Egypt

February 13, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Posted in Northern, Middle & Eastern Africa | Leave a comment

Egypt, land of pyramids, chickpeas, desert and tabouli.   For us, Egypt is the next stop, and topical at the moment as the people have just tossed out Hosni Mubarak as leader and joyfully celebrated that the army is now in charge.   It has to get pretty bad before an organisation with the sole purpose of waging war is the best option for running your country.

The Plan

As I write this I cannot believe I overlooked the idea of doing falafels!  Instead, we’re doing something that blends chicken (which I have handy) with chickpeas, a key stable in the region.  This dish was adapted from Tour Egypt.

  • 500g chicken breast, slices into bite sized pieces
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 tablespoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 vegetable or chicken stock cube
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1-2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tomato, sliced.
  1. Stir fry the onions until translucent.  Add the garlic and coriander and fry for one minute.  Remove from the pan
  2. Stir fry the chicken pieces until they are half cooked.   Return the onion, garlic and coriander to the pan and mix well.
  3. Add the all spice and chilli.  Fry for one minute
  4. Add the tomato paste and chick peas, mixing in well.   Add the water and stock cube and bring to a gentle simmer.
  5. Simmer for 30 minutes – ideally this will simmer down to a slightly thickened sauce.
  6. Just before serving, stir in the tomato slices and turn off the heat.

Serve with boiled rice.

The Event

This was simple bowl food.  Not much to report.

The Outcome

Chris: “Yes, you can make this one again!”

Jacq:  “Good!”

Liam: “Great!”

Me:   This doesn’t sound particularly special but it turned out a treat.   One to do again.

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Saudi Arabia

January 28, 2011 at 8:07 am | Posted in Western Asia | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia is part theocracy, part monarchy and mostly sitting on a sea of oil that funds an incredibly wealthy extended family.   Women have absolutely zero political empowerment and the country is rated 129th out of 135 for gender equality and it’s considered the 7th most authoritarian country in the world.

One possible explanation is their calendar – in Saudi Arabia, they consider this year not 2011 but 1432.   Yep, they’re living in the 15th century alright:  figuratively and literally.

The Plan

Chicken Kabsa is considered a stable of Saudi Arabia.  I’m using this recipe.

  • 2/12 – 3 pound chicken, cut into eight pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 4 tbps tomato puree
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • Grated rind of one orange
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 400g  long grain rice
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  1. Saute onion in oil until it begins to brown.
  2. Add chicken pieces, tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and garlic and stir for about five minutes over low heat.
  3. Stir in three cups hot water, grated carrot, orange rind, spices, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, covered, about 20-25 minutes, until chicken is done.
  4. Remove chicken. Set aside to keep warm. Stir rice into the liquid in the pan, and cook, covered over low heat for about 35 – 40 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed.
  5. Put rice on a serving platter with chicken pieces arranged around the circumference. Toss raisins and almonds over all.

The Event

This was very simple meal to prepare.  Liam helped a lot and enjoyed grating the carrot and orange skin.

The Outcome

Jacq:  “Too orangy!”

Liam: ” I like this – it’s a bit orangy, but it’s not too bad”

Chris:  “Hmm!  Not bad”

Me:  Needs a *lot* of salt.  The orange was an odd flavour, but that’s part of the journey around the world – new flavours.

Tanzania

January 4, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Posted in Northern, Middle & Eastern Africa | Leave a comment

Tanzania is one of those places of ancient Africa that occupied my mind in childhood – there was a picture with a poem that mentioned Timbuktu and Zanzibar.     Tonight we dine in Zanibar, a semi-autonomous archipelago on the eastern coast of Tanzania.

The Plan

I’m drawn to a dish from Zanzibar partly by the name alone:  M’CHUZI WA NYAMA, a beef curry.

  • 1 cup onions, finely chopped.
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2-4 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2  kg of chuck steak, cut into medium sized cubes
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 cup beef stock

For the relishes

  • 1/2 cup bananas cut in 1/4-inch dice dribbled with lemon juice.
  • 1 cup fried onion slices
  • 1/2 cup mango chutney
  • 2 cups grated coconut
  • 1 orange cut into sections
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced.
  1. In a medium  saucepan, saute the onions in the oil.  Once soft, add the garlic, salt and spices and fry for one minute.
  2. Add the beef, but don’t allow to brown
  3. Add the water and lemon juice.  Cover tightly and simmer for one hour
  4. Cook the rice in beef stock

Place the rice in a large bowl and pour the curry over it.  Serve with the relishes.

 

The Event

This was really just another curry – nothing particularly challenging in this regard.  The hardest part was getting the relishes done.

 

The Outcome

Chris:  “Yeah, doesn’t do much for me”

Liam:  “Ok”

Jacq:  “Ok”

Me:  Yeah.  Just Ok.

China

January 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Posted in Eastern & Central Asia | Leave a comment

Tonight we eat in China.  Oh man, I’ve been looking forward to this.   I was lucky enough to visit Hangzhou last year and the very first meal I had there was spectacularly different, interesting, weird and mostly tasty.   I went to a restaurant on the banks of West Lake that was famed for serving food that had particularly good effects on your health.  Unfortunately the exact effect was extraordinarily hard to translate for my host so we just tucked in – chilled chillied chicken feet, pig liver pate, boiled bacon and potato, candied ginseng root, cow tail.   It was all awesome – apart from contemplating how far up the cow tail the segment one was eating, and where it had spent it’s life.

There was little to no chance of me being to even remotely source or cook that kind of authentic Chinese food.   Instead, I choose to make Peking Duck.

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/duck-recipes/crispy-peking-duck-in-pancakes

The Plan

Peking Duck is made classically by blowing air into the duck cavity to separate the skin from the fat, and then air drying the duck for 24 hours before roasting. Jamie Oliver has a far simpler method

  • A packet of pre-made pancakes.  These are any Asian food shop (and get a bamboo steamer too)
  • A duck
  • Chinese five-spice
  • A knob of ginger
  • A handful of spring onions
  • A cucumber
  • 10 plums
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Half teaspoon chilli powder

 

  1. Heat the oven to 170c
  2. Wash the duck, pat dry and liberally cover with five spice.   Grate up the ginger and rub around the inside of the duck.   Place the duck in a roasting pan, ideally on a roasting rack – there’ll be heaps of fat coming off – and slide into the oven for around 2 hours.   Check every 20 minutes and baste the skin with the rendered fat.
  3. Make the plum sauce by adding the destoned plums,  sugar, soy sauce, the chilli powder and a splash of water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 or so minutes
  4. Thinly slice the cucumber and the spring onion
  5. When the duck is ready, use two forks to  shred the meat off the bone.  put aside and keep warm
  6. Steam the pancakes

Server on a platter, allowing every to pick a pancake, add some duck, cucumber, onion and pour over some plum sauce – roll up the pancake and you’re done.  Repeat.

The Event

The cooking of this was really simple.  Plums weren’t in season so I had to resort to a pre-made plum sauce.   Still tasted great!   I didn’t add any chilli but the natural bite of the plums put the kids off just a bit.

The Outcome

Chris:  “Looked like a lot of work but fantastic!”

Liam:  “awesome!  I love the plum sauce….actually, I hate the plum sauce”

Jacq:  “Yum!”

Me:  This was a great meal, eating out in the garden.  Seriously good finger food.

Lebanon

December 4, 2010 at 6:16 pm | Posted in Western Asia | Leave a comment

Lebanon has a rather violent recent history, going from an informal status of “Switzerland of the East” to “oh-my-god-what-a-crap-hole.”    Fifteen years of civil war, largely fought in urban areas, will do that to one’s country.  Hosting an anti-Israel guerrilla group next door to Israel doesn’t add too much either.

One interesting thing about Lebanon though, is that it has a unique political system.  Called confessionalism, government is formed by taking representatives (proportional) from the nation’s religious groups.  Not exactly as free thinking as democracy, but more considerate than a flat out theocracy or monarchy (as much of the region favours)

The Plan

There’s so much good Lebanese food to pick from:  I should know, the family of one of my first school friends had fled Lebanon to Australia.  Baklava, hummus, baba ghanoush, dolma, pitta bread.   However, I’ve got prawns in the fridge, so I tracked down Garlic Prawns with Lemon Pilaf, with a side of spicy chickpeas.

Garlic Prawns with Lemon Pilaf

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, halved and finely sliced
  • 300g long-grain rice
  • 550ml water or stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 12 medium prawns, peeled, deveined with tails left
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika  and extra for serving
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Method

  1. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a frypan and cook onion gently for five minutes. Rinse the rice under cold running water, shake dry and add to the onions, tossing well. Add water, salt, turmeric, lemon juice and zest and bring to the boil. Cover tightly, reduce the heat to very low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to rest, covered, while cooking the prawns.
  2. Heat remaining oil in frypan and cook garlic over medium heat until it “flutters” in the oil. Add prawns, cayenne, coriander and paprika, tossing well until the prawns are cooked and the garlic is golden and nutty. Toss parsley and mint through rice, top with prawns, garlic, a final dusting of paprika and lemon wedges for squeezing.

Ingredients – Spicy chickpeas

  • 1 can canned chickpeas, or 2 cups dried chickpeas, cooked
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sprig fresh coriander

Method

  1. In a large fry pan, add olive oil and heat. Add onions, cumin, salt, red chili powder, and cardamom. Stir frequently over medium high heat until onions are tender.
  2. Lower heat to medium-low. Add tomatoes and stir until juice begins to thicken. Add lemon juice, stir well.
  3. Add chickpeas and stir well, cooking an additional five minutes. If you would like a thicker sauce, reserve about 1/3 of the chickpeas and mash with a food processor or blender. Add mashed chickpeas and stir well before adding remaining chickpeas.
  4. Remove from heat and pour into serving dish. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

 

The Event

Talk about simple.  This is quick and easy.  The rice is made easier by using a rice cooker.  Do the rice first, the chickpeas second, and then flash the prawns for  2-3 minutes

 

The Outcome

Chris:  “Yeah, this is a good one.  The chickpeas are good”

Jacq:  “PRAAAAAAAAAAAAWNS!”

Liam:  “Prawns good.  Onion in rice bad.”

Me:  This was great.   Will definitely do this again

Singapore

November 21, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Posted in South Asia & South-East Asia | Leave a comment

Singapore is a nation state that has one of the great inter-country feuds (with Malaysia, discussed when we went there). Its a dense state, 2nd only to Monaco in terms of people vs land. It’s exactly 1 degree North of the equator.  Its also a place with a strict sense of law and order, famously strict on chewing gum.

The Plan

While Singapore is known for both Laksa and Hainanese chicken, the chicken wins out this time.   I’ve adapted a number of recipes, mostly from SBS (again).

Ingredients

Chicken
1 very fresh chicken (preferably free range)
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1 tbsp light soy sauce
6 slices fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, slightly bruised
2 shallots, chopped in a few pieces
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light soy sauce
½ tsp salt

Chicken Stock
Chicken bones, such as whole chicken carcass, or a kilo of chicken wings or legs
3 pieces of ginger
2 shallots

Chicken Rice
1 cup long grain rice
2 tbsp chicken or pork fat (this tastes great, but peanut oil can be used instead)
2-3cm ginger, grated
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped very finely or grated
2  cups chicken stock according to rice instructions (or more, reserved from boiled chicken)

Chilli sauce
2 fresh birds eye chillies
1-2 cloves garlic
5cm fresh ginger

2-3 tbsp of chopped coriander
2-3 shallots, chopped
2 -4 tbsp chicken stock (from the boiled chicken)
Juice from 1  lime to taste
Salt to taste

Coriander  Sauce for Dipping
5cm of Ginger
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp lime juice
1 cup chicken stock (from the boiled chicken)
a handful of finely chopped coriander leaves
5 tbsps oyster sauce

Method

For chicken stock, add  chicken bonest, three slices of ginger and two shallots to just enough water to cover them. Boil for one to two hours until stock has a strong chicken flavour. Discard chicken bones/pieces and strain the stock through a muslin cloth.
Bring a pot of water to the boil, adding the chicken stock, the pot being large enough to fit the whole chicken. While the water & stock is heating, rub chicken inside with rice wine and soy sauce. Roughly chop three pieces of ginger, garlic and one shallot and then blend in a food processor. Place mixture inside chicken.

When the water boils, turn heat off and place the chicken, remaining three pieces of ginger and shallot in the water. Leave the chicken to stand in the water for one hour. After the first five minutes of standing, lift up the chicken, drain the water from the stomach cavity and put chicken back in the pot. Repeat this process two or three times during the cooking period to make sure the chicken cooks inside as well as outside.

After 30 minutes, turn on the heat to bring the water back to almost boiling point, then turn heat off. The chicken, never being allowed to boil, will be very tender and juicy. At the end of the hour, remove the stock and plunge the chicken into icy water for 5 minutes.

For chicken rice, wash the rice and drain well (the more water in the rice, the less chicken flavour! Some recommend drying the rice in a tea towel). In a wok, fry chicken fat until oil is released and then add the ginger and garlic and fry well.

Remove from heat and discard the chicken fat and skin. Add the rice and salt and stir fry briskly for about 1-2 minutes. Transfer rice into an electric rice cooker or pot. Add in chicken stock and pandan leaves. Follow normal instructions for cooking rice.
While the rice cooks, remove the chicken from the ice water and rub with remaining soy sauce combined with sesame oil and salt.

For chilli sauce, roughly chop chillies, garlic, coriander, onions and ginger and then blend in a food processor. Add chicken stock, lime juice and salt to taste. Will keep in covered container in the refrigerator for a few days, but is best served fresh.

For coriander sauce, finely chop ginger, garlic and coriander.  Add chicken stock, lime juice and oyster sauce.   Stir and warm for 1 minute in a microwave.

The Event

Best comment was “you’ve outdone yourself on the mess factor”.   With a small kitchen and the requirement to turn and drain a chicken in a pot not quite big enough, I made a hellish mess to clean up.   Overall, it should have been a little simpler – I struggled to get the timing quite right.

The Outcome

Jacq: “Good.  Yeah. I’d love to have it again”

Liam:  “7 out of 10”

Chris:  “Good!  Just could have had more vegies”

Me:  I thought this was excellent.  The rice was very good, but what topped it were the two sauces I created.    Coriander was such a strong flavour, but so perfectly offset against the salty chicken.

Korea

November 13, 2010 at 10:15 pm | Posted in Eastern & Central Asia | Leave a comment

Korea’s a country torn in two since 1950.   North Korea remains fundamentally in the dark ages under the command of a despotic family that preaches a weird mixture of Communism and Divine Right.  South Korea, however, has gone through a major transformation and is now a major economic force in the world.

Trivia point 1:  The ceasefire occured in 1953,  positioning the  borders at roughly the same point the war started.   However, the countries are technically still at war, having not yet signed an armistice.

Trivia point 2:   my favourite part of this ludicrous hostility between the two countries is the Axe Murder Incident.   In 1976, a bunch of South Koreans and a US military attachment moved into the demilitarized zone to trim a poplar tree.   These sort of incursions happened from time-to-time, but in the case the North Koreans attacked out of the blue, killing the American gardeners and a few of their South Korean mates.    The event was played up by North Koreans, who used this to again call for the removal of US forces from the South Korean penisula (er, so he could have it).

The Americans responded with truly stupifyingly overwhelming force.   Three days later they sent in 23 vehicles, two 30-man platoons, 16 engineers with chain saws, a 64-person special forces team from South Korea, 20 utility helicopters, 7 gunships, a number of B52 bombers, F4 fighters and F5 fighters.   In the event this wasn’t enough, 12,000 men were moved into bases just behind the DMZ.    They drove in….and cut down the tree.

 

The Plan

While  I was sorely tempted to cook Korean, there’s a new Korean restaurant locally, the Soban Korean – a bunch of friends wanted to try it out, so we all hired babysitters and parked ourselves at Soban.

The Event

Soban has the classic Korean BBQ style, gogi gui.  We supped on seafood pizza, bulgogi, kimchi, sundubu jji-gae, while grilling various meats and vegetables on an in-table bbq setting.    This was fantastic as we were outdoors, sipping lots of white wine in an open courtyard.   In fact, it was only when they turned out the lights that we realised we’d outstayed our welcome a tad.

The Outcome

Chris:   “My third time here, I love it”

Kai:  “Fantastic”

Pete:  “reallygood”

Sharon:  “Seafood pizza is excellent”

Belinda:  “Brilliant”

Stu:  “No BYO beer?”

Me:   Nice place, good food.  I was surprised just how little chilli was added to the dishes.    The BBQ food was extremely good – actually, it was a full-on meat fest.

 

Indonesia

November 7, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Posted in South Asia & South-East Asia | Leave a comment

Indonesia is one of the most changeable countries as its one of the most siesmically active.   Earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis has made this place very changeable with new parts of the country emerging and disappearing with extreme regularity.    Indonesia has over 150 volcanoes, many of them active and causing world-wide effects –  Krakatau destroyed an island and dropped world temperatures by 2 degrees in 1883, whereas the explosion of Mt Tambora caused a famine in Europe with the Year Without Summer.    These were dwarfed by the ancient explosion of Toba, which was so violent it likely extinguished 99.8% of the human race.

One interesting trivia is that when Mount Tambora caused the Year Without Summer, it forced a bunch of poncy writers on holiday in Switzerland to spend most of their time in doors.   Bored, they had a competition who could write the scariest story.    One of them wrote Frankenstein, and the other The Vampyre.

The upside to all of these volcanoes is that Indonesia is an extremely fertile land – heaps of volcanoes = lots of ash, which means lots of fresh top soil.  This, coupled with the tropical environment means these tiny islands are able to sustain such a large number of people – despite having over 17,500 islands, one of them (Java) is the most densely populated island in the world.

One great thing the soil has produced is a rich array of spices – these are, of course, the spice islands.

The Plan

Indonesia has so much good food, but given a lot has chilli, we’re going to stick to the obvious choice – Nasi Goreng.  I grabbed this one from a range of different places.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups of rice, cooked
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 (about 275g) chicken thigh fillets, excess fat trimmed, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 1 175g pkt shortcut bacon thinly sliced
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves,  sliced
  • 1 carrot,  diced
  • 60g (1  cup)  finely shredded Chinese cabbage
  • 100g bean sprouts
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp shao hsing rice wine
  • 4 eggs
  • A bunch of coriander

 

  1. Fry the chicken, bacon and half the onion until cooked.  Remove
  2. Fry the remaining onion, garlic and carrot for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cabbage, stir until it starts to wilt.
  4. Add the rice, stirring rapidly to loosen it.
  5. Add back the chicken and bacon and turn down the heat.
  6. Add the bean sprouts
  7. Add soy sauce and shao hsing wine, and a handful of chopped coriander
  8. In a separate frying pan, fry each of the eggs.  Leave them runny and serve them over the top of each plateful of rice.

The Event

I prefer runny fried eggs on my rice – and, now, so to does my family.

The Outcome

Liam:  “Yum!”

Jacq: “Great!”

Chris: “not bad”

Me:  not bad.     At the end of the day, this is fried rice.   Adding shrimp paste and prawns would have been a better choice.

Malaysia

September 30, 2010 at 10:33 am | Posted in South Asia & South-East Asia | 1 Comment

Malaysia is one of those places in Asia which is full of rich flavours.  It’s also a great place of recent history of an excellent and most trivial feud between it and Singapore.

Singapore and Malaysia were once one country, formed in 1963 – it was a brief union, with Singapore expelled in 1965. Since that time, Singapore and Malaysia’s relationship has been punctuated by lots of bickering – some of it good natured, much of it not.    Water, building heights, airspace, where Nasi Lemak originates from,  and even who owns a bird-shit-encrusted rock in the sea between them – all good neighbourly stuff.

My favourite part of this rivalry is the Crooked Bridge.  A heavily used causeway currently links Singapore and Malaysia.  This is a problem for Malaysia as it means that ships coming to it’s ports have to go the long way around, circling  Singapore to get access.   It would be far more convenient if the causeway was a bridge.   Trouble is, Singapore owns half the causeway and making it a bridge would divert trade to Malaysia’s cheaper ports – so they’re not playing ball.

So, Malaysia has an alternate plan:   they’ll build a bridge on their side and hook it up the causeway in the middle.  And here lies the problem – there’s not enough room to get the necessary height for ships to pass safely under.   So, the plan is to shoot out at an angle, soar up to the minimum height, slope back down, then bend the bridge around to it rejoins the causeway!

That’s one awesome feud if it produces this.

The Plan

Whilst in the Adelaide markets, I stumbled across a food shop that sold buffalo.   What better option than to try out a a Buffalo Rendang.

Serves 6, cooking time 4 hours

Ingredients – Rendang Paste:

• lemon grass
• onions
• galangal
• ginger
• garlic

Method – Rendang Paste: Finely chop and pound the paste ingredients to a smooth paste.

Other Ingredients:

• 2 tbsp cooking oil
• 4 star anise pods
• 8 cardamom pods
• 15 cm cinnamon stick
• 8 cloves
• 2 kg topside or lean chuck steak of beef or preferably water buffalo
• milk/cream of 1 coconut
• kafir lime leaves
• turmeric leaves
• tamarind juice
• chillies
• salt and black pepper to taste
• meat of 1 coconut, dry fried or toasted till bronze and dry

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a wok and once hot, add the whole aromatic spices – star anise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and fry for 1 minute.

2. Add the rendang paste and fry till the colour darkens. Add the meat stirring well into to the paste for 3 or 4 minutes

3. Tear up the turmeric leaves and kafir lime leaves and add to the beef mixture, stirring them in.

4. Pour in the coconut milk and stir into the mixture and add 2 tablespoons of tamarind juice.

5. Add salt and pepper to taste and leave to simmer slowly for 1 or 2 hours until the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce.

6. Add the toasted coconut and stir into the mixture to soak up the remaining juices. The result should be quite dry and incredibly tender, flavoursome beef.

The Event

Buffalo is a tough, tough meat.  It takes a lot of cooking.  I let this go for 3 hours, but I can see how you could go for 4 or 6.

The Outcome

Jacq: “I’m now a vegetarian”

Liam:  “MmmmMMM.  Buffalo is GOOD!”

Mum:  “Nice, but I’d prefer it the curry was a bit wetter”

Dad:  “Needs another week to cook.”

Chris:  “Nice, but too dry and too chewy”

Me:   I think the rendang is extremely tasty but the dry result isn’t the best.  It would have been a lot better with a slightly more viscous paste.   Will definitely do this one again.

Greece

September 29, 2010 at 9:33 am | Posted in Southern & Western Europe | Leave a comment

Greece is famously the birthplace of modern Western civilisation, bringing democracy, the Olympic games, the roots of modern mathematics and of course, the invention of drama.   Yes, both comedy and tragedy are Greek inventions.   Who’d a thought…

Modern Greece also had a violent birth.   As part of the Ottoman empire for at least four centuries, the Greek war of independence in the 1820s lead to the formation of the First Hellenic Republic and the beginning of the end of the Ottoman Empire.    Slightly oddly, this lead to one of the few times in history that someone received a chain of islands as a gift, which also explains why the husband of the British Monarch is Greek.

While Greece has 1400 islands, around 7 of them are particularly interesting.  The Ionian islands were the only Greek territory that was not absorbed into the Ottoman empire, instead being managed by the Venetians.   After a brief period of French rule, Britain took the islands by force and created the United States of Ionian Islands.   They hung on to them for 50 years, but then decided to make these a coronation gift  to a Danish prince who’d recently been elected as the King of Greece.

Further trivia (found while trying to understand how the hell one has an election for a monarch!):   while Greece was looking for a new king, the population very much wanted Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, to be appointed king.   Queen Victoria rejected this outright, but the Greeks held a non-binding referendum anyway.    Twenty seven choices were on the referendum, and the Greeks overwhelmingly wanted Prince Alfred.   The king who was eventually appointed garnered exactly 6 votes, or 0.0002% of the vote.  But the best news was that the previous King managed to win only 1 vote.  One solitary vote.  D’you reckon it was him or his mum?

(To add injury to insult, Prince Alfred followed up missing out on becoming a king by getting shot at Clontarf beach in Sydney a few years later.  Small world.)

The Plan

I really really wanted to cook Greek food….but I also really really wanted to eat Greek food.  When an opportunity came up to pop out for dinner in Adelaide, I couldn’t resist going to Eros Ouzeri.   Glorious food, including:

For entree we had a series of dips with pita bread:

  • Melitzanosalata (Roasted eggplant, roasted pepper,red onion, parsley, garlic, tahini and olive oil)
  • Tzatziki
  • Skordalia (Potato puree, garlic and olive oil, with vinegar and lemon)
  • Taramosalata (Cod roe with lemon juice and olive oil)

Mains were fantastic:

  • Saganaki Thalasino (Handmade festoni ribbons, bug tails, local prawns, king scallops. cherry tomato flambéed with ouzo, fetta, garlic, chilli)
  • Arni Souvlakia (Prime Lamb loin marinated & Char-grilled. Mediterranean compote, tzatziki & gremolata)

Finishing everything off was desert for one

  • Cream Kataifi (Layered toasted shredded pastry and almond flakes soaked in vanilla syrup Greek custard. liquored chantilly cream)


The Event

Eros is a fantastic place – nice ambiance, great staff, good selection of wine and food.   5 stars, well worth a look in if you’re in Adelaide.

The Outcome

Chris:  “Really nice food!   The dips were OK, the lamb fantastic and the desert:  not what I expected but still good.”

Me:  One of the dips was tremendously good, the other three paled into insignificance.  I will definitely seek out Taramosalata to have again.  My main course – Saganaki Thalasino – was just hands down the best seafood dish I’ve had.  It was excellent.    In fact, I tasted some of Chris’ souvlakia and while I love lamb, it was boring by comparison.

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