The Bountiful Hunter in….Haberfield

I’ve just returned from a wonderful Italian Gourmet Safari around Haberfield with my good friend Fiona. Our guide to the delights of this foodie suburb was the passionate and effervescent Sam, a local Italian boy who has his roots firmly entrenched in the magic of gelato making and drinking good coffee. He regaled us with stories of his family which were driven by his culture and connection to food. Wonderful stuff…..

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We started the morning with excellent coffee at the Haberfield Post (previously known and loved as Il Goloso) and this would be our base and lunch spot for the day. I was delighted with our first stop being the Paesanella cheese shop, where we tasted the freshest of ricottas, bocconcinis laced with 30 year old balsamic and a ridiculously rich and hedonistic “cake” of layered mascarpone and blue cheese, topped with fig sauce, known as Figaro.

Peppes Pasta followed with tempting duck and prosciutto ravioli and rocket lemon zest angel hair, with all pasta being made fresh, along with accompanying sauces. Raphaels bakery next door was laden with bread and sweet creations of all grains, shapes and sizes, and the ladies behind the counter were friendly, cheerful and loud in their enthusiasm for their beautiful baked goods.

 

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Onto Lamonica IGA, where 3 businesses exist under the one banner…. An italian butcher, a burgeoning deli and fresh fruit and vege displays. The place was packed with locals buying their weekly supplies and Italian women seemingly bickering about the best olives…. Sam assured me this was the norm. This place certainly would give the two big supermarket giants a run for their money and I know where I would rather shop.

Over Ramsay St we crossed to Zanettas 5 Star deli, possibly the jewel in the crown for Haberfield with every possible brand of dried pasta available and a small goods counter that would make any Italian swoon with delight. Here we tasted the impossibly green Sicilian olives, San Daniele proscuitto (absolutely delicious and well worth the $70kg!) and several varieties of pecorino cheese. Sam explained the importance of good olive oils and the heritage of aged balsamic vinegars – like champagne, true Balsamic is only made in the Modena region of Italy. I indulged and bought the 8 year old vintage for special occasions.

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It was then back to the Haberfield Post for a generous and filling spread of breads, pasta, authentic pizzas and a glass of Italian Sangiovese. This was a relaxed affair and we were able to chat with our fellow tour guests plus meet the humble Tony, owner of the restaurant and a proud Roman.

Lunch was followed by a trip to Rino Saffioti’s chocolate shop where the man himself spoke with love of his passion for excellence in chocolate making and the delicate balance of tempering this often temperamental ingredient. Rino also specialises in gelato and has just started roasting his own coffee beans. A true artisan indeed.

 

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Our tour concluded with a shot of prosecco and limocello from the Haberfield cellars….a celebratory end to a wonderful day.

My thanks to Sam for sharing his Haberfield with us and to my good friend Fi, who shares my love of eating well and seeking out the good food. Our next adventure looks to be the Vietnamese Cabramatta jaunt. Cant wait! I need to also say thankyou to Celia from Fig Jam Lime Cordial, for meeting us for early morning coffee in her beloved “Haby”. It was a pleasure to finally meet her face to face and as always, she was generous in her time and in many other ways!

TBH xxx

 

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Jackie’s Chocolate Cake – Worth a 100 bucks!

So here is the second of my high rotation chocolate cake recipes. Fondly known as “Jackie’s”, this recipe came from my friend Katherine in Brisbane and was in celebration of my baby boy turning 1. Katherine sent me a copy of the recipe so that I had a decent choc cake for creating those damn childrens birthday cakes, that tend to lose their complexity as the child gets older. Jackies makes a huge slab cake, perfect for sculpting and cutting into 3D Ninja turtles or characters from Frozen at 2am in the morning, prior to the onslaught of 5 year olds the next day. My son will be turning 18 very soon and no doubt I’ll cook a Jackies….it will be simply iced and if lucky a spray of sprinkles and “18” shaped by smarties will be placed lovingly on top!

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The other part to this little story is about Jackie herself. ‘Jackie’ sent in this recipe to a women’s magazine and promptly won $100 for her “original” recipe. However according to Katherine, she had seen the recipe elsewhere and felt Jackie was not really deserving of the prize…Katherine wrote this on my copy, along with the fact that my baby boy at the tender age of one, would be quite happy with an iced shoe box, but that this recipe would come into its own one day…..and so it has. The recipe has been copied in its entirety (including Katherine’s scathing words regarding Jackie) to many family and friends, resulting in children all over the world eating a “Jackies”. Perhaps she deserved the 100 bucks after all!

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Once again it is a very simple melt and mix recipe and the fudge icing makes a good topping. Its dense and flavoursome, and though lacking the intensity of the melted chocolate flavoured cakes, the 5 years don’t seem to mind!

Enjoy! TBH xx

Thelma’s Chocolate Cake – a quick go to cake

As Easter is just around the corner and thoughts are turning to chocolate, I thought I would share the four chocolate cakes in my life over the coming weeks. Despite not being an avid fan of chocolate like some, (my preference is the brulees, pannacottas, and citrus tarts found on menus) I do enjoy a slice (aka large door-stopping wedge) of chocolate cake at children’s birthday parties and with a cup of tea! Thelma’s chocolate cake recipe is one of the many things the food techy brought to our marriage. There are many quirkier things he brought but wine needs to be involved before discussing and disclosing those items.

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From all accounts Thelma was a past employee of the food techy’s workplace and made this cake for staff morning teas. It has become a favourite in our family and the recipe has been passed to many friends to continue the tradition. I will honestly say, it really is just a “jujjed” up version of a packet cake and I make no apologies for sharing that information. Sometimes we all just need a quick and easy go to recipe when chocolate cake is required within the hour.

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To my friends in the northern hemisphere climes, a word of warning……this recipe calls for a packet of instant chocolate pudding. This is NOT the self sauce variety. Your pudding mix should only have 1 sachet inside! Here in Australia I use the Cottees brand of instant choc pudding.

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I also tend to use a higher quality cake packet mix, and if you can buy one with the frosting included, all up this cake comes out at a very economical price with a good flavour. I bake it in my kugelhopf cake tin but have also had success in the standard 20-22 cm round tins.

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Enjoy! TBH XX

The Quest for Wattleseed

I recently had some difficulty finding a reasonably priced supply of wattleseeds in the Hunter, in preparation for my Chow Down to Eurovision 2015.

After searching far and wide, I remembered the lovely ladies of Hunter Hunter had recently reviewed a spice shop smack bang in the middle of the Hunter St mall.

My Souk Drawer can be found at 160 Hunter St, Newcastle and is well worth a visit. The owner Chris Sim has provided an “Aladdins Cave” of spices, chillis and other wonders to tempt the home cook. He has a wonderful knowledge of his product, and happily and generously provides his customers with his wisdom. Chris also makes his own spice mixes and invited me to try the temptingly named “exquisitely sugared”, a mix of sugar, cinnamon, anise, vanilla, nutmeg, orange peel, chocolate powder and cardamon. Delicious and smelt incredible. The challenge is now on to find a suitable recipe for the said mix!

So in true form, I went in to buy wattleseed and came away with Chermoula, Ras-el-Hanout, Laksa Lemak dry spice mix, exquisitely sugared mix and yes some wattleseed!

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If you are in the area, please take some time to drop in and chat with Chris. Dont worry about finding him, the smell of spice permeates the mall and will lead you to him. His prices are very reasonable with a minimum purchase of 20g…….Cheap as Chermoula!

Happy shopping…..TBHxx

Chow Down to Eurovision 2015

As a new blogger I was absolutely delighted to be invited to take part in the Chow Down to Eurovision 2015 competition hosted by the talented and funny Jason from blog Don’t Boil The Sauce.

I’ll let Jason tell you all about the competition here, and please take some time to read some of his other posts. They are great fun!

This year Eurovision takes on a whole other dimension for us here in Australian. 2015 will be the first time we have been invited to compete! The jury is still out on who will represent us, but no doubt we will fulfil the criteria. We also get to vote!

For me, Eurovision holds one distinct memory…….ABBA! The 1974 competition saw them come onto the scene singing Waterloo and then take the world by storm. And yes I was that raving teenage girl who followed them with a devoutness reserved for religion. Dancing Queen was surely written specifically for me? When the album Arrival was due for release, my best friends mother was working at RCA records at the time,  and managed to obtain a copy for me 24 hours before anyone else! Oh can you hear the drums Fernando!

So as an ode to the Swedes with a little bit of Oz thrown in, I have made Wattleseed Blinis with Smoked Salmon as my entry for Chow Down 2015.

 

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The recipe I have used comes from Juleigh Robins via Herbie’s Spices. The recipe makes 12 large or 36 small blinis.

Recipe:

1 tablespoon Wattleseed Roasted and Ground
3 eggs
150mL milk
150mL water
80mL canola oil
2 cups self raising flour

Methods/steps
Heat the wattleseed gently in a dry pan to release flavour.
Whisk together eggs, milk, water and oil until well combined.
Slowly add the wattleseed and flour to make a spoonable batter. Adjust the texture with extra milk or flour if necessary.
Allow the mixture to rest for about half an hour to relax the flour and to soften the wattleseed grains.
Place a teaspoon (for small blinis) or generous tablespoon (for entrée or luncheon blinis) of the batter onto a lightly greased hot frying pan or solid cooking plate. Cook until small bubbles appear on the surface, then carefully flip the blini over with a spatula and cook the other side.
Serve smoked salmon, creme fraiche and some sprigs of dill.

 

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Happy Eurovision 2015! Aussie, Aussie Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!

TBH xx

 

Calm before the Storm…quick eats in Noosa

The food techy and I have just returned from a few days in Noosa sampling the delights on offer. Our timing was impeccable with Cyclone Marcia bearing down but providing some excellent swell for the surfing food techy and brilliant sunshine pre the strong winds and rain. Our thoughts are with the locals of the Sunshine Coast and Central Queensland as they wait out this extreme weather. We hope all are well and will be safe from harm.

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Noosa has been a favourite of ours throughout our marriage. It was the destination of choice when I was pregnant with the beloved son and we have had a wonderful holiday there with “Finger on the Pulse of Sydney – Fiona” and her lovely family from the UK. Noosa itself has been through many transformations, often dependent on the financial climate of the economy and always at the behest of mother nature. This trip we found her in good form, thronging with tourists of all nations and buzzing with excellent food, and so many surfers off the point that one could have walked on water across their boards (quote from the food techy).

So where did we eat? My sole purpose for choosing Noosa for our quick getaway was to finally treat ourselves to the wonderful food of Peter Kuruvita. He has taken control of the Sheraton kitchens and named his latest adventure the Noosa Beach House. And she is a beauty! There were 4 of us and we had the choice of a wonderful degustation menu, the special menu celebrating Chinese New Year or the a’la carte. We chose the latter and were very happy with our decision. The Seafood tapas plate and the signature Seared Yellow Fin Tuna, Ruby Grapefruit, Sweet Pork, and Crackling were our shared entrees accompanied by a cold glass of Ros Ritchie Pinot Gris 2013. Both dishes were amazing in their taste as well as visual appeal. Mains included Kuruvita’s other signature dish of Sri Lankan Snapper Curry, a deconstructed dish of beautifully cooked fish with the most delicious curry sauce on the side. Sri Lankan curries are very different to their sub continent cousins in Indian, providing a lovely delicate balance of spice, flavour and heat. I had food envy though with both the Spiced Duck with oat crumble, medjool date, cavalo nero and dehydrated grapes, and the food techy’s choice of Tajima Wagyu Sirloin with smoked potato, beetroot, horseradish, slow cooked short rib . The short rib meat literally melted in your mouth (yes I pinched a bit). Desserts were scrumptious and consisted of the playfully named Sri Lankan Love Cake with peach, coconut, palm treacle and freeze-dried raspberries and the Mexican Vanilla Bean Pannacotta with hibiscus, honeycomb and pistachio.

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Our other treat for the night was Mr Kuruvita’s presence. We were told that he was eating at the restaurant that night and were delighted that he came to our table for a chat and to answer our concerns regarding his freeze dried raspberries and the recent Hepatitis A outbreak. He had a charming sense of humour and spent time with us explaining the intricacies of Sri Lankan Palm Treacle – known as Kitul. The food techy and he also got political over the regulations surrounding raw milk production and supply. PK would love to have access to buffalo curd to accompany his Kitul! The food techy was looking into how we could supply that for him….stay tuned for pictures of buffalo grazing under my Hills hoist! Mr Kuruvita (Peter to his staff) is a generous man and one who is obviously enjoying this new venture and the relaxed atmosphere it provides both him, his family and his customers.  A memorable night thank you Noosa Beach House and considerably reasonable in price coming in at $85 per head including 2 bottles of wine. Yes we will definitely be back!

Other eats around the area included breakfast at Corb-ns at Maroochydore on our way to Noosa. Good coffee and a decent breakfast menu with all the usuals. I did enjoy the smashed avocado with some goats cheese mixed through as a small change to the norm. If you are an Op Shopper like moi, Maroochydore has a whole strip “Vegas style” of charity shops to browse. Head south on Aerodrome Rd and you’ll find them. A quick bite to eat and the obligatory mango smoothie was had at Canteen. A great lunch stop whilst browsing the beachy stores of Noosa junction. Make sure you browse the wonderful wines at XO Cellars  next door to Coles for an eclectic but great array of drinking. Their sister restaurant Embassy XO at Sunshine Beach is out of this world (we ate there last visit with the aforementioned Fiona and clan).

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If you are after good coffee head to Belmondos where Clandestino Roasters are hiding and will provide you with a decent brew. Belmondos is chock full of organic paleo type things that does my head in, but it is worth a browse and a look out for the day old sourdough basket with reduced price loaves! Other great coffee can be found in Noosa via Streets of Harlem. A hole in the wall right at the end of Hastings st serving strong and flavoursome macchiato.

Our final eatery was a sneaky indulgent lunch at Thomas Corner Noosaville before heading back to Brisbane Airport. Here the food techy and I shared some delicious sardines on sourdough with an eshallot paste and the sourdough sandwich with leg ham and melted comte cheese.(I was obviously missing my own sourgdough by this stage). An interesting dry ginger beer from Keith and Sons was consumed as we sat catching a cool breeze off the Noosa River. We finished off with an apple tart tartin with prune and brandy icecream….a treat for the trip home.

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Thank you Noosa for another restful break. We’ll be booking our next trip north shortly! Stay safe Queenslanders…. TBHx

Sourdough Baking with Camilla (Duchess of Newy)

Camilla has arrived in my home and is the name I have bestowed upon my sourdough starter generously offered by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. I have named her after the Duchess of Cornwall in a nod to a resilient women who rose again to get her man! Camilla has also come from good breeding stock (Priscilla) – important for securing the lineage of the aristocrats! I’m hoping my Camilla will keep rising with resilience too.

I have decided that baking sourdough bread is much like raising children, the difference being you get instructions from the wonderful Celia for your bread raising! Where was Celia when the human baby was born and raised? I could have done with written instructions and twitter encouragement then too! Constant photos of bubbling starter were sent back and forth….is this right Celia? is she bubbling enough?, have I added enough flour? I wonder if Celia would have been quite so captivated by my photos if they were of pooey nappies, strange rashes and growth charts? I have to say, Camilla was far easier to feed on flour and water, and I didn’t end up with cracked nipples!

Camilla at 6.30am doin’ her thang!

So after feeding Camilla all weekend and feeling like a new mother with scheduled feeding times, Camilla was rearing to go and bubbling with excitement (literally) by Sunday morning. Thanks once again to Celia who provided excellent instructions and tutorials on her blog to get you “started with your starter”. The result was two incredible and delicious loaves of sourdough. The food techy (an expert in the art of bread making) has given them 2 thumbs up and a review of great texture, good crumb and a decent bloody crust. The smell emanating around the house is one of homeliness and warmth.

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Inaugural Camilla loaf

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Camilla’s second loaf

I am now addicted to the art of sourdough baking and thankfully so, as I still have 11 kgs of bakers flour to use!

So here’s to you Celia, Priscilla and Camilla. May we find world peace by not only breaking bread together, but baking bread together. TBH xxx (feeling even more Bountiful after devouring half a loaf of bread in record time).