Friday 29 October 2010

mmmmm Melbourne

I arrived home from Australia yesterday with plenty to think about and lots of new inspiration & enthusiasm for baking. My suitcase was so crammed with jars of spices, muffin papers, tubs of lemon myrtle leaves, friand cups and mini loaf tins that I actually had to leave some clothes behind at my sister's house!

I was stopped by the x-ray machine operator at Sydney Airport on Wednesday afternoon. They were concerned by the jars of 'unidentified powder' in my hand I removed the offending Jordanian Za'atar and once they'd checked the contents we had a discussion about it and I ended up giving them a recipe for a chicken & preserved lemon dish....we parted friends!

Last weekend, Esther and I flew down to Melbourne for a long weekend. Neither of us had been there before and it was as wonderful as we'd hoped. I didn't really get to experience any restaurants (I'll save that for my next trip with Paul) but Saturday morning was spent at the awesome Prahran Market a short walk from our hotel...

a huge hangar-like building housing the most amazing variety of food stalls...every cuisine under the sun seemed to be cheese, fresh pastas, fruits & vegetables, nuts, spices, sweets, chocolates, pastries....a chinese stall captured our attention for a good half hour, the myriad unfamiliar ingredients were mesmerising....I was only sorry that I couldn't buy any of the superb produce as it was so tempting to imagine inventing & cooking all sorts of new dishes. I'll post more about Prahran soon when I've trawled properly through my copious photographs.
Within the market area, there were also world-class coffee shops such as Market Lane

with it's menu of world coffees to choose from, all freshly roasted, ground to order and smelling so was almost impossible to choose. But my old favourite, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe won - introduced to me years ago by that master Coffee Man, Charlie Massey at Hill & Valley Coffee.
It was smooth, deep and superb with a fat, crusty almond croissant as we rested our weary feet....bliss!

Also within the market complex was Essential Ingredient. I just love food stores like this - similar to New York's Dean & Deluca....

Essential carries a huge and beautifully presented range of everything foodie...from french copper pans of every size to miniature pastry brushes (yes, I bought 5...) and from imported silver dragees to preserved hibiscus flowers, this store was like a temple to cookery. Often vastly overpriced too...but I forgave it because of it's sheer beauty & size. There is also a cookery school on the first floor, offering myriad courses and special days dedicated to specific techniques and ingredients. Our very own
Yotam Ottolenghi featured there earlier this year, and the very best Australian & world chefs regularly make appearances. Definitely somewhere to visit if you're ever in Melbourne.

We only really scratched the surface of this diverse, vibrant city last week. There's so very much more to see and I know that I'll be back. I miss it already.....have a great weekend!

Sunday 3 October 2010

Delicious Down Under.....

On Wednesday I'm once again making the epic trip across the world to see my beloved sister and her family in be honest, I can hardly wait!

I'm baking every minute of the day at the moment in order to fulfil my customers' cake needs while I'm away, and it's hard work. I have to leave shortly to make 40 trays of brownies before we meet friends for lunch (I'm leaving Paul behind, so want to make time for him too!) I will be so pleased to finally get on the plane, get some magazines out, plan my movie-watching schedule and relax for 23 hours...uncontactable & in a bubble of lost hours...

I thought I'd muse on what I'm most looking forward to, foodwise, when I get there . Australia is a fabulous foodie heaven, full of amazing fresh produce and fresh flavours...there's so much to enjoy!

a 'long black' coffee at The Coffee Club on Mooloolaba Beach front is a must in the morning....

perhaps a raspberry friand (or two).....

fish and chips on the beach with my niece and nephews the night before my birthday (a family tradition!)

and lots of new discoveries too....I love the asian foods there and Esther and I are going for a long weekend to Melbourne (a first for both of us) where, knowing us, noodles will feature heavily.

It's going to be fantastic.

Anyone else heading towards or in 'Australia Fair' & visiting Sydney (and who doesn't want to visit Sydney?) should try and drop in on the month long
Sydney Food Festival. There are events all through October, but next weekend (9-10) will be extra special with demonstrations by many amazing international chefs including our own Marcus Wareing, Rick Stein very favourite....Yotam Ottolenghi. It should be fantastic and I'm only sorry that my trip doesn't allow me to be there.

I'll talk to you soon, from 12,500 miles away.....have a great week xo