Sunday, February 27, 2011

When close is almost enough

Let's face it. Hawker fare will never be the same here in Perth as it is in South East Asia. Not only are prices phenomenally ridiculous here, you constantly find yourself desperately seeking that familiar flavor of a well cooked hawker dish.

Enter Newton Circle which is perched in, of all places, a food court in the city. This long running establishment is packed during the office lunch hour and offers a range of hawker items at reasonable prices (for Perth city's crazy standards).

The most popular items here are clearly the Char kway teow and Hainanese chicken rice. The former is more akin to a Singaporean version with a slight dousing of sweet soy sauce with the addition of lap cheong (Chinese sausage) and the latter is more Malaysian in flavor with a more savoury soy dressing.

The verdict? As cliched as it sounds, it definitely is not as good as what you can get in most hawker centres in Singapore or Malaysia... at literally a fraction of the price. But it works to at least satisfy a craving. The Char kway teow has that sometimes elusive charred "wok hei" flavor which is a good indicator for any great wok fried dish. The seasoning however lacks depth and body which you find it the gutsy versions you might be used to.

The chicken rice is generous but the meat is definitely on the tough side (which is always made worse by most chicken rice establishments here that microwave the chicken before serving). The rice also lacks the ginger and garlic hit you expect when you tuck into this iconic dish. What is pretty good here is the chilli sauce - laced with lemon juice, it bears some resemblance to the lime spiked versions you get in Singapore.

All in all, Newton Circle is not a bad spot to visit when you want to find the familiar - it won't stop you yearning for the real stuff... but at least it helps jolt the food memory till the next time you find it.

Newton Circle
4/207 Murray Street
(Sidewalk cafe on the top floor of Carillon arcade)

Panko Pangritata

For dinner tonight, M and I whipped up a quick but very tasty spaghetti with pan roasted field mushrooms, chilli, thyme and parmesan cheese. But something was missing... and so, I decided to add a textural dimension to our pasta dish - pangritata.

Pangritata is basically a poor man's parmesan born from Southern Italy. Breadcrumbs toasted in olive oil, garlic, chilli and seasoned with sea salt... the humble ingredients add crunch, loads of flavour and lots of fun to a basic spaghetti dish.

But what was special about my pangritata tonight was that because I didn't have any leftover crusty bread which I would normally process into breadcrumbs, and also frankly because I was too lazy to clean up, I used, in a stroke of rare genius (well to me at least it was), leftover panko I had in the pantry. And the results were surprisingly good. The panko crumbs crispened up perfectly and were so easy to make. Tossed through our pasta dinner, it turned something something so simple into something truly special.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Ok - a word of warning to egg haters and vegans - this post may offend. And whilst I fully respect that everyone has their preferences on what they eat and equally what they don't, I have never been a closet eggnophile - I LOVE EGGS. There is something so rich and comforting about perfectly cooked eggs that is just so satisfying. And as much as some may try to deny it - I firmly believe that an egg makes a simple savoury dish look (and taste) fabulous.

I recently discovered a fail proof way to cook ni-tamago eggs - probably one of the best ways to enjoy the tastiest free range eggs you can get your hands on. Ni-tamago refers to the eggs that are most commonly found in ramen shops all over Japan - just set egg whites enveloping a creamy, gelatinous egg yolk that is still slightly ever so runny. Simply cook eggs straight out from the fridge in lightly boiling (not vigorously such that the eggs are tumbling around in the pot)water for approximately 7 minutes (for medium sized eggs). Remove and drop into an ice bath laced with malt vinegar (this apparently helps in the peeling process). Leave for approx 1/2 hour until the egg is completely cool - peel and eat.

They are fantastic paired with, as pictured above, Bovril noodles which I have previously blogged about, with Rosa's morcilla sausages on toast or simply by themselves.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Spanish Flavours

For those of you out there who have previously discovered the incredible chorizo at Spanish Flavors, previously in Wembley, Rosa and her little deli have moved to the Leederville/Mount Hawthorn border.

Rosa is a bit of a celebrity here in Perth - her chorizo sausages are widely regarded as the best in town with many restaurants procuring directly from her. More importantly, Rosa has incredible charisma and a wicked sense of humor - the pint sized providore never failing to put a smile on your face in the little time you spend in her store.

Along with the new premises, Rosa has now introduced an adjoining cafe which serves up a small menu of spanish dishes drawing from some of her products that she has on sale. M and I sampled her spanish ham croquettes before we made our purchases on the weekend. The verdict? As much as I wanted to love the croquettes here, and as much as I wanted Rosa's cafe to be brilliant - it wasn't. The croquettes were, to be honest, a little bland and were a tad dry. This was definitely a far cry from the most incredible croquettes I tasted at Movida in Melbourne which I've previously blogged about. And as friendly as the service was from her family members, it was unfortunately a little clumsy and showed that there were definitely teething problems that needed to be dealt with between the kitchen and front of the house.

But all is forgiven with purchases from Rosa's deli. Her morcilla sausages (or spanish black pudding) is out of this world. Simple pan fry till crispy at home and top with a crispy fried egg for one of the most stunning weekend breakfasts. Or fry up some of her delicious chorizo until you render that delicious paprika spiked oil - toss in a can of chickpeas, a couple of spigs of thyme, thinly sliced red onion and flat leaf parsley. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and mop up with crusty toasted bread. Yum.

Spanish Flavors
413 Oxford St
Mount Hawthorn

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