Sunday, 20 January 2013

Did you know: Rib Eye, or Eye Fillet?

The two terms are are so similar they are commonly mistaken for each other (admittedly, that has happened to me too!) and so I have it all nutted out here for you.

A rib eye is more commonly known as a scotch fillet in Australia, however the two are almost the same.  As the term suggests, this cut of meat is derived from the rib of a cattle.  The term 'rib eye' is more commonly used when the meat is still attached to the rib bone.  Where the rib bone has been removed, the term 'scotch fillet' would be more commonly used to describe this cut of meat.  The meat from this area of a cattle is usually well marbled with a large and noticeable line of fat through it.  Because of the fattiness of this cut of meat, it is very flavoursome.  

An eye fillet is also known as a beef tenderloin in Australia, and is found beneath the rib next to the backbone of a cattle.  Because this muscle does not do a lot of work, its texture is butter soft and very tender.  However it is also a very lean cut of meat that lacks fat and connective tissues, and so it is often suggested that it is not cooked beyond medium rare (50% pink centre).  Cooking beyond medium rare will cause the steak to be dry and chewy - ew!


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Etiquette tip: Bread

It seems straightforward enough, but then its so easy to get wrong.  How do you tackle the dinner bread?

In most formal dining settings, you will find a small bread plate at the dining table set to your left with a non-serrated butter knife placed neatly on the top.  Think of where you found your knife placed to be its default position - you should not move it or place it anywhere else but in its default position unless you are using it.

That's right, the butter knife is non-serrated -  It is not for cutting or slicing bread but is provided simply for the purposes of spreading butter.  If you have not been provided with a butter knife, you would usually find a small dish of olive oil (at times with balsamic vinegar) on the table near you.  Break a small bite-sized piece of the bread, spread your desired amount of butter on it and return the knife to its default position before eating, or dip it in the olive 

Never bite straight into the bread, even if you are a male.

Next is when the most common mistake is made (and I witness it more often than not) - Do not lick your fingers clean!  Big no no!  Wipe your hands clean with your napkin.

What if you are provided bread but no bread plate?  What if you are not provided with bread at all?  These will be covered in a future post!


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Etiquette tip: Spoon, or no spoon?

So sometimes you see a spoon, and sometimes you don't.  What exactly is the right way to eat your pasta?

For a long time, I thought the right way to eat pasta is with a fork and spoon.  You would separate a small amount of pasta with a fork, then twirl it into a neat bundle on the spoon and then eat it.  Classy and mess-free, but a true etiquette faux pas - In Italy, your waiter might even display a look of disbelief if you asked for a spoon.

According to Italians, "spoons are for children, amateurs and people with bad manners in general". *  They are trained at young age to eat their pasta by twirling it on the bottom curve of the serving bowl then placing it straight to the mouth.  If it gets messy, it would usually mean that there is too much pasta on your fork - try taking a smaller portion for your next bite.

However despite the above, it is also accepted norm in some communities for a spoon to be set out on your table for eating pasta.  To ask for the spoon to be taken away is also considered rude, so politely leave it to the side.


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Etiquette tip: Chinese and teapots

Teapots are commonly seen in Chinese cuisine, particularly at yum cha. Be aware not to have the spout of the teapot pointing at anyone as that is seen equivalent to using your finger to point directly at someone and can be considered intimidating and impolite.

Try to point the spout outside of the table, or where nobody is seated.


MoVida Sydney

MoVida has opened up in Sydney.

Yes! The owners of the successful restaurant chain in Melbourne have finally decided to spread their wings and expand their food empire to Sydney. The best part, is that they have also bought along a selection of the classic MoVida dishes.

On this unbearably hot summer night, I chose to take my good old friend to MoVida, for a long-overdue catch up. It was so hot that night that I barely had any appetite. Thankfully the back street Surry Hills restaurant had their air conditioner on full blast and the dining area was pleasantly cool. Coupled with the warm and welcoming smile from the floor staff on arrival, my night kicked off to a great start.

The setting of the restaurant is casual and cozy. The walls made of raw bricks but much of the internal area has been decked out with a lot of warm-coloured wood. The dark leather seats gave the restaurant a slight edge and adds to the character. Large floor to ceiling windows ensures that as much natural light is allowed in before the sun sets. On the front is a display of their seafood and oysters, to your left is the main dining area and to your right are high-top tables and the bar. We were seated at the bar where we could clearly see all the action behind it!

I started the night with an icy glass of Sangria - a Spanish wine punch with fresh fruit. The name of this famous Spanish drink, Sangria, is derived from the Spanish word 'Sangre' which means 'blood'. The blood tasted so good, I ordered a jug to share - why not?

Our first dish was the Anchoa - Artisan Cantabrian Anchovy with smoked tomato sorbet on a flat sourdough crouton. The Spanish take their anchovies very seriously and here at MoVida, they use the finest anchovies from Cantabria. The anchovy meat was firm, meaty and not too salty and balanced out with baby capers and the rustic tang of the smoked tomato sorbet. This dish was heavenly. A recipe to this amazing dish is posted on the MoVida website and I am going to have to give this a try at home soon!

Our next dish was the Bocata De Buey - tender pieces of wagyu wrapped around a hard hollow baguette, topped with tocino de cielo (a Spanish style custard), pickled and black garlic, edible flowers and chopped chives. This dish is bold and is beautiful, and tastes as good as it looks! If asked whether I would change anything, I may suggest a substitute for the air baguette which I found a little too hard for this tender and delicate dish.

Then followed the Salmonjero - a thick and creamy tomato puree soup originating from Cordoba in Southern Spain. The soup was served chilled with a long chunky piece of jamon and boiled quail egg.

Oysters were offered on the menu and again I could not resist and ordered two serves each of the Ostra - Sydney rock oysters shucked to order and served with Manzanilla jelly and compressed watermelon. Though the oysters were evidently very fresh and served nicely chilled, I didn't find that the flavours of the condiments worked too well with the creaminess of the rock oysters.

Now to my favourite dish for tonight, Cecina - large thinly sliced air cured wagyu beef served with a big dollop of truffle foam topped with a poached egg. The cured wagyu slices were slightly salty and very tender. Prior to eating you would wrap the truffle foam and poached egg with the wagyu into a parcel and cut right into it to enjoy all the flavours together at once. The truffle foam and poached egg harmonised the saltiness of the wagyu and the dish reached a heavenly equilibrium. My taste buds danced a little salsa on the spot and my eyes sparkled so much, the patrons sitting adjacent us immediately ordered a serving too!

Our final dish was the Flor Con Calamares - braised zucchini flowers filled with smoked eel brandade and served with grape tomatoes and fresh calamari. Don't let the appearance of this dish fool you, the calamari was the star of this dish (not the zucchini flowers!). The calamari were very fresh, sweet, juicy and tender.

The conclusion - MoVida Sydney was well worth the wait. Bring an old friend or two, arrive early (very early to avoid a long queue - we turned up at 6pm), order a few tapas dishes, pick and chew away, lay back for a relaxed chat and enjoy the warm ambience the restaurant offers. Order again and repeat the process until you are satisfied you have enjoyed the best Frank Camorra has to offer!

The service was a bit of hit-and-miss though. Good service is like the icing on a cake and can really make or break a dining experience. Having heard many people rave about the good service at MoVida, I came convinced my old friend would have an enjoyable night, but admittedly left with a bit of disappointment. Perhaps the staff member who served us was having a bad day? Nonetheless, the heart poured into the dishes is evident and I will return.


50 Holt Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 8964 7642

MoVida Sydney on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Made in Italy - Trattoria @ Pyrmont

The essence of Italian cooking is simplicity. Most Italian dishes are only made from very few ingredients with the focus being placed on the quality of the ingredients used (did I mention that cheese, wine and herbs being most common of the ingredients? My taste buds tango at that thought!). Because of the simplicity of the dishes, Italian is one of my most common DIY meals for the time-starved at home.

On a lazy Sunday night after spending the afternoon savouring Messina gelato at The Star and sipping on Hendricks & Cucumber at a Pyrmont bar, me and good friend decided to fill up on a bit of carbs (...and to continue the festive splurge on food and wine!).

Our restaurant pick was the closely located Made in Italy - established in 2001 and quickly known for their great tasting pizza, pastas and salads. The first thing you notice walking in is the old-school scooter and the bright red Fiat near the entrance - it sure sets a scene but expectations of the food quality went on a steep decline (I got the feel of a themed and commercialised restaurant and those places don't usually do too well in the food department - but then I may have thought differently if they displayed a mini cooper?).

First we ordered the Stuffed Zucchini Flowers - yes the flower which grows from the stem of the zucchini fruit is edible, and when stuffed, battered and deep fried, makes a pretty scrumptious starter to a fine meal. Yes, fruit! Interestingly the zucchini is by botanical definition a fruit and not the vegetable it is commonly known as in the culinary world. Even more interestingly, zucchinis are actually the swollen ovaries of the female zucchini flower!

The zucchini flower was served on a bed of rocket leaves casually dressed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, lightly battered and fried until golden. The stuffing of ricotta cheese and anchovies was very tasty but did overpower the dish - Delicious!

Our next dish was the Caprese Salad with buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto and tomatoes, pitted olives and basil. The salad was tossed in a well balanced olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. The buffalo mozzarella were large pieces, very soft, stringy and porcelain white in colour. The prosciutto were tender, large thinly sliced pieces that were not too salty or dry - all characteristics of quality Italian prosciutto. The flavours worked so well together I could not get enough of this amazing salad and my taste buds are waltzing!

I love a good carpaccio so I would usually jump at every opportunity to order carpaccio if it is offered on the menu. There were two carpaccio options on the menu, fresh salmon or beef - we opted for Carpaccio di Carne. The beef was very thinly sliced, served with a good amount of olive oil, a wedge of lemon and topped with rocket leaves and shaved reggiano parmasan. I found this dish a little bland at first, and the rocket and parmesan overthrew the taste of the too-thinly sliced meat. However a generous squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a bit of cracked pepper fixed up half my concerns.

Our final dish was the Fettuccine Boscaiola. The fettuccine was cooked al dente, and coated in a creamy (but not too heavy) boscaiola sauce with chunky pieces of mushrooms and ham, and topped with parmasan.

Overall, a great experience. The staff is attentive and polite, the ambience is friendly and warm. A great place to come with the family, big and small. Carb-coma time!


Oh! The pizza. Our little tummies could not fit another pizza after our already very fulfilling meal. However I did take an opportunity to arrange pizza delivery in the office for lunch. Ordering was a good old-fashioned call to their landline - quick and simple (no queuing and listening to ads on the phone, no overburdening of questions like the ones some pizza chains put us through, no complicated online forms, no fuss).

We ordered the Margherita, the Capricciosa, the Tropicale, the Made In Italy and the Suprema. The verdict - the best delivered pizza in Sydney! The crust is thin and crispy, the toppings generous and very fresh, and the delivery on time. It was so popular with the team that there was some talk about replacing birthday cakes with birthday pizzas! Nom nom nom!

(Note: If you don't fancy delivery, you could pop down to their little shop tucked away in York Lane for your pizza fix. Grab a few mates, a pizza or two and take a seat on their classy blue milk crates before Friday night drinks!)

G01/55 Miller Street
Pyrmont NSW 2009
(02) 9518 7555

Made in Italy Trattori on Urbanspoon