Last night we had a beer at the Wig & Pen, dinner at ZenYai Thai, and saw Rod Quantock's show at the Street Theatre. It should have been a good night, and it was, except that ZenYai was very disappointing. I've been there before, though the most recent visit was about a year ago. They won awards in 2003 & 2004, and I really enjoyed their food back then. I wonder if they have a new chef, or if they have changed hands?
We didn't have a dinner booking, and were just wandering in along London Circuit looking for a place to eat. We didn't get in at Lemongrass, and then at ZenYai the waitress quite apologetically offered us a small table near the door to the toilets. That was OK with us; we were only in for a quick bite before the show, not a leisurely dining event. We ordered mostly very standard food - spring rolls and steamed wontons; red curry chicken and beef salad with garlic rice. It arrived promptly, as did our first drinks. Second drinks were a bit harder to obtain; the bloke had to resort to semaphore to get any attention for our table in Siberia.
I am unfamiliar with Thai steamed wontons, but I trusted in the good name of the restaurant - clearly a mistake. As far as I could tell they, and the spring rolls, were straight out of the supermarket frozen dim sum selection. There was nothing distinctly Thai about them, and the wontons were just very ordinary small dim sims, a bit overdone and leathery. The red curry was passable, though quite mild and dull of flavour. It was not very rich, either. I've made better myself with a tub of paste and tin of coconut cream - especially since I took a Thai cooking class a couple of years ago and learned a few tricks. And the beef salad was a great disappointment. I really love a good Thai beef salad - Yum Nua - and it needs to have fresh herbs in it. Coriander, mint, onion and chilli are essential... ideally some roast rice powder, maybe the salad vegetable choice is optional, maybe some Thai basil can go in, but definitely there MUST be herbs. Just google for a recipe, go on! ZenYai's had none, just slightly limp lettuce with cucumber, carrot, tomato and onion. Their dressing was rather short on the palm sugar and lime and long on the fish sauce, too. Overall, the whole meal was bland and dull.
Oh well. Rod Quantock's show, "The John Howard Farewell Party", did not disappoint at all. It was great fun. Rod corralled a bunch of people from the back of the queue to be official "latecomers". We got caught up in that, and were made to sing Mandy Vanstone's hilarious pastiche of Land of Hope and Glory while the rest of the audience pretended to be an orchestra - except for one designated heckler. I did my loudest bad soprano schreech, just because I could.
This morning I woke up and made pineapple muffins, and wrote this blog post. Yum. Here's the recipe.
Recipe: Pineapple upside-down muffins
1 cup white SR flour
1 cup wholemeal SR flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light oil
1 tsp vanilla
300g crushed pineapple and 2 tablespoons extra juice
1 large carrot, grated (1 cup)
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped macadamias
1/4 cup chopped macadamias
12 tsp brown sugar
Preheat oven to 200C.
Grease your muffin pans, if you haven't already moved to silicon. Put the topping into each of 12 muffin cups: 1 tsp brown sugar and some chopped macadamias apiece.
Mix all the dry ingredients well in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs and sugar well with the vanilla and oil, then add the rest of the ingredients for the wet mix and combine evenly. Fold gently through the dry mix, and then divvy up into your muffin pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden, then turn out onto a rack and leave upside down to cool. Or do like we did and scarf some of them down piping hot.
Notes: This is adapted from this recipe. I used cranberries rather than raisins only because I'd run out of raisins. I used a 400g can of crushed pineapple in juice, and currently have some left over in the fridge. Next time I do this, I'll add the extra pineapple to the topping - this version came out quite solid, not caramelly and syrupy as the original recipe suggests. It's good, anyway.