Venison, root vegetable and stout stew… and navigating a camp kitchen

6 Comments


Our recent trip to NZ had very slight undertones (subtle as a slap in the face with a wet fish) of cooking and/or eating whatever local produce the frozen, undulating, sheep dotted, river covered landscape could offer.

This day we were making our way back to Methven, and the company of our good friends Troppo and Lexi (real names), and we thought it pretty fit that we should cook them a nice hearty, vegetable laden dinner as fresh produce was damn expensive up this way and, well, if there’s one thing you need to be able to afford in this kind of weather it is not fresh vegetables, it is booze – Jesus’s little gift to us to help us stay warm in the cold.

About that dinner.

We finally stumbled on a wee little farmers market in a little sea side town on the east coast, at which one vendor was able to provide us with his home-grown yams, carrots and broccoli, and he was also selling the biggest fricking jerusalem artichokes I’ve ever seen. So big, in fact, I could not even recognise them. When I queried what the name of this strange, palm sized, Anakins-head-when-he-was-crawling-out-of-the-lava looking tuber may have been, the old farmer told me that it was indeed called Jerusalem artichoke and it was grown by another older gentleman up the road (points over shoulder).

“Indeed”, I remarked. “Well I will need to take a couple of those”.

The farmer then packed my produce up for me, I paid him the required toll and we were on our way.

We picked up some Dunedin venison and a bottle of stout from the peeps at Panhead Brewery, and then every item on the shopping list had a nice little tick next to it. We were clearly ready to do some cooking.

You will note my mis en place is in plastic bags. This is so I did not need to carry a box full of crap with me to the camp kitchen where the meal was cooked. “It’s pretty ingenious”, is probably what the other homies in the camp kitchen would have been thinking, and is also no doubt what you would be thinking right now.

Some booze for the stew and some booze for me

There’s those mis en place bags in the camp kitchen

Ready to go… with a big fat side of buttery sautéed cabbage

And a little more booze for me…


NZ VENISON, ROOT VEGETABLE & STOUT STEW

(serves 4)

500g venison shoulder, diced
1 onion, diced kinda chunky
2 carrot, chopped kinda chunky
2 sticks celery, chopped kinda chunky… let’s do all of the vegetables kinda chunky, ay
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 fist sized Jerusalem artichoke, chopped
6-7 yam, chopped
½ bunch thyme
1 tablespoon green peppercorns
500ml stout
500ml stock or water
Salt to season

Season venison and brown meat over med-high heat.
Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, peppercorn bag and cook out for 5 minutes.
Add booze and stock, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Add artichokes and yam bag and simmer for another hour, or until meat is tender and vegetables are cooked. If the gravy starts to thicken up too much feel free to add a little more moisture in the form of stock or water.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Serve it up with a side of NZ’s finest booze.

Girls vs Boys Southern Smokehouse Cook-off

11 Comments

IMG_6214

A man, a coffee and a smoker

It was to be another cook-off at foodisthebestshitever HQ. The teams were girls versus boys; the girl’s team comprising of my wife Jennee and her sister Liz (who can get an extra special mention right now because she flew in from the other side of the country especially for the occasion), while the boys team was made up of myself, yer ol’ uncle Grazza, and Jennee’s brother, Queenie. The theme was “Southern American Smokehouse” or something thereabouts. The esky was full of booze. The table was set. The competitors were ready. The Girls v Boys Foodisthebestshitever Cook-off 2016 was about to begin…

*The people in the story may be fictional, but the events are real.

The boys

We (the boys) felt there was a lot of smack talking from the girls. Like, a lot of smack talking. The girls were being particularly good at smack talking. In fact, I was walking down the street in a local town when I was approached by a young man who informed me that he had heard a rumor my man Queenie was very slightly hung. Now, Queenie may not be the manliest of guys names but I know for a fact that this brother is packing the equipment needed for the job. Well, I’ve heard he’s packing… don’t look at me like I’ve been sussing out my brother’s package. Holy shit you guys know how to contort a story… much like the women folk around these parts… great segue. That bloody smack talk.

A weaker boys team may have crumbled, but our resolve would not waver. We cleared our minds and our pipes, centered our chi and got the eff on with the job.

Our little tree motif was whittled by Queenie, made from 100% repurposed wood that was otherwise just laying around, taking up space and producing air and shit.

The rocks displayed our organic approach to our cooking and our lives, and the ebb and flow of the world we live in.

The plates were also repurposed old plates, which were recently introduced to their new life as, well, plates.

That was our story and we were sticking to it.

SAMSUNG CSC

Feel the emotion

Our Ode to the South was based on nothing more than a child hood obsession with KFC and an adult (or maybe more correctly termed; a 30-40 year old) obsession with smoked meat… and fried chicken… and an old Elvis 7inch. Still, it was our Ode to the South none-the-less, and it went a little something like this;

• Pulled pork finger, cheesy jalapeño crust, pickles, kimchi mayo
• Smoked rib, Big Red Rub, mustard sauce
• Tater tots injected with white trash heroin AKA cheese sauce
• Beer battered onion rings, ranch dressing
• Fried and then smoked and then fried again chicken, hot sauce, blue cheese sauce
• Smoked jalapeno popper
• Smoked brisket burger, crumbed (breaded) milk bun, slaw, barbecue sauce

The girls

The girls relied heavily on smack talk in an attempt to throw the boys from their game. But they did eventually bring some tasty and creatively produced treats to the table, ensuring a close competition.

SAMSUNG CSC

That layered salad was pretty special

The girls based their plate on a love of the hush puppy and 1980s layered salads. Happily re-jigged to fit with-in the guidelines of the “Smokehouse” brief, their entry went almost exactly like this;

• Layered salad with crumbled corn bread, smoked capsicum and corn, pickle and iceberg lettuce
• Smoked pork rib
• Smoked prawn, smoked Andouille sausage and smoked eggplant hush puppies

The result

Once the smoke had cleared and the gloves were un-tethered and removed to reveal calloused hands strapped crudely with ordinary house hold masking tape, the votes were tallied and the announcement of a winner was tasked to our youngest child, Obi. It was said around the table that both boys and girls had brought their A-games to the kitchen this day but unfortunately there could be only one winner – one team whose A-game was in fact a little A-er.

On this day of our lord, Sunday March 27th 2016 *drum roll please*… it would be the boys that would march away victorious from this cooking stadium, heads held high and then swiftly and smartly the victory was relegated to a distant memory, one that would not be spoken about ever again, as we were the men folk and we knew about the way of the world…

SAMSUNG CSC

That onion ring. Bangin’

A recipe for the WINNING BEER BATTERED ONION RINGS (enough for a few sides or maybe a Friday night on the couch watching midget wrestling)

2 med-large onions of your choosing
1 cup plain flour
1 cup self raising flour
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon Big Red Rub or Cajun/Créole spice mix
1 bottle o’ beer… whatever you’re drinking will be fine
Oil for deep frying
Seasoning
Ranch dressing and extra Big Red Rub to serve

• Slice onions into 1cm-ish rings, popping the first 4-5 center rings out for something else you’re cooking that has onion in it
• Heat oil in a deep fryer or pot or plastic bucket if you’re not that smart. 180C is the go
• To make batter mix flours, oil and spice mix. Slowly whisk in beer until your batter is quite smooth and is thick enough to coat your finger nicely. Not too thick is the key here
• Coat the onion rings with plain flour and then dip them into the batter. Drag them out of the batter and ever-so-slightly drag them across the side of the bowl to remove excess batter
• Lower them gently into the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes until crisp and golden, turning half way through
• Drain on kitchen towel, season with salt and pepper and a little extra Big Red Rub, serve with ranch sauce on the side

Bayger Gourmet Burgers, Byron Bay… still delivering the goods

11 Comments

bayger burgers byron bay
It had been quite a while since we had visited our ol’ fave, Bayger Gourmet Burgers in Byron Bay. Bayger is a bit of an old dog in a world of young pups when it comes to the local gourmet burger scene and we were keen to suss out if they were still delivering the goods and cocking their leg all over the place, or if they had become incontinent and spent all day in bed licking their own gear…

The storm clouds rolled in from the south as we headed into “the Bay” to rekindle this old friendship. Storm clouds in the middle of spring! That did not deter us though.

The sky bellowed like the stomach of Thor himself was rumbling after he had eaten one too many shrimp surprise from the all you can eat buffet. It was sounding ominous that’s for sure, but still we did not falter.

It rained (and I am always a little suspicious when the bright blue skies of spring are smothered by the fluffy grey harbinger of wetness. Yes, the fluffy grey “pocket rocket” battery powered woman’s accessory if you will…) as if Thor was indeed displeased with me. Displeased with me. And I have no idea why. I mean, in the last two weeks I have sacrificed three perfectly good goats… three goats… I don’t know… it’s between me and Thor I guess. Needless to say, we soldiered on.

We made it to Bayger and promptly ordered our meal as we were quite hungry, but we are always pretty quite hungry it is true.

Rolling with the big dogs and getting the hell into my face

Rolling with the big dogs and getting the hell into my face


Not a single one of our number could go past the Bacon & Cheese ($12.90);
Prime beef, crispy bacon, melted cheddar cheese, salad & BayGer sauce with your choice of wholemeal, light sourdough or Turkish bun. We all added the chips and home made lemonade meal deal option for an extra $2.50, and we also had the beer battered onion rings with garlic aioli* ($5).

The burgers here are both delicious and tasty. The patties are well seasoned, juicy and just cooked past medium, I had the Turkish bun which was indeed Turkish bun like and the salad makes the burger appear to be healthy, which it probably almost is until we had the bacon and cheese option. I’m not sure what is in their Bayger sauce but it kinda tasted like it was mayonnaise with chopped pickle… maybe not, but it still worked well on their burger anyhow.

Come here

Come here you sexy effer


The shoestring fries were a nice change. I don’t see them around a lot anymore and they are quite possibly my second favourites after the crinkle cut chip. Crisp and damn tasty, covered with some kinda special seasoning and perfect for carrying condiments to my mouth just like a good chip should be. Good chip. Good chip.

The home made lemonade (which has a drop of rose water I think) is cracking. I seriously crave that stuff as much as I crave the burgers. I crave it like I crave just one day free of stupid people. It is deliciously refreshing and once again gives your brain the impression that you are being healthy! They even gave us free refills, which mad me feel extra special and like this place even more. I am a seriously fickle mother fucker and that is the sort of shit that is going to have me coming back for more.

Very, very tasty

Very, very tasty


Now this is the part of the really good report card that I never like. I know I am not a teacher and Bayger is by no means my student, but that is the best analogy I can come up with so that shall be how we roll today. The onion rings. No good. The batter was almost rubbery. I don’t know why, but that’s how it was. Onion rings are some of my favourite things (along with unicorns, fluffy bunny rabbits and waterfalls made of that kick-ass home made lemonade) and I really think they aren’t done well often enough. That is what I reckon people.

And I will tell you this for free; these guys are still rocking their OG styles. Great burgers with a bit of a healthy aspect to them, loaded with local produce and washed down with awesome home made lemonade. Bayger are indeed still rolling with the big dogs and delivering what your burger eating face needs… possibly as long as your face doesn’t really need onion rings, that’s all. This place is still well worth the visit for the rest of its offerings!

Click here to save yourself the time it will take you to type Bayger Gourmet Burgers Byron Bay.

*I love it when people call aioli “garlic aioli”. Aioli literally translates to garlic oil. Garlic garlic oil is funny. It’s like that whole ATM machine or PIN number thing. I know, I should just leave people alone.

Mussels with bacon, apple cider and cream… and introducing “Matty mis en place”

25 Comments

mussels with bacon, apple cider and cream
Just yesterday I was going to get some mussels and cook them up for dinner. Mussels with bacon, onion, cider and cream, I thought. I’ve really been feeling the mussel lately… wait, I believe even I should re-think the wording of that one…

Anyway, my mouth has been yearning for a dripping hot creamy mussel… dear good lord.

Seriously, I really shouldn’t be attempting to write any kind of story to goes with mussels for dinner. Shit, even that sounds like an all male review… I think I should just move fairly quickly to a recipe.

The thing I was going to say is that events came to pass that prevented the consumption of mussels that evening. My palate/face/head would be relegated to whatever leftovers may be hanging around in the fridge. Lucky for my face, held within the cooling grasp of the refrigerator was the remains of two cracking barbecues that were cooked on previous nights. Those leftovers consisted of smoky brisket, pork ribs, pork sausages, coleslaw, add to that a few chips that were purpose chopped and fried, and home made hot sauce and I do conclude that life does not suck.

After eating our dinner we watched a little River Cottage on the interweb, and it just happened to be a fish episode… and Hugh was cooking mussels… and those mussels were indeed cooked with bacon, spring onions, cider and cream. He was basically pointing at me and laughing in my face that I didn’t have mussels. Seriously, I’m pretty sure he gave me a little “suck shit” glance. He’s lucky I think he’s a bloody nice guy or I might have flicked him off in favour of Gray’s Anatomy, a nice hot chocolate and a couple of Iced VoVos.

Would I bollocks!

Anyway, Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall is a nice guy and I cooked those fricking mussels for dinner tonight.

A worthy mention goes to my brother Matt, who prepared the mis en place. Matt now goes by the moniker of “Matty mis en place”.

Getting geared up for the mussel fest... and not one pair of ass-less chaps in sight

Getting geared up for the mussel fest… and not one pair of ass-less chaps in sight

In with he bacon, onion and garlic

In with he bacon, onion and garlic

Deglaze with the cider

Deglaze with the cider

Get the cream in there... and please stop with the gutter mouth innuendo

Get the cream in there… and please stop with the gutter mouth innuendo

Get the mussels into your face... I need to go now

Get the mussels into your face… I need to go now


MUSSELS with BACON, APPLE CIDER AND CREAM (serves six or more with sides)

2kg live mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed (a lot of mussels will come cleaned up and ready to go these days, which makes for a truly quick and easy dining experience… no reason why we can’t your dinner to match your performance in the bedroom now, is there?)
1 onion (whatever you have), diced
4 rashers bacon, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
300ml apple cider… get a big bottle so there’s some left for you. Actually, just get a few now so you don’t need to drive up to the bottle shop later when you’ve decided another one or two might go well with dinner
300ml cream
‘A handful parsley, chopped
Grated pecorino
Pepper (you shouldn’t need salt because of the saltiness of the mussels and bacon. I hope this isn’t news to you because I have told you before. If this needs to keep happening we are not going to be able to remain friends)
15 minutes
Crusty baguette with aioli and green salad, to serve

• In a large pan that is clearly big enough to fit all of the mussels, you can heat some oil
• Sauté bacon onion and garlic until soft and fragrant
• Add cider and simmer for a minute or two
• Add mussels, cover and simmer for another 3-4 minutes
• Remove lid and gently stir through cream. Simmer for another 2 minutes or until all of the mussels are open (it is common for one or two, or even three or four, to hang on for a little longer than the rest. You can pry these open with a butter knife to get what’s yours)
• Season with a little pepper
• Sprinkle with parsley and a bit of pecorino if you feel the urge
• Serve with a little or a lot of other things

Getting to Vietnam

18 Comments

Getting to a place like Vietnam will oftentimes require some length of time in the modern miracle know as the airplane (or a ridiculously long amount of time in a boat, but we’re sticking with the flight for now), and is indeed where our journey begun.

We were up at 3am to brush our teeth, powder our noses and generally just get our shit together… fair enough… I guess. But only because that was the time we were required to be up to get our asses on the plane to Vietnam. Smiley faces all up in this piece. Slightly strained early morning smiles, but smiles nonetheless. I can imagine though, that had we not been leaving for Vietnam, the family may have been sporting the upside down smile of the mostly unhappy person.

My special imagination brain also encouraged me to believe that the sexual union, consensual or otherwise, of the rhinoceros and the pony, along with a handful of sparkle dust, would spawn the baby unicorn.

Back to the ever-elusive point.

As I sit in the departure lounge at the Brisbane airport I watch the people. I find something strangely humorous in watching them scurry by, blurry eyed and walking as though they are still wearing their pajamas and slippers. Week, helpless and disheveled.

Well, I guess it is 4am.

This is a good time to be at an airport. The queues are smaller and the… well, just the smaller queues is what it is about for me.

Now fast forward 12 hours.

I am beginning to resemble one of those zombie people from this morning. I feel like I have been hit about the head with a large stick – one with big knobby bits on it. I know what Tyler Durden was talking about in Fight Club, I start to truly appreciate his pain and it makes me contemplate the thought of hitting people around the head and destroying large buildings too.

The peeps that work at airports must get asked some damn stupid questions by unslept folks like me. It would make them question the human race for sure.

Anyway, we played a game of get on some planes, get off some planes and eventually we land on Vietnamese soil… or tarmac… where we are met by our ride. Which leads me to mention something of the driving I have witnessed so far;

•Every single person I saw driving any kind of vehicle in Hanoi was on the same performance enhancing gear as the last. These guys drive like they all want to be the next big thing to hit the amateur racing circuit, or there are no speed cameras or cops in Vietnam, or possibly a combination of all three… Plus they appear paranoid that there is a car trailing us – the black Toyota three cars back to the left

•If in doubt, use your horn. Also if you are driving through a crowd, use your horn. If you are driving a bus, use your horn. Actually, if whatever it is you are driving has a horn, you need to use it… often. It’s like the scooters and cars are conversing. If Hanoi was a musical the horn would be the soundtrack

•I don’t know if I was maybe just being a bit of a fraidy cat but I have to be honest; I did start to freak just a little bit when the driver put a DVD on… for himself to watch… while driving

•Obeying a red light seems to be more of a concept or guideline than an actual rule/law

•Road rules in general seem to be variable at best, but in the chaos it is possible to find order, systems and some kind of barbecued or fried pork product on every street corner and down every alleyway, so that pretty much makes everything OK.

OK?

Now I venture into the unknown. An unknown country, language and culture (except what I’ve seen on food docos). I am rocking the truly ignorant white man styles and hoping my nose will lead the way…

2015/02/img_9349-0.jpg

2015/02/img_9360.jpg

2015/02/img_9361-0.jpg

2015/02/img_9375-0.jpg

2015/02/img_9453.jpg

Za’atar, King of the Sprinkles

20 Comments

I guess i should've got a pic before I blitzed it up. Oh well, the pic may be pretty boring but the za'atar is anything but

I guess i should’ve got a pic before I blitzed it up. Oh well, the pic may be pretty boring but the za’atar is anything but

This is one of my favourite litte spice blends.

Apparantly it’s pretty big in the middle east too.

It’s exceptionally good at being that little something you have in the cupboard for all those times you just need to sprinkle some shit on something (not the stuff in the bedside cupboard, that’s just disgusting… and there is no way in hell that’s sprinkling my friend… spraying, I’d say).

It’s like the Bubba-Gump Shrimp Co of the spice world.

(This is just for you Laura)

You can sprinkle this stuff on roasted vegetables, you can sprinkle it on a salad, you can sprinkle it on chicken, you can sprinkle it on fish, you can sprinkle it on lamb, you can sprinkle it on labne, you can sprinkle it on olives, you can sprinkle it on a simple chopped salad of tomato, cucumber and onion, you can sprinkle it on flat bread with a little splash of olive oil and then toast it to make your own crisp bread for scooping up olives and hommus and things of the like, or just sprinkle it straight onto your hommus or babaganoush and stick to your plain ol’ Jatz Crackers for the scooping *take a breath Bubba, take a breath*, you can make an awesome middle eastern pizza with lamb mince, onion and good sprinkling of za’atar, you can sprinkle it on soft cheese, you can sprinkle it on hot chips (fries), you can sprinkle it on cold chips, why gosh, you could even sprinkle it on the single girl down the road if you really wanted to but I don’t see how that is going to be advantagous to anyone, unless you get to lick it off, that is… in which case I’d suggest you bring the olive oil too… stay with the theme and all that.

Clear? Clear.

Put it it a jar to store it but not to make it look more exciting for a picture

Put it it a jar to store it but not to make it look more exciting for a picture

ZA’ATAR

2 teaspoons each dried oregano, marjoram & basil

2 tablespoon each dried thyme & sumac

½ cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1 teaspoon salt

• Pulse all ingredients in a food processer until kinda powdery and combined or, for a chunkier za’atar and for those of you who do not yet have food processing capabilities, simply put all ingredients in a plasic container or jar, seal and shake to combine

• Sprinkle on stuff

Also, we will be blowing this little country pop-stand for the allure of city lights, fried bugs and Robin Williams’ references in the country known as Vietnam. I will be carrying only manually operated pen and paper devices on my person, so you may not hear from me for the next month. After that though, prepare yourself for a barrage of posts about our travels.

Peace out.

G

The Round Eye Review… Palsaik Namoo

6 Comments

plasaik namoo perth
The Round Eye Review with your friend, G-Money

This is the start of another exciting little segment here on your favourite shit filled blog, foodisthebestshitever. G-Money (another Graeme who is actually a Graham and is definitely not me) will hold your hand as he talks you on a virtual culinary tour of some of his favourite Perth haunts. Kind of like your step dad taking you for a walk through the park, without the… well… you know we don’t talk about that anymore. So strap yourself in a get ready for the ride… Grazza McFilthy Mouth

Palsaik Namoo

580 Hay St, Perth (entry off Barrack St)

I remember in my younger days Arirang busting onto the scene and blowing my mind with the whole cooking at your table thing. Obviously I was a lot more sheltered then and easily impressed. Nowadays there are as many Korean BBQ haunts as there are cooked shin kicking rinsers.

A few things about this place you will find helpful….
1) There is no phone number to make bookings
2) The address says Hay St but magically it is on Barrack St. It was easier finding Sneaky Tony’s
3) Online it reads as cash only but it has eftpos

The first thing we noticed on entry, apart from the cool decor and awesome aroma, was that this place was full of the happy faces of diners. Plus they were mostly of an Asian background, which usually is a great sign, but I’m no genetics wizard so they were possibly Koreans, possibly not. So I guess that’s like saying a southern style BBQ joint looks good even though it’s full of Englishmen. Anyways more often than not it’s a great sign.
plasaik namoo perth

Unlike a Dim Sum session where you are eating in seconds, a big thing with Korean BBQ is that if you arrive hungry you have to watch and wait while your food agonisingly cooks in front of you. Luckily, entrées were invented by someone who didn’t like waiting either. We went with kimchi pancake and the boiled dumplings. The pancake was an excellent balance of egg, seafood and the ever satisfying kimchi flavour. If anything it could of been a bit crispier on the outside. Knit picking aside it was a good size that could do 4 people as an entree. The dumplings, well they were just dumplings. Maybe pork, definitely a vegetable in there, but nothing to write home about so I didn’t commit them to my memory.

The BBQ menu is all beef and pork, so we ordered the Palsaik set ($60) which was a selection of pork belly thats marinated 8 different ways (curry, miso, garlic, spicy, etc) and was accompanied by an army of side dishes. The likes of kimchi, been sprouts, some ” pickled” carrot thing, one other thing ( too much to remember) and rice, which was also accompanied with a prawn and mussel soup which is also cooked at the table. The end result, a table crammed with tasty offerings. For $60, this and the entrées pretty much did 3 of us. Of course being the food lovers we are, we added a beef dish ($18) to BBQ, which tipped us over the cliff of indulgence. So all up it was approx $100 for food that left 3 people more than full. Definitely value for money.
plasaic namoo perth
If you a worried about cooking your own and what goes where (which is usually why you eat out in the first place), the staff monitor your BBQ and help prepare and cut the meat. So if you are lazy or smart, I prefer the latter, they will do the lot for you.

Add two 1L pitchers of cold Kirin at $19.50 a pop (they also have a range of Korean beers) and the total was $140. Not bad for the quality and generous quantity of the meal.

Overall a great dining experience that is suited to groups of 2 to 6. Would definitely eat here again.

3 and a half “pickled” carrot things out of 5.

You can also find The Round Eye Review on facey if you want to get a little more up close and personal with the whole deal.

Older Entries