Tag Archives: Food

Reef Restaurant, Terrigal

Reef Restaurant, Terrigal | lizniland.com

This last Sunday, we joined our friends Pete & Lee for a beautiful feast at Terrigal’s Reef Restaurant.

With sparkling seaside views, it won’t be a surprise to hear that the Reef specialises in seafood. We had a set Mother’s Day menu to select from on the day but this gave us enough variety to see what the Reef had to offer.

Mother's Day | Reef Restaurant | lizniland.com

For my entree, I went for the King prawn crab tian and coddled quail egg with poppy twist (bottom left in the first image) while Michael and Pete opted for the below Apple wood cold smoked salmon terrine with seared scallop and gazpacho. Lee went for the Risotto with duck, truffle, asparagus, portobello mushroom and shaved pecorino.

By all accounts, these were all perfectly cooked and highly delicious. The plating of the dishes was also striking – I think some restaurants underestimate how much of a difference a delightfully served meal makes. It will never cover up for something poorly cooked but it most definitely adds to the experience.

We matched our entrees with a glass of something french and sparkling, darling.

Salmon terrine | Reef Restaurant | lizniland.com

For our mains, the Smoked lamb rack with eggplant caviar, toasted almonds and broccolini, as pictured on the top right of the first image, was hard to beat. I thought it best to maintain my ladylike composure and stick to using my cutlery, even though I would’ve loved to have nibbled the rest of the lamb from the bones.

I’m always a sucker for a glass of pinot noir and happily matched my lamb with a 2012 NZ option.

Chocolate tart | Reef Restaurant | lizniland.com

While everyone else at the table fell victim to the allure of the above Swiss chocolate tart with almond cream and raspberry jells, I thought I’d strike out on my own and try the below Pear and apple custard apple fool served with lychee granita. I was not disappointed!

Apple pear fool | Reef Restaurant | lizniland.com

The Reef Restaurant is certainly not a cheap experience but it’s a case of getting what you pay for: quality service, good wine, faultless food and a stunning setting make for a location worthy of special occasion celebrations.

x Liz

Photo note: All photos taken on my iPhone.

Review: The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry

The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry | lizniland.com

Plenty of cookbooks have great recipes, sweet anecdotes and pretty pictures. Fewer cookbooks are worthy of a spot on the top shelf for regular inclusion in the meal planning process. And fewer cookbooks still are capable of inspiring a new way of eating and preparing food. 

Up there with my favourites Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar For Life and Mel Joulwan’s Well Fed 1 & 2, Lola Berry’s The Happy Cookbook has had me shopping differently, preparing food differently and even rethinking my meal components.

Zucchini Fritters| The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry | lizniland.com

I’ve rediscovered dill, and not just for pairing with fish. I’ve simplified weeknight dinners without sacrificing flavour. I’m having messier, less Insta-pretty meals but getting bucketloads of nutrients.

Between recipes like the zucchini fritters and my favourite, Crispy salmon and kale mix-up with avocado and dill, Lola gets her holistic health coach hat on with mini wellness tutorials on topics like sleep, biophilia (the healing power of nature, fyi) and mindfulness.

Crispy salmon & kale| The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry | lizniland.com
 
Another favourite discovery in The Happy Cookbook has been the Superfood Bircher. I often make a full batch and leave it in a covered bowl in the fridge – it gives us both a timesaving breakfast for 3 days straight. Gotta love that! I also occasionally make smaller serves of it in grab-and-go recycled juice jars.

Superfood Bircher| The Happy Cookbook by Lola Berry | lizniland.com

If you’re looking for a cookbook that you won’t want to put away, Lola’s new one is just the ticket. While there are recipes to impress special guests (hello Paleo ganache chocolate birthday cake!), primarily The Happy Cookbook will keep you and your farmer’s market haul happily feasting all throughout the week.

x Liz

Week of Eats: New Year’s cheer in Melbourne

Before we get into the ins and outs of the eats, I have an exciting announcement to make following our Melbourne trip…

We're getting married | lizniland.com

Yay! Michael proposed as we were strolling around Melbourne’s King’s Domain Gardens and I excitedly accepted! Stay tuned for further developments & planning 🙂 For now though, back to your regular scheduled programming.


 

While we still made it to our favourites, our eats in Melbourne on this trip took us to a couple of new spots. One of the standout new-to-us eateries was BARRY. A short tram or taxi ride (we recommend tram if your taxi driver smells anything like ours did *shudder*) away in hip Northcote, BARRY has a creative menu full of inspiring food and drinks which are well worth the 20-minute wait for a table.

Coconut cold brew | Week of Eats: Melbourne | lizniland.com

Living in the coffee hub of Newcastle, it takes some impressive bean work to get us excited but this coconut cold brew was a winner. With an accompanying bottle of coconut milk for a dash to taste, it’s a refreshing take on caffeine.

It’s not all about the coffee here though: once the food landed on the table, it’s easy to see why this place is packed to the rafters at brunch o’clock.

Eggs benedict | Week of Eats: Melbourne | lizniland.com

Benedict eggs, slow braised free range ham hock, apple cider hollandaise and granny smith apple on a potato hash brown; don’t mind if I scrape every last morsel of it from my plate! Anyone cafe can do an eggs benny but this one was next level – creativity and quality produce are a killer combination.

Cumulus Inc is a long-standing breakfast favourite of ours in Melbourne but, while we’d sampled the wine list in the classy-but-cosy bar upstairs, we hadn’t been in for a dinner service. With no room at the inn downstairs, Cumulus Up had four stools free at the bar overlooking the kitchen for us and our two friends – jackpot!

Duck waffle | Week of Eats: Melbourne | lizniland.com

Now I know how much I love duck waffle, foie gras and prune. We feasted on most of the menu – including (but definitely not limited to) the steak tartare, the ricotta dumplings, the roast potatoes – and loved every mouthful.

Another favourite is, of course, Movida. It was lovely to share dinner there with our uninitiated friends. We revisited a couple of dishes (the menu doesn’t change a whole lot over time) but this Ajoarriero – salted cod roe with potato and piquillo pepper – was a delicious tapa I hadn’t tried before. And you can bet I kept it all to myself.

Salted cod roe | Week of Eats: Melbourne | lizniland.com

We totally indulged with the dessert menu too. I managed to post the almond parfait with lemon curd ice cream on Instagram before we forked in.

Fun fact: Aussie model Abbey Lee Kershaw was dining with us at Movida. Sure, she was at another table, but we knew who she wished she was chowing down with.

Late breakfasts and deluxe dinners resulted in low key lunches most days. A picnic of (bun-less) Grill’d is always an easy option, especially when you’re trying to find food in bustling St Kilda on a sunny day! Mmm sweet potato fries…

Grilld Melbourne | Week of Eats: Melbourne | lizniland.com

And sneaking in as the last entry in this round of Week of Eats, we have takeaway long blacks from Brother Baba Budan (left) and Cup of Truth (right).

Melbourne coffees | Week of Eats: Melbourne | lizniland.com

Both coffees were quality but bonus points go to Cup of Truth for the hidden location – I had no idea where Michael was taking me when we were getting to it! It’s tucked away in the Degraves Street subway station so don’t rely on your GPS knowing where the devil it is.

Hope you had a fabulous festive season!

Review: Nourish by Lorna Jane Clarkson

It’s becoming increasingly apparent, through whatever wholefood-focused eating plan you follow, that low-fat dairy, wheat-based filler and low-calorie pre-packaged snacks are old news. Nourish champions a movement for less dairy, meat and simple carbs and more veggies, fish and healthful fats like coconut, avocado and olive oil.

Review: Nourish by Lorna Jane Clarkson| lizniland.com

While it’s not groundbreaking stuff for those who’ve spent some time moseying around a paleo-inspired path, it’s a promising sign that young girls looking up to the designer of their tights and crop tops will fill up on more than just air and apples.

No regrets | Review: Nourish by Lorna Jane Clarkson | lizniland.com

Proving she’s got the chops for much more than dreaming up tank top designs and fitspo slogans Lorna Jane Clarkson’s recipes are mighty tasty and most are simple and quick to whip up. I’ve had this book for quite a few months now and it is a top shelf favourite.

Assuming you’re down with chia seeds, all up on gluten-free whole grains and hip to your nut “mylks”, Nourish is a totally accessible cookbook and healthy living manifesto which goes well beyond green smoothies and salads.

Breakfast smoothie | Review: Nourish by Lorna | lizniland.com

The recipes on the highest rotation are the frittatas and the Breakfast Smoothie (don’t tell Sarah Wilson what’s in it though – hello banana, honey & mango!). That smoothie gets varied depending on what’s in the fridge (I’ve subbed the banana & spinach for avocado & it worked a treat) and we usually eat a couple of eggs with it for added protein too.

The frittatas are a great way of using up leftovers too – an excess cooked chicken thigh, some sagging greens and scrapings of a forgotten jar of pesto have all made their way into this recipe. They’re those special recipes that, once you nail the basic format, you can choose your own adventure.

Frittata | Review: Nourish by Lorna | lizniland.com

This Christmas our young teenage nieces got a copy of this book. They’re at an age where the food they eat now will shape what kind of food they eat when they move out of home & have to fend for themselves. The girls are keen to learn about new foods and taste test different things so it’s a great time to get them excited about real foods.

The thing I like most about Nourish is, as the name suggests, the focus on nourishing your body – not on eating to a particular label or restricting anything in particular. By filling yourself up with good food and focusing on having things that your body needs, you can stay healthy without it becoming an obsession.

Lorna Jane is becoming a healthy living juggernaut but I couldn’t be happier with the message she’s peddling. Inspire away, LJ!

Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition

If ever there was a week of eats worthy of a Week of Eats post, this most definitely would have to be up there! So as I mentioned in my Chiang Mai cooking school post, some of the best food I ate was what I cooked for myself. But, lets be honest, that’s a big some in a very delicious week!

Street kitchen | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition | lizniland.com

I have a friend who is mortified by even the concept of a three-second rule and slathers hand sanitiser on religiously before meals. It is these friends that will struggle in Thailand. I took the above photo while waiting for the below food… and that pad thai was an absolute ripper.

Street kitchen pad thai | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition | lizniland.com

While it can feel a bit strange to eat food from a kitchen like this, if it’s good enough for the locals, it’ll be perfect for you. When I was in China for a few months in 2008, those of us that ate local food avoided any hint of an off belly. Others that tried to find western-style food for most of their meals were the ones who struggled to maintain their delicate digestive balance.

Fried rice | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition | lizniland.com

On our first night in Chiang Mai, we weren’t quite sure where everything was and we were quite keen to find whatever food was easiest so we could just go sleep away the plane trip. We found a busy street-side restaurant (busy with locals is the key to success!) and I chowed into this simple fried rice and a mango & coconut milk smoothie – it was heaven to our bleary eyed selves!

Free Bird Cafe | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition | lizniland.com

I’d looked up a few cafes before we left on the trip and one that kept coming up as a winner was Free Bird Cafe. A fundraising arm for the not-for-profit Thai Freedom House, this cafe had vegan treats, coconut milk smoothies and coffees. Everything was delicious & pretty creative too: Michael got a coconut that came with an espresso which you’re encouraged to tip into your coconut. He was impressed!

Tom kha gai at Inpoo Food Shop | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition | lizniland.com

The Inpoo Food Shop became the #PNTHAILAND14 headquarters by the end of the trip. It’s where we had day 2 of our cooking classes and was across the road from our accommodation. Som is one talented lady in the kitchen. We’ve since tracked a tom kha gai down at a Thai restaurant back here in Newcastle but it just makes us miss Som’s version.

Cherng Doi Roast Chicken | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition | lizniland.com

Another notable restaurant was Cherng Doi Roast Chicken. Recommended by Nom Nom Paleo, this restaurant was the host of an all-in culinary ninja feast. I think a lot of chicken was probably harmed in the feeding of our group. It went to a good place though, a good delicious place.

Street food sausages | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition | lizniland.com

Given we were in Chiang Mai at the same time as the Yi Peng Lantern Festival, we got the opportunity to sample even more street food than what would normally line the streets of downtown Chiang Mai. Meatballs, grilled chicken and sausages galore were all on offer and made for good dinner fare.

Grilled banana skewer | Week of Eats: Chiang Mai edition | lizniland.com

But my favourite of all the things on skewers in Chiang Mai was undoubtedly the grilled banana. Served with a take-it-or-leave-it creme anglais dressing, these bananas were fascinatingly tasty – not squishy, barely caramelised and not too sweet. Food van people of Australia: get on to these – I want to eat them when I wander the markets here too!

When in Chiang Mai: Fresh food markets

On a Culinary Adventure with Paleo Nick and Steph from Stupid Easy Paleo it’s probably not surprising to know that we never strayed too far from food-focused activities.

Woman slicing papaya | When in Chiang Mai: Fresh food markets | lizniland.com

The fresh food markets dotted all across Chiang Mai were really interesting – not just for the photogenic subject matter, but also for the many different items on offer & the characters working there.

Fishmonger with live frogs | When in Chiang Mai: Fresh food markets | lizniland.com

There’s no Coles, Kmart or Woolworths – this is where you buy your food whether you own a restaurant or are just cooking for the family at home. Som, our chef-friend from the Inpoo Food Shop, often buys her curry paste fresh from the markets, along with all her other produce, to save time.

Bowls of spices and curry paste | When in Chiang Mai: Fresh food markets | lizniland.com

As westerners accustomed to often frozen but at least refrigerated, pre-packaged fresh food it was a little off putting to see piles of fresh meat and fish on display.

Butcher| When in Chiang Mai: Fresh food markets | lizniland.com

The thing is though, the fish is so fresh it’s still flapping about first thing in the morning and the meat is snapped up almost as soon as it’s put on display. The demand for produce seems to far outweigh the fresh food ready for purchase.

Fresh fish on ice | When in Chiang Mai: Fresh food markets | lizniland.com

Baskets of fish | When in Chiang Mai: Fresh food markets | lizniland.com

Chiang Mai is blessed with so many different types of fruit. Dragonfruit, jackfruit, the infamous durian, bananas, pineapple, papaya: the list goes on.

Colourful dragonfruit | When in Chiang Mai: Fresh food markets | lizniland.com

While we didn’t go near a durian, I tried dragonfruit and jackfruit for the first time and probably ate my weight in pineapples and bananas while I was in the country!

Bananas| When in Chiang Mai: Fresh food markets | lizniland.com

The fresh food markets of Chiang Mai are almost inescapable but they’re certainly worth exploring. It was such a great opportunity to learn more about the food and culture of Chiang Mai.

Check out my Chiang Mai tag to read my other posts about my Culinary Adventure.

When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes

There was no way a Culinary Adventure to Chiang Mai with Paleo Nick and Steph from Stupid Easy Paleo was going to go down without a cooking class or two! We ate plenty of delights while we were in Thailand but honestly, the most delicious things I enjoyed were those we made for ourselves during these cooking schools. (Commence the tooting of our own horns!)

Cooking School #1: Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School

Situated a little way out of town, the Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School is a very snazzy purpose-built treehouse with picturesque semi-rural surrounds. With access to all the bells and whistles (or utensils and gas burners, as the case was) we learnt how to make a whole menu of delicious Thai dishes and even got a cookbook to recreate the magic at home.

Chef Steph | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

While the food was all super tasty, this class certainly wasn’t paleo – Nick’s face at the mention of soybean oil in a hot wok has akin to that of a small child after a fall, in that quiet moment of realisation before they let out the epic scream. There was soy sauce, seed oils, refined sugar and rice products galore. I thought that Thai food wouldn’t be too far from paleo but we quickly came to the conclusion that, just like back home, unless you make it yourself, it’s pretty hard to know exactly what’s in your meal.

Fried noodles | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

Case in point was this fried noodle dish… but just quietly, it was one of my favourites! It’s not something I can see myself trying to recreate at home so it was total guilt-free vacation food. I’m not much of a pizza and cakes kind of girl – give me a random interesting dish like this that’s totally different to my everyday eats & I’m there.

This involved frying a little pile of sauced-up rice noodles until they started to crisp up together into a pattie. It was then set aside while the pork and vegetable mixture hit the wok. See, somehow I don’t think this one will be the same if I attempt to paleofy it with zucchini noodles!

Coconut milk soup & red curry fish | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

The closest-to-paleo dishes at this school were the Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup, the Red Curry with Fish and the Papaya Salad. By switching to coconut oil and using a good clean curry paste, the curry has already found its way into my kitchen and I’m keen to try out the soup soon too. I may just have to post up my recreation!

One of the fun things about this cooking school was learning how to prepare ingredients in the Thai way. We learnt all the ways to slice green onion and how to cut a chilli depending on your heat-preference, as well as some kitschy decorative skills. In the vegetable dish above the curry, you’ll be able to see my green onion art and possibly make out the star I carved atop my mushroom, while below, note my attempt of a tomato rose. I haven’t cracked these out on my home dinners yet but I might just have to at least get a tomato flower into a salad sometime soon!

Papaya salad - Som tam | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

Originally, we were going to have 2 days out at this cooking school but, while we learnt a lot about how the flavours of Thai food work and what the foundation ingredients are, we weren’t so fussed on learning how to make more food we’d have to paleofy so much to cook at home. Enter the Inpoo Food Shop.

Cooking School #2: Stupid Easy Paleo Nick Cooking Class

Across the road from our accommodation was a small restaurant named Inpoo Food Shop. Fronted by a roadside kitchen (wo)manned by Som with occasional assistance from her tuk-tuk driving significant other Payut, Inpoo was a deliciously easy favourite with the ninjas. Nick befriended the couple on day 1 and by the time we needed a second day of cooking school, Som graciously let us take over her restaurant.

Som's pad thai | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

We broke up into small teams to tackle a dish from a menu Nick created. I joined with Jose and Jen to become the Friendship Curry team. Using what we’d learnt at the first cooking school but applying paleo principles, we put together a list of ingredients and hit the markets to shop for what we needed.

Som's curry paste | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

Lucky for us, Som made us a fresh batch of curry paste to use (as well as a plate of her pad thai for us to taste-test!) so we didn’t need much more than some eggs, pork, coconut milk and a couple of fresh vegetables.

Our friendship curry | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

And didn’t it turn out pretty! To boost the protein, Jen had the brilliant idea of decorating the top of the curry with boiled eggs. I was sceptical at first but I loved the finished product – both the flavour and the texture of the eggs really complemented the spicy curry. I’m keen to try doing this in my own kitchen now too.

Friendship curry team | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

Our team was pretty special – we were the only group with each person from a different country! I’m Australian, Jen is from Malaysia and Jose resides in the U.S. We thought that was totally appropriate for a team taking on a Friendship Curry.

Paleo chicken satay skewers & laarb | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

It wasn’t all about the Friendship Curry though – the other dishes that made the final feast were chicken satay skewers, laarb with cabbage leaves for scooping and wrapping, an epic fruit salad served up on a banana leaf and a spicy papaya salad. We invited Som & Payut to dig in first and then we all finally got to sample each others dishes. The feast even lured in some hungry Canadian backpackers so they piled up a plate too.

Sharing our feast | When in Chiang Mai: Cooking classes | lizniland.com

It was such a fun challenge at the Inpoo but I think we really needed the first day’s cooking school to be able to know what we were doing once we were on our own. Even just knowing what all the different vegetables were at the markets would have been difficult without a bit of education. Being able to take on the Inpoo kitchen with Som really solidified the skills and techniques we learned at school #1. Even though it was a bit of an unplanned change, I thought our whole cooking class experience was great fun and totally beneficial for my expanding my cheffing abilities.

Have you seen my other posts about Thailand? So far I’ve posted about why I went to Chiang Mai, the amazing Chiang Mai lantern festival and the elephant park and ziplining adventure. It was a great trip!

Quick wins for a better life #1: Hold out for lunch

#1: Hold out for lunch | Quick win for a better life| lizniland.com

Original photo by By Rayi Christian W

It’s 11.15am. You had a good breakfast, even downed a coffee an hour or two ago, but now you’re hungry. Legit hungry. Hungry like that fruit bowl/emergency nut stash/co-worker’s lolly jar is not looking like it will survive much longer.

Thing is though, lunch is coming. You know you only need to hold out for another hour and you can chow down on your beautifully balanced, nourishing lunch.

Can you wait? Can you make a cup of tea or refill your water bottle and just hold off eating until lunchtime?

Of course you can.

You might not want to believe it, but you can. If you can keep doing continuous power cleans until the bell, if you can keep running until you reach the end of the street, if you can keep nodding and smiling through that horribly awkward dinner date; you can wait another hour for lunch.

It’s that well-known battle of mind over matter. With our instant gratification culture, we’re always wanting more before we’re done with what we’ve got. Yeah you could scarf a handful of nuts (healthy fats right?) or get a treat from the fundraising box (it’s helping the children, afterall!) but really, what’s another hour?

Stick to your plan.

Sarah Wilson does good words on why unnecessary snacking is bad news for both body and mind. She refers to it as “pre-eating” saying:

“…it could have a lot to do with being scared of restraint and lack. Many of us fear that feeling of missing out and the feeling of ’emptiness’, for a whole quagmire of really messy reasons. We shove food down on top of hunger, hoping it will silence all other emptiness or flutteriness we might be feeling.”

If you’re ravenous all the time though, that might be another story. Steph from Stupid Easy Paleo has great tips for making sure your diet is doing its part of the deal.

This week I’m working hard to actually be hungry when I show up to my meals. I’m making sure I’m hydrating adequately and checking in with myself to make sure I’m really hungry (& not just stressed or bored). It also gives me an incentive to put more effort into making sure my meals are worth the wait.

Are you a snacker? Or do you prefer to stick to three solid meals. I used to graze constantly but since moving to a paleo eating template and upping my protein & fat intake a bit, my blood sugar seems to have really evened out which helps me avoid the dreaded hangries.

Week of eats: A batch of winter breakfasts

Breakfast is my favourite meal. There, I said it. Like a mother declaring the favourite child, here I am announcing where my heart truly lies – let’s hope karma doesn’t make me ruin my dinner now!

I’ll start this round up off with the only brekkie here that I didn’t make: a beautiful vegan rice porridge from my favourite weekend haunt, One Penny Black. Accompanied by a long black and a good tabloid newspaper, it was a delicious way to start off my Sunday! Michael’s doing a 10,000 steps challenge with his work at the moment so after we chowed this breakfast down, we went for an epic walk. So epic, in fact, that he doubled his goal for the day!

One Penny Black's vegan rice porridge | Week of Eats: Winter breakfasts | lizniland.com

Three, sometimes four, mornings per week I train at Gritshed before the sun has even sensed that its alarm is about to go off. I don’t eat before I work out so by 7am when I get home, I’m ravenous! I’m never satisfied with just a smoothie, especially on a training day, so I decided to start serving one up with some quick fried eggs topped with a scoop of homemade sauerkraut. This is a fun colourful breakfast that is guaranteed to keep my belly happy.

Fried eggs, sauerkraut & a speedy smoothie | Week of Eats: Winter breakfasts | lizniland.com

It’s been almost a year since I cut out the grains and dairy but I’ve recently been introducing buckwheat into my morning meal to great success. I find soaking it overnight & then warming it up with some creamy coconut or almond milk in a porridge is a beautiful way to kick into gear on a cold morning. Give my dairy-free buckwheat, chia & maca porridge a try for yourself!

Buckwheat, chia & maca porridge | Week of Eats: Winter breakfasts | lizniland.com

If I have oven space & a few minutes to spare on the weekend, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find me putting a batch of granola together. I always experiment with whatever flavours I have available. This one was made with coconut flakes, buckwheat puffs and a few other scoops of fruits and seeds. If you haven’t made one for yourself before, give my Grain-free fig and hazelnut granola a crack and then start experimenting.

Coconut, fig & buckwheat granola | Week of Eats: Winter breakfasts | lizniland.com

 

Want some more breakfast ideas? Here’s my round up of squeaky-clean paleo breakfast options.

What’s your favourite thing to have for breakfast? While I love my eggs & savoury brekkies, I’m really enjoying a good porridge lately – I blame winter! A guy I work with can’t even stand the thought of breakfast – that could never be me!

Pork Ewe Deli + Endive, fig & root veg salad

An epically delicious wagyu bresaola at our favourite Spanish restaurant, Barrio 2304 (post to come!), led us to check out the new-to-town charcuterie, Pork Ewe Deli on Saturday morning.

Pork Ewe Deli Mayfield

Situated on Maitland Road, Mayfield, this deli brings the best flavours from around Australia and Europe to Newcastle in the shape of amazing cheeses, cured meats, terrines, pate and pretty much any other deli-cacy (see what I did there!) you can imagine.

The cabinet at Pork Ewe Deli Mayfield

We snaffled up a slim wedge of Beaufort cheese (a French raw cow’s milk cheese) and a pile of freshly sliced capocollo (dry-cured pork neck) but wow, everything in the cabinet looked absolutely delicious.

Beaufort and Capocollo at Pork Ewe Deli Mayfield

While we certainly would’ve been happy to kick back and chow down on our purchases straight up for lunch, in a bid to get some more nutrients into the mix, I put together a hearty salad to accompany our unpasteurised French cheese & mouth-wateringly awesome-sauce deli meat.

Recipe: Endive, fig & root veg salad

  • Root vegies of your choice (parsnip would be great, potatoes, turnip, swede & onions will also work a treat)
  • A bunch or two of baby endive
  • ~10 fresh mint leaves
  • Handful of dried figs (sliced & soaked in a little bowl of water for 20 minutes)
  • Dressing: 1 teaspoon of pomegranate molasses + juice of half a lemon + olive oil + salt & pepper

Roast a pile of whatever root veg you have floating around – I opted for chunks of sweet potato & swede with a sliced red onion for good luck. I find that you can never roast too much veg – I always try and roast double what I think we’ll need and it never seems to go to waste.

Endive fig and root veg salad

Sprinkle your favourite selection of seasonings on top  – I went with olive oil, sesame seeds, ground cumin, hazelnut meal, some dried thyme & dried chilli flakes – before throwing it all in a hot oven to soften up & crisp nicely around the edges.

dried figs

While the oven is doing its thing, slice your dried figs and get them soaking. When they’re in season, fresh figs would be ideal here.

For a dressing, I kept it simple with pomegranate molasses, lemon, a crackle of fresh salt & pepper and a good glug of olive oil. Whisk it until combined, or better yet, put your ingredients in a little jar & shake it like a polaroid picture.

Salad raw cheese and capocollo

Once the veg is done, toss everything together in a bowl & serve it up.

While I’m sure the French would be shaking fists that such a delicious cheese be served without a baguette, I can report that making a little taco out of your capocollo and filling it with tangy endive is a sure-fire way to keep your tastebuds onside.

If you’re a Newcastle native, or even in town for a visit, be sure to support this new local superstar. Pork Ewe Deli is definitely a new favourite of ours!

Darwin must-do: Mindil Beach Markets

If you’re visiting Darwin in the dry season (& from what I hear about the wet season, you definitely should visit in the dry) a trip to Mindil Beach Markets is a non-negotiable.

Michael eating sun at Mindil Beach

As you can probably gather from the above photo, the big attraction here isn’t necessarily the markets. While the sprawling collection of (mostly food) stalls is hard to beat, they’re merely there to fill your belly while you wait for the real show.

Mindil Beach Markets laksa

The markets are held on Thursday & Sunday evenings with hoards of locals and tourists alike hitting the beach from around 5pm onwards. We spread out a tarp between families building sandcastles and tucked into a ripping good laksa (which you may recall from my Week of Eats Darwin round up) and a few cheeky rice paper rolls.

Friends at Mindil Beach

It’s a reasonably long beach so as long as you get there early enough, there’s plenty of room to spend the afternoon relaxed with friends and family, regardless of how many kids are flicking sand about. Tip: Don’t forget your sunnies! Otherwise you’ll have stinging retinas until sundown.

The crowd at Mindil Beach

I took so many photos as the sun was setting – it was tough culling a handful down to put in this post! Watching the sun set over the water is probably the most magical thing about Darwin.

sunset at Mindil Beach

You don’t realise how different it is to our east coast sunsets until you’re sitting there watching the fire in the sky gradually slide into the ocean.

sunset1 at Mindil Beach

With the tide all the way out, there were some amazing photo opportunities and I certainly wasn’t the only one lining up my camera on the sand! For any DSLR camera users, the settings that I found gave the best results for the sunset were shutter speed of 1/15 (this was when it was on the tail end of the sunset), aperture of  f/16 and an ISO of 100. The only photoshopping the above image received was to shrink it down to size – things don’t really get more photogenic than that!

Michael & Liz at Mindil Beach

Darwin really gave us so many back-to-nature experiences (check out our Litchfield National Park trip) and this was definitely the most impressive sunset I’ve ever seen.

Have you witnessed a Darwin sunset? What’s you tip for best ever sunset?

Week of eats: A taste of Darwin

As I type with frozen finger tips, I definitely know I’m back home in the winter weather & no longer holidaying in Australia’s sunny ‘Top End’, Darwin. We flew in late last night & are still stepping over half-emptied bags and laundry piles.

Until I get all my photos sorted & some more thoughts organised, I thought I’d share some of the stand out food moments from Darwin’s restaurants, cafes & much-loved markets.

It has to be said: it’s hard sticking to our primarily Paleo eating template when there’s crocodile burgers to taste. This trio from the infamous Humpty Doo Hotel was our inspired grub of choice en route to see the jumping crocs – pics to follow, don’t you worry!

Humpty Doo Hotel Darwin burgers

The Asian influence on the food scene in Darwin is particularly noticeable at the markets which pop up throughout the surrounding suburbs right across the weekend in the dry season. This laksa most definitely lived up to the recommendations we had from both locals and previous travellers. I got this at Mindil Beach Markets but apparently the favourite laksa-vendor to many is to be found at Parap’s Saturday markets.

Mindil Beach Markets laksa

The Asian influence (especially South East Asian) is not limited to market food – there are plenty of restaurants in Darwin dishing up rice paper rolls, creamy curries and spicy seafood. Chow was a notable favourite.

kimchi chow restaurant darwin

Good coffee in Darwin is notoriously hard to find but newcomer The Pearl offered one of the better beans (we ranked it 2nd behind Pierre’s long blacks at Rawgasm Cafe in the mall). Being from increasingly cafe-saturated Newcastle though, we are pretty snobbish with such things! While the coffee was certainly above the local average, it was the inspired cafe food that grabbed our attention. This Arabic rice pudding was a feast for the senses.

The Pearl Darwin cafe pudding

Have you been to Darwin? What were your thoughts on the food options?

I’ll be sharing more from our Top End adventure over the coming week – stay tuned!