Hens in the kitchen

Allo lovelies! I’m back to the bloggy world today, for reasons which are yet to be determined. I just felt like it, you know?
I’ve got something a bit fun for you this evening… a hen’s night! But not just any hen’s night. No siree! This hen’s night’s activities were completely devoid of penis straws/headbands/statues/drink bottles/etc and strippers and shots of hard liquor. I breathed a strong sigh of relief at the absence of each and every one of these elements, but was glad it didn’t stop the gals from getting a little rowdy with their jokes – that’s always fair game in my books!

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Loz x2 ready for some cooking fun

Our group was full of ladies from all sorts of backgrounds, of a variety of ages and had a broad range of culinary skills and confidence, so chucking us all in the Sprout kitchens with a few glasses of (local, delicious) vino under our belts was probably quite a risky idea. My friend Lauren (le bride) and her lovely bridesmaids obviously had faith in us though, as that’s exactly what we were to be getting up to!

Champagne and cheese platters on arrival got us off to a cruisy start as we divided off into pairs and got the run-down from Chef Callum and Dietician Cian. The night went as follows: 1. Wine and cheese and chats and gifts from lesbrudesmaids, 2. Demo from Callum and Cian, 3. Our turn to attempt to cook the course, 4. Wine and games and eating what we’d just cooked, 5. Repeat steps 2-4 and 6. Chuckles and goodie bags and farewells as the rest of the team popped off to Nook Nosh to continue the lols and wines.

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Gorgeous little pressies from the bridesmaids

I was very chuffed to be paired up with the bride, Lauren, for the night’s cooking as well as the quizzes and games. Together, we were ‘Team LL Cool J’ and we dominated the cooktops. Our plating-up was less dominant but hey, you win some and you lose some, right? I was really impressed with how achievable all of the dishes were to cook and how hands-on Cian and Callum were in coming around to chat and help us out with some handy tips and tricks. We cooked a grilled lamb backstrap on pearl barley, spinach and mixed mushroom salad for main and then baked rhubarb with goat’s cheese mousse, lemon curd and walnut mousse. Everything was delicious, simple and (mostly) healthy so that’s a win on all fronts!

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LL Cool J's main

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My dessert plating-up

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Aaand the bride's

The team at Sprout do catering and cooking classes and special events of all sorts. They’re super friendly and they know their stuff, making their studio the perfect spot to learn some new kitchen skills or fine-tune some old ones. After this fantastic experience it’s safe to say I’ll be heading back for another class sometime soon!
L xx

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Cafe Love: Sublime

Today is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” My heart has been stolen by someone new. Someone who serves a giant wedge of brie as a meal. I mean, I can’t expect you to compete with that! Things are going really well. In fact, they’re sublime (sorry, couldn’t help it). My move eastwards has been for the best, but I promise we’ll stay in touch.

After my first lunchtime visit to Sublime, I went back four times in the next fortnight. I have drunk enough coffees there to be ready for a freebie on my Rewardle card. I’m afraid our love might burn out, but then I remember the baked brie and I know this relationship is one for the ages.

As well as the baked brie, I’ve also sampled the big brekkie, the smashed banana on toast, the chai lattes, the coffee, the lemon slice, the teas, the juices, the burger (that thing could feed a small village), the mushies and fetta on toast and more… I have enjoyed each and every bite on each and every plate. Seriously, not a bad word about any of it. Prices are definitely reasonable (cheap even, for the portion sizes and quality, especially for this part of town) and gluten free-ers are accommodated for easily. The courtyard out the back is ‘jaaahst goooooorgeous, daaaahling’ in the warm sun too, and I hear a liquor license is in the works… Can you say, ‘Sunday sesh?!’

At first I was a bit protective of our relationship and wanted to keep Sublime all to myself, but I know it’s nicer to share, so in the interests of being a good person and all that jazz, I’ve been spreading the word far and wide. Friends have been chuffed with their visits too and I feel so proud every time I hear more good stuff about my new boo. So go, my friends. I give you full permission to take advantage of my new love. Cafe monogamy really ain’t so fun.

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Sublime Cafe
55 East Avenue, Clarence Park
Click here for website
Phone (08) 7225 2006

Foodie Finds: Mr. Pilgrim Cafe, Semaphore

What better way to spend a sunny Sunday morn than on a little family adventure?!
Today was my first Sunday off work in what feels like forever (but is probably only a couple of months) so I decided to pay a visit to a new little cafe on Semaphore Road, Mr Pilgrim. Actually, it wasn’t a complete break from work because this cute spot is actually owned by one of my workmates, Nadia, and her hubby Paul. Now Nadia didn’t ask me to write anything about her new venture and had actually kept news of the cafe’s opening pretty quiet, but I’m all for supporting local businesses and even moreso when they’re new and run by friends, so I thought I’d pop in and say hi anyway.

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Semaphore Road is a hive of activity of a Sunday morning, it would seem! There were heaps of people out and about enjoying a leisurely brunch or morning tea, but as far as I was concerned, Mr Pilgrim was the place to be. The bold black ceiling and tiled wall behind the counter clashed perfectly with the rustic exposed brick and vintage tables and chairs. My fave feature was the door panelling on the wall opposite the counter. Super cool. Whoever was in charge of the design here got it spot. On.

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Paul’s expert barista-ing of the delish Coffex Coffee perked my brunch date (Dad) and I right up and got us ready for our brekkie. Dad’s a pretty boring breakfast-er and stuck with poached eggies on toast. I, however, went for the zucchini and corn fritters with haloumi, bacon and avo (it also normally comes with a sweet chilli sauce, but I’m not a huge fan so opted outta that one). Boy oh boy, I was not disappointed. I find a lot of cafes’ fritters too bland and floury but Mr Pilgrim’s had just the right amount o’ kick, the bacon was cooked poiiiifectly (and not too greasy) and haloumi is always a winner in my books! Did I mention they serve breakfast all day? Well they do. Winner winner, chicken dinner!

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Ever the multitasker, I took the opportunity to get started on interviewing Pa for this book I got him (/us) for Father’s Day (I think it was from Fireflies…?) so after eating we slid on over from our table into the cushy couches by the window and I asked him the first few questions in the book. Another coffee and a piece of Nadia’s awesome rocky road pushed us over the edge from satisfied tummies to serious food babies, but it was so worth it. Nadia’s rocky road rocks. Oh, and as for the rest of the cakes cabinet? I think I’ll be making a return trip for that torta della nonna. Man, that looked awesome.

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Menu options at Mr Pilgrims are slightly tricked up versions of all-time faves. This means there’s pretty much something for everyone, and if you can’t decide you can always share a Ploughman’s Platter. I know there are a lot of foodie options on Semaphore Road, but I reckon Mr Pilgrim strikes a balance between the fancy shmancy stuff and the cheap and cheerful. It’s right by the Odeon too so perfect for pre-movie lunches or post-movie coffees. You’ll want to get in before the hoards discover this gem, trust me.

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Mr Pilgrim Cafe
67 Semaphore Road, Semaphore
Open Tues-Fri 8am-4:30pm and weekends 7:30am-4:30pm (closed Mondays)

Oak on Unley

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I’m a fan of anywhere that offers all-day breakfast so Oak on Unley was off to a good start with that one! The interior is suitably hipster-chic for the inner ‘burbs and I looooove the blackboard wall behind the counter that displays the drinks menu. The low bench-like tables (on the right side as you go in) are a bit of a hazard and the friend I was dining with ended up with a couple of splinters – yikes!

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My gal pal and I were almost tempted by the crepes (which come in sweet or savoury, gluten-ous or gluten-free) but in the end settled on ‘lazy sunday’ baked eggs (me) and the egg stack (her). Both decent value for money but in my serve the bread to oozy baked tomato (which was delish, by the way) ratio was all out.

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Decent coffee and free wifi were had (just ask the staff for login details) and the team was super friendly so that perked us up despite splinters and lack of bread – we’re quite easily pleased. Oak on Unley makes a perfect spot for a caffeine top-up before or after a hardcore shopping sesh at the Unley Metro.
In the famous words of the terminator: “I’ll be back [for the crepes].”

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Foodie Review: Casablabla

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I first fell in lurv (not love, lurv) with Casablabla when I was sussing potential venues for my 18th. After seeing those Baz Luhrmann-esque fishtanks and hearing the call of the tribal beats playing inside I knew I’d found the one.
It turned out being a perfect spot for seemingly endless platters of tapas with the fam in my own little sectioned off area and they even let me serve up my own cupcakes for dessert free of charge (as long as I cleaned up all the remnants). Friends were then able to drop in for a delicious (but beware, super strong) cocktail before hitting the clubs.

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Have you ever seen such funkily mosaic-ed bathrooms?! I didn’t think so…


Recently I came back to Casa (yeah, we’re on nickname terms now) once again to start my night. My vibe was less party and more, “GIVE ME ALL OF YOUR FOOD” and Casa still catered fabulously for the occasion. Mum and I ordered three plates of tapas right on 5:30 (when the kitchen opens in the eve) and it was served to us promptly with uber friendly service so that we could pop down to State Theatre in time for our show. All up three plates of tapas and two sizeable lemon lime and bitters came to $40 so, like my party catering, it was fantastic value!

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The only thing that detracted from my experience this time ’round was the ol’ ‘too stuffy inside but smokers eeeeeverywhere outside’ dilemma. Leigh Street seems to be a bit of a smokey hub… Oh, and a couple of the dishes were a little different to how they were written on the menu but they were still delish and great serving sizes so all is forgiven on that front.
Will definitely be heading back, perhaps on one of Casa’s theme nights to get my belly dance on…?

 

Casablabla
http://www.casablabla.com
12 Leigh Street, Adelaide 5000
(08) 8231 3939

Tickled Positively Pink

When I was 15, I thought it was uber sophisticated of me to hold a high tea for my 16th birthday at a little place on Unley Road called Just Tickled Pink. I had fallen for its chic, feminine interior and delectable signature cupcakes and couldn’t think of any place more appropriate to mark what I perceived as my transition from ‘girl’ to ‘young woman’. This was perhaps overthinking things a little but hey, that’s what 15 year old girls do, right?

A few years and a few changes of owners later I had all but forgotten JTP existed but when I noticed a festive season special on the cafe’s Facebook page, I decided my Grandma’s 70th birthday was a perfect excuse to rediscover an old favourite. Gone is the cluttered Audrey Hepburn memorabilia of old but you are still greeted by the a very chic Parisian interior, complete with fairy floss pink walls.

On arrival, my Mother, Grandmother and I were warmly welcomed by the latest owners, the delightful Kate and her mother. We were given a delicious pink mocktail and sat around a beautifully pre-set table while the finishing touches were put on our high tea.

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Included in our afternoon at JTP was tea and coffee, which was topped up regularly, mini quiches (fresh out of the oven), finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, pieces of both coconut and cherry ripe slices and a cupcake each. Grandma was most impressed with the high heel-shaped sandwiches! I tucked into a very satisfyingly sticky sticky date cupcake, while Mum tucked into a zingy lemon curd one and Grandma took the plain (but by no means boring) vanilla option, complete with butterfly on top. Incredible value for money even at its regular price, all three of us were impressed with the freshness of our little stash of goodies and also by the impeccable service provided by our hostesses.

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High-heeled sandwich!

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Mary was clearly impressed with our feast!

Whether you’re trying JTP for the first time or rediscovering its girly charm after an extended hiatus, it’s definitely a not-so-hidden gem worth paying a visit to!

Just Tickled Pink
274 Unley Road, Hyde Park
facebook.com/justtickledpinkofficial

On an evening in… Osteria de Mesa

Having spent three weeks in Italy recently as part of my almost-quarter life crisis Eurotrip (fifth of life crisis?), I am now incredibly picky about my Italian food. I’m one of those people who’ll come out with remarks like “This is nothing like Nonna’s gnocchi in Varese” or “Bolognese is not meant to be so sloppy. Trust me, I ate a bowl of it in Bologna itself”. I feared I’d ruined every Australian Italian food experience still to come in my life (I’m sure there will be countless; I love the stuff too much!), so I was sceptical about hitting up Glen Osmond Road’s Osteria de Mesa with my gal pals a couple of weeks ago. I needn’t have been.

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Everything from the homemade pasta being made by what looked like a very authentic Nonno to the red flowers woven in through the outdoor area to the tiramisu being served straight onto your plate from a huge serving dish took me back to Bella Italia. Our waiter’s accent was thick and authentic as could be and the menu offerings had the simplicity and freshness I so loved about the good (there were of course some not so good) restaurants I visited.

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With a biting chill in the air, we rugged our laps up in the cosy blankets provided (The Store does this too) and perched ourselves outside at the very front table. We were glad we did, too, as a rather raucous Hen’s night was going on inside that we preferred to stay as far away from as possible.

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All three of us opted for pastas – Annie chose duck ragu, Amy settled on a creamy tomato-ey chicken thing and I went for a simple tomato, eggplant, chilli penne dish. We taste-tested each other’s and I loved them all, but I have to say the duck ragu was probably the winner of the three. Smooth sauce, ridiculously tender duck, proper fresh pasta… Nonna would be proud! Unfortunately I forgot to get a photo of it, as I did with the inside of the restaurant, but here’s a pic of my rad penne:

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We decided to treat ourselves to dessert after spotting the aforementioned homemade tiramisu being dished out (literally) a couple of tables across. All I can say is it was better than any I had in Italy, and I had a few. I don’t know what they did, but the coffee/chocolate/cream balance was impeccable. I almost started singing That’s Amore then and there. This was a perfect end to a lovely evening and Osteria de Mesa’s crowning glory dish, although I may have to make a return trip just to make sure.

Osteria de Mesa
205 Glen Osmond Road, Frewville
mesaosteria.com