Great Encounter


By definition a refrigerator stands alone in its corner and, withdrawn from the world, it controls its atmosphere and protects its contents. Its door must be kept closed, otherwise it looses its cool. This withdrawal explains the isolation of refrigerators.
Is it possible to envision the encounter between two refrigerators? In this installation, two solitudes unite through a canal connecting their inside worlds. This unusual encounter produces a mist on the surface that binds them together.

Michel de Broin

Zena Plum Pudding Princess

Nana's 96th

This is a picture of my nana Zena she passed away on Friday at the age of 96.

Not only will I miss her company I will miss her plum pudding , heavily salted peas with mint and baby potatoes dug from her own garden of course (she still lived in her own house until only a few years ago).

Thank you for teaching me how to be not only a better person but more importantly how to smoke fish and eels.

Thinking of you always.

Yummy Post

Aong informs me that the Thai postal service has gone gourmet

She says

"This is a latest service from Thai post office, ‘Food by Mail’ with specialties from regions. Just dial 1545, order what you fancy and you’ll receive them in a day or two…!"

I like the idea but wonder about the implementation, since every time I ever have any dealings with the postal service here they always seem to demand exorbitant amounts of money to get them to hand over my parcel, would they hold my sai oua and nam prik num to ransom too?

I'm also dubious as to how well gai yang (grilled chicken) would travel


Meat, Mate

NZ Job

Note the headline. When did saying stuff in a slightly retarded way to be funny become a Kiwi-ism? I think we have begun to take pride in imperfection.

High and Low of Japanese Food in Thailand

In Thailand, there are lots of Japanese restaurants, from high to low end.

The high-end Japanese restaurants, especially those in Bangkok, have survived many critical Japanese expats having business meals on their corporate bill and their stay-home-but-eat-out-wives.

They have very high quality dishes, at a price that is almost equal or slightly less than you get in Japan.

Like this grilled mackerel lunch my friend ordered at Aoi in Bangkok:

and miso-nikomi udon I ordered (udon noodles cooked in Nagoya-style miso broth... not miso soup, though!):

Or this lovely dinner set at Kitchen Hush in Chiang Mai:

Since most of those high-end places are beyond reach, at least on every day basis, of locally-salaried people, there are lower-end places where things start to get interesting.

For instance, this saba-misoni (mackerel cooked with miso paste and ginger) set was a complete disaster:

... I wonder what triggered them to put the crushed tofu on top of fish.

Like typical cheap Japanese restaurants in Thailand, they'd open a 10 baht tube of tofu, use some in miso soup, and use the rest in something else.

The menu listed the dinner set would come with a "special side dish of the day", which in this case was a pan-fried piece of pork. Surprise! How would I expect to have a big piece of pork as a side dish of a fish dinner? Sorry, I tried, but couldn't finish.

I do not like it when they give you the fake crab as sashimi:

It's not only typical at cheap Japanese restaurants in Thailand, but happens often in the U.S., even at relatively good restaurants, too.

Those fake crab is reconstituted fish which contains lots of starch and MSGs, not to mention artificial coloring. It's sooooooo different from the real crab.

Q: What's wrong with this?

A: sauce is not necessary for onigiri (rice balls). Onigiri is not sushi!!! At least they didn't give me wasabi.

From Buzzfeeds...the dirtiest apartment ever

This is apparently the kitchen, the odd thing about this photo, is that given the filthy way this person (animal?) has chosen to live, they obviously still iron, their clothes, seems like an odd priority when your home is covered in crap

APT 133 028

Living/ dining room

APT 133 039
He may by all appearances to be obsessed with Thai food, however Austin Bush, of Real Thai fame (now Austin Bush Photography Food Blog) and a close pal of David Thompson secretly whips up Italian comfort food at home just like the rest of us.

I know he just sent me photos of his dinner.

Swiss Chard Frittata

Grilled Eggplant Pasta

Austin says "The chard fritatta was actually really nice. The pasta simple, but good too. I think I'm going to make just about everything in that Bittman piece soon."

This from a man that stares at me blankly when I say I can't eat Thai food for every meal. It does look yummy though

The Perfect Tortilla


OK, everybody, breathe out. I finally found the perfect tortilla.

It's from Tapaç 24, a restaurant run by Carles Abellan (an El Bulli protegée). The menu has a selection of traditional Catalan tapas, which is mostly pretty straight up, with a few diva twists. Like the fois gras burger, which is a small patty of beef and fois gras fused between 2 thin buns on a hot plate and presented in waxed paper like a real take out burger.

This is yummy (and the baby squid 'a la plancha', grilled, are dope too) but the best thing I had from there was the bacalao tortilla above, on my first (solo) visit. This is the kind of dish that changes the way you see the world.

First of all it has the soaked salt-preserved cod called bacalao, and white beans and a bit of spinach in it, which gets it off to a roaring start. But unlike every other Spanish tortilla, it is not a wedge of oversized, overcooked 'yakitamago' glue. The egg is a very loose binding and is still runny in places. The chunks of bacalao are meaty morsels in the gloop. This tortilla is not currently on the menu - I read about it on some website so ordered it for breakfast, and the waiter went and checked with the kitchen if they'd make it (which luckily they did). It's smaller than my hand span but a perfect light breakfast and it cost 8 euros including my 'cortado': the delicious Spanish version of a short espresso with milk.

I've been back there a few times since then since it has the double virtues of being close to where we are staying (just a couple of blocks up the ritzy Passeig de Gracia boulevard from the touristy Universidad- Placa Catalunya triangle, so totally spitting distance) - and it's open until midnight, unlike a lot of good spots which close at 10 or 11pm.

It's not the kind of spot that makes a big deal about vegetables, so get ready for a protein-carb pig out. Most of the dishes are very simple so don't expect any El Bulli style smoke and mirrors. The stews in black iron pans are very good, like the oxtail with white beans, the arroz Negro con sepia (tasty gluggy black rice with squid ink and a pinch of calamari shreds on top), and the deeply flavoured brown lentils with chorizo (below). The squid ink one was my fave.

The dishes I personally wouldn't bother with unless you're drunk are the diva dishes (which also happen to be the most junk-foody): like their spin on patatas bravas (french fries with a fresh tomato salsa and mayo), the 'bikini' toasted sandwich with mozzarella and Iberico ham, and the chocolate mousse/sorbet with olive oil and salt, which wasn't much of an event for me although Erik loved it.

Oh on the junk food tip... I guess I would still like to try their dish of french fries topped with loosely scrambled eggs and a bit of chorizo, which I saw served to a pair of Australians sitting next to us at the counter. I like a nice sloppy egg.


Tapaç 24
Diputació 269

Hullo New Zealand Calling

Today my pal in NYC emailed to see if I was interested in attending this event in NYC when we go on holiday in a week.

She said, "Dunno if this interests you. It's a gastropub down near South St Seaport and the Finance District."



Nelson Blue is proud to invite you to our KIWI PIG PARTY!! This celebration will be in full force from noon until 'THIS LITTLE PIGGY HAD NO MORE MEAT!' We will be roasting 150 lb's of succulent meat and serving portions with corn on the cob, cole slaw, potato salad and a complimentary beer or wine!!! There will be kiwi music, beer and wine specials and a whole lotta fun!!!! SAT OCT 4TH STARTS AT MIDDAY TILL WE RUN OUT OF PIG !!!

My sister also emailed me about my impending trip in late October

We went out in the boat today and I caught a fat gurnard just off Puponga Point by Cornwallis. Gurnard are so pretty, not to mention tasty. The garden has a ways to go, lots of fruit trees (heritage) have gone in but it will take a couple of years before it really starts to flourish. Meanwhile we also had our first 'breakfast on the front deck' of the season. When it's warm we have our coffee and toast out in the sun. However, there are always a couple of gorgeous weeks in September and everyone starts shrieking "summer's here!!!" and then October arrives and it gets cold and wet again.

Anyway, there are some wines in the cellar that need an occasion in order to drink them. When you are here we can do some yummy dinners and dispatch of some of the older vintages. Will you have some spare time while you are here or will you be busy with work? I'm hoping my workload will have eased a bit by then.
P.S this is a gurnard, not my actual gurnard however.


My response: pig no, gurnard yes. Would rather eat shitty American food in NYC than shitty NZ food, but fresh caught gurnard, "heritage" fruit trees and vintage cellar, yes, yes, yes

Have I mentioned that I am a lucky cow?
A man walked into the Ritz Bar. The bartender said, "I heard that you lost a lot in the crash." The man replied, "I did. But I lost everything I wanted in the boom." This exchange, from F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Babylon Revisited," a story set early in the Depression, suggests how a time of economic crisis can provoke a reckoning with what matters most.

That is not glibly to say, in the manner of a moralizing preacher, that concern with money is trivial, or that worry tied to last week's financial jolts is only greed. Job loss, pension insecurity, threat of foreclosure, the squeeze of debt, rising cost of living - if these problems are not properly a source of anxiety, nothing is.

But what is money? There is a clue in the reference in Fitzgerald's title. Babylon, the ancient Mesopotamian city on the Euphrates River, lives in memory as a place of license and sensuality. If captive in Babylon, it is important to maintain a spirit of detachment from its excesses. That's the Biblical reference.

But in the mists of time, predating the Bible, civilization was itself born in the alluvial plain between the Tigris and the Euphrates. That occurred when nomads - hunters, gatherers, herders - settled in cities that were built around agriculture. One of the main innovations of the settled life based on farming was the capacity to accumulate more than was needed to live. This surplus was both a boon - it enhanced survival - and a curse - it led to the organized thievery of social class. The management of surplus became a valued skill, the idea of wealth was born, and, even allowing for inequity, the human species made its great evolutionary leap.

But money predates agriculture. Anthropologists speculate that the first form of currency - a symbol whose value is imputed rather than inherent - were the pieces of flesh that hunters tore from a vanquished beast. It was not only that successful hunters could then eat to live, but that they could take morsels of meat back to their social circles, however defined. The meat had value in itself, but soon enough it took on transcendent worth.

Indeed, the tearing of flesh from the bones of the killed animal became ritualized, a possible origin of religious sacrifice. A kind of divinity was attributed to the victim, which, after all, was now the source of sustenance, and vestiges of the victim's body were now considered to be holy.

The torn meat became something to exchange, a way to accommodate new divisions of labor, compensating those whose contributions to community survival was less direct than joining in the hunt. A sacred aura hung over the whole enterprise, which may have made it work. The bull as a symbol of the stock market, a contemporary sacred cow, is thought to be rooted in this ancient phenomenon. (The historian Dennis King Keenan suggests that the Latin word pecunia comes from pecus, meaning cattle. The English word "money" comes from the Roman goddess Juno Moneta, in whose temple bulls were sacrificed.) Money's subliminal connection to divinity is enshrined even in the way communion wafers of the Christian liturgy are shaped like coins. A sacrament exists to point beyond itself to something sacred. It is not too much to say that the first sacrament was money.

Meat as a form of currency makes the meaning of money clear. Nutrition is what humans need to live. Stored nutrition, managed by a system of credit, is what humans need to live without obsessing about the next meal. All that we associate with civilization followed from that freedom - from writing to art to concern with consciousness itself. Civilization erected walls to protect against the contingency of existence on a dangerous planet, and the chief emblem of that protection is money.

Because direct awareness of normal human vulnerability - the beasts are still out there - is so frighteningly immobilizing, it became normal to think that what protects us is absolutely trustworthy. That is why primitive humans began to explicitly regard their money as divine, and it is why, equally, if less explicitly, we do, too.

But, in fact, the money is not what protects us. Nor do the gods. Human inventiveness is our protection, and that remains firmly on display.


Aaaahhhhhh, somehow anthropological musings on the current global finance calamity makes it all seem so much more manageable. Anthropologists love to stress that so many of the challenges faced by humanity are in fact human constructed, yet we fetishize them as if they were beyond our control. If only we would wake up and see that the only limits are the collective ones we place upon ourselves they seem to taunt. And while this is to some degree true, understanding that meat is the pre-modern money and it is all linked to social status within tribes and groups, and that is what gives it it's power, does little to allay my fears that our savings may not be safe and that the US dollar is likely to collapse
Getting back to the hyper explosive topic of the social life of vegans the New Zealand Herald writes

A recent survey found vegans prefer partners who steer clear of meat or any animal products, vastly cutting the number of potential dates.

A University of Canterbury "Cruelty-Free Consumption in New Zealand" survey labelled people who choose not to be sexually intimate with non-vegans as "vegansexuals".

One vegansexual in the survey said: "I would not want to be intimate with someone whose body is literally made up from the bodies of others who have died for their sustenance. Non-vegetarian bodies smell different to me - they are, after all, sustained through carcasses - the murdered flesh of others."

The Northern Advocate scoured Northland for vegans and found a Kaitaia woman who was indeed struggling to find love.

"Apart from veganism I do have very high standards, but being a vegan has a lot to do with why I'm single," she said.

The divorced woman said she was being pursued by a meat-eating admirer but wasn't keen - especially as he once threatened to eat her pet pig.

"I know it's quite rare for vegans to date meat-eaters because being a vegan is about having a strong set of principles. I personally wouldn't want to get physical or make love with someone that had hurt or had a part in hurting an animal," she said.

"I cannot bear the thought of pain being inflicted on animals that have emotions."

Vegans are stricter than the average vegetarian, choosing not to consume, use or wear any products made of animals or containing animal byproducts. Banned products include eggs, milk, leather shoes, furs and even honey.

Safe animal welfare campaigner Hans Kriek is happily married to fellow vegan Nichola.

"When choosing a partner you tend to choose someone with the same set of values as you and being a vegan is a clear life choice. If you're a committed vegan it would be pretty hard to feel comfortable and adapt to living with a meat-eater," he said.

But Edward van Son, who lives at a vegan retreat in Victoria Valley, south of Kaitaia, said he had never had trouble finding love. Mr van Son said the girls who moved in his social circles tended not to be the types who ate only burgers.

"I find people who are into health, are creative and artistic, usually take an interest in healthy eating."

He also offered another reason for preferring vegans: "They definitely taste a lot better."


The last quote kinda grosses me out the most, and makes me wonder about all the linkages between sex and consumption, granted animals that only eat vegetables taste better, that's why dog has never tempted me, but is it really necessary to extend this taste perception to sex....does vegan muff really taste better.....blind taste test anyone....eeeeewwwwwwww

Phuu Nim and Baan Phuu: Crab Face Off

My littlest sister recently came to visit. She was only here for ten days so in order to lure her away from spending all her time in a mall we hired a car and drove to Trat for two nights. We found an excellent cheap hotel deal on Agoda. So for $70 bucks a night we went to stay at a Centara resort half way between Trat and the Cambodian border. All the rooms are suites so include bedroom and living area. But what's best is that it is soooo quiet. I've always loved this area of Thailand, while all the knobs and Aussie brawlers hang out down in over crowded beaches of Phuket and Samui, the beaches in Trat are basically empty.

centrara trat 2

centara trat

If you drive further down the coast near the Cambodian border you can find empty beaches with Thai style salas made for lounging and snacking in the shade. The one draw back of the resort however is that because it is sooo quiet there are not many tasty local vendors. If you are going to stay here I suggest renting a car to explore the area, also because the food at the hotel is not very nice at all. So, after one bad meal there we hopped in our rental and found our way to Phu Nim - translation "Soft shell crab"

Phuu Nim

This restaurant reminded me very much of a Khmer restaurant, maybe it was the way they wrapped the cutlery in pink toilet paper, or maybe it was the heavy wooden furniture everywhere?

plate phu nim

The soft shell crab we ordered wasn't great, the old tasted stale and overall it just wasn't very well executed
phu nim

Tom yum po taek, was ok, except I put too much extra chili in it and made it a bit too spicy for everyone at the table
phu nim po teak

We ordered a large fried rice, for comfort mostly I suppose, it was enormous. The restaurant seems to be a family style place for banqueting by locals above all else. Thankfully my sister's boyfriend who just turned 21 has the appetite of a 21 year old male
phu nim rice

The crab egg dip with crudite, I think it's called Phuu Lon??? if anyone would like to correct me, was nice-ish but had a slightly bitter flavour
phu nim crab egg crudites

Fish, thumbs up...but accompanying sauce was a horrible chinese style sweet and sour sauce that came with the owners recommendation
phu nim fish

The best dish was the fresh mud crab we picked out ourselves from the live tanks. I managed to negotiate my way through my terrible Thai tonal ability to ask for it steamed. It was meaty, sweet and delicious. And even though the meal wasn't great it was still much better and cheaper than the hotel could offer. Phu Nim is a little hard to find though, but it's the first decent looking restaurant overlooking the sea on the way to the Cambodian border after Centara. There are no signs in English, just look for a typical Thai seafood restaurant with lots of wooden furniture
phu nim crab

Baan Phuu
Before we headed back to Bangkok we had to stop at Baan Phuu for lunch again.

suan phu

And we had to order the wing bean salad again, which tasted even better than I remembered it

wing bean suan phu

Plus two plates of soft shell crab that were basically inhaled on arrival

Crab egg dip again, which was sooo good compared with the previous evening, it was difficult to stop eating it and meang made with fresh chopped up shrimp

Finally, for something different I ordered a green curry with shrimp. I don't often order green curries because they are such a standard Thai dish that is so often disappointing, but this one was quite possibly the best Thai green curry I have ever tasted, hands on my heart. I don't know who the cook at Baan Phu is but may he/she live long and prosper
This was a bit of a weird crazy mix up. I had left over smoked fish bought to me from NZ by my Dad, left over rissotto milanese from making osso bucco that Hock had been given from a supplier to try out at home and some frozen prawns and spinach. I made a white sauce and added the fish and frozen prawns and placed in the bottom of a baking tin, added a layer of sliced boiled eggs, a layer of cooked frozen spinach squeezed out to remove water and then a layer of left over risotto and then grated parmesan, which I then baked for a bout 30 mins. It was a yummy big sloppy mess of all manner of ingredients bought, given and left-over.

fish pie risotto topping

I just missed.....

The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2008, this year's topic...vegetables

I'm writing a chapter on vegetables at the moment

Oh well, maybe I'll try and submit a paper for next year's do....on "food and language"

There are two other upcoming events also

Calls for papers:

Tasting histories: Food and Drink Cultures through the Ages - a research symposium, graduate workshop and public conference February 27-March 1, 2009 Robert Mondavi Institute, University of California, Davis, California
We are interested in receiving papers that explore critical issues in food and drink production and consumption that relate to the body and that deploy a world historical lens.

CFP: Food, Culture, and the Law - a call for papers
The field of food studies has grown enormously over the last decade, as evidenced in part by the steadily increasing number of academics and professionals in the humanities, social and nutrition sciences, culinary arts, and hospitality studies who have become engaged in cross-disciplinary conversations about food. Operating in tandem with the explosion of popular fascination with food, these conversations have been joined of late by academics, attorneys, and activists who are particularly concerned with the question of how our relationship to food is, has been, and should be, mediated through law. In response to this emerging area of inquiry, we are soliciting both conference papers and publishable essays that integrate multidisciplinary scholarship in food studies with legal scholarship related to food in existing fields such as agricultural, constitutional, criminal, administrative, tort, intellectual property, and international trade law.

Home Cooking Review: Ribollata


I used the River Cafe cook book as a basic guide for this.

Soaked white beans over night and removed their skins.

Cooked white beans in simmering water for about an hour with whole head of garlic and old herbs (thyme, marjoram)

Sauteed onion, garlic, carrot and celery, flat leaf parsley and added canned tomato and simmered. Added beans, some mushed up some whole. Added lots of salt and pepper and then torn up old bread.


When I went to eat it I realised that the soup is both delicious, with the bread adding a creamy texture, but it was also entirely vegan friendly. Definitely hearty food for tough times

Gothically Drunk

el porro

Above is El Porró: the Catalan wine glass/jug. Sergi reckons his grandmother can pour it into her mouth with her arm extended straight in a salute as the wine cascades in an arc of half a meter. Don't pass his grannie the mic. And don't pass me the Porró 'cause I'm wearing a white shirt.

It was National Day of Catalonia on Thursday. Instead of celebrating by burning the Spanish flag like some people around here, we went to Set de Born xarcuteria and ate 'esqueixada': it's a salad of tomato, onion, vinaigrette, olives and soaked salt cod or 'bacalao'. Bacalao is also popular in Italy and Portugal: Mayuko tells me that in Lisbon, the signs advertising bacalao are strung up with flashing fluorescent lights that put the red light district to shame.
I really get that. Bacalao is awesome.


Catalan 'farm-produced' goats cheeses like Nevat goats cheese (acid), Sant Mateu (strong & tender) and Mutanyola (soft & tasty)

catalan cheeses

According to wikipedia, Catalunya has an official population of 7,210,508 from which immigrants represent an estimated 12.3% of the total population.

The name Catalunya either derives from 'Land of the Castles', or Gothia, "Land of the Goths" since the Spanish March was one of the places known as Gothia, whence Gothland and Gothlandia theoretically derived, though critics usually consider it rather simplistic.

Basic Spanish Food Groups


1) (Surprise..) Fish

I don't know about you but one of the things I find most interesting in foreign countries is going to the supermarket. It's always interesting to see the packages and raw stuff that make up people's everyday existence. The mundane en masse. We went to a supermarket in the basement of a department store on Placa Catalunya yesterday morning. Though it wasn't really a gourmet deli or anything, they still had plenty of produce to rival the more atmospheric fresh market down the street, La Boqueria.

They had a whole aisle full of tinned sea-things: clams, razor clams, mini clams, and of course, stacks of oily sardines and tuna.


When you're a lobster, it's lonely at the top. The 146-euro chattering classes can do nothing but clack their claws against the growing middle class.


2) Cheese: we bought a piece of Tetilla cheese from Galicia, at least in part because of the saucy breast-shape. I stashed it later in the mini-bar at the hotel and ate it after getting back to the hotel at 1am. A favourite with children? I'm not surprised - it's nice and mildly nutty, just soft enough to scoop out with your fingers.


3) Ham

We mostly came to the supermarket to get water, and were surprised to see a bunch of 125-euro Bellota Iberico ham haunches strung up there. Like it's the kind of snap purchase people make when they come to the supermarket dehydrated? And I thought *my* supermarket bills get out of hand.

This recipe is vegetarian but is so lush and yummy it doesn't feel like your missing out on anything. Do I sound like Nigella? I have been somewhat of a domestic goddess of late in an attempt to save our pennies before our impending trip to the states and japan

polenta bake


Basically make polenta as per directions and when cooked stir in lots of parmesan and butter and then blob out in a baking tray or spring form cake pan lined with baking paper. On top place cooked spinach, or zucchini or any vege you like along with sliced red onion and crumble goats cheese all over it (or gorgonzola or any yummy creamy cheese you like) then beat 4 to 6 eggs with some milk or cream and pour over the whole big yummy mess and bake in a pre-heated oven until firmish- about 40 mins.

Serve with tomato ragout, home made or bought and crusty bread.

Hola at Your Girl


We arrived in Barcelona last night, and so far I have stuck to my plan to eat seafood for every single meal. Sorry, oceans. I have a date with fish destiny (and bad breath).

Last night I had a fishy bocadillo at a student restaurant on the Placa Universidad. It was just a white french bread split and smeared with tinned tuna and anchovies, but it was pleasantly odorous. I also had an ensaladilla rusa [Russian salad], which is basically Spanish potato salad. This one was yummy with small cubes of veges, little bit of mayo, and hint of tuna.

Today our breakfast & lunch came from a bakery that I went to most days during Sonar festival: one of the few spots where you can get nice wholegrain bocadillo baguette sandwiches.

I had pepsi, and coca: Catalan flatbread with roasted veges on it, slightly sour-sweet from the roasted onion. Very yummy.

And a tuna empanada (below) which was buttery with just a very thin smear of fish & tomato in the middle. The name comes from the Spanish 'Empanar' , to wrap. But let's face it - pastry is pastry. I think I prefer the chunkier South American style empanadas where the filling plays a more major role.

I was quite proud that I ordered these in Spanish. OK, I didn't exactly order them. I just said the words 'coca', 'empanada' and 'atun'.
....Points for effort?


I used the park bench as a table; but they have other uses too.


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