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Preview: Milk and Cookies

Milk and Cookies


Updated: 2018-02-23T23:22:36.101+11:00


Chinese New Year 2009


It was fortunate that the height of the Chinese New Year celebrations were not spoiled by the onslaught of snow that hit London later that same night. The air was bitterly cold and it began to snow in sporadic sessions here and there, but it was not enough to cripple the celebrations as yet. Gerard St in London's Chinatown was packed with revellers, all with cameras at the ready. I never felt so less out of place with my camera in hand and it was more a question of who didn't have their camera than who did.Here's a few pics of what went down that day:Dragon's Beard candy in the making. It can be likened in texture to Fairy Floss (Cotton Candy) or Pashmak, a confection that is traditionally made using honey and rock sugar. There were two of these stalls demonstrating how apparently easy it was to make the candy. A little rolling, a little rubbing, then some pulling and a little slight of hand and there you have yourself some Dragon's Beard candy. It was like a magic trick. They were selling them for £3 per box.A familiar sight at any Chinatown you go to are the ducks hanging from the restaurant windows inviting hungry passer-bys into the shop. Sweet buns were also selling fast.It started snowing quite quickly, but disappeared as fast as it appeared. It later turned into the infamous snowfall that crippled London the next day.As you can see, it was blaringly obvious everywhere you went what year it was on the Chinese zodiac, the year of the Ox. This man was getting really into character.Everyone followed the beat of the drum and the dance of the dragon as it made its way through the streets and warded off evil spirits as it is fabled to do.Chinatown became a sea of red, as lanterns floated above you along the laneways. And trinkets for good luck hanged across each stall goading children and adults alike.Copyright Jennifer Oh. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without the authour's permission.[...]

Snow Day


Last Monday, most of Britain was covered in what has been touted as the heaviest snowfall in 20 years. Most of the London public transport ground to a halt, as it's already fragile transport system couldn't cope with what they claimed were "adverse weather conditions", even though Paris and Italy, who were hit with the same amount of snow didn't even bat an eyelid. It's amazing that such a progressive city like London can be halted by a foot of snow, especially when so many other places seem to manage just fine despite getting larger snowfalls than we do here.

But what these supposed adverse weather conditions did bring was a chance for most of Britain to have the day off work and school. All my routes to work had been suspended by the morning and even if I had decided to hoof it work, I wasn't sure how I was going to make it back home in one piece. And I already had a slight taste of the temperamental nature of the London tubes, especially the District Line, when trains were delayed because of leaves on the track! Not sure what kind of leaves these were, but I was envisioning giant killer leaves with sharp tendrils and a cantankerous disposition. So the only thing left to do that day was to call it a snow day and make the most out of London being turned into a winter wonderland.


So we trudged out into the white expanse and made a snowman, got into a few few snow fights and most of all just frolicked like we were 10 again. There's nothing like snow to bring the kid out of anyone. People were out and about despite the cold, strangers were smiling and talking to each other, which in a city, is almost as rare as the abominable snowman, and people were snapping away at every possible angle like giddy tourists. When you see normally nonchalant Londoners taking photos, then you know this isn't something that happens everyday.

Keen For Quinoa


You might be interested to know that I've been storing up fats this winter, hoping to insulate myself from the icy climes that my Australian disposition is unaccustomed to. And with the storing up of fats comes, well, not surprisingly enough- an unwelcome heftiness around the belly, however, I find myself still feeling an overall sense of coldness inside.So despite all this fat storing, my condition hasn't changed. There's something impertinent about this cold that seems to seep through all my layers, regardless of what seems like the most impermeable thermal layering on my part. Perhaps I'm just not meant for this weather? But I really do love London, even her rainy days, just not the way she bites in the cold. All I have to say is thank-God for double-glazed windows, something I've come to love over the past few months.So, I'm afraid that this pot-belly I've acquired ain't getting any smaller and this weather is the perfect breeding ground for the flu. And, after flicking through my flickr account, I've stumbled upon a forgotten dish I made last June using quinoa- that much revered grain of the Incas. Just like now, this was made at a time when I was needing something nutritious, but something that didn't seem too healthy. Like when your parents try to hide vegetables into your food hoping you were none the wiser. Despite my penchant for desserts I do love healthy meals, although if someone ever tells me they eat only bread made of sprouted grains and drink nothing other than non-homogenised, unpasturised milk, and everything raw, I'll probably give them some look of bemusement.This dish is healthy, but doesn't wreak of wholesomeness in that elitist sort of way that looks down on anything that has touched a stove. The quinoa grain, grown in the heights of the Andes is a quiet achiever, unbeknownst to most, quinoa boasts a solid reputation for its nutritional potency. Packed with vitamins– phosphorous, magnesium, zinc and iron, plus loads of fibre, it can pride itself as the only grain that is a complete protein, containing all 8 amino acids required by the body. And not to mention it's gluten free, so it's perfect for coeliacs; but really, it's perfect for anyone. So don't mess with the quinoa.Frankly I don't know why quinoa isn't getting more of a rap. It's perfect. It's the kind of food that you can feed your kids knowing you won't have to disguise them as something else less healthy. And it's possibilities are endless, it might even oust rice as my favourite starch of choice, as it's just as fluffy but packs a bigger punch.Aside from harping on about quinoa, you might know about my fascination with Eumundi Smokehouse sausages, namely in:In The Closet, And A Really Good Pizza RecipeAustralians All Let Us RejoiceAll The Way, With Carbs TodayLifting The FogAnd this post is no different. This time I used Chicken and Chilli sausages. It was perfectly juicy and even when a little overcooked, an oversight on my part, it didn't dry out.I cannot mention it enough how much I miss Eumundi Smokehouse products, although I might have found some answers to this stark absence of Eumundi in my life. Aside from the various farmer's markets around London, there are a number of online grocers and butchers that are selling a large range of gourmet sausages in the UK. Here are some to name a few, if you happen to live in London:Abel & Cole- organic grocerHeap to Home- mail order sausages and baconBiggles- gourmet sausage supplier (wholesale and retail), home delivery, Marylebone store.This quinoa dish is something you can easily whip up and eat in no time. Also it's completely versatile and open to adaptation, maybe toss a few root vegetables in with the quinoa, or eat it with a side of broccoli instead. The possibilities are infinite. I shows it doesn't take that long to get a proper meal going and this is certainly proof. Half an hour in a kitchen to eat something wholesome and sound, or a microwave dish zapped in 60 seconds devoid of any flavour and nutrition- I know which[...]

Rhodes Bakery


A not so recent excursion out to Greenwich– and I say excursion because the Jubilee line was closed and it took us two interchanges and a bus ride to get there– brought us, through sheer providence to a corner bakery that you could almost pass by unaware if not for the large array of sourdoughs and artisan breads in the window. Inside you will find shelves stacked with loaves to the tune of granary bloomer, seeded farmhouse and spelt with apple and cider. Along the front window you will also find a small drum of olive oil that you can fill up your own bottles with. Splendid! Then there's a tower of scones sitting atop a glass cabinet and brownies and coconut macaroons on a side table, out in the open and within arm's reach of any swindling fingers to swipe. Restraint is of the utmost while standing near this table. And behind the glass counter are a boastful display of sandwiches, pastries and cakes, whether you're feeling like something sweet or savoury. The shop is quite narrow, so there really isn't much room for umm-ing and ahh-ing about whether you should get the pain au chocolate or strawberry tart. Or even if you are contemplating eating in or taking out as there isn't much in terms of seating. And if you do find yourself waffling between snacks, you will end up doing cha-cha moves, stepping back and forth letting more decisive customers pass in front of you. The place looks like it's busy most of the time.I was yearning for a little bit of cream tea, although they had run out of clotted cream, so that was out of the question. I don't know how I can go back to normal cream with scones when I've tasted the hedonistic delights of pure-fat heaven that is clotted cream. If not for a little bit of tact while in public, I could well be seen eating that stuff out of a tub as if it were ice cream. So instead I decided for something completely different and had the goat's cheese, spinach and tomato tart. And you might be asking why no picture? Well, I scoffed the thing into oblivion even before my other hand could reach into my bag and grab the camera. It was good, and I was hungry.So if you ever find yourself in the south east of London, check out this small but formidable bakery. They also have a stall at the Borough Markets if Greenwich is a little bit of hike to get to. They pride themselves in "real" bread and it shows, their repertoire for artisan breads from around the world is quite impressive, from German sourdoughs to Norwegian Northlands cake, which I have yet to try.And if you, like me, were thinking Gary Rhodes– he was the first Rhodes that came to mind– then you are mistaken. It's actually Michelin-star chef Paul Rhodes who was the brainchild of this bakery that started in 2003 right in Greenwich. So it was an obvious choice to make their flagship store right there.Rhodes Bakery37 King William WalkGreenwichLondon SE10 9HUPHONE: 020 8858 8995Copyright Jennifer Oh. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without the authour's permission.[...]

Lifting The Fog


Happy New Year!Where did all the time go? Months spent outside the blogosphere must equate to years. While others have kept up their posting at such a prodigious rate, I on the other hand feel like I need to reacquaint myself with the blog. It seems that the London fog had clouded my head and sucked out every will to write, albeit, none of my will to eat. I had no intention of going on hiatus, as such, which must be the blogger’s equivalent to the celebrity stint in rehab. I in fact, had every intention of keeping up the posts at the same rate, if not even greater than in Sydney– but it just didn’t pan out that way. The excitement and responsibilities of moving to a new city, the anticipation of travel and my lack of kitchen paraphernalia all contributed to the derelict state of the blog. But it’s time I dust the cobwebs off and start the old girl back up again.Now here’s something from the vault that has yet to see the light of day– a Chorizo and Pea risotto that I made back in August last year, not long before I left for London. Perhaps it’s not the most obvious choice for a comeback, it’s rustic and almost too quotidian– and especially if you are reading this in the heart of the Australian summer, it’s not exactly the sort of summer fare that relieves you from the blistering heat. But in the dead of one of Britain’s coldest winters in decades, this is sort of thing that really warms your cockles and staves off those sudden chills.During these winter months, sometimes there’s nothing better than a meal devoid of any pomp and pretension and just serves you up want you want. Comfort. It seems also most hackneyed, but the idea of comfort food will never be out of place. Aside from nourishment, we all know the sensual and consoling nature of food. Just watch Ratatouille and let Remy show you the power food has over one’s sensibilities and lift us out of our momentary fog. So to lift this seemingly pedestrian risotto out of banality, I decided to use Testun di Pecora Con Foglie di Castagne. The testun, I picked up at the Pyrmont Grower’s Market last year from Formaggi Ocello. It’s a bit of a mouthful to say, but the testun is simply a sheep's milk cheese covered in chestnut leaves. It’s aged for no less than 28 months, and at $120/kilo, it’s earned its worth in flavour. The cheese has a subtle nutty taste, salty, with hints of sharpness and a nice sweet finish that is characteristic of many sheep’s milk cheese. I’m not sure exactly if the chestnut leaves are responsible for adding that nutty flavour to it but I imagine the wrapping serves a great purpose in imparting flavour. The addition of the testun di pecora does lift this risotto out of the familiar and gives it that little oomph that perhaps something like the addition of truffles in pasta would do. Ok, perhaps that is a stretch, as truffles are in a league of their own, but the cheese does infuse a nuance of flavour that sets it beyond the norm. I should add that the chorizo I used was a picante that I also procured from the markets at the Eumundi Smokehouse stall. How I miss their preservative-free gourmet sausages- this seems to be quite lacking here in England. Their love of pork becomes blaringly obvious when at the grocery store or the markets you will see shelves stocked to the brim with all manner of pork sausages, but when all you are wanting are some lamb merguez, or even just beef and Guinness, you leave feeling a little bit empty-handed. And I’m not particulary one for supermarket-brand sausages, filled with all sorts of preservatives and numbers and letters I cannot pronounce. Usually I stay away from anything with too many numbers in its ingredients list. However, I have found a stall at the Greenwich Markets that sells lamb merguez, but when I came back to get some they had sold out. I was only gone for an hour! Which makes me suspect this could be the only place in London selling lamb merguez. So there yo[...]

Green With Envy


image courtesy of SMH Good Food Month

If you're in Sydney for the month of October then you have no excuse to miss the myriad of events for Good Food Month. As for me, all I can do is watch and grit my teeth in covetous annoyance that I am not in the country for perhaps the best month in the food year. If there was one pick for the whole of Good Food Month, I would recommend getting yourselves to the Sydney Food and Wine Fair in Hyde Park on November 1st. Aside from being able to sample dishes from the best Sydney bars and restaurants, your eager appetite can raise money for the AIDS Trust of Australia. Everybody wins, what more could you ask for.

So take heed this advice, do not miss out on Good Food Month and make the most out of all the free events and classes on offer. There isn't a better opportunity to get yourself more involved and immersed in the Sydney food scene than this month. I'm a little biased but Sydney has probably one of the best and most vibrant food cultures in the world so don't waste any time.

And please, if not for the love of food, do it for me, the poor little Aussie food blogger stuck in London unable to partake in all the delicious fanfare but can only sit here in envious discontent about the insurmountable hurdle that is geography.

Check the website for more details.

If you are interested in getting the lowdown on what has earned the badge of being the best in Sydney check out these articles from the Sydney Morning Herald.

It was great to see Victoire win best bread, as I've always been a devotee to this small but formidable Balmain bakery, keep that bread arising!

And it was also great seeing Mamak, a favourite, cheap, late-night haunt of ours, get some acknowledgement for being one of the most authentic Malaysian restaurants in Sydney. If you don't know where to start, try the Nasi Lemak, a traditional Malaysian breakfast dish, you won't go wrong with it.

Gail's Garden Party, Hampstead


The invitation's a little smudged but you get the gist. Just follow the smell of baking bread.Can a garden party without an actual garden, in fact be called a garden party? Well, I'm not sure if the small patch of grass along the laneway where the Gail's Bakery party took place could be considered a garden but nonetheless, the amount of cakes and pastries made up for the lack of greenery. Gail's Garden Party, held annually in Hampstead was every carb lover's dream, with enough cakes, sandwiches, breads and sweets to make your blood sugar curdle.A tower of delight- cannelles, iced lavender and almond cake and some flourless chocolate cakes in the foreground.There was the chilli chutney stand, Spanish chorizo and exotic sausages and the odd cheese stall peppered throughout, namely the iconic Neal's Yard Dairy, however most of the focus was on Gail's magnificent selection of baked goods. There was more flour and sugar in this one narrow laneway than you could shake a stick at. I was in my element.Multigrain and artisan loaves; beautifully glazed challah bread; Neal's Yard Dairy stall; blue vein cheese.Precision slicing of jamon; panini central; chorizo picante for those who like it hot; stuffed green olives wrapped in sardines.Slices, muffins and bread sticks, all part of the enticing window display at Gail's Hampstead; orange and poppyseed cakes; classic carrot cake; pistachio filled meringue.With a grin from ear to ear I made my way through stall after stall of goodies to ease that grumbling tummy. After a sun-dried tomato sandwich and some cheese, I decided on some iced lavender and almond cakes and a couple of incredibly beautiful cannelles- my new vice.Front counter goodies- iced lavender and almond cakes, beautifully moist and aromatic.I have never come across cannelles being sold at bakeries in Sydney, so seeing so many around and about London really is a novelty. My first taste were at the Borough Markets, 3 cannelles for a pound; they were delicious, a little chewy, but for my first ever cannelles I didn't know what to expect. The cannelles at Gail's were a little bit more spongey and light, less chewy and more airy. So I'm not sure which one is more authentic, or whether they are both, all I know is I'm happy to be polishing off either one right now.Gail's cannelles were soft, light and airy, and not to mention incredibly moreish.It's not a party without a bit of booze, wild boar salchichon; cookies, pastries and quiches at the outdoor Gail's stand; German sausage sizzle.Gail's Bakery Hampstead64 Hampstead High StLondon NW3 1QHPhone: 020 7794 5700Email:'s Bakery Notting Hill 138 Portobello Rd London W11 2DZ Phone: 020 7460 0766 Email:'s Bakery St John's Wood5 Circus RdLondon NW8 6NXPhone: 020 7722 0983Copyright Jennifer Oh. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without the authour's permission.[...]

Southbank Food Festival: Slow Food London


It seems that I have fortuitously stumbled upon a glut of food festivals here in London of late, and I'm not complaining. I'm welcoming any opportunity to eat well and see London at the same time, and it appears to me that the food culture here is as lively as I had imagined.And what shall I say about the weather? Even though today, London is at its typically rainy best, the past few days and weekends have been gloriously warm and sunny. I was quite the cynic and had scoffed incredulously at the prediction of sunshine and warm weather in the last few days, although have since been eating my words. An Indian summer seems like the perfect primer before the cold snap hits.Weather aside, the Southbank Food Festival was held a couple of weeks ago although it's taken me some time to actually get my act together to write up a post. What's new- procrastination, it's the underlying motif of the blog. So, the Southbank Food Festival was an understated 3-day celebration of the Slow Food London movement, that championed the principles of sustainable living and farming, and basically sought to enlighten and challenge people to think more about the food they were eating.There were about 40 different stalls set up around the Southbank, by the Thames, and there was a tent dedicated to cooking demonstrations throughout the day teaching people stuff like how to feed your family for under a fiver (£5) and how we can all use sustainable products more. My most favourite demo of course was by the lady who owned Choc Star who showed us how to make a chocolate, almond and orange terrine. The best part of the demo was of course the end, where we all got to have a taste.As fast food encroaches upon most of eating habits it was more than encouraging to know that there is a movement to counter the insidious thing that fast food is doing to the culture of eating, farming and mostly our health. That's why farmer's markets are so great, you can meet and actually get to know the people rearing the animals and growing the vegetables that you are eating, and you know the food isn't stuffed with nasty hormones and preservatives that will one day turn you into a mutant.So here are a few snaps of day 2 of the Southbank Festival. My recollection of the actual stalls are getting a bit foggy but I'll try my best to give you at least, somewhat vague descriptions.Different varieties of apples from Franklins Food Emporium in Kenington; can't resist a cupcake shot wherever I go, can I? Beautiful pot of flowers, mushroom medley frying in a large pan.Middle eastern spices and sauces; almond semolina mini cakes, simply divine; cheese, cheese and more cheese!Slow food stall; cross-section of salami; hard cheeses.One of my favourite stalls, Choc Star, the home of the most decadent chocolate terrine made with Valrhona chocolate, the van travels around the United Kingdom sharing the joys of eating chocolate with people, look out for the van it could be coming to your town; some sourdough breads.The tiniest cafe I've seen, a quarter of the London Eye; espresso drip; beautiful crusty bread.Artists making their mark on the pavement; French cheeses along the Thames sunset; frying up some Churros.Crates of organic Worcester apples; squash to brighten up your day; more crates of apples; organic sparkling apple juice.Artwork around the Southbank.Textures and patterns around the Southbank; Rabbit pasta.Copyright Jennifer Oh. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without the authour's permission.[...]

Thames Festival, Spetember 2008


The Thames Festival held on the South Bank was on last weekend and was a bevy of market fare, food stalls and entertainment. And to top it all off the weather was incredibly genial and sunshine surprisingly forthcoming that day despite some clouds overhead. We warmed ourselves while having lunch on the Southwark Bridge looking out at the expanse of the river, St. Paul's Cathedral and the ubiquitous construction cranes that seem to dot the London skyline.The real reason for making our way to the festival was the Feast on the Bridge. The whole of Southwark Bridge was closed to all traffic to make way for food stalls from different cuisines and cultures and two long dining tables that stretched almost the length of the bridge.There's nothing like a pig and a pint to start off this feast; London skyline.Stir crazy, this stall was very popular.There's nothing like a cupcake tower to soften any sweet tooth like myself; a colourful spread of Caribbean food including a chick pea salad; strawberries and cream, an English classic.One of my favourite stalls on the bridge, a middle eastern bazaar of goodies including burgul pockets filled with eggplant, baklava and pistachio birds nests.An interesting find, deep soup ceremony at low tide; feasting on the longest dining table I've ever seen; beautifully russeted pears; burnt sugar- all things caramelised and sweet; what's a burger without some ketchup, squeeze on.The smell of corn on the grill is mouth-watering; confections at Cocoa Loco; Richard Howard oysters, the same ones from Borough Markets; view from the fourth level balcony at the Tate Modern looking down on people learning to Salsa.The imposing figure of Tate Modern against some patches of blue sky, live music and salsa dancing; St. Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge; the crowds along South Bank.The markets by night, curry and jambalaya livens up the night air. Copyright Jennifer Oh. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without the authour's permission.[...]

Hungry in London


Sounds like a title for a personal ad, but yes I am in fact hungry in this big old town. I've been in London for almost a month now and haven't a clue where to go for good food. I must admit that I have been trying to eat on the cheap lately, and cheap doesn't always equate to good. Wow, eating out in London can really eat into your budget. I had been warned before I left, although never really paid any mind to such sagacious counsel until it was my own pounds that had to be spent.

So, right now I have been straying from anything too pricey, but once the pocket gets filled with a few more pounds, I'm definitely not opposed to some fine-dining here and there.

So I'm putting out the call to any Londoners out there or anyone else in the know, for places I should wine and dine or do it on the cheap. Fancy eats, cheap eats, pub grub, be it your favourite places to go and secret finds please direct them all my way. I can't stay hungry (and poor) for much longer.

Also, I might have mentioned in previous posts but I have a bunch of dishes I made in Australia that have never made its way onto blog yet. So look out for those in the next few weeks. I don't have an internet connection at the moment, and am making use of free wi-fi in London, so posts are probably going to be more sporadic than before, until I am once again reunited with the world.

More Markets


Borough Markets, London; cherries; yes indeed you are looking at a shark; an open bowl of truffles, the temptation!As promised here are the rest of the photos from London's renowned Borough Market's. There's a lot of things to catch your eye and it is quite simply a feast for the senses. As some of you have commented, these markets are a little pricey, but the great thing is, it doesn't cost anything to look around and try a few samples. Perfect snacking for poor tourists.Aside from the markets, there are a few cafes and shops just on its outskirts that are worth a look. I didn't really get a good chance to have a proper gander through them all but we did happen to stumble across a great little coffee shop called Monmouth Coffee.It's quite a rustic little cafe with a wooden communal table filled with all manner of bread, jams and breakfast condiments and an array of pastries on a adjacent table. The coffee was fairly cheap, about £2 and I don't normally drink coffee, as I'm caffeine sensitive, but GT seemed to give it two great big thumbs up. You know the kind that comes with a cheesy grin. Considering I didn't writhe in disgust as I normally do when I have coffee that's been burned, this place is a absolute winner. And if the queue is any indication of how good the coffee is, well, the line snakes all the way outside and around the corner in the mornings, so be prepared to wait for good coffee. But the great thing is that they are quite efficient and you actually don't wait for too long. Let's just say it's a welcome departure from the ubiquitous franchise coffee shops that seem to overrun London. We did also have the chocolate truffles from Monmouth, wow were they incredible.Aside from Monmouth, the equally famed Neal's Yard Dairy is just around the corner from the cafe and it is definitely worth going into the shop. From what I have read it seems like Neal's Yard was started by the same people responsible for Monmouth, so you know that the have a deep affinity with food and are interest in making good food.Berries were the flavour of the month and in every corner you look there they were, here are blackberries, blueberries and redcurrants; and more mushiesFresh food is always plentiful at BM, fresh snapper, artichokes, and all manner of green beans; also an interesting find at the beer place- black chocolate stoutNuts and dried fruit; dried chillies hanging at the Spanish shop; cute Scottish dog; Beef bourguignonAll flavours of focaccia; French charcuterie display; shortbread owls; and yet again more mushrooms, this time Giroles from Poland for £10Yes, I do love taking photographs of mushrooms, here are some oyster mushies; L'Aventure lets you fill empty bottles with your choice of wine or olive oils, I can't actually remember; more mushrooms and more sausagesStriking aubergine-coloured artichokes; turkish delights and a box of lavenderWell I hope this trip to markets has been a satisfying peek into the food culture of London. Much like you, I'm just discovering it for myself. I have noticed in general that Londoners love their sandwiches. I've never been anywhere, where there a several pre-made sandwich bars all metres away from each other. I guess the convenience is the main attraction, especially for those who have tight lunch breaks. But I must admit although sandwiches to me are a little blah, they are a much better and healthier option than say, Burger King or McDonald's if you need something in a hurry.So that's all for now, I have a whole stack of dishes I made in Sydney that I haven't had time to post, so there's no doubt you will be seeing them in the next few weeks.Copyright Jennifer Oh. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without the authour's permission.[...]

New town, new look


Bet you were wondering if I actually got to London did you? Yes, I did arrive safely and surprisingly not at all jet-lagged. I must attribute the lack of jet-lag to the many years of doing shift work, I've been able to throw my body clock out the window, and who needs one anyway it never did me any good.Aside from wondering where this blogger has been for the last couple of weeks, you will probably be wondering why this blog has been left in a state of limbo. Well to be frank, I haven't felt like blogging since I got to London. Actually I haven't felt like doing a lot of the things I am normally in the habit of doing back in Sydney. Take one for example of my many vices- sleeping in, well I haven't had a sleep in since I got here and it's not because I have a job to go to, it's because I instinctively get up at around 8 am every morning. It's quite peculiar seeing as snoozing until just before midday was my thing, it was the thing I was known for and the thing that made me, me. So what's happened to me?Cheery red vine tomatoes, gigantic wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano and lots of artisan breadsBeing in this (northern) hemisphere must have turned things upside down as I also don't get my usual cravings for sugar. Now I'm all about savoury things, that's all I want to eat. Which isn't such a bad thing when there's always lots of beer to wash down the food, but when I walk by glass casements filled with beautiful pastries, my heart skips a beat but my stomach doesn't even jump.In order to somewhat alleviate this effect from the change of hemisphere, we decided to head down to the famed Borough Markets just south east of London. The great thing about these markets is that it's open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and unlike the Grower's Market in Sydney, which is once a month and starts at the crack of dawn, the earliest it opens on a Saturday is 9 am, which in my opinion is a much more reasonable hour and goes on until 4pm. So there's plenty of time to sleep in on a Saturday and turn up around midday for some lunch.I won't go into too much detail about the markets as I think the photographs tell a better story, but I will say one thing, I do love a market that has a stall with every type of beer imaginable. Mmmmmm, although didn't find any Duff Beer.Richard Howard Oysters, gigantic oysters and clams with a splash of lemon juice and red wine vinaigrette for £1.70 each. GT gulped them down too quickly for me to take a photo but apparently were very delicious, although it took a while to get the fishy taste out of his mouth.Had a slight chuckle at the sausages after I was told they were an acquired taste; buckets of olives and a stall selling an array of mushrooms.I nearly fell over when we came across this stall displaying huge chunks of dark, milk and white chocolate, I tried to sneak in a bite but couldn't muster up the courage; more mushrooms the black ones are trumpettes, and quite the price.Beautiful bunches of lavender; pumpkins; strawberries and gorgeous Spanish ham hanging from the rafters.A little laneway to escape the crowds; a leg of pork; to my delight a tower of flourless chocolate cake- they were giving out free samples so I indulged in a couple; this is the stall that sold every kind of beer you can imagine, it's awesome.So there you have it a little sneak peek into what I have been up to in London for the past two weeks. We did the tourist thing and visit all the attractions, I might post a few of those later on. Stay tuned for part 2 of pictures from Borough Markets, and don't worry I won't take as long as I did before.And as you might have noticed M&C has a new and slightly improved banner. I thought, since I'm in a new place, the blog needs a new look. Granted the look hasn't changed much, but hey who woul[...]

On My Way


I guess there isn't much to say other than, Goodbye! I'm off on a jet plane en route to London tomorrow via Kuala Lumpur. So exciting!

So really, it's not completely and utterly good bye, but just a farewell to good old Sydney. I'll sure miss her sunny days, resplendent turquoise beaches and great seafood, seeing as there probably won't be much of two of those three things I just mentioned in the UK. I just had a look at the weather forecast in London for the next couple of days and it looks bleak all round. Just my luck, thanks England, you're living up to your reputation. Glad I'm packing the umbrella.


So I guess, it's so long for now, the next time I'll be seeing you is in London-town and I hope you'll be following my adventures up in the other hemisphere.

Zumbo love and tagine for breakfast


Every time I try to sit down with the laptop to write up a post I somehow get distracted by some other pursuit and next thing you know, there hasn't been a new post in weeks. It reminds me of a Simpsons episode [2F13] where Bart makes a collect call to Australia and gets distracted by Millhouse's offer to go downtown to smell a bakery that's caught on fire.Milhouse: [at the window] Hey, Bart! The bakery caught fire and all of downtown smells like cookies! Wanna go smell?Bart: Yes...yes, I do. [leaves phone off hook]It seems like the prevailing trend for the blog in the past few months, is a post primed with an apology from the blogger. And what do you know, here I am again saying sorry for not posting in weeks. Let me sweeten you up and buy back your affection with some pictures of food.About the same time we were at the Good Living Markets in Pyrmont, we also stopped by every Sydney pastry-lovers mecca in Balmain. Yes, we found ourselves once again at Adriano Zumbo; his winter collection of pastries had just come out and our noses were pressed up against the window in an attempt to have a peak at what he had to offer this season. The shop was fuller than usual, and it looked like many of those in Balmain and I'm guessing around Sydney had caught wind that Mr. Zumbo had a new collection out. So just like the fashionistas do during fashion week, the pastry-hungry came out to view what sugar-fads he had conjured up.Call me a Zumbo sycophant, boot-licker, or suck-up, but I have to say that he is one of the premiere patissiers in Sydney doing fascinating and unique things with desserts. And I'm not sure if this is an exclusive news-flash, but the word on the street is that he is opening up a cafe somewhere in Balmain so people can actually sit down and savour the pastries with a coffee or tea. If you have been to the shop, you will know that all it literally is, is a glass counter and a little aisle, so there isn't much room for savouring until you get home.And, not to give Zumbo fans any false hope, this little rumour was confirmed by one of the insiders behind the counter. So I am very excited, although at the same time gutted I won't be here for the opening. I wasn't going to camp out for the iphone's release but if I was going to be in the country, you might have seen me with a sleeping bag and newspaper somewhere in Balmain in sheer anticipation for its opening. My only hope is that it will still be around when I come back, and I don't see any reason for it not to be. There's another reason why I love Balmain and it's these 2 words- breakfast tagine. Kazbah on Darling is another Balmain favourite of mine, especially for breakfast. I've never seen a place so coveted for breakfast other than Bill's; the trick is to either book your table or come early, breakfast on weekends goes till 3pm, but I've never seen the place empty or devoid of queues on a Saturday morning.The breakfast tagine consists of lamb mince, sucuk, feta, spinach, capsicum, caramelised onion, tomato, eggs and a side of Turkish and pita bread for dipping and mopping up the juices. They make the tagines to order and depending on how many people are having it, it's only $17.50 per person, which is quite good considering the eggs benedict is already $16.50. So for $1 extra you can get a whole lot more.Breakfast tagine for 3 people, more than enough, with an average of 2.3 eggs per person.There's no better way to spend a day than to eat your way through Darling St, there's much to be to had in terms of food and the small boutique shops are great for finding odd and quirky gifts. When confronted with the mesmerising array of goodies at Adriano Zumbo, I recommend choosing one of each flavour of macarons ([...]

Good Living Pyrmont Grower's Market: July 2008


Every morning it's a fight, for someone who counts sleeping as one of her main fortes, it not easy getting up to go to the markets early on a lazy Saturday morning. Even when I am completely aware that the rewards of going to the markets far outweigh sleeping in till midday, somehow this rationale doesn't seem sensible enough when still tucked in the confines of a toasty bed.But this weekend was different, seeing as this Saturday would be my last opportunity to visit to the Good Living Grower's Markets at Pyrmont Bay Park before I head overseas, I mustered up just enough coherence to pry myself from the snug confines of my bed. Slowly but surely, thoughts of what spoils could be gained from an early visit to the markets, began to ease me into waking life.Most of the usual fare and wares were on show with the exception of a new beef stand peddling their gourmet sausages (which was quite good) and from my cloudy recollection a new patisserie stall. But other than that the markets consisted of familiar faces I have now come to know at the grower's markets, although notably absent was our favourite Gympie Farm jersey cow butter people. It was quite a downer, as we had run out of their butter for months and was looking forward to purchasing a new tub to spread on my La Tartine pumpkin loaf.But aside from that minor disappointment, the markets were nothing short of a veritable feast and after an hour and three bags full of shopping later, we knew we had to call it a day lest we suffer scoliosis of the spine from carrying the not so orthopedic friendly biodegradable eco-bags. Good for the earth, not so good on your back.One acquisition I am particularly excited about and would happily exchange the rest of my bounty for is a Testun di Pecora con foglie di castagne from Formaggi Ocello. At $120/kilo, it's not bargain, so we only bought a tiny sliver or this cheese could easily eat up at most of our market budget. This testun di pecora is a sheep's milk cheese covered in chestnut leaves and aged for 28 months. That's over 2 years of developing it's taste and it really shows in the cheese. Now I'm no cheese expert so I won't go into the nitty-gritty, but the cheese is surprisingly flavoursome, with hints of piquancy and sweetness, compared to other pecorinos which can be bland and subtle in taste.Come back later for a look at the this pricey little piece of dairy but for now have a look at how our morning at the markets went down.Copyright Jennifer Oh. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without the authour's permission.[...]

Forgotten Something?


Forgetting a birthday- be it your partner's, your mother's or your best friend's, it's a cardinal sin. And whenever it happens, the guilty is always the worthy recipient of scorn and derision, and usually, what's coming to the accused is always warranted. Birthdays are important things, and should be celebrated accordingly- with festivity, and whenever possible with lots of food and alcohol. But what happens when you forget your own birthday?Well, it's not exactly my own birthday that I have forgotten; now that would almost be equivalent to suffering retrograde amnesia, but it's actually the blog's birthday that I have neglected to remember. It's true, Milk and Cookies turned 2 years old, a good 8 weeks ago, and the momentous occasion almost passed by without so much as a mere mention or acknowledging it with a hip-hip-hooray and a little rendition of "for he's a jolly good fellow". Shame on me! Perhaps I was too distracted by my up-coming travel plans.Born on the 2nd of May 2006, how could I forget that (slightly embarrassing) pioneer post that kicked off the whole odyssey into baking and eating? And the only way to exonerate one's self from the embarrassment and shame of forgetting their own blog's birthday is to make a cake celebratory enough to compensate for the indiscretion. Yes, for any baker, cake is the answer to most of life's quandaries.I had always wanted to bake one of the celebration cakes featured in Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home to Yours. But I've always had this aversion towards seemingly complicated cakes, especially layer cakes that looked so labour intensive. They look all great and majestic in the pictures; tiers and tiers of scrumptious layers towering towards cake heaven but ten mixing bowls and several whisks later you find yourself knee-deep in batter you no longer have the will to bake.I'm more one of those 10 items or less chicks, nothing complicated, no fuss, no mess. I usually don't go for recipes with so many steps that include beating, melting, sifting, whisking, folding, sprinkling and a lot of waiting around for things to bake then cool and settle before you go on to the next step. Call me the impatient baker but I'm all for simple desserts; that's probably why you see so many small cakes on this blog. They're quick to bake, and the quicker they come out of the oven, the quicker I can get to eating them.In saying this, my curiosity was getting the better of me and I was imagining what it would actually be like to be the architect of one of these tower of Babel constructions. It's mortifying to say but I think this has to be my first proper attempt at a layer cake. Be it a cake of only two layers, but a layer cake nonetheless. And all this time I had the audacity to call myself a baker, tsk tsk. There goes my reputation.Also, I figured that going through the whole process of making this layer cake would be the only penance that could justify my wrongdoing. After all the blog has treated me so well over the past two years, it was the least I could do for such an oversight. So off I went, on my day off work to make a cake worthy of forgiveness.There's not much I can say about this cake that you wouldn't already gather from looking at it. It looks delicious and it tasted just like it looked. The cake is all Dorie, except for the cream filling. I just thought that there needed to be something to soften the richness of the chocolate cake and the cream does this really well. There's also much to be said about my frosting skills (or lack of it) with the blank patches at the bottom edges of the cake, but hey, for my first reluctant hand at this I think the blog and I can finally mov[...]

We Interrupt this Blog with a News Flash...


You might not have noticed but posts have been particularly sparse on the blog lately, and it partly has something to do with the little announcement that I am making on the blog today. The news flash, might be exciting for some, or not so much for others but either which way there are no doubt still many food possibilities that lie ahead on the blogging front. So don't worry, I'm not going to turn into a knitting blog or anything. Not that I dislike knitting blogs but it's just that I don't know how to knit, not even a sock puppet, or a scarf, so I say stick to what you know.Well, eating is what I know, and food, especially those of the sugary persuasion will still be the focus of the blog, and really nothing will change except for my location. So let's see if you can guess where Milk and Cookies is headed to this August for two years? The clue is in this dish.Guessed it yet? I'm pretty sure this clue is a dead give away. So indeed, it's true, to the possible dismay of many Londoners, I am going to the land of the eternal pub crawl or at least I hope it is, and will be checking out what the city has to offer in terms of food.Hey, maybe I'll run into Jamie Oliver at the Borough Markets and ask him why my banana and honey bread more resembled baseballs rather than bread rolls. But I'd much rather run into Rick Stein any day, I love how he's such and advocate for British food and produce no matter how much of a bad rap it gets. Too bad he won't have Chalky with him though, that dog was the shiz.But there you have it, I'm on my way to the northern hemisphere, I'm doubtful about how it compares to its southern counterpart, but I guess it's home for a couple of years.So I'm sure you don't need a recipe to make bangers and mash, but here's one for the onion gravy that I pinched from Jane and Jeremy Strode of Bistrode.Onion Gravymakes about one-half cup100g unsalted butter1 tsp brown sugar2 medium onions, sliced thinly1 tsp red wine vinegar200ml beef stocksea saltfresh cracked black pepperMelt butter in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat.Add sugar and onions.Cook slowly until caramelised, about 30 minutes.Add vinegar and cook for another five minutes.Add stock and season with salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes until sauce has thickened.Copyright Jennifer Oh. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without the authour's permission.[...]

O Blogger Where Art Thou?


Call it a hiatus or call it indolence, call it whatever you want but all I know is that it has been far too long. 5 weeks in fact. It escapes me how I managed to fall off the blogosphere for so long, but I did. And although I'd love to say that I have been trekking on camel-back through the sub-Saharan desert, or navigating icy waters with Greenpeace thwarting harpoon attacks on orcas, there's no such story to tell.I have been able to do a few photo shoots for publications that will be out later this year (more on that closer to the release date), and taking on a few other things bigger than my plate will allow, but other than that I haven't been doing much at all, well nothing noteworthy or blog-worthy that is. There are a few developments that I will be announcing in a couple of weeks but aside from the ordinary shenanigans that occur in daily life, it's been business as usual, minus the fact that I have managed to circumvent any chronicling of my eating and baking activities on the blog.I have to say that I haven't been in the groove lately, my mojo for baking hasn't dried up but it seems to have gone astray, or at least into a narcoleptic state. I guess the past few weeks the blog has been going through it's own existential crisis, asking the why am I here, and what am I doing with myself questions. Especially, in light of the world's current state, it's becoming harder and harder to find the real relevance of food blogging. With over half of the world unable to meet peoples' basic nutritional needs, is it really pertinent to be writing about food in such banal and trifling tones?And this by no means is intended to condemn anyone who loves to eat and eat well, hey, I'm in that group of people too. And although I haven't had the urge to bake and write about food for a few weeks, it's safe to say that my appetite for eating remains insatiable. I guess speaking sincerely, this is what has been going on the blog for a few weeks now, just a quiet reflection on the reason why I blog. And it's naive to think that any one thing is going to solve world hunger, and this post is nothing about that.Like many of you reading, I love eating, I love food, I love taking photos of my food and I love blogging about it, and I don't think we should stop this discourse on account of those who cannot engage in it. No one should feel remorse for the pursuit of their passions, but I guess my point is that after a little self-reflection, I don't consider this passion mere trite, but I have come to realise that this space we have to write and share about food is a privilege.So I'm sorry to get all metaphysical on you.It happens sometimes, when I have too much time on my hands. But if you came here for a recipe, then a recipe you shall get. This is definitely one for those who have some time on their hands as it takes a whopping 3 days to complete.I've been cooking a heap of recipes from the Australian Gourmet Traveller website lately. I'm obsessed with poring through their archives, gazing with green-eyed envy at the spectacular food photography and styling, wishing I could only emulate their splendidness. I came across this recipe for parfait, and was enamoured by the photograph. I didn't even know what exactly a parfait was, except for what I had learned about it from Donkey on Shrek- which was that parfaits had layers and you'd be a fool not to love one.So armed with that knowledge I decided it was high time I find out why this dessert was so perfect. If the French couldn't find a better way to describe the dish than to just call it perfect, then I don't know what else could be better[...]

Keeping the Home Fires Burning


We just got through day 13. I'm suffering from umbrella fatigue. Yes, it's been the 13th day of continuous rain in Sydney; from drought to drenching, the pendulum does swing both ways. And I guess now it's official, autumn is here, and I have to say a begrudging thank you for making it so obvious that you've arrived. Say hello to soaked hems, muddy feet and one constantly wet dog. I'll just try to think of it as one less bath I have to give him.I know posting on the blog has been quite scanty of late, must be that crisp autumn air forcing me into hibernation. But the advantage of this is that my motivation for baking grows even the more as the weather gets colder. Keeping those oven fires burning is one way of staving off the chills.Sydney houses, are notoriously known for not being able to stand up to the colder months. Many overseas friends living here who come from much colder climes always gripe about the inadequate amount of insulation in our houses. And coupled with the lack of central heating in most homes, it makes the winter months even more unbearable.Our comparably mild winter probably doesn't warrant builders making houses with central heating a standard thing, but no matter where you're from cold is cold, especially at 6am when the dread of getting out of bed to take a shower overcomes you. I guess keeping the oven on is one way to get around this minor setback.I made these cakes earlier this month but decided to give it an encore appearance at around day 7 of our marathon rainfest, while holed up at home just watching the spate of storms come and go. It was either build an ark or bake a cake and seeing as I was sitting on a pile of passionfruit, I made some cakes. If I was going to go down in a deluge, I might as well go down with cake.With my priorities in the right place, I spent the better part of a day baking. With no central heating in our house, Jack (the dog) and I spent the rainy afternoon in front of the blazing oven, our makeshift fireplace. I'm sure he spends his time loitering around the oven just in case a rouge piece of food happens to accidentally fall out and magically land in his strategically poised mouth. He's quite the optimist, but it's still nice to have his company, no matter what the motives. He likes to think of himself as the sous chef, although most of the time he's more like the cleaner, mopping up spilled ingredients. He doesn't mind.Right now, passionfruits are ubiquitous, so there's every reason for you to buy a whole lot. Here in Sydney we get the smaller round and wrinkled variety that have that distinct deep purple colour. They look quite strange and unassuming on the outside, and they weigh almost nothing but once you cut through that purple woody exterior there's a wonderfully rich and intensely brilliant daffodil yellow pulp inside.By itself the pulp can be a little too tart to eat, but ripple a few spoonfuls through some vanilla ice cream or yoghurt and you have yourself a killer dessert. And if you are familiar with the Australian picnic staple, the pavlova, then you know that it's the passionfruit that gives it its bite.The cakes are actually lime flavoured, but only subtlety. The passionfruit syrup is what gives the cake its kick. And like many other tangy fruits, a little bit of sugar takes this a dish a long way and livens it up a bit more. Add a dollop of whipped cream and you have all the insulation you need to get through a rainy day.Baby Lime Cakes with Passionfruit syrup and creamServes 10Recipe from Australian Gourmet TravellerFOR THE LIME CAKES125g soft butter165g (¾ cup) ca[...]



Don't be alarmed, I am still alive. Although, I've been experiencing the giddy highs related to the consumption of too many Adriano Zumbo pastries.

As cramped and as hole-in-the-wall his shop may be, people flock and people queue, in single file, just to be able to get to the front of the line to tell that person behind the immaculately styled glass counter what fares you are after. Usually it's a little piece of this and that, or perhaps a splurge on a decadent Zumbo dessert or a handful of macaroons if your budget will still allow.

Walk too fast and you will almost miss it, that narrow, unassuming little piece of real estate on Balmain's Darling St. Walk too slow and you might not get there in time as the place is almost always cleaned out before close. You might be stuck with a quiche or a plain brioche if your not hasty, not that these aren't worthy, but the real spectacle are his speciality desserts, tarts and macaroons that change every now and then. The stuff way down the back of the shop, that's what the mob's all after.

I've long been touting Balmain as a food lover's mecca, pastries, breads, butchers, cafes and gourmet stores line it's main street and it's a wonder why they have only just decided to capitalise on all its gastronomic potential. I could literally eat my way through Darling St, and this week you are actually encouraged to. The Balmain Rozelle Food Week starts tomorrow the 21st of April until the 27th of April, so if you are lucky enough to be in Sydney, then head over down Victoria Rd or over the Anzac bridge and make your way down Darling St, sampling the finest fare these providores have to offer.

If you are interested in this event then download the whole program by clicking here.

And in case you were wondering what I got from Adriano Zumbo, there were the mandarin and chocolate macaroons. Worth their weight in edible gold leaf, oh boy were they good! And a Miss Marple, which is a crepe shaped into a cup filled with mascarpone creme, strawberries, oranges and some Grand Marnier topped with a glorious sugar lid. It's art you can eat.

Have a great week guys and and I hope to be back blogging with something almost as delicious very soon.

Getting Seriously Stoned


There's been a chill in the air of late. Autumn is well and truly here and although summer may well be done and dusted, some of it's late harvest has decided to stick around for a farewell party. Yes, stone fruits are something to look forward to come summer, but there's always enough left behind to tide you over till the beginning of autumn. In a last ditch effort to relive summer days, I suggest getting stoned.Of course I'm not talking about sparking up a doobie and getting fried, but rather enjoying the last that summer has to offer in its stone fruits. I'm having summer weather withdrawals right now, seeing that we never really got to have a proper one on the east coast. So this was my way of sparking up some lost memories of summer.And really, what's a summer without a peach? The quintessential image of biting into a ripe one, its juice dripping from the corners of your mouth, can make up for all the lucklustre weather we have had for months. They said it was going to last till March and it certainly did, and it looks like we just sailed right into autumn without even the slightest bump. Maybe there was the odd lightning crash and tree falling on one's roof, but other than that, as far as I'm concerned we've been in autumn since December.So this is my long overdue swan song for the summer we never had- almond cakes topped with roasted peaches. There's only one way to bid her farewell and it's with the best she had to offer. So rosy blushed peaches was an appropriate choice for a goodbye offering.I actually made this a few weeks back, although never had time to blog about them for a while. I found the peaches at the Entertainment Quarter Farmer's markets going for a song and couldn't pass them up. Then I happened upon a recipe for Almond cakes with roasted apricots on the Australian Gourmet Traveller website, and you know when you see a recipe that you simply must have right now, well that sheer impulse overcame me and I was bent on making this that very same day. I'm sure the droolworthy photograph on the AGT website helped in stoking the urge for them right away.Seeing as I didn't have apricots but had a heap of cheap peaches lying around, well, you know what I did. When life gives you peaches, you can decide to make a cake.Peaches, like many other stone fruits, roast very well and there's very little you can do to improve on its flavour. So you might as well stick to the basics, a little sugar and little bit of booze and you have yourself a top notch dessert. It's amazing what wine does to a syrup. The booze of choice for this fare was a Seppelt Rutherglen Tokay that we bought on our last trip to the Hunter Valley- a sweet, honey flavoured dessert wine that was ideal for a fruit based dessert.I have to say that the almond cakes didn't turn out as dark as they were pictured on the website, so I was a little worried I had made a mistake. But after tasting the cakes, there wasn't anything to worry about. Not sure why there was a lack of colour, but at least it wasn't lacking on taste. Two thumbs up for this recipe and perhaps a better and less illegal way of getting stoned.Almond cakes with roast Peaches and orange blossom foolServes 6Adapted from Australian Gourmet TravellerSPECIAL EQUIPMENT: blowtorch (optional) 110g (½ cup) raw caster sugar1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped8 peaches, halved, stones removed4 pieces of orange rind, removed with a peeler80ml (1/3 cup) dessert wine1 tbsp orange juice3 tsp orange blossom water300g crème fraîche30g brown sugar, sievedFOR THE ALMOND C[...]

Trolling around Thainatown


I rarely ever do restaurant reviews on this blog as there are so many other blogs that do it so much better. Not one to impose on already well trodden territory I steer away from reviews not only for the latter reason, but simply because I don't eat out nearly as often enough as other bloggers who do reviews. Oh yes, and I'm unable to take a decent photo inside a restaurant for the life of me.Reviews in my opinion are so relative and mostly based on comparisons from previous experiences and tastes of certain cuisine. I don't think I have gathered enough food mileage to be able to be an expert in anything. But sometimes in a serendipitous, fluky way, you happen to have your camera when you go out for a casual lunch and next thing you know, you are taking a photo of ever dish.I may not be an authority on most cuisines, but I think I have eaten at enough Thai restaurants and eateries to be able to gather an opinion about the food. And I have to say that although there's an abundance of Thai places in Sydney, the bad far outweighs the good. Thai cuisine is usually marked by its depth of flavour; the beautiful cohesion of taste sensations and textures. It's usually a splendid symphony of sweet, sour, spicy and herby, put together with such harmony. There simply are too many Thai restaurants serving bland and watered down versions of the real thing.Simply put, when the menu says, "this dish is very spicy", I want the dish to deliver on its promise. I want it to be flaming hot enough for me to be able to breath fire afterwards. There are just too many renditions of seemingly spicy dishes that just aren't that spicy at all. If my brow isn't sweating, then you really haven't done your job. And I'm not even one of those people with high levels of tolerance for capsaicin.Which brings me to Chat Thai. Chat Thai is a little bit of an anomaly, as in that even in the midst of a million other Thai eateries in that part of Pitt St which has been affectionately coined Thainatown, there is always a line of people outise waiting to get in, even at 11:30pm. Spoilt for choice in the midst of Thainatown, there is something about Chat Thai that people are willing to wait in line, outside, sometimes in the cold and rain.Some say that it's usually the most dubious looking eateries that are the most authentic and the best priced, and to some extent this has been proved correct. This however cannot be further from the truth when it comes to Chat Thai. Although a handful of their dishes take a short detour from the original, the flavours are truly Thai at heart. And when they say spicy, they mean it.The restaurant's interior can fool you, it doesn't look like a Thai restaurant that would serve traditional Thai fare, and serve it well. It looks more like an uppity bistro than an Asian eatery. But nothing could be further from the truth, it's just a plus that the place comes with soft mood-lighting, modern brown tables, rustic brick walls and to my surprise, friendly staff that make up for the wait you have to make for a table during peak hours, which can be up to an hour and a half.To be honest, I cannot recall what we had that day. I was too engrossed in the eating part, that I forgot to remember the dishes for the blogging part. Hence the reason why I don't do reviews. All I remember is that there was a pad thai somewhere in the mix, a staple at any Thai place. And if they can't get a pad thai right, then there's really no point in wasting your time. But the heartening thing is their p[...]

All The Way, With Carbs Today


No matter how bad a rap carbs get, I'm still a staunch advocate for the stuff. How anyone could go on a diet deliberately eschewing the stuff is a mystery to me. Although for the sake of your hips, I do know how the formidable temptation of starch can be too much to bear. And sometimes under the weight of that incredible urge you give in. All the way.I'm going through a pasta phase right now. And I've had it almost everyday this past week. If there ever was a fixation in my life right now, aside from the shopping thing of course, which probably is more gender-based than anything else, this pasta thing is probably it.The Italians really knew how to do carbs- with their beautiful breads and pasta, they really knew how to throw a carb party. I know that there's some contention concerning the true the origins of pasta, but it's without myth or lore that the Italians were the ones who made pasta their own art form. Turning this dough of wheat and eggs into a myriad of shapes and forms. If there is an Italian nearby, I suggest you go and give them a kiss.But enough with public displays of affection; did I mention I have also fostered an addiction to Eumundi Smokehouse sausages. I've mentioned it before, how I go ga-ga over their range of gourmet sausages and not to mention their chorizo. And although a kilo of the Russian Farmer's sausages will set you back over $30; it must be all that Vodka in it, there's no price you should put on good taste.And you know a good thing when you smell it, as you enter their small shop in Dulwich Hill, you are hit by the aroma of spices and a curtain of smoked meat hanging from a bar suspended above the counter. Everywhere you look it's meat. And there's something to be admired about a butcher who doesn't hold back with the spices and the booze. I say the more the merrier.Their products are all made of natural ingredients and contain no preservatives. So it's best to eat them as soon as you buy them, which is really nothing to complain about. The sausages I used for this pasta were their lamb merguez sausages, a combination of lamb, red wine, coriander, parsley, pepper, mint and chilli. When fried, it exudes a perfume that rouses the palate and gets any carnivore's attention.And why not put the two loves together, pasta and sausages. It's simple gourmet, and I'm sure country folk everywhere tending to pasturelands in the back of nowhere have been enjoying the staple of pasta and sausages for a long time wouldn't even bat an eyelid at this dish, but it's classics like these that never go wrong. I'm not sure if an Italian would call this dish a real classic, but it's simple enough with pasta, sausages, tomatoes and a splash of white wine thrown in for good measure.I can't think of a better way to relieve those autumn cravings for comfort than with a classic pasta dish. You can use pretty much any shape you want, I like slurping my way through it, so linguine was the way to go, but if you prefer the pasta without the loud, sloppy sucking then penne or rigatoni would do just as well.EUMUNDI SMOKEHOUSE402 New Canterbury Road,Dulwich Hill, NSWPhone: (02) 95690205Opening Hours: Thur-Fri 11am to 6pm; Sat 7am to 2pmTheir products are also available at a number of gourmet farmers markets and gourmet food stores. Contact Eumundi for more stockists.Sausage and Capsicum Linguine Serves 4Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller6 (750g) sausages, skins removed and chopped into 4cm slices 1 red capsicum 3 tbsp extra-vir[...]

Hit and miss: Martha makes good, then goes bad, Part II


This post is the part where she goes bad.If you haven't read the little disclaimer at the beginning of the previous post, then I suggest you do. Just in case any Martha zealots out there decide that they need to defend her honour down to the last perfectly clove-dotted glazed ham and immaculately pressed apron. I know that a lot of you who have been defending Martha think I'm an absolute retard that is incapable of following a recipe, but I'm willing to overlook that.If my problem is a matter of comprehension, then I admit, I am an idiot. But when parts of the recipe are missing, or there are omitted ingredients and inaccurate instructions, then I would like to know who the idiot really is? Her recipes can be at times lacking and at other times convoluted to the point of ridiculous. For someone who wants to make it easy for everyone to be able to cook and bake, she does a horrible job of it. And it seems that I'm not the only one who feels unanimously about the hit and miss factor in Martha's recipes.This recipe is a little different in its degree of suckiness in that, it hasn't failed to include any vital instructions or ingredients, everything in the recipe was there, except for the flavour. It appears that Smitten Kitchen's Deb, also had the same problem with the recipe and many of the commenters on the Martha website feel the same way. I decided to make my own go of it, just to make sure their sentiments were in fact true, and lo and behold- the pretzels are as bland as cardboard.And when I say they are like cardboard, this is no attempt at euphemism, they are literally as flavourless as paper. There isn't a hint of chocolate in these pretzels, and be careful not to over-bake them even the slightest amount, as they will turn into volcanic rocks- flavourless volcanic rocks. A bitter disappointment when the recipe is introduced as the "sweet versions of the salty snack".Oh Martha, Oh Martha. How do you get away with this? How do you continue to publish such rubbish without even checking them first? But the good news is that, were not all doomed to never have the sweet taste of chocolate pretzels on our lips, someone did do their homework and came up with a chocolate pretzel recipe that works. Rivka of Not Derby Pie has redeemed us all with her version of choc pretzels that is proven to work and most importantly taste like chocolate.Check out the better version here.The version I have posted below is the original Martha version, just because this is the one I used to make the pretzels pictured above. But I actually would not suggest making them unless you are willing to make some changes. Better yet, just click over to Rivka's recipe and have all the work done for you!Chocolate PretzelsRecipe from Martha.comMakes 24 small pretzels¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder1 tsp good-quality instant espresso powder3 tbsps boiling water110g (½-cup) unsalted butter, softened¼ cup granulated sugar1 tsp pure vanilla extract½ tsp coarse salt1 large egg2 cups plain all-purpose flour1 large egg yolkcoarse sugar (like demarara or pearl) for sprinklingStir cocoa and espresso powders into the boiling water in a small bowl until dissolved; set aside.Meanwhile, put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until creamy.Mix in vanilla and salt.Reduce speed to medium-low.Mix in egg, then cocoa mixture.Gradually add flour, and mix until a s[...]

Hit and miss: Martha makes good, then goes bad, Part I


First of all, I would like to preface the next two posts with a reminder that everything said on this blog are my own personal views and judgements. We all have them, they are called opinions, everyone's entitled to one. And in the free world that we live in I don't think anyone should get nasty comments or emails when you do not agree with the personal statements made by another person. I'm all up for healthy, civil discussions, but if you want to get all spiteful and bitchy then may I suggest you call Ricki Lake or Maury.Now that's been said let's get back to our normal programming...There it goes again, that precarious thing that teeters to and fro on a delicately balanced see-saw of emotions- that is my relationship with Martha's recipes. That see-saw teeters more so on the side of loathe rather than love but my disdain for Martha is not at all unfounded. For lack of a more gracious way of saying this, frankly some of her recipes suck.Thankfully not all of them suck and thankfully for you, you won't have to be reading a tirade of Martha gibes today. No, I'm saving that for the next post, hoorah for free speech! Anyway, let's not get sidetracked. Here is another Martha recipe that has worked for me. Brilliantly in fact, it almost seemed unnatural to call it a Martha recipe. I must have a knack for picking all the dud recipes on her website and now am too paranoid to spend any money on of her cookbooks.I would like to think that the recipes in her published books would be more fool-proof and complete, in comparison to the ones featured on her website. It seems that the uptake of recipes on the website is prodigious, although is a little light on the copy-editing and corrections. Most recipes are lacking important instructions and missing ingredients.But, I did pledge an optimistic post on Martha today and here it is, her recipe for Molasses Sandwich cookies. They were a hit with everyone at a picnic we had earlier. The only thing I would fault is that the cookies are way too sweet. I mean wa-aaaay too sweet. The cookies are pretty sweet on their own but when sandwiched with a molasses filling in between, the sugar levels and diabetes inducing properties soar way beyond appropriate.There's enough sweet in these babies to cause permanent tooth decay. So I would suggest reducing the sugar in the cookies by half and reducing the amount of actual filling by half also. That is what I did second time around and even then, the cookies aren't lacking in sugar. I think the presence of the molasses actually brings out the sweetness of the sugar even more, so I would err on the side of caution and ease up with the saccharine.But with the right amount of sweetness, these sandwich cookies are the perfect thing to take with you to a picnic or a party. Your fellow pickinickers or party goers will thank you for bringing the party along with you. As these things have enough sugar to liven up any deadbeat gathering and will have guests potentially hanging off the chandeliers or perhaps doing a nudie run through the park. Now who wouldn't bake these just to see that?So there you have it, another successful Martha recipe, this is the part in the title where Martha makes good. I've had a bigger share of misses than hits with her, although not documented on this blog, but this does take the hit tally up one.Although coming up next: why there's more hate for Martha again than there is love. This i[...]