A new augmented reality app came to my attention recently, CHOICE’s CluckAR. The idea behind CluckAR is to help conscientious consumers find genuine free range eggs because the packaging of some free range eggs is misleading. In Australia egg producers can have 10,000 hens per hectare and still advertise their eggs as being free range. Not only can they have thousands of hens crammed into one hectare, there is no requirement for the hens to spend time outside as per the free range standard signed off by the Australian consumer affairs minister.
I love eggs and so does Hubby. We started buying free range eggs several years ago but I was surprised to read that not all free range eggs are created equal. Call me naive but I trusted those claims of free range on the packaging. Anyway, CluckAR to the rescue! I can now scan the egg carton in the supermarket and if the rating is poor then the carton goes back on the shelf, if the rating is good I take a screenshot for future reference and it is also possible to use the app and pin the location of the store selling genuine free range eggs on a map which can be viewed by other users of the app.
Below are the results from tests on cartons I had at home, I know which ones I won’t be purchasing again.
Some might think that it is difficult to eat well in Scotland, but I’ve got the ‘now too tight pants’ to prove otherwise. Not to mention the numerous photos that I am sharing with you. The availability of good wines from all over the world didn’t help with maintaining a balanced, healthy diet nor did the clotted cream fudge or the divine chocolates from the Cocoa Tree in Pittenweem and Iain Burnett, Highland Chocolatier in St Andrews.
In Fife we stayed at Dairsie Castle and enjoyed gourmet evening meals provided by Christopher Trotter, a local chef and Fife ambassador. Meals were prepared using local, seasonal ingredients including nettle, wild garlic, seafood and lamb. Scottish cheeses such as Crowdie and Clava were served with oatcakes and fresh fruit, the wines chosen by individuals at the Cupar Tescoe. Day trips to seaside villages such as Crail, Pittenweem and St Monans gave us the opportunity to try more local specialities in spectacular settings. Surprisingly, I did manage to get some painting and sketching done in between all the tasty food stops, there is only so much one person can eat 😉
Gardenstown is a fishing village in the highlands, located on the Banffshire Coast not far from Macduff and Fraserburgh. There is no supermarket in the town apart from a small convenience store and only three choices of places to eat: Teapot One, a nice little cafe serving homemade soups and cakes; The Garden Arms Hotel, a cozy little pub open for dinner a few nights a week; and the Harbour View Restaurant, for fine dining near the pier. We ate regularly at the Garden Arms, the atmosphere was cozy and congenial and the owners looked after us well. The Teapot One was the perfect spot for grabbing fresh fruit scones as a snack or an afternoon pick-me up hot chocolate, and the Harbour View Restaurant was a nice change and they served a most delicious sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice-cream. On one wet and misty day we ventured into Macduff to wander around the woodlands near Duff House, it was the perfect weather for sitting down to a bowl of delicious Cullen Skink, a soup of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. The smell reminded me of the smoked fish my family in New Zealand served up, one of the few fish dishes I ate as a child.
When staying in Edinburgh I ate at the Cafe Rouge and at the restaurant in The Place Hotel, I couldn’t resist the charcuterie platter or the duck or the mussels or the snails so I tried a bit of everything. There are plenty of great places to eat and drink in Edinburgh, so why a French restaurant? After a couple of weeks of enjoying traditional Scottish fare and ingredients I was looking for something a little different and I’ve always been a sucker for french food. It wasn’t only the food I enjoyed but the coffee, it was relatively easy to find a decent macchiato or espresso although the service was a little hit and miss in some places, much like here in Australia.
Travel provide so many opportunities to try sifferent and delicious food. In Australia we have access to a variety of cuisines however there is nothing like eating food in the country of its origin. In Paris it was confit canard, in Turin truffles and in Florence wild boar although the bistecca fiorentina and lampredotto are on the list of thing to try over the next couple of days.
I share with you some of the yummy food we have eaten. Buon appetito!
With only a couple of days in Melbourne and very little free time to explore I focused on a couple of activities that could be squeezed in around attending a conference and the associated functions. Being in Melbourne makes my heart happy, here I can experience the true four seasons and make good use of my black coats, the quality and variety of wonderful places to eat makes dining out an experience and the shopping offers up products quite different to what is available on the coast. This was only my second visit to Melbourne, and I was travelling with two food focused colleagues so you can pretty much guess that we ate well when not provided with meals at the conference, lunching at Guy Grossi’s Grossi Florentino Cellar Bar and dining at the French restaurant Bistro Vue one evening.
The conference provided us with the opportunity to explore the lane ways of Melbourne though a guided walking tour of the city’s street art, the guide from Melbourne Walks was extremely knowledgeable and I would happily sign up for another walking tour. The conference dinner was held at Zinc in Federation Square, a finger food affair with plenty of alcohol flowing and the ambience created by RMIT’s (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) talented art students. When not at conference sessions and events I was making the most of my time to visit Queen Victoria Markets where the taste testing and purchasing of Koko Black chocolates was conducted, these tiny little chocolates in the form of champagne truffles, salted caramel and Raspberry Ganache were absolutely delicious, one small chocolate enough to satisfy any cravings but to ensure that later cravings were catered for, I bought half a dozen different flavours. The nearby Christmas shop is a must for visitors at this time of year, elves of all shapes and sizes plus the shop in set up so that each room has a particular colour and/or theme, for a white Christmas the room filled with silver and white decorations is perfect and the traditional red, green and gold room is filled to the brim with delightful ornaments and nativity scenes.
Architecture in Melbourne is quite different to the coast, here buildings are knocked down without alot of thought for their heritage and iconic value because our council loves the look of a skyline filled with highrise buildings towering over the beach and if a house stands still long enough, eventually it will be rendered with concrete and made to look like so many other homes – apologies for the rant, I’ll stop now. Melbourne is a mix of the old and the new, beautiful old buildings such as Flinders Street Station stand opposite the funky and modern Federation Square. RMIT buildings also throw modern architecture into the mix, several of their buildings being quite unusual and whether you love them or hate them, they definitely capture your attention. Walking along busy streets and through narrow lane ways leads to some delightful finds, paper shops and English style pubs, a book shop where everything is $10, the Hopetoun Tea Rooms and Chokolait among my favourite finds.
Next year I’ll be heading back to Melbourne, with a little bit more time on my hands I plan on exploring other parts of Melbourne however I will return to a couple of my favourite places even if it is only to browse the menu or purchase a chocolate (or two).
Grossi Florentino Restaurant and Cellar Bar
Street posters, Melbourne laneways
Finger food at the Myer Christmas shopping evening, Melbourne
Confit Duck, Bistro Vue Melbourne
Creme Brulee, Bistro Vue Melbourne
RMIT Building 80, Melbourne
RMIT Building 22, known as ‘the Green Brain’
Australiana Christmas decorations
Koko Chocolate Shop, Queen Victoria Markets
Hopetoun Teahouse window display
Umbrella installation in a Melbourne shopping centre
Recently I attended a High Tea birthday celebration at a lovely little place called Tea and Niceties in Eagle Heights on Mt Tamborine, I wasn’t sure what to expect having never experienced high tea before but thoughts of cucumber sandwiches and pots of Earl Grey tea crossed my mind and I don’t like either. You can imagine my delight when I walked into the tea room to see chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, silverware with vintage cups and saucers, silk flowers and decorated sugar cubes, so very pretty and girly and probably not a place that the average Aussie male would frequent. The list of teas ranged from the typical English Breakfast through to Chai, Japanese Lime and Ginger teas and for two hours we sipped tea and ate dainty treats that included cucumber sandwiches, savoury muffins, scones with jam and cream and cream filled cakes. All of the food is made on the premises and you can purchase bags of each tea to brew at home, as well as other homemade items and gifts such as preserves, rose soaps and teasets.
It was a sugar laden affair, at the end of two hours I felt as though my eyeballs were swimming in my head, experiencing a sugar rush ‘high’ that would result in me ‘crashing’ an hour or so later. Still, it was a really delightful afternoon and the affair allowed me to catch up with some lovely people whom I hadn’t seen for quite a while.
I’ve been a little ‘out of touch’ this week as a result of choosing to minimise the number of gadgets in my carry on and only take my DSLR and iPhone to Sydney. Sure I could access the internet on my phone but I preferred to indulge in other activities on my week off.
One day was devoted to food and window shopping, although an Olga Berg handbag on sale did convince me to open my purse and hand over the plastic. Jamie Oliver has opened a restaurant aptly named Jamie’s Italian in Pitt Street, the reviews from friends and family were good, nobody was in the least put off by the fact that they had to queue because the restaurant doesn’t take bookings – the bar is a fine place to wait. My friend and I were there for lunch and we just beat the ‘business lunch’ rush so there was no waiting and we were directed to a tiny little table off to the side, the wall next to us was stacked with bottles of wine and kept in place with wire mesh. Bubbles being the drink of choice, we perused the overwhelming menu (overwhelming because we wanted to try a bit of everything and knew we couldn’t) and watched as tasty morsels of food were delivered to the tables around us. The food we ordered was heaven, a taste sensation that I hadn’t experienced for a while and with any luck I’ll be heading to Sydney again with a meal at Jamie’s Italian high on the list of things to do…again.
A walk around Circular Quay to admire the Opera House, Museum of Contemporary Art and to watch the buskers at work is always a pleasant way to work off the kilojoules consumed at lunch, especially if the weather is being particularly nice. At the moment all the gardens are in full bloom and the Jacaranda trees are covered with purple flowers, it is a spectacular sight and even though there are many similar photos in my archives I can’t help but take a couple more.
You wouldn’t think we would need afternoon tea following such a delicious lunch, but Laduree has also recently opened in Sydney and I was not leaving the city without purchasing some of their famous Macarons. We stopped off at David Jones prior to Laduree in order to see their Christmas window display, although not as good as Melbourne’s Myer Christmas windows it was still fun to see and listening to Christmas Carols always puts a smile on my face. Laduree is on the third floor of the Westfield shopping centre in Pitt Street mall, we were expecting a more of a Paris salon or high tea ambiance but the Laduree counter is adjacent to the escalators and the seating is in the open. Still, it was a nice way to enjoy a pot of tea with my friend and the raspberry and pistachio macarons were scrumptious even if they were imported frozen from Switzerland. The additional coffee, vanilla, chocolate and pistachio macarons I purchased were presented in a pretty paper bag and gently placed in my handbag, slightly squashed, they were later enjoyed with family.
And now for the real reason I went to Sydney…
…my brother’s first child and my parents first grandchild was born in August, I had not yet had the privilege of meeting Aleyah and already she is 3 months old. This gorgeous little girl stole my heart with her easy going nature and smiley face, spending time with her was the highlight of my stay in Sydney.