Friday, September 14, 2007

Let's Eat, Drink And Be Merry!

I went on a “date” last night! I took the path of least resistance and said “Yes” to a dinner invitation. An old “flame” of mine from Noosa is in town for the weekend. For ages he’s been urging to visit the mountain and me. As he has a meeting down at the Gold Coast today (surf lifesaving business), it was a good opportunity for us to catch up. He’s down at the coast as I write so I thought I’d sneak in a post for you. He’s due back later this afternoon. I’m preparing a barbecue dinner for us this evening as the nights (and days) here are absolutely brilliant at present. I’ve got some fresh, green prawns to throw on the Barbie “Crocodile Dundee-style” as starters, followed by a couple of thick steaks that look tender, juicy and very appetizing. The prawns are presently marinating in olive oil, a sprinkling or two of crushed chilli, loads of garlic, chopped shallots and a dash or four of a light soy sauce. I’m going to cook large field mushroom caps filled with a blue cheese, pancetta, diced Italian parsley and thickened cream mixture on the barbecue, together with corn on the cob, “smashed potatoes" with fresh rosemary roasted in the oven and a tossed salad on the side. I’ve got quite a few fresh limes at the moment so Margaritas will the cocktail of choice as we sit and ponder the setting of the sun.

As for the “date”, I donned my gladrags and we decided to patronize a restaurant around the corner and up the road from where I live, “The Polish Place”. There we were offered a wide choice of imported Polish vodkas. With our perfectly chilled vodka shots in hand, we sat outside on the rear deck area over the restaurant overlooking the valley below to the mountains of the Great Dividing Range beyond, as pictured above. The evening was far too pleasant to dine indoors, so we remained outside for the duration of the evening. The tables are well-spaced allowing for a certain amount of intimacy where one can hold a conversation without the rest of the world listening in.

I had one of my all-time favourite starters, Marinated Herrings in Sour Cream. I convinced my friend to try it too, and then he decided he’d have similar as well with our main courses. We were not disappointed with our choices. Years ago in Brisbane when I worked for Kolotex, John and I often took clients for business lunches at a German restaurant, named “The Heidelberg”, which was situated in Edward Street. I would always have this dish as an entrée, followed by their delicious Sauerbraten. Some would say I got stuck in a groove, but the chef at “The Heidelberg” cooked these dishes so well, I could see no reason to change my habit!

So you see, it's quite a delicious weekend I am having!

Herring Salad

6 Pickled herring, drained 1 large Onion, peeled and chopped 1 Garlic clove, crushed 6 Eggs (hard-cooked), peeled and chopped 1 Apple, cored and chopped 1 teaspoon Lemon juice 1 cup Sour cream ¼ teaspoon Salt ¼ teaspoon Pepper 2 tablespoon Dill or parsley (fresh), chopped

Cut herring into small cubes. Mix herring with onion, eggs, apple and lemon juice. Combine sour cream, garlic, salt and pepper; add to herring mixture and mix well. Sprinkle with dill or parsley. Serve with rye bread.

Seared Pork Medallions with Braised Fennel

Pork tenderloin, about a 500g (1lb)
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, pulverized
4 tablespoons coarse mustard
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 fennel bulb
1 medium onion, peeled
coarse salt
1 cup vegetable broth, unseasoned
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons butter
olive oil
hot chilli sauce
fish sauce

Preheat the oven to 220C (450F). Brown the pork tenderloin on all sides, including the ends, in a hot skillet with a small amount of oil. This will take 5 to 8 minutes. Remove to a side plate; allow to cool for a few minutes. Mix the mustard and horseradish and spread all over the pork. Then sprinkle on the rosemary and fennel seed, pressing the herbs into the mustard/radish spread to keep it in place. Sprinkle with salt. Place the pork back in the skillet and put it into oven 10-12 minutes, uncovered. Remove the skillet from the oven, cover the pan and let the pork rest while you make the braised fennel.

Remove the outer sheath of the fennel. Use a mandolin or a very skillfully-handled knife to cut the fennel and the onion into very thin slices. Place in a saucepan with the broth, wine and 2 tablespoons of the butter; bring to a boil, then lower to a slow simmer and braise, covered, for about 20 minutes; drain, reserving the broth; set the braised fennel aside and keep warm. Return the broth to the pan, bring to a boil and reduce by half. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Remove the pork from the pan and slice it in medallions 3/4" - 1" thick (they will be pink inside). Heat the pan to very hot; add two tablespoons of olive oil and then the pork medallions, placed on their cut sides. Sear for 90 seconds without disturbing, and then turn for 90 seconds more. Remove to a warm plate. Pour the fennel liquid into the pan and stir to loosen any browned bits in the pan. Boil rapidly for a minute or two, and then stir in the remaining two tablespoons of butter. Season to taste with fish sauce and chilli sauce.

To serve, spread a bed of fennel on a platter. With tongs, dredge the pork medallions in the hot broth, turning to coat, then place on the fennel. Spoon remaining broth over the pork and fennel. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired. (Sauerkraut could be used instead of the fennel).


  1. Lee, good for you! I hope you had a wonderful time and that you have a lovely dinner tonight. Can't wait to hear how it all goes...raises eyebrow and grins!

  2. Is pickled herring like roll-mops?

  3. Hi Lee ~~ I hope you are having a wonderful weekend with your old flame. Your meal sounds nice, and especially the pork medallions.
    Glad the weather is so nice at present for you. I don't think too many os us like wind - and it sure can do a lot of damage, Thanks for your visit. Have fun, Take care,
    Love, Merle.

  4. I just have one question:

    What's a date? (heh)

    glad you had a good time!!

  5. Hi Lee, good to hear you are having a delicious weekend!!!!

  6. Wow! What a wonderful weekend you are having! The pork sounds delicious.

  7. Your weekend has my mouth watering. Can you pass me one of those mushrooms please?


  8. I reckon ya'll are moving into Spring. Hope you get a chance to post some pictures of that. Btw, going sun bathing?

  9. OK...I have read about the food but now I want to know about the date!!!!!!

  10. Hi Lee,

    Many years ago, my German grandmother used to buy us pickeled herring roll mops and sometimes with sour cream. We would eat the plain roolmops with french bread, toasted and layered with cream cheese. That was a meal for my brother and I. I have not seen pickeled herring in the stores here in years. I guess I need to visit a deli somewhere in Houston.

  11. The Polish Place! I'm intrigued as my ancestry is Polish. Pierogis, golabki, maybe a little czarnina. Well, no, I don't like czarnina (duck's blood soup).

    I wasn't even aware there were that many Polish vodkas.

  12. Hi everyone! I'm back to being by myself again...just me and the cats after a wonderful weekend, finished off with a brunch of pancakes, maple syrup and bacon this morning.

    I'll reply to you as one in this comment.

    Rollmops (pickled herrings wrapped around dill pickled cucumbers) are great. The pickled herrings, however, used in the recipe given are individual fillets which can be purchased here from supermarkets and delicatessens. They come in jars with the herrings in pickling mixture. I love them.

    Poland produces many vodkas of many varieties and flavours. One of my favourite is a pepper vodka. I've given you some information below on Polish vodkas.

    Thanks for your comments everyone. Life is back to relative normality once again!

    Quote: "Polish vodka brands
    Poland is unquestionably a country of vodka. A dispute between Poland and Russia for a name of the vodka’s capital has been lasting for years. Poland produces many vodka brands and kinds. Over the record-breaking years (middle of the Nineties), there were nearly 1,000 vodka brands."

  13. I think I would weigh a ton with all this food. I'm glad you had a great "date" and hope you enjoyed your dinner. Those pork medallions look and sound good.

  14. Gidday Lee,

    You're a bloody tease with all those dinner/luncheon descriptions and photos of yummy prepared meals.
    You're just EVIL!!!!!!!
    Oh well a banana sandwich will have to do.

  15. Hiya jmb and Wazza...Never will probably be banana sandwiches for me for the rest of the week, too after the past couple of days! ;)

  16. WAY TO GO GIRL!!!Polish vodka??? To convince I am still on my diet I put peach volka(Russian) in Crytal light Sunrise.

    What a romantic setting to catchup. The mountains are beautiful.

    All those YUMMY foods are not good for the diet. Mean woman or should I just agree with the other blogger and say EVIL WOMAN.

  17. I read with interest your menu for your date. And so before this guy gets to entrenched let me say, "I love you and want to have your children."
    Steaks, prawns... man-o-man.
    Don't tell me you can do a great coconut cream pie cuz I don't think my heart can take it.

  18. Yes, Polish Vodka, Lady Di...some of the best in the world..on an even keel with the best of the Russian Vodkas and perhaps in some cases, better.

    I'm lethal when let loose! ;)

    Oh! Cliff...I would never forsake you! How could I? ;) Never fear, I have no intention of becoming "too entrenched"...been there, done that...never, ever again! How could I when there you are offering yourself to have my children! lol

  19. Oh my goodness I am going straight to the freezer and taking out the pork loin. That looks so good I can almost smell it. ;) They don't have smell-a-vision and I sure wish they had smell-a-net.

  20. Glad to be of service,'d better get that loin chop out of the freezer for tomorrow night's dinner! ;)

  21. Still waiting to hear all the goodies on "the date"!!!!!

  22. Ummm...I told you about the "date", Rebecca...sitting under the stars at The Polish Place, sipping on vodkas, enjoying the food and good conversation...

    What more can I say?

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  24. I had baked mushroom in the restaurant on friday night. It was topped with laverbread, cockles, smoked bacon and parmesan cheese and was very yummy.