My Seven Links: A Look Back and A Glimpse Forward

It’s been a year since I left London, to return to Australia. As I expected it has not been an easy ride. Thankfully Sydney is a beautiful city to come home to and the New Year has introduced itself with such gorgeous weather it’s hard not to be cheered up.

One of the people I met in London was Gourmet Chick. In fact her blog was one of the first I started to read. Her great blog grew into a well respected site for honest restaurant reviews, cookbook reviews, and great travel tips on where to sleep and eat. She has since moved back to Australia too (yeah!)

Some time ago she asked me to follow her in sharing my Seven Links outlined by the TripBaseblog. I’ve finally got around to it.

1. My Most Beautiful Post

Rhonda is a beautiful city, without a doubt. A gorge divides the old and new towns creating with it a stunning secret escape for entraped Spanish royalty. With Rhonda comes the famous Andulucian dish, gazpacho. The key to this dish is of course great tomatoes. In Australia the hot summer sun brings garden tomatoes to their glory. If your overwhelmed by endless tomatoes, try a gazpacho!
2. My Most Popular Post

My first attempt at a chiffon cake was a great success, not only with my work colleagues but surprisingly, it became my most popular post. Thanks to the wonderful book put together by the Monday Morning Cooking Club ladies, I managed to pull off a cake that defied gravity. I’ve graduated to slicing, filling, and lathering them with buttery frostings. Possibly this was not the intention for the airy, delicate cakes, but it tastes good.

3. My Most Controversial Post

I am normally quite democratic when I write a post about a restaurant. I don’t think The Harwood Arms was any exception. It’s all about one persons opinion, and I am no expert, but I try to write about my dining experience in an honest way. By the time I finally got to The Harwood Arms, after the post-Michelin star crowds, I thought it had lost it’s way a little. It was also pointed out by a few people that I had not ordered the scotch egg, which is raved about. It’s said to be amazing, but it’s only on the bar menu and I ate in the restaurant area. I don’t think an eating establishment should ride off the back of a scotch egg but then again, sadly, I didn’t have one.
4. My Most Helpful Post

I was so excited when I found this little gem in Annandale. Sitting on busy Parramatta Road it could be easily missed as you speed past on your way home. I really urge you to stop and pop in for a look. The owners run the shop, have reasonable prices and are very helpful. They will be getting a large shipment of mid-century furniture in, from the UK and Europe, in the next few months. Well worth a stop in I think.
5. The Post Whose Success Most Surprised me

A simple banana cake, nevertheless people seemed to think it looked good. It did taste good too. The addition of sour cream made it extra moist and slightly richer. Thanks Donna 🙂
6. A Post I Feel Didn’t Get The Attention It Deserved

I have alot of respect for Anna Hansen. I hope she sits back sometimes and takes the time to smile and think “I’ve made it, I did it “. Knowing a little of what she is like, that seems unlikely. She is a very hard working woman, working her way up from dishwasher to owning her own restaurant. A restaurant that pulls flavours from across the culinary world to create something interesting. To me the combinations may sometimes seem a bit ‘out-there’ but for Anna a natural combination to achieve what she wants. I just got her first cookbook and I’m looking forward to trying my hand a few things.
7. The Post I Am Most Proud Of

I love St John, I really do. I can’t believe I miss it so much. It was the place I could always rely on. I think you get the idea that I love the place, and their bone marrow and parsley salad, in this post. What makes this post even more memorable for me is that David Chang sat at the table across from me that day, as I sucked the fat off the toasted sourdough, and I didn’t even really care.

Part of posting your seven links is nominating others to follow.The lovely Miss Piggy has gladly taken up the challenge 🙂

Anna Hansen at the Friday Food Club

Anna Hansen, a New Zealander who started her career in London with Fergus Henderson at the former The French House in Soho and then with fellow New Zealander Peter Gordon at Green St, The Sugar Club and with him opening The Providores. She bravely decided to open her own restaurant. A scary venture and not without it’s perils along the way. Whilest setting up The Modern Pantry, in Clerkenwell, Anna was told to ‘forget it’, ‘cut your losses’, before she even opened but I’m glad she has a persistent drive, that spurred her on, and so The Modern Pantry was born.

This was my second visit to The Friday Food Club, the first being the Mark Hix Takeover. So I knew I was in for a treat. They were generously hosting another dinner in support of the charity, Chance UK.  Anna had also given up her free time to help them raise some money. Friday Food Club hosts, Lee and Fiona are lovely, welcoming and fun. They have a beautiful historic flat and in Blackheath. I knew the way.

The usual Friday Food Club welcome a glass of de Chanceny Cremant de Loire Brut was accompanied by some Krupuk quail eggs with a chilli lime dipping sauce. Perfectly cooked little balls of quail egg covered in egg yolk and rolled in crumbled Krupuk and crispy deep fried. Krupuk? I hear you say, what if I said it is what prawn crackers are made from. Oh ahha I hear you say. So when deep fried they puff up around the egg, clever huh. The thick chilli lime dipping sauce coated and stuck to the krupuk so it reached your mouth without dripping off everywhere.

Sugar-cured New Caledonian prawn omelette, spring onion, coriander with a smoked chilli sambal is a signature dish at The Modern Pantry. A softy fluffy omelette encasing flavoursome prawns, nudged into fusion with a smoky sambal. I have to say, I think prawns from the Pacific are some of the best in the world. They seem to have so much more flavour.

Pan fried cod, chorizo and clams, squid ink mash with samphire. This was my favourite dish of the evening. The squid ink mash not only looked interesting but tasted fantastically creamy with a hint of natural squid ink . Little clams from Cornwall, soft flakey cod, salty samphire and little bites of chorizo all holding their own big flavours but together not over powering each other.

I can’t think of a better way of getting your hands dirty than in a big sharing bowl of Singapore style wokked crab with Thai basil.  Big Cornish crabs wok cooked in a fantastic sauce of sweet palm sugar, soy sauce, sour tamarind, smoky pimento,and a hint of a chilli.  I love getting stuck into food like this. A little bit more chilli for me please.  Breaking the long crab arms to scoop out the sweet crab meat, it’s a voyage of discovery. The sauce/broth at the bottom of the bowl was too good to leave behind and I slurped it up with my dessert spoon. No one else at the table seemed to be interested in the bowl then. I sound like such a glut, but it would have been a crime to leave it behind.

A new spoon in hand and I was ready for dessert. Sticky coconut balls stuffed with umeboshi and palm sugar, coconut sorbet, tamarind caramel topped with micro red shiso leaves. What I like about Anna’s cooking as that it is never boring. Her coconut balls were filled with umeboshi, the japanese pickled plum sauce,  interesting but not my favourite dessert. In Japan umeboshi is commonly served as a condiment to rice or tucked in a rice ball wrapped in a nori sheet. The coconut sorbet complemented the sweet/sour caramel very well.

Anna describes her food as fusion, and she realizes that it’s not for everyone, but a style you should not dismiss. She certainly pushes the boundaries in terms of unusual flavours and textures, but she makes them work. If your a fusion fan, you will love Anna Hansen’s style of combining unusual flavours. If your not a fusion fan, why not? Don’t be boring, try something new.