Monday, 8 March 2010

Ouzemezedakia at Perama Greek Restaurant, Petersham

I have a dream. A dream to go out for dinner and just order lots of entrĂ©es so I could just taste more things. At Perama Greek Restauarant… I was able to do just that! Do you ever find the main dishes at restaurants a tad boring compared to entrees? I’ve been told that the Entrees at a restauarant are often where the chef is able to really shine. The Mains are just stomach fillers! The menu at Perama Greek Restaurant contains a selection of entrees, a selection of mains, desserts and….. what caught the eyes of both Mr FBC and I…. a selection of ouzemezedakia. These were little dishes, sort of like Greek Tapas. I’m always one for variety and selection when it comes to food – especially as I’m a chronic sufferer of the dreaded condition ‘Food-envy-it is’!
To start, we are given a basket of fresh bread which we drizzle olive oil all over and devour.  Mr FBC orders a bottle of Greek 'A' beer.
Complimentary Bread
Greek Beer
In order to try more things, we decided to order about 5 ouzomezedakias (ranging from $5 to $7 each), 2 entrees and a dessert. We were absolutely(!!!) stuffed by the end of the meal and truly lived up to being Mr and Mrs FAT BELLY club. The mains costs about $26-34 so I thought it was pretty good value to just pick 5 ouzomezedakias (let’s call them OMDs for short!).
The first OMD to arrive was the Imambaldi - a stuffed roasted eggplant topped with diced tomotoes, shallots and a dollop of a rich creamy chilli yoghurt.  Delicious flavours.
Imambaldi (stuffed roasted eggplant) $6
Next was the Sheftalies (Cypriot Sausages). These were cute, fat, football shaped meatballs sprinkled with oregano.

Sheftalies (Cypriot Sausage) $6.50
The menu states that it would take 20 minutes to prepare our next OMD, the Handrolled Macedonian Filo Spinach pie. However, we're so busy savouring all the other dishes that 20 minutes whizzes by and we are none the wiser that there was actually a wait for the pie. I have visions of a Greek Ya-Ya handrolling the pie out the back. The pie has layers upon layer of filo, a good portion of spinach and ricotta and is topped with more crispy filo.

Handrolled Macedonian Filo Spinach Pie $6.50
The next dish was the Pork Loukanika, which were juicy BBQ'd pork sausages. These were flavoursome and a squeeze of lemon really brought out the flavour.
Pork Loukankia $7.00
Ok.. Are chips particularly Greek? Who knows… but I do like the thought of my chips being ‘rustic’ and made by a Ya-Ya. It reminds me of the hot chips that my Grandma use to make for my sister and I after school. No kidding..she really did! Hand crinkle cut and all!
The 'Rustic Grandma's Chips' at Peramas do taste home made. They are beautifully fried and all different shapes and sizes, sprinkled with some salt and finely chopped parsley.

Rustic Grandma's Chips $5.00
That was the end of the OMDS. But it's not over yet. We moved onto the Entrees. The first dish we tried was the Smyrna scallops. According to the menu, 'Smyrna' was an ancient greek city on the Turkish coast which was known for its abundant seafood. This dish was made of BBQ scallops served with a crispy sliced spicy turkish sausage (souzouk) and beetroot puree. The puree was pink and sweet... but eventually mixed too much with the other ingredients, making it a bit too pink for my liking.
Smyrna Scallops $18.50
The second entree we tried was the Pork Belly Baklava ($17.80). This dish was made up of layers of flaky filo pastry, pork belly meat, date and pistachios, topped with crispy crackling and drizzled with a date and mastic sauce.

Pork Belly Baklava
I naively thought baklava was a dessert, which was meant to be at the end of the meal. Not at Peramas, where you can get the Pork Belly Baklava as an entree. I thought this would just be a savoury filo pastry. However, the date jam and sprinkling of pistachios provided a very sweet contrast to the pork belly. It’s different…it feels like you’re combining your mains and desserts… but it’s good. Try it.
We really were bursting after the all the OMDs and Entrees. Luckily, I was able to convince Mr FBC to share a dessert with me. Mr FBC thought the Olive Oil ice cream sounded nice (two scoops of Olympia extra virgin olive oil, pistachio and dried fig ice cream).  I thought that sounded like two types of fat for the price of one! Meanwhile, I thought I wanted to try the Caramel Baklava Ice Cream (sliced layers of vanilla bean ice cream, caramel sauce and baklava – there’s a picture on the Perama website). In the end, we went for a relatively healthy (that’s a very loose ‘relatively healthy’) dessert – Melon Thiples Stack ($13.50). This was made of a stack of fried pastry dipped in honey and crushed walnuts with a some lemon curd yoghurt and a chilled salad of rockmelon and honeydew. It was a very refreshing dessert and not to heavy.
Melon Thiples Stack ($13.50)
Mr FBC and I were really impressed with Perama. They appear to show you authentic Greek Cuisine (ie it’s more than just moussaka and soulvaki) and the service is fast and friendly.

Perama Greek Restuarant
88 Audley Street
Petersham 2049

Monday, 1 March 2010

A Chinese New Year's Eve Family Feast - Crown Dragon Restaurant, St George Leagues Club (13 Feb 2010)

Oops - Sorry..this post is a bit late. Here's a belated 'Happy Chinese New Year'  to you and your family (Kung Hei Fat Choy!). 
As a child, growing up as an ABC ('Australian born Chinese') in the south western suburbs of Sydney, I don't really recall 'celebrating' Chinese New Year that much. I'm not sure why... perhaps it was because there weren't that many Chinese families in my neighbourhood. I remember there were only 2 Chinese kids in my primary school class! What I do remember is getting 'red packets' filled with extra pocket money, my mum cleaning the house furiously on Chinese New Year's eve, AND being told not to wash my hair on Chinese New Year day as I would wash away my good luck. It's so funny as I still try not to wash my hair on Chinese New Year day. It's always a problem if I happen to want to go to the gym.
My mum and grandma used to cook for the family for Chinese New Year when I was a kid. But, as my siblings and I grew up, mum and dad decided it was easier to just go out for dinner at a Chinese Restauarant. As much as I'd like to say that I prefer home cooking, I think the food at the Chinese Restaurants we go to are much better (sorry Mum!).
Diners mezmerised by the Lion Dancing
This Chinese New Year's eve, Mr FBC and I had dinner with my family (plus extended family) at the Crown Dragon Restaurant at the St George Leagues Club in Kogarah. It's a relatively new kid on the block. I must admit I was taken aback when I was first told about going to a Chinese restauarant in a Leagues Club. Was I going to get Ching-lish or something (a la 'spring rolls' and 'honey king prawns')? However, this place is great and is overflowing with lots of Chinese people (which is always sign of a reasonable Chinese restaurant). For the Chinese New Year eve dinner, we ordered a set banquet meal.

Yee Sang Salad
We started the evening with Yee Sang Salad, which is made of strips of raw salmon, mixed with shredded carrot, radish, spring onion and some picked ginger. It's a dish that my family hardly ever orders (primarily because my dad doesn't like raw fish), but I quite like it's refreshing taste. Like many Chinese New Year dishes, Yee Sang translates to 'abundance' so the dish is meant to symbolise abundance and prosperity.  The fun bit about this dish is that everyone gets their chopsticks and tosses the ingredients around. The higher you toss, the more good luck you'll get.
Mixed Cold Meat Platter
The cold meat platter is next. Today's platter has a mixture of char sui (bbq pork), roast pork, BBQ duck, sliced beef and jellyfish. It's best to try a little bit of everything (and so I do). Often Chinese Banquets start with this dish so I always know I'm in for a feast when see a cold meat platter.
Shark Fin Soup
We next each receive a bowl of steaming Shark Fin soup. I know many shun the thought of eating shark fin... but... well.... it really does taste nice!  I love the thin strips of fin (think of them as noodles) and shreds of chicken and egg floating around the thick chicken soup.

Black Moss Seaweed (Fat Choi) with Mushrooms and Scallops
I'm not a fan of the black moss seaweed dish, known as 'fat choi', as it reminds me of wet hair! Nevertheless, 'fat choi' also means 'prosperity' so I suppose that's why it's a very popular Chinese New Year dish. 

BBQ Quail
The next dish we have is BBQ quail, which is delicious. Quail meat is dark, like duck, but has the meatiness of chicken. The glaze on the quail gives it's a nice crispy skin which is lovely when you dip it into the condiment of salt and soy.

Lobster with Ginger and Shallots
My favourite type of seafood is Lobster (yes - I know it's extremely decadent of me). So, my eyes always light up when I see Lobster (with Ginger and Shallots) coming my way. Normally the lobster is served on a large platter but tonight's lobster gets dished out on separate dishes. You need to throw your manners aside when eating lobster. You need to get in there with your fingers to get the juicy sweet lobster flesh out of the shells. 
We all hear the sounds of the familiar drums and take a quick break from our sumptuous meal to enjoy the Lion Dancing on offer. I was terrified of watching the Lion Dance as a child. I use to cower in between my parents, covering my ears and eyes. However, I suppose you can't scare away bad luck and shoo out the old year with a wimper. My friend recently told me about someone  they knew who did Lion Dancing, but was unfortunately only the 'bum end' of the Lion and always got touched on the bum. I suppose it is meant to be good luck to touch the Lion right... regardless of which part?! 
Broccoli and Bean Curd with a dried scallop sauce
Back to the food. The next course was a broccoli and bean curd dish. The steamed broccoli and the soft bean curd complemented well with the saltiness of the dried scallop sauce.
Steamed Barramundi with ginger, shallot and soy sauce
Our second last dish for the evening is a whole steamed barramundi. The fish is fresh, tender and flavoursome. I love placing big pieces of fish into my bowl and drowing it in the soy/shallot sauce.
Fish in Chinese is pronounced as 'yu', which is similar to the cantonese word for wish. Fish is often served as one of the last courses. So, I suppose you can end your meal with a wish. Not sure - I'm making that one up! 

Bowl of Fried Rice
I've been told rice symbolises well being and good fortune and with that in mind, we all finish off our meals with a bowl of rice (of the fried variety).

Hope you all had a wonderful 'food filled' Chinese New Year! 

Crown Dragon Restaurant
St George Leagues Club
124 Princes Highway Kogarah NSW
(02) 9587 1022