Thursday, October 16, 2008

Halfway around the world on a full stomach


G'day mates!

I haven't been cooking much since September because I haven't been at home much! I've been travelling for my job since the last week of September and will continue at this pace through Thanksgiving. Right now I'm in Sydney with my partner on a week's holiday before heading on to Perth/Fremantle for a conference. Then in November I'll be in Buenos Aires, with 2 stops in Woods Hole, Mass., in between. A hectic schedule, for sure, but exciting!

Inspiring, too. One of the aspects I like most about travelling (both domestic & foreign) is the opportunity to sample new tastes & techniques for incorporation into my own cooking. This trip to Sydney has given me several new ideas, what with Australia's beguiling and delicious mix of Asian, Indian & European cuisines. So, I thought I'd take a few seconds to jot down some of my favorite dishes now, then try to work out the recipes once I'm back home after Thanksgiving.

Here are some of my favorites:
  • Lamb skewers with a chili/lemongrass/tamarind dipping sauce at Pink Peppercorn in Darlinghurst. This is a fantastic restaurant featuring 'modern Laotian' cuisine...so good we went twice! This starter was amazing - savory, sweet and smoky all at once!
  • Roast beef & pumpkin sandwich with caramelized onions on Turkish bread at CQ Cafe on Alfred Street near the Circular Quay stop (hence the 'CQ'). It's spring here in Sydney, yet pumpkin is showing up all over menus. I was intrigued by the thought of roasted pumpkin on a sandwich, delighted by the taste.
  • Tomato, onion, and gruy√®re quiche at the Wayzgoose Cafe in Leura. We took a day trip to the Blue Mountains (one word: spectacular!) and stopped at this cafe for a late lunch after a looooong day of hiking trails. There really wasn't anything unusual about this dish per se, just a sublimely seasoned & executed dish that hit the spot. Quiches are popular lunches at most cafes and restaurants we visited, and this one was the best I had. Light, airy, perfect.
  • update: Zucchini, gorgonzola, and sun-dried tomato pizza at Little Creatures in Fremantle. I know those three flavors wouldn't normally jump to mind when thinking of pizza, but the long, papery thin slices of zucchini were absolutely delicious on this rustic, sauceless pizza. Just a brushing of olive oil on the dough with the veg & cheese...yummy! Little Creatures is a really cool brewery; they make a fantastic Pale Ale - finally, an Aussie beer darker than a lager!!
  • update: Bacon & Pumpkin Quiche (pic) at The Merchant Coffee Co. Again with the quiche, again with the pumpkin. But this time with bacon!! And panache. LOVED it!
  • update: Lemon Lime Brulee Tart at Dome Coffees (pic). I know this is a franchise, so maybe not so intriguing, but I really liked the idea of caramelized sugar on a tart. Very light, very tasty.
  • update: Lemon Lime & Bitters. OK, so this is a commercial drink made by Angostura, but it was unique to me since we don't have it in the States. It would be so easy (and refreshing!) to make - I think the sum total of the ingredients would be 7up with bitters on ice, or you could get all fancy and do a tonic with fresh squeezed lemon & lime & bitters. Regardless, delicious.
  • update: Kangaroo. OK, look - I couldn't travel to Australia and NOT try kangaroo. I had it twice; once slow roasted in a brown gravy like venison, once smoked and sliced like a cold cut. I didn't particularly care for either. It's gamey, which I'm actually OK with, but it had a particularly strong aftertaste that I didn't care for. Looking at a kangaroo you can imagine that it's all dark meat. Turns out it is. Turns out I don't like it.
I'll blog other fun dishes during my travels for future recipes & inspiration. I know I should have taken photos of them, like my foodie buddy Martin Kalfatovic over at UDC 641, but in nearly every case the plate looked so good I had to dig in immediately! Until next time,

Chris

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bacon & Blue Cheese Coleslaw


This one's super simple and super tasty. Sometimes I like to spend hours working on a dish, and sometimes I just need to put something together quickly. This recipe falls in the latter category - I just got back from travel and needed to take a dish to a family reunion that would work for 20-30 people, so quick & quantity were the keywords. I've made fancier versions of this recipe before with my own dressing (and will blog them soon), but this fast-and-furious one works really well and gets good reviews from even picky eaters. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1/2 head red cabbage
1/2 head green cabbage
1 lb baby carrots
1 bottle prepared Coleslaw dressing, or Ranch dressing
1/2 lb bacon
4-6oz. crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola

Cook bacon to crisp. Drain on paper towels and crumble into small pieces.

Using a food processor, grate the carrots and slice both cabbages into a big mixing bowl. (If you're making this in advance, keep the red cabbage out for now and mix it in shortly before serving; it turns everything a bit pink if it sits for more than an hour.) Add the bacon, dressing, and blue cheese, and mix well.

Serves 16-20.