Tasting Tasmania

I love travelling overseas, but living in Australia, it can be a very timely and costly exercise. Sometimes, when all you’ve got is a few days and you’re just desperate for an escape, it’s better just to go interstate.

With lovely summer days gone and winter setting in, I was heading for a little bit of a lull and wanted to mix things up. As one of my friends recently made Hobart her home for the next 12 months, I thought the time was right for a trip down down under.  I got a group together and we went adventuring and boy did we find some tasty Tasmanian treats!

Below are a few photos of some of the best our largest island has to offer. Chocolate, cheese and salmon galore!!

Smoked trout pate – Wicked Cheese Company


Toasted cheese from Bruny island cheese company


Bruny Island oysters


Salmon dish from Mexican restaurant Pancho Villa


Tasmanian apples


Grilled fish salad at Battery Point

Bonding by Baking 

Food and family go hand in hand and one of my favourite things to do is bake with my dad. I think I got my love of cooking from my papa bear as although my parents are both excellent cooks, my dad’s the one who really loves it. 
On a beautiful but cold Autumn afternoon, he and I bonded the best way we know how, by baking a pear and almond flan. This was truely a family affair as the recipe we used came from my brother’s father in law (aka Shnukums) who is also an excellent cook. 


Half the time was spent baking, the other half deciphering the steps we needed to take next. I’d never made a tart with pieces of whole fruit in it but it was so delicious when Shnukums served it to us at a dinner party a few weeks back that I knew I was up for the challenge. 


We questioned the consistency of the pastry base, we questioned the quantity of the almond, egg and butter filling and then watched nervously for the golden colour to appear while baking but in the end it was worth it. The finished product was pretty as a picture and even better, it tasted awesome too!


Bonding by baking – there’s nothing more fun (or fattening) then that!!

Tagines, Pastillas & Bread oh my!

This past Christmas/ New Years break, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel overseas. I love spending my annual leave exploring new places – preferably in regions I’ve never been to before. This time I decided to hit the continent of Africa, visiting the beautiful country of Morocco.

In addition to being the most spectacularly scenic country, the food is delicious!!! What they lack in range of local cuisine, they make up for in flavour, portion size, freshness and healthiness. Excluding breakfast which is a carb-palooza of bread, pastry, crepes and, well, more bread (say hello to the French influence), the Moroccans have quite a balanced diet. They eat lots of fruit and vegetables, good cuts of red and white meat – slow cooked to keep flavour, and  healthy plant based fats. Just don’t drink the tea – that stuff is pure sugar!!

Here is a smorgasbord of some of my favourite meals:

Almond pastries from Tangier

Breakfast buffet – carb central!

Moroccan Salad

Lemon Chicken Tagine – incredible form of cooking!

Dried fruit and nuts sold by weight

Meat options at a local BBQ house

Pasilla- chicken or fish ‘pie’ coated with sugar and almond meal (chicken) or cheese (fish)

Berber Omelette- aka Egg Tagine

Hearty Beef and Vegetable Tagine

Kefta Beef Tagine

Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Prunes

Shrimp Tagine

Yaks Barbecue Festival, Sydney CBD

I know it’s not pc to say but I think g-d intended for us to eat everything. Grain to grass, sea creatures and land creatures, roots, stalks, nuts and fruit. Now I love my vegetables – right now I’m having a super intense relationship with capsicum (it’s the crunch!), but I also love my meat which is why the moment I heard there was a bbq festival in Sydney I jumped online to book a ticket. 
 

An example of the monster

 
I think there is something magical about American barbecue. You put raw, beautiful cuts of meat in to a monster of a machine, add some coals for heat, wood chips for a smokey flavour and lashings of bourbon/ chilli/ maple syrup concocted marinade and 6-18 hours later, out pops the most unctuous, delicious, fall off the bone, juicy meat you’ve ever wrapped your tongue around. There is some serious technique to this process, but the key is to go low and slow and from dirty dancing to squats – that’s my favourite way to do things! 😜

 

Hoy Pinoy’s chicken & pork skewers

 
American diner food and more recently barbecue is one of the biggest food trends to hit our shores in the last year and the Yak Ale Barbecue Festival was heralded as a celebrate of all things meat. 

Held for the first time in Sydney at the Domain, the event was centered around local Aussie teams competing for a place at the Texas barbecue competition – a place where barbecuing is a serious sport. In all honestly, this was the most boring part of the day. Given the nature of the cooking, there was actually nothing to see for at least the first three hours besides smoke coming out of medieval looking cooking contraptions and some of the teams were not interested in having a chat. 

 

Porteno’s meaty wares

 
Scheduled from 10am to 10pm, we rocked up pretty much as gates opened and boy was everything slow to start. Several vender stalls were still setting up, there was no entertainment despite being listed on the schedule and all the food available for purchase was still being cooked – this last though not such a problem as we weren’t quite ready to sweat just yet. 

 

I ain’t no chicken!

 
We begun the day with a ride on the Yak’s mechanical bull (90 seconds my personal best) then made our way clockwise around the venue parameter, checking out the vendors and there were definitely barbecues galore – as in the brand as well as the variety. 

 

Big tub of potato salad- not big enough apparently!!

 
By about 11.20am we’d seen all there was to see and tasted all the spice rubs and sauces there were to taste -we even bought a bag of wood chips to do some home smoking. We saw the queues forming and decided hunger or no hunger, It was time to line up for food. All I can say is it was a ‘good thinking 99’ moment. 

 

My prize for waiting 20 minutes

 
We were super strategic. One of us lined up at Melbourne’s Blue Bonnet in order to get a serving of lamb ribs and beef brisket, another at Hoy Pinoy to get a couple of chicken skewers and the third went to snag seats. I was delegated the chicken skewer mission and while there was a 15 minute wait, I got lucky – Surly’s were passing around a limited number of free pork ribs right next to where I was standing and I got to nab one of those too. 

 

Winner winner lamb & brisket dinner!

 
The verdict? The skewers ($12 for two) were sweet and tasty bites of juicy white meat, the pork rib (free) was soft and well seasoned. The brisket ($10 per 100g) oozed with rich fat and just melted in your mouth but the hands down winner was the lamb ($10 per 100g). I’ve never tasted meat like this in my life!! The perfect balance between sweet and savory, soft center with a crunchy outer, fatty and zingy – it was well worth the 8 hour cooking time and 30 minute queuing time.  

Despite being a poorly run event (they ran out of food at 1pm!!), there is no question the festival has inspired me to check out some of our local American diners in Sydney and try my hand at a little barbecuing of my own. 

I can’t wait till once again I can get my meat on y’all’. Yeeha, Ridin cowboy!!

Yeeeehaaaa

Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Usually during the festive period I tend to overindulge. Like most people who love food, I lack any form of self control and home cooked smorgasbords along with with endless cocktail party canapés are my undoing. Add into that a holiday or overseas trip and my gastronomical consumption is astronomical. 

I therefore usually begin the new year in glutton withdrawal, a state of being characterized by sugar induced mood swings, excessive guilt and a new and brutal exercise regime.

This year I took a different approach. Rather than plan an overseas adventure filled with alcohol, fatty foods and sleep deprivation (wonderful as those are), I organised a relaxing week long trip to kangaroo island. It combined all my favorite things: beaches, hikes and tonnes of local produce for exceptional foodie experiences. 

Although there were some sweets and treats such as honeycomb lattes, lavender lollies and home made scones with apricot jam (I’m only human!), the fresh oysters, marron, sheep’s cheeses, kangaroo fillets and salt water whiting ensured that not only were my tastebuds happy, but that my waistline was too. 

Check out some of my favorite food pics below for some of the most memorable meals. What holiday destinations have you travelled to that are lifestyle conducive or do you have a plan to manger your holiday indulgence? 

 

Seafood platter with homemade bread, dips and all the fruits of the sea

  

Marron – relative of the yabbie – boiled and peeled

  

Freshly baked scones – like pillows

  

Whiting with greek salad- light, fresh, delicious

 

Eucumbene Trout Farm, ACT

You know the saying ‘like shooting fish in a barrel’? That phrase does not apply to me and the sport of fishing. For me to catch a fish, it literally has to be swimming in a barrel. 

My family are not fisher persons. That doesn’t stop us booking a fishing trip every time we are somewhere known for their sea chicken – The Bay of Islands in New Zealand, the Northern Territory, even Kalbarri in WA. We always come home, tired, salty and carrying someone else’s hard caught fish. 

  
The problem is, we are a seafood loving family so we keep on trying inspite of our failures. This time, on a weekend away to Canberra, we decided to visit the Eucumbene Trout Farm and we were finally onto a winner. There is a $5 entry charge and a two fish per person maximum but with three 3 by 4 meter fish ponds and their specially designed sparkly fish bait, you are guaranteed to catch. Winner winner chicken fish dinner! 

  
It’s a bit of a drive – 2 hours south of Canberra – but they supply you with everything that you need to catch the perfect meal. They even kill, clean, season and wrap your fish in foil, all ready to be cooked on their super hot bbqs and eaten at their outdoor picnic tables – Accompanied by a large order of green salad and crunchy chips. 

The grounds are also absolutely magnificent and you can go and wander around the large lake that houses the larger trout for people looking for a more challenging and competitive experience (we weren’t). 

  
Once you added the costs of the entry fee, the fish (charged by weight) and the sides, it all came to around $40 – a price I found very reasonable for one of the freshest, most delicious meals I’ve had in forever!

I’m so happy my luck has changed – it might be time to try the open ocean once again ….. Then again … It might not. 

A Pink Afternoon Tea

It’s great to cook for family, it’s satisfying to cook for friends – it’s extra special when you are also cooking for a good cause. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and this year, my sister and I decided to put our kitchen skills towards a meaningful and very important cause by hosting an afternoon tea. We supplied everything – all we asked for was a donation from our friends who attended. Boy did they deliver!!

It was with great joy and full stomaches that we were able to donate almost $700. Check out the food picks below. 

   
    
    
 

Happy Jew Year 

Ah Jewish festivals. We’re either bingeing or we’re starving. Ok to be honest, 99% of the time we’re bingeing but either way it’s all about the food. And it’s so very very good. 

Growing up, my favourite was Chanukah – the festival of the lights. What’s not to love about panfried potato pancakes, jam filled donuts and chocolate coins. It pretty much sells itself. Now that I’m older, I appreciate all of them – the cheesecake at Shavuot, the matzah French toast at Passover and the Hamantashen (poppyseed filled cookies) at Purim. But boy does it play havoc on the waste line. 
  
This past week my friends, family, community and I welcomed in the Jewish New Year. It’s a time of celebration where we give thanks for the year that has passed and wish our love ones a happy new year filled with health, happiness and the sweetness of life. In an effort to make all these wonderful things come true, we proceed to stuff ourselves with apples dipped in honey, fish (a fish head representing the ‘head of the new year’) and of course, honey cake. 

Honey cake making is a skill and my dad has this down to a fine art. Every year he produces at least one of these beauties and I have to tell you it’s delicious!! It’s moist with a fine crumb and has a delightful combination of sugar and spice with the honey lending sweetness and the cocoa powder a richness.  
  
His recipe is unfortunately top secret but below is one from the Monday Morning Cooking Club that will give a great result. Perfect with tea or a cup of coffee. Give it a whirl to add a little sweet happiness to you life. Happy new year everyone 😀 

Ingredients

6 eggs separated

175g caster  sugar(superfine) 

3/4 cup honey

3/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup strong black tea

225g self rising flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

GLAZE

1/2 cup icing sugar

1/2 lemon, juiced

2tbsp honey

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). You will need an angel cake (chiffon) tin that is not non-stick and has a removable base. Do not grease 
  2. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add half the sugar and continue whisking until the egg whites are stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl beat the yolks and the remaining sugar until light and pale. Add the oil and keep beating for a couple of minutes until well combined.
  3. Sift the flour with the baking soda. Mix the honey into the hot tea. Add these to the egg yolks, alternating wet and dry, beating gently until fully combined.
  4. Gently fold the egg whites into the flour mixture with a metal spoon, until just mixed through. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 50 – 55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  5. After removing the cake from the oven, immediately invert it to cool by balancing the middle funnel onto a bottle neck. The cake will be dangling upside down.
  6. When completely cool, run a knife around the outside of the cake and the funnel. Lift the base out of the tin, then use the knife to ease the cake off the base.
  7. We have made a step-my-step video on this website on how to make our custard chiffon cake, and the method is the same.
  8. To make the glaze, add the lemon juice (a few drops at a time) to the icing sugar until you have a thick, smooth paste. Add the honey and stir well, adding more lemon juice if necessary, so that you have a thick but runny glaze. Pour over the cooled cake.

  

Eveleigh Markets

For someone who claims to love food as much as I do, it’s taken me years to hit up what is widely proclaimed as the king of all markets. 

  

Every since I moved across the bridge, I’ve been told that I have to check out the Eveleigh Markets and yet, somehow, it just hasn’t happened. First, I didn’t know where Eveleigh was. Then, I found Saturdays inconvenient. Then life just got too busy. But finally, on Saturday, all that changed. Despite a hectic week and late Friday night, I dragged myself out of bed and went to experience the wonder. And I wasn’t disappointed!!
  
Smaller than I imagined and far less crowded, it was heavenly meandering up and down the one centre aisle, staring at awe at the gorgeous wares on sale. 

  

Cheap it isn’t but fantastic quality it most certainly is! Cheeses and coffee and produce oh my! And the pastries, don’t get me started on the pastries. I purposely went without breakky this morning so I could indulge and so I did, splitting the largest, most decedent pistachio, pear and rhubarb croissant with my dad. It was the best bought pastry I’ve eaten in forever!! 

  
We spent the next hour sampling our way round in a manner dad has termed a ‘degustation’. It was such a great morning. The sun was shining, the bacon was sizzling and everyone was friendly. Cannot wait to repeat the experience! 

   

My food Diary

I’ve been lazy. Lazy, cold and tired. So even though I’ve been eating out quite a bit lately in an effort to warm myself from the stomach out, I haven’t managed to write anything about the delicious dishes I’ve been consuming. And there have been some goodies. In an effort to repent, I provide you with some Visual foodie inspiration of some of the great meals I’ve had both here and overseas. Bon appetite 🙂

The Haloumi and Spinach Fritter at Le Monde Cafe in Surry Hills


The Green Eggs at Bootleg Cafe in Darlinghurst


The amazing breakfast Buffet at the Mercure Hotel in Tel Aviv


Shakshuka on Tel Aviv Beach

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Scotch egg in Soho, London

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Baklava, Borough Markets, London

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Gelato in Neve Tzedek Tel Aviv