Sunday, April 23, 2006

The greatest gift of all...

I'm currently on a 2 week holiday, well kinda. I'm off uni but still running around keeping myself busy so I don't get bored. One of the things I did to keep myself out of trouble is to have some friends that are very dear to me over for a nice casual dinner last Wednesday.

We had a blast; I did anyway, even if they didn't! So thanx for putting up with me guys, I hope bribing you with food was enough. As I promised my lovely Melissa, here are some photos from that nite. She apparently wants these to hassle Frank...I'm just looking forward to hearing all that went on.

Bread & dips to start of the nite. I made a thin, crisp foccacia studded with garlic, rosemary, olives & sea salt. It was served with homemade pesto & olive tapenade.

A cheese board that accompanied bread & dips. The platter consisted of a Double Cream Brie, Kikorangi (a NZ blue for those not living in NZ) & a cheddar.

The Lot! (For nibbles that is...). I'm not that mean to only serve my guest cheese & bread for dinner.

Homemade venison burgers. A venison pattie, a slice of tomato, a piece of cos lettuce sandwiched between 2 slices of toasted baguette. Dad just had to top it off with some good ole tomato Jacob's request

Miniature Nicoise Salad, consisting is tomato concasse, beans, hard boiled egg, seared tuna, olives & anchovies all topped with a vinaigrette.

Homemade orange ice cream topped with praline. No skimping on taste (& calories) here-this was made with cream & egg yolks!

This is all I have....I don't have pictures of the other dishes coz they got eaten before I got round to taking photos. I hope this wets your appetite a little to go out and hunt for some good nosh.

Unfortunately I couldn't invite anymore people ( the house is kinda small) but hopefully next time.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A future in writing perhaps?

Our first assignment for the last semester required us to review one of the two training restaurants we have at uni. I was really proud what I produced and the results reflected it so who knows, when I am sick of kitchens I may just start writing. But in the mean time, I guess the purpose of me sharing this review with you is to let you know that there are good deals out there! So enjoy....

Restaurant review of Truffles

On Wednesday, March 22nd 2005, a group of friends and I had lunch at Truffles Restaurant. It is a training restaurant at the Auckland University of Technology. At the restaurant, the Front of House staff are either Hospitality students or Chef students completing a component of their course and kitchen staff are Chef students at various stages of their course.

With the high number of different classes using the production kitchen, the menu is ever-changing with each menu lasting for about 4-5 weeks. Each menu, though small is well thought out with meat, poultry, seafood and vegetarian dishes and taking the different seasons into consideration. For each course one has a choice from four different dishes, all sounding absolutely delicious. This menu was the first for the year so it was mainly decked out with summer ingredients with a few autumn touches.

For entrée, there was a choice of an antipasto platter, a country style terrine, chilli squid or goats cheese with beetroot. I went with the antipasto platter. Not many restaurants serve up antipasto platters anymore so I was pleased to see it on this menu. The dish consisted of various cold meats such as salami, ham and smoked salmon. These were accompanied by cheeses such as bocconccini(buffalo mozzarella), goats’ cheese camembert and blue cheese. The platter was topped off with a slow roasted tomato, a few slices of toast and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. When I was served my meal, it was stunning. The range of colours was eye-catching and the taste was phenomenal. It was a great start to the meal.

There was a choice of either roasted hapuka, chicken with parpadelle, chermoula marinated lamb or a mushroom tart for mains. I decided to go with the chicken. Safe option, I know, but I didn’t feel like anything else. It was just one of those days. So, what was it like? Another eye appealing dish. A well browned chicken thigh sitting on a bed of well cooked homemade parpadelle served with green beans and slow roasted tomato. Overall this dish was good. However, I was rather disappointed with how the beans were cooked. It was just a tad over done for me. I personally like my beans with a slight crunch but these were on the mushy side. The chicken, though well cooked, I found that the farce had a little too much liver.

Time for dessert! I had a hard time deciding what I was going to have. The choices were all so appealing-a trio of ice cream/sorbet with summer fruits, plum pithivier, chocolate tart or caramelised peach on brioche. Eventually, being a hot day, I decided to go with the ice cream/sorbet. Each flavour of ice cream/sorbet was served on its own Chinese soup spoon, laid out on a plate garnished with rockmelon, kiwifruit and blueberries. Though the plating looked stunning, I found it rather impractical but that might just be a personal preference.

The overall service was good, taking into account that the staff are only students. However, there were some difficulties trying to get what we want due to a slight language barrier. We sensed some nervousness when we ordered a bottle of Passiler Estate Riesling as it required her to go beyond her comfort zone and probably something that she hadn’t had to yet. But the waitress did her best and there was nothing major that she did wrong. She knew what to do, and eventually we got what we asked for.

In terms of value for money, absolutely! Where else in Auckland are you able to go for a 3 course meal with good service and good food for $20 per head? Of course, being a training restaurant it won’t be perfect but for the most part there is nothing to complain about.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I hate soufflés!

Today we had our pastry assessment and did it suck or what?! On the menu was:

Baked Grand Marnier Soufflé
Beignet aux Pomme (Apple Fritters) with Apricot sauce
Apple Strudel with Crème Anglaise (Custard Sauce)

I got 78% or a B+. I was not happy (the perfectionist returns!). The Strudel turned out well so I was happy with that. The Fritters were too cold and not cooked enough so I was a bit annoyed by that but the one that sucked the most was the blooming soufflé! The one thing that I didn’t have an issue with during class had to go wrong during my assessment. So anyone coming to my place for dinner, don’t expect soufflés for dessert…

My theory is that stressing actually helps with me getting good marks! Sorry Melissa, but there is nothing you can say to make me change my mind on this one. Last nite, I was actually very cool, calm and collected. I got to uni early to and still in a good state. I got into class and assembled my ingredients and I was still good. Melissa, you would have been proud. But the one time I’m not stressed or worried, I screw up! So, from now on I am continuing my stressing streak. :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Two more chapters and I would have finally come to the end of the infamous book on perfection that I have been reading this past 5 months. No, I'm not a fast reader but neither am I a slow one! The only reason why it's taken me so long to get through 15 chapters is coz I've been under strict instructions to read only 1 chapter a week.

Anyway, currently we have just finished discussions up til chapter 11. At the end of each chapter there are some questions for reflection and when we got to the end of the chapter regarding parental influence, one of the questions required more thinking than just a few minutes of recalling past experiences. Maybe this might get you thinking, too...

How have you been influenced in positive and negative ways by your parents?

This chapter was a particularly hard one for me to get through. It brought up some bad memories that I never wish to have to bring up again. For the most part, I have grown up in a pretty good household-parents love me, taught me everything that I have needed to get me through to the age of 20 without running into trouble with the law. But there is one thing that my parents have been not very good at; they suck at giving praise and encouragement when called for. They also constantly find the one thing that is wrong out of everything that is right and harp on it for like the next goodness knows how long. Don't take this as me saying I hate my parents coz I don't.

But since reading this book on perfectionism, I've had to examine my childhood and find out what has turned me into a really bad, and I do mean extremely bad, perfectionist. So this chapter has been really good at doing that, as hard as it has been to read it. I particularly enjoyed the part on hypercritical parents. Here's a little excerpt of it...

Perfectionist parents tend to have three particularly dangerous predispositions. First, they may be intolerant of mistakes and therefore strongly critical of themselves and their children. There is no patience with genuine mistakes, and there is implied expectation of perfect behaviour. When an accident results in an attack on one's dignity and character, there is a deep sense of being a bad person and hence much shame. Second, perfectionists parents may have great difficulty showing affection and giving approval, often because they have not had much themselves. Third, perfectionist parents have a tendency to make acceptance conditional on performance or appearance.

Do you know what the scary thing is? My parents are all of the above! The one that sung out the loudest was the last statement. Coming from a culture of geeks, nerds, brainiaics (excuse the bad spelling) I couldn't really escape the expectation of doing well in school anyway but having perfectionists parents added to that. If you ask any one who knows me, they'll tell you that I'm absolutely anal about getting an A+ and nothing less. Or if it's gym, nothing less than a perfect routine every single training session and competition. Before every assessment, competition, Sunday nite (either worship or chow), I am in complete stress mode. Stressing about what? Stressing about all the possible scenarios that I may screw up, embarrass myself, how something might go wrong and what I can do to fix it etc etc etc the list goes on.

Why? Because the only time my parents would show and express their approval and love for me would be when I did something well or did something right, get an A or bring home a medal. And when I don't do well, I received endless hours of verbal abuse (at that time I didn't know what it was. I just thought it was part of punishment) from my parents saying how useless, stupid and worthless I was. So each day there was always a longing for an A or a medal or a perfect routine and it's continued to this day. These days, the abuse still happens but not as bad as it was. However, when my parents don't do it, I do it myself. The internal dialogue just takes over and goes on and on for hours in my head. Crazy, I know but often I can't help it.

So back to the question earlier in the post. My parents may have done many things that have had a bad influence on me, specifically turning me into an extremely neurotic perfectionist. But are there any good things about how I've been brought up? Well, yes. I like the fact that my parents allow Ian and me to continue living at home, rent free. They are in no hurry to kick us out, actually I think they like having us at home, they don't require us to pay rent or for any bills. Unfortunately, I have a conscience so I make sure I pay for my own shopping and part of the petrol bill. I see so many of my friends that literally get kicked out of home when they turn 18 or 21 and they can never go back. I just can't imagine not having somewhere to fall back on in times of need. I just think that would suck big time. So, as insane as my parents are, they are amazing parents and am thankful for them.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My personal DNA

Since everyone was doing this I thought I'd do it too. So here are my results...

I am an Independent Curator.