Tag Archives: diet

Pre-wedding diet


G’day Tony,

Ok, so I had to dust off the cob-webs (pardon the pun) and put some electrons on virtual paper. Humblest apologies for being off-line for so long, that’s if you missed me. If you didn’t miss me, sorry I am back.

Winter left in a hurry, replaced by all that is good about spring…except the snow melting, strong northerly winds, hayfever, the smell of dynamic lifter on the garden, changing clocks forward (daylight savings time) and school holiday madness in the city. Other than that, I love spring and all that it brings!

Our final weekend at Mt Buller brought together a great group of friends for a little bit of skiing and a lot of eating and drinking. A boisterous group at the lodge on the Saturday night partook in an array of goodies lovingly BBQ’d by Jim…chicken pieces marinaded in rosemary, garlic, chilli, olive oil and lots of fresh lemon zest and juice, slow braised pork belly (bbq’d to give a really nice caramelisation) courtesy of Alex and lamb rissoles with cumin, turmeric, smoky paprika, sumac, parsley and feta cheese…yep, fetta crumbled through the mix. Much, much goodness!

Some salads and freshly baked bread to round out the meat feast. Oh, and wine. Lots of wine!

Dessert was a surprise. I whipped up a chocolate self saucing pudding, while someone mixed together the fixings for a sticky date pudding. Confusion, wine, not sure which, but flour was inadvertently left out of the sticky date. Unsurprisingly the mix didn’t set. It was only then that the error was picked up. So, I did what any hungry (I was stuffed the gunnels, but still wanted sticky date pudding) I added a half amount of self raising flour, mixed and popped back in the oven. The comments when served surprised me…best sticky date pudding ever! Score!

The last few weeks have been a blur of pre-wedding diet food. Some stand out meals. Nah, who am I kidding. The stuff is okay, but is never going to substitute for real home cooked food!

Julia and I have an agreement. We must visit one nice restaurant a month. Not a big ask in a city like Melbourne. But being away every weekend and both of us super busy during the week, it simply hasn’t happened for a while. About to make up for it, though.

Was taken to Zia Rina’s Cucina by Phil from Armadale Cellars the other day for lunch. Phil’s been around the block a few times and he rates chef/owner Rina as good as any Michelin stared chef he’s seen on the continent. Must admit, the food is blindingly good. So much so, heading back there this week with a good friend who will be in town from Dubai. If any place can float Nick’s boat, this should do it. Oh, it’s BYO too, so I am going to hit Nick up to dust something off from his Arabian cellar…no doubt I will be doing the same from my cellar.

Honey-moon is fast approaching (next week). A few nights in Bangkok, to get into the groove. So, I booked us into Nahm and Gaggan. Both are listed in the top 50 restaurants in the world, but are they that good?

Sure, you can live it up in Thailand without spending a bomb, but I fail to understand how Nahm (rated #12 in the world) can cost BHT2,000/person (~AUD75.00) for degustation dinner, while the highest rated Australian restaurant, at #32, is giving you their experience at AUD190/person. I know, I know, this opens a Pandora’s box of arguments.

Pretty soon, we in Melbourne will play host to The Fat Duck. Yep, that Brayside stalwart which boasts a number of Michelin stars. For 6 months and 45 seats, that means 16,000 people will be served while they are in Melbourne. Getting a table…forget it. Ballot it will be, but at north of $525/person (ex-booze), it is almost cheaper to fly to England and experience it in its home location!

How much are you willing to spend (not including tip) and a meal to remember? Does it need to be a restaurant that is rated by Michelin, or S. Pellegrino or whichever is your go to restaurant reviewers?

For me, that memorable meal may be as simple as some hawker food on the foreshore of somewhere tropical, but it’s not going to stop me visiting Nahm and Gaggan. In the meantime, it is back to the microwave to “cook” dinner for tonight *sigh*

Catch you soon!



Stock and Awe


Hey Dan,

While you’re living high on the hog, I’m getting back to basics. After all the travel there’s a serious need to lose some weight, so the exercise has been ramped up, and the calories consumed reduced.

One favourite for the weight-loss diet is soup. It sates an appetite and can be healthy too, depending on the ingredients. Tonight it’s pea soup with mint, so that checks all the boxes.

But first, I need some stock.

A long, long time ago I gave up on store-bought stock or cubes. Convenient they may be, but typically an ingredient list looks like this: Wheat flour, salt, flavour enhancers (monosodium glutamate, disodium 5′-ribonucleotides), yeast extract, glucose syrup solids, chicken fat, potato starch, sugar, chicken extract, flavouring (contains celery), onion extract, colour (ammonia caramel). That’s from Oxo, but may as well be any of them.

So that’s flour, salt, sugar, fat and chemicals. Mmmmm, ammonia caramel: Just like Grandma used to make.

Really, I have no interest in eating something that sounds as though it was scraped off a vessel in a toilet cleaner factory.

So today’s stock day. Easy: A couple of chicken carcasses; some old chook bones saved from other meals and frozen; some celery; an onion; a couple of carrots; a few bay leaves; salt and pepper; water. Simmer for a few hours, skim, strain (remembering you’re reserving the liquid and not the solids – I absent-mindedly tipped the stock down the sink one day. Doh!).

Viola: chicken stock. No artificial ingredients, loads of flavour, and it costs a couple of dollars. I divide it into Ziplock bags in two-cup portions and freeze them, and one pot of stock lasts me for a month or two for soups or risottos or whatever.

There’s only one problem. While it’s simmering, the whole house fills with a superb chicken/bay leaf aroma and it is mouth-watering. It takes some serious self-restraint not to raid the fridge, and that would defeat the purpose somewhat.