Tag Archives: food

Lion huntress Melissa Bachman and wild food

hardcore huntressThis is not a hunting blog, although recently reading the furor that has gone viral on the internet after pictures of “hardcore huntress” Melissa Bachman with her trophy lion, being a chef I got thinking about the ethics involved in where our food comes from and people’s opinions regarding this. It is an interesting debate regarding wild food and the ethics surrounding it.  I read the comments of one of the articles and this picture has certainly enraged some people and has sparked some pretty intense debate. Lions are officially a “vulnerable species” with much of their range being reduced outside of national and game parks, most likely due to human encroachment. Bachman apparently shot this lion on a game park where people pay up to tens of thousands of dollars to shoot one of the “big five” African game species. There seems to be two distinct arguments from people, one is that she shouldn’t be shooting a lion and the other is that nobody should be shooting anything. As far as I am concerned, yes nobody should be shooting any animal which is at any sort of threat of being endangered and I think most people would agree upon this.   That nobody should be shooting anything… well this I am not sure about.  I think in our world of convenience a lot of people have a disassociation between food and where it actually comes from, ie meat comes from a living, breathing animal. I think that a boneless, skinless chicken breast in plastic wrap sitting on the pak n sav poulty section is so far removed from what was a few days before a walking breathing and feathered chicken that people have forgotten this fact. If you are a person who eats meat, why then would you be opposed to hunting? If an animal in the wild is shot in the correct place with an appropriate sized rifle and  therefore dies a fast and humane death then what makes this worse than factory farmed animals? red deerPersonally if you asked me what I would rather be re-incarnated into, would it be an animal that was born in captivity, fed an artificial diet possibly full of steroids to make me grow fast, lived my entire (short) life in a cage before being jammed into the back of a truck before being stunned, bled and then processed OR would it be an animal born into the wild and living free before one day being shot in the head, well that’s a no brainer (sorry no pun intended…). If an animal such as red deer which are plentiful (and actually considered a “pest” by the New Zealand Department of Conservation) are shot and humanely killed with none of the meat wasted then what’s the difference between that and the cow that ends up as sirloin steak in the supermarket? Perhaps because it’s a little bit more in your face and shows the reality of the food chain? Perhaps we have come to a point in time where meat from a cow is now more associated with a Quarter Pounder than the thing that eats grass and goes moo?hot dogs Now if you want to see something really disgusting you should google how a hot dog is made, although I doubt anyone would think twice about ordering one at the rugby but they might think twice about looking a cow in the eye and pulling the trigger. But that’s how it works, people have to kill living creatures in order for us to eat them, maybe even after they have been processed, mechanically reclaimed and emulsified with water, colour and preservatives before being made into hot dog or sausage patty shapes and then making their way into everyone’s Sausage McMuffin… Compare that with wild game which has grazed on a natural and superior diet which results in a better flavoured and higher quality meat. I think the only people who can argue against sustainable, humane and ethical hunting would be vegans. I respect anyone who has an opinion based on moral grounds and sticks to their guns, I can appreciate that. Anyone else, well it’s a bit hypocritical arguing against hunting when it’s just someone else who is doing your killing for you, isn’t it??? 

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Coconut and kaffir lime panna cotta w passion fruit pulp

This is an excellent dinner party dessert; make it all before hand and just pull it out whenever you’re ready.Coconut Panna Cotta

Coconut and kaffir lime panna cotta w passion fruit pulp
Serves 8
This is a very simple dessert but with some really nice tropical flavours. The coconut is quite rich so you want to serve it with something a little acidic like the passion fruit to balance the cream and the sweetness.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 20 min
Panna cotta
350ml coconut cream
100ml milk
60g sugar
4 kaffir lime leaves
½ stalk lemongrass
½ vanilla pod – split/scraped
2 leaves gelatine
Passion fruit
Fresh passionfruit
Icing sugar (if desired)
For the panna cotta
Bring all ingredients except the gelatine together to the scald in a pot and leave to infuse. Stir to dissolve sugar. Bloom the gelatine in a little cold water and then dissolve in the still hot mix. Pass. Cool down over a bowl of ice until starting to thicken, set in ramekins.
To serve
Dip the ramekins in some hot water for a few seconds to just start to melt a little of the dessert enough to release. Turn out onto a cold plate. Serve with some of the freshly scooped passion fruit pulp.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/

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Indian Cuisine in the Islands

DSC_6942 We are probably all familiar with the most famous Indian dishes such as the North Indian butter chicken and South Indian Biryani and Vindaloo but the term Indian cuisine actually encompasses a wide variety of different and unique food styles. Each region has their own flavours and ingredients from a country covering a vast swathe of land. Different parts of the country have their own specialties using ingredients common to their particular location. DSC_6947For example Kerala has more use of coconut, Rajasthan uses more milk and ghee than some other regions and Gujarat has it’s own unique mostly vegetarian style.   I was lucky enough to live in Kuala Lumpur and experience food cooked by Indians who make up a significant percentage of Malaysia’s population. In KL the Indian cuisine is generally speaking a “greatest hits” of dishes from different regions using a great variety of ingredients that would often not be available in the geographically separated regions in India. This is the style of cuisine that we serve at the resort. 

One of my favorite dishes is Lamb Rogan Josh from the Kashmir region. It’s relatively mild heat and use of fragrant spices really appeals to me and of course as with everything, is better is cooked using meat on the bone. Some of the dishes we serve include Chicken Shorba; a lightly spiced clear chicken soup with coriander, Dal Makhani; whole black lentils simmered with ginger, garlic, and herbs and Keema Mattar which is minced lamb cooked with peas, onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, spices and herbs with fresh coriander.

We are lucky enough here to have a full show kitchen including a Tandoor oven and a skilled Tandoor chef who cooks to order Naan and Tandoori chicken to have with your meal along with a range of accompaniments such as raita, mango chutney, lime pickle and poppadom. Raita is a yoghurt sauce made with cucumber and often a little cumin or mint and acts as a cooling agent to have with your meal, especially helpful if you’re a bit of a softie and can’t handle your heat!

 

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Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

IMG_2016Salamat Datang Ke Malaysia.   Welcome to Malaysia… Kuala Lumpur, what a wonderful city. For me it is one of my most favorite places in the world. Having worked and lived here it has IMG_2010fond memories for me and is a fantastic place to be. KL is a melting pot a different cultures, food, sights and smells. More developed than Vietnam but less developed and sterile than Singapore, in KL you can find anything you want. Kuala Lumpur is a place of great variety and contradictions but this is where in lies its charm for me. One moment you can be in a sprawling shopping mall walking past (but not often into for me!) shops named Gucci, Versace, Dunhill and 5 minutes walk away can be in an area with open drains with people washing dishes and cooking on the street. Whatever IMG_1960your preference and price range you can find it in KL and this goes also for food and drink. You can have dinner at a 5 star deluxe Shangri-La cooked by an ex-French Laundry chef for several hundred dollars and then walk 5 minutes down the road and have some amazing street food sitting on a plastic stool on the road paired with a cold Tiger or Carlsburg for a fraction of the cost of your starter.IMG_1986 If you’re into shopping the two most up-market malls are Suria KCLL which is part of the Petronas Twin Towers and Pavillion which is at the end of Bukit Bintang and accessible by an overhead walkway to and from KLCC. Other more value for money shopping centres are BB Plaza, Lot 10 and Sunei Wang which are all on or near Bukit Bintang. If you want to go for a more local and cheaper experience then Chow Kit Markets are fun and about a 15minute (15rm) taxi fare away but be prepared to barter especially if you look like a tourist! The main street where all the action is is Jalan Bukit Bintang. Jalan translates IMG_2017to something like “way” and you can “jalan” yourself if you are going somewhere. Behind Bukit Bintang is Jalan Alor, this is a whole street just full of street food, whatever you want here you will find it. If there is a heaven I think it will be some sort of ground hog day with me sitting here having some amazing food with great friends all washed down with some cold bottles of beer. After you’ve eaten yourself silly you can then head down IMG_1966to Jalan Ceylon where you will find a lot of bars and more up-market restaurants. My favorite place on Jalan Alor is Restoran Dragon View and their crab is awesome. A great snack to be found everywhere are charcoal grilled corn with salt and butter and a Ramley burger although probably the reason for many heart attacks can’t be beaten, especially after a few pints on Jalan Ceylon, just make sure you get ‘the works’! If Indian food is IMG_1962more to your taste then off Jalan Ceylon is Jalan Nagasari where there are a few good curry houses open 24 hours. The best of which used to be Nagasari Curry House.

 

If you love food and haven’t been to KL, hurry up and book your ticket. 

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Chocolate tart with blackberry compote & vanilla crème fraiche

With anything rich and creamy as this it is good to serve with something that acts as a foil and cuts through  the richness of the custard filling. Here I serve with blackberries and creme fraiche. Try and use the best quality chocolate and let it shine. I don’t use any sugar in the chocolate filling, I want to taste the chocolate, not sugar. Copy of A48W3492  

Chocolate Tart w blackberries and creme fraiche
Serves 10
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Prep Time
50 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 35 min
Prep Time
50 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 35 min
Sweet Pastry
125g Butter
125g Sugar
250g Flour
1 Egg
Flour for dusting
Melted butter
Blind baking rice
Eggwash
Chocolate Custard
600ml Cream
80ml milk
4 egg yolks
2 vanilla pod
480g chocolate
4 star anise
Vanilla Creme Fraiche
80g Creme Fraiche
1 Vanilla pod
Icing sugar to taste
Blackberry Compote
150g Sugar
100ml water
150g Blackberries
Sweet Pastry
Cream butter and sugar, add flour and egg, mix to combine.
Rest for 30 minutes.
Roll out pastry and chimise the tart tin with melted butter and flour.
Dock the pastry, line with baking paper filled with rice and blind bake at 140˚C until cooked.
Eggwash and return to the oven for 1 minute.
Cool.
Chocolate Custard
Scald the cream and milk with the split/scraped vanilla pod and star anise.
Whisk onto the egg yolks and then whisk in the chocolate.
Pass.
Pour custard into pastry case and cook at 140˚C until there is a slight wobble, about 20-35 minutes depending on your oven.
Vanilla Creme Fraiche
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod.
Mix the creme fraiche with the seeds and icing sugar to taste - not too sweet.
Blackberry Compote
Bring sugar and water to the boil, simmer for about 2-3 minutes.
Add blackberries to the pot and simmer for 2 minutes then remove from the heat.
MacLean Fraser http://macleanfraser.com/
     

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Top 5 tips for food photography with the iPhone

scallopsEver made or seen a dish that looks amazing but none of the photos you took do it justice? Most of us don’t carry around or own expensive cameras but smart phones these days have quite decent cameras and can take good quality photos. Follow these simple tips to help make your food shots look as best as they can.

1 – Use your grid If you enable the grid on your camera it can help you be more precise when taking your photo. When taking a shot try to place a point of interest on one of the grid intersections to draw in the eye. 2 – Natural light Whenever you can make sure you use natural light. If you have a high quality SLR camera or some light set ups then it doesn’t matter. But if like most of us the only thing you have on hand is the camera from your smart phone then natural light will give you the best quality picture. 3 – Rule of thirds This is where the grid also comes in to play. Food photos look best if they have 1/3 negative space or background with 2/3 of the frame being the subject matter. The only time you would not apply this rule is if you are doing close up shots. 4 – Check your dish Shoot your dish quick. Sauces run, salads wilt, garnishs become soggy so make sure everything is ready to go before hand and take your pics when the food is at it’s best. If you are taking a pic of a salad or vegetables you can spray with water to give a fresh look. 5 – Choose your angle There are a few simple ways to frame your food picture that will look nice: -Centered, From above, Angled, Diagonal and Close-Up. For me all these work very well and my default go to if all other angles look strange is to shoot directly from above. Just ensure that if whatever you are shooting is square you rotate your camera so to avoid any parallel lines. See the gallery below for some examples!

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Khon Kaen Markets, Thailand

photo(7)Only ever having been to Bangkok before, Khon Kaen was somewhere I had never even heard of. I recently attended a 2 day conference at the Centara Khon Kaen Convention Center otherwise I would have probably never visited this city. Driving in from the airport I was a bit concerned but this is actually quite a vibrant city of about 1 million. I had one free day before flying back to work and reality, so thought what better way to spend it than checking out the photo(8)markets. These are amazing places, full of sights, smells and busy with people selling, buying and going about their daily business. There is something better about these places than anything you get back home. They’re just so interesting. Markets in western countries tend to be sterile (in both senses) and although when you look around the markets in Asia you can’t help but think about the hygiene, I have never once got food poisoning in all my time living, working and eating abroad. Ironically it’s only back in New Zealand that I have got sick where the food hygiene education is much better. Maybe photo(4)it’s because things here are cooked so fresh. Most things are live and I saw one person selecting a fish to take home; it was freshly killed on the spot with a swift blow of a cleaver to it’s head. The same applies when cooking. I didn’t get a chance to eat out properly on the street while here but as in Vietnam and many other places in Asia, when you order a fish, frog, eel, prawns or whatever you choose to have for your meal, it is taken out of the live tank and cooked in front of you. Now you can’t get much fresher, or better than that.

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The ebook is out!

Using clear step by step instructions and modern flavor combinations,

Taste and Season shows you how to make restaurant quality food at home.

With vibrant colour photography, Taste and Season has recipes spanning entrees, mains, desserts and basics. Try recipes like “Jerusalem artichoke soup with crispy pulled duck”, “Beef fillet and braised short rib with truffled potato puree and preserved lemon gremolata” and “Pistachio, polenta and olive oil torte with green apple sorbet”.

cover

Available for at:

Amazon for Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DPIXUDI

The Kindle app is available for all devices including smart phones, tablets and PC

http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000493771

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Moet and Magret

General Manager vs Chef, Centara Ras Fushi

DSC_4087

GM back in the whites: slipping on the chef’s jacket like slipping into a warm bath

It seemed like a great idea at the time, although 13 hours in with sore legs and sweating like a fat kid in a candy store I was wondering the soundness of my decision. Having recently come to the Maldives I had last worked with my General Manager 8 years ago when he was my Executive Chef and I was a CDP with considerably fresher legs and lower cholesterol. Considering how much effort it now takes me to get to the bottom of the service fridge and how painful a once normal split shift has become, I was looking forward to seeing my old chef don his whites and sweat it out in the kitchen one more time. We took over the Italian restaurant and show kitchen and created a 5 course menu for the night. Avoiding cooking for a full restaurant alone Hell’s Kitchen styles we sensibly took 2 courses each: myself scallops and duck, Ulrich prawns and dessert; the winner decided by popular vote. With pride on the line and the promise of some champagne we sharpened the knives and started cooking. 

And so it begins…

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Sautéed king prawns, mussel salad and roast capsicum gazpacho w fennel seed wafer

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Moet & Chandon & passion fruit palette cleanser

Pork and scallops w pea puree and salted caramel

Szechuan pork belly and scallops w pancetta, pea puree and salted caramel

Confit duck plate up

Confit duck w porcini risotto, sugar cured breast, star anise foam and coffee hazelnut praline

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Make sure you don’t forget to drizzle…

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Ulrich’s dessert: Flambe peach w strawberry Swiss roll and vanilla bean ice cream

 And the winner is…..        

With a ballot system reminiscent of the Florida election 2000 the GM wins. Until next time… But now it’s time for a drink!

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Restaurant Jekyll and Hyde

photo(1)The restaurant industry is a strange and fickle beast. A reputation can take years upon years of hard slog, blood, sweat and possibly tears (literally) to create and only seconds to destroy. Ever heard of the saying “you’re only as good as your last dish”? This is usually followed by “and right now, you’re a c**t”… In order to run a successful restaurant or kitchen to a consistently high standard you need to be like the gestapo; eyes and ears everywhere and know EVERYTHING that goes on with EVERYONE. There’s two things the X-Files and kitchens have in common. They’re both full of strange interesting characters living in the fringes of society and they both have the same tagline: Trust NO-ONE. Or as one of my first chef’s eloquently put: “don’t trust any fu**er”… (chef’s are well known for their colourful language; it’s one of the things that makes us so interesting right?). If for one second you decide to turn your back, think “yeah nothing’s happening now until our late bookings, I can nip out for a cigarette”, that’s when your commis chef will accidentally send out the medium rare chicken and fuck everything up for you. You need to be anal in the extreme. Nothing should go out unless it’s up to your standard. This will not make you friends. But this will give you happy customers. Hopefully. If you are really lucky you will have some allies in the kitchen who will be your eyes and ears. People who “get you”, understand what your standard is and how you work. Know your pet hates. Hang onto these people and look after them because they are more valuable than their weight in gold. They will certainly make your life a hell of a lot easier and hopefully mean you can do less than 70hrs per week.

What does it take to piss off a customer? Sometimes a lot and sometimes nothing. I find it very interesting how people behave in restaurants and bars. I’m sure it would make a very good psychology paper for someone. It seems to me that hospitality is the only industry in which people feel like they can turn into pricks the second they walk through the door. Seemingly normal and respectable people, people with families and jobs; they have the ability to turn into monsters inside the doors where alcohol and food are served. Maybe it’s something to do with wanting to wind down and relax that somehow the rules of the outside world don’t apply. I have narrowed it down to a few cliche customer types that seem to appear no matter where you go:

Sir grab-a-lot – These are the guys that try and slap the waitresses arses and use such stunning lines as “so whats the cream sauce like? How would you like to try my cream sauce sweet heart?”. A restaurant is not a strip bar. And everybody knows that the golden rule in a strip bar is no touching. Unless you are VIP…

Aggressive drunk – “What do you mean you can only serve me a glass of water?! I’ll tell YOU when I’ve had enough!” (falls over taking a bar stool with him). This is where you hope you work in a dodgy enough place so as to have a bouncer.

Chronic complainer – The food’s too hot, the wine’s too cold, I don’t like my table, the people over there are laughing too much, I don’t like anything on the menu, this costs too much etc…I remember once have a dish sent back because it wasn’t hot enough, it was pretty hot so we heated it again, and back it came, so we nuked the shit out of it and it still came back. I’m sorry but on this planet with this atmosphere the hottest I can get a liquid before it turns to steam so unless you are on another planet (which you quite possibly are) then I can’t do much more for you.

Cheater – This is the person who tries tricks like orders a drink from one person, hides the glass and then complains to another person that they never got it. Or order the steak, eat 90% of it and then complain it’s under cooked.

Menu changers – “Can I have the fish but without the spice crust, the sauce from the beef and do you do paella? Can I have some paella with it too? I’m allergic to onion, garlic, salt, chilli and herbs.” I would suggest eating at home…

Vegans (et al) – Now not to say anything against vegans, I actually respect proper vegans or anyone who has decided that something is morally wrong and stick to their guns. I think a hell of a lot of animals are treated badly on their journey ending on our tables, that’s why I try my best to make sure that I know where my ingredients come from, how they’re produced and whether or not they’re sustainable without a negative affect on the environment. However if you are a vegan do not come to a steak house and then complain.

Cheap skates and hagglers – If you buy petrol and then drive off without paying you would expect to get arrested. ‘Doing a runner’ is what other people would call ‘stealing from a restaurant’. And unless you are on Khao San Road in Bangkok or in another acceptable place such as Saigon or Mumbai then don’t haggle. You don’t go to the dentist and haggle and the prices they charge are mental so why haggle over a sandwich?!

Money flashers – “I will have the Wagyu well done and your most expensive MerloTT,make sure it’s well chilled and hurry up about it” = Plonker.

Bill splitters – Is there anything more dreadful to hear to a cashier than “can we split the bill 12 ways?” Paying up should be a quick and painless experience, not a torturous ordeal with detailed investigations and discussions. If you must split the bill evenly and if you are a large group consider cash. Having to individually itemise a large party’s dishes and then have to split the fries or a bottle of wine by 3/7th’s because someone only had “half of one glass” and someone else had “2 and 1/3 glasses” it a total nightmare.

The internet food expert – It is amazing how the anonymity of the internet allows people with no qualifications in restaurant reviewing the opportunity to express their expertise. Yet these same people will not complain in person when given the chance to actually address their issue and maybe enjoy their night. “How is your meal?” “Fine thank you…” and then the next day you read on the internet a post headed: “Disgusting food and rubbish service, never again”. I remember one table of two ordered lamb cutlets so we roast a whole rack and then carved it for both. One of the two said it was perfect and his wife said it was undercooked. Our offer of cooking it some more was declined. The next day I read on the internet how I told them to “just shut up and eat it”… At least it made for a more interesting story than the truth!

Other hospos – Believe it or not we are actually our own worse enemies. People in the restaurant industry work hard and usually “play hard”. The group of people with tattoo’s who are obviously intoxicated, breaking furniture, stealing alcohol and shagging in the toilets? They probably work at the restaurant down the road…

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