Tuesday, May 24, 2011

suggestions please

Now that I am a token Western Australian I feel like I need to get up to speed with the local foodie scene (outside of Hedland that is, because up here there isn't much on offer), which is difficult when you don't know too much about the place you are visiting. I have to fly to Perth tomorrow for work and have been scouting for a laid back restaurant / bar where I can occupy my time after work tomorrow night.    I have trowelled through the Gourmet Traveller lists, but all I can find is fine dining options....  Can anyone suggest a place (bearing in mind I love Italian food and red wine!)???  Falling short of that, I guess I will just have to walk the streets, the old fashioned way!  What did people do before they had the internet?!



care package

Today my kind and wonderful mother sent me a care package containing the latest edition of Cuisine Magazine.

The highlight for me was the spread on Auckland's Cafe Hanoi (especially the Beef Noodle Salad and the Caramel Pork Hotpot) as well as the feature on rustic Italian cuisine (who would have guessed!).   I am definitely going to have to get motivated and try some of these recipes out over the weekend.

Mum and Dad are lucky enough to be heading to Auckland in the next month or so and Cafe Hanoi will be the first choice food destination.

When you are on the opposite side of the country, isolated from your family by one of the biggest deserts on the planet, it is such a nice feeling to receive something to let you know that they are thinking of you too.

Thanks heaps Ma!!!!

Happy eating!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

the hunter and gatherer

Another week in the desert and more new experiences to report.  Yesterday we headed off into the wilderness to do man things.  Four wheel driving.  Fishing.  Crabbing.  Beer drinking.  General exploring.... Being the city slicker that I am - I was well out of my depth!!

About an hour and a half out of town is a secret fishing spot which I was lucky enough to be introduced to.  The journey out was interesting to say the least... Travelling along a 5 metre high levy that is only just as wide as our car with a sheer drop to water on either side was enough to have me holding my breath for the entire trip....

We caught bucket loads of fish, I was introduced to a bunch of great people and had an absolute ball!  The countryside in this part of the world is simply magical.  The natural beauty is so impressive!

Given we returned late and were extremely exhausted, we simply cooked some of the fish fillets on the BBQ in butter and served with a squeeze of lemon.  You just can't beat fresh fish pan fried in butter!  We plan to cook the left over fillets during the week.  I am thinking of trying something new - poaching in a bath of soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil.  Will let you know how I go.

Another big weekend had me struggling to find the motivation to cook something exciting for Sunday dinner.  I turned to the latest Gourmet Traveller for some cues and found what I needed.  I decided on a simple pasta - my take on pork and fennel sausage meat pasta.

You'll need this:-

1.5kg of italian sausages (pork, fennel and italian herbs), skins removed - you only want to use the meat of the sausage
1 x white onion, diced
2 x red chillies, finely chopped (seeds included - I like a bit of a chilli hit to this dish)
2 x cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 x cup of dry white wine
1 large handful of green olives (marinated in chilli and garlic)
750ml tomato passata
1 x handful of torn fresh basil leaves
Fresh baby rocket leaves to serve
1 x large bag of dried rigatoni
Grated darmesan to serve
Olive oil

You'll need to do this:

Add olive oil, garlic and onion to a pan and cook on medium-high heat.  Once onion is translucent, add chilli and the sausage meat.  Using a wooden spoon, break up the sausage meat.  Allow to fry for approx. 10 minutes.

Add white wine to the sausage mixture and then allow to reduce (approx. 3 minutes).  Once the aclohol has reduced, add passata and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the roughly chopped olives and then remove from heat and allow to rest.

Meanwhile, add pasta to plenty of boiling water and cook as per instructions on packet.

Combine pasta with sauce and stir through the basil. 

Serve with baby rocket, a drizzle of olive oil and parmesan cheese.

Another busy week ahead and I can't wait to see what new experiences are in store. I hope everyone has a cracking week.

Happy eating!!!


Saturday, May 7, 2011


So this is where I have landed:-

I have temporarily relocated to the wild wild west - Port Hedland, Western Australia.  For those of you who don't know Australia well, Port Hedland is on the complete opposite side of the Country from my hometown (Brisbane).  Pretty much in the middle of no where, surrounded by not much other than mines and desert.

Hedland is a port town, with its sole focus being to export Iron Ore to China.  I am over here to help manage the region's urban growth, both on behalf of the local government and BHP Billiton.  A pretty exciting adventure, but a long way from home (already missing the family after only one week....)!

Last night was my first Friday night in town and having explained to my new work mates my love for cooking and Friday afternoon beers, they decided to combine the two and show me how Friday's go down in Hedland....  After a couple of beers we decided pizza was the go for dinner.  The options are pretty limited over here other than Bruno's Pizza Parlour which is apparently just a front for other dodgy businesses (I've been told not to ask for the 'special' pizza).  With self preservation in mind (apparently Bruno's is Hedland's kebab shop - only good for late at night on the way home after a couple of beverages at the one night spot - the Pier, which apparently has the record for the most stabbings in a week [I'm not lying - check the Guinness Book of Records] - nice place!!) we decided to head to the supermarket and make our own pizzas.

My tip for pizza is less is more.  I know it is a cliche, but pizza's aren't meant to be over cluttered with meaningless ingredients.  Keep it simple with only a handful of ingredients and you will definitely enjoy the end product.  Also, don't drown the pizza in cheese.  Original pizza's from Italy, I am told, didn't even have cheese on them.

When I get more organised over here I will do a post on making the dough from scratch (which is actually really easy!) but for now, the thin bases from the local supermarket will have to suffice.

Happy eating!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

turn out the lights, the party's over

12 days. A group of 10 close mates. An 80 foot floating palace.  Amazing Crew. The best quality waves on the planet. 

How could we not have a great time!!!

It is extremely difficult to capture the beauty of this island chain in the Indian Ocean through a lens, but here goes...


Having now been home for a couple of days, I can truly appreciated how fabulous our Mentawai surfing  adventure really was.  We caught some of the best waves we have ever seen, recharged our batteries, spent some quality time solving the world's problems late at night over a couple of Bin Tang beers, banged ourselves up on the reef and generally absorbed the sensation of this tropical paradise.  

We caught a couple of Fish which were served as the best sashimi I have ever eaten within 2 hours of being caught.

Now, the time has come for me to return to reality.  Our amazing trip to the Mentawai Islands has come to a close, and I am now grappling with the realisation that I have to face up to a bulging email inbox and a whole raft of new challenges, not the least of which is relocating to the other side of the country....

I hope everyone had a cracking easter and overindulged in chocolate and other pleasantries.

Happy eating!!!