So, where to start?

looking-through_05Having decided to do a virtual culinary tour of the world, the first question was “where to start”.

By a very technical process, which involved catching a 50 cm inflatable world globe and choosing the country that was under my right index finger, Chile is the first country in our virtual tour.

Apart from tasting the food of the country, I also want this to be a learning experience for my grandchildren. The Aussie ones are 14, 8 and 4, and the English ones are 2 and under 1. Most of the time only the Aussie grandies will be part of this adventure, but the English ones will be in Melbourne in March and April (they might not learn much, but they’ll taste a lot).

So, apart from researching the food, I will also make up fact sheets and we can have a little quiz at the end of our meal.

Chile sounds amazing. I didn’t know that it had the driest desert in the world (the Atacama Desert). Or that it has the oldest mummies in the world. Or that it is the world’s fifth largest exporter of wine.  Or that evidence of potato consumption goes back 14,000 years. Master 8-years-old was very pleased to learn that soccer is the most popular sport, and Miss 4-years-old was happy to learn that the Chilean flag has the same colours as the Australian flag (which are not all that unique as far as flag colours go, but hey-ho).

The next step is to research what food we will cook and eat for our lunch on Sunday 29 January. Pisco sour will definitely be on the menu. Any other suggestions are welcome.

Adios for now

G’daaaaaaay maaaate!!

Wow!

Dinner in Australia was fairly awesome. Not so much because it was the first time we had an international meal in my new digs. Not so much because the catering was by far the easiest yet. Not so much because much of the food was so familiar. But I think because much of the food was so very unfamiliar.

The easy stuff – vegemite sandwiches, party pies, fairy bread, chicken parma – was all yummy, and very popular with the kids. And while I understand the argument that chickens and lambs are cute,  and that wallabies, kangaroos and emus are exactly the same, it still took a while to get my head around eating our native fauna. But there was no need for any angst – it was a great experience.

The wallaby sang choi bau was one of the dishes of the day, and while it might seem odd to serve wallaby in such a Chinese way, it was a deliberate and sincere nod to the contribution the Chinese have made to our cuisine. The Asian influence in our cooking is absolutely worth celebrating. The wallaby sang choi bau was fusion at its best and, being a Kylie Kwong recipe, we all know that she knows what she’s talking about when it comes to fusion cooking.

I felt the same about making a lamington tiramisu. Tiramisu might be typically Italian, but this was a great way of celebrating the wonderful contribution that Italy has made to our cuisine. Greece is the other nation that has made a solid, and oh so delicious, contribution to our cuisine. And guess which country we’re going to next month???? Can’t wait for August in Greece!!!! Thank you, Elysia, for choosing Greece:)

Anyway. Back DownUnder. The kangaroo kofta with beetroot and feta was lovely, but I have to admit to not being quite brave enough to try the emu kebabs.

The other dish of the day was the Tim Tm tart. But really, how could Tim Tams, chocolate and fresh raspberries NOT be the dish of the day. It’s hard to believe that seven ingredients could be soooooo delicious.

We loved the Douglas Adams guide to Australia. Do read it if you have a chance – it’s very funny.

And, speaking of funny, the joke of the day, which has nothing to do with Australia, was from Will – What is the difference between a good joke and a bad joke timing. Yes, it is typed correctly – you read it all in a string. I think it’s funny, anyway.

And thanks again to Elysia for the excellent photos. And thanks to Viv for the North Shore cocktails. And well done to Liam for some excellent swimming PBs.

And, Lani, please don’t talk so much next time. You drive us nuts!!! Truly, she did not stop talking the whole time. Did not stop! Once!

So, now it’s See ya layda to Straya and Yasou to Greece.

 

 

 

 

 

Cooooeeeee! Dinner in Australia is almost upon us

Lunch in Australia has become dinner in Australia because Liam has a swimming carnival at lunchtime. But that’s OK – it gives me more time to get organised.

Attached below is one of my all-time favourite takes on Australia. It is Douglas Adams’ (he of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame) take on Australia. It’s an oldie but a goodie, but it is very well-written and makes me laugh every time I read it.

I’ve also attached the fact sheet, some of which is questionable. Are kangaroos and emus really on the coat of arms simply because they can’t walk backwards? That sounds a little odd.

Viv is bringing all the ingredients for the North Shore cocktail and, treasure that she is, has been practising so that she can be certain she’s got it right. And this will be our first international dinner at my new digs. Lauren and Will (and the kids, of course) can walk home. They’ll be able to sample as many North Shores as they want. Um, not the kids sampling North Shore cocktails – Lauren and Will sampling North Chore cocktails. Kids will be drinking apple juice.

Karma and Rob will not be able to have a simultaneous lunch in Australia with us this time – they are camping this weekend in the Brecon Beacons in Wales. Camping with a one-year old and a three-year old sounds horrendous, but I did it myself when I was young and energetic. We’ll have a North Shore for you, Karma and Rob!

I hope Elysia will be the official photographer again. Watch this space tomorrow for an update on dinner in Australia! And photos!

Australia_factsheet

Douglas Adams

Place-mat_Australia

 

 

 

Planning for lunch DownUnder

This has turned out to be much more interesting that I thought it would be. Yes, we’ll have vegemite sandwiches and fairy bread (both on white bread, of course), and party pies to keep the kids happy, but there are so many great things to try.

While browsing through some of my Gourmet Traveller magazines this morning, I found a Kylie Kwong recipe for Wallaby sang choi bau. Gotta try that one!!!

But with kangaroo and emu already on the menu, and now wallaby, sourcing good quality game meats could be problematical. Until I found Yarra Valley Game Meats. Ken was fabulous, and I came away with exactly what I needed.

So, apart from the kids’s food, the protein for our lunch will be:

  • emu kebabs
  • kangaroo kofta with warrigal greens (not too sure where to get those babies!), beetroot and fetta
  • wallaby sang choi bau
  • chicken parmigiana – Rob tells me that only Aussies do chicken parma, so this is a great option for people like me who are very unadventurous about trying non-standard protein (I am still more than a tad traumatised by being tricked into eating my pet duck when I was a child).

Being the good Aussies that we are we really should have lamingtons but,  not being much of a cake lover, lamingtons do not inspire me very much. But lamingtons in a tiramisu sound yum. So we’ll have lamington tiramisu with our tim tam and raspberry tarts.

And perhaps we could finish off with some good King Island cheeses.

And booze. What type of booze will we have? Much as John Elliot wanted to foster-ise the world, and the ads are still fairly common in the UK, I do not know anyone who drinks Fosters. Bundy rum is an obvious choice, but it is a very strong flavour.

I think that the feature Aussie tipple for the day will be a North Shore cocktail. We had these on the cruise. We had a  lot of them, actually. Assuming that it is named after Sydney’s north shore, it is a good Aussie choice. They comprise blue curacao, bacardi, coconut milk and pineapple juice. And they’re very blue. And very easy to drink.

And it’s off to Uncle Dan’s we go.

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch in Australia

 

flag_austalia

Oh my oh my, it is ages since I’ve had a chance to add to this blog!

During June, I moved house and had the most relaxing two weeks away with Lauren and the kids, and there was just no time for our next international lunch.

But for now, it’s back to normality, whatever “normal” is.

And we’ll do lunch in Australia in July. At first glance lunch in Australia seems more than a little unexotic, but I promised Lani she could choose a country, and Australia is a country, so lunch in Australia it is.

Lani is looking forward to vegemite sandwiches and fairy bread but, hey, we can do better than that in the land DownUnder!

Sunday 30 July will see us enjoying modern Australian cuisine. I’ll have a go at emu kebabs and kangaroo kofta, and I have found a recipe for Tim Tam tarts with raspberries. My god, how good does that sound! Tim Tams and raspberries is a match made in heaven!

Deep in the recesses of my pantry I have some pepperberries that I bought in Milawa, and I recall the Masterchef judges going into raptures about a beef and pepperberry pie a couple of seasons ago. I might have to look that one up as well.

There will not be any damper, there will not be any burnt sausages on the barbeque and there will be no drowning everything in tomato sauce.

So, off to the planning board I go, with a promise to be a more regular correspondent!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madagascan delights

Wow. The Madagascans certainly know about good food!Madagascar table

Our, quite large, lunch was full of yummy food. I fear the I let the varenga (shredded beef) dry out too much, but it was still worth a sample. This is one recipe that I’ll definitely do another time. The clafouti was a bit rubbery, and next time I think I would make it with self-raising flour rather than plain. And we ate it with good quality vanilla ice-cream of course. The peanut soup was, well, peanutty. Nice but quite rich.

The bonbon coco, which was so resolutely refusing to cooperate last night, came good after a night in the fridge, and was able to be rolled into balls and then flattened.  Just like coconut ice!

The Madagascar Sour cocktail was very, very nice. The first couple of sips made you think about what flavours were spinning around in your mouth but, after that, it was yummy. Another very refreshing cocktail that would be perfect on a warm lazy Sunday afternoon.

Liam was very good about trying the different flavours on offer, which is good to see. Lani had cocktail frankfurts and vanilla ice-cream. Elysia took all the photos (thanks, Elysia), and Viv was the Quizmaster. Interesting quiz, that!

Maybe it was because I did all the cooking yesterday and today was just about heating up (which, I know,  is not the ideal way to prepare and serve food), or maybe we had exactly the right number of people there, but I found today to be the most relaxing of our international lunches. Or maybe it was because we had the cocktail before lunch.

A selection of photos is below (thanks again, Elysia).

Liam was allowed to choose the country for May because it is his birthday month. Madagascar was a great choice, Liam. And because Liam was allowed to choose a country for May, Lani had to be allowed to choose one for June. Lani has just turned five. Lani doesn’t know a lot of countries. Lani has chosen Australia.

Australia! What can we do with Australia?

I guess there are two choices. We can go boring and have what we have most other days of the week. Or we could do a modern take on classic Australian dishes. OK. There’s only one choice. Modern Australian food, here we come.

So it is a fond “veloma” to Madagascar and a trepidatious “g’day” to Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landing in Madagascar

Today has been a day of cooking and prep for tomorrow’s lunch in Madagascar.

I’m  not sure that all the recipes are going to be resounding successes. The varenga (shredded beef) is amazing, as is the coco crevettes (prawns in coconut sauce), but I’m not sure about the Malagache fillet of pork – the flavours seem at odds with each other. I don’t know if it is the powdered mustard (normally I would use my fave Milawa mustard) or the brandy.  I very rarely use alcohol in my cooking, and invariably end up deciding that it would have been much better on ice (the alcohol that is, not the food).

As I write this blog, I’m watching the bonbon coco steadfastly refuse to set. It is supposed to be coconut candy, but it looks like it wants to be coconut ice. I think it might be up to Coles in the morning to get some sweetened condensed milk to turn it into what it wants to be. Which, I’m sure, is coconut ice.

On the upside, I’m really looking forward to testing the cocktail I’ve chosen – Madagascar Sour. It is made of lime juice, rum, vanilla liqueur and vanilla syrup. I’ve tried so many places for vanilla syrup with no luck, so asked at my local café. What a brainwave that turned out to be! Brodie and Liss were more than happy to help me out, and I’ve come away with plenty of vanilla syrup to make plenty of cocktails. Thank you, Brodie. Thank you, Liss. Thank you Highside Café in Bayswater. If any readers of this blog are in or near Bayswater, call in and get the best iced coffee you’re gonna get in the eastern suburbs – here’s a link to their facebook page. Go there. Now.

All that is to do now is make the clafouti, which I’ll do tomorrow.

Oh, and test the cocktails.

I’ll do that now.

 

 

 

 

 

Hello, Madagascar!

Flag MadagascarIt’s May, so off to Madagascar we go.

Lunch in Madagascar is on Sunday 21 May. Apart from Lauren and Will and the kids, we’ll also have Will’s parents (Viv and Bill) and my friend Jan. Jan and I worked in our very first job together as fresh-faced 17 year olds, and have recently reconnected. I cannot believe that 40 years have gone by, but we have been able to catch up as if it was only 40 days. It’s been wonderful.

Our menu is looking great – peanut soup, curried beans, shredded roast beef, vanilla bean fruity clafouti are just some of the choices. I’ve never made a clafouti before, but it looks easy enough.

Our primary tipple will be Madagascar Sour, which contains rum, lime juice, vanilla liqueur and vanilla syrup. I thought that vanilla liqueur would be the hardest of these ingredients to source, but a trip to good old Uncle Dan’s saw me come out with vanilla Galliano. It’s the vanilla syrup that is proving difficult to get. With none to be seen in any local shops, and my refusal to order it online and pay $16 for delivery, I’m going to have to get creative.

And some interesting facts about Madagascar? We know that it is one of the world’s main suppliers of quality vanilla, but it also supplies the world with cloves. And it provides half the world’s supply of sapphires. Who’d have thought?

Oddly enough, Madagascar was settled by Asians (from Borneo) before it was settled by mainland Africans, and its ecology is truly unique. Lemurs are found only in Madagascar, and a huge percentage of wildlife and plant species are unique to Madagascar. And it has the third largest coral reef system in the world.

Madagascar sounds both amazing and intriguing. I think I might have to add it to my travel wish list.

The Madagascar factsheet and placemat are attached below. The factsheet is only two pages this time – I could not find any famous people from Madagascar. It’s obviously all about the vanilla and the lemurs!

Madagascar_factsheet

Place-mat_Madagascar

 

 

 

 

 

Portuguese delights

Melbourne, you have outdone yourself! The weather for our lunch in Portugal was perfect. Again! We put a gazebo up this time to make it a little more festive, and to shelter us from the warm sun. It’s the end of April and we need shelter from the sun. Oh, how we love you, Melbourne.

Thirteen of us enjoyed lunch in Portugal – my two daughters, two sons-in-law, all five grandchildren, and my nephew and his wife and son. OK, Liam and Lani had cocktail frankfurts and, at eight months old, Eden didn’t really try too much (although he did make a decent fist of a party pie). But hats off to Lili who, at two and a half, tries everything and enjoys most of it. Well done, Lili.

It could not possibly have happened without Rob’s amazing help in the kitchen, as we churned out caldo verde (kale soup that tastes much nicer than you think kale could), marinated mushrooms (the star dish of the day), spicy broad beans, pork and mussels, peri peri chicken, beef spiced with ginger and curry leaves, baked cod, and sardines. The marinated mushrooms were scrumptious, but the sardines were a little confronting for most of us. Karma and Rob, who have been to Portugal quite a few times, liked the sardines, but the look and smell of them did not endear them to the rest of us.

Dessert was a great hit. I’ve always loved Portuguese custard tarts, and they were yummy. The almond tart was delicious, and definitely a winner.

Our Portuguese tipple of choice was green wine, which was different but very, very nice.

Elysia wrote the quiz this time, which was absolutely hilarious with Will and Scott getting themselves right into the spirit of taking quizzes seriously. Or not, as the case may be. My favourite answer was by Haiden. Elysia asked when the oldest bookstore in the world was established. Haiden’s answer was “the good old days”. Love your work, H.

Liam turns nine in May, so he has chosen our May country. What other country would an eight-year-old choose but Madagascar. So Madagascar it is. And no, Lauren, we will not be having roasted lemur. I’m looking forward to making something with vanilla! No. Not lemur with vanilla sauce!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing for Portugal

Portugal flagAnd so, the planning for Portugal has begun.

We will go to Portugal for lunch on Sunday 23 April, which is two days before Karma, Rob, Lili and Eden go back to London after being DownUnder for five weeks. It’s REALLY scary how quickly five weeks can go.

Anyway, back to Portugal. The lovely Scott and even lovelier Lara are coming to Portugal with us, so it will be a fairly large family affair.

The Portugal factsheet and placemat are attached below. Did you know that:

  1. Portugal was the first colonial power to abolish slavery, which was  50 years before France, Spain, Britain or the US.
  2. Portuguese is the sixth most-spoken first language in the world, and is the official language of nine countries.
  3. The oldest bookstore in the world is in Lisbon.
  4. Portugal is the oldest country in Europe. It has had the same defined borders since 1139, making it the oldest nation-state in Europe.

And the food. mmmmmm! Grilled chorizo sausages, piri piri chicken (the Portuguese invented piri piri sauce!), grilled sardines and, of course, Portuguese custard tarts. Portuguese green wine is worth trying as well, apparently. Dan Murphy’s, here we come!

It’s going to be quite a crunch timewise, so I’m very glad that Rob will be here to help. The only word to describe Rob is the kitchen is amazing.

Tchau for now

Portugal_factsheet

Place-mat (Portugal)

 

 

 

 

Jamaican delights

Welcome to Jamaica and have a nice day. Yes, it’s an oldie. But it’s a goodie.

Eden_Liam
My two boys – Liam and Eden

On yet another day of perfect weather we went to Jamaica on our virtual tour of the world in 80 cuisines.

Rob did a fabulous job in the days beforehand while I was caught up at work, and marinated the chicken and cooked the goat curry, which was awesome, as was the jerk chicken (two recipes!). The pork chops with coconut rum and caramelized pineapple sauce were delicious, due largely to the fact that I used fresh pineapple rather than the sugar-loaded stuff you get in cans.

Karma and Rob liked the salt cod and tomato fritters, but they were too salty for my taste. And I had skipped over all the Jamaican rice and peas recipes, due to my life-long and never-to-waver intense dislike of peas. But, they’re not peas! They’re kidney beans!! This is more than a little confusing for someone who runs a mile at the thought of peas. But wow, the rice and peas were yum, yum, yum.

Karma had cooked a Jamaican ginger cake that used fresh ginger. It was delicious.

And the cocktails. Wow, the cocktails.

The coffee cocktail was everything perfect.  Jamaican rum, Kahlua, coffee and cream. Except that we were supposed to use hot coffee and whip the cream. We had the coffee cold, the cream not whipped, and we added ice-cream for extra creaminess. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

And when we were coffee-cocktailed out, we moved onto pina coladas. Thank you, Will – they were fantastic as well. And thanks for leaving the leftover Bacardi at my place – much appreciated!!!!

So with all that alcohol, we didn’t actually get to have any rum and coke. Which was, perhaps,  very un-Jamaican of us.

Thanks again to Elysia for taking the photos.

Lauren, Liam and Lani drew up the quiz for us, which, by tradition should only be drawn from the factsheet and place-mat, but we let Lani (who has just turned five) add her own question even though it was not particular to Jamaica. The question was “which is bigger out of cats and dogs”. That’s a great question, Lani!

It was so very wondrous to have my whole family together in one place. And we’ll all be together next month for Portugal. Rob and I are already hunting down Portuguese recipes. Any suggestions are welcome …

Place-mat (Jamaica).1