So MacDonald’s have announced that they are bringing back the original Georgie Pie mince and cheese pie. For some reason this is seen by some people as wonderful news.
Maybe it is because I came late to the Georgie Pie phenomenon, experiencing it only when they opened a branch in Dunedin while I was at University, but I never developed a taste for Georgie Pie. To my mind they really only had 3 things going for them:
- Relative cheapness, even compared to service station pies.
- A location in Dunedin that was halfway between University and my flat in North East Valley.
- The temperature at which they served their pies, which seemed to be about 750°C. This was very welcome after 20 minutes trudging through icy streets on a dark Otago evening.
Of these points, the first is no longer true, the second doesn’t really apply, and the third probably contravenes modern health and safety practices.
The other side of the ledger only has one point:
- You paid good money for what tasted like a cardboard envelope filled with beef flavoured mucus.
Apparently MacDonald’s is not changing the recipe (except for not adding MSG – that was the best part!), so this will still be true. I will not be rushing along to MacDonald’s to try the new pie anytime soon.
Tuesday morning brought me a dentist appointment and general work-related ennui. But even Tuesday mornings eventually turn to noon and noon comes with a friend – lunchtime!
Today we visited a modest little Chinese place with a modest little name – Xi’an Food Bar on the corner of Anzac Ave and Customs St East. It doesn’t look like much but Xi’an Food Bar has two standout features.
The first is that you sit at your table and order via a strange retro-futuristic device that looks a bit like a calculator. The waiter gives you a menu but rather than place your order with the waiter when he returns, you type in the number that corresponds to your chosen meal into the device. Once everyone has chosen their meals the device transmits your table’s orders to the kitchen. A kitchen which is all of 3 metres away and clearly within sight.
This manner of ordering is completely silly and quite wonderful. It feels like you have walked into a cheap 80s scifi movie. I plan to go back on a rainy evening and pretend I am hunting replicants.
The other great thing about Xi’an Food Bar is that they make their own fresh noodles. The service is very quick, and in a couple of minutes you will have a fresh bowl of lumpy noodles covered in tasty sauce. The flavours are strong but well balanced, and the texture of the noodles is very appealing.
The first time I went I made the adventurous mistake of ordering the sliced pigs ears. It wasn’t the worse thing I have eaten, but even the best sauce in the world couldn’t make a silk purse out of that. I think it is probably meant to be a side dish.
So long as you keep the pigs ears to a minimum, Xi’an Food Bar is worth the walk. Get there early though, it gets busy.
Ever read a recipe and know that it is your destiny to try it? I saw this fantastic method for making creme eggs on food52.com and was obsessed. It is a bit more fiddly and time-intensive than most things I make but the results are impressive even if mine look nothing like the photos on the web site.
My ingredient list was slightly adapted for metric measurements and local supplies:
½ cup of golden syrup
85g of softened butter
Tiny pinch of salt
1tsp Vanilla essence
2⅔ cups of icing sugar
Bag of dark chocolate bits
Yellow Food Colouring
Toothpicks and Potatoes
It took about 3 hours from start to finish but a lot of that time was waiting for the mixture to cool down in the freezer to a workable consistency. I completely messed up tempering the chocolate, but that just makes them slightly harder to eat.
For years one of my favourite eating places in Auckland has been the Food Alley on Albert Street. You can keep your fancy French restaurants and elegant cafés, turns out what I really want is tasty food served quickly with a prison-like ambience. Proximity to the Food Alley was actually a factor in my choice of current employment, I recommend the clay-pot joint or the Vietnamese place for first time patrons.
But sometimes the Food Alley is a little too flash with its well organised stalls and excellent drinks bar. Perhaps it has moved up-market in recent years, or maybe I am moving down. Either way, if excellent choice in a crummy atmosphere is what you desire then the International Food Court underneath the Strand Arcade off Queen Street is ready to take your order. Right off the bat the International Food Court ups the terrible ambience stakes by being situated in a basement, the Food Alley can’t compete with that masterstroke.
This is Beef Soup with Hot Chilli Oil , my new favourite dish, served up from the Chinese stall on the extreme left as you come down the stairs (I think it was #4 on the menu). It is a hot, very peppery soup with scallions, sprouts, and beef served under a layer of oil which is itself infused with chilli. It sounds odd, but tastes fantastic. One day I will muster the courage to order it “hot” instead of “medium”, but even at reduced potency it takes until mid afternoon before the feeling comes back into my tongue.
And now, apropos of nothing, a picture of some Lego men made out of frozen lemon juice:
On a recent trip overseas, I found myself in a Lego store. On an impulse I purchased a Lego Minifig Ice Cube Tray, because why not? Making pure water Lego men just seemed wrong, so these are lemon juice yellow just as God intended.
I thought I would never have another chance to buy anything like it again, but it turns out you can order them in NZ directly from Lego via the link above.