Monday, April 25, 2011

Speckled treasures that cure what ails ya?

Maybe it was the Easter bunny guiding me toward an Easter miracle.  Or maybe it was the mystical healing powers of these delicious but tiny ovum that led me to stumble upon this adorable little carton of quail eggs at Fancee Fruit, Carindale last week.

I'll admit that I am the kind of urban food wanker that pounces on any weird or wonderful ingredient that pops up at the local fruit shop just to try it.  Of course I had eaten quail eggs in restaurants before, but never had I seen them lurking next to the celery at the grocery shop, daring me to cook them.

As I pushed my trolley around the shopping centre, ideas on what to cook with these tiny delights ran through my head.  Miniature sunny side up eggs?  Of course I'd need tiny bacon then.  An omelet?  I figured a whole pack would barely make enough for one person.  Then it dawned on me - it's easter, and I needed to make a salad for the obligatory family get together on Easter Sunday.  What better than a salad adorned with tiny little eggies?

When I got my precious cargo home, I scrutinised the package further.  The lady on the front with her floppy flowered hat looked so serene and happy.  Almost superior.  As I read the packet further, I realised why.  She had eaten so many quail eggs that she was now immune from every disease known to mankind. 

According to the website, these cute little eggles do everything from reducing the negative effects of radiation therapy, to increasing virility in men, to making kiddies smarter as well as reducing your wrinkles and gray hairs.  It must be true - the lady on the packet has a lovey mane of brown hair!  I did note that she does have a few wrinkles though.

I obviously felt pretty good about my $4 spend on quail eggs as not only would I be treating my husband's extended family to a delicacy, but I would be reducing my wrinkles and gray hairs.  Double yay!

I opened the packet and examined my eggs. 

They really did look like cute little candy easter eggs.  They were so pretty with their dappled shells, it seemed a crime to crack them open and feast upon what was inside.

I decided to hard boil the eggs, halve them and use them to decorate a simple rocket salad , showing off their teensy yellow yolks.

I boiled some water and carefully transferred my eggs into the water.  I was worried I might overcook the eggs, or that they might crack if they pitched around too wildly in the water and so I really just simmered the eggs for 3 minutes.

Halfway through my cooking process, I read the egg packet a bit more carefully and saw that on the inside the kindly hat wearing lady had recommended that you undertake the following process:
  • soak the eggs in warm water for a few minutes
  • place the eggs in a pot and cover with vinegar or half vinegar, half water to make the shells soft and easy to peel
  • once the liquid starts boiling, time for one to three minutes
  • allow the eggs to cool, and once cool, peel them and refrigerate until you need to use them
I wasn't too concerned that I hadn't followed this process as how hard could it be to peel an egg?  Certainly hen eggs were pretty easy.  Just to be safe I tipped in the meagre amount of white vinegar I had left in the cupboard into the simmering water. 

Just as three minutes was up, I fished the eggs out with a strainer and plunged them into a bowl of water as I was short on time.  After a little while I began peeling my 12 eggs. 

It was  BUGGER of a job!  The shells were so delicate and thin that they just crumbled all over my hands as I tried to pick them off the egg, leaving it intact.  I took to halving them first and then attempting to peel off the shell which worked a little better.  The knack was picking the membrane with your finger and peeling it away.

It was a tedious process that took about 20 minutes and I can tell you I will be taking the hat lady's advice next time and using all vinegar before attempting this again.  I was also little surprised that my quail eggs were a little on the soft boiled side rather than hard boiled although ultimately I think this improved the result.

To make my salad, I fried up some chopped shortcut bacon, removed it to a paper towel to drain, and then deglazed the pan with cider vinegar and some garlic oil. Then I returned the bacon to the pan and allowed the mixture to cool before dressing my rocket leaves with it.  The crowning glory was my 24 quail halves carefully placed over the top of the salad like so:

I was a really great salad with the perfect level of Easter kitsch. The soft boiled quail eggs were delicious.  They are similar to hens eggs, but have a more delicate creamy flavour.  And they are just so damn cute!  Although I will say I haven't noticed a reduction in wrinkles yet.  I suspect frowning less and an injection of botox would have a better effct.

Next time I see them at the fruit shop I will be picking up another carton of these speckled treasures.  I may take hat lady's advice and try them poached, cajun style, or try a quail egg pie. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Meat sweats and cow vomit at MooMoo

Usually I am prejudiced against restaurants that are attached to hotels.  In Australia, they are almost always awful, usually featuring some sort of sad buffet with day old seafood.

MooMoo is another story.  Located in the same building as the Stamford Plaza, it offers some of the best steak in town.  The bar area is also really wonderful.  It feels very secluded and plush, with lots of comfy seats and cushions as well as candles.  The best place to sit is out on the deck area that overlooks the Stamford Plaza courtyard (i.e. the Pav Bar area).  While you sit up in the trees sipping wine from Moo Moo's very impressive winelist, you can gaze down at the great unwashed masses milling around in the Pav Bar and feel, well, superior!

We spent a little time on the deck, as although it was a Tuesday, we were told there were no tables in the restaurant until 8pm!  The place was pumping.  And so we nibbled on some bar food and sipped on our wine until our table was ready.

When we were lead through to the restaurant we went by a glass case that featured great aging hunks of beef hanging on hooks.  All I can say is..... awesome.

The menu at MooMoo is quite daunting.  There is an a la carte menu which does feature one vegetarian dish, but if you turn the page, you come upon a page long list of different types of beef steaks and whatnot.  The prices are also pretty daunting, so bring your credit card.

We began with a few nibbles including some delicious beef carpaccio with apple matchsticks and caperberries.  The tastes and textures really worked together and it was a great way to kick off the meatfest that was to follow.

We also tried the bread with carrot salsa and MooMoo Jus.  The most hilarious thing was that the jus was brought out in a little cow shaped milk jug.  The kind of thing you would find in an op shop or nana's house.  And yes, the jus comes out of the cow's mouth.  Who knew that cow vomit could be so delicious?

We chose a "meal deal" for our mains which was perfect for a party of three and cost $140.  It was a wagyu rump roast, covered in delicious spices, which they brought out and carved at the table.  It was juicy and pink on the inside and charred and intensely flavoured on the outside.  The sides were also really simple and delicious - kipflers in duck fat and a rocket and parmasen salad.

Halfway through the main we began to slow down as the meat sweats took effect. 

There was no room for dessert and we rolled out of there at 11pm on a school night, full and quite boozed (although thankfully, they forgot to bring out our second bottle of wine as that would have sent us over the edge I suspect).
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