Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, Geelong was the first stop on our adventure to the Twelve Apostles. At the time, the only thing I knew about Geelong was that it had an AFL team. However, as we pulled into Pakington Street for some groceries and a quick bite to eat, we were about to discover a whole lot more than we anticipated about this thriving port city.
Welcome to Geelong!
We cruised into the mainstreet in our rental car on a sunny Saturday morning, to find it bustling with people doing their shopping, catching up over lazy brunch, or simply just kicking back and taking it easy. As busy at it was, we found the pace to be nowhere near as frantic as the Sydney suburban hubs we’re used to. In fact, everywhere we ventured, we noticed a distinctively relaxed vibe about the whole place. So much so that we suspected all these people were really tourists on holiday, just like we were. But on closer inspection we found the vast majority to be local Geelongites just going about their weekend, as per usual, with a laid-back and carefree attitude that was positively refreshing. I could really get use to this!
My husband and I recently visited Melbourne to celebrate my 2?th birthday. Though we had both been there before, our previous visits were either too short or work related, so we were excited to spend a week exploring one of Australia’s most famous cultural hubs.
Road Trip! On the way to the Twelve Apostles, via the Great Ocean Road, Victoria
We began our holiday with a trip along the famous Great Ocean Road to Port Campbell, a scenic four hour drive south-west of Melbourne. The drive itself provided a great start to our break – we both had just endured one the busiest periods at work so it was wonderful to simply sit and chat in the car for a few hours.
As the name suggests, dude food is mainly eaten by, well… blokes. Though I can’t speak for all men, I experience the male appetite by cooking for my dear husband. Thankfully he’s not fussy, but like most of the men I know, he’s partial to anything meaty, spicy or hearty that can be eaten by the handful (utensils not required).
Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Mountains
Cupcakes for Benjamin
My godson, Benjamin, turned the big FOUR a few weeks ago. As we all know, kids grow up far too quickly. I met my godson for the first time just a few days after he was born, I remember it like it was only yesterday.
Crème brûlée is a classic dessert. Don’t be fooled by its apparent simplicity (isn’t it just custard and a bit of toffee?). Each mouthful is a revelation of contrast: smooth custard against crispy toffee, delicate vanilla spiked with the heady scent of caramelised sugar. Divine.
Crème brûlée - French vanilla custard served in individual ramekins, hidden under a crunchy layer of caramelised toffee
This recipe is unapologetically rich, full of cream, sugar and egg yolks. But tell you what… it was oh so easy! The few ingredients I blended then divided into individual ramekins, which gently baked in a hot water bath, until just set.
with Onion and Apple velouté
Vivid Sydney made its brief annual appearance recently. Celebrating light, music and ideas; the free festival encourages thousands of visitors to brave the crisp evening air around Sydney’s foreshore as famous landmarks and sideshow attractions light up the city in a spectacular choreographed display of lights and music.
My favourite cafe at the moment is in Parramatta. It’s nowhere near my work, it’s a forty minute drive from home, yet I’m hooked on Circa Espresso. Why? Reminiscent of the hip café vibe in Melbourne, this cool place has set the standard for cafe culture in western Sydney.
Circa Espresso, Parramatta
Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is a great opportunity for the Cancer Council to raise money for cancer research, prevention, education and support services. My workplace got involved last week and we were encouraged to not only contribute a plate of morning tea, but a competition was initiated with prizes for the best team and individual baking efforts.
Strawberry tart, filled with creme angalise and topped with strawberries, milk chocolate and candied almonds
This threw my team into lengthy discussion. We wanted to win, but what would we make? I convinced my team to make a Tim Tam cake, riding on the success of my Mother’s Day dessert
. So in true team-work spirit, the tasks were split into manageable steps – my manager baked the cake, I made the icing, and my other workmate assembled it all together beautifully.
I wasn’t really involved in the cooking process for the Tim Tam cake, so in the name of cancer research I decided to also make a short crust pastry tart, topped with fresh strawberries and oozed crème anglaise.
A Baby Shower for Peanut
My good friends Monina & Glenn are expecting a little boy in June. In the early weeks of their pregnancy they nicknamed him Peanut, and though he’s certainly much bigger now than his namesake, the name stuck. So Peanut it is… for now
Mother’s Day Celebration
God bless our mums - love you!
A few weeks ago a Tim Tam tree magically sprouted near my work at Martin Place, offering glistening Tim Tams ready for harvest. A clever marketing ploy offering free Tim Tams, I was an easy target. I was giddy with glee roaming the Tim Tam forest, stuffing my pockets with these iconic chocolate biscuits… ok so I went a bit nuts, procuring no less than 40 Tim tams.