Bunny, Sydney (Australia), February 2012

The frequently asked question of late: where have I been? I’ve been sampling new food locations, toasting to birthdays and babies, spreading some good Easter chocolate cheer and just rugging up with hot chocolates on the couch. And snowdomes you ask? The investment of a whole Saturday arvo rearranging domes ensures my dome-home (shelves) will last at least another year! YAY! And I have a whole heap just waiting to be photographed. Too much to do, too little time.

Emma-D put me onto a fun discovery: a baking trend in the US yet to hit our shores – cake pops! Little decorative cakes on sticks – everything is better on a stick isn’t it? And while scrolling through a whole heap of creative baking from cake popstars on Bakerella, we discovered these awesome dome pops by Nadia.

Snow globe pop cakes by Nadia, courtesy of Bakerella

Have a shakin’ good week!

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Shake 573: Lessons from Mum

October 30, 2011

Andy Zito, Chicago (US), April 2011

Whenever anyone finds out that I am of Korean descent, their next question is whether I can cook Korean food and with some embarrassment, my answer is no, followed by my inability to cook anything except instant noodles! My mum is an amazing cook, but instead of learning her secrets, my sisters and I were only interested in the feast at the end. So this weekend, the family decided to celebrate the International Food Festival in our own way with a Korean cuisine masterclass from our very own mother!

Everyone knows that Korean food is a chilli and garlic-fest, but it was fun to learn about all the other ingredients that add to the richness like dried kelp and fermented soybean paste. The masterclass consisted of a spinach side dish, soybean paste stew and mum’s special soy chilli chicken wings. Tips? The right ingredients are important and try to preserve their colour, you have to be good at multi-tasking, and owning a floral maxi-skirt is every Korean woman’s right of passage! Mum was sporting a beauty on Saturday.

Sounds like the next masterclass will include snapper and soy beef ribs. I’m excited!

Then it was onto a creative cocktail evening with the Hubs making his famous martinis and we just had enough energy to drag ourselves out to the Harbour for the Opera House oyster and champagne tasting in the sun today (Tassie’s Bruny Island oysters were the winner).

It was fun-filled-foodie weekend. Now it’s time to diet.

Dried kelp for the stew stock

The spinach side dish

Our fermented soybean stew in a stone pot

The rich soy chilli chicken

A bit of Mum's chopping technique

And finally some delectable oysters at the Opera House

Ps Let me know if you want recipes, the Hubs furiously documented it all!

Andie, Le Mont Saint Michel (France), year?

So how was my lesson in modern Korean cuisine? Thoroughly enjoyable, interesting and inspiring. If you’re in the know with Korean food in Sydney, you’re probably very aware that every Korean restaurant pretty much does the same thing – barbecued meats, hot pots and stews, with a pancake or dumpling to start. You go with a craving for chilli and garlic and come away with a full stomach and the smell of barbecue in your hair. The cuisine is certainly tasty, but it hasn’t ever really been considered fine dining. So this is where our education began. Six talented Korean chefs each contributed a dish to the curriculum and these were matched by some spectacular Italian wine chosen by the very knowledgeable head teacher Peter Jo (Berta, Surry Hills).

The journey started off with some roasted whole chestnuts (so Korean!) and a short cocktail of Korean raspberry wine. And then each subsequent dish outshone the last. They were intricately crafted and really paid homage to true Korean flavours. The Hubs was overwhelmed with the sashimi of tuna, oyster emulsion over nashi pear (his favourite bit), seaweed encrusted soft-boiled quail egg with chilli dressing (by Melissa Chung of Bar H). I couldn’t get over the Angus beef cooked ‘kalbi-style’ with chilli, anchovies and five grain rice (by Ryan Hong of Rockpool Bar and Grill). But when they brought out Jinsun Kim’s dessert (Kakawa Chocolates), the memories of the other dishes were long gone. Her deconstructed Korean rice cakes were just so creative, marrying flavours of chestnut, date and mixed grains. Then just to add a little fun, a yakult popsicle on the side! The Hubs is not a huge fan of dessert, let alone Korean rice cakes, but even his vote went to the dessert.

Mid-course, the team were released from the kitchen for a short time to meet their guests and it was great to have a chat with Peter Jo about his passion for Korean flavours and the success of this new project. Their next pop-up dinners are in October coinciding with the Sydney International Food Festival, so if you’d like some tasty education, keep an eye on their site for more information.

Sorry, I’ve run out of Korean domes!

Shake 510: Korean cuisine

August 28, 2011

Claim your dome!

Tonight it’s time for something new. A crew of passionate Korean chefs around Sydney have banded together to educate us about their cuisine by creating the Koreaculum series of dinners. They call themselves the Kimchi Crew and tonight they are hosting a six course degustation meal as lesson number 2 (their first was held a couple of weeks ago at Bar H, check out awesome photos at Eat, Show & Tell). I’m ready for my lesson!

Shake 509: On the cusp

August 27, 2011

Dave F, Devonport (Australia), year?

Are you allowed to have a favourite transition season? I can’t say I have a favourite season, but I just love this transition from winter to spring. The sun’s out, the magpies are back, a crisp little breeze remains and the coffee tastes even better!

Thanks Dimity (and the Uliveto team), you’re my fav weekend barista.

Pocket Steve, Devon (UK), 2002

...unfortunately a little cracked!

Everyone knows I’m not good at cooking, but I spent my Sunday learning the art of cupcake decoration. Impressed? However, instead of paying close attention, I found myself more interested in sampling the icing and longing for a cup of tea. A couple of hours of kneading, rolling, colouring and piping later, here are the results! It’s hard to perfect, let alone make presentable. I have a new appreciation for this delicate art. If you want an introductory dabble, check out The Essential Ingredient at Rozelle.

One more thing – I totally forgot to mention that I was given my first Great Wall of China dome! My shelf of un-photographed domes is filling up, better pull that macro lens out soon.

Flower creation at The Essential Ingredient

The finished products!

Claim your dolphin dome!

As of June, the much loved Jonah’s welcomed Alfonso Ales and his impressive résumé (Ferran Adria, Bilsons), so we decided to celebrate our four years with a bit of fine cuisine and uninterrupted ocean views at Whale Beach. Leading up to today, it was all doom and gloom forecast by the weather bureau, but fortune smiled on us and we were lucky enough to enjoy the breathtaking view without the clouds!

The view, the food and the service lends itself to a very leisurely, long lunch, so I won’t bore you with all the details. Let’s just say it’s beautifully well-executed food, well-matched wines and service that you can’t fault. And when you mix it with a view of the ocean that stretches out to the horizon, it’s an award-winning combination.

Slow cooked octopus with roasted garlic chips and hot paprika oil

Scallops with apple and celeriac remoulade, caviar and sesame tuile

Veal medallions, foie gras and truffle sauce (the winner!)

Kingfish and scampi with ginger and kaffir lime consomme

The chocolate sin! Chocolate ice cream, chocolate ganache and sauce, topped with a chocolate tuile!

Lea & Nat, Santorini (Greece), Apr 2011

Greek donkeys

I always look forward to Lea’s return from holidays. For one thing, I miss the usual emails that fly between us in a regular week and more importantly, she comes home laden with fun gifts. Although I am in love with this large Santorini dome, you might like her other surprise. A vodka flavoured lollypop complete with edible scorpion inside! Will it be smooth and sweet with a little bite?

Vodkalix - vodka flavoured lolly with edible scorpion inside

Ingredients: maltitol syrup, scorpion, natural and artificial flavouring

Shake 405: Snap happy

May 15, 2011

Shazi & Ansh, Sydney (Australia), year?

And their shadows on the other side

I used to live in a house with perfect direct and diffused overhead light. It made snowdome photography super easy even on those overcast days. My current living situation, though quaint and gorgeous, means I need to be a little smarter and I need bright sunny days. The problem is that on a beautiful day, much like today, being inside seems a little wrong, especially when you feel like you need to work off a couple of those Justin North’s burgers you happily devoured last night (his Wagyu burger is fantastic and parmesan truffle fries a little bit of fun)! The Hubs’ bad cold was a blessing in disguise. It meant I was housebound with fantastic lighting conditions. I have finally photographed 99% of the collection. YAY! And it also means I rediscovered some domes I forgot I had! Like this one from two high school friends – this side shows their shadows and the other has a beautiful photo of them both! Thanks gals, this is a really special one.

Claim your New York dome!

I’m mad about food, but I don’t cook. That role and grocery-gathering is not just filled, but gleefully snatched up by Mr Snowdomes in our household, much to my relief but my conservative mother’s shock. There’s something about timing, quantities and so many variables that just don’t agree with me. But one thing that is a mystery to us both is the art of baking. Having said that, we decided to start with something simple – a scrabble piece cake for our beloved Scrabble Girl’s birthday (whose name starts with a V).

The lessons: know your oven, cakes dry a little when they cool, cooling takes AGES so leave plenty of time, a crumb coat is an awesome idea, the Viva paper towel trick didn’t work for us and I have no idea why (shed some light anyone?) and watch more youtube baking videos.

The result: a chocolate cake with vanilla icing, a Lindt ‘V’ and black icing writing.

Not bad for some novice bakers? Well, at least Scrabble Girl was impressed! It might have to be PopCap Bejeweled cake next year, she’s moved on.

The 'V' Scrabble piece cake

Happy birthday Scrabble Girl!