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

 


gingerbread ice cream & festive cheer

gingerbread ice cream | table twenty eight

While it’s been heating up outside during the past week, I’m trying to keep things cool inside my apartment.

My routine during the holiday break has been hitting the beach early in the morning, which I think is the best time of day to enjoy it (normally my internal work alarm clock still has me up by 05:00am even on my days off!).

Getting down there around 06:30am means avoiding the fierceness of the sun later in the day, the crowds of weekend dog-walkers and the sea breeze that descends by late morning to whip the ocean into a sea of white caps.

Leighton Beach even experienced a small token of Christmas festivities, with a small ornament-adorned tree appearing near the shore during the week – the work of whimsical, kind-spirited local.  I couldn’t resist taking a snap…

festive cheer on leighton beach | table twenty eight

This lovely ice cream recipe is perfect for the hot weather but also using up any leftover gingerbread from Christmas.  Not that I had ANY remaining to speak of – I had to bake a batch especially because the box of gingerbread unwrapped on Christmas morning was devoured in the subsequent 24 hours.

For this recipe I took inspiration from one of my favourite food blogs, If the Spoon Fits.

It’s a site dedicated to the creamy, dreamy frozen creations of ice-cream lover Lindsay, whose fantastic photos and tempting recipes rarely fail to trigger my internal ice cream craving radar.

Concoctions from her site that went straight on my to-make list include key lime pie ice pops, peanut butter and jelly ice cream and meyer lemon pie ice cream.

gingerbread ice cream | table twenty eight

Lindsay posted a recipe for brown butter gingerbread swirl ice cream back in December and it immediately moved to the top of my festive treats priority list.

I went to the effort of making my own gingerbread cookies (because the scent of spices and baking at Christmas time is heavenly) but you can of course use store-bought.

gingerbread ice cream | table twenty eight

gingerbread ice cream

inspired by the recipe found on if the spoon fits


2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk
2 vanilla pods, split lengthwise
1 large piece of fresh ginger, trimmed of skin
1 cinnamon quill
5 whole cloves
6 egg yolks
⅓ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup golden syrup
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 ½ cups roughly crumbled gingerbread cookies


To a medium saucepan add the milk, cream, fresh ginger, whole cloves and vanilla pods.

Heat until just at boiling point, then remove from the stove and allow the cream to steep for half an hour. This will infuse the ice cream base with those lovely fresh spices and the fresh ginger.

Meanwhile, beat together the egg yolks, golden syrup, brown sugar and ground spices until you have a thick, rich and even mixture.

gingerbread ice cream | table twenty eight

After the cream has rested for 30 minutes, remove the piece of ginger and return the saucepan to medium heat, stirring gently until the mixture starts to simmer.

Remove from heat, strain through a sieve to remove all the solids and then slowly add the sieved cream to the egg mixture, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk.

Once all the cream has been incorporated, return the entire mixture to the saucepan.  Heat on medium-low and stir constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Gently pour the cream into a large glass or stainless steel bowl, cover and refrigerate until completely cool. A lot of ice cream recipes recommend at least four hours or overnight but I’m impatient so my cream mixture only spent about two hours chilling out.

When the mixture has cooled and you’re ready to make the ice cream, add the cream to your ice cream maker and follow the directions. Once the cream has gone through the churning cycle, tip into a loaf pan (or other freezer-appropriate receptacle) and stir through the crumbled gingerbread cookies.

Freeze for at least an hour before serving.


grand marnier christmas cake

grand marnier christmas cake | table twenty eight

:: It’s hard to believe another year has flown by and once again Christmas Eve is upon us.

On Sunday morning, our whole family – aunts, uncles, cousins and great-grandchildren – came together at Grandmama’s for Christmas brunch.

I just adore Christmas. It is my absolute favourite time of year for so many reasons, but one of these is the whole family getting together under one roof to celebrate.

grand marnier christmas cake | table twenty eight

grand marnier christmas cake | table twenty eight

Year after year I still get ridiculously excited for our festive traditions; Grandmama’s tables joined together to fit everyone in and weighed down with platters of delicious fare (we have so many excellent cooks in the family), the good china and crystal brought out for the special occasion, the bangs and scent of Christmas crackers going off, paper crowns and terrible jokes, champagne and laughter…

And amid numerous animated conversations and surrounded by high spirits, my grandmother – the family matriarch – sits at the head of the table in her usual chair, serene and delighted in her quiet way to see all together again.

christmas at number 4 | table twenty eight

christmas at number 4 | table twenty eight

My contribution this year was a gorgeous Christmas cake, laden with fruit that had been soaked in liqueur syrup since the first of December.

The garnishing of little marzipan oranges and holly make it a resplendent dessert (even if a little old-fashioned, although that is part of its charm).

The recipe advises that this cake freezes very well and can be kept for at least a year in a cool dark place (if for some inexplicable reason you don’t finish it before New Year’s…?). To store, simply keep the greaseproof paper from the tin wrapped around the cake and enclose securely in plastic wrap.

Merry Christmas to all and I wish you safe and happy holidays…

Angelica

grand marnier christmas cake | table twenty eight

christmas brunch | table twenty eight

grand marnier christmas cake

adapted from ‘best recipes from the australian woman’s weekly’


grand marnier fruit mix (start about one month in advance)
2 cups raisins

1 cup sultanas
1 cup mixed peel
1 cup dates
1 cup prunes
5 glace apricots
6 miniature glace pears
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1 cup blanched almonds
zest of 1 orange, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped
juice of half an orange
1 cup grand marnier liqueur, plus additional to brush the top of the cake

cake mix
250g butter
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
5 eggs
1 cup almond meal
1 cup plain flour

to serve
3 packets marzipan
orange food colouring
cloves
fresh holly leaves


Place the sultanas and mixed peel in a large mixing bowl. Chop the rest of the dried and glace fruit the same size as the sultanas and add to the bowl.

Add the walnuts, blanched almonds, orange juice, zest and liqueur, stirring thoroughly until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Place the fruit mixture in a large mason jar with a tightly fitting lid (or other airtight container).

Stand overnight and then flip the whole jar upside down the following day, allowing the syrup that has pooled in the base of the jar to trickle down the other way. Invert the jar each day until you’re ready to bake the cake…

grand marnier christmas cake | table twenty eight

Preheat your oven to 140°C.

Prepare a deep round 23 centimetre (9 inch) cake tin by lining the base and sides with three layers of greaseproof paper.

Beat the butter until soft and add the brown sugar, beating until combined.

Add the eggs the one at a time, beating only until combined before adding the next egg.

Pour the fruit mixture into a large bowl and add the butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon or your hand, stir well until the fruit and nuts are coated.

Add the flour and almond meal, stirring again until the cake batter is thoroughly combined. Spread the mixture evenly into the prepared cake tin.

The original recipe says to bake the cake for three hours but I checked my cake at the two hour mark and it was well and truly ready. To allow for differences in individual ovens and be on the safe size, I suggest popping on a timer to check the cake every 30 minutes after the one and a half hour point with a metal cake skewer.

Once baked all the way through, brush the top evenly with a few tablespoons of Grand Marnier liqueur, cover with aluminium foil and let the cake cool completely in the tin.

To make the marzipan oranges, dust your hands well with sifted icing sugar and roll the marzipan into 12 evenly-sized balls.

Roll the balls over the small size of a box grater to create the effect of orange skin. Paint with orange food dye and place on a wire rack to dry overnight. Use your finger to make a small indent into the top of the orange and press a clove into the indent.

Arrange the oranges evenly around the top of the fruitcake and garnish with fresh holly.

Happy festivas!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 458 other followers

%d bloggers like this: