melbourne

Exhibition building
Exhibition gardens
Shoes outside the State Library
Street art in Chinatown
Street art in Fitzroy
Chinatwon
Pellegrini's
Self Preservation
Manchester Unity Building
Old Melbourne Gaol
Queen Victoria Markets
Pumpkin Borek
Colonnades
Camelias at Melbourne Uni
Vegie Bar Interior
Chocolate and vanilla fudge
Untitled
Adam at Heide
Heide kitchen gardens
War Memorial
Untitled
Melbourne cemetery

Melbourne is a great city for travellers. Often called the most European of Australia’s capital cities, everything in the CBD is accessible by foot. We loved this. But we’re crazy walkers (on average I’d say we did 8-10 km a day). The food and cafe culture is the best I’ve seen in a long time, and it was so refreshing! Needless to say, we did a lot of eating, a lot of coffee drinking, and a lot of absorbing the beautiful sites of Melbourne.

It was great to re-visit Melbourne as an adult (I was last there 8 years ago, and Adam had never been), and see so many wonderful things. We stayed 5 days, and there was much that we didn’t do or see (like St Kilda, the Bay, or the Dandenongs), but I’d say that 5 days was a great period of time, and we achieved a lot! Here’s a breakdown of our favourites.

EAT

Mamasita, Level 1, 11 Collins St, Melbourne. We ate here our first night on the recommendation of Reana, and it did not disappoint! Heaps of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. Tasty, tasty, Mexican. You have to get the corn.

Vegie Bar, 380 Brunswick St, Fitzroy. So good we ate their twice. The first time, I got the ‘Mostly Greens’ stir fry with tempeh (I counted 9 different green vegetables!!) and Adam got the most enormous burrito with all the trimmings I’ve ever seen. The second time, I got the vermicelli noodles (amazing) and Adam got the mee goreng (also amazing!). Finding this place was like finding people that spoke my language. Prices were reasonable and servings were gigantic. Did I mention their dessert cabinet? Yep, the chocolate vanilla fudge ticked all my requirements. Cannot recommend enough.

The Hardware Société, 120 Hardware St, Melbourne. We stopped in here for breakfast, and it was sensational. Adam got the most amazing looking mushrooms stuffed with goat’s cheese and roasted leeks, while I opted for the muesli. Good coffee.

Shakahari, 201-203 Faraday St, Carlton. Classic vegetarian food – curries, and lots of hearty fare. The dumplings in coconut broth were great.

Le Miel et La Lune, 330 Cardigan St, Carlton. Awesome menu – lots of vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. Really good chai lattes. Super cute interior.

Brunetti, 380 Lygon St, Carlton. A Melbourne institution, and pretty much Adam’s idea of heaven. Pastries, cakes, biscuits as far as the eye can see. Adam sampled both the cherry danish and the custard filled cornetto, and raptured over each one.

Pellegrini’s, 66 Bourke St, Melbourne. Another Melbourne icon. There’s no fixed menu, just ask for what you like (lots of different pastas, lots of different sauces). And don’t forget to get a watermelon granita (I’m going to try and recreate this soon). Excellent, simple Italian – I remember eating there as a kid, sitting in the kitchen with my parents.

Lord of the Fries. These are dotted all throughout the city – and proof that just because you’re a vegetarian doesn’t mean junk food ceases to exist. Awesome vege burgers (and hots dogs) – usually I’m not keen on pretend meats, but the burger was delicious. And they do poutine (need I say more?) Lots of vegan and gluten-free options too. More than one visit was made.

COFFEE

Assembly, 60 Pelham St, Carlton. Super cute design and well thought-out coffee (and my friend Chloe works there!). No espresso though – step into the world of V60 coffee. A great experience, and very, very yummy brownies.

A Little Bird Told Me, 29 Little Latrobe St, Melbourne. This place was awesome – great coffee, great vibe. They sold delicious specialty chocolates and pastries.

SHOP

Gewürzhaus, 342 Lygon St, Carlton. Herb and spice merchants – I practically lost my mind when I found this place. Their selection of spice, herb, sugar and salt blends is ridiculous. Viennese Christmas Sugar, Greek Grill Seasoning, Salle d’Italia, Shichimi Togarishi and Masala Chai Spice were all got and coveted.

Queen Victoria Markets, Corner of Elizabeth and Victoria Streets, Melbourne. Massive markets that sell everything under the sun. The delicatessen hall was definitely my favourite (all the olives and antipasti you could desire). Really good breads, fresh produce and takeaway food. Not open Mondays or Wednesdays.

Readings, 309 Lygon St, Carlton. After you’ve gorged at Brunetti, walk across the road to Readings. One of the best bookshops I’ve been to in a long time – awesome selection.

Hill of Content, 86 Bourke St Melbourne. Another excellent bookshop! Great selection of non-fiction. Cosy and comfy.

SEE & DO

National Gallery of Victoria. Go and see the stained glass ceiling. Great travelling exhibitions and the standing collection is excellent too.

Old Melbourne Gaol, 377 Russell St, Melbourne. Easily one of the top two things we did in Melbourne. The building is equal parts creepy, haunting and other-wordly. The information and lay-out inside is excellent. Lots of fun.

Melbourne Museum, Carlton Gardens. The travelling exhibition (of artefacts from ancient Afghanistan) was great, but the museum collection blew us away. Taxidermy galore (but is a modern display) with lots of context and great displays.

Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen. In the houses and gardens that belonged to art collectors and patrons Sunday and Arthur Reed, Heide is beautiful. Have a coffee and a snack in the cafe before going for a walk through the beautiful gardens and checking out the exhibitions available. Worth the train and bus to get there.

Catch a tram. They’re dorky and a bit slow, but quintessentially Melbourne.

WALK

Down Flinders Lane, absorbing the bustling atmosphere. Lots of cafes and places to stop and eat.

Past Flinders St station, over the bridge and through the parks to the Shrine of Remembrance.

Up Russell St, past the Old Melbourne Gaol. Keep going up Lygon St to the Melbourne General Cemetery.

To the Queen Victoria Markets, then make your way through the University of Melbourne. From the university, its a very short walk to Lygon St or Brunswick St in Fitzroy.

My favourite thing about our trip to Melbourne? Exploring the city with Adam – he’s the best travel companion, and it was so special to spend some time away together before the craziness of semester began.

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photos: wedding

wedding 14 july 2013

Today I thought I’d share a few photos from our wedding (you can see more here), which took place two Sundays ago. It was a very simple, relaxed (and small) wedding. We exchanged vows, then headed to one of our favourite restaurants for the most amazing lunch (check out my Instagram for some gratuitous food porn).

wedding 14 july 2013
wedding 14 july 2013 - me signing
wedding 14 july 2013 - us and our witnesses, michael & liss
wedding 14 july 2013 - dad
wedding 14 july 2013 - family
wedding 14 july 2013 - mondo
wedding 14 july 2013 - adam & me

Despite the sunshine in these photos, we woke up to a very rainy, grey day, and after a quick excursion to the park where we had intended to hold the ceremony, we decided that it was too wet. Adam’s sister, Amy, was a true champion and a last minute venue change meant we could have the ceremony on her beautiful balcony. The rain showers continued throughout the morning, but the sun managed to break through strategically for some photos. It was a beautiful day, and spending time with family and friends was a blast. A big shout out to my gorgeous friend Reana and my dad for taking such beautiful photos!

We headed to the airport straight after lunch, and enjoyed a great week in Melbourne (stay tuned for a Melbourne post, with photos and recommendations). Now that all the excitement’s over, it feels fantastic to be back at home with the kittens. Semester starts today (yikes!), and we’ve got a very busy and exciting six months ahead of us (with both of us tutoring, working on our theses, German lessons) – I can feel the productive and positive vibes already. So much potential!

And now for the gratuitous kissing photo:

wedding 14 july 2013 - kiss

roast pumpkin and leek soup w za’atar roasted pumpkin seeds

roasted pumpking & leek soup w za'atar roasted pumpkin seeds

Holy shit balls, guys! We did it. We’re married, and we’ve just got back from a week of eating, walking, and adventuring our way around Melbourne. If you’d like to see some of our Melbourne (or wedding) snaps, check out my Instagram. I’m going to spend many happy hours this weekend sorting through photos (stay tuned for wedding and honeymoon posts soon), but right now, I’ve got some kittens to cuddle.

chopped & ready for the oven
roasted edges
roasted pumpkin & leek
pumpkin seed glory
soup toppings (accidental self portrait)

If you’ve always sort of been like ‘meh’ to pumpkin soup or soups in general (though – seriously? I thought this was an insane – I would eat soup every day given the opportunity – until I met Adam, who gets ancy if he has soup once a fortnight, let alone every day – but this soup got the Adam-stamp-of-approval, which means that it’s even better than what I think is a good soup normally), I have the solution: roasting. Roast everything first (except celery – I don’t think celery particularly warms to roasting, but that’s just me). This intensifies the flavours in the vegetables a huge amount, and you get awesome little browned flavoursome bits.

Once everything’s roasted (that is, cooked), all you have to do is dump it in a pot, add water or stock, bring to the boil and blend. You’ve added another dimension (and another adjective) to your soup.

Also, pumpkin seeds. I’m positive that after discovering the absolute magic of freshly roasted pumpkin seeds, I’m never going to throw away a single pumpkin seed again. Ever. These were just so good, half of them didn’t even make it onto the soup, but into my mouth somewhere in the two hours between morning snack and lunchtime. I’m excited by the possible adventures I’m going to have with pumpkin seeds. Triple paprika? Cumin and lemon? Chilli and lime? Watch this pumpkin-seed-coated space.

lunch time

Roasted Pumpkin and Leek Soup

serves 4

Recipe notes:

  • I also topped this soup with paprika tofu croutons (toss with 1 tsp paprika before roasting). Regular tofu croutons would also be delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1.1 kg (deseeded and peeled weight) pumpkin, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1.6 liter (6.5 cups) water/stock
  • 1 tsp turmeric

Preheat oven to 200 C (390 F). Remember to reserve the seeds from your pumpkin! Wrap garlic cloves in foil and set aside. In a large bowl, toss the vegetables (except the celery), oil, bay, and sage, with salt and pepper to taste. Spread out in a single layer over two ovens trays lined with baking paper. Nestle the foil-wrapped garlic onto one of the trays. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and starting to colour.

Remove the garlic from the foil, and squeeze the soft garlic from its skin. In a large saucepan, combine roasted vegetables, garlic, celery, water/stock, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, then carefully blend using a stick blender, or in batches in a standing blender. Serve topped with za’atar roasted pumpkin seeds, tofu croutons, and toasted bread, if desired.

Za’atar Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

makes about 1/2 cup

Recipe notes:

  • Za’atar is amazing and goes on pretty much anything. If you can’t find a mix already made (there’s a spice seller at the markets I get mine from), here is a recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 raw pumpkin seeds (from about half a whole pumpkin)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp za’atar spice mix
  • pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 180 C (355 F). Rinse pumpkin seeds to remove any pumpkin fibers. Pat dry with a tea towel or kitchen paper. Combine the pumpkin seeds in a bowl with the remaining ingredients, stirring to thoroughly coat everything. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, spreading out into a single layer. Roast for 10-15 minutes, checking at 10 minutes to make sure they’re not colouring too quickly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Should keep for about one week.

cashew and oat cookies

pile of cookies

These, friends, are the cookies you make when the thought of baking is just too much, or when you don’t have the right ingredients, or just when you want something straight-up delicious. Cookies you don’t have to bake? Yes siree. Right here.

I was totally blown away by these: the flavour is sort of like a nutty-oatey-caramel thing, with just a salty zing thrown in there for good measure. You could almost eat them for breakfast (and honestly, who wouldn’t want to eat cookie dough for breakfast?).

Adapted from a recipe at Oh, Ladycakes (my love for this blog knows no bounds – truly, truly wonderful), these are the sort of treats you forget are in the freezer, then you find them and get to relive the experience of tasting them all over again. These are cookies that make me feel good, they’re happy and solid and comforting. If ever a cookie could be reassuring, this one could.

little balls of dough
wierd angle that I like
oblique cookies
going into the freezer

If you haven’t ventured into making your own nut butters, I highly recommend a voyage. You’ll never look back once you’ve started. And roasted cashew butter? First, roasted cashews smell like baking bread. Call me crazy, but that’s what my kitchen smelt like the morning I made these. Second, once you’ve made the butter, it’s all you can do to stop yourself from immediately consuming it on a vast amount of toast. It would also be a great on apples I feel, or with sticks of celery.

One of the most satisfying things about making nut butters is the ease with which you can make them – so quickly can you make something I know I, at least, used to take for granted at the supermarket. It’s a small pleasure that I really love, and enjoy. (Like these cookies.)

Lastly, this weekend is our wedding (eep! hooray! too many thoughts!). Next week we’re in Melbourne (yippee!) for a honeymoon getaway. I’ve got a recipe lined up for you, and I can’t wait to share photos of the wedding and holiday.

cashew & oat cookies

Cashew and Oat Cookies

makes about 25

adapted from Oh, Ladycakes

Recipes notes:

  • You could also make these with peanut butter (or even almond or hazelnut butter? sunflower butter?), but honestly, this cashew version is the shit (in my opinion).
  • I prefer to store these in the freezer, and eat them straight out of the freezer, because they’re really chewy and toothsome that way.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashew butter (see below)
  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 tbsp warm water

In a food processor, process oats and salt until a fine meal is formed. Add dates and cashew butter. Blend for 45-60 seconds, until the dates are broken up and even distributed. Add water and pulse until combined. Using a tablespoon measure, measure out portions of the dough. Roll into balls, then press with a fork. Place in a tray or on a plate and put in the freezer for 30 minutes. Stored in an airtight contained, they will keep for a week in the fridge, or a few months in the freezer.

Roasted Cashew Butter

makes ~3/4 cup

Ingredients:

  • 250 g (~1/2 pound) unroasted cashews
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tbsp olive/sunflower/coconut oil

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Put cashews on an oven tray and roast for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. In a food processor, blend cooled cashews with salt, until a fine meal has formed. The cashews won’t get really oily and buttery on their own, so add 1 tbsp oil and pulse thoroughly to combine. If you’ve reached a texture you’re comfortable with (I aim for spreadable but firm) stop there, or add more oil if desired. Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, cashew butter should last 2 weeks.

blueberry and lemon muffins

blueberry muffins on a rack

Finally (finally!), I managed to make a decent muffin. And not only decent — pretty fuckin’ great, would be how I’d describe these muffins. Born out of what was meant to be a vanilla cake (erm….check back later – this cake was a massive flop), and then a first batch of muffins that I dramatically over-filled with blueberries (imagine a melted puddle of blueberries with some token batter surrounding them). Then, finally, I was able to produce these.

It was a rewarding moment, my friends. Dietary requirements are generally difficult, especially in baking, so getting a muffin recipe right is a pretty big deal. Small measures.

In other news, this week marks six months into my research project (too fast!), and yesterday started the two week countdown to our wedding (!!!). I promise I’m not a crazy Franken-bride – it’s a very, VERY, relaxed wedding – and I can’t wait to share a few photos. But it’s a crazy two weeks before then, with three birthdays, papers to write, and performance reviews to ace!

muffins
muffins a go-go

Something that genuinely irritates me about regular muffin recipes is the amount they make: seemingly millions! And unless you’re feeding a hoard, and they don’t taste nice (I think) after they’ve been in the fridge, you can never eat them all before they spoil. So this recipe only makes 6. It’s efficiency pleases me.

Then, when I gave these muffins to my family, everyone agreed that they were delicious. The crumb is soft and moist and perfect with a dab of salty butter/margarine. Recipe testing, though a pain in the ass and sometimes completely soul-destroying, is mostly utterly worth it, especially when you can chow down on a rad muffin like this.

lemon and blueberry muffins

Blueberry and Lemon Muffins

makes 6

Recipe notes:

  • It sounds anally retentive, I know, but really only add 4-5 berries per muffin. Add more, and your muffin will sink and look very depressed (it will, however, still be tasty). 
  • Raspberries would also work amazingly instead of blueberries.
  • Serve warm, with a pat of vegan margarine or whatever you like.
  • To make 1 flax egg, mix 1 tbsp flaxseed (linseed) meal with 2 tbsp boiling water. Stir and set aside for 15 minutes, until it’s a gel.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c (55 g) almond meal
  • 1/3 c (45 g) white rice flour
  • 1/4 c (30 g) cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 flax egg
  • finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 c milk of your choice (I used cashew milk here)
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • ~1/3 c frozen blueberries (4-5 per muffin, so ~30 in total)
  • raw sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180 C (355 F) (no fan). Line a muffin tray with muffin papers. In a medium bowl, combine almond meal, rice flour, cornflour, bicarb, and baking powder. Whisk thoroughly to combine. In another bowl, whisk together the flax egg, milk, maple syrup and zest. Add wet to dry and whisk thoroughly to combine. Pour batter evenly into your muffin tray (the papers will be quite full, about 4/5). Put 4-5 blueberries on top of each muffin (they will sink in during the cooking). Sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden on top and a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and then from the tray as quickly as possible. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.