Austin Bush and I have been throwing around ideas for new projects for a while but the one that that seems to have most resonance is chasing down regional Thai food. Sure, there’s Thai food cookbooks aplenty, but few (if any) that contextualise Thai food into regions. There’s a competition on at the moment, throwing around money at a photo comp that could fund such a project.
It’s a long shot (and probably the most unconventional of means of funding food writing and photography), but it’s worth a try.
I’m heading to Hong Kong in April (also, Sydney for the search nerdery of SMX, KL for a stopover and Cambodia to placate Phnomenon fans).
I don’t even know where to start in HK apart from what I trawl from Diana Kuan’s Appetite for China.
I updated my list of Australian food bloggers and in my post-work statistical analysis haze, I pulled out Excel. There are 176 blogs in my list, broken down as follows:
||No. of Blogs
As percentages, the results seem pretty obvious: food-obsessed Melburnians creating the bulk of the food blogs followed by NSW and the other smaller states lagging behind.
But then we haven’t adjusted for population differences.
The surprise: in the ACT there is one food blogger per 30,983 inhabitants, the clear leaders when it comes to producing food bloggers. NSW and WA produce food bloggers at roughly the same rate (one per 161,092 people and one per 177,566 people respectively).
If you write a food blog in Australia, you’re one in 120,330 people.
If you’re missing from the list, let me know.
I’ve moved into the house of an expatriate Slovenian bootlegger and as soon as I’ve set up a rotisserie, it feels like home again.
If there is a single item of cookware that I could be trapped with on a desert island, it would be the rotisserie, although only if there was an indigenous chicken or lamb population. Cooking a whole chicken any other way cheats you of pleasure. The above chicken was rubbed with salt, ground cumin and pepper. There is no recipe, just add any quantity of those two spices and mineral together, rub it on a plump dead chicken and rotate the chicken over fire.
There’s been multiple posts of late rueing the mutual slump in food blogging mojo in Australia. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been renovating a house and the only thing less entertaining than manual labour is having someone tell you about manual labour in great detail when you’re expecting some sort of food narrative. How home renovation manages to survive as a genre of television is bewildering to me. Then again, it’s not as if I’ve been posting frequently or in depth at lastappetite.com in the preceding months.
So what has happened to Australian food blogging? Is it part of a wider trend or just the people whom I read? Is the smoke haze affecting the food? Financial crisis? I wrote about food blogging being dead at the start last year but maybe it is actually coming to fruition.
The best part of growing a garden is harvesting more than you can eat in a single sitting. It’s easy to see how harvest festivals started with a seemingly endless bounty of food in a few scant weeks of ripeness.
The bucket of “Tommy Toe” heirloom tomatoes is hardly endless but the tomatoes have completely subsumed the entire garden. Originally there were four varieties of tomato in there, but I’ve only managed to harvest two.
Somewhere beneath are some suffering cucumbers, an eggplant that has borne a single fruit and a capsicum that has done nothing. I should have planned for this to happen. Just for comparison, below is how the garden looked in winter, detailed in the earlier guerrilla garden post. Neat rows, nothing untoward.
Another year, another chance for lion dancers to molest the unwary.
The risk of a lion dancer catching aflame grows each year.
The hanging iceberg lettuce attracts them. Welcome to the Chinese New Year.
I had a vague plan to hit up some dumpling joints but was derailed by a newish Malaysian place: Old Town Kopitiam. It looks much like the gentrified coffee shops in Kuala Lumpur with shiny marble table tops, uncomfortable stools and dark timber aplenty. Maybe they’re not just a clone of the Old Town Coffee but a real franchisee? On the upside, the menu reads like Malaysia’s greatest culinary hits: bah kut teh, char kway teow, lor bak, rendang, cendol. Their char kway teow comes with the option of bonus clams which is always a good sign. And they’re all priced in the pre-millennium sub-$10 a plate range.
The nasi lemak ($8!) is a bit short on the coconut but has the crispiest ikan bilis (fried anchovies) possible. The beef rendang was collapsing under its own weight, thick with actual herbs and spices rather than something that had come from a can.
They were fresh out of cendol. All the more reason to go back.
Location: 195 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, Australia
I miss the threat posed by random drinks especially one in a bottle that has been reused until it develops a thick ring of scratched glass. Sadly, this one isn’t alcoholic.
Limca tastes like stale lemonade that someone has attempted to revive with a teaspoon of powdered ginger. There is no saving it. The cap says “Contains No Fruit”, which becomes obvious by the time you’ve had a few swigs. As a small positive, it is barely carbonated and lightly sweetened.
Source: India at Home, 565 Barkly St, West Footscray, Melbourne
Happy New Year.
The great Australian side effect of Baby Boomers with too much time on their hands is the backyard pizza oven. I’m certainly not complaining. For all that grief that has been caused by Gen-X being locked out of the managerial class is now being repaid in hot, crusty pizza. Who else has the time to salvage bricks and construct or owns the property to put it on? Who else got so obsessed by Tuscany?
This is the caramelized leek and blue cheese pizza that I shamelessly stole from Y Carusi restaurant in Brunswick, Melbourne. If you’re short on leek, you can always bulk it up with caramelised onion but frankly anything sweet with blue cheese fits on pizza: cooked pumpkin, multitude stone fruits, pears, figs. I’m no purist.
In the background is sopressa, olives and Black And Gold-brand preshredded mozarella. Buffalo mozarella be damned.
Leek and blue cheese, coming fresh from the oven.
The full spread.