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This and that

which apparently means nothing specific.

I do have various blog post topics in mind, but having just spent the morning in the garden assisting David with sawing up dead trees, I have opted for a this and that post.

A very expensive night out

$750 to be precise, for which reason we shall not be attending. Mind you it's a very interesting, if somewhat precious idea. I saw this in my Melbourne Food and Wine Festival newsletter. It's a specially curated meal at Vue de Monde at the top of the Rialto Tower, in conjunction with The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra:

"Journeying through four themed spaces atop the Rialto Tower, guests will experience a thoughtfully curated multi-course pairing of food, drink and sound designed to invoke colour, that in turn reminds us of a mood, that magically becomes music."

It's a somewhat esoteric nod to synaesthesia - that curious and rare condition in which one sense is experienced as another - numbers as colours for example. There will be live music from various ensembles from The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in each of the four spaces and Vue de Monde food to complement it. The dish at the top is, I think a version of the absolutely delectable cucumber sorbet that we had on our only trip to this fine dining establishment. A meal at Vue de Monde is theatrical as well as delicious so I suppose it's a natural choice for this sort of exercise. Nevertheless $750.00? even if does include:

"an immersive menu encompassing snacks, multiple courses & dessert, alongside matched cocktails, wine & live music pairing."

But still that's a lot of money. Will anybody go? Probably. I guess there are a lot of people with that sort of money and nothing to spend it on at the moment. It's on 24th and 25th August. Let's hope for their sakes that we are not still in lockdown. You'll need a chauffeur too if you are going to drink that much booze.

Food as art I guess. A bit like haute couture.

An apology to Sue

Thank you Sue for pointing out that there were indeed poppies in Umbria and that actually I got the wrong tree. This is the right one and I see that now. I was looking for a bigger tree, but I now see that it was actually an olive tree. How could I have missed this? And there are the poppies and the grasses so clearly shown in the painting. The similarities are now strikingly obvious. I also forgot to say yesterday that even though Sue had the actual photograph to hand, her painting shows very clearly how we reimagine our memories, investing them with emotions that we may not actually have felt at the time. And this is not a criticism. I really love the painting - so much more expressive of the feeling that place inspired than my photograph..

More nostalgia and a recipe

When I was browsing through my photo libraries the other day I came across this photo. It's pretty old now because that's my old kitchen before renovation which must be well over five years ago now. Obviously it's winter - I'm wearing a jumper and Bryn, my older son, a beanie. We don't cook much together - either then or now - which is why I immediately moved it to my computer desktop for use some time And here we are. He is like his two sons. Doesn't really immerse himself in cooking but enjoys it when he does, and is pretty good at it too. We are cooking one of my very favourite recipes Chilli chicken with noodles, from Charmaine Solomon's Thai Cookbook - the book that first taught me how to cook Thai food.

Alas I could not find the recipe online so here is a brief summary - it's a very quick dish.

First you stir fry separately and very quickly 2 dried red chillies, 1 tablespoon dried garlic flakes and 1/2 cup peanuts, drain and cool slightly then process until chopped fairly small. In a wok fry one tablespoon red Thai curry paste (or green for that matter) for a couple of minutes, add chicken strips, and cook until the colour changes, add 1/4 cup water, 2 optional tablespoons of chilli sauce, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and boil for a minute. Then add 220g cooked and drained rice noodles 2 tablespoons lime juice and 1/2 cup sliced spring onions, tossing over and over until mixed through. Sprinkle with peanut mixture and chopped coriander and serve. I sometimes add some sliced green beans with the sauces. Very quick, very delicious. The peanut mixture is what really makes it I think.

More chicken

This was in this week's Guardian newsletter. Just another chicken recipe I suppose. It's called Chicken with garlic and almonds and it's author is Claire Thomson. But I just loved the look of it. More crunchy things on top - breadcrumbs in this case I think. But there are two whole bulbs of garlic in there and some sherry which makes it just a little bit different. I'm going to try it sometime soon. For two I would only need one garlic bulb.

Some words on salad from Jay Rayner

I know that every now and then I have mentioned that I'm not a huge fan of salad, and so when I read these words in The Guardian newsletter I just had to share them. It's summer over there remember. I wish I could write like this:

"When these, the summer months, roll around I imagine myself to be one of those heat-kissed, carefree types in a loose white linen shirt, doing sensitive things with nature’s seasonal bounty. I desperately want to be the man who dreams of halving the pertest of cherry tomatoes, then showering them with the petals of purple chive flowers. Add glugs of peppery olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, a crunch of sea salt, then push the plate into the middle of the table while whispering: “When the ingredients are this good you just need to let them shine, don’t you?"

I want to be the man who pairs curls of charred squid with fronds of balsamic-slicked rocket; who places ice cubes into bowls of brilliant red gazpacho with a self-satisfied sigh; who does interesting things with berries and a dollop of creme fraiche. I want to be this man but I am not. My heart and, more importantly, my stomach aren’t in it. I must acknowledge my true nature. I am a winter cook currently forced to endure the summer months. ...

While the hot summer months mitigate the good things, the cold winter months do not exclude the feeble pleasure of summeriness. If you want a tomato and chive salad alongside your steak and kidney suet pudding in December you can have it. Knock yourself out. That doesn’t work the other way round, does it? No, it doesn’t. I rest my case."

I'm probably breaching copyright rules by reprinting such a big chunk of The Guardian, but you can read the article in full here. On my list of coming topics is 'shopping' which includes that dig about the perfection of ingredients. Anyway - I liked it.

I am cooking stews with the grandkids tonight. Mine will be a comforting beef stew complete with dumplings, although I will not confuse them with those. The girls are cooking curries. I think the boys are doing something with beef. Winter comfort food all round and not a salad in sight.

Fusion carbonara

From Coles Magazine Japanese-style carbonara. Yes, Japanese. Would this work do you think? Actually maybe even more interesting than the fusion concept is the fact that this is obviously aimed at the busy housewife who uses a lot of readymade stuff, because the prime ingredient is Coles Kitchen Creamy Carbonara Sauce - and I don't think of that kind of cook as being interested in fusion cuisine. But I'm probably being snobbishly unfair. As well as the ready made sauce, there is miso paste in there - and I am yet to find that on my local Coles shelves I have to say - and nori seaweed plus Italian pancetta - well specifically Provedore Round Pancetta, which I am assuming is actually Australian. It's one of those recipes that you find in the magazine that publicise other people's products as well as their own. Japanese, carbonara. Do the two go together? Very beautiful picture though. One could be tempted.

Creamed honey

David loves honey, and contrary to popular taste he likes his honey crystallised. It's difficult to find any in the shops although occasionally you see some tucked away at the back usually. So he buys runny honey and mixes it with the crystallised batch that he currently uses, and it becomes crystallised itself. However, the other day he mistakenly bought some creamed honey, thinking it was crystallised and he won't touch it. So I set out to find what you could do with it.

Well the first thing to note is that creamed honey is just honey spun in some kind of centrifugal machine until it goes creamy rather than granular. It's just honey and you can make your own at home. There are lots of people eager to tell you how. Runny honey, on the other hand sometimes has water or glucose added to it to keep it runny. As a child I actually preferred creamed honey, and these days I'm not that much of a fan of honey in general, although I do use it occasionally in cooking. It has too strong a taste for me.

But I did say I would see what one could do with creamed honey and have actually come up with nothing except spread it on toast and drizzle it on pancakes. So I reckon I shall just have to make a honey cake or something and use it in that. If it's just honey surely it will work. I couldn't even find out how to liquefy it. Yet another occasion when the internet is not the source of all human knowledge.

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