About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

My Complete Profile

Recent Posts
Hashed Potato Pancakes
Easy Tomato Soup
A Matter of Opinion
Ruby Blood Navel Oranges
Chicken Cacciatora
Goulash Soup
Fennel, Guanciale & Fontina Quiche
Soup aux Bernard Salt
Polenta with Cavalo Nero & Borlotti Beans
Sorrel Sauce

1001 Dinners 1001 Nights
A Few of My Favourite Things
Abstract Gourmet
Apellation Australia
Becks and Posh
BurgerMary ATX
Cook (almost) Anything at least once
Cooking Down Under
Cook sister!
Cooked And Bottled In Brunswick
David Lebovitz
Deep Dish Dreams
Chef Paz
Chubby Hubby
Eating Melbourne
Eating With Jack
essjay eats
Food Lover's Journey
Grab Your Fork
I Am Obsessed With Food
I Eat Therefore I Am
Iron Chef Shellie
Just Desserts
Kalyn's Kitchen
Kitchen Wench
Matt Bites
Melbourne Gastronome
My Kitchen in Half Cups
Nola Cuisine
Not Quite Nigella
Nourish Me
Seriously Good
Souvlaki For The Soul
Stone Soup
Syrup and Tang
Steve Don't Eat It!
That Jess Ho
The Elegant Sufficiency
The Perfect Pantry
The View From My Porch
Thyme for Cooking
Tumeric & Saffron
tummy rumbles
What I Cooked Last Night
where's the beef
Vicious Ange

Food Blog Resources
Food Blog S'cool
I Eat I Drink I Work
Kiplog Food Links

Food for Thought
Autism Victoria
Autism Vox
forget me now
Lotus Martinis
MOM - Not Otherwise Specified
St Kilda Today

Sunday, December 28, 2008
Berries & Cherries
The berry season is in full swing right now and as well as being a good one is also a bit later than in previous years, probably because of the cool wet start to summer we've been having.

Yesterday, we visited Blue Hills in Silvan and easily picked 3kg raspberries at $12kg. Yes that's right $12kg, not $5 a 150g punnet. The blackberries and youngberries were also outstanding. We picked up a couple of kilos of ungraded cherries at $7kg, delicious too.

The Chapman farm, just before Blue Hills was advertising hard to get sour cherries as well. There are still some strawberries about, but the season is almost over.

The drive through the heart of the Dandenongs is very pleasant and I defy you to not stop along the way and visit some of the speciality shops or teahouses.

It pays to ring ahead to get the info on what's available to pick, Blue Hills (03) 737 9400 or info@upickberries.com.au.
  posted at 11:22 am

Thursday, December 25, 2008
Merry Christmas

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas season.
  posted at 4:52 pm

Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Menu for Hope V

Well, just in case you've been hiding under a rock, and who would blame you this time of year, John Lethlean has left the building (The Age) and is looking for a new one to occupy. Which rather throws a wet blanket over his prize. But we don't quit easily around these parts, no sir. I'm going to offer an alternate prize, a bottle of homemade cherry or quince vodka, your choice, just in case Lethlean hasn't yet taken up a new post and isn't in a position to take you out for dinner. You may have to wait a few months for me to make the cherry and finish off the quince, but as Ed from Tomato or Elliot from 1001 dinners would tell you, it's worth the wait. Prize code AP12

Don't forget about the Prince Wine Store $100 voucher either, prize code AP 17.

C'mon, just go here to firstgiving, it doesn't hurt a bit, promise.
  posted at 5:12 pm

Friday, December 19, 2008

A friend of this blog, Prince Wine Store is again generously supporting Menu for Hope with a voucher for $100 worth of wine.

Let me tell you what I really like about this store. I can't ever remember getting a bottle of wine from here that I didn't really like; the selection on offer is really well chosen by people who live and breathe wine.

If you'd like to get an idea, pop on down to the store tomorrow and get a free taste of wines that are difficult to find anywhere else. The Andre Clouet was served at a line up of wine loving friends last Christmas morning to much acclaim, a brilliant Champagne for the money.

A great lineup of imports including Provence Rose, Sancerre, Burgundy, Cornas and more and all 15% off for one week only!

Chateau du Rouet Cuvée Réservée Côtes de Provence 2007

(Grenache 60%, Syrah 40%)

Pale coral. Strawberry and raspberry aromas are complicated by wilted rose, tarragon and orange peel. Zesty, sharply focused red berry and cherry pit flavors pick up dried citrus and mineral qualities with aeration. Finishes with good grip and gentle lift, with the tarragon quality repeating. This is rich enough to serve with grilled birds or strong cheeses.


NV André Clouet Silver Brut (Champagne)

Persistent, fine mousse; a fascinating wine, from its evocative 19th century label through to its chiselled, crystalline, confronting palate, the lack of dosage accentuated by its 100% pinot noir base wine. Dry and fractionally bitter, it is only to be consumed with food – great with Indian or Asian. 91 points, drink to 2012
JAMES HALLIDAY, www.winecompanion.com.au

2007 Jean Reverdy La Reine Blanche Sancerre (Loire Valley)

Pale straw-green; gooseberry, asparagus and herb aromas; fresh, lively and perfectly balanced palate; lingering, clean finish; great aftertaste; classy wine. 94 points, drink to 2010.

JAMES HALLIDAY, www.winecompanion.com.au

2006 Gerard Raphet Chambolle Musigny (Burgundy)

Bright, clear colour; scented fruit aromas, predominantly red; vibrantly fresh palate with spicy red fruits; the slightly tight finish needs to loosen up, and once it does over the next five or so years, the wine will merit higher points. 92 points, drink to 2016.

JAMES HALLIDAY, www.winecompanion.com.au

2006 Yann Chave Crozes Hermitage (Rhone Valley)

Full crimson-purple; attractive medium-bodied wine, with plum, blackberry and spice on both bouquet and palate; tannin and overall extract well handled. Synthetic normacorc suggests that early consumption is wise. 91 points, drink to 2010.

JAMES HALLIDAY, www.winecompanion.com.au

2006 Domaine Coursodon St Joseph Silice (Rhone Valley)

Encouraging purple hue; brisk and lively, with multi-spice overtones on a vibrant palate with excellent length; minimal oak appropriate. 92 points, drink to 2012.

JAMES HALLIDAY, www.winecompanion.com.au

2005 Alain Voge Cornas Vieilles Vignes (Rhone Valley)

Powerful, intense and very precise in structure, flavour and length, the spiced black fruit flavours coursing through the piercing palate. Has a great future, cork permitting. 95 points, drink to 2018.

JAMES HALLIDAY, www.winecompanion.com.au

Free tasting tomorrow, 12.00 till 2.00pm, Prince Wine Store, 177 Bank Street, South Melbourne, VIC 3205 Phone: 03 9686 3033 Fax: 03 9686 3068

Oh, if you want a shot at the voucher, it's prize code AP17, nick on over to Firstgiving to make your bid.
  posted at 3:28 pm

Thursday, December 18, 2008
Masterchef Australia
Curse you Masterchef Australia.

I've watched many Masterchef UK programs and always thought that if it ever came here, that I'd love to have a crack.

Well, you came.

Now I'm sulking.

We could have such fun together, you and I.

But you wanted commitment.

I just wanted to fly on the breeze, free and easy. But no, you want me to be yours for four whole months. Me, I want to flit in and out.

We could have been so good together.

Sigh, I can't do it, give you four whole months of my life, give up my family, my work. I want you to know that I cried when I read that in your terms and conditions when I was so ready to embrace you.

For anyone who has a spare four months, you can apply to Masterchef here. Good luck.
  posted at 1:18 pm

Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Menu for Hope V

It's that time of year, braving carparks and madding crowds to shop for Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas lunch; planning a cornucopia of fabulous feasting with family and friends. But in some parts of the world, that is an impossible dream for some, just having enough food to get by with day to day is a struggle and grind.

So, Menu for Hope, organized by Pim from Chez Pim, is something that the food blogger collective does to help those less fortunate than ourselves. As in last year, all the funds raised will benefit the school lunch program in Lesotho, as well as support the World Food Program's local procurement initiative, which contracts local farmers to grow food to supply the feeding program.

Here is where you come in. For a measly US$10, you could win an amazing night out, dinner with John Lethlean, Australia's premier food critic and food writer for The Age and Gourmet Traveller, while he does a review. Invaluable insights into what Lethlean looks for in a restaurant experience, or imagine, just chatting to someone who has had such a profound influence on the Melbourne dining scene.

I'm torn, not really wanting to give this prize away, it's my idea of Apicius nirvana and you lucky things have the chance to win it!

All you have to do is go visit Ed at Tomato for the complete prize roundup for our region, or go directly to Firstgiving and bid on prize code AP12.

Good luck!
  posted at 12:45 pm

Thursday, December 04, 2008
The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World
Caught the first of a four part series on West Lake Restaurant last night, billed as the biggest restaurant in the world, as attested to by the Guinness Book of Records, with the capacity to serve 5000 diners at the one sitting.

Labour practices appeared to be straight from Chairman Mao's little red book, with plenty of exhortations to the staff to work towards the success of the company.

It is a pretty amazing place all the same, covering a huge site and beautifully landscaped with myriads of rooms to choose from, one level does a floor show of Chinese dancing during service.

But there was one segment that will forever be etched in my mind.

A chef grabbed a fish and scaled it with the back of his cleaver. Then he slashed it to the bone a couple of times on both sides, grabbed it by the head with a cloth and dipped the tail section only straight into a wok of boiling hot oil, creating a deep fried/sashimi combination. The fish was then plated and sauced. The chef was only considered to have succeeded with the dish if the fish at this point was still alive.

The SBS warning of animal distress at the start didn't even begin to cover this. It was the cruelest thing I have ever seen.

And then some.

The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World, 4 part series, SBS, 8.00pm Wednesday
  posted at 7:35 am

Wednesday, December 03, 2008
The Eureka Stockade
On Sunday, 3rd December, 1854, just before dawn, troops of the 12th & 40th regiments as well as police, numbering some 276 personnel in total under the command of Captain J.W. Thomas, moved quietly towards the 150 odd sleeping miners camped inside a hastily constructed stockade on the Eureka diggings. With the troops and police 150m away and advancing up a slope, a single shot rang out.

Believing that they had been fired upon from within the stockade, Thomas cried out: 'The Queen's troops have been fired upon. Fire!'

Watercolour by J.B. Henderson, 1854

Thus began a short, fierce battle that was to help shape democracy in Australia, ironically not fought by Australians, but mostly foreigners drawn to the young colony by gold fever and the immense wealth of the Ballarat and Bendigo diggings.

The first public discovery of gold in Victoria was at Clunes in the Pyrenees Ranges of central Victoria by James Esmond in 1851, who later played a part in the Eureka Stockade and was eager to claim the government reward of 200 guineas (1000 pounds), a very substantial amount in those days, posted in an effort to stem the rush of Victorians to the New South Wales fields that had opened up just a few months before.

When a small fleet of ships arrived in England later that year, carrying more than eight tonnes of gold from the Victorian diggings, a world-wide rush commenced, as did problems for the Victorian government, who in an effort to stop the exodus of people leaving their jobs in young Melbourne town for the diggings, decided to issue licenses for the right to dig for gold.

Lieutenant Governor Charles Joseph La Trobe's gold license was set at 1 pound ten shillings per month and was designed to keep people from leaving their employment. At first it seemed a small price to pay, but as the easy pickings dried up along with the miner's ability to pay, the gold license became hated, not helped by the police's offhand and sometimes brutal treatment of miners during license hunts.

Most miners thought the license unfair, but the government was in a bind, the young colony was desperately short of cash, indeed, La Trobe, fearful of a revolution, backed down to the miners time and again, and was replaced by Sir Charles Hotham, who inherited a treasury deficit of almost 1,000,000 pounds, a huge sum of money and gold was looked to as the answer.

Even though most authorities agreed the license system was a gross injustice which many miners tried to evade, Hotham ordered increased license hunts and into this inflamed situation staggered two drunken Scotsmen, James Scobie and Peter Martin who were celebrating their reunion on the diggings.

It was late at night on 7th October 1854, when Scobie tried to get another drink at the now closed Eureka Hotel. James Bentley, the owner, refused and after shattering a glass panel and saying some uncomplimentary things about Mrs Bentley, the pair lurched off, unknowingly followed by Bentley and three others. In the dark Scobie was hit over the head with a shovel and he and Martin were kicked and punched to the ground. Martin managed to scramble away while Scobie was beaten to death.

Bentley was arrested, but the inquest into his death returned an open finding, with the coroner accused of misdirecting the jury. Peter Lalor, who was prominent in the movement against gold licenses, wrote to Commissioner Rede with evidence from jury members, who then had Bentley arrested on a charge of murder.

He was tried before Police Magistrate John D'Ewes whom many suspected was in cahoots with Bentley, and was subsequently acquitted. This simply infuriated the miners, many of whom had suffered at the hands of the police and on the 17th Ocober a meeting was held outside the Eureka Hotel, attended by some 5000 diggers and as tempers flared, the hotel was burned to the ground, after the reading of the Riot Act.

Meanwhile, another incident on the 10th October had added further fuel to the already heated situation. Johann Gregorious, a servant of the Catholic priest, Father Patrick Smyth, was arrested for not having a gold license when visiting fellow Armenians on the field. He argued that he didn't need one in the course of his work, but everyone on the diggings, whether searching for gold or not, was required to have one.

The trooper then struck him and knocked him to the ground; Gregorious, a cripple, was later charged with attacking the trooper. This was seen as an intentional insult to Father Smyth, the Catholic church and all the Irishmen on the diggings, of whom there were many.

The Ballarat Reform League was formed on the 11th November, at a meeting of some 10,000 miners at Bakery Hill, under the chairmanship of John Humffray, a Chartist, and it was decided to press Hotham for the release in Melbourne of Fletcher, McIntyre and Westerby, who had been arrested for the fire at the Eureka Hotel as well as petition for manhood suffrage or the right to vote, but this was all denied by Hotham.

On Humffray's return with two other delegates, Black and Kennedy, they were greeted by 12,000 miners at Bakery Hill, where gold licenses were burnt and Peter Lalor addressed the miners publicly for the first time.

The next day, 30th November, Rede ordered another license hunt and the miners were so incensed that fights broke out with shots fired by both sides. What followed was another meeting on Bakery Hill, where Lalor took charge of the heated and angry meeting in the absence of other delegates who had gone to Creswick to seek support.

It was at this meeting that the flag of the Southern Cross was first unfurled and the men knelt in a large circle to swear allegiance...

'We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other, and defend our rights and liberties.'

The original flag, on display at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, situated on the very spot where the government camp and the police were stationed 150 years ago.

They then marched behind Canadian Captain Charles Ross and his flag to the Eureka diggings where they constructed a crude stockade of logs and upturned carts. The miners were calling for an end to licenses - no taxes without representation or manhood suffrage and short parliaments amongst other things: This was treason to the government.

So after a bloody half hour on that fateful Sunday morning when the miners weren't expecting an attack, fourteen rebels lay dead along with one trooper. Of the dead rebels, only one was an Australian, the majority, Irish. More on both sides were to die in the coming days.

This was no grand uprising along the lines of the French Revolution, English Civil War or the American War of Independence, but fought by foreigners brought together by government injustice, corruption and plain pig-headedness. None of the thirteen tried for high treason after the battle was ever convicted and as a direct result of the events that lead to the Eureka Stockade there were genuine reforms to Parliament, with both Lalor and Humffray being elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly.

My own family history has it that one of our ancestors was present at the stockade and was responsible for getting the badly wounded Lalor out in a wagon, covered with straw, taking him to Father Smyth's, where his arm, shattered at the shoulder by a musket ball, was amputated the next day by Dr Doyle.

Over the next week or so, I will publish a couple of recipes in honour of those at the Eureka Stockade.

The Eureka Stockade, Geoff Hocking
The Great Treasury of Australian Folklore, A.K. Macdougal
Wikipedia - Eureka Stockade
  posted at 8:19 am


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