Saturday, 31 March 2007

hraimeh - spicy libyan fish

This was a very easy recipe to make, if you ignored the instructions and just used them as a guide. For instance, the measurements are very strange “3/8 cup + 1 tablespoon water” and I found the cooking time for both the sauce and the tuna to be too long.

Just cook the sauce until the flavours meld and it thickens a little, then add the fish and watch it carefully. Tuna is very easily dried out so only cook it a minute or two on each side or you’ll end up with something very unappetising.

The cumin and caraway really added the North African flavour to this dish and the herbs finished it off nicely. I must admit I added a touch of harissa to the sauce as well, just to make sure it really was spicy.

This is another recipe I’ve cooked from The Jewish Kitchen by Clarissa Hyman. It’s a great book because it covers the diaspora and therefore has food from all over the world.

I don’t imagine this is specifically a Jewish recipe though, as many Libyans would make something similar.

This dish is pareve, so it’s a great, neutral recipe to have in one’s repertoire.

Hraimeh – Spicy Libyan Fish
Recipe from The Jewish Kitchen by Clarissa Hyman. Serves 4.
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/8 cup + 1 tablespoon water
Juice of 1 lemon
4-5 tablespoons tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground caraway seeds
1-2 teaspoons red chilli (seeded/chopped) or hot & sweet paprika
4 tuna steaks
Fresh coriander and parsley, chopped finely
1. Mix oil, water, lemon juice, paste, garlic, salt, spices.
2. Pour into wide shallow pan and simmer 10 minutes.
3. Add fish and coat with sauce. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes.
4. Top with fresh herbs and serve with lemon wedges.

This dish tasted pretty damn good and I imagine it could work just as easily with lamb or beef (these wouldn't be pareve) or even eggs as a vegetarian option.

The herbs I used, alongside mint, are very common in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. I have covered the properties of coriander before (and I plan to do parsley in the future), so instead I might just leave this short and sweet.

But if you want to read about some inventive food, check out my review of Interlude, a restaurant that was both unique and amazing!

Our WHB host this week is the lovely founder herself, Kalyn. Be sure to visit Kalyn's Kitchen for the recap.


Friday, 30 March 2007


211 Brunswick Street,
Fitzroy, Melbourne
+61 3 9415 7300
For descriptions & photos of each dish, click here

Buckle up kids, this is going to be one long drive as I take you through every tiny detail of my experience at Melbourne’s Interlude – the fantastic prize I won from the Menu for Hope raffle.

If you don’t have time to read this ridiculously long report, here’s one word: WOW!

Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the ride.

In November 2005, I was browsing through Gourmet Traveller when I saw a feature article on a young British chef by the name of Robin Wickens. He seems to have investigated forms of molecular gastronomy and brought to Australia the playful inventiveness of this culinary genre, with influences from French cuisine. I read over the recipes and found them to be so simple in their origins and yet ingenious in the way he had deconstructed and then re-presented the food. For instance Cold Milk & Cereal was milk ice cream rolled in a crust of dehydrated fruits and crushed cereal.

I became very interested in Wickens' food and planned to visit his restaurant, Interlude, as soon as I could get myself to Melbourne.

When Neil from At My Table asked Interlude to get involved in the global foodblogging charity "Menu for Hope", they offered their degustation with matching wines to raffle and I bought two tickets. Then I won. Yippee!

So on Friday 23 March I flew to Melbourne and took my bridesmaid, Shelley – who incidentally lives a block from Interlude (sadly, Jonas couldn't get time off work).

Melbourne is in severe drought (they have to use their dish and bath water to feed their plants!) so I was not-so-pleasantly surprised when the skies opened up and poured with rain on our walk to Interlude. We were drenched and dishevelled upon arrival but restaurant manager, Gavin van Staden, still offered us the prime position at the window – and that was before he realised I was the famous, jetsetting, international food critic, foodblogging prize winner (I wish)!

The service at Interlude was very friendly and professional and they were genuinely pleased to be involved with the Menu for Hope. As Gavin explained, there are many ways Interlude could generate publicity and they felt that this particular method had a really positive outcome for everyone involved (especially me!). It was also wonderful to see that they value the opinions of foodbloggers and that my experience at Interlude was important to them.

Gavin van Staden (Restaurant Manager); Stuart McQueen-Thomson (Sommelier); Chris Kloss (Maître d')

The sommelier, Stuart McQueen-Thomson, did an excellent job at explaining, in perfect detail, how dishes were created and how each wine had been produced. He was an absolute wealth of knowledge and this did so much to hook Shelley, who works in the art industry, into the artform of the food. I learnt so much from him, such as the intriguing alginate added to sauces before giving them a calcium chloride bath thus creating all the “bubbles”. Or how Linie aquavit makes it way across the equator and back again to Norway before being considered mature.

Interlude’s dining room was decked out in dark woods and chocolate banquettes, tables lined with white linen and lit with gorgeous oil lamps. The chandeliers hanging from the roof reminded me of twisted coat hangers and sported cocoon-like bulbs of light. A vase of bamboo stalks had shoots of chilli sprouting from the top and autumnal, warm pomegranate and apple paintings by Nona Burden finished the room perfectly. It was a restaurant that felt comfortable, elegant and even cosy.

The plates and ceramics we ate from throughout the night were bizarre, organic shapes of ovals, ripples and ponds. They were sleek, stark white, smooth and curved. They were – I have it confirmed by the floor staff – a range by Ferran Adrià (el Bulli).

Shelley is a vegaquarian, so she had some different courses, but we were each served 14 dishes plus bread.

The choice of bread was interesting: Shelley opting for the wholemeal sourdough while I sank my teeth into the fennel seed and raisin. I normally don’t eat bread, even in upmarket restaurants where they make their own, but this bread was wonderful with an intensely soft centre and edges so crisp and crumbly they reminded me of biscuits rather than chewy, jaw-dislocating crusts.

Even the butter was presented beautifully in perfectly formed quenelles upon a wave-formed dish. The pure, white butter was from the Italian Alps and was made from cow’s milk with 5% goat’s milk. The creamy, yellow butter was a salted spread from Normandy.

If you want to know about each and every dish in detail, click here to see my Flickr set where I have included detailed descriptions. Otherwise, below, I have included a photo and label for each dish and explanations for the favourites and the unique.

Let the tour begin!

Lobster Crackers Thermidor


Warm Mackerel, Frozen Parfait
The arrival of the mackerel dish was potentially challenging since Shelley is not a fan of mackerel (she’s not big on fishy fish). This dish certainly won Shelley to the cause and confirmed my previous declarations that mackerel is my favourite sashimi. The presentation of this course did challenge me: a mid section arrived with bones removed: shiny, silvery skin and flesh sporting a blush of sanguine discolouration, hinting at the rawness. Luckily the wonderfully oily properties of the fish reassured me. The mackerel parfait was extremely fishy and yet Shelley enjoyed this even more than the milder flavoured fish. I also welcomed the presence of its smooth coldness and the refreshing salsa of tomato and cucumber that it rested upon. It was garnished with gorgeous candied chilli and black salt that I assume was from Cyprus. The plate was decorated with tiny dots of yuzu jelly which was much sweeter and more orange-citrus than I had imagined yuzu to be.
2005 Crawford River ‘Young Vines’ Riesling (Henty, VIC, Australia)

Blue Swimmer Crab with Variations of Sweetcorn
2005 Castagna “ Adams Rib – The White” Chardonnay, Viognier (Beechworth, VIC, Australia)

Squab, Blackberry, Quinoa, Treacle
It was a very tough choice, but this was probably my favourite dish of the night. The flavour combination was exquisite, the presentation was gorgeously autumnal and the uniqueness of delivery really impressed. This dish scored 10/10 for me. The treacle foam, decadently sticky and toffee-burnt, paired excellently with plump, fresh blackberries. The rich, perfectly cooked squab was pink and luscious and tasted as luxurious as suckling pig or a roasted duck. A sheet of sweet blackberry jelly was rolled elegantly into a scroll and rested on the puffed quinoa encrusted pigeon. Sticky quinoa cooked in chicken stock was hidden underneath and coriander and shiso micro herbs provided a break to the rich flavour combinations. Liquorice root dust, sprinkled lightly around the plate, tasted very faint and had more of a sweet cinnamon edge than I was expecting.
2005 Waipara Hills Pinot Noir (Marlborough, New Zealand)

Tomato Explosion

Whiting, Carrot Consommé, Curry Marshmallow
Firstly, I’m a big fan of the flavoured marshmallow and this did not disappoint. The mild flavour and firm texture of the fish balanced wonderfully with the sticky, spicy sweetness of the marshmallows. If you’re having trouble imagining them, then think of a regular marshmallow only softer, stickier and curry flavoured. Weird, huh? This dish was very well balanced: the light, sweet carrot consommé ended with a resounding salty afterglow that equalised the sweet candy mallow. I loved the texture of the orange poached baby witlof, but I don't really enjoy bitter-orange in savoury food.
2004 Vinoptima Gewürztraminer (Ormond, New Zealand)

Cucumber Salad, Ajo Blanco, Frozen Grapes, Aquavit
Extremely salty roasted almonds had been chopped then wrapped in a thin shawl of fresh cucumber and topped with micro tarragon. Quenelles of cucumber and aquavit sorbet were sprinkled with black salt and dispersed between grapes and a verdant cucumber jelly round. A thinned version of ajo blanco was poured at the table for effect, completing Shelley’s favourite dish.
Delgado Zuleta ‘La Goya’ Manzanilla (Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain)

White Anchovy Soufflé w Sauce Verge
2005 Salomon 'Weiden' Grüner Veltliner (Kremstal, Austria)

Rabbit, Broad Beans, Gnocchi, Chablis
2005 Langhe Pio Cesare ‘Il Nebbio’ Nebbiolo (Piemonte, Italy)

Glass Straw

Our next course was an exhilarating little sucker: a tube of clear glass was delivered to our table, filled with four flavours: parsley jelly, apple purée, herring roe and cauliflower purée. The challenge was to suck out the contents in one breath and enjoy the flavours as they intermingled in your mouth. The process was amusing and certainly brought an element of playfulness to the meal. Mine made a loud noise which caused me to pause and laugh, but Shelley did it in one pull. The flavours were very interesting together: the herring roe was incredibly salty but was balanced out by the sweetness of the apple and the creaminess of the cauliflower. The parsley jelly added a nice herbal endnote and made sure the fruity sweetness wasn’t overpowering.

Flathead, Soy Skin, Mussel Chowder

Kangaroo 'Sous-Vide', Baby Beets
2003 Hollick Shiraz (Wranttonbull, SA, Australia)

Celery Sorbet & Roquefort Crumbs

The unexpected cheese course that arrived at our table was the best I’ve ever eaten. Glistening dollops of golden cider jelly sat beside cubes of pickled apple, while a quenelle of crisp green celery sorbet floated on feathery soft Roquefort crumbs and roasted walnut pieces. The blue cheese pungency balanced wonderfully with the refreshing celery sorbet and the saltiness of the nuts added crunch and sharpness. I was totally blown away by this dish, which is only a very recent addition to the menu.

Porridge, Milk, Brown Sugar
The next dish was one I had dreamt about for some time. The Cold Milk and Cereal, a variation of this dish, was what sparked my interest in Interlude to begin with and I wasn’t disappointed. Delicious milk ice cream matched wonderfully with a ‘porridge’ of salty-sweet toasted oats reminiscent of crumbled ANZAC biscuits. Crystals of brown sugar glinted atop a milky foam, providing additional texture and caramel sweetness. It was a simple, delicious dish.

Apple, Parsnip, Date, Rosemary
This dish looked enticing and once the waiter explained the contents we were even more intrigued. Rosemary ice cream was topped with shreds of crispy parsnip which had been flavoured with cumin. The tiny micro herbs were actually cumin leaves and chunks of semi-dried and pickled apples were studded through the dish alongside puffed wheat. A whole, sticky date was buried under the sweet rosemary ice cream. What is my verdict? I loved this salute to autumn. I’ve never eaten cumin in a sweet context before and the leaves hinted mildly of cumin in every mouthful. The parsnip became almost wafer like and the apples added a reminder that we were having dessert. The ice cream was lovely and clearly a dessert – sweet and moreish – and hinting of Grecian summers. This is definitely a dish to recommend.
Primitivo Quiles Moscatel-Fortified (Alicante, Spain)

Piña Colada
2002 Château Pavillon Saint-Croix du Mont Botrytis Semillon (Bordeaux, France)

Overall an exquisite meal.

Before dining there I had been warned off by people who knew people who had gone and not liked it. I simply didn’t believe them. When I delved into the core of their dislike, it seemed they were people who wanted simple food.

Interlude is not simple food. Interlude is exploratory, inventive and reconstructive. It pushes the imagination while staying within familiar concepts. It excites and it challenges but it never offends. That is a delicate line to walk and the staff should be applauded.

What would I change at Interlude? Probably only the wording on the menus. These kinds of restaurants produce culinary art and can easily become esoteric. If the menu could dispel some of the confusion for the ordinary punter, it might make the forum less intimidating. A more explanatory menu gives people a chance to get acquainted before all the fun begins.

Another aspect to note is the repeating theme of jelly sheets. This is not jelly/jello in the usual sense, but a flat sheet of almost chewy flavouring (like an Australian roll-up). There’s nothing wrong with this, but in most dishes the jelly sheet merely added colour rather than flavour or texture and, given the highly inventive edge Interlude exudes, repetition using such an eye-catching ingredient might be considered lazy or even dull.

At the end of the night I was taken into the kitchen to meet the people who had slaved away behind the scenes to make such a great night for us. Wickens was away on annual leave (he called in to check that everything was going fine – thank you Robin, yes it was superb), but he had left the kitchen in very capable hands of Head Chef Marcus Allen. It was midnight and the team was worn out, but they were genuinely interested in our feedback. I guess they don’t have much contact with the diners so they don’t get to see whether people are pleased or not.

We were pleased. Very pleased.

Gavin van Staden (Restaurant Manager); Michael Hazelwood (Sous-Chef); Marcus Allen (Head Chef); Victoria Blamey (Chef de Partie – Larder); Pierre Roelofs (Pastry Chef)

As I told the kitchen team at Interlude, I only allocated my raffle tickets to degustation prizes at Tetsuya’s and Interlude. I’ve eaten at Tetsuya’s before and while I adored the experience, I have to say the food at Interlude was much more exciting. Perhaps Interlude’s presentation wasn’t as meticulous as Tetsuya’s but the dishes were more daring and Interlude’s stronger flavours suited my palate much more.

I couldn’t fault one dish, and that’s very rare in a menu this extensive.

Thank you for your donation to the Menu for Hope, thank you for a wonderful night and thank you for an extraordinary contribution to Australia’s food scene.


Wednesday, 28 March 2007

ginger cake w chocolate sauce

This is my contribution to Waiter, There’s Something In My . . . Easter Basket! an event that’s in it’s third instalment and happens to be hosted by the lovely and generous Johanna.

This event calls for posts of recipes that make you think of Easter - and my mother’s ginger cake always does that.

It’s not that mum necessarily made this cake on the Easter weekend, but I remember her making it in Autumn once the weather started getting colder and we would huddle up at home in front of the TV scoffing down this spicy cake with plenty of chocolate sauce.

This only really happened occasionally, but it’s a memory that is so strong for me and one that I cherish. I had never known anyone else to make ginger cake and to so cleverly pair it with chocolate. I thought my mum was so smart.

Once I grew older I discovered that many people did this, but I still kept the feeling that my mum was so very clever and inventive.

In fact, I remember when mum and I travelled to Italy and I was so impressed with her fluent Italian language skills. It wasn’t until four years later, after I moved to Italy and learnt to speak some Italian, that I discovered my mother couldn’t speak a word! But I still couldn’t shake the feeling that she was a multilingual genius.

So in memory of my multilingual mother, whose cooking and cakes I miss almost as much as I miss her, here’s one of my favourite Autumn (and therefore Aussie Easter) treats.

Ginger Cake w Chocolate Sauce

The cake recipe comes from Alison Alexander on ABC Radio Brisbane.

2¾ cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
3½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup warm water
½ cup brown sugar
125g butter, melted
¾ cup golden syrup
1 egg
200g good quality dark chocolate
300ml thickened cream

1. Pre-heat oven to 160’C.
2. Line a shallow 30cm X 20cm or deep 23cm square cake tin with baking paper.
3. Place all ingredients (except chocolate and cream) into a food processor and process until smooth – do not over-process.
4. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched and a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted.
5. While cake is cooling slightly, heat chocolate and cream in a saucepan over a low heat until chocolate has melted and formed a sauce with the cream.
6. Remove cake from tin and cut into slices. Pour chocolate sauce over slices and serve immediately.
Note: Without chocolate sauce, cake can last about three days in an airtight container. Chocolate sauce can last about three days in fridge.

I served this cake with an intensely rich and decadent hot chocolate, spiced with cinnamon in the Mexican style.

Spicy Hot Chocolate
Anna’s very own recipe. Serves 3 or 2 with a top up.
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon brown sugar
150g dark chocolate
250ml milk
100ml cream
1. Heat all ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat, whisking briskly until chocolate has melted.

2. Remove from heat and divide into individual cups. Serve hot with extra cinnamon, chocolate flakes or whipped cream.

Be sure to visit the recap to see what delicious food made the international Easter list and perhaps Johanna will fill us all in on the intriguing Central European Easter traditions of waterfights and spanking.


Tuesday, 27 March 2007

one passionate cook

Since starting this blog I have met so many wonderful people from around the world who share my love for food and cooking and who have appealed to my heart and my stomach.

I was reminded of this when I received a surprise package all the way from the UK from Johanna of The Passionate Cook.

As a wedding gift Johanna sent the cutest salt and pepper shakers in the world. These little “huggies” are so adorable and their eternal embrace was as apt wedding gift.

Her kindness touched both Jonas and I because it was so unexpected and so thoughtful.

Thank you Johanna. We love them!

Be sure to have a look at Johanna's blog. She has some of the most wonderful recipes for decadent and interesting foods, as well as an excellent insight into Austrian cooking.

Recently on her blog, Johanna has also been featuring a fantastic idea called Culinary City Snapshots. These are guest posts about various cities around the world, highlighting current food trends, restaurant hotspots, shopping opportunities and dishes to either avoid or seek out. So far she’s hosted bloggers from Milan (Italy), Budapest (Hungary), Tallinn (Estonia), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and many more. They are so interesting!

Thursday, 22 March 2007

khizzou – moroccan style carrots

It’s said that carrots in a new bride’s kitchen brings good luck so here I am munching away.

The carrot is the taproot of a biennial plant that comes from the Umbelliferae family (parsnips, fennel caraway, cumin and dill). These plants all have umbrella style flowers, hence the name.

This wonderful recipe brings out the natural sweetness of carrots and I love to roast thin, young carrots without peeling them much at all.

I've never been big on Moroccan food because of the regular use of cinnamon in a savoury context. It's a little bit perverse of me, since cinnamon is my favourite spice, however I only like it in sweet dishes, but this recipe works wonderfully alongside the honey and pinenuts.

Khizzou – Moroccan-Style Carrots
Recipe from Australian Gourmet Traveller’s Modern Salads. Serves 4-6 as side dish or mezze.
3 bunches baby carrots, peeled and tops trimmed
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
4 tablespoons olive oil
60g roasted pinenuts
1. Preheat oven to 190’C.
2. Combine carrots, honey, cumin and half the olive oil in a roasting pan. Toss well and season with salt and pepper.
3. Bake for 20 minutes until carrots are tender and slightly browned.
4. Dry fry paprika and cinnamon until fragrant. Combine with remaining olive oil and lemon juice then add to carrots.
5. Add herbs, mix then transfer to platter.
6. Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with pinenuts
My WHB ingredient this week is obviously carrots.

Carrots are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, dietary fiber and potassium. They are also chock full of antioxidants and pro-vitamin A carotenes, protecting against heart disease and cancer and also promote good vision, especially night vision.

The high levels of beta-carotene in carrots helps to protect vision, especially night vision. In the liver beta-carotenes are turned into vitamin A which then moves to the retina where it becomes rhodopsin, a pigment used for night-vision. The antioxidants in beta-carotene protects against macular degeneration and the development of cataracts in the elderly.

Carrots were first grown in the Middle East and Central Asia and were originally purple in colour. Before Ancient Greece was even worth mentioning an Afghani carrot came out yellow and became the ancestor of today’s orange taproots.

In Rome and Greece, carrots were used as medicine and it wasn’t until the Renaissance that European caught on that carrots could be part of your daily meal.

Carrots have been used to treat digestive problems, intestinal parasites, tonsillitis and the Mohegans (Native Americans) used a tea of carrot blossoms to treat diabetes.

In the 1800s carrots were the first commercially canned veggie and today the US, UK, France, Poland, China and Japan are avid carrot growing nations.

The negative aspect of eating too many carrots is a condition called carotoderma, where the skin is tinged yellow and then orange from consumption of too much carotene.

It seems consumption of too much carotene overloads the liver which can’t convert it to vitamin A. The excess is then stored, in the weirdest of places, in the palms, soles and behind the ears.

There are a lot of carrot festivals around the world including Holtville, California (USA); Bradford, Ontario (Canada); Ohakune (New Zealand); Croissy sur Seine (France); Aarau (Switzerland); Schenectady County, NY (USA); Creances (France); and Beypazarı, (Turkey).

In Australia there is even a kooky musical group, Flute‘n’Veg, who make musical instruments out of carrots. It’s bizarre and intriguing all at once.

And here are five carrot facts to whet your whistle before you make your own carrot flute!
• Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, did not like carrots
• If cows eat too many carrots their milk tastes bitter.
• in 2005 carrots were Britain’s third favourite vegetable
• In EU agricultural regulations fpr fruit jams/jellies carrots are considered a fruit as well as a vegetable since the Portuguese have a traditional carrot jam.
• The world's largest carrot was grown in Alaska in 1998 weighing 8.614 kg (18.99 pounds).

This week the WHB host is Kate from Thyme for Cooking. Be sure the visit the recap to see what's going down in the world of herbs.



Wednesday, 21 March 2007

mango & sticky rice

A great Thai restaurant that I eat at regularly serves sticky rice, coconut milk and mango for $2.5 in little takeaway containers.

I love this refreshing and mild dessert after a spicy, tangy meal of fish sauce, lime juice and lots and lots of chilli. It really takes the edge off the chilli afterburn.

Khao Neuw Mamuang – Mango & Sticky Rice
Based on a recipe from the back of a rice packet. Serves 2-3.

1 mango
1 cup sticky rice
2 tablespoons palm sugar
250ml coconut milk
pinch of salt
1. Soak rice in warm water for 10-20 minutes. Drain.
2. In a saucepan, cover rice with 400ml water and put on the lid.
3. Bring to boil then stir. Simmer 15 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and, leaving cover on, allow to stand 5-10 minutes.
5. Heat coconut milk with sugar and salt, stirring constantly and taking care not to allow milk to boil or it could curdle.
6. Combine most of coconut milk with rice, reserving some coconut milk for serving. Allow the hot rice to absorb some of the coconut milk then serve, drizzling rice with remaining coconut milk.
7. Cut cheeks from mango and slice. Serve with rice.


Sunday, 18 March 2007

lithuanian pickled fish

In my quest to cook my way around the world I have now managed to cook a variety of recipes from 30 different countries, and yet I find myself leaning towards a few national cuisines more regularly. Perhaps it’s because they are more familiar to me, in both method and ingredients, and that I prefer the flavours?

Apart from influences from Australian, British and American chefs in their reinventions of the English speaking world’s traditional cuisine, I seem to have been heavily influenced by Mediterranean cooking.

Italian food features most prominently with Greece and Spain getting some decent kitchen time as well. Mexican food shines through, influenced by our close friends and bridal party compadres, Robot & Bicky, while Indian food, with its flavoursome vegetarian options, also plays an important role in our home.

Today’s recipe for Weekend Herb Blogging was quite outside the usual as I attempted a Lithuanian recipe from an enlightening cookbook called The Jewish Kitchen. Author Clarissa Hyman attended a Rosh Hashanah lunch in Trondheim (Norway) where she was presented with this wonderful pickled fish made by a descendant of Lithuanian Jews.

The result was firm pieces of fish in a sweet-sour sauce. In fact the overall flavour composition was very sweet and matched the white fish well.

As I was making the brine, the smells wafting from the pot made me think of the sweet brine used in Sweden's inlagd sill (a type of pickled herring). I love inlagd sill so much and I couldn’t help tweaking this Lithuanian recipe just a little to add my own spicy input (some peppercorns and allspice).

Marinuota Žuvis (Lithuanian Pickled Fish)
Recipe by Henriette Kahn, Rosa Kahn & Ida Ullman from The Jewish Kitchen by Clarissa Hyman. Serves a buffet of 8 people.

2 lb 4 oz halibut steaks
7/8 cup white wine vinegar
1 3/8 cups + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 ¾ cups water
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3-4 bay leaves
1 lemon, finely sliced
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons chopped almonds
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1) Combine all ingredients (except for fish) in a large pot and boil gently for 20 minutes.
2) Remove from heat, add fish steaks, cover then leave until mixture reaches room temperature.
3) Transfer fish to deep serving dish then spoon sauce over the top.
4) Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.
Anna’s variations:
• I added 10 whole black peppercorns and 6 whole allspice berries.
• I also used red onions to add colour to the dish as the onions become bright pink during the brining process.
• I used flaked almonds instead of chopped.
• I had to use swordfish since halibut isn’t easily available at Sydney fish mongers.

The herb I used in this recipe was obviously the bay leaf. I use both fresh and dried bay leaves in my cooking but in this case I used dried leaves as they have a more pronounced flavour.

I have used bay leaves in a previous WHB entry and learnt that they can have a narcotic effect. Strange but true!

This week’s host for WHB is Becky from Key Lime & Coconut and I wish her luck for the mammoth task of writing the round-up!


Thursday, 15 March 2007

anna & jonas - the wedding

Thank you to everyone who left a comment or sent an email to wish Jonas and I well. There were a few requests for photos, so here is my own ‘report’ on the wedding.

Everything was perfect.

Sydney had been storming for days and it seemed like the drought had ended, but on Saturday the skies were blue, the gardens lusciously green and the heat and humidity were certainly turned up (30’C / 86’F).

If you’re interested, here’s a little taste of the day.

I hope all my name dropping and links don’t sound like product placement, but all the people who helped with us were so wonderful and I would recommend them to anyone planning on getting married in Sydney. We had such wonderful experiences with each and every one of them that I just want to give them the credit and the referrals they deserve.

I wore a dress by a funky independent designer called Caritas Yu, who has a bridal store on Parramatta Road in Leichhardt (also called Caritas Yu). The dress was unbelievably comfortable and was draped so perfectly that it swished out of the way with every step. It felt so glamorous!

My make up and six months of skin treatments came from Skin Therapeia, the same wonderful beauty spa that provides customers with tasty snacks and teas in between treatments.

My bridesmaids, Vicky & Shelley, wore individual green dresses that they chose themselves. It was nice that they were in the same colour theme but not matching. It seemed much more elegant somehow.

Our friend, Vanessa, happens to be a Toni & Guy stylist so we both were extremely lucky in the hair department. Jonas was maintained with regular trims and my hair was razzle-dazzled to perfection. It was wonderful just spending the morning of the wedding with my friend, rather than with a hairdresser. It was also great when I needed an emergency hair repair after massive wind gusts knocked me about a little.

The ceremony was wonderful, held under a big African kaffir plum tree in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Our celebrant, Michael Teulon, put everyone at ease and had the perfect balance of humour and formality to carry off a dignified yet relaxed event. Jonas said he was his rock before the ceremony, making one very stressed groom feel a least a little bit better.

We had some beautiful photos taken in the Botanical Gardens and in the cute laneways of Australia’s oldest suburb (The Rocks) by our fantastic photographers from Deyan Photography. Simon and Will were cheeky, professional and fun to be around so it made the smiles natural rather than face cracking. We’d recommend them to anyone and were almost sad when they had to go since they were so entertaining.

I also discovered I’m the world’s biggest poser (shame, shame, shame). I adored being photographed! Jonas couldn’t stop giggling at how much I enjoyed prancing around in front of the camera.

If only I could have a team of photographers following me around every day. Sigh! If only I’d been thinner . . . and taller . . . and prettier – I could have been a star! If only.

Afterwards we had our reception at a cute little restaurant called Bistro Lilly. I know all the food bloggers will be eager to know what was on the menu:

We started with cocktails of Loire Valley Grandin Brut and wild hibiscus flowers in their own gorgeous ruby syrup. This was served with melba toasts topped with three options: roasted Roma tomatoes and artichokes; hummus; and salmon gravlax (a salute to Sweden).

Next the vegetarians were served the most amazing soup I have ever tasted: a vegetarian version of the Thai broth tom yum, heavy with aromatic galangal and tomatoes and intensely concentrated in flavour. This was served with seasonal vegetables, ridiculously tasty tofu and some egg noodles.

Everyone else feasted on tasting plates of roasted garlic, vine ripened tomatoes and bocconcini; Sydney rock oysters with mignonette dressing (red wine vinegar and shallots); a tian of Balmain bugs, king prawns and avocado; and a veal and rabbit terrine wrapped in prosciutto and topped with a chutney of pickled Swiss brown mushrooms.

For the main course we had a choice from three options and the waiters took everyone’s orders. First the vegetarian pasta of maltagliati with chanterelle, field, porcini and oyster mushrooms served with a basil and dry chilli cream Parmigiano sauce.

Braised lamb shanks came melting from the bone and were served with puy lentils, roasted carrots and parsnips as well as baby spinach and a mint pesto finish.

The most popular choice was the barramundi (a native Australian fish) which came with smoked sea salt on white balsamic, chargrilled vegetables and blue swimmer crab crème fraîche.

Tracy & Pamela from bridesinbloom did all the wedding flowers (siam tulips & singapore orchids - gorgeous!) as well as our wedding cake. It was massive: three tiers of chocolate and vanilla marble cake covered in thick “savoury sweet” ivory icing.

I had so many comments from friends and family that the cake and dinner tasted wonderful, but I so many butterflies in my stomach that I barely got through a few mouthfuls. In fact both Jonas and I merely tasted everything, our nerves preventing us from fully indulging in the meal.

Our first dance was to The Cure’s Lovesong, one that we’d made our own during our seven months apart in 2000. It was impossible to dance to, but it's ours!

And little old Ashlee: our wonderful pal, who happens to be a photographer, stepped in once our other photographers left and covered the rest of the night for us. We wanted to hire other photographers so Ashlee could relax and enjoy the night as a guest, but you can’t stop these creative types. They’re determined to pursue their art.

So in the end, the wedding was built by so many friends and family.

After the wedding ended we walked a few hundred metres to The Observatory Hotel where we spent our first night as husband and wife in the luxury of a five star hotel. The room was lavish and we were met with a bottle of Moet et Chandon rosé on ice, long stemmed roses, chocolate covered strawberries and some petit fours.

We pulled the seventy thousand pins out of my hair then relaxed into the gargantuan tub with some lavender bath salts and a glass of Moet.

Once the nerves were settled we both realised we were starving so we ordered some room service. Hmmm, fries.

It was such a nice hotel and the staff were fantastic – it helps that Jonas works there too ;)

We had such a wonderful time and felt surrounded by people who loved us. What a perfect way to spend our seven year anniversary together – getting married! Our parents told stories of how surprised they were that we got so serious so fast and so young. His family were so kind and welcoming and my father made it clear that Jonas meant a lot to him too. Everyone was so warm and open hearted.

Do we feel different? Yes, I think so.

It might just be a piece of paper and a ring, but it symbolises something much deeper.

It’s almost like when you first fall in love: you need to be with each other all the time, you crave each other’s touch, presence, closeness. I look at him from across a room or a table and it’s still too far away.

I think we’re more in love than ever before. We’re both still floating!

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