Camping, camp seasoning and camp food… and the passing of a great man

One of our favourites; Black Rock camp ground, Northern NSW
One of our favourites; Black Rock camp ground, Northern NSW

Everyone should go camping.

Even if you think you won’t like it, you should just try it once… just for me (Unless, of course, you have agoraphobia. If you have that you need to stay at home because I don’t want you freaking out my kids with all of your yelling and shit).

There is something about camping that my words will not let me explain to you. There is something about the air combined with the hum of the ocean combined with the lingering smoke. It is the crispness of the morning as the mist slowly reveals the surface of the river. It is (now that I have spawned) watching my children watching the fire as their own father did when he was a child… as did his father before him. It is the absence of the sounds and smells of the civilized world. And, it is the way I am made to feel at home like only the bush could do for a man with a beard such as mine.

When cooking breakfast for a crowd, employing the use of your family size paella pan is recommended
When cooking breakfast for a crowd, employing the use of your family size paella pan is recommended
Fresh sardines on toast… just waiting for a splash of home made tomato sauce
Fresh sardines on toast… just waiting for a splash of home made tomato sauce
Obi contemplating fire
Obi contemplating the goodness of fire

And of course there is the food.

As long as there is some kind of receptacle that may hold dead wood, which may in turn be set alight using nothing more than a regular household cigarette lighter or matches, that is. This installation, that we shall refer to as “the fire pit”, is then used as a source of heat to cook said food and also warm both your earthly being and spirit (I have found that a hip flask is also good in such occasions – not the cooking, but the warming of body and spirit). The food you cook on a set up like this cannot be repeated in an ordinary household kitchen. Why? Simply because you do not have a word fired stove. Every whisp of smoke that floats gently over your food, caressing it with it’s loveliness, is camping gold.

A big, fat rump cooked in the coals
A big, fat rump cooked in the coals
Liberally sprinkled with camp seasoning and served with roast potato, pumpkin, carrot and onion all cooked in the coals… we are not heathens
Liberally sprinkled with camp seasoning and served with roast potato, pumpkin, carrot and onion all cooked in the coals… we are not heathens

Which brings me very neatly to my next port of literary call; camp seasoning.

As we sat around the fire (not singing a chorus of “Kumbayah” thank fuck. I would have quite possibly punched myself fair in the nuts if that had have gone down) drinking our tea, we spoke about the taste of a brew from the coals and just how damn good a simple cup of tea can be when licked by the wisps of smoke that shall be affectionately known as “camp seasoning”. I definitely come for a world where everything can be made better by a dose of smoke. A big hit of tasty, tasty, smoky sexual emanation from the coital union of wood and flames.

Another cracking breakfast; fried chorizo and tomato...
Another cracking breakfast; fried chorizo and tomato…
With eggs chucked in the same pan. Hell yeah!
With eggs chucked in the same pan and once again, a good hit of camp seasoning. Hell yeah!

I’m getting aroused.

But that’s my camping experience. It’s a different beast for different people, I can understand. As I walked along the dunes today I did notice a lot of solar panels and I-pads to keep the kids occupied. Not for me, but I say that as I type away on my laptop… now contemplating the irony of the situation… now contemplating what irony is… now remembering the line from the BBC classic “Blackadder” when Baldrick suggested that irony was “just like tinny and coppery… just irony…”

And that shall segue me nicely, but with a heavy heart, into my next subject; the passing of one of my all time favourite actors slash comedians – Rik Mayall. A legend of many BBC classics such as “The Young Ones”, “Filthy Rich and Catflap”, “The Comic Strip” and, of course, “Blackadder”, in which he played the boisterous Lord Flashheart – purveyor of anything male a woman may want for. RIP Flashy. Woof, Woof!

Town Cafe (not Utopia), Bangalow

There was beans with pork and pepper sausage, pesto scrambled eggs with local bacon, the bacon and egg roll and heaps of great coffee on the table
There was beans with pork and pepper sausage, pesto scrambled eggs with local bacon, the bacon and egg roll, a herb pot and heaps of great coffee on the table

We were champing at the bit, toey as a roman sandal and keen as general mustard (I know the combination of those words does not paint a pretty picture… well, it doesn’t paint any type of picture at all does it? No, it would need a canvas and some paints to do that, wouldn’t it. And, as I am referring to words that have nothing but this 2D form I have breathed into them through the power of my life giving fingers, I would suggest that this would be one dimension short of allowing them to paint that picture. Just saying) to head back into Bangalow for breakfast on Tuesday because;
1. We were going back to Utopia Café after three and a half years of abstinence. This is the same café that I left all of those moons ago after a five year stint as head chef, but I am not so shallow as to let personal differences keep me from good food… it’s just that we had heard many similar reports from people we knew aka. Friends, who were nary happy with the standard of food being produced. The café had changed hands twice and is now onto it’s third owner since my departure… cheeky little tart of a café! Anyhow, I have heard nothing but good reports about the new owner and chef so time for a visit it was.
2. We are easily excitable.
3. We are just easily excitable.

So we walked into the café so ready to have the pants impressed right the fuck off us… quite literally if that was what needed to happen. We approached a waitress who inquired as to whether we would like take away coffee. “No thank you my dear lady”, I replied in my most proper of voices. “We will be requiring a table to sit down at to sample some of your finest breakfast wares.”

On that note, I showed her my monocle…

“I’m sorry”, she replied. “But the kitchen is closed today for routine maintenance, so we can only offer you coffee or pre-made sandwiches.”

Closed for what the fuck? Closed to ruin my effing breakfast more like!! It really doesn’t take a lot to piss me off in the a.m… especially if I walk into your café and you don’t have food available on this particular day… no signs stating that you don’t have food available on this particular day… nothing on your website stating you don’t have food available on this particular day… basically just lining me up to sucker punch me in the balls with your opening statement. But, as this is not the new edition of whingingwhiteguysarethebestshitever, that shall be all I have to say about that.

So after a brief discussion about what place of cooked breakfast meals we would venture on to, maybe Old Byron Town – maybe somewhere else in Bangalow, and a heap of me just moping around the place with my “whatever the fuck” thing going on, Jennee decided that we would head on down town to Town Café.

We were seated and then offered menus and water, both of which we accepted happily.

Our waitress seemed a little off point on this particular day, not knowing heaps about what was going on, specials etc. She suggested that pancakes might be on the specials this morning, but there was a hotdog and soup too… but maybe they were for lunch…

An early morning chuckle is always a good start to the day… but where’s my fucking coffee (yeah. I’ve still got a bit of attitude)? Ah, there it is. Thank you very much my good man. Delicious. Really effing nice. I’ll have another por favor.

This was a cracking breaky roll. They got it all spot on. I ordered a pork and pepper sausage on the side, which was one of the best decisions I made that day
This was a cracking breaky roll. They got it all spot on. I ordered a pork and pepper sausage on the side, which was one of the best decisions I made that day

And then we ate.

It was a cracking breakfast and I feel that the crew at Town may have saved a poor unsuspecting bystander or two the sharp end of my tongue… hmmm, I guess that last sentence would imply that my tongue has a sharp end, which it does not. It was a metaphor, if not a totally unclear one – even to me. Maybe I was referring to my razor sharp wit. Yes, that will work fine with me.

Ordering the friands was also a very smart decision
Ordering the friands was also a very smart decision

Anyhow the coffee was great, the food was great (it was all about that pork and pepper sausage for me) and the waitress was funny… and once more those same cheeky little effing friands made fun of my face from the counter, so once again I ordered a couple of the little suckers and let my face retaliate by eating the shit out of them! I really do have a lot of trouble walking past a friand…

We did not yet to eat at Utopia on this day, but just like the sailor who returns to the parlor of the lady of the night, even after previously contracting a horrible case of syphilis, I will return to Utopia to sample some of this food I am hearing of… and hopefully leave without a stinging case of syphilis.

Easter-ness

Mmmmm. Roast lamb in the fire
Mmmmm. Roast lamb in the fire

I know. I’ve been offline for over a week now and all I have to offer is the same ol’ tale of a man who works in the hospitality industry and is tied to the stoves during holiday periods. A man who loves the customers that demand so much of him during these times. A man who always returns home with a smile on his face… mostly. A man who talks an awful lot of bollocks… definitely. Anyway, I am back like a dirty old stalker. You will never really get rid of me. I’ll always be there, lurking in the shadows, just around the corner, armed only with my dirty beard and mind.

Cyberdyne industries is ready to go online.

Our humble home played host to another couple of guests this week; me old mates Nozza and Troppo. These guys are some of my favourite peeps in the world, so needless to say, I couldn’t spend my whole time on the tappy-key-screen-thing writing stories for you… that may have been mostly because I was drunk… or cooking… sometimes both.

So Nozza and Troppo were here. We, as good hosts, thought it appropriate to start with some canapés and witty banter, and then realised we were far from this “good hosts” couple we were speaking of, so we started off in the usual manner; beer consumption and stories of times gone by…

Old skool catch-ups are the best.

We were both by-standers and protagonists in the over-consumption of Easter eggs. We ate hot crossed buns for no other reason than “because it is Easter”. I like to anoint a toasty grilled bun with something similar to it’s own weight in butter – really lube that shit up. We also ate many great food. Very, very nice indeed. And what, may I ask you, would any festive type holiday period be with the consumption of a beverage or two? That’s right; it wouldn’t be a very fucking festive holiday at all, would it? So we also drank festive amounts of booze.

When all was said and done, and chocolate eggs eaten and dodgy theories about Easter discussed, this was a damn fine weekend. It was a weekend I needed like a royal needs stupid looking pets and what can only be described as WTF sporting obsessions.

This shall be somewhat of a visual diary of the week that has past.

Duck sausage, pork rib, mushroom and kale pasta
Duck sausage, pork rib, mushroom and kale pasta
The photo doesn't look that crash hot but this shit tasted good
The photo doesn’t look that crash hot but this shit tasted good
Chicken, coconut and kaffir lime broth, noodles and dumplings
Chicken, coconut and kaffir lime broth, noodles and dumplings
Have heaps of lime with this one
Have heaps of lime with this one
Lamby rubbed down with garlic, anchovies, preserved lemon and rosemary followed by three hours in the coals of the fire
Lamby rubbed down with garlic, anchovies, preserved lemon and rosemary followed by three hours in the coals of the fire
Nothing wrong with this picture
Nothing wrong with this picture
Served up with roasted potatoes and baby capsicum from the coals and chickpea and cavolo nero pilaff
Served up with roasted potatoes and baby capsicum from the coals and chickpea and cavolo nero pilaff
That pilaff
That pilaf
The boys made frittata omelette for breakfast
The boys made frittata omelette for breakfast
Tomato, mushrooms, cheese and herbs… and fully made by the kids to boot
Tomato, mushrooms, cheese and herbs… and fully made by the kids to boot

I hope it was a good one and fulfilled all expectations for you and yours. Lots of love from your friends at foodisthebestshitever.

Foxy Bean Café (not Gunshop Cafe)

IMG_6901

Foxy Bean Café, Wooloongabba

Normally when we stay in Brisbane, we will venture out to Gunshop Café for a coffee or two and a good breakfast. But on this trip this would not be the case. It was time for a change and a new culinary adventure would be under taken.

It was decided after much deliberation (and believe me, there was a lot of deliberation) that our destination would be Foxy Bean Café. The menu looked good and it had a cool name… what more could one want?

Seba wasn't too phased by the coffee
Seba wasn’t too phased by the coffee

We sat ourselves down in the garden type set-up out the back. This sort of spot is always a bonus when you have kids. First up it was a Genovese coffee… and it didn’t disappoint. So we ordered some more. That’s a fine start to the day and a win for any breakfast joint.

Obi and my mate Micky ordered the “Bacon and egg toastie” ($10). It was served with smoked tomato chutney on a light rye bap, which to my brains means it is a bacon and egg roll, or even a bacon and egg burger… but not a toastie. Nevertheless it was a decent bacon and egg roll, both protagonists were happy with their choice.

Pretty menus
Pretty menus

Seba, who is eating his way into a beast of an 8-year-old, chose “The Business” ($19). Scrambled eggs, bacon, chorizo, tomato, field mushroom, smoked tomato chutney and sourdough toast… and even came close to eating it all by himself. This would be a $22+ breakfast down our way, so this was a win for the common man.

The business
The business

As a direct result of Sebas breakfast choice, Jennee chose “Crushed and seasoned avocado” ($9) with smoked tomato chutney (they seem to be pretty impressed with this chutney because it appears on just about every breakfast… but not the muesli. No, no, no) and gluten-free instead of the regular spelt toast. It was crushed avo on toast, which is what you would expect from something described as it was. Jennee thought she would be getting a lot more left overs from Seba… and she ended up with a little extra… but not a lot. First world problems right there.

The bushmans benny
The bushmans benny

I had the “Bushmans Benny” ($17), which was quoted as being “awesome” on the menu. This was a bit of a foray from the norm for me as, well, it was a Benny… Or a take on a Benny… It had hollandaise for sure which is usually enough to scare me off like two for one voucher and free penicillin at the local “gentleman’s parlour”. But in this case those poached eggs and hollandaise were sharing a bed with my old friends and cohorts; the savoury mince and chipotle pulled pork. Yes, both of them. I found it hard to say no. In fact, I found it impossible to say no, so instead of sitting there causing a strange uncomfortable silence, I said yes! It was worth every cent of those seventeen dollars. A fat mound of pulled pork and beef mince on toast with a couple of nicely poached eggs and a good hollandaise sauce. I couldn’t fault it. I left the place rubbing my belly (but not trying to pat my head at the same time because that just looks plain silly), with a smile on my face and in need of a long walk to get that meal through my system.

This place was no Gunshop Café. They are a little less flairy on the plate and maybe don’t have quite as many bohemian hipsters in the place as Gunshop, but they are also a little cheaper and good value for money for good food and coffee.

Very nice indeed. Give it a bash if you’re in the neighbourhood.

Then it was off to GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art) to get our tub of yoghurt on. A bit of culture, you know?

Mexican Hangover Rolls

What more do you need?
What more do you need?

Mexican hangover rolls

Firstly I would like to make it clear that you do not need to be Mexican or have a hangover to enjoy these rolls… you also need not have a Mexican hangover, even though I’m not quite sure how the hell that would work. But if you do want a hangover to eat this roll it is really quite easy to obtain;

1. I would suggest a trip to the local bottlo* and pick yourself some booze. If you pick two to three different types of alcohol, say, beer, red wine and scotch, you definitely have more chance of obtaining your hangover
2. Now you need to take this alcohol to the cash register and pay the cashier for said alcohol
3. You have just realised that you didn’t bring any money because you didn’t read all of the instructions properly before you left, did you? I have told you previously, always read the whole recipe before you begin. You are making this really hard for me…
4. Go back to your house, or your cave, or the old tree down by the swamp, or wherever it is that you stash your money, get some of that money and take it back to the bottlo and pay the nice man/lady (they will probably be looking at you like you are quite simple by now, but that is because you are quite simple)
5. Now that you have your booze, drink it. Drink it all
6. Once all booze is consumed go to sleep – anywhere at all should be comfortable by now
7. The next day you wake up. Voila! That stabbing pain you feel in your head, coupled with the fear of sunlight and loud noises, is a hangover. All of those things with “olé gringo beetch” at the end is a Mexican hangover

Or maybe you possibly think this would be more authentic for you if you actually are Mexican. This will require years of practicing the language, followed by a period of illegal residency and then possibly marriage to a partner with a large black moustache, a penchant for day time naps and a bestie who is a donkey named Raphael. Good luck.

Cooking the chorizo etc might look like this
Cooking the chorizo etc might look like this
Loaded up and ready to help
Loaded up and ready to help. This is one hell of a sandwich
Cut it in half if it is too big for your mouth.Don't apply the "cut in half" theory to all things that are too big to fit in your mouth...
Cut it in half if it is too big for your mouth. Don’t apply the “cut in half” theory to all things that are too big to fit in your mouth…
Keep taking photos while you think you're not
Keep taking photos while you think you’re not

MEXICAN HANGOVER ROLLS (for 4)
4 big fat rolls, or a full Turkish pide. I just thought about the Turkish bread and I think that is going to be the “effing hell yeah” way to do this
3 smoked chorizo sausage, sliced
2 medium potatoes, boiled/steamed whole, cooled and cut into medium dice
2 red capsicum, diced
1 brown onion, diced
A large handful of coriander/parsley/watercress
4 eggs (or 8 eggs if you want 2 each. Yeah, I’m great at maths too)
oil and butter for frying
Salsa picante, sour cream and fresh coriander to serve
• Put chorizo, potato, capsicum and onion into a large frying pan or baking pan, splash with some oil and pan fry/roast until it’s starting to get some colour and the sexy red oil is coming out of the chorizo
• When the chorizo and potato mix is done, fry your eggs. I like to fry mine with a good knob of butter and a splash of oil (if you need to fry your eggs in batches do so, and set aside until the sandwich goes together)
• Slice the bread in half so you can fill it and then layer the chorizo mix on the bottom, followed by the eggs and a bit of seasoning… and even a bit of cheese if that’s how you roll
• Place the lid on top and then cut into portions** to cook
• Brush the top of the sandwich with herby chilli oil (recipe follows) and panfry or cook in a sandwich press until they are looking good
• Open sandwich, add salsa, sour cream and coriander
• Eat it. Wash it down with a cerveza, or possibly a tequila if you’re feeling hard core
• Go back to bed. Nighty night

HERBY CHILLI OIL
1 teaspoon each chilli flakes, dried oregano and dried thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil

*bottlo. A place of good repute that sells bottled (and sometimes boxed) alcoholic beverages

**you can cut this beast into portions and then panfry them or smash them in a sandwich press or, to be an absolute boss, cook it as 1 big sandwich on your bbq hot plate and portion it at the table as every trash-bagged mofo looks on in totally awe of your presence in this world

Paul’s Caul… Same words, different melody

Breakfast Bali stylee
Breakfast Bali stylee

Same words…. Different melody

We really do get stuck in our ways. It seems that most western societies are comfortable with consistency. Some might even say we’re unimaginative… I’m torn as for the most part; I love what I have loved for too many years to mention, then every now and again I love something completely different…

What am I talking about?

Jam is actually what I’m talking about, but jam could be a metaphor for any number of common rituals in the food world or any other area of our life.

This was brought to my attention the last few morning as we where having breakfast in our Balinese paradise, we ordered fruit platters, juices, scrambled and poached eggs and croissants as well as coffee/tea… I know this isn’t at all Balinese and we are fine with that as it was a conversation we had and both decided prawns and chicken don’t belong in our breakfast repertoire.

First to arrive was the coffee and the old joke about “this coffee tastes like mud” followed by the answer “funny it was ground this morning” came to mind, but I’ve come to expect that of hotel coffee world wide…

Then my juice arrived and it was juice plain and simple, Lauren had opted for a fruit platter instead and it was brilliant, they hadn’t reinvented the wheel but it was plated in a manner unlike us western folk plate it, it was cut with care and detail and its minimalistic approach really worked…

Next to join the party at the table where our croissants, you may or may not know this but I effing love these buttery crescents of French brilliance, and I’m in the most part happy when they are escorted by their friends Mr. Butter and Mrs. Jam (I’m also not apposed to them being stuffed with bacon, ham, cheese, avocado, spinach etc.) so 9/10 times you can bet that you will receive strawberry or raspberry jam with your pastries/toast at any breakfast anywhere in the English speaking world… but not today I was treated to a magnificent papaya jam and an equally triumphant pineapple jam, it was so good but was so far removed from the norm that I felt mischievous eating it. Well done Katut, you are a preserve wizard…

This brings us to the egg component of the breakfast, which was as usual, a choice between poached, scrambled or fried… I as you should know by now choose poached and Lauren went for her fave – scrambled, both egg styles were executed brilliantly but what made us laugh was the fact that we thought we were just receiving eggs on toast, yet when they arrived they were garnished (yes garnished) with bacon, ham, sausage and tomato… YES a pig three ways two days in a row… wow that sounds nasty, a swine ménage a trois of sorts… no just three kinds of pig on my plate, what a lovely surprise to finish a very interesting take on an average western style breakfast, they call it American, but as far as I can tell there wasn’t enough food to feed an American and way to much fresh produce.