Sumimasen!!!

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So it would seem that my recent studies have taken up more of my time than I was planning… Throw into the mix a new job and a trip to Singapore and you have one busy Little Local! So, this post is first and foremost, to say sorry for my recent departure from my blog. I am on Summer vacation now, which means no university for the next four months or so, but I’m still working.

I decided to make this post Japanese themes due in part to my friend Rachel who texted me yesterday and told me that I’d opened a cafe with a Japanese Chef called “Little Local Kitchen”. I had been feeling guilty about neglecting my blog, and this was the kick in the butt I needed to jump start things again. So thank you Rachel for Keeping the Dream Alive (so to speak).
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New Ingredients: Black Garlic

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This is an ingredient that has had critical acclaim from international foodies since about 2010 as the next big “IT” superfood – however, I never heard about it until I went to Tokyo at the end of last year and stumbled across it in a souvenir store that was selling goods from various near by farming regions.  Although I can’t read Japanese – I knew straight away what it was – BLACK GARLIC!

OK, so I could tell from the picture it was black garlic.  But what the heck is black garlic?  Who cares I want it!

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Eating Out: New Shanghai Queens Plaza

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Well after my dumpling experience in Melbourne, I went hunting for somewhere in Brisbane to curb my dumpling cravings.  Luckily, I found one – and it’s conveniently located right in the middle of the city, only a few minutes from central station and right off the Queen St mall!

New Shanghai is located in an odd little spot within the Queens Plaza building, which is sandwiched between the Queen St mall, Adelaide St and Albert St in the Brisbane CBD.  Located on the basement level, it is next to Coles, and just off the food court.  Fortunately it is also opposite a bottle shop, as New Shanghai is BYO.

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Recipe #10: Snack time: Easy Zucchini Pizza

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I came home from work today with a horrible realisation… I have a cold.  Ick.  I was lethargic, I was in a bad mood and I don’t really need to tell you that I was not in the mood for cooking (or eating for that fact).  But, I know my body.  When I get a cold, I never feel like eating – which is a terrible way to unnecessarily prolong the illness.  So, I thought about what was in my fridge and threw together a great little snack that would see me through til my nourishing chicken soup dinner goodness.

This Easy Zucchini Pizza is made from just a handful of ingredients and is excellent for kids after school snacks, late night cravings or maybe as a simple but impressive pre-dinner nibble at your next dinner party.  You’ll have this from fridge to mouth in less than 5 minutes, and you won’t believe how tasty it is!

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Recipe #9: Beetroot risotto

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I have a confession to make.  I am terrified of my food processor.  I have no reason to be, but I just find the whole thing so indimidating that it spends it’s sad life boxed up on top of the fridge.  I hope one day I will have the courage or the conviction to bring it down and let it dazzle me with its glory – but not yet.  Not today.

In the meantime, as a bit of a build up to using my real food processor – I bought a mini-food processor from Aldi for about $17.  It has a glass bowl, a chopping blade and then a lid which you affix the motor on top.  Like an upside down food processor.  I’ve only used it a few times, and I’m sure its applications are somewhat limited compared to a conventional food processor with all its blades and attachments and what not – but so far, it has impressed me.  I’ve ground roasted rice, crushed biscuits into crumbs, but what has really caught my attention is the way it handled a couple of beetroots I threw at it. Continue reading

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Locals: Naked Wine

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My sister sent me a text message today: “Hooray! My first box of naked wines just arrived at work! I only ordered them yesterday afternoon too! Hooray for wine!”  If it’s not obvious by now, I’ve converted her into a “Naked Wines Angel”.

If you live in Australia, whether you realise it or not, odds are you’re buying your beer, wine and spirits from a store that is owned by one of our big duopolies: Coles or Woolworths. BWS, Dan Murphy’s, Vintage Cellars, Liquorland… They are all owned by the two big guns.

So what? Well, have you noticed all the different wines they sell with all the modern, eye-catching labels and quirky names? Things like Amiri, Wahu or Monkey’s Cousin.  Take a look on the back of the label, and in teeny-tiny print you might see something like “Produced for James Busby Fine Wines” or “Produced for International Liquor Wholesalers”.  Well, thats code for Coles or Woolworths.  There have been a number of news stories written on the so-called “Wine Wars” (some of which are now behind a paywall) but here’s one you can read for freeAnd here’s another.

Hot on the heels of the scandals regarding the duopolies hassling and hurting farmers who supply our milk, fruit, veggies and more – the next lot they are now hitting up is the Aussie Winemakers.  Shame.

As far as I’m concerned, Australia makes some of the best wines in the world.  A quick review of any global wine competition will tell you that.  So, how do we ensure that the money we are spending on our favourite tipple, is going to the winemaker at the cellar door and not to the corporate execs?

Well, there are many wine clubs out there, but from personal experience, as delicious as the wines are, they are also a bit on the pricey side and usually include things like administration fees, minimum spends and minimum orders every so many weeks.  Now, unless you are a pretty rich wine snob (which I’m not), this is not ideal.

So, imagine how I felt when late last year I stumbled across a company called “Naked Wines”.  They have a really great concept, that has all the perks of a wine club, and none of the disadvantages.  Here’s the deal:

  • You can buy wines from Nakes Wines as often as you like.  No set recurring order.  When you buy and how much you buy is entirely up to you.
  • The funds from Naked Wines, go straight to new and upcoming wine makers who might not have the start up capital required to market to the big chains (the big guys don’t make it easy).  Essentially Naked Wines promises to buy the full batch of wine from the Wine Maker, which they then onsell to us.  Maximum wine, for minimum spend – no marketing costs, no excess middle men, no wasted barrells.
  • If you want to, you can become a “Naked Wines Angel”.  This means that for $10 a week, you contribute to a sort of online savings account for wine.  You get special discounted pricing, and every month you are offered a free bottle of wine if you make a case order.  You can choose to spend your savings every month, or you can choose to save it up over time.  If you decide you no longer want to be an angel, your savings get refunded to you in full when you close your account.
  • They have a great online store, as well as a super friendly mobile app.
  • They have codes available through various outlets (I’ve gotten some via Feast magazine, and Book Depository online) that offer a $50 credit to your first order.  Currently their website has a $30 offer for answering a few simple questions.
  • If you don’t like a wine, you can return it and they will refund you.
  • Delivery to Sydney CBD is free.  Delivery to other cities like Brisbane is $5, and you get it within 1-2 working days.

For someone who loves wine, and also knows the importance of supporting local farmers and producers, this was a no brainer for me.  And having a carton of wine waiting for me on my doorstep at the end of a long day is great!

There is pricing for everyone with bottles starting at $6 and going up to about $25.  I have been super impressed with the quality, and the savings offered to members is great.

If you would like to know more visit: http://www.nakedwines.com.au/

I also would encourage you to find out more about the duopoly’s hold on the Australian wine and liquor market – via production and sales outlets.  Choice have a great free article about it here.

Other pages of interest:

Shop Ethical – Alcohol Retail in Australia

Who Makes My Wine

*For transparency: this is an unpaid article, just sharing the love <3

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Back to School: Lunches

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Firstly an apology for not posting in quite a few days.  I have had so much going on, I’m only just starting to wrap my head around things!  Over the last week or so I’ve been sick, have quit my job, have subsequenly been looking for a new one (to no avail as yet…) and as of Tuesday I am starting classes at University!

Oh my gosh, is this seriously happening? *cue panic attack!*  So, I hope that bearing all this in mind, you will forgive me for my lapse in blogs.  However, I thought this massive change in my life might serve as a source of inspiration for some new blog posts, and I have a few in mind…  Continue reading

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New Ingredients: Silken Tofu

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Lately I’ve been having a bit of a romance with vegan dishes.  I like to investigate different kinds of cuisines, and whilst most vegans would consider their food choices a “lifestyle” choice, I think that its important to remember that vegan dishes can be enjoyed by anyone – not just people that avoid meat and animal products.  Hence why I consider vegan food a cuisine – much like any other type of typical cuisine; like Thai, German, Japanese and so on.

Its great experimenting with new recipes and ingredients.  One of the new ingredients that I’ve tried this week is silken tofu.  Now, I’ve had tofu before.  Usually in a stir fry or something similar.  The type of tofu used in dishes like this is usually a firm tofu, that you can easily chop, slice, fry and just generally toss around without causing it to fall apart.  It has a firm texture (obviously), that is light, and has a slight almost rubbery chewiness to it.  Similar to that of a well cooked omelette.

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Recipe #8: Impromptu Vegan Oatmeal

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Necessity is the mother of invention.  So when I woke up this morning and realised that I had no milk and no bread… Well my options for breakfast got very limited.  I sometimes like letting my fridge run on empty, as I like to challenge myself to see what I can create with bare bones basics.

Skipping a shopping visit is also a great way to help my budget, because really, how many times have you looked in your fridge and bemoaned that there is “nothing to eat” when in fact it is full of food.  Maybe not the food you were looking for, but perfectly good food nonetheless.  Considering the astonishing amount of waste that occurs across the western world on a daily basis.  In NSW alone, over 1 million tonnes of food is thrown away each year!!

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Recipe #7: Vegan GF Pumpkin Soup

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Winter and pumpkin soup.  Is there a greater match?  A rich golden bowl of sweet goodness that you can make into a full meal by pairing it with a nice salad and a crusty bread roll.  This recipe is great to make up on a weekend, and then take as a healthy, easy, work lunch over the following days.

I actually made this recipe for a few of the girls at work one day, and they loved it!  One of them actually told me that it was the greatest soup they’ve EVER had.  Which, quite possibly was one of the greatest compliments I’ve EVER had.

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