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Random Fridays: Hot Chocolate Trio

I’ve had a number of “tasting flights” over the years — wine, beer, whiskey, port — but never one featuring hot chocolate. From left to right: chili (too fiery for my taste), standard (good), gingerbread (excellent). From The Gingerbread House in Katoomba, Blue Mountains (west of Sydney). I’d just spent 1.5 hours walking in the ceaseless rain and 15 degrees C, and these hot chocolates were wonderfully warming — as was the heater I sat beside. 😉


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Blue bubbly

Would you drink this?

I’m closing off my blue squares with some blue bubbly, topped with some blueberries.

And if you’re wondering whether I actually drank this … well, my fingers were stained blue, the dye (approved and ‘safe’ food dye from the supermarket) had a clingy texture that reminded me of balls of mercury, and you saw what it did in the glass of water. So, no. Though I did eat the blueberries. 🙂

The theme for July Squares is Blue. As ever, thanks are due to our tireless host Becky for organising these squares.

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Bubbles, Burrata and Bocconcini

 

Last Friday evening I did something very out of the ordinary: I made cheese! It was a “Bubbles Burrata and Bocconcini Cheese Making Class“, held at Tramsheds in Sydney and led by a cheesemaker from Omnon Cheese Making. I don’t know if the lure is the bottomless bubbly or the cheese making, but either way they are on to a good thing here; it’s a popular event and often sells out.

The setting. Tramsheds was originally a (wait for it) tram shed and depot, then empty, now revitalised as a collection of eateries.

First steps: add the citric acid to the milk, and warm it. Remove from heat, stir in the rennet, and let it sit.

 

Okay, so at this point it’s not especially appealing.

Time for a drink!

Bottomless indeed.

Cut and drain the curds, and this is what you get. (The curds had been prepared for us to this stage; very sensible, as bottomless bubbles, heat and precise measurements probably don’t mix well.)

A big bowl of curds.

Then it’s time to take out the frustrations of the day on the poor defenseless curds. Mash them with your hands until they fall apart and surrender.

Near-boiling water is then poured over the curds, and as you agitate gently the mass (mess?) starts to come together. Gather it all up in your hands. The contents of the bowl are very hot at this stage, which is why we all wore two or three layers of rubber gloves.

Still none too appetising …

A miracle happens as you stretch and fold it; the gloppy, stringy stuff becomes glossy and stretchy. (Mine never stretched this much, I admit!) This is why fresh Mozzarella (not the block stuff) can be pulled apart in layers.

 

I learned at this event that Bocconcini is just Mozzarella in small balls, and Burrata is a sort of stuffed Mozzarella pocket tied off with a knot. My attempt at Burrata was a misshapen lump that leaked. 😦

 

Now it was our turn to mash our curds, stretch and fold the cheese, and pinch off balls. First, though, it was time for a refill!

This bowl holds the far-from-perfect results of my two friends and me. More blobs than balls, but as the instructor said, they will melt just as well on pizza and will still taste yummy!

From the state of the table, you can guess that this was a messy process.

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Prelude to a sundowner

Tide’s out, drink’s up

Do you know the term ‘sundowner’? There is a plethora of definitions, including a transient worker, a type of apple, and someone who has sundowning (a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia). I’m referring to the much more pleasant meaning of “an alcoholic drink taken at sunset”. This is more very late afternoon than actual sunset — a pre-sundowner, if you will. The photo was taken at Ettalong, a small waterside community north of Sydney where I tend to go for a weekend each April to savour summer’s last gasp. I love sitting at this waterside bar/restaurant, watching the tide and the birds and the people on the sands. Autumn hasn’t gripped us yet, but I do fear summer is on the way out — and I’ve already booked my holiday apartment for April.