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To Market, To Market

Canada #30 St Lawrence Market, Toronto

On Front Street the façade of St Lawrence Market has an almost stately appearance. The red of the bricks is enhanced by overflowing tubs of begonias, shady market umbrellas and a line of Canadian flags flapping in the breeze.

Step through the wide timber doors and the feeling of calm elegance disappears, as the bustle of vendors selling their wares is matched by the urgency of shoppers in search of the freshest produce and best bargains.

There has been a public market on this site since 1803, first in the north building and, since 1845, in the south. Today more than 120 specialty stores sell fresh foods – fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, bakery and dairy products.

As well as filling their baskets with fresh food to take home, hungry shoppers flock to the restaurants and cafés to fill up on local delicacies and traditional treats.

In April 2012, St Lawrence Market was declared by National Geographic as the world’s best food market.

After devouring our lunch of freshly made crêpes filled with fruit and cream, we could understand why!

A Sandwich With a Difference

Canada #7 Canoe Brewpub, Victoria BC

If you’ve heard about #Kevtoberfest, you’ll know Glen enjoys a beer or two but I’m not so keen. When Glen wants to try a new brewery, I’m happy to go along and usually I enjoy a cider or a hot chocolate. Sometimes if there’s cake on offer I’ll have that too.

At the Canoe Brewpub on Victoria’s Upper Harbour, Glen enjoyed a Helles Bavarian-style lager and an Amber Ale. After a long afternoon walk I was ready for something more substantial than hot chocolate, but there was no cake to be seen. Luckily our friendly barman Steve came to my rescue.

“We serve dessert. I recommend the ice cream sandwich,” he said. He went on to describe it – ale ice cream sandwiched between an oversize choc chip biscuit with chocolate porter sauce on the side.

Ale-flavoured ice cream? Chocolate sauce infused with beer? I queried the beery taste thinking it might be too strong, but Steve was reassuring. “A few of my customers say the ice cream tastes too much of beer, but I think the subtle flavours are just right.”

I couldn’t ignore his recommendation – with crossed fingers, I ordered the ice cream sandwich. I needn’t have worried; it was delicious! The ice cream, tangy with a hint of malt, was perfectly complemented by the sweet biscuit. The chocolate porter sauce was thick and rich, and I made sure to scrape every last drop from the little jug.

Ever since our afternoon at the Canoe, I’ve been thinking about their tasty ale-flavoured ice cream. The good news is that as well as having a complete beer-brewing set-up, Glen also owns an ice cream maker! Does anyone have a recipe for ale ice cream?

 

Party Party Party!

Kevtoberfest #21

After months of planning and brewing by Kevin, his 60th birthday party finally arrived and in the spirit of Kevtoberfest the day had a distinctly German theme.

We made pretzels. Most pretzel bakers take years to perfect their skills, but after some meticulous research and a few hours’ practice, Kevin had mastered the techniques needed to produce these tasty treats. We rolled and shaped the dough in typical Bavarian style. Then our pretzels were boiled, sprinkled with salt and baked until the crusts were crisp and golden. They were delicious!

We ate German food. Kevin loves to cook and he created a feast: tender pork knuckles, bratwurst, green salad, potato salad and potato peanut puffs, followed by apple strudel for dessert. The birthday cake was a Black Forest gâteau, rich and sweet; dark chocolate sponge layers filled with whipped cream and cherries.

We drank German beer and cider. Kevin’s home brews included Kevtoberfest heavy and light, served on customised paddles made by his friend Frank. Traditional Bavarian Märzenbier, Paulaner Weißbier and European apple cider were also on tap.

We listened to German music. Frank brought his bespoke alpenhorn and treated us to a one of a kind performance.

Happy Birthday Kevin!

Taking a Break

Kevtoberfest #18 Narooma to Mallacoota

Long distance driving can be tiring and it’s important to take regular breaks every couple of hours. When the route we’re taking passes through pretty country villages and coastal towns, we don’t need an excuse to stop and stretch our legs.

After leaving Narooma and continuing on our southward journey, our first stop was at the little village of Central Tilba. Located at the base of Mount Dromedary, Central Tilba and its neighbour Tilba Tilba are heritage listed, with beautifully preserved period cottages and shops.

It was early morning and the galleries and cafés were still closed. The only inhabitants we saw were some noisy rainbow lorikeets, breakfasting on the flowers of melaleuca trees.

Luckily, the ABC Cheese Factory was open and we joined some other keen customers, sampling and purchasing a few delicious cheeses. 

It wasn’t far to our next stop – we travelled just 20 kilometres to the coastal town of Bermagui. Situated on the Bermagui River where its wide natural harbour enters the ocean, the town is best known for its deep sea fishing industry.

Leaving the car and caravan at Dickinson Park, we walked past the marina and the broad sandy beach at Horseshoe Bay to Bermagui Point.

From the lookout on the headland we could see the coast from north to south, and inland to the mountains of the Great Dividing Range.

All this exploration gave us an appetite so, another 72 kilometres south, we stopped beside Merimbula Lake for a picnic lunch.

After so many scenic stops, our last break for the day had no connection to nature or history and was an unexpected surprise. Just south of Pambula on the Princes Highway, I spotted a sign – for a brewery! Of course, we turned off the highway and followed the directions to the Longstocking Nano Brewery, located alongside a café, gallery and garden centre.

The beers brewed onsite have 1920s themed names and are only available on tap, so Glen enjoyed a tasting paddle while I sampled the handcrafted ginger beer.

That was enough to sustain us for the rest of the afternoon and we continued to our final destination, just over the Victorian border at the seaside town of Mallacoota.

Road Trip Tally: Breweries 7/Craft shops 3

Join Jo for more Monday Walks

His, Hers, Ours

Kevtoberfest #7 Mudgee

In the last few years Mudgee, in central New South Wales, has gained a well-deserved reputation as a food and wine lover’s paradise. With more than 40 wineries and many local food producers, it’s easy to fill both the larder and the cellar in Mudgee. With so many choices we could have eaten our way around Mudgee all day, but with Kevtoberfest looming, we had just three destinations in mind.

At Baker Williams Distillery, delicious liqueurs have been crafted on site since 2012. The distiller was generous with his samples and we tasted Limoncello and Orancello, fresh and zingy and flavoured by locally grown citrus. My purchase though was a bottle of the distillery’s signature creation – Butterscotch Schnapps, smooth, sweet and irresistible.

Honey in 25 different varieties is produced at Mudgee Honey Haven. Ironbark, stringy bark and yellow box honey have been flavoured by the blooms of the surrounding bushland, while chilli, lavender and strawberry honey have added ingredients. We sampled many of the products before selecting two – creamed cinnamon honey and ginger honey. But the greatest temptation was the mead, a brew of fermented honey with its origins in ancient Greece. Glen chose the Spiced Mead while my pick was the Honey Mead. (I was so busy tasting honey I forgot to take photos.) 

Our afternoon ended at the Mudgee Brewing Company, located in town in a 100 year old wool store once owned by the neighbouring Anglican Church.

While Glen ordered a sampler of eight different beers, I opted for a warming hot chocolate, conveniently accompanied by a generous slice of upside down pineapple coconut cake.

Glen’s brewery purchases included a bottle of the famous Mudgee Mud. Originally made by the Federal Brewery, the label “mud” comes from a time when poor quality water was used and there was more sediment than beer in the bottles! Luckily, today’s Mudgee Mud doesn’t need straining.

While we put our jars of honey in the pantry to have on toast for breakfast, the schnapps, mead and beer were added to the Kevtoberfest stash, for sharing on the party weekend.

Road Trip Tally: Breweries 5/Craft shops 1

Someone I Know

Exploring England #11

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband is passionate about beer. He brews his own at home and enjoys sampling local beers when we travel. It’s easy to imagine how excited he was when he discovered there are 1,424 breweries in England. In a country of 130,395 km² that’s one brewery for every 91 km². He was a happy traveller!

He enjoyed visiting quaint local pubs, tasting new beers and posting his photos and reviews on Facebook.

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Often, he chose a beer purely for its name.

We wondered if the brewers had a particular person in mind when they came up with these humorous labels.

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Names

In case you’re wondering, here are my husband’s thoughts on these three beers.

Coniston Brewing Co. Old Man Ale – 4.8% Ruby red ale with a mild hop taste. Smooth drinking. Just the drink for the old men out there prior to their afternoon nap

York Brewery Guzzler – very nice, tasty and light. A refreshing easy-to-drink brew

Skinner’s Ginger Tosser – Just couldn’t go past the label. It reminds me of someone I know. You can taste the ginger mid-palate and honey on the back of the tongue. Ginger aftertaste. 3.8% lowest brew yet.

Go Nude With Food? Yes, You Can!

Close to home #8 Stanthorpe

It’s always lovely to go on a long holiday to a far flung destination. There are times, however, when it’s not convenient or cost effective and a staycation, closer to home, is the way to go. The destinations in this series of posts are all within a couple of hours’ drive of our home. They’re easy to get to, there’s plenty to see and do and at the end of the holiday we’re home again in no time.

The small town of Stanthorpe, at the centre of south-east Queensland’s Granite Belt, is a popular tourist destination all year round. More than 12 000 people visit the area during “Brass Monkey Season” over the winter months; cosy chalets and blazing log fires keep the below zero chill of frosty nights at bay. When it comes to summer escapes, Stanthorpe is equally attractive because of the mild temperatures – usually 5 to 7 degrees cooler than the coast with clear blue skies and no humidity. At any time of the year, Stanthorpe’s main attraction is wine; there are more than 50 wineries on the Granite Belt and cellar doors offer tastings all year round. But what do visitors to Stanthorpe do if they’re not into wineries, or they’ve already tasted the wines the region has to offer?

The alternative is to go nude! The Granite Belt Nude Food Trail is a self-drive route that will satisfy the most demanding foodie; nude food is regional and seasonal, with low food miles. There are seven themed routes on the trail, covering 23 local outlets ranging from breweries to butcheries. Whether you have a sweet tooth or a hankering for cheese and chutney, there’s something for everyone.

Sutton’s Juice Factory, Cidery and Distillery, 13 km north of Stanthorpe, is a good starting point for a day of nude food exploration. The factory is surrounded by apple orchards; from February to June the trees are loaded with fruit.

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The apples are processed onsite and made into cider, brandy, juice and cider vinegar which can be sampled and purchased in the farm shop. At the Shed Café, the menu focuses on home-style cooking with a range of seasonal dishes including their signature dish, homemade apple pie with spiced apple cider ice cream. The waitress takes orders and gives advice at the same time. Her suggestion is to share a slice of pie and she’s right. It’s a generous serve, warm and cinnamon-scented.

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At Granite Belt Dairy Farmhouse Cheese, just a few minutes away from Sutton’s, there are seven artisan cheeses to taste. The cheeses are made from the milk of the farm’s herd of Jersey cows and sold in the dairy shop billed as Queensland’s highest and coldest, with an elevation of 925 metres and winter minimums of -15°C. Even in mid-summer, day time temperatures can be mild. What’s not mild is the flavour of the cheeses, which varies according to the weather and the seasons. Cold weather gives the cows’ milk a more intense flavour while lush pasture after rain enhances the colour of the cheese.

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Next door to the cheese shop is Jersey Girls Café, serving homemade meals with cheese as the main ingredient. The food miles here are negligible. Cheese maker Karen tells visitors: “If the food in the café isn’t grown on our farm, it comes from the next door neighbours.”

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One of those neighbours is Castle Glen Distillery, home of Cedric Millar, Queensland’s only whiskey distiller. His whiskey, aged for a minimum of two years and made without additives, is just one of Castle Glen’s beverages. He also produces beer, wine and award winning liqueurs.

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The showroom glows with a kaleidoscope of jewelled colours when the sun shines through stained glass windows onto the specially handcrafted bottles of liqueur. Cedric’s wife Carol-Anne encourages visitors to taste his products. When asked which drink is her favourite, she ponders before answering. “I do like a splash of soda water with some musk stick liqueur on a warm summer evening. It’s light and refreshing. In winter, I can’t go past the coffee and whiskey crème liqueur.”

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If beer is the beverage of choice, Granite Belt Brewery, five minutes south of Stanthorpe, is a must on the itinerary. Guests can see one of six handcrafted beers being created in the microbrewery. The craft beers complement the fresh country menu of the Homestead Restaurant where the waitress recommends the Brewers Platter, a four course degustation meal. “Each course is matched with a different beer; even the dessert, chocolate truffle cake with a strawberry and basil salsa, comes with a glass of Pozieres Porter!”

The strawberries in the salsa are grown at Strawberry Fields, five km further south on the New England Highway. From October to May, when it’s pick-your-own season, plump red berries glisten between the leaves of hundreds of strawberry plants. Visitors can fill a basket as they wander, or for those who don’t want to go to the effort of harvesting, the café sells tubs of freshly picked berries and strawberry flavoured treats. Guests can relax on the terrace next to the strawberry field watching others do the work, while enjoying traditionally made strawberry ice cream, parfaits or pancakes.

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If there’s time, stay in Stanthorpe for a few days. There are many more places on the Nude Food Trail but it’s neither possible nor practical to try to see them all in one day. Take the opportunity to sample the offerings of a few outlets each day and buy some supplies for later. Then leave with a carload of gourmet treats and your clothes still on – the food is the only thing nude in Stanthorpe.

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*This story originally appeared in Queensland Smart Farmer Magazine, February/March 2016.

In The Kitchen

Goin’ Cruising #9

Day Six – Willis Island/Sea Day

After enjoying our visits to Airlie Beach, Cairns and Port Douglas, a day at sea provided a welcome opportunity to relax. We shopped at the duty free stores, lost yet again in the tie break of the Cake and Coffee Trivia competition and went for our morning walk around Deck 14. To maintain this demanding schedule we needed sustenance,  and it was provided by the delicious food at the Waterfront Restaurant.

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We ate almost exclusively at the Waterfront during our cruise, and every meal was excellent. We were delighted by the efficiency and grace of the restaurant staff and amazed at how quickly we were served. We wondered how all this food was created day after day; with more than 1500 hungry passengers on board Pacific Dawn the demands would be enormous.  So when the chance came to experience first hand how all this wonderful food is created, we joined in with equal parts enthusiasm and curiosity.

First we went to a culinary demonstration in the Marquee Theatre. Executive Chef Alexander Keck and Maître d’Hôtel Darren Cholerton entertained us with a humorous commentary, often poking fun at each other while creating Broccoli, Scallop and Bacon Risotto and Crème Caramel.

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While the dishes were cooking, we learned that all the food served on board Pacific Dawn is sourced in Australia and, for a seven day cruise, 250 pallets of supplies are delivered to the ship.

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The scents wafting from the cooking station on the stage were enticing and we eagerly raised our hands when Entertainment Director Zoltina-J asked for taste testing volunteers. Mr ET was among the lucky ones to be chosen and he joined the others on stage for a close up view of the cooking.

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His verdict on the risotto: “10 out of 10!”

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When the demonstration was finished we headed to the Waterfront Restaurant for a behind the scenes walk through the kitchen, where staff members were busy preparing the lunch menu.

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Of course, when food is consumed, there is always washing up to be done. Around 32 000 plates and 30 000 pieces of cutlery are washed every day. We made sure not to stop in the cleaning area in case we were conscripted!

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Later, when we returned to the Waterfront, we sat down for lunch not just with healthy appetites but also a deeper appreciation of those who helped to bring such delicious food to our table.

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Piña Colada Coming Right Up!

Garden Photography: July – The Edible Garden

I love the flavour of coconut – in cakes and cookies, macaroons and muffins and cool refreshing drinks.

This palm tree, laden with coconuts, leans out over the beach at Port Douglas in far north Queensland. If only I could grow one in my backyard!

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Visit Jude to see more enticing edible gardens.

Friday Night in Waikiki

Holiday in Hawaii #25

The outrigger canoes may have been put away and the lifeguard post might be abandoned, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do on a Friday night in Waikiki.

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Some people slowly make their way into the evening via the graceful movements of a Tai Chi class on the lawn, while others take on the more vigorous challenge of a beach side volleyball game.

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Another group heads out to sea, gliding over the calm water on a catamaran, and those left behind relax on the beach. They’re all watching as the sun slowly disappears below the horizon of the Pacific Ocean.

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Further along the beach at the iconic Royal Hawaiian Resort a party is starting, but we have somewhere else to go, so we decide not to join in.

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We’re heading to the northern end of Waikiki Beach, where the Hilton Hawaiian Village hosts a free fireworks show every Friday night. As the crowd gathers, we claim our spot on the sand. When the sun has set and the sky is dark, the fireworks begin. The brilliant display is reflected in the calm waters of Kahanamoku Beach.

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After the show we wander back along the boardwalks to Kalakaua Avenue in search of dinner. Most places are packed with Friday night revellers, but one block back from the ocean we find the Rock Island Cafe, a 1950s diner with a table just for us.

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Elvis greets us at the door; it’s like travelling back through time as we’re surrounded by the movies and music of the past. Our meal arrives – we’re treated to a Hula Bopper Burger and a Magnum PI Burger. There’s no better way to end our Friday night in Waikiki, and our holiday in Hawaii.

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