Saturday, 20 December 2008

Rita's getting boring and repetitive

I know I said that I had been quiet of late because of repeat visits to already-written-about places but can I please beg your forgiveness if I actually do speak about these places? Again?

I refer specifically to Plum and Le Provencal. Breakfast at Plum was faultless. Mark and his crew are producing food of the highest calibre there at Plum. Looking down the table of 7’s plates of different breakfasts yesterday morning after they had all been served made me proud to be associated with the hospitality industry. The various plates of food presented beautifully, and all manner of palates, and likes and dislikes, totally fulfilled and satisfied.

Mark has his devoted barista on the job, churning out top coffees, and is currently planning a degustation meal for some time in the foreseeable future. So – my recommendation, for what it’s worth, is to get along there to Plum and try some of the Plum kitchens meals.

Le Provencal, the bastion of provincial French food in Hobart, has got to be one of Hobart’s best kept secrets. You might have noticed that Rita eats out a fair bit. Over her years of eating, she has developed, as everyone does, certain likes and dislikes. I’m not sure whether it was the era in which I was bought up, or my childhood or whatever, but I have never found one thing to quibble about with the food at Le Provencal. There has not been one single mouthful of either my food or anyone elses that I’ve tasted over the 20-odd years I can remember this place operating that has not been absolutely superb.

I was taken to task in the past here on this blog, when I went there and ordered Steak au Poivre, or, loosely translated, Peppered Steak with its accompanying chips. There must be a generation of people whose first taste of this magnificent meal has been at somewhere like the Carlyle, or somewhere else equally as salubrious where the chef hasn’t been trained in France or has the blood (and instincts) of a true chef running through his veins; where they took this first foray into the world of peppered steak and used that as their yardstick with which to measure every peppered steak devoured since then.

If you haven’t had a Peppered Steak at Le Provencal, you haven’t yet lived.

I know there are thousands of Peppered Steaks on thousands of menus, and the accompanying thousands of chefs about to get right up me for saying that. It reverts back to what I’ve said all along – opinions are the right of anyone and everyone. This is merely my opinion. If you think I’m full of shit and your Peppered Steak is head and shoulders above Le Provencal’s, then that’s true – for you.

But – if you trust in the fact that I wouldn’t lead you astray here, why don’t you make a booking one day. Eat some froggy food at Le Provencal, then see how your pub peppered steak measures up against a true, French-cooked one.

And a final word on the subject of bacon.

Boks - I’m over it. Introducing the new dawn of tasty, fabulous, truly decent and genuine tasting bacon fit for a king, or queen – LEE CHRISTMAS’ BACON from Farm Gate CafĂ©.

If you want to be transported straight to the days of yore, or the days when bacon tasted as gorgeous as it smelled as you cooked it, get your lard-arse down to Lee’s and buy some of his magnificent bacon. I did, and am so pleased I did. I have now been able to resume the Saturday morning tradition of my eggs and bacon fry-up. Forget the cholesterol fears. Get some of Lee’s bacon into you, and it will make all your worries disappear!
Posted on by Rita


Anonymous said...

Kind of interesting how people will use a yardstick as such to measure a meal item by. You are absolutely spot on here.
One of my struggles in OZ is producing and executing dishes in the way that I know (based on Europe and about) and then sometimes having to Australianise the version in order that people will recognise it.
This is not true for every dish, but the one I remember was the French toast somebody begged me for
at a lunch a few years back.
So I dipped some bread in some sherry, flambed quickly and fried it up in some butter. Once the bread was crisp and crunchy I added the egg and carefully cooked it so as not to scorch the egg.
Side order of bacon and a bit of sherry and cinnamon reduction, out it went. It came straight back with an enquiry as to where the hell is the maple syrup and what the hell is it. I've had the same with a few dishes, its down to the interpretation and what some are used to. No dramas, but its hard sometimes to explain that technically you have done the right thing, like you say comes down to preference.


Anonymous said...


do you ever cook? i've eaten your food and it's quite average,but this blog gives you an air of professionality and skill. i think not.


Fifi said...

Where must I go to sample your interpretation of French Toast please Mr. Cartouche?

Rita said...

Cartouche - thanks for that contribution. Interesting to hear of another items open to interpretation.
Insider - you're lucky with your insiders knowledge of who Cartouche actually is. But an Anonymous criticism of his food is a questionable call. While this blog is here for all to express their true feelings about things, you need to recognise what this post is about - how different tastes and interpretations are totally open to all, and are quite individual things. You are just as entitled to your opinion about Cartouche's food as he is, but it would have been more enlightening for you to back this up if you're putting it out there.
Fifi - Welcome - & I echo your request to Cartouche!

Anonymous said...

Stop slagging off Bok's Bacon - it's still OK, and better than anything at the supermarket.

Susannah said... a devotee of more conventional french toast (and yes, served with maple syrup) I can understand the customer querying the dish served up by Cartouche.

But I agree with Fifi and Rita - it sounds like a rather lovely combination - where can i get it??

Tassiegal said...

I'm desperate to try Lee's Bacon except I really dont have the muscle or co-ordination to attempt to cut slices off a side myself....and at the moment all I can see is sides of Bacon....Oh well I guess I will get to try it eventually.

Rita said...

Anon 8.58 - no one has slagged off Boks Bacon here. We have all agreed that the standard has dropped considerably, with the product now steaming rather than frying when you cook it. Ut si enlightened me as to why/how that happens, explaining that it is injected with water to make it ready for sale sooner, thus increasing company turnover.
If you read my post on it originally, the first thing I said was that I was a worshipper at the shrine of Bok, but had now had to re-think that due to the product standard dropping. That's definitely not slagging. I'm extremely sad, and sorry, that it has come to this, and would dearly love to be still able to enjoy my Sat morning fry-up with my Boks as the main ingredient.
But - as I said in this post, Lee's bacon is fabulous, so I'm happy with that, and happy to let Boks toddle along in mediocrity rather than superiority!
Susannah - good to hear from you again. Cartouche - the fans are massing here! Pressure's on!
TG - I have just been cutting a large-ish slice of Lee's bacon, then cubing it and frying off to add to pasta and soup, as well as thinly slicing for the brekky treat. Please try some soon, and see for yourself.

rockoyster said...

I bought a nice 500gm chunk of Lee's bacon on Saturday morning. Needs slicing but not too great a chore. Chunk style packaging also has the advantage of offering scope for paste etc as Rita suggests. You can also cut off a decent layer of fat before slicing, then mince that in with your meat of choice when you next make sausages. Should add a brilliant flavour!

Christina said...

When I purchased a loin pork roast from Lee, one of the best treats ever was saving the fat that ran from the roast then using it to cook my roast potatoes. Oh heaven!!
I got a good couple of roast potato meals from it. How naughty, but oh so nice!
Rita you would have loved it.

W.G. said...

Bok's Bacon? French Toast? How about Bok's Toast? Take one ageing Australian cricket team and send them to Perth to play a bunch of youthful Proteas. Voila! Bok's Toast

Rita said...

RO - what a brilliant idea to use the fat for sausages. My place smells gorgeous when I fry off the bacon. Imagine what it'd smell like from having made your own sausages using Lee's pork fat! Ans the flavour...!!! Mmm, I can taste it now!
Christina - your roast pork fat-coated spuds sound beautiful too. That's it Lee - we're all heading down for our pork products. But the big question - have you got some left?
WG - you're a witty bugger! Sounding very much like our Sir Grumpy. Accurate though!

Anonymous said...

Anon 2.36am. Yes about 80 hrs per week, if your including prep. But thats a movable feast.
Average, absolutely baby. No where on this blog have you ever heard me alluding to operating a fine dining establishment. Frankly I did my maths on arrival in Tassie and with my wife targeted our market, which is 80% of diners. You want awards and accolades dude, go for it, I'll settle for feeding the family.
And if average means that most of my diners return, we are mainly full, and financially the bills are paid the staff futures secured, then I like average.

As for an air of professionalism, sure lets compare wallets, or is that the bit you don't get.

Merry christmas


Anonymous said...

'let's compare wallets' ? how gauche ! how about our dicks?

Anonymous said...

Yes comparing wallets is a crude way to put it. But no more crude than dicks, anyhow lets try balls, or is taking a comfy wage more your scene, you know always the first to criticise, last one with a solution?


Anonymous said...

Well Rita all I have left is about 30kg of bacon and meat for sausages & some belly until my latest little porkers head of to market in Feb/March. For some reason this time of the year brings out the best in lovers of all things piggy and the only reason I have bacon,meat for snags and belly is I stashed it for fear of not having bacon and sausages for the cafe menu.
By the way I'm glad you have rediscovered your weekend fry up it really sets the mood for a great start to the weekend.
Merry Christmas to all
By the way Cartouche well said, in these tough times or at anytime meeting the customers needs and cooking with love is a hard balance but paying the bills can be harder without the customers so I'm with you old boy if average means paying the bills, feeding the family and giving people what they want then your right average isn't so bad but average to whom is the question.

Anonymous said...

Well said, by the way love your work. Still hanging out for that pork pie though.
Passion and commitment, prove a tough mistress and it is all about balance and discovering your market as well as watching them pennies.
Looking forward to picking up some quality piggy in the new year.

Happy Christmas, quite literally.

Cartouche customer.

Anonymous said...

Pork pies in the new year for sure. I drop a ham to an old scotish lady today who spent a good half hour giving me some insider tips, a bit iffy on a few of the tips, but I haven't forgotten the deal and don't forget the HP.

Anonymous said...

Its on.


Rita said...

Cartouche - you've managed to survive a roasting from an Anon critic in a polite way. Had I been home last night I would have thought about deleting the 'dicks' comment, but, hey, what can I say? It's there now so we can all read the general thread. Apologies to any who might take issue, but that's life.
Lee - glad you popped in to the blog for a quick visit at such a hectic time. I'll cherish my tiny bit of your bacon that's left, till Feb/Mar when you've got more, then get some. Have a great Christmas.

steve said...

I dont thnk being average is bad at all!

The Pigs Mouth said...

Boks Bacon straight from the pigs mouth.
Hi everyone, just thought I'd give you the facts about Boks Bacon. Firstly, I was approached to supply Coles, however I decided this was not the right direction for Boks Bacon.
All my 250g retail packs of bacon are still 100% dry cured, and, the dry cured is still available to buy as 1kg packs.
Since about July '08 I've been making a pumped bacon. This bacon is produced as a 1kg pack solely for the food service industry. It does have a little more water release whilst cooking. It has what I think is still a similar taste to the traditional bacon with a mix of the ham flavour due to the brine being the same as I use for making my Xmas hams.
Making bacon with the traditionally cured dry salt method decreases the weight of a boneless pork middle by around 20%. Hence the more expensive price. By pumping a pork middle I can actually come out with the original weight of the fresh middle. Most other bacon producers come out with a 20-45% increase on theirs (the cheaper the bacon the more water pumped into it).
I was trying to make a bacon more competitively priced to further sales in the food service market, as I have found most restaurants love the bacon but don't want to pay for it. There's still a few around who've stuck with me no matter the price, for instance Steve at the Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet. I had a chat with him about the pumped bacon early on and he advised me it may not be a good idea, but it was a matter of needing to get more volume out the door than what the 250g packs were getting for me (I too have a family to support and bills to pay). It was never my intention for the pumped bacon to be sold as retail, unfortunately I lose track of where it goes after I send it to my distributors. It could be that delis are opening the 1kg pumped bacon and selling it by the rasher, which again was not my intention. Please, I would love your feedback on the type of bacon people have not been happy with and how it was packaged.
As for the comments about my 'adviser', I'd like people to know that Sean is employed as my Sales and Marketing manager and he does a bloody good job of doing it. He has acquired many new customers for Boks Bacon both on the mainland and in Tassie. With his wealth of knowledge as a chef he has many great suggestions and recipes for Boks to utilize. I discussed with Sean the pros and cons of producing the pumped bacon, but the final decision was made by myself as are all decisions about Boks Bacon. So, I feel the negative comments made about him are unfounded.
Thanks for reading, and like I said please send me your comments so I can try to fix any problems before I get around to finding out about them on blogs.

Marcus Boks
Boks Bacon