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Cheating (on my spare time)

For the past 6 weeks I have been a terrible blogger.  At the beginning of our relationship, I devoted all of my spare time to this blog. However, as time has gone on, I have noticed myself starting to take the blog for granted.  Worst of all, I have been cheating on the blog with Traveller’s French Lessons at my local CAE, far too much overtime at the office and twice weekly Body Attack sessions in a quest to get my very ‘Melbourne Winter Body’ ready for a lazing on this Croatian beach in 6 weeks time. 
Pupnatska beach, Korcula (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Anyway, after 6 weeks apart, I have realised how important the blog is too me and I have lots and lots of lost time to make up for.  Expect a lot more ramblings, a lot more regularly.

The Hungry Lawyer

Spiced Red Lentil Soup

Winter has well and truly set in. This year, I am feeling the effects even more than usual, as in the last 2 weeks I have become one of those crazy (gym) bag ladies waiting at the tram stop at 6.00am to do a morning body pump session. (It is truly amazing what the looming threat of publicly available photos can motivate a person to do!). Despite the frosty mornings, I tend to enjoy the first few weeks of winter,  by cooking up big pots of soup, watching copious amounts of trashy TV and curling up to The Brooding Architect on the couch without being reprimanded with his usual summer response of “get off me, it’s too hot to touch”.

Spiced Red Lentil Soup

I spent my first winter Sunday cooking up some Spiced Red Lentil Soup. This soup ticks all of the boxes – it is easy to make, healthy and tasty. As an added bonus it also very thrifty – a very important factor given that I am trying to convince The Brooding Architect that ‘thrift is the new black’ in an effort to save for some very frivolous spending on our upcoming trip to France!  I like to dress it up with a big dollop of natural yoghurt and some fresh continental parsley just before serving and toast up some thinly sliced sourdough on the side, which serve as a rustic (if somewhat over sized) crouton. If you like things extra hot and spicy, I also recommend sprinkling some extra cayenne pepper on top of the soup just before serving.

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A (very belated) Easter Wrap Up

I know, I know – I failed to action my task list in a timely fashion last week. Blame the newly re-branded Virgin Australia who cancelled our return flight from Brisbane on Sunday afternoon, which meant that I got home at 11pm, on Sunday night, leaving me playing catch up on “life administration” (credit to the Ex-Frustrated Public Servant for introducing me to this cracker expression) tasks – including blogging – for all of last week.

Just to mix things up, I thought I would do a Glee style ‘mash up’ of my Easter eats.   The Brooding Architect I spent the Easter / ANZAC Day Extra Long Weekend in sunny Queensland - splitting our time between family and friends in Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast.

Ponycat Cafe, New Farm

The first night we stayed in New Farm with Glamorous Sister No. 1 and Glamorous Sister No. 2. In true uni student style, the house was lacking in breakfast provisions, so we walked up the road for sustenance at The Ponycat Cafe.

First, the important stuff:

  • Where: Shop 2, 693 Brunswick Street, New Farm
  • How Much? Cheap & Cheerful
  • Out of 10? 7.5/10

In preparation for a big day of morning tea, meeting new babies (me, not The Brooding Architect) and general gossip, we started the day with some very large flat whites. The coffees were wonderfully creamy and strong, completely dispelling the  myth that you cannot get a good coffee in Brisbane! As an added bonus, the  coffees were served by fabulously friendly staff – no Melbourne Hipster attitude in sight.

Coffee at the Ponycat

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The Mess Hall, Melbourne CBD

In the week leading up to Easter, you have noticed a higher than usual ratio of black smock wearing types on the streets of the  Melbourne CBD. The only reasonable explanation was the National Architecture Conference was in town! Being married to The Brooding Architect means that by default lots of our friends are architects (and sympathetic architectural ‘widows’),  so conference time means lots of catch-ups with less brooding architectural types.

One night we caught up with one of our favourite smock wearing couples  – The Sophisticated Brisbane-ites – for a relaxed Italian dinner at The Mess Hall Restaurant. The Mess Hall is a cosy little restaurant, tucked up on the Parliament House end of Bourke Street. The Mess Hall is one of those no booking places, however you can generally score a table for a group of 4 or less without too much of a wait.

Menus at The Mess Hall

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Post Holiday Slackness

I don’t know about everyone else, but I have not stopped eating, drinking and socialising since well before the Easter long weekend. We have had trips to the mountians, the Easter long weekend up on the Sunshine Coast, friends in Melbourne and are just about to embark on “wedding season”. I am exhausted just thinking about it!  Last weekend, The Brooding Architect and I were finally home for the weekend – allowing us to action our domestic chores. Now all I need to do to do is catch up on my mountain of blog posts before we head off again this weekend for a Bollywood Style Wedding in Brisbane, complete with 500 (singing and dancing) guests.  

A Bollywood Wedding in Brisbane

In true lawyer style, I work best with a task list to keep me accountable,  so here are a list of the posts which I must cross of my list by the end of the week:

  1. The Mess Hall Restaurant, Melbourne VIC;
  2. The Ponycat Cafe, New Farm QLD;
  3. Ortiga, Fortitude Valley QLD; and
  4. (A brief snapshot) of The Spirit House, Yandina QLD.

If I work really hard (rather than spend my nights watching Season 8 of 90210 from the glory days of TV, the 90s) I might even have time to share my Roasted Cauliflower Soup recipe.

Yarra Valley Dairy

As mentioned in a recent post, The Brooding Architect and I recently played host to The Brother In Law. While out in the Yarra Valley to stocking up on supplies, we also dropped by the Yarra Valley Dairy (“YVD”) for a late lunch. YVD are specialist, local cheese producers. All of the cheeses are handmade on-site, using traditional farmhouse method.  Their website describes the YVD as:

“A small family business started by Mary and Leo Mooney in 1995 on their dairy farm in one of the most picturesque wine regions of Australia. The property carries 200 top quality cattle. They are milked in a herringbone milking shed twice daily, in early morning and late afternoon, after which they are led to a fresh pasture to feed overnight. The milk is run from the milking shed directly to the cheese factory. non animal rennet and are vegetarian and GM free. Available from our cheese shop and throughout Australia.”

Given all the snack foods we had been feasting on throughout the day (including the sherbet pink Moscato gelato from Innocent Bystander as a ‘morning tea dessert’) the three of us opted for a lighter lunch, sharing a Cheese Tasting Plate ($25) and a Pork and Pistachio Terrine ($11.50).

The Cheese Tasting Plate - A selection of 4 cheeses for $25

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Ridiculously Easy Guacamole

On the weekend, a friend of mine had a house warming party to welcome a housemate to her bachelor(ette) pad.

I love parties where everyone brings a plate of food along to share, as you get to taste so many wonderful dishes. Add a few glasses of champagne and I am hard pressed to think of a better way to spend a sunny afternoon. My friend’s new housemate is a gorgeous girl of Sri Lankan heritage, so there were mountains of fabulous Sri Lankan treats such as samosas, spiced chick pea patties and coconut rice, as well as homemade custard filled profiteroles (which were so good that The Brooding Architect ate 4), rum balls and a very impressive looking white chocolate and raspberry tart!

My friend, The Ex-Frustrated Public Servant asked me to post the recipe for my contribution on the day – ‘Ridiculously Easy Guacamole’ – the perfect thing to bring along to a party with some natural corn chips, if you are running short on time. If you are a little bit more organised, I suggest serving it with some homemade tomato salsa, which is also ridiculously easy to whip up if you have a food processor or blender.

Ridiculously Easy Guacamole

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Chocolate & Raisin Biscuits

The Brooding Architect has caught the dreaded ‘change of season cold’ that seems to be lurking in every office and on every tram in Melbourne. He has spent 3 days on bed rest, eating nothing but restorative chicken and ginger soup. However, today his health seems to have turned a corner and to celebrate the return of his sense of taste and smell, I action-ed some afternoon baking.

Chocolate & Raisin Biscuits fresh from the oven

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White Rabbit Brewery, Healesville

As mentioned in my previous post, a recent busy patch at work has resulted in some tardy (okay, extremely slack) blogging. Consequently, this post has been sitting in the drafts now for well over a month now – since that last spell of very hot summer weather we had in February and is very, very overdue.  Anyway, enough rambling excuses.

To make the most of the last of the few weeks of uni holidays, The Brother in Law came down to visit us a self-declared long weekend. While The Brother In Law is not much of a talker, he certainly enjoys a fine brew – particularly on one of those truly hot summer’s day - so we used his visit as an excuse to drive out to the Yarra Valley and stock up on supplies.

Everyone knows that the Yarra Valley is a fantastic Australian wine region, however a lot of people don’t realise that there is also a thriving craft beer and cider scene out there.  In fact one of my absolute favorite beers – the White Rabbit White Ale – is brewed in locally in Healesville (which is just over an hour’s drive outside of Melbourne).

White Rabbit White Ale

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Melbourne Food & Wine Festival – Oyster Class

Apologies for my terrible, terrible slackness. It is all too familiar excuse – work, work and more work.  In between my long hours chained to the desk, I did however manage to sneak in a few Melbourne Food & Wine Festival Events (and master the Secrets of the Red Lantern goat curry – but more on that another time). My absolute favourite event of the Festival was not an expensive, fancy dinner prepared by a celebrity chef, but rather the very informative and reasonably-priced ‘Moonlight Shines’ Oyster Class run by Cumulus Inc.

When I signed The Brooding Architect, The Doctor and I up to the Oyster Class,  I really did not know what to except. However, I suspected that you could not really go wrong with the magic trifecta of fresh oysters, champagne and Cumulus Inc. The Festival Website described the Oyster Class as follows:

Cumulus Inc. will again host Steve Feletti, the man behind the nation’s most innovative range of oysters, from the Moonlight Flat Oysterage in Batemans Bay. Join him in Arc One Gallery, next door to Cumulus Inc, where you will be guided in an oyster tasting, receive a lesson in the art of oyster shucking and enjoy a range of refreshing beverages to match.

$75 bought you:

  • 10 oysters (including all 8 oysters on the Cumulus Inc. menu);
  • The skills needed to shuck an oyster;
  • Loads and loads of information on the Australian oyster industry, including the very interesting (alarming?) fact that “it is estimated that 95% of Australians have never eaten oysters as they were meant to be, i.e. not pre-shucked and tap rinsed”;
  • A made-in-France fancy oyster shucking knife;  and
  • A great range of drinks designed to match the oysters, which included some surprising options – Champagne, a dry Spanish Sherry, Coopers Stout, a German Riesling and a French Chablis (produced from chardonnay grapes). We also got a hot tip that Cricketers Arms beer works really well with oysters.

Oyster Tasting Plate

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