Friday, July 30, 2010

Dikstein's Corner Bar

Near where I work there is a little corner restaurant, with a lovely upstairs room. It used to be called the Bank Place food store. Then it changed its name.

The signage in this place is minimal (even the menu does not bear the name of the restaurant) and I misread the lettering of the name on the window. I have been puzzled for months as to why I could not find it mentioned anywhere in the phonebook or on the web under its new name. Then today I got lucky. For the first time I ate at one of the outside tables instead of upstairs, and picked up a card while I was paying the bill at the counter. The name was clearly printed on the card. Dikstein's Corner Bar!

The thing I love most about Dikstein's is the upstairs waiter, who pours me a Little Creatures almost the minute I walk in the door. The other thing I love is the food. I've been through all the vegetarian dishes on the menu and have started again at the beginning. I think the star is the bruschetta. It is presented on a round wooden board, with separate piles of slightly charred bread, gorgeous pesto, soft goats cheese, a tumble of wild greens and some roasted tomatoes. You put it all together yourself and get very messy in the process, but it's fun and delicious.

Sitting outside on a surprisingly balmy July day is quite pleasant too, although it lacks the special treatment and lovely cosy atmosphere of the upstairs room. My advice is not to go here on a Friday for lunch - you'll never make it back to work!
Dikstein's Corner Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Blackeye beans

I have been asked for some really good blackeye bean recipes, but not spicy ones. This is a bit hard as I usually make them spicy! But here goes.

Blackeye bean salad
This recipe is from Vegetarian dishes from the Middle East by Arto der Haroutunian, Century, 1983.
6 oz (180g) blackeye beans, cooked
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
juice of 1/2 lemon (and some lemon wedges)
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 Tbs finely chopped parsley
1 tsp finely ground cumin
75 ml olive oil
1/2 tsp paprika
Crush garlic and salt together and stir in lemon juice. Put drained beans in a bowl with onion and parsley. Add garlic-lemon mixture and cumin, and mix thoroughly. Pour oil over the top and garnish with paprika. Serve hot or cold, with lemon wedges.

Blackeye beans cooked in beer
I haven't actually tried this one, mainly because I never have any spare beer. But it sounds interesting. One of my other reliable sources of blackeye bean recipes, Gail Duff, also has blackeye bean recipes featuring turnips and cinnamon. Apparently this 'hearty stew has a lovely dark, rich gravy which enhances the flavour of the beans'. Maybe I should find some spare draught beer! The recipe is from Bean cuisine by Janet Horley, Prism Press, 1982.
8 oz (1 cup) blackeye beans
1 pint (2 1/2 cups) water
Cook beans until just tender. Drain and reserve the stock.
12 oz (3 cups) white turnip, chopped
8 oz (3 cups) mushrooms
1 large onion
1/4 pint (1/2 cup) draught beer
1/4 pint (1/2 cup) bean stock
4 Tbs wholemeal flour (or less?)
2 Tbs chopped parsley
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Preheat oven to 400F/200C.
Slice the vegetables and saute lightly in oil. Stir in the flour and gradually blend in the bean stock. Combine all the remaining ingredients and adjust the seasoning. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes before placing in a covered casserole. Bake for 1 hour. (or less?)

Finally, here is one from Gail Duff (Gail Duff's Vegetarian Cookbook, Pan Books, 1979).
Black-eyed beans with cinnamon and tomatoes
8 oz (225 g) black-eyed beans
1 pint (575 ml) water
12 oz (350 g) firm tomatoes
4 Tbs (60 ml) olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 pint (275 ml) stock
2 tsp tomato paste
Simmer beans for 30 minutes or until barely tender. Drain if necessary. Scald, skin and seed the tomatoes and cut them into strips. Heat the oil in a saucepan on a low heat. Stir in the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are soft. Stir in the beans and cinnamon, cover and cook gently for a couple of minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Mix in the tomato paste, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so to allow the beans to pick up the flavour. Mix in the tomatoes just before serving.

I hope you enjoy these recipes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Weeding the book collection

The time has come to rationalise the old tatty book collection. Some are going straight into the recycle bin, others are being put aside for the op shop. Do I need to keep Selected essays of G.K. Chesterton, inscribed 'With love to Aunt Mary, from Frank, Christmas 1952'? or Essays in satire (1954) - 'Wishing Aunt Mary a very happy and holy Christmas, Frank'? I think I probably do, because just reading the inscriptions brings back memories of Aunty Mary (we never called her 'Aunt' Mary) and Father Frank at Brougham Street, and the fun we had with our cousins playing British bulldog in the street, or jumping off the veranda into the lilies, something that was rather frowned upon by Grandma. Which probably goes to prove that a book is not necessarily just a book.

During the weeding process On liberty somehow survived (although other texts from Philosophy 101 were discarded), which was rather weird because a few days later John Stuart Mill came up in conversation and it turned out that Michael wanted to read it - easy! Which maybe proves that you never can tell when it might be a good idea to have a particular book to hand, even though you mightn't have even thought about it in the last 20 years or so.

Meanwhile I'm looking forward to getting an iPad when they're available. I've thought about the other options for ebook readers but I reckon it's worth waiting. I saw a man with a Kindle on the tram today. I haven't noticed any other ebook readers in the public transport system yet - maybe because I usually have my head buried in whichever James Lee Burke novel I've managed to find at the library! How cool it would be to have them all available in a reader so I could actually read them in order, instead of jumping all over the place in Robicheaux's family history according to what is available in the library at the time.