Pod and Moo

2013-11-14 19.00.23As part of the week of beer festivities this week in Canberra, we went to Pod Foods for a Moo Brew beer degustation.

We started outside with the very fine Pilsner accompanied by some equally fine “bar snacks” – the saucisson cigar was particularly delicious, but none of us said no to a second round of anything. It was very pleasant out in the courtyard at Pod – they were lucky that it was a particularly nice evening for it.

2013-11-14 19.48.53The first course was a poached egg. Pod do a lot of their cooking sous vide and this was one good example. Nearly as good as the poached egg at Chef Mavro in Honolulu it was cooked perfectly. The flavours were great though a overabundance of the “sand” threatened to overwhelm the rest a little. The accompanying Hefeweizen was lovely and drinkable – a great summer beer.

The Moo Brew beers are unpasteurised and thus need to be stored in the fridge. We are lucky that our bottle shop at Ainslie has a good collection.

The next dish was the prawns and chili mussels accompanied by the Belgo. The prawns had been cooked and turned into the underlying sheet – it was delicious and worked well with the Belgo which was slightly more bitter but truly flavoursome.

We got a chance to hear in detail about the beers as well as personal visits from the chefs who answered our various inquiries about cooking methods and so forth. Pod had been given the beers and came up with the range of dishes to match.

2013-11-14 21.02.11While one would always prefer to see a more sustainable fish used than swordfish, the dish was great with the chorizo offsetting rather than overwhelming the fish. The pale ale was again lovely and worked well with the fish.

2013-11-14 21.35.41The meat dish – steak – was accompanied by a dark ale which is one of my favourite types of beer. The beef, again cooked sous vide, was melt-in-the-mouth perfect and who doesn’t love a well cooked baby beetroot. The dark ale is also excellent, earthy and tasty.

The final dish was dessert which was accompanied by a “surprise” beer which turned out to be their reserve aged stout. Moo make only a limited run of this one and so it is rather expensive but absolutely worth it. Rich and tasty and smooth it was a fine accompaniment to the espresso sponge. The dessert wasn’t my favourite dish but it was still well done.

And that was it. It was a lovely evening with friends with great atmosphere and fabulous food and drink. Would definitely do it again next year if there was another.

Week 3: Road trips galore

2013-01-13 19.30.04We had a quick couple of days in Adelaide after Kangaroo Island, which included an afternoon of roller skating at the Blackwood Recreation Centre and two dinners with the extended family then we left the boys behind and had rather different company in the back seat for the road trip back to Canberra.

2013-01-15 06.59.13-1 At home we discovered the asbestos-wrought devastation to next door – and it must be said it is disturbing to look out of your kitchen window and see people three metres away working in blue suits and respirators.

2013-01-16 08.52.16 2013-01-16 09.38.31There were bags and bags of vegetation and soil being taken away for proper disposal. And now we have no fence between us.

Anyway, a couple of days back at work and then it was off to Sydney for Jasmin and Andrew’s birthday dinner at Tetsuya’s. We discovered that there was an excellent cocktail bar right next to our hotel due to the gin-knowing Anne on Twitter. So cocktails it was. That’s my negroni.

2013-01-18 21.07.50Tasks for Saturday included visits to Paddy’s market to buy covers for phones and iPads and other bits and pieces…

2013-01-19 13.16.14(I couldn’t resist buying this for my expected work iPhone 5)…

2013-01-19 13.00.45…and a visit to the giant duck in Darling Harbour.

2013-01-19 14.59.27James and I also encoutered Chinese dragons being used to launch Thai curry sauce (well, it is all Asian isn’t it?) which were also being filmed for a show I’d never heard of called Recipe to Riches. We felt sorry for the production assistant who had to hold one of the host’s cigar during takes.

And Tetsuya’s…

2013-01-19 19.13.07 Well, the seafood dishes were fabulous, particularly the Salad of the Sea. I was less impressed with the two meat dishes but the desserts were lovely. I was a bit underwhelmed by the wines, a couple were very good but one or two failed to impress. Over all, I thought that the price-quality ratio wasn’t as good as many other degustations I had been to. But it was a lovely evening.

And there is always time for another gin-based cocktail.

2013-01-19 19.22.05

Snapshots: Breakfast martini


If it has to be the last day of holidays, why not a breakfast martini? Had this delicious one this morning at the Elk & Pea. Delicious.

Tali Wiru

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As our fabulous indulgence while at Yulara, James and I went on the Tali Wiru dinner. This involved being driven out to a dune top to drink champagne while watching the sunset and then be served a haute cuisine meal under the stars. It was fabulous.

The views of Uluru and Kata Tjuka were spectacular, and the champagne was French. The canapes were also delicious, especially the gorgonzola and busy honey tarts. And the didgeridoo playing was pretty good as well.

There were only six of us for the dinner – three couples – and we each got our own table under the spectacular full moon.

The food was fabulous, particularly considering it was being cooked in a kitchen in the middle of nowhere. My barramundi with macadamia and lemon myrtle crust was particularly delicious. It was accompanied by generous amounts of well chosen wines – the Adelaide Hills were particularly favoured for the whites.

We had a talk about the stars before dessert and then cognac and indigenous culture after dessert before heading back to Yulara.

It was one of those rare once-in-a-lifetime experiences – surrounded by 360 degree dessert vistas which were particularly spectacular at sunset, with a giant full moon, a lovely dinner which was of the quality and privacy of the best Australian restaurants and to see one’s own shadow from an amazing full moon. Stunning.

Tex Mex time!

When you have spent the weekend on your feet, talking about skilled migration, and then managed a hard core shopping trip (it is awesome that the shops in Houston are open til 7pm on a Sunday), a frozen margarita is exactly what you feel like. So it was lucky that our choice of Pappasito’s for dinner presented us with the opportunity for fabulous frozen margaritas!

James had been enthusiastic about the table-side guacamole of Tex Mex restaurants when he had been to San Antonio last year (one of the few things about Texas that made him at all enthusiastic, that and $1 Coronas), so we gave that a whirl pre-mains. Delicious – and naturally demonstrably fresh.

The restaurant was entertaining in its eclectic decor – and the neon beer signs above the bar always make me think I’m in a Supernatural episode.

The it was onto the main course.

I had a chicken burrito which was enormous. A couple of my dinner companions went for the steak fajitas which they thought we fabulous. The burritos were good – but so much food! Like a number of meals I had in the US, I didn’t manage to eat them all. I actually had fajitas myself the next night in Austin at Chupacabra Cantina.

Again it was delicious, and again I didn’t manage to eat it all. In Austin as I was alone I actually sat at the bar, and a couple of cold Coronas (though not $1 ones – $3.85) were very welcome after walking around in the 30+ heat of the Austin afternoon.

We don’t get very good, or indeed much Tex Mex at all in Australia, and particularly Canberra, so it fun to be somewhere where there was lots of it, and it was all pretty cheap and good. Even the tacos I had at Dulles airport at Chipoltes were pretty yummy!

A year in the life…day 109: water’s edge

At the lake in the middle of the night. We clebrated Rachel’s birthday tonight at Water’s Edge. The food was pretty good, but it was rather disappointing that on four different occasions the wines I chose were unavailable. Not a great hit rate. Nonetheless, a very lovely evening with friends.

Cooking and Eating

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Back before Christmas, we wandered off to Senso to celebrate Jasmin’s birthday. The idea of Senso is that you, assisted by the chef, cook up your own food for later consumption and get a creative cooking experience.

We divided into three groups. Jasmin, Helen, Michelle and I volunteered to take on the salmon – I rarely cook fish at home, it is usually James who does it.

We coked it up with a herb crust which was rather delicious.

The boys meanwhile volunteered their services at pasta making – much kneading and rolling and shape making ensued.

The pasta was also extremely good when it had a bit of sauce dashed over it.

The third group, which included Rachel, made salad and vegetable type entrees – scrumptious and aesthetically pleasing heritage tomatoes featured heavily.

Once the entrees were done, we all sat at a long table and were served up our food. It was all good  – simple in general but good quality fresh ingredients. For main course the chef went off and whipped us up some steak – again straightforward, but pleasing to the mouth.

While the food was good and the evening enjoyable, the “cooking experience” part of it was a little disappointing. All of us attending are avid cooks who have done all sorts of thing in the comfort of our own kitchens and a number of us have done formal cooking classes before. The experience seemed more aimed at non-cookers, or those who are a bit tentative in the kitchen. From my point of view, I would have liked a bit more in the way of tips and insights. The free form approach allowed for flexibility, but at times it was a bit unstructured, and one could have hoped for a little more guidance or expertise. We would have been happy to get in and help with the mains and dessert for example.

A lovely night with friends, but for the expert level cook, you probably won’t learn much Definitely a fun experience for those who are getting a handle on the cooking thing.

Also, he could have been a but more generous with the wine when we were eating!! We were paying for it.