Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Long Weekend Celebrations

To celebrate our 3rd Wedding Anniversary Michael & I went all out this year. Firstly on the actual date we had a scrumptious feast at Rockpool for dinner, this meal was sensational & lived up to all of my expectations, especially the steak. I wont go into any more detail except to say if you want a night out with great food, wine & service – give it a go.

The next event was a long weekend getaway – the first trip with Chloe since our holiday in Noosa back in November. We stayed at Morning Sun Vineyard in Main Ridge which was nice & central to everything, minutes away from wineries & a short drive to the beach. The place was fantastic, a modern 3 bedroom apartment with magnificent views overlooking the terrace & vines. The kitchen was stocked with breakfast provisions for each day, sausages, eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, corn flakes, muesli, fruit, milk, orange juice & of course tea & coffee, all we had to do was cook it up on the brand new cook top – in fact there was so much food that we barely touched the provisions & felt very bad for not eating such gorgeous food, what we did eat was lovely, even the sausages which take a lot to impress me, unfort for Michael I am just not a snag girl, unless of course it’s a nice big kransky – but that is another story.

Being so small, with only 4 wines on offer, the staff were all very friendly & more than helpful with any questions we had & even arranged for the cleaner to come later in the day of our departure so we could hang around a bit longer. Chloe loved the big lassie like dog, Hero running around the garden & he was great with her too. The outdoor restaurant area also had great views & sitting under the shade of the grape vines was very relaxing, our wood fired margarita pizza was simple yet oozing with goodness. A great place to stay & for now the prices at $200.00 a night I thought were quite reasonable compared to most of what I saw when searching the net.

We also had another casual lunch & more pizza at T’Gallant. I love this place & last time I was in the area I dined in the restautant so this time I wanted to try the outdoor casual piazza experience. We had a mushroom & gorgonzola pizza & a garden salad, Michael declared the pizza possibly the best of its kind so top marks there. I also love their wines & as well as tasting great they come in beautiful bottles with romantic names such as Romeo & Juliet, so was very happy doing a fair bit of tasting & spending after my lunch, lucky we had the cheap lunch or I couldn’t have bought the wine! Note that this place is very popular & you may have to share a table or wait for a while, we were lucky we just managed to squeeze onto someone elses table as soon as we arrived.

Our best food experience by far for me was our private picnic at Montalto, I have been wanting to do this for years & finally made it. We thought the idea was perfect for Chloe, ie she could happily play while we ate to our hearts content instead of being stuck inside a restaurant with nothing to do but try & escape & make a lot of embarrassingly loud noise in complaint. You pay $70.00 pp plus whatever wine you select. On arrival you are given a map with clear instructions on how to stroll to your picnic spot which you then leisurely walk to past the vines & taking in the sculptures on display. On arrival there is a table set with white linen, crockery, cutlery & glassware just as if you were dining in the restaurant. There is a portable fridge off to the side which keeps your 3 courses of food cool & ready to eat when you are ready & a picnic blanket is also left out in case you feel the need for a nap or in our case was perfect for Chloe to play on. As you can see from the photos it a fantastic spread, firstly a plate of dips, relishes, bread & olive oil to wet the taste buds, next was a very generous & delicious ‘meat’ plate, rare & tender melt in the mouth roast beef on a green salad, duck breast with potato salad & quail on couscous. By this time as you can imagine we are nearly bursting out of our clothes but one look at the dessert plate & I was in, (I even took home the leftovers with me to enjoy later), the crème brulee was superb & one of the best I have ever eaten, a choc fudge brownie, some almond cake, cheeses, muscatels & a fresh fig to top it all of. All in all a fantastic food experience with a whole lot of romance thrown in for good measure, highly recommended once again.

All that and a bottle of Dom Perignon & I’m one happy girl

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Another Birthday & Another Cake

My good friend Jane has been visiting from the sunny shores (though mostly cold & raining lately) of the Gold Coast & happened to time her trip perfectly to fit in her birthday celebrations, which for a change I was able to join in on. Of course this meant I had to make her a cake. She requested chocolate so what better place to look for inspiration than Nigella’s Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame in Feast. When the Feast series was aired recently on the abc I caught her making the honey chocolate cake which I had overlooked until now. Its funny I can see a recipe a hundred times & not think much of it yet when I see it cooked on the telly it makes me drool & want to bake it right there & then, that for me is one great reason to watch food porn on tv – it makes me want to recreate what I see even more than looking in a shiny, glossy cook book. And of course Nigella with all of her suggestive oohs & aahs whilst cooking really makes you believe that it will be the most luscious thing you are yet to taste.

So for the cake, the mixture was really very runny with the addition of 250ml of boiling water which I was very dubious about, I’m sure the tv version didn’t look so watery. Anyway not to worry, I had to bake it for quite a while longer than the recommended time and it still came out lovely & very light & moist in the end. The sticky honey icing was rich, gooey & fabulous & for the finishing touch I even went so far as to make the bees even though Jane is in her 30’s. They were sort of cute though inedible unless of course that is you love almond icing in big chunks which I’m not a huge fan of even when it’s a thin layer to top a cake. Everyone loved the cake & it was described as not your normal chocolate cake as in ‘really you have to try some’. A great result & not too much effort if you skip the bees, so one to keep for future use.

The recipe can be found here at Caper berry Gravy where it was just as welcome it seems, for anyone interested in making this delicious cake

Happy Birthday Jane!