Getting to Vietnam

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…

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Za’atar, King of the Sprinkles

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

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.

Still no celebration for the blogiversary, but some damn fine stuffed peppers

pork stuffed peppers
As I stated in my last post about the third year blogiversary of foodisthebestshitever, I forgot about my blog’s birthday.

I was not a good father and I did not shower my blog with neither love nor presents.

I needed to redeem myself. I told Jennee about the birthday and figured she would sort the celebrations for sure. Jennee really loves organizing a good party!

No sooner had I spoken of the birthday then Jennee was in her car and headed to the local shopping center. I pictured her returning with decorations, possibly a cake and card, and party hats… definitely flamboyant, mardi gras style party hats.

Alas, Jennee did not return with cake, party decorations and a large novelty card featuring a picture of an overweight older lady and a poodle in a beachside setting, but instead came home from the fruit and veg market with a few of these banana peppers (Well, the label said they were banana peppers anyways so I had no choice but to believe, because those labels are like the 4am American TV avangelist to me and quite frankly need to be believed). Fine. No birthday celebration and another nomination for bad blog father of the year, but we did have banana peppers!

Using the word pepper is something that does cause me a little grief though, as pepper is what an American would call a capsicum. Now I am totally fine with that, but in Australia pepper is a damn tasty little black, grey or red pod we grind onto our steak, and then we have capsicum and chillis. This whole pepper thing just confuses the issue for me, but I’m sure I have confused many issues all over the pages of this blog and in turn confused many a man from prince to pauper. Right now for example, I am so confused I have totally forgotten my name and where I live.

What the hell?

I used Borrowdale pork rump as you may be able to see… they didn't pay me to say that PS
I used Borrowdale pork rump as you may be able to see… they didn’t pay me to say that PS

Get the stuffing sorted
Get the stuffing sorted
The banana peppers
The banana peppers
Get it in there
Get it in there

Looking snug as fuck… now it's time for the oven
Looking snug as fuck… now it’s time for the oven

BANANA PEPPERS STUFFED WITH PORK & CHEVRE (serves 4)

750g pork rump, hand minced
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 anchovies, chopped
A few sprigs of parsley, chopped
A sprig of rosemary, chopped
A sprig of sage, chopped
150g chevre, feta or ricotta
8-10 banana peppers or whatever you call them where you come from. Have a look a the pic
2x 400g tins crushed tomatoes

• Soften the onions in a pan (probably put a little heat under it and even a little oil in it…) with the garlic and anchovies. Let it cool a little
• Combine everything except the peppers and tomato and mix until just combined
• Cut the tops off of the peppers and slice them down the side. Tap or scrape the seeds out
• Stuff the pork mix into the peppers
• Pour tomato into a baking dish and lay the peppers down all comfy like. Give them a bit of a splash of olive oil to get them really snug
• Bake at 180C for 45 minutes
• Serve that shit with sauerkraut or something that you feel is appropriate, spoon sauce over the top and load it up with parmesan cheese if you’re keen

Prepare your faces for some more French Alps inspired love from my fellow lover of food and friend of small furry animals, Paul from Paul’s Caul… who is coincidently not me, just in case you were wondering…

The Foodisthebestshitever Christmas Address 2014

coke christmas
Christmas address 2014

As I have mentioned before, we are on the brink of another Christmas. Soon Christmas-ness will be blanketing out the sun as it descends upon us like window washers and trinket salesmen at a south American intersection, except this time they’re coming with Christmas cheer… heaps of Christmas cheer. You can literally see the Christmas cheer dripping from them like sweat from their pores. This Christmas thing is omni present.

If in fact you have somehow remained unseeing to what is happening in the world around you and this is your first inkling that we’re hitting the high season firstly, I thank you. I thank you for giving my life purpose. Secondly, you are either
1. A blind, deaf Amazonian pygmy whose tribe is yet untouched by man and his coca cola company, or
2. You are quite simply a really special person who needs a special kind of love… but not the kind of brother-sister love that clearly produced you

Every shop you enter will force feed you Christmas propaganda until you feel like an over-appreciated alter boy. You will be audibly raped by Christmas carols and announcements welcoming shoppers to a fictitious magical Christmas shopping experience. You will fight an old lady, pulling her hair and biting her arm to get the newest, trendiest, commercial TV advertisement endorsed, robot, transformer, light sabre game for your child. Fluro lights will drain your final ounces of energy as you line up with hundreds of other sheeple to be fleeced by the self-scanning new world order that is consumerism… pre-packaged for your convenience of course…

And if you’re lucky enough to leave the bull-ring with your mind still intact, you are then faced with the credit card hangover from hell and the realization that you will probably need another job to pay this effer off.

Or maybe not.

Maybe your Christmas is nothing like that hysterical rant. And where did that rant come from? What am I – the Grinch? I don’t even know what the Grinch is… my life just became really confusing.

It has been said before, and I do believe it is true, that “haters gonna hate”, but I do not hate Christmas. In fact, I love Christmas. I love the whole effing package; the food, the drinks, the friends, the kid’s over-excitement and super-early waking to open presents, the food… I think I may have already said that, the day off, the pool and just the whole damn vibe of the thing.

But for us it is the culminating of any and all of our friends and family who are about this year, to get together and have a damn good time. It is about being merry and celebrating how good it is to have all of these kick-ass peeps in our life.

We eat a lot of food. Food that can be prepared in advance is a great way to go so you’re not doing it all on the day; Cooked prawns and oysters are always a crowd pleaser and need zero preparation. Home made salad dressings, condiments and glazes get made days prior. Cakes and puddings are made, with only final touches and decorations left for the big day. Antipasti and dips are sorted and any extra bits of space in the fridge and freezers are filled with mixers and ice.
That is what I consider to be a pretty good template for an enjoyable Christmas lunch, but whatever you decide to do please, please, please (yes, I am asking you very nicely. You should probably write about this day in your diary) keep the food within your skill set because serving a shitty meal on Christmas day is nary a good thing for anyone involved.

And just one more thing; we don’t eat turkey. Never. It has less relevance at our Christmas table than crazy old uncle Norman and his three pet potted plants. If you are sorely disappointed with your turkey each and every year but continue to make the purchase then I do declare that flavourless fowl has indeed made you one of it’s own. Try something different, I implore you. Roast chicken or pork are both great options, as is whole baked or barbecued fish, as is just about every other meat out there.

That’s all.

Merry Christmas.

Oh yeah, and that is Christmas, not x-mas.

Black Rock Camping Part 3… the final instalment of how to eat like a king while camping

camp oven breakfast
Black Rock Camping 3

We endured but another night of wind and rain worthy of the adventures of Scott of the Antarctic himself. We should of maybe packed ourselves up, or possibly threw caution to that proverbial wind, but instead we decided throwing ourselves three sheets to the wind would be a better option and we drank ourselves numb to the pending eventuality that our campsite would be lifted from its tethers and transported back to Oz itself!

Our determination and the fact that we were all oblivious to the storm that continued around us paid off as we awoke to blue skies and the promise of a sugar-sweet day in paradise. I foraged native fruits and berries, tracked wild boar and gathered emu eggs for our breakfast feast. That is, I Viking raided the fuck out of everyone’s eskies and used the pillaged goods to create a communal breakfast. I let my brain be free as it instructed my hands through the motions needed to get this kick-ass breakfast on the table. I feel my brain worked very well with my hands on this occasion.

We ate a spiced vegetable and bean stew with baked eggs, sausages and bacon, and pots of freshly brewed coffee (we are not animals) and tea. *Fun camping fact #2 – if you want to eat like a king while camping get yourself a camp spice rack.

Eggs baked on top of a spiced vegetable and bean stew looks damn good eh?
Eggs baked on top of a spiced vegetable and bean stew looks damn good eh?

Serve that shit up, kid
Serve that shit up, kid

SPICED VEGETABLE & BEAN STEW WITH EGGS (for 8)

6 big handfuls of diced vegetables that you can steal from everybody’s eskies. We had onion, corn, eggplant, carrot, mushrooms and kale
1 tin of cannellini beans
1 tin of kidney beans
1 tablespoon each cumin seed, paprika and dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ a teaspoon dried smoked chilli powder
Seasoning
2 tablespoons smoky barbecue sauce
1x 700g bottle of tomato passata
½ cup water
8 eggs
Sausages and bacon, to serve

• In some medium-high heat coals ☺, cook off all of the vegetables except kale with a splash of oil
• Once starting to colour and soften add spices and kale and cook out for another couple of minutes
• Add beans, barbecue sauce, tomato and water and simmer, covered for another 8-10ish minutes or until vegetables are cooked. Add another splash of water if it starts to thicken up too much as you need a wet sauce to poach/bake the eggs in
• Check and adjust seasoning if necessary
• Make a few (eight, actually) little dips in the stew and crack eggs straight into them. Don’t be too concerned if they don’t stay where you want them too, it’s all good in the end
• Cover camp oven and simmer, covered, for another five minutes or so (until the eggs are cooked but still a little soft in the middle is the desired result)
• Once cooked, serve with an array of camp fire meats, a pot coffee, tea, whiskey or what ever it is you drink in the morning and the company of some nice people

I am starting to think the reason I get invited on these trips is because of my camp cooking smarts, which is A OK by me. The challenge of cooking with only the (almost) bare basics, using the most primitive of cooking methods, just damn well appeals to me. Camp seasoning provided by the fire and the flora in this unattended outdoor greenhouse that is my kitchen stadium. Fire and then some more fire. It is all about the fire when I’m on the scene. You can take your trek through the bush, read your Mills and Boon novel or build a carnie survival hut in the bush, but you’ll find me tending the fire, getting the next meal together and possibly (definitely) sipping on a sneaky beer… well, as long as we’re done with breakfast.

The camp spice rack helped bring a little Jamaican influence to our chicken and chorizo. Pretty easy huh?
The camp spice rack helped bring a little Jamaican influence to our chicken and chorizo. Pretty easy huh?

That sucker in the coals next to Marky's meatballs
That sucker in the coals next to Marky’s meatballs
…and finished with a few green beans
…and finished with a few green beans

Camping is my shit.

We wake, eat, drink, relieve ourselves and sleep when we feel the need, as our bodies regress back to the bare necessities of what you need to do to stay alive. Camp life is not dictated by alarm clocks, bus schedules or appointments at the herpes clinic. Meal times are not relevant as you eat when you feel like you want to eat, not when your boss sanctions your union approved 45 minute lunch break. As my friend Daniel-San, a fellow strapping young red-bearded lad, would say, “that is camp time, folks”. And you know what? It really doesn’t matter if you are drinking a beer at 10:30am or asleep at 7pm, as long as you are out there, enjoying what our dear sweet mother nature has to offer you, what ever that may be.

But this camping trip is almost over and nigh is the time that we shall return to our urban homes so that I may clean myself up, for I am currently exuding more funk than James Brown’s butt crack.

It’s been real, folks. It’s been real.