Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Aaand We're Back!

There has been quite a hiatus of our posting. A very long hiatus.

We can assure that we still eat and actually still cook. A few discussions over wine we've all agreed that we need to stop being so lax.

Also out little technical hitch that has seen us off the air has now been resolved.

Please update any bookmarks and links that you may have to our new URL;


There will be more food posted soon, more often!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

310 Hanoi

In mid-September, following a wedding on beautiful Gili Trawangan, 310 hopped a plane to Hanoi.
Why Hanoi you ask?

Hanoi is such an incredibly vibrant and busy city, you could easily spend weeks, months, even years just wandering the crowded streets watching families selling their wares, industrious chefs firing up their charcoal burners, groups of friends gathering for beers and mysterious snacks wrapped in banana leaves like something out of a delicious lucky-dip, and the endless stream of scooters and motorbikes that flow through the capillaries of the old quarter.

We only had about 5 days in Hanoi, so we were determined to make the most, eating-wise, of our time there. Fenn and I visited Hanoi several years ago and fell in love with the city. We were absolutely blown away by the food, but at that time we were rather daunted by the street food and ate only in restaurants. For shame. 

Food is so plentiful on the streets of Hanoi, and so beautifully fresh, it can be hard to decide where you want to eat your precious meals. (With 5 days, we figured we could eat at least 20 meals in that time, as long as we were able to fit in a second breakfast or post-lunch snack of some kind.) 

We pretty quickly fell into a routine: wake up; convince the manager at our amazing hotel that we would try his  complimentary breakfast tomorrow, we promise; wander until we found some pho; pile said pho with lime juice and chilli sauce and proceed to bliss out in soupy heaven; head to our regular coffee place a few metres from the hotel and sit on the footpath drinking our coffee thick with sweetened condensed milk and ice; explore the streets of Hanoi for long enough until we 'worked up an appetite' so we could justify eating again; share two banh mi between the five of us (didn't want to ruin our lunch, now); explore again for reasons previously stated; eat lunch at whatever place we happened to wander by that looked most exciting; waddle back to the hotel for afternoon nap; head out again for exploring then find a bia hoi; drink numerous 7 cent beers while nibbling on sunflower seeds; find some kind of awesome street food place and order twice as many dishes as we need; eat, eat, eat, eat, eat; stagger back to Ta Hien, where most of Hanoi's bars are located, and get back to the beer.

When it comes to street food, obviously the places that have huge crowds and people queueing up to be fed are a safe bet for a sensational meal. That said, we still wanted to do our research. We found pikelet & pie's gorgeous blog which was a great source of information, but we also tracked her down on twitter and asked her if she had any recommendations. She pointed us in the direction of this glorious treasure map, which I cannot recommend highly enough to anyone visiting Hanoi. A wonderfully detailed and, from our experience, extremely trustworthy map of street food compiled by Nonna Chong.

This wondrous map directed us to Hai San Thang Ngoc, an extremely popular place that specialises in shellfish. Mussels, pipis, cockles, all grilled over charcoal and topped with sweet and chewy fried shallots, fresh spring onions and the magical lime and chilli special crack sauce for dipping.

Following the unmistakable aroma of pork belly being grilled over charcoal is the best way to find yourself some great bun cha. Char-grilled pork in a fish sauce broth, served with silky rice noodles and a mountain of fresh herbs? Yes please.

There was one place we just kept hearing about, a mythical street that existed purely to purvey succulent barbecue chicken. They called it 'chicken street' and to chicken street we did go. It was no myth. You sit on the ubiquitous tiny blue stools where someone brings you a bowl of pickled zucchini. A cocky teenager swaggers over with a fistful of skewers, each piercing a different cut of chicken; wing, maryland, thigh, feet. Point at the ones you want and 5 minutes later you have a plate full of the stuff you WISH that Charcoal Chicken down the road from your parents' place could produce. 

Oh Vietnam, we can't wait to see you again...

Monday, 5 November 2012

3 Super Simple Sunday Starters

There is nothing better than a lazy Sunday lunch over a crisp glass of wine on a sunny balcony. We spent this weekend up at our new house in Daylesford, harvesting the first of our french breakfast radishes and enjoying the company of friends. Here's what we ate for starters.

1. Smoked tomato and goats cheese tarts

Slice the tomatoes into strips, season with salt, and let drain in a sieve for 10-15 minutes. Place in a hot smoker for around 10 minutes and set aside to cool (we did this a couple of days beforehand and stored them in the fridge). Assemble the tarts by placing three small squares of filo pastry in a shallow cupcake pan and top a couple of capers, a couple of pieces of smoked tomato and a small spoon of fresh goats cheese. Bake in a 180°C oven for 10 minutes. Top with a basil leaf before serving.

2. French breakfast radishes with salt and aioli

Simple but delicious. We planted these around 8 weeks ago and got them just in time before something nibbled away at them completely. Given them a good wash, refrigerate so they are crispy cold, and serve the with salt flakes and aioli.

I like to think that in France they just call these "radishes".

The aioli way made using one egg yolk, one garlic clove crushed with some salt on the back of a knife and a generous tablespoon of dijon. Whisk them together and then slowly add around a 1/4 cup (doesn't need to be exact) of olive oil, whisking constantly to combine the oil each time it's added. Then add a really light canola oil, whisking constantly, until it starts to thicken (or your arm gets really tired, whichever happens first). You should be able to add about a cup of the light oil to the mixture before it comes really thick.  Then squeeze in half a lemon of juice, a little more salt and a tiny pinch of caster sugar.

3. White anchovies with crusty bread

You can buy white anchovies from just about anywhere now, but we got ours from the ever-favourite casa iberica. We served them with some chopped parsley, grated lemon rind and a drizzle of good olive oil. Serve with some crusty bread from the trusty Baker D.

Any other ideas for simple yet delicious starters?

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Pig on a spit

What do you get a woman that has everything? A pig.

I turned 30 the other day, and what better way to celebrate than with a feast of food, wine and friends. The centre of the days festivities was miss piggy, a deliciously impressive looking lechon, whose tastiness will be remembered tenderly. No pun intended.

Dave marinated her overnight in oil, onion, garlic, sage, thyme and rosemary, then stuffed her with more herbs, apples, onions and fennel, before tying her up and popping her on the charcoal.

The trick to a good spit, in my very limited experience and plethora of second-hand advice, is as follows:
  1. Secure her well at the bum and the snout, but don't tie up her legs too tightly - apparently they can rip right of while she is cooking. Gruesome.
  2. Get her close to the coals and keep them very hot. You shouldn't be able to hold your hand at pig height for any length of time. 
  3. Remember that it takes a long time to cook. Ours was 15kg and it took just under 4 hours. A bigger beast would have taken 6 hours (I'm told by those who have done this before).
  4. Cover her in plenty of salt. Salt + skin = crackling = happy campers.
  5. Stuff her full of delicious things. This helps keep her juicy and we found the flavours really permeated throughout the meat.
  6. Get dirty. It's fun!

As the meat literally started to fall off the bone, miss piggy's legs went all quivery, and so did ours. It was time for her to come off.

We carved her up and served her with some tasty salads and slow roasted baby apples.

Not a bad way to turn old!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Smoked Jalapeños (Chipotles)

There's a cafe on Brunswick St called "Atomica" which, in my humble opinion, makes the best coffee in the whole street. They also make one of my favourite hangover remedy breakfasts called "El Gringo Eggs" - a delicious potato hash, perfectly poached eggs, the porky goodness of ham, all finished off with devilishly spicy chipotle hollandaise.

Chipotles are smoked, dried jalapeño chillies. Traditionally they are the ones that have been left on the plant until the season is over and they've gone all dried and wrinkly. They are then smoked to dry them out completely and stored for the non chilli producing months.

You can buy chipotle powder, or tinned chipotles in adobo sauce from places like Casa Iberica (one of the worst websites since geocities!), but when you're on a quest to know how to make everything from scratch, at some point you're going to have to attempt to make your own. Easier said than done in Australia.

Finding fresh jalapeños was no easy task. I looked everywhere from specialist delis, food wholesalers, I even got in touch with a guy in Queensland who is growing rare chillies (among others, the awesome Pimentos de Padron - Spanish chillies where only one in ten are hot. It's like playing Russian Roulette with your mouth!) but couldn't find them anywhere. Finally, after asking around for many months, someone told me that they saw them in Woolworths. Woolworths? Surely not. I had to check it out, so I packed a lunch, drank plenty of water, said goodbye to my family and friends and made the treck from Brunswick St all the way to Smith St. Did they have jalapeños? Of course they didn't. This is Woolies. Dejected, I trudged home, empty handed, feeling further away from my goal than ever before.

On my way home I remembered that we needed milk so I stopped in at Coles on Johnston St. I skulked my way through the fresh veg section and out of the corner of my eye, I saw some plump green chillies. I'd found them!! Fresh, beautiful, shiny, green jalapeños! In COLES!! At the end of my street! I quickly grabbed a bag and started frantically stuffing the chillies into it before someone else could come along and steal my treasure. I bought every single jalapeño they had (to make sure they realised there was a demand for them) and I whistled all the way home.

The lovely Lou got me a smoker for Christmas. It's probably the most used present I've been given since I got the He-Man figure Modulok when I was 7 years old. 

Li'l Smokey is great. It runs on one little methylated spirit candle and a handful of wood chips. You just load it up with the halved chillies (If you're wondering what the pink thing under the chillies is, I was also smoking some home made bacon at the same time), set it over the candle and let it go.

They should have probably smoked for longer but the bacon was done first so I took them out and finished them under the grill. You peel off the blackened skins as you would if you were roasting capsicums and store them in olive oil. They make a delicious addition to salsa and all Mexican food.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Perfect Soft Boiled Eggs

This morning I woke up craving soft boiled eggs and soldiers. 

I'm a sucker for pretty packaging. On the way through the vege connection to pick up eggs and the always wonderful D. Chirico bread, I came across some wild asparagus. I think title "wild" stood for "wildly overpriced", but like a Fitzroy schmuck I bought it anyway. It was $1.50 worth of delicious and $3 worth of pretty. Really pretty.

Next, the secret to perfect soft boiled eggs.

Take them straight from the fridge and put them in a small saucepan, only just covered with water. Bang on a lid and bring to the boil as quickly as possible. Now turn the stove off. Wait for 3 minutes. Serve.

The toast went on just as we started the water on the boil, giving it enough time to toast, be buttered, and for a sneaky corner to be lathered with vegemite and munched on while we waited impatiently for the eggs to cook. The wildly overpriced asparagus was thrown into the water as soon as the gas went off, blanching the spears lightly. 

Serve with plenty of salt and pepper and a little white wine vinegar if you fancy.

Officially demolished.