Food Photoshoots with Aspire

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Adelaide / Food / Media / Photo
DSC_9391 copy

My fig cheesecake tarts

The other week a good friend was having a pot luck birthday party so I whipped up a plate of questionable roast chicken cold rolls to bring along. They were all different lengths, and they were all a bit lucky, but before I walked out the door I snuck a taste tester and decided they were a perfectly acceptable plate to bring.

Julia Child is famously quoted as saying that people who love to eat are the best kind of people; from my experience I’d have to say I agree. Whether it’s awkwardly pointing at coloured pictures of meals at Bangkok street stalls (which is where I am with my boyfriend at the moment), having Sunday roasts with the whole family, or pot luck diners with friends; food is better with friends, and sometimes friends are better with food.

So when my friend Christina, from the Hungry Australian, mentioned that she was going to be doing a food story in Aspire I jumped at the chance to get involved. Getting together over food is what we do best; cameras and props wouldn’t change that.

My scotch eggs

My scotch eggs

Inspired by a food bloggers’ Christmas picnic we’d had the year before at the Botanic Gardens, I decided to make Kangaroo Scotch eggs. I lived off Scotch eggs for the week leading up to the shoot as I tried to get the combination perfect. I also almost polished off an entire cheesecake in preparation for my fig cheesecake tarts.

The magazine hit shelves this month. You can check out the full piece online or grab a free copy of Aspire from businesses around Adelaide. All of my recipes are available in the magazine. You’ll also find delicious picnic food from She Cooks She Gardens and The Hungry Australian.

Credit is due to Christina for taking the photos and organising most of the props(as well as starring in the shoot herself), to Erin for those delicious fried chicken sandwiches and helping us find this amazing location, to Sky from Aspire for giving us the opportunity, and to Amy Goddess Artistry for our makeup.

Aspire Food Bloggers Shoot

 

Check out the article, and let me know what you think!

Moving Music 2015

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Adelaide / Events / Music

Gumboots. Trains. Flowers. Balloons. Lights. Music.

Moving Music 2015

2015 was my third Moving Music safari, and the fifth Moving Music event that festival creator Sam Wright and his team have planned around Adelaide’s–and now Port Adelaide’s–streets. With South Australia bracing itself for the worst rains in 30 years, this year was definitely going to be different from the sun drenched festivals that had seen bands rock out in a cardboard castle in Rymill Park, revellers linking hands in a cult-like public art piece at the Elder Park rotunda, and badminton and surprise fireworks at a summer camp themed after party.

The festival started small in 2012. Two events were held that year. Tours around Adelaide’s streets unveiling hidden nooks and crannies where musicians serenaded the slightly more intimate crowd.

2013 was my first year and the eager participants had swelled to around 300. It’s an impressive feat for a man with a megaphone to keep that many people captive, but it proved to be another success.

So at quarter to 6 we arrived at Adelaide Railway Station; our names crossed off lists, marks on our hand, and a private train waiting to take us to our destination. Porters waited at the train doors, singling out passengers by height and placing them in carriages. Moving Music combines music, design, and performance art and you have the most fun when you join in on the act yourself.

Adelaide Metro trains don’t hold the same magic and romanticism as the ones we dream about, from the Hogwarts Express to the Darjeeling Limited, but the revolving door of acoustic musicians–Jupiter, Tom West, and Louise O’Reilly from Alphabette came through our carriage–was a definite improvement on my daily Seaford line commute.

Tom West Musician Playing on Train

Jupiter Band Playing on Train

The Portside location wasn’t the only change to this years festival. Unfortunately unreliable weather meant that there was no tour from location to location; instead we followed our balloon-toting guides through the streets to the Harts Mill Precinct.

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Four giant fans whirred above us while the colourful lights focussed on Rainbow Chan in the centre of the warehouse.

I was there with my mum. We grabbed golden rolls from the Happy Motel (peppers with goats cheese in one and chicken and prosciutto in the other) and picked a spot where we were not too close and not too far. I’ll admit I took in my fair share of dancing but not quite dancing.

Moving Music is unlike any other music festival. It’s smaller, it’s more local, there are no dickheads (well there was this one girl, but we won’t get into her). It’s inclusive and unpredictable. Everyone is on the same ride and no one quite knows what’s around the other corner.

Hopefully next year sees another opportunity for Port Adelaide to play host, because there’s a whole world of uncovered spots that deserve the Moving Music treatment.

Red Door Bakery KWR & The Problem with Bikes

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Adelaide / Eateries / Food / Reviews

Sometimes you make stupid decisions. The worst ones are when you know you’re making a stupid decision, but you decide to do it anyway. Like the time last week when I decided to leave my bike at the Goodwood Railway Station overnight. I’d left it there on the way to the gym at Blackwood, and after dinner in town I only remembered it was there as I arrived at my front doorstep. I knew train stations weren’t the best place to leave a bike, but I decided it would be fine and went to bed.

In the morning I went to retrieve it. “I hope it’s still there,” I joked to my boyfriend as he dropped me at the station and headed to Ginger’s for a coffee. Unsurprisingly it wasn’t.

Skip forward about a week and I was wheeling my shiny new LEKKER Classic out the front gate when my boyfriend notices his tyre is completely flat. With a punctured tyre and cancelled breakfast plans at Mister Sunshine’s we decided to head somewhere a little more local.

Red Door Bakery was one of those places I’d heard about but never actually visited. Their original store is in Croydon and was one of the cool little places creating a buzz for the area. A couple of years ago a red door appeared on an empty shop front on King William Road, and soon they opened their second store.

pigeon at red door bakery

There’s too much to choose from, but in a good way. I went with the rhubarb danish and my boyfriend had a ham and cheese croissant. Every time I come here I end up with a pastry, pie or sausage roll and I always end up skipping their sweets. Today was not that day. I sneakily ordered a Belgian chocolate and salted caramel brick on the side.

The danish was buttery and flaky, just as any good danish should be. It wasn’t overflowing with custard and the rhubarb carefully balanced that mix of sweet and sour. My boyfriend had already started on his croissant before I could take a picture, but I did manage to steal a bite and it ticked all the boxes. I haven’t had a plain Red Door Bakery croissant, and I’d love to get one and compare it side by side with my favourite one from Boulangerie 113.

rhubarb danish

I was worried I’d be a bit underwhelmed when I took my first bite of the chocolate and salted caramel brick. It was a little dry and cake-y with just a hint of the sticky salted caramel. The flavour and texture reminded me of a chocolate cake that had been cooked a little too long. Brick was definitely an apt term. One more bite and I got to the gooey brownie like centre. The salted caramel wasn’t an overpowering flavour, but it did add a nice touch. It’s definitely a bit of a hidden surprise… and a very pleasant one at that.

belgian chocolate salted caramel brick

belgian chocolate salted caramel brick

I sipped on an orange sherbet (TIRO Italian red orange with some scoops of ice cream) and my boyfriend had  a coffee. I’d tossed up between the lemon fizz and the orange sherbet and wish I’d gone the other way. The lemon fizz was described as a lemon flavoured soda with scoops of lemon sorbet, and I assumed the orange sherbet was the same. I was hoping for a few scoops of blood orange sorbet or something similar. It was nice and refreshing, but I left half of the ice cream at the bottom of the glass. Lesson learned: listen carefully when you ask for the description of a dish or a drink.

orange sherbet

My boyfriend decided he was going to try one of the sausage rolls as well (a decision I was perfectly happy with). He came out with a Moroccan lamb sausage roll with eggplant. The outside was a beautiful buttery puff (bless that buttery puff) while the inside was a spiced lamb with a subtle hint of eggplant. Red Door Bakery do a delicious chilli jam that accompanies all their pies and sausage rolls. If they sold it in jars I’d be stocking my cupboards with it. New desire: learn recipe for delicious chilli jam.

moroccan lamb sausage roll

We walked up and down King William Road trying to decide on somewhere to have breakfast, and I have to admit Red Door Bakery was probably top of my list before we even started walking. It’s the type of place that really fails to disappoint and it’s good having something delicious and local that you can rely on. If I had one wish it would be that they stopped using their metal dishes that remind me of dog bowls. Although, if I’m being honest, I’d probably eat their food out of an actual dog bowl if it came to it.

A few days later my boyfriend came round to fix his tyre while I was at work. On my way home I noticed my bike wasn’t riding right. I looked down to see my own front tyre sporting a puncture. We may be cursed with bad bike luck, but at least we eat well.

Recipe: Upside Down GF Grapefruit Cake

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Baking / Dessert / Food / Recipes
grapefruit upside down cake

When I was younger we used to get grapefruits for breakfast sometimes. We’d sprinkle them with sugar to try and counteract the sour and bitter tang that these fruits can have. These days I rarely buy them, but I do drink Nippy’s grapefruit juice and I love the pink grapefruits from Fat Goose Fruits at the Adelaide Farmers Market.

The other day I just happened to stumble across the motherlode. My boyfriend had dropped off three grapefruits from his tree at home, as they sat in the fridge unused I decided they’d be perfect for a gin cocktail (50ml gin, 50ml grapefruit juice, 1 egg white, bit of sugar. Shake in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Pour over ice and top with soda water). That day I got a phone call from my sister.

Did I like grapefruits? Did I want a bag of them?

She’d come across a bag for free outside someone’s house and thought I might find some use. So I ended up with more grapefruits than I could use. Let’s just say we got through half a bottle of gin and I still had more than enough left over.

grape fruit slices

This recipe is based on a gluten free orange cake* that I made for my first wedding cake, and that I also make as my (currently) only gluten free cupcake option for the Cupcake Table. It’s not for everyone. The recipe uses whole fruit, and even though the boiling does reduce some of the bitterness, it’s an acquired taste for some but perfect for those who don’t like their cakes too sweet. I also used the old breakfast trick and added a bit of extra sugar when I made the switch from oranges to grape fruits.

Ingredients:

Topping
220g caster sugar
125ml water
1 vanilla bean (split & with the seeds scraped in to the pot)
2 thinly sliced grapefruit

Cake
Butter (to grease)
2 grapefruits
3 free range eggs
250g caster sugar
300g almond meal
1 tsp gluten free baking powder

For Later
Juice of 1 grapefruit

grapefruit upside down cake

Method

1. Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean for the topping. Stir over medium heat until the sugar is disolved.

2. Add the slices of grapefruit so that they are covered by the sugar syrup and simmer for around 15 minutes.

3. Grease a cake pan liberally with butter.

4. Remove the grapefruit slices from the syrup, and line the bottom of the cake pan with the slices. Keep the syrup to one side for later.

grapefruit slices in cake pan

5. Preheat the oven to 175ºC.

6. Place grapefruits in a saucepan of cold water. Boil and then cook for about 15 minutes. Refresh the oranges under cold water and then repeat with another saucepan of cold water for the same amount of time.

7. Roughly chop grapefruits, and then blitz in a food processor until smooth.

8. Beat eggs and sugar in a food processor until they are pale and airy. Fold in grapefruit mix, flour and baking powder. Add the mixture to the cake pan over the grapefruit slices, and place in the oven for 1 hour.

9. Remove the cake from the oven and turn upside down on a plate or cake stand. Carefully lift off the base. If any of the grapefruit slices pull off they can easily be re-added to the top of the cake.

10. Remove any remaining vanilla bean pod from the sugar syrup and add in your grapefruit juice. Cook until the syrup thickens a little.

11. Pour the syrup over the cake and serve. The cake is delicious served with some whipped fresh cream.

grapefruit upside down cakeTo make an orange version of this cake, just swap the grapefruits for oranges and add 215g of sugar to the cake rather than 250g.

 

The Collins Bar

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Adelaide / Drinks / Reviews

the collins bar adelaide

Monday night was one of those spontaneous nights. I’d bought the boyfriend (soon to be given a nickname) tickets for a fire spinning class at Point A. The weather was awful and I got home late from work, so we decided we’d just head into town for a bite to eat instead. When I met up with the boyfriend after work I found him inside the local chicken shop buying a small chips and gravy; after a quick Game of Thrones interlude we hopped on the tram to town, but neither one of us was feeling particularly hungry yet.

I suggested a drink. As the tram pulled up at Victoria Square the Collins Bar came into sight and we decided to head inside.

The Collins Bar, part of the Adelaide Hilton, opened in November of last year with a garden party themed ‘soiree’. I didn’t go, but there were cocktails being poured from smoking watering cans and others served in tea cups. I’d only ever had a drink inside the old Hilton bar before a birthday dinner one year.

Unlike the old option, the Collins Bar is separated from the hotel lobby. When you walk up the stairs there’s a little entrance just to the side. It’s a nice touch; you don’t immediately feel like you’re walking into a hotel. The backlit bar is the focal point and features an impressive selection of gins, rums, whiskeys, and all your other expected spirits. It’s not like the bare brick, wooden framed bars that are popping up on Leigh Street and Peel Street. The Collins Bar still feels like a hotel bar. It’s comfortable and stylish, but there’s a safe almost-70s feel to the curved wooden tables and low cushioned sofas.

I ordered a fun cocktail: the granny smith apple cider sour. Vodka with citrus, homemade cider, and an apple cider sphere. I was encouraged to break up the sphere near the end to turn it into a slushee-like drink. It was light and refreshing; it would have made the perfect summer drink. There are some really interesting cocktails on the menu and it made it very difficult to choose. They’re less classic and refined than some of the other cocktail bars around town, but there’s a really fun playful twist to the menu.

apple cider sour cocktail

 

The boyfriend went with a Japanese whisky with a really nice smokey profile after a bit of guidance from the bartender.

We were brought a complimentary bowl of popcorn (who knew it made such a great bar snack?) but there was a more substantial menu available. The Collins Bar has a very different feel to places like Clever Little Tailor, Udaberri and the newly opened Bank Street Social. These places thrive on their atmosphere as much cocktails and drinks. The Collins Bar is just different; it’s the type of place you could bring your nan if you were treating her to a pre-theatre drink. It’s a particular aesthetic, but as long as you know what to expect it’s a really enjoyable place.

Have you been? What do you think?

 

The Collins Bar on Urbanspoon

Recipe: Banoffee Pie

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Baking / Dessert / Food / Recipes
banoffee pie

I’m not going to lie. I thought banoffee pie was American.

There’s something about the name (an amalgamation of banana and toffee) and the lashings of caramel, banana and whipped cream that just screamed U.S.A. Well… I was wrong.

Apparently banoffee pie (originally called banoffi) was an English creation from the Hungry Monk restaurant in Jevington. I mean, it was inspired by an American pie, but the first banoffee was from the UK. It’s also the simplest pie ever. You just boil up some cans of condensed milk, and then slather layers of the resulting caramel, sliced banana and whipped cream into a tart shell.

Banoffee pie was invented in 1932, but I imagine the caramel (often known as dulce de leche and popular in South America) might have been used as a dessert during wartime when condensed milk was in greater supply than sugar. Next time you’re eyeing off an expensive container of dulce de leche, consider making your own instead.

condensed milk caramel dulche de leche

layering banoffee pie

When you mention banoffee pie you tend to get two reactions: either people’s eyes glaze over and their mind immediately goes to a slice of gooey caramel and banana heaven, or they give you a blank stare with absolutely no idea what a banoffee pie is. I don’t believe people should feel guilty about the food they eat, but its hard not to when you dig into a large slice of banoffee pie; caramel, banana and cream are all things that should usually be eaten in moderation.

But screw it. This dessert is a sweet indulgence that everyone deserves every once in a while.

banoffee pie

Ingredients

(makes two pies)

Sweet pastry:
250g butter
125g icing sugar
3 large eggs
500g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Filling:
2 cans of condensed milk
6 bananas
600ml whipped cream
Vanilla bean paste
Icing sugar

Method

1. Usually I’d tell you to start on the pastry first, but you need to boil your condensed milk for about 3 hours, so get them on before you start anything else. Add them, unopened, to a large pot of boiling water, making sure they’re completely submerged. Make sure you keep topping the water up as it boils, otherwise you run the risk of burning our your pan and exploding the cans.

2. With the cans boiling, start on the pastry. Add the butter and sugar to a stand mixer and beat until smooth and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating till combined. Sift in flour and baking powder, and mix until just combined (don’t over mix!). Divide the pastry into two even disks and then wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Remove your pastry from the fridge and roll it out to about 3mm thick on a floured surface. Make sure you flip it as you roll to prevent it sticking. Carefully place it over your tart ring or pie tin; smooth it into place, patch up any holes, and cut away any excess. I love sweet paste because it’s so forgiving. If it tears you can always just patch it up. Rest it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 175º.

4. Cover the pie base with a circle of baking paper, and fill with rice or baking beans. Blind bake for 15 minutes, remove the paper and beans from the base and then bake for a further 15 minutes. Repeat with the second pie base.

5. Once your condensed milk has been boiling for 3 hours, remove from the heat and place the cans in a bowl of cool water. This just makes them a little easier to handle. Open the cans and scrape the caramel into a bowl, stirring to make it smooth.

6. Split the mixture evenly between your two pie bases, smoothing it down with a spatula or pallet knife. Then layer with sliced banana.

7. Finally, whip your cream with a bit of icing sugar and vanilla bean paste and then cover the rest of the pie with cream.

You can also top with some grated chocolate.

banoffee pie

So you know how I made two pies? This is the successful one. The other one fell facedown on my parents kitchen counter and more closely resembled a cream pie that’s just been thrown at someone’s face. They assured me it still tasted just as delicious. 

Hunting For Honey in Zimbabwe

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Food / Travel

sunset hunting camp zimbabwe

The sun setting on our first night in camp

The call comes through the trees as our feet trample down the scratchy grass. Every now and again one of the hunters or trackers echoes with their own bird-like sound. Our friend is the honeyguide, a small bird native to sub-Saharan Africa. Unlike the brilliantly coloured birds we’d come across already—brightly decked out in iridescent blues and purples—the honeyguide is nothing much to look at, but they have a special relationship with humans in the bush. 

This would become our first, and a quite unsuccessful, honey finding mission.

We weren’t looking for honey. We were searching for a Cape buffalo that had been shot the night before and left hidden under leaves and branches till it could be skinned, dressed, and butchered in the morning.

As we got closer something wasn’t right. We were ushered back as some of the men went to investigate. The buffalo was there, but there was a gaping hole where half of the buffalo’s backside should have been. Overnight a leopard had fed on the buffalo, followed by some hyenas. Thankfully none had stuck around until morning.

Soon after we arrived people from the surrounding villages started appearing through the trees. We’d passed some on our way and let them know the location of the buffalo; the word was spread around. The women all brought with them large plastic buckets to carry the meat home that doubled as seats as they waited. We perched on rocks or clear patches of dirt. There was an obvious air of disappointment.

impala behind trees

A small herd of impala behind the trees.

Hunting is big business in Zimbabwe; thankfully the system also benefits the people living within the hunting concessions. Money from trophies is filtered back to the locals and the majority of meat eaten in the villages comes from these hunted animals. The late night leopard visit meant there was less meat to go around, and what was left was in a less than perfect condition.

We watched and waited. In the background we could still hear the calling of the honey guide.

One of the hunters turned to us, “Did you want to find some honey?”

Honeyguides feed off beehives—eating bee eggs, larvae and pupae, and even the beeswax. For as far back as we know they have guided humans to honey through their call. Tradition says that if a honeyguide leads you to honey you must make sure to leave behind honeycomb for them to feed; otherwise next time you’ll be led to a snake or another dangerous animal. 

We continued to trample through the vegetation, following the calls until the chattering stopped. Instead of leading us to honey the trail had gone cold. We came back empty handed to watch as the rest of the buffalo meat was pilled into the buckets and carried back through the bush.

lake kariba and bull elephant

The view of Lake Kariba and one of the elephants we encountered.

I couldn’t stop thinking about our unsuccessful honey hunt. It turns out it was unusual for the honeyguide to lead us to nothing and I was itching to try again. Ian, the camp manager, told us he knew where another hive was and we proposed to set out on another day.

We climbed into the truck, leaving Sibilo (Ian’s much loved dog) behind. Curious dogs and a hive full of bees don’t make a great combination. Everything takes longer when you’re driving through the bush. Even when we weren’t avoiding thorn trees and ducking from rogue branches on the back of the truck, we encountered potholes and rocky dips that make short distances seem far.

The hive was hidden among the roots of the tree. Unlike the Mopani trees that dot most of the landscape around Matusadona, our honey tree was tall with winding roots; it reminded me of the kind you find devouring temple ruins in Cambodia.

Ian, Elijah and Freddie took turns hacking at the base of the tree to expose the hive. They’d lit a small fire on one of the rocks, and would rotate smoking logs from the fire to the hive to calm the bees. Thankfully we weren’t in the heat of the sun, but you could tell it was still hard work. Eventually the hive was in reach, and one by one they started to pull out sheets of honeycomb.

Ian lighting the fire

Ian lighting the fire.

axe cutting the tree

Hacking away at the tree.

elijah smoking the bees

Elijah smoking the bees.

sheets of honeycomb

Our honeycomb bounty.

Most of the honeycomb was packed into a small esky, but Ian took one sheet and broke it into small pieces for us each to try. It looked fairly dry, but even the slightest bit of pressure and the honey began to ooze out. I immediately popped some in my mouth. The sweet and sticky honey was smokey from the fire used to settle the bees. We’d been completely useless when it came to procuring the honey, but I’ll admit I still had that sweet feeling of success.

biltong drying

Ian’s biltong drying outside the kitchen.

Ian cooked us a celebratory braii to celebrate our last night in camp. We didn’t have any honey, but we snacked on Ian’s buffalo biltong (it’s a bit like jerkey) and some boiled and salted roots we’d dug up earlier that day (they tasted a lot like potato).

native roots

Freshly dug native roots.

cooked native roots

Freshly cooked native roots

It was a strange experience spending 7-days at the hunting camp. I’ve grown up in a family that hunts—but always for meat. Trophy hunting is a completely different world and I’m still not sure it’s one that I completely understand. Spending time in the bush makes it clear that there are a lot of complex issues surrounding not just the ethics of hunting, but also the politics of this whole region. We got to see some of the ways that humans interact with the land and with the wildlife; what some see as destructive others see as a positive force. As clichéd as it sounds, the hunters and the trackers have a greater level of respect and understanding of the land than many people could hope to ever achieve.

Zimbabwe is a beautiful country and unexpected in so many different ways. Many things about our trip were complicated and conflicting, but it was nothing short of unforgettable.

sibilo the dog

Sibilo our African hunting dog.