Category Archives: Foodie Roads

The one with the grand finale

Even though it was our last weekend in Western Australia, we didnt slow down. In true Blanton fashion, we moved (again), but this time into our true final stop: a hotel for the next few days before we head off to New Zealand for 10 days and then onward to the states for the holidays! So yes, Saturday was spent tidying up the rental townhouse and packing away clothes in boxes for shipment all before our grand finale on Saturday – it was jam packed!

Some our friends told us about Polo in the City, which is exactly what it sounds like: a polo match held in the heart of the city. 🙂 Luckily, there is a fabulous green space right between Perth’s CBD and the Swan River called Langley Park, where the polo was played (and where we also attend Taste of Perth a few months back) – and even more lucky, the weather this past weekend here was perth-fect (hehe).

Abbys Roads Perth Polo in the City 2 Abbys Roads Perth Polo in the City 10

 

This was our first polo match, but kind of like when I went to ascot in October, we didnt watch too much of the ponies (much to Barr’s dismay) – it was very a “see and be seen” kind of event, with lots of socializing, champagne, and sun. My main takeaways from the sport were:

  • The horses tails are braided
  • Not getting hit in the head/accidentally hitting someone in the head with the mallet would be a skill in it of itself

Abbys Roads Perth Polo in the City 3

 

Abbys Roads Perth Polo in the City 8

During the divot stomping, I stopped to play with some pups. Because why not?

During the divot stomping, I stopped to play with some pups. Because why not?

After a quick nap, we rallied for the Perth’s Christmas Parade downtown. Our friends, Toni and Nuno, hosted a lovely BBQ at their flat beforehand and then we headed down to watch Santa roll through Western Australia (I was super impressed that Perth was so lively post-9PM!) 😉

Santa! I know him!

Santa! I know him!

And just to really round out this “all over the place” post, here are some delicious peppermint (not bubblegum – don’t let the color fool you) macarons that my girlfriend Becca and I whipped up! She’s a baking whiz – I had to learn from the best.

Abbys Roads Perth Polo in the City Abbys Roads Perth Polo in the City 1Merry merry, indeed! It was a memorable last weekend in Perth. Until next time…

 

The one where I picked strawberries in October

Words I never thought I’d say (or type), and yet here we are. After seeing innumerable pictures of folks back in the states picking out that perfect pumpkin, decked out in their fall finest, set against a backdrop of crisp autumn weather and falling leaves, I decided something must be done: I could pine for pumpkins, college football, puffy vests and boots, and the changing leaves of North Carolina or I could make my own fruit picking adventure. (Spoiler alert: I ultimately chose the latter.)

Sad but true

I mean obviously I came to Australia knowing that their seasons were opposite from those in the Northern Hemisphere, but it’s a really odd thing to wrap your head around when you have forever been programmed to associate certain weather/clothes/activities/holidays/food, etc with seasons and months and then it’s all turned on its head. Even Dubai would “cool off” a bit as October, November, December approached. And while I certainly am not complaining about the burgeoning spring and summer weather here in Perth, one can’t help but feel a tug of nostalgia.

But I digress.

So given that pumpkins are a fall harvest food, Perth isn’t exactly a hub of pumpkin patches in the middle of October (spring to them). (Side note: they do sell imported pumpkins in the grocery stores for wistful expat suckers like me…just with a hefty price tag.) So given that it’s spring here, WA does have strawberry picking in full bloom – a good substitute in my opinion!

strawberrypickingperth3

My fellow expat blogger friend, Becca, had gone to a strawberry patch the week prior and returned with a huge haul of gorgeous berries…as many as you could pick and carry for $10! (The price is a key point here given this – a small carton of strawberries in the store here will set you back at least $6).

I was curious as to why the farm/patch (?) would let ordinary folks pay such a reasonable price to pick their own berries when they could sell them at a “better” price to local grocery stores. So after a bit of research, it turns out that these plants have reached the end of their commercial life, meaning that the strawberries are “too red” to be sold to the groceries – the stores need the berries to be less ripe (green) to increase shelf life. Bonus: if you go berry picking, you’re (in theory) getting the strawberries at their peak!

The strawberry plants went on and on and onAshlie, Keller, and I were game. Maybe we wouldn’t get a jack-o-lantern out of the deal, but we could pop over there in our t-shirts and shorts (don’t forget the bug spray and “sun cream”!) and make ourselves some strawberry shortcake in no time. We opted to split a tray and got to work…little K had a great time picking out the strawberries with us. 🙂

Nice little morning picking berries

Nice little morning picking berries

Fresh from the vine

Fresh from the vine

Our haul by the end of the morning - almost too many!

Our haul by the end of the morning – almost too many! (And please forgive K’s cap…) 😉

Cheap labor

Cheap labor

As you can see, we walked away with an impressive stash of strawberries. I can’t imagine having my own box of them!

Washed and ready for eating

Washed and ready for eating

If you’re in the Perth area, the patch we visited was at 263 Old West Road in Bullsbrook, WA, which was about 30-45 minutes outside of the CBD. You can just park on the verge and it’s open 7 days a week from 9AM-5PM until mid-December.

In the meantime, Ill be in the kitchen dicing, freezing, cooking, and baking strawberries – it may not be a jack-o-lantern, but having spring in October isn’t a bad deal 🙂 Until next time…

The one with the bourbon spiced cupcakes

What do you make for the person who doesn’t like your traditional sweets, or, heaven forbid (!): birthday cake!? If you have someone in you life that is like my husband (who would sooner have a bowl of fruit to a buttercream frosted, chocolate cake…weirdo), I have a different recipe for you.

Let it be known this is me…not Barr 😉

Trying to steer clear of  something overly sweet, I baked a spice [cup]cake, with a splash of bourbon (for a Kentucky boy, of course!), topped with cinnamon dusted cream cheese frosting – a bit of an adult twist on a fall classic. Although Barr’s September birthday doesn’t fall into an autumn birthday this year (how weird is that? His birthday is in spring this year), the nutmeg, cinnamon, and star anise in these cupcakes definitely stir up fall-type tastes and feelings…almost makes me yearn for falling leaves, Halloween, and football season. Ill take the warmer temperatures and blooming spring though – no complaints here!

The finished product!

The finished product!

So without further ado, here’s the recipe as adapted from the Maker’s Mark site. Enjoy!

Recipe makes 1 dozen cupcakes

Cupcakes – yields 1 dozen

1/4 cup your favorite bourbon

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 star anise

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners. Sift all dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, star anise, and nutmeg. Put aside for later use.

2. Cream the butter and brown sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition and beating well.

4. Add the syrup and mix well.

5. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk to the batter.

6. Add the bourbon, stirring well with a spatula. Fill the cupcake liners almost to the top and bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

7. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. Sprinkle frosted cupcakes with a bit of cinnamon, if desired.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting – yields ~2 cups

1-1/2 cups cream cheese (12 ounces), softened

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the softened cream cheese well, using a wooden spoon or paddle attachment.

2. Add the softened butter. Continue to beat until well mixed in with the cream cheese.

3. Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon and salt. Beat until well incorporated.

Until next time…

The one about Vegemite, an Aussie icon

I had planned for today’s post to be all about how “spring had sprung” here in Perth, but alas, it appears the weather gods had other plans. My idea to take loads of pictures of the blooming flowers, sunny beaches, and cute spring-y outfits was thwarted starting Saturday morning when some miserable winds, rain, and clouds blew through Perth (and are still doing so, actually). Bummer! Stay tuned on that front, folks…

So we’ll move up my thoughts on an Australian icon, Vegemite. The unappetizing paste is a beloved Aussie spread, used like butter or jam, typically on toast/a sandwich. Australian kids are Vegemite kids, as evidenced by the picture below (coupled with countless ads) – Vegemite and fairy bread (white bread slathered with butter, topped with sprinkles) – yikes!

“My First Vegemite” (Via Sydney Morning Herald)

Vegemite is a wholly Australian product, developed by Cyril P. Callister (an Australian chemist and food technologist (?)) in 1922 in good ole’ Melbourne; he used the British-created Marmite as a jumping off point. Who knew there were multiple, global brewer’s yeast spreads? That brings me to what Vegemite is comprised of: leftover brewer’s yeast extract (and some other vegetable and spice additives). If I could describe the taste/smell of it, I’d say it’s a bit like soy sauce, but thicker – bread-ier, if that makes sense…

How to Eat Vegemite (Via bondi2bayou.wordpress.com)

Surprisingly, Vegemite is very high in B vitamins and very low in fat. That being said, it’s super salty (high in sodium). Now, I love some salty foods, but I’ll tell you what: Vegemite is an extreme!

You’ll find Vegemite at pretty much every cafe, coffee, or breakfast spot in Australia. And I think you’d be hard pressed to find an Australian kitchen that doesn’t have it in its pantry (in fact when we moved into our house here in Perth, one of the supplied sundries was the lovely yellow jar of the stuff). Unfortunately, because Vegemite isn’t gluten free, I can’t usually indulge – shucks! 😉

Check out this cute video of some American children trying Vegemite for the first time. Hilarious! Though I think you’d find plenty of Aussie kids who would disagree with these reactions. Until next time…

Perth Blogger Collaboration: Favorite Eatery for Dinner

When we first moved to Perth, I was thrilled to find spots to have delicious coffee, as well as breakfast and brunch; however, after a few weeks, I still struggled to find a great restaurant at which to have dinner.

What to do!?

Well, after eating my way through a few places that had been recommended and written about on local Perth blogs, I thought that maybe a collaborative post with some of my favorite Perth bloggers would provide both my readers and selfishly, myself (!) with some ideas with their favorite spots to have dinner. So here you have it: a smattering of some of my favorite Perth bloggers and their favorite dinner spot in the area. And these fellow bloggers were so incredibly kind and helpful in this collaborative post 🙂

A big thank you to all of the contributing ladies – yall gave some great ones that I cant wait to try out ASAP. And check out their blogs as well; each has a fun and different voice, with topics ranging from food, lifestyle, and fashion. Bon appetit!

  • Adelle of Where the Styled Things Are
    • Kent Street Deli has an eclectic/quirky feel, with miss matched plates from the 70’s, to home made delights using fresh produce. Just a street away from the beach, it’s an idyllic location for any meal of the day. Breakfasts are a delight enough to make any big eater satisfied, lunches are my favourite in the chicken and leek pie with a jar of layered salad, and if you are lucky enough to get in on the Saturday night bistro (first in first served) I can guarantee a delicious 3 course meal (try the chocolate fondant!!). Not to mention freshly squeezed juice, healthy shakes and an abundance of vegan and raw treats. The perfect road trip opportunity!
    • 8 Kent Street, Rockingham, WA
Via WhereTheStyledThingsAre

Via WhereTheStyledThingsAre

  • Amanda of The Chef, his Wife, and their PERTHfect Life
    • Choosing a favourite Perth restaurant for me is like a mother having to choose a favourite child – especially if you have 15 children! It’s a tough one, but I’d have to choose Print Hall, in Perth city. I’m cheating a little, as this is a multi-venue. A chat over champagne with Jerry, oyster shucker extraordinaire, is a must before dinner. Print Hall offers a bar menu and finer food in their chic dining room. My husband and I absolutely love Apple Daily, the Asian street food bar upstairs. The food is so authentic and great to share. The roof top bar Bobs is great for a drink under the city skyscrapers too.
    • 125 St. Georges Terrace, Perth, WA
  • Carly of Perth Munchkin
    • With so many lovely places in Perth to eat these days but one for me that has been a long time consistent performer is Divido in Mt Hawthorn. It’s largely an Italian menu with all their pastas made in house and some really interesting and delicious flavour combinations. My very favourite dish there is their Wood Roasted Half Duck, which comes served with buckwheat polenta, mustard fruits, spring onion and porcini sauce. Just divine! They also have a Champagnes Tuesday special where it is three courses with a glass of bubbles for just $65. Such an excellent venue and the food is incredible.
    • 170 Scarborough Beach Road, Mt Hawthorn, WA
  • Kristy of Queen of Bad Timing
    • When it comes to a guaranteed great night out, there’s no going past Beaufort Street’s little hole in the wall, Bivouac. With an ever changing menu and delicious, seasonal dishes I always enjoy every meal I eat here – and to top it off there’s a great wine list to work your way through too. If you ever stop by I definitely recommend ordering their croquettes – they are crunchy, creamy and the perfect bite.
    • 198 William Street, Perth, WA
  • Lyvia & Anna of Savour The Moment Perth
    • Bread In Common in Fremantle is a warehouse turned kitchen and bakery, peeled back to its exposed brick walls and concrete floors that features communal tables throughout the restaurant. Bread In Common is all about sharing: Their ricotta gnocchi was simple but beautiful, but their dessert stands out the most. Their peanut mousse dessert was absolutely outstanding — both in taste and presentation.
    • 43 Pakenham Street, Fremantle, WA

breadincommon

  • Natalie of iMasticate
    • I love running around to taste different food rather than visiting the same place over and over, especially with so many new restaurants popping up around Perth. However, the Bonsai in Northbridge is one of my long-time favourites for special occasion dinners. It serves up fantastic Japanese-fusion food that you can share with family and friends!
    • 30 Roe Street, Northbridge, WA
  • Simone of SimoneHeng.com & DIYnamicstyle.com (also Perth Mix 94.5 Announcer, 12-4PM, weekdays and fellow Dubai transfer!)
    • My recommendation is Satsuki in Subiaco. It’s completely underrated as a venue. Tucked away near Subiaco train station it has very decent prices and really quality Japanese food. Look out for the weekday specials. It’s perfect for those watching their figures as the food is lean and fresh and it’s licensed.
    • 50 Subiaco Square Road, Subiaco, WA
  • Su of Oyster and Pearl (and a very happy birthday to her!)
    • Currently the pick for my favourite chow spot in Perth has to be Jezebelle in Guildford. Embarrassingly I’m a new fan as it appears to be a favourite among many, although somewhat of a well kept secret. The service and decor is matched by its exceptional food. The menu is seasonal and the perfect dish for this Perth winter has to be their slow cooked beef cheeks served on some of the creamiest polenta you’ve ever had. Accented with pickled mushrooms, which is the perfect flavour compliment, it’s a dish that doesn’t disappoint. Do leave room for the churros with dulce de leche sauce. San Churros ain’t got nothing on these and I will make the big call that these are THE best churros in Perth. Swing by on a Sunday afternoon for an extra special treat of live music while you eat and drink.
    • 127 James Street, Guildford, WA
Jezebelle2

Photo courtesy of Su of Oyster & Pearl

Jezebelle

Photo courtesy of Su of Oyster & Pearl

  • Susie of Thorn Family Adventures in Oz
    • The best fish and chips are from the Groper and His Wife, but it is counter only service so place your order and enjoy eating at the park across the street. Another one of our all time favorites is Amphoras in West Perth.  Fantastic food and excellent service.  They seriously have the best paella I have ever enjoyed outside of Spain.
    • Groper & His Wife: 14/31 Gayton Road, City Beach, WA
    • Amphoras: 1303 Hay Street, West Perth, WA

Enjoy these delicious recommendations and local Perth bloggers – they’re the best! Until next time…

The one explaining Dabbawala

No no, dabbawala isnt an Aussie slang word. Dabbawala refers to a delivery person in India – picking up hot lunches from the homes/kitchens of a worker/employee in the late morning and then transporting and delivering said lunchbox to an office, and finally returns the empty lunchbox back to the customer’s home in the afternoon.  Here’s a good visual:

Dabbawala delivery system in Mumbai (via MyDestination)

So what prompted this post, you may ask? Well, I went to see the foreign film, The Lunchbox, earlier today – a sweet, Indian film about the unlikely romance that blossoms as a result of a dabbawala delivery mix up (which as you’ll learn, isn’t all that common.) I won’t spoil the ending or the plot for you; however, if you get the chance, see the movie – so cute! Even if the character in the center of the picture below looks a tad creepy…

The Lunchbox movie poster (via Wikipedia)

Back to the dabbawalas.

This delivery system works so well in India (primarily Mumbai) because office workers in India prefer to eat home-cooked lunches, coupled with the fact that many Indian women (wives, mothers, daughters, sisters) work from the home and can utilize the dabbawala’s service.

The dabbawalas are impressive, yall! I did a bit of research after the movie, and they kept the service up during floods, monsoons, even the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai – there are currently over 5,000 dabbawalas working tirelessly in Mumbai delivering over 200,000 lunch boxes each day!

Love this b&w shot of a dabbawala – so cheery! (via Jwritings.com)

Indeed, the system is so impressive (and fascinating) that professors from Harvard Business School wrote a case study on the process – a quote from a report from NBC News:

So deeply imprinted that the dabbawalas rarely, if ever, make a mistake. Their delivery system has been awarded a six sigma level of efficiency. That means they make around one mistake in every six million deliveries. 

“A hundred things can go wrong along the way — tiffins delivered to the wrong destination, tiffins lost, tiffins broken — but they rarely do,” said Sawant. “Our motto is ‘error is horror.’”

Their delivery system has garnered international fame as a highly specialized trade, attracting Prince Charles and Richard Branson and warranting a case-study at Harvard Business School, visits from global delivery giant FedEx, and a series of documentaries.

Intriguing, right?? If it’s good enough for HBS, Prince Charles, FedEx, and Richard Branson, I’m sold 😉 Not to mention the tiffins (or their snazzy lunchbox containers) are super practical for warmed food – I love the 4-5 stacked compartments!

An example of a tiffin used in the dabbawala delivery service

Umm borderline obsessed with this colorful tiffin! (via Women’s Day)

So I’ll leave yall with a video I found in my googling – it made me cry (pretty easy feat in my case, but I guarantee that even if you’re not a crier – *cough Barr cough* – you’ll smile huge in the last minute or so): the dabbawalas make about the equivalent of $5(USD) a month, working rain or shine – and always on time at that! I love punctuality (*cough Barr cough*) 😉 The Indian head bobble is also prevalent in this clip – love!

Want to read more on the dabbawalas? Here are some of my favorite links that I came across:

Add this to my ever growing list of reasons why I want to visit India. 🙂 Until next time…

 

The one about Perth’s coffee scene

Perth takes coffee seriously, yall. Like really seriously. I never gave coffee too much thought before we moved to Australia; I liked my grande skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks…knew the order with my eyes shut, knew how it would taste, knew I didnt need to add a thing to it.

Then we moved to Perth.

My initial reaction…

There is no Starbucks here. No Coffee Bean. No Second Cup. And Perth peeps literally scoff (and judge you big time) when you ask if there is a Starbucks here, disgusted that you would deign to put Starbucks in the same category as their unique coffee shops and drinks.

(Side note: when we were in Sydney, there were Starbucks (eureka!), but they were all literally dead; the other local coffee shops were far more bustling than the Starbucks.)

Gordon Street Garage in West Perth

Gordon Street Garage in West Perth

Some of my BFF baristas at Halo

The Perth coffee culture (and it is indeed a culture, no sarcasm here) is rich and vibrant – I dont know if/how I can ever go back to my grande skinny vanilla latte after indulging in Gordon Street Garage‘s flat white or Halo Espresso‘s long mac.

And I’ve had to learn a lot about coffee and the different espresso drinks – Barr too! He ordered an iced coffee and got a dollop of vanilla ice cream in his drink…surprise!

Which would you choose?

And it goes beyond the yummy (and of course, highly caffeinated drinks)…it’s the friendly staff who always greet you with a jaunty “how ya goin’?” (sadly, each of the five cashiers at Halo know me by name – and I know that there are five of them) and the cozy interiors of literally each coffee shop.

And I’m not the only one in awe of Perth’s coffee scene: George Calombaris (of my beloved Masterchef fame, as well as his renowned Melbourne restaurants) was recently in Perth for the Perth Good Food and Wine show and extolled the virtues of Perth’s growing coffee culture. 

So here’s a [small] list of some of my favorite coffee shops in Perth – and it’s ever growing! Let me know if you have any additions or suggestions 🙂 And to anyone that visits us in Perth (particularly my Starbucks-loving Americans!), I promise you will be a changed coffee drinker once you have a Perth cuppa (and to any non-coffee drinkers, there are plenty of options for you – my personal fave: a chai latte…yum!)

Until next time..

PS – Shout out to my dad for suggesting this topic as a post! 🙂

Via Coffeenate.com

The one with South Australia: The Clare Valley

Onward from Adelaide! We drove about two hours north of the capital to the lovely Clare Valley, one of the oldest wine regions in Australia, best known for their Riesling grapes and wines:

When I first heard “Riesling”, I was skeptical – I’m not a sweet wine person and I had already conjured up images (tastes?) of your typical German Riesling, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Rieslings in this region of the world are far less sweet (actually not sweet at all) – and rather more like a Chardonnay/Sauv Blanc blend (IMO – I’m no sommelier).

We booked in at the Riesling Trail Cottages Bed and Breakfast, and it was so stinking cute! It was right on the Riesling Trail (which used to be an old railroad track, but now is just a lovely bike/walk trail through the vineyards in the Clare), and our cottage was so cozy and quaint. Although we arrived to much chillier weather than we had anticipated, we were undaunted and went to Sevenhill Cellars, an area settled by Jesuit Fathers and Brothers in the mid 1800s – the St Aloysius church there is breathtaking, as are the views from the vines:

St Aloysius church in Sevenhill Estate – Clare Valley (via Heritage Buildings of South Australia)

Sevenhill Vineyard in Clare Valley at sunset

Sevenhill Vineyard in Clare Valley at sunset

Sevenhill Vineyards in the Clare Valley

Sevenhill Vineyards in the Clare Valley

The wines werent our favorite, but the heritage and scenery at Sevenhills was not to be missed. There are still active Jesuit brothers living on the property, most of whom are deeply involved in the development of the brand.

The next morning dawned cold but sunny – something that had alluded us a lot since we had arrived in South Australia! Since that was our final full day in the Clare, we decided to make the most of it. First we rented bikes to see the Riesling Trail and soak up the sun and fall weather – the changing leaves and gorgeous colors reminded both Ashlie and I of crisp North Carolina fall days (except we didnt have any ACC football games to attend 😦 )

Ashlie and Keller taking in the scenery

Ashlie and Keller taking in the scenery

Me goofing off in the leaves

Me goofing off in the leaves

We stopped to get some breakfast and coffee, but funnily enough, the Little Red Grape cafe also had a cellar door! Coffee and Shiraz at 11AM? Sure!

Coffee and wine - breakfast of champions!

Coffee and wine – breakfast of champions!

We biked into the town of Clare and grabbed lunch at Mr Mick – great tapas (and an even better Cab Shiraz!)

Our littlest companion was ready to head back by this time, and frankly, so were we! After quick showers and naps, we made one more vineyard stop at Cardinham Wines. We had heard about this cellar door from a friend of Ashlie’s from Melbourne, who actually owned a wine shop and collaborated with Steve Smith, the winemaker at Cardinham. We arrived shortly before the cellar door was scheduled to close, but Scott welcomed us so warmly (and there was even a sweet dog for Keller to play with – bliss!) The wines from Cardinham were such a treat; both Ash and I purchased a bottle of the Stradbrooke Cabernet Sauvignon (you know it must have been a winner if a die hard white wino like myself splurged!) 🙂 But wines aside, Steve was the star of the visit – such a personality – it was a great spot to end our jaunt to the Clare Valley wine region.

Ashlie and Steve at the Cardinham Estate cellar door

Ashlie and Scott (“Scooter”) at the Cardinham Estate cellar door

So there you have our little trip to the Clare Valley wine region! There is one final leg to this big tour of South and Eastern (Sydney) Australia: the Barossa, so stay tuned. Until next time…

The one with {culinary} adventures in Adelaide: Restaurant Orana

We get a lot of the same television shows as the United States here in Australia, but there are some shows that are uniquely Aussie. Case in point, one of my personal faves, Masterchef Australia. Yall – I am 100% OBSESSED with this show. I love cooking and reality shows (duh), and bring on the Australian accents, and I’m sold.

Masterchef Australia judges

Premise: home cooks (no professional chefs/caterers allowed) compete (four episodes a week!) in various culinary challenges. I love that they’re all “ordinary” people with jobs that are outside the food industry – students, moms, insurance salesmen, etc. And these peeps are TALENTED. And I also think I really love that despite it being a competition, they’re all so nice to one another – very supportive and helpful in challenges and stuff – I love the United States, but you rarely find that in our cutthroat reality television competitions/shows. Those sweet Aussies!

Anyway, I was watching the show right after booking my flight to Adelaide and a guest chef was brought in – Jock Zonfrillo, [ruggedly handsome] chef at Restaurant Orana right in Adelaide! After hearing him discuss his restaurant in the city I was to visit, I quickly booked Ashlie and I in for a reservation one night.

Jock Zonfrillo

Jock Zonfrillo

I dont know what I was really expecting – I figured it would be a nice meal, but when I got a phone call from the restaurant the day before confirming the reservation and asking if there were any allergy restrictions (as it was a set menu), I realized that we were in for something more than originally anticipated. I let them know of my Celiac, and for having a set menu, the woman from Orana could not have been nicer – not to mention we ended up adding Jenny and her partner to the reservation the day of, and the kind accommodation continued!

So we arrived at Orana for our 6:30 reservation and were literally the first ones in the restaurant, not that there were many tables to start with – maybe four tables; I’d say the eatery fit no more than twenty-five diners. It became packed QUICKLY though. And I won’t drone on too much longer about it (mostly because I didnt take any pictures of the food/interiors – bad blogger Abby – and what’s a post without lots of fun pics?!), but I’ll leave yall with our menu.

Restaurant Orana's dinner menu from June 24, 2014

Restaurant Orana’s dinner menu from June 24, 2014

It tasted and looked every bit as delicious, confusing, unique, fresh, and local as it sounds. Basically, Orana has full time “foragers” (no, I’m not joking) to find herbs, greens, seeds, etc from the environs in the area surrounding Adelaide. Same with the meats, cheeses, fish/shellfish, dairy. Truly a farm/land to table experience. And before you think that we’re piggles with this huge menu, I’ve gotta say that each course was just a little bite or two, and while I was definitely satisfied, I wasn’t disgustingly full. Now if you’re in Adelaide and after something a little less “fine dining”, downstairs from Orana is their sister restaurant, Street ADL – more “street food”, but still utilizing those same fresh, native ingredients.

Street ADL – via RundleStreet.com.au

This was a true dining and culinary experience – I’m so glad we caught Jock on Masterchef and made those reservations! And as you’ll see later in our trip, Ashlie and I had yet another Masterchef “close call” in the Barossa – what can I say? We’re unabashed groupies! 🙂

Via SA Weekend – Jock Zonfrillo with some native ingredient (saltbush, I believe)

And now a big virtual hug and firework to all my American readers out there – Happy Independence Day! For some reason, I am super homesick today thinking of my family and friends enjoying BBQ, sparklers, beach/mountain time, and a long weekend of fun – enjoy!!! We Blantons will be celebrating the 4th in spirit! 🙂 Until next time….

Listening to this jam on repeat (and getting a bit teary especially at the Blue Ridge Mountains part, I’ll admit it!):

 

The one about the adventures in the Swan Valley

Happy Monday, party people! I hope yall had great summer weekends (well, autumn in our case) – we went on a little adventure to the Swan Valley, just east of Perth. Here’s a map for a little perspective:

A quick day trip from Perth

A speedy 30 minutes outside of the city center one can find a beautiful little hamlet (actually it’s referred to as a shire) called the Swan Valley, full of gorgeous views and vineyards.

The shire of the Swan Valley

The shire of Swan

 

While not quite at the same magnitude as Western Australia’s wine country, Margaret River, the Swan Valley offers a number of small/intimate wineries, a smattering of microbreweries, and an abundance of local produce stalls.

Houghton Estate

Houghton Estate

So come Sunday, Barr and I decided to drive (in our electric blue Toyota Corolla, I might add) east for a bit of hiking and wine tasting (it’s not quite like Napa insofar that reservations for tastings arent really necessary – we stopped at the “most commercialized” winery, and it felt quite the opposite when you compare it to the Napa Valley). Anyway, I googled around and found a cute little hike called Bell’s Rapids trail – it was an easy 5.5k loop around the Swan River, offering some nice views of the river’s rapids along the way. It was 75 and sunny – doesnt get much better!

The Bell's Rapids of the Swan River

The Bell’s Rapids of the Swan River

Picture perfect day

Picture perfect day

Barr trailblazing!

Barr trailblazing!

A little fairyland

A little fairyland

Fairyland take 2

Fairyland take 2

We didnt see any sheep on the hike, but there were plenty of horses in the area!

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And we werent the only folks making the most of the gorgeous weather and hike – there were a number of people picnicking and playing in the shallows of the river. Love this mild winter/autumn – hopefully it sticks around for a bit longer 🙂

My little adventurer

My little adventurer

photo 22So after our little hike, we stopped at a winery with a large cafe attached – we didnt do much research ahead of time, but figured we couldnt go wrong with the place with the largest sign. Houghton Wines was tucked back from the main drag, but had a huge open space/park where another slew of people (with tons of kids, too!) were enjoying lunch/wine on the lawn, listening to a little 3 person band.

Houghton Wines & Cafe

Houghton Wines & Cafe

The menu had a section for gluten free pizzas, so as soon as I saw that, I was sold 🙂 Wish I had snapped some more shots of the yummy food, but we had worked up an appetite:

The remnants of my prawn and bell pepper pizza

The remnants of my prawn and bell pepper pizza

Houghton Cafe menu offered a great selection of high quality nibbles

Houghton Cafe menu offered a great selection of high quality nibbles

And if you wanted to have some wine with your meal, you could walk up to the little cellar door bar, have some tastes, and order by the bottle or glass – cheers!

Great autumn day

Great autumn day

It was a nice little day trip outside the city – I would definitely recommend the hike, and while I really enjoyed the ambience and food of Houghton, we have since heard that the wineries “off the beaten path” also have cafes and a more extensive selection of wines – a challenge for next time!

And finally, happy (belated) Father’s Day(s) to all you dads out there, and extra special wishes to my dad, father in law, and two wonderful grandfathers – I miss yall more than words in a blog can describe, and am forever blessed to have you in my life!!

Until next time…

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