Archive for the ‘Food for Thought’ Category

Words by A Girl Has to Eat 
Photos by Food Porn Nation

Last weekend, we were invited by Australian chef Chris Jordan, formerly at the acclaimed Flying Fish & 4fourteen restaurants in Sydney, to his pop up restaurant ‘Tasting Room’. Tasting Room is the first venture by Chris, and with it he intends to bring together a variety of themed dinners that draw inspiration from a mixture of local establishments ranging from chicken shops to cocktail lounges.

Tasting Room is located at Startisans, an indoor food market on Shelton Street in Covent Garden that showcases artisan food producers at lunchtime on weekdays. As his home is a local food market, he intends to use ingredients from nearby farmers’ markets and small businesses. The venue will hold a large communal table where diners are encouraged to bring their own drinks and which will also facilitate a sharing dining experience. Six ‘tasting room’ events with be held a month with regularly changing menus. Future events will look to collaborate with pop-up chefs from Michelin-star backgrounds.

Chris says, “I set up ‘A taste’ to provide a genuine alternative in the London restaurant scene. Now with Tasting Room as a more permanent fixture, I’m trying to demonstrate how inventive Modern British cuisine can be with a real emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients served with an air of fun and excitement. But ultimately it’s all about discovering unexpectedly delicious food in a truly relaxed setting.”

Last weekend’s menu drew upon teas by Yumcha, a teashop with locations around London including Soho. The starter was a ‘Caramel Sweetheart’, cauliflower and scallop, a complex dish consisting of beautifully seared scallops and fresh sweet scallop ceviche. Accompanying the scallop was a lovey cauliflower puree flavoured with ‘Caramel Sweetheart’, a white chocolate and caramel fudge tea, some tasty cauliflower cous cous and shaved cauliflower. The latter two elements completed the dish nicely by adding crunchiness and texture. This was a wonderful, skillfully executed plate of food.

London Food Blog - Startisans, Covent Garden - Tasting Room, slow roasted suffolk lamb shoulder, turnip &  'Egyptian Nights'  Jelly

Slow roasted Sufflok lamb shoulder with salt baked turnips, pickled baby turnips, turnip tops and ‘Egyptian Nights’ jelly was next. The lamb was tender and paired well with the jelly which was mint and chamomile.

Our next course was a ‘Chai Black’ braised Gloucester Old Spot pork belly with blood orange, burnt leek and shaved carrot was also really tasty. The pork belly was tender and delicious, and the crackling was good and crunchy. The ‘Chai Black’ (cinnamon, ginger, aniseed, chicory root, cloves, black pepper and Assam black tea) was used to flavour the pork and was a nice touch. We were also served a large side dish of orange roasted carrot salad that ensured none of us went hungry.

London Food Blog - Startisans, Covent Garden - Tasting Room, ‘Chai Black’ braised Gloucester Old Spot pork belly with blood orange, burnt leek and shaved carrot

 

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premium kalbi short rib - Kintan, Holborn

Kintan is the first yakiniku-style restaurant to open in High Holborn, London. Yakiniku literally translates into grilled meat and is considered as the Japanese take on the Korean barbecue. This is a style of Japanese BBQ where the diner can order a selection of bite sized meats, seafood and vegetables to be prepared over table grill. The best part of the experience is being interactive with your food and watching it sizzle away just the way you like it.

Kintan - hot oiled seared salmon

Whilst Kintan specialises in grilled meats, there is a selection of appetisers, salads, rice and noodles.  To start we ordered the hot oil seared salmon (£7) which came beautifully served with a house citrus sauce. This sashimi grade salmon simply melted in the mouth as the hot oil gave the salmon a gentle warm sear.

Tuna tartar volcano - Kintan

We also had the tuna tartar volcano (£7), the tuna tartar was prepared with a delicious spicy mayo. This was delicious and fresh but what made this dish really special was the textual contrast of the deep fried rice cracker against the creamy tartar and the addition of caviar sprinkled on top.

tofu chigae - Kintan

The tofu chigae (£10), a spicy tofu stew was served with a combination of ground chicken, kimchee, enoki mushrooms and egg. The base of the stock was enriched with a gorgeous oxtail stock and enhanced with the spicy addition of kimchee and chiage (soybean) paste. The highlight of this dish was the tofu itself, it had the most incredible, delicate and smooth texture I have ever experienced which absorbed the wonderful intense flavours of the broth. Unfortunately, the egg turned out overcooked and rubbery but otherwise this was still a fantastic bowl of soup with great intense flavours.

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Mussels with white wine, garlic and cream sauce – Poules Moules, Bruge

mussels fpn

Apart from the quintessential eats like Belgian chocolate, waffles, fries and beer. There is the must have item that towers them all. Belgian Mussels – Belgium’s national dish.

Moules Frites they call it, meaning Mussels and Fries. The approximately 1.5 kilogram serve will have you bursting at the seams yet you will still find yourself gorging your way through, suckling each and every shell. Waste not want not. They’re not little pissy ones either. You can see these mothers from out of space!

Belgian mussels can be prepared in a variety of ways. You can have them with white wine, shallots, parsley and butter. Or simply steamed with celery, leeks and butter. My favourite is when they prepare it with white wine, cream and garlic. Otherwise you can have it with Belgian beer instead of white wine.

Mussels typically can fetch up to the 30 euro – 50 euro mark, after all we in Belgium. Not cheap! The two places that I tried Belgian Mussels, came highly recommended to me by Belgian locals and rated as great value (approx 25 euro) and extremely good. I am talking “these are the best mussels of my life, type of good and I would come back to Belgium just for these.

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waffle collage - fpn

Long time no post! I apologise for the radio silence. I have been crazy busy with relocating to London and planning my trip around Asia, Europe and US. Now that that things have settled down, you should be hearing more from me again, particularly from the likes of London ☺

My first stop in Europe is Belgium and all I want is a waffle. It’s been a dream of mine to eat a Belgian waffle in Belgium. Do you also have these types of foodie fantasies that need living out?

I am told it is best to buy them from the mobile waffle van because these are guaranteed to be fresh. The waffle vans prepare an exact amount of waffle batter for that day and they cook these to order. Some places prepare the waffles where they reheat these to order and in my opinion you can’t beat a fresh waffle. You have to get in quick though because once the vans sell out, they’re out! In Bruges, I found the mobile waffle van in front of city hall. I order my waffle with Belgian chocolate and strawberries. All waffles come with a Belgium flag. Cute! One bite and I am in love. I am going to have a waffle everyday. That’s a total of 4 days and 4 waffles. Yeah!

I discovered during my time that there are actually two types of waffles you can find in Belgium and not just the one. There’s the Liege waffle and the Belgian/Brussels waffle both with their own distinctive characteristics.

Liege w nutella - fpn

Liege waffle with Nutella

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I’ve started on the 5:2 diet and I have been sharing on my instagram @foodpornnation what I eat on feast days and 5:2 diet recipes on my fast days. Essentially you consume a quarter of your calorie intake to receive the benefits of fasting rather than actually having to fast (no eating). On the upside, you get to have your cake and eat it too!

Scientific trials of intermittent fasting showed that the benefits include lowering  your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, alzheimer’s/dementia & what we all love to hear, WEIGHT LOSS!

For ladies, this means consuming 500 calories and for gents 600 calories for two non-consecutive days. On other days, there is no calorie restrictions. You can eat your ice cream, burgers and cheese and enjoy all these health benefits as long as you do not overindulge too much, which is ideal for a foodie like me. It sounds a little crazy but when you watch the documentary, Eat, Fast and Live Longer you will be pleasantly surprised – click here to watch. Dr Michael Moseley and Mimi Spencer, subsequently released The Fast Diet Book, which is also very compelling. It will change your life as it has changed mine. This is something I will adopt for the rest of my life, this I am certain of.

500 calories probably sounds a little steep, but I have found if you are smart and spend your calories wisely, it is very achievable. So far, I am really enjoying the challenge of coming up with recipes that are delicious and fit in with my fast days. All of which I will begin sharing with you.

Pictured from left to right – Zucchini Lasagne – recipe here (185 calories) & Zucchini Pesto Pasta – recipe to come (165 calories).

52 diet recipes

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My burger blitz continues at Rockwell and Sons. Rockwell and Sons is located on Smith st, Collingwood, about 500m from the very first Huxtaburger in Melbourne. It breathes an industrial small bar feel where Manu Potoi (ex-Attica), and Casey Wall (ex-Cutler and Co) take on a menu that is a cross between American dude food and French cuisine. The menu is organised into share plates, sandwiches and sides where you can get your paws on a generous serving of crispy duck confit wings ($12). Or perhaps you can have the chicken liver parfait ($14), or the smoked lamb ribs with Kentucky BBQ sauce. It isn’t American food without the obligatory fried chicken (in this case sandwich $12) and mac n cheese ($8), of course! Nothing is priced over $14, which is great when you consider the pedigree behind the counter.

collage - fpn

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Lucky You Juice fpn

As you would have seen from previous post, I decided to embark on a 5 day juice detox, to recharge, reboot and hit the reset button. The experience has been quite incredible and has left me feeling absolutely amazing. I highly recommend it.

If this something that you have reservations about, I would encourage you to keep an open mind and watch the documentary film, Fat, Sick and  Nearly Dead. This is what sealed the deal for me. Even this interview with Joe Cross in the Philippnes is thought provoking enough!

I’ve been doing daily updates on  Instagram, Facebook or Twitter where you have asked me several questions about the cleanse and I will answer them right here!

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lucky-you

Photo Courtesy of the Daily Addict

So I’ve come back from London and I’ve come back feeling a bit blurghh. If you knew what I did, you would know why! I’m never one to shy away from a bit of indulgence, especially on holiday mode but I knew my body wasn’t in a good way. My body was sluggish, craving all the bad foods and wanting more, more, more!

fat-sick-and-nearly-dead-dvd-490x406

The silly season is soon upon us and I thought I would go in for a pre-season detox. I will be embarking on a 5 day juice detox. Before you think I’ve gone right mad. Keep an open mind, just as I did. I too felt the same way, until I watched a documentary film called “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” which totally turned me around. You can watch this on YouTube here. It follows the journey of fellow Aussie, Joe Cross who conducts a 60 day juice fast to regain his health in an attempt to combat his debilitating and rare auto-immune deficiency including his dependency on steroids. You will be pleasantly surprised at the results. I urge you to keep an open mind and check it out. It is life changing and very inspiring.

Now to the cleanse

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I have to admit the first time I had heard of A Tavola was at the Taste of Sydney Festival 2012. It was a great little intro. Hand made pasta, with a just like “mama used to make” ragu all wrapped in and around my plastic fork and nestled away in my little throw away container. Our brief encounter was enough to bring me back for a visit to sample more of what A Tavola had to offer.

Red cabbage, raisins, dolce latte, walnuts, balsamic

Red cabbage, raisins, dolce latte, walnuts, balsamic $16

To begin with, the red cabbage, raisins, walnuts with balsamic was filled with texture and bite. A simple yet pleasant way to start off the evening but I still felt it was missing something.

Red cabbage, raisins, dolce latte, walnuts, balsamic

Half moon shaped ravioli filled with peas, ricotta, oregano, heirloom carrot, truffle pecorino $31

The half moon ravioli definitely had lift off. The decently portioned ravioli was filled with a positively plump centre of mushy peas and ricotta. Dressed with oregano and truffle pecorino it was lightly submersed in a burnt butter sauce. The creamy buttery perky pasta parcels was enough to break a girl’s heart, since we had only ordered this to share. Which wasn’t annoying at all, since I only had one!

Hand cut pappardelle pasta, slow braised beef, red wine, tomato, bay, sage   34

Hand cut pappardelle pasta, slow braised beef, red wine, tomato, bay, sage $34

Our waitress had us wrapped around her little finger, she convinced that we all had to order their signature dish. She was so compelling! And she wasn’t mistaken. The rich flavours of the beef and ragu sauce were interwoven softly and tucked in and around the slippery pasta pappardelle ribbons. It really brought home the feel of Nona’s home made ragu especially when you went it for slurp. So comforting and so fulfilling, I will have to come back and say hello, once more.

Welcome to A Tavola, for some home made pasta dishes, just like how mama used to make.

A Tavola on Urbanspoon

02 9331 7871

348 Victoria St

Darlinghurst, NSW 2010

atavola.com.au

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The Art of Pasta is one of my favourite cook books. I am completely enamoured with it. It is a stunning collection of pasta and Italian recipes that is artistically captured and presented through an inspiring collaboration between Artist and Chef. Showcasing two craftsman at their best. Dishes are uniquely dressed with the original artworks of Luke Sciberras that were inspired and painted simultaneously while Lucio prepared the food on set. The book is so exquisitely beautiful, creative and just so… explicit that I have admittedly drawn inspiration for my food photography right from this book.

art of pasta shots 1

I discovered from the Sydney Morning Herald Grower’s Market (Pyrmont) facebook page, that the two authors Lucio Galletto owner and chef of 2 Chef’s Hat Lucio’s Restaurant and David Dale would be completing two food porn-y pasta demonstrations up on the Master Chef Stage followed by book signing. Right in front of everyone too, which is a bit naughty!!

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