Dearest Celia - (she who leads the sharing of this discussion) I may not be as regular as you but I will try.
Here is my May offering. I will be travelling soon and cooking in temporary kitchens so watch this space for kitchens abroad.
This is an original Tagine, witness the small hole in the top to allow steam to escape.
The dessert is Bonet, a northern Italian version of French Creme Caramel. With the addition of amaretti biscuits, rum and chocolate it is unctuous and delicious. The Bonet made in the straight sided souffle dish went to our other neighbours who have been giving us eggs from their Chinese Silkie Bantams.
I have a new batch of my home-made red sweet chilli sauce. I made some last year but every time I opened the fridge door I felt compelled to shake it as it separated. I have now learned the trick of adding a little potato flour a good tip as it suspends the chilli rather than have it slither down to the bottom of the bottle.
I always keep Amaretti biscuits in my pantry, this time I have bought two boxes for $5, a special at Pennisi in Brisbane’s Woolloongabba. This brand is are softer in texture than most Amaretti. I used the drier version Amaretti biscuits I already had in the cupboard for the Bonet in case you are wondering.
I have replaced two Sunbeam Oskar mini processors in my Toowong kitchen and then the Sunbeam mini broke down in the Tasmanian kitchen last year so I am not longer wedded to buying that brand! So here is my new Cuisineart mini processor. I have a large processor too but find a small one very handy for pestos, pastes, mayonnaise etc but when I began the search for a small processor only two brands had holes in the top to allow you to drip oil through the lid.
Old houses require constant maintenance and you have to love them to put up with the cost and then there are further issues to find the right tradespeople and craftspeople to give you quality restoration work.
We have lived in this post Federation ‘Queenslander’ house for 18 years, we only intended to live in it for around 8 years but we liked it so much we stayed. We had tried to sell it two years ago and as real estate is still in the doldrums we took it off the open market.
But in the meantime when there is a problem we get right onto it, like the window that nearly fell out recently after the wind slammed the front door one too many times.
I rang an old friend who used to have a glass business and he had retired so I started searching for someone to fix it. One craftsman I found in the phone book told me he was up north fixing up a church, to send him an email and he would get back to me, well I sent the email but he did not reply. So it was on to the next option of finding someone. John went into a restoration hardware store and was given the number of a fellow also named John. He turned out to be the answer. He came out, assessed it, gave us a quote and once we appointed him he returned with a glass disc he inserted as a temporary measure. I was so happy as it still let the light in the hallway whilst our panel was being restored. The phone book glass craftsman told me he would be inserting a panel of ply so I was much happier with John’s temporary alternative.
Here is John the glass artist with the panel all renewed, the glass is now cleaned and put it back in as though it had never left its home.
The design in our ‘high waisted’ front door, he tells me is a ‘Dog Rose’ but I cannot find any other examples of Dog Roses. The style is a really a combination of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. All the original glass is still there but with one more slam all that glass would have landed on the floor.
Before I go on, remember I do not review, I just tell it as it is and if I go anywhere where I feel the restaurant falls short of my expectations I just don’t blog it.
The restaurant and bar is in the narrow lane behind Brisbane’s Queen Street, for those who do not live in Queensland, it is the main street of the city, most of which is a Mall. Burnett Lane was just an access lane for deliveries but now it has become a cool address. It is directly behind the back entrance of the Chifley hotel so should not be hard to find now that I have told you that. I was only armed with the number and caught it on a square of brown metal angled on the side of the building as I walked up from the Albert Street end.
The materials used for the patterning must make it impervious to car tyres.
Now to the restaurant. We loved the design, rustic finishes where the walls are stripped bare. We liked the bespoke crafted tables, chairs are classic Bentwoods and the banquette although a little hard when I first plopped down was covered in whole dark leather hides.
We shared everything and for two people the servings were ideal. The generous serve of two soft shell crabs plated up San Choy Bau style so we made our own crispy parcels. That mayo with quince and jalapeno was masterful simplicity.
Just when we thought we have stopped and left room for dessert we were served the orange braised pork shoulder surprise.
I know it looks mushy but what a wonderfully weird concoction. We did not mind that we skipped dessert but chef be warned, we will be back for dessert another time.
Something that we noticed was that the kitchen ran very smoothly and although we could see straight into the kitchen, there was no fuss, no hysterics or orders being barked. Owner Simon Livingstone of restaurant Piaf fame at Southbank should be pleased. It has been open for over a year now and not being a full-time resident of Brisbane anymore, it has taken me some time to get there, now I want to go back very soon.
As we departed we noticed a coat, bag and umbrella rack, something Brisbane restaurants overlook.
The Survey Co, 32 Burnett Lane, Brisbane
Phone 07 3012 8725
I drive along the very busy Coronation Drive almost every day and have wondered what the revamped hotel and restaurant must look like inside. It is one of Brisbane’s most interesting pub buildings and has managed to survive flooding and the ravages of time, not to mention the pollution since it is a main thoroughfare from the western suburbs into the city. See the photo at the base of this post to see how rustic and quiet the road was back in the 1940′s.
The large grill is fronted by a horizontal gas flame that is both a decorative feature and warmer for the plated up dishes.
I chose the Wagyu Rump and our friends went for a classic of Eye fillet and Fillet Mignon. Choices of baked potato or chips were hard for most of us to resist. Wagyu is one of several breeds that are genetically predisposed to marbling with a high percentage of unsaturated fat.
Could not resist Bernaise sauce to go with my Wagyu and those chips were wonderful. All the steaks were cooked and served exactly the degree of ‘doneness’ we ordered.
There is even a little peep-hole on the street for the cakes.
If you want to see more of the menu you can go to The Regatta Hotel’s website where you can download a copy.
My friend Celia’s regular post of what is in my kitchen is always inspiring to keep track of our own busy kitchen.
I actually bought this whisk on the day I met up with Celia in Sydney at the Museum of Contemporary Art. I quite like the look and function of my new purple and pink kitchen whisk from the MCA shop – it is from Copenhagen and described on the box as a ‘sculpturesque’ space-saving whisk for the kitchen drawer or to hang on the wall.
Blue sheathed knife found on street on my walk, it was still in its plastic packaging so I know it was from Tarjay…
So took down the remaining round white plate on the other side before it went the way of the other one and put up our Indonesian rice strainer – its on the other side of the oven extractor hood just to add a bit of symmetry. They are at the right height for me to reach up and take them down use them to wash rice.
My friend Barb Heath has returned from her lovely Tunbridge house in Tasmania with some apple cheese (same texture as fruit pastes) that she made from her Cox’s Orange Pippin apples. Barb called over with this piece on the weekend and said she followed a recipe by Sally Wise.
I am sorting through thousands of old photos but it is time to throw most of them away to reduce enormous amounts of storage creating far too much clutter, and what time it takes as you get bogged down looking through them all. The memories return but I have to be ruthless, they will only deteriorate in storage. The photos are a bit hazy, they weren’t that fabulous in the original.
At the time we visited Mae Sa Valley Craft Village it was owned by a woman in Thailand whose name I can only recall as Chinda. We were both members of the same international organisation of women entrepreneurs. Chinda if I recall correctly was the head of a bank in Bangkok, much more illustrious than my role in Australia at the time as former contemporary art gallery owner and freelance writer.
It turned out Chinda’s nephew is Vatcharin Bhumichitr and was quite famous back in the 90′s having run a Thai restaurant in London, published cookbooks and had designed the cookery school and course at Mae Sa Craft Village.
I am not sure if he is still involved or if Chinda still owns the village. I found his picture on Wikipedia and the craft village seems to still be operating but I could not find a website for them however plenty of people have left comments on Trip Advisor recording their visits.
I am making a Chiang Mai sausage here. I remember after this experience going to the butcher at West End and asking Adrian who was the butcher at the time to let me make sausages with the aid of a commercial machine. I also made the Chiang Mai sausages again a few years back at Steve’s organic butchery the Meat-ing Place in Paddington. He was going to trial them to sell but this type of sausage is best made by hand in small batches.
At the school we simply used the cut off top of a plastic drink bottle as a funnel and stuffed the meat in by hand. They are not hard to make and here is a print friendly copy of Spicy Thai Sausage
There is one other dish I learned here that I make regularly – its short name is Ong – a pork and chilli sauce or dip and I whip it up just as quickly as you might make an omelette. I make it very spicy so I serve it with steamed Jasmine rice. We never eat savoury minced meat like our parents used to make, dreadfully bland compared to Ong.
Here is the recipe for my quick favourite pork dish Ong – Pork and Chilli Sauce
In the market I was confounded by this packet of soup mix – it comprised dried ingredients as a base for Tom Yum but I was not convinced about adding lemonade.
The memories are kept alive in the food we cooked and ate on our travels and in the friendships made. After our stay at Mae Sa Valley village we were collected by a driver and guide for further travels north to Laos and in the car were two people from Switzerland who have become life long friends. We meet regularly around the world and this year we meet again in Belgium.
I have just visited the major exhibition Louise Martin Chew curated of Linde Ivimey’s sculpture. It is an outstanding exhibition and deserves to be seen by a wider audience. It follows in the steps of another excellent exhibition at the same venue – University of Queensland Art Museum, curated by Alison Kubler on Australian artist Polly Borland. Both Kubler and Martin-Chew are freelance curators, friends, colleagues and are based in Queensland. They bring a world view to the exhibitions they create whilst based in Brisbane.
Linde Ivimey’s exhibition If Pain Persists is an autobiography, for a first time viewer of her work it is an ideal way to witness her evolution, as an artist and as person reacting and reflecting on the journey of life. She reveals everything, from her personal preoccupations, religion, past ill-health to her adventure to the Antarctic.
Ivimey through her work tells stories of a life many times lived on the edge – her precarious health, some impoverished times and to a life with some luxuries certain artists get to enjoy.
At first glance other artists do come to mind. Queensland artist Judith Wright’s recent body of work seen at GOMA and MCA is one. Wright’s sculptures used all manner of found objects and much of that work is spectacularly macabre yet unlike others I did not find Ivimey’s work grotesque or chilling. Instead I found her forms sympathetic and endearing. Most were only as tall as small children aged around 6 to 10. The unselfconscious or guileless stance she gives to many invite us to not to recoil in horror that they are made or covered in bones but to instinctively warm to them.
The original use of the chicken neck bones to ‘crochet’ an armoury or create a pattern that looks like woven or knotted yarn could be most unsettling for some. But for me Ivimey creates an extremely elegant covering using this repetitive diamond pattern. Yet any lasting attempt at whimsy is undermined by inspection of the materials and technique.
Whilst I agree with most of art critic John MacDonald’s recent review in the Sydney Morning Herald, I do not endorse his assertion that the figures are monstrous or that you can feel horror.
A work here from the Antarctic series show how the explorers faces were completely obscured by a thick halo of snow.
But the powerful works for me were the sculptures that combine animal features with humans and quickly another artist comes to mind. Sometime back I bought a book by the English artist Charlotte Cory who created a series of altered photographs from her collection of the discarded photographic postcard portraits of Victorians. Cory collaged the photographs by replacing the heads with those of various taxidermist animals. Whilst they do not have human faces they still convey a recognisable human personality. Think of people you know who have dogs that have features that resemble their own.
The works in the religious series are powerful and her interpretation of the Twelve Apostles and the Four Horsemen are presented in an entirely original tableaux. However I am not a catholic therefore I cannot comment on its transformational significance.
The materials Ivimey uses for heads, other body parts or adornment include duck, pork, chicken, beef and lamb bones, many left over from meals she has prepared. Butchers have saved her carcasses and bones along with friends who have gifted her with various objects. Like the artist Fiona Hall she will find a use for anything even lint left over from washing and drying material.
Ivimey is at home with anything that can be used to make art. I was not surprised to read in Martin-Chew’s monograph that Ivimey once worked for Sweet Art, the specialists in sculpting cakes.
I found Martin-Chew’s monograph an excellent aid to delve deeper into the genesis of Ivimey’s work. I just could not take it all in at the first viewing. Whilst the exhibition flowed well, an installation that all involved should be proud of, I still needed the catalogue to assist me to further digest what I had seen.
The last words belong to Martin-Chew who says ‘Emotional intensity simmers in every one of Ivimey’s recent works’.
If Pain Persists, Linde Ivimey Sculpture
Curator and publication author: Louise Martin-Chew
Photos: Reproduced courtesy of the artist, Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney, Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane and Gould Galleries, Melbourne