Back in my school days, we had an annual music competition where each House had to arrange and sing a song of their choice to assorted judges, family, staff and fellow schoolmates.
One year the song selected by my House Music Captain for all of us to sing started like this:
Bonnie and Clyde were pretty lookin’ people,
But I can tell you people,
They were the devil’s children.
I had no idea who Bonnie and Clyde before then but wow! Believe me, just those opening lines were enough to send me racing to the Encyclopedia Britannica for more! Pretty people? Of course I wanted to know more. Pretty people who were also evil? My 14-year-old mind was blown. Who knew such a thing even existed!
Why am I telling you all this?
Because a little while ago the lovely Jenny from Silver Screen Suppers asked if I would test out a cocktail recipe for her upcoming cookbook. The cocktail was the Faye Dunaway cocktail, and Faye played Bonnie Parker in the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde.
And oh boy, you want to talk about pretty looking people?
Oh, the glamour!!!!
The Faye Dunaway Cocktail is also pretty glam! It was invented in 2011 by Jonathan Humphrey of the Drake Hotel in Toronto and was inspired by the film Chinatown, which stars Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson.
The recipe for the Faye Dunaway cocktail calls for mango juice which I was unable to find. I also do not have a juicer so I puréed a fresh mango. I was a little worried because the mango purée was quite thick but it worked out perfectly. So do not despair if you also cannot find juice. If fresh mango is unavailable frozen would also work perfectly!
The Faye cocktail perfectly balances sweet, spicy and sour flavours in a glorious mix of mango, lime and chilli. It’s sooooo good! I loved it – it reminded me of sunshine and holidays and tropical climes! I made this exactly as per the recipe (which you can find here) because I was testing the recipe for Jenny. However, even though this is divine as is, I can’t help wondering what it might be like if you also brought in a salty element by edging the glass? Salty, sweet hot and sour being the four elements Thai cooks try to bring into balance. Because that is really what the flavours of this cocktail reminded me of…cocktails on a beach in Thailand.
Faye’s birthday is coming up on January 14. I was going to hold off posting this until the day itself. Then I thought it would be much more fun to give you all a chance to buy the ingredients so we could all celebrate her gorgeousness and iconic fashion sense by donning a beret and drinking one of these in her honour!
I will be trying the Salty Faye myself but if anyone makes either version, please let me know what you think!
And speaking of iconic fashion…I had so much fun trying to find the Dinah Shore look a few weeks ago that I thought I would give it another go.
Here is my take on Faye’s Bonnie and Clyde look fashion via my very first post on Polyvore. Because don’t we all need a little bad girl glam every now and again?
If you want to channel your “nightmare dressed like a daydream”, click here to access the Polyvore page and get the deets on all the items shown.
Oh, and for anyone who is wondering how our music competition turned out?
The judges said that our singing and arrangement were spot on but that the content was inappropriate for both us to be singing and our audience to be listening to.
If you would like to hear the scurrilous lyrics not fit for the mouths of good God-fearin’ girls (and see some photos of the real Bonnie and Clyde) here’s a YouTube of that song:
Many thanks to Jenny for the opportunity to help with her book (I will let you all know when it is ready to be purchased, it’s going to be awesome!) and for selecting such a fabulous recipe for me to try!
Next stop on our trip was the old Imperial capital of Hue (pronounced Hway). There is an airport at Hüê but it was closed so we caught a bus from Da Nang airport, a journey of around three hours. The bus ride was an event. Vietnamese roads aren’t great and, as mentioned, the driving is terrible. It’s sometimes best not to look – seeing a fully laden tourist coach or truck heading straight towards you on the wrong side of the road is both scarily common and just plain scary!
The bus driver had no teeth. Which I’m sure is an occupational hazard of driving up and down those potholey roads all your life. After a while, I guess your teeth just jolt out. I’m surprised he had bones! The only solace from the bumping and the impending doom was that I had a Buddhist monk sitting next to me. Surely nothing bad would happen to us with a man of God on board. After one particularly scary near miss he took out an Ipad and began typing away. I took a peek over his shoulder to see if he was maybe sending a terse email to the guy upstairs but he was just on Facebook.
Hue is a great place to soak up some of the culture and history of Vietnam and the ideal way to do this is via a Monuments Tour. First stop was the tomb of the Emporer Minh Mang. This was pretty sensational, consisting of three main areas – the main gate, the temple and the tomb. The Minh Mang tomb was very elegantly laid out, very orderly and symmetrical. When we were there, these ponds were filled with lotus flowers which was gorgeous.
Minh Mang was quite the lad; fathering a total of 151 children from his 40 wives. Not so Khai Dihn, whose tomb we visited next. On his death, one of his concubines said that Khai was “not interested in sex” and “physically weak”. This, along with his love of fashion design has lead to speculation that he may well have been the gay prince of Vietnam.
If the Minh Mang tomb is a model of restraint and orderly design, then the interior designer of the Khai Dinh tomb, was to steal a phrase from the Luxe Guide’s description of the Cao Dai Temple “clearly Liberace or on drugs or possibly both”. It’s awesome!!!!! An absolute riot of gold and the most lovely intricate mosaics!
There was also a third tomb but you know, after you’ve seen the Khai Dinh, there’s only one way to go…and it’s not up. Also, the open air café next to where the bus stopped was selling freshly squeezed sugar cane juice and who doesn’t want a bit of that?
Me actually, it wasn’t great. Freshly squeezed sugar cane juice tastes, quelle surprise, like sugary water. Still, the prevalence of the fresh stuff could explain why the mojito’s in Hüê were the best I had.
In the afternoon we went to the Thien Mu Pagoda which was beautiful – we reached this via a boat ride. The Pagoda is situated on the banks of the river in some very pretty gardens. The complex does have a dark heart though. In one of the outbuildings is a car from the 1960’s one of those ones with the fins you always see in the movies. “Cool” you think. “Even the monks in the ‘60’s had wicked style.”
Then you read the plaque on the side and find out that this was the exact car that a monk, Thich Quang, drove to Saigon in 1963. When he got there, he stopped the car, sat down in the middle of an intersection, poured petrol over himself and set himself alight in a protest against religious persecution. Those monks from the ‘60’s were hardcore. No arseing about on Facebook for them.
The actual act is on You Tube for anyone who wants to see it – I haven’t watched it (and won’t be watching it) because it’s a person burning themselves to death and hence the type of thing that is likely to give me the screaming heebie-jeebies for months. But the link is here.
If you’re so inclined, knock yourself out. For those of a not so psychopathic more sensitive disposition, you can learn more about Thich Quang and this fascinating piece of history via a BBC podcast here.
There was a detour on the way to the pagoda. We were ushered off the boat into a garden and I guess, like me, a few of the others assumed we were at our destination. We were greeted in the garden by an old lady who told us to follow her. Which we did because she was going to lead us to the pagoda right? Not so much. We start walking through the garden. Then she pauses and points at a tree. “Mango” she says, pointing at it. “Nice” we say, nodding.
We walk on. She points out other trees. “Apricot…lychee…banana” and we continue to nod. “Yes…I see…interesting”. We keep walking. She keeps pointing out trees. We keep nodding and agreeing. This went on for a while – possibly too long – there was a moment towards the end where I think both sides were just phoning it in. She gave us a bit of “Mango….mango….mango,” and we gave back some “Yeah…right…whatever.” It might been more interesting if there had been fruit on any of those trees. As it was, she could have told us pretty much anything and we would have nodded and agreed like a bunch of dummies.
Anyway, shortly after the mango, mango, mango episode, we ended up at the front gate (exactly where we started) and she asked us all for money for touring her garden. Huh? Where’s the pagoda? There were rumblings….the Germans and the Dutch were not happy about this development but she was not letting anyone go without them paying up. One of the Dutch tried to sneak past her – I’ve never seen someone so old move so fast. She was spry!!! Must be all the fruit. No one ever explained why we went there. I suspect she was the tour guide’s grandma.
Given that the actual tropical garden was kind of underwhelming, it was ironic that our favourite restaurant in Hue was a place called the Tropical Garden. This was really cute with tables set in the garden with little thatched rooves over the top. Very Gilligan’s Island! I so wish I’d worn my gold lame dress just like Ginger’s. Until I remembered I only own one in my dreams…
Huh… I just realised my whole sense of fashion, hair and makeup is pretty much derived from Gilligan’s Island and Get Smart….who says tv doesn’t influence young minds?
The food at The Tropical Garden was super tasty but the best thing about it is the absolutely terrible band. I guess Vietnamese folk music is an acquired taste because, our first time there, Mark had his back to them and shortly after they began to play frowned and asked. “What’s that noise? Is that cats? Or the band?” Mind you, they also set the local dogs to howling so I guess that, much like us canines can also not appreciate the nuances of the Vietnamese folk scene.
By no means should you let this put you off though, in fact I”m only telling you this to encourage you to go and hear it for yourself….we went three nights in a row….
Our other favourite place was a restaurant / art gallery called Confetti. This had great food at great prices and nice art. But you know what? After the quirkiness of The Tropical Garden, it all seemed a little normal….
So, I have a new camera and have been cooking up some Hüê inspired delights. Aubergine was a popular vegetable there so first up I have a very simple grilled aubergine / eggplant based on the recipe in Simple Good Food by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman called Grilled Aubergine with Nam Pla and Basil.
My version is called “Hey, Hüê, It’s Vietnamese Inspired Aubergine”
1 Eggplant / Aubergine, sliced into rounds about 1/2 centimetre thick
1 tsp tumeric
1 -2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1 tbsp Nam Pla (Fish Sauce)
1 tsp sugar
1 birdseye chilli, finely chopped
Chives, finely chopped
Basil leaves, finely chopped
Mix the tumeric and the olive oil and dip your eggplant slices into the mixture then place them under a hot grill. Turn them once they start to brown – you may also have to redip them if they get too dry.
Whilst your eggplant is cooking, mix up your lemon juice and fish sauce. Add the chopped chilli and chives. Once the eggplant is cooked, place on a plate and dress with the fish sauce mixture. Scatter the basil leaves over the top.
This is a great side dish or, I quite like it just on crackers. You can also mess with the mix as much as you like. Add some ginger or garlic or your choice of flavourings!
And here is my “Minh Mang-o” Daiquiri.
Minh Mango Daiquiri
I large mango, chopped
1/2 cup white rum
1/4 cup lemongrass, ginger and chilli simple syrup (I used the recipe here)
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 dashes Agnostura Bitters
8 Ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
…my local green grocer where they are currently selling trays of strawberries for $6. My sincere apologies to John Lennon for that absolute travesty but just in case you are not utterly awestruck by this, let me reiterate. A tray of strawberries for $6. That’s 16 punnets. For $6 dollars. The world may have not ended on December 21st but it has surely gone mad!
How do farmers make any money when the (literal) fruit of their labour is being sold off at about 40 cents a punnet?
Maybe because the week before Christmas punnets of strawberries were selling for $4 each!
I know, it’s not the farmers, it’s the wholesalers and the grocery shop owners and all the people in between who add their mark up. The farmers probably got paid the same for the $4 strawberries as they did for the 40 cent strawberries.
My joy at my bargain buy lasted until I had to carry, not only all of my regular fruit and veggies, but an additional four kilos of strawberries, from the shop to my car. By the time I reached the car (it was a hot day and I had parked some distance away from the shop to get a spot in the shade), I’d stopped thinking “I’m the best shopper in the world! ” and “I’m in berry heaven” to “What on earth am I going to do with four kilos of strawberries?” and “How can four kilos of strawberries actually weigh a ton?”.
My first task, on getting home, was to sort the strawberries – a few in each punnet were overripe and were starting to get a bit manky. The perfect ones went into a colander and the fridge for eating. We have been feasting on these all week.
The almost perfect berries went into a bag and into the freezer whole. I puréed the somewhat bruised berries and placed them in 6 containers in the freezer where they will be great for smoothies, muffins, etc later in the year. Finally, my kitchen helpers, Oscar and Lulu, were on hand to dispose of the fourth group being the few badly bruised berries that were left.
We have been eating strawberries all week – by the handful whenever we feel a bit peckish; for dessert with cream (Mark) and ice cream (me) and for breakfast with mango and vanilla yogurt:
I have started making a strawberry liqueur based on the link below with some tweaks inspired by other recipes, most notably, I am putting the sugar in from the start.
I searched high and low for tarragon yesterday; I went to three greengrocers and I could not find it for love or money. I decided to use basil instead.
I was so excited about making the liqueur and trying to track down the tarragon, that I completely forgot to check the other ingredients. I knew I had strawberries, I had vodka. I was searching for tarragon. And who particularly someone who bakes regularly, doesn’t have caster sugar? Me apparently. Grrr… Such a newbie mistake!!!
So today, I ducked into the supermarket to pick up the caster sugar and found piles of tarragon. As I had another recipe for tarragon and strawberries I was aching to try, I bought a bunch and pulled the basil out of my would be liqueur and popped in the tarragon and sugar. All the sugar sank to the bottom and when I tipped it upside down to mix it in, it made these drippy pale pink stalactite type things that looked awesome! The mixture is also already a fabulous pink colour. And it’s only Day 2. Imagine Day 30.
It’s Mark’s birthday tomorrow and the temperature is set to soar. Baking in my tiny kitchen when it’s anything above 30 degrees outside is not something I relish. So, I’ve decided that he will get a White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Semifreddo in lieu of a traditional birthday cake. I’m aiming for quirky but cool. We’ll see how that works out. I also need to get busy making it. Which means that my strawberry and tarragon salad recipe will have to wait until the next post.
On a more sombre note, and speaking of temperatures soaring, many parts of Australia are currently experiencing devastating bushfires and my heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones, homes and belongings in this tragedy and to the brave people, many of whom are volunteers, who are so valiantly fighting the fires. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
I was recently strolling around my local purveyor of fine alcoholic beverages (or as we like to call it, our second home) when a retro looking bottle caught my eye. A very glamorous Elke Sommer looking woman is being draped in a fur coat by a man who looks like a 1970’s tennis player or a porn star (possibly both). The label promised “an experience of elegance and lingering pleasure” which only further reinforced the boom chicka wah wah soundtrack that was going through my head. The name: Kellermeister Sable. According to the back of the bottle, Sable is a
“base of ruby tawny into which we have steeped dark German Chocolate, special spices and three year old brandy”
You know those moments when Homer Simpson goes into the donut fugue state? I think I lapsed into something very similar. Standing there mumbling to myself “Ruby Tawny…dark chocolate….special spices….brandy…ruby tawny…..” Ruby Tawny may well become the name of my first-born child. I hope it’s a girl.
The bottle, in all it’s gorgeous retroness did give me pause though. I honestly wasn’t sure if it was meant to be retro chic. Or it just came from South Australia. If anyone from South Australia wants to dispute the implication of this statement I suggest they first go and count the people with mullets walking down Rundle Mall. They can lodge their complaints when they have a number less than ten.
Ok, we may have lost South Australia forever so the rest of us might as well get on with it. Sable is meant to be retro chic and forms part of the Kellermeister Retro Range which includes this and two Moscatos which I am very keen to try. One is called Pink Minx. This may become the name of my second born child. Again, a girl would be good.
The Sable is great on it’s own as a little tipple – rich, silky, porty, chocolatey loveliness in a glass. If I was prone to swooning I would. However, as I do not live in a Jane Austen novel I will remain upright and advise that this is utterly delicious and is likely to become a staple on my drinks trolley for some time to come! This will be my go to product for those days when you just want a little something sweet and lovely after dinner! Or mid afternoon….or…you know…whenever….
The loveliness of the Sable does not stop with drinking though. It is equally good in food.
I’ve now made three recipes with it and they were all gorgeous (even if I do say so myself). If you cannot get Sable, your liqueur of choice can be substituted in all of these.
First up was a Raspberry Meringue Roulade which I adapted from a Bill Granger recipe.
Rolling, Rolling, Rolling
Raspberry Roulade and a glass of Sable – a lovely afternoon tea tipple
I then made a Strawberry and Mango Zagablione where I used the Sable instead of marsala. This tasted divine! The zabaglione was also lovely swirled into some plain yoghurt the following day.
Finally, I used some Sable in my version of the Australian Gourmet Traveller Chocolate and Caramel Tart. I adapted the original recipe as I am not that good with pastry and I used a bought caramel. This is a truly decadent recipe and tastes like heaven! My only word of caution is give yourself plenty of time to make this. I started mid afternoon. I added the final layer at midnight. This takes a LONG time to make as you have to let each layer chill before adding the next one. It is worth it though as this is absolutely delicious!
I love the ombre effect of the four layers!
If you really want to make your own pastry and caramel, the original recipe can be found here: