Ahoy! Shiver me timbers!
Work has been hectic for the last couple of weeks and thank god me finally got the chance to breathe and relax a bit on the last weekend. Well, "relax" is probably not the right word, but I definitely had such great time cruising on a house boat with me hearty new recruit - The Pom, Beardman, Monkeyboy, Richard (here comes the food), Simon (the heart of food), Suze (ChocolateSuze), Helen (GrabYourFork), and our captain , Big O' D down Hawkesbury River.
At the crack of dawn on Saturday morning, the nine of us, seven lads and two lasses go on account in our cruise, the Big Bickie, (someone is having a laugh and rubbed off the "B" into a "D") from the Holiday Afloat at Brooklyn, Central Coast. After short briefing, off we cruise down the river and spend the full weekend on board with much fun, food, and laughter, and did I mention food? The best thing by having foodbloggers on board is that there will never be a shortage of food throughout the whole trip.
I was in charge and delegated everyone what food to bring so we don't end up with excessive food and go to waste. It works like a treat and everyone is so kind and brings lots of delicious food, no surprise that it kind of turns into a multicultural food fest.
Hence, our first stop - England.
Once our boat is on the move, a round of tea and coffee orders has been placed by the crew, desperately needed to beat the shivering morning chill. The Pom has also kindly made a Victoria Sandwich to go with our morning tea. A classic English cake he has made numerous times and very proud of. Instead of cover it in royal icing, the Pom decided to keep it simple with only butter icing and strawberry jam sandwiched between two layer of soft buttery sponge cakes. It definitely gives the morning a sugary kick start!
We then slowly cruise to Korea for lunch. Simon is proudly cooking up a storm, with his mum's recipe of Korean beef bulgogi and spicy chili pork to go with cos lettuce leaf and steamed rice. The meat is freshly cooked using the BBQ griller on the boat, it tasted so much better than those I normally had at the food halls. A tub of gochujang, a savory and pungent fermented Korean condiment to go with the bugolgi is proven to be popular among the foodbloggers, but not so much with the white boys.
While we are happily devouring our lunch, that's when we encountered our first drama with our Big Bickie. One of my 'dreamcatcher' crab pots got caught and tangled deep in one of the motor engines and got us all panicked. Luckily the matey Monkeyboy comes to rescue and fight his way through the net to set us free. But it doesn't stop us finishing up our lunch, and Simon happily cooking up more bugolgi on the BBQ to keep everyone well fed.
Monkeyboy then slowly unwraps his secret booty, revealing a big slab of homemade Coconut Ice for the after lunch dessert. The two-color layered coconut ice is seductively red on top in contrast with the snowy white bottom. Monkeyboy is infamous with his lethal desserts, and there are no exceptions with this coconut ice - it is so rich and dense that even himself having trouble slicing the block. I have a small slice and already can feel the sugar hit buzz in my head wihle we spend the rest of the afternoon fishing, chillaxing, and of course not long before we knew it - is tea time already!
I've brought along some Adriano Zumbo's cakes to share, but the cakes are prone to car travelling disaster. When I opened one of the boxes, it almost looks like a food fight happening inside with some of the cakes been thrown around and landed on top of each other. Nonetheless, Zumbo's cakes never disappoint, they still tasted amazing and make the rest of the afternoon just that little sweeter and contented.
I highly recommend to go boating during winter time for many reasons. Firstly, you will find the hire cost is half if not three times cheaper than the normal cost during summer time. Secondly, the waterways will be less crowded with just few boats around, so usually yer can anchor your boat at an empty bay and have the whole area all to yerself. Lastly, there is nothing better to have for dinner on a freezing cold winter on a boat than a hot steamy Steamboat?!
We've got two steamboats going, one with clear broth and another with Mr Tean's curry laksa soup base. The curry version always tend to be more popular, while the neglected clear broth slowly converted into a Bak Kut Teh broth using the prepacked sachet. Food is abundance, there is a full tray of fish balls, meat balls, fried tofu puffs and all sorts, while the other one filled with vegetable including wombok, inoki and shiitake mushrooms, firm tofus and japanese naruto fish cakes. Not to mention the meat department of beef, chicken and pork slices are also freely dunked into the hot soup with mini metal ladles. A scrumptious meal all go down well with extra satay and XO dipping sauce. It gets rather hot and steamy inside the boat where condensation starts gathering around the window panes, soon it gets Simon thinking and art directing Chocolatesuze for that one-take Titanic moment...
You know... this one...
I hope the video will soon make an appearance on Simon's blog soon...
You didn't think that's the end of our feasting orgy for the day, did you?! Don't be silly! There's always room for dessert and supper!
I've had a sneak preview of the dessert that Monkeyboy has made on his facebook and it definitely looks heart-cloggingly (?) lethal. Another mum's recipe, a chocolate version of the classic English bread and butter pudding. Pyramids of breads had been soaked in a pool of dark chocolate overnight in the fridge and baked in the oven when ready to be served. The boat slowly turns into a pocket of air filled with intoxicated chocolate aroma which makes us craving for it even more so!
I have gone to heaven and back from the first spoonful of this rich and creamy pudding. The bread has completely dissolved and soaked up all chocolate sauce, it has the texture almost like a fluffy marshmallow which just melt in the mouth. Recipe from home keeps the Pom very happy, as he happily polishes the pudding off straight from the baking tray.
At this point, we seriously couldn't eat another thing... NOT! While I can still feel the bread and butter pudding clogging the artery, Helen has already started preparing the ingredient for our next gastronomical journey in the alps of Swiss - a Trio Cheese Fondue party. A combination of Jarlsberg, Gruyere and Tilsit are melted with brandy into a molten lava of cheesy goodness after reheating the fondue set for the second time. There are vegetables aplenty plus sourdough cubes for dipping but my favorite is the soft waxy boiled coliban potatoes.
It is well past midnight when we finally decided to call it a day/night of feasting, comfy bed beckons and slowly everyone waddles into their burrows, and food is probably the last thing I want to dream of.
I woke up a little early than everybody else and put my fishing lines out for the morning catch. Caught few tiny fishies but none eat-worthy and set free. We spent the night at Jerusalem Bay and it is peacefully calm and quiet in the morning, but not for long. Soon the pots and pans are out, the cameras are snapping away; everyone is recovered from a full day indulgence and ready for more feasting action! A great team effort with all foodbloggers at their cooking stations and whisk up a huge spread of full English breakfast.
I used up my last tub of ricotta cheese (Hooray!) that I received from Mark Comms and make some dare I say, the most delicious and fluffiest sweet ricotta pancakes on a Hello Kitty pan! (courtesy from Helen) It's like... seriously... "HELLO!" Each pancake comes out perfectly shaped with a Hello Kitty face imprinted on top. But the idea was soon given up as it takes too long to make enough pancakes to feed ten people and everyone is getting hungry.
In the meantime, Simon has already got the BBQ fired up and frying the bacon and hash browns away. The smell of fried bacon definitely perks everyone up almost instantly! No fuss scrambled eggs are also on the menu, along with some giant King Mushrooms, individually sliced and pan fried by Richard to perfection.
An epic effort from everyone and the end result is impeccable! The non-brekky-eater Chocolatesuze is more than happy to settle on some ricotta pancakes with an excessive amount of Dulce de Leche on top! If you want Suze to be at your next dinner party, feed her nothing but Dulce de Leche, she claimed.
Our gastronomical journey on Hawkesbury River slowly comes to an end as we spend the rest of the afternoon cruising down the river slowly back to where we started. We skip the lunch, but managed to squeeze one last tea break with more Adriano Zumbo's cakes to conclude this journey. O' me hearty, feeling fat and tired from the excessive amount of food over the last two days. I am just so glad that we managed to be back on land just in time before the boat sank for that many obvious reasons with the news headline next morning,
"Boat sank off Hawkesbury with mysterious unidentified heavy beached-whales onboard"