Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blueberry and Mango Pavlova

Alright, be gentle with me here. I'm venturing into the strange world of recipes, which I have done once or twice sometime ago on my blog…when my hair was still long. That's a long time ago. I also really tried in all earnest to style my pictures, a little, but I'm so not used to setting up shots...

Shortly after returning from the Eat Drink Blog Conference, Christine (from The Hungry Australian) tweeted about 'The Great Australian Pavlova Blog Hop' she had planned with a couple of other bloggers. So of course, a week out of the due date for the blog hop, I figured, why don't I try one? I'd like an excuse to take pretty sure to visit Delicieux for other food bloggers Pavlova recipes!

I'm not all too useful in the kitchen usually, but I am pretty okay when it comes to the Kitchenaid and the oven. This is at least one thing that I have managed to pick up from mum, as the kitchen is usually filled with the smells of freshly baked cakes and cookies at least twice a week due to her baking endeavours.

She hasn't done pavlova's recently, but she does tend to enjoy making them when summer is coming about and we have guests trotting around the house. This is usually after a plethora of barbecued meat and fennel and orange salads (one of her favourites. Mine too). She switches up between making one big pavlova in which we slice out wedges of goodness, or she also makes them for individual portions. Hand sized discs of pavlova goodness piled on with the fruit. Mmhmm!

Unfortunately though, mum was away when my desire for pavlova making happened, so although I didn't have her around, I did have her cookbooks and made use of a rather old school, but old faithful. The World Encyclopedia of Fruit, by Kate Whiteman and Maggie Mayhew. It's in surprisingly good shape for how old it is when I think about it…I opted to make just one big circle of deliciousness, based on their recipe for a Fresh Berry Pavlova.

Mum still had a few things to add via whatsapp of course though!

I changed a few things in the recipe, as I thought I had cornflour at home, but didn't. I know it's supposed to be the key to the pavlova, but I still found mine had a pretty good texture, crisp on the outside and soft and marshmallowy on the inside. So I went without the teaspoon that the recipe suggests. I think maybe cause I unintentionally left in the oven overnight to cool, that might have helped with achieving the consistency needed for a pavlova. I also didn't have cider vinegar, but another recipe I referenced used white vinegar, so I went with that instead.

So yup, I fail at following recipes basically, but the internet gives me enough substitutions for everything….

I find fresh raspberries a little expensive at the moment, so I went with the next best thing and used mangoes instead. Sure. Why not? I love the brightness mangoes bring to a dessert, they make me think much more of summer, sitting on the deck with a gin and tonic, suckling away the flesh around the mango seed. In hindsight actually, I should have been more generous with the fruit, as there was a lot of cream in the cream to fruit ratio, but ah well. Still pretty tasty yo.

So here is my modified pavlova recipe....



4 egg whites
(should be room temperature, but I absentmindedly chucked mine in to the fridge for 30 minutes or so after coming back from the supermarket…)

1 cup caster sugar

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/2 tsp of vanilla essence


1 1/4 cup thickened cream

1/2 cup sour cream
(I was out of Creme Fraiche)

1 cup blueberries

1 ripe mango
(I chopped mine into rough pieces)

Fresh mint leaves


Preheat the oven to 140 C/275 F and line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper. (Is there such a thing as sticky baking paper?)

Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until they form stiff peaks. Y'know, so you can turn the bowl upside down and the egg whites go nowhere?

Gradually whisk sugar into egg white to make a stiff, glossy meringue. As per my mum's instructions, I beat the eggs and sugar together for 8 minutes, which gives it a really beautiful sheen and thick texture. It's mummy's tip!

Fold in vinegar and vanilla. Start drooling.

Plop the meringue mixture onto your baking tray (which I assume you've lined with the baking paper already). Usually making a circle shape is optimal, the recommendation is to swirl it at the top, but I kept mine a little more on the flat side, as I find it easier to put fruit on later. Although it did end up a bit thin, so maybe it is worth plumping up initially...

Bake for 1 and a quarter hours, or at least until the meringue is crisp and lightly golden on the outside. Switch off the oven at this point and let your meringue rest in the oven for 1-2 hours to cool. I left mine in overnight. Oopsies.

Whip up the cream in a bowl, until it also forms soft peaks. I found I really had to leave the cream for a good 5 minutes in the kitchenaid at least until it started to firm up. Was getting worried the first minute or two that I checked it…

Fold in the sour cream with the whipped cream. Sample for taste. Sample again.

Spread the cream mix lovingly over the pavlova.

Decorate liberally with blueberries, mango and mint leaves.

Have with a cup of peppermint tea.

Did you put up a pavlova recipe for the blog hop? Be sure to visit Delicieux's post to include your pavlova, or just visit to see other delicious pavlova options...!

Friday, November 25, 2011

A sample of Paris to Provence....

I'm not a francophile, like some of my friends are, and there are other countries in Europe which have a much more precious spot in my heart. However, I do still very much love France, it's food, it's language and of course it's style. Especially after spending time in Provence earlier this year, I'm absolutely smitten with what you can find outside of Paris and off the beaten track.

So when Celeste from Spice & Soul sent me an invite to the launch of Paris to Provence, I was more than excited to attend! (Obligatory disclaimer: if it's not obvious enough, I nibbled and drank, courtesy of Paris to Provence and Spice & Soul)

Brad and I battled rush hour traffic, and after being mistaken about where Como House was and making Brad sit in traffic longer than he needed to (I'm so useless ;___;) we managed to arrive at the soiree at the very aptly chosen location. The elegant and historic Como House.

Paris to Provence is simply, a festival to celebrate and indulge in all things French or from France in Australia. Who needs a better reason really? The director's, Samantha Triaca and Laura Rancie, whilst being busy mothers and wives, who were glowing with infectious smiles, are also incredibly passionate about what they are doing and 2011 will be the festival's third year running!

The guests all relaxed in the glow of the sun at the Marekai Pop Up Restaurant, who will be doing a high tea over the weekend.

We sipped on champagne from Pommery, which I surprisingly enjoyed! My last trip to Singapore had me thinking I did not enjoy the tipple as much, as I found the champagne we had a bit too dry for my taste. The Pommery however, was light, sweet and easy to drink. Hence I was quite drunk upon leaving...empty stomach, Asian alcohol metabolism, etc. etc.

The Marekai Pop Up Restaurant also brought out nibbles, just as a taste of what we might get on the weekend. The mini tarts had some absolutely delicious pastry on them. Mmmm.

Allan did a little schmoozing and got Dominic, Samantha's husband to take us on a little tour of the grounds, although they were still getting set up.

It was interesting to listen to their experiences in the past and how they are learning from them. The food stalls now have their own area, in a circular space (appropriately named Boulevard Saint-Macaron), away from main thoroughfare so that queues may be more easily managed! And why wouldn't there be queues? With stalls like Le Petit Gateau (with Pierrick Boyer of course!) Le Tropezienne, Maggie Beer, Tarago Olives, Monsieur Truffle (!!), Cornelius cheese and many others, there is certainly going to be plenty to try!

Whilst it's easy to think that a French festival would just equal food, there is actually a home ware section as well. One stall had already moved all their goodies in, apparently it took 4 big men to move in all the statues! Wonder how people are going to be able to cart all that back home…?

Dominic stressed that they wanted to make the event family friendly, and the kids can look forward to magic shows and petting zoo's, while mum and dad are off watching demonstrations from Philippe Mouchel (of PM24 fame) or Pierrick Boyer!

Whilst I was not originally planning on attending, as my weekends tend to be crazy busy, I may just have to squeeze in a bit of time on Sunday to check out everything, as it looks like it's going to be a great event. Here's crossing fingers that the weather is good and bright, but regardless, even if the rain's do come, just chuck on a pair of gumboots (mine have flowers on them), grab an umbrella and go at it anyway!

Paris to Provence is being held at Como House all weekend, already open tonight (Friday) from 4pm until 9pm, Saturday from 9am til 6pm and Sunday from 10am until 4pm. Tickets are $15 to get in and you can pre-buy from the website, kids under 17 years old are free though!

Again disclaimer: I nibbled and drank courtesy of Paris to Provence and Spice & Soul

16 Como Avenue
South Yarra VIC 3141

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wellington Pop-Up Restaurant

I am getting this post up awfully late, as there are but just a few precious days left of the Wellington Pop-up restaurant in Fitzroy, which closes up shop and goes back to land of rolling Lord of the Rings scenery, on the 27th of November.

WLG Pop-up gives us a slice of Wellington's finest food, produce, even service! Having taken over Rue de Fleurus in FItzroy, chefs, food, drink and waitstaff were flown over to entertain and seduce Melbournians to of course, eventually visit them in Wellington.

Well they've done well. The WLG Pop-up has successfully managed to get me continuously nagging Brad about taking a trip to New Zealand to have more Chocolate Pave. Seriously, ask him.

We were lucky enough that it was an absolutely beautiful Wednesday evening when we popped by at 6pm, greeted by a waiter with the best moustache I had ever seen.

I personally love the work they've done with the branding of the whole restaurant. Even though it was only two weeks, I was honestly quite surprised at how cohesive, playful and vibrant the overall look was. The menu, the banners on the wall, the little tickets in our glasses, every detail was paid attention to.

Absolutely everything was New Zealand tonight, even the water, I queried about getting tap water…but no, they served none of that here, that's Australian! Antipodes it was, not that I had a problem with that, I've always been smitten by the rather minimal and elegant glass bottle. I contemplated with Brad stealing it away in my bag later but thought that would be a little too crass…

I started with the Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc, which was a lively, fruity wine. A nice way to start the night.

Brad's MOA Pale Ale I found was also very refreshing, quite smooth and full.

The deal at WLG Pop-Up was $35 for three courses (steal anyone?!), a share plate appetiser, a main and dessert.

It wasn't long before our share plate came out, and like on the ark, everything were in very pretty pairs.

Our plate consisted of:

- Manuka salt cured lamb shortloin with beetroot, walnut and white balsamic salsa

- Grilled marlborough scallops, celeriac puree and pancetta crumbs

- Fried goat's cheese balls with manuka honey and kiwi chutney

- Maple syrup smoked Regal King Salmon with horseradish creme fraiche and tiny capers

- Pig's cheek 'schnitzel' with roast lemon chutney

Yum. Everything was yum.

Should I say more? Fine.

My favourite was easily the goat's cheese balls, totally crisp and perfectly round outside, but the cheese inside was just, divine. There's something about fried cheese that just doesn't fail. I loved the sweetness of the manuka honey with it as well, it was an interesting combination that really worked well.

The scallops were also exceptionally delicious, they tasted surprisingly earthy, from the celeriac puree. And that pig's cheek? I don't think I had ever had pig's cheek before, but after this, I need to find more of it. In much larger quantities. Salty, peppery and crisp on the outside but melt in your mouth soft inside. Yum.

Surprisingly for mains, Brad got the vegetarian option, and I went with lots and lots and lots of red meat. Was obviously feeling like a caveman that night.

However, the beetroot gnocchi with green asparagus, parmesan cream and truffle pecorino came with very, very high praise from the waiter with the best moustache I had ever seen in my life, who (quietly) rated it higher than the meat dishes. Sacre Bleu! But who can deny that moustache?!

Oh but it indeed was beautiful. I have never seen gnocchi that colour before, and I was smitten with the playful mix of colours. From the nibble (or three) that I had, I died for the truffled pecorino.

My main though, was also to die for. A braised lamb shoulder timbale, with dukkah-crusted lamb rack and wilted mixed greens with thyme and garlic braising liquor. Oh my lord. It arrived in front of me and things turned a little primitive. The best way to get the meat from the bones is to hold it in your own hands y'know!

I found the lamb rack a touch more cooked than I like it, but I like it quite pink. Despite that, it still had a lovely texture and was bursting with flavour. The lamb shoulder timbale though, was absolutely the star. It was beautifully seasoned, and so tender. Swoon.

I've very cleverly forgotten to record the red wines we were recommended, as I commented I liked a heavier Pinot Noir. We were instead directed to a Merlot and another blend I've forgotten, which we both enjoyed quite a bit. Unfortunately I was driving, so Brad was more than happy to slurp up whatever I couldn't finish…

Then it was, my favourite course, dessert. I don't ever understand it why Brad says that ice-cream and chocolate can't be a meal. Honestly!

We of course went one each, as it would have been a crime not to try both!

The Lioricello panna cotta, with vodka lime parfait and pistachio wafer was gorgeous. The panna cotta was as wobbly and smooth as you would expect it to be and had the other dessert not existed, this would have easily satisfied me.

Although as it was, how could you go past the Whittaker's dark chocolate pave with fresh raspberries, manuka honey cream and damson plum coulees. The only reason you wouldn't like this, is because you're allergic to chocolate. Seriously. It was smooth, rich but intensely dark, saving it from being too sweet. Every mouthful was just a dream and for a moment, my mind wafted away from the fact Brad was next to me, as I had a moment with the chocolate. I was so sad when it finished. So sad. Would die for that recipe. No wait, already died over the mains. Darn.

So now I certainly do hope that I can go to Wellington to have more dessert and of course, see the city and sights.

If you have a randomly free night in the next few days, until the 27th, I'd certainly encourage a stroll down Gertrude to see if you can score one of the outdoor unreserved seats, since all the tickets have unfortunately been sold out.

In the mean time though, I'm going to continue bugging Brad about that trip…

More posts about the pop up restaurant:

Iron Chef Shellie

Off the Spork

The Chronicles of Ms I-Hua

Melb: HOT or NOT

Wellington Pop-Up Restaurant
153 Gertrude Street

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bangkok - Santawa and Secret Garden

I love my friend Crystal. She's from Vietnam, although she lived in California for a vast majority of her life. As a result she definitely carries off that confident, slightly sassy, but easy going air about her. She's incredibly worldly, one of the smartest and wittiest people I know, and maybe one of the more important things, absolutely adores good food. I think there's a trend here with my friends. Hmmm.

Anyway. So we're here in Bangkok together on our second day with Andrew (who I do love too) as well. From day one, Crystal had insisted we visit this 'hole in the wall' restaurant that she and her father had visited some years ago for lunch. So of course, we don't really bother putting up a fight, as her recommendations have always been good, as she had proven the last time we were altogether in Vietnam.

So with only an address in hand, Andrew started driving us around, dipping in and out of the tiny streets. I don't know how he could figure out which one's were one way and which one's weren't.

In time, in a row of unsuspecting shops, we find our restaurant, Santawa. It's just as well Andrew is Thai, and can read it, since we had the address in English, but the restaurant name was in Thai letters! Crystal and I would have never gotten here on our own!

Crystal was very excited.

Santawa is as old school as you can get. We were there on a weekend, where we were the only customers, but according to Andrew, they're probably busier during the working week, getting workers coming by for lunch. Despite injections of colour through yellow walls, a mix of floral and green tablecloths, it was a dingy little place and just looked like it had been here forever. Smelt like it too, the place was a touch musty, but you kind of got over it by the time the food came out. Crystal's excitement, upon stepping through the door, was absolutely infectious.

Much giggling, pointing and ordering through Andrew ensued once the menus were placed in front of us.

I was initially a bit worried at all the food we were ordering, but Andrew assured me to not be concerned. And with good reason! Being so used to Western sized portions, the hand span sized plates were quite refreshing and inviting…to try even more!

My love of pad thai, had me demand for it. Who cares if I had it for lunch the day before. I wanted it everyday! I rarely order Pad Thai when I'm in Melbourne, as not many places I feel do it justice. Not that I reaaaally know what I'm looking for, but there's just something about the sticky, salty and sweet that I love.

This was Crystal's must have dish at Santawa, and my god. It did not fail to live up to the hype she gave it! Essentially, a crispy catfish salad (I think it's called Yum Pla Dook Foo in Thai), it was everything you love in fried food. Light, crisp, bit of salt, freshness from mango, and a bit of flavour from fish sauce. We were very very tempted to order a second round of this!

Crystal also loves soups, so Tom Yum Goong it was. Andrew opted to order the 'cloudier' version of the soup, which apparently becomes cloudy because of the lime juice. It wasn't as spicy as I expected it to be, my tolerance is pretty good, but I can't take super hot, regardless, a good homey flavour.

Glass noodle salad, I don't recall eating a lot of this. We were too busy with the catfish salad…

The pandan wrapped chicken was a nice protein packed addition to our meal, which came with an absolutely moreish, rich, thick sauce. The sort you want to pour all over your rice and eat as is.

In hindsight, we did eat quite a bit. But in our defence, we didn't really have a proper breakfast that morning!

Andrew decided we weren't quite finished (since he was craving sweets) and unexpectedly, drove us to a cute little white house, in the style of an English tea room. The sort you see in romantic movies, usually where the girl lives….actually, the cafe had quite a fitting name. Secret Garden.

We had cake.

Crystal opted for the very elegantly dressed, beautifully layered, Earl Gray cake. Naturally stealing a few bites myself, I would have liked more flavour through the whole cake, as the flavour of the earl gray for me was most prominent in the icing, and a bit lacking after.

Secret Garden is reportedly famous for it's crepe cake, served with a strawberry sauce, a secret recipe that belongs to the owner. Andrew went straight for it. It's fine, fine layers are a sight to behold, especially in profile, where every layer is perfectly laid on top of the previous, without a variation in thickness. And then of course, it just has to have the strawberry sauce lazily draping itself over the cake and pooling deliciously on to the plate. Delicious. Damn secret recipes!

I went with their version of a banoffee pie. Banana, whipped cream, caramel…? How could you go wrong?! It had been ages since I had bananas too, so I intended to enjoy them as much as I could!

I also forgot to take a picture of it, but I had a pretty good thai iced tea here. Mmmm.

To think of it, I would probably never have found either of these places on my own, so I'm so glad to have friends who are happy to take me around, or come prepared with places to find. Basically, friends who like good food and are adventurous about it! What about you guys? Do you have friends who take you out of your eating comfort zone now and again?

#16/6-7 Soi Silom Road
Bangkok, Thailand

Secret Garden
117/1 South Sathorn Rd,
Bangkok 10120