Back in November (yes, I am very behind on my posts), I met up with friends N and F – it was N’s birthday! It was a warm (but not too hot) day, and our venue was Hugo’s at Manly Wharf. It was a lovely venue, overlooking the water. The food was pretty good, too.
How about some risotto?
Or pan-friend salmon?
And sticky date pudding and ice cream for dessert?
Now, I know that there’s no such thing as a typically ‘Aussie’ meal, but if a non-Australian asks me to give an example, I think this selection would fit the bill – Italian and Anglo influenced dishes, with some seafood thrown in!
Over the winter we had a crop of beetroot on the go. It wasn’t quite ready to eat until spring, and then we had a glut! We could have done what we always did, roasted them and then tossed them into a salad with some sharp fetta and rocket, but one needs to be creative when faced with a glut.
First, I tried making these beetroot burgers, and they were fantastic. I varied the other root veg (used sweet potato) and spicing (replaced the spices listed with a teaspoon of curry powder), and cooked them until they were charred on the outside. We ate them ‘Asian style’ – with rice, steamed greens, and a dollop of Greek yoghurt on top. Spicy, sweet, and very savoury, it was a great alternative to meat.
But I still had more beetroot to contend with. This time I decided to experiment with sweet. I had seen many TV chefs mix beetroot and chocolate, and when I saw this recipe for beetroot and chocolate muffins, I knew I had to try them. Instead of a single square of chocolate in each muffin, I mixed through the same amount of dark choc chips through the batter. The beetroot gave the muffin a savoury-ness against the bitter sweetness of chocolate, and I felt less guilty eating a chocolate muffin knowing that half of it was beetroot.
I would try both recipes again next year when faced with another glut of beetroot.
There were two birthdays over the weekend – Bridie Beagle and I were born on the same day (if not the same year). We were treated to some cupcakes from our local bakery.
My first attempt at a carrot cake went well, and tasted even better. Those old Family Circle cookbooks still do a good job.
I tried a recipe for spicy apple tea cake to enjoy the last of the year’s apples. With halved apples and a combination of cinnamon, ground ginger and nutmeg, it went down a treat.
Main course was even more sumptuous. I had fish (a bass grouper) with oysters, samphire and pickled turnips. It was an interesting study in umami and saltiness.
Hubby had lamb from the Moran’s family farm, which was succulent and sweet.
The side of green vegetables were an imaginative mix of braised broccolini, snow peas and kale.
And the desserts were absolutely wonderful. Hubby had a study in Valrhona chocolate, hazelnuts, honeycomb and sherbet.
And I really did enjoy my berry tartlet. The pastry was wafer then and the sorbet inside was wonderful. Oh, and the staff even remembered my birthday. That’s service for you.
What a way to catch up with friends than to enjoy a leisurely 3 course lunch! I met up with N and F pre-Christmas at the Devonshire Restaurant in Surry Hills, where their Prix Fixe Friday lunch was too good to be missed. The menu changed weekly, but we weren’t too pertubed about what we got as we knew it was all going to be very good indeed. We weren’t wrong.
For entree was roasted pork belly croustillant, spiced apple relish, shaved fennel and radish. It was a spring roll that had been well and truly pimped, but with the salad and relish was still light and fresh.
The main was the magnificent seared Ora king salmon, fried calamari, squid ink, orange and chive dressing. With a crispy skin, more-ish sauce and dressing, all refreshed by the oranges (a citrus that you don’t often think of when accompanying fish), it tasted as good as it looked.
The sides of broccolini and twice-cooked potatoes were also amazing. How did they get the potatoes so crispy, I wonder?
We really didn’t have any room left after that effort, but still we managed to fit in a delectable sticky pear pudding, toasted coconut milk sorbet and toffee sauce. The pudding was surprisingly light, and the sorbet creamy without being too rich. A perfect end to the meal.
As for the mains, there were the usual grills…
Then we saw dishes that haven’t featured on taverna menus, but what international tourists seem to recognise as Greek food – moussaka and lamb in a parcel. Perhaps these dishes are typically cooked at home and so only appear in restaurants for the tourists?
However, my favourite main dish that weekend wasn’t very Greek at all. The prawns were very fresh.
Speaking of Italian food, one taverna (the one where I ate prawn linguine) also had really lovely desserts – panna cotta and a deconstructed cheese cake with soft pillows of ricotta. It was also the one without a view and where the locals seemed to eat.
We liked the place so much we went back a second night. Mmmm….
Out of London, the choices were not so varied, but the quality of good old fashioned British cooking and local ingredients were hard to beat. In Chatsworth, I had a Ploughman’s lunch that was of the highest order, complete with a pork pie, homemade bread, assorted cheeses and pickles and salad that was mostly sourced from the estate itself.
The bed and breakfast places that we stayed at were a constant source of good food. In Cornwall, our B&B also served afternoon tea. I had a Cornish tea with scones, jam and the (in)famous clotted cream.
In Derbyshire, the owner of our B&B had hand-caught the trout that we ate for dinner in the Derwent River, conveniently located across the road. Needless to say, the trout was succulent and awesome.
We interrupt our geological excursion for a food break.
Once again, we made our own hot cross buns this Easter. This time it was more of a team effort – hubby made and brushed on the sugar glaze – and we added dark choc chips along with dried cranberries. It was super yum!