Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Thinking Thai - RIP 27 April 2008

Chef Notes
The creamy consistency of the laksa was just how I imagined and the bite of galangal, ginger, turmeric and lemon grass cut through the coconut cream while the bok choy gave it the required fresh hit. Hot snow peas got the taste buds going but i'm not sure about the fried bean sprouts, maybe they needed the tempura treatment.

Chef Notes
The first time I’ve used green papaya and it didn’t quit live up to expectations – was expecting something a little more sour. The tangy marinade lifted it above it’s disappointingly bland beginnings though. Black coconut and kaffir lime rice is such interesting combination – a good balance to the hot papaya.

Chef Notes
These were the highlight for me. The fresh vegetable filling accented with crunchy peanuts and ginger would have would have worked with a simple soy and sesame oil dipping sauce. The spicy persimmon jam had a great flavour but may have been slightly out of place – might work a little better with Brussel sprouts or something a little less oriental.

Chef Notes
Evidence cardamom seeds can cut through even the richest flavours. Coconut cream and palm sugar made sure this wasn’t mistaken as a standard boarding house ‘baked custard’. The pear sandwich could have stood alone with the sweet currants offset by the roasted walnut flavour and spicy cloves – traditional Thai
? Hmmm…

A meal shared in front of the intellectually stimulating Gladiators on a cold Melbourne night. A world away from the street stalls of Langkawi but hopefully the flavours bridged the gap.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thinking Thai

Layered laksa and bok choy cocktail served with crispy sesame flavoured bean sprouts and hot snow peas.
Green papaya carpaccio marinated in sweet lime, tamarind and chilli and served with black coconut rice infused with kaffir lime.

Steamed rice noodle rolls filled with baby sweet corn, shitake mushrooms, red pepper, snow peas, mixed chilli, garlic, ginger, roasted peanuts and spring onions and served alongside spicy persimmon and mint jam.

Baked coconut and cardamom custard topped with palm sugar and served with a pear sandwich of clove, currant and walnut paste.

Thai food - in my opinion the most versatile - so many influences and flavours makes it easy yet also challenging to put a menu together. Lemongrass, ginger, turmeric and chilli are highlights while persimmon might be a stretch...

How does this menu rate? Are there any takers for the GG experience? If anyone is game for four courses of Thai send me an email globalgobbler@gmail.com. And for those who might be daunted with the one-on-one set-up, bring a friend. See you at the table.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Global Gobbler guest #7 - Bill and Keps (The Brothers Mince)

Name: Bill (creator of the new Global Gobbler logo - champion)
Age: 24
Occupation: Sketching the world - one face at a time and a valuer on the side
Favourite food: Mince - with pasta
Why he deserves the Global Gobbler experience: A fellow blogger bucking the corporate trend - the world needs more of them.

Name: Keps
Age: 22
Occupation: In demand jazz man and up and coming writer.
Favourite food: Mince - with rice
Why he deserves the Global Gobbler experience: The fact that he just got back from 7 months in South America was enough of a reason - i held back the envy well I think...

The Verdict

As a university student of limited finances it is a rare treat to eat out and enjoy a meal that is prepared by a creative and passionate chef, with flavours so delicate and varied that you become emersed in the experience. After this Saturday night, I am convinced that I’ve found the best four course meal-deal in Melbourne. While I came to Joel’s house on the promise of free food, I left with a whole new appreciation for the subtleties of cooking.

Having only recently returned from a holiday in Samoa, Joel shared his experiences of eating simple, plain meals. He has built on the potential that the island’s staple ingredients offer and set the scene for a modern adaptation of Samoan cuisine, complete with the key protagonists: coconut, plantain banana, taro and papaya.

The entrée, papaya with coconut jelly, had an understated tang, owing to the combination of lime juice, mint leaves and soothing texture of the coconut jelly. Served with fresh coconut juice, it was a subtly sweet introduction to the flavours of Samoa.

The fa’alifu fa’i put plantain bananas to interesting use, where they took on a potato-like role in the dish. These bananas were cooked in a spicy, creamy sauce and covered with roasted peanuts, seeds and turmeric. The nuts and seeds compensated for the lack of solid texture, adding a nice amount of chew and injecting a kick of flavour into the dish.

After eating two courses, it was a surprise to then see our main meal brought to the table! The palusamis, little bundles of flavour held together by roasted cavalo nero, combined the sweeter currants and wakame with more savoury ingredients. Taking a bite was best done slowly, to give these splashes of flavour an opportunity to be fully explored. The coconut-roasted taro chips were an interesting addition.

The humble pancake was given a makeover for the dessert. Melted palm sugar, roasted coconut and cocoa coconut butter replaced the ice cream and maple syrup, creating a rich and indulgent conclusion to a spectacular meal.

Meticulous attention to detail, creative presentation and an exciting variety of flavours and colour. Thanks for a very enjoyable meal, Joel.

Dreaming of Samoa - RIP 12 April 2008

In Samoa you can buy young coconuts (not readily available in Melbourne) straight out of the esky for 50 cents – heaven.

Chef Notes
I could live off papaya and lime – such a natural combination. Tried to tart it up with the clean taste of coconut jelly (lessons learnt from my first for into agar-agar when doing Japan were put to use…) and the refreshing flavour of the mint.

Chef Notes
Such a rich combination of starchy bananas, coconut cream and turmeric – the whole thing was lifted by the kaffir lime leaves. The roasted peanuts contrasted the thick creamy texture of the soup and the grated turmeric gave the dish the required kick.

Chef Notes
Palusami Global Gobbler-style…I think it worked. Substituting wakame for taro leaves and adding currants and poppy seeds then wrapping the whole thing in cavalo nero were my touches to a Samoan classic. The taro was a little disappointing. If only I’d done the coconut cream and taro mash to face-off with the crispy taro chips.

Chef Notes
This dish went through a few reincarnations before it made it to the table – but I’m glad I went with the pancakes (fairly popular in Samoa). Cinnamon and banana mixed well and the wholesome spelt flour cut the stodge factor. The cocoa butter made with coconut oil and palm sugar added some decadence but drenching the whole thing in lime juice ensured the Samoan ambience remained (helped by a barmy 14 degree Melbourne night). Coconut roasted in lime juice and palm sugar – I’ll put that down to boredom.

What would my friends in Samoa think of this - to them, any divergence from coconut, taro, onion and banana is quite unnecessary... Malo Samoa!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dreaming of Samoa

Fresh coconut juice shooter to begin.

Red papaya spears marinated in lime juice and served with coconut jelly and a minted papaya foam.

Fa'alifu fa'i: Plantain bananas cooked with onion, turmeric, coriander seeds, kaffir lime leaves, lime and coconut cream and topped with roasted peanut and coriander seed dukkah and freshly grated turmeric.

Palusami: onion, coconut cream, wakame, currants, poppy seeds, black pepper corns and coconut milk wrapped in cavalo nero and served with crispy coconut-roasted taro.

Banana and cinnamon pancakes served with cocoa coconut butter, lime roasted coconut, and freshly grated palm sugar.

After 8 days in Samoa I wasn't short of inspiration. Samoan flavours...coconut, banana, taro, coconut... Tried to liven the food up a little and hopefully I haven't basterdised traditional Samoan cuisine too much. A special thanks to Simolo from the village of Malie for introducing me to Samoan culture and food.

Like the look of this Samoan banquet? Flick me an email globalgobbler@gmail.com with your name, age, favourite food and why you deserve a seat at the table. Gobble up.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Global Gobbler guest #6 - Klara

Name: Klara
Age: 23
Occupation: Globalist and legal eagle
Favourite food: Chocolate – milk not dark
Why she deserves the Global Gobbler experience: Who better to test a Spanish menu than a native. Listening to poorly pronounced Spanish is also a lot easier when accompanied by good food…
The Verdict (roughly translated from Spanish...)
If it had to describe to the supper by Joel with three words I would say original, light and excellent.

Gazpacho to start was excellent, and although the colour was not the red I expected this did not alter the result. Although I do not understand much of gazpacho I believe that the presentation was perfect and the flavour was smooth but intense simultaneously. Perfect like first plate.

The salad was a surprise and the mixture was one that I would have never imagined. Every ingredient played a role and it was so original that I was hooked. I do not like heavy plates and I prefer the variety so this second dish was ideal.

To complete the meal, the last dish was charming. Although it seems to me it is not a word that is not used to describe food, the suitable one to transmit this dish would be pretty. And without repeating myself, the ingredients were combined perfectly and the resulting flavour was a success.

Summarizing, it was an excellent supper made by a boy with so much talent. If he were to open a restaurant I would definitely rate it a ten!

Eating in Spanish - RIP 17 March 2008

Gazpacho: tomatoes, red and yellow bell pepper, Spanish onion, cucumber, garlic, basil, mint, chives, flavoured with orange, red wine vinegar, lemon and olive oil served with walnut and rosemary buckwheat flat bread.

Chef Notes
The colour just wasn’t quite right – too many green herbs and not enough tomato. The orange juice came through just but not sure whether it took away from the sharp onion and cool the cucumber. Flatbread was flat and decidedly dry – good flavour though.

Orange flavoured rocket topped with crispy prosciutto, sliced figs, roasted almonds and mint then topped with manchego cheese and nutmeg

Chef Notes
The mix of sweet figs, crunchy almonds and refreshing mint foiled the rich flavours of the prosciutto and manchego (puts cheddar to shame). The orange flavour worked better this time and combined with the rocket lifted this rich combination of ingredients.

Baked tortilla of kipfler potato, fresh peas, black olives, caramelised red onion, manchego cheese, paprika, lemon rind and basil cooked in a saffron aioli and served with cumquat segments.

Chef Notes
Such a rich dish – melting manchego and creamy saffron aioli. Didn’t want to serve this with any greenery – sometimes you just need to soak up the flavours. This dish tasted completely Spanish to me: the poor mans vegetable, olives, caramelised onion, paprika and bitey cheese crowned by the unique taste of saffron. Tangy cumquats continued the citrus theme.

Frozen orange shell filled with chilled cinnamon, lemon zest and pine nut ricotta and served with basil and honey baked figs.

Chef Notes
The orange shells provided an authentic if slightly tacky presentation. The cinnamon ricotta is a favourite and pine nuts gave it a great texture. While it was a warm night, the grilled figs, still bubbling with honey and basil ensured the dessert wasn’t just ‘a bowl of ice cream’.

I think Spain warrants another menu – maybe a Catalan focus. But I promise less cervezas and better photography.