This has been a seriously hot summer. Just in case you missed the memo. We have one more month to go (hopefully sans heat waves), so I thought I’d share how I’ve been coping. My summer essentials if you will. Shock horror they are all edible and drinkable.
Coffee – of the cold variety
Coffee is a daily requirement. As a writer I find it is often a three times a day requirement when deadlines are looming.
This bad boy is my office local. Something I thank some heavenly being for everyday. They make a mean cold drip and they serve it in a glass with a frozen layer of ice. So clever.
I love this café, I just want to pick it up and squeeze it. But alas, that’s not possible. I must settle for semi-regular visits. The clever things over there have created Cold Long Blacks, Cold Flat Whites and Cold Almond Milk Flat Whites. All delicious. All very cold.
Speaking of cold almond milk. Pressed Juice recently added Espresso Almond Mylk to their extensive juice range. If I said I haven’t been drinking one a day I would be being dishonest. They are so creamy and sweet and healthy and delicious. I just can’t stop.
Juices – usually of the green variety
Yes, I like green juice. So shoot me.
This little café that could is at the end of my street (no stalking please) and they just so happen to love all things organic, made in house and healthy, which includes their green juice. Apples, celery, parsley. All the good things.
Touchwood is so big. When no one else is in there I feel there is so much room for activities. Although come the weekends it is very busy, which means no more room for activates, other than coffee drinking and brunch eating. They also make a mean green juice. One of those, have-to-order-if-there ones.
These guys have been doing healthy since before we knew what it meant. So no surprises they have a killer juice menu. You can add supplements, get raw almond milk cacao shakes, and… a green juice. Rejoice. Also raw tacos, raw carrot cake and other sorts of uber healthy things. For those who don’t care about health, they make an outrageously good Mexican burrito filled with all the good things. Cheese, corn chips, sour cream. You guys know what Mexican food is.
Ice Cream – of the any variety
Ok now we’ve had our green juice we can eat all the ice cream. That is how it works and I will hear nothing of the contrary.
I know I know there are lines, but Jesus the gelato is good. The apple pie makes me so happy, filled with big chunks of freshly made apple pie. LIKE REAL APPLE PIE. It’s the stuff of dreams. Look out for their weird and mainly wonderful specials. They are fun.
I happily received a few tubs of their special Australian themed 10 year celebration flavours (is this when I hashtag #freebie). Regardless of their free status, they are delicious. The poppy seed more so than the cumquat, but if you like tart, it might be your thing. I have memories of sitting in my house, which was 39.6 degrees inside at the time, clutching a tub of this stuff. Thank you for making sure I didn’t die in the heat wave.
Acai – of the bowl variety
If you haven’t had an acai bowl yet, you’re missing out. The South American berry is blended up with bananas, coconut water, among other things and topped with fruit or muesli. It’s so good.
Ok, I told you I liked this place. They do a delicious Acai bowl (it’s big and sweet, get it?). Changing all the time, it is topped with seasonal fruit, muesli, coyo, and little baby flowers. So much pretty.
I think I may have let out a slight squeal when I saw this place for the first time. Opening just a week ago, it is the first clean eating café in Melbourne. They have any smoothie combination you could want, super food additions for all things, fresh young coconuts, ready made salads with proteins of your choice, a range of bliss balls AND the real draw card for me is the create-your-own-adventure acai bowls. You get to choose what fruits are added and what goes on top. It’s exciting. Get excited. I’m excited.
Some of you might know that I have been getting into my yoga as of late. My preferred studio is Yoga 213 in South Yarra where they do hip hop yoga. Yep, that’s right. And no, it’s not hip-hop moves, or synchronised to the music. It’s simply yoya – vinyasa flow to be exact – done with hip-hop music in the background. Snoopdog – or Snoop Lion should I say, Drake, Frank Ocean, they all make an appearance. Sammy Veall is the gorgeous lady to thank for bringing this to Melbourne. And if you get the chance to see her do her thang, I challenge you not to want to give it a go. Being taught by her and the inspiring Lola Berry for 20 days was a joy.
Practicing yoga every day was both challenging and rewarding (do I sound like a yoga wanker yet?), so here are 20 things that I learnt from my 20 day yoga challenge. #Namaste.
- Yoga is some high intensity stuff. So. Many. Pushups.
- Those days when you can’t be bothered exercising; you’re too hung over, you’re too sore, you’re too tired. Those days are when you need it the most.
- I have better balance than I thought. Those that know me might disagree. I blame coordination not balance for falling over.
- Exercising before work is a godsend. Freedom from 5pm is something quite special.
- Heat waves suck.
- I don’t think I’d cope in hot yoga.
- Heat waves really suck.
- I like coconut water, who knew?
- Dedicating an hour a day to yourself is a very powerful thing.
- Excuses are bullshit.
- Fear of failure stops you from doing a lot of things. Eg. arm balances where you think you’ll break your face.
- Steve Jobs has a lot of great quotes – thanks Lola Berry for sharing them while we were in downdog.
- Being hung over does weird things to your balance.
- Yoga isn’t all about being flexible. There is a serious amount of strength to it.
- Yoga teachers don’t have to be wankers. At all.
- No one else cares what you look like. They’re too worried about themselves.
- Sometimes you don’t have a great session, and that’s ok. Tomorrow will be better.
- Matching yoga clothes are scientifically (ok, only by me) proven to make you feel bad arse.
- Personal goals are very fulfilling. The only person who cares if you succeed or fail is you.
- I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Oh hello New Year. Happy days. I do love seeing the clock turn over to a New Year, but if I see one more ‘New Year, New You’ sign I may have to punch something.
I love new beginnings, turning over a new leaf, giving up bad habits, and making new ones. I also love a cliché every now and then. See what I did there?
Instead of New Year’s Resolutions I won’t keep, here are a few things I’d like to do more or less of in 2014. I’m not giving in to absolutes – they don’t exist.
Drink more water.
Drink less booze.
Practice yoga more.
Self criticize less.
These are broad and there are a lot of them. But you’ve got to admit, they’re easier to stick to than “cut out all refined sugar” and “don’t ever text the ex at 3am”, am I right?
Here’s to a New Year and doing things a little differently. Don’t be too hard on yourself to create a new you, as I bet you there is someone out there who likes you just the way you are (Note to self: add Watch Bridget Jones less to the list).
Happy 2014 friends.
Gelato Messina for me always seemed like a mythical land where dreams came true. Well that’s how it appeared to a Melbourne resident who heard nothing but praise for their Sydney stores. Those cakes alone look like there is magic behind them. So, you could imagine my excitement when I received an invitation to the launch of the first Melbourne store, right in my hood. Fitzroy.
Just like the Sydney stores, the Melbourne location will have 40 consistent flavours and a cabinet dedicated to rotating specials. These specials can be anything from fried chicken skin gelato to the Nicciolino – made up of white chocolate and hazelnut gelato, Frangelico soaked sponge and gianduia ganache.
On the day of the launch I was told it was going to be a seven-course gelato degustation, including savoury courses and all. I was confused but kept an open mind.
As I arrived, Hamish Blake just so happened to drop in asking if he could buy some ice cream for his hilarious and beautiful (and pregnant) wife Zoe Foster. Gelato and a Hamish Blake sighting in the one place, I was happy.
After the excitement we settled in for the first course.
After tasting everything from cucumber sorbet to foie gras gelato to peanut butter powder, I have settled on two favouties from the evening. Surprisingly, one sweet and one savoury.
The savoury winner of the night was the foie gras gelato with cherry sorbet. This was just so fascinating. The gelato was creamy and rich but still managed to be sweet and perfectly balanced by the cherry. Colour me impressed.
The sweet winner, and the dish I liked the most, was the banana split. Banana gelato, salted caramel chantilly, freeze dried raspberry crunch and peanut powder. This was divine. It was decadent, sweet, and a touch salty. The perfect combination of flavours in my eyes.
Looking back on the evening, I do have to say, the part of the night I enjoyed most was trying the flavours behind that beautiful counter. The degustation was fascinating and demonstrated that these guys are artists with gelato, but for me, gelato is a scoop of your favourite flavour in a cup. So when I return I’ll be reaching for the Apple Pie gelato, in a cup please sir.
The lovely people at Gelato Messina and Kate & Co PR have given me a copy of their recipe book to give away to one lucky reader. To win a copy of Gelato Messina’s cookbook, comment below and tell me which flavour of gelato you’d like to see as a special at Gelato Messina. Entries draw Monday 23rd December.
When one of my best friends suggests a Friday afternoon lunch with her and her mum, out in my old hood, I couldn’t really say no. BrownKorte’s, in Kangaroo Ground – on the way to the Yarra Valley – offers more than you might expect from a little country restaurant.
Gordon Brown and Martin De Korte are the men behind this one. Martin and Gorden have worked at the likes of Michelin starred Le Pont De la Tour and De Goede Reede and The Grand Hyatt in Melbourne. They have also both put their skills to great use as teaching chefs at the Eltham College Swipers Gully training restaurant and NMIT. They have now come together at Brownkorte’s to present beautiful food, both in taste and presentation. Brown is also a part time tattoo artist. What’s with chefs and tattoos?
On this particular lovely sunny Friday afternoon, the three of us managed to try nearly everything on the reduced lunchtime menu. We kicked things off with light and delicate entrees.
I went with the Chardonnay vine smoked free range tempura chicken, house made nori roll and lemongrass ginger dipping sauce. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the tempura was light and crisp. The sauce came with a little spoon. So cute.
The others ordered the chilli salt squid, green paw paw salad, Asian herbs and palm sugar lime dressing as well as the signature pork belly, apple, red radish, sweet and sour cabbage and crackling dust.
The squid was perfectly cooked and light while the pork belly was sticky and the apple was the perfect accompionment.
My main was the Goats cheese tart, shallots, vine ripened cherry tomatoes, frisee and fine herb salad with honey mustard dressing. A rich and creamy dish, perfectly portioned for a lunch time.
My friend – who has a serious thing for fish and chips – ordered the beer battered flathead tails, murray sea salt seasoned chips, homemade tartare sauce and lemon. She was pretty pleased with her choice.
Now dessert was a bit exciting. I had been craving lemon tart, my favourite dessert, for a while and I was very pleased to see a caramelized lemon tart with Chantilly cream and berry compote on the menu.
It was perfectly crisp on the top and tart in the centre, with buttery pastry. I was off in my own little world of lemon tart heaven.
The kaffir lime panna cotta, toasted coconut and pineapple and lychee salad was very well received.
As was the pink Moscato sorbet with minted strawberry salad.
I really enjoyed that they managed to pair gourmet dishes with approachable execution and presentation. It’s simplicity at it’s finest.
I also loved that the lunch menu was made up of lighter dishes with smaller portions, making three courses doable in the middle of the day without needed a nap. I’ll certainly be back to try the full dinner menu. And fingers crossed that lemon tart stays put.
Breakfast or brunch is my favourite meal of the day. Going out for brunch is one of my favourite things to do, but I am also big on home-made breakfasts.
Muesli, or muesli like creations are my go-to. I have been munching on Loving Earth Deluxe Buckinis with yogurt and fruit, but recently I was lucky enough to go to a Yousli breakfast. Yousli is a brand of muesli that focuses on healthy and tasty options that you can tailor to your own tastes in their online shop.
At this breakfast we tasted the pre-made range and created our own. I made a mix of organic baked oats, spelt, buckwheat grouts, activated buckinis, puffed amaranth, sunflower seeds, baked sesame seeds, chia seeds, activated buckinis, activated almonds, pecan, sour cherries, goji berries, dates and organic sun muscats. It is divine, if I do say so myself.
Another recent addition to my breakfast is co-yo. BUT I recently discovered five:am Yoghurt’s Coconut yoghurt. Now, this is made of real yoghurt, not coconuts, but it is so tasty (and much cheaper than co-yo), and goes perfectly with breakfast of any kind. five:am is an organic and all natural yoghurt brand that has some other seriously good flavours like dark caramel and coffee bean.
Muesli and yoghurt are a great breakfast, but fruit really completes it, in my opinion. So, I’ve been poaching pears – with a small amount of sugar – to finish my newfound favourite. Here is my favourite breakfast – at the moment that is.
2 cups of water
1 tbsp sugar – I used Heilala Vanilla sugar
1 Cinnamon stick – you can use ground cinnamon if that’s all you have
1 vanilla pod
five:am coconut yoghurt, cacao nibs and Yousli to serve.
Place the water, sugar and vanilla pod in a saucepan over medium heat.
Once the sugar has dissolved, place the peeled, cored and quartered pears in the saucepan. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Store pears in an airtight container with their poaching liquid.
To serve, layer your Yousli – or muesli – yoghurt, then poached pears. For one serve I usually go with half a cup of muesli, 100gms of yoghurt and half a poached pear. Top with cacao nibs for added texture and flavour.
This is not a complicated recipe at all, and I certainly didn’t invent it, but hey, it is pretty tasty.
I’d like to thank five:am for the yoghurt and Yousli for my very own Yousli.
The Grosvenor Hotel, from the outside, looks like a regular hotel, but on the inside it has so much more to offer. Interesting design, house made aged meats and seriously good pizza.
I went along on a Saturday morning to attend a pizza making class and what followed was a lot of fun and even more pizza.
With a 1:1 chef student ratio, things were looking good on the learning front. We mixed our dough, kneaded it, and left it to rise as we played with some ready-made portions of dough.
At a restaurant with it’s own pizza station, spoilt for choice is an understatement when it came to the toppings. We played around with traditional bases, gluten free bases and a mix of toppings while the resident pizza chef whipped us up a real treat. He created a pizza with a base topping made from herbs, spices and nuts. Sumac was the main attraction and it was divine. A middle eastern twist on pizza at it finest.
I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to my pizza toppings, yet I also suffer from a problem when faced with too many options, I seem to lose the ability to choose properly and end up ruining a perfectly good pizza/salad etc. You get the idea.
On this morning however I managed to remain somewhat reserved. I topped my pizza with a tomato base, caramalised onions, buffalo mozzarella and ham on one side and salami on the other – the chefs insisted I needed to try both.
My vegetarian sister made a vegetable packed option.
At the end of the morning, they placed all the pizzas that had just been made, some charcuterie board items and a glass of wine on a very large table. Just for the two of us. While we barely made a dent, it was a lot of fun trying.
If that wasn’t enough, they dished up a nutella calzone for dessert. It would have been rude to say no. Word of advice, try this. It’s decedent and worth the sugar coma.
The Grosvenor Hotel run pizza making classes on the third Saturday of each month and the next class will be held on November 16 2013. If you like pizza and you can get along you should. It was great fun and I now have pizza dough in the freezer, awaiting some warmer weather so we can bust out the pizza oven and a cold beverage or two. Cheers to that.