My favorite things Australia

Water served in wine bottlesMy husband and I returned from Australia about 100 days ago. We jumped back into the stress of work upon our return. Lucky for us, the house was clean and work tasks were addressed so the re-entry shock was minimal. After the lovely sunshine of Australia we returned to a Mother’s Day snowstorm and a rainy spring. I’ve now come out of my shell, we’re in the dog days of summer and it’s nearly Labor Day. It’s time to wrap up all things I loved about the Land Down Under.

1. Bottles of water served in wine bottles.

bottles of water

2. Cooking and eating with old friends

anne and me

 Anne and her husband Jerry, have been friends with Bob since for 30+ years. They moved to Melbourne from the US a year ago and we learned about living the Australian way. Anne loves the plentiful number of Chinese markets, restaurants, and community they are living in. She said she wished she could be in our cooking club and I wished she could be also. She is an experimental cook, trying new techniques and ingredients to make the dish interesting.

egg drop frothing

egg drop soup

stir fried veggies

steamed chicken

Chinese chicken soup

 This is Lai-fu. His name means good luck comes in Chinese.

Lai-fu good luck comes

Dinner and after dinner with the Willemens and Donovans on The Rocks in the Sydney Harbour!

eating in sydney

 

group picture at The Rocks

3. Touring the Yarra Valley. The lovely countryside north of Melbourne. Rolling hills, vineyards, fruit trees, dairy cows, and sheep.  Vineyards, tasting rooms, wine, cheese, cured meats, and restaurants.

chandon view from Chandon

Yering Station

wine glassess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yarra Valley Dairy goat cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Comic relief. My dear husband travels all over the world for his job. One would think he had a good sense of direction. But when there are no deadlines to meet, he wanders.  The first night he convinced us to jump on a bus after a rugby game in Brisbane saying it was the way home. It was heading north to the suburbs. I said he could wander but we weren’t going to follow any more.

He drank a lovely glass of wine from Squitchy Lane at lunch. We drove and twisted through the country back roads to discover it was not open during the week.

Squitchy Lane

view from Squitchy Lane

We found a perfect bottle of wine to sum up his trip.

the wanderer wine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. The natural wonders

beach

palm tree

great barrier reef

crocodile

koala

rainforest

sand crabs

12 apostles

6. The Sydney Harbour

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7. Reuniting with family

the mining sculpture

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Cheers Australia! Until we meet again. Let’s hope we don’t wait 27 more years to pass until we meet again.

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Australian coffee and tea chronicles

My husband and I spent two weeks visiting our son who lives in Australia. Our last visit to Australia was 27 years ago when I was about my son’s age. Love the big hair, eh-yea?Patty & koala

The food and drink were wonderful, never had a bad meal. Coffee and tea were available everywhere.

The Australians love their coffee, drinking it all day and late into the night. Coffee shops are on every corner and most of them are not marketed chain stores. Lattes are called flat whites, pictured above.  At home in the U.S. I have pretty much given up coffee and milk, so drinking these were a leap of faith. The cows in Australia must be happier because the milk was creamier and frothier and didn’t make me ill. The baristas made each cup of flat white with love swirling me their signature on each one whether it was a ceramic or paper cup. I saw very few Starbucks but McDonald’s restaurants were quite prominent and they all had McCafe’s inside. McCafe’s served coffee and tea and were lovely respites serving, wait for it…..macarons!

I didn’t abandon my love for hot tea. It was everywhere also. All of the hotels we stayed at had kettles to boil water for tea.

The best part about drinking coffee or tea at a shop was enjoying a sweet or pastry.

Tim Tams are Australian favorites so I stocked up at duty free on my way home. They are chocolate covered cookies with caramel filling. They now come in a variety of flavors.

Tim Tams

Family friends from Australia had told us about the Tim Tam Slam for years. The first coffee shop we saw in the Brisbane airport validated that it really exists. The steps are: 1) bite off the diagonal corners of the Tim Tam. 2) use it as a straw to slurp up a warm cup of tea or coffee, 3) pop it in your mouth and enjoy the melted Tim Tam.

tim tam slam

We’ve been home for a few weeks now. I have returned to my daily spot of tea, sans sweets and pastries. The relaxed feeling of sipping coffee or tea lingers in memory. A moment of civility. Cheers.

great barrier reef

Waltzing Matilda

It has taken me, what it seems like, forever to make Pavlova.  And look I even have a tea towel from my Mom and Dad when they traveled to New Zealand in the 1990s.

Well my time came. My son took a job in Australia so I had to give it a try.

According to What’s Cooking America the Pavlova recipe started appearing after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova toured Australia and New Zealand in 1926 and 1929. The airy dessert was created to honor the dancer who “soars as though on wings”.  There is disparity between Australia and New Zealand on who created the dessert first. They both claim it as their national dessert.

My friend Joy, whose two children have been to Australia as exchange students, has made Pavlova a lot. This is her Pavlova plate that is oven-safe and beautiful enough to serve from oven to table for presentation.

Joy made the Pavlova for Ben’s going away party. Then I made my Pavlova after the tea towel recipe

4 egg whites

Few grains of salt

3/4 C castor sugar (granulated sugar)

1/4 tsp vanilla essence

1 tsp vinegar

1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees Centigrade (300 degrees Farenheit). Brush the plate with melted butter and dust with cornstarch. Beat the egg whites to a foam with an electric mixer, add the salt.  Beat to a stiff foam, add 1 Tbsp of sugar at a time until form stiff peaks. Remove the beater then add the vinegar and cornstarch and blend together.

Spoon the meringue onto the plate forming a 9 inch circle.

Bake at 140 degrees C (275 degrees F) for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 120 degrees C (250 degrees F) and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven and allow to cool in the oven.

Serve with whipped cream atop then decorate with strawberries, kiwi, mango or any fruit of choice.

Patty’s Points:

1. I let the egg whites come to room temperature before whipping. I’m not sure why my whipped egg whites weren’t full and piled high. Baking caused it  to spread out on the plate. Egg whites are sensitive to heat and humidity; that could have been the reason.

2. Cooling the Pavlova while in the oven was a perfect technique as it allowed it to cool slowly and prevent the meringue from cracking.

3. Pavlova in an egg. Okay what? Joy told me about a product where all the ingredients for Pavlova are in an egg-shaped container. Of course we are talking about dried egg whites. I found a website review of Pavlova Magic by blogger foodycat.  Joy’s Pavlova in an egg version turned out well. It piled high on the plate for a pretty presentation.

4. The taste? It was good, but then again I’m a sucker for baked egg whites. I’m obsessed with macarons remember? I skipped the whipped cream with mine but it is a fabulous addition, also adding height.

Our son has started a new chapter in his life. He is waltzing Matilda, Aussie-speak for wandering happily. It’s also the unofficial Australian national anthem. This food blog wanders happily in cooking adventures. Happy trails in cooking all.