Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Take a Peak at my Plate

I’m a well fed gal. I like to make food. I like when friends make food for me. I like when chefs in restaurants make food for me. I like that I study food, and that all my friends and classmates also like to eat my food and make food for me to eat and eat food with me at restaurants and shop for food with me and talk about all the food we experienced together and how it all relates to the history of gastronomy or food and drink in contemporary western society.

My classmate Jackie is at the top of my food buddy list lately. Apart from supplying me with fresh eggs from the chooks she keeps in her backyard, she has done an excellent job at keeping me full and happy in recent weeks. I shared her recipes for Thai Curry with Prawns and Lemongrass Beef Stir Fry in a previous post. I must have been a good dinner guest because she’s invited me back for an assortment of Indian curries (her specialty)….

…including chicken curry, lamb curry, her mom’s fish curry, daal, and yellow rice with black mustard seeds.

I also got to experience her grilled leg of lamb with pine nut, parsley, and garlic stuffing….

…along with turmeric roasted potatoes and caponata.

She also made up a batch of harissa and gave it to me and our fellow gastronome buddies to test.

I made a spice paste with the harissa along with caraway, cumin, lemon, coriander, paprika, ginger, garlic, saffron, and some extra olive oil (not as yummy or luxurious as the Joseph’s EVOO Jackie used in the harissa) and gave my chickie a nice little massage and allowed her to take a nap in the fridge for a few hours.

I then braised her in some homemade chicken stock, then roasted her with some Brussels sprouts until her skin was crisp and golden. Served her with lemon couscous and the braising liquid, and of course extra harissa.

Jackie – you’re a genius!!!!!

I recently hosted my first dinner party – something I used to do almost weekly in Boston and have been missing dearly! My classmate Amy, a chef from Peru, and I went to the market together and got all the fixins for a proper Latino feast.

She banged out an incredible meal, chopping and rolling and stirring and whisking and steaming and roasting and tempering and baking and frying and boiling and pounding away in my tiny little kitchen. I had originally intended to cook all the food but when I saw her skillz I figured, hey, it’s not often you have a real chef in your kitchen, so I let her work her magic!

Roast citrus pork shoulder with almond crust and strawberry rocoto marmalade... tostones with parsley chimichurri, achiote rice with leeks, green beans with capers, and lychee martinis.

Three of these menu items are notable. First, I’ve never been as excited as when I found plantains in the market! That in itself was the reason I decided to host a party. For real. And, when I was in Sydney I found a Peruvian restaurant that sourced rocoto paste and was able to score a jar for the strawberry rocoto marmalade. And Peter splurged to buy Grey Goose for the martinis, something none of us had had since moving to Australia. Wanna know why? Cuz a bottle of Grey Goose is $70 here. And vermouth is $30. So, Peter basically dropped $100 on liquor, plus buying martini glasses for the occasion. Thanks, P-Man. Cheers to you.

Liquor is obviously prohibitively expensive here, so wine and beer are certainly the way to go.

Another notable plate was my meal at The Hundred Eaves, a restaurant in a renovated church in McLaren Vale. Much more on this amazing restaurant later, but on this visit Leena and I started with chicken liver pate and damper, the Aussie version of a biscuit (so delish that I bought a pate to-go bag for home).

We shared a local vegetable pie with a haloumi crust…

…and Bogan’s Choice, a rib eye steak with open farce of native spices and nuts.

One of the best meals I’ve had in Adelaide so far. Leena, Adam, Anthony and I, along with Candy and Cherry (I wish I could make this stuff up), two Adelaide newbies from China, raved about our meal and the personal attention of the owners and chef and I am going back this weekend for my birthday so more to come!

The last meal of note was a special tasting and dinner on Value Adding South Australian Lamb, the culmination of a research project by Uni Adelaide, SA Government, and TAFE SA. The focus of the study was to alter the flavor of lamb by feeding it different diets, ie of olive oil and garlic, to make the meat more appealing to international consumers (notably in Japan and Korea). Coming from a non-lamb eating country, I understand that those who are not used to the strong aroma or flavor of lamb may not be attracted to the product. We sampled the “value added” lamb as a lamb shank, shallot & parsnip puree tartlet... slow roasted shoulder on chick pea tagine... and grilled cutlets with feta mash and kasundi.

And, I must end on another true Aussie note. Chef Adam, artistically placing sausages on the barbie.

K, gotta go eat now.

1 comment:

Jackie Singh said...

Hey cari, you are way too kind girl!!!!!! You make the food what it is, beautiful from appreciation.
Yep, Adelaide does have some backwater hidden treasures, the fun is finding them all. Gorgeous site, love it.