Oscillate Wildly review

Oscillate Wildly menu from 18th July 2007

As mentioned yesterday, Holly and I managed to get a booking at Oscillate Wildly for last night, our ten year anniversary. I'd attempted to book back in May, but they were already booked out. Fortunately they put me on the waiting list, and it seems someone pulled out.

So how was it? Spectacular! I'm not one of those bloggers who takes photos of every course—I appreciate those who do, but for me it spoils the experience—so I'll just touch on the highlights.

The tomato snow was delightful. Full tomato flavour, but with a shaved granita texture. Essentially it was frozen gazpacho, so it shouldn't be too hard to replicate, and I might give that a go in the summer.

If you're wondering what Tonka is, don't worry, I had to ask too.

My favourite two dishes were the duck and the lamb. Both were beautifully cooked and had intriguing taste combinations. Sassafras with the duck was interesting. A faint hint of root beer or sarsparilla coming through over the duck and cinnamon. I wouldn't have thought of combining either flavourings with duck, but it worked surprisingly well. And I don't particularly like sarsparilla or root beer.

The lamb was definitely the highlight. A few small slices of the most succulent, slightly bloody lamb served over slices of eggplant. The reduction poured on one side of the plate was just amazing, and I wonder how much effort goes into this element alone. The other side of the plate had roasted pistachios and a sweet quince/port sauce which also went nicely. But the reduction almost had me licking my plate.

At $300 once we'd bought wine (though they allow BYO for $3/person) and left a tip, it's not a cheap meal. But then, we don't celebrate a decade together very often, and we're both foodies who love these kinds of taste sensations. I wouldn't recommend it if you're after a meal rather than an experience. This is playful food, messing with your sensing and toying with accepted ideas of flavour.

Maybe for our 20th anniversary we'll get to El Bulli? If I make a booking now, we might just get in.

Good beer, bad chicken

A few weeks ago I got an email from the Malt Shovel Brewery about a beer and food tasting at their brew pub on King Street Wharf. Best thing, of course, was the price: free. I signed myself and Holly up immediately.

The evening started off with a Golden Ale, always a lovely drop, and a bit of a talk from Chuck Hahn. Golden was paired with some pretty good jumbo deep-fried prawns. A good combo, the fruity hops going well with the seafood. Next up was Amber Ale paired with lamb cutlets. I'm not so sure about this combo really being a match, but I like both amber ale and lamb.

The next combo was a revelation. I think the James Squire porter is one of the best beers made in Australia. It's pretty much flawless, getting the critical balance between sweet and sour just right for the porter style. The combination was a cheesecake. I'm not normally that keen on cheesecakes, but a bite followed by a slurp of porter was an amazing taste sensation. The sourness of the porter cuts through the (normally cloying) richness of the cheesecake. A brilliant combination, which I'll be serving at my next dinner party I think.

Finally came the latest seasonal brew, a Pepperberry Winter Ale. Bush foods are something brewers in Australia are trying to incorporate, with varying degrees of success. The Barons Lemon Myrtle Witbier is vile, tasting more like Toilet Duck or Strongbow Lemon than a wheat beer.

The pepperberry is more succesful, keeping the exotic seasoning as a subtle texture to the flavour instead of overpowering the beer. It's a fairly standard winter ale, dark, fairly sweet, heavy (5.2% I think) and the pepperberry gives a warm spiciness to it. The aroma is something slightly aniseed, with a similar slight flavour running through the taste. It's got a very long, lingering flavour that changes as you savour it. Well worth checking out, but it's a limited seasonal brew so get in quick.

I asked one of the brewers when they'd be making another wheat beer. Previously they've done what they called a Colonial Wheat Beer, which wasn't as tasty as I'd hoped but pretty good. I'm more into the spiced wheat beers, Hoegaarden being the most well-known of the variety. The only Australian brewer getting it right is the Snowy Mountains Brewery's Charlottes Hefeweizen. Malt Shovel's Summer brew is apparently going to be a lager, like Australia needs more of those, but hopefully they'll have another crack at wheat.

The beer event was actually pretty quick, moving through the beer and food at a rapid pace. Holly and I decided to wander into town and find some dinner, and we've been looking for a change to try the Korean Fried Chicken I saw reviewed recently.

Sadly Dashi Korean seems to have closed. We wandered all the way up and down the short laneway without finding it, though there's a not-yet-opened restaurant with workers in it, and I suspect that might be where Dashi was.

We ended up wandering around the corner onto Liverpool Street where we'd seen KoreanFC advertised to check it out. The place is a real rabbit warren, the downstairs area packed with (mostly) Koreans, so we were shown upstairs to a kind of covered-in verandah. The decor is, well, dodgy. I suspect the council would not approve.

Anyway we ordered some of the sauced fried chicken, hoping it would be as good as the stuff we've had in London. Unfortunately not in this case.

The batter was overly thick, the chicken a bit dried out and the sauce was synthetic-tasting, without the chunky bits of onion and capsicum. Altogether not very nice, and quite disappointing. Korean food always comes with little side dishes of pickles and the like, and these ones were pretty ordinary too. A simply vinegared radish was somewhat refreshing after the greasy food, but the kimchi was very ordinary and the cold clear noodles bland.

We'll just have to keep looking for the perfect KoreanFC here in Sydney!

Mmmmm KFC

Korean Fried Chicken

Helen Yee reviews Dashi Korean Cafe and Restaurant and its Korean Fried Chicken. Yummy! Definitely have to check this one out.

Won Korean Restaurant

Our favourite Korean in London, Bi Won on Coptic Street just off New Oxford Street, had an amazing fried chicken dish. It was the same crispy-skin chicken deliciousness, but with a sticky, garlicky and very spicy sauce. If you're checking that restaurant out, look for "Korean Sauced Chicken" on the menu. The other dishes are also excellent, but this is the real highlight.

Who's up for some Korean then?

Rotisserie chicken, by necessity

rocking out on Guitar Hero

Last night we had a few mates around for dinner to celebrate the bathroom being done, and thank our hosts who put us up while our house was without a toilet. I planned to do a roast chicken with all the trimmings, but hit an obstacle very early. The oven doesn't work any more! Feels to me like the linkage between the lever you use to spark and initially start the gas has disconnected with whatever it's supposed to connect to. Bugger!

So, I sat around thinking about alternatives and eyed up the barbecue. It's one of those enormous six burner jobs, donated by my uncle who isn't living in a place big enough for it. It also came with all the bits for a rotisserie, but I'd never got around to trying it out. Solution to our little problem!

So I threaded the chook on the rotisserie and put all the baking trays with vegies around it. I quickly worked out what the extra little ring and screw thing were for -- they're to keep the meat attached to the prongs at the other end, as otherwise you end up with a spinning rotisserie but not a spinning bird.

The result was actually really really good! One of the tastiest roasts I've ever done. The chicken was a little overcooked, but the barbecue flavour made up for any imperfections there. The vegetables were spectacular! Crispy potato skins but not dry inside. Lovely charred pumpkin. Caramelised onions and garlic. Yummy!

Amazing what you can do when you're forced to improvise.

Simon and Holly: greengrocers to the stars

Our dining
room, full of fruit and veg

We're in this little fruit and veg co-op with a bunch of mates. Our turn to head out early in the morning to Flemington came up, and here's all the veg divided up. It's a great time for produce, with a huge variety in peak condition at really cheap prices. We didn't manage to spend all the $30 per household budget before filling the little car.

Un-big-worded milk

Unhomogenised milk

Shopping late on Friday night, the only light milk available was this organic brand. Now organic milk is the only organic product that's been shown to have health benefits. The animal husbandry advantages are big too.

But why "unhomogenised"? Is it just that the demographic that's keen on organic products is also phobic of big words they don't understand? You'll note that it doesn't specify "unpasteurised", because that's not allowed in Australia.

Homogenization, with regards to milk, is a very simple process that doesn't chemically change the milk. The milk is forced through very fine nozzles, which breaks up the fat globules into smaller globules. The effect is that, unlike milk straight from the cow, homogenized milk doesn't separate out into cream and less-fatty milk.

Puy Lentils

Salad of Green Puy Lentils with diced bacon and Auvergne ham

I've been hunting for decent lentils since returning to Australia. In London I used to buy the lovely Puy Lentils (lentilles vertes du Puy) which are amazing green lentils. The key is that, unlike other varieties of lentil, they don't fall apart when cooked but actually manage to keep their texture. I use them a lot in stews and the like.

Today I discovered my local deli in Marrickville Metro has this type of lentil. They're a little more expensive than most lentils, $5/kg, but well worth it. Yummy!

Currently in the oven is a casserole of Italian sausages, onion, carrot, garlic and green lentils. We're gonna eat well tonight.

$5 steak!

Now this makes being back in Sydney quite worthwhile. Last night we went for dinner at The Lansdowne and I ordered a $5 steak. Could you imagine what a £5 steak would be like? Well the $5 steak was delicious, and well (i.e., not very) cooked. Yum!


Last night I made fajita for dinner. Apparently it's supposed to be the diaphragm muscle of a cow, but we had some rump steak in the freezer that needed using, which I cut into strips. I marinated the meat for an hour or so in lime juice, sugar, Susan's chilli jam, ground cumin, soy sauce and a little salt. I fried up some sliced onions, mushrooms and capsicum (sweet pepper) and reserved, then cooked the beef strips over high heat.

Served as a serve-yourself dish with tortillas, lettuce, cheese, sour cream and avocado. We didn't have any tomatoes, but a spicy salsa would do well with it.

Very very yummy! Next time I'll do it on the BBQ to reduce washing up and because there's more space than our fry pan.