Obviously, meal times in Paris meant a mission to eat as many ‘typically french’ dishes as possible. It also meant a week of eating high fat, high carb, highly delicious food! After a long walk around the ground of Versailles, I was starving and my stomach was screaming for crepes.
Without a doubt, the most exciting thing about visiting Paris for me were the breakfasts. There is no hiding the fact that I am a complete breakfast LOVER, I never go a day without breakfast, and cannot function normally without a complete breakfast in my stomach. I was talking to my friend the other day about how when we have sleepovers with friends that aren’t crazy about breakfast, it’s devastating, and a trip to the local cafe on the way to the bus stop is crucial. She even said that she’s known to have a ‘full english’ on those days – I can definitely relate!
On Monday the 23rd June it was my 20th birthday! I was so excited to finally end my teenage years and begin the rest of my life. Sadly, my one uni exam for the semester fell on this day, right smack bang in the middle of MY day! It was the last thing I wanted to do on my birthday, however, I made a plan to have as much fun as possible before and after the dreaded exam.
I began my day with a trip to The Grounds of Alexandria with my Mum. I had always wanted to visit the grounds, so many of my friends had been there, and the pictures they had uploaded of the food looked incredible! So off we went, in an attempt to cross one restaurant off my long list of restaurants i’m dying to visit!
It was in a really strange location! I had never really explored Alexandria before, so driving through what seemed like an industrial area wasn’t exactly where I would expect to find a happening breakfast spot, and foodie destination! However, in amongst the factories we found a gem! We walked in to what looked like a country village, filled with a flower shop, gourmet grocery store, a bar and of course the cafe! It was such a cool little country escape in amongst industry and the city! There was a bit of a queue for a table, but we didn’t mind seeing as it gave us time to explore. As the waiter lead us too our seats, the vibrant atmosphere got me so excited! There were loads of people enjoying their meals, stands packed with freshly baked bread from their bakery onsite, bread and jam tasting, a dessert stand, there was just so much going on that I didn’t know where to look. There was such a fabulous vibe. I ordered the Brioche Brekky Burger with Polenta Chips and Mum ordered the Brekky Board. I also had their freshly squeezed watermelon and pineapple fruit juice. We were seated right near the kitchen, and I watched all the food being prepared and assembled. Everything looked incredible and made to so keen to come back and try the rest of the breakfast dishes!
The Brekky burger was so delicious! The Brioche was so soft, and surprisingly, the burger was quite light on my stomach.
Later on in the day we went to a place called A Tavola for dinner. I had read reviews for this restaurant and decided to tick yet another restaurant off my long list of places to visit. I had heard about their freshly made pasta that they hang around the restaurant to dry before service, and as we walked in, my eyes were immediately drawn to the pasta drying on the racks. We were greeted with some freshly baked focaccia and chilli olive oil, which immediately excited me as it reminded me of a traditional european restaurant (not the stingy Australian versions where you pay extra for the bread). Dad also ordered an Italian red wine (not sure what it was called as Italian wines come in so many unfamiliar varieties) which was spectacular. I ordered the Pappardelle with Wagyu Ragu and so did my mum and dad. My sister ordered the Mushroom Ravioli with Truffle Sauce. Both dishes were incredible, the pasta cooked al dente which is always promising, and we were given such a generous serving of the hearty Ragu.
For dessert, just for the sake of jamming one more foodie destination into one day, we went to Riva Reno on Crown st for Gelato. Riva Reno is an Italian gelato chain that has many stores in Italy, but a few in Australia as well. It is by far my favourite gelato in Australia, and is possibly better than the gelato I had in Italy. It has such a thick creamy texture, that it reminds me on eating Nutella. The gelato is kept in metal cylinders to keep it from being exposed to bacteria etc. but also because natural, authentic gelato doesn’t have any preservatives or nitrogen, and so cannot be piled up high on display as we find it here in Australia. To me it makes more sense to store the gelato this way! I would absolutely recommend visiting this place!
I had a fabulous birthday, even though I had an exam (notice I didn’t mention the exam in my recount of the day? It doesnt deserve a mention!)
The Grounds of Alexandria: http://groundsroasters.com/
A Tavola, Bondi: http://www.atavola.com.au/bondi/
Riva Reno: http://www.rivareno.com/ita/
If you love classy fine dining restaurants, quality service, big shopping centres filled with top designer boutiques, well, Cabramatta is just not the place for you. Travel 30 km south west of Sydney city and you’ll drive straight into the heart of Vietnam. Cabramatta has one main street, John st, in which majority of the restaurants, fruit markets and Vietnamese clothing shops are packed into. The main street branches out into tiny alleyways packed with people, and so reminiscent of the Binh Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City.
It was adventurous. It was eye opening. It took forever! The thought of driving across Australia seemed like the ultimate road trip, and it was, but two days on one straight road at 150km/hr across the middle of Australia made me realise that I had perhaps a Romanticised view of driving across Australia. But nonetheless, it was an experience that I will treasure forever and one that taught me so much about Australia’s national cuisine. Its so hard to define what the Australian cuisine is. I guess the best description is a cuisine made up of hundreds of cuisines. I can say, travelling across Australia and sampling some of our best produce opened my eyes to what our national cuisine is, food that we can be proud to call Australian.
I think one of my favourite treats when we are on Australian road trips is the brekky rolls! I had a particularly delicious one in Apollo Bay! The bread was fresh and so so soft! the bacon was perfectly crisp and the egg was cooked perfectly! Ahhhh it was a ‘am I in heaven moment!’ (yes I get excited about little things like brekky rolls, clearly i’m a foodie!)
I love it when you dont expect to be eating anything good when you pull up to a not to exciting town, but then find a hidden gem! When we pulled into Mt Gambier we were greeted by factories and ugly commercial roads, as well as rain! However, the deeper we explored this place, the more fascinating it became. From sink holes to blue volcanic lakes, this place turned out to be one of the most exciting places we visited on our trip! But the best thing about Mt Gambier was definitely ‘The Barn.’ Whilst wine tasting in Coonawarra after checking in, we asked the wine maker which restaurant he would recommend for dinner, and off his tongue rolled the words ‘Best steak ever…’ He had said those words without a pause and without really getting excited, but Dad and I looked straight at each other and decided without even speaking that that was where we had to go. After making a booking, we turned up to this absolutely classy Barn! The restaurant looked fine dining to say the least! I felt like I was in a three Michelin star restaurant in the middle of New York, but we were in the middle of no where! And what was even better was that the tables were filled with farmers! But ohhhh baby that steak was to die for. I was absolutely in heaven, possibly the best steak I have ever eaten.
You know that feeling when you are dying for fresh fruit on a holiday? Well that feeling hit me fast. All the incredible, but rich food we were eating saw me CRAVE some fruit. Driving along the highway, we came across a little farmers market with amazing fruit! The mangoes were so sweet and were an incredible 50c each! I was a happy camper in the back of our car hoeing into the fruit!
Another incredible dish we had while away was the whiting in Ceduna. Never in my life have I tasted fish so fresh, so succulent and so sweet! I literally could have eaten 8 fillets by myself, but I had to restrain myself.
Lastly, making it all the way over to Western Australia was an accomplishment and a relief to say the least. Eight days of driving just to get to the other side of Australia was crazy! So what was so comforting was arriving in Denmark and checking into our cottage. YES A COTTAGE. What was even more incredible was the lady at the front desk gave us free reign on the fruit and veg patch out the back, and ohh baby I was in heaven again! From the fig trees to the berries, to zucchinis the size of my arm! This place was a dream, and I have to admit, I felt so much like Jamie Oliver cooking up the produce from the garden outside!
There was so much more food that we enjoyed along the way, and so many more experiences that I haven’t shared. But I loved this trip, I would certainly recommend this trip to anyone!
Weirdly, the only pizza I ate on my trip to Italy was in Venice. Dad and I found a restaurant that overlooked the water, and bravely chose to sit outside and soak in the sun, although it was fleeting. The pizza was so simple, yet so good! Crispy, elastic bread covered with shaved prosciutto and mozzarella cheese. It’s these little food experiences, that although not to fancy and not over-exciting, that capture the true essence of the city.
What could be better than a mix of all the day’s catch, lightly battered and crispy fried? The catch being from Venice of course! Waiting for our train to arrive, dad and I popped into the first restaurant we could find. Browsing over at other tables to see what they were eating, I saw the fisherman’s basket and I immediately knew that that was what I wanted! And let me tell you, quality-wise, flavour-wise; the dish delivered!
My first experience of Italy was everything I had imagined it to be! Vibrant people flooded the narrow alleyways, occasionally deviating into small delicatessens. It was almost as if Italian grocers only sold prosciutto and parmesan cheese. But It was to my excitement that I experienced the most sublime array of delicatessens the world has to offer – Bologna, being home to some of the best! Enormous cured pig legs rimmed the ceiling of the store, followed by a lower rim of dried Italian sausage. The counters were packed with piles of age old parmesan quarters and below the sectioned off cooler was home to some of the most delicate nona-style tortellini, tortolloni and Ravioli. It was as if every Delicatessen in every alley way was having a full-blown pork-fest. Heaven!
I guess it is customary to eat at a french Bistro on arrival in Paris. As Dad and I braced the icy Winter’s air (a type of cold never experienced in Australia) we felt the need to run into the first Bistro we could find, irrespective of the quality or the pricing of the place. I guess you could say our first meal in Paris was a gamble, it could have been amazing, but it also could have been devastatingly horrible! Picking the standard breakfast item on the menu, we sat in ignorance, not knowing how to read french, and thus not sure of what we were about to eat. But it was the fried eggs with bright orange yolks and quality dijon mustard accompanied with a full basket of fresh french style bread that set my taste buds up for the amazing culinary journey they were about to face in Paris. There is something quite beautiful and elegant about having the courage to serve up such a simple dish as a restaurant specialty, but it was my arrogance as a foreigner that doubted the breakfast preferences of the frenchman.
My first experience of a chocolate Eclair was in a beautiful patisserie in Paris. Walking in to the store, my eyes were immediately fixed on the individual desserts, of course because I was thinking of what I could eat in that moment. But what stood out was the Chocolate Eclair. I had always heard of them, seen them in supermarkets in Australia, but had never tried one (perhaps that is because the supermarket ones were always dry and cracked.) But I can tell you that the Eclair that I tried in Paris was something out of the ordinary. Carrying our white paper box filled with treats onto the train, I picked out my Eclair and took an all encompassing bite. It was a food memory that will be kept in my mind forever.