weekend postcard | beach combing

beach combing treasures | table twenty eight

The stretch of South Cottesloe beach is my favourite place to beach comb and search for interesting pieces washed up on the shore.

The photos here show the assortment of shells, sea glass and other ocean treasures that Mum and I collected in just two hours, navigating the jagged rockpools, sandstone potholes and large mounds of tangled, briny seaweed.

cottesloe beach, western australia | table twenty eightsouth cottesloe beach, western australia | table twenty eight

cottesloe beach, western australia | table twenty eight

The waters along South Cott are popular with surfers and snorkelers alike as they cover large stretches of reef.

The northern-most access is a steep concrete stairway down a sheltered rock face, ending not on a traditional sandy beach but an exposed reef platform which continues south and is backed by low limestone cliffs rather than sand dunes.

It’s incredible to watch the changing landscape between seasons.  In summer the sand builds up along the waterline and covers the lower-lying pockets of the rocky shore, creating winding sandy paths between the higher remnant of reef.

But in winter the ocean reclaims possession of the coast, the higher tides eroding the sandy veneer to lay bare the skeleton below.

A couple of days ago stormy weather had passed over the coastline during the night, resulting in fantastic swell and a large congregation of surf lovers taking advantage of the breakers…

cottesloe beach, western australia | table twenty eight cottesloe beach, western australia | table twenty eight cottesloe beach, western australia | table twenty eight

beach combing treasures | table twenty eight

beach combing treasures | table twenty eight

beach combing treasures | table twenty eight

beach combing treasures | table twenty eight

beach combing treasures | table twenty eight


birthday no. 26 | salted butterscotch popcorn cheesecake

 salted caramel cheesecake with caramelised popcorn | table twenty eight

It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago (or rather – it was when I first started writing this post but a month has now gone by) and the occasion was marked by some lovely gestures from dear friends.

I received this absolutely beautiful bunch of green and white blooms from my gorgeous friend Deneil, filled with freesias, chrysanthemums and lisianthus.

I was so taken with it that I had to get some photos of the florist’s creation…

birthday blooms | table twenty eight

birthday blooms | table twenty eight

birthday blooms | table twenty eight

I was also treated to a delicious homemade birthday lunch at Nicole and Mike’s, which was finished off with a rather spectacular cheesecake topped with cascading stack of popcorn and lashings of salted butterscotch sauce.

Hours of entertainment were also provided by their new Burmese kitten, Morris (a.k.a. Mini Morrie, a.k.a. Morris Minor).

As you can see from the photos he’s an absurdly adorable little guy, full of seemingly boundless energy until the batteries run out and he conks out for a nap wherever he happens to be at the time.

mini morris | table twenty eight

mini morris | table twenty eight

mini morris | table twenty eight

morris | table twenty eight

I’ve included the cheesecake recipe here, which is featured in food writer, stylist and journalist Rosie Birkett’s latest cookbook – A Lot on Her Plate.

Rosie is based in Hackney, East London, but travels the world to taste and report on different cuisines, recently specialising in North American cuisine having spent a sabbatical living in Vancouver, British Columbia.

salted caramel cheesecake with caramelised popcorn | table twenty eight

salted butterscotch popcorn cheesecake

from ‘a lot on her plate’ by rosie birkett


1 tbsp flavourless oil
generous pinch of sea salt
40g popcorn kernels

cheesecake
200g digestive biscuits
small handful of popcorn (from the quantity above)
pinch of sea salt
100g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
500g mascarpone (or cream cheese, if preferred)
100g quark

80g icing sugar, plus extra to taste
100ml double cream

salted butterscotch sauce
1 tsp full cream milk
160ml double cream
145g light muscovado sugar
generous pinch of sea salt


First, make the popcorn.  Put a large pot with a lid over a medium-high heat and add the oil and salt.  Drop in a couple of popcorn kernels and cover the pan with a lid.  When the kernels start to pop, add the rest of the corn and cover with the lid.  Shake the pan to evenly coat the kernels and leave to heat up, shaking the pan around gently when they starts popping.  This will ensure the un-popped kernels get to the heat and the popped ones don’t burn on the bottom of the pan.

Set the lid slightly ajar to release some of the steam and make crisper popcorn.  Once the popcorn has stopped popping every few seconds, remove the pan from the heat and leave it to one side until all the popping has stopped completely.

Grease a 20 centimetre (8 inch) cake tin and line the base and sides with greaseproof paper.

To make the cheesecake base, place the biscuits in a sealed food bag and smash them with a rolling pin into crumbs, or put them in a food processor and grind to coarse crumbs.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in a small handful of popcorn and a pinch of sea salt.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and pour it over the crumbs.  Mix it all together with a fork and put your mixture into the cake tin.  Tap the side of the tin with the flat of your hand to even it out and gently compress the mixture with the back of a large spoon until it’s packed in and level.  You want it fairly well packed so that it holds together.  Transfer to the fridge to cool.

To make the salted butterscotch sauce, melt the butter, milk, cream, sugar and salt together in a medium non-stick saucepan, and – stirring continuously – bring to the boil.  Although it may look super tempting, don’t swipe your finger over the spoon: flesh and boiling sugar don’t mix!

Turn down to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and set to one side.  If, when it’s cooler, the mixture is stiff, warm it up over the heat with a splash of milk to loosen it.  You want it still warm and runny so that you can pour it over the cheesecake.

Put the mascarpone or cream cheese, quark and icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat together until the mixture is well combined.  If you don’t have a stand mixer you can use an electric hand whisk.  Mix until the mixture an even consistency and thickening, then add the cream and continue to whisk.  You want a thick consistency but not over-whipped.

Pour in about half the salted butterscotch sauce and fold through the cream cheese mixture to create a ripple effect.  Taste and add more butterscotch sauce or salt if you feel it needs it.

Pile the mixture on top of the buttery biscuit base and smooth it down with the back of the spoon or a palette knife.  Cover with cling film and chill for at least two hours, then scatter the rest of the popcorn over the top, drizzle with the remaining butterscotch sauce and serve.

salted caramel cheesecake with caramelised popcorn | table twenty eight


postcards from england | london, winter 2015

coffee sign near old spitalfields market, london | table twenty eight

Hello London, my old friend…

Months have passed since I returned home but it has taken until now to just skim the surface of my travel photos and collate some highlights for this post.

Life has been full of change since I returned, including moving out of my beloved Claremont apartment and relocating.  There will be much more share with you all in subsequent posts but for now, here are some favourite memories from one of my favourite cities…


old spitalfields market | a hop, skip & jump from liverpool street station

old spitalfields market, london | table twenty eight

old spitalfields market, london | table twenty eight

lola's cupcakes at the old spitalfields market, london | table twenty eight

old spitalfields market, london | table twenty eight

old spitalfields market, london | table twenty eight

old spitalfields market, london | table twenty eight

old spitalfields market, london | table twenty eight

baklava, old spitalfields market, london | table twenty eight

old spitalfields market, london | table twenty eight


snapshots from a crisp morning’s walk through holland park in kensington

flora & fauna of holland park, london | table twenty eight

flora & fauna of holland park, london | table twenty eight

flora of holland park, london | table twenty eight


snapshots from wandering through notting hill

views of notting hill, london | table twenty eight

exploring the sights of notting hill, london | table twenty eigh


foodie heaven | discovering jamie oliver’s larder and dining hall in notting hill

jamie oliver's larder in notting hill, london | table twenty eight

berry sponge at jamie oliver's larder in kensington, london | table twenty eight

jamie oliver's larder in notting hill, london | table twenty eight

fresh sausage rolls at jamie oliver's larder in notting hill, london | table twenty eight

sweet treats at jamie oliver's larder in notting hill, london | table twenty eight

dining in at jamie oliver's larder in notting hill, london | table twenty eight


a frosty morning in kensington

early morning frost in kensington, london | table twenty eight


postcards from austria | zell am see

lake view, zell am see | table twenty eight

The next stop in my Austrian explorations was Zell am See, a very popular holiday destination both in summer (for the glorious blue lake and associated water sports) and in winter (for the abundance of mountains and associated skiing / snowboarding).

Even though it would have allowed me to explore further afield, I decided against hiring a car during this next part of the trip because a) it snowed frequently and this is not a driving condition familiar to native West Aussies; b) having to learn – very quickly – to master driving on THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD IN THE WRONG SIDE OF THE CAR; and c) Austrians as a whole drive terrifyingly fast – think Michael Schumacher zipping around in Honda Jazz and you’ve got the picture…

little brook leading into the lake, zell am see | table twenty eight

lake views, zell am see | table twenty eight

lake view, zell am see | table twenty eight

lake view, zell am see | table twenty eight

I stayed at beautiful Schloss Prielau, which is a vision of everything I want in my dream house one day.

My trusty Lonely Planet guide sums it up best: ‘A once-upon-a-dream fairy tale of a hotel, this sixteenth-century castle set in mature grounds was once the haunt of Bavarian prince-bishops. Wood panelling and antiques a touch of romance to the rustic-chic rooms, many with lake and mountain views… this is luxury all the way.’

schloss prielau, zell am see | table twenty eight

snapshots of schloss prielau, zell am see | table twenty eight

chalet at schloss prielau, zell am see | table twenty eight

chalet at schloss prielau, zell am see | table twenty eight

snapshots of schloss prielau, zell am see | table twenty eight

Now owned by the Porsche family and converted into a hotel in 1987, the estate is also home to small, pastel-coloured chapel, spa / sauna cabin and prestigious Mayer’s Restaurant.

The castle interior is furnished plentifully with wood, stone, leather, thick rugs and reindeer pelts, making it reminiscent of a cosy hunting lodge.

But this slightly primitive notion is entirely offset by luxurious touches, such as the heavenly collection of herbal beauty products in the bathroom and the fresh yellow tulips adorning the dining room tables each morning.

schloss prielau, zell am see | table twenty eight

schloss prielau, zell am see | table twenty eight

schloss prielau, zell am see | table twenty eight

chapel at schloss prielau, zell am see | table twenty eight

chapel at schloss prielau, zell am see | table twenty eight

The food from the in-house restaurant was superb (they served the best wiener schnitzel and apfelstrudel I ate during my whole trip).

I also enjoyed a hearty, bone-warming soup – kaiserknödel – which consisted of a clear beef broth over a bowl of fried cheese dumplings, as well as Wagyu beef knödels (dumplings) served with warm potatoes in a creamy chive sauce.

wiener schnitzel, fried potatoes & cranberry sauce at schloss pr

apfelstrudel at schloss prielau, zell am see | table twenty eigh

As in Hallstatt I was lucky to get the best of both worlds (weather-wise) – bright, sunny mornings for long walks and exploring, and evenings of long, silent snowfall.

The castle is located just outside central Zell am See, diagonally across the lake from the town and cluster of lakeside resorts.

As it’s current ski season the town was packed with holiday crowds, so it was lovely to have the peace and quiet of Schloss Prielau and its surrounding grounds.

zell am see | table twenty eight

zell am see | table twenty eight

mountain views, zell am see | table twenty eight

zell am see | table twenty eight

lake view, zell am see | table twenty eight

mountain views, zell am see | table twenty eight


postcards from austria | hallstatt

 

hallstatt | table twenty eight

After spending five days in Vienna, I travelled four hours via train to a small alpine village called Hallstatt.

Located on the Hallstätter See in the Salzkammergut region of Austria, it’s difficult to put into words just how breathtakingly beautiful and picturesque it is… Like something out of a fairytale.

The train station is on the opposite side of the large, icy blue lake – just a concrete platform surrounded by steep wooded forest on one side and a rough pebbled path on the other leading down to a tiny jetty on the water’s edge.

hallstatt | table twenty eight

To reach Hallstatt from there you must wait for the ferry captain and his boat to collect passengers and make the grand crossing to the village on the other side.

Arriving late afternoon as I did, the sun was starting to sink behind the mountains in front of us, casting a golden hue to the top swirls of mist encircling them all.

snapshots of hallstatt | table twenty eight

hallstatt | table twenty eight

I was lucky that my first full day there was bright and sunny and before any heavy snow, so I’ve got some nice contrasting before-and-after shots.

I hiked up the steep zig-zagging terrace trail that runs up the side of the mountain above the town, affording some spectacular views of the surrounding landscape in clear sunlight.

hallstatt | table twenty eight

view across the lake from above hallstatt | table twenty eight

view across the lake from above hallstatt | table twenty eight

hiking above the town of hallstatt | table twenty eight

hiking above the town of hallstatt | table twenty eight

view of obertraun from above the town of hallstatt | table twenty eight

hiking above the town of hallstatt | table twenty eight

hiking above the town of hallstatt | table twenty eight

I stayed in the gorgeous Seehotel Grüner Baum which is situated right on the lake’s edge, overlooking the water and encircling mountains on one side, and the village marketplace on the other.

The interior is sumptuously and tastefully furnished, retaining a grand, historic feel but at the same time offering cosy suites that are perfect for curling up with a good book and endless cups of tea.

The view outside my bedroom window was of the chruch next door, whose iconic spire marks the skyline of the many Hallstatt photos.

seehotel grüner baum, hallstatt | table twenty eight

Johann, Alex and the rest of the hotel team were wonderful, and very much a part of why I so enjoyed my stay.

As well as being very accommodating with me poking my camera everywhere (including the embarrassingly touristy act of taking photos of my food in the dining room), they were always cheerful, friendly and happy to have a chat with a solo traveller.

On the morning I was supposed to be checking out and making my way to the next destination, the snowy weather had well and truly set in – and it also happened to be a Sunday. Navigating the national transport website OBB, it appeared that I would need to take two different buses and two different trains to reach Zell am See after nightfall.

Instead of just wishing me well and waving me off into the swirling snow, the hotel supervisor spent an hour or so mapping out route alternatives for me and even went to the trouble of phoning the OBB directly to confirm the final proposed train-and-bus-hopping itinerary.

In the end – given the risk of missed connections due to continuous snowfall and the fact that Sunday presented limited transport possibilities – I decided to stay bunked down in Hallstatt another night and set out the next morning (not that I minded, given how much I’d fallen love with the place).

Luckily the next day brought clearer skies and I was able to continue my journey, although I was sad to leave a place that has made such a big impression on me.  I hope to return next year in spring or summer, to have a chance to experience the village and surrounding landscape in the opposite season, as well as say hello again to newly-made acquaintances.

kaiserschmarrn with spiced poached plums | table twenty eight

The hotel also houses its own restaurant, Restaurant zum Salzbaron, serving delicious Austrian cuisine prepared with modern flair.

My favourite dish in their repertoire was kaiserschmarrn – pancake pieces caramelised with icing sugar and served with spiced poached plums.

One of the liberties of being on holiday and travelling solo is the entitlement to eat dessert at any time of day… ;)

snapshots of hallstatt | table twenty eight

 house, hallstatt | table twenty eight

snapshots of hallstatt | table twenty eight

hallstatt | table twenty eight

local cheeses, hallstatt | table twenty eight

lake shore, hallstatt | table twenty eight

frost on the lake shore, hallstatt | table twenty eight

On the morning of my departure I woke to find that a steady, silent snowfall had blanketed everything in a glorious, WONDERFUL, icing sugar dusting of pure white.

I think I may have found my new favourite place in the world.

town centre after a night of snowfall, hallstatt | table twenty eight

town in the snowfall, hallstatt | table twenty eight

snapshots of hallstatt | table twenty eight

lake shore, hallstatt | table twenty eight

hallstatt | table twenty eight

lake shore, hallstatt | table twenty eight

hallstatt | table twenty eight

 

 

 


postcards from austria | vienna

kunsthistorisches museum, view from ringstrasse | table twenty eight

For the better part of the last month I spent time exploring one of the countries high on my to-do list, a country renowned for it’s wealth of culture and spectacular natural landscapes – Austria.

I started my trip in beautiful Vienna and armed with my trusty, sticky-note filled Lonely Planet guide I wandered my way through a feast of baroque buildings, art, coffee, museums, apple strudel and rudimentary German.

The heart of Vienna is the Innere Stadt (inner city), a roughly hexagonal-shaped area bordered on one side by the Danube Canal and encircled by the Ringstrasse (ring road), a broad road running along the line of the 16th century city walls.

The Ringstrasse is lined with frequent tram stops and underground train stops (Vienna has a neat tube system like London), and provides excellent views of the city’s architectural extravaganzas and parks.

The Innere Stadt is a magical and atmospheric maze, filled with sights that effortlessly pass between the past and the present.  Grandiose historical buildings and cobblestone streets sit side by side with contemporary art houses, restaurants and boutiques.

I got completely lost on more than one occasion trying to navigate the criss-crossing streets and truly breathtaking architecture…


looking down herrengasse at schottenkirche

looking down herrengasse at schottenkirche, vienna | table twenty eight

sights of vienna | table twenty eight


florist stand outside the stadtpark

florist stand outside stadtpark, vienna | table twenty eight


late afternoon at the stadtpark

late afternoon at the stadtpark, vienna | table twenty eight

stadtpark, vienna | table twenty eight

stadtpark, vienna | table twenty eight

stadtpark, vienna | table twenty eight


kunsthistorisches museum & café sperl hazelnut torte

kunsthistorisches museum & café sperl hazlenut torte, vienna | table twenty eight

snapshot of the city, vienna | table twenty eight

statue, vienna | table twenty eight


kaiser franz joseph, the first (1859) | statue in the hofburg

kaiser franz joseph I (1859) statue in the hofburg, vienna | table twenty eight

kaiser franz joseph I (1859) statue in the hofburg, vienna | table twenty eight


views of stephansdom (st stephan’s cathedral)

st stephen's cathedral, vienna | table twenty eight

st stephen's cathedral, vienna | table twenty eight

st stephen's cathedral, vienna | table twenty eight


carriage horses outside stephansdom (st stephan’s cathedral)

horse carriages at st stephen's cathedral, vienna | table twenty

sights at st stephen's cathedral, vienna | table twenty eight

carriage drivers congregate at st stephen's cathedral, vienna |


margherita pizza from the local pizzeria near my apartment

margherita pizza, vienna | table twenty eight


gourmet goodies from the naschmarkt (food market) in mariahilf

naschmarkt in mariahilf, vienna | table twenty eight

antipasto lunch at the naschmarkt in mariahilf, vienna | table t


the hofburg’s northeastern gate & michaelerplatz

the hofburg's northeastern gate on michaelerplatz, vienna | table twenty eight

michaelerplatz &  the hofburg's northeastern gate, vienna | table twenty eight

the hofburg's northeastern gate, vienna | table twenty eight

lion statue in the hofburg, vienna | table twenty eight


viennese chocolate delicacies

chocolate delicacies, vienna | table twenty eight


café mozart & their famous mozart cake

café mozart, vienna | table twenty eight

mozart cake, vienna | table twenty eight

 Next post I’ll be sharing more photos from my trip, from a little alpine town called Hallstatt – stay tuned!


lunch at nobu

nobu restaurant, perth | table twenty eight

It’s so satisfying and pleasurable to step away from that most elusive of gourmand beasts – the perfect dining experience.

Over the weekend I was fortunate to have one such experience at Nobu restaurant in Perth, where a group of work friends and I had lunch.

It wasn’t only the dishes themselves that made it such a memorable occasion but the wonderfully understated elegance of the entire affair.

The ocean – the source of Japanese cuisine’s fresh and natural flavours – is reflected everywhere throughout the warm-hued interior by subtle conceptual references, from the huge clusters of bubble-like golden baubles on the high ceilings to the partitions of gently swaying metallic sea grass.

table twenty eight

Service was friendly and knowledgeable without being at all obtrusive (the waiter assigned to our table seemed almost psychically efficient, appearing whenever needed and then melting away again).

Japanese food is renowned for its refined preparation and presentation, a dedicated art practiced over centuries, and Chef Nobu Matsuhisa offers an innovative menu that embraces contemporary dining whilst clearly revering traditional techniques and dishes.

Every plate delivered to our table was beautifully and delicately constructed, conveying great care and respect to the ingredients.

I’ll leave my photos to tell the rest of the story, as words don’t do it quite justice!

table twenty eight

miniature tacos with scallops; hot creamy & spicy crab

 

pork belly with caramel miso sauce - nobu restaurant, perth | table twenty eight

pork belly with miso caramel sauce

 

soft shell crab & sashimi combination - nobu restaurant, perth | table t

soft shell crab & sashimi combination

 

nobu restaurant, perth | table twenty eight

 yellowtail sashimi jalapeño; soft shell crab & sashimi combination - nobu restaurant, perth | table twenty eight

yellowtail sashimi jalapeño; soft shell crab & sashimi combination

 

salted caramel miso parfait with caramelised popcorn - nobu restaurant, perth | table twenty eight

salted caramel miso parfait with caramelised popcorn

 

filo & pecan praline, berry compote, meringue, coconut & lime sorbet, passionfruit mousse - nobu restaurant, perth | table twenty eight

filo & pecan praline, berry compote, meringue, coconut & lime sorbet, passionfruit mousse

 

cheesecake with passionfruit sorbet & raspberry sauce - nobu restaurant, perth | table twenty eight

cheesecake with passionfruit sorbet & raspberry sauce

 


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