Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Diary: A Gastronomic Week

Every June Tim's brother Peter comes to stay. We always look forward to his visits. He works overseas as a teacher so we see him in school holidays. For years he lived in Bangkok where Tim and I used to visit and sleep on his terrible blow up mattress! He'd take us shopping at Chatuchak, book train tickets to Chiang Mai, bargain for us, draw maps and drive for miles in Bangkok traffic. Staying with Peter in Thailand was so exciting!
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Peter and I share a love of food and cooking. When we visited him in Thailand he would always have wonderful dishes he'd discovered: deep fried catfish with green papaya, spicy red tamarind soup, larb, mango and sticky rice. He introduced me to Tom Kha Gai which is still my favourite Thai dish. On one of our first visits he took us to his local road-side eatery for dinner where we sat on stools and ate off plastic plates. The Thai chef was busy stir frying in a huge wok with flames and steam leaping up. I can still remember exactly what we ate - the tastiest salt and pepper chicken, and a stir fried green called morning glory, with Singha beer of course. 'Chuck dee!' Then Tim told me to turn around and low and behold like a moment from the Twilight Zone there was a huge elephant walking up the street behind me. No wonder we couldn't wait to get back to Thailand!
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Recently Petey moved to Shanghai where one day we will visit him I hope, although not for the food by the sounds of it, but the art nouveau architecture sounds beautiful. 
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On his latest visit to Sydney we shared our passion for Gordon Ramsay with him, the English chef who has brought French cooking back into vogue. Peter enthusiastically got stuck into making desserts - a really sublime bread and butter pudding laced with Grand Marnier and served with marscapone, and delicious steamed golden syrup puddings with custard and ice cream. Mmm! 
Peter accompanied me to see Gordon doing a live cooking demo at the Good Food and Wine Fair at Darling Harbour too, which was so exciting although I must admit I felt a little self conscious squealing like a school girl beside my brother in law. Luckily I had my girlfriend Kylie who was also squealing at being in the same room as him, and who returned later to get our cookbooks signed! 
While Petey was here I hosted a wine tasting fundraising evening for the Figtree Playgroup which was really enjoyable. One of the members Sandra directed the tasting and I catered the food - delicious nibbles of flavour to go with the wines - caramelised onion and goats cheese tarts, smoked salmon and capers on rye, duck pancakes, saffron mussles on garlic breads, devils on horseback, coffee granita with cream and chocolate mousse. Gordon would have been proud. The wines were supplied by her brother Sam Miranda who owns a vineyard in Victoria. It was really fun to try different varieties that I normally wouldn't buy including a lovely sparkling white which was icy cold and will be delicious in Summer. I was busy cooking on the night and didn't get to taste too many, but after the wine tasting I was left with half a dozen or so open bottles of wine which I have been gladly sampling while I'm preparing dinner!

So now Petey has gone up to Brisbane to visit Boopy. I hope I didn't bore him too much dragging him to Tom's playgroups and music classes and kindygym but Tom loved having his uncle's attention and I enjoyed the company and adult conversation... not to mention the desserts!

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