Monthly Archives

October 2013

A Little Party

October 29, 2013

Ben and I had been wanting to have a few friends over to our new home for a while. Can you believe it’s almost the end of the year? November is tumbling in at great speed and then *gasp* it’ll be Christmas, we had to get in now or never. And so last Sunday we had a little party. Just some friends, a few beers and a truckload of spit-roasted lamb. The weather was gentle and allowed us to show off our yard as we lazed outside, catching up and eating.

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Our menu:

♥ Bread from Red Hill Epicurean. Damn, they make a fine loaf. We devoured some focaccia and olive sourdough, with extra virgin olive oil and charcoal sea salt for dipping.

♥ On the spit, slowly cooking over charcoals (Ben is a master at this spit business now) we had lamb shoulder, which had been marinating in olive oil, rosemary, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

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♥ For the vegetarians in the group we had beet patties. I made smaller rounds so that one batch of this recipe could feed more people. The meat eaters were pretty excited about them, too.

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♥ We used these pita to make wraps with the lamb. They’re a great price and texture, and were quite tasty so we’ll definitely use them again.

♥ I made a tabbouleh of sorts using this SBS Food Safari recipe as inspiration, but made it heavier on the bulgur and lemon, with parsley, some cucumber and red onion (excellently sliced by my friend, Sarah), and extra virgin olive oil.

♥ This beet dip by Ottolenghi always makes me swoon (recipe link).

♥ I was mad for the mustard aioli I whipped up – again, it was an aioli ‘of sorts’. No garlic was used in the making of this aioli upon my husband’s request and boy, it didn’t even need it. I made this condiment very simply with Paul Newman’s Whole Egg Mayonnaise (a whole 440g jar) + 2 heaping tablespoons of dijon mustard (or to taste) and the juice of half a lemon. So simple, so good with the lamb and beet dip, so happy we have leftovers, so not sharing.

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♥ For dessert I made a mountain of brown butter baked doughnuts (recipe link), some with cinnamon sugar and some with vanilla bean glaze (using this recipe for the glaze but using vanilla bean paste instead of extract, which was an excellent move). Thanks for the pic, Yas.

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Doughnuts make people happy.

Thanks for coming, friends. And for the lovely gifts for our new home. We were spoilt with lots of lovely wine, hand cream, flowers, a candle and freshly baked chocolate chip nut cookies. It was so nice to have you visit.

How great are friends?

…and doughnuts.

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Heidi xo

 

 

Tasmania, Day Two.

October 27, 2013

I think it is pretty evident from my recap of day one of our Tasmania trip that I fell hard for this gorgeous, green state. And there is so much more to tell you. Let’s get lost in Tasmania once more…

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Day two was a particularly delicious day involving chocolate, cider, wine and wallaby wellington. In the morning, after our homemade croissants and blood orange jam, mum and I waved goodbye to Glencoe Rural Retreat and headed to Cradle Mountain…

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Cradle Mountain

As I mentioned in my first post on Tasmania, I love to hike, to get lost in nature, treading on twigs and pebbles and feeling completely swallowed by trees and mountains. Cradle Mountain was a spectacular space to do just that. Have you visited before? Definitely put it on your ‘to do’ list, if you haven’t.

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Mum and I chose the Dove Lake Loop, which was an easy introduction to Cradle Mountain. I would have keenly continued our lakeside limber and hiked some more, however we had to scoot to meet important chocolate folk. Though not before a takeaway coffee from Cradle Mountain Lodge and a bit of wombat spotting.

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cradle wombat

House of Anvers

It’s not every day you have a date at a chocolate factory. House of Anvers is incredibly endearing, both aesthetically and in terms of their company history. And their blatant love for chocolate, for good chocolate, Belgian chocolate no less. I quite fancied setting up house right here in cocoa heaven…

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We were greeted by Todd, the very knowledgeable and friendly marketing manager, and went on a tour of the factory. Visitors are able to tour the factory also, and grab a chocolate bite in the cafe and gift shop if they please.

The tour was wonderful. Despite being mesmerised by the liquid chocolate in front of me, I managed to learn a great deal about the history of Anvers and their company beliefs and aspirations. Igor, the owner and founder of Anvers, is from Belgium and has a well renowned infectious love for all things chocolate.  He has created a company that really respects their customers and strives to create a continually exceptional product. I could see that the staff are completely hands on when crafting their popular goods, which are made with natural, quality ingredients. The staff are trained intently to foster true cocoa craftsman skills. We also viewed a range of gorgeous vintage chocolate moulds and developed a serious chocolate craving (which was surely satisfied later on).

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anvers moulds

Anvers chocolates are very well loved by it’s consumers, wherever we went people raved about this company. And I now count myself a cocoa-loving friend of Anvers too. I’m a bit chocolate mad, this is most certainly not news. So why am I singing and dancing about Anvers? Was it their famed fudge or truffles that got me? Or perhaps their Belgian waffles with chocolate sauce satisfying hungry visitors fresh off the Spirit of Tasmania?

Not quite (though these are all surely scrumptious). I am particularly taken with Anvers’ new product, an organic chocolate called Fortunato No. 4. Let’s talk.

This incredibly rare product is from the Marañón Canyon in Peru, where special wild cacao trees containing white cacao beans grow. I encourage you to watch this fascinating Anthony Bourdain video for insight into the cocoa beans and the land where the pods are grown and harvested.

Anvers’ Fortunato No. 4 chocolate is a pleasure. Let’s be real, most chocolate I find pleasurable (particularly if it’s dark chocolate) but this product is truly, phenomenally pleasurable. No bitter assault on your taste buds, rather an extremely friendly yet intoxicating flavour that affectionately greets you and lingers a long while after you’ve finished. As Igor said in this comprehensive article, it’s “a very complex, powerful chocolate”. This product is made with a high percentage of cocoa butter and no cocoa powder, which may help you to understand why it’s so darn good. It contains organic pure Nacional cacao (68% dark chocolate – 60% bean mass and 8% cacao butter), organic cocoa butter and organic sugar. That’s it. As the New York Times stated, “the chocolate is intense, with floral aroma and persistent mellow richness. It’s lack of bitterness is remarkable”.

Yes, this chocoholic is a bit smitten.

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Anvers has the exclusive Australian rights to this chocolate, while Anthony Bourdain has joined forces with others to bring it to the USA. You should be able to find this product in David Jones by the end of the year (hurry up, DJs!), but it’s probably a good idea to visit Anvers’ website and order some. Today. Soon. Like, now. It’s not your $4 block of chocolate but it is completely worth the extra cost. It’s a case of quality over quantity, most certainly.

Before leaving Anvers, we enjoyed a few hand-made bites and hot chocolates with chilli powder, which provided a delightful, lingering chilli hit and fuelled us until out next stop.

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Anvers is a big supporter of the Cradle to Coast Tasting Trail (see this link for more info). Essentially it’s the map of deliciousness for the region, so there’s really not much to disagree with. It’d be a nice tool for people who aren’t keen on doing a whole bunch of research but want to taste the local flavours. Be sure to stop by Anvers, it really is a gem.

Spreyton Cider Co

After all that chocolate we felt it was high time we have a little fruit, so we headed to Spreyton Cider Co. for some apple cider.

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This cider is made by the folks behind the popular and longstanding juice company, Spreyton Fresh, using their local apples (and sometimes pears). I’m not usually a fan of fruit juice as I find it too sweet, but upon tasting Spreyton’s apple juice at the cidery and I appreciated how much this product tasted so true, like BAM!, pure apple goodness. I prefer my cider to really taste like apples so I was happy with Spreyton’s full flavour. I left with a classic cider after paying $10 and tasting all of their blends. Not a bad deal, hey?

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Ghost Rock Vineyard

Onwards we travelled to Ghost Rock Vineyard for more tastes (note: I was the designated driver and passed mum the majority of my tastes. I take driving very seriously and have absolutely ZERO tolerance for drink drivers).

Ghost Rock is delightful spot. It would be wonderful to park right here and wile away the afternoon with a glass bottle of wine and some cheese, enjoying this lovely view.

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At the cellar door we spoke with Cass about Ghost Rock’s award winning wines. We sampled a few tipples (sparkling wine love) and purchased a bottle of their Two Blocks 2012 Pinot Noir to savour another night, as well as some Cradle Coast Olives award winning olive oil. This fragrant and rich oil, generously drizzled over fresh sourdough with a little sea salt, tastes like heaven.

Yes, we left Ghost Rock very happy indeed.

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Penguin

Heading along the coast, we were never short of spots to stretch our legs. As we drove I imagined one day loading up a campervan and moseying from place to place, from lush rainforest to sparkling coast, stopping whenever inclined…what a splendid holiday that would be. We’d surely need to pause at the sweet seaside town of Penguin.

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Penguin holds a famous market every Sunday, which we unfortunately did not visit. But perhaps this isn’t such a bad thing…it would no doubt have resulted in mum and I leaving with a coin collection and an arm chair or two, which are just so not on the list of necessities right now. We did, however enjoy a splendid dinner and a stay at a gorgeous hotel in Penguin.

You know what? A large part of what made this trip so special was spending it with my mum. Being the only girls in our family, mum would often make time for just the two of us, with dates to the city or the ballet. We even went to Europe together after I finished school. Though we remain very very close, it’s been a while since mum and I have done a trip together. This Tasmania vacation was so nice.

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That night, we went on a date to Wild Cafe upon sincere encouragement from locals. They’re proud of this spot by the water and I can see why, we had a lovely meal at Wild. The wallaby wellington (yes!) particularly stood out. I hear that Wild is relocating to Devonport later this year and rebranding as Mrs Jones, so do be aware of that.

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The Madsen Boutique Hotel

Back at our hotel…

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Mum and I stayed at The Madsen Boutique Hotel, which is a four and a half star gem. Wow, this hotel is really really lovely, very classy. After acting quite composed upon check-in, I promptly danced around our beachfront spa suite room feeling oh so spoilt and a little bit like royalty. I would recommend booking a back room if street noise bothers you, but as it was a quite night in Penguin we had no trouble.

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After dinner, we got into our white robes and sat cozy on our giant bed, indulging in complimentary tipples of port and Anvers chocolates while watching Bridesmaids. It was the perfect girls night in.

In the morning, we woke to this view…and the promise of another glorious day in Tasmania.

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Day Three of our Tasmania jaunt sees us visiting a farmers market and stumbling across the most divine scones. It’s a good one. And funnily enough, revolves entirely around food. Again.

Heidi xo

* Disclaimer: although I traveled courtesy of Tourism Tasmania, my opinions and recommendations are most sincerely my own.

Sausages and Shortbread. For David.

October 24, 2013

We miss you, David.

I want to tell you things. I want to tell you that Ben and I got married last year. I couldn’t think of you much during that time, or dare to mention you for fear of losing it. And because of that I haven’t associated our wedding with you. But you’d have loved that day…and we’d have danced. Did you dance much? I can’t remember how you danced… Forgetting scares me.

I want to tell you that we’ve moved into a new house. A home. It’s small and lovely, very cute, very us. We have a vegetable garden and I’m doing alright at keeping everything alive. I’d have had you over for salads by now. I’d have made them with roasted vegetables, garden greens and goats cheese with a mustard olive oil dressing.

I want to tell you how I’m living life really well. You gave me that gift. The gift of knowing how short our time can be. Sometimes I catch myself apologising for living the way I want, without restrictions or boundaries or “shoulds”. Why is that? There is no need to be sorry for it. That’s your most precious gift to me. I love my family and friends and give myself to this world more because of you. I take opportunities and I create and I am kind to myself and I love so deeply. It hurts and it’s scary, but I do it anyway as I know that these are the days, the moments, and it can all be gone so suddenly. It’s an inspiring and heartbreaking truth. And my days, my life is better, richer and so lived because of this. Thank you.

But I wish you were here.

Yesterday you would have turned 31. Mum, Dad, Jackson, Ben and I all gathered together to make sausages, an activity you would have loved. Mainly for the end result. We used real intestines for casings, which was both gross and cool. Rosa was there in the morning, as were Nana and Roo. We ate scones and laughed. Then we got stuck into the serious sausage business. Pork and fennel, and spiced lamb.

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And like every year, I made you biscuits.

This year, I honoured your love of those cheese biscuits we used to get from the Red Hill Market. Mum would bring home a box and by the end of the day they’d be gone, all of us equally guilty for stealing those cheesy, buttery rounds one by one.

Happy birthday, big brother.

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Parmesan Shortbread
(recipe link). Note: use a sharp parmesan here. Next time, I’ll be adding in fried bacon crumbs or perhaps a pinch of smoked paprika. Yes.

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Thank you for all your kind words on instagram and twitter and via email and text. You guys are so supportive, it’s lovely.

Heidi xo

 

Ginger Cardamom Balls and a Wedding

October 21, 2013

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October is always a busy month for my family, but this year we have found ourselves particularly engaged. It’s been full of growth and progress and love. Of work and weddings, of birthdays and catching up with dear old friends. Of a trip to the mountains and a bevy of ginger cardamom balls.

Earlier this month, our friends Lucas and Tess were married and my whole family journeyed to the Grampains for the celebration. It was such a thoughtful, tender, creative affair. With wild flowers and German potato salad,  tahini cacao love balls and cheese. And the most amazing date-heavy fruit wedding cake. In the afternoon we went on a little walk to a waterfall and in the evening we ate gravlax and danced. It was wonderful.

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I turned to my brother mid-celebration and encouraged him to soak up the atmosphere. At 23 years old his peer group isn’t rushing to get married, and so this was one of a few weddings he’s ever attended. I imparted a little big sister knowledge (that is just always accurate and warranted) that we would both be lucky to attend a handful more weddings as special as this one. Though I suppose I needn’t have mentioned it. Everyone could tell we were experiencing something especially wonderful that weekend.

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Come morning we had coffee by our cabin accommodation (I’m so thankful for my coffee-loving parents, who take their coffee machine with them on trips) and played a little badminton. Mum took a tumble diving for the shuttlecock (it was such a long shot but she went for it anyway!) and we all caught a glimpse of the competitive softball queen that lies within. She’s feisty, my mum. Gathering bruises and burns like it’s no big deal

Post the epic dive, standing and sipping amongst nature …

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Back at the campsite, the troops rolled out for a breakfast cook-up, complete with the most unreal vegan espresso ice-cream.  We were very happy campers.

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It was swell.

I made the lovely couple some ginger cardamom balls as a “Happy Wedding” gift of sorts. Tired of coconut-dressed date balls, I decided to go a different route and spike these bites with firey ginger and my most favourite spice, cardamom. The result is an energetic ball that makes you want to dance under a roof of wild flowers without inhibition, singing “hoch soll sie leben!“… Happy Wedding, Lucas and Tess xo

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Happy Wedding Ginger Cardamom Balls

Makes ~30 balls, depending on how large you roll them

Ingredients

For the balls:
1 1/2 cups Almonds, unroasted and unsalted
1/2 cup Pecans, unroasted and unsalted
2 cups Dates, dried and pitted
Boiling Water
A pinch of Salt
3/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cardamom

For the coating:
3 tablespoons Almond Meal
2 pinches each of Ground Ginger and Ground Cardamom (or to taste)


Method
1. Toast the almonds and pecans in a hot oven (180 degreed Celsius) on a baking paper lined baking tray for ~10 minutes until golden and toasty (watch closely to ensure they don’t burn). Leave to cool.
2. Place the dates in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Allow to soak for 15 minutes then drain the water.
3. In a food processor, blend the cooled nuts until finely ground (some chunks are fine). Add the dates and blend to combine. Ad the salt and spices and pulse to combine. If the mixture is dry add some water, working by the 1/2 tablespoon until the mixture is moist enough to roll into balls that hold their shape.
4. In a medium-sized bowl, add the ingredients for the coating and whisk to combine. Using moist hands, roll the mixture into balls and then roll in the coating mixture, shaking to remove excess. Place on a plate or in a container and store in the fridge. Best consumed within 1-2 days.

Heidi xo

 

Milk-Baked Fennel

October 18, 2013

My husband is a fennel lover. I quite enjoy fennel too, both the bulb and festive fronds in a salad or decorating my salmon. And let’s not forget fennel seeds, rubbed into a pork shoulder and slow roasted like we do at Christmas… But I wouldn’t have called myself ‘fennel mad’, and if not for his ardent adoration I doubt I would have insisted on including fennel in our diet on the regular. That was until I started baking it. And now? Well it’s an odd day indeed if you don’t see fennel on my kitchen bench.

How specifically did I turn fennel mad? I baked it in milk. Yes, milk. I had come across this technique whilst searching for Italian classics one gloomy Spring Sunday, as I was feeling a tad homesick for Rome (astute readers may notice that I don’t technically live in Rome, nor have I ever. But Rome sure feels like home and one day I’ll live there, one day…) My computer screen ablaze with recipes for buttery saltimbocca, vibrant amatriciana, carb-comforting potato and rosemary pizza, it was the fennel with milk that stuck in my mind. That evening I assembled this simple dish and oh man…It. Was. GOOD.

No, really, we are completely mad for this milk-baked fennel in our house. This dish is creamy and rich, reminiscent of that childhood favourite potato bake in flavour, though lacking in heavy cream or starch, which moves it away from feeling stodgy. It’s fennel sorcery, my friends.

This dish marries beautifully with baked fish, but we’ve also paired generous scoops alongside Jonathon’s sausages and even scrambled eggs. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

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Milk-Baked Fennel

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a more substantial meal component

Ingredients
1 large Fennel Bulb
1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup Milk
1 clove Garlic, crushed
A pinch freshly grated Nutmeg
Sea Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Thinly slice your fennel horizontally, ~1/4 inch thick. Heat the olive oil in a large fry pan over medium heat. Cook your fennel for ~2 minutes each side until golden, then remove and place in a mixing bowl.
3. Add the milk, crushed garlic, nutmeg and a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Stir to combine the ingredients, then pour into a baking dish ~17 x 21cm. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
4. After 20 minutes, sprinkle the cheese on top, cover again and bake for a further 15 minutes, before removing the foil and baking for a final 10 minutes to allow the top to brown (total baking time ~45 minutes).

Heidi xo

Coconut Flour Pancakes

October 16, 2013

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For some time now, I’ve struggled to find a good recipe for coconut flour pancakes. These beauties above did not come about easily.

You see, coconut flour is a temperamental beast. It creates tasty mounds, for sure, but they have the ability to be crumbly or sloppy, and quite texturally displeasing. And what’s fun about that?

Pancakes should be pure sunshine, tasting of lazy Summer mornings that roll around after evenings dancing under a marquee on the lawn. They should remind you of being in New Hampshire with friends, riding boats and eating lobster rolls. They should make you think of Diner dates, scoops of pumpkin ice-cream and chasing chipmunks. They should be delicious, decorated with grilled bananas and dressed in sweet Vermont maple syrup, a lasting reminder of my friend’s wedding that one Summer in America.

These are for you, De. Love and miss you XO

Happy Wednesday Breakfast Club, friends.

♥ Coconut Flour Pancakes (recipe link)
♥ Grilled Banana
♥ Vermont Maple Syrup
♥ Greek Yoghurt
♥ Coffee

What did you have for breakfast today?

Heidi xo

 

Baked Cinnamon Sugar Brown Butter Doughnuts

October 14, 2013

You know how I said that it doesn’t yet feel like Summer? Well on Saturday, it did. I ate my words. And doughnuts.

Boy did I make the most of the stellar sunshine, starting with a morning walk and swim succinct plunge in the sea with a friend. Then we went on a breakfast date and did some gardening (yes, my vegetables are still alive!), before pausing for a happy afternoon tea of iced-coffee and baked cinnamon sugar brown butter doughnuts…

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Ben and I were all kinds of joyful, high on caffeine, cinnamon sugar and the promise of more sweet days like this. Living close to the beach is proving to be a wonderful investment in our happiness.

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I brewed extra coffee the day before and left it to chill in the fridge, serving it with a dash of milk. More than a dash for Ben. And the doughnuts? Well I used Joy’s brown butter baked doughnut recipe and then followed Tracy’s instructions of cinnamon sugaring these babies up, using the leftover melted and browned butter and adding extra cinnamon. Outrageous.

Yes, it was a good day.

And if you can’t just pack up and move to the beach, I sincerely believe that purchasing a doughnut pan will exponentially increase your happiness in a similar fashion. Though with a doughnut pan you get the bonus of adventures in glaze and cinnamon sugar.

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Heidi xo

 

Tasmania, Day One.

October 10, 2013

I’m not quite sure how to start this post, there’s so much I want to tell you. About this trip, this land I visited and all I saw. Heidi Apples, visiting the Apple Isle for the very first time. It was so perfect and without a hint of cheesiness the previous sentence may imply. Though I did eat a lot of cheese over the course of my visit…

I suppose I’ll start at the beginning.

When asked if I wanted to pack my bags, head to Tasmania and document my finds along the North-West region, I quite literally jumped at the opportunity. Four days winding through the countryside, visiting producers and finding “hidden gems” as the generous brief encouraged. Oh, yes, I could manage that.

My mum joined me on this jaunt. As well as being one of my most favourite people, she has excellent taste in the realm of food and hidden gems. And so early one late September Thursday morning, we boarded a flight to Launceston.

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My first vision of Tasmania was green. Green like I had not encountered since touring the English countryside with mum in 2003. Tasmania feels like a slice of Europe in that sense, and I intend that in the most complimentary way. It is stunning. As much as I appreciate my home state, Victoria, Tasmania really excels at the whole “rolling pastures” thing. I adore green, it’s my favourite colour, and I found myself entranced by the intense shades all around me. And not just green, but browns and oranges and reds. From the soil to the hills, the contours and mounds, all of it was so lush, so fertile, so breathtakingly beautiful.

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I had hired a car as my way to get around and I found this to be a very easy, efficient and cost effective mode of transportation. I cannot really imagine doing it another way and being able to gain such excellent access to all of Tassie’s corners.

Elizabeth Town Antiques

Our first stop for the day was Elizabeth Town, where we stumbled upon an antique shop and small history museum. Always a sucker for antiques, mum and I snagged a few gems (including an old jug) and debated our ability to take a vintage 30kg pudding/crayfish boiler home on the plane. We left without the boiler. This store, casually known as “Elizabeth Town Collectables”, is located on the Bass Highway, very near Ashgrove Cheese. If you like antiques and a bit of history, it is definitely worth a visit.

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Ashgrove Cheese

Our bellies hungry for a bite, we scooted to Ashgrove Cheese, where I met with Richard Bennett and learnt about the history of the company and how they make their fabulous cheese. As well as observing how the dairy goods are made, we got to taste our fair share of cheese (there are lots of yummy samples for hungry visitors). We also tried their cultured butter (oh my), so naturally we had a great time at this friendly spot.

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Ashgrove Cheese is a family run business. They have three dairy farms surrounding the cheese factory, where they create their award winning cheese. Ashgrove Chesse also make milk, cream (100% cream with no thickeners!) and hand-cut butter. My family was familiar with Ashgrove as we buy their butter back home, and adore it, but visiting the factory and sampling some of their other bites was a real treat. Ashgrove Cheese produce really delicious goods. Their cheese is honest, rennet-free and crafted from the very best, local ingredients. When you start with well nurtured produce, you get a stellar product. It really is that simple.

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Ashgrove are particularly famous for their cloth matured cheddar (photographed above), but I was personally taken with their wild wasabi and lavender varieties, which are crafted using local plants. Normally I’m not one for flavoured cheese, but these were delicious with just the right hint of true wasabi and lavender flavour. I bought 4 packets to take home…You can find Ashgrove Cheese goods outside of Tasmania or you can order online.

For the drive I bought an iced-coffee made using their beautiful, creamy milk. You know when you have a milkshake craving and nothing else will do? That. It totally hit the spot.

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For cheese lovers, I was also informed that Meander Valley Dairy is another great place to visit. Alas, we were off in another direction…

41 Degrees South Salmon and Ginseng Farm

Upon encouragement from a lovely lady in Elizabeth Town, we left our cheese-fest and meandered off the highway towards 41 Degrees South Salmon and Ginseng Farm for tastes of the most incredible hot smoked salmon and zesty salmon rillets.

41 south salmon

This sustainable salmon farm is an ace place to visit. You can try their goods and take a tour around the property for a small fee. You can also try to avoid leaving with 100 packets of salmon (go on, try). But if you do fall short it’s ok, you can find 41 South’s delicious salmon in delis and cafes all around the region (and in some locations outside of Tasmania, too).

For lunch, mum and I took our hot pack of hot smoked salmon and Ashgrove Cheese goodies and had a delightful little picnic.

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While dining we contemplated our next move. Though watching two ladies tuck into scoops of honey ice-cream from the nearby honey factory did not really leave us with much choice…

R. Stephens Honey

First on our honey agenda was the R. Stephens honey factory at Mole Creek, where we sampled sweet spoonfuls of their famous leatherwood honey. Leatherwood honey is a glorious product, unique to the region and boasting a very distinct flavour. This factory is completely unpretentious, with a strong sense of history. The company clearly has a real passion for honey, their website contains a whole document filled with honey recipes! Mum and I bought some creamed leatherwood honey for my dad then buzzed away (sorry) for some more honey goodness…

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The Honey Farm

At The Honey Farm in Chudleigh you can try a large array of spiked honey, from orange to ginger to red chili. Their gift shop is well stocked for all your honey gifting needs but I preferred to bypass the hand creams, heading straight for the ice-cream counter. My scoop of Leatherwood honey ice-cream had a lovely balance of creaminess and sweetness, and was wonderfully full of that strong leatherwood flavour. It was a little golden mound of joy.

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Our sweet scoops left us with energy to expend, so we headed to the rainforest for a little nature walk…

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Liffey Falls

I feel most happy when I’m in the woods on a hike. And having heard great things about the beauty of Tasmania and the potential for nature walks, I was terribly excited to plan a few good hikes for mum and I to complete as a bit of respite from all the food touring. Liffey Falls, a simple and pretty 40 minute walk amongst the ferns, satisfied my nature needs on day one. Just take a look for yourself…

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After our walk we headed to Glencoe Rural Retreat in Barrington, our home for the evening. And what a home…

Glencoe Rural Retreat

Upon arriving at Glencoe we were greeted by Ginette, the lady of the house. Ginette is very warm and welcoming, and her property and house are just beautiful. Remi, Ginette’s husband, was at their Hobart restaurant so we did not get to meet him, but we had some lovely talks with Ginette about their house and family, good food and cooking, gardening, travel, of course. Glencoe is the type of place you hope and wish to have when booking a country getaway. It’s indulgent yet homely, spacious yet cozy…there’s nature and comfort and delicious French country-style food. Oh, did we eat some delicious food. But first, a look at the grounds, complete with chickens and Ginette’s vast vegetable garden, with Mount Roland in the background.

Glencoe veg garden

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Mum and I had dinner by the fireplace. In the Summer months Glencoe is busier, with a cafe and more visitors taking advantage of the fabulous cooking on offer. But tonight, we had the place to ourselves. A glass of red wine and a gorgeous three course meal was glorious after a day of travel. The meal was fantastic, with local produce and skilled hands working together to create some of the best food of our entire trip. First was a lovely onion and goats cheese tart with garden greens. This was followed by a dish of twice cooked lamb (one method being sous vide) that was just melting, served on a bed of mashed potatoes with broccolini and jus. For dessert we were given a honey and spiced poached pear with a rich chocolate sauce, pistachio crumble and homemade vanilla bean ice-cream. It was all just fabulous. I’m still dreaming of that lamb and pear… Needless to say we slept very well that night.

Glencoe dinner

Glencoe dinner 2

In the morning, after waking with the sun and enjoying a spot of reading on the sill, we had our breakfast.

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Ginette served homemade croissants with her own preserved fruits, as well as fresh bread and cereals, yoghurt, juice and coffee. What a gorgeous spread it was. I’m a true croissant snob, after being spoilt with such brilliant bites in Paris and the USA. I just cannot find croissants at home I adore equally (though perhaps some more research is required…but that’s another post). Ginette’s croissants were truly wonderful. I could have cried. But I didn’t, that would have be awkward. I just love croissants so much…

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Alongside our fresh croissants were an array of homemade jams, including a blood orange beauty. Now when I say the words “orange” and “jam”, you may believe me to be speaking of marmalade, however this spread was quite sweet and so I’m taking the liberty of calling it a jam – if for no other reason than to lure in those who may run at the mention of the word “marmalade”. Don’t be afraid, this preserve is most certainly not bitter. Though be sure to use the best quality  blood oranges you can find. Here, delicious chunks of rind marry wonderfully with a complex jelly.

Mum and I fell hard for this jam and bought eight jars between us to take home. Eight. Ginette accepted our love and praise for her recipe and, as she is so very lovely, has allowed me to share it with you today.

Marmalade d Oranges Sanguines (Blood Orange Jam)

Recipe by Ginette and Remi Bancal

Ingredients
5kg of blood oranges
5 kg of sugar
1g of saffron
4 aniseed stars

Method
1. Cover the oranges with water and cook til a knife can go through.
2. Strain and let them cool down, then chop them into chunky quarters.
3. Cook the oranges in the sugar and aniseed till translucent. Add the saffron to the pot 10 minutes before the end of cooking.
4. Bottled when still hot.

Thank you, Ginette and Remi. I’ve been enjoying spoonfuls of your jam with tart Greek yoghurt, dolloped on top of crêpes and French toast. As the label on your preserves so eloquently states, it is all about “Harmonie. Simple pleasures, perfectly balanced. The French recipe for living well.” Indeed.

We had a marvellous first day in Tasmania, ending superbly at Glencoe Rural Retreat. I truly did not want to leave Ginette, her beautifully sprawling and bumble-bee decorated vegetable garden or her haughty rooster the following morning. But Cradle Mountain was calling…

Stay tuned for Tasmania, Day Two.

sheep lamb honey house

 

Heidi xo

* Disclaimer: although I traveled courtesy of Tourism Tasmania, my opinions and recommendations are most sincerely my own.

 

Date, Coconut and Banana Smoothie

October 8, 2013

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This date, coconut and banana smoothie makes people happy. It’s as simple as that.

I blended two glasses for Ben and I last week upon arriving home after a morning of seeing clients. He was working from home and having somewhat of a shitty day filled with frustrating administrative business tasks. And outside, the rain was just bellowing down (apparently Mother Nature was also in a bad mood).

Usually I leave work on a high, energised from my clients, our interactions and the hope they exude. This day was no different. I wanted to share my happiness and lift the spirit of the house. And so I headed to the kitchen.

The ingredients in this smoothie are cheerful and wholesome, with just the right amount of Summery intentions to make you feel it’s time to grab a towel and head to the beach.

Though we are halfway through Spring, it’s not actually time just yet. At least not where I live (note my woolen jumper in the photograph above). So unless you’re decked out in a full length wetsuit, don’t go for a swim at the beach. You’ll surely freeze.

Oh but with this gleeful, golden glass, we can smile and pretend the sun is mending our Winter woes. I’m always a fan of afternoon day-dreaming…


Date, Coconut and Banana Smoothie

Serves 2

Ingredients
1 small very ripe Banana
1 small frozen ripe Banana*
8 dried pitted Dates
1/3 cup Boiling Water
3/4 cup Coconut Water leftover from making Coconut Whipped Cream ** (I always have cans of coconut milk in my fridge for this purpose)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Almond Milk
1 tablespoon Desiccated Coconut

Notes:
* You can use two frozen bananas or two unfrozen bananas instead of one of each, but the texture and flavour will be different to my version. I like the mix of one frozen, one fresh best. And “very ripe” is a must.
** The coconut water leftover from making coconut whipped cream is thicker and has a different flavour to store-bought coconut water. Substitute this with a generous glug of thick coconut milk and more almond milk.

Method
1. Place your dates in a small bowl and cover with ~1/3 cup boiling water. Set aside to soak for five minutes.
2. Meanwhile, toast your desiccated coconut on the stove in a non-stick pan until golden. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. In a blender, add the frozen banana, coconut water, vanilla, almond milk, dates and date water. Blend until smooth. Add the unfrozen banana and blend again until smooth. Taste and add more almond milk if required.
4. Serve in two glasses topped with the toasted coconut. Dream of Summer.

Heidi xo

Favourites

October 4, 2013

Right now, I am terribly enthusiastic about the following things:

1. Pouring a generous nip of Campari while cooking. On ice, maybe with a dash of sparkling water, hold the orange
slice, thanks. Suggest upping the ante with a negroni and you’ll be my new bff.

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2. I cannot wait to fill this pitcher in the coming months with Summer Pimm’s and homemade ginger ale. This stunning late sixties set, which I completely adore, was a gift from my friend, Yasmeen, when she came to stay with her husband. We made Katie’s lamb and played Risk (poorly) and ate ice-cream and spoke about life and travel. I’m so happy we’ve become friends.

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3. Speaking of ice-cream, I’m having such fun with my Cuisinart ice-cream maker. This baby was a gift from my Aunty (she is just so on the money with her presents) and I am in love. Firstly, it’s bright orange and secondly it’s super easy to use and makes ice-cream really quickly. Next up is this rich chocolate ice-cream, at my husband’s request. He’s a simple flavours kinda guy, whereas I’m itching to get pistachio happy.

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4. I’m currently reading Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons – a travel journal of one man’s vespa adventures across Sicily. It’s a particularly pleasant read for me as last year Ben and I spent 2.5 weeks driving around Sicily (falling head over heels in love with the land, the people, the food…) Our next overseas trip may be a couple of years away, but I’m already saving my pennies so I can once again bask in the Sicilian sun and feast on swordfish.

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5. My favourite dried pasta? Giuseppe. I find it at gourmet food shops. Fresh pasta is lovely, but so often I prefer dried pasta to help make the perfect al dente spaghetti with pangrattato.

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6. After our recent move of house we’ve been trying to clear out and minimise possessions. I’ve been sorting and deciding what we truly need to keep and what can go in the trash or to the op shop. Stumbling across old photographs has been a happy distraction. This one of mum and I was taken when she was just shy of 30 (though she looks about 15). I have major hair and outfit envy. Sometimes I find myself looking at my mum and feeling completely overwhelmed with how beautiful she is, inside and out. And to boot, she decked me out in the cutest little shoes. Love you, mum. Happy birthday for yesterday xo

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7. Last month, with assistance and advice from my parents, I planted my first vegetable garden. I have rocket and kale and artichoke and spinach and I’m so very happy to report that everything is still alive. I’m really hoping that gardening is a hidden talent of mine, that would be so useful. Stay tuned…

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8. Have you noticed cafes are adding herby goodness to their scrambled eggs and serving it with a side of leg ham, affectionately labelling the dish “Green Eggs and Ham”. I’ve seen this regularly of late and find it to be both cute and delicious. This gem was from Somers General Store.

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9. Those who know me well know that I am not crafty. I am most definitely lacking in most, if not all, crafting skills. My husband and I did, however, manage a bit of DIY. We created a chalkboard fridge. And by we I mean him. It involved sanding the fridge, applying a magnetic primer and a couple of coats of quality chalkboard paint. We found all our goodies at Bunnings. I love our new fridge and the childish scribbling it beckons.

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10. Lastly, I’m loving Bahati chai tea. And their lemongrass and ginger tea. And their coffee. The whole company, really, which was started by one of my husband’s previous colleagues. These guys travelled the globe to find top quality beans and leaves to sell via their website at good prices. Bahati’s focus is ensuring all their goods are ethically sourced, and they are really devoted to this task. I was more than happy to try some of their goods and now I’m a little obsessed with my afternoon cup of chai tea, with a dash of soy or almond milk. And, as I have recently become slightly obsessed with coffee, I am just loving their delicious beans. But I suppose I am more so thrilled with their decaf variety, which actually tastes wonderful (decaf win!) and does not leave me a hyperactive, jittery freak come 5pm. Oh, and did I mention Bahati donate a portion of their profits to One Girl Alliance? I don’t usually do brand reviews on my blog, as it’s just not my thing, but this was a no brainer. Really great work, guys.

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And these just some of my recent favourites. Do share your thoughts! Are there any books or recipes or other that you’re loving on at the moment?

Heidi xo