Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tonight it's party time...

Remember how I posted about my upcoming Mad-Men Themed birthday party?  Well, today is the big day!!!

The drinks station is set up...

The menus are printed...
Cocktail menu

Food menu

My hair is up...

The shrimps have been cocktailed...

The pie has been grasshoppered...

The eggs have been devilled...

And the fridge is stocked!

Includes a hangover-salving strata for tomorrow!

It's party time tonight!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Relaxing Homemade Indian Meal

It's been a while since I blogged a home-cooked meal, hasn't it?  In fact, I think the last meal I blogged was my entry for the Barossa's Table competition, almost three months ago!  Since we came home I've been so busy with work, social engagements and other projects that we've been dining out most nights and have barely cooked at all.  (Nothing noteworthy anyway).  And on the nights we have been at home, we've been so knackered that we've been getting takeaway and/or home delivery in. Eep!

But finally, the Easter weekend came - five whole days of relaxing, five days to sleep in, five days to catch up on my blog, five days to get back into the kitchen! 

I spent most of Friday happily pottering about the kitchen, putting together this yummy Indian meal.  I do enjoy Indian curries, but don't often cook them as they can be quite time consuming.

A Relaxing Homemade Indian Meal
Mughlai Chicken
Navratan Korma
Homestyle Garlic Naan

The chicken recipe comes from Nigella's Feast (recipe here!), I found the korma recipe on the internet, the pilaf was just basmati rice with onions and a few spices, and I adapted Jamie Oliver's recipe for Favourite Anytime Flatbreads to make the Naan.  (I've posted the recipe at the bottom of this post!).

I also got to break in my new Magimix Compact 3200, which was super-exciting!  I got it as a belated housewarming gift from my family friends Uncle Mike and Aunty Helen.  I love it! It's got 3 bowls of different sizes, and a whole range of super-sharp attachments.  I  used it to mince up the spice pastes for both curries, to chop up onions, to grate up paneer, and to knead the dough for the naan.

This is the spice-paste for Nigella's Mughlai chicken - loads of spices, garlic, ginger, water and almond meal.

As I mentioned, I simply googled the recipe for the navratan korma (one of my favourites for when I go to Indian restaurants), and was really happy with how it turned out.  The first step was to fry cashews in ghee, and it was so incredibly fragrant!  Love.  I was also happy to make something with a big vegetable contingent - something that's easy to miss when you're eating out a lot.

Here's the spice paste for the navratan korma -  I love the deep ochre tones of the paste.

It was only at the last minute that I decided to make naan to accompany the meal.  I love, love, love naan, but it's never worth ordering it take-away, as it always gets soggy by the time you bring it home.  This recipe is at the bottom of the post.  It's not exactly the same as a proper naan, cooked in a tandoor by an expert who makes naan day-in, day-out, but it's so tasty and easy - I'd highly recommend it!

You just mix everything in a food processor (check out the Magimix plastic dough attachment)...

... form a dough...

... roll it into portions, and fry on a griddle!  Look how much it puffs up.  It really smells like proper naan too.

Ta-dah!  I was so impressed with how they turned out.  I totally want to try making other naans now: kashmiri naan, cheese naan, plain naan... yum!

And here are the finished products...
Mughlai Chicken


Navratan Korma

Homestyle Garlic Naan
(adapted from Jamie Oliver's "Favourite Anytime Flatbreads")
Makes 6

250g plain flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp salt
250g Greek-style yoghurt

75g melted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbs flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

For the topping, simply stir all the ingredients together.
For the dough, place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, and mix to form a dough.  Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead lightly until smooth.   Set aside to rest for 15 minutes.  Heat a griddle pan to medium-high heat.  Divide the dough into 6 even(ish) pieces, and roll out thinly.  Brush a piece of dough lightly with vegetable oil, and cook for 1-2 minutes on the first side, until puffed up and stripily charred.  Flip over, brush with some of the garlic-butter mixture and cook for a further minute, until cooked through.
Repeat with the remaining dough pieces, and eat immediately.

Enjoy!  Did everyone else enjoy their long weekend? What did y'all get up to?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Atlantic

The Atlantic
Crown Entertainment Complex
8 Whiteman Street
Southbank VIC 3006
(03) 9698-8888

My birthday celebrations started a week early this year!  Yes, I am having a little party next weekend, but last night we had a fabulous family dinner at Donovan Cooke's new restaurant, The Atlantic.

The Atlantic is yet another new high-end restaurant in Crown, taking up an enormous space on the river between Nobu and Giuseppe Arnaldo and Sons.  I must admit I was a little nervous visiting a relatively new restaurant for a birthday meal - special occasions always carry a big weight of expectation, and I'd had some not-so-positive experiences from other high-end restaurants in Crown.  (Interestingly, I've always had good experiences at the in-house Crown restaurants - Number 8, JJ's etc., and it's only been the independently-run restaurants that have ever let me down).  However, The Atlantic came strongly, strongly recommended by a couple we know who are incredibly well-traveled and love high-end food.

The menu, which changes daily, is almost exclusively seafood based, with only three mains that don't include seafood.  The rest of the menu is divided into: Oysters, Caviar, Cold and Hot Starters, Premium Fish Selection (both on and off the bone), as well as Salads and Sides.  They follow an "ocean to plate" philosophy, with seafood being sourced "from quota driven areas as set by the authorities".

In keeping with the menu, the restaurant is styled with nautical touches.  I love these water glasses!

From where we sat - "The Cabins" - I had a great view straight into the open kitchen.

Open Kitchen
The whole restaurant is a very slick operation, despite only being open for a short amount of time.  From the staff handling our reservation, to the concierge (I'm never sure if the correct term is maître d, captain, or simply manager), to our waiter and the sommelier, we were treated in a very professional and friendly manner.  Small touches, like having staff greet you as you walk through the restaurant, contributed to the lovely atmosphere.  Our waiter and sommelier were very much across the intricacies of the menu, and were skilled in judging what we needed - whether it was more time, a helpful suggestion, or even a place to hang our coats.  Food and drinks were brought out impressively quickly, and we were never left waiting or struggling to catch the attention of waitstaff.

We started with a round of cocktails.  (Y'all know I can never resist a cocktail!)  The Atlantic has a very impressive drinks list, with custom cocktails and a good selection of (pricey) wines by the bottle, by the glass and by the half bottle (yay!).  (You may remember my previous post about Moortangi Estate - their Old Vine Shiraz is also on the wine list.)

The cocktails are designed to go with different items on the menu, but we just drank them as aperitifs.  
The Sparkling Oyster Cocktail - a Peychards soaked sugar cube sunken in a sea of sparkling wine with a float of Grand Marnier. $20

Port Phillip Punch - Makers Mark bourbon, port, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar syrup. $18

Fisherman's Margarita - Herradura blanco tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, agave syrup, sea salt. $18
All the cocktails we chose had clean, sharp flavours, and worked really well as aperitifs. The margarita sure packed a punch!  We didn't visit The Den bar downstairs, but based on these cocktails, I'd really like to try it out!

With our mains, we ordered a half-bottle of Beauroy 2008 Chablis on the recommendation of the sommelier. With only two of us drinking, we were originally going to order by the glass, but then the sommelier pointed us in the direction of the half-bottle page, where we could get a similar amount of wine, but of better quality.  The wine had that oaky aroma I love in white wines, with a crisp finish - it complemented the food well.  At $58 for the half-bottle, it was quite expensive, but not more so than if we'd ordered three separate glasses.

And now, the food.  For her entrée, my mother ordered the trio of crudo - a refreshing, light dish with incredibly fresh fish.
Trio of Crudo - kingfish, yellowfin tuna, New Zealand king salmon, pickled cucumber, diakon (sik), horseradish, lime. $32
Both my father and I went for the famous seafood cocktail.
Atlantic Seafood Cocktail - crayfish, scallop, crab, prawn, iceberg, rockmelon, green apple, basil, soft boiled quail eggs. $35
In the seafood cocktail were generous pieces of scallop, crayfish, prawn and crab, with teeny-tiny cubes of fresh fruit in a lightly creamy sauce.  The cubes of fruit provided a nice touch of sweetness - absolutely delicious.

For her main, Sandra ordered the Pure Black Angus Sirloin, and declared it the best steak she'd ever had in Australia!

300g 200 Day Grain Fed Dry Aged Pure Black Angus Sirloin. Sea salt, olive oil, lemon.  $48
My parents and I each chose from the "on the bone" section of the menu - whole fish available wood fired, roasted or steamed with a choice of sauces.  The fish were presented very simply - just placed on the plate with a wedge of lemon and a bowl of the sauce.  It is a very confident move by Cooke, to prepare such a simple dish, and let the quality of the produce speak for itself.

Roasted Garfish (Port Albert, VIC) with salsa verde. $44

Roasted Rock Flathead (Mornington Peninsula, VIC) with buerre blanc.  $39
Dad ordered his flathead with buerre blanc, and they brought out the antiboise sauce by mistake - no matter though, as it was almost immediately replaced when we informed them.

And my baby snapper!  Recommended by our waiter as his favourite of all the fish on-the-bone.
Wood-fired Baby Snapper (Queenscliff, VIC) with buerre blanc.  $44 
Each fish was amazing, and I absolutely loved the buerre blanc.  It was a little tricky eating around the bones (especially the garfish!), and despite eating fish on the bone since I was little, it still took a bit of work and time to actually get the flesh.

Aah... there we go.
As for sides, we got a simple green salad, and the creamiest mashed potatoes I've had in a long time.  (I shudder to think how much butter and cream there was in the mash!)  Both sides were very strongly seasoned, so I'm glad that our mains were delicately flavoured.
Mixed young leaves - French dressing, tarragon, chives, shallots. $10

Mashed Bintje Potatoes - butter, cream, nutmeg. $10
The dessert menu doesn't appear on the website, so I was excited to see what would be on offer.  Desserts range in price from $19 - $25, and are based on classic, unchallenging combinations, with a hint of fun - exactly what we were in the mood for.  (I am not sure if the dessert menu is constant or changes regularly).

Strawberries & Cream - layered shortbread, lemon mascarpone, strawberry salad. $19
My dessert comprised three very thin shortbread discs, sandwiching a creamy lemon mascarpone with a dash of strawberry sauce on the inside.  On the edges of the plate were little piles of diced strawberries, cubes of strawberry jelly and dehydrated slices of strawberry too.  Wonderfully fresh, and I loved the different gradients of strawberry flavours and textures.

Rum & Raisin Sandwich - valrhona mousse, cookie, chocolate croquant. $20
My parents shared the rum-and-raisin sandwich - two chewy dark chocolate cookies sandwiching creamy ice-cream, with a quenelle of rich chocolate mousse and some rum-soaked raising to the side.  I had a taste, and found it too strongly alcoholic, but it would have been perfect for lovers of the rum & raisin flavour combination.

Vanilla Panna Cotta - quince, pear, nougat, fairy floss. $19
The panna cotta layer in Sandra's dessert was well executed, but when combined with the fruit and fairy floss, the overall effect was a little too sweet.

Finishing off the meal were coffees and a little sweetmeat...

In the below jar was a delicious chocolate-and-peanut-covered crunchy caramel.  It was kind of like a dime bar, but better.  So addictive!

And that was our meal at The Atlantic!  We had a fantastic night, and really couldn't fault anything.  I can't wait to come back and try more from the menu!

The Atlantic on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Barossa's Table: TeAro Estate

Don't you love this super-cool lanyard the guys at TeAro Estate made for me the day I visited their winery?  It was so thoughtful and nice!  The team at TeAro put so much care and effort into my visit, and I had The Best Time with them.

TeAro Tasting Room 

TeAro Estate Tasting Room
20 Queen St
Williamstown SA 5351
(08) 8524-6860

Jaci and I met TeAro's Todd Rowett at the Tasting room in Williamstown.  He's the business development manager, 'brand ambassador', and all-round nice guy.  (He's also married to the boss' daughter!)  The tasting room is relatively new, and I was really impressed by how lovely it is - it actually felt like a hotel on the inside!  We were only there for a brief moment, however, as there was a busy itinerary to follow!

We drove to the family homestead and vineyard, where I got to have a look at a massive grape harvester.

This huge piece of equipment straddles (for want of a better word) the row of vines and plucks the grapes as it's driven along.

We then drove through the vineyard...

... and pulled over at the bottom of this hill.  Todd said we were climbing up the hill to that little blue tent.  But what was up there?

*Gasp!* A private tasting overlooking the vineyard, set up just for me!

There were so many nice little touches - music playing, flowers in a vase...

... some grapes...

... and a little cheese platter!

We did a vertical tasting of Grenache and Tempranillo, hosted by Todd and 4th generation vigneron Ryan Fromm.

TeAro Estate has been a vineyard since 1919, harvesting their entire crop for the larger wineries in the region.  It was only in 2001 that they started producing their own wine, starting with a tonne of Shiraz (naturally).

This funky little device measure the baumé of the grapes...

...and also makes a nifty telescope! Hehehe.
Captain Ryan
The baumé scale basically measures how much sugar there is in the grapes, and thus how alcoholic the resulting wine will be.

Now, this device is called a Vinturi Aerator, and it aerates the wine if you can't wait for the wine to breathe.  Next week from Tuesday to Thursday, the team are running an event called 'Air-Time at TeAro' as part of the Barossa Vintage Festival, a workshop in which they'll showcase the Aerator.  I'd definitely recommend it if you're in the area at the time - I'm sure it'll be awesome!

Let's check out the gorgeous view. Apparently Todd proposed to his wife Kelly up here - isn't that beautiful?  How incredibly romantic!

We then traveled down to the original family homestead...

...and I got to ride with Trev From (Ryan's dad) on a vintage tractor, which he'd restored himself.

After that we enjoyed a nice, refreshing glass of Grandma Fromm's Fruit Cup, made by Kelly, 4th generation family member, tasting room and event manager, and wife of Todd.  It sure was nice to have a cool drink on a hot day.  (They also thought I might be a little wine-d out by that stage - I told you they were thoughtful!)

This door got burnt in a fire many many years ago.

It was so interesting to walk around the homestead and see how people used to live.

Following the tour, we were taken back to the Tasting Room, where Kelly took us through a TeA Time @ TeAro tea tasting experience.

We enjoyed a Scullery Made wine and roses tea.  It is locally made in the Barossa, and has a beautiful deep red colour, and a floral, fruity, slightly sweet taste.

And as if there hadn't already been enough indulgence that day, we were treated to some Coveiter Cupcakes.  Coveiter is a Barossa-based business, and make the most amazing cupcakes!

They were vanilla cupcakes with vanilla Swiss buttercream, injected with homemade zesty lemon curd.  Kelly told me that Charmaine from Coveiter had been up late the night before making the lemon curd from scratch!  It sure was worth it - it was delicious!  Often commercial cupcakes can be dry, with crusty icing, but these were fabulous!  The cake was tender and moist, the the buttercream was so silky and fluffy! 
Mmm... look at that silky buttercream!
The little grapes were handmade from gumpaste - love the detail on the leaves.

look at the detail!

Grandpa Ron Fromm (who inspired the 'Iron Fist' Grenache) joined us for the tea-tasting, and brought some apples from his garden too.  (He must've thought I was a little strange for taking pics of cakes and apples!)

Here's Kelly and her gorgeous little girl - what a sweetie!  I think the cutest thing I ever saw was when Kelly asked her: "Where's Daddy?", and she replied: "Cellar door!"  Apparently she's started swirling her juice in her cup like her parents do when they drink wine.  Perhaps a future vigneron in the making?

I had such a fantastic time at TeAro, and was totally floored by the great experience they put on for me.  As if that wasn't enough, they also generously gave me a showbag with a bonus cupcake (yeah!) and a bottle of their Two Charlies 2007 GSM wine to take home. Thanks so much guys!

Sarah visited TeAro Estate as a guest of Tourism Barossa, as part of the prize for winning the Barossa's Table competition, with big thanks to Todd, Ryan, Trevor, Kelly, Ron and the whole family for an absolutely amazing experience!