Category Archives: food

Team Cooking Challenge Part 2

A few weeks ago we held the Team Cooking Challenge at my house which was between Teams BRFT (Ben, Rebecca, Frances, Tracy) and DDJM (Dave, Dzung, Jonno, Maria). After waiting a while to get the proper titles and descriptions from team DDJM, I can no longer wait for them to supply me with this information. And thus, I will be providing some alternative names.

But first of all, my comments on the food:

ENTREES

Team BRFT beautifully presented their entree, which was Prawns in 3 Ways. The three different ways that they were presented were Marinated Spring Roll Prawns which is prawns marinated in chilli, garlic, ginger, fish sauce wrapped in a spring roll skin and deep fried served with spicy chilli sauce. I thought this was quite nice, except it wasn’t so crispy after a lot of talking.

The second way was ‘Prawns Classic’, which was prawns marinated with good Australian extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper, with snow pea sprout salad tossed in orange and chilli vinaigrette. I felt the prawn here was slightly overcooked.

The third way was ‘Panko Crusted Prawns’ which was prawns encrusted with Japanese panko bread crumbs and deep fried, served drizzled with freshly squeezed lemon juice and Japanese mayonnaise. I thought this one was the best overall out of the three prawn styles.

Prawns 3 Ways - Wandering Gourmet Team Cooking Challenge

Overall, this dish was quite good and I would imagine it would be more flavoursome if served warmer (which was out of our control). I would probably rate it 4 out of 5 because of the quality of the food, presentation, and that it was quite a different idea.

Team DDJM presented two dishes for their entrees – Salt and Pepper Chicken, and Bruschetta. Unfortunately, I am unable to tell you much about them apart from the Salt and Pepper Chicken was coated in flour, salt and pepper and they fried it in my wok. There were also a lot of vegetables, so extra points for the thought of balancing out the dish with vegies! However, I found the Salt and Pepper Chicken a little under cooked – but the next day after I heated it was perfect. I would give particular dish 3.5 out of 5 (lost points for the undercooked chicken and that it was cooked in my house).

Salt and Pepper Chicken - The Wandering Gourmet Team Cooking Challenge

The Bruschetta was quite flavoursome, except it was a little soggy – but this could not have been helped because of the talking. However, they did have an advantage that they cooked the dish in the house as opposed to the Team BRFT’s Prawns 3 Ways. I would give this lovely food for the soul dish 4 out of 5.

Jon and Maria Making Bruschetta

Mains

Team BRFT created Strozzapreti with Sautéed Squid and Mushrooms. This consisted of Strozzapreti pasta with sautéed North Western WA Squid and mushrooms, coated in a smoked cheddar and parmigiano reggiano butter sauce tossed in fresh chives and Italian parsley. I thought that this dish was well made; and once again very well thought out. I would vote this dish 4 out of 5.

Team DDJM created four different types of pasta – Multicultural Pasta, Chicken Cabonara, Olive and Basil Pesto Pasta, and some kind of Tomato Based Pasta.

The Multicultural Pasta was so named “because it had an Asian-influenced style of preparation, the veggies were stir fried in capsicum and stuff.” Unfortunately I didn’t have this dish on the night, but I did have it the next day for work. I would have to say this was good.

Multicultural Pasta

The Chicken Cabonara was definitely one of the crowning jewels in Team DDJM’s dishes, I felt. I think this dish was good over all.

Olive and Basil Pesto Pasta was also a strong contender from this team. The basil pesto was quite good compared to the last time I had basil pesto in a meal! That was at Rockeby’s in Subiaco by the way – and it was utterly appalling. I am certainly glad this one tasted much better than Rockeby’s!

Olive with Basil Pesto Pasta

Tomato Based Pasta – unfortunately I was unable to get any details about this dish although I did eat it. I remember it vaguely. I’m sure it was good – I haven’t died from it! 🙂

Over all, I would give the pastas from Team DDJM an average of 4 out of 5.

Seafood in Klang

Ok, seafood mania has hit my brains. This happened in the wake of the release of Harry Potter’s 7th and final book. But back to seafood. A couple of peeps and I had decided on having food cum party at a nice place. But what was supposed to be an interesting night, took a turn for the worse as rain started pouring out its emo-self on us.

It took us nearly an hour (+traffic jams & +distance) between my house to this place, Bagan Hailam Restaurant. Getting there, in the heart of Port Klang itself isn’t a problem but finding the right place to eat is a HUGE problem. Upon arriving at this quaint little place, I’m aghast to find loads of restaurants of disparaging differences! However, fret not :p While this is my first time at that place, it wasn’t for those peeps.

“Oh this place is a rip off!”

“Food here isn’t that great”

“Lousy ambience in here”….etc

Ok, fair enough. You guys lead the way lol.

Finally after what seemed like eternity, we arrived at this place, with loads of jack russell terriers scurrying about their business and hush, I don’t mean their waste disposals but rather, eating scraps of anything. You have a pervo mind! 😀

Restaurant Signboard

Entrance into that erm…eatery? Looks dodgy! Argh!

Interior of the restaurant, rather cozy and warm with breeze from the estuary blowingi n on us.

Yacht Club and a dinghy in the foreground

Mussel-like shellfish, looks weird but tastes heavenly! This was cooked in erm, I have no idea what but from the pics, I can make out a few simple ingredients.

. black looking sauce/gravy
. onions (no idea which type that is :p)
. mussel-like shellfish
. some celery-leaves
. salt + pepper + sugar (roflmao)

Vegemite Crab! Seriously! They use vegemites! :p It was vegemite with honey + something else altogether…OMFG heavenly!

Evidently, eating crabs left me with no other option to take pics of other food. Ah well, I’ll show you the aftermath of Hurricane Gluttony that unleashed its fury on food!

House on stilts, these were adjoining the restaurant that I was in. Interesting structure.

Primary school, rather dodgy looking though I must surmise.

 

Pros
Overall, food was good, pricing itself was stupendously good! It’s cheap even by local standards and will definitely be back for more. It was staffed by friendly people and the breeze, ah..oh-so-welcoming!

Cons
Distance though is another problem altogether but if you could carpool, it shouldn’t be a problem as there aren’t any public transportation that heads in that direction. If you must ask me, public transportation in the Klang valley or in Malaysia generally pales in comparison with their neighbouring countries. Another thing to take note of, it takes ages for your food to arrive. I wonder if I’m actually allowed to assume that they were fishing while trying to cook our meals? :p

>>> Goes back to reading Harry Potter’s 7th book <<<

Lion Dance in KL’s Chinatown

Ok, I know that Chinese New Year has somewhat passed us like ages ago. But I remember taking some videos from my mobile of an event that left me
with ears that rang non-stop.

Walking around Chinatown in KL’s no easy task. You find people speaking a smattering of Chinese, Canto, Hokkien etc and so much so, there were times when I was at a lost as to which dialect to converse in.

Ok, lion dancing.

The first thing that is conjured up would be images of lions dancing in the
Serengeti  to hip-hop music or to whatever jazzy tune.
Think, Michael Buble or 50 cent :p But no, blame it on my brains that isn’t starved from the lack of sugar atm :p
*as of 6pm, I’ve had enough sugar to last me the entire night without having the need to erm, starve myself* :p

However, that’s not the point in this entry of mine. What I’m about to show you, is the importance of lion dancing in the Chinese culture. Lion Dancing was in the past and at present, used to usher in good fortune and to ward off evil spirits. Well, this was probably China, before Christianity said hello to them.

I cannot however, verify if evil spirits are indeed afraid of these lions,
seeing that they’re manned by human beings, but what I do know is that lions according to the chinese folklore are known to be guardian creatures. But that’s the basic thing you’d have to know about Lion Dances among the chinese. The variation of styles between Northern and Southern Lion Dancing is a different story altogether. This is atypical of chinese art, culture, food etc.

Till then, here’s a short video.  (pardon me but the video and audio quality is bad…and it’s loud!)

African Mesob Cafe Restaurant Review

The African Mesob Cafe Restaurant, run by Simon and Julie Tesholme, is an Ethiopian and African cuisine restaurant which aims to promote African and Ethiopian culture in Perth, and to create a sense of belonging to African people in Perth.

After a lot of jokes by the resident African member about the Wots, we ordered the Ethiopian Banquet (minimum of 8 people, $18 per person).

Before eating these Wots, one of the waitresses came around with a large silver teapot looking thing as well as soap/sanitiser to wash our hands. This is apparently a traditional thing to do before eating Wots.

Washing hands

The Wots were presented in a beautiful and colourful, traditional Ethiopian basket.

Ethiopian Wot

The Wots that we shared consisted of Siga Wot (beef), Doro Wot (chicken), and Yeshimbra Assa Wot (vegetables). It reminded one of my friends of Indian food – except just less spicy!

The little white rolls that you can see in the picture above is called injera. Injera is made from fermented rice flour, and is used as a scoop to pick up food – kind of like a food-version of a fork or spoon.

As our hands got messy from eating with them, it was rather unfortunate to find that it is not traditional to come around to wash our hands again after eating. At least at the African Mesob Restaurant any way!

These Wots are also available as individual dishes, as well as various other African dishes such as Chawama Chicken (African-style Fried Rice), and Peanut Soup.

The African Mesob Restaurant also serves coffee made from African beans. My friends who ordered the coffee were not told what kind of beans they used, except for “African coffee beans”. The verdict on the African Coffee that was served was that it good – it was not strong, but it had a nice flavour to it.

For a different kind of experience, I definitely recommend this restaurant. Plus, it’s nice to know that these African restaurants are run by real Africans!

African Mesob Cafe Restaurant
100 Lake Street
Northbridge WA
(08) 9228 1544
http://www.africanmesob.com.au

The King of Fruits – Ze Durians

What’s the king of fruits?
What tropical fruit draws much appeal yet repels just as many as it has appealed to? Did I hear you mention that name? That very name, much feared by other countries, airlines, hotels?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It is…the Durian!

Lmao, couldn’t quite come up with a better entry than that but hey, it’s better than saying..”Hi, I’m blogging about the durian, also known as stinkypoo fruit” :p
Just teasin’ ya 😉

It was night market, night for me today. Having left work a tad earlier than usual, I made my way to the market for some goodies. I was passing by this little van that sold, loads of durians. Kinda hesitated a bit as I wouldn’t want to spend any thing on a piece of fruit that gives me loads of bad breath and I mean, really bad breath. But, temptation came, tempted me with its enticing tentacles, I walked closer to the truck and the rest, like they say, is history. Using my mouth to start bargaining for the best possible deal/price/price downhike, I managed to buy get myself a pretty reasonable deal of 5 durians + 3 free durians at a cost of MYR50. Bloody hell :p I could have settled for one but no, they were too tempting.

Anyhow, there are many ways to eat/process your durians. The common ways would be, eating its flesh right when it’s opened or making a durian pulp to be made into

1) fermented durian a.k.a tempoyak (to be used in curries, and this smells BAD!)

2) cake

3) play dough..(Btw, I’m just kidding about this )

4) ice cream

5) dodol (a delicacy in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines)

6) fried into little chips (urgh..not my fave anyway)

This ugly piece of thorned up ball is as versatile as your everyday avocado. Yes, wouldn’t it be nice if grapes or other fruits were as versatile as this? Truth be told, durians aren’t as nasty as myth or urban legends have made it out to be.

It’s a fruit that stinks (thanks in due part to a certain organosulphur compound) only when it’s opened, and when you’re not accustomed to its smell. But upon eating a mouthful of it, you’d be surprised that it’s sweet, creamy and well..yummy! It has a somewhat custard-like texture and it’s not surprising that durians have been consumed since pre-historic times in Asia and was only introduced to other countries some 600 years ago. Time have yet to change mankind’s perception of this stinky beast.

One of those rather traditional Thai/Siamese way of eating durians.

. hot steaming rice

. cold water is poured over hot rice

. a dash/sprinkle of salt

. a couple of durians and you’re good to go (and die that is 😉 )

There are the other ways of consuming durians the Thai trad way, most notably durians and coconut milk with vanilla-infused sticky rice. Dear me…that would be, death for me. I hadn’t had that much durians but seeing as I’ve not had durians in years (approx 10 years I think) I puked out after 5 seedlings :p That’s what durians are all about, richness in a rather crude context *burps* Oops, excuse moi 🙂

Kanta: Cheap and cheerful

Since I’m busy procrastinating (something I do very well indeed), I thought I might as well do something semi-productive ie. write something even if it’s not what I should be writing at the moment.

 

This little gem was introduced to us by a Japanese friend, and despite the distance I’ve kept going back. Whenever I go out, I always look for the local tick of approval – here I was glad to see satisfied Japanese diners on multiple visits.

 

This place is tiny and probably only holds about 10-15 people, so you have to book or get in early if you want a spot. They also do takeout if you can’t get a seat. The whole set up is a bit like Iron chef with one or two assistants running around and the chef on display in the centre simultaneously cooking about ten different dishes, while calling out cheerful greetings to customers. It’s quite interesting but stressful to watch him work 😉

 

The menu is very reasonably priced, with most mains averaging $9-15. There is a specials board that changes every now and then. The menu includes ubiquitous selections such as tempura, teriyaki chicken/beef/fish and various donburi – all of which are pretty good considering the price range. One of my friends inevitably orders kare-age whenever we go for Japanese (basically deep fried chicken served with a big dob of mustard, mayo or a wedge of lemon), and proclaimed the version here to be one of the best he’d tried in Perth. I’ll eat anything that’s deep fried, but I have to admit the one here is pretty good.

 

It also offers less commonly seen dishes such as grilled mackerel, octopus and unagi (eel), as well as a selection of sashimi. The tsukune (sort of like a chicken paddlepop with a sweet sauce) is handmade and totally oishii (yum!). The green tea icecream with adzuki bean tastes like it’s been homemade, with the smooth but not overpowering flavour of green tea, contrasting nicely with the sweet adzuki bean and is good value at $3.50. One of the aspects I like most about this place is that the chef clearly takes pride in his work, with aesthetics being still important despite the budget.

 

So, any folks living south of the river who like their Japanese might want to check this place out sometime. Not that it needs me to vouch for it, it seems plenty of people know about it already.

 

Details:

 

Kanta: Japanese kitchen and sushi bar (BYO)

2/76 Langford Ave, Langford WA

ph 94515720

Open lunch Tue – Fri 1130-1430

Open dinner Tue – Sun 1730-2100

What is good chocolate?

Ever since I saw a dessert battle involving chocolate and pears on Iron Chef about 2 or 3 weeks ago, I have been wondering what good chocolate is. The chocolate used on that episode was Valrhona (pronounced “Vah – roh – na”). If Iron Chef featured that chocolate then it must be good!

I googled to see what the fuss is all about. One site pointed me to a shop in Subiaco that carries this brand of chocolate. The shop is a gourmet food store called ‘Simon Johnson – Purveyors of Fine Food’.

Simon Johnson carries a wide range of Valrhona chocolate for both eating and cooking and also carries a variety of other brands of chocolate as well, and since I’m narrow minded and only interested in Valrhona I didnt remember the rest 😦 .

I bought these to try:

  1. Gran Couva, $11.55, 75g block, (64% Cacao, Single Estate from Trinidad, 2006 Vintage)
  2. Ampamakia, $11.55, 75g block, (64% Cacao, Single Estate from Madagascar, 2006 Vintage)
  3. Palmira Fino Criollo, $11.55, 75g block, (64% Cacao. Single Estate from Venezuela, 2006 Vintage)
  4. Tanariva, $9.95, 75g block, (33% Cacao, Madagascar)
  5. Jivara Lait, $9.95, 75g block, (40% Cacao)
  6. Cao Grande Organic, $11.00, 100g block, (39% Cacao)

valrhona chocolates
So far I’ve only tried the Cao Grande Organic, and right now, it is the best chocolate I have ever eaten. I don’t really know how to describe how good it is because I have never eaten good chocolate. I guess I won’t be eating any of these in a hurry because they cost about $10 per block. As I am typing this I’m wondering ‘why did I spend 60 dollars on chocolate?’. I guess I’m paying for the experience to see what good chocolate is really about. More to come on how the other chocolates stack up in the near future (when I could afford to eat them!).

More information @ The Nibble (http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/chocolate/house-tour.asp)