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

Hitting the heights – we’re off to Nepal!

It’s October. It’s Nepal.

Nepal – land of the Ghurka, birthplace of the Buddha, and home of Mount Everest, the world’s only non-quadrilateral flag and truly amazing food.

I have eaten at quite a few Nepalese restaurants in Melbourne, mainly in Lygon Street, and the food has always been almost to die for.

We’ll have lunch in Nepal on 22 October. The usual suspects will be there – Jan and Lauren and Will and the kids, and we’ll be joined by Jacqui and Rich and their twin boys, who are Liam’s best mates. Its going to be a noisy lunch, this one!

My research tells me that dal bhat is compsulory Nepali food, so obviously we have to give that a try. And there’s chicken thukpa, momo (can’t wait to try the momo!!!), mutton curry, cucumber pickle salad, to name just a few. So much good food to sample!

Alcohol is not a big part of Nepali life, so I’ve had to resort to a cocktail named for Nepal – the Everest cocktail. Like Cleopatra’s kiss for lunch in Egypt, the ingredients sound more than a little contradictory. But hey ho, we’ll give it a shot. Curry and cream of coconut together sound OK, and lemon and gin together sound OK. But curry and coconut and lemon and gin all together sound weird.

Nonetheless, it promises to be yet another afternoon of great food, great company and, um, interesting cocktails.

Thank you, Lauren, for choosing Nepal!

The fact sheet and place mat are attached below. Watch this space for more reports.

Place-mat_Nepal

Factsheet_Nepal

 

 

 

 

 

Egyptian delights

Omigosh!! Did I truly write that Egyptian food did not sound very exciting? It was amazing.

The dukkah was surely the best dukkah I’ve ever tasted, and I’ll certainly keep that recipe for future use. I had made Paul Hollywood’s Maneesh before, and can highly recommend it. Like most bread recipes, the result belies the simplicity of the method. It’s a very impressive bread for very little effort

Koshari, fattoush, lentil soup, falafel cakes, spiced prawns. The list of yummy foods just goes on and on. Although the “Egyptian roasted chicken and potatoes” was delicious, it was flavoured with Italian herbs. I’m not convinced that putting “Egyptian” at the beginning makes it authentic Egyptian. It could have been Spanish or Moroccan roasted chicken and potatoes. But anyway – very nice it was.

The Om Ali was seriously delicious. It’s a dessert made of nuts and fruit, torn up baked puff pastry, milk and cream. Heavenly!

My work-friend, Jess, had given me a recipe for a unicorn cheesecake, and it’s been sitting on my fridge yelling “make me, make me” for a while now. And every time Lani comes to my place she says “make it, make it”. So Lani and I made it on Friday, and we launched ourselves into it today. Maybe we could have called it an Egyptian unicorn cheesecake.

The first round of Cleopatra’s kiss was too spicy, but the second was milder and a little easier on the palate. Similar or opposite to the real thing, I wonder?

It was a perfect spring day in Melbourne – the first dry day we’ve had in what seems like ages, so it was lovely sitting outside, sipping Cleopatra’s many kisses and chatting about all sorts of things.

Some photos of the day are included below. And, yes, that’s an Egyptian party pie that Liam is eating 🙂

Thanks to Jan and Leonie for your company today – you made it a lovely group, and we had a lot of fun!

Thanks to Jan for doing the quiz. Thanks to Leonie for being gentle and not trouncing us at it. And thanks to Elysia for the photos. Again!

Our next country is Nepal. Love Nepalese food!! Watch this space …

 

Fasten your seat belts for the descent into Egypt

Egypt flagHello Egypt. Land of the pyramids, the Nile and the oh-so-scrumptious Omar Sharif. Love Omar Sharif!!!

We’ve had to play around with dates for our lunch in Egypt. The last Sunday is 24 September, but Lauren and Will are away that weekend, so we’ll have lunch in Egypt this coming Sunday – 17 September.

I have to admit to being, at first glance, a little disappointed about Egyptian cuisine. I’ve never been there, so didn’t know what to expect, but there is nothing out of the ordinary as far as ingredients are concerned. Probably the most exotic ingredient I need to source is sumac, which is, I suspect, fairly easily obtained at the local Coles or Woolies.

But to put it into perspective, the ingredients for Morocco and Greece were not difficult to obtain, and they were absolutely amazing meals. Fingers crossed for Egypt!

Our Egyptian feast will comprise dukkah (of course), maneesh (Paul Hollywood’s recipe), lentil soup, koshari, spiced prawns (I hope the Australian prawns have got over their white-spot epidemic, or whatever it was they they had), fattoush, falafel cakes, om ali and rose leaves. Actually, when I say those words quickly and all in a row, it does sound quite exotic, doesn’t it?

Contrary to my usual style, I have not researched what our accompanying drinks should be. The Dan Murphy’s web site tells me that they have Egyptian wine, but it’s close to $100 a bottle. Um. No thanks. Maybe there are some Cleopatra or pyramid cocktails out there somewhere.

My friend Jan is coming, as is Leonie, who is a school-friend mum of Lauren’s. Leonie is a very smart operator, and has arranged for her husband and daughter to be somewhere else on Sunday afternoon, so she can enjoy an Egyptian feast solo. She can also walk home from my place. It’s an all-round win-win.

The Egyptian factsheet and place mat are attached. I think it’s my turn to do the quiz this time. They say there’s no rest for the wicked …

Factsheet_Egypt

Place-mat_Egypt

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greek delights

Wow!

Saganaki

Just how good is Greek food? It’s got to be the best in the world. Reflecting back on today’s feast, we are so lucky in this country to be exposed to so many different cuisines. But Greek rules as far as I’m concerned.

Greeks have lived in Melbourne for a long time, and Greek food is so much a part of Melbourne life. We’ve had a lot of time to decide our favourite dishes, and have lots of shops that specialise in Greek food. I could eat Greek food for a long time before I got sick of it.

Will brought his spit around to cook chicken and lamb gyros. I don’t know where he got the meat from, but it was delicious, and was probably the dish of the day.

The saganaki was yummy – I’m so glad I bought kefalotyri cheese from a Greek deli rather than just buying haloumi at the local supermarket. Helen’s baklava was sooooo delicious, and the spanakopita was right up there as well.

The dolmades turned out really well, and were much easier to make than I feared they would be. They were so easy, in fact, that I know I have eaten my last dolmade from the the deli at the supermarket – they just don’t compare.

Browsing through Uncle Dan’s shelves yesterday, I found a bottle of Kokino Kokineli, which the label says is “Greek red wine”. At $13.50 for 1.5 litres, I was a tad worried about how bad it might be but it was surprisingly quaffable, and was exactly the right choice for our food. I’d also bought a bottle of Muscat de Limnos, which remained unopened, mainly because of the extreme quaffability of the red (I might have made up a word there).

It’s Lili’s birthday on Tuesday so even though she was tucked up in her bed in London, we had a cake and sang happy birthday to her. The cake was an experiment that didn’t work very well – it was supposed to look like the Greek flag when it was cut, but it just looked like mixed up layers of blue and white ice-cream. In retrospect there were probably many easier ways to do this – a log cake for example – but, hey, an ice-cream cake still tastes like ice-cream, whatever it looks like.

Thanks again to Elysia, who took all the photos. And thanks to Bec (and Nick) for the salad, Jan for the lamb koftas, Helen for the baklava and Lauren and Will for being a constant help. And another thanks to Elysia for painting Lani’s face!

And so it’s antio sas to Greece, and marhaban to Egypt.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s all Greek to me

YassouGreece-flag

Planning is well under way for lunch in Greece this coming Sunday 27 August. The hardest part so far has been what not to include on the menu – there is so much yummy Greek food to be had.

I went to Oakleigh yesterday, which is a mecca of Melbourne-Greek food, and got some kefalotyri cheese for the saganki and vine leaves for the dolmades. Making dolmades from scratch is a little intimidating, but I guess that’s the whole point of this trip around the world.

We’re also having lamb koftas (courtesy of Jan), baklava (courtesy of Helen), chicken gyros (courtesy of Will) and Greek salad (courtesy of Nick). I’m expecting great things of that Greek salad, given that Nick has Greek heritage.

We’ll also have moussaka, spanakopita, skordalia and roast lamb.

The fact sheet is attached, as is the place mat. Will is the quiz master this time, so here’s hoping he doesn’t make Elysia cry again.

And it’s Lili’s third birthday on Tuesday 29 August, so we might have to have a birthday cake, even if she won’t be there to blow the candles out.

Greece_factsheet

Place-mat_Greece

 

 

 

 

 

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.