Yes, it’s been on the “to do list” for a rather long time & finally it’s here – my food blog!!
Over the next few days/weeks I am going to recount my epic foodie adventures from this year; there have been highs, lows, laughs & tears – but I wouldn’t change a thing!
2015 The year of the gourmet food journey – It started in Jan with my French recipe challenge, over 50 delicious recipes cooked in the Thermomix – click here to see them all 🙂
This year I’ve been lucky enough to earn Thermomix trips to the Gold Coast in March & Paris in September with a few quick stops and food tours through, Nice, northern Italy & London. I had 4 trips to Melbourne including 2 lunches at Heston’s Fat Duck restaurant. I’ve attended multiple cooking classes; I’ve run both healthy & decadent cooking classes, met amazing chefs & waiters/waitresses, submitted recipes for a local Garlic Feast cookbook. I even auditioned for Masterchef!! And another dream came true – I have been recipe testing for my Thermomix foodie hero Dani Valent – author of my 2 favourite books – the In the Mix Cookbooks. (Sign up to her newsletter to get awesome free recipes!)
I bought my digital SLR camera in March & in the 2nd half of the year completed a TAFE photography course & 2 food styling & photography courses. (One with JJ from 84th & 3rd & 1 with Michelle Crawford from Hugo & Elsa) I have bought too many cookbooks to count, washed too many dishes and tasted the most amazing food ever!! At times this year I was known as the crazy Thermomix lady with 4 Thermomix!! I have delivered over 80 Thermomix this year to lots of happy customers too!
To say I am completely grateful is a huge understatement -through all these adventures I’ve had my family, friends & Thermomix customers by my side to enjoy all the delicious foodie fun, wine, coffee & the instaspam. Yes I may currently have a bit of a food baby, but I am happy right here, right now in my food coma, looking back on the most epic foodie year I have ever had! Plus this year is not over; the saga continues………..
I will be at the Taste of Tasmania on the 29th & 30th Dec 2015 presenting a 1 hour cooking segment with my friends using delicious Tasmanian cheeses, see you there for more delicious fun!!
Thanks to my awesome foodie friends at A girl, a guy, furkids & food who helped me set up my blog.
Meat the maker: The first time I met “The girl & the guy” was at a Thermomix demo I did for them a few years ago (June 2012). I knew instantly we were going to get along well, especially when they unveiled their chicken liver pate’ in the shape of a mandarin – a Heston recipe they had made in their Thermomix!! And to seal the new friendship they even gave me one to take home!! Friends forever 🙂
OK so you may not want to make the meat fruit but you will definitely want to check out AGAGFAF Chocolate Chip Biscuits:-)
INSPIRE Christmas Cooking Class
I was so excited to put on a special class for Christmas with my friends, we had 30 guests for a Christmas sit down meal & it was all made in the Thermomix – we demonstrated how most the dishes were made & gave all guests a take home recipe booklet & edible gift pack. I collected fresh herbs & foliage from my friends & my Mum’s garden to help decorate the tables.
We spent weeks testing recipes & working on the menu. So much thought & effort, planning every detail. On the day of the class the venue we had booked to hold the class had a mains pipe burst & they were without water!! Panic – what to do? We had so much food!! We didn’t want to disappoint our guests by having to cancel the class. Thankfully one of my customers Maree who was attending the class owns the cafe’ Venus & was able to save our bacon – almost quite literally! And we were still able to put on our event – phew!!
So we were down almost 1.5 hours of prep & decorating time & working in a smaller space. However as soon as guests started to arrive it was all smiles!! We served each guest a welcome Strawberry & Rosewater Mocktail.
We were in such a rush I didn’t get to take a photo of our plated trio of dips which included my absolute favourite Thermie Green Avocado Dip & Beetroot Hummus with Dukkah & Cream Cheese, Lemon & Herb Dip on cucumber rounds with smoked salmon. We served these with my Christmas Spinach & Cheese Grissini plus Chia & Quinoa Crisps.
The main event was the Steamed Turkey Roulade stuffed with Roasted Rhubarb, Hazelnuts & Garlic Sage Butter, steamed pink eyes & garden greens with Cauliflower & Beetroot Salad with Egg Free Garlic Aioli & Turkey Skin Butter. (Check out Dani Valent’s butter video.)
Our trio of Christmas desserts were Arwen’s Black Forest Trifle, Sue’s Mini Pavs with Smolt’s Lemon Curd & Our awesome Christmas Profiteroles filled with Charlie’s Special Fruit Mince & Vanilla Bean and Brandy Crème Patisserie.
Everyone said they loved the class & asked if we were available to cater for them on Christmas day! As guests left with bellies full & inspiration high -they took their free gift from Chef Ellie Emmett The Real Food for Kids Cookbook calendar & helped themselves to fresh bay leaves & herbs as well as rhubarb from my garden.
It has been wonderful hearing how people have been trying our recipes at home & enjoying them again. I feel so privileged to share my passion for Thermomix cooking & fresh produce, I can’t wait till our next inspiring cooking session!
Red Capsicum Pithivier with Parmesan Pastry recipe by Dani Valent
I was so happy to test this recipe & it was delicious too!! What’s not to like – you had me at parmesan puff pastry!! I decorated it with stars for the Christmas theme & I gave the recipe 5 stars so that is why there are 5 pastry stars on it!!
Quote from Dani Valent’s recipe – ‘A pithivier is a French puff pastry tart, traditionally made with sweet almond cream. This savoury interpretation still has sweetness from the slow-cooked onions and dried fruit. It’s a lovely dish to bring to a picnic, party or Christmas spread and can also be a tasty way to use up Christmas leftovers (see variation).Variation: Add a handful of diced leftover Christmas ham or turkey, If using turkey, replace the currants with dried cranberries. You can also make smaller individual tarts.’
I am definitely putting it on our Christmas menu this year. Also it was so awesome Dani was happy to use my photo in the Thermomix in Austraila‘s Thermomix newsletter they sent out to all their customers. The ironic thing is that I made the recipe using my old TM31 – the one that Dani Valent signed when she did her In the Mix 2 seminar in Hobart Aug 2014 – happy memories.
Oh WOW, someone pinch me – 4 awesome friends – we all entered the ballot to win a table at the Fat Duck pop up in Melbourne, (along with thousands of other people), we said whoever wins it will take the others & we won it twice!! I still remember where I was when I found out, Nicole & I just burst into tears of joy & excitement when Charlie rang to tell us. Then Nicole got her email later the same day to say we got another spot – 2 lunches, one in May & one in July. Suzie & I decided we had to go twice (more Heston meeting opportunities!!) Oh and an interesting fact they have 8 Thermomix in the restaurant – it just became a work trip – the lengths I will go to, I’m such a dedicated Thermomix consultant. The $500 per meal was an investment in our culinary education & there is no way I have ever regretted it. The foodgasms, memories & tears of joy will last forever! I will be telling my grand – kids about the 2 times I dinned at the Fat Duck, if they will care to listen 🙂
Unfortunately this was the closest I got to meeting or even seeing Heston in real life!!
The Fat Duck restaurant was relocated to Melbourne for just 6 months. Before we went to the fat duck we were emailed a video to watch here is the closest thing on-line to what we were sent – Like a Kid in a Sweetshop.
4 friends: Jo, Suzie, Nicole & Arwen
Jo even booked hair & make up for 9am!! Suzie & I did ring our hairdresser to make sure we had done our hairstyles right for our big adventure! We all met a 1/2 hour before our booking for a celebratory glass of bubbles. Is this really happening?? Dreams become reality?! Will Heston be there?? OMG I can’t breathe I’m so excited!! I even brought my Heston books for him to sign in case he was in town. I wanted to bring my model 5 Thermomix for him to sign too but thought that might be over the top – just slightly?! (As it turned out Heston was not in town for our visit, we had just missed him!!)
A surprise entrance to The Fat Duck
Then we were taken to our seats & given the extensive wine list bible!! We had a glass of champagne to mark the extra special occasion and we met our amazing waiters and sommelier – we all decided on matching wines and then the first course was upon us – Aerated beetroot with horseradish cream – Melt in the mouth flavour bomb! This set the scene – we were in for the foodgasm of our life!
Our waitress arrived with a trolley with liquid nitrogen and a siphon you could choose which flavour Nitro Poached Aperitif you would like: vodka and lime sour, gin & tonic or tequila & grapefruit. The girls choose Gin & tonic & I choose the grapefruit one. I had tears in my eyes it was so awesome! It was so cool (pardon the pun) because you got to watch each one being made at the table & then watch each friends reaction. It was like being a dragon you have to put the whole thing in your mouth and then the cold “smoke” from the dry ice would come out your nostrils, it was an amazing start to our wonderful afternoon.
Red Cabage Gazpacho with Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream
Our next dish, did I mention there were 16 courses? How perfect are those quenelles of mustard ice-cream? An amazingly, gorgeous balanced dish.
Savoury Lollies Waldorf Rocket, Salmon Twister & Feast
One of our waiters name was Cameron – he was given the nickname Cambo fairly early on (he was one of the few Aussies in the Fat Duck team). Cambo gave us our frozen savoury icy poles know as lollies and explained that you could either lick or suck them, we of course we burst out laughing & even made poor Cambo blush. They were actually so delicious I really loved the chicken liver pate one that looked like a golden gaytime and the salmon and horseradish swirl and of course there was the one that looked like the rocket ship that was the flavour of a waldorf salad. This was one of my new favourite dishes!!
Ok so I might need to change that this is my new favourite dish!! Jelly of Quail, Marron Cream. Caviar Sorbet, Oak Moss & Truffle Toast (homage to Alain Chapel)
We were first presented a tray of moss & these Fat duck films in the middle of the table, they served the dishes in front of us & told us to eat the film & as we did this our waiter poured water from the tea pot into the moss to create a magical sensory moment, cold “smoke” came out it was like it was infused with truffle or maybe that was just the smell coming from the dish in front of us so earthy, it was absolutely intoxicating and dramatic. Did I mention how much I love truffles?
We thought our table must be the most excited table there with our exclamations of oohs, ahhhs & WOWS!! We tried so hard not to watch other tables that were ahead of us in the service, so we didn’t spoil our surprise but that was way too difficult. We also had quite moments where we carefully tasted the amazing food with lots of mmmmm’s happening.
Something as simple as freshly made butter, top quality salt & bread was so seriously good!! Smoky sourdough bread, so crusty it made lots of crumbs on the table cloth, lucky they had a very posh device to scrape the crumbs off the table!!
I don’t recall having eaten snails before now but of all the iconic Heston dishes to be served today this did have me intrigued. I am happy to report that the Snail Porridge (Joselito Ham, Shaved Fennel) was absolutely delicious, a gorgeous green colour and amazing fresh flavours and textures.
Roast Marron – Shiitake, Confit Kombu and Sea Lettuce – Art on a plate – but everything on the plate has a purpose, flavour, texture to marry the whole dish together. Umami at the best; such delicate care & precision has gone into each & every dish so they all look & taste the same.
MAD HATTERS TEA PARTY! Jo was so excited for the Mock Turtle Soup she burst into tears of excitement as soon as the first part came to the table!! A glass tea cup with a quail egg & miniature mushrooms with such tiny details. Our waiter Cambo opened his case filled with gold Pocket Watches and these all went into an individual glass teapot of hot water, you jiggled the watch like a tea bag to reveal the watch was actually covered with gold leaf an included the most amazing mock turtle soup broth. Oh and did I mention in the centre of the table there was placed a mad hatters platter complete with hat & the most delectable toast sandwiches you have ever tasted!
The Sound of the Sea – I knew this would be the dish that I would absolutely love, uncontrollable silent tears of joy streamed down my face, and I do not apologise in any way for this reaction to a dream come true to be fully immersed in a dish I have looked forward to experiencing for so long. I also have so many fond memories & connections with the sea. (As I write this I am welling up all over again.) Nicole had tears too as she revisited precious memories of her grandfather shucking oysters on the seashore. It was truly amazing to hear the sound of the sea, to see your beautiful plate in front of you and to smell and taste the wonderful textures and flavours. It was a moment of pure serenity – the calm & quiet relaxing sound of the waves, brought about quite a sereal moment of being in the present moment, eating mindfully with the energy of the busy restaurant completely out of your mind. The sound of the sea in our ears was all we could hear as we calmly slowly & carefully tasted our plate. I didn’t want this moment to end. This is my happy place. We watched each other’s reactions without speaking. I really felt like I was on the seashore – an edible wave in front of me complete with foam, the crunch of eating “sand”, soft & salty sea sponge & fresh seafood. Our waiter even brought us some tissues. We did ask if we could keep the seashells but we did have to give them back unfortunately.
Salmon poached in a Liquorice Gel: Endive, Vanilla Mayonnaise and Golden Trout Roe: This amazing salmon dish was gorgeous delicious beautiful!! Oh & Cambo showed us his pocket watch – apparently all the waiters have them 🙂
Lamb with Cucmber: Green Pepper and Caraway. A lamb dish that looks like an amazing piece of art, included lambs hearts & lungs – Suzie who had previously been a vegetarian had no idea what she was eating, thank goodness!
Hot & Iced Tea – this messes with your mind!! Just like the Katy Perry song it’s hot & it’s cold!!
Now onto desserts, the Botrytis Cinerea as seen & made on Masterchef 2015 later in the year was simply stunning – another gorgeous art piece that tastes amazing with awesome texture and technique, beyond belief. You can see how it was made to look like grapes on a vine, and for some weird reason it got the nickname of the celebration of the balls?!
The Not-So-Full English Breakfast: We had a delicious breakfast a cereal box with Heston on the front – the cereal was dried carrots & parsnips and a the special milk bottle was filled with parsnip milk. The earl grey infused marmalade jam with edible chocolate lid and our wonderful waitress brought a trolley along with more liquid nitrogen and cooked special bacon & egg ice cream with “scrambled” Fat Duck Eggs and served with crispy pancetta on brioche. It was so amazing, with surprise, theatrics & taste sensation all rolled into one.
Whisky Wine Gums – with one of the whiskies even from Tasmania!
Hooray, we got to go into the kitchen & meet the chefs including head chef Jonny Lake oh & they all signed our Heston cook books!!
Last but not least the final course – Like a Kid in a Sweet Shop – amazing sweets to take home or eat at The Fat Duck 🙂
Tea & coffee, yes please – it means we can stay just a little bit longer – I don’t want this epic foodie journey to be over NOOOOO you can’t make me leave – oh Rachel is ironing the table cloths for the next dinner seating which is just moments away!
Our final moments at the Fat Duck Melbourne; we were the last to arrive for the lunch service & the last to leave. Our puzzle pieces are added to the big puzzle, a cheeky selfie from Cambo, we said our goodbyes to our new Fat Duck friends with Suzie & I warning them – we would be back in July!! What on earth could anyone ever do after almost 7 hours of such pure foodie heaven? Watch out for the next post with our The Fat Duck – the sequel post!!
My 5 Star review on the The Fat Duck at the Crown facebook page: “I’m in my happy place at the Fat Duck, I feel so lucky to have dined here for lunch. Heston thank you for creating this epic fun filled delicious foodie journey for us to enjoy. Your team are absolutely awesome & made our experience so special. I can’t wait to meet you some day soon, so I can thank you in person.”
(Jo was very lucky to get the last table at the last sitting at the Fat Duck Melbourne which was actually the Fat Duck’s 20th birthday so they had a 20 course meal with a few different dishes & some of the same – she will appear on episode 3 of the series Inside Heston’s World, keep an eye out!)