Saturday, 15 May 2021

Coogee Bay Hotel and trip to Sydney

My workplace sent me to Sydney for a Centre meeting a few weeks back.  It was my first time on a plane since Covid changed our travel landscape.  I enjoyed getting out of town and staying at the Coogee Bay Hotel which is just across the road from Coogee Beach.  And the meeting was really worth attending.

However there were little reminders that we are still living in Covid-normal times.  I was waiting for plane at the gate when a woman behind me, who was arriving on the previous plane at the same gate, gave me a surprise by telling someone she had to get tested for Covid and isolate.  Later I realised it was a planeload from Perth who had recently had a Covid outbreak.  I was glad that they were testing and isolating when I heard the following weekend that there were more cases in Perth.  It gave me some peace of mind.  It was also weird to have to wear a face mask in the airport and on the airplane but again understandable.  More amusing was the announcement on the plane that if we needed to use oxygen masks in an emergency that we should take off our face masks first!  Really!

I was glad to arrive at my room at the Coogee Bay Hotel.   It was a treat to have a nice hotel room with some wallpaper and colour!  So many hotels I have stayed with for work have been so bland!  Not that I was in there that much over my two night stay.  I think I was in the one of the Boutique rooms.  Some of my colleagues had a sea view but I look out over the houses.


In the morning I rose in time for breakfast at the hotel.  I had taken a later flight because Sylvia had returned from school camp on the same day I left.  After last year, we can't complain about being able to go to school camp or fly to Sydney.  I had a lovely breakfast of corn fritters, tomato jam, persian feta, avocado and coriander.  (I forgot to take a photo while catching up with colleagues.)

The Coogee Bay Hotel dates back to 1863 when it was a school and then converted to a hotel in 1873.  It has some great historic photos of the beach on its walls, but I didn't see any information about the architectural history.  And all I could find online are some plans in 1913 but no images of it in the Nineteenth Century.

The first day of our meeting was busy with training, presentations and a tour of my Sydney colleague's office.  She has a room with an amazing view of Sydney.  At lunchtime we went to a nearby cafe (JGs) where I had a delicious vegetable rice and a chickpea and pumpkin salad.


After work I had a little time before dinner but as it is now autumn, the sun was setting early and it seemed too dark for a swim.  I could not resist going down to the beach for a walk.


Coogee Beach is in a little bay with some wonderful cliffs and rock formations.  I loved the colours in this cliff.  Instead of going in, I took off my shoes and waded in the tide.  Of course this is not so smart and the waves washed in with some power and wet my skirt.  I had to change before dinner. 

We had dinner in the Garden.  Again I didn't take photos while socialising with my colleagues but I enjoyed it.  This is a really big space but was quite busy.  One of my colleagues from Sydney says they often have cricket and football teams there.  For dinner I had the Vegetarian Pizza which had eggplant, roasted peppers, zucchini, dukka, mozzarella, topped by dollops of baba ganoush.  The baba ganoush was cold and I was not so keen on the hot pizza with cold dip but it was a nice pizza and a little different to the usual vegetarian options.  I was also pleased they had Mocktails and I had a strawberry and blood orange nojito which was lovely.  After dinner we walked to an ice cream shop and then stood in the park looking over the sea talking while we ate our ice creams.  What a treat!

On the second morning I was so determined to have a swim while in Sydney that I was out of my hotel room earlier than I usually wake up at home.  At 6.45am the sky was spectacular and the beach was pretty quite but there was a handful of hardy swimmers. 

The water was not too cold after the initial shock of dipping my toe in.  The waves were pretty fierce near that edge of the sea but more gentle when a bit further out.  I found the beach very different to those I am used to along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.  Our beaches are flat and I was taught never to go out where it was above waist height - because even at this height the waves can be over your head.  But in Coogee, the beach got deep really quickly and before I knew it I was up to my neck.  It was fun to be out in the waves at the time of morning.

After I got dressed (with the shrugging on and off at the beach though I am sure there were some change rooms somewhere I should have used) I had a quick walk along the beach.  I am fascinated by the swimming pools built into the sea in Sydney.  I had hoped to get a swim in one but I only managed to walk up to this one by the surf club.  No one was about and I could not work out if you had to pay to go in it.

One important part of going to the beach is washing the sand off.  It was only on the second morning I noticed this plumbing marvel.  When I go to the Great Ocean Road beaches, I am lucky if I can find one shower.  I loved how this had five shower heads, though I am not sure I would like the rough and tumble of the showers in the busy times.

After my swim I went foraging for breakfast.  Which is to say I headed up Coogee Bay Road to a bakery where I ordered a cheese toastie on the recommendation of a colleague.  It seemed odd at first that it was only half a toastie but when I ate it and found how big and rich it was, I appreciated the restraint.  I also had one of the delicious Emma and Tom's green juices.

Then I packed up the rest of my case and left.  I dislike packing wet bathers but once I rolled them up tightly in a towel, it really helped wring out as much water as possible.

I headed down to the hotel lounge to check out and meet my colleagues for another day of training and meetings.  I was meant to head to the airport at 3pm with a colleague for our flights but his flight got changed to 6pm.  My 4.30 flight changed to 5.30 and then that was cancelled and they were looking for a seat for me.  I was glad of the advice from colleagues to head to the airport to organise another flight.  By the time I was in the taxi I got a text asking me to ring them about my flights.  When I rang, there was a message saying no one was able to take my call and I was given another number to call.  I rang this number and was told I was to be on hold for 1 to 2 hours.  Thank goodness by then I was at the airport and able to speak to a staff member face to face.

I got a 7pm flight.  Sylvia organised a sleepover so she was not waiting at home for me.  I stopped at Mad Mex's for a burrito bowl as I knew I could not rely on food on the plane.  I almost had finished my book (New Animal by Ella Baxter) by the time I got home at 9pm.  I was pretty tired but felt lucky to get to spend time at a Centrewide meeting, get an ocean swim and see some of a part of Sydney I had not visited before.  

Postscript:  We were extra lucky we had chosen that week and not the next one when a few people got Covid in Sydney.  Even though the state borders weren't closed, there would have been a lot of uncertainty about the trip going ahead.  There was enough to worry about in our Covid normal times with catering, social distancing in meeting rooms and zoom hook up for those who could not travel. 

Coogee Bay Hotel
253 Coogee Bay Road
Coogee, Sydney

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

In My Kitchen: May 2021

May sees the year in full swing with life being busy at home and at work.  While the threat of Covid has eased, the vaccine and closed international borders continue to be challenging.  Winter is closing in which is not good for food photography or riding my bike to work but lovely to fall sleep to the sound of rain outside and even not bad for swimming laps in the outdoor pool today.  Last week we were trying to get back into routines after a crazy week of school camp and a work trip to Sydney.  It was one of those weeks where I wondered if we would ever find routine.  Despite this, I have been enjoying a bit more cooking lately.  I have had a few more opportunities to share food and made some substantial dishes for lunches.  Above is quinoa salad I made a few weeks back.

This is the quinoa salad served for lunch while working at home.  I am only working from home a day and half a week.  Lunches at home are so much easier when they don't need to be carted to work hours ahead of eating them.  Unfortunately I was not so happy with this salad.  I expected the quinoa to be fluffy and separated rather than clumpy.  But it was still pretty good with lots of chickpeas, mini cherry tomatoes, dried cranberries, chopped spinach and cauliflower.

It was exciting to go to IGA supermarket after seeing Tom and Jerry at Pentridge Palace Cinema with Sylvia in the school holidays.  We were wide eyed at all the different groceries.  Tinned edamame beans were grabbed in glee but Sylvia was disappointed with the taste of them.  I loved them in a wonderful Corn and Edamame Chowder.  The freeze-dried pumpkin made for healthy snacking.  The vegan smoked oat cheese was a bit bland cold but worked a treat melted on toast.  I took the Veg Eaty Maple Bacon Gourmet Sausages to Geelong for a Mothers Day BBQ and I really enjoyed them.  Sylvia was keen on the crumpet toast which is quite easy to find at other supermarkets.

I've had a bit of time to sort through some papers and detritus in my bedroom.  I found this domestic goddess badge that I was given years ago.  It has seen better days.  Symbolic of my kitchen prowess?

Not quite "in my kitchen" but it is as good as place as any to share a housekeeping tip.  Many years ago when I lived in a student share house a repair guy visited to look at my housemate's washing machine which was in a bad way.  He told us the problem was that she had not emptied the lint filter.  One I bought my own washing machine, I have emptied the filter almost religiously.  Lately I have noticed my lint filter has got so old and holey that it was getting ineffective.  I put in the brand of my washing machine into search and was surprised how easy it was to purchase a new filter.

Here is a fairly easy weeknight dinner.  I purchased a spinach and feta quiche for one.  It was big enough to share with Sylvia, who surprised me by loving it.  I made a quick mac and cheese to serve with it.  Instead of baking the mac and cheese in the oven I made it in my cast iron frypan, then topped it with grated cheese and panko breadcrumbs.  I cooked it under the grill until it was golden brown and crispy.  Sylvia ate it under sufferance but loved the crispy topping.  Then I amused myself by filling my plate with more cruciferous vegetables: raw cabbage and microwaved brussels sprouts.  It is that time of year.

When I lived in Scotland, I was very partial to Muellers corners (apricot, gooseberry and the unforgettable toffee yoghurt with choc covered cereal hoops).  Now they seem to be filling the shelves of our Melbourne supermarket chilled section.  For those unfamiliar, it is a yoghurt pot that has a small corner filled with something to stir in.  Sylvia is very excited by the Chobani S'mores yoghurt.  I really like the Gippsland ones.  The corners are all full of crispy mixtures of nuts, coconut, chocolate, pastry crumbs etc.  Maybe there will soon be ones with corners of fruit sauce like the Muellers fruit corners.

And here is more yoghurt in my kitchen.  Yes we have suddenly gone a bit mad for yoghurt!  This one is a Gippsland apricot and honey yoghurt which I ate with some homemade berry sauce and bought granola.  Delicious!

Another homemade meal.  I made a stew with pasta and served it with colourful vegetables.  Actually I can't quite remember the stew well but I suspect it was a tex mex sort of

When I flew to Sydney a couple of weeks ago, my flights were changed a few times and it was such a mess that I took my colleague's advice and headed to the airport to sort it.  (Which was much preferable to spending 1-2 hours on hold on the phone which seemed my alternative.)  It means a few hours at the airport.  

After the flight up from Melbourne I assumed that I would not get a vegetarian meal.  So I had a burrito bowl and bought these JCs nut mix snacks.  The names (Outback Mix and Jackaroo Mix) amused me.  I had thought they would be good to have on the plane but, as it was, I wasn't hungry.  I ended up eating them as snacks at work last week and found them to be rather tasty.  

 Luckily I had a good book to read while I waited for my plane.  New Animal by Ella Baxter had lots of odd moments but had some thoughtful insights into grief, and some lovely writing.

Before I sat at the gate to wait for my plane, I had plenty of time to look for some gifts for Sylvia.  I got her an opera house glasses cleaner and a Bondi Kiss salted caramel paw paw lip balm.  I had to buy a new luggage tag and could only find one I liked in a set of two, hence the leftover pink tag.  I also brought some some chewing gum, which I like to have on the plane as I can get travel sickness.  And I bought a couple of hotel toiletries home for Sylvia.

This plate (designed by Ngarga Warendj, the dancing wombat) was my present to myself at Sydney Airport.  I really liked the simplicity of the design with Aboriginal motifs.  Now when I use it, I will think of my first flight and first big centre meeting after lockdown, of swimming at Coogee Beach and being messed around with flights on the way home.  I have some photos from the trip that I hope to share here soon!

It took me a while to find some energy and time to stew a big bag of apples.  Once I did, Sylvia was delighted and at quite a lot of them.  They were delicious and comforting.  I took some warm stewed apple to my neighbour and I used some in a lovely honey, apple and olive oil cake.

Caramilk seems to be a mix of white chocolate and caramel.  I am not a huge white chocolate fan but I do like caramel.  I loved these caramilk choc chips in ANZAC biscuits.  I am not baking a lot but this new flavour makes me curious to try these in other baking.

Here is an odd assortment that I brought back from the city when I rode in to see the skin specialist.  A childhood in the harsh Australian sun means regular skin checks-ups.  On this occasion the specialist decided to do a biopsy on a mark under my eye to check he was right that is was nothing sinister!  That part of the skin is very sensitive.  After the visit I replenished my stocks of iron tablets, brought some new umbrellas and went to Haighs chocolate for some indulgence.  I bought Sylvia the chocolate bilby and the quandong chocolate was for me.


Lastly, here is another colourful work lunch at home.   On this occasion I had a stew made with a soup mix and lots of vegies.  It went very well with baby spinach, red capsicum, red cabbage and brie cheese.  I have been very partial to red or purple cabbage which keeps for ages in the fridge.  It is easy to add it to a dish for some additional colour and nutrients.

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event.  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog to visit more kitchens.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Caramilk ANZAC Biscuits - not for the traditionalists!

I have a great workplace but it still is a treat to have everyone cheer me in a group meeting.  We had a meeting a few weeks back where I announced at the end that I had made ANZAC biscuits for morning tea.  The cheer that greeted me was no doubt related to happiness at finally sitting in the one room for our group meeting instead of on zoom and then being able to gather to share baked goods afterwards!  I was really pleased with the batch and made another delicious batch soon after with some caramilk choc chips thrown in. 

I took most of my first batch to work because they were so good I didn't want the temptation.  But I had promised Sylvia that I would make a batch for her to take to E's for his birthday. I had recently seen Cakelaw post a caramilk choc chip cookie recipe.  The golden syrup in ANZAC biscuits make them a bit caramelly so this seemed a great opportunity to try the caramilk choc chips.  I also knew sylvia and E love it.  Cakelaw wisely warned that it was very sweet.  Caramilk is a cross between white chocolate and caramel so it is all the sweetest stuff in big toothache!  I did a bit of tweaking the recipe to tone down the sweetness, including a sprinkle of salt flakes on the biscuits.  Sylvia was not so impressed by this but I quite liked it. 

In the past when I have had a brainstorm about putting choc chips into ANZAC biscuits I have mixed them into the dry ingredients and accidentally melted them by pouring the hot melted golden syrup and butter over them.  I was so busy trying to make sure I didn't melt the choc chips that I forgot the bicarb in the butter and golden syrup mixture.  What a loss!  Seeing the butter and golden syrup froth up is one of the fun things about making ANZACs.  Luckily I remembered in time to add the water and bicarb.  It did not just make sure there was enough air in the biscuits, but it also fixed a crumbly mixture.

Of course when I told my mum she said they weren't ANZACs,  She is right.  The recipe is very carefully guarded.  But why can we alter how much flour we add but not tweak an ingredient in the ANZAC spirit of innovation and defiance.  I was so happy with these biscuits that I even considered making another batch.  The third batch is still waiting to appear.  Maybe around next ANZAC Day, which I often get the urge to bake ANZAC biscuits.                  

More ANZAC recipes:
ANZAC biscuits (v)
ANZAC biscuits with cranberries and chocolate (v)
ANZAC biscuits with milo and white chocolate
ANZAC cake (Laws of the Kitchen)
ANZAC chocolate caramel slice (Not Quite Nigella)
Kate's caramel ANZAC slice (The Annoyed Thyroid)

ANZAC Biscuits
(An original GGG take on a traditional recipe)
Makes about 40 biscuits 

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup castor sugar
pinch of salt

125g butter, chopped
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp treacle or dark molasses
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2-3 tbsp boiling water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 generous cup of caramilk (or white) choc chips
extra salt flakes for topping (optional)

Combine first four ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a small saucepan. When melted take off the heat. Mix the hot water and bicarb in a separate bowl and add to the golden syrup mixture. Mix and watch it froth up.

Once it is frothing, pour the golden syrup mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir to combine. Stir in the choc chips into mixture.

Drop teaspoonfuls onto a greased or lined baking tray. Leave plenty of room around them as they will spread quite a lot. I didn’t leave enough room for mine (maybe they were too big).

Bake in 160 C oven for about 10 minutes. My mum gave me the wise advice that your nose will tell you when it is cooked. Leave to cool on tray for 5-10 minutes and then use an eggflip or spatula to transfer to wire rack to cool.

On the stereo:
Brood - My Friend the Chocolate Cake

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Honey, apple and olive oil cake for my 14th blog anniversary

I almost didn't bake this cake!  But I have a tradition of baking a cake each blog anniversary.  Fourteen years is a long time in blogging.  Over this time, there has been a lot of change both in the blogosphere and my life.  I started the blog with a birthday cake for my husband and the proceeded to post with incredible energy.  These days blogs are far less rough and ready and I have far less energy for blogging.  I still bake for E's birthday but my daughter takes it to his house now that we are separated.  This year the practicalities meant I just made some biscuits but I wanted a cake for the anniversary.

By the time I decided to bake this cake, it was Sunday morning.  Usually this would be a good morning to duck out to the shops for any ingredients I didn't have.  But it was ANZAC DAY when shops and businesses in Australia close until 1pm.  I had cut up a big saucepan of apples for stewing earlier while watching Insiders on tv.  So with no Greek yoghurt in the house, I used the stewed apples.  And I have lots of limes but no lemons on our trees.  So guess which tree I went to when I realised I had used my last lemon in the stewed apples!  Most of the preparation for baking the cake was spent picking and rubbing thyme leaves off the woody stalks that I picked from the garden.

I had chosen a rather plain cake - yoghurt and honey olive oil cake.  I added some vinegar as well to give a little of the yoghurty sourness.  What made this cake a bit more of a celebration cake was the addition of a dollop of yoghurt with a magnificent berry sauce full of berries that I had squirreled away in the freezer over summer.  The cake was lovely and moist by itself though I found the 1 tablespoon of thyme a little intense and would add less next time.  I went for a swim after it came out of the oven and when I rode home in the rain, it was a cosy return into the warm house smelling of baking and honey.

The cake was really special served with the yoghurt and berry sauce.  Sylvia also enjoyed it.  I made it before an odd week that has started with her at school camp and ends with me in Sydney for a work meeting (hence this post being scheduled in advance).  So some of the cake is in the freezer. 

I usually reflect on blogging in my blogiversary blog post but life is just so odd and busy that it is hard to focus on blogging.  I still have a lot of blogging I want to do, though far less energy.  Perhaps I coudl say that although I have not been that social with this cake, I have probably had one of the most social weeks this week since the pandemic hit early last year.  I had lunch with a friend at work yesterday.  Then after work I went to the cinema to see The Father, followed by a lovely dinner at the Green Man's Arms with a uni friend.  Today I caught up with friends this morning and again this afternoon.  Ahead is a farewell lunch for a work colleague, a work dinner in Sydney and catching up with some familiar faces from work that I haven't seen for some time.  

It will be odd to go on a plane again after a couple of years.  My first time on a plane wearing a face mask for the duration of the journey.  I hope that there is no snap lockdown when I get to Sydney.  Some of my colleagues will not travel because their health is too fragile or they can't risk being locked down. That is our Covid-normal life in Australia.  Almost there but not quite!

For all the strangeness of life, I can't complain too much.  This year so far (touchwood) is better than last year.  I am still busy but I have more hope and it is far better to be struggling with a vaccine rollout than a covid outbreak.  I do not have lots of energy and time to try new recipes and photograph them and blog.  This is partly because my blog has armed me with a fantastic repertoire of favourite recipes.  I am sadder I have less time for comments, which has always been such a delight of blogging.  I would like to write more but I need to do the dishes and pack and try to get some sleep before some busy days ahead.  Let's just finish the post feeling happy I still can occasionally summon the energy to bake a cake for a bit of comfort and celebration!  And I will be bake soon with more blogging!

More cakes made with olive oil on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chocolate olive oil cake
Chocolate olive oil cake (gf, v)
Citrus grape cake
Kitchen sink tropical fruit loaves
Lemon and honey cake
Venetian carrot cake

Honey, apple and olive oil cake
Adapted from The Kitchn

1 cup stewed apples, chopped small (or plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup honey

1 to 3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Finely grated zest
 of 1 lime (or small lemon)
3 eggs

1 1/2 cups plain white flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Berry sauce (below) and yoghurt, to serve

Preheat oven to 170 C.  Grease and line a 22cm round springform tin.

Lightly whisk apples (or yoghurt), vinegar, olive oil, honey, thyme and lime.  Whisk in eggs.  Fold in dry ingredients.  Don't worry if it is slightly lumpy.

Pour into prepared tin.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and the cake is pulling away from the sides.  Cool in tin for 10 minutes and turn out onto plate to eat warm or wire rack to cool before eating.

Berry sauce
Makes about 1 cup

150-200g mixed berries (I used blueberries, raspeberries, blackberries and strawberries)
juice of 1 lime (or 1/2 lemon)
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cornflour (corn starch)

Cook berries, lime and maple syrup gently in a small saucepan until boiling.  Mix a couple of spoonfuls of juice from berry mixture with the cornstarch.  Pour into berry mixture and bring to the boil.  It should thicken slightly.

On the Stereo:
Begin to Hope: Regina Specktor

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Easter hedgehog slice and what I did on my holidays

Over Easter I read a journalist saying that it was time to throw out the Easter eggs from last year that their kids had not eaten over the past year.  It reminded me of my childhood neighbours who would horrify us by keeping their Easter eggs instead of eating them.  Easter eggs never lasted long in our house.  Even when my brothers decided they did not want their Easter eggs one year, they just broken them into pieces and threw them to my siblings and me for fun.  These days if we have leftover Easter eggs, they go into some baking for a bit of fun.  Such as this hedgehog slice.

Before I tell you about this slice, I will tell you a bit about my holidays.  This week is my first full week of work in 4 weeks.  Easter gave me a couple of shorter weeks and then I took a week off for the school holidays.  We were treated to a few warm autumnal days.  On Easter Saturday, Sylvia and I headed to Torquay for a swim.  It was so busy we went to the back beach with rough high waves.  There were too many people for my liking but it is hard to resent others who also wanted to enjoy some last rays of sunshine before winter.

 While in Torquay, we went to Il Gelatino (3/42 Bell Street, Torquay) for an ice cream.  I had Golden Gaytime and Chocolate.  It was a lovely balmy late afternoon to sit eating ice cream before heading back to my parents where we celebrated Easter with family the next day.  Only my dad went to church on the Saturday night because it was booked out.  No cramming churchgoers into the aisles this year with Covid still forcing social distancing.

After Easter Sunday, I had leave on Monday and Tuesday.  Sylvia and I went to Barkly Square where we ate lunch outside.  I had recently been told at another Zambrero cafe that it is $1 cheaper to order a Bowl with black rice than to order a PowerBowl which is the same for a vegetarian.  So I had the Bowl with black rice, beans, cheese, cos lettuce, corn, tomato, sour cream, chipotle sauce and guacamole.  It was lovely and very filling but next time I need to remember to ask for just a little sauce.

Before heading back to work I made this Easter Egg hedgehog.  It was made to use up bits and pieces around the house.  I had bought a 95% Lindt chocolate that was far too bitter for Sylvia and me.  As there was a half tin of condensed milk hanging around in the fridge, I thought if I mixed them I would have a fudgy sauce that wasn't too sweet.  It worked well but was very rich.  I mixed in some shortbread biscuits that were heading towards Stale City with worrying speed.  And there were some Easter eggs about so I decided to put some in.  I also added shredded coconut just because I love it.  The slice was brilliant.  It rescued some food in danger of becoming compost.  This was definitely a slice where the sum was far superior to the parts.

During my week of annual leave, we took it easy.  I relaxed and read my book (highly recommend Rodham by Curtis Sittenfield), I cleaned around the house, I organised my life just that little bit more, we had some trips around town, rode my bike and went swimming.  Life still seems to be not quite normal but having a week gave me a chance for some of the recouping I need.

One trip was to have a swim at Brunswick Pool and then head to Luthers Scoops (528A Sydney Road, by Blyth St, Brunswick).  It is an unassuming looking place with some amazing ice cream.  First I saw Cindy and Michael rave about it and then I had a colleague rave to me about it.  I had a scoop of strawberry cheesecake and a scoop of an intense dark chocolate.  The big chunks of strawberries and the cheesecake flavours were amazing.  They mixed well with the chocolate but on its own the chocolate was really intense.  Sylvia had a blueberry and sour cream scoop and a passionfruit and lemon curd scoop.  She raved about the blueberry but was less certain about the passionfruit (which interestingly Cindy loved).  I am sure we will be back!

I went to the city with my mum and Sylvia.  The place we had chosen was noisy and fully booked so we walked on to a food hall.  There are so many in the city and this one had a few closed cafes but quite a lot of people about for the ones that were open.  I tried a pumpkin tempura sushi handroll from Sushi Hub.  It was really good.  And I had a Morroccan Chickpea and Kale Spud from Spud Bar.  It turned out to give me menu envy as I wished I had ordered a more traditional baked potato.  I liked mine but with sweet potato, lots of quinoa, a chickpea and kale in sauce, beetroot chunks and generous dollop of kale it was too much a stew, too earnestly healthy and lacked that cheeky glint of fun.  And it was huge.  I didn't finish it.  It wasn't terrible but I just wanted a baked potato meal rather than stew.

We then walked to Brunettis in the CBD.  Sylvia had this Oreo cheesecake, I had a small square of mud cake and my mum had a rum baba.  There was a lot of syrup on that rum baba.  It is such a huge busy cafe that there is lots of great people watching.  I felt sorry for the couple who had us sitting at a bench directly overlooking them with just a glass wall to separate us and them.  They chatted and flirted and played Uno and I wanted to tell the woman that she had a smear of cream from her pastry in her dark hair.

I had a day when I had organised lunch with a friend but she was sick.  So I rode into the city and just had a bit of time to myself.  It was lovely.  I will share some street art photos soon.  I had decided I needed to start eating a bit more healthily.  So I had lunch at Seedling Cafe (275 Flinders Lane, CBD) where I ate a wonderful plate of quinoa salad and a broccoli and cauliflower salad.  It is calling for a longer post if only I can find time to return.

And though I was determined to eat a little better, when I saw on a dessert named "I'm a lady" on the menu at Noodle Lab (11 Rose Lane, off Little Bourke Street, CBD), I had to try it. The dessert comprised lady finger banana and dulce de leche wrapped in spring roll pastry with black sesame meringue and black sesame ice-cream, with honey shot ($9).  It was as amazing as it sounded.  I promised myself I must go back there soon.  Even though I know that the holidays are over and now my spare time is never enough and my to do list is always ridiculously long!  It was nice to have a breather before diving back into work and the usual craziness of my life.

More leftover Easter egg recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Easter caramel and malteser fridge cake
Easter egg nests
Easter egg slice
Easter Scotch eggs
Marzipan Easter egg cupcakes

See more at Easter recipes: savoury, sweet and salt dough

Easter hedgehog slice
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe

1/2 tin of condensed milk
100g 95% cocoa chocolate - lindt, chopped
125g speckled chocolate eggs eggs
100g shortbread biscuits, crumbled
1/3 cup shredded coconut
Extra shredded coconut for topping

Melt chocolate and condensed milk in a medium bowl in the microwave.  Mix with eggs, shortbread biscuits and coconut.   Press down into a 15cm square lined tin.  Sprinkle with shredded coconut.  Firm up in fridge.  Cut into small square and enjoy!

On the Stereo:
Bat out of Hell: Meatloaf