Happy birthday to me

Today is my birthday.

Last night I got enough beer into my belly to give me one hell of a head ache. I quite literally feel like I did get older last night. The boys were up at 5:30am (yeah, there’s a 5:30am now) hiding my presents which in turn meant that I was up shortly after, questioning what ungodly soul would make a 5:30 in the morning on a mans birthday. One’s birthday should include a clause that omits times like that and possibly moves straight onto a 9:30 or even 10:00. Was it the Myans? I told myself right there and then that I would investigate further…

I guess I should start at the beginning.

Yesterday I invited a few friends over for dinner and quite possibly a drink or two. We cooked an absolute cracker of a meal, and when I say “we”, what I actually mean is that I put the pork in the oven when I left for work. It would be correct to say that even our friend Scotty did more work than me. Jen had him rolling tortillas like a small Mexican grandmother by the time I got home from work, but that’s what you’d expect if you rock up to a birthday dinner at 1:30pm… at least 3 hours early, right? Claiming ignorance, or stupidity, or something? But the best I could figure is this was only going to benefit my situation. With the preparation for the meal all but complete, I could get started on a crispy cold birthday drink. On with the day.

It was my birthday and I felt not even a small urge to shed a tear.

And that, my friends, is where the details start to get a little sketchy. Photo diary from here I think.

Greg tried to camouflage    himself with the table cloth. Chameleon skills
A lovely afternoon for some corn chips and salsa. Greg tried to camouflage himself with the table cloth. Chameleon skills
Too many good things on one table; 12 hour shoulder of pork with beer and spices, chicken mole, red rice, corn with cheese and chilli powder, home made tortillas, guacamole, pickled 'slaw, salsas, pickled chilli... some recipes will follow
Too many good things on one table; 12 hour shoulder of pork with beer and spices, chicken mole, red rice, corn with cheese and chilli powder, home made tortillas, guacamole, pickled ‘slaw, salsas, pickled chilli… some recipes will follow
Emma is going to be happy with this one. She's been keen for a mention/photo/song dedication on this blog for a while. She's on the left with her "I'm in the photo" face on
Emma is going to be happy with this one. She’s been keen for a mention/photo/song dedication on this blog for a while. She’s on the left with her “I’m in the photo” face on
There it is folks
There it is folks

SAMSUNG CSC

Finish the night with a croquembouche so every body knows you're a boss
Finish the night with a croquembouche so every body knows you’re a boss

Right now all I have left are the memories of a swell night of eating, drinking and all round merriment, a cracking headache and a brand spanking new MacBook. So I’m going to go out on a limb and see if I can predict how the day shall go from here; I will lay in bed or possibly on the couch. No, let’s do bed today and then I can really look like a little girl, I will watch some cooking shows, eat more of last nights dinner, drink some coconut water because I am convinced it has the power to make me feel better, have a little snoozey, try to write some witty words that will camouflage themselves cunningly inside my brain so I can’t find them, then I shall repeat this scenario until I come good. Hopefully that will be today. The big problem for me seems to be that as soon as I start to feel a little better, a little more like I could possibly conduct a legible dialogue, or maybe that I should get up and go and give those carnies a damn good flogging, the bloody thing is back. BAM! In the face like a bitch. Like the woman scorned she demonstrates her wrath upon me, and like a bad acid trip it just keeps coming back around again. And it’s only bloody 10am.

I truly have to get on with my tasks for the day…

But before I do that I think that I’ll check my facey, see how popular I am and all that and this is what greets me. A message from my mate Jaz. It made me smile and it is what I shall leave you with today; “Happy birthday Graeme! I’m glad I know you because you’re Graeme, but also because you’re ginger and its my goal in life to know as many gingers as I can. Thanks for being my friend and being ginger hehe”…

Appreciation of food… and a damn fine falafel

Appreciation of food is not just relevant to the food you eat. It is relevant to the whole package… The surroundings. The company. The wait staff. Whether you have a stinky little carnie sitting at the next table. And of course the check… All of it. The culmination of these factors is called “dining”. And if you can enjoy all of these factors you should bend down on your hands and knees and thank me properly… Err, I mean thank the maker (biblical). Hallelujah.

I thought the falafel I had in Byron Bay recently was the standard. The new mother ship beacon to its hippy falafel eating sons and daughters. But seriously the falafel Jennee cooked last night got up, walked over to it, dropped it’s pants and actually defecated on it in public (did I just say that?).

This was an awesome dining experience. There was ambience (say it in your head like a wanker. Om-bee-yonc. You should be smiling at yourself right now. I am), the decore was amazing, the smell of flat bread in the oven filled the room and the meal was first class. Maybe only out-shone by our beautiful host, emanating, nay, oozing wit and charm. I could not have asked for anything more. Except maybe some left over for breakfast…

There was. And you best believe I ate that bad boy in my face. Garlic breath for the whole day!

Falafel
Falafel
Hummus with zaatar
Hummus with zaatar
The spread
The spread
My falafel
My falafel

What you need;
Kickass home made falafel
Shepherds salad
Hummus with olive oil and zaatar
Yoghurt spiked with garlic that I can still taste in the morning
Pickled chilli                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Flatbread

And, as an added bonus, here’s Jen’s recipe for falafel…

Falafel balls, not to be mistaken for fluffy balls. If you possess these you should probably get them waxed…

1 cup dried chickpeas- soaked overnight changing the water regularly

1 cup dried fava or broad beans (the same thing FYI)

1 onion

5 cloves garlic

Handful rocket and herbs of any sort

1 tablespoon each ground cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper

  • Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until mix is like a dust
  • Form mix into balls and fry in a lava filled pot, or a really hot frying pan
  • Enjoy with garlic yoghurt and other ethnic treats…

Big assed risotto with chicken, chorizo and prawns to impress a crowd

aaaah, glorious
aaaah, glorious

When I pulled myself out of bed this morning I was met with the lingering smell of smoky goodness from our adventures the previous evening (just to clarify they were cooking adventures) and they memories came flooding back. No, that’s a lie. The memories sporadically trickled in like David Hasslehoffs fan mail.

A fuck off big paella pan screams out that you are not messing around in the kitchen tonight. Even if you are pan-frying two small children, you’re still not messing around. And this evening our paella pan screamed out to me.

So for the last day of work in my current employment, I decided what better way to say “fuck you life is going to be shit without me”… or maybe “thanks for having me, it’s been swell”, then to bring out my paella pan and cook a couple of small children (not local of course) if front of their very eyes. Now I don’t know if they came to say good bye, wish me well or just celebrate the fact I was getting out of their lives, but the thing is they came so I thought I should maybe put something a little more aesthetically pleasing on the table.

mis en place ready to go
mis en place ready to go
get Zac to cook
get Zac to cook

 

a good salad is a good accompaniment
a good salad is a good accompaniment

 

mmmm
mmmm. It tasted really good

Big assed risotto with chicken, chorizo, prawns, fennel and pickled chilli for a crowd

5 chicken marylands, free range fool, cut into three pieces. Roast that shit!

4 chorizo sausage, sliced

1kg king prawns

2 brown onions, diced

2 fennel bulbs, sliced

5 cloves garlic, bashed in a back alley brawl

1 quarter preserved lemon, flesh and pith removed, bruniose

1 lemon myrtle leaf, chiffonade

1kg risotto rice (aborio etc)

4lt hot stock – chicken or vegetable is good

5 guindillas (Spanish pickled chillis)

  • First you get one of your guests, say Soraya, to light the chiminea on the verandah
  • Once the smoke has died down get the paella pan hot, splash a little oil in the pan to heat up, then tell Zac the kitchen hand that he is going to start cooking dinner now
  • Get your self a beer and start instructing Zac on his culinary adventure
  • Sauté the onions, fennel, garlic and chorizo until fragrant and the chorizo is starting to free itself of its lovely red oil
  • Season
  • Add chicken, preserved lemon, lemon myrtle and rice
  • Cook out for a couple of minutes
  • Add stock and cook for 10-ish minutes, shaking the pan every couple of minutes, until rice is almost done
  • Add prawns and, if the risotto has taken all the liquid, add a little more stock (hot water will do because you’ve probably already used all of your stock) and cover with alfoil
  • Cook for another 5 minutes until this prawns are done
  • Garnish with guindillas, a squeeze of lemon and a splash of olive oil
  • Serve straight from the pan at the table, just so everyone remembers how OG you are
  • Get another beer and sit back and bask in your glory