Special Attempt - Four 'N Twenty Chicken Parma Pie V.2

I know, I know, two Special Attempts in a row is a bit of a cop out, BUT we are heading out literally tomorrow for review mother-flippin' #300, this is just a little fill in to keep you occupied until then. 

Four 'n Twenty have been trying to crack the parma pie for a while now. I've listed this as "V.2" since we have done this before back in 2013 with their previous attempt at a parma pie. If you don't remember it might want to read that review to refresh your memory, as I'm probably going to be making a lot of references to it in this one. 

I didn't mind pie V.1, It wasn't perfect, but I thought the little schnitzel balls within the pie was an inspired way to transfer the parma experience to pie form. So when I heard last year that Triple M had teamed with Four 'n Twenty to create a brand new parma pie, my first thought was "why?", they had pretty much gotten it right the first time. 

When the parma pies were branded as the footy pie they were impossible to find. I had planned a special attempt when they were all the rage but a point-to-point search of all servos that I could find yielded no result. I had given up, Until I learned that Coles were now selling them in their freezers

On special for $4 per 4 pack. Bargain!

Cooking from frozen, I cracked one out of the bag...

V1 parma pie came with a microwave safe bag to ensure the retention of crispiness. V2 had no such bag. Nobody wants a soggy pie, so I checked the oven bake instructions on the pack. 45 minutes from frozen. Ughh ... Okay. 

Fired up the oven, chucked in the pie and 45 minutes later...

Okay! Freaking starving at this point, this was looking okay. Hot and crispy, as much as it was a pain in the ass I'd rather oven bake than microwave in the future. 

Out of interest I cracked open the lid and peered inside...

A river of cheese! With ham chunks floating on top. This was a promising sight.

I let it cool for a little, if this pie was anything like V.1 that cheese was hotter than the fires of Mount Doom in which the one ring was forged.

After a few minutes I was still a little worried about the temp, so opted to do the wimpy thing and proceed with a knife and fork

IMG_7752.jpg

An eruption of tomato and cheese spewed forth. And to be honest it was actually pretty tasty! 

I had my suspicions, but to my dismay Four 'n Twenty have ditched the ingenious schnitzel balls for more traditional chunks of straight chicken throughout the pie. I will say there was more of it compared to the V.1 version, But in my opinion the schnitzel balls made for a more genuine parma experience.

Other than that it was a pretty solid pie! I am quietly stoked to have another three waiting for me in the freezer, although I doubt my drunk-at-2am self is going to have the patience to wait 45 minutes to heat the damn thing in the oven, hopefully its microwaved counterpart isn't that bad.

My thoughts on the V.2 parma pie are very similar to my thoughts on the V.1 parma pie - Not anywhere close to as good as a real parma at the pub, but worth a crack if you see them around. 

The search continues...

Special Attempt - Mix & Bake Easy-Peasy Chicken Parma Dog Biscuits

As we all know, this week in April is a very special, very sacred holiday for many around the country.

Thats right, earlier this week was International Pet Day. A "chance for those of us who own pets to show them how much we love them". Totally not a fluke that I bought the dog biscuit mix before I found out that this week was international pet day. Not a fluke at all. 

But! On this Good Friday, as a gift to those choosing not to eat meat on this day, I'm not going to parade photo after photo of delicious forbidden chicken under your nose, instead we're giving this week's attempt to the dogs. One dog, in particular.

Everyone, meet Molly. Aka. "Molly Moo", aka. "Mooza". 

FullSizeRender.jpg

As well as being a dog, she will be the guinea pig for today's special attempt. 

On a lazy afternoon's browse of eBay, I stumbled upon this...

62F9217E-554A-445A-9614-AE0EED298E81.JPG

Basically it's a powdered dog biscuit mix. Powdered Chicken Parma flavoured dog biscuit mix. Stir it up with some oil and water, cut out the bickies, put them in the oven and voila! Instant doggy treats. 

The instructions seem simple enough...

FullSizeRender.jpg

The ingredients seem to tick all the boxes. Chicken stock, dehydrated ham, powdered cheese and dehydrated veggies, which I'm calling as the napoli .

Although in 299 reviews I can't remember trying a parma with crushed kelp. But what the hell ... Let's do it! 

As you may be aware these "Cooking with ParmaDaze" segments are usually quite picture heavy, and this one will be no exception.

 First up the mix went into the bowl - 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Followed by the oil and water - 

AF0FBBD0-9F6E-4880-9EE5-850C9456E596.JPG

And mix! 

The result is a ball of dough, laid out on a slightly floured surface - 

A78181FD-035C-4BC1-A57C-899D38B22C21.JPG

Rolled flat with a rolling pin - 

75E74233-49AF-456D-BEF8-9F5EE42F6435.JPG

I'm not sure if the thing I found in the drawer was supposed to be used as a cookie cutter, but it was the only thing I had that resembled a cookie cutter. It did the job - 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Followed by laying the cookies out on an oven tray. There was enough dough to make a few more, but my tray was full and this was more than enough for the review.

965D3E78-2C28-4CE5-8CB1-4574F64AB345.JPG

At this point the cookies went into the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes. 

The Doggo waited patiently for her treats... 

FullSizeRender.jpg

And 20 minutes later they were done! 

B3EC49CB-2715-4967-9EAD-076A87CCD10F.JPG

We waited for them to cool down for safety, then the moment of truth was upon us. Would my faithful companion enjoy chicken parmas as much as I do? Or would I have to disown her first thing in the morning? 

I captured the first taste on video - 

Success! She inhaled that thing and was keen for more. The Mix & Bake parma bickie was a complete success. 

However, my job was not yet complete.  

I'm the parma guy. It's my mission to try every parma that is available. It became clear while I was kneading the dough that I was going to have to taste the biscuit. For the sake of my art. The website. For you, dear reader... I was going to eat dog food.  

I braced myself and took a bite. 

AF16D172-CBD2-4947-9555-D88CE08FBB33.JPG

Hm.  

To be honest it didn't really taste like a parma. It didn't really taste like anything. Just rolled oats, flour and a very slight gamey aftertaste. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't pleasant and I won't be carrying them around in my pocket for the occasional snack, but they weren't as bad as I was expecting.  

And that's it! The rest of the biscuits went into a zip lock bag for Mooza to enjoy over the next few days.

I'd call this a success, the Mix & Bake Biscuits are surprisingly easy to make and went over fantastically with the pupper. Should I spy them at the shop I'd have no qualms giving them another crack (for the dog, not for me). From what I gather from the packaging and the email receipts I received from eBay, the mix is made at the Diamond Dog Food & Bakery in Seaford, and sold by Lucky Pet in West Footscray. Should be too hard to track down if you want to give them a go for yourself!

I hope you've enjoyed this special attempt for the pets in our life. Hope you have a great Easter weekend and I'll catch you next week (Hopefully for a more Human appropriate parma experience). 

2016 Parma of the Year awards

Well its December. The month where families gather to spend time with their loved ones, exchange heartfelt gifts, and read about which chicken parmigiana we thought was the best. It has been an interesting year for ParmaDaze, We enjoyed a parma in an American style diner, a parma designed by a MasterChef Champion, a Curry parma in a Japanese restaurant, a few parmas and some other heart-attack inducing grub on a road trip through the Southern United States, sampled every parma we could get our hands on during a week in Byron Bay and went yet another year without recording a new episode of our podcast.

Coleslaw seemed to be the big addition to parmas in 2016, it seemed like every second parma we had was sided with a serve of 'slaw as opposed to the traditional salad. I'm not complaining, a good slaw can really drive a parma home, but it is interesting to note that the trend seems to be swinging that way.

Now, for the Parma of the Year awards we normally give out two trophies, one for best parma overall (the top of the leaderboard) and another for best new parma that we found that year. As we have a new leader in 2016 our Parma of the Year and Best New Parma categories are one and the same, which means we only handed out a single trophy this year ... Only one award? That's no fun! So I've decided to hand out some honorary mentions for parmas of 2016 that have impressed us in other ways...

Outstanding chips

Ahh the chips. Nobody really cares about the salad, but everyone cares about the chips. But which ones stood out? We had some great examples of potato goodness in 2016 - But the absolute standout in my mind would be the roasted duck fat potatoes from the Empress Hotel

IMG_88451.jpg

Seeing chip after chip every week its rare that we come across a form of fried potato beside a parma that makes me stop and think "damn, thats unique", and while not technically chips they definitely got our attention. Crisp and crunchy on the outside opening up to fluffy clouds of potato inside. Fantastic flavour that barely needed seasoning – I could have easily downed a full plate of these solo. A very welcome change from the norm and something I'd like to see a lot more of in the future.

Most unexpectedly impressive parma

How we choose a location for our parma reviews every week depends on a lot of factors. Sometimes its a parma we've just heard about that does something unique or interesting, sometimes its a parma we've been recommended by readers, sometimes its a decent looking parma I spied on Instagram, and sometimes your wife is on late shift so you can't be bothered going far from home - You can normally spot these ones, they're the ones at pokies pubs or cafes, usually around Essendon or Moonee Ponds simply because we don't have time to travel far on a Thursday night - Hopes are never very high for these ones, which is why, when we found the parma at Crème, I was stunned.

IMG_3605.jpg

I had written off the Crème parma as crap before we walked in the door, imagine my surprise when this sizeable and flavoursome bird fell in front of me. This isn't right! Crème is a cafe, not a pub! None the less they turned out an extremely enjoyable parma that I am thrilled to know is nearby when I need it.

Most improved parma

We had quite a few redo's this year, more than any year previous, and in that bunch of revisited pubs I was surprised at how many of them actually managed to pull up their socks and improve their product. Picking a winner for most improved parma is tough as there were so many good ones. In fact, I'm gonna need to call this one a tie, between The Rose Hotel in Fitzroy and Richmond's Royston Hotel.

roseredu.jpg
roystonredu.jpg

The Rose Hotel underwent an amazing transformation. Both the parma and the pub itself are virtually unrecognisable. When we originally had it in 2010 it was absolutely horrible with zero redeeming qualities (other than the breadstick, which was a nice addition). In 2016 it was a damn fine bird. Quality chicken breast, tasty toppings, an all round hearty meal.

The Royston wasn't that bad to begin with, but they turned it into something phenomenal. If you throw out the scores for Chips, Salad and Value the Royston's parma is our second highest rated of all time, behind this year's Parma of the Year Winner. Both well deserving of the title of most improved parma.

Best Pub Dog

Who doesn't love a good pub dog? Who wouldn't want to be a pub dog? It isn't even a competition, this year's award goes to Billy at the Palace Hotel

IMG_3461.jpg

Billy walks around the Palace likes he owns the place, and rightfully so, his face is literally on the walls in the beer garden and on the logo for the pub itself.

Screen-Shot-2016-12-07-at-10.18.02-AM.png

Oh, and the parma isn't half bad either.

I could go on, But there's a reason you're reading this post. It's time for the parma of the year...

Parma of the Year

Who would have thought when we walked into our first review of 2016 that we would be walking in to a new #1 parma for ParmaDaze. It's no secret so lets no bury the lead, Parma of the Year for 2016 goes to the outstanding Birmingham Hotel.

IMG_5461.jpg

Its always controversial when a new leader is crowned, but I stand by it ... The above photo was taken last weekend when we presented the Birmy with their award and the parma is as tasty as it was in January. If you haven't yet you can read our original write-up here. Absolutely outstanding.

IMG_5453.jpg

The lads at the Birmy were super stoked to receive their award. Always nice to see, quickly taking prime position over the front bar...

IMG_5466.jpg

 

Congratulations to the Birmingham. An award well earned.

And with that another year is over! Massive thanks to all the readers for the support throughout the year, your comments, suggestions and abusive emails are what keep me going - Especially those who have already signed up to our 2017 Parma Knight's membership program, you guys are the real MVP's (memberships still available here ... Would make an awesome Christmas gift for the parma lover in your family ... Just sayin').

Also big thanks to the review team, When you drunkenly agreed to do a weekly parma with me after a filling meal at Mrs. Parmas I bet you didn't think we'd still be doing it 6 years later. Couldn't do it without you guys. Many thanks (although you need to get off your collective asses and come record another podcast with me).

Have an awesome holiday season, I'll most likely be posting of my exploits on Instagram more than anywhere else so that's probably worth following if you aren't already.

Should be back in action mid-January 2017 ... Catch you then!