Cook this: orange, cranberry & rosemary cake

There are some really great things about being part of the food and travel blogging community. You make new friends all over the world, get some great ideas to add to the bucket list, always have like-minded people to bounce ideas off, and best of all, always have great new recipes to try  : )

I saw this one on Rachel’s site, Emerging Adult Eats, last week, and immediately added oranges and cranberries to my shopping list. I love orange and cranberry – one of my favourite old recipes is orange, cranberry and oat cookies. I was also really intrigued by Rachel’s addition of rosemary, for a savoury touch… I intended to make this as more of a cake than a bread, and planned on omitting the rosemary, but once the matter was made and tasted before being poured into the tin, I decided to add a little dried rosemary that I had in the spice cupboard anyway – it just seemed the right thing to do.

Anyway, I made my only little adjustments, as I am want to do, and here’s how it went…

 

Ingredients:
– 2 ½ cups self-raising flour
– ½ cup caster sugar
– 3 eggs
– ½ cup olive oil
– ½ cup plain Greek yoghurt
– juice of 2 oranges
– zest of 2 oranges
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 cup dried cranberries
– pinch of salt
– 1 tsp dried rosemary
– ¼ cup mixed seeds (I used pepitas and sunflower seeds)

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and grease a bread loaf tin.

2. Combine the flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

3. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, yoghurt, orange zest and juice, and the vanilla.

4. Whisk the wet ingredients into the flour until completely combined – you may have to scrape out the whisk a few times.

5. Finally, stir in the cranberries, salt and rosemary, pour the batter into the tin, and sprinkle the seeds over the top.

6. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until a skewer poked into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Eat here: Kitty Burns, Melbourne (brunch)

Kitty Burns
24 Acacia Pl, Abbotsford
http://kittyburns.com.au/

OMG it’s Thursday. I’ve been hanging out for today for almost 2 months. I desperately need a break from everything, so I’m finally getting some hard earned days off in lieu and heading to Warburton (AKA my special happy place) for the next few days… YAY! I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to today, but last weekend I had the pleasure of brunching with the loveliest bunch of ladies, and that pumped me up to get through another few work days 🙂

Let me be frank and honest here (because, let’s face it, when am I not?); I love hanging out with these girls. They make me feel like I’m part of a T-Swift girl squad. They’re all intelligent, fun, funny, talented women. And at a time where it seems a lot of women sadly want to compete with and one-up each other (and the blogging world can be surprisingly “mean” and competitive), I cannot tell you how refreshing it is that I’ve fallen into friendships with these ladies where it’s all fun and giggles and absolutely NO competition or egotism whatsoever.

We try to catch up semi-regularly (or as regularly as six busy women can manage), and chose newbie Kitty Burns for our latest brunch. Tucked into a cute little nook off the main road opposite Ikea, Acacia Place is beautiful. Lots of open space and big trees, fresh air and bright sunshine, it’s the ultimate spot for a brunchery. And the menu is every bit as incredible as the setting; there was a LOT of indecision before we finally just dove it, surprisingly all ordering something different…

Sheena (Chasing a Plate) went with Meet Mr Burns, the meat platter from the heavens… That slab of bacon looked amazing!

Terri (Little Wanderings) had the awfully pretty french toast…

Tian (Eat More) had the spiced Togarashi avocado with toast and a mac & cheese croquette (actually, I think we all either ordered or tried the croquette – it was creamy, cheesy, fried happiness)…

Mon (Mon’s Adventure)  went with the Omelette “Arnold Bennett” with slow poached smoked rockling, which she kindly let me taste (delicious and creamy) and a very cute little bottle of coffee…

Cass (Hungry Cookie) picked the Eton Mess with coconut yoghurt and strawberry textures and spiced meringue – also kindly gave me a taste test and, again, amazing! The flavour of the strawberries and cherries were pure Aussie summer to me 🙂

And I couldn’t go past the coconut chia pudding. With mango. And strawberry bits. And aerated coconut. And activated buckwheat clusters. And magic. I dunno how they get theirs to taste that perfect, I need help with this at home! It was rich and thick and creamy, the coconut yoghurt was probably the best I’ve ever tasted, and the crunchy buckwheat clusters were the perfect addition – need these to add to my oats at home!

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I was a bit apprehensive before visiting, as I am with all places that blow up with attention on opening, but the praise is well deserved. The cafe itself is stunning, with high ceilings, enormous windows to flood it with natural light, and surrounded by trees. The company was obviously top notch, with conversation ranging from new jobs to travel adventures to the many uses for the humble potato to ballerinas at weddings and I think literally everything in between. And the food was fantastic. It was just the kind of menu I fall in love with and want to sample everything from. I just wish it was a little closer to home so it could be my regular!!

Kitty Burns Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Through my eyes: Santa Monica & Venice Beach, LA

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One of the best things that’s come from starting this blog is that I’ve “met” some awesome and inspiring people. I got super excited to read that one of those kindred souls was packing up her life and flying off to LA to start an adventure around the world, and for the past few weeks I’ve been jealously and vicariously following Bec’s adventures on her site My Bloggable Day, while lamenting to my husband that “this girl just packed up and left with her boyfriend, why can’t we just do that?!” Anyway, she had some killer shots on both her Instagram account and her blog of her time in Santa Monica, which reminded me of my time there 6 months ago…

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Sunny Santa Monica. Even in winter. It’s a really beautiful spot, particularly when you’ve had enough of the Hollywood scene and you just want to get out and relax a little. There are still a few of the beautiful people walking and jogging and doing push ups in the park areas, but for the most part, it’s just a beautiful stretch of pier and sand 🙂

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And then, there was Venice Beach. It was like Santa Monica’s cooler, more hipster cousin. I really liked it there, it was like Fitzroy had moved to St Kilda Beach…

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It was probably my favourite area in Los Angeles that we visited, and the first place in the city I’d go back to if I were to return; great food options (like the most delicious peanut butter breakfast I had at Another Kind of Sunrise), heaps of street art, book shops, artists selling their wares along the beach strip, and Abbot Kinney Blvd.

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And the street ballers. Having grown up around basketball courts, there’s something that feels so good about hanging out by the courts in the sunshine, hearing the ball pound against the pavement, the water and street musicians providing the perfect soundtrack for a perfect morning on the other side of the globe…

Zomato/Urbanspoon blogger meet up at SUPERNORMAL (Eat here. Seriously.)

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Thanks for the re-gram @zomatoaus – awesome shot and a great night!

Last night I had the pleasure of hanging out with the Zomato Melbourne crew and a handful of other bloggers. You may have read that Zomato recently acquired Urbanspoon and they’ve recognised the big role bloggers have been playing in making Urbanspoon as successful and popular as it is, leading them to host their very first Zomato Meetup for some of the busier Melbourne food bloggers. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to have been invited along, particularly when I found out Supernormal were going to be hosting us!

Before I cut back to the awesome night we had, let me focus on Supernormal for a bit. This is the latest success in the seemingly endless string of greatest hits from Andrew McConnell – even if you don’t recognise his name, you’ll no doubt recognise the names of at least one of his restaurants: Cutler & Co, Cumulus Inc, Luxembourg Bar & Bistro… the guy really knows his stuff.  I’ve walked past Supernormal so many times I’ve lost count, always drawn by the neon red sign in the front window, but still hadn’t visited. It didn’t take long after walking through the front door to realize that the hype was warranted.

We were greeted with an epic banquet menu, which, needless to say, was enough to get a table full of food bloggers more than a little excited. After that, the night looked a little something like this…

 

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– Cucumber & wakame pickle
– Seaweed cracker with kingfish & pickled fennel
– Grilled baby corn with miso butter

These were great to start, and I think everyone fell a little bit in love with the miso butter on the baby corn. Indulgent, heavenly deliciousness.

 

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– Bonito, avocado, cucumber & wakame
– New England lobster roll

Do you have any idea how hard it is to shut a table of food bloggers up? Apparently not as hard as I thought – just put a few platters of those lobster rolls out. They were that elusive sandwich that can stop the chatter of 15 people, who decide they need to devote their full attention to eating for a moment. Amazing. And we found out that you can get these guys as a take away – work lunch breaks just got a little bit more exciting if you’re in the CBD! I’m a huge tuna lover, so I adored that dish, too – buttery soft, so very good.

 

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– Smoked beef, mustard leaf, clam mayonnaise (top left)
– Pork bao with tamarind sauce (top right)
– Prawn and chicken dumplings with chilli and vinegar sauce

The smoked beef was the surprise package of the dinner – we were instructed, after photos were taken of course, to just mush it all together in order to experience the flavours fully. It looked like a hot mess when we were done, and tasted better than anything I could have possibly imagined. How clam mayonnaise not only works but is something I was ready to lick off the plate is beyond me. The fried shallots with the soft beef were magic. I absolutely loved this one, and it’s a dish I’d love to order again. As was the bao – oh my… pulled pork in a crumbed, fried package in the softest little bun.. not really sure there’s much else to say about this one other than make sure it’s on your order when you visit!

 

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– Slow cooked Szechuan lamb, spring onion pancake and coriander paste with steamed white rice and an iceberg salad with ginger vinaigrette & mint

Not being a “spicy food” person, I was a little worried about this one, but my concerns were completely unfounded. The spice levels were more peppery than pure spice, so don’t be scared if you’re a chilli wuss like me! The lamb was magnificent – slow cooked, fall apart on your fork, tender juicy perfection. The pancakes were crispy, the coriander paste was fantastic, and the salad was the perfect way to refresh yourself from the heat of the lamb. Brilliant dish to share around a table of friends.

 

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– Peanut butter parfait with salter caramel and soft chocolate
– Plum and green tea soft serve ice cream

If there’s a better way to finish a meal, I’m neither familiar with it, nor am I particularly interested in it. The parfait was everything you dream it’d be – rich, thick, super-smooth and creamy. It’s basically a sexier, ice creamier version of a Snickers, but still better than you’re imagining. It’s worth visiting Supernormal just for this. Honestly. And just when we were all ready to burst, the soft serve cups arrived. They were the exact way we all wanted to finish the meal without realising it; fresh, crisp, clean, sweet without being crazy sugary like the parfait. The sharp plum sat perfectly with the gentler green tea, and when you order this, dig deep into the cup for a little surprise!

I have to say a HUGE thanks to the team at Supernormal for an absolutely incredible experience. We had the most attentive team at our service, no glass was ever empty and no question unanswered. We were asked at the beginning of the night if there were any allergies, preferences, what not – my main concern was the heat factor from the chilli. The lovely lady looking after these requests went out of her way to explain the menu as it could be modified for me, to ensure I’d still get maximum flavour and meal enjoyment without burning my tongue off. She could have just said “no worries, we’ll put the spicy stuff on the side for you” and been done with it, but I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the extra few minutes she took to talk me through it all instead. It’s these things that take it from a nice dinner to an experience you’re going to remember and talk about for a long time to come.

We were also sent off by the Supernormal team with little goodie bags containing, among other things, a box of Pocky (!!!!!!!!!) and a jar of their amazing toasted pepitas which we started to night on and a “goodnight, thanks for coming!” from everyone I passed on my way from the table to the door. You guys are absolutely amazing, thank you for looking after us so well!

 

And another big thank you has to go to Pranav and the team at Zomato – they’ve been working superhumanly hard to get the integration and re-launch ready to go, and they’ve still been making time to speak to local bloggers to get their input. It’s so refreshing and so nice to have a big company take things to such a personal level, and to actually genuinely value the input and opinions of the people who are using their products every day. It was also so much fun to be able to finally put some faces to names of blogs I read so often and talk food and travel with a bunch of people who are also interested in all of that! And great to be able to have a table of equally patient diners who get that the photos must be taken before the digging in commences; we all love our family and friends, but they just don’t get it! Thanks for a fun night guys, looking forward to big things from both Zomato and all of the bloggers who took part last night:

Sheena and Thomas from Chasing A Plate

Paul from The City Lane

Winston from The Hungry Excavator

Cass from Hungry Cookie

Tian from Eating Diaries

And apologies to those I’ve missed from either forgetfulness or not being able to get around to everyone last night – if you’re reading this please let me know so I can put you on the list too!

 

Supernormal on Urbanspoon

 

 

Disclosure: I was generously invited by Zomato to dine as a guest at Supernormal, however the opinions contained herein are completely based on my own experience.

Eat here: Tipo 00, Melbourne (Italian)

Tipo 00
361 Little Bourke St, Melbourne CBD

http://www.tipo00.com.au/

Have you guys met the lovely Terri from Little Wanderings?! I finally did over the weekend! Through a mutual love of Melbourne and donuts and travel, we connected via blogging and Instagram a while ago, and thought it was about time we actually caught up in the real world! Terri had been wanting to try Tipo 00 for a while, and so had I, so we had a lovely ladies night over some good (not so) old-fashioned pasta and wine  : )

The term tipo 00 might be familiar to some of you; it’s the soft, powdery, extra-fine Italian flour used to make fresh pasta, which is what they specialise in here. The menu is refreshingly short and simple, which generally means that with fewer dishes on offer, they’re all going to be done magnificently well.

The service was wonderful right from the moment I first walked through the door; we were quickly handed menus and our glasses of wine arrived promptly thereafter, followed by a complimentary plate of fresh focaccia and ricotta cheese, drizzled with olive oil – so good!

As far as mains went, the stinging nettle risotto piqued my interest, but seeing as this is a pasta place, first and foremost, I went with the pappardelle with braised rabbit, marjoram and hazelnut, and I couldn’t have been happier with my choice. Rabbit is not something I eat often, because rarely is it done well, but they absolutely nailed it. The meat was soft and tender, falling apart at the touch, perfectly seasoned, and perfect with the hazelnuts. What made me happiest though, was the fact that the pasta was actually cooked so well; as per proper Italian pasta rules and regulations, slightly al dente (aka ever so slightly under cooked), happy days!  As you can see a few photos above, Terri went with the tortelloni, filled with asparagus, swimming in a sage and parmesan sauce.

But, being the ladies that we are, dinner wasn’t done with dinner. Dessert stomachs were ready to go, and we decided on the Tipomisu and the special of the day – a cake and cream and walnut and fresh fig concoction, which was absolutely gorgeous! The fresh figs always get me, because they always remind me of the fresh figs I get from my grandfather’s fruit trees, though I’ve never had them with walnuts before – perfect match!

The Tipomisu was fantastic, quite a subtle coffee flavour, super rich chocolate which the mascarpone broke up nicely. It was the ultimate chocolate-lover dessert, and a great way to finish such a lovely meal!

It’s funny reading reviews of this place – quite a few people have commented that they felt it was overrated and over priced; personally, I loved it. The reason that I, as an Italian, rarely go out for Italian food is that it’s surprisingly hard to get good Italian anywhere other than the family dinner table! It’s even rarer that I order pasta, because I’ve grown up eating the pasta my Nonna has always made from scratch, and nothing’s ever been better. But I’ve gotta say, this was as good as I’ve had at a restaurant, and I’d have absolutely no hesitation spending the money visiting again. I like a good cheap eat as much as the next Melbournian, don’t get me wrong, but I also believe in paying for good quality food like the pasta at Tipo 00. I think even Nonna would approve!

As for the company over dinner – it was so lovely to meet another blogger with such a great love for food and travel, someone so down to earth, so easy to get along with and with great taste in dessert! It was really nice to talk about adventures past and planned, to talk about why we wrote and our experiences, the challenges and the rewards. It can be a little scary trying to make friends in the blogging world, particularly the Melbourne food blogging scene – it can be really daunting trying to get involved in such an established scene where people already seem to have their cliques and groups formed. But if you like someone’s style, if you get a good vibe, if you have that feeling you’re going to be kindred spirits, reach out and make a new friend! Thanks for a wonderful night, Terri!

 

Tipo 00 on Urbanspoon