It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Christmas Rabbit

That being because my fridge is stuffed with enough food to last a normal family about 3 months, and my bank account is completely empty.

Yes it’s a wonderful time of year… lots of get togethers and exchanging of gifts and finding excuses to catch up with people who you would otherwise
never see during the year because you’re both so busy and really can’t be bothered if there’s not a good enough reason.

This year I’ve decided to risk having the family over to my place for a lateish lunch / early dinner. It’s forecast to be around 35 C tomorrow, so it’s not exactly the weather for firing up the oven with a big roast or a long baked ham. Instead the order of the day is going to be seafood, fish, and lovely fresh salads.

A big fish

I’ve just been to the fish monger and picked up this little beauty… 3.5 kg of Tasmanian Salmon… also stopped by the local Asian grocer and picked up a bunch of banana leaves. The idea being to wrap this sucker in as many leaves as I can before throwing it on the barbeque with a bunch of herbs and lemon and whatever else I can find stuffed inside.

3.5 kg Tasmanian Salmon

Along with that I’ve got some calamari for salt and pepper squid, and some lovely king prawns that are going to be fried on the bbq and served with aioli and other dippery things.

Salad wise, I’ve got a three bean salad, a warm potato salad, a tomato and avocado salad, and a standard green salad in mind… along with anything else I can think up on the day.

It should be great… Lots of food, lots of people, and a weeks worth of left overs to keep us going :)

Merry Christmas to anyone who celebrates it, and hope anyone who doesn’t is having fun too.


Chorizo and Chick Pea Stew

Chorizo and Chick pea stew

In a rare display of creative fervency, I’ve decided to post more than one thing in any given week… So I hope you’re all realising how lucky you are… and are basking in the happy glow that only my biting sarcasm can provide.

You may have just read my post on The Pony Club restaurant… a tapas restaurant Sharon and I went to visit recently. The other part of the story that I didn’t share was that we had a little encounter as we were leaving. As we were strolling out the door and down the steps, mumbling to ourselves at how much of a rip off it was, and how we could have made better at home quite easily, when suddenly we heard a “snap”, turned around, and there was a photographer standing on a ladder with her camera pointed directly at us.

“Can you do that again ?” she said…

“What? Walk out ?”

“Yeh… but a bit slower this time”

“Yeah sure, why not”

So Sharon and I spend the next 5 minutes walking up and down the stairs and looking at the menu on the door with introspective contemplation, while she continued to take shots of us, to be used somewhere down the track in a review of the Pony Club for the Qantas inflight magazine.

I thought it was all quite hilarious, and being an amateur photographer of increasing aplomb, I swiftly handed her my card and let her know I’d appreciate a copy of them. None have arrived yet, but that might just be because the review hasn’t turned up in the magazine yet. If their review was anything like mine I somehow doubt it will… but then I can’t see Qantas magazine putting a byline of “Overpriced Spanish Flavoured Crap” on any of their reviews in the near future.

So after wandering off feeling like C-grade celebrities, we headed straight for Fresh Provisions to pick up supplies for this very dish. With keen determination to make it better and significantly cheaper than we’d just experienced.

Chorizo and Chick Pea Stew

  • 1 Chorizo sausage (I use Mondo’s Hot Chorizo)
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes, or tomato puree
  • 2 whole tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 red onion (chopped)
  • Splash of red wine
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 chillis (leave them out if you don’t like it hot)
  • 1 lemon
  • Anything else you want to add ie: capsicum, whole paprika, olives, etc

How I made mine

So simple it’s not even funny. Fry your chorizo in a little olive oil and then add the splash of red wine to deglaze. Wait til it’s absorbed into the chorizo a little and then add the garlic and onion. When they’re starting to soften, add the tomatoes, tomato puree, and chickpeas, then stir through well. When it’s thickening up nicely, add the paprika, chilli, and any other spices you might find, stir it through well, turn down the heat, and walk away.

Come back in about 20 minutes or so and you should hopefully have a nice thick hearty, spicy concoction, worthy of any drunken Spaniard.

Serve with a few thick pieces of crusty bread smothered in butter, and a wedge or two of lemon for a continental tinge.

So easy and quick and tasty… and with the volume I made of it, possibly worth a small fortune in a trendy tapas restaurant. Fortunately I am a VIP in my own dining room, I don’t think I could afford to eat there otherwise…

Pony Club

Image by bozo_z_clown

I grew up riding horses. Not pretty little ponies, but real, gritty, working mans horses. Ok, well maybe not working men, but men who have things to do and places to be, and no time for fancy shenanigans. We grew up in New Zealand riding the family horse Pinky, who was a former pacer (racing name: Inky Pinky Parlez Vous). Pinky was a good horse, but a crazy horse… She would at random and unknown times decide to switch from running forwards, to running sideways, and when you’re riding bareback (because you don’t own a saddle), that can be a problem. Dad decided it would be a good idea for me to start learning to ride her by myself when I was about 4… possibly one of the scariest moments in my life up until that point, but after the bruises healed, it soon cemented my love of horses.

Skip forward a few years and we find ourselves in Australia, horseless… Though it doesn’t take Dad long to find a local crazy called Joe who had plenty of crazy horses but no time to ride them. Joe lived on the outskirts out town and had amassed himself a huge junkyard of old cars and machinery, and (inexplicably) a small herd of Welsh Mountain Ponies.

One of these Welsh Mountain Ponies was named Rocky… and was every bit the battler of his famous namesake (Marciano not Balboa). He was of course a stallion, and prone to choosing his own course of action whilst galloping through a forest at high speed… which always made for an interesting ride. Rocky was not the most stable horse to ride… Dad had broken him in (along with the other horses there), and trained him to accept having someone ride him… but there were times when he conveniently forgot about all that and just did his own thing. In some ways that’s why I liked him so much… he was his own horse… he just let me sit on his back sometimes.

The pony club on the other hand, stood for everything that I wasn’t. Privileged, polished, and perfectionist, and all the pluck and courage in the world did not stop Rocky (and I) drawing the scorn of the primped and plaited members of the pony club brigade. I despised them… Their perfect little ponies prancing around in circles with ribbons in their tails and plaited manes… They were the bourgeois and I was the proletariat. My rugged little pony and I would gallop through the bush jumping logs, tree stumps, fences, and generally causing mischief. I didn’t have a helmet, a crop, jodhpurs, riding boots. I had a hard head, a stick, some old jeans, and a pair of well holed K-mart special Traxx.

Every year the local agricultural show would happen, and the pony club girls would get their parents to help them groom and ready their ponies, load them into a horse float, and drive them into town. I would ride my bike out to Joe’s place, saddle up Rocky, and ride him the few kilometres into town myself.

We competed well, but the judges seemed to be less interested in how fast I could ride and how high we could jump than they were at how nicely you can post whilst trotting around in a circle, and at exactly which angle you hold your feet in the stirrups. So sadly my technique for holding the reins that I’d developed from the need to jump off in a hurry before Rocky went crazy, didn’t win any votes. Still, we did manage to come away with the award for champion pony stallion under 14 hands, of which he was the only entrant…

Such is my experience with the ilk of the pony club… Elitist and over privileged, with little respect for what they’ve got.

What the hell does that have to do with food you say ?? Well nothing… but it does set the scene for the main attraction… My restaurant review of “Pony Club”.

Pony Club is a new tapas restaurant in Mt Lawley, where Infusion Noodle Bar used to be. The layout is basically the same as it was in the Infusion days, with a little more of a plush intimate feel coming from the use of a few velvety curtains here and there. The fit out is stylish and refined and the lighting dark (I have a feeling it actually got darker as the night went on). It looks and feels like it’s going to be a classy kind of place, and this is where my rant begins.

Tapas are bar snacks ! This is how they started off, this is how they should be. They are a brilliant idea. Bring out lots of tasty little dishes and charge next to nothing for them so people can happily snack away all night whilst consuming large quantities of wine and beer, before perhaps moving on to somewhere more substantial for dinner later. The moment they spread out into their own themed restaurants, things started to go down hill.

Now I’ll admit, I was once enamoured with the idea of the tapas restaurant. What a great concept it seemed. Lots of different flavours and tastes combining to make a meal. Easy to share with large groups of people who can happily graze over dish after dish of sumptuous Spanish delicacies.

Not so !

The reality is that most of these places are massively over priced and serve up minuscule dishes that everyone on the table fights for a piece of, before forgetting was it even was two seconds later. This is what we ordered at Pony Club:

Chermoula Prawns,
Dhukka Chicken,
Spanish Meatballs,
Chorizo Stew (look for my version coming soon),
Salmon Tartlets.

I would have thought that would have been a decent meal for two people… but $100 and less than an hour later it was all over and we went home still hungry. Now even if you aren’t blessed with my tank-like physique and uncanny eating abilities, I’d challenge anyone to be truly satisfied after getting a few bites of any one thing.

The food itself was nice, but uninspiring. Having made or tasted something similar to most of what was on the menu I was singularly unimpressed by all of it. And at around $14 per dish… they were far from worth it in my book.

The tiny wine list had some nice looking entries on it, but with only 3 available by the glass, and my eventual choice of a glass of Tempranillo setting me back a cool $9, I would have much rather been at home with a bottle from my small but growing collection of Spanish wines soothing my gourmet nerves.

So in the end… a revelation occurred. Fancy tapas restaurants are not for me, and until I have sampled and written off every tapas bar in Spain, I will be weary about any place that makes it seem like I should expect to pay top dollar for glorified bar snacks. To be fair, there is a “main meal” section of the menu, but we weren’t ordering from that, so I really can’t comment on how good it was. The girls next to us seemed to enjoy their Moroccan Chicken Salad.. however strange it’s appearance on the menu was.

I’m sure some people will like this place, it may even turn out to be very popular, but just remember that you heard it here first… Yo no quiero tus tapas !

The Pony Club
620 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley 6050
Western Australia

Tel: (08) 9228 8801


A few things of note

Just a little note on a few things that are happening in the food blogosphere.

  1. A Menu For Hope – This is popping up on virtually every food website in the world, and so just to be different, here it is on mine too. It’s an idea created by Pim of Chez Pim to raise money for the United Nations – World Food Programme, by raffling off prizes donated by food bloggers the world over and giving the proceeds to the programme. Last year $17,000 was raised, and this year looks to be much bigger. Check out Helen’s site for full details of how people in Australia can participate.
  2. The Food Blog Awards have been announced over at the Well Fed Network. I may or may not be in the running for one of the categories, but if anyone should deign my little excuse for a blog as worthy of another, then feel free to drop my name.
  3. Spam – an unfortunate part of life online is spam… and just lately I’ve been getting slammed by it. Over 3000 spam comments in the space of a few hours almost brought my site down for a while, and there doesn’t seem to be much let up. To try and combat that I’ve installed a few extra wordpress plugins, and upped the level on all my spam detection radars, so if you’re having trouble posting comments or viewing the site in general, please let me know by email and I’ll try and sort it out. On a completely unrelated note, if anyone needs some all natural hoodia or cialis, I may know where you can find some…

DMBLGIT November 2006

To those unfamiliar with the funky acronym, it might sound like Mary Poppins has a severe lisp… but what It actually means is:

Does my blog look good in this ?!?! (I added the exclamation marks for dramatic effect)

It’s one of a whole host of memes/competitions that exist for food bloggers to show off their wares (and one of the most prestigious too), namely being the best example of food photography taken in any given month.

So, food bloggers the world over are hereby encouraged to send in their entries, which will be judged on the three categories of aesthetics, edibility, and creativity.

The photos are judged by a panel, currently consisting this time round of Cate from Sweetnicks, Celine of Black Salt, Anthony of Spiceblog, Bron of Bron Marshall, Lara of Cook and Eat and Still Life With, and yours truly.

There are then three winners – those with the top 3 combined scores. There are also three category winners – those with the highest scores in aesthetics, edibility and creativity that have not already won 1st/2nd or 3rd place. So there’s plenty of chances to bag yourself a placing.

Only one entry per person and the photo must have been posted on your blog during November.

Please send all entries to:

along with:
– Your Name, and your blog’s name
– Your photo (in jpg format, preferably under 500kb)
– A link to the post its from
– Some info about the camera it was taken with

Closing date for entries is the 28th of December.

Best of luck and get crackin.

Check back here shortly for updates as the entries start to roll in. As they have now.
A gallery of entries now lives here: DMBLGIT November 2006 gallery

*Update* : I’ve decided to add the gallery into this post as well. Please spread the word and get those entries in ! Full details of all photos submitted can be found on the DMBLGIT November 2006 gallery.

*Update II * : Entries close today !! The 28th December. Get yours in now or you’ll miss out…

*Update III * : Entries are now closed. It’s already way past the 28th in Australia, and this should be enough time for those in other timezones to catch up. Thanks to everyone who has submitted photos, and look out here for the announcement of winners soon.

Coffee for Unity

meanwhile in Italy...

A great shot of coffee I pulled at home recently on my trusty Rancilio Silvia, after grinding on my Rancilio Rocky. The blend was half Brazilian Reserve Daterra, as roasted by 5 Senses, and half Nicaraguan as roasted by Fiori. A tasty blend to unite two of the premier coffee roasters operating in Perth at the moment, and a good excuse to apply some overly stylised editing. I’m calling the blend “Sensori” for now… which I’m sure will get me into some kind of legal trouble, but seeing as I’m not selling it I think I might be ok.

More coffee posts on their way. Drink up.

Oven Baked Dhufish with Lemon Cream Sauce

about to be oven baked dhufish

First off, I know… I’ve been slack. But this crazy season leading up to Christmas, coupled with a little change of timezone for Western Australia means I’ve been really busy. Not Y2K busy, but still taking all the necessary precautions to make sure that the world doesn’t end for any West Australians around 2am on December the 3rd…

So now the prerequisite excuses are out of the way… it’s time to talk fish… Dhufish to be specific. A beautiful flakey white fish that is delicate yet flavourful while not having the overly fishyness that puts many people off.

I picked up a whole fish, minus head, tail, and guts, from the nice people at Atlantic Seafood (which I’m hoping is not where they get it all from), on William St in Northbridge. Having no idea what to do with it, but realising I had no interest in filleting it and picking out all the bones. I figured baking it in the oven as cutlets and forewarning Sharon of the impending choking hazard was a good way to go.


Cut up the fish into nice thick cutlets, season with olive oil, salt, and pepper, slice up a few lemons and good handful of coriander. Heat the oven to 180C and layer the sliced lemon in a baking dish. Put the fish cutlets on top, and then another layer of lemon and the coriander. I then splashed a bit of verjuice around the dish as well, not sure if it made any difference or not, but I figured it couldn’t hurt, and I’ve been mad keen on verjuice ever since using it recently for my chermoula snapper.

Into the oven for about 20 minutes or so, turned once, and we’re ready for the plate.

I served the fish with a warm kipfler potato salad that went quite well.

Once the potato salad and fish were plated, I took the baking dish, which was now covered with a layer of baked on bits of fish, lemon, and coriander. I deglazed the pan over heat with some white wine and fish stock, and the juice of all the lemon slices, then let it reduce slightly and then stirred through
some double cream.

Strain out the pips and dodgy bits through a sieve, and we’re good to go. Some of obligatory dodgy presentation and it’s a meal fit for a king… And what’s more… not one choking situation ! The lemon juice came through the sauce really well… so make sure you add plenty if you decide to give it a run. And do keep an eye on the fish, it will go from juicy melt in mouth to dry as the Kalahari in a very short space of time.

Just the kind of dish for a hot summer night, with a crisp glass of unwooded Chardonnay to take the edge off.

oven baked dhufish cutlets with lemon and coriander