Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gram "Magazine" and dodgy content-lifting

EDIT: 31/01/2011 Hi y'all - today I received a personal email from the production director of Gram, and have added some new thoughts to the bottom of this post.

This week, the Twitterverse has been abuzz with comments about Gram magazine, a new free food-based street publication (like Beat).  The tweets that I read were mainly from disgruntled bloggers wondering if it was legal or ethical for a magazine to lift and extensively quote bloggers' content, with only an opt-out policy.  I'd never received any email from Gram magazine, and so naively thought my content hadn't been lifted.  But, today, out of curiosity, I had a look over at their website.  I was wrong.

To illustrate how crap this is, let me tell you a story.

My year 12 economics teacher, Mr. G, taught me a trick for writing uni essays, which he said would work for any type of long arts essay.  I never used it, so I don't know if it works in practice, but you could always give it a go.

1. You take the topic... (here's an example topic, from a cinema studies essay I wrote in 2004).

Kenneth MacKinnon argues that “it is the fervency of the belief in […] utopia, together with the poignancy of its unattainability, that resonates in the experience of the musical's devotees. How does Dancer in the Dark engage with this convention?

2. Then find as many articles as you can on the topic.  For the above example I'd obviously start with Kenneth MacKinnon's article, then anything on Dancer in the Dark, and "utopia" and "musicals" more generally.

3. Cut and paste quotes from all the articles you've found into a word document, arranging them in some sort of coherent fashion (making sure you attribute the quotes accurately), until you've reached your word count.

4. Print out and hand in.


But wait... how could that work? Isn't that just plain dodgy?  According to Mr. G, "they can't get you for plagiarism", and "if your quotes have answered the question, they have to pass you".  In other words, you might get a crap mark, but at least you'll pass and you won't have exerted any unnecessary effort.

And this is the dodgy and lazy approach that our friends over at Gram magazine have taken, swiping content from Melbourne bloggers, and lazily slapping them together to create a "magazine" (online and in print), to generate advertising revenue for themselves.  To show you how it works, here is how they used my content... (Please note that I am quoting them to illustrate a point, not to make up the content of my post, an important distinction.)

"Impressed by the selections offered at St Kilda’s Mockingbird, Sarah @ Sarah Cooks noted the cocktail list featured classics as well as “some signature cocktails”, like the lychee and passionfruit martini, the caramel, and “fabulous” espresso martini. Tasting plates are available. Sarah had the mozzarella and herb arancini, the beer-battered Moreton Bay bug tails with caper mayonnaise and the half-roasted chicken on truffled polenta, amongst other things…"

What terribly lazy writing!  They haven't added any new ideas to my post, just regurgitated what I wrote in August last year, in an attempt to pass it off as a genuine article.

Another Outspoken Female has written 2 excellent posts about Gram - the first one back in November when she got an introductory email from them, and one last week after she saw a paper copy and realised her posts were "quoted" in Gram.  I'd suggest reading her posts to get an overview of the whole situation.  In fact, that is what I had to do, as I have never been directly contacted by Gram, and I had no idea what they were about.

Let me re-iterate:

I have never been contacted by Gram.  They never asked permission, or even informed me that they would be using my content in their magazine.

According to the introductory email that AOF re-printed on her blog, (that I never received)...

featured bloggers will probably notice a marked increase in traffic to their sites, expanding the potential for those already advertising to capitalise on their work, and creating opportunities for those that yet don’t (through options like Google AdSense, Nuffnang and Foodbuzz).

Firstly, not every blogger cares about how many hits they get.  I blog because I enjoy it, because I love cooking, eating, taking pictures and writing.  I happily run Nuffnang ads on my blog, but they're not the main reason I blog.  Any small advertising revenue I get is just a bonus, not the be-all and end-all of blogging. I don't spend hours doing SEO, and I'm not going to be grateful that someone's lifted my content without my permission so that I can get a few extra hits.  And besides, I've only had one hit from Gram, which was actually me, trying to see if their links worked.  Big whoop.

Whatever your opinion on the commercialisation of blogs, and of sites like Foodbuzz and Urbanspoon, I'm sure we can all agree that bloggers should choose whether or not they want to join, and not automatically be included without being asked or informed.

editorial policy ensures any authors who choose not to be included, for whatever reason, are respected, and won’t be featured.

Clearly that respect wasn't extended to me.  I never even had a chance to opt out, as I never received an email from Gram informing me they'd be lifting my content.

At worst, it's plagiarism, and at best, it's very sloppy and unethical "journalism".  Tellingly, the only contact in the "Contact Us" section on the website states: "For sales and advertising, please contact our Production Director".

They call it "Melbourne Food Culture. Compiled."

I call it "Melbourne Food Bloggers' Content. Stolen."

********

31/01/2011 EDIT:  As I mentioned above, today I received a lengthy email from the production director of Gram, in response to this post.  She apologised for the oversight and explained what Gram is about.  I do believe she was being genuine, and appreciate the time and thought she put into her personalised response.  For what it's worth, I think Gram has some good ideas, but extremely poor execution, and a misunderstanding of how bloggers operate.  (If you've seen Ed's blog, you may have seen a copy of the group email she later sent out, or indeed, received the email yourself, which explains their aims).  I get the impression that Gram is based on the idea that food bloggers are a homogeneous group, rather than the varied individuals that we are.  I'm sure there are bloggers who'd love to get on board, others who would never consider it, and anything in between.  In fact, had I been contacted individually months ago and had the Gram agenda explained to me clearly, I may very well have chosen to get on board.  But now we'll never know.


Cheers for reading.  Soon Sarah Cooks will return to its usual programming...

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Barossa Inspired Meal

Rolled Barossa Chook Breast with Black Pig Prosciutto / Hühnchen Rollbraten mit Schinken 
I was very excited to hear about the Barossa's Table competition, running until the end of the month over at Barossa.com.  By submitting a post with a recipe or serving suggestion using an ingredient from the Barossa, plus a Barossa wine to match, you could win a week-long all expenses paid food and wine experience with some of the region's most famous chefs, winemakers and producers!  Pretty exciting stuff, right?  As soon as I read about it, I put my foodie thinking cap on and started planning my entry.

Here in Melbourne, we are pretty fortunate to have a number of specialist food stores, and even supermarkets, that stock Barossa produce.  As such, I think it would have been quite simple to buy a bunch of Barossa items, and just chuck them together in a slapdash meal.  And to be honest, if you did that, you'd probably still have something pretty good on your hands.  But I really wanted to make a meal that wasn't only delicious, but also reflected the Barossa's heritage.

So I did a little research, and I found out that the Barossa has a very strong German influence, thanks to German settlers who first arrived in 1840.  Not only does that mean they have German bakeries and restaurants there (yay!), but there is also a dialect of German called Barossadeutsch, which used to be common in South Australia.  How cool is that?!  As a student of the language, and lover of all types of German food, I found this extremely fascinating, and it doubled my desire to visit!

So it was a no-brainer to combine my competition entry with my love for German food!  After much deliberation, here is the meal I decided on... (with German translation below, just for fun).


A Barossa Inspired Meal for 2

Rolled Barossa Chook Breast with Black Pig Prosciutto
Glazed Carrots with Maggie Beer Vino Cotto
German-Style Fried Potatoes

Henschke Keyneton Euphonium 2007

Gooseberry Streuselkuchen with Maggie Beer Vanilla Bean and Elderflower Ice-Cream


Ein Festmahl von der Barossa Region

Hühnchen Rollbraten mit Schinken
Glasierte Karotten mit Vino Cotto
Bratkartoffeln

Henschke Keyneton Euphonium 2007

Stachelbeeren Streuselkuchen mit Vanille- und Holundereis


Let's have a look at the different parts of the meal, one by one.

The main dish (which you can see in the top picture of this post), was Hühnchen Rollbraten mit Schinken.  Or less exotically, rolled roast chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto.

Both the chicken and prosciutto are Saskia Beer products.  The Barossa Chook is free range, has a completely vegetarian diet and are allowed to grow for double the industry standard, which means the chickens have softer meat, more flavour, and more resilient skin.  The butcher I visited only sells the Barossa Chooks whole, and I only needed the breasts for my recipe, so I got him to remove them, and chop up the rest of the chook.  I've popped the remainder in the freezer for future meals.  (I'm especially looking forward to making soup with the bones!)
Barossa Chook breasts, The Black Pig prosciutto
The Black Pig proscuitto is made from free range, heritage breed Berkshire pork.  It comes in wafer thin slices, and has a lovely ratio of fat-to-meat.  Hehe, it was hard not to eat it straight out of the packet!

Ooh... pretty.

To make my Rollbraten, I pounded the breasts flat (skin-side down), layered the proscuitto on top, rolled them up carefully and secured them with kitchen twine.  Then, I browned them a hot pan, and finished them off in a medium-hot oven to cook through.


Layering, rolling and frying the chicken
German-style fried potatoes, or Bratkartoffeln, are my favourite way of eating one of my favourite foods.  You fry up some onions and bacon (I used the remainder of the Black Pig proscuitto - couldn't let it go to waste!), then add slices of par-boiled potatoes, and keep frying and turning until the potatoes are cooked through and crisp on the outside.
Bratkartoffeln
I thought that glasierte Karotten (glazed carrots) would be a great accompaniment, being a light and sweet counterpoint to the salty proscuitto-filled chicken and potatoes.  I briefly boiled a bunch of baby carrots in water with a little sugar, vegetable stock and olive oil.  To serve, I drizzled over thyme leaves, extra virgin olive oil and some Maggie Beer vino cotto.  If you haven't tried it before, vino cotto is like a reduced, syrupy balsamic vinegar.  It really highlighted the carrots' natural sweetness.
Glasierte Karotten mit Vino Cotto
With the meal, we drank a Henschke 2007 Keyneton Euphonium, which comes from the Barossa township of Keyneton.  I'm not a huge wine buff, but I chose this one because I know the winery (some of my parents' friends, older and much more knowledgeable than I, are obsessed with the Henschke Hill of Grace).  The Keyneton Euphonium is a nice blend of four different grapes, which, according to the friendly staff at the bottle-shop, would be heavy enough to stand up to our meal, without overpowering the flavours.  I was also quite happy it came in a half-bottle - perfect for two!
Wine

And that, my friends, was the meal!


I must admit, I was so happy with it!  I'd never made Rollbraten before, and I was so relieved that it turned out well.  Even though I think I may have slightly overcooked the chicken, it was still moist, with crispy skin, and the most incredible, intensely chickeny flavour.  I'm really glad I entered this competition, as I wouldn't have tried the Barossa Chook otherwise.  And it's dee-licious!  I'd love to try a classic roast chicken next time.

I did make a dessert too, although it was a good few hours after that filling dinner before we sat down to eat it!  I made gooseberry streuselkuchen - Stachelbeeren Streuselkuchen for those of you who like a bit of alliteration - a sweet and spicy yeasted dough, topped with gooseberries and a crunchy almondy crumble.  According to Maggie Beer, streuselkuchen is a staple of Barossa bakeries (even more reason why I want to go!)


I used Nigella Lawson's kuchen recipe, replacing her suggested fruits with gooseberries, and served it with a lusciously creamy scoop of Maggie Beer's vanilla bean and elderflower ice-cream.  I don't ordinarily like floral flavours in food (rosewater, elderflower, violet etc.), but there is something so perfect about the combination of gooseberries and elderflower.   Leftover streuselkuchen made a wonderful breakfast the next morning.


********

If you'd like to enter too, have a look at the Barossa's Table competition website, for instructions and T&C's. Nuffnang is also running a parallel Barossa competition for its bloggers, with the chance to win a weekend trip to the famous region!  (Instructions and T&C's are here).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Roast Pork Belly

Pork belly #1 of 2
Ooh... who wants crackling?

I love cooking roast pork for my friends.  It's easy (the butcher, and then the oven, do all the work), and everyone goes gaga for crackling.  So when we had 2 big parties for Christmas on the same day, I thought pork belly would be the perfect option.  (It's the ingredient of 2010, don't you know?)  It's also cheaper than my beloved pork shoulder, and easier to carve.

I was tossing up between 2 recipes - Donna Hay's sage-roasted pork belly (from her Seasons book), and Nigella's roast pork belly from Kitchen.  In the end, I chose Donna's recipe, with some slight adaptations, because the picture was amazing, and it produced a slab of crackly, piggy goodness, as opposed to the shredded pieces of pork from Nigella's recipe.  Another good thing about Donna's recipe was that it could be cooked the day before, with only a 30-minute quick blast in the oven to crisp it up before serving.  (Let's be clear, Donna's recipe didn't actually specify that - I just figured you'd be able to do it, similar to the poached-then-blasted method of Nigella's soft and crispy duck from How to Eat).

So, I bought 2 pork bellies, and got my butcher to score the rind.  The night before the party, I put them each in a tray with some unpeeled garlic cloves, and sprinkled sea salt liberally over the skin.  (Donna tells you to cook it skin-side down for the first part, but I couldn't see how that wouldn't give the crackling a sloppy kiss of death).

And into the oven they went, at 160C for 3 hours.  Whilst the oven was doing its thing, we, well, cleaned up the house and kept cooking and baking other things.  If you were making this in the normal run of things (i.e. not for an epic day of entertaining), you could sit and relax while it's cooking.


This is what they looked like after the 3 hours.  It's amazing how much it shrank.  I'm hoping that was fat melting off, and not just water!

So from there, I let them cool down and stashed them in the fridge, ready for the next day of parties.  For each party, I'd chuck a pork belly in the oven as people were arriving.  30 minutes at a hot-hot-hot temperature.  (Donna's recipe says 180C for 30 minutes, but again, I have no idea how the crackling would get crispy at such a low temperature.)  You're also supposed to add a bunch of sage to the pan for the final roast, but in the hustle-and-bustle of the day I completely forgot!  I might just have to make this again with the sage, just to compare the taste, you do understand.

Oooh...
Pork belly #2 of 2

Aaah...

It was so super-crispy!  Don't believe me? Check out this video we took!


More slicing...

If we hadn't have had guests, I would have totally had that slab all to myself!

And here it is, all chopped up siew yoke style so we could all have a piece.

Mmm.. I'm totally craving pork belly again!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nigella Lawson's Venetian Carrot Cake


I've had this post sitting in drafts for a while, (in fact all the dishes from our Christmas parties are ready to go!), and when I saw Nigella make it in an episode of Kitchen, I really thought it was time I actually blogged it.  You can find the recipe here, or if you just want to watch Nigella do it, some kind soul has uploaded the clip to YouTube.

I must admit, when I first saw the recipe for Venetian carrot cake in the A Dream of Hearth and Home chapter of Kitchen, I wasn't particularly keen to make it.  One reason for this is that it is proudly labelled as both gluten-free and dairy-free.  Not to be dismissive of those with food intolerances, which I know are difficult to manage, but I'm always a little wary when a recipe's major selling point is something other than its taste.  You know, we see packets and recipes all the time, earnestly labelled: "gluten free!", "low fat!", "only 4 ingredients!"

The story of the cake, however, was more intriguing.  Unlike the carrot cake that we know here in Australia, topped with thick cream cheese icing, this carrot cake is more of a thin Italian-style torta, originally made by Jewish people from the Venetian ghetto.  I had a friend coming to the Christmas party who happens to be Jewish, coeliac and lactose-intolerant.  There couldn't have been a more perfect opportunity to try this cake.

The cake is based on almond meal, an ingredient which I adore.  The fragrance of fresh almond meal is heavenly!

Grated carrots are the other main ingredient... grated by hand. Feel the power!

The grating is the most labour-intensive part of the process; everything else just needs a light stir.  The stirred mixture doesn't look too appealing but smells lovely, thanks to the almond meal and rum-soaked sultanas. (Nigella's mixture was a deep golden colour; perhaps due to the expensive imported Italian eggs she uses.  Mine were plain old supermarket free-range).

The mixture was also a bit loose for my liking; I think next time I may make it in a food processor to get a smoother texture.  (Obviously I'd stir the sultanas and grated carrot in afterwards!)

I baked the mixture in mini muffin tins, for ease of sharing (across two parties).  They took about half the time stated in the recipe.

Nigella serves the cake with a lime-mascarpone cream (clearly no longer dairy free that way), but I was already making another batch of mini cakes with a cream-cheese icing for the party, so I left them plain.  And I think they look quite pretty with the scattering of pine nuts on top anyway!

This cake was really delicious; incredibly moist and fragrant.  From the picture in the book, I'd assumed the cake would be dry, like some other Italian torte I've tried, but it was more similar to a flourless orange cake in texture.  We had quite a few leftovers, so I packed some away for my friend to take home.  Her mum happens to be coeliac as well, and she raved about them!  This cake is so great that I'd recommend making it anytime, for anyone, even if dietary restrictions aren't a concern.  Hehe, and after seeing Nigella inhale a huge wodge of her full-sized cake on her program, I totally want to make a full-sized cake with the mascarpone cream and serve it as afternoon tea, or dessert for a dinner party.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Nuffnang Bloggers' Lunch at Pan Asian


Pan Asian
267 Chapel St
Prahran Vic 3181
(03) 9533-7022

Today we had the first Nuffnang blogger meet-up for 2011, lunch at Pan Asian organised by Vanessa.  Pan Asian is the newer sister to Robert and Li's other restaurant(s), Chilli Padi, and is situated on the 'trendy' side of Chapel street near Commercial road.  Even though we were there for lunch, I think it has a rather nightclubby vibe, with its funky decor, open kitchen, dark wood panels and Asian lantern decorations.  My favourite element of the decor was the mural you see above.  How awesome is it?  It spans a whole wall of the restaurant, and with the Indian, Japanese, Chinese and South East Asian imagery, reflects Pan Asian's, well, pan-Asian culinary influences!

Lunch was a leisurely affair, with a series of tasty bites stretched out over the afternoon.  As a person who grew up in the post-Wall St, post-nouvelle cuisine nineties, I've always been a bit skeptical about fusion cooking, but I really enjoyed the different flavours and tastes that Li created.  Let's have a look...

Tomato gazpacho with lentil dahl 
I love how you can see Vanessa in the background of this picture!  Gazpacho is "tomato soup, served ice cold!" (thank-you Lisa Simpson), and this version included some earthy dahl.  At first, we couldn't figure out what the white bits were in the gazpacho - some thought noodles, some thought fish - but it was shredded egg white!  A nice, refreshing way to start a meal on a hot day.

Peking duck in fried mantou buns 
Cute!  I don't often eat mantou, but now I'm thinking I really should.  These little bites had the usual Peking duck fillings, encased in a crunchy, slightly sweet mantou bun.  Adding 'fried' to Peking duck? Great idea!  This is the type of thing I'd like to attempt making at home for parties.

Asian-style bruschetta
The Asian bruschetta tasted nice, with fresh coriander amping up the Asian factor, but it was a little too astringently onioney to be eaten in polite company, hehe.

Cauliflower samosas with pea purée
Our waiter told us these samosas came with 'pear purée', but a quick taste confirmed it was pea (I love peas!)  I also love cauliflower and fried food, so these were a winner for me.  I think I would have liked a little more cauliflower though.  It's such an underrated vegetable, but it is so good!

Tandoori chicken pizza
Again, my inner skeptic was slightly dubious about the prospect of a "tandoori chicken pizza", that regular feature of the suburban takeaway, but these turned out to be one of the more popular dishes of the afternoon.  The combination of a crispy and fluffy naan base, spiced chicken, creamy sauce and sweet chilli worked together well. It was more of an Indian-inspired canapé, rather than simply a pizza with an odd topping, as the name might suggest. Yum yum!

Deconstructed spring roll
Li's deconstructed spring roll was a mixture of vegetables encased by a deep-fried wonton skin.  I don't know if it tasted any better than a regular spring roll, but I must say they look a lot prettier!

Fish and chips with chilli mayonnaise, sansho pepper and nanami togarashi 
The last of the savouries were fish and chips, with chilli mayonnaise, sansho pepper and nanami togarashi.  We used to sell these bamboo boats at a shop where I once worked, but I'd never seen them in action, so to speak.  I think they're really cute!  Other bloggers described them as little sampans.  The fish itself was very fresh, moist and succulent, with only a thin layer of very crispy batter.  This was my favourite dish of the day.

(And yes, I know there was quite a bit of fried food, and I know I told y'all I'm eating healthy now, but in my defence I didn't finish everything on my plate, I've been going to the gym, and who are you anyway, my dietician???)

And speaking of which... for dessert we had incredibly decadent caramel brownies from the Bees Knees Brownie Company.  (Although looking at their website, I think these might be the dulce de leche brownies).
Bees Knees caramel brownies
I only had a tiny tiny piece - it was densely chocolatey, quite sweet from the caramel, but not tooth-achingly so.  Now I really wanna try making David Lebovitz' dulce de leche brownie recipe, but I don't know if it would be sensible for me to have a whole tray to myself!

And now, some people photos!

I totally love Violet's hair, and am in awe of how healthy it is.

I had a total der-brain moment taking this picture though - after I took it, I zoomed in on the curls and said to Sandra: "Wow, Violet's hair is so nice, look at the healthy ends!... Oh wait... we could just look across the table and see it in real life".  Hehe, d'oh!



Big thank-you to Robert and Li from Pan Asian for hosting lunch for us, and to Vanessa for organising the afternoon!  It was lovely to catch up with everyone, and great to see some new faces too.  If you guys blog the lunch, let me know and I can link to you!  All the best for 2011!!

This lunch has also been blogged by: 

Sarah and Sandra attended the lunch as guests of Pan Asian, with thanks to Vanessa from Nuffnang for the invitation.

Pan Asian on Urbanspoon

PM24


PM24
24 Russell Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
(03) 9207-7424

Some years ago, my favourite restaurant was The Brasserie by Phillipe Mouchel, in Crown.  We used to visit reasonably often, for my dad's birthday in '05, my birthday in '06, and more recently for my graduation in '07. I remember they did fabulous snails, a wonderful tarte aux pommes fines, and they had a great value lunch deal.  Then Phillipe left, and the food, well, took a turn for the worse.  ("Jato standard", as my dad would say).  So you can imagine how excited I was when, after hearing some faint rumblings and rumours, I read this article in The Australian, confirming that Phillipe was opening a new restaurant, PM24!  (I was equally sad when I realised the new restaurant was taking over the space previously occupied by Murasaki, one of my favourite Japanese restaurants).

We visited PM24 late last year, on a Monday night, to find the restaurant pleasantly buzzing.  The space has been transformed since its Murasaki days - gone are the cream carpets, beige walls and noren curtains, replaced with bright white walls, exposed ceilings and arty lamps.  I quite like it.


Phillipe was an energetic and constant presence throughout the night, standing outside the open kitchen and inspecting each dish before it was sent out.  Many of the waitstaff will be recognisable to regulars of The Brasserie at Crown, and the staff's experience and familiarity with each other means that everything tends to run quite smoothly.  On the night we visited, there didn't seem to be any of those teething problems you tend to associate with brand new restaurants.

Our party of 4 was seated at a small round table.  A typical Parisian cafe style table, it looked great, but wasn't particularly practical - in addition to the small table, the chairs had curved backs, which meant there was nowhere to put our bags.  It's not very comfortable eating a meal with handbags balanced precariously on your lap!  There was one positive about our location though - an unencumbered view of the pastry kitchen!


The meal starts with freshly baked bread rolls (definitely fresh - you can see them being baked throughout the night!), in a cute little cloth bag.
Freshly baked, warm bread rolls


They come with butter, salt, and a delicious dip made of fromage frais, olives and olive oil.  I thought it was fabulous, and liked it even better than the butter.  (This is a big call for me, as I looove butter!)

Fromage frais
Sandra and I had our eyes on the Rôtissoire chicken, so we skipped entrées altogether.  In fact, I find it difficult to finish a full 3-course meal in general.  My parents, however, weren't quite so restrained.

Burgundy Style Snails - Tomato fondue, garlic and parsley butter, toasted bread - 1/2 doz $19
My dad was particularly excited to have the snails - it was his favourite dish at The Brasserie, and he'd had a very disappointing version at a visit to The Brasserie, post-Phillipe.  This one, though, was exactly what he was after - tender snails swathed in loads of butter and garlic.

Seafood Niçoise Salad - Passionfruit, olive oil & rosemary vinaigrette, asparagus royale - $27.50
Mum's Niçoise salad was a little different from what I'd expected.  Rather than the traditional beans, tuna and olives, this version was closer to a seafood platter: prawns, mussels and clams, a few lettuce leaves, jade green cubes of asparagus royale, all lightly dressed.  I didn't try any, but my mum enjoyed it very much.

And now we come to the mains!  My dad ordered the wagyu assiette: a selection of different cuts of beef presented together, with extra jus on the side.  It reminded me, in essence, of The Point's "Taste of New Season's Lamb".  I love the idea of trying different cuts of beef in the one dish, rather than being confronted with a massive single steak.  (Heh, like the 400gm rib eye that defeated me in Tassie!)

Wagyu Assiette - cheek, shortrib, oyster blade - $55

Suckling Pig, Boudin Noir - Panko crumbed croquette, smoked pork jus and fresh corn - $38
Mum's pork dish comprised 2 piggy discs: a crumbed and crisp croquette, and a thick slice of boudin noir, with a scoop of corn purée, and a cute fried quail egg.  Quite intense, only for serious pork lovers!

Sandra and I each ordered the Organic chicken.  It takes 50 minutes to cook, slowly rotating in a rotisserie in the open kitchen.  Ta-dah!
Organic Chicken - Rosemary and preserved lemon, vegetables rôtisserie - $36
Beautiful, isn't it?  As it roasts, the juices from the chicken drips onto the vegetables, creating a wonderfully sticky, delicious accompaniment.  There were carrots, pumpkins, parsnips, potatoes, red onion and zucchini.
Mmm... vegetables
It was an extremely generous serving, and even without an entrée I barely managed to finish my plate.

I suppose we didn't really need sides, but we didn't realise how big the meals would be.  We got peas "in the French style", cooked with lettuce and pancetta.  (I don't normally add pancetta to the French peas I often make at home, but it makes a nice addition).
Peas French Style - $8.50
And fries!  We can't not order French fries when we go out, and these were great.  Slightly chunkier than traditional pommes frites, these were left unpeeled and very crispy.  Perhaps they were double-fried?
French fries - $8.50

After that massive plate of chicken, and more than my fair share of chips, I didn't want my own dessert.  But that's not to say I didn't sneak a few bites of the ones we did order!  Unfortunately, the chocolate waffles I saw on their online menu were no longer available (dang, I'll have to make my own), so we went for more classic desserts.
French crepes - Lemon curd, raspberries - $18
The crepes are made to order (again, you can see the pastry chef make them!).  They are filled with a thick smear of lovely lemon curd, and topped with a few raspberries and a quenelle of raspberry sorbet.  I loved the plate it was served on - a large black disc with a rough texture. Want!

The most dramatic dish of the evening was the Tahiti vanilla crème brûlée.  Rather than being pre-blowtorched in the kitchen, the sugar-topped custard is brought to the table and set alight!
Tahiti vanilla crème brûlée - $18

Oooh...!  How great does that look!  The downside to the dramatic approach is that the sugar didn't get crackly all the way across.  However, the custard was rich and creamy and full of lovely vanilla-bean flecks.

So far so good for the new PM24.  It made a great first impression, and I can't wait to go back and try some more!