Sunday, 26 April 2009

City circle train

Life's like that

Circular Quay Station

On our way home well and truly choc-a-bloc, full, stuffed, bloated...

Okay one more from Aria

Thanks to Ma & Pop and Gerard & Jasmine for the gift vouchers at Christmas that allowed us this evening of ostentatious debauchery.

Aria - fin

Happy camper.

Aria 11

Coffee and petit fours

Aria 10

The grand finale, bombe alaska.

Aria 9

Carrot granita with coconut foam

Aria 8

Yes, we went with the matching wines with each course... well I did. Michelle was more sensible.

Aria 7

Roast lamb

Aria 6.5

Pork belly.

Aria 6

Scallops

Aria 5

Peking duck consomme

Aria 4

Goat curd.

Aria 3

The view. Bridge to the left, opera house to the right. Here I am stuck in the middle with you...

Aria 2

Tuna sashimi.

Aria

Nothing special about the toilets.
First appertiser was kingfish sashimi in some kind of foam. No we didn't have it in the toilet.

Too early for dinner so we've gone for coffee

Jerry Springer all done

It was awesome. Blasphemous, irreverent, entertaining & hilarious. It is a full on Opera - sopranos, tenors and a fat lady wearing Viking horns. The whole hog so to speak. The singing and music were excellent. The language may be obscene and the story contemporary but make no mistake, this was opera. There were some surprisingly well known faces in the cast - Marcus Graham as the security guard and Nathan Foley, former Hi-5 star, was in the choir.

Michelle gives it 3 stars, 4 and a half from me.

Dinner at Aria next.

Jerry Springer 2

Jerry Springer

Inside ready to go.
Four rows from the front, centre stage.

Opera house shadow

Jerry Springer: The Opera & Aria Restaurant

This afternoon we're catching the matinee performance of Jerry Springer: The Opera at the Sydney Opera House. This is the controversial opera that has a few people frothing at the mouth because of its... um... blasphemy I suppose. Jerry Springer stars Aussie actor David Wenham and today's show is the last in this short week long run at the Opera House. The show also has a Facebook page here and a Youtube preview here.

After the show we're going to get a feed at Aria Restaurant, Matt Moran's restaurant at Circular Quay.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Creme Caramel

I've mentioned this recipe before but here it is in all its glory. The recipe came from Stephen Downes' fantastic book 100 Food Experiences To Have Before You Die.

  • 200 grams sugar - for the caramel
  • 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of water
  • 200 grams of castor sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 or 3 vanilla pods
  • 4 cups of milk

First up caramelise the sugar. In a saucepan heat the 200 grams of sugar with about a teaspoon of water and a teaspoon of red wine vinegar. Melt it till you get a beautiful tan coloured liquid. It will be extremely hot so be careful. Pour the syrup into an oven dish and roll it around till it comes up the sides about two thirds.

In another saucepan bring the 4 cups of milk and the split vanilla pods to the boil.


While the milk and vanilla are coming to boil blend up the 200 grams of sugar and the half dozen eggs. When the milk comes to boil strain and pour it into the sugar and egg mixture. Whisk away. Whisk as if your life depends on it. Not really but give it a decent whisk. Look at the picture below. The blurring isn't because of a really slow shutter speed it is because Michelle is whisking so fast she has become a blur. Really.

Pour the whisked mixture into the baking dish over the top of the caramel. The baking dish goes into a bain-marie. That is a fancy french term for a bigger dish with hot water in it. The water should come about halfway up the side of the creme baking dish.

Pop the whole kit and kaboodle into a oven pre-heated to about 180 for about 40 minutes. We usually cook it for a little longer. Our oven is crap so we may even cook it for another 10 - 15 minutes and bump up the temperature to 200. It is done when the top is brown and it wobbles when you shake it. Don't shake it like you would maracas for gosh sakes.

Put it in the fridge for a few hours and it will set perfectly. The fun part is when it comes to serving. Run a knife around the edge and turn it out on plate. Put the plate over the dish and invert it and it should just plop onto the plate. This is called living dangerously though. If it hasn't set properly it won't as much plop as splooge. This is messy. You could do what we do and just use a large spoon and serve it that way. The custard should be smooth and have an almost mirror like finish except you won't be able to see your reflection because it isn't a mirror it is custard. I'm not sure of the actual reflective properties of custard.

Looks good eh? Dammit though. I have to wait till tomorrow. This thing will be sitting in the fridge calling to me, taunting me with that classic French custardy goodness...

One final note. It is definitely better the next day. Preparing it the day before you want to have it makes it taste better. Anticipation? Maybe.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Late night dessert - crepes

With butter and sugar of course.

We are such food geeks...

We just dug this old can of olive oil we picked up in Provence in 2007.
What did you bring back from France guys?
Oil.
Riiiight.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

This evening's meal

Creamy celeriac and potato soup.

Steak with the French butter from the other night and mixed green vegies in butter and oil: zucchini, asparagus, sugar snaps and Italian beans.

This dessert is so simple it is almost a sin. Figs are marinated in Vincotto for an hour or so then lightly blow torched with a creme brulee blow torch. Drizzle the vincotto marinade over the top and add a scoop of mascarpone on the side to finish off. Very delicious. Very simple and very delicious, but I already said that. By the way vincotto (click here for more info) is literally cooked wine. Sometimes it can be a balsamic vinegar based vincotto. It is very sweet and has an almost syrup like consistency. We bought a couple of different brands from Fratelli Fresh and Jones The Grocer to see how they'd go. One local, from the Hunter Valley, and one from Italy. Two from two so far. Very nice.

Poor Copernicus is crook again

It was back to the vet again for Copernicus today. The poor little bugger threw up at least 3 times today. Hopefully it isn't too bad but the vet said no food for Perni till tomorrow when we get the blood work back. At least he hasn't chucked up for about 6 hours now.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Blue Swimmer Crab Pasta

Spaghetti alla granseola or Spaghetti with blue swimmer crab, cherry tomatoes and basil.

You probably shouldn't name your crabs. It isn't conducive to tearing them to pieces. Anyway the one pictured below was Harry. Tom and Dick have already had their legs removed from their carapaces. So yes, we used three blue swimmer crabs. And they were already dead. No dispatching required. No tiny screams to haunt your nights.

Apart from the crabs you'll need red and yellow cherry tomatoes, garlic, basil, chilli, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. A good pair of kitchen scissors to cut the ends off the crab legs up is handy too.

The first thing you have to do is clean the crabs, removing all the meat. Luckily enough we were taught how to this properly by Logan Campbell from Lucio's when we learned this recipe during a Ligurian cooking lesson at CIRA cooking school at Casa Barilla in Annandale. There is a trick to it but it is easy enough once you know how - click here to see a couple of blokes peel a cooked crab. The principal is the same as for raw - at least for opening up the body. If you're like us you'll have little pieces of shell and crab meat flying around the kitchen and a hungry cat pawing at you and complaining that the last piece of crab you gave him didn't touch the sides and... I digress.

Cut the tomatoes in half. Dice the garlic finely and roughly chop the basil. Cut, dice and chop. Sounds like a horror movie eh? No? Have you looked at the picture above?

Add the oil to the pan, add the garlic and fry for a minute. Add the crab meat and sauté for another couple of minutes. It is also as good a time as any to start boiling a pot of water for the spaghetti.

Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan cook until the mixture forms a sauce. You can squash down a bit on the tomatoes with the back of spoon to help this along. When the pasta is ready drain the pasta and add the pasta to the pan and toss it through the crab stuff. Salt and pepper to taste. Finish up by tearing up the basil and add it to the crab pasta. Serve it right away.

Serve right away after you pour yourself a beer or a glass of wine that is.