Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tales from a crumbling metropolis: Hong Kong food blog

A year ago, my husband and I visited expat friends in Hong Kong. It was the trip that sparked my food blog as upon returning home, I realised that most of the photos I had taken were of food!

From raw meat hanging in a dirty alleyway, to congee steaming in a big pot, to high end haute cuisine in a Macau casino, to soup dumplings, to dim sum, to drunken pigeon, to dining in a private kitchen hidden in an office building, to poncing around the old school China Club, it was the food binge of a lifetime.

To see the foodblog photos and commentary, click on this facebook link and be prepared to drool!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Double double toil and trouble: Culinary sorcery at Ortiga

Ever since it opened, Ortiga has received accolades galore.  The likes of Gourmet Traveller, food columnists and food bloggers alike have fallen under the spell of this restaurant.

Ortiga is in the spot that Isis used to be, on Brunswick Street.  Upstairs is a nice lowlit tapas bar, the striking feature of which is the delicious jamon and other cured meaties hanging in a glass case - just a hint of things to come!

But the real magic happens downstairs, hidden away in the secret bricklaid cooking dungeon where you can observe the the culinary wizards of Ortiga gathering around a cauldron filled with... well I'm not sure but it smelt bloody fantastic.

I was fascinated by that stockpot.  It was massive.  MONSTROUS!  I'm pretty sure there wasn't any eye of newt going into it, but there was some sort of unnatural sorcery going on - no doubt involving pigs (considering the large amount of pork related foodstuffs available on the menu).

The menu at Ortiga is Spanish inspired with an emphasis on sharing.  Another plus is the wine list which is amazing - albeit a little long.  So long in fact, that your average punter (i.e. me) gets a bit lost in it.  Luckily they have a very knowledgable and helpful sommelier to assist you with wine match suggestions.

Another wonderful thing about Ortiga is the complimentary puffed pork crackling for you to munch on with your pre-dinner drink.

I for one think that complimentary pig fat should be a staple at all restaurants, but for now we can only find it at Ortiga.

What you need to know before dining at Ortiga is that if you've never been before, you need to order the suckling pig with pumpkin and sage foam.

And the beef cheek...

Don't believe me?  IT'S BRAISED IN PEDRO XIMINEZ!  Here's a closeup:

Not to mention the slow roasted lamb shoulder.  But be careful with the accompanying lemon sauce, it's potent and should only be applied sparingly.

Believe me you'll be gnawing on bones by the end of it.

Another recommendation from me is to order one of the jamon plates.  They are NOT cheap ($36 and $55!), but the taste of the cured meat is divine.  Included on the plate is jamon iberico de bellota, which is jamon made from free range Iberico piggies that roam the border of Spain and Portugal, feasting on nothing but acorns for the last part of their lives.  The diet and the exercise they get gives a very unusual and amazing taste to the ham.  Who knew that acorns could make pork taste so good?

And finally dessert.  I'm not sure what this was called but it's the one with the deep fried donut in it.  Partnered with a delicious ice cream and a thick dark wicked chocolate mousse this is to die for.

So there you have it.  Delicious Spanish food sorcery.  Get yourself a bank loan and fall under Ortiga's spell.\Ortiga on Urbanspoon