18 February 2011

Gastronomy - Eating experiences

I may not be a gastronome but I know good food when I eat it. With no cooking tools and limited food in the cupboards, by default we are forced to dine out at least twice a day (lunch and dinner). So we experiment with different foods, particularly since the names give us no indication as to what me might end up getting.

We have been reasonably lucky to have very nice food 95% of the time. The other 5% just means that we didn't like the flavour or texture, not because there was anything wrong with the food.

For instance, I have been a devout eater of Ikea's meatballs and schnitzels in Richmond. Here the meatballs are very different. I dodn't like the flavour even though Trini did. She can have them. Schnitzels they don't have but they do some exceptionally yummy fried chicken wings. So whenever we visit Ikea that's just what we eat and we don't bother with anything else.

The next place we frequent is the downstairs open air cafe. It faces the pools and everything is cooked fresh. It's a bit of hit and miss, again not because there's anything wrong with the food, it's just that all the names are not descriptive of what we are about to get and we just may not necessarily like it. We are winging it a bit with the ordering but if we didn't we'd just stick to the safe ones that we know and end up eating very boring.

But let me tell you about some of our very yummy experiences. The local hawkers market consists of around 100 stalls of freshly made anything Asian along with a few stalls that squeeze some darn yummy juices for $2 which are not watered down or sugared. Our real estate agent took us out to dinner and across 4-5 stalls he ordered enough food to feed an army. Here is what our dinner consisted of:

- oyster omelette (sounds weird tastes divine)
- chilli stingray
- sambal kang kong (spicy wilted spinach)
- baby bok-choy in oyster sauce
- 40 skewers of chicken, pork, beef
- chilli calamari
- and fried rice of course (no Asian meal is complete without one)
- mango juices all around

Now can you imagine this feast. There was only 4 of us but we steadily went through the food and managed to demolish at least 80% of it. Pretty good effort I'd say.

We have also devoured garlic swordfish, fried chicken wings, more skewers (incl duck) and BBQ sotong (squid) on various other visits.

On someone's recommendation we visited the Mana Mana Beach Club outdoor cafe/restaurant which happens to be only a couple of minutes past the hawkers market. Tonight we feasted on dory fish fillet with ratatouille & passion fruit sauce, linguini aglio oglio with seafood & chilli flakes, margherita pizza for Trini for only $5 and shared a pineapple juice, green apple juice & ginger beer. We then went home to our downstairs cafe for a cone of ice cream which we ate sitting poolside.

After a visit to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for fingerprinting (which means John and I can now be found anywhere in the world, except for TJ as they don't fingerprint under 6 yo. The only thing she'd be guilty of is hijacking ice cream) and application for an ID card we went to Circular Quay and lunched at Real Food. All their food is organic and they serve no meat. The lunch was spectacular. A culinary delight with my taste buds partying for some time thereafter. We got a good dose of vegetable intake via a spinach/carrot/apple juice and also a carrot/ginger/pineapple juice. Trini had organic yoghurt mixed with fresh strawberries, blueberries and banana and topped with crushed peanuts and almonds. We shared a french toast with blueberry and banana topped with honey and an egg & potato with vinagairette salad topped with fetta cheese and cherry tomatoes.

The next target is the East Coast Seafood Centre which is described as a tri-block food centre, located on the beach, all open air restaurant, consisting of 7 major seafood restaurants. Chilli crab and black pepper crab are a specialty. Given that these restaurants are a bit heavier on the pocket, we decided to tackle all of them over a period of time. Perhaps once a month. It is also conveniently located about 10 minutes walk further away from the hawkers market.

Finally, I have mentioned Swensens in previous blogs but it is worth noting again under this blog as it is a truly delightful restaurant. Usually found in shopping centres, it is historically renown as an ice creamery which has diversified into meals as well. You should see some of the ice cream desserts. They are so mouthwatering that they are impossible to choose from. We shared a Firehouse Happy Birthday sundae consisting of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate flavours smothered with strawberry, pineapple and chocolate fudge toppings, cream and maraschino cherries. Meal wise we had salmon 'n mushroom pasta and spaghetti aglio oglio with chilli. We returned for a second visit and both had the spaghetti because it was so lovely and topped it off with a traditional banana split with choc, strawberry and vanilla scoops topped with fudge sauce and almonds. There are so many other meals on this menu, we look forward to returning. Here's the challenge. Find a big enough group of people to go for their Giant Earthquake dessert which consists of 8 different flavours of ice cream and each one with their own flavoured topping. Now all we have to do is choose from 20 different flavours. Piece of cake !!!!!!

I'm sure it is very quickly becoming evident that food places abound, the quality is exceptional and it is just a matter of trial and error and an adventurous spirit.

There is only one thing we were warned against by our real estate agent. Never buy the specials, because it usually means that the special is leftover food they were not able to sell and are now wanting to offload. A very interesting concept and not particularly inspiring. Warning well heeded.

Stay tuned for future additions of gastronimical experiences.