Paul’s Caul – Bexhill catch-ups and a cracking roasted cauliflower, chorizo and black pudding salad

cauliflower, chickpea, chorizo salad
Bexhill catch-ups 2016

For all those playing at home, I don’t have red hair and a beard and I’m not G-bags Mcfilthy mouth… no, I am not the father of this blog, I’m perhaps best described as this blogs estranged brother that likes to drop by unannounced and expects every thing that’s great about writing a blog whilst having no responsibility at all… yes that is me in a delicious nut shell, I’m simply a man called Paul who has a shit load to say about food and anything even slightly related to it, like travel, drinking and eating of said food.

I’m a chef that has been cooking for over 20 years all over the place and I have been extremely fortunate to have known G-bags for all of that time. We share a love of food, swearing and most importantly telling the whole fucking world about it, so a blog seemed inevitable. I’m honoured he allows my scribbling’s to be part of foodisthebestshitever and I hope you enjoy them just as much as we love bacon, but lets face it that’s asking quite a lot. Paul – Paul’s Caul

Nothing much excites me as much as a good old fashioned cook up, add to this equation one of my best mates and his awesome family a location in the majestic hinterlands of NSW, and what you have is a formula for some effing good times. So with many weeks of anticipation building and dreams of roasting pork on an open fire pit whilst laughing so hard your cheeks hurt (not in a keep dropping the soap kinda way). The day finally arrived for Lauren and I to visit the Stockdale’s in Bexhill and we were rife with excitement. What’s more we weren’t alone in this feeling, word had gotten to me via many forms of modern tech that the Stockdale’s had some come down with a bad case of happiness anticipation, only known cure was a full dose of us.

We arrived at ‘Bangalow Bowlo’, home of ‘The Stockpot Kitchen’ thanks to lift from Lauren’s brother in law Marty, and after a awkward start of me introducing myself to a complete stranger thinking he was someone of importance in the Bowlo (he was literally a nobody) I spotted a large bearded man discussing a large hole that had just been dug. Now the scene did make me think of numerous gangster movies where all we needed was some lime and a few dead bodies, but with that aside I realised said bearded man was in fact my dear friend ‘G-bags Mcfilthy Mouth’ and the hole was soon to be a new fire pit with spit. It goes without saying that the following embrace and greetings all round were nothing short of magical. Graeme gave a brief tour of his kitchen and we headed off to see his beautiful wife Jen, she was playing soccer so we picked up his boys Seba and obi, before heading back to their home to kick off festivities.

Pork belly over the coals is always a good idea... especially when in the company of charred prawns and green papaya salad with nam jim
Pork belly over the coals is always a good idea… especially when in the company of charred prawns and green papaya salad with nam jim

Let me clarify exactly what festivities means on this particular occasion, for us it always seems to start by hitting up the bottle shop, Graeme’s drink of choice was a carton of Coopers ale and for us it was a bottle of gin. Next it doesn’t matter what you have planned as all that will ever happen is we get really drunk, laugh heaps, eat heaps and somehow (and we literally have no idea how this happens) cook dinner. The day panned out exactly like that finishing with a mouth watering piece of Pork belly accompanied by green papaya salad and some BBQ’ed prawns for good measure.

What makes meals at Casa Stockdale always exponentially better than your average cook up is the wealth of produce produced right there, whether it be from their papaya tree or herbs from garden or pig meat from their local farmer. It truly is a chef’s playground and boy do I like to play in this place, Graeme seems to always bring out the best in me, we wax lyrically about food and before you know it we are conjuring ideas in our heads that excites the bejusus out of us. We scurry off to the shops to source what’s needed in said creations, whilst never loosing sight of the alcohol that is required in such a process.

Nam jim cam
Nam jim cam

Day two kicks off with breakfast out at a new fancy Eco resort in Byron Bay, and quite frankly it was exactly like any other breakfast in fancy Eco resort (or as I like to say Ego resort) anywhere in the world, but the company was banging and the coffee was good so never a bad start to a day. Whilst driving home doughnuts some how appeared in a bag in our hands, then as quickly as they appeared they mysteriously vanished, leaving nothing but a cheeky smile on Laurens face as evidence that this did just happen. It was most likely the guilt of this occurrence that spurred on the idea of going for a quick run before the day once again got away from us. Unfortunately this run did nothing other than turn my ankle into an orb so large it had its own gravity, so all of a sudden I was out of action and had to call upon my sous chef extraordinaire… Lauren ’got mad prep skills’ Alley.

With a vantage point on the veranda and well lubricated by alcohol mixed with painkillers I instructed my sous chef step by step how to create a salad worthy of the Stockdale’s table. This couldn’t be any normal salad I felt it needed balls. If in fact it were a human it wouldn’t just have balls it would most likely have a big fuck moustache and cut wood down with its bare hands all whilst smelling like oak and freshly cut grass. Layers is what we needed, components and layers, flavour building bricks so impressive it would house all three little pigs and that hungry wolf would have to find another avenue to appease his swine cravings.

Lauren's mis en place was more like mis en place plus
Lauren’s mis en place was more like mis en place plus

Lauren’s prepping over the next few hours was nothing short of impeccable, never missed a beat and when I saw how neat her prep station was at the end I nearly cried. Everything cauliflower floret perfectly cut and cooked, black pudding blended and fried until it looked like crispy black gold dust, ginger yoghurt seasoned with a chef’s touch and all this whilst making me Gin and tonics every 40 minutes. If I hadn’t already proposed to this amazing lady, this day was enough to get me over the edge, in fact I should of proposed by asking her to be my sous chef in life, but alas I missed out on perhaps the corniest thing I could possibly of said. But lets face it we all know there will be many more ridiculous things I will say to this very special lady, so no point worrying about lost moments in time, back to layering of metaphorical flavour bricks.

This particular salad was a great example of my theory of what makes a good dish, basically because every one of the numerous ingredients was treated differently. If you were to grab all of the ingredients and toss in some oil, season and roast then whack in a bowl with some yoghurt and ginger, I’m sure it would of tasted nice… Nice! Who the fuck is happy with nice? Not me that’s for sure and certainly not while cooking at Casa Stockdale… nice is a jumper you get for Christmas, nice is someone letting in a lane whilst driving, nice is having enough water left in a kettle to make a cuppa… I hope with all of my heart that nice is not a word used to describe my food.

Black pudding getting the love it deserves
Black pudding getting the love it deserves

So when trying to achieve food better than nice a little respect for the produce is all that’s needed, I want you to think about exciting the produce, making it happy to give its life for a cause of such magnitude that they literally jump into the pot kamikaze style. Ask your Spanish onion out on a date and whilst you gaze into his eyes chop him up and whack him in a pickling liquid and don’t just use vinegar and sugar like some sort of pickling gypsy with the imagination of a blind mole with no legs. Fill the pickling liquid with many flavours as only remnants of this flavour every make it to people mouths, the love you put in is for the onion (or whatever you are pickling) if the onion is happy, this happiness will rub off on other ingredients and people can taste happiness… this is a fact!

Food is a lot like people, if you treat everyone the same and never see people for what they are and what they are best for, then you will not get the best from people. Same with food, yes I want to roast both cauliflower and chickpeas but they will not roast together evenly and I reckon the cauliflower will pick on the chickpeas not allowing them crisp to their full potential. So I separate them like naughty school kids and low and behold they behave. Then I come to wanting to add some sausage to this many-layered beast, and I look at the chorizo and black pudding that I have plucked from the depths of ‘The Stockpot Kitchen’ cool room and I think to my self I want your flavour but don’t really want massive chunks of sausage kicking back in the salad. As the black pudding had already been smoked in ‘Thomas the meat engine” I decided to blend it up into a chunky crumb and fry it until crispy, and the chorizo was raw so we removed the skin and rolled into small meatballs and fried also… this is a huge part of my dish creation process, changing produces size and shape changes its flavour and ways you can incorporate it into dishes.

So we have now wined and dined our produce and basically showed them all a great time on their last day on this sweet earth, so its now time for them to shine in the final hoorah… Lauren now only had to build the beast and with 10 plus delicious ingredients this was extremely easy, like everything she touched this day it turned to gold and her job had come to an end. Graeme in the meantime had been busy roasting ribs on the fire pit along with potatoes, carrots and onions… but don’t for a second think you can even imagine how good these vegetables tasted after being roasted in foil on the ashes, they rose like the proverbial phoenix onto the table freshly drizzled with olive oil, salt and many herbs.

Pork ribs and coal roasted vegetables are good times
Pork ribs and coal roasted vegetables are good times

So the table was set, by whom I have no idea as by now I was completely off my tits, thanks to my consumption of many different painkilling remedies. By now our good friend and word witch Gitana had joined the festivities, so we sat and gazed at the wonders that lay before us and regaled each other with the highs and lows of the day just gone. I couldn’t help but think how god damn lucky we are to be able to share the love of food with people that mean so much to us. Supposedly that beautiful notion was all in my head, as I was so far gone I just sat there and spoke gibberish whilst swearing heaps in front of the kids. But I like to think that it’s all about what you recall the next day more than what actually happens that counts.

Day three was the day Lauren and I got to finally eat at ‘The Stockpot Kitchen’ and my god was it worth the wait. Not one thing we tried was anything but amazing, flavours that pack a punch and combinations chefs can only dream of creating. Graeme’s love for food has been an incredible journey that I have had the privilege of watching happen, but sitting in his and Jen’s restaurant that night made me as happy as I can remember being. Thank you brother for your continued inspiration and friendship.

Salady highlights. This little bad boy is definitely worth a bash
Salady highlights. This little bad boy is definitely worth a bash

CAULIFLOWER, CHORIZO & BLACK PUDDING SALAD

I’ve explained this salad in the many layers used to build it… nothing is hard to do so I’ve left the explanation simple ☺

Basically get all of this ready and build in the order below.

• Ginger yoghurt- grated a little ginger into yoghurt and season

• Rocket

• Beetroot dressed with pickled onions (explanation underneath)

• Black pudding, crumbled and fried

• Chorizo balled and fried

• Brussel leaves blanched and refreshed ice-cold water.

• Cauliflower florets, olive oil, salt, baked in the oven until crispy

• Chickpeas drained, washed with oil, salt, curry powder, Gary my sailor, baked for longer until crispy

• Shaved fennel, half lemon and generous pinch salt

• Spring onion & coriander fresh & chopped.

*Pickled onions – apple cider vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, love, bay leaves, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, dried chilli or flakes. Few hours.

*Beetroots – Rosemary, garlic, orange simmer until tender. Skinned. Cut into halves & 4-6 wedges each half.

*ADD PICKLED ONION TO BEETS TO DRESS BEFORE ADDING TO FINAL SALAD.

This is Jelly the dog
This is Jelly the dog

Foam Cafe, Lennox Head, NSW

foam cafe lennox head I woke to a crisp morning air, but soon enough the sharpness of the early morning air was contrasted, thick with the aromas of shitty coffee and burnt toast. The smell did not stem from our kitchen but it was there… in the air… filling my nasal passage. The decision to get the hell outta dodge for breakfast was a foregone conclusion. We headed east, toward the Pacific Ocean, and luckily we found ourselves an eatery before we were submersed in said ocean. The eatery was called Foam. Yeah, Foam. Just when I thought it was a word used to describe the bubbly stuff they pump onto half naked uni students on Foam Party night at the local club, they go and use the same word to name a café. Genius! So we step into Foam and our first impressions are good… really good. The place is clean and oozing north coast beachside chic. The cleanliness was enough to get me going and the north coast beachside chic just helped us to realise where we were; on the north coast in a café near the beach.

The breakfast menu looks exactly like this
The breakfast menu looks exactly like this

We are greeted by a super friendly waitress who gets us a table, brings us menus, takes our drink order and has a smile on her face the whole fucking time. Like, a real smile, not one of those smiles that look like you’re forcing it for your year five class photo or, even worse, one of those smile that doesn’t even pass as looking like you’re forcing a smile but instead looks like you might be forcing a poo.

Now that is a damn fine looking coffee
Now that is a damn fine looking coffee

The goodness continued when our coffees arrived, delivered by another genuinely happy person but this time in male form. The Allpress coffee was delicious. It is very quickly becoming one of my favourites, even though it doesn’t tick the box marked “local”, it is just a damn fine product and at the hands of these folks it was allowed to reach it’s full potential.

Seba waiting for me to get some black pud into his breaky burger
Seba waiting for me to get some black pud into his breaky burger

More goodness continued in the form of our breakfast. The boys are becoming as predictable as the office tart at the staff Christmas party, with their choices of the bacon and egg rolls made within the first few seconds of perusing the menu. They were damn fine breaky rolls too, except for the store bought BBQ sauce… I want a little home made relish or chutney in a 10 buck breaky roll.

My quesadilla
My quesadilla

Jennee had a roast pumpkin something with grilled haloumi, poached eggs, toast and half a field of baby spinach. I didn’t pay a heap of attention to it, apart from the acre of spinach, but Jennee said it was damn tasty and she looked authentically happy, so that was good enough for me.

It looks a bit of a rabble, but it was damn tasty
It looks a bit of a rabble, but it was damn tasty

I ordered the caramelized onion quesadilla with a side of black pudding (I shouldn’t have bothered as most of it was scoffed by the younglings), which also came anointed with the canopy of a tropical rainforest. Once I had hacked my way through the foliage though, it revealed a tasty breakfast. It’s not that I don’t like my greens, I just think that shit needs to be manicured, much like the “other bush” which we shall not be discussing today. Maybe the thick layer of greenery was a form of insulation to keep the meal warm? Anyway, the quesadilla was damn tasty, oozing it’s cheesey-caramelised onion filling all over my plate… and beard if I am to be totally honest. The eggs were cooked perfectly, the chorizo was awesome (I heard it might be home made) and the little saucy number that adorned the dish was just what it needed to complete the package. Magic.

… and a short trek to Lake Ainsworth
… and a short trek to Lake Ainsworth

My belly was full, my caffine-o-meter was at med-high and my face was smiling. A quick dip in Lennox Head’s imfamous Lake Ainsworth AKA the Ti Tree Lake and it was back home to see if the burnt toast smell had dissipated yet… You can find the Foam facey page right here.

Paul’s Caul… South American Quest Part 7

Don’t fry for me Argentina

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Our first port of call in the beautiful country of Argentina was the magnificent Iguassu Falls, this is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and with over 250 separate falls in a small area it is easy to see why. This area borders three countries (Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil) so the food is a little bit of all mixed up in one. But once again it is very touristy so most menus were filled with the usually pizza, pasta and burgers bollocks that is taking over the world. We did however have our first taste of the famous Asado or Argentinian grill, and it did not let us down.

Lauren and I set of for a walk around the town and straight away we realized a couple of things…
1. We walk way to quickly to stroll around a small town
2. We set off too early for anything to be open in said town
3. We get really hungry, really early
4. We are not nice people when hungry

So with our angry minds set on eating or at least planning our next meal we went in search, we came across a nice old man starting a wood fire in an open pit/grill outside his restaurant on a shitty street in shitty part of town. Lauren was sold instantly and didn’t even need to see a menu, she said, “this place looks the real deal, can we eat here” I then perused the menu, saw black pudding and quickly agreed with her choice. The man however was looking at us crazy gringo’s trying to work out why they were hassling him so effing early in the day. We spoke our terrible Spanish towards the man and worked out through mime and general vibes that we should come back in 90 minutes, in this time we went olive shopping and gazed at some lovely sausage (charcuterie not man pole).

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Upon our arrival the man was overwhelmed to see us again as I reckon he had now drank coffee, lite his fire and was thinking gringo money is just what the doctor ordered. As with all restaurants in this beautiful continent, bread came flowing freely with butters and oils, this is like our communion, we break the bread, sip on our wine and thank who ever wants to listen for what we are about to consume… that was the gospel according to fat Paul.

Before anyone has even ordered there is always a few massive cuts of brisket and some whole chickens splayed open and slowly cooking at most Asado’s. This brings such a great feeling to the place, the smell is to die for and I imagine all that fat dripping onto the ashes of dyeing wood embers giving them a final few moments of life. Just enough to impart special flavour notes to fill the fire place and find their way onto your steak or veges, or what ever is lucky enough to be spending the final minutes of their life cycle resting on the metal rack crafted by Zeus himself.

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With all Asado menus it reads like a butchers price list, giving only cuts of meat on one page and an array of offal and small goods on the other. Now for a chef or in fact any meat loving foodie, this is heaven, its euphoric and to be quite honest its overwhelming and hard not to order yourself half an effing cow with all the trimmings. Yes this is the kind of problems I’m faced with daily, just how much delicious meat shall I order. Well I went with their finest cut of fatty sirloin cooked only enough to get the smoky flavour through it, topped with bacon, roasted capsicum and grilled onion… now I like my meat without all that shit on it, but it was their house specialty so I went with it, yes I admit I scraped it all off and ate it separately, but I also admit it gave some kick arse flavour to the already fine cut of cow.

Now what sides to have? Well I went with Blood sausage/black pudding/morcilla or blackish sausage as they have translated it here… black pudding holds a special place in my heart and when I come across a good one I tend to get a little excited and bang on about it for days afterwards, and yes this was one of those occasions. This encased tube of deliciousness was crafted by a magical butcher with special powers and spells passed down to him from his one eyed, cauldron stirring grandmother. Who’s final act before she was set alight by the town folk was to make him promise to mesmerize gringo’s for years to come with the grainy, spicy, moist and flavour packed cylinder of blood. Well ‘old crazy eye’ would be proud as I was dumbstruck with what this log of offal brought to the plate, it lifted every component to a place where only angels fly… flavour doesn’t cut it, it was filled with the ashes of fairies and let me tell you that they didn’t die in vein.

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So its safe to say I enjoyed my first Asado, I was also served hand cut chips, fried egg, green beans cooked in butter and a corn tart thingy (which was weird) but lets face it you could of served me that steak and the black pudding on the carcass of a dead seagull accompanied with a raw potato and I still would of loved it.

What did Lauren eat?

Good question, well as much as I love meat, Lauren loves cheese and pasta, so she went for gnocchi in a four cheese sauce… not what I’d order for a place famous for cooking meat on an open wood fire, but hey you tell her that and see how far you get. However it was also delicious and extremely well made gnocchi.

That afternoon we had an 18hour bus ride to Buenos Aires and my belly was satisfied the whole way, Lauren lasted a good 9 hours before trying to eat the headrest, but that’s pretty good for her.

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Buenos Aires is definitely a very unique city and instantly you feel at home there, it has a very European architecture mixed in with the local culture. I admit it is a strange mix but somehow it work, not sure if the locals with their terrible economy and no real infrastructure will agree but for a tourist passing through it is a beautiful place.

As to be expected there is Asado’s everywhere and most of them doing a stand up job, in fact we often questioned why Australia doesn’t have more of these eateries as we are mad for a good bbq and these guys are showing us up. But along side the myriad of grills there is also heaps of funky new restaurants opening up, offering everything from Japanese to Scandinavian fare. And for the most part doing it all really well, they are very service orientated so this just lifts the place instantly and adds a great dimension even to a small humble café. And with great wines ranging from $4 to $20 at most, I feel I could live comfortably in a place like BA.

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We did a few tours of the city which gave us a better understanding of how hard the Locals have had it since basically the city was started, they often say that “their ancestors gave them plaza’s, monuments and amazing buildings when all they wanted was a country” this really rang home with us and you cant help but feel for them, as there dollar is worth less every year and life savings mean nothing, leaving a lot of people on the street. But regardless of that they stay positive and embrace tourists with gusto… we did our part by spending shit loads on food and tipping generously, it’s not much but I feel it’s got to help.

We also did a street art tour as the country as well as the continent is adorned with amazing street art, why oh why cant other countries open their minds and allow otherwise horrid scenes be filled with the most spectacular and relevant art. Recoleta cemetery was also a massive highlight, it is the largest collection of art in an open air setting in the world and is a sight to behold, creepy and stunning, possibly the best mix.

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We even ventured out one night to Pacha, which is worldwide super club… those that know me would know that I used to frequent clubs quite a lot, but it is now safe to say that my clubbing days are behind me as I enjoyed the museum of national history a lot more than I did attempting to get a drink form a bar packed with spoiled twats. But we tried and regardless of the rooms full of idiots we where still there with our amazing travel team and as you can imagine had a great night.

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But with everything we’ve enjoyed on this incredible trip, it always seems to revolve around food for us and you know what, I’m very comfortable with that, my now huge guts is also very comfortable but lets not worry about that for a few more days. We are currently skiing on the side of a volcano in Pucon (Chile) with the flight home looming we spend every minute jamming meat in our mouth and pouring Chilean wine down our necks, it is hard work but with 8 weeks practice we are getting by just fine.

Paul’s Caul… Chasing the egg dragon

If it aint got a runny yolk get it the fuck out of there
If it aint got a runny yolk get it the fuck out of there

I am writing this still high as a kite. I’m like a duck outta china town… and I already want my next fix… but it’s only 10am on a Saturday morning, should I wait until lunch time? Should I wait until tomorrow morning? What does society dictate is an acceptable amount of time between breakfasts?

I mean seriously does any meal take place in such a relaxed state? Cooking breakfast is such a cathartic exercise… of course I’m taking about breakfast on your days off, as breakfast on a work morning can fuck right off, there is nothing cathartic about weekday breakfast… but I digress, back to the glorious weekend breakfasts… the following is the tale of the creation of my favourite breakfast. This particular version will have a little bacon, avocado and a chilli number with some eggs that have had a good poaching, all kicking back on some bbqed bacon bread… why is it a version? Well on another day eggs beni will be my favourite breakfast and on the next it will be black pudding and anything, then it will be a full cooked with hash browns and so on and so forth.

It’s the entire equation that has to be achieved for my favourite breakfast to culminate in the perfect storm of greatness and get my endorphins racing and in turn making me ‘chase the egg dragon’

The equation in its simple form…

Coffee + Rage + Part of a pig + Runny egg yolks

I’ll break that shit down for you….

Coffee = must be good, make it how ever you feel necessary, if you don’t like coffee then I simply don’t trust you, leave now!

Rage = this speaks of the music show on abc, do not get violent it will NOT help make a pleasant experience, important to note that rage can be replaced with friends, family and conversation in general.

Part of a pig = well it is what it is, bacon, pork belly, black pudding, square sausage how ever you want your swine it will always be divine (I just busted that shit freestyleez)

Runny egg yolks = there is a myriad of ways to get to the desired finale of vibrant yolk erupting from the center and embracing its new surrounding and creating a fusion of flavours blanketing over them and bringing everyone’s best attributes to the fore ground, I like to poach, I’m a poacher and proud.

I figure you’ll all gonna be only semi awake whilst attempting the following recipe so I will simplify the shit out of it…

• Turn on rage or maybe gets some friends (start this several years before the morning in question)
• Fill your kitchen with the aroma of coffee beans being ground, this sets the mode, so instant coffee will not do.
• Get a poaching pot on the stove, large pot, lots of water with a generous splash of vinegar, simmer that shit
• Light bbq or heat large pan or griddle

Bacon bread
Bacon bread
Layer that puppy up
Layer that puppy up

Ingredient list
1. Bacon
2. Good eggs, organic free range are best
3. Chilli jam/candied chilli… sweet chilli if you must
4. Nice slice of bread
5. Avocado

• Cook bacon on the bbq, as well as the bread, let it soak up as much bacon love as possible
• Once bread has broken free of its cocoon of cooking and metamorphosed into toast, remove from heat and spread with chilli jam and avocado (I don’t care how you achieve this just make some decisions for yourselves)
• Start to poach your egg or eggs, you know the drill, simmering water, swirled into a vortex, egg cracked into the center of the pot and allowed to simmer for a couple of minutes, until it holds shape then boom… shit be poached
• You guessed it, toast, chilli jam, avo then bacon and eggs, now all that’s needed is salt, pepper and your face

This combo of flavours makes a killer sandwich also with rocket or spinach raw and dressed in lemon juice… yum

• So you now should be enjoying a nice hot coffee, listening to a song you forgot you even liked bellowing from the TV and an egg yolk introducing him self to your chosen ingredients du jour.
• Best start to any day

Foodisthebestshitever on the road again

Through a bizarre chain of events I once again find myself in the great state of Western Australia, home of the bumper sticker that specifies “there’s only two states to be in, WA and pissed” (I thought I should be able to achieve both). Please allow me to elaborate embellish;

I got on a television box called “the interweb super highway”, purchased a ticket to ride on an “aero plane” (a magical craft that allows you to fly with the birds) with a seemingly random sequence of numbers, apparently known as a “credit card”. AMAZING. Gone are the days of strapping six carnies together and having them carry you to your destination in a large cast iron box. CRAZY.

Landing safely in WA I handed over a wad of local currency (Lima beans I think) in exchange for a “hire car”… Once again AMAZING. And still not a carnie in sight. A lot has changed around here, that’s for sure.

The “hire car” found me quickly transported to my good friend/chef/mentor/fellow foodisthebestshitever blogger Paul’s home.

A quick Grey Goose, nachos with feta, scorched mozzarella, tomato and Vegemite guacamole (yeah, crazy kid) and several beers later Paul informed me that we were having a cooking challenge that evening. The guests (Graham, Carla, English DJ Deekline, my good friend Richy and Lauren, Paul’s lady friend) would be arriving in a couple of hours so we should probably get cooking before we got too pissed. I was pretty sure we’d already gone past the point of being “not too pissed” but cook we shall. On to the kitchen!

Paul had set the challenge. We would both choose five ingredients with which the other would make his dish. He also thought he would save me some time by choosing three of his ingredients for me. Nice guy that Paul fellow. So, fair or not, the cook up was going down!

The ingredients

Grazza McFilthy Mouth; Atlantic salmon, quinoa, avocado, beetroot and truffle pearls.

Paul; black pudding, cauliflower, polenta, dried shrimp sambal and capers

I offered up Atlantic salmon tartare with mixed grains, avocado, goats feta, truffle pearls and crisp beetroot, beetroot and jalepenos vinaigrette.

Paul produced a cracking dish of black pudding, cauliflower and chilli shrimp fritters, Marsala polenta and caper cream.

Our guests were satiated. Now it was time for me to sleep.

The next morning I was woken by my boys asking if they could play with Lauren’s cat, which they had discovered during the night (obviously the cat was smart enough to stay away during the day when it saw the kids arrive, but still to dumb to realise kids don’t sleep). As it was 4am and still quite dark outside, I suggested they may want to go back to bed and get some more sleep, or just lay there, or sit there, or talk quietly amongst themselves, or practice yoga, or whatever. Just as long as it didn’t involve me… Or the cat… Or a naked flame. Well maybe just keep me out of it.

Soon enough we were all awake and breakfast, or second breakfast, or elevensies (yes, I think my children may have hobbit in their bloodline. If only for their eating habits… That and their amazing digging skills) was the call. It would be Yum Cha and what a damn good call that was. All the good stuff came to our table via a small Asian woman pushing the “trolley of dreams”; braised chickens feet, shanghai dumplings, fried squid tentecles, kai lan with oyster sauce, prawn dumplings, pork dumplings, braised pork ribs, sticky rice in lotus leaf and steamed pork buns. EFF YES!

I think the highlights were Seba smashing the chicken feet and Obi describing his favourite meal as a mixture of things including a light bulb. The kid is a cullinary genius!

So that’s it. Day one; done. Day two; done. Time for a little bit more doingeffallisthebestshitever…

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Old man’s day, aka father’s day

Firstly I should say that I really enjoy father’s day. I get presents and shit so it’s kinda like an extra birthday that I’ve managed to piggy back in with the birth of my first son* Sebastian. We also backed him up with the birth of our second son Obi, just in case Seba forgot.

This year I asked the boys if they would cook me breakfast in bed. They both agreed to the terms and conditions of my father’s day. Obi though, did query whether I would be cooking them breakfast in bed on “kids day”. Apparently that comes next year he told me. “I should certainly be able to handle that”, I said.
We agreed that a good fathers day breakfast would include bacon, sausage, black pud, beans, tea and fresh juice. Hopefully not all on the same plate.

You can imagine my disappointment when this is what I received-
1. A book devoted entirely to ham
2. A bottle of whiskey devoted entirely to me
3. A platter of BLT goodness. See pic below

Seriously I could not have asked for anything more. And why am I telling you about my father’s day? I just am. It’s a kickass breakfast for any old time, looks good, can feed a crowd and you get everyone to put there own sandwich together so the work is theirs and you have more time to sit back with a bottle of whiskey and a book about ham.

Thanks boys. Loved it.

*first actual child confirmed to be mine.