Magnolia Bakery – Hawaiian series

I squealed when I saw the sign for Magnolia Bakery in the Ala Moana Center because I didn’t think it existed outside of New York City. I’ve wanted to eat a cupcake from there ever since the cupcake craze of the early 2000s when I used to bake them all the time.

There was a casual store in the open-air shopping center but because we were so hot, we didn’t mind paying the tip etc in the cafe for air-con and a decent seat while we indulged in our sweets (I’m using the prices from the menu which do not include gratuity or taxes).Classic vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream rich, buttery, old-fashioned cake with a light crumb. Our most popular cupcake! ($3.50). I was a bit skeptical that this would be too sweet because Americans have a notorious sweet tooth and there was a generous swirl of icing on top, but it was perfect. The cupcake was light without being dry and the icing provided the right amount of sweetness. All in all, the perfect cupcake. It made me want to start baking again!It really did have a ‘light crumb’, this had the perfect cake and icing texture.Classic vanilla cupcake with chocolate buttercream rich, buttery, old-fashioned cake with a light crumb. Our most popular cupcake! ($3.50). TimmyC preferred the chocolate buttercream but I preferred vanilla. I guess it comes down to personal preference, but you should eat both too to find out what you like. 😉Red Velvet cupcake whipped vanilla icing ($3.50). I didn’t think this was as nice as the other cupcakes because of the icing, maybe if I chose the cream cheese frosting it would  have been better.Magnolia Bakery’s famous banana pudding layers of OREO® wafers, fresh bananas, creamy chocolate pudding, and chocolate shavings ($6.50). For something that sounded like it would be ridiculously sweet and OTT, it was actually really delicious and not overwhelming. Another side note is that my friend and I aren’t particularly big fans of banana but we both really enjoyed this. It was very light and reminded me of the texture of mousse.Honeydew melon cooler honeydew puree, honey dew juice, lime soda ($7.00). This was fantastic, it tasted more like honeydew more than some actual melons that I’ve tasted. It was a perfect sweet refreshing beverage.The staff was very efficient and friendly. It is definitely worth sitting in the cafe to enjoy the service and air conditioning, while enjoying the delicious delights. I wish I was hungry enough to try more cupcake flavours.

Venue: Magnolia bakery cafe

Address: Ala Moana Center, Mall Level 2, Ewa Wing 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96814

Phone: 808-942-4132

 

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The Cheesecake Factory cheesecake

While casually shopping in Costco, I walked past the freezer section that I don’t often venture past only to find myself slowly reversing and pressing my face up to the glass. Do my eyes deceive me? Was that really what I thought it was?

Yes ladies and gentlemen. Costco Canberra (for now) is selling The Cheesecake Factory original cheesecake ($21.89), complete with graham cracker crust and the smooth cheesecake filling that we all know and love. Upside: it is all pre-cut and equally portioned for your convenience with a paper dividers; it’s the original cheesecake so you can dress it up however you like it (I had mine with berries, passionfruit, my friend added Nutella) and it tasted like I never left Hawaii.

Downside: the serving suggestion was to thaw it in the fridge for 8-12 hours (ain’t no body got time for that, I just left it on the counter until I was ready to eat it); our pineapple isn’t as sweet so I can’t replicate my favourite flavour.I take no responsibility with what you do with this information.

The Cheesecake Factory – Hawaiian series 

When you enter a restaurant that has over 35 types of cheesecake, you try to decide what you want for dessert and work your way backwards. It was after 9:30pm and the wait for a table for four was still 20 minutes, The Cheesecake Factory is a very popular place to be!There is a takeaway counter for all those who choose to take a cheesecake to go.Don’t be tempted by their complimentary bread, it was unusually sweet but it takes up important cheesecake stomach space.Fried macaroni and cheese crispy crumbed coated macaroni and cheese balls, served over a creamy marinara sauce ($12.50). This was rather quite underwhelming and was rather bland, I wouldn’t bother ordering this again.Old fashioned burger charbroiled on a toasted brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and mayonnaise served with french fries or green salad ($12.95). It is interesting that they add their salad separately because that is exactly how I prefer it. The thick beef patty was super juicy, the bread was just sweet enough and fries were served hot- all in all, a fabulous burger.Spicy chicken chipotle pasta honey glazed chicken, asparagus, red and yellow peppers, peas, garlic and onion in a spicy chipotle parmesan cream sauce. This was delicious! The perfect amount of spiciness and generous serve of ingredients but man, it was huge portion! Between the four of us we could not finish this.Quesadilla grilled flour tortilla filled with melted cheese, green onions and chillies, garnished with guacamole, salsa and sour cream with chicken. A tasty appetizer that we was nice and light, a good choice if you want dessert afterwards.The menu was HUGE, it contained an extensive list of everything from glamburgers to pasta to tacos and seafood. We all got a bit excited with ordering our mains and instead of getting four cheesecakes for dessert like we intended, we could only fit in a few mouthfuls of one slice that we all shared.

We weren’t going to be defeated again, so our subsequent visits resulted in just getting take away cheesecake. We were able to try 9 flavours in total, which included the fresh pineapple cheesecake that is only available in Hawaii.

  1. Key lime cheesecake
  2. Dutch apple caramel streusel cheesecake
  3. Fresh pineapple cheesecake
  4. Snickers bar chunks and cheesecake
  5. Ultimate red velvet cake cheesecake
  6. Mango key lime cheesecake
  7. Toasted marshmallow s’m0res galore
  8. Chocolate tuxedo cream cheesecake
  9. Chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake

Out of all the cheesecakes I had the pleasure of tasting, I really enjoyed the fresh pineapple and Dutch apple caramel streusel. I found that the less sweet flavours work best as it wasn’t OTT.This is a very busy restaurant all the time (there was a 45 minute wait at 10:30pm one time we stopped by) but it didn’t stop the service being friendly, efficient and attentive. For a place called ‘The Cheesecake Factory’ I was surprised that the main meals were rather good and that there were so many choices. If you do come here for a meal, remember to leave room for cheesecake.

Venue– The Cheesecake Factory

Address– Royal Hawaiian Center, 2301 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA

The Cheesecake Factory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Renaissance

It was raining cats and dogs, so after having a quick lunch at Ryo’s Noodles we were tempted just to go home but my Mumsy told me that there were delicious cakes at La Renaissance in Waterloo and I just couldn’t resist. The convenient under ground parking with an internal door into the building meant we wouldn’t even get wet, so of course we headed straight there. They had a nice spacious setting and a beautiful cake cabinet, which caught out eye immediately. I was a little sceptical about the cakes being over priced, because almost $10 for a small cakes sounds a  little ludicrous but my oh my, they are worth every cent. My favourite was the Monet because I really enjoy the white chocolate, raspberry and lychee combo; I found the flavours not to be overly sweet but refreshing with the fruit component. I can see how chocolate lovers would love zulu, if you’re in the area you have to drop by!

So many choices… What to choose?Monet white chocolate bavaroise, raspberry, lychee jelly ($9.50 dine in).So many different textures, flavours and layers of deliciousness.Goya raspberry mousseline, passionfruit, almond nougatine ($9.50 dine in).Zulu chocolate mousse, salted caramel and Valrhona Guanaja chocolate ganache, crispy pearls ($9.00 take away).Venue: La Renaissance

Address: PYD Building, Shop 1, 197 Young Street, Waterloo NSW 2017

Phone: (02), 9241 4878
La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Grounds of Alexandria – The Grounds Cafe

Welcome to the The Grounds of Alexandria, the most Instagrammable place on the planet. You could tell my level of excitement as I wasn’t even phased when they told us it would be a 45 – 1 hour wait for a table at The Grounds Cafe on a Sunday for brunch. We took a buzzer and went off exploring.Where to start? Pastries of course!
We went past the cute vintage carts selling nuts, freshly made doughnuts, cakes and slices, complete with an old school lemonade stand.How cute is this place?!img_3214
Doughnuts filled with Nutella and Raspberry jam. The area is rather quite big and very popular. There is a beautiful area called ‘The Garden bar’ where it appears to be more casual with no table service but an amazing outdoor area with lots of sun light shining through.TimmyC couldn’t wait 1 hour before having coffee, so he ordered one from The Garden Bar.
There is also a beautiful outdoor florist on-site as well as a local watering hole called ‘The Potting Shed’, I loved how all the venues have a common garden theme which ties them all together.
Even the menu is cute, this place is ridiculous!I could live here.
There is also the famous resident on site, Kevin Bacon and his little farm animal friends.
After what seemed like forever because I was getting hungry and was almost tempted to buy a cheeseburger from the Garden bar, our buzzer went off. We hurriedly moved our way through the crowds and waved our buzzer around like we had just won a game of bingo only to meet another line where there were other lucky ‘winners’ also with alarming buzzers, but we were all quickly seated and given a menu.
 
I was surprised to find the inside of the cafe so dark, especially when the outside was such a beautiful day. It made it a little harder to take photos (that might just be an Instagrammer problem).
Char-grilled steak sandwich pasture fed sirloin steak, cheddar cheese, tomato, grilled Spanish onion, horseradish aioli and rocket on a toasted vienna bread ($18.00). My jaw almost dropped when I saw the size of my plate in comparison to everyone else’s. The burgers were served with a side of chips but the length of their tray was the size of my sandwich. I really enjoyed how they had cut up the steak into pieces and covered the entire sandwich, it made it easier to eat and there is nothing more sad that a sandwich with uneven filling. I wish it came with a side of chips but my friends were nice enough to share with me.
Deconstructed iced coffee house blend coffee shot, cold brewed coffee ice, sugar syrup with milk ($8.00). Who likes a diluted warm iced coffee? Not really anyone, so the clever people at the Grounds have made their ice cubes for the iced coffee out of coffee. Not only that, but they also give you milk on the side so you can adjust the milkiness to your liking as well as provide you with a novelty syringe filled with sugar syrup.
I love how the bottle that has the coffee reads ‘poison’.     Super chocolate and hazelnut shake ($8.50).
Freshly squeezed juice pineapple, watermelon and passionfruit ($8.00).
Chicken schnitzel burger crispy free range chicken breast, slaw, vine ripened tomato, rocket and mustard aioli in a pretzel bun with crunchy beer battered chips ($21.00).
The ‘Ground’ burger Grounded beef brisket, cheese, lettuce, dill, cornichon and mayo on a toasted brioche bun, served with crunchy beer battered chips ($19.00).
Poached eggs on toast class poached eggs served on The Grounds signature sourdough ($12.00). TimmyC wanted a vegetarian option and so he chose this simple dish. He said it was nice but they sort of burnt the toast.
I was like an excited kid who couldn’t sit still. If we were waiting for the food or the bill, I’d be up taking photos of their gorgeous cake cabinet or waiting for my Instagram photos to print on their automatic printer.
I think I need one of these for home!
I really enjoyed that The Grounds have a really fantastic atmosphere and while they are extremely busy, the food still comes out at a fast pace and all the prices aren’t ridiculous. No real downside other than the wait times to get a table but there are many things on site to keep your eyes occupied.
Venue: The Grounds of Alexandria – The Grounds Cafe
Address: 7A, 2 Huntley St, Alexandria NSW 2015

Opening times:

Monday to Friday           7am to 4pm (kitchen closes at 3pm)

Saturday and Sunday    7:30am to 4pm (kitchen closes at 3:30pm)

The Grounds of Alexandria Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

MoVida – Melbourne series

Okay, most people plan their interstate trips to do multiple things but TimmyC and I came to Melbourne (this time) to specifically eat at MoVida. TimmyC’s trendy cousin was generous enough to buy me a voucher to the MoVida group but because the other restaurants were not open yet since the New Year holidays, we booked a table for 3 at the original MoVida.Complimentary~

Warmed bread with olive oil. Always a happy surprise when a restaurant gives you delicious warmed bread for free!I loved their personalised wine glasses.
Tapa~ I love the thought that these morsels were made so well, individually portioned and reasonably priced; it didn’t matter if no one wanted to share with me, I could just order one for myself.
Yabbie special ($9.00 each). I thought this was a refreshing morsel but nothing really specifically unique. It was good to have at the beginning of the meal before the heavier, deep fried tapas arrived.
Queso quince paste cigar with whipped goats milk cheese ($4.00 each). I’m not particularly fond of goats milk products but that didn’t stop me from ordering this just to see how it would taste. I liked it so much I convinced the rest of the table to order another just to taste it. The outer quince paste cigar was surprisingly crispy and provided a nice contrasting texture to the whipped filling. The goats milk cheese wasn’t too strong but it was perfectly balanced out by the sweetness of the quince. You definitely have to try this; there were so many surprises in one mouthful.
It looks so simple and small but there was a lot of flavour in this tapa.
Flamenquin crumbed pork with jamon, thyme and mahon ($5.50 each). These were perfectly crispy and jam packed with pork. I was very tempted to order more of these, but I got too full in the end.
A delicious peek into the crispy croquette.
Fish croquette special ($4.50 each). These were very ‘fishy’ which I loved, it was a nicely seasoned filling with a crunchy non oily exterior. 
Raciones~
Carrillera De Buey slowly braised beef cheek in Perdo Ximenez on Cauliflower puree ($28.50). Oh where to begin while describing this fabulous dish. The beef was amazingly tender and pulled away effortlessly as you put a spoon through it. It had a beautiful sweet stick glaze all over which worked perfectly with the cauliflower. Don’t even get me started on that puree, it was so smooth, it was like a thick soup (and I could have easily drunk it like soup). I would order this again in a heartbeat.
This photo doesn’t do it any justice.
Patatas Bravas fried potatoes with spicy tomato and mayonnaise ($16.00). The smaller pieces were fine but I thought some of the potatoes were too big and therefore the ratio between crispy exterior to starchy fluffy filling to be way off. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting and since the rest of the meal had been so spectacular, these potatoes couldn’t compare.  Barramundi special ($27.00). The fish was soft and moist while the asparagus was cooked perfectly allowing the fresh flavours to really shine through. It was nice to have a lighter main among all the deep fried tapas and heavy meals.
Desserts~
Churros Spanish doughnuts with rich drinking chocolate ($12.50). The doughnuts were really crunchy on the outside with a fluffy texture in the centre and it was paired with what was truthfully named a ‘rich drinking chocolate’.
Flan crème caramel with pestinos ($15.00). This was so smooth and creamy, making it very easy to eat.
Pan con chocolate chocolate, bread and olive oil ice cream ($14.50). I wasn’t convinced by the description on the black board that this was the dessert for me. It wasn’t until I asked our waiter which the best dessert was; he then smirked and asked me if I was asking for the best dessert in his opinion or the most popular dessert ordered (which we rightly guessed was churros). I obviously wanted the best dessert and for something interesting against the ‘norm’, he then suggested this dessert and to ignore the very poor description on the board. What came out was fabulous. A warm soft chocolate cake encased in a crispy bread sandwich, which gave it a wonderful contrasting texture while the olive oil ice cream helped balance out the sweetness of the chocolate. As we were leaving, I told our waiter that they should really change the description because it didn’t really do the dessert justice.
I love how they have presented the ‘sandwich’ standing up on its side, it gives you a clear view of the crispy bread encasing a warm moist chocolate cake.
Check out the sexy chocolate cake sandwiched inside.
Even though we were eating on a dead line (6pm- 8pm booking) we never felt rushed and despite the restaurant was completely packed, the service and food was very prompt and the staff were very friendly and helpful. I would love to come back to try more of the menu or even the other restaurants. I loved the small tapas for individual portions at a reasonable price (take note Canberra restaurants) and that there were good variety of mains available.
The famous graffiti on Hosiser Lane which is opposite the lane way to the MoVida restaurant.
Venue: Movida
Address: 1 Hosier Lane, (off Flinders St), Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9663 3038

MoVida Bar De Tapas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fun filled weekend – The Forage

After hours of eating at the AAA BBQ festival, my friend and I decided to go up the car park at the Little National Hotel located in Barton and check out Hustle and Scout before eating again at The Forage. She had been to The Forage previously when it was last held at the Kingston Old Bus Depot and said that The Forage this time was much bigger and had much more variety of food stalls. It looked like they upped their food game.

We had to be careful how much we ate because I still had my heart set on dinner somewhere specific even after the days events. Please note that more friends joined us so we didn’t eat all this between just the two of us.

Starting from the top left (clockwise):

Miss Van’s fried chicken wings garlic and sriracha marinade  ($8.00). This was a fabulous way to start the event. The chicken wings didn’t take long to be served and they were hot and crispy with lots of flavour. I hope they eventually add this permanently to their Westside menu.

Yang’s Malaysian food truck chicken wings with mamee noodles and slaw ($8.00?). The chicken didn’t taste as good as Miss Van’s but we all really enjoyed the slaw and loved the addition of the mamee noodles.

Yang’s Malaysian food truck Roti canai with chicken curry. I loved the flaky buttery texture of the roti and the delicious curry didn’t make it soggy even when you’re a slow eater.

B St. Bakery white chocolate mudcake with raspberries, white chocolate ganache and vanilla buttercream. TimmyC ran off somewhere and came back with this slice cake, I thought it would be too rich but I could have easily eaten the whole piece of cake myself. Everything was just sweet enough and it had a great dense texture while looking beautiful.

54 Benjamin’s house made peach and lime soda ($5.00). Eating and shopping can be hard work, so a refreshing drink was a must and this was perfect!

Dream cuisine short bread ($3.00 a piece). I had a ‘sample piece’ knowing it was going to be delicious and it was! The crumbly short bread texture had a great buttery taste with a subtle salt finish leaving you wanting more. Unfortunately TimmyC ate most of my short bread, dammit I should have bought more!The new location was nice and spacious but not knowing the Barton area well, it was harder to find parking. Everyone looked like they really enjoyed themselves and the weather had cooled to a nice temperature by the time we got there. I wonder if they will keep the event here?This had to be the saddest thing about the event, when Get Lucky sold out of ice cream sandwiches before I got there. 😦I always thought the timing of the event was odd but now they have changed the time to 3pm – 8pm which at least covers a meal time (previously it was 2pm -7pm). I really enjoy the Forage and Hustle and Scout as it pairs two of my favourite things: food and shopping. I hope they only get bigger and better from here.

Lolo and Lola coming soon

Yes, Canberra’s favourite Filopino bakery, Waterhouse Bakers will have a more permanent home at the Westside Acton Park! They are joining the shipping container village in December not only bringing their delicious bakery goods but also an eatery! I really hope they have adobo for those who don’t have a Filopino family to make it for them.

I will definitely be keen to see their menu!

Thanks TimmyC for the photo and my delicious sans rival!

EQ Cafe and Lounge

TimmyC and I were taking advantage of our weekday break and headed towards EQ Cafe and Lounge in Deakin for brunch before the near by workers came and swarmed the place. I was really surprised how big it was and how it extended to another area as the ‘EQ bake house’.Lots of space inside and out; a really nice atmosphere.Eggs Benedict two soft poached eggs on toast with hollandaise sauce and bacon ($18.00). TimmyC said he really enjoyed his eggs benedict even though it wasn’t the best he has ever had.Coffee TimmyC said he has never had a bad coffee here and they are pretty consistent.House-made potato rosti stack with herb roasted mushroom, gruyere cheese, hollandaise topped with crispy poached egg ($18.00). I don’t know why but I’m a sucker for crispy potato so I ordered this for my brunch. I must admit, I don’t think I read much beyond ‘rosti’ so I was surprised it was served on mushrooms and topped with an unusual crispy poached egg. I really enjoyed the big juicy mushrooms but I found I had to add some salt to the dish as a whole because there wasn’t a salty aspect; a stronger sharper cheese might have helped.Two huge juicy mushrooms made this dish rather quite filling.Melted cheese, oozing egg yolk and dripping hollandaise, it looked like a very sexy breakfast.EQ juice orange, apple and passionfruit. I really enjoyed this juice combination and it is apparently a popular juice choice.I couldn’t help but grab something from the EQ bakehouse  as a takeaway.Do you want a juice to go? EQ Bakehouse has you covered!So many options!I really liked the creme brulee tart ($6.00) even when the top wasn’t hard.Home-made sausage rolls ($5.00). I was drawn to the size of their sausage rolls but I have to say that didn’t enjoy this sausage roll at all. The smell was rather potent of lamb(?) and it just had a really odd taste that I couldn’t put my finger on. Has anyone else tried it?I could not believe how attentive and fast the service was, it really impressed me. I also really liked how they have a sit down and enjoy type of menu at the cafe and an ‘on the go’ type of food from the bakehouse side and both sides had loads of variety. Now I know I have another option to get not OTT (in price and sugar) cakes and tarts in the south side.Venue: EQ Cafe and Lounge

Address: Equinox Business Park ,70 Kent Street, Deakin, 2600

Phone: (02) 6161 1666

Opening hours:

Monday – Thursday 7:00am – 4.30pm
Friday 7:00am – till late
Saturday 7:00am – 2pm

 

Patty’s Patisserie

With clear descriptions from SheisMelen and Wita, I was able to spot Patty’s Patisserie and their red top marquee located at the centre of the Epic markets pretty easily. I had never seem them before despite them attending the markets for the past three months, it must have been bad timing because up until now they had attended the Farmers markets every second week.

There wasn’t much left by the time I got there but it still took me a long time to decide what I wanted.They take much pride in their work and it was really nice that they stuck the cakes/sweets down into the box as it would have definitely been found upside down by the time I got around to eating them.Raspberry rose vanilla cake ($7.50). This was a delicate cake consisting of what seemed like raspberry mousse, vanilla bean panna cotta and a raspberry jelly layer. It was very easy to eat and reminded me of summer. I would want this cake in a bigger size.Raspberry and vanilla, a match made in heaven.Strawberry tiramisu ($7.50). There is no coffee component to this dessert at all, in fact the only thing it has in common with a tiramisu is the layers of sponge biscuit and cream. The custard cream component was thick and luscious which was really soaked up by the sponge and sweetened by a little strawberry sauce. With what started off as ‘just one bite’ turned into TimmyC almost finishing the whole thing to himself.Chocolate and caramel cake ($7.50). Sorry for the photo, it had spent a few hours in the box before I got around to eating the cake. I thought this would be an OTT really rich cake but all the textures and flavours were rather light and so you could eat a whole cake easily without feelings of regret and sickness. The caramel mousse-y layer was particularly good.Orange and chocolate eclair ($6.00). This was shared around between some friends who like the chocolate/orange combination. TimmyC who doesn’t like the combination, still appreciated the choux pastry texture and the creme patissiere. I wish we got there earlier to try their many other eclair flavours like: chocolate, vanilla & chocolate, pistachio and white chocolate, coffee and chocolate or their salted caramel.  
It is nice to know that when you rock up past 11am that there was still some choice of sweets (albiet limited), according to their cake menu there should be eight cakes available(?). My friend who had been to the markets on the same day but two hours earlier, was able to pick up a V8 cake that was originally recommended to me by my friends.

I think as the word gets out about their producst, their popularity will grow and they would sell out much quicker. Hmmm, should I be telling people who wake up earlier than me about them then?

You’ll be happy to know that Patty’s Patisserie will now come every week to the Epic Farmers market and that they also sell jars of salted caramel.

Venue: Patty’s Patisserie
Address: 556 Olive Street, Albury, New South Wales, Australia
Email: patriciapastrychef@gmail.com
Canberra outlet: Epic Farmers market (every Saturday 7:30 – 11:30am)
Phone: (02) 6021 4662

Tuesday eats, Sunday treats

I have had this idea when I first started my blog however many years ago and I have finally gotten around to writing it.

When I stayed with TimmyC’s family for a few years, his Mum thought it was ridiculous that there were so many able bodied people in the house yet she was cooking every night of the week. That’s when the concept of designated cooking was born.

We were all to choose one night of the week and cook dinner for the family. TimmyC and I chose Tuesdays as we were most likely to be home, his Dad chose Sundays, his brother flipped somewhere between Thursdays and Saturdays but we were never home to try his cooking and his Mum filled in the gaps. Fast forward a few years later, TimmyC and I had moved out but we kept with the tradition of Tuesday night dinners, his family would come over for dinner and they would bring dessert and we would go over on Sunday nights and it would be our turn to bring dessert. Hence the name: Tuesday eats, Sunday treats.

We have been cooking Tuesday dinners for over 7 years now and we attempt to mix it up a little, trying new things when we feel adventurous but now if I’m documenting Tuesday and Sundays maybe I’ll up the ante a bit more. It feels like we are on one of those cooking shows where they cook a meal in a time limit, TimmyC and I both work full time so dinner has to be made with less than 1.5hrs prep for 6-8 people (one could argue I could prep things the night before but we just aren’t that organised), two of which are vegetarian. I’m not vegetarian myself but I feel that just ‘omitting the meat’ doesn’t make the best vegetarian meal so I usually go out of my way to make another dish which is vegetarian friendly. When we come home, it looks like an Ajax commercial where we are frantically trying to prepare the meal, clear the dining table and set it for dinner guests.

When we first started cooking together, I remember yelling at TimmyC a lot. His cooking experience was limited and he would do silly things like walk around with a sieve full of icing sugar without anything underneath. Seven years later, we have both found our groove and work cohesively in the kitchen, cleaning up as we go (it’s the easiest way to do it) but I am still ‘head chef’ as TimmyC usually doesn’t know what we cooking until on the night, where as I have thought about the weather, what is in season, what vegetarian option would be equivalent and the most efficient order to do things in.


Tuesday eats

What better way to start than with last night’s Tuesday’s dinner (yes I’m posting this late). I’m still not feeling 100% so I chose the easy option of pasta bake as I had ample pasta, cheese and vegetables. Even at the age of 30 I have to ‘hide’ extra vegetables in my meal so I won’t notice it and this is definitely one meal that you can do that with. I usually make my own sauce but while I was at the shops buying a roast chicken I grabbed some pre-made pasta bake sauces as well *gasp*.

I sautéed some diced carrots, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, red capsicum corn kernels off the cob (basically all the vegetables I had) and garlic. I just wanted to soften the vegetables, cook the pasta, stir the sauce and vegetables through, throw it in a baking dish and top with ample cheese and throw it in the oven. That way all the oven has to do is melt the cheese because everything is already cooked and ready to go.

I would usually make another vegetarian dish but this was easy to substitute the meat for something else. I spooned enough mixture to fill a loaf dish into a bowl and threw in some diced grilled haloumi so there was a salty aspect to the dish and for the rest of the pot of pasta I stirred through some roast chicken pieces (all cooked and ready to go, all I had to do was shred the meat and eat the limbs as a perk of being in the kitchen, another aspect to make this dish ‘easy’).

The more colour the better! I also tossed in handfuls on basil that I had in the fridge, I should really stop buying it unless I have an intended use for it.Bread leaves the table as quickly as it is placed down so I usually have some sort of bread as a side. To contrast against so much carbs and heavy food, I wanted to serve dinner with a side of crispy refreshing salad. I looked up a recipe for apple and celery salad and came across one that had a tangy dressing to go with sweet apples. I also changed the dice of the apple and celery so it was matchsticks rather chunky like the pasta bake.

When we first made this dressing, I thought we would need more of it but it is rather quite strong so it only needs a light coating.I love a good golden brown cheesy top! I also added some sesame seeds for extra calcium.Dinner is served! The pasta bake sauce I used was a bit spicy and really lifted the flavours of vegetables and cheese.
Sunday treats

I get random cravings for sweet things and this week I wanted an apple tea cake with a crumble topping. It might sound really specific but I haven’t had cake like this before but it made it easy and specific to google. I used taste.com‘s recipe and accidentally whipped cold-ish butter with sugar and eggs rather than beating the eggs and sugar first and adding melted butter in. Silly me, I was multi-tasking and also making a chicken stock. It still turned out alright, I would have preferred a more moist cake but maybe it was the way I mis-read the instructions. I think I would make this again and maybe substitute some of the butter for apple sauce for a healthier option (and it might make it more moist?) and also change the crumble recipe for a more crunchy version. The apple tea cake with crumble topping was a little dry for my liking but I served it with TimmyC’s freshly made and still warm custard so you couldn’t tell.

Adore tea re-run

I was shocked to find out that one of my friends who loves tea had never been to Adore tea at Gold Creek Village so we made a date with more friends to go there immediately if not sooner. I booked a table inside because of the cold wet weather forecasted, which allowed us a two hour window for our reservation (I didn’t know there was a time limit, we just saw the next scheduled booking for the table). It is advisable to book ahead especially on the weekends as they are very busy and also have lots of varying high teas and parties (we happened to go on Mad Hatter’s tea party day).

We all chose a different tea which made for a very pretty photo, I went with classic chai blended with milk.I thought the colour of my friend’s berry tea was beautiful. Not a drop was wasted.My usual ‘go to’ food regardless of the time of day are their scones or the poffertjes but friend was telling me how nice the apple pie was. I was torn between choices but as soon as she said that she would go halves between the pie and scones, I was sorted.

Apple pie classic style apple pie served with vanilla ice-cream ($10.50). The pastry was very soft and semi sweet and apple pie obviously pairs perfectly with vanilla ice-cream, I just wish for the price that the pie was a little bigger or more filling. A close up of the apple pie.Scones served with cream and tea infused jams (about $9.50). Tea goes so well with scones so it almost seems like a ‘must’ when you come here. I really also enjoy their house-made jams.Chicken focaccia with gluten free bread (around $15.00). I looked over at my friend’s gluten free plate with envy. I usually am the savoury girl type and her plate looked goooood…I ‘adore’ this place, it’s a lovely venue to catch up over sweets and tea with friends and family. They are often very accommodating and the staff are super friendly and knowledgeable. Check in store or online for their various high tea days and live music sessions.

Venue: Adore tea

Address: Shop 6, Federation Square One, O’Hanlon Place, Nicholls, ACT 2913

Phone: (02) 6230 9962

Website: http://adoretea.com.au/

Opening hoursOpen Everyday: 10:00am to 5:30pm

Fridays: 10am to 7pm

Public Holidays: 10am to 4pm

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Frugii Dessert Laboratory

Today was a foodie’s dream as the highly anticipated Frugii Dessert Laboratory had finally opened their doors. I had watched throughout the day as my news feed and Instagram account was covered in photos of a gorgeous cake cabinet filled with interesting looking desserts and I day dreamed about what I would get when I got there.2015/01/img_8615.jpgI had arranged with my friends to meet at the Hamlet at 6:30pm, we did the adult thing and got dinner first which was our first mistake. After eating my dinner at a record-breaking pace of 30 minutes (which is a huge deal for me) we whisked off to Frugii after hearing rumours that cakes were quickly disappearing.

The more experienced foodies such as Michelle from HerCanberra had dessert first and then later on went to the Hamlet for dinner. She’s a smart girl, but even just after 6pm when she went there were only two types of cakes left.

Rumours were true but one cake is definitely better than zero2015/01/img_8627.jpgThere we were at the back of the line which then quickly turned into the middle of the line as other people joined the queue. I looked at the cake cabinet and there were only three slices left of one type of cake, I felt a little nervous as there was several people in front of us including another fellow food blogger ‘In the Taratory‘. Another cake was taken, now with two people in front of me I held my breath praying that they wanted ice-cream and not cake… Phew! They bee lined straight towards the ice cream.

We’re getting closer to the counter!2015/01/img_8604.jpgI greeted John with a very big smile, ‘one piece of cake please’ I said proudly when I realise the people in front didn’t want cake. Despite being busy John didn’t mind chatting to us while we were being served and he was making us coffee on his gorgeous machine, he and Ed are always so friendly and I’m glad to see they were still like that even after a long busy day which was not over yet.

The very lovely couple John and Ed hard at work keeping up with the demand of their delectable product. I love your new hairstyle btw John!2015/01/img_8611.jpgA strong latte ($3.00 based on mathematics). This was deliberately made strong by request which meant the coffee was slightly bitter but it was very smooth TimmyC described.2015/01/img_8626.jpgFrugii cake pumpkin and olive oil sponge with a strawberry and raspberry jelly, champagne mousse topped off with a white chocolate glaze ($6.00). I couldn’ taste all the complexity of the cake in one mouthful. When broken up in its separate components I could taste the flavours (although I wouldn’t have been able to pick pumpkin and olive oil) but altogether the dominant flavours were the jelly and mousse with a subtle white chocolate after taste. I wish the jelly wasn’t so stiff as it made the cake a little harder to cut downwards with a spoon.

The dessert I really wanted to try was the choux pastry with the lemon lime and bitters.2015/01/img_8608.jpgSmall tub of ice cream ($5.00). We had asked for chocolate and vanilla and it was serendipitous that John accidentally gave us chocolate and pistachio. Pistachio was absolutely delightful and I’m going to add it to my list of ‘favourites’. My friend also got a small tub which consisted of the very popular salted butter caramel and cookies and cream. I’m not the biggest fan of cookies and cream with its usual chunky texture with stale cookies but this had no chunks of cookies but a beautiful blended cookie flavour, yum!2015/01/img_8614.jpgBig tub of ice cream ($10.00). My friend tried lemon myrtle and we all agreed it was nice. This tub could seriously fit a lot of ice cream.

My friend had eaten a fair chunk of his ice cream before I remembered to take a photo.2015/01/img_8617-0.jpgThere is limited seating but it is a very cute design and use of space.2015/01/img_8619.jpgThere is not distinct sign at the front of the Ori building but that didn’t matter, apparently everyone eventually found their way inside. If you don’t know where he is, you have to look for this funky black building on Lonsdale Street. I hear it is cash only at this point(?).2015/01/img_8621.jpgIt’s amazing, Frugii only opened their doors at midday and before 8pm they had gone from 8 types of cakes/dessert down to one and then quickly none.

I wish John and Ed the very best and they will definitely be seeing me more often!2015/01/img_8625.jpg

Venue: Frugii Dessert Laboratory

Address30 Lonsdale St Braddon, ACT

Phone: 0438 366 368

Websitewww.frugii.com/

Opening hours: Wednesday – Sunday 12pm – 11pm

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