The World Cup of Food: Italy v Thailand
We’re at the pointy end of the competition, with one country set to walk away with the title of ‘World’s Greatest Cuisine’ next week!
The winner will go on to play France in the grand final.
Kate and Scorcher go dish for dish in a penalty shootout this week, in the last semi-final match up.
Kate is in Italy’s corner, while Scorcher is playing for Thailand.
A vegetarian dish?? It’s risky, I know, but I literally chased this dish around Italy. Layers of gorgeous grilled eggplant, lashings of mozzarella, tonnes of rich tomato sauce, and some shaved parmesan on top for good measure. It’s gotta be one of the most fabulously unhealthy vegetable dishes you can get, which surely is part of the attraction?
This is the greatest of Thailand’s many great salads. A real show-stopper. “Larb” means “good luck and prosperity” in Thai. Larb gai is browned minced chicken, mint, basil, red onions, maybe some cucumber, and dressed with lime juice and ground red chiles. The Fresh Prince of Bangkok.
Ooooh, a big bowl of love and goodness from Nonna. Could there be a heartier soup? Thick tomato broth, pasta, beans, and whatever Nonno’s been able to grow in the garden – celery, carrots, spinach, zucchini … finished with a bit of fresh basil, and a slice of crusty bread. This is the stuff winter was made for.
For my soup I’m going Tom Yum Goon, a spicy and sour soup with delicious, piquant broth, prawns and veg. The aroma is out of control. You will have a nose-gasm when you eat it. Need I remind you that the word “yum” is in the title. So, there’s a clue there.
A bit predictable to start with a pasta, but who doesn’t love it. The problem was choosing one. The classic carbonara? The deceptively simple cacio e pepe? After a visit to Guy Grossi’s pop up “Comunita” I had to go for a Parpadelle Ragu. Hand-made, big, fat, ribbons of fresh pasta. The sauce, well for a ragu, you can slowly braise any meat – beautiful beef, luscious lamb. At Comunita, it’s somewhat more exotic Wild boar ragu – with onion, carrot, celery, garlic, chilli, plenty of herbs, tomato, a glug of red wine, a hint of clove, cinnamon, and star anise … all slowly cooked into a rich, meaty, red sauce. Bellissimo!
An authentic Massaman beef curry is one of life’s great pleasures. It’s rich and full of flavour, like George Clooney in a bowl. This fragrant curry contains fall-apart beef, potato, lemongrass, dried, chillies, galangal and garlic, and is born of Indian and Malay influences.
Is there anything as good as a traditional, Napolitan pizza? Pizza d’Asporto have it down pat, and the spicy Diavola is the stand out. Thin crispy base, super puffy crust, hot cacciatore, San Marzano tomato, mozzarella, capers, fresh chilli and (for me) some extra chilli oil for good measure. Crispy pizza, gooey cheese, spicy sausage. Food of the gods at just $20. That’s the beauty of Italian.
Walk down any street in Thailand and you’ll fall over someone selling Pad Thai. It’s the spaghetti Bolognese of Thailand but a heck of a lot better. Fun fact? Pad Thai emerged out of a competition to create a new nationalistic dish and the Thais, along with the rest of the world, have gone bunta for it ever since.
Thin, flat, quite chewy rice noodles. Chicken or prawns. Some chillies, peanuts, bean shoots. This dish will thrill every taste bud you have in your mouth.
How can you not go for a dessert whose name literally translates as “pick me up”. Because it does, Tiramisu. Yes, that could just be down to the caffeine, or the sugar rush – but either way, it’ll put a smile-o on your dial-o. Traditional Lady finger biscuits dipped in coffee and a little booze, marscapone cheese, cocoa, just layers and layers of indulgence.
Right. I’ve had to come up with an Asian dessert two weeks in a row. Asia is not know for its dessert. But for my nomination I’ve gone for banana roti, aka banana crepe, which is a lovely little treat. Golden, crispy, fried crepe, banana slices, condensed milk and sugar.
WHERE KATE ATE
Comunita Grossi – 80 Bourke St Melbourne – florentino.com.au
Comunita is Grossi’s interpretation of restaurant life during partial lockdown – a celebration of all things convivial and Italian. It’s in the space that usually houses Grossi Grill, a beautiful, dark room. The food is superb and matched only by the phenomenal service. We had the eggplant parmagiana and the Wild Boar Ragu here, and both made the penalty shoot out.
Pizza D’Asporto – 71 Kororoit Creek Rd Williamstown – pizzadasporto.com.au
This little gem is hidden in plain sight on a Woolworths carpark, so it’s unassuming, but the food is DOP and DOC approved which means they’re using only the best Italian ingredients. The kitchen is full of Italians, the service is ALWAYS friendly, and I can never walk away without eating an entire Diavola pizza to myself.
- Ms Frankie, 24 Cremorne St, Cremorne, 3121, msfrankie.com.au
- Osteria Fiorenza, 49A Gheringhap St, Geelong, 3220, osteriafiorenza.com.au
- Geppetto Trattoria, 78A Wellington Parade, East Melbourne, 3002, geppettotrattoria.com