Archive for Food

It’s Wine Time

I truly believe that wine is an essential part of life. And that is why as soon as I heard about the magical Yarra Valley and its wine tours, I decided a trip out of the city was definitely in order.

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Me and my fellow travel buddy had booked a wine tour which promised spectacular views, free chocolate and of course, the most important part of it all, wine. Cafe Bus Winery Tours picked us up early from central Melbourne. This early start was true commitment from someone who cherishes their weekend lie-ins after spending the week waking up at 5.30am for work. The things you do for wine, honestly.

We were at our first stop by 9AM – Gateway Estate Farm House – a family run shop and cafe full of freshly made produce. After a brief tour of the strawberry picking and giant pepper trees, we traipsed back to the cafe where a spread had been put on for us. Boy, was I excited. Even at 9.30AM, I was able to fill up on meats and cheeses and crackers and grapes and chutneys and delicate servings of different alcoholic beverages. This was shaping up to be a grand day.

Next stop at 10AM was Napoleone. I loved it here – a peaceful building surrounded by acres of vines and greenery. It encompassed everything I never knew I wanted in life – a quiet and laid back family run estate full of charm, vine yards, cider and beer. What a life. Our little tour group were treated to a range of different beverages including apple cider, pear and apple cider, lager and pale ale. Then, we had time to wander around the estate taking in the acres of beautiful landscape and wondering how we could become creators of alcohol and live a life as peaceful as this.

Yarra valley

Yarra valley

By 11AM, we were at our third stop – the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie (and ice creamery). Like a bloodhound, I was magnetically pulled into the building by the delicious smells of melted chocolate oozing out into the countryside. Like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, this shop was filled to the brim with everything you could possibly want in a chocolate shop. After ambling around, my mouth watering, I decided the prices were slightly too high so stocked up on the freebies at the front of the store. A girl’s gotta eat.

This Chocolaterie was again in such a beautiful location, I didn’t have time to question my decision not to buy any chocolate. Surrounded by fields, rolling hills, we had a pleasant time enjoying the view and blue skies in the little bit of sunshine which was starting to make an appearance. The ice-cream was also extremely tempting with lots of interesting flavours – pancake and maple syrup, rocky road…however after a rather boozy breakfast and one too many scoops of the free chocolate samples, I simply had to say “no” (I just don’t know who I am anymore).

Yarra valley

Next on our adventure was a stop at Dominique Portent winery. This winery again is a family run establishment in the heart of the Valley with a father-son duo keeping everything, especially the wine, running smoothly. With the day still clear, we partook in a game of Petanque (a game a bit like Boules) which offered the chance to win a free bottle of wine. This was my time to shine. I mean, the only time to be competitive is when free wine is at stakes right? However, I failed in an abysmal fashion. 

Then, it was time for the wine tasting. We were introduced to some exquisite wines which we enjoying swirling around and taking delicate sips before knocking the whole thing back (old habits die hard). After a spot of lunch, it was time to leave to go back to the cafe bus and head to our next port of call.

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We arrived at Rochford Winery and were instantly shown to our wine tasting session. Sat at tables, we listened to the holder of the wine as he told us of the history of the establishment and what kinds of wine we were going to be sampling. We enjoyed a Chardonnay, a Cerberus, a Pinot Noir and even a dessert wine, the Rochford Rutherglen Muscat. They were all beautiful and nearly almost tempted me to stop buying the $5 stuff I got from Aldi and instead try and be a bit more sophisticated. That was until I saw the prices of course. Aldi, you’ve always got my back.

Rochford Winery was also a restaurant and store with lots of lovely knick knacks and books. There was also a balcony which you go up too to catch some incredible views of the Yarra Valley.

Our last and final stop was possibly my favourite of them all. However, I am looking back at my notes whilst writing this and I seem to have not written down the name of this particular establishment which is annoying but just means that you will have to go and find out for yourselves..
This wine tasting was hosted by a super friendly and informative guy who chatted easily to us whilst his enthusiasm for his wine shone through. We tried four different types of wine, each as tasty as the last, whilst overlooking the endless vines and catching glimpse of the kangaroos which were bounding between them. We stayed at this spot for a while, enjoying some snacks and watching as a herd of kangaroos jumped through the vines as they escaped a dog walker and his dog. Oh Australia.

The day was beautiful. Filled with chocolate, wine, stunning views and enthusiastic and friendly wine connoisseurs, I would whole-heartedly recommend this to anyone who is after a day of exploring. If you are a lover of wine and of chocolate, you can’t really go wrong with heading out of the city, delving deep into the countryside and experiencing the true authentic tastes of Melbourne.

In fact, I am more than tempted to never leave Melbourne, and stay in the Yarra Valley drinking wine and eating cheese and watching Kangaroos. Now, that’s the dream.

Yarra valley

Brunching in Balaclava

Sunday mornings call for a spot of brunch and a good cup of coffee. Which is exactly what my Sunday morning consisted of.image

Aftet extensive research into good Melbourne brunch spots and a vigorous scroll through Instagram, we finally, finally decided on a local St Kilda place called Lava in Balaclava.

Firstly we ordered coffee which arrived almost instantly and we casually eyed the menu, as we enjoyed our caffeine hit. There was a lot of menu choice – from muesli and yoghurt to pancakes with fresh berries to bacon and eggs. And that was just the breakfast options…

Lava in Balaclava, as well as offering all day breakfast, also offer a huge number of lunch and dinner options and even fresh smoothies and juices. Situated on Carlisle Street in St Kilda, this is a great local place and only a short five minute walk away from where I live. The staff were all attentive and food service was surprisingly quick despite the busy-ness of the place. They even do a delivery service which is potentially dangerous news for two people who enjoying eating food as much as me and my flatmate.Lava in Balaclava

Since leaving the UK, I have lived without bacon and eggs. It’s been tough living without but today at Lava in Balaclava, I finally got the opportunity to indulge in my favourite fatty friends. Bacon and fried eggs with croissant French toast and a small dish of maple syrup. If I’m having brunch, I’m going to go all out.

The food arrived quickly and it really was delicious. My brunch buddy ordered the Eggs Benedict with salmon and I hear that that too, was also rather tasty. We greedily scoffed our food – the sweet maple syrup against the salty bacon and fried eggs really was something else and mopping it up with the French toast just added to the taste sensation.

Pushing our plates away, we agreed that brunch at Lava in Balaclava was definitely a good Sunday treat and definitely worth spending money on. Even though we are not supposed to be spending money. And I’m supposed to be eating healthily. But who can say no to brunch? Sod the diet. I want my bacon and eggs dammit.image

But anyway, Sunday calories don’t count right?

 

Little Cupcakes, Melbourne

So as I may have mentioned, there are a lot of temptations in the form of food over here in Melbourne. Lots of temptations in the form of cakes and pastries and donuts and cakes and more cakes….it’s playing havoc with my waist line that’s for sure. But the diet starts on Monday. Maybe. Probably not.

Anyway, we are slowly but surely testing out a few places on the food bucket list and a rainy Thursday afternoon definitely called for cupcakes and coffee.
cupcakesLittle Cupcakes is a deliciously divine little store selling well, you guessed it, little cupcakes. Very appropriately named I think. They also do a great range of coffees and hot chocolate – something we definitely needed after feeling our first windy chill since we left the UK.

We edged inside the small store, our eyes widening with glee at the array of rainbow cupcakes on offer. We “oohed” and we “ahhed” for a good ten minutes before finally settling on a mini red velvet and a mini salted caramel. They’re mini so the calories don’t count, right? RIGHT? With our respective lattes and Belgium hot chocolate (I mean, I may as well go all out), we settled down and dived right in.

Cupcakes are scrumptious at the best of times. But mini? With that perfect ratio of icing to sponge? With red velvet and salted caramel? Mmm. As I greedily wolfed my two halves down, I eyed the counter and saw that they do boxes of cupcakes – boxes of 6, boxes of 12, boxes of 24 – can I just box up the whole shop? Man, I love cupcakes. Can you tell?

With various stores around Melbourne, I am bound to make this place my second home over the next few months. A cupcake for any occasion – actually thinking about it, it’s my birthday in March. Maybe I can buy myself a box of cupcakes or five.

Little Cupcakes – full of all things nice and all things that make you want to smash the glass counter they are kept so lovingly in and stuff every one in your face (I wouldn’t really do that. Obviously. I’m a lady) – is the perfect way to treat yourself on a not so sunny afternoon.

Although treat day seems to be every day for me recently…..

 

 

 

Lady Jane’s Emporium & Tea Rooms

It’s no secret that I love a good tea rooms. Therefore it seemed like the only logical decision to go off and explore another local tea room on my day off.

So my mum and I drove on over to Pentyrch – a village around a ten minute drive from where I live – and headed to Lady Jane’s Emporium & Tea Rooms, a small tea shop that my mum had heard about through Facebook (ah Facebook, it is good for some things after all. You know, aside from the casual stalking and inane posts that people post about their lives that others really just don’t care about).

Inside Lady Jane’s, was delightful. Small and cute and with only one other group in there, we had the place to ourselves. After placing our order (carrot cake for me and caramel for the mum), we headed on upstairs to explore some more. With an old fashioned vibe and soft music floating up from downstairs, we looked through the different knick knacks that were on sale. Cards, Roald Dahl books and pillows, Welsh signs, paintings…all made by local people and all extremely tempting to buy.

There’s so much more on offer as well – there’s breakfast bits like bacon sarnies and tea cakes, there’s lunch time sandwiches and of course, there’s the delicious home made cakes.

Lady Jane’s is definitely a place that I am going to visit again. It’s the perfect place if you want somewhere cute, cosy and cost effective that’s not in Cardiff Centre and is the place to be for a catch up over something light with friends.

I may have to control my tea and cake habits. It’s getting serious. With this place being right on my door step, I’m actually concerned for my self. Can you be addicted to afternoon tea? Is there like a group I can join or something?

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Get Me To The Greek

It was Sunday night and a catch up with the best friend was very much overdue. With the obvious choice of catching up over a bottle of wine or two being off the cards due to it being a school night, we decided to indulge in our second favourite thing: food.

We headed to The Hellenic Eatery – a small Greek Restaurant on Crwys Road, Cathays. From the outside, it looks like a nothing special restaurant but don’t let that deter you. It’s definitely worth a gander. A diamond among the rough if you will.

We ordered a lot of food – pitta bread and tzatziki, pitta bread and halloumi, pork skewers, chicken skewers….extra chips. Even the waitress raised an eyebrow at that one – “more chips?” she said “there are some already in the souvalki?” 

“yes” we said “we know.” NOW GIVE US CHIPS.

We love our carbs and ain’t afraid to admit it.

So as we inhaled our food, we began to regret our carb overload. Not enough to not demolish it all though. It was pretty impressive really.

So, The Hellenic Eatery: a perfect little restaurant if you want deliciously authentic Greek food, if you want huge amounts at really good prices and if you want friendly, happy to help staff. Who don’t judge you when you order every carb under the sun.

So head on down to one of Cardiff’s best kept secrets, you really won’t regret it.

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100 Crwys Road, Cardiff, CF24 4NQ
02921321600

 

Tea & Cake at Waterloo Tea

I love afternoon tea. After going out for dinner, it’s got to be one of my favourite hobbies.

So being a serial afternoon tea-er and having tired the majority of tea rooms in Cardiff, Waterloo Tea seemed the obvious place to head. With shops located around Cardiff, I headed to the ones in Roath. The shop itself is relaxed and spacey, and was brimming with people enjoying the sunny day and indulging in afternoon treats.

First, we chose our cake. Which was a really tough decision. Carrot cake, double chocolate, brownie, lemon and lime….choosing just one from this wide range of deliciously tempting slices is difficult. But a decision had to be made. I went for chocolate and salted caramel (I am currently obsessed with salted caramel, it is literal Heaven), my friend lemon and lime and then we were taken to a table where we were given a menu and told to choose what tea we wanted. All their teas have been carefully and specially chosen in order to ensure that it is the best that it could be. With lots to choose from, I went for the normal Waterloo Breakfast. Slightly boring but hey, I like what I like.

The tea arrives in adorable tea pots (which I really wanted to steal however I thought that that might be a bit frowned upon) and with a timer so that you can wait until the tea is perfectly brewed and ready to drink. And then, the food arrived. A three tier plated stack of finger sandwiches, our chosen cakes, massive scones with jam and cream and even little chocolate truffles. We basically inhaled it all within about fifteen minutes. Eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs but it was definitely totally worth it.

Everything is home made which makes it all the more enjoyable and is relatively cheap at just £15 per head. They also do gift vouchers (which is what I used – thanks Dad – my family know me too well..) and you can even book out the shop for afternoon tea parties. Now that sounds like my kind of party.

Afternoon tea is so damn good. And Waterloo Tea is simply the best. Hats off to you, I’ll be seeing you every afternoon for the rest of my life.

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Cardiff’s Wok & Go

I headed straight to Wok & Go after a tiring shift at work, my stomach grumbling in anticipation as I pushed my way through the busy Cardiff streets. I made it in one piece and browsed the menu, trying to decide what I wanted to indulge in. Wok & Go is definitely the place to go if you’re after some authentic Asian dishes at great prices. With huge amounts on the menu  – with everything from rice and noodle boxes to soups, to salads, to ice-cream –  it’s difficult to decide what tickles your fancy. Staff are happy to help and aromatic dishes sizzle in the background as your chosen dish is freshly cooked directly in front of you.  I opted for a Pad Thai box- a dish I knew I loved after spending time in Thailand during my gap year and practically living off it. I placed my order, throwing in a side of chicken spring rolls (because why not) and waited excitedly, so hungry by now that I was tempted to hop over the counter and dive head first into the cooking dishes.

With woks simmering on the stove and an amazing combination of smells wafting through the store, I was so ready to tuck in, it was unreal. The wait was unbearable. Those quick ten minutes that my dish was cooked was the longest ten minutes of my life. But then, it was ready, and boy was I ready to Wok and Go. My order was placed in my hands, warm and toasty, nice and noodly and all perfectly succulent chicken, crispy broccoli and toasted peanuts. Portion sizes are mammoth (didn’t faze me of course, I aim to take on everything) and placed in handy takeaway boxes equipped with chopsticks or for all the less chopstick abled people out there, a plastic knife and fork (side note: I have never been so proud to eat a whole meal using just chopsticks – Thailand taught me well). Perfect. Now all I had to do was brave the busy Saturday night train out of Cardiff City Centre before I could finally tuck in.

I swear if I could eat Pad Thai and only Pad Thai for the rest of my life, I totally would.

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 2015-07-11 19.24.13 2015-07-11 19.26.35 2015-07-11 19.28.08 2015-07-11 19.26.5792 St Mary Street, Cardiff, CF10 1DX
029 2022 4317

 

Pottering at The Pot Cafe

Oh, how I only just discovered The Pot Cafe, I’ll never know. Honestly, I thought I ate a lot – but I actually ate so much food here, I worked myself into a food coma and had to lay down on the floor for a good fifteen minutes before I could even contemplate going on with my day. Boy was it worth it though.

I had never heard of The Pot before but upon recommendation, me and a friend decided to head on over and see what all the fuss was about. A small place, brimming and bustling with people, The Pot offers everything from American style breakfast to steak frites. After a tauntingly difficult decision, I decided on having a good ol’ mug of the soup of the day for starters followed by pea and asparagus risotto. The soup was perfect – a mug of pure joy which warmed my insides and served with warm freshly made bread.

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Despite our full tums, the menu was still calling out to us, teasing and taunting us to order more food. And who were we to refuse? That would just be rude.

We opted to share (I know, share? Share? What is this strange phenomenon?) a peanut butter and chocolate slice which was served in all its glory – nice and big and full of all the tasty stuff. Of course, with my eyes bigger than my stomach, I thought it a great idea to wash it down with a real white hot chocolate with all the trimmings.

The Pot offers a range of delicious treats and is the perfect place to go if you want to head out of the main busy Cardiff city centre. Whether you want nibbles and drinks or to dine on a full course meal, the bistro type atmosphere means you can natter and catch up in comfortable style.

Oh, The Pot, you have defeated me. But you were totally worth the pain of rolling myself home. And the fifteen minutes spent laying on the floor wallowing in my own greed.

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Cardiff’s Street Food Circus

Nestled amongst Cardiff’s ever growing food and drink culture is pop up market, Street Food Circus. Open throughout May and June and in walking distance from the city centre, this is the place to be if you’re after some great food and lively atmosphere.

2015-05-16 09.30.30I headed there after a long week of work, eager to spend some down time with good food and good company. Walking into the market is almost like walking into another city. So separate from Cardiff’s usual hustle and bustle of urbanisation, this offers something different, something exciting. A big circus tent filled with tables, and most importantly, a bar (it had been a long week, okay?), makes up the middle of the grounds, surrounded by twinkling lights and food trucks offering all kinds of delicious street food from Greek to Indian, from fish to steak.

After settling our stomachs with (incredibly messy to eat, yet lip smackingly tasty) souvlaki (Meat and Greek) followed by Dirty Fried Chicken, we headed on over to the crème brûlée truck and tucked into a beautifully satisfying sticky toffee one topped with salted caramel. Of course, with our eyes bigger than out stomachs we did not stop there. With our naughty little fingers we grabbed at the chance of indulging in churros with chocolate sauce. And my, was it worth it. Sod the diet. I choose churros and chocolate over bikini body any day of the week.

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Street Food Circus, hiding under the bridge of the rail line is the perfect blend of lively chatter, sparkling lights and delicious foods. And with Summer fast approaching, this is the place to head if you’re a devoted foodie. It’s a literal foodie Heaven. Enjoy!

The Tenth Hole

After a day of essay writing and pondering over some revision, what better way to end the afternoon than a trip to some local tea rooms to natter over a slice of cake and something hot?

My housemate and I headed over to The Tenth Hole tea rooms in Southsea in order to warm our freezing fingers with a mug of hot chocolate and warm our bellies with a massive slice of cake. What a glorious afternoon. I do love a good tea rooms.

Our first time to the tea shop, we were pleasantly surprised, even making the rash declaration that this, was indeed better than our usual cafe haunt. Located close to the sea side, the outside area was open to the fresh breeze but rather than feeling harsh and cold, the cute fairy lights surrounding the area made for a Christmassy and snug feeling. However, due to my freezing fingers and shivering frame, we decided to head into the warm comforts of the inside.

The choice of cakes was marvellous. So many choices, so little time. It really was a hard decision. My thoughts eventually settled on a delicious looking carrot cake with fluffy icing which oozed deliciousness and yumminess. To drink, we both went for a steaming mug of hot chocolate – with all the trimmings. Why not…When In Rome right?

We made for a table and enjoyed the snugginess of the inside, cooped up against the cold winter winds and waited impatiently for our hot chocolates, eager to warm up our hands. Well I was anyway. My house mate was like a furnace, making me rather jealous and rather sad that I was cold and shivering. Hard times.

The cake was every bit as delicious as it looked – a massive slice, a slice so massive I couldn’t even finish it. And that’s saying something because I always finish cake. It almost hurt me to leave a little. The hot chocolate, was immense. Topped with cream and marshmallows (making it difficult to drink without getting cream on your nose), my body was instantly warmed and I felt instantly happier. You’ve gotta love a hot chocolate.

So, with our bellies full and our hands significantly warmer, we made a move to leave, avoiding eye contact with the array of cakes which were staring at us and made the decision to head there again soon in order to try out the lunch menu. Or perhaps the afternoon tea. Or maybe another slice of cake?

Oh man. Why did I only discover this place in my final year of university?

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