Theme change

I’ve reverted back to the original theme i started this site with ages ago. It’s called Gentle Calm… and is a lovely minimal theme, which i like a lot as it doesnt detract from the content… which ok… is sorely lacking… but im working on it.

To see what i’ve actually been doing, check out my Flickr gallery. I seem to be able to update it more frequently than i get around to doing here.

More content and photos and recipes and reviews to come soon… i promise (ish).

Category change

I’ve changed the name of one of my categories from “Coffee” to “Espresso”. I think i’ve reached the point where i need to make the distinction between something you might find next to the drinking chocolate and sugar in the supermarket, and the stuff i spend hours reading about on the web, and pouring countless amounts of time and money into perfecting in my little home cafe/science lab.

Look forward to a few more “espresso” posts in the near future. You may have already seen some of my shots in the sidebar section or in the photo gallery… there’ll be plenty more of that too.

Now…time to go make one…

Reviews to Write

These are the restaurants i’ve been to recently that i plan to write reviews about… one day… perhaps never… this is here more of a mental prompt for me, rather than a way to show off at how i waste my money on eating out on a far too frequent basis.

So in rough chronological order we have:

* Star Anise – foie gras and pigeon pie… delicious
* Jacksons – the dego… too many sublime dishes, and too much wine… unreal
* Loose Box – traditional french food at its best, delicious terrine of rabbit, and more foie gras
* Tsunami – Shabu Shabu (with extra beef) !
* Lamonts – 6 courses of pure pleasure
* Eminem – Modern Turkish… very tasty.
* Duende – Fancy tapas… little morsels of goodness.
* Veritas – Looks nice… always empty ?
* Riverbank Estate – delicious food and cheap booze !
* Cream – Food by Cream + Wine by Matt = happy good times.
* Must Wine Bar – Tonight… aka my birthday…aka talk like a pirate day… arr.
* Maurizio Restaurant – Most authentic italian restuarant i’ve been to…
* The Prophet – Tasty Lebanese food… and cheap !
* Alt Heidelberg – Those Germans love their meat (well pork at least).
* Ciao Italia – An institution of hearty Italian food in South Perth.
* Billy Lee’s – A dirty secret… this used to be a regular spot for me… things haven’t changed much.
* Lava Stone Grill – Interesting concept… food comes out uncooked, you cook it yourself on hot “lava” stones.
* Diva Cafe – Mt Lawley, really nice little place which should be a lot more popular than it is. Modern Australian/ish food,
stylish setting.

* Sail & Anchor – Fremantle
* Vans – Cottlesloe
* Cinnamon Club – Leederville – New indian restaurant with possibly the worst restaurant music i’ve ever heard. To be written by Sharon.
* Red Teapot – Funky take on your average plastic fantastic Chinese restaurant

Think it’s time this post became unsticky because this list is going to keep growing… And it gets boring looking at it all the time.

Basil infused olive oil

This is another little tip I picked up from the Food & Wine Conversations with Kate Lamont. If anyone reading this is from Perth, I can not highly recommend these events enough. $60 for 6 courses of exquisite food, matched with equally superb wines… then you get a description of each dish as it’s being brought out by Kate herself, and to top it off you get to take home the recipes !

This little trick wasn’t one of the recipes, but did make an appearance as a garnish on the herbed risotto I mentioned earlier.

The concept is simple. You take a large quantity of both extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil.

The more industrious among you may then choose to pulverise your basil in a mortar & pestle, while gradually adding quantities of olive oil.

I however, am a generally lazy cook, and going to the effort of making flavoured olive oil is enough for one day… So i wisely choose to throw a large quantity of fresh basil and olive oil into my blender (kitchen whizz/insert colloquial term here) and completely eviscerate the mixture until its basically turned into sloppy green sludge.

At which point you’re essentially done.

You then take this concoction and put it into a container that can be sealed tightly and store it in the fridge.
The longer you leave the basil leaves in the mixture the more luminous the shade of green of your final product will be, and of course the stronger of the flavour of the basil through the oil.

I left mine in for a day or two, and then poured the mixture out through a strainer to get rid of the pulp, and leave just the oil, at which point it was transferred into an old olive oil bottle i conveniently had lying around.

So there you have it. The whole process of making the oil takes at most a half hour or so. Once its made you can use it as a funky garnish around your plates, or to add a bit of different slant to pasta/potato/salad dishes. The mind boggles at the possibilities.


Wine Heaven

I think i’ve found the promised land…

Living in Perth, you often come across an undercurrent of resentment towards our fair city. Specifically about what is available and when, how late the restaurants and clubs stay open, how late the grocery stores stay open (if they open at all), and generally how behind the times we are compared to the larger metropolises of Sydney and Melbourne.

I like to think however, that what Perth lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quantity. There are not as many restaurants as there are in Melbourne, but when you find those few special ones… you know you’re onto a good thing. You only have to look as far as Jackson’s and The Loose Box to realise that we have some of the finest food in the world served up for us every day.

Fine wine on the other hand, is a little harder to come by.

Of course everyone knows about the wealth of quality Western Australian wines from Margaret River, Pemberton, The Swan Valley, (just about anywhere else you can find a square of land big enough to plant some vines in)… But to find quality wines from interstate and overseas can be tricky.

Enter my new favourite place in Perth…Steve’s Bottle Shop

Yes anyone who knows Perth will probably remember Steve’s as the place where preppy university students from the nearby University of Western Australia go to get ridiculously drunk on cheap beer… Not that there’s anything wrong with that (!), i know when i was at uni i wasn’t looking for a rewarding experience when i went out drinking. My first favourite wine was the terribly sweet, and altogether embarrassing Brown Brothers – Crouchon/Reisling

But now that my palate is becoming a little more refined i have come to appreciate the finer points of wine… And now i have found my home.

Steve’s recently announced that they had completely restocked their bottleshop with all kinds of wines, but i had no idea the extent to which they’ve gone. Walking into the relatively dingy bottleshop, past the racks of beef jerky and cartons of VB, you get into a cave of bottles stacked from floor almost to the ceiling. Every known quality wine producing region in Australia/NZ/Spain/Italy/France/USA gets a run, and this is only the main room.

Venturing downstairs into the cellar is a whole new world for any wine lover.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Haut Brion, Chateau Margaux, vintages from many years, with significant price tags to go with them. I walked along just reading the labels, picking up the bottles and looking at the colour and style of the wines… I was only wishing i’d brought my corkscrew with me…

I settled on buying a few wines that were more in my price range, although look extremely good. I picked up a Chateauneuf du pape by E. Guigal, a Pinot Noir by NZ winery Rippon, and for a change (i seem to only ever buy reds), a bottle of Le Tertre, Du Lys D’or. Jack – the guy who runs the place, and who sourced the majority of the wines, let me know that this was actually declassified Chateau YQuem (one of the best dessert wine producers in the world).

Needless to say i’m very keen to try them all out, and will no doubt let you know how they went well. One is certain however, i have found my wine mecca… I will never slither through the depths of a Liquor Land or Liquor Barons again.


Hello Miss Silvia & Mr Rocky

Miss Silvia

Yesterday i welcomed two new friends into the household. They were Miss Silvia and Rocky, both of the Rancilio family.

After a long time reading reviews and searching through websites for information about espresso machines, grinders, and all the assorted paraphenalia that goes along with using and maintaining them, i finally decided to jump in.

I found the Silvia and the Rocky both on ebay, via a private seller. The photo’s looked good, the price was reasonable compared to what i’ve seen and the dealer seemed reputable and so i went for it. I dropped my bids in with a week left to go, and lo and behold if a week later i had won both auctions !

So yesterday they arrived and after a quick check to ensure they were in good working order Sharon and I got them working.

The first few shots left a lot to be desired, and after some grind level changes on Rocky and a few back flushes on Silvia we
were back in business. I won’t say the espresso is great yet… but it’s definitely on its way.


Update: Got some great info from Dan the seller, and done a lot more reading on how to get the Silvia setup right for consistently good shots. Sharon is kicking my butt so far… She made an awesome short macchiato for me last night, don’t think i’ve tasted one as good in recent memory.

Check out the photos if you want the real deal :)