Friday, May 30, 2008

Global Gobbler guest #11 - Janne

Name: Janne
Age: 23
Occupation: Student of the arts
Favourite food: Chocolate and coffee.
Why she deserves the Global Gobbler experience: I have travelled from Canada and I like trying new things.

The Verdict

I was not ready for four courses and the first dish was too many flavours I think to start with. I did like the presentation of the lettuce parcels and slice of apple. Maybe it would have worked better with a few less flavours. Sometimes less is more.

The second dish was a lot better and I think and was beautifully presented. Even if the pumpkin filled my plate! The pumpkin was very sweet and soft and I liked the herb (I can’t remember its name?) I don’t think I have tasted fennel before but it was very good with lots of lemon juice.

The red pepper soup was very tasty. I thought it was tomato to start with but the flavour was very strong and sweet. The salty bean bread was good as well. I think to improve this dish maybe you could add some sour cream or cheese and more herbs. The presentation was great again and perfect for the cold temperature.

I have never tasted truffles like this before and Joel assured me that they were good for you – I find this hard to believe! The cocoa coating made me think they were chocolate truffles but once I bit into one I could taste the crunchy pecans and maple syrup. I liked the wine cherries as well and felt like licking the plate.

I am glad I came to try Joel’s food and think that if he ever opens a restaurant I will have to visit. Good luck with this experiment!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Canada - A Mouthful of Maple - RIP 24 May 2008

Chef Notes
Was Romaine too bitter? It might have been without the apple and raisins. A combination which definitely challenged the palate with pungent mustard and sweet fresh basil. Textures worked well thanks to the crunchy walnuts and creamy avocado.

Chef Notes
I was looking forward to both making and tasting this. Slow cooking the pumpkin over 2 hours with the regular baste of maple marinade created the sweetest of flavours while the sage added some herbal subtlety. The fennel coleslaw was a continuation of the maple/pumpkin theme and added a fresh and sour crunch to the dish.

Chef Notes
The roasted flavour of the soup was incredibly rich but perhaps needed tomato to really complete it. Cannelini bread worked as a visual but the softness of the cannelini beans was lost during the cooking transformation and ended up a little too salty and dry. Caraway seeds were the right flavour though.

Chef Notes
My favourite of the evening. The buttery maple flavour of the truffles lifted by creamy pecans was decadent and completely Canadian. Shiraz cherries gave the dish some juice and the sour yogurt flavour was a perfect foil for the diverse flavours of sweet.

My research into Canadian cuisine was not extensive – does it show?! I loved working with these flavours though especially as the days get colder. A review which is set to once again expose my lack of portion control – “It is a whole plate of pumpkin!”

Monday, May 26, 2008

Canada - A Mouthful of Maple

Romaine lettuce parcels filled with coconut sautéed red cabbage, grated red delicious apple, crushed walnuts, seeded mustard, avocado, fresh basil and raisins and spiced with cinnamon.

Butternut pumpkin basted in sage, maple syrup and olive oil and served with a coleslaw of shredded fennel, olive oil, lemon juice and maple roasted pumpkin seeds.

Sweet red capsicum, brown onion and oregano soup served in flasks to be poured over a cannelini bean, caraway seed and rosemary flat bread and garnished with fresh flat leaf parsley.

Pecan, sage and maple truffles with a roasted pecan centre rolled in a mix of nutmeg, cloves cinnamon and cocoa and resting atop lemon zest then served with minted red wine cherries and natural yogurt topped with micro sage.

A menu which will hopefully be impossible to confuse with the cuisine arising from neighbours to the south. Canada - a menu for the winter with the warming flavours of pumpkin, pecans and sage with the unique addition of maple syrup. A seat at the table (indoors now!) beckons. Email for details. O Canada...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Global Gobbler guest #10 - Maria-Christina

Name: Maria-Christina
Age: 51
Occupation: Linguist, thinker, writer and mother
Favourite food: Olives, extra virgin olive oil, bread and garlic - I could live on this!
Why she deserves the Global Gobbler experience: What better way to reward this mother on the second Sunday in May.

The Verdict

Imagine...May late afternoon....beachside....palm trees and large mature cypresses,,,a breeze blowing up from the sedately cold St. Kilda beach....sounds of traffic...a taxi ride with four large bags and assorted boxes…sitting in a park on a warm rug…no plastic or take-away food indeed…a picnic it is, only in location.

The entree of sharp pomegranate seeds layered below spicy almonds, honey cured olives all tossed in Nigella seeds and separated by a lemon slice presented in a beautiful glass. Served with a sparkling Shiraz for the occasion.

The tangy taste of the almonds, olives and seeds were delicious and combined with the pomegranate seeds made for a luscious flavour and a feast for the eyes. Being a small eater this was just about a whole meal for me! But I loved it! Particularly knowing that these olives were home-cured - they were the best - juicy and fragrant - and I would gladly buy such olives any day!

The next course...buckwheat flat bread and goats cheese, pistachio, figs with fresh tomato and basil. This was delicious....the combination of goats cheese and pistachio worked really well....and added to that some figs, it was a true palate pleaser. The buckwheat bread was very tasty...but a little too heavy given this mother's small appetite. The recipe for the muddled goats cheese please!

The main course was a lightly tossed salad with crunchy truffled potatoes with juicy roasted sweet corn, roasted hazelnuts and perfectly cooked asparagus all blended with a gentle olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing. This is the food I would like to eat all the time.

The dessert...a light almost cloud like rhubarb crème oozing tangy rhubarb flavour over a sweet banana and carrot bread made with pine nuts, juicy raisins and a subtle blend of warming spices. The bread tasted of an Oriental bazaar...perhaps cooked in the time of Marco Polo…

Each dish was memorable, delicious and healthy. One point....the feast would easily have fed more people! I will not forget this afternoon as it slowly darkened and the gleam of the beach dimmed.

Gracias hijo!

A Gourmand's Picnic - RIP 11 May 2008

Can you hear the crunch of the pomegranate seed? Taste the sweet muddled goats cheese? Smell the pungent truffled potatoes? Or marvel at the pillows of rhubarb creme?

I hope so. Photos from A Gourmand's Picnic were taken, edited and then lost care of a faulty usb.

Hopefully the review provides adequate colour and flavour.

The highlights for me:
  • A olive success and another winning combination care of the amazingly adaptable Nigella seed;
  • Rich creamy goat cheese offset with sweet fig and crunchy pistachio and a wholesome flatbread;
  • Truffled potatoes - what a flavour with a salty hit of capers. Thankfully balanced with a fresh salad highlighted by roasted sweet cornm hazelnuts and mint; and
  • The rhubarb creme - another hit stand-alone dessert. Banana and carrot bread - moist, spicy, sweet and nutty.

A Gourmand's Picnic required a boot-load of cutlery and serving dishes, a mountain of tupperware and plenty of patience but was definitely worth it. Perhaps the first of many offsite GG meals...perhaps once the thermometer rises above 20C...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Gourmand's Picnic

Combination of home-cured split olives in lemon and rosemary flavoured olive oil, almonds roasted in Nigella seeds and salt, shaved lemon, mint and pomegranate seeds.

Goats cheese muddled with figs, thyme and cracked pepper and coated in a crushed pistachios and thyme then served on home made walnut and poppy seed buckwheat flatbread rubbed with tomato, basil and olive oil.

Twice roasted kipfler potatoes tossed with truffle oil and chives and served with a salad of asparagus, grilled sweet corn, roasted hazelnuts, red onion, avocado, rocket, mint and dressed with red wine vinaigrette.

Banana, carrot and pine nut slice spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and and served with creamed rhubarb mascaporne and lemon zest.

A menu for the senses...too broad for just one country...breaking down cultural barriers with food.
A invite has already been issued for this menu but don't despair - a trip to the land of the maple leaf is on the way. Remember, a seat at the table is always on offer - for reservations.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Global Gobbler guest #9 - Cathy

Name: Cathy
Age: 25
Occupation: Full-time traveller, part-time marketer
Favourite food: Japanese – simple, cheap and thankfully with a distinct lack of MSG.
Why she deserves the Global Gobbler experience: Being a bit of a foodie and new to Melbourne I may as well start at the top of the culinary chain!

The Verdict

Entrée – there was a nice balance between all the ingredients. The grapes soaked in balsamic vinegar were not too tart or acidic, and it complemented well with the feta cheese and roasted walnuts. My suggestion would be to half the portion as it was perhaps a little rich for an entrée.

Side – This was a fantastic ‘giant ravioli’! The filling was delicious and left me wanting more, but only declined because I knew that if I stuffed myself early, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the main and dessert. I loved the way the roasted tomatoes were prepared. When I had cut into them, the fragrance of the rosemary made it really alluring. A minor tweak would be to have a slightly thinner pastry and perhaps a drizzle of premium olive oil if the chef wanted to heighten the flavour a little more.

Main – The presentation was colourful and an inventive take on the humble pizza. The roasted veggies layered over the polenta were just perfectly prepared. For the second time in the evening, I was left wanting a little more, but sadly felt quite full. The melted bocconcini had hardened by the time it reached the table, but that did not take the attention away from the other ingredients.

Dessert – Really enjoyed the hazelnut flavoured cake. The portion that was soaked in coffee was quite subtle, and would have preferred a bit more flavour. Everything else was wonderful.

Overall, I had a fantastic evening as the host is warm and friendly. He has a wonderful journey ahead of him because of his passion for food and his eagerness to perfect his meals.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Italian Job - RIP 3 May 2008

Chef Notes
Creamy feta, sweet grapes, sour balsamic and crunchy walnuts with a fresh hit of mint – despite the ambitious mix I think it worked. Portion size was an issue even for me! Was it a small plate or a big serving…

Chef Notes
Man-sized ravioli although could have done with a softer touch on the pastry – I really need to upgrade my rolling pin from the bottle of plonk… The pesto ricotta had the strongest and flavour and cut through the pastry. I loved the visual of the shafted tomatoes.

Chef Notes
The polenta base just wasn’t crispy enough for this to be classified a real pizza. Topping worked well with the salty caper tapenade but inexperience with bocconcini showed up in the lapse between ‘out of the oven’ to the ‘into the mouth’ phase.

Chef Notes
Where was the coffee? I think the cake needed a few hours of soaking in espresso to really lift to the next level. The combination of hazelnuts, coffee and strawberries seem naturally affiliated though and a little refinement could see this dessert really sing.

Never have I eaten so much dairy in a meal - my bones are happy. Credit to all those cows out there. Menus on the way…a Gourmands picnic….Canada…..the Carribean…. Stay Global. Keep Gobbling.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Italian Job

Danish feta coated in roasted walnuts and dressed with balsamic marinated black grapes and minted honey.

Oversized ravioli filled with oregano and basil pesto flavoured ricotta topped with parmesan and olive oil and served with rosemary shafted tomatoes dusted in paprika.

Polenta pizza base of roasted pepitas, Bulgarian feta and oregano topped with a caper, olive and ginger tapenade, baby spinach, red onion, roasted red pepper, fresh basil and bocconcini the served withcracked pepper and sea salt.

Twin slices of ground hazelnut, cinnamon and coffee cake soaked in espresso with 1) topped with mascarpone and a split of lemon zest and grated dark chocolate and 2) topped with a hazelnut, coffee and honey crust and grilled then served with gashed strawberries and a hiding sprig of mint.

Italy...sweet basil, cheese, ripe tomatoes, cheese, coffee, cheese. Obviously not a menu for any lactose intolerants... An Italian menu with the seal of approval from both Silvio and the Cosa Nostra. Got a craving for an Italian feast? Email me: for an invite. Buona salute!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Global Gobbler guest #8 - Aimee and Lauren

Name: Aimee
Age: 23
Occupation: Marketing manager and official Jagermiester taster
Favourite food: Silverbeet, I mean spinach, or maybe silverbeet…?
Why she deserves the Global Gobbler experience: I need some evidence to back up my nightly claims about Joel’s WEIRD food!

Name: Lauren
Age: 23
Occupation: Marketing manager and and barrista stalker
Favourite food: Pop corn - Aimee-style
Why she deserves the Global Gobbler experience: Surely my awesome taste in movies deserves a free meal.

A review from my two Kiwi friends is on the way - so I am told...

Some highligths from the evening:

  • An opening statement from Aimee that she isn't that into 'spicy food' - hard to marry with Thai cuisine...
  • A chilli in an eye incident - always funny unless you're the person suffering
  • A classy ambience created by the background viewing...Gladiators...

The Verdict

Aimee: Considering my mouth is pretty much a hater of anything with a hot spice to it, one couldn’t help but worry with the first dish having a raw red pepper as garnish on the top. More worrying than this, was the fact that a fellow hung-over passer-by had decided to handle the chilli prior to rubbing his bloodshot eyes, the screams of pain we're errmmm encouraging on tasting the dish. However I was pleasantly surprised with the mild yet tasty combination of flavours which complimented each other nicely. Fantastic way to start this 4 course meal!

Lauren: as a lover of hot food I ate my chillies and really enjoyed them. The laska cocktail was really nice and may I add beautifully presented.

The next course looked very interesting as the combination of purple rice textured middle, garnished with fresh papaya around the edges. The centre was quite nice, very mild and plain tho, which went along nicely with the fruit. This actually appeared to be more like a dessert at first, but after sampling was indeed savoury and very filling, quite unique.

Aimee: Already full by this state, but very keen to sample as always, the rice paper rolls came out. This would have to be my favourite. The preparation for this was obvious and definitely worthwhile. Although not entirely sure at the time exactly what the combination of many colours and flavours was within, they were downed in no time. Delicious!!

Lauren: A lot of work had gone into the rice paper rolls. You could see the amount of time and the vast number of ingredients that went in. And they were extremely good - and you could also tell very good for you. A nice light meal with a really authentic Thai taste.

Lauren: I’m not usually a dessert eater and was rather full by the time this came out but this was surprisingly my favourite. To have a hot desert brought out with such a good combo of spices and currents was really delicious. 10/10 for me on that one - really good coming from a girl who doesn’t have a massive sweet tooth.

Overall a delicious and very unique combination of foods presented beautifully, well done JOEL, and thanks again for opening our eyes past the standard frozen veg mix, pasta snacks and silver beat that would usually fill our tummies!