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