Ill de Re

Christmas was all fab, new year’s eve party was quite lovely too, first day back at work was hectic and the first day back at training was a catastrophic mayhem!!!

Sometimes…, it just feels safer to daydream on memories than to struggle with what’s ahead of me. It feels little more satisfying and reassuring knowing ‘oh yes, I had a good year’. That silly little feeling gives me an ultimate sense of hopelessly unrealistic optimism I adore. 

And… I smile, romanticising everything will all be just fine! 

My dad used to take me to fish markets on Sunday morning. He would wake the whole family up at the crack of dawn and drive through the town that was still fast sleep. 
It was never very exciting arriving at busy market. There was always this man standing in front of the crowd looking like a preacher, shouting mysterious numbers and codes to people. It was full of rather smelly and dirty narrow endless isles.
My dad will walk around maze like corridors of isles and brows all stalls and would eventually be satisfied with all of his findings. Then it was time to head home to participate on cooking it.

I didn’t get it! 
At that time, I always thought it was boring, pointless… I don’t think any of us understood quite why it was so important to my dad and what kind of joy he was getting out of dragging all of us from our beloved lazy Sunday morning lying in.

Then the lesson slowly crept into my life and became very existent enjoyment. 
Market is full of life!
Full of love and care that fulfills every one’s fundamental needs with such an affection. There’s passion that livens up the spirit of every hungry souls and empowers people to communicate and share.

Toby shucked oysters and I made simple shallot vinaigrette.
He prepared the BBQ with his brother, I made endless kinds of salads with my joyous findings. Nanny, grandpa and K was on duty of sending my gorgeous niece R to night nights.

The Sun was still up and high smouldering us with warmth. Occasional sea breeze came as a pleasant surprise kissing on our cheeks to cool us down. 
With laughter and jokes shared around the table, such an inexpensive rose tasting top dollar… There it was… that magical moment firmly engraved deep into my bone. Beautiful!!

As my dad used to say, ‘Family eats together stays together’. Thanks dad!

Simple Shallot Vinaigrette

1/2 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, fined chopped
1/4 tsp sugar
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon juice
salt and pepper

Mix shallot, garlic, sugar and white wine thoroughly until sugar is well dissolved.
Start whisking in olive oil, lemon juice and season to taste.

Shiitake mushroom Risotto

If I’m going to any kind of oriental food store, I’ll always make sure to drop this gorgeous dried shiitake mushrooms into my basket. Although I never necessarily have any reason to buy them, I just feel it’ll come handy one day.

I love using them when I fancy something of vegetarian but still a little meaty, something with a bit of depth and a bite to it. Its distinctive flavour and perfume adds the third dimension to the dish, making every mouthful ever so oozy and full of texture. 

Shiitake mushroom Risotto
serves 2

1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed and chopped
160g risotto rice
6-7 dried shiitake mushrooms
125ml white wine
750ml-850ml chicken/vegetable stock
some Parmesan cheese
few sage leaves, chopped
handful parsley, chopped
25g butter
olive oil
salt and black pepper

First of all, pour boiling water into dried shiitake mushrooms and soak them for 30mins. Once ready drain and reserve the water to use it as part of your stock. Slice re hydrated mushrooms into fine strips.

Put a saucepan on a low heat and add a good lug of olive oil. Saute onion, celery, garlic and a pinch of salt until soften. This will take 5-10mins. Make sure to stir from time to time. (I love doing this for good 10mins as softened onions give lovely sweetness to the dish.)

Once softened, turn the heat to medium and add half of butter, rice and chopped sage. Stir well for couple of minutes until rice becomes little translucent on the edges.

Now add sliced mushrooms and wine and let it bubble away. (And of course, add a few little too much drop of booze, confusion may cause oozy to become boozy. Something that I always succeed and enjoy due to the pretend accidental amount of wine poured into both myself and the supper!)

When all the liquid is gone, add your stock just enough to cover the rice and stir well. Once absorbed add little more stock. Repeat this process until the rice is cooked but still aldente. This will take about 20mins. 
Make sure the risotto falls off the spoon. (I prefer it more wet consistency than dry.)

Add chopped parsley, the other half of butter, salt and pepper to season, grated Parmesan cheese and let it relax for a minute or two with the lid on. This will let the flavours to mingle and rice to do its own thing.

When ready, add zest and a good squeeze of lemon and serve it with some more shaving or grating of Parmesan cheese. (I like to finish it off with good handful of rocket leaves dressed in a little olive oil or some chargrilled king oyster mushrooms dressed in olive oil, lemon and thyme.)

Journey, from here on…,

It was quite some time ago, my dear friend V decided that it was about time for him to pack up his life in this dirty land and start fresh on the water. 
We sat and talked about names for his new home. 

Toby and I thought baba ghanoush sounded sweet.
V thought we were being very silly or perhaps not quite all there, and decided to name his home, otherwise!

Naming our child as baba ghanoush would be a crime for our future bab’s school days.

Toby said he’ll get a cat and call ‘baba’. 
I thought I’ll get a sausage dog and call it ‘ghanoush’. Train the Cat with a little bow to walk the dog with a little bandana!!

But my dream… had to end there sadly.
Realisation came after a few glasses of wine that we live in a tiny little pretend grown up shoe box, and although it is quite beautiful and cozy, we just don’t have the space for another breathing kind. Damn!

So here I am, on the missionary journey to have purpose to write. Logging our thoughts, love for food and drinks, and our life on this beautiful planet, earth.
Hop on, if you fancy.