I have to admit that I’m a little bit surprised by my own cooking these days. There are times when it is just so damn…traditional. I find myself saying things like ‘the classics are classics for a reason.’ The cookbooks I’m collecting are published by the Australian Women’s Weekly. I find myself craving things like a sausage. On white bread. With tomato sauce. Could this be my palate’s backlash against the multicultural Australian table? Will I be reduced to eating meat and three boiled veg the rest of my days?!
Somehow I don’t think so. Although I enjoy the pleasures of a simple meal as much as the next minimalist cooking guru, I don’t think my love of fresh baked bread with butter is going to kill off my longing for a good Vietnamese feed, adapted from the real deal or not. Another thing to remember is that while some food may seem exotic to me, they’re just business as usual for those that grew up with them.
All this is really just a roundabout way of saying that when I signed up for today’s pavlova blog hop, I knew I wouldn’t be getting fancy. I knew I’d be sticking with ‘old faithful’, The Australian Women’s weekly 4 egg pav. I’m lazy, so I knew I’d be topping it with whipped cream and frozen raspberries and nothing more, even thought there’s nothing I like better than what I consider the classic pav fruit combo: passionfruit, mango, banana, kiwi fruit and strawberries.
Raspberry Pav (From The Australian Women’s Weekly)
4 eggs whites (tip: separate them in a separate bowl, pouring them into the bowl you will beat them in one by one. Nothing worse than having to chuck out 4 yolked whites rather than two)
1 cup sugar
300ml cream, thickened or pure
3 teaspoons icing sugar mixture
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Frozen raspberries, to top – I used close to two cups
Preheat your oven to 120°c (110°c fan forced). Line a flat tray with baking paper, draw a 15-20cm circle on it if you like.
Make sure everything (bowl, beaters) is completely dry. Beat the eggs for about 10 minutes on high speed, until firm-ish peaks form. I use an electric hand beater, this may take less time with a standing mixer, I have no idea.
Add the sugar bit by bit, still beating. Wait until the sugar is completely dissolved before adding more. I did this in about 5 lots, it took about 3 minutes.
Shape your pavlova on the tray, levelling it so that it has a flat top. Bake for 1 to 1½ hours, turn off the oven, open the door and allow the pav to cool completely in the oven.
Meanwhile, whip together the cream, icing sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.
When the pav is completely cooled, carefully peel off the baking paper, place on a plate and decorate. It’s great served immediately or over the next few days.
What about you? What’s your fave ‘traditional’ recipe?
I’m not much for standing in queues. Then again, I’m assuming it’s something not many of us look forward to. Let me rephrase that – if I have to line up and wait for a table at a restaurant or café, I won’t. The line turns me off. The hype turns me off. The way I see it, there are plenty of other fish in the sea. And some of those fish might even be salt encrusted Portuguese sardines cooked on hot coals. But I digress.
So it will come as no surprise to anyone that I’m not the least bit interested in checking out the Bourke Street Bakery that is actually on Bourke Street- that line around the block is way too Porteño for me (Haha. Clever double entendre there). Until recently I had been to all their other branches, including their now defunct Broadway branch and their offshoot Central Baking Depot.
But I hadn’t been to their Marrickville store, and I vowed to before they open another branch. Oh wait, they just did. It’s in Potts Point and apparently even bigger. Anyway, I finally went to check out a couple of weeks ago, in what shall be known as ‘Lau and Senhor R’s weekend of bakery madness’, where we checked out Bourke Street Bakery Marrickville, Brasserie Bread in Banksmeadow and Sonoma Alexandria (twice). And when I say ‘checked out’ you of course understand that I mean ‘drank coffee and ate pastries at every single bakery.’
The reason Bourke Street Bakery Marrickville has been on my to-visit list forever is that I heard rumours there’s actually room to sit down. And guess what? The rumours are true. The interior, although hardly spacious, does have sufficient seating and there’s also a clump of tables outside. The large windows give lots of light, which bounces off the chrome industrial-looking stools. There’s a big rack of bread at one end of the shop, a mesmerising fridge of cakes and pastries in the middle and a large communal table at the end. I order two macchiatos and a chocolate croissant and we grab a seat.
Let me make this clear for those of you who don’t know: people RAVE about these guys. Their cookbook is a best seller. Their bread sells out every day. Customers wait with bated breath for the first batch of their legendary pork and fennel sausage rolls (a reliable source tells me this happens around 10:30am). Freaking hell, even David Lebovits loves the place, claiming their bread ‘rivalled anything (he) could get back home in Paris.’
So what did we think? Well, the pain au chocolat, although I’m no David Lebovits, was amazing – the pastry crisp and golden on the outside, puffed and layered in the middle and buttery all the way through. The coffee was lovely as well and I managed to (mostly) resist dunking the pastry in it. Stay tuned in the coming weeks to hear what I think of their sourdough, but I’ll give you a hint – we’ve bought three loaves in the last couple of weeks.
What about you? Do lines outside restaurants turn you on or turn you off?
Bourke Street Bakery, Marrickville
2 Mitchell Street
Marrickville NSW 2204
Part one- in which our protagonist feels somewhat out of sorts
It was the strangest thing. I was walking home from uni one day when I suddenly couldn’t walk straight. The world was spinning, I couldn’t get my balance no matter how I tried. The footpath just kept swinging towards me.
As I was almost home I hunched my back, gritted my teeth and stumbled the few blocks I had left. I crashed out on my bed for an hour in the dark, then talked myself into making dinner as I do every day. You’re fine, I told myself, who needs to keep their balance anyway?
Over the next few days, the collection of random symptoms I had just seemed to grow and grow; mind-numbing headaches, blurred vision, photosensitivity, back pain, dizziness, vertigo, depression, anxiety, fatigue and memory loss. I suffer migraines, these were not migraines (although I originally thought they were) – I couldn’t stand light and the pain was literally like being repeatedly clubbed in the head with a large flounder. The worst part was extreme what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-me panic.
I couldn’t attend uni or work, I got reading glasses, was prescribed migraine meds, took enough painkillers to knock out a whale and spent weeks in bed before my fabulous doctor diagnosed a b12 deficiency. ‘Phew, no big deal.’ said every single person I told. Yeah, you might say that, except that left unchecked, it can lead to subacute degeneration of the spinal cord.
Part 2 – in which our protagonist has an epiphany
While I was sick, I was visiting my brother, who is a musician working a minimum wage job. I was so inspired by his work ethic when it came to his music, his creativity and his commitment to what is basically unpaid work. Both my brothers are musicians, totally self taught, always with multiple, self-directed projects on the go. It was while lying in the dark on a half-deflated air mattress in my brother’s spare room listening to him doing whatever the hell you do when you make electronic music that I really started to think about my own life. At this point, squinting out of one eye, reading food blogs to pass the time I thought ‘They are doing something, they are MAKING something. What can I make?’
Part 3 – In which our protagonist engages in storming of the brain
Since I didn’t know what was wrong with me and could barely get out of bed, I vowed I’d make something of this knack with words people often accuse me of. I decided to set myself a simple task – put together a food blog, blog once a week.
I knew I’d always eat, hell, I knew I’d always cook – I cooked that first day I lost my balance. I knew I’d always have an opinion about food. So I curled up on that air mattress with my eeepc and devoured all the blogs I love, be they about food or not, and I wrote a list for each one of everything I liked and everything I didn’t like about them. Then I wrote a list of everything I could think of that I loved to cook. Then I began to write.
Part 4 – In which our protagonist becomes unimaginably rich doing what she loves
This is actually true, if you take ‘rich’ in the extremely abstract sense. I have been blogging for exactly 1 year. It has enriched my life more than I could ever have imagined.
This is not to say that every time I sit down to write a post or duck into a café to snap away at my coffee, I’m excited to do so. In fact, quite the opposite; when I sit down to wrote a post, I dread it – I can’t be bothered and I worry that what I write will be rubbish. When I pop into a coffee shop to take pictures, I know people will stare and my coffee will get cold.
But the sum total of my experience blogging far exceeds the stress of putting together each idividual post. The bloggers I have met, both in person and online. The business and café owners that have welcomed me into their establishments like a long lost relative would welcome you into their home. Attending that blogging conference everyone’s talking about. And most of all, the way it feels to make something, create something, and to always have it there. No matter how lame the rest of your life may get sometimes, you’ll always have that thing you made.
When I started Corridor Kitchen, this was literally my thought process: I will start a blog. It will give me something to do. Hopefully I won’t die.
But now my goal is to make Corridor Kitchen as much of an inspiration as the blogs I love and am inspired by. If even one person is as inspired by my blog as I am by the blogs I was reading, squint-eyed lying on the floor of my brother’s spare room one year ago, then I consider Corridor Kitchen a success.
What about you? Why do you blog? Why do you read blogs?
Weekend breakky used to be one of my favourite rituals. I had my places, I had my fave orders. But lately, it’s kind of fallen off the radar. So a couple of weeks ago, Senhor R and I jumped in the car and went to one of our all-time best breakky haunts, only to be greeted by sad, overpriced food and lacklustre service. We vowed never again to set out on a breakfast quest without a place in mind.
Having heard good things about Sonoma Bakery Café, the relatively new Sonoma HQ, we decided to head southwards for something new. We were greeted by a huge warehouse space, Allpress-like in its interior. An order-and-pay-at-counter affair, said counter was laden with delicious looking sandwiches and pastry. As we stood surveying the offerings, a barista offered us the breakky menu. Easy to see it was out first visit.
Obviously there wouldn’t be much point in ordering a Sonoma breakky if it didn’t include toast. I went for the kind of thing I usually choose – toast and poached eggs with a side of avocado. I noticed, weirdly that the blackboard menu worked out a couple of dollars cheaper than the paper menu, who knows, may have been a glitch. Senhor R ordered the Turkish eggs, described as eggs with ricotta, olives, tomato, dukkah and toast.
We help ourselves to water from a handy tap imbedded in the bench and grab some salt and pepper shakers as well. Our coffees arrived, soon followed by our breakfasts. I could tell straight away that my eggs were near-perfect, the butter on the side, which I appreciated, especially as I ordered avo. I’m a bit surprised they’ve mashed the avo though, since its texture is kind of the point. I spread my sourdough (I think it’s rye spelt) with butter and avo, whack and egg on top and pierce the yolk. Perfect. Liquid. Centre. Senhor R’s breakky is very salty, luckily he loves salt. It’s not quite what we expected – a mash of soft boiled egg, ricotta, chopped olives, fresh tomato and dukkah spread on double thick toast. I’m not sure what we imagined, definitely whole (rather than slightly mashed) eggs, something more akin to baked eggs I guess (that’s also on their menu). Senhor R admits he didn’t really read the description properly.
Sonoma has their own blend roasted by Surry Hills hipsters Single Origin Roasters, I’m not a huge fan, nor am I a huge detractor. The coffee was smooth, chocolatey and well made. The staff were all really friendly, so much so that when the barista cleared away our coffee cups, he asked if we’d like another round ‘On the house, I’m pretty bored.’ Maybe it was me snapping away, maybe he really was bored, either way, can’t say no to a free coffee.
Overall, we were very impressed with Sonoma, so much so that we returned the following day for coffee and to share a sandwich (Moroccan Chicken – amazing). I loved the space – high ceilings, plenty of tables, polished concrete floors, bare light bulbs. It’s kind of hard to find, but definitely worth the trek.
Sonoma Bakery Café
32-44 Birmingham Street
Alexandria NSW 2015
02 8338 1051
7:00 am – 4:00 pm
I’m not much for fancy dinners, perhaps because I’m a woman of the people, or, more likely, because I can’t afford to eat them. Contrary to what some may have you believe, I’m not invited to eat for free in trendy restaurants on a regular basis. Or at all. Ever. Once, I was invited to review a burger joint I already frequented. And I paid. That’s the sum total of my invitations to restaurants. When other food bloggers say if they didn’t eat on the house, they’d never get to blog a high class place, I have literally no idea what they’re talking about. Oh, for the luxury of agonising over the ethics of disclosure.
So when I heard that this year’s Eat. Drink. Blog. food blogger’s conference included a fancy dinner at a place I’d heard of, I was in. I’m not ashamed to say this was the fanciest dinner I’d ever had. I’m also not ashamed to admit I almost walked past the restaurant the first time around.
I arrived at 7:55pm as dinner was to start at 8, and was informed I’d missed the appetisers. No idea what they were but I’m sure they were delicious. I plonked myself down next to my lovely co-bloggers and we were given a rundown of the menu, which was impossible to hear over the general merriment that inevitably accompanies a $134.90 wagyu rib on the bone or a crustacean so large, it requires not so much a bib as a full length plastic apron.
A glass of Reisling soon calmed my nerves and a spotlessly attired waiter informed us the entrees would be out soon. Servers laden with plates soon appeared and carefully placed our plates. What greeted us was not so much a meal as a landscape. Smoked yellow fin tuna carpaccio, swirled around some mayonnaise or equivalent, studded with micro herbs, pickled chillis and a smattering of pistachios. Cameras came out in a flash (pun completely intended) and a waitress appeared out of nowhere to inform us that a special, professionally lit table had been set up in the corner should we want to photograph each dish in a more flattering light.
Many of my co-bloggers kept on snapping away, even requesting used wine bottles to set up an enticing tablescape. I, however took my first bite of carpaccio and it was amazing – silky, smooth, not in any way fishy, and with a texture my mouth couldn’t quite make sense of. The mayo-like-substance it sat on was slightly sharp and very creamy, and the pickled chillis, the most remarked upon feature of the dish, exploded in indescribable bursts of vinegary sweetness. As I finished the dish, all the flavours started to meld together and I became conscious only of the dishes textural contrasts. I loved it.
The second course of slow roasted beef tenderloin and wagyu flat iron steak was sliced up on platters to share. We also had kipfler potatos with chorizo and spinch (unexciting), grilled asparagus (tasty) heirloom tomato salad with basil and roast olives (to die for) and a cast of condiments. This was washed down with a nice glass of shiraz. I have to talk about the flat iron steak here. Sure, I slathered it with chimichurri but I needn’t have done, it was amazing. It had a lovely charred crust on the outside, was tender and juicy on the inside. One of the best steaks I’ve had outside of Argentina, although that gives you no indication of quality whatsoever so I’ll say this instead; it was quite good.
The final course was a cheese course of sweet gorgonzola, which was a welcome end to a day spent stuffing ourselves with pastries, chocolate and macarons. The mild blue cheese was sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts and drizzled with iron bark honey. This was perfectly offset with a glass of St Hallett Rose from the Barossa Valley.
I got into the habit of getting up each time a new plate we placed in front of me, ducking over to the ‘display table’ and snapping away. This seemed an efficient use of time as I was unable to begin eating until my dining companions had finished their photography. Every time I returned, my napkin was neatly folded by my plate and my water glass refilled. I can’t fault the service, I can’t fault the food, I can’t fault the price (free). All in all, a great night.
What about you? Are you much of a fancy dinner person?
They let their food go cold. They rock fancy SLRs. They tweet up a storm, posting photos of their on-trend lunches and they always know where to get a good feed. Here are five facts about food bloggers you may not know.
1. They hate food fads just as much as you do
Macarons. Masterchef. Those over-blogged ‘it’ restaurants. Food bloggers have been there, done that, or at least read it in their mile-long blogroll. At EatDrinkBlog, one food blogger admitted to me, in hushed tones ‘I don’t think macarons are that great, actually.’ I had another prominent food blogger email me to agree that Sydney’s recent night noodle markets were both overrated and lacking in noodles. Chances are your fave food blogger is as sick of hearing about Jamie’s Italian as you are…or soon will be.
2. They’re zeitgeisty, not trendy
Food bloggers will break the next big thing months before the more cautious mainstream media. By taking risks, readers feel they get the inside scoop and other bloggers can follow suit and put in their 2 cents. As a rule, food bloggers don’t blog an experience they’re not that enamoured with, unless it’s macarons, possibly served at the night noodle markets by one of the contestants of masterchef, so the initial buzz bloggers create is often well-deserved.
3. They work extremely hard at what they do
Blogging requires consistent effort, especially for big name bloggers or those who have successfully monetised their blogs. Once readers regularly stop by or start paying for content, it becomes even more important to provide consistent, quality stuff. Food bloggers know they have to bring their readers something fresh and new that they can’t find on their own. A full-time blogger may work around 15 hours a day, 6-7 days per week. I myself spend about 8-10 hours a week just to produce 1-2 posts.
4. They’re often not as tech-savvy as you might think
Bloggers aren’t all tech heads, nor are they all graphic designers. When figuring out how to do something tricky on their blogs, the default method? ‘Google it’. I’m really glad I’m not alone in this, as along with visiting forums, it’s the method I usually use. Another thing I’ll do is to get in contact with bloggers who have a feature on their blog I particularly like, and ask them where they got it. Food bloggers are usually more than happy to share their knowledge and help you out.
5. They’re not all trying to get published in mainstream media
It’s often assumed by those outside the blogging community that bloggers are trying to get published in a ‘real’ medium. For some, this may be the case – they may be after freelance writing jobs or book deals. But for many, blogging can be a hobby, or it can be a business, it can be just plain fun. I know for myself the motivation is producing something, publishing something myself.
Image courtesy of Krug6
Today, I will donate the money I would’ve wasted on eating my way out of boredome to OzHarvest. Today, my household will donate $348.87. Add $70 to that and you get the amount on money we spent on food the week before. Scary.
I just want to say a massive thankyou to everyone who blogged, tweeted, commented and participated in the inaugral $35 Challenge this year. I want to thank those regretfully declined. We’ll be back next year, bigger and better than ever, and I hope you’ll join us. I really, really do.
I’m still musing on it, you’re probably sick to death of hearing about it, but there you go.
Keep in touch!
Popular posts this month…
- 3 great hole-in-the-wall CBD Cafes posted on April 13, 2012
- Review – Philips Saeco Intelia posted on January 10, 2012
- Lau’s Ultimate Corn Fritters and the four fritter truths posted on March 1, 2013
- Kosher Whole Orange Cake posted on July 5, 2011
- Café Review – The Grounds of Alexandria posted on April 4, 2012
- SMH Good Café Guide 2013
- Smokey O’s Popup, The Rag Land, 13-14 May 2013
- Eggplant Parma and Family Recipes
- Pigeonhole Gatherings
- On Healthy Eating – 5 tips from a food blogger
- The National Multicultural Festival 2013, Canberra
- Black Coffee Revolution – Get Brewing!
- Lau’s Ultimate Corn Fritters and the four fritter truths
- Café Review – Naked Espresso, Melbourne CBD
- Black Coffee Revolution – Aeropress
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 Australia License.
Disclaimer:All opinions in this blog are mine, an everyday, real-life person. I do not claim to be an expert on anything. I do not accept payment for reviews and nor do I write sponsored posts. From time to time I give away products and experiences to my readers, all competitions have completely arbitrary rules, all decisions are final and all prizes awarded as I see fit.