Friday, 27 September 2013

Melbourne Trip September 2013 Part 1

Over the weekend of the 13th-15th of September, my Mum, Aunty Michelle, her friend Sue and myself headed over to Melbourne for the annual Gluten Free Expo for 2013. We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Melbourne having a girls weekend by eating, shopping and a lot more eating! This first post is all based on what we did on the Friday :)

Travelling Tip #1: Be Smart when choosing your flight times.

Clearly, since I'm including this tip, we did NOT do this...when we booked, we decided to go with the first flight of the day out of Adelaide for 2 reasons. 1. It was one of the cheapest of the day (gee, I wonder why...) and 2. It arrived in Melbourne at 7:30, so that gave us more time to shop! But we didn't exactly factor in when we'd have to be at the airport by and consequently, what time we'd have to get up. We had to leave home at around 4:30am :S However, if you don't mind getting up at the crack of dawn to get a plane, then spend all day on your feet - go ahead and book whatever time you want....not my thing though! I started to look forward to my coffees desperately though...thinking back to all the times I've been at the airport in the mornings, I don't think I've ever been there when it's been dark...

A few days before we left, we rang Qantas to confirm our gluten free meals; they informed us we'd have one on the way there (breakfast) but on the way home, it'd be afternoon tea, so they wouldn't have anything. We were kind apprehensive about breakfast, but took a plunge and didn't eat at home before leaving - lucky too, since a GF breakfast on Qantas is actually pretty good.

Travelling Tip #2: If you get the choice, always go for a cold cereal meal over a hot one.

Whilst I don't exactly get the choice anymore, I found it was always safe to go with cereal - even airlines can't get that one wrong. They can, however, get hot meals wrong - think soggy eggs, tough sausages and you get the picture! And this time around, mine even came with a Cookie/Biscuit from Rowie's that I had never seen before!!

Travelling Tip #3: If you're only travelling with one suitcase and going to the CBD, go via the Skybus.

Obviously, this only applies for Melbourne; other capital cities may have one similar to this, but I don't know anything about them. We bought our tickets online a couple of days before, since it's cheaper that way. It cost us $17 to go into the CBD, but would've been cheaper if we had booked both ways. Plus, it only took about 25mins and we got a pretty specky view of the city as we came in towards Southern Cross Station.

From Southern Cross Station, we wandered down Spencer St. to our choice in hotel - The Holiday Inn, about 5mins away from the station. 

We chose the Holiday Inn for a couple of reasons; it was a short walk to and from Southern Cross Station (due to the sky bus)and it was only about a 5min walk to the Exhibition Centre. This narrowed it down to two and the final decision was based on the Holiday Inn having free wifi :P

We had such a quick check-in, mainly because we didn't mind about adjoining rooms, had time to freshen up and head out to shop! We hit up DFO first and got there as the shops were beginning to open. One of my favourite clothing buys over the weekend was from Ginger Tree there. Three of us happened to buy the same dress in different colours....

After doing some shopping, we stopped for "lunch". Lunch for most of us consisted of coffee and a Macadamia Toffee Cheesecake - my kind of lunch!! We actually found a cafe in the food court called Piccolo that did a wide range of GF goodies.

After finishing our shopping there, we decided to head to Harbourtown. In order to get there from the CBD, we hopped on the City Circle Free Tram. This comes roughly every 10-15mins and is Free for the entire loop of the city, which was really handy! 

Getting there, we slightly disappointed with what we found; it was pretty quiet (presumably because it was a Friday afternoon), but there were a lot of shops that were not even open. If I were to go again, it would probably be on a weekend. But I did find this:

We also had a very much needed coffee whilst at Harbourtown. We just went to Gloria Jeans - nothing fancy, but they had Byron Bay Cookies there! The triple choc is just to die for!

After declaring the Harbourtown was a bust, we headed back to the hotel to just chill. Once dusk hit, we took a wander up to Bourke St Mall, but nothing really caught our eye, so we went back down to South Wharf for a look and dinner. 

As my friends and family will know, I have a love-hate relationship with Melbourne. I don't see why people go crazy over it and I really dislike Fed Square (don't ask - there's no logic behind that one), but this time around, the shopping was actually good and I saw Fed square for the first time at night, which was a little specky...I guess somethings can change....

Walking along South Wharf, makes me very excited for the continuing development of Adelaide Oval. It's going to be wonderful to park on the outskirts of the CBD, have a nice diner somewhere in the city (personally I think Good Life is going to be a real hit for us), then wander on down to the Oval along the Torrens. 

Pretty sure this was one of the BEST gf meals I've had out...ever!! It was at Il Primo Posto along South Wharf. Everything about it was wonderful - the food, the staff, the service, the location! We got seated as soon as we got there and were ordering drinks and receiving them not long after. Our food choices were easy - we don't spaghetti here often, so I went for Pumpkin, Danish Fetta, Broccoli and Chilli Spaghetti. The others all got pasta related dishes as well. The meals came out incredibly fast - 10 mins top! Note: if you don't like Chilli, ask for it without - there is A LOT! Lucky for me, I loved it :) The Staff were so helpful and really really nice as well. Go check it out - the only thing is, that they don't take reservations after 6:30, but we didn't have any issues getting served on Friday and the same happened when we went back on Saturday (but that's a whole-nother story....)

A couple of my bargains - can't wait to try out some of those macaroons!!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Melbourne Gluten Free Expos of the Past

Over the last 7 years since my Mum was first diagnosed a coeliac, her (with or without someone else) has attended 6 Gluten Free Expos. 7 years ago they were set up and ran by Sue Shepherd at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre at South Warf. After about 5 years of running them (in early 2009), she sold off the rights and running of them to an outside company, but still did guest speaking roles at them.

Then in early 2012, that company decided to combine the Expo with the ever popular "Good Food and Wine Show". Whilst they obviously thought it would be a good idea, the exhibitors didn't agree due to the high prices and most of the people not going for the Gluten Free side of things, so they had trouble finding exhibitors to go.

So the Coeliac Society of Victoria and Tasmania decided to run their own. They held a one day Expo at Caulfield Racecourse in September 2012. Due to it being run by CSVT and being an unknown of how popular it would be, the exhibitors were slightly scant with how much products they took.

Then this year, due to the success of last year, the CSofVT decided to host it over 2 days in September at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre again.

I went in 2009 and flew in Friday morning, spent Friday in Melbourne shopping, Saturday at the Expo and flew back out on Saturday night.

I then went with Mum last year. We decided that so we could buy up big, we would drive over from Adelaide. So we left on Thursday afternoon, stopped in Horsham over night and arrived in Melbourne on Friday afternoon, after stopping in Bendigo in the morning. Went to the taping of the 7pm Project (Channel 10) in the evening on Friday, Expo on Saturday, then spent all day Sunday driving home.

I have so many wonderful memories from expos of the past and cannot wait to go this year and see all of the friends I've made and meet new ones!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Mum's Special Chocolate Mud Cake

Last week, we celebrated my Mum's "getting-closer-to-a-signific" Birthday. She often doesn't like a big fuss made - usually she gets unlucky and has to work on her birthday and this year was no different. So I decided to do something a little special for her...a Chocolate Mud Cake.

Since she was diagnosed a Coeliac 6 years ago, I'm 99% sure she hasn't had a Gluten Free Mud Cake. So it was an easy decision on what to make, the hard part was the "How".  Lucky for me, the answer was sitting in my pantry - in the form of White Wings Gluten Free Flour. I've wanted to play around with it and so I went on their website to check out their website to see what recipes they had on offer.

Luckily for me, they had a Chocolate Mud Cake on there! I adjusted it slightly to suit what we like as a family, and I must say it turned out well - despite Mum not wanting candles or us to sing "Happy Birthday" :(

Something I feel I should mention before we get onto the cake - I am a big fan of supporting your local produce (especially with living in Australia and having so much imported produce on the shelves), so from now on, if I do use an Australia produced product, I will say so, that way you Aussie's out there can do so as well!

The Australian brands I have used are; White Wings, Cadbury, Western Star and Bulla.

Mum's Special Gluten Free Chocolate Mud Cake

Yields about 12 average sized slices


Chocolate Cake

250g Unsalted Butter, melted
3/4 cup Cocoa
1 1/3 cup Castor Sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups Almond Meal
1 1/2 cups White Wings Gluten Free Flour Mix
3/4 Cup Milk

Chocolate Fudge Icing

250gm Dark Chocolate, in pieces
1/2 cup Pouring Cream
70g unsalted Butter


1. Preheat your oven 180 degrees (Celsius) fan forced.

2. Place the Butter, Cocoa, Sugar, Eggs, Almond Meal, Flour and Milk into a large bowl and whisk to combine.

3, Pour into a lightly greased round cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper (I used a springform one). 

4. Bake for 1 Hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

5. Next, lick the bowl clean. This is a very important step - maybe one of the most important.

6. Allow the cake to cool in the tin completely.

7. To make the Icing, place the Chocolate, Cream and Butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.

8. Stir until melted and smooth.

9. Spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake. FYI: if you spread over the sides, it helps keep the cake moist! 


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Sprout Cooking Course Part 3

Now for the best part - Dessert (aka. Part 3)....

Peanut Crumble, Peanut Butter Custard with Grilled Bananas :) :)

This is just a combination of all my favourite things - Peanuts, Peanut Butter and Bananas. When I read this was dessert, I almost fainted...ok, so I didn't, but my taste buds did :P

And as you can see that I enjoyed it incredibly - this was one step away from licking it clean...

So the crumble section was basically peanuts blitzed in a food processor with some sugar to a fine crumble.

Before this night, I had never made custard from scratch (I know, I know, such a blasphemy!), but I've grown up in a house where packet custard is the best thing since sliced bread and that from-scratch-custard is the hardest thing in the world...BUT this was so incredibly easy that I've made it numerous times since!!! And it's so easy to get the Peanut Butter flavour - you just mix in your favourite Peanut Butter spread at the very end :)

Then we just pan fried some sliced banana to get a "grilled" effect for it...

Are you hungry yet?? Be Brave and do something you haven't done before, like me with the custard!! 

Monday, 2 September 2013

Sprout Cooking Course Part 2

So here is Part 2 of my Sprout Cooking adventure! This time, the main meal :) But before we could cook and eat it, we had a discussion on restaurants around the Adelaide area that are allergy friendly...some of which I'll be visiting soon to give you an opinion on :)

A fact that is very well known around my family and friends is that I am not a seafood person. In fact, that is a gross understatement - a previous partner would never eat any since I wouldn't go anywhere near him afterwards! However, there are two exceptions to this rule (and don't ask me the logic behind, because I don't know!) - Salmon and Scallops. 

Salmon is due to being able to cook it to get a crispy skin (as shown above) and Scallops are because I had the most amazing Scallops in Seattle - they were topped with crispy Bacon and BBQ Sauce ;)

So when Callum and Themis announced the main course, I was surprisingly excited...This Salmon was crumbed in uncooked Quinoa with some herbs and spices, fried off in a pan to seal all the flavours then popped into the oven to cook properly. 

Check out the Quinoa!! It went so crispy and crunchy and the Salmon cooked perfectly and just fell away as we were eating it!

We then served it with a Pumpkin, Brussel Sprout and Pinenut Salad which had a Honey Balsamic dressing - just perfection!