ & Daughters. In 1933 the business name is changed to Russ & Daughters Appetizers. It is the first time, it is believed, in history that the word “daughters” is used in a business name. As a woman I really appreciate what Joel did. Nobody acknowledged their daughters in business back then, but Joel Russ having three and no sons, did. Back in the day it was preferable to have “sons” in the business name, even if that resorted to referring to your son in law.

Russ & Daughters is still a family business run by the Russ family. The fourth generation is now working there. The Smithsonian Institute declared Russ & Daughters a part of New York’s cultural heritage in 2000.

Enough with the history lesson for today, but I do appreciate a good success story.

I visited on a Sunday and the place was packed. Packed with people and packed with produce. Quite honestly I was blown away with variety.

They have a range that I have not seen elsewhere, caviar, smoked/cured salmon, specialty smoked fish, herring, bagels, salads as well as dried fruit and sweets. Plus they stock other deli items to accompany your fish purchase.

I was gobsmacked by the range of cream cheese alone, plain, scallion (spring onion), vegetable, green olive, horseradish, caviar, lox, plus a tofu range of cream cheese that includes plain, scallion and lox.

Caviar, they have the real deal, plus trout roe, salmon roe as well as green wasabi roe. Blinis and crème fraiche are also available to accompany your caviar purchase, and why not pick up a mother of pearl spoon to serve with while you are there.

So many different types of smoked salmon, Irish Organic, Gaspe Nova, Danish, Scottish, Norwegian, belly lox, gravlax, pastrami cured, kippered salmon, Western Nova and pickled lox.

Their specialty smoked fish includes sturgeon, trout, chubs, sable, whitefish, mackerel and tuna.

The shop itself is not that big, it is actually quite long and narrow, but it is packed with an amazing range of smoked, cured and pickled product.

Of course I could not visit Russ and Daughters and not buy a bagel. As tempting as it was to try some of the produce I hadn’t seen before, I decided to keep it basic. Smoked salmon, horseradish & dill cream cheese and red onion. The bagels are made to order and the salmon is thinly sliced off the main fillet for you as the bagel is made.

I can honestly say that this was the best smoked salmon bagel I have ever had in my life. The bagel itself was wonderful. The salmon, incredible, so soft, flavoursome and just melted in your mouth. The dill cream cheese and onion, delicious. Also add to the equation that I am sitting on a bench in front of the store on East Houston Street while I munch away. Magical, pure pure magic. Special memories are made of this.

Sara xxx

Russ & Daughters on Urbanspoon

Der Gefahrvollen Schnitzel (The hazardous Schnitzel)

01 Dec
December 1, 2010

So yeh, hi I’m Josh of Josh VS Food.  You may better know me as Junior, as I was lovingly referred to, but now I’ve spread my wings (so to speak) and come off the sidelines of the world of food blogging to get in there and hopefully make you laugh (mainly at my misfortune).  Also to shed some light on the challenges around this great city of Sydney and who knows, maybe beyond, using the wonderful power of the internet and YouTube with video entries. By the way I’m not a professional eater just a hungry guy.

For this new section of Belly Rumbles I wanted to start with a bang and I love Schnitzel, so off to the Austrian Schnitzelhaus at Gladesville for a light lunch of 1 kilo of chicken schnitzel, chips, with 1 litre of beer.

WARNING:  Do not jump straight into this challenge. Just don’t. Think of the children, please.

The Challenge
1 Kg Schnitzel with chips & sauce of your choice, plus 1 Litre of Beer (Erdinger weissbier or Stiegl Beer)

The Cost:  $55

The Reward
Free Dessert, T -Shirt, Schnapps, your Picture on the “Champions” wall of Fame and your picture on the Net.

Rules
Challenge is to be completed in 1 hour.
All the food on the plate, except garnish, is to be eaten
NO sharing with anyone
If you throw up…. you’re out of the contest
Finish the beer
Make a mess in the bathrooms – CLEAN it up or you will be charged $ 50.00 cleaning fee

Spectators
W
ill be charged $ 15.00 to sit and watch at the table if they do not eat and drink


What can I say I was peckish and I love food and a beer every now and again.  I went into this challenge with a smile on my face, a song in my heart, which went along the lines of  Duran Duran’s “hungry like the wolf”, and 3-4 litres of water from breakfast.  When we arrived we were greeted by our waiter, I’ve nicknamed Mr. Smiles, he was overly happy especially after he found out I was doing the challenge.  It was a little unnerving but being the proud idiot I am, I dismissed that feeling and headed into the thick of it. Now I know why he was smiling, and I didn’t know this before but Beer is filling.  I’ve found out first hand why it’s called liquid bread, especially German beers (they are a crafty lot).

The food is set down in front of me and the first thing I notice is that unlike the picture on their website showing a lovely side of chips on your plate, there is a kilo of them at least.  First lesson learned don’t trust their pictures on the website.

Now as the picture quite clearly conveys the average size of the schnitzel, using a very technical measuring device, my head, is actually the size of my head.  After wasting a minute of making mental notes on how to tackle the schnitzel I left all strategy behind and started eating like I’ve never eaten before. I have to say this was one of the most tender pieces of chicken I’ve had, It was moist and the chips more-ish. Hitting the 10 minute mark I had polished off the first head size piece, a quarter of the beer and a hand full of chips.  I felt on top of the world.

15 minutes into the challenge I hit a wall half way through the second piece of moist, juicy fillet and the half litre of beer hits me.  I shrug it off determined to finish the plate.

About 20-25 minutes in and the pile of food isn’t shrinking, it just seemed to stay there mocking me.  I had to call it quits.  I made myself feel better by setting this as a bench mark and telling myself that this is a humbling experience for the challenges to come.

So yeah, first post I may have failed the challenge but now to move on to the next one.  Look forward to my next posts as I am leaving and will be back the 9th of December to share some stories from Fiji about the food, the  people and the Islands themselves, so see you then.

Josh

Austrian Schnitzelhaus on Urbanspoon

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