Month: January 2012

Greek Sausages

I’m sitting in a café in Bondi watching all the hunky blokes go by, when I suddenly start thinking about Greek sausages. 

On a recent Maeve O’Meara Greek Gourmet Safari in Marrickville, Sydney, the highlight for me was a visit to a butcher where we tasted the world’s best sausages.  Yes, honestly; the best I’ve ever had in my life. 

Greek God No 1 brought out a tray of cooked sausages for us to sample; a lemon is sliced and the juice drizzled over them.  Sausages and lemon.  Genius.

These are not insipid supermarket snags which need drowning in tomato sauce to give them some flavour.  These are kick-ass sausages with an oopmh all their own. After one bite of meaty, garlicky, deliciousness – the richness perfectly cut by the lemon juice – we all know we’re onto something special and the whole tray quickly disappears down the greedy gullets of a crowd of people already stuffed full of wondrous Greek patisseries. 

With greasy fingers and chins we stand there expectantly, hoping for more.  Instead, Greek God No 2 hauls out an enormous tray of raw sausage links and we fall on them and buy the lot.  It isn’t quite as desperate a scramble as the first day of the Myer New Year Sale but I only manage to get my paws on a kilo of them.  The group buy everything.  Not a sausage left. 

News of a good sausage spreads quickly and on my next trip to Canberra I take 6 kilos to sausage-starved friends.  I usually fly down but I thought that the garlicky pong might cause offence, especially on one of the 19 seater planes; never mind trying to get them through the x-ray machine (I once tried to take a large haggis to France via Heathrow and it caused a bit of a  panic in the X-ray queue). 

Instead, even with the snags in an insulated box, they still stink the car out.  But in the big scheme of things, it’s a tiny price to pay for the pleasure of a good sausage. 

Maeve’s tours are great – even if you’re an experienced cook with an advanced case of culinary ennui, this will get out of your comfort zone and re-awaken your zest for exploring. 

Illawarra Meats, 368 Illawarra Rd, Marrickville – 9558 5473 (cash only); Saturday close at 1pm.

Advertisements

Life Lesson No.1 (of a very long list)

Bitter  experience has taught me one thing:  Don’t Cook Anything for Work Events.  Ever.  Getting home late after a full day at work does not make for a happy and relaxed evening.

Being pathetically susceptible to flattery though, I was talked into making chocolate mousse (plus raspberry coulis) for 20 people for a work thing.

7pm:   get ingredients on the way home.  The bus is full, I’m knackered and weighed down with plastic bags that are starting to shred.  First twinges of resentment appear.

8pm:  start making quintuple quantities of the mousse.  The kilo of chocolate won’t melt. Because it’s really good chocolate, it doesn’t have anything in it to melt; it’s solid. I stare at it hopefully for 30 minutes (a well known cooking technique) but it clearly isn’t getting any better; it’s still a near-solid mass.   Panicking slightly, a handmixer seems just the thing to sort it all out but only succeeds in getting blobs of chocolate in my hair and all over the kitchen.

I call Neil in and demonstrate how the handmixer’s not helping and he gets a bit cross at the mess.

I separate the eggs but two are off (this NEVER happens to me) and there are none left.

Neil recognises the signs of imminent nervous breakdown due to culinary overload.   In his calm and thoughtful way, he suggests putting some milk in the chocolate to help break it down.  This works.  He heads out into the night to find more eggs.

The chocolate melts, new eggs arrive and finally, it’s full steam ahead.

9.30pm:   All done. It dawns on me that I can’t carry this huge bucket of chocolate mousse in to work on the bus in the morning.

10pm:  Neil drives me into the city and I abandon the wretched thing in the office fridge.  I’m exhausted.  Neil’s not too chuffed either.

Next day I’m in early to check on the mousse (am obsessed by this point). I use a tin of that aerosol plastic cream muck and decorate the top. After 5 minutes it loses its shape and turns the top of my precious mousse into white soup.

But ultimately, despite not looking crash hot, everyone loves it and the bowl is licked clean.  The raspberry coulis was a less than sparkling success though – a colleague asking “what’s that red stuff – tomato sauce?”

Peasant.

Thank you Neil for your (so far) limitless patience.  I won’t do it again.

Parramatta Cycle

A beautiful day so we were up early to cycle to Parramatta for breakfast – 40km round trip.  You can now get most of the way on bike path and don’t have to stop and lug your bike over this pipeline any  more:

Some of the path’s been upgraded to a metal walkway with stop-off points where you can wander through the mangroves to the river and sit and look at the view.

Parramatta actually had some cafes open on a bank holiday (it always seems to be shut when we’re there and we end up at McDonalds).  Full of breakfast we started back.  By the time we got to the bridge at Meadowbank

my sense of humour was beginning to desert me due to the day warming up, general knackered-ness and lack of water (you’d think I’d learn – duh).

Neil pointed out that it’s a long time since I’ve cycled 40km – I hadn’t realised how much fitness I’ve lost.

Next post had better be about anti-sloth plans for 2012 🙂

Hunter Valley Road Trip

Kathryn, Daina and I went up to the Hunter Valley on Thursday to stalk our prey – cheese, wine, olives and good food.  Talking too much (really???), we drove well past the turn-off for the  Hunter and were heading for Darwin.

Just a little bit lost

A u-turn and some backtracking took us to Tempus Two.  I don’t usually buy their stuff but it was the first one we got to, so out of the car and into the tasting room.

Kathryn & Daina - Tempus Two

Nothing wonderful on the wine front so we headed into the huge cheese/deli area – but it was so crowded we didn’t stop.  Instead we had lunch on site at Goldfish.  Wonderful food – betel leaves stuffed with pork belly in an asian dressing, whitebait with aioli, gratin dauphinois and hot dried chilli beef. A bit of Atlantic/Pacific fusion.

Whitebait and dried chilli beef

We then headed off to Tintilla.  It was all good – I ended up with some  chardonnay, the Rosalind pink fizz, the 2007 reserve shiraz and the 2004 Justine merlot.  The winery itself is a beautiful old house right beside the vines.

Daina suggested Pigg’s Peake as the next stop so in we trooped.

Piggs Peake Pig

I liked a lot of what we tasted here but only bought the 2011 Silk Purse verdelho – Neil and I are supposed to be ‘not drinking’ and I had already bought half a case at Tintilla.

Piggs Peake vines

Next was cheese at Binorrie Dairy for their marinated goat’s cheese and ashed chevre (goat’s cheese added to scrambled eggs along with some pesto is my favourite weekend breakfast).

Last stop of the day was Peppers Creek Winery for coffee and cake.

Daina had a creme brulee; Kathryn and I were going to share a chocolate cheesecake but it was so good that I ordered my own (I’m a reluctant and resentful sharer anyway).

Afternoon tea

We didn’t get to all the wineries we wanted to but we’ll do more next time.  

A really excellent day – thanks to Kathryn for doing all the driving and to Daina for insights into her Lithuanian heritage, including literal  translations of common Lithuanian sayings.  Possibly a bit too literal 🙂