Good-looking radicchio

July 31, 2006


Originally uploaded by Fat Duck.

It’s hard to dress up witlof, but radicchio never needs any help. This fusili pasta, with radicchio, bacon, ricotta, spring onion, garlic, chilli, flat-leaf parsley and olive oil is from Maurizio Terzini’s Something Italian. One of the best cookbook’s I’ve ever used.

Of course, I always follow a recipe. N came round while I was preparing dinner.

‘I always follow a recipe’ he says. ‘Not like R. She has this amazing sense of how to mix flavours. Very creative.’

Since I must always follow every recipe to the letter, does this mean I am an uncreative rule-follower?


Originally uploaded by Fat Duck.

Poor old witlof. So often it doesn’t look enticing at all. But its light crunchy bitterness goes damn well with some corella pears, walnuts and gorgonzola picante.

M has recently assumed control of the markets budget. This means that, whenever I order something in the deli section, I have to ask how much it is, per kilo, first. I’d been doing well (I was being very thorough), but then, when I ordered the gorgonzola pictante, I suddenly forgot to ask.

‘You didn’t get the price!’ squealed M.
‘It’ll be fine,’ I said. ‘I only got 200g. How expensive can it be?’

The gorgonzola was actually $60 per kilo. Oops.

Dinner at Libertine

July 28, 2006


Originally uploaded by Fat Duck.

I had the stringray. I didn’t know the French ate stingray.

I thought it’d be like a cross between jellyfish and calamari, but it was more like gamey tuna. Jessica Simpson would probably describe it as ‘the duck of the sea’.

I didn’t like it. They made a good effort, though, serving it with celeriac mash and beautifully crunchy, light witlof.

When Libertine was first reviewed in the Age, the reviewer said that the restaurant was great, the service was good, but the food was just a little bit disappointing. I agree. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the food, really, it’s more that nothing was particularly exciting.

They should change their menu to modern French.

In season: rhubarb

July 23, 2006

Originally uploaded by Fat Duck.

M has been getting annoyed with me lately because I’m such a messy cook. “All I’ve done all weekend is clean up after you,” he says.

You’d think that my baked rhubarb, with cinnamon, sugar, lime and star anise would distract M from his irritation.

This recipe (Vogue Entertaining & Travel, Aug/Sept 2006) specifies that the rhubarb be served with ORGANIC yoghurt. Like the recipe completely fails if the yoghurt’s not organic.

M dislikes change

July 19, 2006

During the week M only ever, ever, ever eats one of three things for lunch: cha kway teow, nasi goreng, or katsudon. At the end of each working day, I guess which one he’s had for lunch. I often guess right the first time. This is because I am attuned to the cycles. For instance, M wouldn’t have nasi goreng two days in a row. He likes to mix it up.
I called M at lunch today. I reminded him that we’ve agreed to have dinner with some friends at Vodka, Borsch & Tears, in Windsor. But I mumbled, and he thought I said ‘Abortion Tears.’
Wouldn’t that be a bad name for a restaurant. 

Originally uploaded by Fat Duck.

Because vegetarian S is staying with us, and because I want her to feel like she’s staying at a B&B-cum-top-notch-restaurant, I have been closely observing her vegetarian requirements. As any good host would.

What do vegetarians eat? Vegelink casseroles?

Shockingly, I have discovered that M and I already eat delicious meat-free food: mushroom risotto; pasta with home-made preserved lemon, feta and oven-roasted cherry tomatoes; mushroom and mascarpone pizza. OK, so mushrooms so feature heavily.

Down at T’Gallant on the weekend (Mornington Peninsula), we ordered three pizzas: mushroom and gorgonzola (T’Gallant do their own mushroom-picking tours), salami, and tomato and mozzarella. The mushroom pizza (pictured) was by far the best.

This has made me realise two things: (a) vegetarian food is great and (b) this is ONLY because field mushrooms and cheeses such as mascarpone and gorgonzola would make anything taste great. These ingredients should take all the credit.

This leads me to wonder: Wouldn’t balls of mascarpone on a stick, deep-fried in duck fat, be fantastic?

Farmers Arms, Daylesford

July 10, 2006

Originally uploaded by bobochan_bobo.

S thinks this dessert looks like a South Park character. Granted, the top looks more like a monster’s wig than delectable Iranian fairy floss. It’s perched atop a ball of Turkish delight ice-cream, and that’s chocoate fudge fondant at the bottom. All served with ‘strawberry soup’, fresh strawberries and crisp strips of fresh mint.

Farmers Arms is the only restaurant in Daylesford reviewed in Gourmet Traveller’s 2006 restaurant guide, so I very curious about whether this was a random inclusion or truly the best place to eat in Daylesford. And when S and I pulled up outside the restaurant, which also doubles as a low-key local pub complete with male locals propping up the bar and a pool table, I suspected the former. One local chick even gave us a dirty look when we walked in. (Which was a little unfair, I feel. It’s not like we were decked out in Sass & Bide jeans and braided pewter handbags.)

Anyhow, Farmer’s Arms is thoroughly recommended: a switched-on, Mediterranean-style menu that makes the most of local produce, served in a country-style dining room. They’ve kept the art deco features, and the wall panelling is made out of old wardrobe doors.

The guy at our B&B told us the local story. Back when the pub was an all-you-can-eat surf ‘n’ turf and salad bar, some guy grabbed a spoon, scarfed some potato salad — he had a couple of goes at it — then put the spoon back in the salad. When a customer complained about this unhygenic behaviour, the waiter simply said, ‘Don’t worry, Love, there’s plenty left!’


Farmers Arms
1 East St (Midland Hwy)
ph: 5348 2091

When in Daylesford…

July 10, 2006

Originally uploaded by bobochan_bobo.

I’d say that only the Japanese, Chinese and Koreans know how to prepare tofu. Western types have no idea, burning it, drying it out, generally abusing it — but it seems things are different at Harvest. This scrambled tofu with soy, onions, spring onion, coriander and warmed olives was damn good. It’s just the thing before your tarot-card-reading appointment.

29 Albert St
ph: 5348 3994

Shanghai Village

July 6, 2006

Originally uploaded by Fat Duck.

Last night M and I decided to go to Shanghai Village. I thought I hadn’t been there before, but as soon as I stepped in I remembered that I used to go here all the time. I’m getting forgetful in my old age.

A cheap Shanghainese place like this should live or die by two things: dumplings and the spring onion pancake. Sadly both were disappointing. The fried beef dumplings had obviously been frozen; the spring onion pancake tasted like baked flour. No fun spring onion flavour here.

The cold beancurd with special chilli soy sauce, pictured, was fantastic, though. Firm, silky tofu decked with sauce that’s not too hot. There’s a trace of five-spice in there too. Yum.

Shanghai Village
112-114 Little Bourke St

Originally uploaded by bobochan_bobo.

The crisp country air, pot-belly stove and endless glasses of red call for only one thing: home-style roast beef.

Poor A did all the fresh produce shopping for the weekend, which was part of her apprenticeship to become a housewife. I made her buy a 3kg roast beef. She claimed that carrying it around was very much like having a baby slung across your shoulder. (A is very slight. I doubt she could give birth to something this size without breaking a rib.)

I, too, treated the roast as if it were my own child. I rubbed it, massaged it, rested it. With one difference: when it was still rare, I sliced it up into tiny pieces, and splashed blood all over the bench and the floor. Then I tried to mop the blood up with tea towels. After a few minutes it looked like I’d been killing chickens in the kitchen.

There must be something in the air up there.