Champagne and what?

When a monk named Dom Perignon was making wine in 1693 and couldn’t get rid of the bubbles he reportedly tasted it and exclaimed “Come Quickly, I am drinking the stars!” he probably wouldn’t have imagined that 300 years later on a continent that hadn’t been discovered yet it would be poured as a pairing to fried chicken.

Yep, that’s not a typo.  Champagne and fried chicken.  An odd but yet delicious pairing with the chicken crust matched with bubbles.  Delicious.  So this has become a favorite indulgence and thanks to the addition of a Sous Vide stick from Sansaire and our growing collection of fantastic grower champagnes from Somm Select (they offer some amazing wines, new every day and well worth checking out) it’s become even easier to make an amazing feast.

Why Sous Vide?  Well I’m lazy, ok not really but I do like cooking off all the chicken in advance and Sous Vide is a great method for that.  Just season and bag up the chicken, drop it in a water bath for a few hours and go about your day.  Then when it comes time to fry all you’re really doing is re-heating the chicken and setting the crust.  This makes it easy to cook off a large batch of chicken quickly and consistently without having to worry about undercooking.

There are no shortage of recipes available for Sous Vide chicken or fried chicken but not as many that deal with Sous Vide Fried Chicken so I did some hunting around through the internet and our collection of cookbooks and came up with a method combining a few different recipes.

I really like Thomas Kellers Ad Hoc cookbook and many of the meat recipes involve brining in advance of cooking.  His fried chicken recipe is no different BUT I was in a hurry in this instance and didn’t have time to brine the chicken in advance so I tried to infuse some of the flavors from his chicken brine into the chicken during the sous vide cooking.  In this case I added sage, rosemary, lemon and some thyme into each bag of 3-4 pieces of chicken.  I seasoned fairly heavily, and in the end, result it worked pretty well, not as good as the brine but the chicken had some nice citrus and herbal undertones.

For the breading, I used a combination of flour with some onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and baking soda.  The chicken was already cooked so it was just a matter of dredging the chicken in the flour, then a dunk in buttermilk, then flour again before a quick fry of around 2.5 to 3 minutes at around 350 degrees.

Served warm with some great champagne and there you have it.  A delicious meal and fantastic yet unexpected wine pairing.

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Settling in

Coming up on two months now since we moved into our new place, boxes are steadily being unpacked and we’re getting back to normal.  We got new windows installed last week and I put the hours of HGTV viewing to good use and started installing the new window trim which has been quite popular with the four legged residents of our house.

The other day I was moving some boxes around in the basement and found a cat perch that mounts to the window sill that I had bought a couple years ago but never mounted in our old place since there just wasn’t the right spot to put it.  So I decided to put it up on the office window to give them a place to plop down and watch the squirrels and birds that run around in the backyard.

Marion found it right away and decided it was his, Seamus wasn’t so sure about that and there was a minor standoff and discussion about this newly discovered territory.

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In the end, age and experience won out and the victor celebrated in the customary fashion.

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Who hates popcorn?

I sure do, but maybe not the type you’re thinking of. The type I hate was a popular ceiling decoration starting in the 60’s which we’ve been scraping down for the past couple days but the end is nearing and soon a nice painted ceiling will have replaced the ugly, sparkly, 1965 popcorn in the living areas.

The trick seems to be using water, lots of it. Soak the area, then go away for 10 minutes and come back to spray it some more. When you start scraping it should just come right off and make a huge mess.

Speaking of that, make sure that if you have floors that you care about (and we do) that you protect them well. We spent an hour or so tarping and taping off everything before we really got started and that’s been a huge time saver allowing us to move pretty rapidly and rid the house of the popcorn.

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EK413: An unexpected Upgrade

Months and months ago when we were searching non-stop looking for all of our flights in and around Australia and New Zealand I came across a great deal to get us between Auckland and Sydney for the last leg of our vacation.  I thought it was a typo when I secured us two tickets for around $150 but went for it and was even more surprised when I saw the flight was on an Emirates A-380.  A plane that holds upwards of 500 people for a 1500 mile flight?  Makes no sense but whatever and we bought the tickets and moved on.

Fast forward almost seven months and four days before said flight I get an email from Emirates offering us an upgrade oppurtunity on the flight to Sydney.  Normally I wouldn’t bother on a short flight but it was a good deal, we’d paid next to nothing for the tickets in the first place and it’s business class on an A380 which is not something either of us were likely to experience any time soon let alone on Emirates.  After some further conversation where we figured out that this upgrade would give us dinner at the airport, dinner on board, hours of free internet access that we’d been lacking and whatever..it didn’t take much convincing to go ahead with it.

On the day of the flight we showed up at the airport probably four hours early wanting to take full advantage of the lounge facilities for happy hour and getting some much needed blogging and photo uploading complete before our flight.  We settled into the lounge and celebrated with some vintage Veuve Clicout and snacks while we worked.  In the meantime the lounge quickly filled as we learned there were not one but four large flights departing for Australia and then on to Dubai that afternoon.

Boarding was called and we wandered our way down to the terminal, along the way we saw this Air New Zealand plane with some cool Hobbit artwork:

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Another few minutes and we arrived at our gate which was predictably at the end of the terminal and got a first glimpse of our ride to Sydney waiting at the gate.  We walked through the gate and found two separate boarding ramps for coach (lower level of the plane) and first/business on the upper level.

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 We were welcomed on board by one of the most pleasant flight crews I’ve ever run across, I think there were about 14 crew working in the business cabin for about 30 people.  We found our seats about halfway down the cabin nicely appointed with wood, these great storage compartments under the windows and even a mini-bar at each seat stocked with fancy water, juice, soda’s and glassware.  Each seat has a huge video screen you control by touching the screen, using the wired remote or if you can’t manage that there’s also a touch screen wireless remote for controlling the seat, lights, AC and the massive library of movies, TV, music etc..

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After a second pre-flight happy hour we were under way and it was a weird take off, the plane rolled for a long time but the acceleration wasn’t as pronounced as you would feel in at 747, 767 or smaller Airbus plane it was like one second we were rolling on the ground and the next we were floating upwards under the massive wings attached to this plane.  It was a strange realization that we were in a huge plane and that there was essentially another huge plane right down the stairs with another 300 people on it.  Crazy.  Also worth mentioning that this plane is QUIET, the usual noise you get on planes seemed to be about 40% less than usual.

Service began with a nice Bordeaux and then some nice smoked salmon and lamb cutlets for dinner, these were easily as good or better than the lamb I’d ordered in a couple of restaurants during out time in NZ.  For dessert a delicious chocolate cake and fruit.

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Once dinner was over we decided to head back to the bar for an after dinner drink, yes, I said back to the bar ON THE PLANE!  The rear of the business cabin is setup as a lounge/bar area complete with with top end liquor and wines, little canape’s and other snacks available throughout the flight.  The bartender was a nice guy from Brazil originally and we chatted with him while the other attendant who was also super nice and very used to people looking amazed that there was a bar on the plane, took a picture for us.

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Champagne and martini’s seemed to be most appropriate for this lifestyles of the rich and famous/international super spy 007 moment so we did just that and enjoyed our little club flying along at 38,000 feet.  Just since they had it, I grabbed a scotch before we headed back to our seats to relax for the remainder of the flight wishing for the first time ever that the flight could be longer.

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All to soon we landed in Sydney after what seemed like the longest low level approach to the runway ever, a nice smooth landing and we breezed through customs and very quickly found ourselves downtown at the Westin and ready to enjoy the last few days of vacation exploring Sydney.

 

Happy New Years!

It’s early morning in the US but here in Melbourne we’re only 4 short hours away from 2014!  We’re relaxing in our little studio apartment rental with some cheese and beer while we upload photos from the last couple days up in Cairns.  You can see our pictures so far over on our photo site http://thebriankdotnet.smugmug.com/BPKphoto/Travel/Land-down-under and we’ll be adding more to that gallery as we go along.

So happy new years!

Where in the world are BK and KMJ?

The short answer?  We’re headed to the deep south for a few weeks in Australia and New Zealand!  Looking forward to some extended time to explore and enjoy another round of summer weather.  We’ll be blogging of course and check back here for more info starting next weekend when we arrive in sunny Cairns, Australia for a few days of exploring the Great Barrier Reef.  Where else are we going?  Here’s a good overview and check back for updates, we can’t wait to get going!

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