Disclaimer: I’m getting a media pass to visit this show. I’m fairly sure it’s because they saw my burger cake.
So I never used to be a baker. I always considered myself more of a cook. I was, and am, of the opinion that while cooking is something of an art, baking is much more of a science. Not to say that you can’t bake with flair – many people do it every day – but baking appears to deal with a much greater level of precision when it comes to the chemistry that underpins sweet deliciousness.
That all changed when I started my previous job, and there was a cultural norm in the team that everyone baked. It got to the point that we’d half-joke about asking questions when interviewing for new team members about their baking prowess. Half-joke.
Over the past three years, I’ve developed a set of precision skills, almost out of professional necessity, and now baking is something that doesn’t seem particularly daunting to me. In fact, it’s something I really enjoy, and I’m angling for a Kitchen Aid stand mixer – cobalt blue, if you’re offering – for Christmas.
But Christmas is so far away, and there are many, many baked treats and sweets to be had in the meantime. Coming up next weekend (21-23 March 2014) is Sydney’s inaugural Cake Bake and Sweets Show.
There are a bunch of celebrities who will be there doing demonstrations and no doubt signing books – I’ll have to remember to bring my Eric Lanlard book along – including Adriano Zumbo, Eric Lanlard, Duff Goldman, and a long list of reality TV show cooks. Speaking of reality TV cooks, I ran into a former masterchef contestant at work the other day, and rather embarrassingly insisted that she looked familiar, but that I couldn’t pinpoint where we’d met before. I’m sure she gets it all the time, but I felt rather silly when my colleague told me she was on masterchef last year. Oops.
Anyway, the good PR folks at the Cake Bake and Sweets show have given me a double pass to the show to give away to my blog readers (those of you who have stuck around through the arid desert that has been my posting activity of late).
So to win, just leave a comment below telling me your favourite baked treat. The tickets are physical, and they’ve been mailed to me (oldskool) so you’ll have to put an entry in by 5pm Wednesday 19 March to ensure I can get the tickets to you.
Just here in Perth on a brief stopover to Mauritius (yes, expect lots of photos soon). I have to say, I’ve been very impressed by the food I’ve tried this time around. A vast improvement on my visit here the years ago. Here are a few highlights from my short visit.
Food court folly: yes.
But I was not expecting
Sugar in the broth.
Suburban corner shop
Can have amphora.
Well, it was OK
The spinach was the best thing
Pay at the cashier
Underneath the gym
Chicken rice needs more flavour
White fluorescent lights
I moved up to Sydney about 4 months ago, and big city life has pretty much sucked the free time and creative impulse out of me to continue writing blog posts.
But I’m about nothing if not adaptation, so what I’m going to do to adapt to this change in lifestyle is this: the format of half-eaten will change. Expect things so be shorter, sharper, and you’re only going to get pictures if it’s so impressive that it warrants it.
Stay tuned, because half-eaten it’s about to be back; but not as you know it.
FRIED. TRIPE. I CAN’T EVEN. Need to go back for more.
Disclaimer: The booze which features in this post was supplied for free by WineSelectors. Make of that what you will.
If we’re friends and we’ve gone out to dinner together, you’ll probably know that I don’t like pinot noir. Because if we’ve gone out for dinner together, I’ve more likely than not ordered pork, I’ve probably ordered it for you too, and you’ve probably jumped to the conclusion that you should drink pinot with your pork. At which point, I’ll scrunch up my face, and declare that I don’t drink pinot. At least not Australian pinot. (I was coerced into trying – and subsequently liking – a French grand cru bourgogne at the Royal Mail Hotel a while ago.)
Anyway, when WineSelectors offered to send me some wine to try and review on this blog, I thought, “Free booze!” and then immediately caveatted that I was going to be bluntly honest about what I thought of the wine. To which they replied, “Well, that’s fine. Because you’ll be choosing the wines yourself.” Which basically meant that I was a bit screwed, because I don’t know that much about wine, I just know what I like. One of the things I know that I like is viognier, so I included a bottle of the Hugh Hamilton Loose Cannon Viognier in my order.
And though I probably am an alcoholic, I’m not an anti-social alcoholic. So I invited a couple of friends over to dinner to help me ‘taste’ the wines (read ‘finish’). And because it wasn’t a Friday night, eating wasn’t cheating, so I made dinner. A roast rack of pork, no less. Oh yeah, that rant about pinot before wasn’t that random. This is what the rack looked like before (that’s salt, pepper, rosemary and sumac on there):
… and after! (After 20 minutes in an oven on max, followed by an hour at 160c.)
We had some green beans with goat’s cheese, a cannellini bean, pea and cavolo nero mash, and I made an onion jam.
Damn I love it when meat blushes at me.
But yeah, so, the wine. I discovered a few things about this Loose Cannon Viognier.
- It doesn’t really have any bouquet when it comes out of the fridge. This does change as it comes closer to room temperature, at which point it smells vaguely citrus-like.
- It’s DAMN FRUITY. (I mean that in a good way.)
- It doesn’t go well with hommus. (We had nibbles before dinner proper.)
- Mr J claimed he could taste quince in the wine, but I think that was more likely to do with the quince paste he was slathering on his crackers.
- The wine is kind of savoury, with orange notes.
- It’s pretty good with pork!
Knox Lane, Melbourne Central shopping centre, Melbourne CBD
Disclaimer: I didn’t pay for this food. Lord of the Fries gave it to me for free. Or maybe I sold a little piece of my soul for it. You decide.
I’m a pretty rampant carnivore. Anyone who knows me reasonably well knows that I enjoy eating animals; probably more so than most people, and probably more than is healthy for me. So when Lord of the Fries (a vegetarian enterprise) sent me an email inviting me to test out their Eco City Burger, I was pretty skeptical, and instantly told twitter as much. To their credit, they responded in good humour, and well, that sort of won me over enough to agree to try the burger.
I remember the first time I had Lord of the Fries. I was drunk, it was well past midnight on Chapel St, and it seemed a better option than Pie Face. (I have an irrational hatred of the Pie Face chain, but that’s a story for another time.) I vaguely remember having fries and nuggets, and thinking to myself that the fries were underwhelming, because they’re a bit floppy – an opinion I stand by to this day – but the nuggets were surprisingly good, for nuggets which aren’t made (at least in part) from meat.
Cut forward to earlier this week, when my colleague Mr E and I wandered down to the Melbourne Central hole-in-the-wall Lord of the Fries in the midst of the stifling heat wave lured by the promise of free burgers. I, of course, had the Eco City Burger, and since I wasn’t paying and the PR lady told me I could, I ordered up a bit, adding some onion rings and one of the chilli cheese poppers to the order.
The Eco City Burger is the classic LotF vegie patty, with lettuce, beetroot relish, pickles and aioli. At first glance, I wasn’t particularly impressed. One little piece of advice i have for LotF is step up your bun game. Seriously, this was the sort of bun I’d expect to find in 12 packs on the bottom shelf of a supermarket bakery section. An unyielding plasticky exterior pretty much meant even though the actual bread was soft enough, you wouldn’t know it. Think about it: the bun is the first thing your mouth comes in contact with when you eat a burger. So come on guys, don’t fall down at the first hurdle!
But let’s move on to the insides. All in all, it’s not bad. I’ll concede that for a vegie burger (though it’s more TVP than vegie?) this is pretty good. The texture of the patty is pretty meat-like; it falls apart like a meat burger would if it were just on the rare side of medium. My one issue with the patty is that it was too salty. It’s almost as if they were trying to compensate for the umami meat flavour by just adding more salt. Like a Christian apologist with something to hide. And it just doesn’t work that way, people.
The beetroot relish was bright in colour and flavour, and a smart way to include it in the burger. I hate how I often have half a slice of beetroot hanging out the back end of the burger, clinging for dear life before it splats on the plate, spraying its life force all over my white t-shirt (of course it was white). The relish provided enough flavour without being so plentiful as to ooze ungraciously out the back end.
Yep, that visual segue was intentional.
Onion rings! With the ‘Belgian’ mayonnaise – what I’m sure @thatjessho would call sperm sauce. These were pretty fantastic. If you’ve tried onion rings at Hungry Jack’s before, you haven’t tried real onion rings. The LotF ones are the real deal – actual rings of onion, crumbed and fried until golden and crispy. The sweetness of the onion and the crispiness of the crumb are tot- WAIT! THAT’S WHAT THE BURGER IS MISSING!
Time to mod the burger, to make it better. The sweetness of the onion balances out the massively salty patty, and the crumb makes the burger, well, not mushy.
WINNING. The burger was actually great like this. So I recommend if you’re going to have a LotF burger, shell out the extra $5.95 (WHAT!?) for the onion rings.
Burgers are kind of like gay sex: often messy afterwards. But worth it.