Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Home made pizza - yum!

For dinner last night we made pizza, which is such an easy way to feed a few people at once - although a second oven would be handy.  Or even better, a pizza oven (one day!).

Potato, caramelised onion and anchovy (top) and margareta

I used the same dough recipe I always use, courtesy of Jamie Oliver's 'Jamie at home' - recipe here.  I used my own tomato sauce recipe, which is simply to gently cook 3 crushed cloves of garlic in about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add 2 tins good quality crushed tomatoes, 1-2tsp sugar, some torn basil leaves, and a good pinch of dried oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cook over a very low heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.

Potato, onion and anchovy pizza

Drizzle base with olive oil, and scatter a small handful of mozzarella.  Spread some caramelised onion (see below for recipe), thinly sliced potato, and rosemary on top.  Finish with panchetta, and a tiny bit more cheese.  Cook at 170 deg celcius for approx 15 minutes or until you think it's done!  Once cooked, top with white anchovy fillets and rocket.


Spread tomato sauce around base.  Top with some torn basil leaves, torn or thinly sliced mozzarella, and bake at 170 deg celcius until starting to brown (around 15 minutes).  Top with prosciutto and rocket leaves once cooked.

Pork and Fennel sausage pizza

Pork and fennel sausage pizza

Prepare and bake as per margareta pizza, however before baking top with some crumbled or sliced home-made pork and fennel sausage, diced tomato, and shaved parmesan.  See below for sausage recipe

Salami and mushroom pizza 

Prepare and bake as per margareta recipe, however before baking add sliced mushrooms, and shaved salami slices.

Margareta (left) and salami and mushroom

Margareta again

Caramelised onions

Slice 1 large brown onion and 1 large red onion into thin rings.  Cook over a low heat in 1-2 tbsp of olive oil for around 15 minutes.  The onion should be very soft and dark.  Add 1 tbsp brown sugar and cook for a further five minutes or so.  

Turn any leftovers into onion jam by adding some balsamic vinegar and beef stock, and reducing gently until you get some gooey, sticky, jammy goodness.  

Pork and fennel sausage

1kg Pork shoulder (or another fatty cut of pork)
1 tbsp fennel seeds
3 garlic cloves
1 egg
1 tsp all spice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp smokey paprika
2 tsp fine sea salt
Load of cracked black pepper

Mince the pork in the medium hole of a grinder (or process in a food processor).  Dry-roast the fennel seeds in a frying pan over medium heat.  Mix the fennel seeds and pork mince with the other ingredients, and prepare sausages using your sausage maker instructions.  Alternately, for the pizzas you could simply fry the meat in the form of burger patties, then crumble over your pizza. 

If you have made sausages, place in a frypan and fill with COLD water (otherwise the sausage skins will burst).  Bring to a simmer and cook for around 5 minutes.  Remove from the pan, pat dry with paper towel.  Preheat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat in a frying pan, and add the sausages.  Cook until browned on each side.  

Monday, June 28, 2010

Baked Cheesecake - Raspberry and White Chocolate

As we hosted the fortnightly family dinner this weekend, and it was Sean's birthday this week, we made the requested birthday cake, which was baked cheesecake.

I had never made a baked cheesecake before, only 'death' cake (see photo here).  It turned out pretty well, except for a Grand Canyon sized crack that appeared while it was cooling in the oven.  I'm not too sure about why this happened, but after googling for apparent answers, I discovered that it's fairly common.  Maybe next time I'll try baking it in a water bath, although apparently it's not needed when you cool the cake down in the oven.  Anyway, it gave me an excuse to add even more unhealthy goodness to the cake.  This came in the form of a white chocolate and sour cream glaze, which filled in the cracks, and covered the surface of the cake.  I also finished it off with some raspberry coulis for good measure.

The cake went down extremely well with everyone, and I would definitely bake it again.  There is still half left in our fridge, however I am unsure as I feel about this, as I may just have to eat it!

The recipe was from taste.com.au - click here to go to their recipe

Mediterranean Feast Dinner

After an afternoon making the impossible to pronounce Sfogliatelle (see previous post), I thought I would make something that was easier to pronounce - so I chose Hobz biz-zejt!  Okay so maybe it wasn't easier to pronounce, however, it was about 100 times easier to make!  It also was the perfect starter to the osso bucco main that I already had in the oven, and the sfogliatellle dessert that I was in the process of making to complete the Mediterranean feast.

Hobz biz-zejt, described as a Maltese open sandwich, and translated as bread with oil, makes a quick, but impressive starter to any meal.

Hobz biz-zejt

Spread some thickly sliced, crusty bread with good quality tomato paste.  Sprinkle with salted capers.  Lay some white anchovy fillets on top of this.  Make sure you use good quality white anchovies in vinegar and oil, not the regular salty ones.  Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Garnish with some continental parsley, and finish with a drizzle of good quality EVOO.

Although it was incredibly easy to make, the hobz biz-zejt really let the individual ingredients shine, whilst still tasting good altogether.

I love cooking 'set and forget' type meals like Osso Bucco, where you can do some basic prep, and then pop it in the oven and let it slow cook for a while, allowing you to do something else (and clean)!

Osso Bucco with risotto and gremolata
Adapted from Food Safari by Maeve O'Meara
Serves 2


2 Osso bucco pieces (veal or beef)
2 large brown onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250mL red wine (good quality so you can drink the rest)
2 tins of good quality crushed tomatoes
2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 cup of beef stock
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp sage
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin Olive oil

Preheat oven to 160 deg celcius.  In a large heavy based dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of oil, and gently brown the osso bucco.  Remove once browned, and add the onion, anchovies, garlic and herbs and sweat for around five minutes.  Turn heat to high, and deglaze the pan with the wine.  Reduce until there almost all the wine had boiled off, and add the tomatoes and stock.  Bring to the boil, season to taste with salt and pepper, and add the shanks.  Place the lid on and place in the oven for approximately three hours, or until the meat is tender and can be broken apart with a fork.

For the gremolata:
Finely chop 2 cloves of garlic, 2 good quality anchovy fillets, 2 tbsp continental parsley, and 1 tsp lemon zest. Combine well.

Serve the osso bucco on top of risotto, topped with the gremolata.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Well I thought macarons were tricky to get right until I tried to make these bad boys.  Sfogliatelle (I don't even know how to pronounce it) looked so unbelievably tasty on Food Safari Italian a few weeks ago, I had to try them.

See the recipe - somewhat unfinished - over here.  The amount of sugar to be added in the second step of the filling isn't mentioned.  I added 1/3 of a cup as a guess.  The filling didn't come out overly sweet, but I think they tasted pretty good.  Getting the pastry to the point you see below was fun, however pushing the discs out into a shell shape was extremely difficult to do neatly.  Adding more and more lard seemed to help.  I hate to think what the final fat content of these things was.  Also, keeping the window open and a cold breeze blowing in made the pastry easier to work with.

The pastry before pushed out into the shell shape

The filling

The filled shells waiting for the oven.  

The finished product! 

Fresh out of the oven, the pastry was so crisp, and the filling gooey.  However the next day, the pastry had lost all the crispiness, and they were generally disappointing!  Next time I think I'll try baking only a few and freezing the un-cooked ones.  I think a trip to Brunetti in Carlton is also warranted, just so I can see what the real thing is supposed to be like!

Macarons - Attempt #1

These things are tricky.  I spent hours studying recipes, and reading tips on the net for making these, and still the results were not what I had hoped for.  Yes, I let the egg whites rest, yes I tapped the tray on the bench, yes I rested the macarons before baking, yes I didn't over-beat the mixture.... and so on, and so forth.

I used this recipe from Gourmet Traveller - http://gourmettraveller.com.au/macarons2.htm - after sifting through many others.  Even though they are not the prettiest macarons, they still tasted pretty damn good!  I would have been happier if they were a bit taller - I'm not sure if this means I piped them incorrectly, or the mixture was not thick enough.  I was happy with the overall look, and much talked about 'feet' on them.  Next time I think I will flavour the actual macarons with cocoa or vanilla, and go for a plainer filling.

A few notes - they don't work when you bake them on foil (I ran out of baking paper!), and they don't take very well to the fridge!

Matt Preston's Ultimate Cheese Toastie

This is a great winter lunch, as it's easy to prepare, and the crunch when you bite in followed by the resulting creaminess of the cheese is very satisfying!  Although it could be called the 'allium toastie' instead, don't be put off by the amount of onion-type ingredients - they are not overpowering.  Matt went for white sourdough bread, which is also great, but I really liked it with german grain bread.  We made it in the breadmaker from a Laucke bread mix from the supermarket.  He also suggested that you use 1kg of cheese and that the recipe only serves 1!  You can make your mind up on the quantities of bread and cheese.

Sam's Ultimate Cheese Toastie
Adapted from Cravatalicious by Matt Preston

1 small leek, sliced thinly into rounds (don't forget to clean it well)
1 medium brown onion, thinly sliced
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely diced
Sharp, tasty cheddar cheese
German grain bread or white sourdough, sliced into thick pieces

Turn on your sandwich press.  Cover the sliced leek with boiling water in a bowl, and leave for a few minutes so the leek softens.  Remove and dry on paper towel.  Mix the leeks with all the onions and the garlic.  Butter one side of two slices of bread and place butter side down on the sandwich press.

Add some leek/onion mixture, then a handful of the cheese, grated, and top with more leek/onion mixture, and more cheese if you like.  Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper.  Pop the other piece of bread on top, and toast until the bread is golden and the cheese is gooey.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Who knew porridge actually tasted nice!

Growing up in a household devoid of porridge, I have only recently discovered it's redeeming properties when it is teamed up with fresh fruit.  I'm fairly sure that we never had it in the house when I was younger, I only remember eating weetbix, and perhaps corn flakes.  Not that I had a problem with that - the thought and the look of porridge well and truly put me off eating it back then.  I now know that it makes a tasty and filling breakfast, which is also easy to make.  I think it makes a real difference having some sort of warm cereal for breakfast, it just makes you feel better about the world!

Porridge with Berry Compote

In a small saucepan, add 1/2 cup of berries of your choice to 1 tbsp water, 1tsp lemon juice and 1tsp sugar.  Cook over a low heat until the mixture thickens.

In another small saucepan, place 1/2 rolled oats, 1/2 cup milk, and 3/4 cup of water.  Stir constantly while cooking over medium heat until the porridge reaches the desired consistency.

Serve topped with a knob of butter, or some honey.

Porridge also goes well with sliced or grated apple, banana, or I'm sure any other fresh fruits.

Heart attack sandwich

In what seems like an example of unhealthy oneupmanship, burger chain Friendlys in the states has released this monstrosity, similair in craziness to the KFC double-down burger, mentioned here last month.  The filling is fairly standard.  One burger patty, albeit a large one, and the usual trimmings of tomato, lettuce and mayo.  However the 'bun' for this burger is what sets it apart - instead of a roll sliced in two (or even two slices of bread), this thing has what I guess you would call a grilled cheese sandwich on both the top and the bottom!

Image: www.friendlys.com

And the stats - a whopping 97g of saturated fat and 2090mg of salt.  I was amused to find a statement on Friendly's website saying that they are committed to 'healthy dining options in every restaurant'.  Check out the 'Grilled cheese burgermelt' here.

New site layout

Me thinks this layout is a lot easier on the eyes.  What do you think?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Carne con chilli with polenta and cheese cornbread

My Chilli con carne, (or carne con chilli?) recipe

Preheat oven to 150 deg Celsius.  In a heavy based cast iron dutch oven, soften 1 chopped brown onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves in about 1tbsp of olive oil.  Brown off approximately 500g of cubed chuck steak.  Add 1 tin of crushed tomatoes, 1 tsp of smoky paprika, 1 tbsp of sweet paprkia, 1 chopped red chilli (deseeded), 1 tbsp each of ground cumin and coriander, and 1 generous pinch of dried oregano.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and bring to the boil.  Add 2 or 3 cans of rinsed kidney beans.  Finally add the secret ingredient for some extra richness - a half teaspoon of cocoa powder, and a half teaspoon of cinnamon.  Remove from the heat, place the lid on, and place in the oven.  Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat begins to fall apart.

Cook the cornbread as per this recipe - http://www.jamieoliver.com/jfr-beta/pdf/recipes/23_cheesy-corn-bread.pdf

Update.... also great as chilli con carne wraps, with lettuce, sour cream and grated cheese!

Dulce de leche brownies

I used a recipe from the genius David Lebovitz to make these decadent brownies.  Unlike many other recipes for brownies, these were fairly light, and extremely tasty.  See the recipe here - http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2006/06/dulce_de_leche.html

And see the results here, served with home made vanilla ice cream, of course!

And here just out of the oven -

These were amazing straight out of the oven, when I cut into them and the melted dulce de leche started oozing out!

Not sure what to call this - sweet, salty and sour lamb cutlets?

I was looking for an interesting way to dress up boring old lamb rack, but I was severely lacking in inspiration.  I went down the old track of something sweet, something salty, and something acidic, and I was pretty pleased with what came out of the pan!  

Sweet and sour lamb cutlets

Preheat the oven to 200 deg Celsius. 

Marinade the lamb cutlets in 2 tbsp vinegar, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp of sugar, and 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary.  Season with salt and pepper.  

Chop some new potatoes into quarters, and boil in salted water until just starting to go soft.  Place on an well oiled baking tray, and roast in the oven until golden brown (about 1/2 hour).  Turn the potatoes after about 15 minutes.  Once cooked, allow to cool, and toss in a mixture of 1tsp mustard, the juice of 1 lemon, 2 grated garlic cloves and 3-4 tbsp mayonaise.  Garnish with chopped spring onion.  

Chop corn cobs into 1cm thick wheels, and grill on a griddle on each side until starting to blacken.  Toss in a mixture of 1tbsp butter, 1/2tsp smoked paprika, and lots of salt and ground black pepper.  

While this is happening, fry the cutlets in a pan over medium heat until cooked medium rare. 

Enjoy the sweet, salty and smoky feast! 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Is there anything better than cookies and cream ice-cream?

The answer - a resounding YES!  What could it be you ask?  Nothing other than a very close relative - cookie dough ice cream.  After making cookies and cream ice-cream (see the previous post) there was some extra dough left.  Rather than make lots of cookies that we probably wouldn't eat (we probably would but that's not the point) I put some of the leftover dough into the freezer.

Last night I microwaved this leftover dough for a minute or two, until it was just soft.  I then chopped it up into small chunks.  It tasted really good just out of the microwave by the way.  I whipped up a batch of standard vanilla ice cream, and when there was about 1 minute to go, I tipped in the cookie dough chunks (well what was left after I ate quite a few).

The results were fantastic.  I don't know why this tastes better when the cookies are un-cooked but it just does. The chocolatey chunks are softer, and are a little sweeter I think.  I know when I was a kid there was always something about licking the cake batter or something similair off a spoon when Mum was cooking, mabye it somehow harks back to this taste.

Anyway, no photo of this, see post below... it looks exactly the same!

Monday, June 7, 2010

here it is... finally!

Home-made cookies and cream ice-cream

You need to start with these bad boys...

Adapted from Simply Bill by Bill Granger

250g reduced salt butter, softened
350g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 eggs, lightly beaten
310g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
200g finely chopped dark chocolate
1 pack mini m&ms

Preheat the oven to 180.  Grease and line a large baking tray.

Beat the butter and sugar for approximately five minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Stir in the vanilla and eggs.  Sift in the dry ingredients and stir until just combine.  Fold in the chocolate and m&ms.  If baking with a 3 year old, don't let them eat all the cookie dough!  Place balls of the mixture on the baking tray, approx 5cm apart (the biscuits will spread).  Cook in batches for approx 15 minutes, and cool on the trays.

These are magnificent straight out of the oven, they start to go crispy after about 10 minutes.  If you're not using them for ice cream, you can microwave them the next day (if they last that long) and they take on their 'just baked' consistency again!

Once the cookies have cooled, pulse approximately 1/4 of them to a fine powder in a food processor.  Crumb the rest yourself, or pulse briefly in the food processor until you reach the required 'crumb' level.  You may not get this right the first time, which means you will have to keep trying the recipe until you get it right.  Oh well!  

Make vanilla ice-cream as per your ice-cream maker instructions.  A few minutes before the ice cream is ready to remove, pour in the powdered biscuits and churn for a few more minutes.  Remove the ice cream from the bowl into the container you will be freezing it in.  Gently stir through the remaining crumbs.  Freeze until set (or not, you probably won't be able to make).  

Good luck with your ice-cream addiction!

Coconut Cardamom Burfi

This was such a quick and simple dessert, and followed on with the indian theme after a main of rogan josh (recipe courtesy of the Food Safari book).  It was so easy to make and surprisingly yum!

Coconut Cardamom Burfi 
adapted from Food Safari (Maeve O'Meara)

250g shredded or dessicated coconut
395g tin of sweetened condensed milk
10 green cardamom pods, with the husks discarded and the seeds ground to a powder
handful of flaked almonds

Roughly chop the almonds, and add to a mixing bowl with 200g of the coconut, the condensed milk, and the ground cardamom.  Mix briefly.  Add this mixture to a non-stick frying pan over a low heat.  Cook, stirring for a few minutes until the mixture starts to come together.  Leave to cool for a few minutes, and using damp hands, roll dessertspoons of the mixture into round balls.  Put the remaining 50g of coconut onto a plate, and roll the burfi around in the coconut.

These can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.

Taco Bill South Melbourne

To all those people saying 'this isn't Mexican food' etc etc.... get over it!  I may not have been to Mexico (nor the southern states of the US for that matter) but then again I haven't been to China and I'm pretty sure the slop the dished up in most Chinese restaurants is not 'real Chinese' cuisine.  As far as I know, what you get at Taco Bill is more 'tex-mex' in style.  Anyway, let's talk about the experience instead.

Having been here a number of times, I have yet to been disappointed.  Several times the service has been questionable, but there seems to be never-ending parade of staff working here sporting 'trainee' badges.  One thing I have noticed is, the staff are always friendly.

Now, the food.  If you are after carb-loaded, meaty, cheesy goodness, this is your place.  Sizzling fajitas, which pretty much takes up one table by the time you get your sizzling cast iron plate full of beef or chicken, container of tortillas, and the sides of salsa, guacamole, cheese, sour cream and rice - are very tasty, and make for great theatre at the table - just don't touch the plate.

Usually I find it hard to go past Enchiladas Nuevo Mexico, and I indulged again on my latest visit.  It's three beef enchiladas, filled with slow-cooked, tender beef, and topped with a red enchilada sauce, loads of cheese, and a fried egg.  I find it hard to go past a dish with an un-expected egg, and this is no exception.  Although it's a lot to get through, considering you get a side of frijoles (beans) and rice, it's about one mouthful away from being too much.  We also started off with the Nachos Supreme, which are excellent.  Somehow their nachos don't get soggy, even right at the bottom of the plate.  A tip however - always get them to share as all the mains are quite large.

It's not haute cuisine, but if you're after a fun, relaxed place to go to start off your night, Taco Bill is a great choice.  The huge selection of margaritas, and decent selection of actual Mexican beers (Dos Equis, Tecate etc - not Coronas) should help your decision.

Taco Bill South Melbourne
375 Clarendon St
South Melbourne

Taco Bill Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon


I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about visiting the Hofbrauhaus, but the tales of huge pork knuckle and schnitzels got me there in the end.  Along with the thought of buxom blonde german beauties bringing 1 litre steins of beer to our table!  Sadly the last bit didn't happen, although there was an abundance of beer available.

Service was passable, with a lot of confusion and ummming and aahhing about whether we could get a table.  In the end we had to wait for about fifteen minutes - no big deal considering it gave us time to plan our orders while downing some of Germany's finest.

While very tempted by some of the more 'german' options, I couldn't go past a huge chicken schnitzel.  Tender chicken, fried evenly with a very fried crumb, it was a worthwhile choice.  But what made this dish really shine was the mash, and the homemade mayo that accompanied it.  There was also some kind of greenery but I can't remember what this was - I was too over-awed by the mayo and mash.  Starting with the mash - oh my god.  Best ever!  It must have been 45% potato, 45% butter, and 10% salt - it was amazing.  It was creamy, buttery, and salty, but it still tasted like potato.  And it didn't have that horrible gloopy consistency mash can take on when too much protein is added.  And the mayo!  I'm going to say it's one of the best I've ever had.  All in all it made it a meal to remember, lack of beer maids aside.

The atmosphere was a little lacking, and at first I thought we had stumbled upon one of those kind of places only tourists to Melbourne go to!  But then the band started up, and cheered everyone in the place up, and in general it got a bit rowdier.  I could imagine that after another hour, and another couple of beers people may have been up dancing, slapping their knees!  Maybe next time.  I will be back after all, if not for the schnitzel then for the mash and mayo!  Although it is a tough toss-up between the Hofbrau and Hutong dumpling bar next door!

24 Market Lane

Hofbrauhaus on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Twice cooked pork belly with stir-fried pak choy and garlic

I trawled the net and all my recipe books looking for a suitable pork belly recipe, but none of them were really doing it for me.  As a result I came up with my own, and was pretty happy with the results.  The tender meat, and crispy skin were a highlight, as was the sauce.  It was really intense, a real punch in the face, full of all the flavour I was hoping for.  The only difficulty was crisping up the skin once the pork had been braised - at first I tried the oven, then the griller, then the blowtorch, and also in a pan.  I didn't quite get the crispy skin I was after, but it came out quite well.  It was a dark brown colour, however wasn't burnt at all, and was kind of crunchy, and chewy at the same time, almost like the scorched top of a creme brulee!

I had already bought pork belly sliced into 2-3cm pieces before I decided to make this - I think next time I will go for one whole piece to make the crisping up process a bit easier.

My twice cooked chinese pork belly

Preheat oven to 150 deg celsius.

Rub 2 tsp of chinese five-spice powder and 2 tsp of salt onto the pork belly.  Set aside.

Place a dutch oven, or heavy based casserole dish on low heat on the cooktop, and add the following ingredients:

4 cups of chicken stock (use the real stuff, or at least a salt reduced version)
1/3 cup low salt soy sauce
1 cup Shao Hsing chinese cooking wine
4 crushed garlic cloves
2cm ginger, roughly chopped
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp whole coriander seeds
2 tsp finely grated palm sugar
4 green cardamom pods
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds
4 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 tsp whole black pepper
1 tsp schezuan pepper (whole)

Bring to the boil, and carefully add the pork belly.  Place a sheet of baking paper on top, place the lid on, and pop in the oven and cook on low for approximately three hours.  Pork is ready when you can easily stick a fork into it.

At this stage I removed the pork onto a plate, and placed approx 3 cups of the braising liquid into a saucepan over medium heat.  Add 1 cup of water, and reduce at a simmer for approximately 20 minutes.  Taste for seasoning, and add more water and reduce further if the sauce is too rich.  When you are happy, add approx 1tsp honey (or to taste) and simmer for another few minutes.

Place the pork on a baking tray skin side up, and place under a medium grill until the skin reaches the desired level of crispiness!  I served the pork covered in the reduced sauce, along with stir-fried pak-choy and garlic, and brown rice.

And these are the prawn toasts we had for entree -

And of course - dessert! .... A coconut custard.....

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Parma at The Retreat - Brunswick

The faithful old Retreat on Sydney Road - home to plenty of sticky carpet, great pub grub, great live music, dodgy couches, and some equally dodgy clientèle.  After working just around the corner for a while years ago, and religiously having a parma every friday, it's pretty hard to choose anything else.

On a recent visit, I succumbed again to the parma, with a side of chips and mushroom sauce.  As per usual, it didn't disappoint - even if it has been exactly the same for about five years!  Same crumb, sauce, smoky ham, and cheese.  On this occasion the mushroom sauce was a touch on the runny side, but still had a good flavour.

I couldn't argue with the speedy effficient service, even though were were with a group of 30 or 40 people.  The staff here are always chilled and laid back, but still manage to get the job done.  The menu also features other pub-grub classics - burgers, steak sandwiches - all of which are also pretty damn good.

The best thing about this pub though - Coopers pale on tap, and the beer always tastes really good here for some reason.  Maybe it's the vibe, or the memories from years ago.  Whatever it is, it's the same every time I go.

Retreat Hotel on Urbanspoon