Don’t get me wrong – I think New Zealand is just the most incredibly beautiful place and I would LOVE to go back – but, to say I am a little jealous about Matt’s world travels is a total and complete understatement. I am absolutely green with envy!
A bit of a culture shock
Anyway, even though Bali is pretty close to home – I was super excited about going there for our 11-night honeymoon. We both agreed we wanted a relaxing tropical honeymoon filled with food, cocktails, massages etc. After an amazing wedding, we couldn’t wait for some rest and relaxation!
However, when anyone ever asks me how our honeymoon was or what I thought of Bali – I sheepishly admit that I was pretty culture shocked.
People talk about Bali like it’s a part of Australia – just like they do about New Zealand. But while there are plenty of Westerners around – it certainly felt like I was a world away from home.
Now I’m normally the more forward part of our pair – but in our first two weeks of married life – Matt certainly took the lead!
I gripped Matt’s hand so tight as we walked into the truly rundown building that is Denpasar airport. The walls were lined with dirty, damaged and very old air-conditioners – everything seemed kind of like it was falling down. Someone from work had told me they had seen rats at the airport – and for someone who has a ridiculous rodent phobia – it was hard not to feel myself looking for them as Matt whisked me quickly though the customs area.
Another friend told me there would be military guards with machine guns. This actually scared me less than the before mentioned issue – but that’s phobias for you. Thankfully, we saw neither. After a little confusion with a guard who wanted to take our passports away (we told him no thank you and that we would be happy to wait in line to pay our entry) – we headed out the front to find our driver.
Most brides are obsessed with dresses, flowers and invitations – and don’t get my wrong – I spent hours making my own invites, bouquets made not from petals, but of crystals – and finding “THE” dress was very important – especially with my “fuller” figure.
I didn’t want the food to be silly and pretentious either. I wanted people to read the menu and think “yum, I cannot wait to put that in my mouth!”.
We had a small wedding, filled only with the people that we love – and we wanted all 62 of them to feel how important they are in our lives. We wanted them to feel looked after and that they could enjoy every morsel and have a memorable and fun time on our special day.
I was just going to write about our wedding day and tell you how amazing it was – because it really was a day filled with happiness and emotion, fun and complete and utter yumminess! But, the journey to getting to that one day (and while it has become a cliché, flies by so quickly) – should not be discounted.
We looked at more than 10 venues … and more than half were quickly removed from the list by both Matt and I on the menu alone. I did not want to eat “fried chicken bites” (aka chicken nuggets) at my wedding. Call me a food snob if you like, but that was just never going to cut it.
For both of us, it came down to a toss up between two venues. One was a small winery near the Great Ocean Road. The chef was clearly a descendent of Heston Blumenthal. He was into “avocado foam” and “delicate ribbons of hydro-vacted truffle”. Ok, I made the last bit up – but you know what I mean. This guy, despite the scientific-sounding menu, was full of passion for food and I just loved that. I also liked the rustic charm and relaxing surrounds of the winery where it would be an outdoor affair and we could get married in the same spot. Despite the fancy food, it was a place I could have decorated with fairly lights and lanterns and really made it an expression of who we are.
I’m a TOFI – that’s thin on the outside and fat inside.
I was born with a sweet tooth and have always had a weak spot for chocolate, and not just any kind, but the best Belgian that melts on your tongue.
However, the craving for cocoa and sugar has slowly diverted towards fluffy pastries and cakes. Oh, my mouth waters just by thinking about rich chocolate cake and scrumptious cinnamon rolls, washed down with earl grey tea.
I can have them at any time of the day – for breakfast, with lunch or as a little bedtime snack (hiding in the kitchen so my husband doesn’t see me).
Those who know me best are fully aware that I adore high tea sittings where little light biscuits, pastries and smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches are served on the best silverware, accompanied with the greatest selection of tea and coffee.
My friends know me so well that they even took me to a high tea sitting for my hens day last year! Read about that little adventure here.
I recently attended The High Tea Party at the luxurious Langham Hotel in Melbourne with friends Julie and Alison (pictured below)
The all-day event did not only include a high tea sitting but fabulous activities and stalls making it the perfect excuse for a girly catch-up.
We sipped on sparkling Rosé, tasted low-calorie cocktails, enjoyed beauty treatments and were given complimentary gift bags.
The highlight of the annual event was the beautiful ballroom where our high tea sitting was held, consisting of finger sandwiches, cakes, mini pastries and scones with jam and cream, accompanied by freshly brewed tea.
Growing up in Norway, we used to have regular visits from friends for some waffles, crepes or cinnamon rolls, with coffee. I guess this is where my love affair for high tea began – catching up with friends over simple good-feel food.
Event organiser Alison Dean tells me that The High Tea Party has been running since 2007 in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, attracting some 15,000 ladies.
This year was the largest ever, with more than 30 companies involved, showing off their products and services.
The fabulous event takes about a year to plan which includes finding partners, companies and of course confirming the number of guests.
“I think this is a popular event because the ladies know they are having high tea and receive a gift bag but most of the other experience rooms aren’t really communicated so the ladies do get a surprise when they arrive, which helps with the day,” Dean says.
A team of ten chefs helped prepare the food that was all made fresh on the day.
Up to four pallets of Lindaeur sparkling wine was also served, so you can imagine our fun on the day.
Dean believes the spirit of high tea will continue for many years, saying the event is a special occasion where ladies have a “gorgeous excuse to catch up with the girls.”
Have you ever been to a high tea sitting? If so, what’s your favourite thing about it?
For all those sweet-tooth out there, here’s my favourite Norwegian cinnamon rolls recipe. Enjoy!
- 1kg sifted white flour
- 150g sugar
- 150g butter, cut in cubes
- 2tsp salt
- 2tsp cardamom
- 6dl full cream milk
- 50g fresh yeast
- 2tsp cinnamon
- 100g butter at room temperature
- 100g crystal sugar
Warm up the milk and blend the yeast in.
Blend all the other ingredients (except the filling) with the milk in a bowl and start working with your hand until a firm dough mixture starts forming. Keep kneading for about eight minutes until firm.
Leave the dough in the bowl, with a kitchen cloth over it, in a warm place for an hour.
Work the dough again, then leave for another 30 minutes to stand.
Divide the dough in smaller batches, and roll each to about a centimetre thick.
Meanwhile, mix the filling ingredients and brush over the rolled dough.
Roll the dough into a sausage, then cut into five centimetre thick pieces. You can have them as thick or thin as you wish – I personally prefer smaller pieces so I can freeze them and use for later.
Brush with beaten egg and bake for 10 to 15 minutes in an already pre-heated oven at 220C.
Cool on a rack and enjoy with coffee or tea!
Print this recipe by clicking here
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No matter how good you think you are at cooking, I think a cooking class from time to time is a fabulous source not only of inspiration, but of fun too!!
This weekend saw my lovely friend Ruza and I hit Melbourne for a Thai cooking class. We came away very impressed. We made my favourite soup ever – Tom yum – as well as six other fabulous dishes including green chicken curry, Thai spring rolls and the famous, pad Thai.
I think we have all attempted Thai cooking – I know I have – but I’ve almost always felt disappointed because I just can’t seem to properly recreate my favourite dishes. It always tastes like there is something missing, and I can’t put my finger on what it is.
So, while I’m not going to share the recipes from the day, because I don’t feel as though they a mine to share just yet, but I learnt some terrific tips to authentic Thai cooking that I can’t wait to put into practice in my own kitchen.
One of the most important things about cooking Thai food is using the freshest and best quality ingredients. This bowl of beautiful, fragrant herbs and veggies just cooks so delicious!!
It’s important to find an Asian grocer you know has the best products and keep going back to them.
Creating the perfect Thai dishes requires lots of preparation – but one of the best things is that in a lot of cases, including the Thai fish cakes we created – you can chop and roll the day before, pop them in the fridge and cook when your guests arrive. Perfect for entertaining as you won’t be left slaving in the kitchen.
Perfect fish cakes is all about chopping the aromatic ingredients and the fish extremely small. It’s also about ensuring the mixture is very well mixed. Your clean hands are the best tools in this case.
Spring rolls were also on the menu. I know most people think it’s easier to buy them from the frozen isle of the supermarket – but these were really yummy and actually really fun to make.
The best tip for the day was to cook the filling before adding them to the spring rolls wrappers. Without this step you run the risk of cooking your spring rolls beautifully on the outside, but the inside filling on the raw side. Not good at all!
So, this is me cooking the filling – we used pork mince, carrots, soy and other yummy delights 🙂
Our wonderful teacher Gail said you can make the spring rolls to this point and then pop them in the freezer. You can even cook them frozen – but just need to make sure the oil isn’t too hot. Such a great tip for what, with a bit of organisation in advance – could be a very quick and easy entree.
Pad Thai is Ruza’s favourite dish – especially after she honeymooned in Thailand late last year. No wonder she was so keen to do these classes! So, she took to the stove to learn how to whip it up.
Gail said the key to pad Thai – and stir-frying any noodles, is to soak them in cold water for about 10 minutes. Never use hot water as it will cause me to stick together and go gluggy. I know this is true from experience!
Galangal is part of the ginger family, but it’s stronger and has more heat. I have tried many times to make Tom yum soup and it’s always laked something. It was galangal!!
We added lots of other things including mushrooms, tomatoes, and made a stock from coriander root, kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass.
I think the tip of the day was this one … Season with fish sauce and lime juice off the heat. Gail says direct heat causes these flavours to change – so the best thing to do is take your food off the heat once it is cooked, taste and season to your taste.
But with he next step came the best advice. Normally I would add my chicken at this point – but no. Gail says it is best to add a touch of coconut milk and cook for a good few minutes, until you get bubbles on the side of the saucepan. This helps to ensure the coconut milk won’t split when you add the rest of the can – but also adds a depth of flavour. Add the chicken, veggies and coconut milk and cook until done. It really was absolutely beautiful and oozed with authenticity.
Thank you to Gail and her husband Nigel for the cooking class. Visit their website here to find out about their classes- http://originalthaicooking.com.au/ – highly recommended.
It was a memorable and fun day and I learnt so much about Thai cooking – I know I will put my new knowledge to good use and use it to create truly authentic Thai dishes.
I truly think it’s a great idea, no matter how confident you feel in the kitchen – to grab a friend and go and enjoy a cooking class. You get to cook, have fun and eat … All things that put me in a very happy place! Next I think I’m going to research French cooking classes. Very exciting!!
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