Saturday, July 24, 2010

the moon

My diet is ruined.

I didn't go to the moon, but I went to The Moon last night. Astronauts are just wasting their time, if you ask me.

After our pole dancing lesson in Perth (yes, you heard me), we decided to drive to Northbridge closeby for din dins. I was pumped: I've been wanting to go there for so long. It was everything and more I had imagined it to be. Situated in the middle of busy Northbridge on a Friday night, it was already buzzing by the time we got there at 7:30. I love the interior: dark, quirky and indie, old armchairs and tables that don't match, old pictures and random ornaments all over the place, blended with the chatter and slow beats playing created a very cosy, chilled atmosphere. Also loved the fact that our table was directly under a heater. Win.

Angie insisted that we order the Chocolate Pizza ($14), which we actually ended up eating first because the ice cream was melting.

I almost had babies.


The base wasn't like dough but crispy, a cross between something deep fried and baked. It was flaky and yum anyway. On top was melted marscapone cheese, chocolate sauce and walnuts, but not so much topping that it was too much to take: just the right amount for you to be able to still enjoy that perfect pizza base. The walnuts went so well with it: it took me a while to figure out what they were. It's not every day you find any kind of nuts on a pizza. 10/10.

Then we dished out the Marco Penne ($18.5) with chicken, bacon, broccoli, diced tomato, parmesean and cream. I usually opt for the healthier tomato based pasta option, but I quite liked this one. The cream wasn't too thick, in fact it was a little on the thin side compared to most types I've tasted, but the generosity of the sauce made for a very pleasant dish. The chicken could have done with some seasoning, but apart from that, not bad.

When choosing the pizza, I asked the girls: "Hey guys... is it lame that I'm looking at the Vegerian Pizza?". Then they laughed and gave an emphatic YES. But I we still ended up ordering it anyway ($18). Topped with mushroom, kalamata olives, zucchini, roasted capsicum, herb pesto and eggplant, it wasn't your average Super-Supreme kinda pizza from Dominos. And it didn't give you that oily, dense feeling in your stomach after you'd eaten it you usually get from fast food pizza, either. Again, the base was definitely a key player in its success, and the toppings were cut into big chunks and spread just thick enough to enjoy instead of gorging. What I liked about this pizza was that you could fully appreciate the taste of the capsicum, eggplant and zucchini without being distracted by a too-potent sauce or a mountain of cheese and herbs on top. Tasty.

Funnily enough, we managed to pass over two hours sitting there, talking and laughing and eating and talking and eating and talking. Memorable moments include giving a recount of what happened last week that made my friend SCREAM out gleefully something that I cannot repeat in the interests of my personal privacy. The Moon is the kind of place where you forget about what time it is: the vibe, the lighting, the music, the cosiness of it all. It seems to be frozen at around 1am when everyone's just chillin and having a good time. And according to the drunk chick on the other side of the room who leapt into the air and started crumping when "Lose Control" by Missy Elliot came on, yelling: "I LOVE THIS SONG! GANSTA RAP!!!"... a really good time.


>


Moon Cafe on Urbanspoon

cheeky

Wednesday night, headed to Cheek with my clubbing buddy for a night out ;). Unfortunately, the line outside Red Sea was despicable as usual, so we went to the Subi Hotel to kickstart. You probably can't see it, but in the photo at the bottom, a Tequila for her and a Jam Donut for me... which was absolutely delicious. I'm pretty sure I licked the shotglass clean, I have a MASSIVE sweet tooth. How ladylike.

Then we decided to go all out, it being the last week of uni holidays and all, and orderd a 'Pear Sour' cocktail, modelled below by the lovely Kylie. Being the biggest juvie, I've only ever had really sweet fruity cocktails like the Fruit Tingle or Sex on the Beach, or milky ones with heaps of Baileys in them. So I felt very refined indeed having this one hehe :)

The restaurant connected to the bar had the prettiest lighting. My friend tells me it's an excellent place for a dinner date. Oh, if only! x)

Jam Donut
  • 2/3 oz. Baileys Irish Cream
  • 1/3 oz. Chambord Raspberry Liqueur
  • 1 tsp sugar syrup
  • 2 pinches sugar

    Coat rim of shotglass with sugar using the syrup to make it stick. Add the Chambord Raspberry Liqueur to the glass and carefully layer the Baileys on top.

    Pear Sour
  • 1/2 oz. spiced sugar syrup
  • 1.5 oz. Absolut Pear
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 slice pear

    Mix all ingredients in shaker with cracked ice, shake, and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with slice of fresh pear.


  • Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Italy, portugal and mexico

    A little hung over and a lot of tired, so this is a short post.

    Went to Northbridge yesterday with mum to visit the gourmet Italian store: love it there. Olives and pasta and risotto rice spilling from shelves and overflowing out of baskets and bags. Coffee and preserved fruit so fragrant you could still smell it through the thick plastic packaging. The barista behind the deli counter who talked using his hands to gesture at everything in a way that could only be described as - passionate. And the steady buzz of conversation in rapid Italian coming from the people sitting outside drinking their espressos. Delightful.

    And I WANT to get my hands on some of that Grand Marnier chocolate!

    Then came shock of the day: gave my mum the option of eating dim sum or Nandos... and she chose Nandos! What the. I've always been a fan of the Peri Peri chips but the Chicken (mum ordered Mild... no fun! :P) was particularly good today. Extra tender and juicy.

    I think it's cool that they don't bring out your food with cutlery and just assume you're going to eat it with your hands. Mum got so disorientated it was hilarious. I've always wanted to eat meals like rice with my hands, like Indians do. Forks and knives just put more distance between you and your food - why on earth would you want to do that! Honestly. The ridiculous things that humans have come up with to try and advance themselves.





    Monday, July 19, 2010

    today is going to be a good day

    I woke up at five this morning for some strange reason. I didn't need to pee, I wasn't hungry, I wasn't suffering from insomnia or sleepwalking or nightmares. I was just really, really awake.

    So I did my laundry, walked the dog, and went down to IGA to buy a fresh punnet of strawberries and a tub of double cream. Then I proceeded to wake up my family plus the dog with the sound of our electric mixer and made a godawful mess of our kitchen. The ants will come round soon.

    But any day that starts with baking can only be one thing: a good day.







    I gave most of them away after I'd made them (the cream makes the sponge go soggy if you don't eat it within afew hours) to my nextdoor neighbours, my old boss at the cafe down the road where I used to work, and to a nice old lady sitting outside the bakery humming to herself. My family never eats anything I make, they always say its too sweet. Which is true most of the time. But apart from that, why would you want to keep cake to yourself when it was made to be shared with others.

    Just spreading the love, man.

    sweet on cupcakes

    Sarah brought these to dance this morning. What a darl :)

    It is so difficult to describe just how good they were. It was almost excruciating to eat them, as if as soon as you tasted them you just wanted to gobble the entire thing whole without pausing to chew. The icing was nothing short of decadent and nothing like the disgraceful, flaky, crumbly shit you see on some cupcakes these days.

    The oreo one was my fave. Omnomnom.



    food lie #234: there's nothing to eat in my house

    It never ceases to amaze me about how blind some people can be about the sheer amount and variety of food in their kitchens. Countless times I've been over a friends house, and faced with the question of 'What's for breakfast/lunch/dinner/a snack?', they casually flick their eyes over their bulging fridges and pantries choc-a-block with ingredients and utter that awful lie: 'There's nothing to eat in my house.'

    RUBBISH!

    Honey, there is ALWAYS something to eat in the house ;)

    Perhaps this is the side-effect of being raised by a single mum: when I was growing up, I would often come home to an empty house and a note scrawled on a bit of scrap paper: 'Pls cook some rice - no time, M.' And every now and again, perhaps a 20 dollar note for take away for me and my bropther. At my dads house it wasn't much better. Lets just say my dad was a bit experimental with his cooking.

    As a result of this, I learnt how to delve deep into the depths of our humble pantry, looking for something - ANYTHING to make something tasty. Many afternoons were passed with bags of flour, food dyes, tinned vegetables, frozen chunks of meat, and cooking chocolate (which I'm pretty sure was expired) scattered all over the kitchen benches and I discovered all sorts of weird and wonderful combinations.

    And if I remember correctly, my brother once had a creative side too. He used to make me my favourite dessert when i was little which was his own creation: milk, sugar and mashed jelly in a cup eaten with a spoon. Delicious.

    Here are afew things I've cooked in the last few days, after being told that there was no food in the house.

    Chicken Pasta a la Justin
    Serves 8

    Ingredients:
  • 3 jars tomato pasta sauce base
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 chicken thighs, cut into strips
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Basil, salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

    Method:
    1. Fry the onion with the oil over a medium heat, then add the carrot and cook til carrots are just soft.
    2. Add the chicken, some basil, salt and pepper and cook until chicken is no longer pink.
    3. Add the tomato sauce, bring to the boil and then simmer on low until the sauce thickens and actually tastes like a pasta sauce.
    4. Serve over spaghetti or spiral pasta. Whatever floats your boat.

    Dark Choc Tim Tam Raspberry Muffins
    Serves 12



    Ingredients:
  • 6 dancing and singing asians
  • 1 laptop pumping the backstreet boys and old school 90s music
  • Tim Tams
  • 1.5 cups plain flour, sifted (we used a tea strainer)
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1.5 cups raspberries
  • 0.5 cup dark brown sugar
  • Dark choc cooking choc chips
  • 0.5 melted margarine
  • 1 egg
  • 0.5 cup milk (We used lactose free because Justin was lactose intolerant...)

    Method:
    1. Preheat oven to 180C. Crank dat nostalgic music and cue dancing asians.
    2. Add butter, milk and egg to your dry ingredients until almost just combined
    3. Add in the raspberries and choc chips and mix evenly.
    4. Grease muffin tray and distribute batter. We sprinkled silver cachous and put a bit of tim tam on each one (kudos to James).
    5. Bake for 15 minutes or until you can poke a skewer through them and take it out clean.

    Apple Crumble and Hot Vanilla Custard
    Serves 8 (or 4 fatties)

    Ingredients:



    Apple crumble
  • 5 apples, cored and cut into 16ths slices (preferably green, we used red)
  • 2 tblsp water
  • 2 tblsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 60g butter
  • 60g caster sugar

    Custard:
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour


    Method:
    1. Preheat oven to 190C. Bring the apples, sugar and water to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes until apples are just soft. Drain and layer apples in a 1.5 litre baking dish
    2. Rub butter, flour and sugar together until you get pretty fine breadcrumbs. I added in some crushed scotch fingers for some chunky bits. Sprinkle this evenly over the apple.
    3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is a deep golden brown.

    For the custard:
    1. Heat the milk and cream on the stove with vanilla until it's steaming, but don't boil it.
    2. Whisk yolks, cornflour and sugar together in a separate bowl. Gradually add all the hot milk and cream to the yolks, whisking all the time.
    3. Return custard to the stove, and keep stirring on low heat until it tastes and has the texture of custard and not milk anymore. Don't overcook it or you'll get a rank smelling omelette thing.

    Make the custard while the apple crumble's cooking, then serve both hot together.

    *We didn't have any, but it's good with cinnamon mixed in with the apple filling or some cloves put into the topping. We didn't have any chopped walnuts for the crust either. Next time.

    Red onion Bruchetta
    Serves 1 (I am so ronery)



    Ingredients:
  • 1/2 a french stick
  • 4 cherry tomatoes diced
  • 1 tbsp grated strong cheese
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped spanish onion
  • Dried italian herbs, salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

    Method:
    1. Cut the french stick in half and brush with olive oil. Grill.
    2. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl then serve on top of hot bread. Drizzle with more olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    only in thailand (and east perth)

    Today for lunch me and a friend decided to relive our days spent in Thailand, eating meals in restaurants three (and sometimes four... or eight) times a day. We never, EVER thought about how much fat or sugar we were eating because we knew we would simply burn it off the next morning whilst hiking in the thickets of the northern hill tribe jungles, or perhaps trumping through leechy streams in heavy boots and 20kg backpacks. Pure bliss.

    Every time we rocked up at a restaurant, my friend and I would, without fail, go through a steady ritual we had developed from the beginning of our travels.

    Firstly, we picked a good table, of course. Somewhere not too hot, not too cold and with a good view. On most days our table was on a stretch of the Mekong, the river dotted with lanterns and the dark silhouettes of wooden boats along its banks just visible in the moonlight. Around the middle of the trip, we often ate lunch overlooking rice paddies as far as the eye could see, with groups of peacefully grazing oxen here and there. The most mundane seating we had to 'endure' during our trip was your typical south east asian streetside cafe dining: motorcycles stacked with families of 6 or 7 zooming past, rickety lorries packced with teetering stacks of merchandise and sometimes, animals, and a whole lot of busy people: frowning, passive, shouting, sweating, waving, speeding.

    Then we always scanned the menu and picked two or three dishes to share between the both of us, one meat one vegetable (balance was the key to every meal), and usually white rice to supplement. We always tried to try anything we hadn't had yet, and so we ended up trying all sorts of new, weird and wonderful food in Thailand.

    Then came the best part: eating what we'd ordered. This part was always accompanied by loud, unrestrained exclamations about how good/bad/spicy/delicious the food was, with lengthy comparisons to other meals we'd had, and almost always, we commented on how we could never in our wildest dreams get Thai food like this in Perth.

    This remains true, but today at the Basil Leaves Cafe & Restaurant in East Perth, we still got to have some pretty decent Thai food and reminisced about our times there.

    We ordered "Blanket Prawns" ($7.5), something I'm pretty sure isn't a traditional Thai dish but still hit the spot, juicy prawns in extremely crisp spring roll pastry with a sweet chilli sauce on the side.

    Our main dishes were Sweet and Sour Thai Chicken ($10.5), which was a bit of a letdown (could have done with more pineapple and less onion, and the chicken was a bit dry), but the Chee Choo Fish ($12.50) was yum. Served in a thick spiced coconut gravy, the fish was coated in a light batter that even when topped with the gravy, retained its crunch. The meat was perfectly cooked and well paired with the cashews. I'd definitely order this one again.





    Please forgive that the pictures of the mains are sloppy, I was so hungry when our food arrived that I forgot to take photos...

    One thing hasn't changed since returning to Perth: me and my friend still complain after our meal that we're SO. Full.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    un bel mariage

    Simply had to put up photos of a wedding I went to afew weeks ago, I'm kicking myself that I didn't bring my good quality camera. So the pics off my phone will have to do.

    But I guess either way, no camera would have been able to capture just how beautiful this wedding was, right from the flawless, delicate orchids floating in tall glass vases on each table to the way the bride and groom looked at each other.







    The best thing about this wedding was the free flow drinks from the bar including espresso coffee made by an army of waiters who were... wait for it... Italian and French. Every single one of them, complete with accents, who always addressed you as madamoiselle or 'my lady'.

    And only a freak like me would, when faced with all-you-can-drink alcohol and coffee, end up having more coffees than standard drinks by the end of the night.

    the Imp

    Ah, Victoria Park. Like a cross-breed between Northbridge (the 'quaint' restaurants and a large Asian population) and Subiaco (some decent specialty stores, boutiques and the street layout even looks kinda similar). However, I must admit it was the last place I thought I'd find one of the best cafes I've been to yet.

    The Imp was not exactly hidden away, but right on the highway with bright orange utopia on one side and some kind of supermarket on the other, under a dark brown sunshade with a few knobbly silver chairs and tables outside. Not much of a looker, the dark windows ensuring that one would only really go in if they were actually looking it.

    But upon entering the Imp, I can see why they don't exactly advertise their presence here: you wouldn't want all sorts of loudmouthed riff-raff coming in and desecrating this uber-cool coffee hangout. It's obviously popular enough already, judging by the many loud conversations going on from the back of the room where girls with short hair and the guys with long hair sat, everyone with piercings and/or heavy make up, and oozing with that careless, I'm-extremely-attractive-but-it-comes-naturally aura. Furthur proof this place is hip: they serve tapas. You heard me.

    The tall, dark and handsome barista had tattoos (bonus points already), was polite, prompt, unassuming, and didn't charge extra for soy in my long mac ($4) or for the scoop of vanilla ice cream with my rhubarb custard crumble ($5.50).



    The macchiato was delicious. A good quality bean, plenty of crema, and the barista work decent considering it was soy. I found myself eating the crumble first though, unable to stop once I'd started. The guy had warmed it in the microwave for me to just the right temperature. It was a perfect balance: the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth crumble, the slight tartness of the rhubarb compote and the custard which was so good that it could only have been made from scratch. Perhaps the only let down would have been the cheap store-bought vanilla ice cream which could have really made it a five star experience... but then again, not many cafes make connoisseur ice cream to go with their cakes (not in Vic Park, anyway).

    Scratch that, not many cafes make rhubarb custard crumble full stop. So really, who gives a stuff about the ice cream?!

    Being OCD, I simply must mention my delight at this cafe having not a single outdated magazine or newspaper in its possession: all of them laid out neatly just to the right of the counter, always replaced faithfully by the regulars who did their bit to keep their haven nice and tidy. That, and the largest, fullest tip jar I have ever seen were subtle little testimonies that the Imp is a damn good coffee spot.

    The Imp on Urbanspoon