Yesterday was my younger sister’s birthday.  She was lucky enough to go and spend the weekend on the Mornington Peninsula, wine tasting, vintage perusing and hot bathing.

Last night Mum, Dad, J and I all headed to Melbourne to celebrate with her.  Her first choice, the latest cool new place to visit in the city, Chin Chin, was totally booked out and was going to be about a 2 hour wait for a table of 5.

Certain members in our family tend to get hang-gry (hungry-angry) if we don’t eat at the right times (J, Dad and I), so we decided to search for something else.

Choice number two – closed, which we only found out after we had walked to it, a mexican restaurant which didn’t have it’s opening hours on the website (seriously, who doesn’t take advantage of the smart phone era!).

Finally Dad suggested the Sofitel Hotel on Collins St.  We walked in through the stunning lobby, past one of the 50 life sized baby elephant sculptures scattered around Melbourne to celebrate the Mebourne Zoo’s 150th birthday.

There was no way I was walking 35 flights of stairs, so the lift was our only option.  The lift moves so fast that no numbers are shown for the floors that you are passing, and only shortly after stepping in we arrived at the 35th floor.

My jaw hit the floor as I caught my first glimpse of the breathtaking view!  The first thing we all did was go to our respective bathrooms and take a photo of the view.

Mine and my sister’s reflections. Just to the right you can see the lights of the MCG.

Needing food we all went to find a table.  The bar tender struggled with the fact the were five of us and all night proceeded to bring things out to us in even numbers, strange.

The girls ordered cocktails (the only cocktail I’ve ever had was a Pina Colada) – sadly I can’t remember their names or what was in them, but they were all delicious!

I was worried, looking at the menu, that we wouldn’t get enough food to be content a the end of the night.  There was only really finger food options, between $25 and $30, so we opted to share 5 between us.

The food was delicious, and there was plenty enough to go around.

After the dubious start, the night turned out lovely.  Mum and Dad introduced us to a placed we’d never been before, with an absolutely stunning view!

My overall conclusion was that the Sofitel Atrium Bar on 35 was just beautiful, but I would never go there knowing I had to pay.  Maybe you pay for the view, and maybe that’s worth it, but I don’t have that sort of disposable cash.

Thanks Dad!

Where have you been for a cocktail and some lovely food? Have you had a night where everywhere you wanted to go was full?  What did you do?

Baked Eggs

I love breakfast foods, I could eat them at any time time the day and because of this J and I decided to have brunch for our wedding reception! Croissants, danishes, eggs sausages, bacon, spinach, it really was wonderful!

I’m also lucky to have a wonderful man-friend (I sometimes get sick of saying husband) who loves to cook me breakfast, and last weekend was no exception!

I had recently had the most amazing baked eggs at a cafe in Geelong, and J decided to attempt a replication.  Using this recipe as a base, J tweaked a few little bits and came up with this amazing breakfast!

Served on toast with the delicious sauce, and in the pan each egg was baked on a rasher of bacon, a few spinach leaves topped it all off!

The eggs were slightly over cooked, and didn’t ooze into the sauce like I have expected, but it was absolutely delicious, super easy and something I’m excited to try again!

What’s your favourite breakfast?

Saturday Night Roast

My family was never one for The Sunday Roast, I was vegetarian from 16 and then my younger sister was vegetarian only 3 years later (she was also 16).

When I finished high school I moved to a small school camp called Wollangarra (check out the link, it’s a pretty out there place).  It was a big adventure for me, first time out of home, we had to go over a river on a flying fox to get in, and we had sheep on the property that we ate every Thursday night.

I was still vegetarian at this point, but every Thursday night we celebrated the students time with us, with dress ups and a roast lamb, with all the trimmings.  Every week for 12 months.  I learnt how to cook the perfect roast and every now and again I had a taste of that beautiful farm grown meat.

That was 9 years ago, and since then, I haven’t cooked a lot of roasts, however in the last two weeks we have had two!  Last week J cooked a chicken roast, and then this Saturday night just gone, I cooked Lamb.

Now it seems that over the years I have lost my skill for the lamb roast, but it turned out pretty well.

I wasn’t sure how long to cook our 1.12kg roast for, so I found this and it helped.

All I did for the meat was smother it in olive oil and salt and pepper.  With the roast I cooked pumpkin, sweet potato and potato (boiled for just a little first), and whole garlic cloves, still in their skins.

I found this amazing recipe, it’s actually what inspired the roast.  I’ve never had roast brussel sprouts and they were delicious!

Our last vegetable was some boiled some carrots, drained them, then poured over a little sesame oil, some sesame seeds and honey.

All the raw ingredients.

Finally, while the roast was resting (on the wooden chopping board under foil) I deglazed the roasting pan with a little water and red wine, added a little corn flour and stirred to get all the lumps out.  The result was a deliciously thick and rich gravy.

The finished product.

Are you a roast cooker?  What are your little tricks?

Rice Bubble and Date Slice

As some of you know, up until the start of July J was going away every weekend for work.  The first night he was away, I loved.  I had the house to myself, I could laze around, watch chick flicks, not cook – or just eat oven baked yum cha.  After that first night, I would be lonely and instead of relishing in the joy of being alone, I was just lonely.

In hindsight, I should have enjoyed those days more… Now that he has a new job (YAY!) where he is home every night (YAY!) and most weekend days (YAY!), I NEVER get time alone in our house.  Recently watching Sex and The City, I was reminded of their term SSB (Secret Single Behaviour), now I supposed there’s not a lot of that left after you’ve been living together for a few years and are married, but I love my time alone!

So yesterday, when his alarm when off at 5am, instead of cursing it, I was excited.  I knew that I was getting a day in our home ALONE!  I was still in my dressing gown at 5pm, and only had a shower after that because I didn’t think it would be respectable for J to come home and me still be in my PJ’s.  I read both Saturday’s and Sunday’s newspapers.  I didn’t go outside, except to collect that newspaper.

I did however, bake.  Well not technically baking, as I mixed all the ingredients together and put them in the fridge to set.  I love to have a school snack to take to work, so thought if I achieved nothing else, when J got home, I could say that I made slice!

Left over from our wedding, in February, we have two massive boxes of rice bubbles, and I’ve been looking for a way to use them, as neither of us would eat them.  I have cut this recipe from a magazine ages ago and thought I would give it a try.

It was so light and fluffy, and not too sweet, well not this first piece anyway, the second in a row was a little full on.

Rice Bubble and Date Slice.

4 cups of rice bubbles

¼ cup of sweetened condensed milk

1 cup of caster sugar

2 50 g dates

250g butter

Put the rice bubbles into a large bowl.

In a saucepan melt the butter and add the condensed milk, caster sugar, and dates.  Stir for 10-15mins, until the dates are soft.

Add the date mix to the rice bubbles and stir until combined.

Pour into lined slice tin, press firmly, I like to run the back of a wet spoon over the slice to smooth it all out.

Put into the fridge to set for 2-3 hours.

Do you ever have super lazy weekends?  Do you feel as though you should do something to prove that it’s not been a total waste?

Raw Ingredients

The cold and gloomy weather could not keep us inside any more, so yesterday morning we decided to step outside… “shock horror”, you might say, “in this weather?!?!?!” (for those in the Northern Hemisphere, or even just Northern Australia, imagine COLD!)

But there was markets to be visited and yummy food to be eaten, so off we went for a Saturday morning adventure.

It wasn’t a surprise when we discovered (via Mez from Back in G-Town‘s facebook page) that the market had been washed out!  Never mind, we continued on our merry way, as we were on a mission to get the the Falafel wrap, recommended to us by a very reliable source (my mum) at Raw Ingredients in Queenscliff.

Queenscliff is a gorgeous little seaside town not too far from when we live,  there’s beautiful cafes, an amazing independent book shop and some funky clothes shops, as one of my favourite op shops of all time!

We walk into Raw and to me it’s a little slice of heaven.

It’s only a tiny little space, with four tables inside and four outside, half of their usable space is filled with amazing flours, grain, pulses, and fruits that you can buy, and the rest is set up as a cafe.  Fantastic for them, as while I was eating my delicious lunch I was shopping with my eyes, and then after lunch, I shopped with my wallet!

The menu written up on this gigantic black board doesn’t change often, but doesn’t need to, as I would happily eat their delicious winter warming soups and curries all year round.

The menu is reasonably priced as very little meat is used and this keeps their prices down. There’s also no coffee served here, and as someone in the shop mentioned yesterday, “we’re all a little bit deluded thinking that’d you’d sell coffee in here, IT’S BAD FOR YOU!”

We ordered the aforementioned falafel wrap ($9) and the red lentil and azuki bean dahl ($9.50), served with rice and a chai tea ($4). The chai sits and stews all day in a soup warmer and has the most wonderful spicy creamy chai tea flovour!

Our order came out and J and I split it so we could both get a taste!  The wrap, although toasted, was deliciously fresh, with a little chilli and sour cream or yoghurt, and the dahl was so wonderful, with amazing subtle toasted spice flavours!

I was so full after lunch that it was almost time for a nap, but not before indulging in a spot of grocery shopping and a little dessert.

All cakes and slices they have there are allergy friendly, and are still so wonderful and tasty!  I purchased two on the recommendation of the girl behind the counter, these were taken home for an afternoon snack, and they were delicious.  An oat and date cookie and a muesli slice covered in chocolate.

All in all a fantastic lunch experience, which I look forward to having again.  I left feeling healthy, like I’d done something good for my body, with a full shopping bag (full of yummy treats for breakfast), and a wonderful afternoon tea, all for $50.

Have you found a wonderful new restaurant near you?  What was your favourite thing on the menu?