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 🙂

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A trip to Ronda and a simple Gazpacho

Ronda is a stunning village. Perched high in the Andalucian mountains, Southern Spain, it has a proud bullfighting history. The story is that it is here, legendary bullfighter, Pedro Romero, founded the style of bullfighting where the matadore stands on the ground to face the bull, and not on horseback, as it had been.

I travelled there from Gibraltar on the train line that was built by British garrison officers stationed there in the 1890s who wanted to escape the busy port of Gibraltar. The train wasn’t fast by any means, and from memory it took over 2 hrs to get to Ronda, but the scenery it passes is so stunning it’s worth it. 

A deep gorge divides the old city from the new. You could stand on the Puente Nuevo bridge, which joins the two, for hours taking in the breathtaking view and trying to imaging life in times gone by. Due to the cliffs and gorges the city was one of the last Moorish cities to fall during the Reconquest of Spain by the Catholics.

During one of Jamie Oliver’s trips around Europe he visited Ronda too. He chose to make their gazpacho, pimping it up by grilling the onion for more flavour and adding almonds and orange. I’m sure it tasted great but I’m not sure the Andalucians would approve.

There are many different recipes for Gazpacho and it’s another one of those dishes everyone thinks their version is the correct one. Mine is a simple gazpacho, made from simple ingredients.

Always only made and eaten in the heat of summer when tomatoes are in season and full of flavour. This soup is served cool as a refreshing start to any meal.

 

A Simple Gazpacho

1 kg ripe red tomatoes, the best flavour you can find, quartered

1 medium cucumber, roughly chopped

1 small red spanish onion, roughly chopped

1 red capsicum, seeded and quartered

100g stale bread

1 garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

 

Method:

Soak bread in water (about 250-300mls) enough to just cover the bread. Leave to soak for 5-10 minutes until bread has soaked up water.

Place onion, capsicum and garlic in large food processor and pulse until fine. (need 1.5-2L capacity processor)

Then add cucumber and tomatoes and process until smooth. Add soaked bread including residual water, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.

This is a rustic gazpacho and if you prefer it smoother you can rub it through a fine sieve.

Serve cool in a glass with finely chopped red capsicum and cucumber on the side. Depending on your tomatoes this makes 1.5-2L of gazpacho. Easily enough for 10-12 people as an amuse bouche or starter.