On the spur of the moment, my wife and I decide to take an overnight driving trip to the Hunter Valley, 100km north of Sydney. We left on Monday, 29 December, and drove up the quick way, using the freeway until the Cessnock turnoff, where we cut inland to the valley. We stopped for lunch at Tatler winery, which has a cafe that serves tapas-like lunches. We had some duck liver pate with lots of trimmings, and goat’s cheese tarts, which was plenty for two people to share.
Archive for the ‘Food’ Category
In a new, perhaps to be semi-regular, feature on this blog, I shall post my rankings of various things in two or more categories! To start with, nuts!
In increasing order of crunchiness: Chestnuts, cashews, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, coconuts, peanuts, macadamias, brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts.
In increasing order of yumminess: Brazil nuts, coconuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, pecans, chestnuts, peanuts, macadamias, cashews.
In increasing order of how often I cook/prepare food with them in: Brazil nuts, chestnuts, macadamias, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, coconuts (cakes), peanuts (curries, satay), cashews (stir fries, curries), walnuts (cakes, and pizza toppings), almonds (I mix some in my home-made muesli every week).
For years and years and years I have wanted to try tiramisu, because it always looks so good when I see it in restaurants and cafes. But I do not have caffeine, and from what I remember of coffee flavoured things when I was a child, I really hate the flavour of coffee too – so I have never tried tiramisu.
I mentioned this to my wife the other day, when we were in a restaurant and I saw on the menu: orange “tiramisu”. I figured the quotes around “tiramisu” were to indicate that this was a tiramisu-inspired dessert, made with orange flavours, and so probably without coffee. I thought this would be awesome, because I might finally get to taste tiramisu for the first time. Being extra careful, I asked the waiter if the “tiramisu” dessert had any coffee in it. Alas, she replied that it did in fact contain coffee. So I didn’t order it.
Undaunted, my wife decided to find a recipe for tiramisu without coffee, and to make it for me. Here’s a simple one we found, and a more complex one. We’ll try the simple one first and see what I think of it.
When I got home, I lamented the fact that Ben & Jerry’s was an American company, and they didn’t sell their ice cream here in Australia. Over the years I made a few more trips to the US, and each time I gorged myself on Ben & Jerry’s while over there. In 2009 I travelled to the UK and found some over there, and again sated my desire for this heavenly concoction.
Then a couple of years ago, Ben & Jerry’s began appearing here in Sydney. At first I was delighted, but the delight quickly melted away as I realised an awful fact. Because it’s imported from the US, it’s horrendously, ridiculously, stupidly expensive. It is so outrageously expensive that I refuse to buy it.
Here is a photo of some I took in my local supermarket. $11.99 for 458 mL. That works out to $26.18 a litre. (Aside: that’s about 17 times the cost of petrol!!)
And here is a photo of some Australian made Bulla ice cream, which is a good quality ice cream in your standard flavours of vanilla, chocolate, and Neapolitan. Nothing fancy, but a good solid ice cream if you just want some vanilla. It normally costs $10.29 for 4 litres, or $2.57 a litre. Less than 1/10 the price of Ben & Jerry’s! And today it was on special, for $2.12 a litre, less than 1/12 the price of Ben & Jerry’s.
(The generic supermarket brand ice cream next to the Bulla cost only $1 a litre – 1/26 the price of Ben & Jerry’s – but honestly I wouldn’t deign to eat that. You really can taste the difference.)
So. As much as I love Ben & Jerry’s, and despite the fact that it’s now sold here, the only time I ever eat it is when I’m in another country. I had my last serve when I was in San Francisco for a conference in February. I’m hoping to attend the same conference again next February. For more reasons than one.
So, I’ve noticed lots of people at my work drink coffee. Some drink tea, some cola. I’ve also noticed that a lot of people who drink these things (coffee particularly) make various offhand comments about how they really need a coffee to get going, or to be alert or productive.
So, some questions for people who regularly have coffee or other caffeine-containing drinks:
- If your work banned coffee, tea, cola, and any other caffeine, do you think you would be less productive?
- If your work banned coffee, tea, cola, and any other caffeine, do you think the workplace as a whole would be less productive?
- Do you think people who don’t take caffeine are less productive than people who do?
- If yes, do you think it would be reasonable for an employer to want to choose between two otherwise equally qualified candidates on the basis of whether or not they drink caffeine, on the assumption that the caffeine-drinker will be more productive?
You may have figured out that I don’t take caffeine. I actually kind of wonder: Am I less productive at work than I would be otherwise because of this?
Friday night, dinner out. We went to Garfish at Crows Nest, a really good seafood place about 15 minutes walk away. The weather was really hot (new record all-time high temperature for Sydney at 45.8°C), so I opted for the beach feel with the simple fish & chips from the menu that includes a lot more fancy stuff than that. It’s really good fish & chips. And the wine was Brindabella Hills 2011 Riesling, from the Canberra wine district. Really nice, lemony, a bit of residual bubble, and a bare hint of the usual riesling stoniness. It went really well with the fish on a hot night.
Grocery shopping day, and I took a camera along. While collecting some breakfast cereal, I was inspired to take a panorama of six stitched photos along the full length of the breakfast cereal aisle. This is every pre-boxed breakfast cereal in my local supermarket, except for the mueslis, which are in a different aisle, near the “health food” section. You might want to view this one big or very big.
Notice the cereals start with the unhealthy, sugary stuff on the left – Milo, Froot Loops, Coco Pops, Frosties (and the fact that Nutri Grain is leftmost just goes to show how it’s not the “healthy” cereal it’s marketed as) – progressing through the ever-popular whole wheat cereals – Vita Brits, Weet Bix, etc – on to the “muesli-light” style cereals with grains and dried fruits, and finally on to the cereals loaded with bran on the far right.
I also notice that this looks a hell of a lot healthier than the over-the-top sugar-laden marshmallow/chocolate breakfast cereal I’ve seen in American supermarkets. I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes the first time I went into an American supermarket and looked at the breakfast cereals there. Frosties and the aforementioned Nutri Grain are probably the worst offenders in Australian supermarkets.
So I was at the shops today and I felt like a muffin. Went to Muffin Break, and discovered they now have the kilojoule content of all their muffins posted. I discovered when I got home that apparently this is a new law in New South Wales – fast food retailers with 20 or more outlets must post kilojoule content of all their products in font no smaller than the prices.
Anyway, I was all prepared to grab a double chocolate muffin. But seeing those numbers on there made me stop. And think. And dither.
A single double chocolate muffin is 30% of the average adult daily recommended kilojoule intake. That’s insane!
I actually contemplated a Weight Watchers approved bran and something-or-other muffin instead. After a couple of minutes of uncertainty and soul-searching – a couple of minutes more than I intended to spend here – I eventually chose a lemon poppy-seed, which was only 24% of my kilojoules for the entire day.
Subway put up these kilojoule counts a few months ago, and since then I’ve steered well away from the meatball subs and the cheeses and sauces, and gone with the lean, mean choices. And now these signs are going to be appearing all over the place.
I think I’m going to be eating significantly less fast food in the future. And working out more. And you know, I’m glad this is going to make me eat healthier.
So I was buying groceries at the supermarket and they had some odd looking fruit there that I didn’t recognise. Wife thought they looked interesting and grabbed a few. Then when we got to the checkout, the guy at the register put them on the scales, looked for a second, then asked me what they were. I said, “I have no idea.”
He had to get the woman on the next register to come over and identify them.
(They were nashi pears, although of a variety that I hadn’t seen before. I thought they were similar to nashis, but they looked different enough that I wasn’t sure. And it was cool to just say I had no idea.)