Ham


Ham.

Now, there’s going to be a lot of different stories floating around the world wide super-web at the moment all tell you how to cook a decent ham… well, in actual fact that may be more applicable to the couple of weeks prior to Christmas but, as we all know, I am not the most talented at being super organized for this sort of thing so for now I shall just be pretending I am super organized and on the program (and not just the methadone program for a change).

So, about that ham…

Like I said, there is a lot of different ways to cook a ham much like say, skinning a cat or pleasuring a lady-man. I am not here to tell you my method is more righteous and will light the path to the heavens for you, but let me tell you it is pretty damn good and I am feeling more than just a little enlightened right now.

Hallelujah!

The other thing about what I did is, well, I cooked the ham from scratch which automatically gets you 300% more kudos than just glazing a store bought smoky leg o’ pig. Also smoking a ham is not nearly as hard as you think it might be, as long as you have a smoker (Bullet/barrel or off-set is what I have used) and a probe thermometer.

You will also be needing a brined (or pickled) leg of pork for this exercise. You should be able to hook this up from your local decent butcher if you give him a little notice.

This recipe is for 9kg of pure porcine glory. If you have a smaller leg, or even half a leg, the cooking time is going to be reduced. Just keep an eye on that internal temperature and hoist it when it hits 170F.

You’re gonna need a smoker
This is a very sexy sight
Get the skin off it (but save it for something like baked beans at the end of the week), glaze it up and get it back into your heated barrel
Carve it at the table like a boss because let’s face it, you are definitely a boss

SMOKED HAM

(serves a small village)

1x 8-9kg leg of brined (pickled) pork
A smoker
Lump charcoal
A few bits of flavoursome smoky wood. I used ironbark

Get your smoker on and get it up to 225-250F. The ham will take somewhere in the vicinity of 8 hours to cook, so bare this in mind when you are setting up your pit.
Add a piece of smoky flavour wood.
Get that leg of pork into the smoker, insert temperature probe into thickest part of the leg and put the lid on so it may do its thing.
Drink a beer.
If you are happy your pit is going to hold its temp for a few hours you could go and have a nap or watch I little bit of that carnival folk pornography I know you love so much.
Now it’s all about keeping that temperature and chucking a bit of smoky flavour wood on the coals every hour.
Once that internal probe tells you it’s 170F in the middle of that leg it’s time to pull it out.
Now you have ham.
Rest the ham for half an hour or refrigerate for a later date. Remove skin, leaving as much of the fat as you think you like (I like to leave it all for flavour and moistness), score (I gave it 10 out of 10 ;)), place in a baking dish and glaze with something sweet and sexy – this year I used 1 cup of honey and a little rosemary.
Whack it back into the pit or a suitably heated oven for another 1-1.5 hours, reglazing with the pan juices every 15 minutes.
Carve that thing at the table like a boss.
Amen.

Enjoyed by parents and children alike

Friendly Fire; Sushi

pork sushi
“ANOTHER SHARK ATTACK AT BYRON BAY” has been the headline news a little too often in the last few months.

Are there even more sharks or are we just looking a little harder for them now?

Who knows. Either way, the sharks have been hungry this year.

I think it’s possibly because we have been taking a lot of the food from their under water cafeteria. I could be wrong, I have certainly been wrong before, but it’s a theory I have. So, due to the seemingly insatiable appetite of sharks in the Byron Bay area I have opted out of using seafood for my “Friendly Fire Sushi Challenge” on this occasion and have instead headed to the hills and found myself some pork.

Pork is not generally the primary food source for sharks or for any other creature that has been remotely sensationalized and/or thrusted (yeah I just said thrusted) into peoples lives as being a ruthless killer so I feel that it is something that I may use today with out consequence nor burden to add to the weight of my already obese conscience.

I’m sure Dana got to use some kind of delicious seafood that she wasn’t stealing from the mouths of the wee sharky bairn and therefore forcing poppa shark to work a whole heap harder for his money and actually start walking onto the beach on his fins to steal a lone, unaware, overweight, sun glazed tourist and then drag said tourist back into the ocean to feed his family, thus resulting in the end of beach going as we know it today through fear of land walking sharks… The picture I created in my own head right there was probably far more amusing to me than it actually came across…

Brain images 1 – conveying funniness to wider community 0.

So to summarize I can and will tell you that statistically you have more chance of getting killed by falling out of bed or from eating a hotdog than you do from a shark attack, and there is a 100% chance that I shall be making a porky nori rolls for the sushi challenge today.

Epic food battles of history. Who wins? You decide…

See Dana’s (more informative and possibly just darn right better) creation right here.

Get it all together
Get it all together

Mmmm, pulled pork. This was really good and I will probably sort out a recipe for it really soon
Mmmm, pulled pork. This was really good and I will probably sort out a recipe for it really soon
Get a little rice down
Get a little rice down
Stack it up... Not too up though
Stack it up… Not too up though
And then roll it up. It's as easy as that... I'm too OG to even use a rolling mat, but I reckon Dana will be nice enough to tell you about that
And then roll it up. It’s as easy as that… I’m too OG to even use a rolling mat, but I reckon Dana will be nice enough to tell you about that
The pork belly and hoisin number
The pork belly and hoisin number

Chop them up so they fit in your mouth and then fit them into your mouth with a little extra QP and possibly some soy and wasabi if you're keen
Chop them up so they fit in your mouth and then fit them into your mouth with a little extra QP and possibly some soy and wasabi if you’re keen

PORKY SUSHI #1

Cooked brown rice (it’s a Northern Rivers thing)
200g cooked (steamed or roasted) pork belly
QP Japanese mayonnaise
Hoisin sauce
Bean sprouts
Coriander (cilantro)
Shallots
Nori sheets

PORKY SUSHI #2

Cooked brown rice
200g barbecue pulled pork
QP Japanese mayonnaise
Pickles
Slaw
Shallots
Nori sheets

Now you just sorta, um, well, maybe just look at the pictures and roll them up kinda like that. The thing is, when you are rolling nori rolls you just gotta think “teenage years” and remember your mad spliff rolling skills and get them back into play. Certainly not a very good lesson on sushi rolling technique but I think we can all agree it is some sound advice and gripping social commentary from you friends here at foodisthebestshitever.

Anyhow, the sushi; they were both damn tasty but the pulled pork number defo made my face smile the most!

That’s it.
pork sushi

Bayger Gourmet Burgers, Byron Bay… still delivering the goods

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.

Byron Burger Australia, Byron Bay

byron burger australia
As we approached Byron Burger Australia my first impression was that it looked like what I thought a burger bar should look like and that made me happy. It had seats and tables, really happy staff who seemed genuinely happy to be at work, a grill to cook burgers on, and a menu that declared that many of the ingredients that would be cooked on the aforementioned grill were sourced locally. Bang on! The only thing missing was beer, but I was happy to let that slide and grab myself the southern white trash teeth-rotting standard – the Mountain Dew. Yep, I did the Dew.

I feel I need to say that I do not often “do the Dew”, but every time I do it reminds me of a joke…

There’s these three woman (of whatever race, colour or creed you decide they should be because I am certainly no racist or hate mongerer, just a regular guy of whatever other race you want me to be… I think I need to go now) talking about their lovers… heard it? I don’t even care… anyway, they’re talking about their lovers – comparing them to soda. The first woman says “my man, my man he is seven-up… because he has seven inches and they’re always up”. The second says “well my man is Mountain Dew… because I always need a mountin’, and he always do”. Then the third says “well my man, my man is Jaaaaack Daniels”. The other two in unison, “girl, that ain’t no soda pop, that’s one damn fine liquer”. She says, “I know”.

But these here pages are not all about the jokes people so let’s get back to the food, and more specifically, the onion rings.

You might get to see the postman ride past from your seat...
You might get to see the postman ride past from your seat…

They had crisp crumbed onion rings on their menu, which I can tell you now is enough to make me crisp in certain regions of my anatomy, but when I tried to order them they were out. Done. And it was only 11:45am. There was something amiss with that whole onion ring situation but I soldiered on…

The burgers arrived and those nice peeps behind the counter of this fine establishment must’ve known how to make it up to me because the burgers had a guindilla stabbed into them like the tribesman’s spear into the head of the visiting Englishman. Guindilla = happy Grazza! Anyone who doesn’t know of the guindilla is probably also incapable of using google so I feel it is my responsibility to inform you that it is in fact a pickled chilli of the Basque Region, and also damn tasty!

Tasty tasty tasty
Tasty tasty tasty

As were the burgers.

Grilled local beef, seasoned perfectly, gently held aloft by the right amount of salad and a tasty bun, and the addition of a big fat slab of melting blue cheese on mine (the Byron Burger with Blue Cheese, $14.50). A good burger indeed!

The boys both opted for the Tropical Lighthouse ($14.90) with all the usual culprits plus bacon, cheddar and grilled pineapple. I tried a bite of this bad boy and it made me very happy inside my belly. In fact, I will return one day to eat one of these burgers all to my self.

Look at that guindilla just begging me to get in there
Look at that guindilla just begging me to get in there

Chips for the table were perfectly cooked and crisp, and if I remember correctly they were only 4 bucks. Yeah, 4 bucks. I love a bowl of good chips for 4 bucks!

We left happily satiated and thanked the Northern Rivers region for giving us another worthy burger joint… in that same leaving process we also notice that they had a $12 meal deal with a burger (your choice of the Surfer Chick or Byron Burger with Cheese), chips and drink which seemed like a pretty damn common sense option and one I would definitely be back to take advantage of… but let’s face it, at the end of the day the cracking burgers were going to be plenty enough to get me back.

Well played Byron Burger. Well played indeed.

Great wall art by Fabien Fuego
Great wall art by Fabien Fuego

Byron Burgers facey is just a click away

Three Blue Ducks at The Farm, Byron Bay

breakfast at the there blue ducks at the farm byron bay First, The Farm. The Farm is indeed a farm, albeit a farm that has done deportment classes and then returned in a brand new power suit that says without an inkling of wonder “I am here to make a fucking mark on this place”, and maybe just a little “touch me, you know you want to touch me”.

A sign so you don't get lost
A sign so you don’t get lost

There was and still is a lot of hype surrounding The Farm. I’m talking a serious amount of hype. Like, restaurants in this area open and close all of the time and there is a fucking shit load to choose from but never, and I mean never, have I seen this sort of hype for a restaurant… CSG get’s this sort of hype, yes, but a farm-slash-restaurant, no.

Next months breakfast... cute, but just not cute enough to avoid the plate
Next months breakfast… cute, but just not cute enough to avoid the plate

The short version of what I’ve heard goes something like this; Some one with some money they got from selling hand-bags bought a derelict old farm on the road into Byron Bay and turned said farm into a living breathing eco-mass of crops, chooks for egg production, pigs and cows for eating, cheese production, a restaurant that would not be serving bacon on it’s breakfast menu, a bakery, a florist and farm shop, permaculture things and some other stuff.

Walking in the country air is good for your health
Walking in the country air is good for your health

Hype or no hype, do what you will with the rumors and the stories and the unconfirmed sighting of the half goat half man who lives amongst the ginger crops, we went out to this place for breakfast, to eat the food and either confirm or deny the allegations that there was in fact no bacon to be sighted on the breakfast menu…

The breakfast menu. No bacon to be seen
The breakfast menu. No bacon to be seen

And then we went to breakfast at Three Blue Ducks @ The Farm.

We went in this door
We went in this door

The Three Blue Ducks are not actual blue ducks, they are in fact skin coloured people. These skin coloured people have packed their bags and headed up from their mother Sydney to bring their good, wholesome eating recipe to the chefs-dream setting of The Farm in Byron Bay and indeed brought with them a slick-assed restaurant operation and more enamel tableware then one could possibly poke even three sticks at.

The pork roll with 'slaw, hot sauce and fried egg on possibly the best burger bun I have ever tasted from The Bread Social ($16)
The pork roll with ‘slaw, hot sauce and fried egg on possibly the best burger bun I have ever tasted from The Bread Social ($16)

It felt very classy. This-can’t-be-what-a-real-farm-looks-like type classy, city styles classy, hip-happening-now type classy but still laid back and tranquil type classy… it’s hard to explain. The atmosphere and the feeling that the guy/gal who sold the handbags didn’t spare a cost when creating this dream of a spot where the sum of its parts definitely made it all a very worthy experience and, if the atmosphere and the dream was the entrée, then the food from The Three Blue Ducks was both the literal and metaphorical main course and by golly it did not disappoint.

The blood cake with apples, beets, lemon, herbs, fermented cabbage salad, fried egg and toast ($23)
The blood cake with apples, beets, lemon, herbs, fermented cabbage salad, fried egg and toast ($23)

Upon viewing the breakfast menu we did indeed discover it was sans bacon. We queried this as all of us present at the table this fine morning seemed to be born from that same stock of generations of bacon lovers, and by damn if we didn’t get a satisfactory explanation sharpish I could almost guarantee a riot… or at least some harsh words… ok, we’d just choose something else. We’re not that damn hard to please.

This congee was the dish of the day. Kimchi, kale, miso eggplant, sesame, yarrow, burnt shallot, seaweed and a boiled egg ($21). Everything we expected plus more. Damn tasty stuff
This congee was the dish of the day. Kimchi, kale, miso eggplant, sesame, yarrow, burnt shallot, seaweed and a boiled egg ($21). Everything we expected plus more. Damn tasty stuff

With nary time for a breath, the waiter quickly told us how they were more interested in sustainable farming practices (some what of a catch-cry) and using the whole pigs from the farm so, to avoid the surplus meat they would have if they served bacon at breakfast, our smoky cured porky friend took the bench and they subbed in a pulled pork fritter type thing. A really tasty pulled pork fritter type thing…

The Bread Social is another business operating out of The Farm, and another cracking operator to boot. Some of the best bread in the region for sure
The Bread Social is another business operating out of The Farm, and another cracking operator to boot. Some of the best bread in the region for sure

We had a great morning full of great friends enjoying a great setting, great coffee and a great breakfast, albeit a slightly exy one, with no bacon to be seen. Even though there may be a few glitches in the service and speed of delivery, it is their first week of operation and they are kicking goals all over place, so someone who likes to imagine things would imagine it could only get better and better. Also, they have defo missed the mark with a few of the price points, but if 24 bucks for 1 sausage, 1 egg, beans and one piece of toast is a little exy for your pocket, you can still go and enjoy a coffee and some damn nice scenery… and try a loaf of that cracking Bread Social bread!

It’s a try it for yourself, see it to believe it type scenario that you should get onto right now.

Il Carretto Mobile Wood Fired Pizza, Bexhill

IMG_9259
It would not be a lie to say I like a good pizza. In fact I would often be said to enjoy the company of a good pizza more than I would enjoy the company of a slightly carbonated, hopsy, alcoholic beverage. Of course, if I can get them both in the same room at the same time, that is a ménage a trois I’m going to be damn happy to be a part of…

It is also not a lie to say that I currently reside in the evergreen Northern Rivers of New South Wales.

It would also be true to say that many of you may now be querying if I am going to make a point any time soon.

Well that, my friends, is a fair query to be sure, as it is well within my skill-set to beat about the bush, proverbial or otherwise, for an amount of time that could easily be described as excessive until I finally hit you with some kind of point.

OK.

This is a story about Il Carretto mobile wood fired pizza. I choose to start the story… now.

Il Carretto is a mobile wood fired pizza joint (for the slightly simple among us who may not have picked that up from the previous sentence), based in Bexhill, in the back side of Byron Bay (not literally in Byron Bay’s ass as that would just be uncomfortable, but located in the hills behind the bay and a little to the south).

Every week they do a pizza night at Clunes on Thursday and Bexhill on Friday, and then do private functions on their nights off… which would actually mean that many of their nights off would be work nights too, but that’s how it rolls in hospitality.

Andrea stoking away... or whatever it is a chief pizza maker does
Andrea stoking away… or whatever it is a chief pizza maker does

The business is run by Andrea and Emily Bonotto and they are a very nice local couple indeed. Andrea is the pizza maker and with a name like that this man was clearly born to make pizza. His mumma would’ve sent him straight from the womb to the kneading bench where he would go forth and create his first glorious pizza. The disciples would’ve been fed, and fed damn well at that, and they would’ve thanked this child and wished him well in his journey of pizza glory… and on the flipside, if this pizza thing didn’t work out for him he would’ve made a great lumberjack… with a sexy Italian accent. Emily is just an all round nice bird and generally the one who will take your order at the pizza night. That’s nice, isn’t it?

The pizzas range in price from $10-19, they are always made with love on a sour dough base and have minimal toppings just the way I like them. This affordability coupled with their close proximity to my home, has resulted in my sampling of many of Il Carretto’s wares.

This is the menu
This is the menu

This time I had the “Caponata” with spicy salami. I asked for something with chilli and this thing had a kick. Too often you want a bit of kick but your pizza will leave you disappointed like watching a one legged soccer match… no kick at all. I wanted kick in my pizza and it was there, and the capsicum paste did all sorts of things to me that made my face happy also.
The "Caponata" with spicy salami
The “Caponata” with spicy salami

Others I have tried include the “Crudo”, “Zucca” and “Spagnola”. All have names that sound like nothing more than goobledigook to me, but all were damn tasty none-the-less.
This is the "Margherita"
This is the “Margherita”

The kids went for their usual; a “Margherita” for Seba and a “Hawaiian” for Obi… or vise versa. Almost as cheap a fricking happy meal at Micky D’s and fuck times tastier!
And this is the "Hawaiian"
And this is the “Hawaiian”

The child friendly atmosphere is a bit of a bonus for us with spawn, or a really shitty atmosphere if you are looking for a dimly lit corner to romance a loved one (maybe in the corner behind that stack of chairs and trestle tables?). But a bonus for us for sure.

Oh, and there’s always a couple of specials too. But get in early, even if you phone your order in, as late comers are often relegated to the local Domino’s. Suuuuuckers.