Archive | October, 2010

Iconic Aussie Eats with Alice’s dad, Steve

31 Oct

Alice’s lovely dad Steve was kind enough to purchase me a domain name ( because I stupidly wrote my user name in the domain name box- hence the weird url for the last couple of weeks.

Anyway, Steve hosted a barbecue the other day with the fams- unfortunately there were no shrimps involved so I can’t make use of the phrase “throw a shrimp on the barbie”, but it still looks pretty damn good! So, without further ado, I present to you the first recipe food from back home, courtesy of the talented culinary wiz- Steve Robinson!

1. Prepare beef roast marinade.
Mix 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of French seeded mustard, two teaspoons of soy sauce, two crushed cloves of garlic and two teaspoons of finely shredded ginger.
Mix together and coat the beef roast with the mixture – use your hands to rub the mixture well into the roast.
Apply kitchen foil to the exposed bone tips so they don’t burn later in the BBQ.
Cover in clingwrap and leave in refigerator for 4 hours.
2. Prepare chargrilled vegetables.
Peel four carrots and cut into three centremetre lengths – roughly  then cut them into quarters lengthwise.
Do the same with two sweet potatoes.
Ciut up four zuccinis in the same way – do not peel.
Cut a green and red capsiicum into eighths – remove seeds from inside.
Prepare onions and any other vegetables to your liking.
In this meal I also prepared five large potatoes (remove skin and cut to your preferred size) for baking.
3. Cook BBQ roast
Fire up BBQ to 200C and sear all exposed edges of the roast on hot plate.
Then place roast in a baking tray.
Cook with lid down on low flame for about 60 minutes.
Occassionally check inside for any excess flame due to fat splatter.
After roast is cooked to your liking remove from BBQ and let rest for 15 minutes.
4. Pre cook vegetables.
After the meat has been cooking for 45 minutes…
Place potatoes in baking tray in hot oven (180c) and bake bake for 30 minutes.
Put vegetables in a baking tray and place in hot oven (180C) for 15 minutes. Remove and take to BBQ when you take out the roast to rest.
5. Char grill vegetables.
Char the vegetables on the hotplate and or grill for about 5-10 miniutes or as desired to get BBQ char effect.
6. Serve
Carve up roast to desired portions.
Serve baked potatoes.
Serve chargrilled vegetables.
7. Extras
Open a lovely bottle of Australian shiraz (preferable from South Australia) at any point in proceedings and thoroughly enjoy.
Get any other available males to hover around BBQ and look remotely knowledgable.


My Cooking philosophy (courtesy of Hot Grey’s Anatomy guy)

28 Oct

For a long time, my cooking philosophy was-“ If it can be microwaved,  slotted into a toaster, or involves the instructions “Empty out of a sachet and add hot water”, it’s good.

Previous cooking attempts- Albert Heijn Cup-A-Soup (Actually the tomato basil is pretty tasty!)

Instructions: Add water and stir


Now, after a few interesting cooking attempts on my dodgy stove top, I have a new philosophy-  use no recipes- (preferably while drinking a glass of white wine).

As a wise man in a film once said “Cooking with recipes is like colouring inside the lines”. (That wise man may or may not have been that blue eyed actor who now plays Avery on Grey’s Anatomy, and that film may or may not have been The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. The Sequel).

 Anyway, Grey’s Anatomy guy had a point. Every time I’ve tried cooking with a recipe- the result has been me on the verge of a nervous breakdown as I meticulously measure out the ingredients and fret over whether I did Step 2 before Step 1, and wonder what the heck the difference is  between “sautéing”, “browning” and “simmering”. (Has anyone seen Bridget Jones’ diary? The scene where she spends hours slaving over an elabourate  “British Home Cooking” recipe and ends up with blue soup and a headache? Yeah, that’s me.)  On the other hand, the times I have freestyled it sans recipe (sometimes slightly tipsy), the result has been wondrous!

Grey's Anatomy guy

So, apologies to the cooking gurus out there, but any of the so called “recipes” that i will be posting of my own will probably involve instructions like “stick the chicken in the pan, and kinda poke it around until it looks brown on the outside and edible looking ”. (The edible part is very important because apparently, eating uncooked chicken could kill you. Or make you very sick at least)  Essentially, it’s Cooking for Dummies in blog form. (Don’t worry, other people’s recipes I will post will probably be more comprehensive and intelligent sounding!)

So, in honour of my new food philosophy, I present you my first “recipe”– Grilled chicken stuffed with pesto, goats cheese and cherry tomatoes.  Enjoy!

You’ll need:

 Chicken fillet, cherry tomatoes, goat’s cheese, pesto (  but really you can stick whatever you want in the chicken- eg spinach, mushrooms etc etc …that’d probably be tasty too)

 Also, baby carrots, broccoli, olive oil etc


  1. Get a piece of chicken fillet. Cut a slit on the side. Stuff the pesto, goat’s cheese and cherry tomatoes inside the slit (It should look like a salad sandwich, except with chicken instead of a bread bun. So not very salady at all come to think of it).
  2. Drizzle olive oil onto pan. Stick the chicken in the pan, and kinda poke it around until it looks brown on the outside and edible looking. You can add yummy spices like oregano etc while its cooking and toss it around a bit.
  3. Put baby carrots/ broccoli in pan, and then put it beside the chicken.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Meant to be more veges here, but i got hungry half way thru and started eating them out of the pan. Chicken takes ages to cook!

I forgot to add the tomatos this time..but still good!

Greasy eats in Amsterdam (inspired by Dr Nick Riviera from the Simpsons)

26 Oct

There’s an episode from the Simpsons where Homer, in an attempt to become clinically “obese” to qualify for a disability pension, receives some sage advice from Dr Nick:  “when choosing what to eat, rub the food against a napkin. If the napkin turns clear, you can eat it!”

Hi everybody! (Hi doctor nick!)

In honour of Dr Nick, I present to you 6 of my top greasy eats in Amsterdam so far, also known as best places to go at 3am in the morning after dancing and in search for carbs:

  1. FEBO . A few months ago in Sydney, my dutch friend Romana told me that in Holland, one can buy fast food in VENDING MACHINES. I think my response was “You lie”. Surely such a thing would be too good to be true, or at least in violation of one or more Dutch health/safety regulations.  Alas, she spoke the truth. This magical place is called FEBO, and on the walls you will find a brilliant coin-operated mosaic of croquettes, French fries, hamburgers and all manner of heart attack inducing goodness, served fresh (ish) on their hotplates and ready to be eaten. I personally have only tried the French fries and mayo, which was surprisingly good, and possibly the croquettes too. (My mind was a bit hazy at that particular moment). I’ve heard the mini-hamburgers are also rather awesome.

FEBO vending machines

2. Turkish Pizza (At Doner King near central station or similar)- Turkish pizza is apparently a very big thing here. The name is a bit deceptive, cos it’s less of a pizza and more of a kebab wrap/ pita gyros (oh god, pita gyros from Ios, how I miss you!) Essentially, it’s a wrap, and you can choose from a variety of doner meats, salad toppings and sauces. Not as good as a Greek pita gyros, but still pretty damn tasty.



3.Burger King– I was tossing up between Maccas and Burger king here. Maccas almost made the list because of the stroopwafel mcflurries, but i figured that’s not particularly greasy. Besides, I stepped into Burger King the other night , and discovered….CURLY FRIES. For those of you who don’t know, curly fries are an ingenious invention that are always mentioned in American movies/ tv shows (along with cheesey fries), but they remain somewhat of an urban myth in Australia. They’re impossible to get back home! I remember I had my first curly fry in 2006 while backpacking through Europe, and stumbled across them in a McDonalds near the Spanish Steps, Rome. They were delicious. As are the ones served in Burger King , Amsterdam in 2010. (see below)

curly fries at burger king

The other amazing thing that Dutch Burger King has recently introduced is the “Buenos Nachos” burger – containing nacho chips, jalapenos and Mexican sauce atop a flame grilled patty. At first, I was sceptical- i thought, “How lazy. This isn’t a real burger, it’s a plate of nachos shoved into a burger”. Actually, it was freakin’ awesome. The nachos add a delightful crunchy texture which compliments the tenderness of the beef and bun oh so well, and the jalapenos/Mexican sauce lend a surprising zing lacking in burgers of lower calibre. Definitely worth a try.

Buenos Nacho burger

 5.     Maoz Vegetarian

Awesome felafel place. They give you a bread pocket filled with felafel balls, and you can add your own salads and sauce ( i always opt for the tzatzkiki). Tasty.

 It’s also a good way of getting to know famous musicians/ band members and becoming extra cool. My roommate Kelly had the best night of her life the other night, when she went to see Of Montreal (Canadian indie band) live at Leidserplein. After the concert, she and her friend Eli started chatting to the band members ( Eli is from Tallahassee, Florida, as is half thband apparently), who wanted them to take them somewhere cool in Amsterdam afterwards. I think they ended up going to a bar or coffeeshop, and then to Maoz Vegetarian, where Kelly taught them how to make a Maoz felafel wrap. True story.

Maoz vegetarian

Of Montreal are a fan


5.       Random hot dog stands- everywhere.

These dodgy looking stands are everywhere around Amsterdam. They’re pretty simple- sausage in a bun, but the fun bit is the self service section out the front, where one can choose from a variety of toppings (eg pickles, fried onions etc etc) and sauces (eg mustard, mayonnaise, mustard and curry), thereby customising their own hot dog. I am actually yet to try this- i always seem to walk past them sober in broad daylight when the toppings less enticing and more gross, but will have to do a late night run!

hot dog stand near dam square

6.  Frites (or Fries)- Mannekin Pis, near Centraal station

A list of greasy eats in Amsterdam would not be complete without the traditional Dutch delicacy- French fries. (People, usually Europeans, and usually the French at that, often give the Dutch a bit of crap for their slightly less than sophisticated local delicacies- eg deep fried bitterballen, but in my opinion the French fry is one of the tastiest snacks ever made. Kudos to the Dutch for adopting that so wholeheartedly)

 Anyway, you’ll find French fries stores everywhere in Amsterdam, usually served in a big paper cone and served with a generous dollop of dutch mayonnaise. My favourite so far is the one near Centraal Station (Mannekin Pis) which always has a line outside , where you can choose from 21 sauces including mayo, cheese, sate and sambal to name a few. I don’t know if this is the best, but the sign outside says it was voted Hollands no.1 fries, so I guess you can’t argue with that!


 Also, I didn’t realise this until i googled the place, but the logo for this place is a little boy pissing. Amazing.


Film review: “Eat, Pray, Love” (currently showing at a cinema near you)

25 Oct

Ok, so I could make this a proper movie review if i wanted to (and comment for instance, on Julia Robert’s pretty convincing portrayal of Elizabeth, although she was less likeable than in the book version, or  the overly sappy Hollywood ending scene in my opinion), but let’s skip to the fun stuff- the food.

For  those unacquainted with this book/movie, essentially it’s a memoir about a  thirty year old New Yorker who has all the trappings of a perfect life- nice husband, job and house, but is deeply miserable and goes through a messy divorce. So, she decides to take a year off to travel to three places- Italy (to eat glorious food), India (to meditate in an Ashram for 3 months), and Bali (to learn the art of “balance’ from a toothless medicine man, who incidently, looks a lot like my granddad in the movie).  

Oprah said she liked it, therefore it is now an international bestseller.

Oprah's a fan

Anyway, The whole “Italy” section of the movie is gorgeously shot- every frame looks like it could be on the cover of Gourmet magazine …and you feel like you can almost smell and taste all the amazing pizza and pasta. Here are a few of my favourite scenes:

1.       Elizabeth eats her first plate of pasta in Rome

 There’s a scene where Julia Roberts is slurping her way through the most delicious looking, most tomato-ey dish of pasta ever. One review actually described it as “food porn”, and my friend and I were indeed squealing with pleasure in the audience. I imagine this is what 13 yr old girls feel like when they see Edward Cullen on the big screen. (For the guys out there, that’s a Twilight reference)

This meal =edward cullen/ food porn for foodies

 2.Elizabeth has a thanksgiving dinner with the Italians

 There’s a scene towards the end of Italy where the Italians throw a traditional, American style thanksgiving dinner as a toast to Elizabeth’s departure. After much wine and good conversation, Luca Spaghetti (one of her Italian friends), who is entrusted with the sole task of cooking the turkey, realises too late that he has forgotten to defrost it. They end up picking at nibblies and wine through the night, passing out, and waking up the next morning to eat the turkey which is finally ready.

 Liked this scene particularly as it’s probably exactly what would happen if I were to host a thanksgiving dinner!

 3.       Elizabeth and her Swedish friend sofie eat at Da Michele

There are some books, poems, or passages which stay with you for a long time. They touch you on a deep, emotional level and only get better with every re-reading. For some, this is Keats or Shakespeare. For me, it was Elizabeth’Gilbert’s description of her orgasmic pizza experience at Da Michele Pizzeria, Naples. *

  Here is that divine piece of literary prose:

“So Sofie and I have come to Pizzeria da Michele, and these pies we have just ordered — one for each of us — are making us lose our minds. I love my pizza so much, in fact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me, in return. I am having a relationship with this pizza, almost an affair. Meanwhile, Sofie is practically in tears over hers, she’s having a metaphysical crisis about it, she’s begging me, “Why do they even bother trying to make pizza in Stockholm? Why did we even bother eating food at all in Stockholm?

 Pizzeria da Michele is a small place with only two rooms and one nonstop oven. It’s about a fifteen-minute walk from the train station in the rain, don’t even worry about it, just go. You need to get there fairly early in the day because sometimes they run out of dough, which will break your heart. By 1 p.m., the streets outside the pizzeria have become jammed with Neapolitans trying to get into the place, shoving for access like they’re trying to get space on a lifeboat. There’s not a menu. They have only two varieties of pizza here — regular and extra cheese. None of this new age southern California olives-and-sun-dried-tomato wannabe pizza twaddle. The dough, it takes me half my meal to figure out, tastes more like Indian nan than like any pizza dough I ever tired. It’s soft and chewy and yielding, but incredibly thin. I always thought we only had two choices in our lives when it came to pizza crust — thin and crispy, or thick and doughy. How was I to have known there could be a crust in this world that was thin and doughy? Holy of holies! Thin, doughy, strong, gummy, yummy, chewy, salty pizza paradise. On top, there is a sweet tomato sauce that foams up all bubbly and creamy when it melts the fresh buffalo mozzarella, and the one sprig of basil in the middle of the whole deal somehow infuses the entire pizza with herbal radiance, much the same way one shimmering movie star in the middle of a party brings a contact high of glamour to everyone around her. It’s technically impossible to eat this thing, of course. You try to take a bite off your slice and the gummy crust folds, and the hot cheese runs away like topsoil in a landslide, makes a mess of you and your surroundings, but just deal with it.

 The guys who make this miracle happen are shoveling the pizzas in and out of the wood-burning oven, looking for all the world like the boilermen in the belly of a great ship who shovel coal into the raging furnaces. Their sleeves are rolled up over their sweaty forearms, their faces red with exertion, one eye squinted against the heat of the fire and a cigarette dangling from the lips. Sofie and I each order anotehr pie — another whole pizza each — and Sofie tries to pull herself together, but really, the pizza is so good we can barely cope.”

 So inspired was I by this passage, that when my friend Adelle and I went to Rome this summer, we made not one, but two three hour train trips to Naples in search of Da Michele, only to find it closed for renovation both times. We were devastated.  So, 80 euros poorer, and 12 hours of train travel later, we ended up settling for pizza from pizza Cino around the corner (which was good, but not something I could have a relationship with)

I want to BE her right now

Da Michele- when we got there, that door was firmly closed 😦


In the movie, they film the scene at Da Michele’s, and there is a particularly great exchange where Sofie protests that she can’t eat the pizza because she’s gained ten pounds and a muffin top since she’s been in Italy. Elizabeth says something along the lines of “Screw it. WE’re in Italy. Life is too short. Eat that pizza and afterwards we’re gonna go buy bigger pairs of of jeans”.  I have decided this will be my philosophy on exchange.  **

On that note, I might just pop over to Andrea’s (the Italian living in my corridor) room to see what he’s having for dinner.


*Incidently, Naples is the birthplace of pizza, so the Napoli people certainly know their stuff.

** A wise high school chemistry teacher once told us that people burn calories when they are cold (something about using energy to keep you warm- makes sense).  So apparently, if you put a bunch of fatties together in the snow, they will lose weight ( these were his exact words). Since Amsterdam and Europe will be freezing come December, I shall gladly put the “fatty in the snow” theory into practice.








How to: Make a stroopwafel ice cream sandwich ( a.k.a”stroopsandwich”)

24 Oct

In my opinion, stroopwafels are possibly the most amazing thing ever invented. Like, better than sliced bread.  For those of you outside the Netherlands, a stroopwafel is essentially 2 round sugary wafer biscuit thingies glued together with gooey butterscotch syrup. See pic below.


They can be found in most supermarkets/food stores in the Netherlands, as well as a remote grocery store in Eastgardens, Sydney apparently. I remember the first time I tasted a stroopwafel was actually in Sydney, where a Dutch friend of mine, Romana, introduced me to this culinary wonder. I took one bite, and was gobsmacked. I think this was one of my key reasons for applying for an exchange in Amsterdam actually- the land of stroopwafels, but I don’t think i wrote that in my application.

Anyway, there are several ways to eat a stroopwafel, some of my favourites being:

–          Plain

–          Warmed slightly over a cup of hot tea ( the caramellly centre melts and oozes)

–          Fresh from Albert Cuyp market (these are big fatty stroopwafels made fresh in front of you- am yet to try but iv e heard they’re amazing!)  and

–          In a Mcflurry ( The heads of Dutch maccas know their stuff)

The crème de la crème of stroopwafel inventions however, has to be the Stroopwafel ice cream sandwich. I think it may even beat a tim tam bomb (more on that later). To make a stroopwafel ice cream sandwich, you will need:

–          a pack of stroopwafels

–          a spreading spoon and

–          a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ( “Fairly nuts”flavour- caramel with swirls of almost toffee clusters is an excellent choice, as is Cookie dough)

IF you are like me, and are inclined to finish all the ice cream with a spoon (straight out of the tub) before you get to the making stage, perhaps buy two tubs.

 Instructions are simple:

  1. Warm 2 stroopwafels slightly in microwave for about 10 seconds.
  2.  Remove. Then smush a big fat scoop of Ben and Jerry’s  in between.
  3.  Neaten up with a spoon.
  4. Enjoy!


 Note: After some experimentation,  we found that warming the stroopwafel first is essential. The butterscotch centre goes all yummy and gooey, and it also reduces the chance of ice cream oozing out of stroopsandwich when you bite into it.

Big thanks to Adrian for introducing this to me!

Tales of my granddad part 2/the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten

22 Oct


My granddad, the vegetarian’s worst nightmare. 


Ok, there are probably enough of these stories about my granddad to fill an entire separate blog, but another popped into my head the other day when we were having a conversation about the weirdest things we’d  eaten.  (things mentioned include whale, cockroach and chicken feet- actually the last really ain’t all that weird if you grew up in an Asian family)

So anyway, it was a lovely sunny day in Sydney, and my aunt, granddad and I were sitting in the car driving somewhere. My granddad was off on one of his rants about a certain family member of ours who apparently was not treating his father (my granddad’s 94 year old uncle) very well. The rant went a little something like this:

“X is so terrible. He doesn’t look after his father. He cares more for his dog than his father. If I was the father, I’d take the dog…and I’d COOK It!”.

Clearly, my aunt and I were aghast, and explained to him that in 21st century Australia, one cannot make comments like that without being scorned, ostracised or reported to the authorities by PETA. To that, my grandpa replied “What? I lived in China. I’ve eaten dog! I’ve eaten cat!” He then chuckled mischievously and said …”So has Michael (his son, my uncle), but he just doesn’t know it”.  He then explained to us that while he was travelling with his son in China, Michael had eaten various “special” anonymous meats of the canine/feline and who knows what else variety on more than one occasion. My uncle’s Chinese is terrible, so I think he was happily oblivious to this at the time.

Things to avoid at an asian supermarket

Moral of the story- never accept mysterious meat dishes from my granddad or indeed any kindly looking chinese man unless you can ascertain with 100% certainty what it is. Also never order meat in a restaurant in China  unless you have a perfectly fluent Mandarin translator by your side.

Author’s note: 

 My uncle once asked a street vendor  (or family member) in China- “ So, what kind of dogs do they cook here?” 

 The vendor replied: “The stupid ones”.

Hunt for the best sandwich in Amsterdam- Part 1 (a.k.a my exam procrastination)

21 Oct


Dutch people love their sandwiches, and one of my goals here is find the best sandwich joint in Amsterdam. So, where better to start then the little place around the corner from my house which advertises out the front: “the best sandwiches in Amsterdam”. (with a tantalising basket of bread beneath)  


I was sceptical initially, but i had one look at the very extensive sandwich menu of 50+ sandwich flavours ( see pic below), translated into 6 different languages, my interest was piqued. To give you an idea about how awesome these sandwiches are, when you go in there is invariably a large queue of hungry dutch people, so many so that they have an electronic ticketing system in place.

The extensive selection ( there's a back page as well)

So far, I ve been there three times now- and each time has been fantastic. My favourite sandwich to date is the one I had today-“ De Dubbel” – roast beef, fried bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, cream cheese and capers. Delish. The Ajax 02 and the one with smoked chicken is also awesome. Word of warning- they pack on the meat. Like, last time I went there, there was half a leg of lamb in my sandwich.

 Elisa and I went this morning- here are the pics!

the extensive selection (there's a back page too)

De Dubbel

half way through ( i actually asked for a "teeny tiny bit of meat" for this one)

 Elisa eating (or attacking) her sandwich (“The


Overall, would definitely rate this place. Price is pretty reasonable too- 4.25 euros for a giant sandwich.  Check it out! 

Address :  Reestraat 19 1016 DM Amsterdam  Te: 0206265271.

(Look for the gold cheese sign out the window and bread basket !)