Friday, August 22, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

The Omnivore's Hundred is an eclectic and entirely subjective list of 100 items that Andrew Wheeler, co-author of the British food blog Very Good Taste, thinks every omnivore should try at least once in his life.

He offered this list as the starting point for a game, along the following rules:
1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. (I can't work out how to cross out so I'll just write NEVER)
4. Optional extra: post a comment on Very Good Taste, linking to your results.

And of course, if you don't have a blog, you can still play along, with a good old pencil and some paper -- care to share your results? And/or items you think should be added to, or removed from that list?

I have to confess I haven't heard of quite a few of these things, but here goes! (Thanks Steph for this!)

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros (delicious)
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding (many years ago - my father grew up in the UK so we used to have this at home very occasionally, with big eggy breakfast)
7. Cheese fondue (but prefer the chocolate variety)
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Phở
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart (in New York city)
16. Epoisses (?)
17. Black truffle (had it in pasta in Italy...)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese (NEVER)
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (?)
27. Dulce de leche (the real thing from Argentina, or its French cousin called confiture de lait)
28. Oysters(mmmm)
29. Baklava(mmmm)
30. Bagna cauda (?)
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi (no, but have had sweet mango lassi)
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (yuck, I don't smoke)
37. Clotted cream tea (no, but love clotted cream fudge!)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo (no but would love to)
40. Oxtail (only as the soup)
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (NEVER)
43. Phaal (?)
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/€80/$120 or more
46. Fugu (?)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel (I think so...)
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (not had one yet, but will one day)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi (?)
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine (?)
60. Carob chips (ugh though)
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin (?)
64. Currywurst
65. Durian (definitely an acquired taste)
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis (NEVER)
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette (?)
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe (?)
74. Gjetost, or brunost (?)
75. Roadkill (NEVER)
76. Baijiu (?)
77. Hostess Fruit Pie (?)
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong (is this tea?)
80. Bellini (I thought he was an opera composer)
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict (mmmm)
83. Pocky (?)
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant (I wish!)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse (NEVER)
90. Criollo chocolate (?)
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano (is this chicken mole? If so, then yes I've eaten it)
96. Bagel and lox (mmmm)
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta (not a huge fan)
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (NEVER)

Monday, August 18, 2008

A career path for composers

The TSO Australian Composers' School started today. I have been the co-ordinator of the school for the past two years, but this year my role was limited only to liaising with applicants and helping out with the selection process simply because I have been up to my ears with my piece and doing the Baby Thang.

Anyway, this morning I took Lillian along to the Welcome session, and we stayed to listen to part of Gerard Brophy's lecture which began by talking about a career path for composers. What? Yes, that's right, there really isn't one. I can't very well comment on the entire gist of the lecture because I had a small child on my lap who kept dropping her toy and trying to grab my lips with her hands, but Gerry touched on many topics including dealing with contracts, being necessarily concerned with earning a living to house, feed and clothe one's family, the fact that we are surrounded by music particularly in the iPod and movie-music generation, how some composers have been writing ringtones (I'm not sure if he was serious about this one) to earn some cash...

It's hard. In many ways being an academic is of course an easier option, and one that many composers choose to take simply because of the certainty of earning a salary. Theoretically, composers who work at a university have a fair degree of time in the week/year in which to write music, but in today's academic climate there are so many other things that need doing, you barely get any time to write music as part of your job and if you do, you're either lucky or determined not to be sunk into an administrative black hole. And of course, being an academic is never easy because getting a job in the first place is hard enough.

Anyway, I have to stop now. My baby won't stop crying even though she's supposed to be asleep, the washing is almost finished and I have to go and dig out some old yellow curtain material to make some duck feet for the four-year-old's Book Week costume for tomorrow, which I found out about, oh, 5 hours ago. Gee, being a composer is so romantic and productive.

Edited the nasty bits out on 27 August...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Things to do in Hobart for (almost) free

Joining in on a Travel Meme, started by Penni who can stop feeling pathetic now. :D

Here are the rules (because it wouldn't be a meme without rules):
1. List (at least) five things to do for free in your city or town, not just well publicised touristy things, but things YOU might do too!
2. Write it with a visitor in mind.
3. Tag three people* - extra fun if they live somewhere you'd like to know better or you're going to sometime soon.
4. If you're anonymous/coy about where you live, choose another town or city that you know.

Things to do in Hobart:

1. Salamanca Market tops my list. It's a fun, vibrant, weird, quirky, crowded mess of people every Saturday from 9.00am to around 2.00pm, rain or shine. Food, produce, coffee, clothing, jewellery, arts and crafts, bric-a-brac, books, CDs, confectionery, natural Tassie-made bath and beauty products, woodcrafts, plants, toys, buskers, moving statues... you name it. If the cruise ships are in or it's a long weekend or close to Christmas, it's jam-packed. Speaking of jam, don't leave without purchasing a jar of Joanna's Jam - divine homemade jams in several delicious flavours. A jar never lasts long in our house.

2. Drive up Mt Wellington or if you haven't got a car and want to spend money, go on a walking tour. But you can also just take a Metro bus up to Fern Tree and walk along the Pipeline Track or up to Silver Falls. It's a gentle slope up to the falls, and pram friendly (although muddy in winter). The Pipeline Track is also good for a bike ride. The mountain has lots of little tracks all over, some are short walks and some are full-day excursions. Best to find a guide book if you plan to spend more time up there.

3. The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens is a beautiful space to roam and wander. Walk along the many paths and look at the trees, plants, flowers, ponds, conservatory and views. Check out Peter Cundall's vegie patch. There's a café for coffee and snacks or a full meal if you're hungry. On a fine day take a picnic rug, your lunch and a book and just relax in the sunshine. At certain times of the year the Gardens come alive on weekends with special events such as the Tulip Festival in October (entry fee applies), and in summer there are outdoor plays and kids' concerts. A beautiful part of Hobart right near the city centre.

4. The Hobart Aquatic Centre - not free but entry costs are very minimal. Go for a workout at the gym, have a swim, or simply splash around having fun with the kids. There's a cool water slide and a frog slide for the smaller ones. The café has typical swimming-poolside food and plenty of seating for non-swimmers.

5. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. This is one of my favourite places - so much to see and very child-friendly. A huge dinosaur skeleton greets you up the stairs from the entrance on Macquarie Street. There's been a fantastic Antarctic exhibition for some time, including old 3D film footage taken at the South Pole over 100 years ago, real ice for sticky fingers to explore, a very moving and fascinating section on Tasmania's convict history, plus changing art exhibitions. A very good café with the brilliant concept of having the kids' playroom directly opposite so you can sit and have your coffee or lunch while the kids play across the hall in full view.

6. I haven't been here, but my Sources tell me it's GREAT for little (and big) boys who get a kick out of trains: the Tasmanian Transport Museum. Limited opening hours on weekends, and small entry charge.

7. The Taste of Tasmania - if you are around between Christmas and New Year this is a must-visit event. For one week you can sample Tasmanian food and wine to your heart's content, down at the waterfront with all the thousands of locals and visitors who swarm around at a beautiful time of year when the sun is shining, the water is crystal clear, it's not too hot (usually), the Sydney to Hobart yachts and yachties are in... Hobart at its best.

Consider yourself tagged!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fish Pie

Thanks, Jamie Oliver. I love this recipe. Although it's a little fiddly, and involves cream - which I buy about twice a year - the results are well worth it. We are having this for dinner tonight, should be perfect for this cold, wet and snowy day.

You can actually cook the potatoes, spinach, eggs, and the carrot and onion in advance (before adding the cream), then assemble it all just before baking, as I do think this is best served straight from the oven. These days I find the arsenic hour can be calmed somewhat by having dinner almost-if-not-ready to go before heading out for school pick-up at 3pm.

Fantastic Fish Pie
5 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
2 large handfuls spinach
2 free-range eggs
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
285ml double cream
juice of 1 lemon
1 large tsp English mustard
2 handfuls grated mature Cheddar or parmesan cheese
1 handful parsley, finely chopped
about 500-600g boneless skinless fish - tonight I'm using Blue Grenadier - cut into large strips and placed in an ovenproof baking dish

Preheat oven to 220C.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add potatoes and return to the boil. After 2 minutes, add the eggs (carefully), then boil for a further 8-10 mins until the potatoes are cooked and eggs are hardboiled. A minute before this, put the spinach in a colander or metal sieve above the pot and allow to wilt.
Remove the spinach and squeeze out excess water, cool the eggs under cold water, peel and quarter, set aside. Drain and mash the potatoes with a little milk, olive oil, s & p and nutmeg if you like.
In another pot, heat 1 tsp olive oil and cook the onion and carrot for 5 minutes. Add the cream, bring to the boil, then remove from heat and add lemon juice, mustard, cheese and parsley.
Put the creamy sauce and the spinach and the eggs over the fish. Top with mashed potatoes.
Bake in hot oven for 20-25 minutes.
Serve with extra greens.

Read While Waiting

I saw this on Penni's blog. Have a look and pass it on.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fake haiku

Geriatric printer whirring final version of piece
Sixty-four pages, very tiny print
Edits complete, just need to proof-read

Two sick children for past week
Very tired
Need more sleep
And chocolate

Thank God for professional copyists!