Paul’s Caul… Mozaic, Bali

Mozaic

We have two more days left here in our Ubud abode and tonight we are going to what our dear friend Che rates as the best restaurant in these parts… its called Mozaic and as with every dining experience we are incredibly excited. I have even started of late to not research menu’s as much as I used too, well not for good places anyway, as I love the surprise of what might come next, how its prepared and served and in what order are what makes a good dinner great and I can sometimes overthink the whole process given all information before hand.

So all I know is that you can choose 6 courses in their dego style and then you can add matched wine with that… so you guessed it we will most likely go for the most food possible with wines please and thank you.

I will continue this tale tomorrow morning once the details of our adventure have actually occurred, I find this the best way to tell a story, other wise it’s fictional bollocks, plain and simple.

So its now 9am the morning after and without putting to much of a fine point on it, its been a long night for my bum, not like jail days more like holy shit what’s happening inside my body days… come to think of they sound rather similar. This I’m sure has nothing to do with our meal last night so we shall leave it there.

We set off with Katut (actually is the name of our driver) to find Mozaic and luckily we didn’t take Laurens advice and walk there as it is rather far up a big hill… we arrived to a beautiful entrance guarded by a very polite security guard who doubled as a valet/host, the entrance was very cool, it was a picture frame that you walk through, very Narnia, very cool and very different.

SAMSUNG CSC

We where then shown through to the cocktail lounge where we were offered drinks and to browse the 4 dego options they have available for our dining experience, there was a local ingredient based 6 course dego which had versions of beef cheek rendang, mangosteen sorbet, snake fruit and crispy duck, all things we have seen on local menu’s… then there was chef’s tasting menu which blended the local produce with international flavours and it looked amazing with manchego gnocchi, foie gras and aussie lamb making up a bevy of dishes I really wanted to sink my teeth into.

But then there was the chef’s selection dego made up from all of the above and using what’s freshest at the time (even though I hope this would be his ethos with all menu’s) and we wouldn’t get the same dish as each other for each course, this for a pair of food sharers was a dream come true, 6 courses just became 12… Magic.

The fourth choice was a vego dego, which although I’d never order it, I do love to see it. Vego’s are the closest living animal to humans so we should care for them.

The entire menu was chocker’s with local flair, from the cocktails to the desserts the chef had obviously embraced his new found home with vigor. I started the night with a cocktail consisting of Absulut, star fruit, ginger and ginger syrup… so I changed the absulut for grey goose and bam I was very happy, Lauren had a similar drink with absulut, strawberry, lime and something very sour… she was equally as happy as me, especially when a canapé of edam cheese profiterole and truffle came to the table.

As we where lead out the cocktails lounge and through to the restaurant I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of roof the restaurant had, in fact we where out doors and never had we experienced such fine dining in such a relaxed and beautiful beer garden setting, they had put thought into every component of the dining experience and I guess that’s how you get into Asia’s top 50 restaurants. We never saw the same style of plate twice, everything was custom bought for its very own purpose.

We decided to not go with matched wines as we like what we like and prefer to have a few glasses of it rather than a thimble of deliciousness that is never to be seen again. So a 2008 Chilean malbac was just what the doctor ordered, a really great drop and reasonably priced at about 80 Australian dollars.

SAMSUNG CSC

The first course or amuse bouche as it were, was my favourite, it was a cornetto filled with beef, truffle and parmesan ice cream and Lauren had a similar cornetto with salmon and parmesan…. The cornetto was made form a savoury tuille biscuit of sorts and was eloquent, tasty and well measured cuisine… if only the rest of the courses to follow were as tasty.

Did you sense I slight bit of negativity in my wording? Well if I was to be honest about everything else that followed I’d have to say it didn’t all measure up to my expectations, these where expectations that I had before arrival and then they where magnified once I entered this very slick world. I will add some photo’s for you to all look at, and with out a doubt the execution of his dishes was superb, the ingredients where top notch and the obvious love for the art was ever present… but for me what was lacking in nearly all dishes was the magical 2% of flavour which makes or breaks dishes.

SAMSUNG CSC

This 2% could be salt, it could be spice it could come from the actual heat of a dish, it’s the thing that makes you salivate, it is unfortunately the thing that makes you move food around your mouth like a creepy person as you want to gain every last drop of the goodness from said dish… and even more unfortunately it was the thing missing from last nights dinner.

This isn’t to say that the crew are Mozaic aren’t talented, quite the opposite I think they are extremely talented and worth a visit as my photo’s show they create some amazing dishes, I am however overly critical when it comes to such quality restaurants as they are selling an experience not just a meal. And when these dining experiences come at such a high price tag, I want to leave with my mind going over time with memories of flavours and textures, I want to regale folks with tales of my favourite dish the one you must have if you ever go there… and a cornetto of beef with parmesan sorbet is not worth such a long journey.

SAMSUNG CSC

The entire bill was the equivalent of about $500 and when ever this amount of money is handed over for a meal, shit best be top notch, make sure your team is on it’s A game, and make sure every member of your team knows why they are adding ingredients, its not good enough following a recipe and executing the dish to perfection… if you don’t know the reasons for the steps, procedures and the need for certain ingredients then it will never be memorable.

I would go into more details about the dishes but I kid you not, I can’t remember most of them and with the breakdown of communication between us and the floor staff, it was hard to work out what was what… molecular gastronomy (MG) are words that get chucked around a lot and I for the most part love it when and only when it is used for a reason and used with restraint, they did seem to want to have some component of MG in all dishes and it was un-necessary. The large gel filled caviar they made was left for too long in their chemical bath and the skin was way to thick and as with shit loads of places they over used crumbs, soils and powders.

SAMSUNG CSC

Lauren and I still had a magnificent evening as we never look for fault at the time and left really happy, I went and had a chat to the chef and complimented him on how he called a pass with an international crew, we tipped the wait staff as they where so attentive and friendly the entire evening and we went home reveling in each other company, so please don’t think me a hater, I’m just calling it how I saw it.

Maggie Beer’s ox tail with orange, olives and walnuts. Foreword by my Jennee.

Ox tail
Ox tail

Jennee’s bit (not Jennee’s bits you perve! She gave that up years ago when I made an honest woman of her!)

“Some of you may know me as the hard arse, competitive wifee that loves a good slow roast anything and ensures that Gray’s head doesn’t over inflate due to too much praise. But what a lot of people don’t know about me is my penchant for ignoring warning signs that appear on the dash board display of cars and taking fate into my own hands.   I have been known to run out of fuel on a regular occasion, usually when my dad (you may know him as Dr Chris) is in the seat next to me… with a less than impressed look on his face.  I have also been known to ignore the oil light that glows a faint red that means more “red goes faster” than, “red means danger” to me.  And I may also have had a couple of trips, courtesy of the tow man, to the mechanic in order to pump the fuel tank due to the wrong fuel being put in. 

 

And so that is why I am here today, with time up my sleeve as I wait for said tow man to come and save me in his shiny truck glistening with hope and goodwill, writing this blog post as clearly my work day is now put on hold.  Did I mention that it was the work vehicle that is now being towed? 

 

I checked in with the man of the house who was knee deep in sunshine and good times at home (it’s a Monday, bloody hospitality slackers!) I relayed my predicament, he laughed, I told him to shut up, he laughed some more, and then told me to come up with a challenge for him for dinner.  I immediately thought, turmeric chicken, my “last meal” if by some chance I commit a crime that is punishable by death, this is what I would ask for, along with sticky rice balls, green papaya salad, pickled cucumber and a bucket load of mind numbing drugs and alcohol to wash the thoughts of impending death away!  But alas, he was not warming to this, probably because I request it the majority of times that he asks me the “dinner” question. 

 

A challenge I hear him say, something that he has not cooked before I hear him say.  Well as I have seen him cook pretty much everything, I was stumped.  But then… my old friend google came into play. I googled unique recipes, and was pretty excited about what I saw, including recipes for pig rectum sausages, scrambled brains, smoked squirrel and stir fried uterus!  I am pretty sure uterus and rectums are not a staple in the shop of the local butcher so I had to reel it in a little.  I settled on oxtail with oranges and red wine with a gremolata salad.  I eagerly await the taste sensation as I whittle the hours away on the milk crate of the service station.  I think it should also be mentioned that I parked the car really badly too, so I am taking up two spots in the service station.  Much to the annoyance of the business owner!  I hope the tow truck gets hear soon, or I may be lynched by the angry mob of motorists having to use the only fuel pump available!”

 

My bit

Not being one to back down from a challenge I wiped the happy tears from my eyes and headed straight up to the local butchers. I enquired as to the availability of pig (or any other animal’s) rectum or uterus. My butcher is a big country lad and he just sorta stood there looking at me for a while, a quarter smile on his lips, handed me a bag of ox tail and ushered me quietly from his shop.

So here we are. Today I am cooking ox tail with orange, olives and walnuts a la Maggie Beer

1 ½ brown onion, roughly chopped

1 celery stick, roughly chopped

¼ cup olive oil

70g walnuts

2kg ox tail, trimmed and cut into 5 cm pieces by your butcher

50g unsalted butter

flour for dusting, I used rice flour because Jennee can’t do the gluten

1 cup red wine

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 sprig thyme

1 bay leaf

1 handful parsley, chopped

250g ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced

500ml beef stock

500ml water

2 strips orange peel

20 black olives

¼ cup red wine vinegar

2 ½ tablespoons sugar

seasoning

  • Preheat the oven to 220C.
  • Toss the onion and celery with a little of the olive oil in a roasting pan, then roast for 20 minutes until caramelised. Dry roast the walnuts on a baking tray in the oven for 6 minutes, then rub their skins off with a clean tea towel and set aside.
  • Toss the meat in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, shaking off the excess.
  • In a heavy-based frying pan, brown the oxtail in batches in the remaining olive oil and the butter over high heat. Transfer each batch to a large heavy-based casserole.
  • Deglaze the frying pan with the wine, scraping to release all the caramelised bits from browning. Add the garlic, onions, celery, herbs and tomatoes to the frying pan and reduce the wine a little over high heat, then tip everything into the casserole. Add the beef stock and the water, making sure that everything is immersed, and simmer over low heat, covered, until tender – this could take 3 to 4 hours.
  • Add the orange rind and olives in the last 20 minutes of cooking.
  • Strain the cooking juices from the meat and skim as much fat as possible from the top. Set the meat aside in a warm place.
  • In a stainless steel or enamelled saucepan, combine the Red Wine Vinegar and sugar and boil until the vinegar has evaporated and the sugar has caramelised.
  • Reduce the cooking juices to a syrupy consistency, and then add the caramelised vinegar mixture to taste.
  • Toss the cooked oxtail with the walnuts and pour the sauce back over the oxtail.
Ox tail
Ox tail
Dust it in flour and fry it up
Dust it in flour and fry it up
Add the tomatoes, wine, stock and water
Add the tomatoes, wine, stock and water
After three hours in the oven
After three hours in the oven
Strain the sauce
Strain the sauce
Reduce the sauce
Reduce the sauce
Combine it all
Combine
Put it on  a plate and eat it. I guarantee this will be heaps tidier than pouring it straight onto the table
Put it on a plate and eat it. I guarantee this method of consumption will be heaps tidier than pouring it straight onto the table

Maggie suggests serving with mashed potato, creamy polenta or pasta, but I went renegade and served it with a few boiled chat potatoes and salsa verde. Mental, I know.

It was damn fine. I needed to reassure Obi (youngest son) that even though it was the tail of the cow it wouldn’t have any poo on it and in no way, shape or form would we be consuming poo for our dinner any time soon. Seba (oldest son) loved it so much he came back for seconds without a second thought about the tail and its proximity to the poo hole. Jennee declared that it was a damn fine cook up. With the family happy I proceeded to nod off on the couch, not unlike the heroin junkie after his daily hit.

So I tip my hat to you Maggie Beer. You and your ox tail with orange, olives and walnuts…

Paul’s Caul, typos and all… Holidayfoodisthebestshitever part 1

Holidayfoodisthebestshitever (part 1)

It’s been way too long since I’ve been on a proper holiday… proper holiday? You ask, what is this proper holiday you speak of. Well for me it’s not a real holiday if you’re going somewhere to catch up with heaps of people you already know, it’s the anonymity that I love on a holiday, and of course it the food that you eat, that can make or break your experience. Lack of sex, bad accommodation and being locked in a foreign jail are also things that can effect a holiday, but I still think food is at the top.

As I’m extremely lucky to have a girl that love’s food as much as me (by that I literally mean that she love’s food as much or more then actually loving me J ), our holiday pretty much revolves around our next meal. Lauren (this is what I call her, as it is her name) and I packed our car on Friday morning, well I packed it as she did… to be honest I have no idea what she achieved whilst I loaded bag after bag into my car. But regardless of who did what, I looked at my car that resembled a car that was about to make a trip across Australia, when in fact we where only driving 3 hours to a 5 star resort in Bunker Bay.

But I had a plan and in the words of Baldrick “a VERY cunning plan indeed” my idea was to bring lots of food down with me, as well as my latest buy a brand new Webber Q (a beautiful bit of equipment I’ve named Suzie) so being the anal chef that I am (lets all get our minds out of the gutter) I obviously had to bring my own salt, oil, t-towels, tongs, fish slice, two eskies full of meats and seafood… we’re talking sausages from two different butchers, kranski, Cumberland, black pudding and chorizo from Dubrovnik’s and hot Italian from princi’s, t-bones, lamb chops, scallops, prawns and free range bacon. The concept was to cook a grand breaky in our studio apartment every morning then go visit the local wineries and restaurants for opulent lunches then get back to the serenity of our resort to drink much wine, eat grilled goodness and well the rest isn’t for public consumption.

Good plan, nay great plan but then of course me being me thought I’d better include coffee making into my arrangements, so I packed coffee grinder and cafeteria and foolishly sent Lauren over the road to get coffee. What happened next is one of the worst things to happen on this holiday so far, if I wasn’t such a fair and reasonable man then young Lauren would be walking home. Long story short she bought decaf beans and we didn’t realise till I went to make a coffee, which at the time was very well needed. I know it was a terrible as it sounds, who on earth wants decaf coffee? fkn weirdos that’s who! And I am certainly not one of them.

But this crisis averted we have already managed to eat out 3 times in two days, the first was a nice organic café (liars) in Dunsborough where they did produce tasty food but insisted on lying about the organic nature of their food and the homemadeness of their hollandaise, but they where hippies so my fault I guess for trusting them.

The next meal was a 3 course meal at the Bunker Bay resort, the menu read extremely well and the food was cooked reasonably well, but it was lacking a certain something and although Laurens ‘cauli & blue cheese gnocchi’ was alright it was not suberb and  the same goes for my ‘pork belly with eggplant 3 ways’ could of definitely made some thing rude out of the name 😉 , then mains where ‘venison on a beetroot and barley risotto, brussel sprouts’ and my ‘4day marinaded beef cheeks, truffle mash, baby veg’ now for fuck sakes people and by people I mean chef’s, please just engage your imagination just a little and put on a twist on these magnificent classic’s instead of leaving me feel like I have either just eaten in a tafe restaurant or stepped foot out a a tardis or delorian. Dessert had one saving grace a stunning basil and raspberry parfait served with a choc fondant… which was the polar opposite to the flavourless almond tart with dates that I foolishly ordered. All in all I had a great dinner but nothing special when all the ingredients where there

Then after a 2 hour hike on Saturday morning we walked into a small café called ‘Bunkers’ I had been here many years ago and had heard good things about it since, but I have a sneaky suspicion they have heard good things about them selves and act like they are exceptional, and well they just ain’t… I had a taste plate which read really well (hence me ordering it) but when you think so highly of a blue cheese that you place in by its self on an entree taste plate then at least get it to room temp so people can taste it, but their ‘dates stuffed with ricotta, white anchovy and stewed rhubarb’ was surprisly good, it reads like a god damn train wreck of a dish but it worked (rhubarb most likely didn’t need to be there) and Lauren had the best fish and chips she’d had in ages ‘battered garfish & chips with aioli’… chuck in a couple of poorly made long mac’s and that was Saturday lunch.

It’s now Sunday morning and I’m about to go for a walk whilst Lauren is going for a long horse ride along the beach (sounds awful but she seems to like it) and tonight its going to be t-bones with broccolini, local cheese and a bottle of Hensche Hill Of Grace to drink… good times me thinks J

 

20121021-162004.jpg

20121021-162013.jpg
That’s Suzie-Q and the other pic is Pauly looking good in the pool. You pick which is which… G

My big fat feasting long weekend part 1

Yeah I know it’s been a week since I last gave you a bang up insight into the world of my kitchen, but it was new menu time at the restaurant and, as any head chef* will tell you, new menu time does not offer us much personal space, family time or blog-land time. When you aren’t in the kitchen re-working and tweaking the bits that are doing your head in, you are on the phone to suppliers making sure you can get what you need (legit suppliers of fine food for your menu that is. Not the suppliers of your not even legal methods of stress relief that hang out behind the public toilets at the park on the corner of Hill St… Err, can you please not tell those guys I told you where to find them. And be careful of the leprechaun looking mofo. He says I can have discount if I let him put his hand inside my knickers… I’m not sure how legit that is). I’m not complaining, it just means my snippets of free time are taken from me by beer and late night TV.

But now I return to you my love. To your open arms…

Last weekend was a long weekend up our way and around about in some other places too. It was someone’s birthday and somewhere a small child was born. Wars were fought and lost and won. Venerial diseases were treated and sometimes cured. Also, it was a long weekend that I pretty much ate my way through. If I had stumbled across a calendar with these three days on it in my feasting frenzy, I probably would’ve eaten that too. And the midget who was holding the calendar would’ve fallen prey also… Is that appropriate? Probs not, but I don’t really give an eff because I am clearly a person of questionable something’s. Not sure which word I was meant to put in there though…

Part one
There was a 60th birthday. Actually, I’m quite certain there were a few 60th birthdays. It’s just that one of those 60th birthdays belonged to my mother-in-law (we shall call her Lainsey).

It didn’t seem to be an optional extra for me to cook that day. There were family coming from all over this land, some by horse and cart, others on the back of a hobbit, I heard mutterings that one family may have even come on the back of a large wooden bird. I also heard the mutterings of a hundred hungry men… So I decided I should get my bitch ass into the kitchen and cook them some effing iggs.

With the help of Jennee, Liz and Queenie (it’s gonna kill Jen but Queenie is my new number 1 draft pick for the Coates kitchen all stars), this is what we fed them…

Pork terrine, chicken liver pate, herby labne, croute. That was the entree.

Braised beans with port, dauphinoise potatoes, 6hr lamb shoulder with caper and anchovy salsa, chicken roulade stuffed with good shit, buerre blanc

A good look at the caper and anchovy salsa just because it deserves a moment of it’s own…

This was also the first night the ghost of Midnight Drunkard Barney was seen. It was 2:30am when Jennee was taking Seba to the toilet. She said the apparition appeared from the darkness and offered her a scotch. She politely refused, and moved on.

*may not be applicable to chefs who bring in pre made, pre-packaged shit that any trained monkey (and most people) with a stovetop, could buy at the supermarket and cook at home.

PS. If anyone would like to offer us a sweet and savoury challenge (look back a post or two if you have zero knowledge of what I am speaking about) flick it our way. Rock on!

food IS the best shit ever (and a recipe for rabbit terrine)

Who would argue that food is not the best shit ever?? It’s a non-argument (and I’m sure there is a word out there for that and if I was a little smarter I would put it in there). Even Jesus said that food was tops.

Eating and drinking are high on my list of things I love to do. Cooking is right up there too… maybe even at the top, so I thought i would just let you know what I’ve been cooking, share a recipe, show a few drunken photos of myself… whatever. Who cares? If you don’t like it get onto Facebook, find someone you went to school with and surreptitiously watch their life for a while.

I’ve been housebound for a week now, so I’ve been cooking heaps, and one thing I have discovered is the South American caramel dulce de leche. Easily my wife’s’ new favourite food. It’s a caramel consisting of milk, sugar, vanilla, bicarb and glucose. Thick and unctuous (for lack of a better word) and perfect to spread on the South American short bread know as alfajores. Eat them straight up if you like it crunchy, but I preferred them after they were in the fridge for a few hours to soften a little. There’s a good recipe on sbsfood.com suss it out.

I am a big fan of terrine. Not enough good words can be said about a good terrine. It’s perfect food to enjoy with friends and wine or beer. A sunny afternoon, some crusty baguette and a tumbler of red wine and I could be anywhere. I like to imagine I am in a country French village the most…. hmmm…

Enough of my day dreams though. Back to the point. The terrine.

This week my wife had a hankering for rabbit, and as you will slowly learn I do love it when an ingredient or two are thrown down and I have to come up with a dish, so rabbit terrine it was.

RABBIT TERRINE

1kg pork mince
proscuitto or streaky bacon to wrap
1 rabbit, deboned, meat diced (good luck)
1 brown onion, diced
1 tablespoon each black peppercorns, coriander seed, garlic and dijon mustard
2 bay leaves
2 juniper berries
2 cups red wine
salt

  • combine all except pork and proscuitto to marinate for at least 4hrs
  • remove rabbit, reduce marinade by half, cool, strain, reserving half the onions
  • add cooled marinade, onions and rabbit to pork mince
  • check seasoning. Yeah, taste the mix. Or cook a little nugget if you’re a pussy with raw meat
  • line terrine tin with baking paper and then proscuitto, pack mixture in and wrap.
    Cook at 160C, for 45 minutes-ish
  • cool for at least 4hrs, but it is better eaten the next day or even the day after that.

I also made beer bread. Same as normal bread (put in a warm spot to rise, kneed, all that shite) but using the yeast in the beer to make the bread rise. I did it with stout and it worked a treat. Goes great with the terrine…

So I guess that’s a start.

Is it?