Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Discovery VIII

Back to the Boroondara restaurant scene with a visit to Saigon Vietnamese in Toorak Road for Discovery VIII (or post-Olympic Discovery I). This restaurant is an old favourite of Mr 27's, dating from the old Through Road days. It proved to be a really nice place with pleasant food and service. The proprietor amused us immensely by proffering an array of beer varieties from our BYO selection when we asked for more drinks.

The beer selection turned out to be more extensive than originally planned. Mr 30 was somewhat delayed as he had had the honour of attending the funeral service of Nathi Singh Rawat, a kind and generous friend who had unfortunately died a sudden and most untimely death only two days previously. In celebration of so many happy times with Rawat and the family at Taj Palace, Mr 30 had spent the afternoon with a few Haywards 5000s, and had kindly brought some back for us to drink to Rawat's memory.

Back to the food of Saigon! While waiting for the traveller who was making his way from Ascot Vale by train, we had soup - 'vegetable' for me and asparagus, crab meat and egg flowers, followed by a pan-fried pancake with pork, mushrooms, prawns and beanshoots, for them.

We managed to synchronise the arrival of the main courses and Mr 30, who was starving after his harrowing day and his long train trip back from Fawkner via Ascot Vale. Bean curd, meat, vegetables and rice disappeared in a trice and were followed by a vegetarian version of the pancake.

In memory of Rawat and all the happy times and beautiful food at Taj Palace, and in particular of a wonderful 30th birthday celebration just a few months ago, here is a picture of 'Stu's bar' at the Taj Palace.

Stu's bar
Rawat - rest in peace.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Discovery VII

Discovery VII, doubling as Olympic Discovery II, was also held in Camberwell. The main dish consisted of roast beef with gravy, Yorkshire puddings, peas, roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions, and leeks with cheese sauce. Buying the beef from Camberwell market was a nerve wracking experience for a committed vegetarian (does Scotch fillet really cost that much?) but I managed to survive the ordeal.

Olympic roast

After the shopping expedition, the afternoon was spent quietly washing leeks, shelling peas and laying the table. Luckily I wasn't expected to cook the beef. This task was accomplished by an absolute expert who also produced some magnificent gravy. At a late stage of the afternoon I realised I'd forgotten to buy hot English mustard, so I concocted a passable replica by grinding up mustard seeds and mixing them with lemon juice, salt and a little cayenne.

Mr 27 decided to make trifle. After checking out the options on the internet, he disappeared to the supermarket and returned shortly afterwards with cake, cream, sherry, toasted almonds, strawberries and custard. One crystal bowl and a very short time later a magnificent trifle was cooling in the fridge.

Sadly Ms 30's illness prevented her from discovering this memorable feast and watching an associated feast of sailing, gymnastics, table tennis and yet more equestrian.

Some of the company rounded off the evening with a nice cup of Tetley's and a cup of Bovril. I stayed with Coopers. Coopers is not strictly an English beer, but the Adelaide brewery was established by a Yorkshireman, so that's good enough for me.


Discovery VI

Olympic mania set in for Discovery VI, or Olympic Discovery Dinner I, held in the first week of the London Olympics. Local restaurants were abandoned in favour of a lounge room somewhere in Camberwell, so we could enjoy the best of British food and drink while watching our chosen Olympic sports in comfort by the fire.

Coronation tray of Pimms
Equestrian eventing was the sport of choice while we ate a wonderful dinner of pie, peas and chips, followed by English lollies. An unexpected discovery was the resurrection of the electric frypan, which had been languishing at the bottom of the pantry for many years. It was called into emergency service to crisp up the chips while the pies were heating in the oven (note to visitors - multiply Celsius temperatures by two to convert to Fahrenheit). It did such a good job that it took over the roasting of the vegetables for Olympic Discovery Dinner II.

Drinks were a choice of Pimms, assorted British beers, gin and tonic or Earl Grey tea, served on a 1953 souvenir coronation tray.

The regular discovery group was augmented by two special cousins, who provided the main course, fabulous company and a perfect choice of food.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Discovery V

Discovery #5 signals a change to Roman numerals for the headings of this thread, in honour of our newest family member who has a South Australian background.

For Discovery V we went slightly further afield to Xiao-ting box in Abbotsford. Unusually we arrived by taxi, after attending a Rare Book week event at the State Library of Victoria. We did try to do the public transport thing, but a serious shortage of trains stopping at North Richmond saw us abandoning Melbourne Central station in favour of the taxi rank in Elizabeth Street.

Our table for six was conveniently next to the door, which provided ample ventilation from the constant trade of take-away patrons. Access to our BYO drinks (Tsing Tao, Faxe Danish lager and A&W root beer) was via a fridge handily placed near the front counter - we just helped ourselves as required.

Szechuan prawns with whole chillies
Dinner consisted of:

  • Salty spicy tofu
  • Pan fried pork dumplings
  • Pan fried veggie dumplings
  • Szechuan prawns with whole chillies
  • Chinese broccoli with garlic
  • Round beans with pork mince.
My favourites were the salty spicy tofu and the veggie dumplings. Actually as a vegetarian I didn't taste any of the other dishes apart from the broccoli, but apparently the prawns were magnificent.

Afterwards most of us piled into the car for a trip back to Burnley, via a one way street and a possum.