Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Basement Dinner Sessions

What's this? A series of (literally) underground pop-up dinners from the funsters at El Publico? Hot diggity this is going to be fun. Kicking things off will be an event on Wednesday November 26 with guest Sydney chef and newly minted cookbook author Dan Hong of Mr Wong, Ms. G's and El Loco notoriety, then Mary Street Bakery head pastry chef Courtney Gibb will be throwing down with an all-dessert dinner on Thursday. Finally on Friday, everyone's favourite gardening chef Guy Jeffreys will be bringing the Millbrook show to the big smoke. For those who've wanted to enjoy Jeffreys' vegie-centric cooking but haven't yet made the trek out to Jarrahdale, your ship's come in. Get a posse together, then hit basementdinnersessions.eventbrite.com.au to book tickets. See you there.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Plentiful in Portland


A love letter to the eats, drinks and general weirdness of Portland, as seen in the August edition of QANTAS The Australian Way

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Force 15 - Bulls 9

"The quality of the man behind the player is the thing that’s getting us a lot of those results."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Eating out in Singapore

For travellers, food is one of Singapore's major draws. While you don't need me to tell you the odds of finding a delicious meal in Singas are very, very good, I reckon the below dishes and addresses deserve to be on any to-eat list (disclaimer: I've basically mirrored a stack of Instagram posts from my last few visits to the country and added footnotes and map links).

Since I'm not a Singaporean local, I wouldn't dream of labeling anything "best of", but I'm confident that all the below are solid examples of their respective genres. At the very least, they're priced really well and should help free up some extra dollars to invest at the country's new generation of watering holes.


Char siu and siu yook rice
After scoping this joint out over this year's Asia's 50 Best weekend, I finally got there in the middle of the lunchtime crush. I was lucky enough to nab a table near the counter and watch the team in action. One very, very well oiled machine with a couple of the waiters able to fill in for various stages of the order taking and filling process. The char siu (neck, I believe) was of the juicy and fatty variety but gosh was it sweet. Some heavy honey and/or maltose action here, and this is from someone that doesn't mind a bit of sweetness. The roast pork was charry and meaty rather than the five-layer Hong Kong style. All in all, a solid barbecue joint worth having in your Singapore black book (so long as you can handle the occasional rush of sugar).
Foong Kee Coffee Shop, 6 Keong Saik Rd, Singapore

Roti canai
I finally found it it! Mohamed Muslim Food is in a small cluster of shops behind the Golden Mile Food Centre that fronts onto Beach Road. The sign can be a little hard to read (I missed it the first time) so look for the blue awning and the colourful Warong Cik Jali sign. The throng of diners is something of a giveaway too. Lots of bowls of curry and plates of bread in front of eaters which is always a positive sign. The $2.60 spent on the roti canai and the one-buck teh remains money very well spent. Dense, flaky roti. Deep liver curry. Additionally, the walk from Bugis MRT station to here was great and included a stroll past the fantastically named Kampong Glam Community Club. The stall's next door neighbour - Sri Cempaka - has a healthy assortment of Indonesian breakfast items (mee rebus! Goreng pisang!) and its neighbour - Beach Road Home Made Pau Dian - is all about the bao.
Mohamed Muslim Food, Blk 17 Beach Rd, Singapore

All the satay
Impromptu satay showdown after visiting Gardens by the way (worth the price of admission alone because the domes are air-conditioned). And the winner is: Sri Geylang Saté (bottom of screen, mutton and duck)! In addition to having the heftier sauce (rich and spicy with good peanut chunkiness), reckon their sticks had the better char. Interesting to note each stall was grilling over different temperature coals. Sri Geylang was cooking over fiery coals while team CitySatay let its wood die down. Wish I'd seen the menu at Sri Geylang first: we would have gone a lot harder on the liver, heart and other offal sticks. Don't make the same mistake we did.
Satay by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Dr, Singapore

Singapore-style ramen
Intriguing "Singapore-style ramen" from a couple of fine dining escapees. For mine, the noodles are more miss than hit but damn the chashu, wontons and egg are on point. Wonder if they'd sell the pork belly as a standalone? At any rate, one of three winning lunch dishes we rocked that day at the Amoy Street Food Centre.
Amoy Street Food Centre, Stall #01-39 Tanjong Pagar Rd, Singapore 

Hainan chicken rice
You know what this is all about. Mad good rice, but so solid across the board. Excellent specimen of the national dish, as recommended by Singaporean food bible, Makansutra. If you're headed to Singapore, do yourself a favour and spend some time on the site and then buy a copy of the current guide the moment you get to Changi airport. Interestingly, some Singaporean fine dining figures also name-checked this place as one of the city-state's realest chicken rice examples together with the well known Tian Tian. Check it out as part of my man Pat's wrap of Singapore's new dining heavyweights.
Wee Nam Kee, #01-08 United Square, 101 Thomson Rd, Singapore

Chicken satay
I've been fortunate enough to eat great, charcoal-grilled satay in plenty of places but the sticks from Shi Xiang (one of the Satay Club originals) remain my benchmark: it's all about the nugget of fat they thread onto every skewer. While the Chinatown Complex deserves a starring role in any food trip, the presence of craft beer stall The Good Beer Company makes Smith Street's multi-level eating house a no-brainer.
Shi Xiang Satay, #02-079 Chinatown Complex, 335 Smith St, Singapore

Frog porridge
Always order frog porridge as two separate dishes. Always. You want your steaming congee in one pot and your sizzling gung bao frog in another, leaving you free to combine them yourself. When cooked in the porridge itself, the frog loses a lot of the silkiness that makes it such a tremendous protein. Very, very righteous gong bao frog from the wonderfully named Eminent Frog Porridge ($8, at your 3 o'clock, plus the congee at your 7) and a compelling reason to check out this 24-hour food centre. There's also a well regarded wonton mee joint here called Kok Kee (its wares are at 12 o'clock in the picture and the hawkers themselves are the hero picture for this post). Sure it's cheap, but the noodles were forgettable and the char siu dry and thin. Maybe it was an off day, but we didn't get what all the fuss about. Kermit, for mine, was hands down the star.
New Century Food Paradise, 380 Jalan Basar, Singapore 

Sunday, April 13, 2014


"Absolutely bloody stoked."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hopped Negroni

Although I’ve been toying with hop-infused booze for some time, it was the cold-drip Negroni at – deep breath – Enrique’s School for to Bullfighting that convinced me to get a move on. It also steered me towards a bit of drink-making kit I already had in the cupboard and was familiar with: ye olde Vietnamese coffee filter (I should also mention that David Nguyen-Luu had a cocktail on the Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth menu that also involved the same filters, but alas, I'm yet to road-test it). If you haven’t got one, a visit to Tran’s Emporium or your nearest Asian supermarket is a must. You’ll be able to pick up a complete kit consisting of filter, tray, tamp and lid for less than a fiver. As well as allowing you to explore the wonderful world of hop-enhanced cocktails, you’ll also be able to brew your own condensed milk-enriched Vietnamese iced coffee (ca phe sua da) in the mornings.

Like all things Negroni-related, don’t think of this as a set-in-stone recipe, but more of a suggested itinerary. From the type of hops and the amount used to the spirits and their ratios, there’s plenty of room for creativity. I might mention, however, that opting for a drier, more restrained vermouth (ie not Antica Formula) would probably help accentuate this drink’s bitter notes. In this instance, I reached for a bottle of Cocchi Vermouth di Torino rather than my usual Negroni vermouth-of-choice, Dolin Rouge.

And now, the hops. Before beer geeks don their battle flannel, I’m no home brewer. This drink is about taking one (a la mode) aspect of brewing and incorporating it in the fine art of making drinks. Perhaps there are more appropriate hops for this exercise. I'd be stoked if there was. But as a starting point, I’m chuffed with how nicely the Negroni played with the Saaz hops I'd bought from my local homebrew store. Straight out the bag, the hop pellets are a little too big to work in the filter so they'll need to be grounded down with a mortar and pestle (ground the pellets till the hops are about the same coarseness as, funnily enough, Vietnamese coffee). While I’ve settled on a ratio of one heaped tablespoon of crushed hops to 90ml of (undiluted) Negroni, feel free to get as oppy as you like. My advice, however, is start small and, if necessary, pass the drink back through the filter. Like the old cooking adage goes, it’s easier to put seasoning in than take it out.

Best of all, once you get this technique down pat, you can use it to flavour other drinks, perhaps using flowers that are local, in-season and not shipped in from elsewhere on the planet. Also, a disclaimer of sorts: while Google searches for “hopped Negroni” didn’t unearth much, this technique isn't new new and I'll willingly acknowledge that people have been flavouring booze since the advent of distillation. Still, it's relatively straight-forward and doesn't require anything woundingly expensive. And if it adds a new string to your drink-making bow, I'm happy. Oh, and I’m pleased to report it tasted how I hoped it would. Resiny hop aromatics with a pronounced bitterness to the usual Negroni flavour profile. Good luck and keen to hear any thoughts you might have.

Hopped Negroni
30ml Tanqueray 10 gin
30ml Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
30ml Campari
1 heaped tablespoon of crushed Saaz hop pellets

Stir gin, vermouth and Campari over ice for 15 seconds. Strain into a Vietnamese coffee filter filled with crushed hops and allow liquid to slowly pass through (this should take around four minutes). Pour hopped Negroni into a rocks glass with two large cubes of ice. Serve at once.

Friday, June 14, 2013

July truffle market in Perth

Black truffle and four-year-old Comté, Agapé Substance. Bazinga!

The below has been (lazily) copied and pasted from an email from the Gala Restaurant's Hans Lang. Anyone else thinking a hangover-busting bacon and egg roll souped up with fresh shaved truffle?:

Yes, this year's Truffle Festival in Mundaring has been cancelled. However, the Gala Restaurant together with the Farmers Market on Manning and The Wine & Truffle Co (the pioneers of truffle growing in WA) have joined forces and we will offer Fresh Manjimup Black Truffle and other Gourmet Truffle Products at the Farmers Market on Manning. The small “Truffle Market” will be on Saturday 6th, 13th and 20th of July only. Products available will include fresh Manjimup Truffle, Truffle Mustard, Truffle Salt, Truffle Honey, Truffle Aioli, Truffle Oil and of course the Gala Truffle Butter and the Gala Truffle Ponzu Dressing.

The Farmers Market on Manning is located at Clontarf Campus (opposite the Chem Centre, Curtin University), 295 Manning Road, Waterford.