Bali – Locavore

I’d heard amazing things about Locavore for months before I went to Ubud. Hailed as a foodie’s dream I just had to try it. Getting in is pretty tricky so be organised with this one and book in advance, no winging it with this popular spot I’m afraid.

I absolutely love the name; as an advocate of local products I was already intrigued. The idea of neither being a herbivore or a carnivore, but a locavore is genius and now I am stealing it for myself. “Hi, I’m Gabrielle and I am a locavore”.

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The menu is based on European dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Set in a degustation format you can choose from a five or seven course ‘Locavore’ menu or ‘herbivore’ menu and can chose to pair these courses with matching beverages. I was slightly worried about consuming 7 alcoholic beverages as a girl on my own in a new city. However, I was assured by the waitress that they wouldn’t all be alcoholic (one wasn’t, just one!!!!), so I YOLO’d’ and dived right in.

Forgive the photos but as you can see they get increasingly blurry with every paired beverage!

To start is was given a few appetisers including a spinach tempura and this.

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Then it was on to Seaweed Gili bread with soft egg and tamari emulsion.

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Baby churros with young goat’s cheese and a black rice blini with smoked egg emulsion, Papp rice and leaves.

Local salad sprinkled with Balinese sea salt and spritzed with hibiscus vinegar. This was on my table throughout the meal, I thought it was the flower decoration.

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Oyster mushroom crisp to dip into oyster emulsion.

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Tomato sorbet served with home-grown cherry tomato with a hot consume. And finally a Balinese chocolate mousse.

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Eat Drink Blog 2015: Local Produce, SEO, Photography, Blogging Tips Galore and a Whole Lotta Canberra

This weekend 80 of Australia’s most hungry bloggers descended on Canberra for three fun filled days of workshops, wine tastings, alcoholic popsicle licking, gastronomy gazing and lots and lots of…learning! Warning, this is a bumper blog and may spark creativity juices you’ve forgotten you had!

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The first day of Eat Drink Blog was action packed. We were taken first thing to the Capital Region Farmers Market where we watched a cooking demonstration and were able to wander round and see all the local produce on offer. If there is one thing Canberra is passionate about it’s Canberra and this is evident as the stallholders live and breath their products. As you’ll know I love flowers and just had too pick up some of these poppies…

They are one of my favourites because they always remind me of my Nanny.

We transferred to Nishi Gallery where we were spoilt with knowledge from a few speakers throughout the day. Firstly we heard from Matthew Evans who took us through his long road to success, from “refreshing oysters’ (yuck!) to living on his own ‘Fat Pig Farm’. I loved what he had to say about organic and local produce and buying food when it is truly ripe and in season. It is so important to support your local growers, whereever you are in the world.

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Silkworm artwork on display at the gallery, that I desperately want

 

Matthew also believes that the best food in the world may not be served in restaurants but right in our own homes. Watch this space as i’ll be visiting his upcoming farm to table project opening in Tassy next year.

Next up Wendy Johnson gave us some fearless advice about being a great restaurant critic. She advised us to not always be nice because you feel you have too; stay honest to your own opinion and dont be afraid to share it – even if it does get you sued a couple of times!

We then heard from Todd Wright, Director of Threesides Marketing who gave us a some incredible quick-fire pieces of advise on SEO for bloggers and social media. My brain is whirring with Google Anayltics, Keywords, Alt tags, widgets and the like!

After a morning of the technical and writing skills we moved onto learning about the design aspect of creativity where we learnt from Tess Godkin and Alice Lau.

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Tess’ presentation left me itching to know more about photography. An amazingly talented photographer, Tess was able to assemble a pumpkin salad and take some stunning pictures in under ten minutes. We learnt the importance of natural light and picture composition. I havent stopped photographing things, anything, since! Needless to say… I need to keep practising.

Alice Lau also showed us some really cool tricks with video blogging and shared her experience with different apps and how to get the best looking videography. It was awesome to see the quality of video blogging from using just a smartphone.

I went back to my gorgeous hotel room at the QT Canberra, which you can read all about here, and got ready for dinner at A.Baker. Again I share my experience of this cool, recently renovated restaurant, home to dishes made entirely of local produce here.

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The next day we all emerged slightly dusty after a few too many drinks at Lucky’s Speakeasy. A gorgeous breakfast spread featuring local food and drink from The Brathaus, Canberra Milk, The Fix Cold Pressed Juices, The Muesli Bar, A.Baker and Six8 Cofee Roasters.

One of the Eat Drink Blog 2015 organising committee was next up. The gorgeous Amanda Whitley of HerCanberra was on a panel with The Merrymaker Sisters and Liz Posmyk to discuss whether or not they think full time blogging is the holy grail. I found this really motivating.

Now it was time to hear from the author of the hugely successful blog Smaggle, Carly Jacobs. A girl after my own heart she is a self confessed organisational and list writing addict! One of her top tips was “Own it and don’t apologise for being a weirdo”! She really helped me refocus on my blog with her insight into how to build a blog when you are too damn busy, something I can definitely relate too.

The morning was over in a flash and it was time to depart for lunch. I enjoyed an absolutely stunning lakeside dining experience and cooking demonstration at The Boat House By The Lake .

Overall a fantastic weekend with a lot of tips, tricks and new foodie blogging friends to take away.

McLaren Vale, Adelaide

I haver been incredibly fortunate during my time in Australia to work with some of the coolest people I have ever met, and Anna is no exception. My only qualm is that she lives so far away, in Adelaide. However, that gives me the perfect excuse to go down for a visit.

There’s nothing that Anna and like to do better than to drink wine so McLaren Vale seemed like the perfect choice.

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First Anna showed me the sights of Adelaide and I was surprised by how cool and quirky the city is. The food market was my favourite place by far, filled with wine, meats and cheese and why i love it so much is admirably everything is local.

I could quite happily shop here every weekend but I’m afraid i wouldn’t get very far from this stand in particular.

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With a rather impressive picnic bought and packed it was time to meet my other cool Adelaidean (yes that’s a word, I Googled it!) colleague, Simon who we roped in as desi. He also knows a immense amount about wine so doubled as impressive our guide. Funny how some things just fall into place, isn’t it.

With endless laughs supplied by Anna, endless factoids coming from Simon and the weather really turning it on for us we headed for the hills.

Over the course of the day we hit a total of three wineries, just enough.This was my favourite, set on the top of a hill set in a garden of English flowers, I could have stayed for a week. Look how pretty…

We stopped for a picnic in the gardens of Samuel’s Gorge, with a rather lovely Tempranillo that Simon expertly picked.

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We rounded the afternoon off nicely quenching our thirst with a refreshing gin and tonic, just what was needed after all those tannins.

Afternoon turned into evening as I sampled Adelaide’s great nightlife. We were fortunate enough to head to an awesome, nautical themed, bar called Hains & Co on ‘World Pirate Day’. I will save you from the photos but trust me it was a night full of rum, dancing and “ee argh mateys”, definitely one to be remembered.

Smooth Festival of Chocolate, Sydney

The weather said anything but chocolate today. Spring has finally sprung upon Sydney with 26 degree heat, and how did we celebrate? With the Smooth Festival of Chocolate of course.

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Hundreds of people descended on Circular Quay eager for the taste of the new and exciting chocolate creations from the city’s chocolatiers.

Anna Polyviou, Sydney’s very own Willy Wonka, teamed up with N2 (most famously known for their nitrogen made ‘extreme’ gelato) for experimental and molecular creations, so daring the staff were required to take precautions when serving…

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Serendipity really turned up this weekend serving some seriously impressive milkshakes topped with ice cream cups.

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I don’t think I had it in me to battle the crowds to even getting close to The Vogue Cafe stand. This in turn allowed me time to peruse stands of never heard of. Just like Kim Sutherland’s Poetry. Entirely hand made and self-packaged Kim’s choc fudge was dangerously addictive.

Now me personally, I am a purist and a fan of dark chocolate. I tried my first taste of 85% fair trade chocolate from Bolivia. Packaged in easily bio-degradable paper, Origin and Zokoko were real delights.

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ChocoLAB showed off some cool new flavours created by their customers. I definitely recommend the s’mores flavour. All made with natural ingredients.

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Of course there were mountains of cronuts, macarons, chocolate covered strawberries and multi-flavoured scrolls as far as the eye could see…

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Before leaving, not feeling quite full enough, I headed over the Temptation Tent. True to its name this naughty little palace of indulgence was sponsored by Tim Tam. They offered the hoards the chance to sample their new flavours. Peanut butter, double dark, dark choc and raspberry, red velvet, coconut cream and salted caramel are just some of the amaze-balls flavours coming in the near future.

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Bakedown Cakery were my absolute highlight of the day and I was immediately struck with bakenvy. Jen was there to show off some of her awe-inspiring cake designs to illustrate her take on Tim Tam’s new flavours.

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That’s enough indulgence for one weekend, I’ll be booking my diabetes check as soon as I get into the office!

Merrijig Kitchen, Port Fairy

On the second night of my friend Jess and I’s adventure along the Great Ocean Road, we stayed in the sweet and quaint little port town of Port Fairy.

After some research we decided to go to Merrijig Kitchen for some supper. We arrived in from the cold and were seated right in front of the fire to warm up. We were welcomed by a lovely lady named  Hannah and offered a glass of rainwater to start…”did she just say what I think she said”? From that moment on a knew this would be an extremely interesting place.

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We started off with an extremely drinkable bottle of the NV Marechal ‘Methode Traditional Brut’ Chenin Blanc from Loire Valley, France while we perused the menu. Hannah explained to us that there are no specials, the whole menu is created daily from in season, local produce depending on availability.

We started off with a couple of Cowell Bay oysters, which were presented on a bed of baby shells. It was very cute dish. This was accompanied by a Portland steak tartare, horseradish and beetroot carpaccio.

Making my choice for main was a hard one. I decided to have a faro risotto with wild mushroom, smoked ham and home-made ricotta.

Jess and I followed this with Merrijig’s version of the prohibition; a chocolate mousse, salted caramel and Bourbon cream, serviced in a china teacup.

Hannah then explained that Merrijig had been on their  own ‘Tour de fromage de Francais’ and recommended the Graindorge Livarot from Basse-Normandy, France.

Feeling the effects of the sparkling wine and the fire we topped off the evening with a glass each of the Inkwell ‘Black and Blue’ Fortified Zinfandel from McLaren Vale SA.

I definitely recommend Merrijig to anyone visiting Port Fairy. This meals definitely topped off a wonderful day full of adventure.

Le Festival Français

There is no greater joie de vivre than stumbling upon a French festival. This particular Sunday, Circular Quay was its usual bustling hive of activity but with an added air of sophistication.

To my delight, rows and rows of market stalls were selling the best of the best of French culture adorned in red white and blue as the French population of Sydney (and its admirers) came out to celebrate the fete de le revolucion; Bastille Day.

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I have never lived in France, but I feel I have a strange emotional connection to the country. The excited pitter-patter of fluent speech is comforting to me, as well as the affinity I have with French food; coq au vin, duck confit, beef  bourguignon (“bor-gee-nyawn”), world famous pastries and sweet treats are just the tip of the iceberg of other carb-loaded heavenly plates of comfort. This is enough to make me while away the afternoon daydreaming without even having mentioned the countryside of France, which is some of the most stunning scenery you will ever see.

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Your eyes do not deceive you; this is huge chunks of pate in a baguette!

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I instantly felt more at home than I have done so far on (what I am calling) my ‘Australian adventure’. I weaved my way through the crowds, a smile from ear to ear. Ever seen a girl wondering along, on her own, smiling insanely!? – “Bonjour”.

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The sweet smell of cooking onions and stock engulfed me as I walked through a French Onion cloud, just as the chef was serving the soup in a bread roll to a salivating customer. This was enough to awaken my hunger pangs. I knew what I wanted, and it wasn’t long before I found it…

I was met by a crowd of, what must of been 30 people, all forming an orderly queue for the delicious, freshly made, buckwheat crêpe.  I went for smoked salmon, crème fraîche, spinach and a sprinkling of lemon juice.

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After my lunch time snack (when eating French, one lunch is never enough) I went looking for my next morsel.

I passed delicate and artistic petit fours and colourful macaroons piled high. I went for a mille foie and chocolat chaud.

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Then onto the pièce de résistance of French produce; cheese! I managed to follow my nose to a perfect little racelette stand.

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As soon as I was completely satisfied with my food intake (couldn’t fit another mouthful in) I moved along the market seeing what else there was on offer.

There were cookery classes…

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IMG_0132…as well as furniture and home wares.

IMG_0114IMG_0112IMG_0134It certainly has wet my appetite for France and you will be pleased to know a trip to Vallée de la Loire has been arranged for shortly after my return.

Au revoir , bon appétit et jour heureux bastille!

Botany Bay

This weekend the sun really shone here is Sydney. That and the extra weekend day (thanks Queenie) meant that I got up early and went exploring, Captain Cook style! Botany Bay awaited me.

With the start of the whale season upon us, and being the nature and animal lover that I am, I jumped out of bed and formulated a plan that incorporated both. Just an hour outside of Sydney and even less on the train, I opted for the train. I jumped on at Central Station and sat with my eyes glued out of the window at all the amazing scenery gong past me. City fell away to suburbia, which was soon taken over my trees and passed idyllic bays. Shortly after we arrived at our final destination; Cronulla.

Filled with delightful little cafes and home-ware shops Cronulla was very sweet. Steeped in surfing legendary there is a relaxed, yewww-y vibe to the town. Boys walk around with no thongs (flip flops to my English readers) and ‘boardies’, despite the some-what fresh breeze.

 I arrived at Botany Bay National Park ready for my bush walking, whale watching adventure. When I spoke to the ranger in the information centre she informed me that two humpback whales had already been spotted that morning. Full of optimism and excitement I set out through the bush.

 I cant tell you how gorgeous the weather was. I was expecting the breeze to pick up over the cliffs but was faced with quite the opposite; a glorious 22° sunny (winter’s) day. Not a bad Winter, Sydney!

Don’t be fooled by that sun, it stays quite muddy up here…

 8EAA6FB0-2962-4E43-B127-5BA6E27DE251 VERY muddy! Just as i was starting to feel smug about how well my day was going nature soon reminded me how much of a naive Brit I really am. Note to self: do not wear new trainers whilst bush walking.1B5A2C1E-125E-4327-95D9-4CF34FDE418F It seemed like I was there for hours, searching the horizons, endlessly hoping and squinting at any break on the wave. My heart leaped at every false sighting of the tip of a fin. Alas, it was not to be. The first time I had an encounter with a wild humpback was so magical. A moment in time that I will remember forever. I won’t give up this year, I will see one again.4D9ABA57-3C17-4D1C-8A15-444E4D90BA7D 83DAC207-5DA1-4659-A033-0C040167C63D  E0BF71CE-C457-426A-88B9-158C7FB4499CI made my way down the cliffs back towards Cronulla – the walk is a lot longer than anticipated. A full 4 hours walking over rocky, sandy *cough* muddy terrain. It is an adventure not for the faint hearted. Needless to say, well worth it.              I kept imagining how Captain Cook must of felt arriving at this spot. Since arriving in Australia I can only imagine the sheer bravery these men went though in their first weeks on this fantastic island in the South Pacific. Seemingly untouched, the national park at Botany Bay really gives you a sense of what the crew went through.

 

Ambition leads me not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go.
James Cook

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