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Friday, October 31, 2008

Swan Bay Pinot Noir


A very pleasant discovery from an area apparently not known for Pinot Noir. The Swan Bay '07 from the Scotchman Hill group is a well balanced drinking experience. Gentle fruit characteristics are followed by a slight spicy oak finish. Best left breathe for a while before drinking the wine goes well with most foods...on this occasion a more than decent barbeque accompaniment.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Smoothie

To make a healthy homemade smoothie that's packed with vitamins and minerals, you'll need :

1 1/2 cups low fat yogurt
1 cup apple juice (with no added sugar)
1 cup orange juice (with no added sugar)
1 cup fresh blueberries
a drizzle of honey (add if you prefer slightly sweeter)
12 ice cubes

Blitz all ingredients together in a blender until smooth, and share!

Nutritional information :
Blueberries - very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, and a very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

Yogurt : This food is a good source of Protein, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12 and Potassium, and a very good source of Calcium and Phosphorus.

Apple juice : very low in cholesterol and sodium. It is also a good source of Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin C.

To know the nutrient content of your food, check out this site - http://www.nutritiondata.com/ and know what's into your body!

2 Brothers Brewery


A recent discovery on the draft beverage front is the produce of the 2 Brothers Brewery from Moorabin, Victoria. The first sampling, the boldly named Growler Ale, is available on tap at The Albion (of recent pub quiz fame) and is an American style brown ale. Not as dark as some of its European rivals it has a rich brown colour, good hint of hops and a reasonable smooth finish. As with most American style brown ales there’s a slightly sweeter malt flavour but not overpowering enough to put an ale fan off this rather tasty brew.

The second sampling and younger brother of the Growler is Rusty (tap pictured here), a very easy drinking pale ale offering. Based on Belgian style equivalents Rusty is not as sweet as the Growler, has a nice finish and is well worth a try.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Up Close and Personal



b-u-t-t-e-r-f-l-y, butterfly!

Cherry Blossoms



seen one sunny day at Canberra

Growing Dill

Dill is one of the easiest herbs to grow in your garden - be it a kitchen pot, or a random spot in a spare space in your home. They are best sown as seeds, just plant near the soil's surface. Best in well drained soil.

Fresh dill is wonderful with fish (try baking fish stuffed with dill and some sliced lemons, this is certified yum), or for an extra kick in salads or dips. It can freezes well so it can be easily stored.

Some sites say that dill may be ready for harvest eight weeks after sowing. The photo shows a 4-week old (almost) dill - stay tuned for growth progress after another month to test the theory!

Ingredient : Tapioca Pearls

the pearls, before and after boiling

Tapioca pearls are composed of starch, and are typically used for desserts, or beverages like the bubble tea. Sometimes confused with sago, which physically looks the same but is composed of a different type of starch, these pearls provide a delightfully contrasting texture to the recipe with its slightly gummy and chewy soft characteristics. The black pearls can be simply added to a drink made of water and a simple sugar syrup, just add some diced gelatin and its a Filipino meryenda accompaniment, much yearned for on a hot summer day.

Anyway, regardless of it being a tapioca or sago pearl, as long as it is prepared properly then all will be well! (try this link for a sample recipe)

Smoked Trout



"We're having fish tonight!" - Bruce, Finding Nemo

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chicken Curry

This recipe was based on the Basic Chicken Curry recipe from Neeram Batra's 1000 Indian Recipes. The author noted : "Perfect when served with rice or bread and easy enough to cook every day, this traditional chicken curry is usually the first one taught to all novice Indian cooks. Once you understand the basic procedure, you can vary it as you like".

The following is hence a variation, with the addition of potatoes as an extender (meaning doubling the size of the meal!), an extra kick from the tamarind and kaffir lime leaves, and the cilantros have been omitted - only because it was not available in the fridge at the time the dish was cooked!





Ingredients :
2 teaspoons olive oil (or ordinary cooking oil)
2 bay leaves
2 dried kaffir lime leaves
6 green cardamom pods, crushed lightly to break skin
1 2-inch long cinnamon quill
(these three are usually blended together in a food processor, or just minced finely if you prefer:)
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 large tomatoes, minced (in the original recipe, the tomatoes are blitzed with 1/2 cup of cilantro)
1-3 fresh green chili peppers (add or decrease according to taste), minced
1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 cup non fat yoghurt, whisked until smooth
1 cup water
1/2 cup water to soak dried tamarind
500 grams chicken thighs, diced
3 potatoes, diced

Heat the oil in the pan over medium-high heat and cook the bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves, cinnamon quill and cardamom pods, for around 30 seconds. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and cook until browned. Add the tomatoes and cook until wilted.

Add the spices - coriander, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, salt, pepper, chili powder, then mix in the yoghurt. Stir constantly to prevent from curdling, and incorporate well into the mixture.

Add the chicken pieces, simmer until slightly browned, add the water, tamarind water and cook on high heat for around 6 minutes or until bubbling. Add potatoes, reduce heat, and cook for about 30 minutes. Garnish with a sprinkling of garam masala.

Spice Stop : Green Cardamom

Fragrant, almost floral-smelling pods with an outer covering protecting black seeds inside. It is picked while immature, then sun-dried to preserve its nice, bright green color. Used widely in Indian cooking, even for desserts.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Station Hotel

A quick turn from Chapel St is Station Hotel, a pub described in its website as a 'long standing Prahran icon'. The venue boasts of a courtyard, private rooms, a pool bar, and an al fresco area overlooking the busy Greville St. where it is situated. Never mind the noise from the periodic trains that pass by from the station right across the street (perhaps, why it is named such) - besides, the music is loud enough to drown the whistles and train road warning signals away (clang clang clang clang clang......) The menu is basic pub grub, a wine selection, beer and cocktails are available, and specific nights cater to a theme, as most places do, such as Trivia Tuesdays (something like this previous post), which could be worth a shot some time soon. The charm of the place perhaps comes from the perception of space, that can be easily flooded with a group of friends out to have drinks and a dance or two, or keen to watch the game on the wide projector screens.

Good to check out and see if you like the crowd, if you find it too noisy, either you're too old or.... it's just not for you.

Blok M Restaurant

For some who have been tourists in Jakarta, Blok M would be associated with vivid memories - some of shopping sprees...some of excellent food... and some of (very wild) nightlife. In Melbourne, Blok M is one of the Indonesian restaurants that one must go to for a good dose of their cuisine.

The menu written on the gigantic blackboard is mostly in their language (Bahasa Indonesia), but in case you need translation, just get one of the laminated menus by the counter, where you get to order and pay for your food (either before or after eating, your choice). There is a good variety of fried rice (nasi - rice and goreng - fried), the usual Indonesian fare of sop buntot (oxtail soup), soto ayam (soto - soup, ayam-chicken), among others. It was unfortunate that tonight's serving of soto ayam (photo) was a bit salty that slightly overpowered the distinct taste of lemon grass and flavorful chicken, but the nasi goreng petai was spicy-hot and excellent.
(Petai is sometimes called 'stinky beans' because of its strong smell, they look like green broad beans but are a bit bitter)

There are no alcoholic drinks but you can wash it all down with hot or cold tea, softdrinks, es kelapa muda (young coconut) or the famous beverage Teh Botol ('teh' for tea and 'botol' for bottle - hence bottled tea), which is a sweet bottled jasmine tea, which, when served cold, can be really refreshing.

Blok M is at 176 Commercial Road, Prahran, and there is a Blok M Express at 380 Lt Bourke St.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gekkeikan


Having enjoyed sake in a number of Japanese restaurants and sushi bars it was decided that a purchase for the home was long overdue. Where better to try then the largest selling sake in the world - Gekkeikan. While not for the aficionados this is certainly a good introduction.

Whether served warmed or chilled, although don't serve too hot to avoid impacting the flavour, Gekkeikan provides a clear, light, gentle fruity experience with a slight (as you'd expect) rice undertone. Goes really well with seared tuna steak, yum! :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

AdoboSiLog

One of the all time favorites in the Filipino household would be the "silog" combinations : 'Si' - from "sinangag", meaning fried rice, and 'log' (pronounced 'lohg'), from itlog, or egg. So, -silog is suffixed to a name for a meal with fried rice and fried egg served usually with a cooked meat. The simplicity of this dish comes from the idea that everything is just fried and plated together.

The typical version is with tapa, a version of cured beef jerky. The name for this, is hence tap-si-log. The fried rice component is usually garlic fried rice, and the egg can be scrambled, sunny side up, or overeasy. There is an endless variation considering in a Filipino household, as the -silog can practically be served with anything, even on its own! Wikipedia lists some of the usual combinations, like :

Daingsilog - Daing (dried salted fish), fried rice and fried egg
Bacsilog - bacon, fried rice and fried egg
Bangsilog - bangus (milkfish), fried rice and fried egg
Bisteksilog - beef steak, fried rice and fried egg
Dangsilog - danggit (a type of dried salted fish) , fried rice and fried egg
Chosilog - chorizo, fried rice and fried egg
Chicksilog - chicken, fried rice and fried egg
Cornsilog - corned beef, fried rice and fried egg
Hotsilog - hotdog, fried rice and fried egg
Longsilog - longganisa, fried rice and fried egg
Litsilog - lechon (Lit is from the tagalog form litson, phonetically the same), fried rice and fried egg
Masilog - Ma Ling (a brand Chinese luncheon meat), fried rice and fried egg
SPAMsilog - SPAM (a brand of luncheon meat), fried rice and fried egg
Tosilog - tocino, fried rice and fried egg

This post though, is about Adsilog, or Adobosilog, but served in a slightly different fashion.

The Filipino Adobo is a stew of either chicken or pork in a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar (usually white vinegar), spiced with garlic, onion, cracked ground pepper and bay leaf. Different households have different approaches to adobo - some brown the meat in the garlic and onions before adding the liquids and the rest of the ingredients, some just put everything in a pot and let it simmer until the meat cooks, some just sit down, and let other people do the cooking! The wonderful combination of the spices lend it a distinct delicious smell, and one taste does not overpower the other - it is a very simple yet amazing dish, even considered as the 'national food'.

The 'fried rice' component for this particular meal is made with boiled basmati, fried with a similar 'adobo' base (i.e. garlic, onions, equal proportions of soy sauce and vinegar, sauteed together initially for a couple of minutes, before tossing in the rice), but not too much of it - just enough to give the rice a bit of color and complement the pork adobo flavor. The egg was poached not fried.


tonight's adobosilog... and the creamy yolk from the poached egg tainting the fried rice
the green leaves where the meat and egg are sitting are baby cos lettuce,
just for a little bit of crunch


One of the many ways to make an adobo (call this Adobo 101 if you like) :
500g pork, cut into matchbox sized pcs (or chicken)
1/4 cup of dark soy sauce
1/4 cup of vinegar
6 cloves garlic, crushed or minced (truth is, the more, the merrier, so throw in an entire head if you want)
1 medium onion, minced (make it large if using a whole head of garlic)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon oil (cooking oil, olive oil is good)
ground pepper, crushed

Saute garlic and onions in oil until onions are translucent, add pork and fry until slightly browned, add soy sauce, vinegar and bay leaves (add more soy sauce and vinegar depending on how much 'sauce' is preferred, just ensure that equal proportions are used) and let simmer on medium fire until the wonderful smell blankets the whole house, the liquid is slightly reduced and the meat is cooked (around 30 minutes or so) . Season with ground cracked pepper, and simply serve with white rice (or with silog, if preferred!)



Redbreast 12


A recent welcome, albeit familiar, addition to the drinks cabinet is this old chum - Redbreast 12 year old Irish Whiskey. Produced by the Irish Distillers Group (perhaps more famous for also producing Jameson), Redbreast is a little different in being the only single unblended pure pot still Irish whiskey available on the market. Triple distilled Redbreast is a strong yet smooth and mellow experience. Mildly spicy, the toasted wood taste lingers long enough for the taster to begin to wonder when the expected warm glow will kick in...and then....there it is. A wonderful sipping whiskey. Served any way but neat is pure sacrilege! :)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

'Great Balls of Fire'



Take a stroll along the Yarra river at night and come around The Crown Casino for a Fire Show. Also referred to Gas Brigades, there are 8 towers, 10 meters high, spewing fireballs which are electronically controlled. The start time varies depending on the season, but are usually seen every hour.

The fireballs are interestingly intense that a passerby can actually feel the warmth, which can be really nice on a cold winter night. Perhaps this 'show' is nothing too fancy for a night out, or could be a touristy thing to do - at the end of the day you can always stroll down towards the great variety of restaurants and bars along the same walkway.

This photo from an ordinary digital cam shows no justice to this event - so check this one out for a nicer shot that would probably make you want to see it.

Da Noi


A mix of rave reviews and one personal recommendation had this place on the want to try list for quite some time. The arrival of an occasion and the feeling that there had been a long enough wait meant Da Noi's time had come!

Famed for its Sicilian home cooked fare, this is an intimate cosy affair. Set in a narrow, slightly worn building the diner can't help but have the feeling of being a guest in someone else’s home. In a way, you are. Da Noi is all about "the chef" and it's his home you enter. The menu, as you'd expect in someone else’s home, doesn't take long too read. There's a small set selection of traditional Sicilian and Sicilian inspired dishes to choose from or the all powerful degustation option whereby the chef cooks a range of small dishes based on the likes or dislikes of the diner.

Service is prompt with knowledgeable staff who take time to acquaint the first time visitor with the aforementioned menu options as well as providing a guide through the formidable, albeit pricey, genuine Italian wine selection. Although a bottle of Sicilian red was readily plucked from the pages without any assistance being required.

The food is simple, certainly not over elaborate. Ingredients are allowed to speak for themselves only gently accentuated to bring out their natural flavour. While many decry such fan fare free presentations as over priced it is sadly a dying skill that deserves its place at the modern day table.

The evenings degustation menu was no exception. A simple fresh oyster served neat, why tinker with that?, started off proceedings accompanied by smoked sea trout topped with a little olive oil, caviar and a sprig of basil. A selection of dressed vegetables followed; green beans, roasted red peppers, courgette and roasted pepper and delicious cannelloni bean with pancetta with fresh crusty bread to mop up the excess. The pasta course consisted of perfect al dente pasta accompanied with prawns and a delightful fresh tomato and olive oil sauce. The meat dish was goat shoulder, slow roasted, served with a little rib and a drizzle of Sicilian honey enough to cut the goat fat but not over sweeten.

The dessert platter was equally impressive and included panna cotta, a hazelnut chocolate cake slice, fresh passion fruit parfait (send the Italian name on a postcard to...), fresh fruit and of course an amaretti biscuit. Finished off with a strong Italian coffee and one very pleasant dining experience is complete.

A little pricey for an everyday dining experience but certainly worth a visit if the occasion allows.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor


Billed as an action packed sweeping epic the Mummy 3 proved to be a major disappointment - so much so that even die hard fans of this particular series of movies would be hard pressed to find any redeeming features in this latest offering.

The cast promised much. A line up of Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh and Isabella Leong would have movie goers anticipating a flurry of all action, back and forth rip roaring martial art sequences and the 'will this guy ever die’ crescendo that tends to typify this particular genre. All were sadly lacking. The kindest of viewers may say the cast was underutilised while the more critical would say it was wasted in this messy and incoherent yawn maker.

Much of this movie was centered on the familial interactions between Mom, Dad and Junior O'Connell. Unconvincing performances from Maria Bello (Mom) and Luke Ford (Junior) allied to Brendan Fraser’s (Dad) unsuitability for a 'paternal' role certainly left this viewer confused as to the point of much of the plot, add to that the nonsensical scenes depicting Shangri-La and Yetis to the rescue certainly added to the lack of direction. The brief, almost whimpering final scenes depicting the Mummy's demise seemed to indicate even Rob Cohen (Director) himself had lost interest and just wanted this movie to be over.....good call!

If you haven't already....don't. :)

Grilled Shrimp on the Barbie


Down in Melbourne, the trees are beginning to grow their leaves back, the temperature is beginning to rise, there are lesser days with gray skies and hence people are firing up the barbeques because it is that time of the year!

Aside from the usual steak and snags, one of the tastiest creatures that graces the grill is the shrimp, or prawns if preferred. It cooks quickly, requires little seasoning, and is great even with just a dash of lemon juice, or lemon-garlic butter sauce, (or lemon-garlic-thyme for the slighltly gourmet-ish folks). Some people may find the shell removal to be tedious, but the gastronomic rewards of having to eat such a shellfish supercedes the effort. Perhaps opt of the shelled, cooked prawns available at the market and heat at the grill instead, if one just couldn't be bothered!

Tasmania or Queensland prawns are often found in markets, do not come cheap, but indeed delicious and as fresh as you can get. Highly recommended for those who love variety and not shy away from tasty treats from the sea - just check for allergies from guests in case they are averse to these crustaceans!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sinampalukang Manok (Chicken in Tamarind Soup)

This is a dish of chicken cooked in a soup usually made sour using young tamarind leaves. It is a typical Filipino dish, the light soup eaten with the staple food rice, or sometimes simply served as a soup.


shown here inundating a bowl of hot rice

Just like any other home-cooked meals, there are different recipes based on the household that one has grew up in. This particular recipe is made from a pickled tamarind leaves picked up from an Asian store somewhere in Richmond (where Asian stores abound and Vietnamese restaurants are plenty) as there are no fresh ones readily available.

To make this you would need:
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sized onion, minced
1 medium sized ginger, minced
around 300g of chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
750ml water
1/2 cup tamarind leaves
fish sauce or salt to taste
1 cup of morning glory, or chopped eggplants or radish
2 pcs green chilies (optional)
1/2 cup of tamarind water (made by adding hot water to dried tamarind fruit, or 2 tablespoons sinigang mix)

fresh tamarind leaves, Tamarind soup base (present in every Pinoy household) and pickled tamarind leaves
option to use whole bird chilies in the soup if preferred, or crushed with fish sauce for dipping


Saute garlic, onions, and ginger until fragrant and onions are translucent.
Add chicken and stir fry until chicken is browned on all sides. Season with fish sauce or salt.
Add water and bring to a boil.
Add the vegetables (if using) and tamarind leaves, until vegetables are half cooked. The young tamarind leaves provide a very delicate flavor, hence if a slightly stronger taste of tamarind is preffered, add tamarind water or the sinigang mix (also available from the Asian store).

Serve hot, best with rice, and a dipping sauce of fish sauce with chilies :)

*

fresh tamarind leaves photo credit here

Night and Day at St. Kilda Pier

Taken by two different people using two different cameras on different days.
Can you spot the similarity?




Previous St. Kilda snapshot here

Friday, October 17, 2008

This One is for Thursday Nights

If you can't make it for Tuesday Trivia night at Mt. View Hotel, try on a Thursday night at The Albion for a good dose of mind twisters. The format is similar - a photo part, music identification, and the questions that range from 'how many earth years does Uranus revolve around the sun" to "what is the name of the boy left alone in Home Alone".

Teams plot down team names on the answer sheet and get to swap sheets with the team on the adjacent table when checking for answers. Most of the time, spelling is not given too much importance (unless it is a spelling question!). With the correct mix of people, clinching the prize may not be too difficult - but then again one won't really know the degree of difficulty of the questions, until you're right there sitting and thinking about it!

The excited ones who shout the answer need to be restrained, as you wouldn't want the other teams to hear your answer, so old fashioned whispering may do the trick. The scribe needs fast fingers, excellent hearing and needs to have excellent yet quick decision making skills at times when there are too many answers offered by team mates!

In case the team doesn't win, there is easy access to booze, so in essence - 'everybody still wins'!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday Trivias

Another great way to end a weekday is to head down to the pub offering Trivia contests! People who think they have a lot of 'useless information' will then ultimately get some form of usability to these facts and have a chance to flex that gray matter (and perhaps that drinking elbow too, or so someone exclaimed!)

One of the pubs that hosts such a night is Mt. View Hotel at Richmond. Quiz starts at 8pm, but be sure to book ahead as there are regular trivia junkies who are serious at this sort of gig. Pool a good team together, the more the merrier, and the higher the probability that someone would know the answer to the questions. A questions are a good mix of music, movies, history, and everything under the sun, so it's best to pay attention to the Trivia host!

The prize (typically bar credit) may not mean much for a big group (especially if you land on third place, for $10!) , but in the spirit of good fun it's worth stopping by even to just watch and listen. If heading down to Mt. View, you won't be disappointed with the beer selection, as there is also a generous variety on tap (check out the menu on the site), but do go for the James Squire Golden Ale for a sure winner.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fish Pie

A lovely, creamy, savory comfort food!

*

A fish pie is traditionally made with white fish that has been slowly poached in milk, then the liquid is strained and the fish flaked. Then a white sauce is made with some of the milk, mixed with butter and flour until it thickens, then mixed with the flaked fish, and finally topped with mashed potato. The 'pie' is then baked and the top made golden brown before serving. This is the basic instruction at least - but for every household, the recipe varies .

This particular fish pie is made with some leftover snapper that has been cooked on a bed of fennel and carrots, wrapped in foil on the barbie one hot afternoon. As per tradition, the fish is gently simmered in milk (around 1.5 cups), with some bay leaves, a couple of sprigs of parsley, some salt and crushed black pepper. After a gentle boil, the milk is strained out, and the fish set aside. Using the same pan, a couple of tablespoons of butter is melted, then around 2 tablespoons of flour is whisked in, and half of the milk slowly added until the mixture thickens. The fish is folded into the sauce, with some pre-boiled broad beans (most of the time a hard boiled egg is added) and chopped parsley.


Mashed potatoes are made in the usual fashion, except this one is made creamier with the addition of some of the 'fishy milk', seasoned with salt and pepper and then placed on top of the fish in white sauce.

Put into a 200C oven for around 25minutes, or until the top is golden and the fish mixture slowly bubbling.

Serve with some white wine, and all will be good!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Arthur's Seat


Standing at 314m (some say 305m) above sea level, Arthur’s Seat is the most prominent peak in Mornington Peninsula. Easily accessible by car (or by foot too!), it is just 75 km south east of Melbourne, has natural bushlands, and a fantastic view of the Port Philip Bay heads. There is a lookout tower, Seawinds garden, a maze and two restaurants.


The area was named after Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh, by Acting Lieutenant John Murray when he docked there in 1802. The main road was only paved in 1929.

It’s a shame that the chairlifts (opened in 1960) have been closed due to some accidents that occurred in 2003, 2004 and 2006. The owner has apparently spent 500k AUD for repairs, maintenance and upgrades, and hopes to open it late this year.

Nevertheless, this area is still worth stopping by on your way to Sorrento or to the Nepean National Park.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Baked Alaska



Its other names are omelette á la norvégienne, Norwegian omelette, omelette surprise, glace au four - a baked alaska is basically ice cream on top of a cake (usually a sponge cake), then encased in a hot pastry or meringue which has been quick baked (or maybe torched) before serving.

In this case, the cake used was a leftover chocolate cake, which has been cut into a small circle. Then a (huge) dollop of vanilla ice cream is placed to sit in the middle, leaving some space for the meringue to wrap it all over. Just before serving, put straight in the oven for 4-5 minutes at 230C (pre-heated ofcourse), or until the meringue had a nice tinge of golden color.

Apparently the name of this lovely dessert came from a restaurant in New York in 1876 after the acquisition of Alaska, but was discovered by an American physicist Thompson Rumford as he investigated the heat resistance of a stiffly beaten egg white.

A basic meringue recipe calls for at least 2 tablespoons of caster sugar for every egg white. A pinch of cream of tartar won't hurt - it would help stabilize the meringue. Make sure that the bowl and mixer are free of any fat or oil, otherwise the egg whites won't form the peaks, as the fat inhibits the creation of the foams. It is best to use egg whites in room temperature for a 'bigger' volume.

Tandoor

Food is best shared and one of the best to share is Indian cuisine. Bowls of curry, dals, raita, pickles, chutneys, rice and naan….the mouth waters.

But food also comes down to opinion :)
Having been lucky enough to taste Indian food on a number of continents it has become obvious that this wonderful and varied cuisine varies further when it travels, adjusted to the local adopted palate.

A personal favourite in Australia is the Tandoor Indian restaurant. Originating in Chapel Street in the early 80's it has relocated around the corner to Commercial Road, Prahran where it continues to dish out a mix of North, South and Eastern Indian dishes. Of the Indian restaurants sampled around Melbourne this is so far sitting atop the pile.

Tasty with good depth to the entree and main dishes and accompaniments, wonderful saffron rice, tasty naans (don't order the garlic naan unless you like garlic, yum) and not too sweet lassi make this well worth a visit. If you like your Indian food hot then you just have to say so.

As with many Indian restaurants the lamb and beef dishes tend to be a little tough and dry but all chicken and seafood dishes are moist, tender and delicious. The crab masala curry, fish jalfareizi, chicken rogan josh and chicken green curry are must trys.

However, as mentioned earlier food is definitely down to individual opinion. Shared meals here with Indian food lovers of a number of nationalities indicates that those of Asian, Australasian and North American persuasion will find this to their tastes while those who prefer the UK based Indian fare may be a little disappointed :)

Wattleseed

Ever come across wattleseed in your food or drink?

Wattleseeds are produced by an Australian Acacia tree and were traditionally used by aborigines. Its flavor has coffee, chocolate and hazelnut characteristics, and has a low glycemic index (low GI foods reduce risk of heart disease, reduces hunger, helps prolong physical endurance).


Made as a coffee, it is hence caffeine free. However there is an option to mix it with ordinary coffee if a caffeine hit is needed. Other uses include bread (where the seeds are milled and used as flour), ice cream, and desserts.

This coffee (pictured on the left) is available in Bush Tucker Cafe at the Brambuk Center (Grampians).

Although it is not widely available in the nearest supermarket, it might be a good time to start for the search!

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Bug for Lunch


Morton Bay Bugs (the orange shellfish on the platter) are delicious little creatures from - guess where - Morton Bay in Queensland, but are also found in some parts of northern Australia. They are actually part of the slipper lobster family. Some people think it is one of the 50 things to eat before you die!

(shown here as part of the Seafood Platter in Via Sorrento restaurant in Sorrento, Mornington Peninsula)

The Grampians

The Grampians National Park is a popular holiday destination for local and international tourists alike. Situated 253 kms away from Melbourne (around 3 hours driving time), it is a 168,000 hectare park where aboriginal occupation has been known to exist well over 5,000 years ago. To date, the park is maintained with an acknowledgment of Aboriginal Traditional Owners of Victoria.

The name 'Grampians' was given by NSW Surveyor General Sir Thomas Mitchell, after the mountains from his hometown in Scotland. The aboriginal name is Gariwerd.

Whether you would like to go camping, hiking, rock climbing, biking, or just marvelling at waterfalls or try out some aboriginal painting, the park has the facilities to cater to such activities. Just check out the Brambuk National Park and Cultural Center for better updates and park information (and here for the Park's website)

one of the rocky faces

amazing sights


the Mackenzie Falls

Grass plants, also called "Kangaroo Tails"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Great Ocean Road

At the South eastern part of Australia lies a 273km stretch of scenic coastal drive - one of the greatest down under. The Great Ocean Road is currently on the first spot under the Top 1o Must Do's in Victoria, as voted this year (for the 101 Tourism experiences - check out the site here for the complete list)







Trailstops [some stops along the way!] from top (left - right) :

Bells' Beach at Torquay, one of the top surfing areas
Seen at Split Point, with a lighthouse nearby
At Apollo bay - great lunch stopover
The telegraph station at Cape Otway
The Twelve Apostles under overcast skies before sunset
Port Campbell Foreshore
The Twelve Apostles during a sunny morning
The 'London Bridge' that had fallen down (now called 'London Arch')

The official Great Ocean Road website can be found here.

Those Who Stopped By

Scribe's Notes

This pitstop is where incoherent ramblings seem to have meaning, where things or events are thought of and assessed, where great things are documented and perhaps any not-so-good happenings are written down in attempt to be forgotten!

So from the diversely abstract to the intensely specific, it's off to making tracks, and it is here where it stops for a thought or two.

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