Chewy hazelnut biscuits

9 Mar

hazelnut
I love anything that is based around meringue – pavlova, macarons, amaretti. I recently inherited a mixmaster (last to the party!) and have made quite a few egg white/sugar based recipes.  I saw a recipe recently for almond amaretti biscuits using almond meal and decided to give them a go. I went to the supermarket to pick up the ingredients and was shocked at how expensive good almond meal was. I understand you get what you pay for, but there was hazelnut meal right next to it for half the price so I thought I’d try that instead. It was a hit. Hazelnut is such a beautiful flavour and I actually couldn’t stop eating these little ones when they came out of the oven. They would also be lovely with a little bit of melted chocolate drizzled over them.

70g egg whites (about two decent sized eggs
190g sugar
250g hazelnut meal
Squeeze honey (about 1 tbs)

Preheat your over to 180C. Whisk the egg whites until they’re frothy then add the sugar. I do this a bit slowly. Whisk for about three minutes until the mixture is thick and white. Add the rest of the ingredients. Roll into small balls, about the size of a walnut and roll in icing sugar. Let them rest for 15 minutes (to collect their thoughts!) then cook on a lined baking tray for 12-15 minutes until they are golden and cracked.

Gazebo Sydney Unveils New Look

6 Feb

Cucumber cured kingfish - smoked oyster dressing, apple, lime copy
It’s a fact that getting around Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs you’re going to see a facelift or two. Some bad, some good. A few trout pouts and surprised expressions, a few very discreet nips and tucks. Gazebo Sydney, in Elizabeth Bay, has just booked herself in for a little facelift and the results are in – she looks fab!

I went for dinner last week with a few other foodies to try out the new menu by Head Chef Jason Dean (ex Gastro Park) and take in the new look. After a bit of a hiatus from these sort of dinner (thanks to my little man!), it was great to get out. I’d been waiting for the right invite, and as soon as this one dropped, I was keen to try. I’d been for lunch a while ago so it was going to be fun to see the development.

We started with a Negroni. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan, due to a disastrous relationship with gin shots (seriously, who does gin shots? Not a great idea!), so I had a couple of sips to be social then another foodie took it off my hands. The Four Pillars gin, I’m told, was good. I loved the De Illuis Semillon that replaced it much better though! This Hunter Valley winery shows such heart, and they’ve struck a winner with this Semillon. It’s not a hugely popular grape, like a Sauv Blanc or Chardonnay, but if you aren’t a regular Semillon drink, then one from the Hunter Valley should be your starting point.

First up we had what our table described as a deconstructed green curry. Generous sized prawns, coconut snow, green chilli (which looked like a scarily large blob of wasabi) and daikon. Delicious. This was shared with the cucumber cured kingfish served with a smoked oyster dressing, apple matchsticks and lime. 

prawns

Next up we had a really interesting pairing of duck and honeycomb. I love honeycomb and have tried to make it at home with mixed results. Sometimes it’s been foul (burnt sugar!) and sometimes delicious. But with duck? I wasn’t too sure about it but always keen to try a new combination. It definitely worked, and especially well with the lovely red wine it was paired with – a Gamay – Nugues Beaujolais Villages Rouge 2012. Gamay, again, is underrated and if you haven’t tried it yet, do. It’s earthy with a really subtle sweetness to it. The glazed pork with carrot puree (little man would’ve loved the puree!), coriander and sweet & sour turnips was soft without being too fatty. I think I’m the only person who doesn’t like fatty pork belly!

duck

pork

Desserts came in two stages – pineapple with coconut and tarragon followed by cookie dough parfait with raspberry and yoghurt caramel. The pineapple was like a pina colada and the parfait was a satisfying end to the meal, even if the cookie dough chunks were a bit small for this cookie dough fan. 

Gazebo 2014-16 copy

Gazebo 2014-02 copy

Gazebo Sydney is open Monday-Friday 4pm-12am, and weekends 12pm-12am.

Scoot: Craft Brewing Hotspots

14 Jan

Scoot The Pulse

It’s just a little piece, but it was no less fun to research! Check out my craft brewing hotspots snippet that appeared in the Scoot inflight magazine, The Pulse, recently.

Herald Sun: Travellers Giving Back on the Road

24 Oct
The view from the Six Foot Track in NSW's Blue Mountains, by James Marten-Coney.

The view from the Six Foot Track in NSW’s Blue Mountains, by James Marten-Coney.

When you travel it’s an amazing opportunity to give back to the community you travel through. There are so many ways to do this so I wrote this piece for the Herald Sun travel section to explore a few of them. Photo by my favourite photographer and travel buddy James Marten-Coney.

Travel Ideas: Drop me off in New Orleans

10 Sep

HG_FC_Cover LR copy

New Orleans dragged me in and kept me under her spell for four days. The music was incredible, the food so enjoyable, the hurricane cocktails addictive and of course the people were so interesting and full of magic. I had the pleasure of reliving my Nawlins’ visit recently for Flight Centre’s brand new Travel Ideas magazine, and you can check out the story here, the whole mag here, or grab a printed copy in any store.

Sky Business: Live spot on Business Class

18 Jul

This week I did a live spot on the Sky Business channel during a program called Business Class. I was talking about a piece I wrote for OUTthere magazine about Cool Winter Hotspots. I’m obviously no TV professional, but it was fun challenging myself to broadcast a travel story in a different way. Excuse the lo-fi approach of filming the TV!

Alnwick Castle and Garden, Northumberland

26 Jun
fountain

The Grand Cascade at the entrance to the gardens.

I’ll be honest, I’m not that into gardens. I think they’re beautiful and take such great skill and vision, but I personally love spending time in the wild and less manicured landscapes. Yet I was proved wrong at Alnwick Garden, set alongside the grounds of Alnwick Castle with it’s carefully plotted landscape – it’s more of an artistic statement than a garden.

Here’s a little bit of context for you. The gardens and castle are in Alnwick, Northumberland, in the north of England getting close to the border with Scotland. The castle has had it’s fair share of “visitors” in it’s position as one of the first points the Scots tried to conquer over the years. The Percy family bought the rights (or the barony in the old) to the castle in 1309 and have kept ownership ever since. A bit of gossip for you, George Percy, heir to the castle was rumoured to be dating Pippa Middleton a while back, which proved unfounded but would have made for a great story if true!!

You might have seen the castle in a little film called Harry Potter. It’s used for exterior and interior shots as Hogwarts and yes, there are kids running round the grounds to this day, dressed as Harry and Hermoine.

alnwick

Alnwick Castle, home of Hogwarts.

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These little guys are in a fairly good pasture!

The lady of the house, the Duchess of Northumberland, Isobel Percy has developed Alnwick Gardens into the incredible drawcard for the region that it is today.  While she has stepped down from her role as head of the gardens, they are just as beautiful today. Originally designed by Jacques and Peter Wirtz, internationally renowned garden designers, the gardens are a must visit in the region.

The Wirtz signature style features an architectural green structure – at Alnwick this means hornbeam-covered pergolas, yew topiary, box and beech hedges. The landscape is eclectic, from the gentle waves of colour and scent in the Rose Garden to the over the top water displays of the Grand Cascade.

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The detail in the William Pye designed water feature.

The water sculptures have been created by William Pye, one of the world’s leading water sculptors, who brings art and science together in his work. Each one is made from mirror-polished stainless steel.

insidefountain

Getting inside the water sculptures of the Serpent Garden.

largefountain

The beautiful Grand Cascade close up.

canopy

The long arches are signature to the Wirtz style.

steph

Who let the goose into the garden?

After wandering the gardens it was time for lunch at the incredible Treehouse Restaurant in the grounds. It’s high up in the treetops, with a roaring log fire in the centre of the room and trees growing through the floor. Most importantly, the locally-inspired food is delicious and mainly sourced from Northumberland. I had the lamb rump, a melt in your mouth hunk of lamb.

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The unique Treehouse Restaurant.

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Lamb rump with sweet potato mash at Treehouse Restaurant.

I travelled to Alnwick Castle and Gardens with Trafalgar, who offer a number of itineraries taking in this part of England. Check out the Trafalgar website for more guided holiday info.

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