Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Creatures from the Deep... or not, Yabbies!

Growing up in Sydney I never had anything to do with yabbies. Country kids seem to all have some memory of fishing for yabbies, usually involving some sort of meat on a stick/ line and often a disappointing wait for nothing. And this is what I had last year when my husband tried to show me what yabbying was like at his parents property and we got a big fat NOTHING.
Fast forward a year and the west of Victoria did not get any of that rain that Melbourne was enjoying last month, that filled our water tank plus some. It is so dry west of Geelong in this state, we drove past many empty dams, and big fields of brown. All I can say it that is is disappointing and very depressing (even more so for those who live out that way).
On Easter Saturday, I was having a lounge around at my in laws when my mother-in-law told me to grab some wellies and head down to the (empty) dam. Father-in-law had a couple of buckets full of yabbies!
We got two monster yabbies and many little ones (and left many behind- hopefully they dig their way into the mud and wait for the rains).
We soaked them in buckets of fresh water for half a day and then plunged them in boiling water for under a minute. Eaten unadorned, they were very tasty. Not sure I liked the plunging them into their deaths bit but sometimes I guess we need to face the fact we really do eat (once) living creatures. Some people find their taste a bit muddy (hence the need to soak them in fresh water first), but I find it very sweet and juicy. It is rather strange that yabbies have never really been taken seriously as a commercial food stock in this country, when i think they are on par with sea cray and similar. Oh well, all the more for me!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Collingwood Childrens Farm Cafe

We have gone to the Abbotsford convent precinct quite a few times and have ridden around the Yarra river near the children's farm but I have never actually gone in or eaten there.

A couple of weekends ago we were in the neighbourhood and so we strolled down to check out how the community gardens were doing (quite well! better than ours by the looks of things), when we noticed the cafe. It seemed busy and not having had breakfast yet (and it being 12:30pm) we decided to stop in for that favourite Melbourne meal, 'Brunch'. I have to admit, since discovering how to poach our own eggs, we have not been going out for breakfast very much on weekends, but this was very enjoyable.

The seating consists of some big wooden tables, some smaller tables, and some logs scattered throughout the farm (some quite close to the chickens). Ordering is done at the coffee bar and the menu consists of the usual brunchy items like eggs, pancakes and some other items like salads and a plough mans platter. Being big egg fiends we focused on the egg menu. We decided on some slowly baked beans with a poached egg on top and some oven roasted mushrooms with balsamic, thyme, feta, cherry tomatoes, basil, and a poached egg on top. These were served with some lovely toasted and buttered sourdough which we admired (and compared to Nathans latest sourdough attempts). The winning dish was the mushroom dish (which we then tried to replicate the next day, though i think our feta let us down a bit, see photo at end). The coffees were brilliant and the setting just lovely looking out over the paddocks and the free ranging chickens (and one must admit children running around chasing the geese as they do. Everyone has to learn that geese are evil and will steal your food as soon as look at you. Or is that just me and an unfortunate ice cream misadventure when I was 8?). It is difficult to remember you are actually only about 7km from the Melbourne CBD sitting there on a sunny Saturday. Highly recommended.

Sake and Grill Maedaya, Richmond

The first time we tried getting into Maedaya we had just done a yoga class and were starving, and the place was packed, with a half hour wait. So we walked on to the Vegetarian Nirvana down the road instead(which is always a good meal).
Next time lucky it was a Wednesday night and we got bar seats right in front of the grill. Action view!
Maedaya does 'izakaya' rather than the more common Melbourne Japanese model of sushi/ sashimi and noodles/ rice. This means most dishes are cooked on a charcoal grill and consists of marinaded meats and vegetables. Generally you order per skewer. The menu is a big laminated photo type menu (not unlike the TGI Friday menu!) which is useful for seeing what you are getting (but I could not help wondering if this means that this place is similar to TGIF for authentic Japanese?)
To begin with they placed a selection of dipping sauces on the table with some flat bread and told us to taste each one and if we particularly like one we could get it in a larger size. The wasabi mayonnaise was my favourite and though I do not remember the other 4 well, we found that the meats were generally well marinated as it was and did not really need more sauce.
From memory (sorry no photos) we ordered some edamane to start and a wakame and rocket salad (which had just the right chilli kick for me and was really tasty). These came from a 'special tapas' menu that the waitress gave us as a little paper specials menu (and then took away which was a bit annoying as i wanted to try more of this stuff).
We then had pork belly skewers which were naughty but tasty, asparagus rolled with pork belly (similar to pancetta rolled asparagus), marinated tofu skewers, shitake mushrooms, eggplant with miso and soft shell crab (not done on the grill - was deep fried). We also got some rice ($2 each). The cost of each item was between $2-4 with the crab being $6 (my memory might not be super accurate here). What I do know is that the entire meal with some green tea cost about $40 (no Sake for us tonight on a school night, though the list was impressive).
Overall I enjoyed dining here. The dining room fit out is interesting, with dark timbers and some random ropes hanging down one wall. The extraction system over the charcoal is quite impressive as at no point did we feel smokey. Sitting at the bar meant we got food straight from the chef as he cooked it which was nice. There were a few blips with the service and the rice came out a bit slowly but in general it was a really pleasant meal. Just a shame that it is usually so crowded or I would go there more! There is more to the menu than we tried, including some noodle dishes and some more 'main meal' style dishes but I think the grill is the way to go here.
Can someone please explain to me why blogger wont let me have spaces between each paragraph? It is very frustrating!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Announcing the arrival of our first born pumpkin!

Born 4th april
weight 7.5kg
variety unknown (Diggers variety heirloom seed pack)

So, my qustion to you is... what do I do with it?! It is too big for much other than soup i am thinking...

And for pumpkin birthing pros - do i have to age it or harden it or something before i can eat it/ store it?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I did a bad bad thing...

Tinned corn. red onion, capsicum. a little cheese. red wine vinegar and a dollop of yoghurt.

This was my dinner after a game of netball last night. I had been craving TINNED corn for a little while. it has to be tinned, not frozen, not fresh.

This, after I grew and harvested the sweetest corn I have ever eaten in my life this year. What is wrong with me?

I think the changing of the seasons is doing strange things to my eating habbits. I am craving potatoes, meat pies (?) and really stodgy, dodgy, bad for me food. I just want it to stop so I can just eat soups and vegies from the garden.

what are you craving at the moment that you shouldn't be?