new year’s resolution

You know my theory: never make a resolution you won’t want to keep.

In years gone past I have come up with:

  • no more walking or cycling uphill
  • have a spa day every month
  • eat food from a new country at least once a month

You get the idea.

I have no idea what my new year’s resolution was for 2008, so I decided I would record my 2009 resolution here on these pages:

  • Eat more seafood.

It is an easy one to achieve – we love shellfish, and fresh seafood, but we don’t get around to going to the market often enough. For New Year’s Eve I hopped on the moped, went down to Footscray Market and bought up some rockling fillets, some fresh de-shelled prawns and a handful of scallops out of the shell. A trip to the vegetable stall for some fresh herbs and the makings of a Greek salad, and I was all set.

The prawns were marinated in chilli, garlic, coriander and some Punjabi Kitchen King masala from the local Indian supermarket, then panfried in their own juices. I served them with the Greek salad on New Year’s Eve for supper and realised I had seriously over-catered. The rest we left until this evening when we had the rockling fillets steamed in foil parcels in the oven with garlic, green shille, spring onion, coriander and Chinese five spice. The scallops I tossed in chilli and garlic and threw them on the barbie. Divine.

Happy New Year everybody! What are your resolutions?

culture shock 3 – food

Three years in, and my perspective of Australia has changed a little.

The main change was that I started to obsess so much about food that I started my own food blog:

Enough said.

Party pies would rate as a favourite Aussie food of mine – certainly one of the things I would miss the most if we left.

We now have our very own breakfast haunt – Cafe le Chien in Seddon is run by Andy, a bloke from Warrington who serves up the best scrambled eggs in the Inner West. He also plays excellent music on a Sunday morning: ska, the Stranglers and other stuff we actually recognise.

Eric also introduced us to Babble On Babylon, a Jamaican cafe which does a mean Jamaican breakfast complete with ackke and saltfish, and great coffee.

My friend Charmaine at work is a food writer, and has introduced me to some of the stalwarts of the Melbourne Slow Food world.

And I have become the go-to guy if you want to know where to eat tonight…

food & wine show 2007

You would be so proud of us, Mena and me.

This year we had a plan. We took heed of the advice we gave ourselves last year.

– We bought a trolley.

– We started the day with a substantial breakfast.

– And we didn’t make any plans for the evening.


Amy (second-eldest niece) and Mena’s mate Kay joined us for the day, which we started with breakfast and a game plan discussion. More rules: no stopping at stalls selling non-food items. If the stall doesn’t grab your immediate attention – MOVE ON. Don’t spend all day in one corner of the hall and miss out on other fun stuff. No wandering into the drinking area before 3pm.

We were like a military attack group. Mena grabbed handfuls of Frangelico with lime, while Amy tried anything resembling a chocolate mousse. No showbags were purchased as they were likely to slow us down. We divided and conquered every new aisle. it was marvellous.

We had tickets to the celebrity chef performance – Donna Hay at 12.30pm. An hour earlier we were close to the entrance and heard whoops and cheering coming from the auditorium: Ainsley Harriott was in town. Orlando would be horrified. We considered waiting like groupies for him to come off the stage so we could get a photo with him but decided our time was too precious.

To our dismay, the Donna Hay session conflicted with the “easy weekday meals” session at the Australian Good Taste magazine kitchen. Now, Mena and I spent a wonderful hour or so at a similar session last year, and decided that Michelle Southan (AGT’s chief editor) was our best friend because she cooked all our favourite foods and laughed a lot. After a moment’s thought, Donna lost out to our best mate Michelle and we sat and watched the show.

Mena and I frantically trawled the stalls looking for the divine dips we bought too little of last year; mercifully at the last moment before we were sucked into the wine area, we found Yumi’s and stocked up on their divine smoked trout mousse and tuna dip and all the other amazing flavours they have.

Then the onslaught began. We split up in the wine section, the better to cover more ground. Again, last year’s rules applied:

– Only taste one wine per stall

– Less talking, more drinking (yes, even Doyles can adhere to this at times)

– Don’t buy ANYTHING after the first half hour – you are drunk by then

– Have a chat to people you come across at the counter, but MOVE ALONG QUICKLY

– Ask the nice man to write the name of the wine down. You will not remember anything (much)


By closing time we were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves. We had bought some bread, some dips, some books and Mena had somehow purchased two cases of wine after the first half hour (it turned out to be a Good Decision). Exhausted, we walked slowly down to E Gusto (sounds much more fun if you say it with a Yorkshire accent and not an Italian one) and had one for the road with some antipasto and – yes – dips.

Home before nine o’clock, more or less in one piece, and we remember everything.

Oh, and we accosted Michelle Southan after her cooking show, told her she was our best friend, and she told us to email her anytime! Not that we are stalkers or anything…

Food & Wine

We have the annual Taste of Slow festival on in Australia at the moment, organised by the Slow Food movement. It all culminates in Melbourne this weekend with a Slow Food event over two days. There will be a market place, a honey room and a tea room. There will be an Ark of Taste Crypt, where we can go and taste foods that are in danger of becoming extinct, and learn how to save them. There will be a wine library and a cheese tasting area. There will be a slow food canteen and a beer garden. There will be a Generations Room dedicated to the sharing of inter-generational stories, foods and recipes from across the country and across all cultures.
I will be there of course, with an empty backpack to fill with food, and I will tell you all about it when I return.

More Food and Wine
I have updated the website’s Melbourne Living pages with more restaurant listings, for those of you who live local to me.

Food & Drink I Miss

Food & drink I miss about Ireland

Decent sausages
Decent brown bread
Smoked cod from the chipper
Tayto and King crisps
Corned beef
Red lemonade
Irish cheddar cheese
Decent apple tart (preferably made by my mother)
Decent fruit scones
Bernard’s meatballs and spaghetti

Food & drink I miss about England

Egg mayonnaise ready-made from the supermarket
Kettle Chips sea salt and back pepper
Walkers roast chicken or prawn cocktail crisps
Diet ginger beer
Diet ANYTHING (it’s not that easy to find unless it’s Diet Coke)
Moet & Chandon champagne at UK prices
Diet tonic water for my gin!
Proper toasted bacon sandwich from a proper London caff
Decent hummus from the supermarket (with the number of Greeks here wouldn’t you think it would be everywhere?)
Spotted dick and custard
Clotted cream
Real Cornish pasties
Suzanne’s mushrooms on toast

Food & drink I miss about Europe

BANANAS (when we get them here we don’t have to worry about Fair Trade bananas – they are all Aussie-grown – but at $15 a kilo I don’t think so)
Kit Kats (haven’t had one here but Orlando says they are not the same chocolate as European ones)
Spanish manchego cheese (you can get it here but it is more expensive than bananas)
Spanish Vina Albali or Pata Negra red wine

Australian food & drink I Love!

Cherry Ripe chocolate bars
Fat-free semi-sundried tomatoes
Shark from the chip shop
Red Rock Deli lime & black pepper crisps
Fresh healthy food for lunch anywhere (I work in the equivalent of Blanchardstown or Watford and can get gluten-free fat-free dairy-free anything at my local caff)
Proper fruit toast (the one with more fruit than bread)
Lemon lime and bitters
Decaf coffee and soy milk EVERYWHERE!
All the Australian wine they keep for themselves and don’t export

Blogging by Mail

I came across something really interesting on another blog today. is a great food blog by a woman in Dublin. Following her link to, I have signed up for Blogging by Mail.

Here’s the idea:

Food bloggers from all over the world swap treats and baked good, recipes and more, sending care packages to new friends. Cookies, breads, preserves, condiments, teas and coffees, music, cookbooks, photos…anything you want.

Everyone who joins is paired up with a swap partner to whom they’ll send a package.

I’m in… are you?

I’ll keep you posted on the outcome!