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'Tis the Season! -- What's the WORST "perfect gift for a food-lover" you've ever received?

Similar... My parents own and work full-time in a cafe with quite a strong focus on coffee origin, etc, so obviously have endless access to beans for their home espresso machine. My dad's sister visits us about once a month or so and every time Dad makes her a coffee with said machine, so she can clearly see the grinding of beans, dosing, etc etc. Last Christmas she gave him a storage rack for coffee pods - like the Nespresso ones. Mum, Dad and I all just looked at each other and agreed not to say anything about it, but later she asked 'you DO use a machine with pods, don't you?'... The best part was probably when Dad replied in the negative she exclaimed 'oh! So what coffee do you use then?'

Oct 28, 2012
verysimple in Not About Food

Crack Food Revisited

I'm sure it wouldn't be exactly the same as your recipe, but Jeffrey Morgenthaler has a wonderful recipe for Philly Fish House Punch on his website--

http://www.jeffreymorgenthaler.com/20...

Aug 26, 2012
verysimple in Home Cooking

Foods you dread making because they’re time-consuming

I do use a food processor :( and the sieve captures a great deal from the initial puree! And I trim them meticulously. What am I doing wrong?!

May 22, 2012
verysimple in Home Cooking

Red Wine for a Dr. Loosen Gray Slate Mosel Drinker

Another couple of varieties that might be worth trying are Barbera and Dolcetto (make sure they're actually from Piedmont, though, and unoaked - young ones would be best so that the fruit is still fresh and vibrant), or a Frappato from Sicily. Or, as another poster said in the other thread on this topic, a Beaujolais!

May 22, 2012
verysimple in Wine

How many fellow Chowhounders are or have been in the biz?

10 years in restaurants and cafes now and I truly can't see myself ever leaving it! Even when it makes me mad, I love this industry. Server for 4 years, barista for another 4, got utterly sick of coffee and moved to the bar/trainee sommelier last year. My friends think I'm a total weirdo whenever I gush about how much I love my job.

May 14, 2012
verysimple in Not About Food

Wine/menu challenge

I agree - and Amarone is my favourite wine in the world - but I wouldn't drink it with my favourite food, scallops, as I think they would just be completely overwhelmed. I'd be inclined to go for something much lighter, with more acid; perhaps a St Laurent or Zweigelt?

May 08, 2012
verysimple in Wine

Foods you dread making because they’re time-consuming

Homemade liver pâtés taste SO much better than bought ones, and are one of my absolute favourite foods, but the arm-breaking 30 minutes of pushing them gradually through a fine sieve always puts me off making them more often than I otherwise would :(

May 02, 2012
verysimple in Home Cooking

Classic Sarcastic descriptors

My boss is great at coming up with these just for laughs. Last night he described a 2006 Aglianico as "like being whipped five or six times with a leather belt by a dominatrix; then just as it starts to hurt she gives you a slice of fruitcake"

Apr 16, 2012
verysimple in Wine

"Orange" wines

Dario Princic Bianco Trebez (Friuli, Italy) - not 100% sure on the vintage but fairly confident it was 2007. Expensive, but incredible texture.

Apr 04, 2012
verysimple in Wine

Perth and the North West - Options?

There aren't that many places in Fremantle that I would recommend for breakfast - not on the basis of the atmosphere or food, but mainly because of the service. Obviously it depends on what you prefer, so while I like a certain level of friendliness combined with attentiveness and find that the hipster-ness of Fremantle tends to result in most places being a little "too cool", that might be what you like. Anyway, there's basically nothing in North Fremantle or Mosman Park so I think your best bet would be to head up to Cottesloe as you said: Il Lido is my favourite out of the beachfront spots, but Barchetta is also quite nice. Definitely wouldn't recommend Beaches and maybe it's just my bad luck but my experiences at the Blue Duck have been a bit erratic. Anyway, cruise along the Cottesloe strip and see what takes your fancy.

For the long lunch - I'm thinking of places that have a great atmosphere so you can people-watch while you eat, and great beverage selections - Duende in Leederville springs to mind, as do Cantina 663 or Clarence's in Mt Lawley. Further west, Bistro Felix, Lamont's, or Amphoras also have very good reputations. Beware of the multitude of pubs passing themselves off as restaurants; you'll pay as much as, or slightly more than you would in an actual restaurant, but with wildly inadequate service.

If you want to do a little research on these places, urbanspoon is the best source for Australian restaurant information and generally has the most up-to-date info re opening hours and contact numbers - just take the reviews with a very large grain of salt as a lot (not all) of the writers seem pretty clueless. http://www.urbanspoon.com/c/348/Weste...

Can't help with the North-West I'm sorry; my parents actually used to own the beach shack bistro in Monkey Mia but that was a longgggg time ago. I think the best value option would be for you to buy a sh**-tonne of fresh awesome seafood in one of the towns and then barbecue it yourself on the beach!

Mar 27, 2012
verysimple in Australia/New Zealand

More "Fun" Wine Experiences

That's such a lovely thing to do!

Mar 20, 2012
verysimple in Wine

Feedback on hypothetical cocktail recipe

Not that it's really relevant, but in Australia spirits start at $35 for 700ml ("sin taxes"), and that's for the cheapest, paint-solvent stuff. $20 for a 200ml bottle of Angostura. I'm sorry that my wanting to wait to use my work bar to test it out instead of buying everything myself, or whatever else I said, irritated you so much. Looking forward to giving that liqueur recipe a try though. I'm really not big on vanilla though, think i could leave it out with no ill effect?

Mar 15, 2012
verysimple in Spirits

Feedback on hypothetical cocktail recipe

Yarm, your directness is refreshing but as someone who only works part-time with studying and is scrounging every dollar to go travelling later this year I can't justify buying either armagnac or ginger liqueur. Firstly I will most certainly not be able to drink these in the next 5 months and secondly the only ginger liqueurs available in Australia are Canton for $60/bottle and a South African one called Butler's that sounds preeeeeetty hideous. Nor do I know of anyone who actually owns ginger liqueur, or even brandy EXCEPT the restaurant at which i work, and so the reason it's only hypothetical is that I am yet to convince my supremely tight-fisted manager to let me make it. So if/when he eventually does I don't want to screw it up.

Mar 14, 2012
verysimple in Spirits

Feedback on hypothetical cocktail recipe

Thanks guys, will do, also think that a drop of orange bitters could give a bit more depth. ncyankee - relax, I'm not pushing a rapper lifestyle, it's just a bad pun

Mar 13, 2012
verysimple in Spirits

Feedback on hypothetical cocktail recipe

Now this is going to sound a little silly, so don't judge me too quickly!

I have a bit of a thing for cocktail names - not the gross sexual innuendo type, but the clever cultural-reference type. And today I spotted a recipe for a 'Bonita Applebum' and immediately thought "now i MUST create a cocktail named after a classic hip-hop track." So you can see where this is going, the name came before the actual drink... Settled on 'Gangster's Paradise' and then agonized for a long time over what it would constitute. I don't have a home bar to test it out with (student budget!!) so at the moment it's entirely theoretical, and I'd love to know what you think of the idea (especially whether you think it would be awful!)

So without further ado:

1.5 oz Cognac/Armagnac
0.5 oz Cointreau
0.25 oz lemon juice (fresh)
0.5 oz pineapple juice (as in, the actual 100% juice)
0.5 oz ginger syrup

Shake over ice, serve down, garnish with a large thin slice of fresh ginger

Yes, I know it's a Sidecar with extra stuff added.

The reasoning behind the major ingredients was (a) Rappers are always dropping references to sipping yak i.e. Cognac/Armagnac; (b) the pineapple and ginger are for the 'Paradise' part of the name (tropical connotations). I'd love to use ginger liqueur instead of syrup but the cheapest one I can find in Australia is $65 AUD for a 700ml bottle!!! (Gave up on the metric-to-imperial conversions) - so not really practical.

Anyway - any opinions? Suggested proportion/ingredient changes?

Mar 13, 2012
verysimple in Spirits

Help finding a ubiquitous cocktail for a booze hater

Spot on.

Feb 26, 2012
verysimple in Spirits

Weird/Bad Food Related Dates

I can, unfortunately, completely imagine some of my friends saying this.

Feb 22, 2012
verysimple in Not About Food

What non-food/non-traditional food items did you eat as a kid?

Big, big fan of cat biscuits

Feb 22, 2012
verysimple in Not About Food

Yarra Valley or Mornington Pennisula?

From Tasmania I love, love, love, the Glaetzer-Dixon Reveur PN (the only vintage i have tasted is 2008, which i think might still be the current release). However it is more of a "new school" pinot, ie less horse/forest floor going on than some of the more traditional Burgundian styles. Domaine A is also quite well-renowned for their signature pinot, I find it a little too menthol-y, but of course it depends what you prefer. For Mornington I like Hurley Vineyard's Garamond PN. And of course Paradigm Hill - the L'ami Sage is a hint more masculine than the Les Cinq but both are beautiful.

Feb 19, 2012
verysimple in Australia/New Zealand

Ordering a coffee in Australia

Gemuse, I'd say that this is actually true for a lot of places (despite not being the formal definition) - I know all the cafes I have worked in have done so.

PhilD, you're partly right in that immediately after the milk is steamed (and of course, also poured immediately!) there should be no clear "milk/froth" delineation. But once it's in the glass/cup (or if the barista lets the milk rest in the jug for too long), the microbubbles will unavoidably rise to the top all of their own accord, simply because of their lower density. If you lurk around next to the coffee machine and watch a latte closely, you'll be able to faintly see the darkness of the espresso "falling" from the top of the coffee a little as the "head" forms seemingly out of nowhere. A little like when you pour a beer. Perhaps you drink your coffee too fast to notice it forming!!! - but as a slow drinker I have never been to a coffee shop where the milk doesn't EVENTUALLY (like, 3 or 4 minutes maybe) separate into a thicker "head" and thinner body. Seems like to stop it from doing so would be a bit of a miracle! (If you know of anywhere in Perth that can do this, let me know :) )

Oh also! - don't forget that we weirdos in Perth have another variation on the long macchiato - we like to top it up, so it becomes a double or triple-strength latte... this can be quite vexing for Sydneysiders when the cafe doesn't think to ask if they want their LM "topped up or traditional?" and they receive a bucket of milk but only expected a teaspoonfull!

Feb 11, 2012
verysimple in Australia/New Zealand

Food and restaurants in WA?

Oh my god, it's so nasty (the Aviary that is!). I went once purely because I was Christmas shopping in the blazing heat, really wanted a Campari soda, and it was the closest place open --> hence less time to be spent in the blazing heat walking there! The astroturf smells of stale beer, my Campari was in a warm glass and I had to ask for an orange slice, and the crowd was totally cashed-up-bogan. AND the menu/wine list were full of spelling and grammatical errors. (I know, I'm uptight. Whatever, it seems like if you can afford that many security guards, you can afford a proofreader!)

Jan 27, 2012
verysimple in Australia/New Zealand

Freemantle Dinners

Yeah I can't say I LOVE Creatures. The best part is the beer: the food and service have both fluctuated the times I've been; but there are certainly worse places. Without the awesome beer!

Jan 27, 2012
verysimple in Australia/New Zealand

Yarra Valley or Mornington Pennisula?

Interested to know where you end up going? I would have said Mornington mostly based on the fact that I am obsessed with Paradigm Hill's wines!!! Though both areas do (to my mind) some of Australia's best Pinot Noir (the other great area being Tasmania!!!), I have found that most of the shiraz from the area is more Syrah-esque (v. lean, hints of white pepper, maybe even a hint of florals) and therefore atypical compared to our famed Barossa/McLaren Vale "black pepper, punch in the face" shiraz for which we are better known, simply because of the different in climate. Of course being a red wine slut I love both kinds! But the cooler-weather shiraz probably won't be as expected, I think is what I'm trying to say.

Jan 27, 2012
verysimple in Australia/New Zealand

Food and restaurants in WA?

Second the marron! Fairly sure Balthazar (in the city, on The Esplanade I'm pretty sure) still does their out-of-this-world marron dish. WA has some beautiful seafood actually; my best bet would be to hit up one of the suppliers that also sells to the general public, such as Kailis Bros in Leederville, and cook your own delicacies. Gold Band Snapper is a fantastic fish for grilling with skin on.

Lots of good cheese from the Margaret River region as well; Simon Johnson in Subiaco is a good place to find this. Or you can always go straight to the source/s!

Agree with The Walk also - breakfast menu is fantastic and really good value. Otherwise, though, I don't think there's much to write home about in Subiaco (although Bistro Felix has quite a good rep) - it all seems to be trying a bit too hard. Highly recommend nipping a bit further northeast (v easy on train line): Leederville (Kitsch, Duende); Mt Hawthorn (Divido); or Mt Lawley (Clarences, Beaufort St Merchant, Must Winebar).

I think we actually seem to do drinks better than food in Perth, in general! Places that achieve both are my favourite type of eatery; thus most of the ones I have mentioned fulfil this: especially Must (awesome French & Australian wine lists). Also, Andaluz (in the city; Howard St I think; smaller eclectic wine list and VERY well-renowned for their cocktails while also having a full tapas menu!), Pata Negra (Nedlands), Il Lido in Cott beach, and apparently (I haven't been there but have heard really great things about it) Red Cabbage in South Perth.

For a night out, fantastic drinks can be found at Ezra Pound, 399 Bar, the Bird, Helvetica.

For cheap and cheerful you absolutely can't stray from Northbridge. Disregard what our Premier says about the likelihood of getting mugged; I've always found it to be pretty harmless, and I've spent a LOT of time there late at night! :S

Avoid: the Aviary/Birdcage (real name) in the city; the Conservatory (city); any of the Siena's.

Jan 27, 2012
verysimple in Australia/New Zealand

Freemantle Dinners

To be honest, it's so horrendously busy all summer, I can never be bothered with all the commotion/wait for a table! I assume the food's still good though because otherwise it wouldn't be that packed - and the beer is pretty to-die-for fresh from the tanks :)

Jan 27, 2012
verysimple in Australia/New Zealand

Freemantle Dinners

Second the vicarious Harvest recommendation - no particular cuisine, here it's called "modern Australian", but it is really the sort of relatively-fine-dining and relatively-innovative food I'm sure is present in many cities in the States (Assume you're from the States?!) with little influences from heaps of different cuisines, etc. Have heard the wine list is pretty boss too.

Otherwise -

Mexican: personally I wouldn't bother with Mexican in Perth, and definitely not the Mexican Kitchen in central Freo - it certainly seems popular but the only times I've been the food seemed fairly, well, non-stimulating, huge serves of blah, and I'm sure you would get better almost anywhere in the US.

Indian: Freo has some fantastic Indian places, my personal favourite is Maya in central Freo (v. close to train station) but my friend swears by Mother India in East Freo. Be prepared to SWEAT if you order vindaloo.

Italian: I wouldn't write home about any of the Italian places I've tried in Freo. Possibly your best bet would be to catch the train to Cottesloe (4 stops away I think - about 10-15 minutes) and hit Il Lido Italian Canteen on the beach. Beautiful food, covers a much wider range of Italian eating than many Perth places while also being a bit more traditional (i.e. only 1 tomato pasta; tuna carpaccio or chargrill cuttlefish antipasti plates instead of the ubiquitous bruschetta) and a big Italian and Australian wine list --> can you tell it's one of my favourites!

Also in Cottesloe, Lamont's Wine Store is not only a wine store! but a really lovely restaurant/tapas bar***.

You didn't mention French as one of your favourites but the other place in Freo that is always highly recommended to me is Great Mellie. (This is all going from my second-hand information) Not the stuffy ambitious sort of French restaurant that Perth was prone to until about 10 years ago, it's supposedly just a really high-quality bistro. Bonus being that it's BYO - hardly any of the good places (except for Northbridge Thai/Vietnamese - but that's a different sort of "good") are BYO. Kill two birds with one stone and pick up a Great Southern (in WA) dry riesling: some of them are unnervingly Alsace-esque (try Oranje Tractor, Howard Park, Trevelen Farm) --> perfect against French food!

Oh also (this is getting really long sorry) consider Gypsy Tapas House - a bit scruffy and disorganised, but AWESOME value and a great chilled, cheery atmosphere. Relatively Spanish too! - ***I don't know if you've been to Perth in the last couple years but it's been seized with tapas fever, which unfortunately has translated into most places simply serving tiny portions of every food under the sun and calling it tapas, or otherwise serving overcooked sliced chorizo with lemon. So the places that are ACTUALLY tapas-esque are a blessing. Gypsy is one. Duende in Leederville is another but not close to you.

Whew... how fun talking about one's hometown actually is!!!

Jan 27, 2012
verysimple in Australia/New Zealand

Various Spots in Perth

I'd say you are most likely to find the real turbo coffee purists at either Bench Espresso in the city, or else Elixir Coffee Specialists in Nedlands - close to the University of WA, about 10/15 minutes away by bus, either the 72 or 108 will get you there. Epic is also a good bet but I think their focus is more on perfect technique rather than the bean origin (defs correct me if i'm wrong!)

Actually just remembered Venn Gallery & Bar is also pretty thingo about coffee. Also in the city.

Slightly further than Northbridge (just continue north up Barrack St --> turns into Beaufort St) is the Mt Lawley strip, which has really come in leaps and bounds in the past couple of years. Clarence's, Five Bar, and the Beaufort St Merchant are all really lovely relaxed places but still with very thoughtful menus and drink lists, so you can have just a drink and a nibble, graze on small plates, or have a traditional entree-main-etc. meal. 399 Bar in Northbridge has a fantastic reputation also, I haven't tried it but I want to...

Jan 27, 2012
verysimple in Australia/New Zealand