not-amazing photos part 4: phnom penh

Summer Palace

Summer Palace

Russian Markets

Russian Markets

City skyline

City skyline

Transporting some sort of... Innard?

Transporting some sort of… Innard?

"Enjoying" a fried cicada

“Enjoying” a fried cicada

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curry night gets bigger

There’s a couple of new phenomena in my house: the ‘curry lull’ is the dead quiet when no one talks to each other at dinner because they’re too busy stuffing their faces, and the ‘curry stupor’ is the dead quiet when no one talks to each other because they’re all too full of curry.

Tonight, we made chicken vindaloo (we did our oh-so-clever oven baking thing again) and saag paneer. This time we also made homemade roti (as opposed to last time, we were lazy)… delicious! Served with raita, lime pickle and mango chutney of course.

Since I think we’ve perfected the roti, here’s the recipe we used (it’s very simplified but we can’t take any credit though, we stole it from the Taste website)

 

Ingredients:

300g plain bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
250ml (1 cup) chilled water
30g butter, melted
60ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil

 

Directions:

Add the flour and salt together and make a well. Add the water and mix together with your hands.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth (approx. five minutes)

Add butter, and a bit of extra flour if required.

Divide into eight equal portions and roll out to thin, 20cm rounds.

Fry in oil until crisp.

Serve!

it’s fat belly curry night

Well this is fast becoming a food blog, clearly. When you buy a house and can’t afford to jet away constantly you need to find a new outlet… Mine is stuffing my face, I think. But in an artsy, look-what-I-did kind of way, hopefully.

Anyway, tonight was curry night.

I’ll be honest, hubby did most of the work. I just stood around and looked good (duh). And fetched beers.

Last night we marinated some chicken in a Madras sauce. I thought hubby was being lazy by leaving it in a casserole dish and baking it but alas, he is a genius. The meat was perfectly tender and completely packed with flavour, just like you would get at an Indian restaurant. Took about the same time as it would on the stove top but with amazing results.

Served with roti (slightly toasted), raita (yoghurt, cucumber, garlic and a little bit of mint), mango chutney and lime pickle (my favourite!)… I was actually dancing up and down the hallway with excitement while it was cooking and it didn’t disappoint. The below photo probably will though; I’m a food eater, not a food photographer.

Hit me with your favourite curry making tips. I promise I will gobble them up (insert creepy wink face here).

 

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the best pho doesn’t have a recipe

I usually find it hard to pinpoint my “favourite” things… Those who know me know that anything I happen to like is my “favourite”… but I do think one of my favourite things about travelling in Asia is the food. And no, this surely isn’t a very controversial opinion otherwise every city in the word wouldn’t have a Chinatown, and one of the most popular cuisines here in Australia wouldn’t be Thai food, and the grooviest foodie streets wouldn’t be strewn with Vietnamese restaurants. Here in Adelaide, the turnout to festivals like OzAsia or IndoFest would probably be lower if our foodie culture didn’t exist.

Anyway… let’s talk about a great passion (or obsession, whatever) of mine right now – Asian soups. I cooked a Tom Yum last night, and I love a good Laksa, but I’ve been trying to perfect pho lately. During this process I’ve learned something: you can’t “perfect” the recipe.

When I got home from the latest jaunt to Vietnam, I scoured the internet for a good pho recipe. A lot of them had star anise in them, which I hate, and they just didn’t taste right (I honestly don’t recall eating one that tasted of star anise over there, but here it’s quite common). I’m discovering that making it to taste, rather than following strict guidelines, is working much better. Then you serve it all up with lots of extras to add in (basil, fresh chilli, fish sauce, lime) and mix it all up until no-one’s bowls taste the same.

So what I want to know from everyone is: do you rely on recipes? Do you make a good pho? And if you do, what are the real essentials in your opinion? Okay… GO!

my most recent attempt at homemade pho

my most recent attempt at homemade pho

 

haters gonna hate: why I love RADelaide

There’s a common misconception about my home city. It has this reputation for being dull and lifeless, full of murderers, dole bludgers and all manner of other misfits the normal person would have nothing to do with. Frequently the butt of many a joke by interstate stand-up comedians looking for a cheap laugh, Adelaide cops more than its fair share of mis-informed city-bashing.

I find it baffling that such a pretty, friendly, cultured city cops so much criticism. Why all the negativity?
Is it because we’re “small”? With a population of 1.2 million people, we’re on par with the likes of San Diego, Dallas, Prague and Montevideo. Definitely not the biggest cities in the world, but big enough to have a lot going on and small enough to keep its friendly vibe.
Is it because there’s nothing to do? Surely not. There’s always a concert, musix festival, fashion show, food and wine festival, pop up bar opening, EP launch, or some other event to head along to. I hear complaints that anything good only happens in March and yes, while the Clipsal 500, Cabaret Festival and Adelaide Fringe occur then, they aren’t the only events Adelaide has to offer. Plus, take a short drive and explore the Fleurieu Peninsula, the Riverland or the Barossa Valley. Head a little further afield and you could be four wheel driving in the Flinders Ranges or on the Eyre Peninsula.
Is it because we have no culture? Impossible. South Australia, the only state to have been founded by free settlers, has always been a melting pot of many amazing cultures and traditions. We embrace all of these and have developed our own unique versions. For a taste of German-Australian heritage, head up to the Hills, particularly Hahndorf. For Asian flavour, head to Chinatown (even better during Chinese New Year). Or for a fun day out, try the Croatian Festival, the Glendi Greek Festival, the Carnevale Italian Festival or my personal favourite the OzAsia Festival. Speaking of favourites, another event close to my heart is WOMADelaide. The whole world’s worlds best music played in a beautiful garden.
And the food! Every place I’ve mentioned has an amazing variety of foods to try and some of the country’s best wines and beers to go with it. Cheese Festival anyone? Schutzenfest? It’s all here.
 
When you’ve eaten too much, drank too much, partied too much and generally exhausted yourself, head down to any of our white, sandy beaches for some R and R. A dip in the clear, glassy waters and you’ll be refreshed and ready to go again.
 
These reasons, among many others, are reasons why I live in this beautiful city and why I love it so much. I might take any opportunity to hop on a plane but you’ll always see me coming back home to Adelaide.
 

Why are we so happy? Because we’ve spent the afternoon at Tennyson, one of my favourite beaches.

my quest for the perfect gnocchi

I have a bit of an obsession with gnocchi. It’s the perfect meeting of my two loves: potato and pasta. My waistline wishes my fondness was for protein shakes or celery or whatever but no, its gnocchi, and I’ve been in love with these delightful little dumplings since I was tiny.I always preach about trying new things but when I see these little parcels of heaven on a menu, I can’t resist. I would love to try them everywhere, Sam I Am. I’ve been lucky enough to have gnocchi in Italy (not everywhere but in a few places, such as Venice) and each region of Italy has it’s own interpretation so I’d love to go on a Grand Gnocchi Tour of Italy one day.

The best I’ve ever had though was in Croatia. I actually thought this was bizarre but it’s not; it’s an extremely popular dish in coastal Croatia (such as Split, where I had the best one); they call it “njoki” (sounds the same, I guess). It was in a tiny little port-side cafe where I sampled this best-gnocchi-dish-of-my-life-so-far. So simple, perfect little morsels tossed in a Gorgonzola sauce. I didn’t even like blue cheese at the time, but after this dish I became a convert, which tells you a little something about it’s power.

Anyway, unfortunately I am not currently overseas on gnocchi-consuming adventures. I did however have a lovely weekend in South Australia’s very own McLaren Vale, sampling the local produce (particularly the wine!). I absolutely love living in Adelaide because McLaren Vale, the Barossa Valley, the Clare Valley and the Adelaide Hills region are all so close, and the Coonawarra is a few hours’ drive away. These amazing regions are home to some of the world’s best vineyards and microbreweries and the freshest produce.

We went to a restaurant called Au Pear (so cute, check it out here) and I had, of course, the gnocchi. The menu reads: “house made with confit artichoke hearts, caprino fresco and olive cream”. Now, strictly as a gnocchi traditionalist, it wasn’t what I expected. I have to day though, it was delicious. So delicate, so balanced, so fresh – and just enough on the plate to start feeling full without feeling heavy. Maybe that was the idea – we ordered the lemon souffle for dessert!

So, if you want a relaxing afternoon in the sunshine, head down to the Vale for some beautiful food; if you’re somewhere else in the world right now, keep me up to date with the gnocchi on your plate!

Gnocchi, Au Pear restaurant, McLaren Vale – sorry, I dug in before I remembered to take a photo!