Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wok + Wine

I'm one of those sorts of people who likes sharing. One of those people who post loads of random links on Facebook. On any given day I'm sharing new restaurant websites, a pair of shoes I desperately need in my life (there are many) or sometimes a promo or warehouse sale that's going on.

For the most part though, nobody really pays much attention. I think everyone's just filtering me out.

However there was this one time. The Agenda Daily had a private sale for a special event in Melbourne called Wok and Wine.

The concept sounded simple and kind of fun.

40 people.

40 bottles of wine.

40 pounds of prawns.

So up to my Facebook wall it went and within the day, Caryn had called and texted me asking what it was about. "Prawns and wine?!" she exclaimed "My two favourite things, let's go!"

And with that we bought our spots for mass prawn murder on the 14th of December and eagerly anticipated the email on the 13th of December that would let us know where the secret location was.

At 7:30pm on the 14th, we therefore found ourselves at St. Ali. Upon arrival we were met with a single table in the centre of the room, lined with newspaper and some banana leaves and weighted down with healthy chunks of bread.

Oh and wine. From Chapel Hill in South Australia. 40 bottles of it. Oh hai!

At 7:45 a very hungry Caryn and I were hopping from foot to foot, quietly grumbling between that two of us that the food should have come out by now! We don't mean to be snarky. We're just hungry!

Peter from Wok and Wine didn't keep us waiting for too much longer, suddenly appearing with the biggest wok I think I have ever seen, pouring our prawns like a river over the banana leaves and then taking a moment to explain the situation.

The concept started in the US in 2008, as a unique networking event, a way for people to bond over food and wine and start interesting conversations. They don't pay for spaces and often pop up in the strangest of places, the second Melbourne event was held in a beauty salon in the city!

Look at all the people checking out the prawns rather than listening to Peter...

There are no chairs so that people can more easily move around and migle, and the table is intentionally made a little too small for everybody, so that people get up close to each other while eating and rubbing shoulders with everyone.

One type of food, one type of wine. We don't have to think, which leaves more brain space for conversation!

And with 90 events in over 10 cities, the formula definitely seems to be working, with some attendees having been to more than one event in different cities!

After a quick briefing on how to enjoy the prawn heads to their full extent….prawn carnage occurred.

I apologize for the photo quality. I'm not gonna pussyfoot around it. I was pretty drunk. Composing pictures when you're struggling to stay upright is a challenge.

Libby was the chef for the night, working hard to keep up with the swift hands of us prawn eaters...Caryn and I stalked her afterwards to get the secret recipe!

No prawn was spared...

45 minutes later, 3 wok full of prawns and Melbourne was officially the most gluttonous city of them all with no other city demolishing the prawns as fast as we do.


It was a really fun night in all, Caryn and I struck up conversations with all sorts of people, even some from the US and New Zealand. The prawns themselves were also absolutely stellar, everyone happily licking their lips and ripping chunks of bread to wipe up the sauce when all the prawns were gone. Finger licking good.

Thanks again to Agenda Daily for helping bring over Wok and Wine and of course Wok and Wine for providing the absolutely delicious prawns.

Be sure to sign up to Wok + Wine for future updates!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! The bloggers picnic and have some cured salmon!

Hey everyone!


I hope you all have a wonderful day, whether you're a big celebrator of the holiday and love that big man in the red suit, or prefer just to have a quiet one in with close friends and family.

Today I'm going to be busy shuttling between Brad's family celebrations and my family's celebrations which means...lots of food for all! I hope all your tummies will be as well fed as mine!

Overtime I've personally grown to enjoy the holiday more as a time to have an excuse to get together with friends and family and share lots of food and laughs. Sure when I was young, I was crazy about the presents and ripped them open with fervour and enthusiasm. It's not so much about that now, but I do love to give and if I can think of something that someone would really like, but maybe not go out of the way to buy themselves, I'm happy to add something under the tree (or 'Christmas Corner' in our case).

In a way, I was a little bit fortunate not to have too many Christmas parties to attend this season, after all there's only so much food one can eat and drink! It sounded like some people were having some very boozy weeks! But I was quite pleased to be invited along to a christmas picnic, with some of my favourite bloggers.

After all, I have now learnt there are two types of picnics that are always worth going to. Picnics with food bloggers…or picnics with gay friends. Dead serious. I went to an Australia day picnic two years ago, and was the only girl in a sea of gay men. Was one of the most delicious picnic's I had ever been on as beautiful cultural dishes, absolutely divine nibbles from the deli and even sweets were brought out!

This Christmas picnic though, was also outstanding, with content 'mmm's' and 'ooh' and 'yuuuum's', going around the table. What was also so nice was as a group, everyone was so intrigued by everyone else's dishes, asking how they were prepared, if recipes were going to be shared and a whole array of other tips and tricks!

So much sharing!

Although the weather threatened to blow all our cups and plates away and potentially pour down on us, it fortunately held out till we actually all finished eating!

We had roast lamb from Agnes, an antipasti plate (with some absolutely delicious sundered tomatoes) and rice paper rolls from Kat, an array of paleo inspired salads and cauliflower rice (which was deceptively simple and totally awesome) from I-Hua, a lovingly garlicky hummus and cheesy potatoes from Bianca, beautifully refreshing fruit jellies from Bryan, and a passionfruit and mango cheesecake from Thanh. Amongst other things. Too much food, too little time to take pictures. Must eat. All of it.

Oh and a trifle from Adrian. Not just a trifle though. A TRIFLE.

I-Hua and I kept buzzing over the trifle until everyone had finished their mains. She kept trying to fool me into thinking I was full so she could have my share! Aghast!

My contribution was one kilo of cured salmon, which to my surprise was completely eaten up and some chocolate banana bread, which I was quite pleased with, considering I haven't baked anything in ages!

And in the spirit of sharing, here's my 'instructions' (I don't know if I can really call it a recipe!) on how to make cured salmon. Which is surprisingly easier than you think. You just need to make sure you start preparing the fish a few days in advance, before you plan to eat it! It really is a great little appetiser to a dinner party, being a family favourite, or as I have shown, for taking out to a picnic!

And because I didn't take pictures of the process, I've decided to draw some crappy pictures for you guys, hope you guys get to try it out sometime! Next time maybe I'll do the recipe for the chocolate banana bread…with actual photos!


Fillet of salmon, no skin, no bones etc. etc.

I bought mine from Tassals salmon shop in Kew (just down the road from me!), without the skin. My parents sometimes like to buy the fillet with the skin (which is cheaper) and use the skin to make crispy salmon skin to have on top or rice…or as a snack later. My piece was 1.1kgs, which fed about 15 people fairly comfortably, my parents often get a 1.4kg fillet though.



Cucumber (for making pretty later)

For dressing:

Soy sauce

Sesame oil



Day 1.

Get a big container that can preferably fit your whole fillet inside. If not you can cut your fish in two and layer them on top of each other.

Roughly cover the base of the container in sugar. Sweet sweet sugar. I reckon I probably used about a 3/4 cup? Maybe close to a cup even. Depends how sweet you like it I guess!

Pick up your fillet and dip the sides of it into the sugar so that they are lightly coated.

Rub the rest of the fish with the sugar, all over, and then cover and leave it for around 24 hours in the fridge.

Day 2.

You should find liquid in the bottom of the container now. Drain this out. No need to clean the container.

Salt your fish the same way you did with the sugar. Dip the sides, then rub the rest.

Leave in your fridge again for 24 hours or so.

Day 3 or 4.

Prepare your cucumber!

Mum likes to make thin ribbons by taking a peeler and just running it down the length of the cucumber.

Once ribboned, put in a sieve over a bowl with a few pinches of sugar lightly mixed through and let it drip for about half an hour.

In the mean time, take your fish out of the container and rub it down with a kitchen towel to get rid of as much salt as you can. If you have trouble getting rid of all the salt as I did, or you're finding your fish tastes too salty, get a clean kitchen cloth, wet it and then use that to rub it.

Get a super sharp knife and cut into thin slices. My parents like it super thin, I like it with a little more width. Personal preferences!

To serve, squeeze the cucumber so all the juices are out then put on a plate. Then it's up to you to decorate really, some personal suggestions would be to use the cucumber as a 'bed' and put the salmon on top as I have in the pictures. The salmon can be rolled up to look like little rosettes which are quite cute. I have also put the cucumber in the middle of a plate and put all the salmon around it.

To dress, mix a bit of sesame oil, a bit of soy sauce and some wasabi in a small bowl, then drizzle over salmon.

Shower with sesame seeds as you see fit.

Proceed to omnomnoms.

Thanks again to everyone at the picnic for a wonderful meal and for being such awesome company. Looking forward to the next one!

And again


Friday, December 23, 2011

The Brix Cafe and Bristot

A few of my favourite things.

Rainy overcast days (but not windy days!).

Black pudding.

Black tea. No milk.

Going out for breakfast.

Spending time with Brad.

And I got all of this one lovely morning at The Brix.

After not being able to find Brix the weekend before, as it is very, very neatly tucked into the side of a building running perpendicular to Brunswick Street, I was quite promptly reprimanded by Essjay on twitter. I was glad she did despair at me though, as I really had a lovely breakfast with Brad the weekend after, when I decided I really would find it!

We were really both quite surprised how quiet it was on a Saturday morning, which suited us though. It's really only over meals when we go out, as I gulp down my French breakfast tea, which comes in the most adorable tea set, and Brad sips on his latte, that we get the opportunity to contemplate our lives, the world and what the future holds. Yes I had tea. No chai latte at Brix!

It's funny with Brad and I, as we're so alike, yet so unlike. I'm the yappy one, he's a little more quiet and contemplative. I love taking and being in photos, he hates posing. He's always up for a good intellectual debate, I'd much rather avoid any form of confrontation no matter how mild. Yet we can both lean back in our chairs and enjoy watching the rain gently navigate it's way down the windows. And nerd out over video games together.

I can only guess that Brad knew what I was going to order the second we got the breakfast menus. The breakfast menu is short, but if not for the option I had, I would have had trouble picking what I would want to have as everything sounded so delicious!

But when I see "Black pudding: apple, radish, duck egg" on the menu, I just know there's no two ways about it.

It's very much like Ora's black pudding offering, except that the black pudding at Brix appears less fatty and is much milder in the metallic blood taste. It was also more charred around the outside, which provided a slightly crisp outside and an absolutely lush and meaty inside. It also had a lovely kick of warmth to it, which I certainly savoured. Brad waited patiently as I had my 'moment' with my black pudding. He knows I need my space at certain times.

And my gosh, the bread! The perfectly buttery, perfectly toasted, kinda flaky bread! Words cannot describe, it reminded me a lot of the brioche I had back in Paris!

Brad needing something a little more substantial went for the pork cassoulet with a baked egg, persillade and rye bread. It was exactly what he needed.

With an oozy egg sitting in the middle, it was a deliciously rich dish. The beans in the cassoulet had absolutely absorbed all the porky sausage flavour, which basically equals: super yum. Brad quite enjoyed wiping up what was left with his bread.

After breakfast, I could have sat there all day by the window. Brix is the sort of place that looks really neat and slick, but there's always something catching your eye, whether it be the draped roped (which I thought kind of looked like rib cages), or the beautifully painted, but rather somber looking painting on the wall. I think the decorations, the mismatched walls, all sort of make me feel like I'm at home.

And so, with one visit, The Brix is easily set to be added to my list of favourite things. Hang tight for a photobomb of a post, when I recount what I had at the $80 fixed price, 5 course menu a few weeks later….

What are some of your favourite things? :)

The Brix Cafe & Bristot

Rear 412 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy, VIC 3065

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