Yes, I have been lazy… No real excuses either, other than the fact that I haven’t been cooking a lot of what I’d call gourmet quality food lately.

I did make quite a tasty meal for Dan and Mabes recently, but we were too busy talking and eating to take any photos.

I also promised to write up some of the new green coffee beans I received last week, but i’ve been more interested in roasting and drinking it… Misplaced priorities indeed.

For now, here’s a photo of tasty Saffron Chorizo Risotto i made recently. It’s basically the same recipe as my other risotto recipes, except that I add a few strands of saffron in along the way to give some nice colour and flavour. I think once you’ve got the risotto base down pat, you can really do whatever the hell you want with it.

eat me... it sang


P.s – i think i bought a house.

Eggplant Pizza with Buffalo Mozzarella

Pizza & Wine

A quiet night in called for a low key dinner solution. I’m very much into dough at the moment. I’m not sure why, I just seem to be going through a dough phase. I get a very calming sensation from just kneading dough until its nice and soft, and the yeast makes it seem alive (which technically, it is).

So this was another home made pizza base consisting of:

500 grams flour
2 or so cups of warm water
1 tablespoon of fresh yeast
1 pinch of salt
2 drizzles of olive oil
1 dollop of honey

Combine dry ingredients, and then gradually add the wet ones and mix it all around until its a big ball of doughy goodness.

Leave it to rise in a covered bowl and then punch the air out it a couple of times, til its really malleable.

Then roll it flat, and you’re good to go.

The topping for this pizza was tomato paste, a nice fat slice of eggplant, some sliced “vine ripened” tomatoes, basil, and buffalo mozzarella.

Eggplant Pizza

The mozzarella is great… I’d been looking it for a while since having a Mozzarella di Bufala pizza at Pronto’s a while back, but for ages I couldn’t find it, and was told by the nice ladies in Restore that there was a shortage of it… Fortunately for me the buffalo must have been lactating more recently, and I happened to find some at Herdsman Fresh on my last trip.

Apart from being made from buffalo milk, I’m not sure how its different to boccocini… but I like it nonetheless.

The pizza was paired with a wine from my current favourite winemakers. It’s a 2002 Sangiovese/Merlot from Innocent Bystander. Spicey but delicate, with a fruity aftertaste… something different to try.

Innocent Bystander 2002 Sangiovese/Merlot
All in all a great meal to pass the time on a night where all you’re really doing is waiting to go to bed :)

Batch Scratching Bonanza

My new mate and all round nice guy extraordinairre, Beau, of Basic Juice has graciously linked up my first meagre attempt at a wine review.

Beau is by all accounts a very well versed wine lover, and I’m continually impressed as I dig through his site and find reviews for wines I’d never have imagined anyone else outside of Australia would have heard of. He mixes just the right amount of “actual knowledge” with plenty of raw enthusiasm for the drink that brings so much pleasure to so many.

As Molly Meldrum would say… “Do yourself a favour”, and check him out… Anyone who quotes Dr Seuss poems has got to be onto something :)

I think perhaps I’m getting closer to finding the impetus to do the wine appreciation course I’ve been planning on doing for a while now. But then I’ve been planning on getting my scuba diving licence for a while now too…

Maybe i’ll just keep drinking it for now :)

Green Bean Scene

This is my current list of green coffee beans… just in case anyone cares :)

* Indonesian Bukit Marrante Kalosi Toraja
* Indian Plantation A (Tiger Mountain)
* Costa Rica Tarrazu SHB (Fancy)
* Ethiopian Yirgacheffe
* Yemen Moka Ismali

On order:
* Sumatran Mandheling Grade 1
* Paupa New Guinea Sihereni AX
* Indian Monsoon Robusta (just to see what all the fuss is about with Robusta)

For me, roasting coffee is basically another level of understanding in the whole experience. I’m not sure what inspired me to get into it in the first place. To be honest, I’m not addicted to coffee. I can go for days without having one, and I’m sure I’d be fine if I never drank another cup of it in my life. But once I do get into something, I find it hard to stay on the fringe, without delving deeper and working out how things work for myself. My inner geek is never completely satisfied with just accepting what someone else tells me is true without investigating it myself.

That’s not to say I’m about to go planting coffee bushes in my backyard (although i would be able cut all the middle men out of the picture :)), but It’s definitely been a great learning experience so far.

Lately i’ve been struggling to roast the Yemen Moka Ismali… It’s such a tricky little bean… very uneven looking in the bag, lots of chaff, and difficult to tell when its at the right level. I’ve been stopping just into the second crack so far and it’s been coming out ok… but not exactly to the level that it’s reputation deserves.

To date my favourite blend is called ‘Easy Tiger’. It’s a smooth, but punchy espresso blend made of predominantly Indian Tiger Mountain, with some Yirgacheffe to add some sweetness, and a nice chocolately highlight bean to round things off :)

My new shipment of beans should arrive next week, so i’ll be posting more reports when I’ve had a chance to give them a try.

Red Knot – 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (A wine post)

Well after being graciously linked up by Beau on his great wine blog, I thought it was about time I put some effort into writing about some of the wine I drink.

So here is the first effort… A lovely looking bottle of South Australian Cabernet Sauvignon that jumped off the shelf at me while on a mission to retrieve cumin seeds, buffalo mozzarella, and limonata from “Re-store” in Leederville.

Red Knot

It’s from a region of South Australia called Fleurieu, which i’d never heard of, and i really liked the label. Plus I’ve been drinking mainly Shiraz/Grenache/Mouverdre blends recently, so I thought it was time to get back to some of the more robust/in your face/full bodied wines that Australia has become famous for.

Fill me !

According to the wine maker, it should be something like this:

Vintage Note:
Dry conditions throughout the year lowered crop yields and produced concentrated and small berry fruit. Perfect ripening conditions from verasion to harvest resulted in wines of incredible flavor and color.

Tasting Note:
Deep Red. Cassis aromas complex with hints of mint and truffle and enhanced with roasted coffee bean and vanilla American and French oak. A full bodied wine with ripe blackberry fruit and a firm tannin structure. Toasty oak enhances the sweet fruit and lingers enticingly.

Davey Family Vineyard, McLaren Vale
Hindmarsh Valley, Southern Fleurieu

100% Cabernet Sauvignon

pH: 3.49
TA: 6.60
ALC: 13.80%

My take on the wine would be definitely a full fruit flavour. Lots of cherry/blackberry flavours hit you in face as soon as you take that first sip, and linger until you’re ready for the next. It’s definitely full bodied. Not the kind of wine that you can drink nonchalantly… It’s big flavoured and makes you sit up and take notice. The subtle nuances and flavours of the wine are lost on me I must admit, and being an avid coffee drinker/roaster, I didn’t pick up on the roasted coffee flavour as desribed in the wine makers notes. I would agree that the sweetness of the wine lingers though… theres not the oaky aftertaste that much of the heavily wooded wines seems to carry with them.

Tryin to get all funky, but not working

All in all I’d say it’s a great wine, not too complex, but a very enjoyable drink.

I’m also loving my new Reidel ‘O’ series, stemless glassware. I’ve broken many a wine glass stem in my time (I think my record is three in one night), and so these are a breath of fresh air. They also look great, and feel great in the hand, and are just the right shape for swirling and bringing out all those luscious red wine aromas… Now if my uncultured nose could only work out what some of them are, i’d be laughing :)

Reidel Stemless

Tapas Night Wrap Up

Finally my site is back up, so sitting here thinking of ways i can unleash my fury onto the ISP who seems to care neither about customer service nor reliability, and secretly hating the fact that I am so dependant on an internet connection to supply myself with basic information… I’m just no good with phone books.

After Tapas

So anyway, last night we had a great little tapas party and invited a few people over. It started off as a wine and cheese night… but although I love both wine and cheese to a rather unhealthy level, they don’t make a meal. So the wine/cheese/tapas idea was born.

Sharon and I spent most of the day cleaning up and then headed to Herdsman Fresh (my new favourite place) to stock up on supplies. The funniest part of the trip was forgetting to take the “Easy Tapas” cookbook that we pulled a few recipes from out of the shopping trolley, and watching the check out chick try to scan it… well actually maybe it wasn’t that funny, but i did chuckle. I will give her credit though… She’s probably one of the few teenagers out there who can tell the difference between shallots and brown pickling onions and accurately identify witlof… although she did get mistake the galangal for ginger. But still a great effort and a great store for buying fresh quality food.

Sadly we didn’t take any photos of the food… Perhaps because there was more wine drinking than eating going on for the first part of the night… So it all slowly descended from there.

I can tell you what we made though. Which was:

  • Baked Mushrooms stuffed with ham/cheese/chives/garlic (Sharon)
  • Potato/Chorizo/Mint salad (which cost a bloody lot less than $14 to make a massive bowl of, see rant on Duende post)
  • Chilli Mussels
  • Bbq’ed witlof
  • Tuna cubes marinated in sesame oil, soy sauce, and onion chives.
  • Artichokes & Calamari in white wine.
  • Ham/Chicken/Cheese Croquets (Sharon)
  • Marinated Octopus (well this just came from the fish monger)
  • Bbq’ed Turkish bread (char grilled turkish bread tastes so good)

As with all our dinner parties, we were woefully unprepared, and it seemed like we were cooking all night… but for once it didn’t really seem to matter. The great thing about tapas is the relaxed and informal atmosphere it creates to just snack away on little morsels all night until you slowly realise you’re full. You don’t have the rigid structure of entree, main, dessert to worry about, so you just graze happily until you don’t feel like eating anymore. Having 5 or 6 bottles to drink (about a bottle each, but i think i drank most of it) also helps.
So all in all a great success. I’ll definitely be doing one again soon.
I should also note the photo above isn’t mine, but i know you all skim right by when there’s nothing pretty to look at :) There is by chance a stuffed mushroom on that plate though…which looks very similar to the ones Sharon made.