Tête en bas

Down under wandering. Archipelagoes to islands; beaches to deserts; mountains to cities.

Archive for the ‘Gastronomic Thoughts’ Category

Twirled Potatoes

  • English: Twirled Potatoes
  • Français: Twirled Potatoes

For me, “helping on the market” means “gosh, we’ll have to wake up early!” But we’re far from a french market. As long as everyone is ready to leave at 8:30, everything is fine.

“The bloc”. I don’t know where the name come from. It’s where Steve and Trish leave. They have a small hydroponic garden, and they make there own soap and natural product. That’s also where they renovate caravan, where people live. Paul has been living here for more or less two years, and is clearly part of the family. I just see the other from time to time. The bloc is a little piece of paradise, quiet, peaceful, where you just want to relax. They don’t seem to work much. Mainly on markets and during special event.

Today, we’re going to the market. They have two booths. On one, Trish sells soap and other products. On the other, Steve sells “twirled potatoes”. He reckons that it’s mainly for cash. They started the potatoes a few weeks ago, and it’s working great. You take a potato, put it on a stick, cut it, fry it for 5 minutes, add some spice and sauce, and sell it for $5. Yes, that’s quite a nice plus value to be able to sell one potato for $5. Yes, that’s really good. I really enjoy the taste, but it’s a bit too expensive for me. Not a real problem: with my tshirt, I have them for free. I help doing the different job, learning the technic. Doing some industrial spying too. Importing the idea to Canada or France? Interesting idea. What other strange idea will I have? I don’t know! Sara and Hripsime are working on the soap booth. They both prefer the smell of natural product to the greasy smelly oil. I can’t understand that!

The market finished around 3PM. Paul take us to a very well hidden cave, south of Alice Springs. Hidden, but really nice. And not a limestone cave. Definitely different from what I’m used to visit. I’m wondering how they’ve been made. No one know.

We all gather an other time, for a pizza evening around the campfire. I end up with my didgeridoo at some time. And my flute. And also with my fire staff. Because Paul knows photography well, and also because they saw me practice almost every day, but always with no fire…

An other amazing night, with amazing people. As I meet so often. As they are every where. As usual, I’m feeling well. And happy. I’m relax. As usual.

Tasmanian Tartiflette

  • English: Tasmanian Tartiflette
  • Français: Tasmanian Tartiflette

I’m totally aware that spending the night at Standley Chasm means a very very slow start the next day. Very very slow. And that’s perfect for me. Hripsimé, Sara and Ray start with a yoga session, while I’m staying in the warmth of the swag. I know they’ll need me soon after that, but I don’t need to be too much awake. Ray asked Hripsimé if she can give him a quick massage lesson. Because of that, my day started with one hour and a half of four hands massages. Hard not to be relax and slow all day after that!

Finally, we say bye to Ray for the third time. We’re not going to be back here. Not for a long time I guess! Back to Alice Springs, I drop the girls downtown before going back to the bloc, to see my caravan again, and talk with everyone. I just realize that I want to cook for everyone tonight, to thank them for hosting me. For the welcoming. For the kinds. For everything. And of course, there’s no problem for us to stay two more nights. I drive back to town, to pick up Hripsimé and Sara, and buy some food. There’s a great pizza oven. Steel one, but heated with wood fire. This oven inspire me. A lot. As those cheese does. When was my last tartiflette? Long long time ago I guess! Well, it’s going to be with Tasmanian Camember. Better than nothing I guess.

Back to the bloc, every one’s chatting altogether. I tell Steve that I really want to give a hand for something before we leave, as I almost did not do anything. “We’ll you still be here sunday?” “hum, yes” “then you can help us at the market?” “with pleasure”! And that’s how the three of us get enrolled to give a hand at the market, the day after tomorrow. I like the idea. I’m happy.

Tartiflette is not as good as I was hoping. Tasmanian camembert is not as good as the one from Normandy. And even less than reblochon. Anyway, still did the job. It’s good. And it’s an other nice evening by the fire.

Jaab, Louise and the 5 stars curiosity

  • English: Jaab, Louise and the 5 stars curiosity
  • Français: Jaab, Louise and the 5 stars curiosity

Jaab is from Netherland, but has been living in Australia for ten years or so. Louise is australian. They met a little bit more than one year ago. Since, they sold there houses and most of the things they owned, in order to buy “The Spiring of Curiosity”. An old bus, transformed to a 5 stars house, where they now live full time, traveling -as slowly as possible- across Australia. Travelers, couchsurfers. The Spirit of Curiosity is big enough to allow them to host other travelers they meet on the road. I’ve seen there profile while they were in Coober Pedy. they were the only other couchsurfer while I was there. I didn’t contact them immediately, and when I looked for there profile again, they were already gone. A few weeks later, they were in Alice Springs. Hripsime contact them before flying to the red center, as I was not in the best condition to host her myself. That allows her to enjoy an amazing welcome in a bus more than comfy. Well, I do have to confess that I enjoy the comfort of the bus too. Jaab and Louise are just lovely. We spent a lot of amazing moment talking -most of the time while having food, and some wine. Travelers in the soul, with lot of anecdotes to share. If we talked about Europe, North America and Australia, we also talked about artificial intelligence, politics, economy, and so much more.

And finally, “the Spiring of Curiosity” had to go back on the road, heading north. We are going west. For a small loop, in the West Macdonnel Ranges. We’ll be coming back in Alice in a few days, and then heading to Uluru. Before going north too.

As usual, saying “good bye” was not really easy. But even if they have a long advance on us, they travel slower than we do. So we do have an appointment. Some where. Some time. Here. Or there. Or maybe somewhere else.

Bye Melbourne!

  • English: Bye Melbourne!
  • Français: Bye Melbourne!

As the photographic workshop last saturday went really well, I decided to organize an other one tonight. It was my way of saying “bye” to Melbourne. The theme for this evening was “light painting and fire photography”. As I didn’t have any fire artist close enough, I ended up being at the same time teacher, photograph, and model. That was a nice evening, with a nice group of couchsurfer. And yes, definitely a good way to say “bye” to Melbourne.

Even better, as I decide to eat some inspiring food after that. Yes, that’s exactly what it is. Fries, gravy and cheese. And the menu definitely says “Poutine”. Soon, Quebec will conquer the world!

Chicken drumsticks in a white wine and nuts sauce

  • English: Chicken drumsticks in a white wine and nuts sauce
  • Français: Chicken drumsticks in a white wine and nuts sauce

I like it a lot when I’m staying at a place where the people are happy to let me cook. It’s a nice opportunity to experiment, and try new random recipe, improvised from what I can find in the fridge.

I’m really happy with the result of this one. Chicken drumsticks in a white wine and nuts (peanut, cashew, almond) sauce. Served with tomatoes “à la provençale” and Quinoa. And I just discovered that the hazel nut taste you have in Quinoa just fits very well with the nuts sauce. I’ll definitely have to look at that from closer!

Fry some garlic with some ginger, in olive oil and butter. Add grounded almonds and onions. Then, add some maple sirup, to help the onions to caramelize, and some peanut butter. As I didn’t have enough peanut butter, I just add some cashew butter to. Complete with some white wine, add the chicken, salt, paprika and cumin seed. Cover with a lead. Wait. Eat.

Back to the roots: le Gratin Dauphinois

  • English: Back to the roots: le Gratin Dauphinois
  • Français: Back to the roots: le Gratin Dauphinois

One of the things I love in Australia, is that most ingredients are of great quality. The first time I taste the double fresh cream from Gippsland, I was just amazed by such a soft taste and texture. So when I saw that Megan had bought some Gippsland cream, I was really exited. And when she asked me if I could cook diner, I already knew what I was going to cook. Temperature is dropping here. Winter is coming. There’s nothing better than a good old Gratin Dauphinois (sliced potatoes slowly cooked in cream) to help feel better when it has been raining all day. Yes, sometime it’s nice to be able to share an old traditional receipt… well… maybe not really traditional anymore, as I love cooking sausages on top (so the fat melting from the sausages just add some extra flavor to the potates), and adding some cheese to. Well… just because I love cheese?

Quinoas galette and mixed vegetables

  • English: Quinoas galette and mixed vegetables
  • Français: Quinoas galette and mixed vegetables

The cooker has been watching me for to long. It was time for me to finally try it. Megan just came back this afternoon with some fresh vegetables. That was exactly what I needed.

Galettes are really easy to make, with only quinoa, onions, yogurt and eggs. Just added some spice to that, hided some fresh biologic vegetables under. Really interesting result!

I’ll be away for a couple of day. In Australia, eastern is the occasion to go to Confest. An alternative festival, that some would compare to a Rainbow Gathering, other to Burning Man (on a very smaller scale). Will be able to told you more about that on my way back, next monday.

Wish lots of chocolate to all of you!

The curry day

In Montreal, when you have friends who help you when you’re moving, you usually thank them by offering pizza and beer… A few days ago, I offered my help to Jesse and Riz, when I learnt that they were moving. I like helping people moving; don’t really know why. But even if I hadn’t liked it, I would have helped them any way. After all, Jesse hosted us for 5 days in december, kept some of our bags for one month and a half, and invited us to his wedding. So giving him a few hours of my time was the least I could do. It was really nice to see them again, after the wedding. And it was even nicer when Riz told me that she had cooked a fish curry, and that I was definitely more than welcome to have some. I mean. I like beer and pizza. But… how to say that… when you have a friend from Bengladesh, who is definitely a good cook, you definitely forget about the pizza !

As the fish was really bony, I decided to follow them in the bengladeshi tradition of eating with your hand (only the right one; Bengladesh is a muslim country). And it definitely makes sense. It is more easier to remove the bone from the fish with fingers that with a fork and a spoon. Or a knife. Seems that fish curry is a very traditional meal from Bengladesh. It was definitely a really good one, with this perfect balance of ingredients and tastes that is so common in indian food, upgraded by a slight spicing. Just something that I forgot: usually, you don’t have french beans in this kind of food. I realized a little bit too late that the long green vegetable was not bean, but green chili.

I would have been really happy with only one amazing curry… but Iris was in Melbourne for the week-end, and staying with Ned and Rosie. And planning to cook diner for them. I was, of course, invited. Iris loves indian food. She’s been experimenting with curry for a little while now, and her prawn curry was really good to.

Served with an interesting New Zealander white wine, we discovered in january. I haven’t find any really interesting australian wine yet. They are a little bit to strong. Not that they are bad. Just they are missing something, trying to impose themself, instead of waiting for you to discover all the subtlety of their aroma. The “counting sheep”, from  Hawkes Bay area in New Zealand, is a soft white wine with a light sweet taste that just fits perfectly with the prawns.

Victoria’s Market

Sydney little hidden treasure is its botanical garden. In Melbourne, the not hidden treasure is definitely the Victoria’s Market. Of course, the botanical garden here is amazing to. And we can’t really compare a market and a botanical garden (even if there is a few links between both, that’s true). But having a market like that, not to far, is always a real pleasure.

Why? Imagine Jean Talon’s market, in Montreal. With more people, more choice, but same low price. Add to it an inside market, like Atwater, with lots of meat, fish, cheese… add some french market feeling, a somewhat from Chinatown, and lots of touristic stuff. The result is just perfect. One of those places where you want to go just for the pleasure of walking, looking, smelling, touching, checking… discovering fruits you didn’t even know they could exist. And just because of those fruits, you think that it could be a good reason to stay in Melbourne for a while…

The pleasure of making mistakes

I’ve always said that making mistakes results, most of the time, with interesting consequences. It’s true in most part of your life, but that’s specially true in a kitchen. So much recipe came from mistake… I always end up talking about food with the people who host me. I don’t remember why we were talking about “crème brûlée” with Rosie, but I said that I would be really happy to cook some for all the housemates. I hadn’t make “crème brûlée” for a while. I was feeling that there was quite a lot of sugar… but still, I cooked them… to realize, later, that I put 4 times much more sugar. Hum… It was good, but definitely to sweat to be eaten like that.

And then, I realize it tastes exactly the same that a Sugar Pie feeling. There was the solution to my problem. Cause yes, I was quite ashamed. Crème brûlée is not such a hard recipe… so I just had to put everything back in a bowl, mix it again, and made a shortcrust pastry,

Twenty minutes in the oven…

And that was done !

And yes, according to the other in the house (two australians, one italian, one german and one dutch) it was pretty good.

So… if you want to make a very nice homemade traditional sugar pie, just miss your crème brûlée !