K-food; 405 kitchen

by Elizabeth Lennox


Okay, so anyone that has spent any ounce of time with me since my return from South Korea in November last year will be undoubtedly well aware of the fact that I've become slightly obsessed with all things Korean. It's a problem, don't worry, I know. All I can say is at least I've expanded my musical horizons once more… there was a period there around the Christmas season where only cheesy K-pop lyrics filled my ears. Slightly embarrassing to admit but true nonetheless. The food, however, is a whole other situation - in short, I feel like the period I spent in Seoul lay down the foundation for a lifelong obsession with Korean cuisine.

"But wasn't the food spicy?!"

My friends here in Sydney have questioned me on occasion as to the chilli factor of the food in SK to which my answer is this: "oh yes. But, bar one or two EXTREME spice memorable experiences involving a Korean menu that I couldn't understand and not enough rice, it was glorious." But really nowadays, spicy or not, hardly a day goes by where I don't crave some quality sam gye tang (chicken stuffed with rice in ginseng soup) or tteokbokki (rice cake with sweet and spicy sauce). 

Having said all this, on my first night in Seoul, I was introduced to a delight that would change me for life and now back in Australia, I still long for every day. To be honest, pale as a ghost and not daring to venture any further than a block from any given subway station, I met up with a dear friend in the middle of Hongdae. Seeing a familiar face among the seas of people was the best that happened to me that day. Or rather, so I thought… we dined together, retreated to the cutest cafe, 405 Kitchen, and I tried... patbingsoo.

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Mmmm. Milk iced shavings with red bean and mochi...

The best.

Oh, and my goodness, was it a nice combat to all the spicy food too ;)

Now, I had patbingsoo many, MANY (MANY!!) times after this in Seoul (yolo) but I actually think that 405 Kitchen had the best. I tried Oreo flavour and green tea scented but this one had the milk/sweet balance just right. And besides, there was indeed something deliciously cosy about sitting in a cafe late at night with an old friend over a shared bowl of a creamy, sweet dessert. Absolute perfection in the hotter months, not so much in the colder months… but that's why we have internal heating and in SK, heated floorboards ;)

The takeaway message from this post? Korean food is amazing. Patbingsoo is on the next level. You all know that I kinda have a thing for food (seriously!) so trust me when I advise, next time you're out - give K-food a try. Please stay tuned for the best Korean restaurants on the Australian East coast ;) (East coast because I literally have less than a fortnight left living in Sydney :( Bring on the Melbourne reviews!)



they like it salty

by Elizabeth Lennox


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"Sugar is no good" exclaimed Mum's Swedish pen-friend of 38 years as we casually rode the ferry from Slussen, located in Stockholm's centre, to Nacka "but salt - now, that you can have as much as you like! it's summer! it's fresh!"

Okay so, this remark didn't mean much at the time - however, I must say that at the time, I hadn't yet let my tastebuds be privy to the famed dish of the nation. We docked at Nacka Strand and ambled toward the restaurant of the yacht club perched on the water's edge - I ordered myself a tantalising dish of salted salmon and dill potatoes. Despite the fact that I jealously ogled my brother's choice of Swedish meatballs (complete with aesthetically pleasing loganberries - see picture!) when our waiter placed the plate in front of him, as soon as I overzealously took the first bite of my salmon, I knew I made the right call. OH MY IT WAS GOOD.

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Before long, I indeed understood the Swedes' partiality to the salty seasoning. Simply put, I was so damn thirsty... for so, SO many hours afterward. Stopping for a coffee on Stockholm's main shopping strip mall, I downed three or four glasses of water, no worries, while my family chuckled on the sidelines. Naturally, in consuming this much water, I left myself predictably nauseous. 

 Nacka Strand Yacht Club  (although slightly off the tourist track - 15 minutes by ferry from Stockholm City), is an absolutely stunning place to dine, eat quality, relatively well priced Swedish cuisine and spend a bit of time NOT WALKING when in Stockholm. (Because, let's be honest, traveling is awesome but everyone is looking forward to the next seat opportunity.)

Wherever you eat in Sweden, you'll learn pretty quickly that they like their marine life and they like it salty. And really, for the amount of cheesecake I eat, I'm probably due a wee bit o salt in my diet anyway so I'm cool with it ;) I'm actually just itching to get back to Stockholm... why is Australia so far away again?

PS. GREAT to be back posting such food ramblings again!  ;)


say cheesecake!

by Elizabeth Lennox


Unfortunately, I feel like I have to begin this entry with a confession - I have to admit to you all, shamefully, for the first eighteen years of my life, I hated cheesecake. I KNOW. I CAN HARDLY BELIEVE IT MYSELF. If you're wondering what I was thinking, I wasn't. All I can say is it was literally my least favourite dessert ever. It was the first thing I'd scrunch up my nose to if I found out Mum was baking it for the next family gathering and always the last thing I'd pick on the menu at a restaurant. And, if someone had a cheesecake as their birthday cake... WELL! Quite frankly, I thought the cheese plus cake combination was just weird.

Anyway, one day it all changed. I wish I could pinpoint the EUREKA! moment where I decided it was the highlight of my existence... but with a memory like Dory, I can't. But now, in my opinion, it is the QUEEN of desserts (tiramisu as the humble king ;D) and I love it so very much. I wish I could eat it all day every day... along with haloumi ;)

So, this brings me to the RECIPE I'm going to share with you all for the week. It is a slightly tweaked version of Donna Hay's classic baked cheesecake (AND IT IS SO DELICIOUS) - here it is!

 NUTELLA AND PEANUTS CLASSIC BAKED CHEESECAKE

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Ingredients
 
110g Marie biscuits
80g almond meal
60g butter, melted

1 1/2 tbls cornflour
1 1/2 tbls water
330g light cream cheese
460g light ricotta
4 eggs
295g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence/extract

150g Nutella
20g peanuts, crushed

Method
 
 1) Put the Marie biscuits in the food processor and process until finely crushed. Then, add the almond meal and butter until completely combined.
2) Line a greased 20cm SPRINGFORM cake tin lined with baking paper and press the biscuit mixture into that. Refrigerate.
3) Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Put the cornflour and water in a small bowl and mix until a paste forms. Then, in a separate bowl, mix all remaining ingredients (BAR the Nutella and peanuts) with the cornflour mixture. Pour filling over the refrigerated biscuit mixture and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes OR until set (i.e. the filling doesn't move!).
4) Leave to cool, then refrigerate. Spread the Nutella over the top of the cheesecake and sprinkle with peanuts to serve. Yum! :D

x


utterly gazebo'd

by Elizabeth Lennox


If you look through any of my old travel journals, you'll almost immediately recognise one common theme. I'd give you a chance to guess but you could probably take a wild stab in the dark at this point, suggest "food" and you'd be completely spot on. In fact, close to the majority of the content of my travel journals proclaims what I ate, where I ate it and how good it was ;) Yum!

One particular anecdote describes THE BEST SANDWICH EVER - an indeed pretty big claim, I know, because we all eat sandwiches all the time (don't we?). Although I was pretty lucky to not get yellow mush (omelette), or cardboard (toast), it was a turning point in the history of plane food when aboard my Qantas flight to Singapore in Jan '11, I was served roasted pumpkin and zucchini, jarlsberg and pesto on toasted multigrain sourdough (SO GOOD!). Best sandwich I'd ever had... or so I thought.

HOWEVER (it's hard to believe, but I am going somewhere with all this talk of "sam bams"), this sandwich has been trumped - and Gazebo Wine Garden, a lovely fairy-lit restaurant on the corner of Elizabeth Bay Rd in Darlinghurst, were the ones to do it.  

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Although their menu is wonderful (antipasta plank is a winner), see here, it was the deliciously simple "ham cheese toastie" on their SHARE menu that would honestly, make all the other sandwiches that exist in the world incredibly sad. My friends - Serrano ham, melted gruyere cheese and truffle inside beautifully but lightly toasted crispy bread will be enough to complete your lives. Washed down with a glass of sparkling Madame Coco brut, and you'll be among the stars :)

Overall, this restaurant is really gorgeous - the service can be a little slow but that's really nothing of note because I'm sure that's just due to a back log on the Breville ;) The ambience is laid-back but simultaneously sophisticated - great for a romantic date night or a chilled evening with friends! Need a restaurant for this coming Friday night for whatever occasion? THIS place would be the way to go.

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