I’m a bit late, but I hope that everyone (in Australia) had a great Australia Day! And also a good Chinese New Year!
So to all Melburnians, how hot is it this week? 42°C yesterday, 43°C today, 43°C tomorrow… sweltering! I like the heat, but even I’m not silly enough to be outside during these temperatures. I can’t imagine how people who work outside, or those playing tennis, are coping in it.
It’s definitely the kind of weather to be sitting under air conditioning (if the power hasn’t been cut!) and sipping on an ice cold drink. I love lemon iced tea, and every now and again I make a big jug from a recipe that I adapted from a tea website (no idea which one now). It’s great for beating the heat and also helps to use the teabags that I always find in the pantry, even though I never buy them!
Lemon Iced Tea
Makes a big jug
2 large lemons 1 cup sugar 6 black tea bags 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the bright yellow peel from lemons. Combine lemon peel and sugar in a medium saucepan with 9 cups of water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Lower heat and simmer 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the tea bags and let it steep for 5-10 minutes (more if you like it stronger). Mix in the lemon juice and taste. The iced tea will most likely be very strong and sweet so add more water if necessary, probably another cup, then strain and serve in tall glasses filled with ice.
The other week, Alastair, Benisa and I went to the NGV to see the Andreas Gursky exhibition.
Andreas Gursky, a German photographer, takes large scale colour photographs of scenes of modern life that are often highly detailed. At the exhibition are some fantastic photos – one of my favourites was titled Nha Trang, a shot of a factory floor where woven baskets and chairs are made. Really, you just have to see these photos in person – some are simply astounding – because they are MASSIVE and seeing them in a book or online doesn’t have the same effect.
It would be great to own one of his photos, but alas, (according to Wikipedia) he holds the record for the highest price paid at auction for a single photographic image – a measley GBP 1.7 million in early 2007 for 99 Cent II Diptychon (2001), a shot of a discount store (this is in the exhibition).
It’s the first Australian exhibition of his work and the NGV is the only Australian venue for the show. Andreas Gursky can been seen until 22 February 2009.
Persimmion is located at the back of the NGV, overlooking the Grollo Equiset garden. The restaurant only opens at lunchtime (between 11am-4pm, closed Tuesdays).
We were given a selection of some nice warm little rolls.
Benisa started with a mezze plate of green olive tapenade, smoked aubergine puree, marinated mushrooms and artichokes, braised red peppers and toasted ciabatta ($14).
Alastair and I shared a serve of deep fried soft shell school prawns with garlic aioli ($12). Eaten whole, the little prawns were simply done, but delicious! If you’ve ever eaten a prawn head or tail you’ll know the intense the prawn flavour is. We gobbled these up in no time!
After our starters, there was a longer than normal wait for our mains, as the restaurant had filled up.
Ben had the braised ox cheek burger, served with beer battered onion rings and fat chips ($16). This looked great! The meat was fork tender.
Lisa had had the pan fried silver dory, with cauliflower cream, pickled onions, carrot ribbons and watercress ($24).
Alastair had the plats du jour, which on Fridays is pan fried Atlantic salmon with caramelised chicory, citrus fruits and rocket ($28). On the subject of the plats du jour, on Sundays they do a roast of the day with all the trimmings. I’m tempted to go back on a Sunday already!
And I opted for the three onion risotto with sweet white onion puree, red onion marmalade and grilled spring onions ($19). It was pleasant and creamy with the grains still having some firmness. The red onion marmalade was quite sweet.
After a wee rest, we were then on to dessert. The descriptions of the desserts were very intriguing on the menu and I couldn’t let us leave without trying something.
I choose the coconut parfait for Alastair and me – it came with roast pineapple and toasted almonds, sago and “Malibu” foam ($13). Unfortunately, Alastair didn’t like my choice! The desserts seemed much more “inventive” than the rest of the menu and mine was more interesting than delicious. The Malibu foam tasted quite strongly of the liqueur (ie alcoholic) and the roasted pineapple was strongly flavoured (not really a surprise) but was quite good with the nuts. The dessert worked better when the components were eaten together rather than separate, but again, it was more interesting than delicious.
Benisa shared the iced nougat with banana marshmallow and bitter chocolate ($13).
It was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon – it definitely beat going to work! The restaurant and setting is lovely and prices are reasonable. NGV members get a 10% discount.
Persimmon Café/Bistro Ground Level NGV International 180 St Kilda Road Melbourne
Today is my last day of sick leave. It’s back to work and the daily grind tomorrow! My mouth has healed quite well, and I’m pretty much eating normal food again – although I probably should have stuck to soft food for longer. I just couldn’t bear it any longer!
Since it’s my last day lazing about at home, rather than drink my tea out of a mug like I normally do, I decided to use a nice teapot and cup and saucer. I bought them second-hand for peanuts, and I think they’re gorgeous!
Later, I’ll probably eat a piece or two of Turkish Delight that I purchased yesterday from the South Melbourne Market. It’s nice Turkish Delight, soft and jelly-like, with just a hint of rose. I tried making Turkish Delight once, and it was a hideous, hideous disaster. Lesson learned – not everything is better home made!
Now, despite the climbing temperature, I’m off to bake a banana cake. The amount of bananas in my freezer is starting to push out all other foods and I need to do something with them!
There’s a new year coming – Chinese/Lunar New Year! Celebrations have started around Melbourne to ring in the Year of the Ox, which officially starts on 26 January (which also happens to be Australia Day this year). There were festivities in Footscray the other weekend that I missed, but which Towser from Spot4Nosh has blogged about. And yesterday, there was a festival in Victoria Street, Richmond.
Victoria Street was closed to traffic between Hoodle and Church Streets, and along its length were food stalls, rides, random knick knack sellers, performances, and information stands. Food wise, it was Vietnamese, and there was lots of deep fried stuff, grilled food, and skewered items, with most stalls offering similar things.
Top left: Beef in betel leaves being grilled. Top right: Corn on the cob! Bottom left: Rice cakes (?) being cooked. Bottom right: Bananas in sticky rice. I haven’t tried these yet, and got too full for one! It’ll have to go on my “to eat” list next time.
Top left: Chive cakes. Top right: Skewers, skewers, skewers! Bottom left: More skewers! Bottom right: Sugar cane. Bro and I shared a cup of sugar cane juice, but we wanted straight sugar cane juice like we’d had in Hong Kong. The juice was mixed with something citrusy (cumquats?) and just wasn’t the same.
Top left: Dried squid for sale. Top right: Random pork sausage on a stick. Bottom left: Deep fried Mung bean cake thing topped with a prawn. Bottom right: Inside you could see the mung beans. It was soft and fairly flavourless.
Top left: Deep fried prawns on a stick. Top right: Beef in betel leaves. My favourite item of the day. I could’ve eaten many of these sticks! Fortunately I restricted myself to one. Bottom right: Pork jerky in different flavours. I didn’t buy any (I’m not sure my teeth could handle it yet) but I do like this jerky far more than is healthy. Bottom right: Egg rice cake with a sweetish, fish saucey, vinegary sauce that I poured over. The rice cakes themselves didn’t have much flavour, although Bro said that they had a fragrance that put him off (he thought almond, I thought perhaps coconut). And BOY, you should’ve seen how much oil some the vendors were using to cook these.
Yesterday turned out warmer than I was expecting, and the sun and heat meant we soon wilted. Plus the oiliness and deep fried factor of most foods, also meant that it wasn’t long before we couldn’t face eating yet another unhealthy item (unusual for Bro and I, but there you have it). At least we have another year to recover!
Disclosure: I didn’t take as many photos as I wanted to. However, we went to the Vic Street Lunar New Year Festival a couple of years ago (before I started blogging) so I have supplemented this post with some of those photos. Sneaky!
I had my four wisdom teeth out yesterday afternoon. The procedure went fine – it was under a general anaesthetic, so I went to sleep and when I woke up I had four less teeth! In fact, the hardest part was having to fast with no eating after 8am or drinking after 10am. Particularly not drinking – it was HOT yesterday. I must admit that I was naughty and took a few tiny sips of water to wet my mouth after 10am.
Today I’m not feeling too bad. The inside of my mouth is swollen and is a touch uncomfortable. The discomfort is not bad enough for me to take painkillers yet, although I do have some on hand if this changes. I also made soup to get me through the next few days – pumpkin, and beef and vegetable. Soup is okay, but I can’t wait until I can eat normal food again!
Before my surgery, Bro and I had another lunch together. I felt like cheap Asian food again, and we went into the Mid City Arcade on Bourke Street and came across Kaneda Japanese restaurant.
They had a good selection of bento boxes on the menu, so we both selected one.
I had the Unagi Tempura Set, which came with the unagi tempura, sashimi, fried chicken, a spring roll, green salad, miso soup and rice ($13.50). You can’t really go wrong with something deep fried – certainly not with me – and the unagi was great! The batter looks a bit darker than you normally see, but it was still nice and light. And it had that yummy unagi fattiness… mhmmmm….
Bro had the assorted sushi and salmon sashimi set, which came with salmon sashimi, assorted sushi, fried chicken, spring roll, green salad, miso soup and rice ($13.50).
With all the deep fried items it wasn’t a particularly healthy lunch, but it was quick, casual and a reasonable price.
Kaneda Japanese Restaurant Shop 6 Mid City Arcade 200 Bourke Street Melbourne Phone: (03) 9663 8802
Bro had a day off recently, and came into the city to have lunch with me. We went to ITO Japanese Café on Bourke Street. When we entered I found that the restaurant was somewhat like the Tardis – it seemed much larger on the inside than the exterior suggested!
I choose an item that was on a specials sheet – the steak don set. The set came with miso soup, salad, a side dish and wafu steak on rice ($14.80). Good stuff.
The side dish was strange however – it tasted like it was soaked in tea or like pickled plums. I couldn’t quite place it, but it was oddness. Fortunately everything else hit the spot.
It was a stinking hot day, so I also had a green tea smoothie ($4.80). It was cool and refreshing, with that slight green tea bitterness.
Bro had the Nabeyaki udon which came with prawn, chicken and a raw egg in a hot pot ($12.50). He was sold by the raw egg!
After he finished his meal, Bro then proceeded to demolish everything that was edible on the table – the remainder of my salad, rice, pickles, AND the orange slice on my drink. I do believe he was hungry!
Japanese ITO Noodle Cafe 122 Bourke Street, Melbourne Phone 9663 2788
Last weekend the Boys and I went to see the Penguins! at the Melbourne Aquarium. We got up early and had brunch in the city before heading there.
Brunch was extremely forgettable, so I think I’ll tell you about a couple of past visits to our favourite cafe instead!
A wee while ago, Bro and I had a Saturday brunch with the other KKC members, while Alastair spent the day working.
Bro and I both had something that was on the specials board – baked eggs with pepperonata, feta and tomato sauce served with grilled pide ($15.50). It was great! The yolks were still gooey, perfect for dipping the pide in, and the pepperonata was sweetish and slightly tangy.
On a different occasion, we went back to Plum for brunch on my birthday. The Boys both had a special – Grecian omelette with roasted tomato, feta and sourdough toast ($14.50). Franco drizzled some chilli oil on top – yummo!
The French toast with bacon and maple syrup was amazing, as per usual. It was such a nice way to start my birthday.
Back to the penguins at the Melbourne Aquarium. The Melbourne Aquarium recently completed renovations and opened the Antarctica exhibit, showcasing Gentoo and King Penguins. The ones in my photos are the larger King penguins.
The new penguin enclosure is great. The best part was the wall where you could see the penguins in the water – they swam and darted around, showing off their agility and gracefulness. Penguins are cool!
Happy 2009! I hope that everyone had a fun, safe and hangover free New Years. I would love to say that there were no hangovers in this house but that would be a lie….. a big fat lie, as someone spent the first day of the year SEVERELY ill – and it wasn’t me!
But back to Xmas – for our festivities with the KKC, I prepared some baked goods so we would have some sweet stuff to munch on during the day.
One of the items I made were cookies that Sarah posted a recipe for recently. They were simple to make, and delicious. It was impossible to eat only one of these things – good thing the recipe made quite a few otherwise there wouldn’t have been any left for Xmas.
I also made gingerbread biscuits – teddy bears, gingerbread people, xmas trees and stars. And a special lamedeer (bottom left) for Bro. It was late when I decorated them, and my icing skills need a lot of work, as evidenced by some of the crazed expressions on my gingerbread people!
The gingerbread biscuits were okay, although I preferred the mixture before it was baked. I reckon there should’ve been more ginger. I will have to hunt for a better recipe for next year!
I also tried out a cherry tart recipe but rather than a large tart, I made smaller ones. The dough made a very crumbly, almost biscuit-type pastry – they were very enjoyable. And you know, it’s not summer or Xmas without cherries!
Cherry Tart From Bill Granger’s Holiday
125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled 90g caster sugar 175g plain flour A pinch of salt 2 tablespoons almond meal
Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a 24cm round loose-bottomed tart tin.
Make the pastry by stirring together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour and salt and stir to make a soft dough. Transfer the dough to the tin and press evenly into the base and side of the tin with your fingertips. Put the tin on a baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the almond meal over the base.
Meanwhile, to make the filling, whisk together the cream, eggs, vanilla and sugar. Add the flour and whisk until well mixed. Arrange the cherries, slightly overlapping, over the pastry base and pour the cream filling evenly over the cherries.
Return the tart to the oven for a further 40-50 minutes until the filling is firm. Leave to cool and serve with cream or ice cream.