Wednesday, May 28, 2008

From technology to calories, its a crisis!

Saturday night I took my fury out on my pink Dell Inspiron 1525 when I couldn't connect to my wireless broadboand 3 connection to talk to Sameer. I shut down and re-started my computer a couple of times as that usually solves the problem of being unable to connect to the internet, when that didn't work I swore profously at the computer, slammed the screen down complaing how I hated my computer and technology in general - and the fact that Austrlian internet is so unpredicatable and annoying!!!! Having bitched out my computer all night I woke up feeling rather guilty, pressing the power button with much hope, trying to coax it to come on - but nothing but a blank black screen blinking time-clock-has-stopped! What on earth that means I have NO idea. It's been five days since it last worked and I am on my last nerve having waited on Dell's toll free technical support number for over an hour and half yesterday - not to mention theridiculous amounts spent on calling from my cell phone! This morning I finally managed to get someone on the phone at 8 am. So moral of the story - for anyone that ever has this problem aim to be the first caller of the day!!!!

Technical support should be coming my way in the next two days - keeping my fingers crossed. In the mean time my weight has been consuming all my time - I have become so conscious about everything I put into my body, how much, how often, reading labels that Cari my American friend has been teaching me all about the nasty world of marketing strategies. Apparently Uncle Toby's is not my friend - do you have any idea the amount of sugar he stuffs into those innocent 'healthy' looking museli bars!! You would not imagine...

Now my fridge is stocked with 99.9 per cent fat free and sugar free tropical yoghurt, double smoked 98 per cent fat free ham and hummus - so healthy supposedly - all I know so delish with a drizzling of good old olive oil - which is apparently also good for you and ok in small dosages! I have becomae a woman obssessed with trying to squeeze my bottom back into my size 0 mango troussers, but its been two weeks and although I have managed to wriggle my way back into them it doesnt fit like I would like them to!!!!

When and how I got to this stage that weight and looking super slim has got the better of me I don't knwo - I mean obviously I always liked looking good, fashion and food are my two bext freinds, but then so is fitness.... its my three fav F's! Just all of a sudden balancing the three out has become an enormous struggle.

In addition I have been working out twice a day! I wake up at 7.30 and go for a 40 - 50 minute run prior to scarving down a bowl of museli or bran cornflakes with raisins!!! Fruit has become the chosen snack as well as yoghurt, I havent touched a carb in over four weeks, and well chicken mince has replaced the beef, my first love. I thought lets try being 'healthy' and eating 'clean' for well as long as I can, its been two weeks, and I think I'm cracking! Yesterday I ahd dreams of muffins, all kinds, oozing blueberries, macademias and white chocolate... ohhhh! How sinful, and I actually walked into a cafe ready to order one of those little backed devils, when my good sense caught me and picked the greek salad instead. But today, well I've consumed three slices of toasted bread - after 4 weeks and well, let me jsut say - wow! Never remember bread tasting so good! LOL! And well i'm back in the gym for a one hour wlak on the treadmill and suats and lunges etc to burn those thunder thighs... WORK!!!! PLease work!

I think I need to go out and satiate myself with something well simply put - gastronomically delightful, NOt healthy - this afternoon Cari and Amy will be putting together some home made bechamel sauce, making their own lasagna sheets and preparing a fresh and aromatic tomato sauce, so I'm gonna go over to show my support for 'slow' food and well chug a couple of martinis and sit back and watch them go at it. Tomorrow we're going to feast on it at Jackies. And yes,... there will be pictures soon, so look out for them to come shortly...

As for now, I'm either going to head to the gym or gulp down those martinis.. what will it be...?!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Cari's Bday at McLaren Vale

After an hour of driving or should I say of being driven, (Peter was the designated driver for the day) we jumped out at the main street in McLaren Vale ready with umbrellas to shield us from the pelting rain. We stopped at Blessed Cheese to grab a hot drink to help get us going. White chocolate in a mug - yummo -a cup full of heaven!

Next we popped over to Yummy Nuts to pick up some snacks for the ride... well we needed an excuse to buy stuff!
I am totally obssessed with these steep hill slopes, so not used to this kind of terrian. Just love it - totally blows my mind that we effortlessly drive up and down over such large hills!

The first winery on the agenda - Samuel's Gorge. Look at the valley from up here....

The cellar doors open to a fascinating world that takes you back in time with an ancient olive press and a beautiful stone hearth that provided us with much needed warmth on that cold, cold day.

The Grenfell is what Samuel's Gorge is known for and attracted much of Cari and Pete's attention.
Luca, the Belgian lady who worked there was so pleasant and was not only knowledgable but just so easygoing we ended chatting with her for ages - long more than we planned on! Personally the wines at Samuel's were far too dry, but what I liked was the finish on them was smooth unlike a lot of the Aussie reds.

Since we lost track of time spending two hours at Samuel's Gorge with Luca, all of a sudden it was 2. 15 pm and that made finding a place to eat lunch quite an adorous task. Initially we planned on eating at Coriole's winery which is supposed to have a super-cute little restaurant attached, but to our bad luck the rain shut the place down. So, we decided to well, taste some more wines.

The garden outside Coriole is so well maintained and pretty.

I picked up a Semillon (dessert wine) from Coriole, Peter some fortified wine, and then we headed off. Getting back into our comfy Mitsubishi rental car, Cari had a look at her map and her guide and we stumbled upon Salopian Inn a beautiful little mom and pop place. We had been nibbling all morning long on nuts, chocolate and wasabi peas so we decided to get a couple of entrees, some crusty bread and olive oil as well as some sides to share. We opted for the lamb brain that was crumb fried - a typically Aussie dish that all of us were pretty eager to try. On recomendation, we also tried the baked Roquefort tart dressed with local fig on a bed of rocket with pear slices and walnuts. Both were delicious the lamb was really, really good! A squeeze of lemon though would have lifted the flavour.

The views from McLaren Vale were just breathtaking and I couldn't stop clicking away. Inspite of it being a horrid day in terms of gloomy overcast skies and buckets of rain, the landscape was just gorgeous.
After our lunch and a bottle of red selected by Amy and Peter from the cellar below the restaurant we resumed our wine tasting, heading to Marion's boyfriend, Tim's winery Primo Estates. We were served up some of their splendid Joseph Olive Oil - don't be alarmed by the neon green oil. This oil was pressed and bottled in the last two weeks and had a rather overwhelming robust flavour to it. If used in cooking the oil would overpower the dish so it would need to be used carefully to drizzle just to finish salads and to eat with bread. I somehow really felt this could be used very well in a mayo suspension with seafood very effectively.

Primo Estates Winery was distinctly different from the wineries we visited in the morning. Upmarket and sophisticated it oozed elegance and had this ultra chic - glam feel to it. The decor was really up my street and the contemporary furniture, smooth angles and suave lighting and fixtures was contrasting against the rustic appeal of Samuel's Gorge and Corioles cute old world charm.
The outside courtyard really caught my fancy. Tim says they hold open house style BBQ's and pot lucks out here - you can just picture it. Really is the perfect spot!
Before heading to Victory Bar for a pre-dinner drink (coz we were running low on wine - haha!) we made a pitstop at a nearby beach to catch the surf hitting the shore.

A bottle of white Pinot Gris was enjoyed under the warm outdoor heaters. The plastic tarpulin almost blew away with the rain getting really aggressive while we sipped our wine.

The Hundred Eaves - Caris pick for her birthday dinner is an old chapel that has been restored and revamped into a little restaurant tucked off of the main road. The interiors have been paid special attention as well as the antique chandeliers.

Cheers to Cari on her big day - she only reminded us it was her birthday about a zillion times!!! The Beetroot Roulade was the entree special of the day that was rather dissapointing! Nothing special there... sorry ! The chook = Aussie for chicken, pate was well not good. I'm anyhow not a chicken liver pate fan, so this was no fun for me! My main was the prawn and fish chowder pie that was pretty good. The roasted sweet potato though had me absolutely floored. What a thing of marvel, the chef actually got this piece of vegetable to taste like a piece of smoked meat. Wow - it was just beyond brilliant! Peter's Kangaroo Steak was really cooked to perfection!

Marion invited us to her home in the hills for some exqusite French cheese and more wine. We would be insane to say no and marched up after dinner and stayed up scarving this addictive cheese down till 2 a.m! The creamy one with the spoon in it was divine: L'Edel de Cleron.
This was a work of art - Opera - layers of chocolate cream, coffee cream and sponge cake made by Amy for Cari. She pipped it and just made it look so pretty and it tasted so good!!!

Behold, Jackie's magnificent kitchen

Having us over mid week dearest Jackie was a darling and invited us over for dinner on Saturday of the same week, wooing us with roasted lamb... how could I resist. Peter, Cari and I marched up enticed by the idea of enjoying a delicous home, cooked meal.

Jacks started us off on some nibbles as she called them - they were pretty darn good. Her rock melon wrapped with parma ham was lovely and she had some wonderful Maggie Beer pate and spiced hummus dip. After settling ourselves with a drink we dug in and helped ourselves.

Look at this beauty - what a perfect roast, tied to hold it together and keep all that flavour from oozing out. Jacks skillfully sliced off the thread and sliced up the lamb that was done beautifully, a tender pink on the inside and just slightly crisp on the outside.
Stuffed with pine nuts and delicate herbs the lamb was just aromatic and bursting with a smoky flavour.

Ultra crispy potatoes had Cari in a tizzy, asking for tips on how to get so crispy... I can't reveal them here. Roasted bell peppers and aubergines and Turkish bread made for some great accompaniments.
Amy stole the show again with a wicked Kiwi Key Lime Pie. Unfortunately a little too much gelatin went into this and the top was a little tricky.

Community Gardening and more...

What started out as a gastronomical fieldtrip to a community garden turned out into quite an evening thanks to the effortless hostess with the mostess, Jackie Singh!

We met with Cheong Liew, executive chef at The Grange restaurant at The Hilton, Adelaide who discussed with us his inspiration, his inventions and his style of cooking that involves heavily fusionised Asian style cooking. Liew is originally from Kuala Lumpur and has been living in South Australia since he was a young boy. After several slides and heady descriptions I walked out of his kitchen an awe eager to eat at his restaurant, but miffed at the horrendous prices. His degustation menu is priced at almost AUD 200 per head with wine! Whopa!!!
If your interested in finding out a little bit more about Chef Liew:

We proceeded to a community garden around the block, unfortunately it was a grey, overcast day with the rain coming down on spurts... like most days in Adelaide are nowadays! Although a great concept community gardening is not a concept that particularly appeals to me - and the shabby upkeep really didn't convince me either. Perhaps it was that my cramps and PMS got to me that day - I dunno. What caught my attention was a beautiful tree that was so pretty with and looked like a still from Memoirs of a Geisha.

Another thing that caught my attention was the Star of Jerusalem, a plant/ flower my mum has talked volumes about but that I have never actually seen. There you go mum: for you...

After the day trip was done, Jackie invited us over for a spontaneous dinner so we hit up a local deli, well it was more than a deli anyhow, she bought some of the most succulent mussels I have ever tasted.



Amy whipped up this simple - well it looked simple, gorgeous mussels cooked in white wine. The produce at this place was so fresh and the servers so freindly, they gave us some free sushi! I can't wait to come back here and pick up some of their stuff. Looks at these spatchcocks and quail beautifully dressed.

Some other stuff I was pretty excited about that day included the abundance of sea food and condiments!

Mushroom wonderland

Jackie and her beautiful family sit down to a wonderful meal prepared with love and great flair...

We had a spread of Indian food prepared by Jackie and her mother made the fish curry. The food was great and we enjoyed it all with some gorgeous sparkling Shiraz. Thanks for a wonderful evening Jacks!