Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone! Did you have a lovely day filled with chocolate, family and friends? 

Easter isn't much of a tradition in my family, so I have come to the conclusion that it is just a lovely excuse to spend time with great friends. Last year my housemate and I celebrated the long weekend with a yummy champagne breakfast, and I figure 2014 shouldn't be any different. So, I invited a bunch of my nearest and dearest to come over and help us devour a scrumptious feast of eggs, bacon, salmon, home made hot cross buns, champagne and of course some delicious chocolate treats! 

Les oeufs au chocolat
Praline Filled Chocolate Easter Eggs
(This recipe is based on one from the lovely Rachel Khoo from My Little Paris Kitchen)

These are incredibly deadly, but I figure if you can't die from a delicious chocolate overdose on Easter, when can you? 

Preheat your oven to 160 degrease. 

Carefully use a needle or metal skewer (I used a safety pin) to poke a whole in the bottom of your eggs (non pointy end). Work the needle until the hole is roughly 1cm wide. Poke a small whole in the opposite end before blowing through and pushing the egg out into a bowl. Repeat with the rest of your eggs. 

Rinse the shells in cold water and place in the oven for 10mins to sterilise. 

In the mean time make your praline. You can flavour this section in any way you fancy! My suggestion however is hazelnut and pistachio. 

Toast 50g blanched, skinless hazelnuts and 50g shelled pistachios in a dry saucepan until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside. Put 100g of sugar and 2 tablespoons of cold water into the saucepan and gently heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and without stirring leave until the caramel begins to turn dark golden brown. Remove from heat and quickly stir in your nuts. Immediately pour onto a lined baking tray. Once the caramel is completely cool and hard, smash into a fine powder in a mortar and pestle (You could also use a food processor for this step).

In a double boiler (heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water) melt 100g of good quality dark chocolate. Once melted stir in 2tsp of sunflower oil. 
When your egg shells have cooled, pour a teaspoon of melted chocolate into one of your eggshells, swirl it around and then turn it upside down in a carton, leaving the remaining chocolate to drainRepeat with the other 11 shells. 

Repeat this process to produce a second layer of chocolate in each egg but, before leaving to set, fill with a good teaspoon of the praline and shake it around so that your it sticks to the chocolate. Leave eggs to set in the fridge for about 30 minutes. 
Bring 300ml of thickened cream to the boil in a saucepan. Once the cream has reached a gentle boil take off the heat and pour the cream over 300g of chopped dark chocolate. Leave for a couple of minutes before stirring together and adding 30g of unsalted butter. 

Pour your ganache into a piping bag with a small nozzle and pipe into the remaining cavity of your eggs. Shake each egg to release any air bubbles and leave to set for several hours in your fridge. 

To finish wrap a cute bow around the eggs to cover the holes.

I hope you all had a wonderful and safe Easter! 
What are your traditions?

Ingredient List:
12 eggs
400g dark chocolate
1tsp sunflower oil
50g blanched, skinless hazelnuts
50g pistachios 
100g sugar
2 Tbsp water
300ml think cream
20g unsalted butter
12 lengths of cute ribbon

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Become A Tourist In your Own City - Perth City

Isn't it amazing how it often takes a long journey to a new destination for us to stop and really look at what is around? What if we were able take the way we view the world when we travel home with us and actually see the place we live in?

"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."
- Henry Miller

In this new series I want to challenge you to open your eyes to what is on your doorstop, view your every day surroundings from a different angle and to join me on a journey to Become A Tourist In Your Own City.

Once a month I will choose a new area of Perth to go exploring. I want to give myself the opportunity to visit that gallery I always drive past and still haven't been into, or to have a drink at the new bar everyone raves about. Just generally view my hometown from a different angle. With our busy lives it is so easy to get caught up in work and not allow ourselves the chance to ... well... stop and smell the roses. 

Given that this is the launch of this series I thought where better place to start than the city itself? 
So, over the weekend I spent a full 24hrs playing tourist and exploring just some of the wonders the Perth CBD has to offer. 

On Saturday morning my friend Claire and I packed our bags and hit the town! 


With so many festivals and events held over the summer, you can often stumble upon something fairly unique. April is the month for "Eat Drink Perth". A festival that puts the spotlight on some of our incredible cafes, restaurants, bars and everything in-between.

As part of the festival the Northbridge Piazza held Yum Cha In the Park. A day for dumplings and bubble tea in the sunshine as lion dancers and traditional musicians entertain ones remaining senses. 

As the autumn sun was shining strong, we decided to skip the lines and hit the source of the yummy yum cha. So we walked around the corner to the very popular Dragon Palace. 

Completely full of prawn dumplings and pork buns we continued our dander through Northbridge, skipping in and out of all the curious boutiques and pop up shops found on William St. With a focus on vintage and new Australian designers, these boutiques are well worth a visit. You never know what hidden treasures you may find! 

Noteworthy Boutiques on William St:

Tu is a gorgeous little shop that not only sells incredible labels and cute knick knacks, but, it is also home to a gallery and a lovely little rustic cafe out the back, perfect for a spot of tea, rose lemonade, and a well deserved cupcake! 

From Williams Street we wondered back towards the Perth Cultural Centre where you will find the West Australian Museum, The Art Gallery of Western Australia, the State Library and the Pica Gallery.

The Pica Gallery is currently housing William Kentridge's fascinating instillation The Refusal of Time. Described as a "meditation on the commingled histories of colonialism and industry across time and territory" it is a multi-sensory instillation that takes you into a different world. Well worth the look if you are in the area this April! 

As we gallery hopped through the Perth Cultural Centre we stumbled across (well maybe "stumble" isn't the correct word, as it was bustling with people and had tonnes of stalls!) the kickstART market selling all sorts of locally produced treats such as candles, jewellery, clothes and delicious baked good, all weaved in with creative workshops and live entertainment from some of Perth's best. 

One of my favourite art exhibitions to visit each year is the Yr 12 Prospectives Exhibition. A collection of incredible works from top high-school art graduates across the state. It is always inspiring to see what these next generation artists are producing.

The remaining afternoon was spent zigzagged across the city visiting some of our favourite shops and discovering new angles of the buildings we thought we knew so well. By opening our eyes and simply remembering to look up, Claire and I were constantly pointing out features we had never noticed before! 

After a bit of shopping at some of our favourite stores and a much needed visit to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory city store, we found ourselves in Wolf Lane. 

This April Wolf Lane was part of PUBLIC: Art in the City - Perth's first urban street art festival, which had some of the world's most famous and digital and visual artists create large-scale artworks throughout the CBD. 

These incredible works were held in conjunction to PUBLIC House a 2 day street festival held in Wolf Lane full of pop up bars, DJ's and live bands. 

Realising we had been on our feet for hours, we headed back to the hotel for a quick rest before getting ready for dinner. 

There are so many incredible places to eat and drink in the city at the moment almost too many to name, but definitely too many to visit in one weekend!!! 

We ended up going for a drink and dinner at Lala Roohk located on St Georges Terrace. For fun, we decided to let the chef's choose what we ate and went for the Il Capo option. A selection of 6 courses selected by the chef to showcase what is great on that particular day. We were treated to beef capriccio, couscous salad, prosciutto served on smokey polenta, wild bore gnocchi (definitely the highlight), roast pork with sauerkraut, and baked ricotta with hazelnuts and chocolate flakes for dessert. More than enough to keep us going for the night!!

Noteworthy bars and restaurants in the Perth CBD:

After a great, cozy, well fed sleep and a fresh morning walk we wandered down to East Perth to visit Toast for a lazy brunch. 

Right on the river Toast is in a beautiful location with a scrumptious menu filled with yummy juices and all things toast. It is a busy spot so you may have to wait a while, but with a view of the river on a beautiful autumn morning you can't really complain! 

We wandered along the river and spent the morning watching a dolphin play in the shallows before heading back into town to finish of a great 24hrs in the city. 

Sorry about my terrible photo of the dolphin! I just wanted to prove it was there :)

We finished the weekend munching away on cronuts as we strolled by the many stalls set up for the Perth Home Grown market in Forrest Chase and were overwhelmed by the incredible smells coming from the Food Truck Ramble as we watched people stuff their faces for various eating competitions. A great way to end the weekend.

There is often a debate about town regarding people's opinions of Perth. Particularly with its recent international interest, many are wondering if this once called "sleepy little town" has developed at all and, if it has, are these developments enough to put Perth on the map... Yes... OK, it isn't the most bustling city in the world, we don't have vast numbers of people out every night and it can, at times, feel very empty. But I feel like this weekend proves that if you want to use it and you know where to look, there will always be something to keep your senses buzzing. 

With very full bellies and tired legs we returned home just like any other getaway, needing to unpack and go through the hundreds of happy snaps. We obviously had to miss so many wonderful places but in many ways that, to me, is even more exciting and it just means we will just have to do it again soon! 

By simply approaching your city differently, by slowing down and remembering to open your eyes and to look up, who knows, maybe you will become excited by your city too! 

So why not go and become a tourist in your own city? 
You may be surprised what you will find!