About 10 years ago, I won a Christmas raffle. The prizes include a bunch of household stuff contributed by the participating retail stores in that street, all of which I no longer own, or have no recollection of. Well, except for the Christmas tree. Yes, I won a Christmas tree, but in the heat of Melbourne’s summer, it died a sad, sad death. I only remember the tree because I spent many hours picking up stray pine needles from the carpet after. Pitiful. Anyway, the point of this story is that aside from that one time, I never win anything.
Until now! Actually, this happened at the beginning of the year. Michael Shafran, author and ‘recipe whisperer’ started The Melting Pot which is a great hub for contributor recipes. A competition was held just before the website was launched. To participate, we had to submit a recipe of our heritage. Naturally I picked one of my favourites – Singapore home-style Hainanese Chicken Rice – and was extremely pleased to be picked as one of five finalists!
All finalists were awarded a Tojiro knife – we got to choose between a Sha Ra Ku Mono chef’s knife, or a Santoku knife. And here is the beautifully, crafted piece of art. It’s so purdeee!
So this is a rather random post of how one can be so excited about winning a knife, but when the spring sun has gone into hiding and it’s all gloomy again outside, I have to find something to be excited about. And this was it. Short-lived excitement. I’ll have another food-related post on the way soon. Promise.
Winter is like my hibernation period for cooking. I should really be whipping up warm, bubbling winter fare but somehow I feel like I’d rather have someone else do the cooking. Then again when summer comes, I’d probably whine about how hot it is to be cooking. Heh. Anyway back to winter – it doesn’t help that it’s dark all the time, and my photographs suffer due to lack of light. My mini photo studio is covered in dust, one of the bulbs is broken and I haven’t replaced it. My camera is clean from flour prints and oil stains. It’s a sad, sad situation.
On the bright side, I have been checking out Melbourne’s bustling food scene. From dainty dumplings in a scruffy side street to chunky steak and chips at a microbrewery. From zippy five-minute take-aways to four-hour long degustation. Oh yes, I have been indulging.
So please excuse me while I digest and get my groove back. In the meantime, do jump on my food train and take a peek at what I have been enjoying…
First stop: Taxi Dining Room at Federation Square, Melbourne
Hubby took me to Taxi for a pampering summer’s day special date earlier this year. This is one of those much talked about restaurants in the city. It was awarded The Age Good Food Guide ‘Wine List of the Year’ and Two Chefs Hats in 2010. The food is what one would describe as contemporary fusion of Japanese and modern Australian – favoring trendy ingredients that look like they belong in a nursery rhyme. Yuzu, wagyu, ponzu.
We went for the six-course degustation lunch menu. Every course served looked like works of delicious art which I admired for like two seconds and promptly tucked in. The menu consisted of fresh scallop sashimi with yuzu and caviar, duck done three ways, dumpling in five-spiced broth, crispy salmon on celeriac puree, grilled grade-7 wagyu beef and hazelnut parfait.
Oh my. Now you see why I’m not cooking much?
Next stop: Melbourne’s famous brekkies
January is serious birthday business in my little world – first to claim the birthday crown (or in my case, the birthday tiara) was me, followed by mummy dearest, then my best friend and finally to round off January birthday festivities is my wonderful hubby.
Being born the first week of January right after all the buzz with Christmas and New Year – I usually like to keep my birthday low-key. Usually enjoying a lovely meal with my man. This year meant ending my first week at a brand new job and then being swept away to a ‘secret location’.
The surprise location turned out to be this fantastic restaurant called Circa @ The Prince. I didn’t know much about this place but once I entered the restaurant, I knew I could just relax and look forward to the evening. Simply but elegantly furnished, the dining room was bathed in light from the skylight above. Prominently displayed was a wall of herbs – grown in industrial garden crates and I loved the soft furnishings of pine, ash grey and daffodil yellow. If I could do a mental pinterest tag on it, I would have.
We shared two starters because we couldn’t decide which ones to have and wanted to have more variety. Greedy much?
The first starter was Yellow Fin Tuna tartare with crispy oysters. Such a pretty sight – the tuna tartare was beautifully fresh along with the wafers of baby radish and semolina mousse. Yum. The oysters however, were a little too small and paled in comparison to the flavours of the tuna.
The second starter was a rock lobster raviolo with caviar and pea puree. Need I even say more? Totally delicious. Even the hubs who simply detests poncy foam on his food thought the dish was divine…foam and all.
For the mains, we ordered a sharing serve – 48 hour mutton with piquanto peppers stuffed with Kepfler potatoes and olives with brocollini.
Now, the hubs and I both have healthy appetites but this sharing serve was generous. Very generous. Mouthful after mouthful of the most tender and moist mutton, balanced with the most gorgeous peppers and potato combination. Such clean flavours, but I was blown away by how flavourful every element of the dish was. We were so disappointed that we couldn’t finish it all…remember I did say it was a generous serve. Plus, we needed space for dessert.
Dessert is a must for all birthday meals. That’s my rule.
And a dessert most befitting of my imaginary birthday tiara – the Queen of Pudding with Creme Anglais. Again, a shared serve of light yellow sponge, with a layer of custard and lemon curd topped with clouds of sweet meringue. Oh yeah.
And to top the whole birthday celebration off…I did this.
YUP. I jumped out of a plane the next day. Skydiving was AWESOME and the most exhilarating birthday present I ever received. The love of my life is a great present giver and it will be hard pressed to ever forget how I celebrated my birthday this year. Thanks babe, I had a most wonderful birthday week.
Happy new year everyone!
I’m not one for new year resolutions as it’s very much like starting a new diary and finding it difficult seeing it through the year. In fact, I was apprehensive about starting this blog more than two years ago because I thought the enthusiasm will die down and I’d give up along the way.
Surprise, surprise!! I’m still here and enjoying this blogging journey. A major shout out to my hubby for being my no. 1 follower, he’s been really supportive and has spread word of my blog way more than I ever even attempted to. Thanks babe. You’re the best!
Also a big thank you for friends of the blog, some for whom I have never met, but I feel like we share a wonderful virtual friendship.
So instead of a resolution for the new year, I thought I would put a recipe index together for droolfactor. Some readers have requested for it and I promised I would get my act together. Sorry for the wait, the index is finally here. Access the page via the top right menu (next to Home link) or top of the right navigation bar.
Let’s get cooking people and make 2012 a delicious one!
So, a recent Scoopon purchase for a cupcake class turned out to be a cupcake decorating class which was a tad disappointing. We spent three hours listening to the course instructor talking about do’s and don’ts, what to purchase, what kind of ingredients etc and then a demonstration on how to frost cupcakes. I did want to learn how to frost with a palette knife (instead of a piping bag) and she did impart some much needed skills and information.
The last 3/4 of an hour was spent frosting six of our own cupcakes in the various styles which we were shown. Overall, it was disappointing and I think the Scoopon ad was a bit misleading but I had a fun evening and as the mastercard ads say…priceless. Actually in this case, it was $49.00. Meh.
We’ve been back in Australia for five months now. Time flies when you’re having fun! The weather’s been gorgeous – we arrived in winter (which in comparison it’s pretty much like autumn in London) and in a blink of an eye, spring has arrived. And in good form too. The very first weekend of Spring in Melbourne brought luscious streams of sunshine and cool breezes and hubby and I took the opportunity to revisit the neighbourhood of his bachelor days.
Fitzroy is an inner city suburb of Melbourne, Victoria. It’s known for it’s bohemian culture, artsy vibes and is the main hub of Melbourne’s Fringe Festival. The restaurant and cafe scene is also buzzing and we wanted to revisit one of the cafes hubby used to frequent for its delicious brunch choices.
Red Tongue Cafe is always full of customers and it was no exception on this beautiful, sunny spring day. In fact when we arrived, the al fresco dining area was fully occupied but we managed to score a table right by the window where we could enjoy brunch and people watched.
One of the best things about Aussie brekkies or brunches are the generous fry-ups, which the hubs thoroughly enjoyed. Thick, juicy sausages, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns and toast. It’s massively good. I preferred the girl version of the breakfast and had smoked salmon on bagels and perfectly cooked eggs with golden runny yolks and a creamy hollandaise sauce.
After brunch, we took a long walk down Brunswick and Smith Street, scouring the many shops and poking our way through the various little laneways. The walk made hubby really nostalgic and he wants to move back to this funky neighbourhood. Nice thought, but we can’t really afford to get a place here. So to cheer ourselves up, we stopped by Trampolines, the famous gelati shop and gorged on our favourite flavours – blood orange, caramel pear, lemon and mango. Yeah we love the fruity ones. Yum yum!
Oh spring, how I love you. It’s so good to be back in Melbourne.
Some people are able to run their lives like well-oiled machines – stable, unchanging. Some people rock it with crazy happenings everyday and live by the motto of “go get ‘em or else”…For me, I feel like I’m just unsettled – not simple, not rocking it either. Probably due to the fact that we moved to a whole different continent about 4 months ago. Although it’s back to where we call home, the feeling like we haven’t quite completed our journey is still hovering around.
Hubby and I are super blessed to have found an apartment to rent really quickly, we found jobs speedily too and we’re back into life as we once knew. Well…not quite. I’ve resigned from my brand new job – yes after just 2.5 months of action. It just wasn’t what I expected. It just wasn’t something I could see myself doing for the next few years. I had to leave. I’ve never ever done this in my life – probation period definitely holds new meaning for me now! So yeah, it’s back to square one.
Plus I just read an update from an acquaintance’s blog of their thoughts from a recent miscarriage. Made me super sad, which explains why I’m so melancholic at the mo. Sorry!!!
However, having said all that, I know I should be thankful – for all of God’s amazing blessings in my life. Especially for my hubby who is ever so gracious and supportive – I could quit a thousand jobs and he’ll still be okay with it. Thank you hunny! You’re the best! It’s now written for the world to see, so you can’t take it back !!! I love you!
I am also thankful that simple, pleasurable things do exist. Like this baked swordfish dish I made a while back, and the fact that tomorrow will be the first day of spring. Yippee!
EASY BAKED SWORDFISH WITH HERBS
Adapted from cuisine.com.au
- 4 medium sized swordfish steaks (about half an inch thick)
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 ripe tomatoes, halved, juice and seeds removed, and chopped
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tsp thyme leaves
- 1 tsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
- 1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
- Splash of white wine
- Juice of half a lemon
- Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 180C.
Season fish with salt and pepper and place in an ovenproof dish. Combine the tomatoes, herbs and garlic in a bowl, then sprinkle over the fish. Add the white wine, lemon juice and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until just cooked through.
It’s Day Six back down under. I have forgotten how much sunshine can be splayed out in one place. This is Autumn and I am loving it. I’m walking around in sleeveless vests and flip flops (or thongs if you’re an Aussie!) and getting myself a light tan just walking the streets. What a welcome home.
No news on the food front as yet because we’re still looking for a place to live! I did however pop by to the Victoria Market. Oh, how I have missed the market! There aren’t many fresh food markets in London and I have become an expert online grocery shopper the past four years. Not any more thank you very much! I love going to the markets and picking out fresh fish, meat and veggies. I cannot wait to have my own kitchen and start cooking again.
However, with house-hunting, unpacking, a trip back to Singapore and Vietnam for brother-in-law’s wedding, boxes from London not arriving till June… I do not foresee any kitchen adventures happening very soon.
It’s a good thing I have a few things stored up so I hope to continue blogging albeit less frequently. I will try to be back soon with recipes but for now I leave with you the results of one of my last few London-based breakfasts as I foraged around for food in my mostly packed up kitchen. Fried eggs with pesto. When that’s all you have left in the fridge and pantry, that’s all you get. Delicious though!
The sun is shining its miraculous rays today. It’s beautiful. I’m so sun-deprived and vitamin D deficient and I long for brighter, longer and warmer days. Seeing this morning’s golden glow, I was reminded of my recent Mexican vacay and realised I haven’t posted anything on Chichen Itza!
The Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza were founded in 400 A.D. It is located north of the Yucatan Peninsula (now known as Mexico) and is now part of the new seven wonders of the world – as declared on 07.07.07. The other six wonders are Christ Redeemer in Brazil, the Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal in India, Petra in Jordan and Macchu Pichu in Peru. I’m so pumped I got to check off one of the seven wonders in my travels to date.
The archaeological site is a ‘showroom’ of one the world’s best architects! I’m saying this because the well preserved structures were all made by hand and were all aligned perfectly and with utmost precision. And the Mayans certainly didn’t have modern tools to help them. It’s totally awe-inspiring.
The name Chichen Itza means ‘At the mouth of the well of Itza’. Our guide did show us the ‘well’ which was literally about an acre in diameter. It was used in the ancient times as a sacrificial well where people were thrown in alive to appease to Gods (in times of drought or the like) and those who survived were considered to be ‘seers’. Yikes – I wonder how one was ‘selected’ to be sacrificed…
The most famous structure of Chichen Itza is the main temple, Kukulcan. This pyramid structure is the work of some geniuses (genii). Inside the temple lies a Chac Mool statue and a throne in a shape of a jaguar. The interior of the pyramid is no longer accessible (since it was closed to the public 6 years ago). So we kinda admired the structure from the outside.
Strange fact: When we stood at the front of the temple of Kukulcan and clapped, the echo that came back sounded just like birds chirping. It didn’t matter how far or near you stood in front of it – the chirps were consistent. We’ll never know how that works but basically when you’re there, you’ll see a bunch of people clapping and looking amazed as the pyramid chirpped back. Crazy but true.
The columns in the Temple of a Thousand Warriors was another amazing sight. Every single column was perfectly aligned. If you stood in front of the first column, you’ll never see anything else behind it. Even if it was diagonal. Perfectly aligned – every single one of them.
There was also a ‘football field’. You heard it! Except that players hit the ball with a stick through a stone goal high up on a wall. I don’t think it was an easy sport. And get this, the leader of the winning team got to sacrifice himself to the gods. Once again, it was considered an honour. Losing one’s head over a game was certainly taken very literally here.
All along the dirt tracks within the site, there were also modern day Mayans displaying their skills and work of art. Albeit in very different ways than their ancestors.
I’m really privileged to have visited this place. The journey there was long and arduous, it didn’t help that we were in a hurry (we had a dinner to go back to at the resort) and our driver did not understand our urgency. But I’m glad we went, saw and believed in the splendour of the works of ancient Mayans.
For more information about Chichen Itza, visit this informative site.
Can I just say that I am in love with Starbuck’s Shaken Iced Tea Lemonade? Oh, and that dashing dude in the background…I kinda like him too :)
How I wish there’s ready supplies of shaken iced tea here in the UK. Come on Starbucks!!
My little droolfactor blog is all grown up. And it’s time to let it fly. Or in this case, get its very own Twitter and Facebook accounts. Keep updated with future drools by joining one or both of them. Let’s get connected!
Γειά σου!! Hello!!
I am currently on a week long break in Greece. So I’ll be out of action for a bit…but I’ll be back soon with some Greek yums.
Souvlaki…here I come!
More than four and a half years ago, my then fiance took me to the most romantic city in the world. Unfortunately, we were at the tail end of a rather long and tiring trip, rather spent in both energy and dosh, unused to the wintry cold and didn’t quite manage to absorb the sparkling wonderland, that is Paris.
This time it was different. Good different. We visited Musee D’Orsay for a dose of culture, we traipsed through busy markets, we shared meals amongst locals in quiet suburbs, we sat in the park and soaked up the sun, we had a picnic on the steps of Sacre Couer, breakfast by the Seine and we finally saw Eiffel Tower up close at night. I loved every single bit of it and this is how I will remember Paris forever…
Apologies for the hiatus in my blog posts. It’s either I’ve been too uninspired to cook, or I’ve just been repeating recipes that I’ve already written about. Rest assured, I’ve got a few things up my sleeve and I’ll post something food-related soon. However, in my non-cooking mode, I’ve come up with a list of gadgets that are either super ridiculous or downright cute…but are all totally pointless – yet a little part of me wants to have them, just so I can play with them, giggle and then feel really silly after.
That last one was for my hubby.
What’s life without a few giggles and some outrageous gadgets eh?
See that gorgeous view? I’ll be there tomorrow…so just a note to say that I’ll be back soon, and trust me, there’ll be loads of posts on italian yummers. Ciao!
There’s really no hard and fast rule about mushing your favourite herbs and seasonings with butter and rolling it into a log is there? The combination of flavours are endless and it’s actually quite a lot of fun getting all greasy-fingered and seeing what comes out of the combination. I find more use out of the savoury options which can be used in almost anything that requires butter and even in those that doesn’t call for it – fat is flavour, so flavoured fat is even better right? Heh.
The first log I made had fresh basil leaves, garlic and salted butter. I thought this combination would be good for stuff like pasta, steaks and maybe even fish. The second log had anchovies, garlic, black pepper and unsalted butter. I love the salty anchovies and how they melt and create an added depth of taste in the food. This one I can probably use for vegetables and sauces. Imagine tossing some of it when roasting veggies. Mmm…
I could not wait to use my butter logs, so I went and made a nice juicy steak to go with my basil butter. What a great excuse.
Is there truly a benefit of switching to whole wheat? I’m talking about one of my favourite ‘food groups’ – pasta. We all know that choosing wholemeal/wheat bread is by far the better choice. The same applies to pasta. White pasta apparently has more calories per serve compared to whole wheat. There’s also the fibre factor in whole wheat, as well as added doses of protein and minerals such as riboflavin, niacin and folic acid. (Not that I know anything about what these minerals do). It also digests slower than white pasta, so it keeps you full for longer.
I grew up eating soft, fluffy white bread, and the switch to wholemeal bread was no song and dance. I actually really love whole grain bread, despite the tendency of having little seeds stuck in my teeth. So it was rather surprising that I took this long to make the switch to whole wheat pasta.
Whole wheat pasta can be readily found in stores now. Made from whole durum wheat or whole semolina, the uncooked pasta doesn’t look like much – in fact, some of them look like strips of dried out cardboard which didn’t help in my quest for change.
So, what’s the verdict? I’m not hating it. I have now tried different pastas, different brands, cooked differently each time. I have a feeling the switch will be the same page torn out of my white-to-whole bread history. Okay, you’ll notice the slight difference in the taste – it has a more grainy, woody flavour but it does not bother me, nor my fussier other half. Texture-wise, the change was barely discernible.
The switch is promisingly permanent methinks. Now, brown rice vs. white?…That is a different story. I haven’t quite won that battle just yet.
I came across a google chat history with my husband from a couple months back where we were having a mindless online chat about dinner. Here’s an excerpt. Keep in mind, it’s mindless…
P: What can we have for dinner? Salad from Pret?
me:Yes, and water.
P: With some salt for flavour?
me: No salt!
P: What? You’re a salt nazi!
me: No salt for you! Tonight’s steak, no sauce for you!
P: OK, I think you’ve taken this joke a little far…it stopped being funny.
me: When it came to no sauce? But I’m serious, no sauce. It’s not a joke.
Never joke about having no sauce with P. Never.
Where Shall We Go For Dinner? A food romance by Tamasin Day Lewis
I have just finished reading a gastronomic romance novel. Well okay, it wasn’t quite a novel and it had nothing to do with boy-girl relationships. However it was a book about a wondrous love affair with food.
Tamasin Day Lewis is a food writer whose cookbooks adorn the shelves of many here in the UK.
In this book, the author and her American fromagerie-owner partner, crossed oceans and met up in various parts of Europe and the US with each trip a journey to enjoy the finest local fare. As food people, both Tamasin and her partner have amazing local contacts who introduced them to their best kept secrets. And even if they didn’t know anyone in say, a remote village in Italy, Tamasin’s curiousity and boldness, not forgetting her selling point as a food writer, got her through many rustic kitchen doors where the chefs are most willing to divulge their wondrous recipe secrets, tips and tricks as well as a warm invitation to join them as guests for a special meal.
Along the way, Tamasin shares snippets of her relationships with her partner and her acapella-singing son. For those who are keen to try out some of the recipes, there are always a few of them at the end of each chapter to entice you into the kitchen.
I read the book mostly on my tube journeys to and from work. Not a chance at trying out recipes then, but there were some serious drool-controlling moments. Tamasin has a way of stringing words together in her stories that allows you to effectively visualise the feast that was before her.
A very delicious read indeed!
Saturday is the one day I get to sleep in, get some combat action going followed by a good, leisurely brunch. Today, we wandered into yet another neighbourhood cafe, Raoul’s. It’s usually packed and very busy on weekends but for once, we managed to get a table straightaway.
P ordered his usual – french toast with bacon and generous lashings of maple syrup. The toasts had that nice thick, squashy eggy texture and according to P…it’s his favourite thus far. Paired with salty bacon and half an orange (!) it was in general, a satisfactory ‘hits the spot’ kinda meal.
I ordered the Portobello mushrooms on toast with fried egg. I like the flavour of well seasoned mushies, crispy toast and runny egg yolk. The egg yolk on this thing looked like the chicken was fed saffron-infused grains or something! The yolk was a beautiful sunset orange and watching it ooze through the mushrooms was a delicious sight to behold. It was rich, creamy and very tasty. Thumbs up!
I do have to say that the prices at Raoul’s are just a tad high, my meal was rather small for the price (£6.75) plus I was famished after a workout! If I hadn’t been distracted by the egg yolk, I might have asked for more toast. But after chasing the food with a large smoothie…I was more than happy. Might need a snack later though.
Now, time for an afternoon nap. I love saturdays…
13 Clifton Road,
London, W9 1SZ
North of Helsinki, Finland is a little town called Kajaani. I never knew the existence of this wee little town until I booked a dog-sledding trip in early 2008. Nope, this post is not about food for sure, but it certainly was a drool-worthy, memorable experience.
We landed in Helsinki after a three hour flight only to transfer to another hour long domestic flight to Kajaani. After which, we adjourned to a car for another two hour drive to the wilderness centre, Peuranpolku. Quite a trek, I must say, and at that point I was thinking the dogs better be nice and make it worth this trip.
The dogs were more than nice! They were a crazy, clever bunch of huskies. On the first day, we were taught by our guide, Juka, to control the sleds. Decked out in uber-warm gear, we practiced on empty sleds for a bit and were then quickly introduced to some of the huskies, where we were taught to harness and link them up to the sleds. Soon enough, even before I could say ‘woof’, we were off on our very first sledding trip!
Each of us were given our own sled and dogs. I had five of those excitable, power-filled munchkins. In each pack, there’s a leader dog, this clever little thing is the one who knows where to go – usually more experienced and calmer. The others are the equivalent of chasers and beaters of Quidditch. They are the power packed bunch that pulls the heavy load, aka me.
Here’s what our safari itinerary looked like:
Day 2: Breakfast. Distribution and checking of equipment, introduction to your dogs and driving instruction. Safari of about 20km to an old timber lodge near the nature park. Lunch by an open campfire. Return to Peuranpolku. Sauna, dinner and overnight accommodation at the Peuranpolku Wilderness Centre.
Day 3: Breakfast. Safari to the old Karelian village of Kuivajarvi, around 45km, near to the Russian border. Campfire lunch. Sauna, dinner and overnight at Domna House or nearby ‘Louhi Cottage’.
Day 4: Breakfast. Safari back to Peuranpolku along the Russian border. Lunch by an open fire. Sauna, dinner and overnight accommodation at the wilderness centre. Safari approximately 45km.
The first thing I remember about dog-sledding in Kajaani is the silence of nature. When we were out there in the open wilderness along the border of Finland and Russia, all I could remember hearing was the shooshing sounds of the sled being pulled by the dogs, the dog’s panting and my own breathing. Coming from London, Melbourne and Singapore – cities that never really sleep – the serenity was simply amazing.
The picturesque views of untouched nature is breath-taking. All along the way, beautiful snow-covered landscapes greet us at each turn. One cannot help but feel so small and insignificant in a place like that, yet the privilege of being able to experience all of this is such a blessing.
Thank you P for sharing this wonderful memory with me and even though I’m the dog lover in the family, I’m sure this experience changed your mind about those intelligent, four-legged creatures. <wink wink>
I’ll dedicate a whole other post on Finnish food…this one’s just for the dogs. Woof for now.
Traditional Czech food is not what I would consider healthy. They have fantastic, flavourful beers (and it’s way cheaper than water) – so imagine a menu that would go well with their beers. That’s right, I’m talking about the artery-clogging type. Almost every Czech restaurant menu has a priority section otherwise known as ‘beer specialties’. Look at the menu below – fried, pickled, cheesy, salty stuff. Good with beer?? Yes, indeed.
Sorry about the blurry photo, but maybe I was laughing too hard at one of the items – ‘Home-made scraps in grease’ – mmm…appetising eh? No, I wasn’t brave enough to try that one.
Although, fried cheese (Smažený Sýr) is a must-try with good, ol’ Czech beer. Sink your teeth into the crunchy crust and oozey cheese. Forget about the diet. This stuff is awesome!
If you’re a vegetarian, don’t bother going to Prague. The Czechs LOVE their meat – particularly of the oinking variety. A typical Czech meal consists of pork or beef with a side of dumplings (made from wheat or potato flour, boiled and sliced) or potatoes (baked, boiled or fried). In some restaurants, you get sauerkraut or goulash – the obvious German and Hungarian influence.
You know it’s desperate measures, when fast food chains try to inject some semblance of healthy options in their menu. Here, we found Broccoli Nuggets. That’s one way of feeding your kids vegetables – well, aside from the cheese and grease that comes with it.
What with all their ‘scraps’ and strange sounding side dishes, credit must go to the Czechs for they certainly know how to cook their meat. We tried their famous pork knuckle – a ginormous whole knuckle roasted to it’s crispiest, oozing with juices (and fats – but remember, fat is flavour!) and eaten with pickled vegetables and sauerkraut. Once again, good with their perfect beers.
Other meaty goodness came in the form of roasted suckling pig, roast duck and beef goulash. All were packed full of flavour. As the meals were so huge, we usually didn’t have space left for dessert, but somehow we managed to fit in some Palačinky, Czech pancakes filled with jam, fruit and smothered in cream. I’m not bowled over by the desserts, I think these guys should just stick to their savoury specials.
While wandering in the local supermarket Albert, we chanced upon a really cool looking bottle of Coca-Cola. Coke Blak. The bottle was covered in a shiny, bronze design and it looked absolutely groovy. As we obviously couldn’t read Czech, we didn’t have a clue what kind of fizzy cola we were getting ourselves excited over. Would it have more caffeine? How about extra caramel flavour?
YUCKO!!! It turned out that Coke Blak wasn’t so cool after all. It was coffee flavoured coke and it was foul…well, at least for the both of us. P reckons that Coke = good, Coffee = good, but putting them together wasn’t such a great idea.
A good way to kick start a leisurely Sunday is always, soul food at church, followed by a good breakfast. We’ve walked past Brompton Quarter Café often enough but for the first time yesterday, we finally crossed the BQ threshold. There’s always a delish display of croissants, pastries and bread at the counter but the menu of cooked breakfasts called out to us.
I started with a pot of fresh ginger, lemon and honey tea which was light and refreshing. I’m not usually one for a sweet breakfast, but strangely all the savoury options didn’t quite appeal to me although there were lots to choose from – typical English breakfast spreads plus the usual Eggs Benedict-type stuff. Instead, I opted for the Pancakes with fruit salad and maple syrup and P had the omelette with mushroom, spinach and ham.
We tucked in to our breakfast while watching the flurry of morning shoppers go by on Brompton Road. The pancake is of the slightly chewy crepe-like variety and not the American super-fluffy type. The topping of juicy mixed berries, melon and nectarine drizzled with maple syrup worked well together, and made for a relatively healthy and scrumptious breakfast.
P tucked into his omelette with gusto as well, and after a couple of mouthfuls realised that something was missing. The omelette was thick with loads of spinach and mushroom but the ham was m.i.a! No ham?? Give the man his meat, I say! The waiter promptly scurried to the kitchen and came back with a dish of pink, streaky ham. Mmmm…The man is now happy with his creamy, fluffy load of ‘green eggs and ham’.
The Brompton Quarter Cafe
223 – 225 Brompton Road
London, SW3 2EJ
020 7838 0371