Monday, November 22, 2010

Al dente

Brisbane, November 2011
Since I've been away, Brisbane has changed in some ways but it's mostly the same. I was surprised by how 'Sydney' the kids in town looked. But then it balanced out when I ordered a rum and coke at dinner in a nice italian joint and the waiter barely flinched. Ah, it's good to be home. Or near home I should say, we're still 2 hours away by car. Anyway, the point of this post is about our lovely celebration dinner with Rach and Adam at Il Posto where I had the said rum and coke. The happy pair just got engaged and sometimes a bowl of carbs is the only real way to show you're happy for them. Il Posto is Adams favourite, (rivaled only by Vespa Pizza) and I think there is some connection between Il Posto and Beccofino in New Farm. Anyway the service was amazing. So much so that we suspect the waiter must have assumed Adam was one of them. I guess his curls and cheesy grin do look slightly Italian. Most importantly, my bowl of pomodoro was perfectly chewy and tomatoey with heaps of fresh basil. 8/10

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Our local

Mullumbimby, November 2010
The first time we went to Milk and Honey I didn't want to be that girl who asked to change all the dishes. So I ordered pizza, picked off the cheese and left it at that. This time I was feeling a little more reckless so asked them to make up a spaghetti pomodoro. Sweet baby jesus it was close to perfection. I could have closed my eyes and believed I was in Italy. The pasta was cooked perfectly (a little chewy), the tomatoes were divine (sweet and bright red) and there was fresh basil coming out my ears. Way to make me feel better about settling into a new town. This place joins my italian hall of fame - Ginos, Regios, Marios and Il Baretto. 9/10
PS. My thumb is bandaged from a nasty stabbing incident between me and some knives last Wednesday (after Melbourne Cup on Tuesday). Note to self, don't go into kitchen shops and play with knives when you're hungover.

Sticky Fingers

Brunswick Heads, October 2010
We've tried to get into this joint 3 times and been turned away each time. You would think we were in Sydney, not the sleepy little beach-side town of Brunswick Heads. The locals RAVE about it, the internet speaks highly so when she said it was full again I was insistent. Not normally my style but sure enough, two guys were taking up two tables and she nudged them together and there we were. I ordered a kids spag bol and Ricey got the 'Prawnstar' pizza. It definitely lived up to expectations. Mushy mince with chunky tomatoes and heaps of fresh basial thoughout. There was something else in there I couldn't tell, maybe fresh oregano. Corinne, our friend who lives in Bruns, recommends the 'Chango' pizza, chicken and mango. Inside there are cool wooden booths and tables spill out onto the street. We noticed it's for sale which was a little disappointing, hopefully the new owners don't change it at all. 7/10

Monday, October 11, 2010

One spaghetti and an english breakfast tea thanks

Brisbane, October 2010
Mums 60th was quite the party. I think the 60 year olds damaged the house more than the crew at my 21st. The next day we all woke up and just couldn't face cleaning right there and then. So we took ourselves off to breakfast around the corner. Spaghetti was on the menu so I ordered it of course, testing that annoying excuse of 'it's on the lunch menu, not the breakfast menu' thing. They obliged and 20 minutes later I was munching on some pretty good spaghetti considering it was 10am. 7/10
Acknowledgements: Rooey the photographer, Peter for shouting us

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It doesn't matter that it's sideways

Brunswick Heads, September 2010
It doesn't matter that you can't really see this lamb ragu. It was bloody awful. We stopped in to have lunch in 'Bruns' with Adam and Rach one Sunday. There are lots of good things to say about Bruns but their spaghetti so far isn't one of them. It tasted off, there were unwelcome root vegetables and it wasn't that hot. If something is really, really hot you can almost forgive anything because you can't really taste it. This was not the case. Apparently the place to go for good Italian there is Sticky Fingers. We haven't been able to get there yet but hopefully this week is our week. It's only open from Wednesdays to Sunday. This ragu? 1/10. Sorry!

Too excited to eat.

Noosa, September 2010
Up in the Sunshine State we all gathered for Leishas pre-wedding day drinks at Cafe Le Monde. Not that I'm an expert but I think this old bird may have passed its culinary heyday back in the early nineties. My spaghetti resembled something out of a Womens Weekly cookbook, made for the first time. Squishy pasta, lumpy mince, the kind of thing a kid would only be proud of. Luckily we weren't really there for fine dining, food was more a blockage for champagne so all was well. I ate it because it was hot and everyone would pay me out if I didn't but to be honest I was being generous for the 5/10.
Acknowledgements: Del the photographer, Giz as model

Friday, September 17, 2010

Farm-girl spaghetti

Mullumbimby, September 2010
I was momentarily concerned about posting a photograph of me in my pajama shirt but am quietly confident only a very limited number of people browse this blog so decided to go ahead. This is my first spaghetti bol in our new house on the hill in the country near the beach. The beef came from the butcher in town where our agister sells his beef and the pasta is organic low-GI schmergen from the Mullum Farmers Markets (at the showground every Friday). The only glitch was that I forgot the tinned tomatoes so I crushed some real tomatoes instead which sounds good in theory but wasn't as tasty. 8/10

Spaghetti scrub-a-dub-dub

New York, August 2010
Found these in MoMa - they are like steel wool except better because they are spaghetti. Really does look like fresh spaghetti in the packet too.

Monday, August 23, 2010

LA Baby

Los Angeles, August 2010
Please welcome my guest contributor, Elanore. Her credentials include dining at Ginos on a weekly basis in her childhood and eating eggs on maggi noodles when she arrived in London. She now resides with her partner Del and hummingbirds in Santa Monica, LA. We thought we'd pop in on our way home from europe and as it happened to coincide with my birthday, we went out for Italian. No surprises there. Elle chose a lovely spot called Picollo in Venice Beach and we both went for the pasta while the males ate meat. Elle had a cabonara with quail meat (spew) and quail eggs (spew). It's possibly my worst nightmare but she loved it and didn't want it to end. She's given it 8/10 but can be quoted as regretting her score and wishing she gave it more. Quite the satisfied customer she was. I on the other hand gave my venison ragu with fresh egg pasta a comfortable 7/10. The pasta was obviously fresh and the smallish portion was perfect.

I've included the hot dog stand photo mainly so that you can chuckle at the rollerbladers.

Spaghetti Pie

Townsville, Australia 2010
You may remember him from such antics as 'The Rejection Line', now Mark Allen is back at it discovering 'The Spaghetti Pie'. Known to cure hangovers and rival the beloved Tin Spaghetti Jaffle. It's controversial to say the least, I can't really comment until I taste it. Can you morph two Aussie favourites and get a winner? Only Mark can say.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hot Dog, Schmot Dog

New York, August 2010
There are over 20,000 restaurants in New York. According to The Health Department anyway. When you only have 4 nights in town, it's pretty tricky to choose what to waste your stomach space on. Much to my horror, I actually fell asleep early on the first night and missed dinner. A sin in many peoples books when I'm in the most exciting city in the world. But there you go, we had flown in from Dublin and the time difference, rah rah rah. Anyway on the second night we hit John on 12th St. A restaurant recommended by Onagh in Dublin which caught my eye when it said 'old school Italian' and that it had featured in the Sopranos. Surely they wouldn't have sub-standard pasta. Turns out they didn't but they did have sub-standard waitstaff. It was quite funny, the guy rattled off the specials list and then we heard the older dude telling the table behind us the specials too. Sounds boring except that the two recitals were completely different, it was like they just made them up. I guess you have to do something for kicks. Anyway it was all old and lovely, bit too much sugar in the sauce but hey, it's America. 6/10
PS. Cool spoon hey

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ich liebe spaghetti

Berlin, August 2010
Rosh, Ricey and I went to visit my cousins Nick and Dord in Berlin. Two spaghetti events followed, much to my delight. One was when I cooked spaghetti for them at Nicks place but I forgot to take a picture. The second time was the final night when Dord took us to their favourite Italian. What she didn't mention was that they had THE biggest pizza EVER. Check it out, I couldn't get over it. It took four hungry people to polish it off. My spag was good, except they put peas in it. Who puts peas in spaghetti bol? The germans just have to be different don't they. It was alright, I couldn't really taste them to be honest, it was just a little random. Like the pizza, the spag was enormous. 6/10

Every. Single. Time.

Time doesn't seem to be helping. No matter how much spaghetti I eat I still get it on me. Spaghetti knows when you're wearing white. It does, it knows when you're wearing any light colour. If you wear black you actually won't get any on you. Promise. Oh well this batch was worth yet another stain, 7/10.

Seafood sabotage

Sardinia, July 2010
It's still Italy right, Sardinia, but it's not. It's a trick. There's no spag bol in sight. Not even a trace of 'ragu'. I turned to Pomodoro and even tried some random Sardinian sausage pasta (middle pic). Seafood reigns, I guess it is an island. Seafood restaurants serving pasta means fishiness is never far. I'm always a little sus on flavour contamination, thus the low scores but check out the beautiful water and the crusty Italian.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Soccer world cup final spaghetti.

Casole D'Elsa, Tuscany July 2010
We were so lucky to get a table on final night. There's only 3 places in the town that have a TV to show the final and we scored a prime table at the pizzeria, right in front of the telly. Pity it was such a crap game in the end but anyway, the spaghetti was good. Pomodoro with sweet, sweet Tuscan tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh pasta and some tasty house wine. 7/10

Gingham tablecloths, olive oil and conversations that sound like arguments.

Casole D'Elsa, Tuscany July 2010
Fresh egg pasta. Made that morning by a large italian nonna with flour on her forehead. I'm guessing...You do see fresh pasta shops around Tuscany. They are like our versions of bakeries. So the sauce went something like this - ground beef (meaty not mincey) with nutmeg, garlic and a touch of something I can't put my finger on. This is the real deal, the traditional recipe. While I nang away on it happily, it's not my ultimate (as in Il Barretto Sydney) but it's good. 6/10

Spaghetti related. Kind of.

Giant nutella! I wish I put something near it so you could see that it was seriously bigger than my head. I also wish it would have fit in my suitcase.

Inspired by the great tomatoes I was writing about below, here's one of my drawings from the art course in Casole D'Elsa.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Healthy rivalry

Casole D'Elsa, Tuscany July 2010
Bruchetta. It's made of the same stuff as spag bol really, isn't it? I know I keep going on about it but the tomatoes in this town were so damn good. We ate bruchetta every day, sometimes I even preferred to have bruchetta over spaghetti. Here's the bruchetta pomodori from the 'sophisticated' place is our little town. It rocked my world. Think this is a first but it was 10/10.
PS. Photo in the middle is from outside, that's Ryan and two of the guys from the art course.

You can become regulars in 10 days.

Casole D'Elsa, Tuscany July 2010
After Florence we caught 3 buses to get to this tiny village where I was doing an art course. With only 3 or 4 restaurant options in town, we soon got to know the menus very well. Two became our favourites and we pretty much alternated between them for the 10 days we were there. We nicknamed them either the sophisticated place or the pizzeria pub place. The two spaghettis above are from the latter, by the end of it there the waitress stopped calling me Bella and called me Sophie. They even gave us a table the night of the soccer world cup final so we could sit and eat and watch it, everywhere else in town was completed sardined. I wish I had a photo of the view, you sit out on a deck outside the town walls looking over the misty blue hills of Tuscany. Chewy fresh pastas, the pomodori was actually my favourite, the best tomatoes you'll ever taste and fresh basil. 8/10

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Top Tratt in Florence

It's in all the guide books but it deserves to be. If you're ever in Florence head to Trattoria Mario. The menu is scribbled on brown paper on the wall in Italian, you have to share tables and they don't fancy you loitering around but it's just tops. It used to just feed the market workers across the plaza but now they have to compete with every man and his dog. We were there 2 minutes after opening and only just got a table. It's only open for lunch and the kitchen is in the same room as the little wooden tables you sit at. Highly recommend it.

No more imitations

Florence, Italy July 2010
Finally I'm here. It's been 5 years but now I can legitimately have spaghetti every day and not be questioned. First stop is Florence where we miss out of seeing David but get a good dose of spag bol. Mostly it's listed as Ragu...and I've decided to shut my eyes and ignore when I think it might be pork. This place was near our hotel, recommended by a guy there and was one of the few times when we've found g-bread to accompany the bol. Temperature was in the early 30s and we had some Australians next to us which is never ideal but it was still lovely. 7/10.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Bolognaise Chips

Champagne region, France. July 2010
Do you remember the flavour 'Light and Tangy'? Well Bolognaise chips are kind of like that on steroids. Really nothing like spag bol but they are tasty anyway. Hats off for giving it a go. 4/10

Thursday, July 8, 2010

If it's good enough for Nadal, it's good enough for me.

Paris, June 2010
Watching the French Open this year became a little serious when 'our Sam' started doing so well. We were in San Sebastian and started watching every game religiously, getting quite revved up. We even went and found a clay court to have a hit on. During our hours of viewing the commentators mentioned a little Italian joint in Paris where Nadal likes to eat pre-match. He likes it so much that he's recommended it to 'our Sam' and she went there for a carb load the night before the final. Unfortunately so did her opponent and the two entourages were both pictured eating in the same room. When in Paris we thought we'd check it out. It was packed and the waiters were older men which I find is often a sign of quality restaurant. We only got a table if we promised to eat in 45 minutes. It was a shame to rush it because it was just lovely, I probably should have given it a 10.

Espaguete. Portuguese for Spaghetti.

Lisbon, June 2010
In Portugal we'd done the traditional piri piri chicken, eaten at one of the many indian joints set up for the pommy tourists and regrettably made a hungover dash to Pizza Hut, now it was time for some spag bol. Found this little treasure in a side street in downtown Lisbon, absolutely brilliant. Bit of pesto smeared around the edges, chewy fresh pasta, I give it an 8/10.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ewww shudder

Merida, Spain May 2010
I'd been in the land of pig and cheese for 2 weeks. As I either neither food group, tasty bites were scarce. By the time we got to Merida on our way to Seville, I was absolutely fanging for a spag bol. It was on the menu but it was an oasis. It didn't actually resemble spag bol at all - lumps of boiled unidentifiable meat in minging sauce with soggy noodles. I won't continue, the score says it all. I can only assume the chef was sleeping. Interestingly, on our drive to and from this town we also saw many animals sleeping. Cows and horses lying down during the day with their heads on the ground, like they were playing dead. I have never seen anything like it so I've asked a few people about this but no one seems to know the answer, they say 'siesta' and shrug.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

440 Spaghettiheads put their noggens together

ITALY began a campaign yesterday to defend the reputation of one of its most famous but most widely abused exports: pasta with bolognese sauce - otherwise known as spag bol.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Knitted food

A shame there's no spaghetti but it's still very cute. Perhaps it's a rissole.