Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A French Summer, Hobart Style...

Summer is nearly on us (not that you would know it from the weather today) and we at Piccalilly are very excited about it.

The two main reasons are tomatoes and the new Farmers' Market. Iain's father Chris has never enjoyed a day of gardening in his life, however, inspired by memories of Provence he has been out and about scouring nurseries and gardening stores.


He has returned home with 30 large pots, a ute load of potting mix and every heirloom and special or rare variety of tomato plant he could lay his hands on. With the help of Google and various tomato online forums his thumbs have turned a deep shade of green and there is now a forest of tiny plants on waist-high bench in a sunny spot out the front of his shed.

Chris tending to his new "babies"

This makes us very excited! Chris hopes for about 80 kilograms of vine ripened tomatoes still warm from the sun to be arriving at Piccalilly's kitchen door through the last month of Summer ready to be sliced, seasoned and served! Lets hope that Google provides the right information to ensure a premium product!

No pressure Chris but this is what we're expecting!

The Farmers' Market held every Sunday (as of last week) has also piqued our interest. We woke early on Sunday (after only finishing work at 2:00 am the night before) and walked the couple of blocks to the site of the market in Melville Street, our mouths watering in anticipation of all the nice things we were going to see and buy.

The crowd.

As we approached we saw a lot of people and our hopes were raised even higher. Turning the corner into the car park we were a little disappointed to see only about 10 stalls and then even more disappointed as we joined the flow of people cycling past the stalls. It was all sold-out. This left us in two minds: Great! hundreds of people turned out to see a new market, very encouraging. Hopefully it will gain momentum and take over the whole car park quickly becoming an institution. Bad: so many people to such a small market with nothing to sell might cause people to leave not wanting to give it another go.

With nothing to buy...

Only time will tell, but the more the merrier! We hope to see organic growers, and people who have a glut of veggies from their own garden rocking up with a box of home grown things to show off. The council or whoever is managing this market needs to get stall-holders involved quickly before it is too late!

We will be going back for sure!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Summing Up

Well... Were back at home and back at work. The new floor is in and very blue, the stainless steel splash backs are finally finished as of yesterday. The kitchen looks great!

We have a new menu and a new (well, slowly getting there) wine list, and it's all going well.

How did we get to this point you ask? It's a story of arduous travel and heartache. We left our apartment in Paris at 7:15 when it was still dark last Tuesday, and rushed to the train in Les Halles station to get to the airport. The train was packed with workers heading for the massive industrial park at the stop before the airport. It wasn't very nice. Our huge heavy bags caused quite a disruption as we could only just squeeze in to the guillotine-type doors. If it wasn't for a very friendly French lady who communicated with us through sign language we would have got on the wrong train all together.

The security check in before we got our boarding passes for American Airlines was equally trying. It took about 25 minutes and we had to produce receipts for hotels, train tickets and the 10th degree on the contents of our bags. We then moved to the second stage of check-in, the automated passport check. The machine was like trying to crack the Da Vinci code and rejected our Australian passports. We were ushered to the desk (the final check-in step) where they checked our passports and gave us our boarding passes!

It was a two hour wait to board the plane to New York. We took our seats and then waited for take off. The plane was packed with a lot of people who seem unable to bring a small carry-on bag leading to lots of people having to exit the plane to check their huge bags in to the hold because they simply wouldn't fit in the overheads. Our crew for the 7 hour flight were elderly at best, one particular gent (who would have been days away from retiring) doddered around being rude and forgetting peoples food. We had cramped, uncomfortable seats and an hour and a quarter wait after pressing the service button before someone came to see what we needed. All this didn't make the trip anymore pleasant (not that we are at all bitter about the whole experience but it was Iain's food that was forgotten so he does wish to share!). We landed in The States, cleared customs, getting shouted at by a customs official for standing still too long and picked up our bags to check them back in for the remainder of the trip.

Once we sorted ourselves out we hopped on the monorail that joins all the terminals together at JFK. We had to wait a couple of hours for our check-in to open so grabbed some seats and people-watched. We were flying Qantas home (via LA) and if anyone complains about Qantas again I'll be setting them straight, in comparison to AA it was a pleasure! We had a few more hours to kill before our plane so we decided to have a burger from Maccas since we were in The States and had been eating locally produced food for the last three weeks. It was really good! Whoever made it had put a lot of effort into it, the patty was huge and juicy and the salad cut up with care (a huge departure from what we get here!). Although they did have trouble understanding that we didn't want the litre cup of Coke with it (Snapple instead, a hangover from Elysia's teenage obsession with Clueless).

The flight to Sydney passed quickly and painlessly (possibly something to do with the soothing Australian accents all around us) before we had to endure another 7 hour wait in the Sydney domestic terminal. And then home... 5o hours after we started. And we had all our bags!

Advice for those wanting to travel to Europe: Although it might be cheaper to go through the United States, don't do it. Pay the extra and go through Singapore, it'll cut 20 hours off your journey and you might not have to fly American Airlines.

Once back (now late on Thursday night) we headed to Piccalilly to see the new floor and stainless steel. Unfortunately the steel wasn't all installed yet but we were too tired to care and went to Das Zimmer for something to eat, our fridge still empty from a month away. We had confit pork belly with cabbage, and a few of the other goodies they have on offer, before crawling into bed.

Back at work the next day putting the kitchen back together in order to get the place ready to start prepping a new menu for Tuesday's re-opening. The biggest job was trying to remove the thick film of concrete dust that was now coating everything. The same wonderful helpers from moving everything out appeared on Sunday to return the big service fridges into place and we were ready to go - even though our 23 year-old dishwasher didn't handle the move too well, and needed several bits replacing before it was returned to its former glory.

We will post pics of the new food once our photographer has been in to take the photos (he has to finish his last two weeks of Art School)

Here is a before and after of our kitchen floor. Just to add if you need any new flooring we can highly recommend Warren up at Harvey Norman Flooring in Hobart. The complicated steel work was carried out by Walter Welding and Sheet Metal (Rainer the owner is a regular diner at Piccalilly) They have done an fantastic job!

(the helpers couldn't help but to play some indoor cricket in the large room with nothing to break in it)

After (no steel yet)




After and ready to go!

New floor in the bar!