The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience

“My idea of good company…is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.’
‘You are mistaken,’ said he gently, ‘that is not good company, that is the best.”
 Jane Austen, Persuasion

High teas are always an escape from reality for me. It’s an escape into a beautiful world, where I truly unwind and take time to enjoy life’s little luxuries like a perfectly brewed cup of tea, delicious savoury and sweet nibbles and above all, the company of those whom I truly value.

But at the Austen Tea Room, it went a step further….I got to enjoy one of my favourite authors of all times.

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The Austen Tea Room, as the name suggests, is an ode to the creative brilliance of Jane Austen. Anyone who loves to read would have picked up and loved an Austen book at some point in their life. And this tea room transports you to that era, allowing you to escape the everyday mundane and bask in the happiness that comes from not racing against time.

And that’s why we decided to book a high tea experience for our book swap meet.

I have been to other high tea experiences but what immediately struck me about the Austen Tea Room, apart from the obvious reference to Jane Austen, is the classic British setting. It was not just about luxury and pretty, it was about slowing down like the women did in those times.

There is ample evidence to Austen, her life and books right from the moment you walk in. There is a central café area and is the place you are most likely to be seated if you are just dropping in and not booked in for a high tea or luncheon. And you might want to see if those high back chairs against the window are free for the best spot in the café.

The individual and shared tea rooms are at the back which is arranged according to the size of the group. While some tables are intimate just for 2-3 people, the rest are large making it ideal for hens parties, birthdays etc…

I was visiting with another friend (also my muse for the day!) and so we were directed to a beautifully arranged table for two.

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

We had booked for Jane’s Sparkling High Tea. So the first thing to arrive was the bubbles; I can’t think of a better way for two fine ladies to unwind. Our table was decked with the most beautiful tea set, classic Victorian design tableware and we had that perfect spot near a window. I think the picture would do more justice than my words…

We chose to start off with savoury and then follow it up with the tea and sweet treats.

A selection of delicious savoury treats was presented beautifully at our table. There was freshly made ribbon sandwiches with assorted fillings, dainty quiches, sausage rolls and mini meat pies. All of it was delicious but I especially loved the sandwiches.

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

Good conversations are important for a high tea experience, because it is all about slowing down as I mentioned earlier. So we pondered over Jane Austen for a while and then just rambled on, conversations flow naturally when you are in good company.

Once we had polished off most of the savoury nibbles, the tea was bought out along with the sweet treats. The tea was perfectly brewed, at the right temperature and we enjoyed with first with some hot scones, clotted cream and homemade jam. Heaven!

There was also an assortment of macaroons, mini cupcakes, and petite cakes along with a few other nibbles to accompany the tea.

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The high tea at Austen is not the most elaborate or indulgent that I have experienced. But the old world Victorian charm here is just magical that it transcends everything else. And anything to do with books will win my heart easily.

Austen Tea Room

40 Nicholson St
Essendon, VIC 3040

P: 03 9326 2966
http://www.theaustentearoom.com.au/

High Tea Timings:

(Bookings are essential)

Weekdays: 12pm – 2pm
Weekends 2.00pm – 4.00 pm 

The Austen Tea Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – The High Tea experience was paid for by me and my friend.

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August Favourites

It’s almost mid year and with Christmas décor and sales almost beginning to appear in stores, I have a feeling that the year is gonna end in the blink of an eye. No wonder time feels like the most precious commodity these days….

I know the next couple of months are gonna be super busy for me, lots of exciting stuff happening, a holiday or two on the cards and lots of changes on the blog too, hopefully. But for now, let’s keep calm and check out what I have been upto last month.

Prawns featured rather heavily in my menu last month as part of the recipe development for Supreme Seafood. But I am not complaining because it is an utterly delicious one which comes together in under 30 minutes.

Spaghetti, homemade pesto, chilli flakes, tiger prawns and parmesan comes together to create this lipsmacking pasta dish. Extremely easy to make and I promise if you have children at home, they are gonna love it.

So head over to Supreme Seafood website to check out the full recipe.

Spaghetti with prawns and pesto - thespiceadventuress.com

Another highlight of last month was the Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market, which I got to experience with some of my friends. It was a fabulous experience, getting to learn more about the history of the market, visiting the different sections and traders and also sampling a lot of goodies along the way. You can read my full post here.

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

This is the perfect Pandora charm for me.

Spring Fashion

Nurturing creativity in children. I wish more parents understood this….

Fake and inauthentic people make me cringe. Here’s why….

Let’s start with this summer drink

And then this chilled beet soup.

Followed by this salad.

I dig rich and bold flavours like this on my dinner plate.

I am totally making this for dinner.

A quick and easy chicken dinner

Eating Tuna responsibly; I am glad someone wrote about it.

Loving these giant meatballs, but I can’t stop with just one.

My favourite cast iron cooking ware; soon adding a wok to my collection.

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia)

My ‘Markets of Melbourne’ series continue with a visit to the iconic Queen Victoria Market.

Affectionately referred to as Queen Vic, the Queen Victoria Market is one of the oldest inner-city markets of Melbourne with a rich, vibrant and a fair share of controversial history.

I love visiting markets because there is so much life and energy in the atmosphere. Most markets are a true representation of the history, culture and food practices of that region. And I love market tours as it is much more interactive than reading the same information on a website.

thespiceadventuress.com

The Ultimate Foodie Tour is the best way to enjoy a personalized tour of the Queen Victoria Market, learn more about its colourful past, the best places to shop and sample some goodies along the way.

Our tour guide for the day was Miss. Irene, whose infectious enthusiasm and love for the market made the walk really interesting. After acknowledging and paying respects to the elders and true custodians of the land, she spoke to us about the history of the market, interesting tidbits about the architectural details etc… And then we started on our tour visiting the several iconic, traditional and heritage-listed market food halls.

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Since we visited a lot of stalls, I decided to do a pictorial guide of the tour, with all the relevant details provided under each photograph. While some of the stalls were part of the tour, some are traders or shops where I personally love to shop at while visiting Queen Vic.

It’s hard to miss George the Fishmonger while visiting the Seafood section. With the friendliest staff and the freshest seafood on offer, these guys are a must visit if you are crazy about seafood.

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Picture Courtesy – Supriya Mengi

And of course, you cannot leave without sampling freshly shucked oysters from the Seafood and Oyster Spot. A generous squeeze of lemon and you are in oyster heaven! The best thing I liked is that there is no minimum number of oysters you must order (the minimum at most places is half a dozen); so if you are alone or in a small group, you can order just the number you need.

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

The Deli Hall is another must visit market precinct for homemade pastas, sauces, cheese, cured meats, olives etc….. You will be spoilt for choice and there are so many traditional shops that have been selling their food products here for years.

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

One of the stops we made during the tour was at the Traditional Pasta Shop. As the name suggests, this shop is heaven for pasta lovers. Arrays of homemade pastas greet you, both fresh and dried. You can also purchase their in house pasta sauces here. We sampled the pumpkin stuffed raviolis in a creamy cheese sauce….just divine!

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

A selection of cured meats including salami, ham etc…

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Rows and rows of olives, different varieties from all around the world can be found in the Deli Hall.

It would be impossible for me to visit a market and not find a spice trader. And while there are quite a few to choose from, one of my favourites is Gewürzhaus, located inside the Deli hall. It is a one stop shop for all your spice needs, be it whole spices, blends, flavoured salts, dried herbs or teas. Let’s just say, I shopped quite a bit there…..

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ras el Hanout

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Merlot flavoured salt

There are a few shops selling Australian wines and the one that caught my eye was the Flowerdale Winery. Located near the Kinglake Ranges, about an hour’s drive to the north east of Melbourne, this winery is all about producing wines using traditional and natural methods, without any added preservatives. And while there are plenty of reds and whites, it’s the liqueurs and infused spirits that really excited me.

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

A bottle of Chilli Wine, from Flowerdale Winery. I have had chilli infused wines before but none really had that hit of chilli. But this one was simply amazing in terms of flavour. I tried out a red wine jus and also used it to add that dash of flavour to my pasta sauces. Highly recommended.

There are plenty of food trucks and eateries inside the market and also situated in the Market place food court. Some of these are unique and serve some of the best food that you will find in Melbourne.

If you love mussels, do stop over at the Mussel Pot where fresh mussels are cooked right in front of you. There are several different styles to choose from but one of the crowd favourites is the tomato, chilli, coconut flavoured one. Totally worth the wait!

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

Love doughnuts? Then a stop at the American Doughnut Kitchen is a must. Well these guys will convert you even if you are not a doughnut lover. You simply cannot miss this iconic 1950s van where you get to watch the always busy dough makers whipping out hundreds of fresh, soft and hot doughnuts with the sweet jam filling.

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

McIver’s Coffee & Tea Merchants is another must visit place while at Queen Vic. It’s not just about the 24 coffee and 72 tea varieties that they stock, it’s also about the cutest teapots and kettles. I literally stood there like a kid in a candy store. And even though I wanted to buy a tea set, I didn’t because I intend to go back for some serious shopping.

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

I am not going to waste time by describing the fruit and vegetables area, because honestly we all know that Queen Vic stocks some of the best produce of this country. But what surprised me is that there is an entire area dedicated to organic produce.

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

It is not possible to showcase all the traders or the variety of products that you can find at Queen Vic. It is a shopping mecca so make sure you walk around the length and breadth of the market and not just pop in for fresh produce.

The tour ended at ReWine with a glass of warm mulled wine (felt incredible since it was a very cold day) and a platter of fresh fruits. ReWine is a sustainable venture where different types of high quality, Australian wines are sold through the barrels present on site. So instead of just purchasing a bottle or two, you can take the old bottles back to be re-filled with your favourite wine.

The Ultimate Foodie Tour at Queen Victoria Market (Melbourne, Australia) - thespiceadventuress.com

I would recommend the Ultimate Foodie Tour for everyone. Whether you are a local, an occasional visitor or tourist, the tour offers a great insight into the rich history of the market, the traders and their stories and how the market has progressed through the centuries becoming the iconic place that it is today.

(You can also read about my experience at the Dandenong Market and Yarra Valley Farmer’s Market)

Disclaimer – I was invited as a guest to participate in the tour. The experience was unique and personal; the photographs entirely mine, unless stated otherwise. 

Steak (with Smashed Potato Salad, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Wine Jus)

Father’s Day came early for us this year!

Though we are not big on celebrating days like this, my job as a food blogger means that often I end up creating a special dish or menu either for the blog or for other websites. So when ‘Stuff Mums Like’ got in touch with me for a Father’s Day recipe, I thought of coming up with a dish that I know Sam would love.

And nothing better to tickle his taste buds than a juicy steak with the works!

Steak (with Smashed Potato Salad, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Wine Jus) - the ultimate Father's Day recipe - thespiceadventuress.com

This recipe is pretty simple inspite of a long title. It’s delicious, very satisfying and extremely easy to prepare even for a novice cook. All you need is a wee bit of time, patience and loads of love.

Before getting onto this delicious steak recipe, a sneak peek into our Father’s Day gift this year.

When Jord watches reached out to me couple of weeks ago for a media campaign, I was both apprehensive and excited. Surely stepping out of my comfort zone here (but it’s time, literally and figuratively), also it seemed to be the perfect gift to celebrate the man in my life.

Jord specialises in hand crafted, all natural wooden watches. Featured here is ‘Ebony and Iron’ from the Hyde series, a classic and elegant dark wood strap with sapphire crystal glass. Sam has been using it everyday for about a month now, so that I could share an unbiased review with all of you. And he couldn’t be happier! (Though the sizing chart on the website is spot on, we had requested extra links so it was taken to a watch shop to size it perfectly. But that’s just us.)

Ebony and Iron, Hyde series, Jord Watches - the perfect Father's Day gift - thespiceadventuress.com

And the best part…you can now win a $100 gift card towards a Jord watch of your choice. Click here to participate in the contest; ends 08/27/2017 11:59pm. Everyone who participates but did not win will receive a consolation prize of $25 off gift code.

Giveaway open worldwide!

Now let’s get back to the steak.

I used Scotch fillets but you may use any cut; just make sure that the cooking times are adjusted accordingly.

Instead of the classic mash, I opted for the smashed potato salad which is so creamy and delicious but requires only half the effort and time. Hardly any butter, instead it’s buttermilk that lends creaminess to this salad along with a lot of punchy flavours from the red wine vinegar and mustard. And a generous sprinkle of herbs to complete….

Steak (with Smashed Potato Salad, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Wine Jus) - thespiceadventuress.com

As for the red wine jus, it’s the simplest sauce but one with loads of flavour and meatiness that perfectly complements the steak. I would strongly recommend the use of homemade stock if possible.

And when you have an indulgent dish like this, you need the perfect wine to match – The Barkly Durif 2010 Rutherglen from Campbell Wines . Rich, complex and deeply textured with the taste of intense fruits lingering on your palate, this is one of the best reds I have had in a long time. Great for cellaring too!

Barkly Durif 2010 Rutherglen from Campbell Wines - thespiceadventuress.com

So go on and check out the recipe for Steak (with Smashed Potato Salad, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Wine Jus) on Stuff Mums Like and a Happy Father’s Day to all the father figures in your life. And if you make this dish, do tag me #thespiceadventuress so that I could see it too.

Ingredients:

(Serves 3)

  1. 3 x 200gm Scotch fillet
  2. Salt, to season
  3. Freshly milled black pepper; to season

Get the full recipe here...

Steak (with Smashed Potato Salad, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Wine Jus) - thespiceadventuress.com

Spiced Rum Chocolate Mousse (topped with Buttercrunch Toffee Crumble)

Reading through the past couple of blog posts, I realised that almost every post starts with a description of the weather. How boring is that!

After moving to Melbourne, the weather began to play such an immense role in my mood swings but that does not mean I need to bore you guys all the time. So let’s talk of something different today.

Let’s talk of deliciously wicked silky and smooth Chocolate Mousse laced with spiced rum and then topped generously with buttercrunch toffee crumble. And maybe some strawberries too…..

Spiced Rum Chocolate Mousse (topped with Buttercrunch Toffee Crumble) - thespiceadventuress.com

Chocolate desserts also evoke a sense of luxury, a sinful indulgence for the senses. And this chocolate mousse is no exception. But it is sinfully luscious and one to be enjoyed without any guilt because it is made from coconut cream.

My experience with coconut cream has always been savoury. The beautifully aromatic and creamy fish curry from Kerala is what comes running to my mind when I think of coconut milk or cream. And whenever I have had coconut based desserts, I have not really enjoyed it because it has always felt super sweet for my tastebuds.

This recipe comes from @lady.flamingo, also known as The Boozy Baker (now you get the spiced rum!).

One of the recipes featured in the Bank of Melbourne #socialfeeds cookbook 2016. If you are a long time reader of my blog, then you would have heard about this book before, because I have had the privilege and honour of being featured in both the cookbooks bought out so far.

(The featured recipes can be found here and here. You can also download the e-version of the cookbooks here).

Spiced Rum Chocolate Mousse (topped with Buttercrunch Toffee Crumble) - thespiceadventuress.com

And if you follow me on Instagram, you would also have seen a post featuring the August edition of Foodies Collective – the Decadent Desserts box. I was privileged to receive one box, filled with the most amazing goodies from some of the best Australian artisan food producers. So I decided to use the award winning Charley’s Mount Edna dark chocolate (has a complex, distinct flavour with whisky notes) for making the chocolate sauce and the buttercrunch toffee crumble from Poetry Fine Foods as the topping.

I highly recommend Charley’s if you can get your hands on it, otherwise any good quality dark chocolate would do. Also if you can’t find the crumble, you can use praline, chopped toasted nuts, whipped cream etc….

Foodies Collective Discovery Box - thespiceadventuress.com

(This recipe can be made 100% vegan by using dairy free chocolate and @lady.flamingo also says that it is a good dessert option for those who suffer from Menieres disease as it is low in sodium).

So let’s hop on to the recipe for this silky and luscious Spiced Rum Chocolate Mousse.

Ingredients:

(Serves 6)

Spiced Rum Chocolate Sauce:

  1. 1 can coconut cream (400 ml)
  2. 220gm high quality dark chocolate
  3. 60 gms raw brown sugar (if using white sugar, add half the quantity, taste and add more if necessary)
  4. 1 vanilla pod, split in half and scraped
  5. 2 tbsp spiced rum
  6. 2 clove pods

Mousse:

  1. 2 x 400ml coconut cream cans (chilled)
  2. 120gms cocoa powder (unsweetened)

Method:

To make the chocolate sauce:

  • Melt the chocolate in a microwave or using the double boiler method.
  • Shake the coconut cream can well and pour out the contents into a bowl.
  • Once the chocolate has melted, add a few spoons of the coconut cream into it and mix well to combine. (This is to create a homogenous mixture and prevent the chocolate from seizing which can occur sometimes).
  • Then add the entire chocolate mixture into the remaining coconut cream followed by all the other ingredients listed and mix well to combine. Make sure the sugar gets dissolved completely.
  • Refrigerate for about 10 minutes to thicken the chocolate sauce lightly.

To make the mousse:

  • In a mixer or using a large bowl, whip the coconut cream till you get soft peaks.
  • Remove the cloves from the chocolate sauce and add it slowly to the coconut cream along with the cocoa powder, mixing lightly to combine each time.
  • Whip for a few more seconds till the whole mixture becomes light and fluffy.
  • Spoon into glasses or ramekins; refrigerate for about 3-4 hours till set.
  • Top with the buttercrunch crumble and serve with a side of strawberries.
  • Enjoy!

Spiced Rum Chocolate Mousse (topped with Buttercrunch Toffee Crumble) - thespiceadventuress.com

Spiced Rum Chocolate Mousse (topped with Buttercrunch Toffee Crumble) - thespiceadventuress.com

Slow cooked Lamb Shanks (with chilli, garlic and tomatoes)

What’s winter without slow cooked lamb shanks!

Slow cooked Lamb Shanks (with chilli, garlic and tomatoes) - thespiceadventuress.com

We love lamb shanks and it is always one of our top picks when we dine out during the colder months. But this time, I decided to give it a go at home because all that you need for this delicious dish is time and patience.

The recipe is really simple and as I mentioned, these lamb shanks only need time to get tender, juicy and fall-off-the-bone. So slow cook it on your stovetop or braise in the oven, or perhaps put it all into your slowcooker just before heading out for work. And when you return, you will have the most delicious, indulgent lamb shanks that can be served with couscous and a simple green salad. Feeds a crowd!

And if you are a curry lover, you will be mighty pleased with the flavours of these slow cooked lamb shanks. The addition of garlic, chillies, paprika and tomatoes lend rich earthy undertones that make the dish an ultimate comfort.

Slow cooked Lamb Shanks (with chilli, garlic and tomatoes) - thespiceadventuress.com

On the weather front, Melbourne is grappling with the change of seasons. Spring should be here soon but winter does not want to leave us yet. So while some days are warm and sunny, others are bone chilling freezing. So check out the forecast and get these lamb shanks on to enjoy it best before winter fades away….

And do tag me using #thespiceadventuress if you make these slow cooked lamb shanks; it’s always a joy when you share your photographs with me.

Ingredients:

  1. 4 lamb shanks
  2. Salt, to season
  3. Freshly milled black pepper; to season

This recipe was developed, styled and shot for Stuff Mums Like, so find the full recipe here. 

Slow cooked Lamb Shanks (with chilli, garlic and tomatoes) - thespiceadventuress.com

July Favourites

A roller coaster of a month peppered with both good and bad!

July left me drained, tired, overwhelmed for most of the month but ended with a bang, which overshadowed all the unpleasant things that happened over the initial days.

My little boy gave his first public guitar performance at the recently concluded Springvale Snow Fest. He has been taking guitar lessons for the past 2 years and though he has performed in his school, this was the first time he is playing for such a large audience.

So proud and chuffed that he took on the challenge and grabbed the opportunity that he was presented with. It’s not every day that we get opportunities, so when we do, we must be able to embrace it whole heartedly.

His musical journey has just started and we truly hope that he continues on this path that brings much joy to him as well as everyone who listens to his music.

Adi's musical journey - thespiceadventuress.com

Coming back to food, these chicken omelette sandwiches were made and consumed quite a bit during the busy working days. Super simple and makes a delicious lunch box option!

Chicken omelette sandwich - thespiceadventuress.com

Blame it on my Mallu genes, nothing gets me more excited than fish curry and rice. And the Chettinad style fish curry is pure magic on your tastebuds. Spicy, tangy and mouthwatering, I made these with Spanish mackerel cutlets. Enjoyed it with some steamed white rice….food coma!

Chettinad fish curry - thespiceadventuress.com

And here’s a list of everything else that has inspired me over the last month….

Are you truly happy? A recent Harvard study has revealed the single most important factor for happiness.

7 ways to be a Parisian chic! This is what I want to achieve for myself….

The luxurious Alex Perry collection from Linen House. Can I have one of each?

Kitchen tips! Cleaning your oven with baking soda and vinegar; time to ditch those nasty chemicals.

Maldives is a hot shot tourist destination but there are a few things to be aware of before planning a vacation. Here’s what you need to know!

Kisume is the hottest restaurant in town right now. I just can’t wait to try out the food…

I love salads, especially when delicious and pretty like this one and this one.

Nashville hot chicken! Drooling…..

How delicious does this burrito bowl look? The perfect weekday dinner…..

A recipe for all the gochujang lovers!

Bbq pulled pork rolls. Enough said.

I have found my perfect summer party dessert.

Pan Fried Salmon (with Olive Salt), Garlic Butter Sauce and Couscous Salad

I know, that’s a long title!

It’s really hard to name a dish that is an amalgamation of so many different ideas, so I decided to just state what it is rather than a coin a word or phrase. But you must agree; it does read like a dish out of a fancy restaurant menu.

Pan Fried Salmon (with Olive Salt), Garlic Butter Sauce and Couscous Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

I love to visit and browse around artisan food stores, especially those that stock small batches of ingredients or products by local food producers. One such amazing place I discovered last year was Craft & Co. I was invited to their annual Christmas Market, which was an amazing experience as I got to learn about so many unique handcraft food products and also have a chit chat with their makers.

Now this can be a highly inspiring experience, something you will not get when you buy a product off a supermarket shelf. When you have a chat with these food producers, you will be amazed at the passion they have for their products. Sometimes it’s just one product; for eg: a lady might be selling jam but then that would be a recipe that she has perfected over many years, completely handmade and bottled. She would use the best quality ingredients when in season and make small batches. And make it again next year when the particular fruit is back in season. That’s how food used to be generations ago…..local and what’s available in season.

While there were so many products on display, I was quite drawn to Red Rock Olives. Excellent quality olives and olive oils but what really caught my attention was the ‘olive salt’. Now I had never heard of an olive salt till then and I was so intrigued by how it would taste.

The lady at the counter (sorry dear, I forgot your name though I remember your beautiful smile) sensed my interest and encouraged me to try some. She asked me to dip a sourdough piece first in olive oil and then a bit of salt before tasting. It was quite different to anything I had tasted before; at first, you get the hit of salt which then gives way to the tangy familiar taste of olives. It’s subtle but it’s there….

So I bought two bottles of Red Rock olive salts, the ordinary olive salt and the chilli infused one. The ordinary one was part of a giveaway I did last Christmas and the chilli infused one, I kept for my personal needs.

Pan Fried Salmon (with Olive Salt), Garlic Butter Sauce and Couscous Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Even though I have used it so many times before, I somehow never managed to do a recipe for the blog. And since it’s a product I really enjoyed using, I thought of sharing it with you guys. This post is not sponsored, just me telling all of you about this amazing product. And if you are visiting the Grampians, do visit Red Rock; I have heard it is a stunning place.

Today’s recipe is actually a super simple one in spite of the long name. I used salmon fillets and marinated it with some of the olive salt, sweet paprika, olive oil and then pan fried it. The couscous salad is again a no brainer, but a delicious one since it works as a salad and side. Great option for lunch boxes!

The butter sauce is not strictly necessary but I wanted to add more flavour. Again, extremely easy….

The whole dish comes together in under an hour, and works perfectly as a midweek dinner.

Pan Fried Salmon (with Olive Salt), Garlic Butter Sauce and Couscous Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Note – The olive salts (and other olive products) can be purchased from the Red Rock website. And of those who cannot get their hands on this, you can still make this dish by using any sort of marinade or dry rub for the salmon.

Ingredients:

For the salmon:

  1. 6 salmon fillets (with skin)
  2. 1 ½ tsp Red Rock olive salt
  3. 1 tsp sweet paprika
  4. 2 tbsp olive oil

For the butter sauce:

  1. 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  2. 2 garlic cloves; finely chopped
  3. ½ large red chilli (less heat variety)

For the couscous salad:

  1. 1 cup cooked couscous
  2. 1 medium red onion; sliced
  3. 6 cherry tomatoes; halved
  4. 6 baby radish; sliced
  5. 1 small Lebanese cucumber; sliced
  6. A handful of green olives; chopped
  7. 1 medium yellow bell pepper; sliced
  8. A handful of capers
  9. ½ cup fresh parsley; finely chopped
  10. Juice of ½ lemon
  11. Salt; to season
  12. Freshly cracked black pepper; to season

Method:

Salmon:

  1. Make sure that all the fish bones are removed, wash and pat dry.
  2. Add the olive salt, paprika and olive oil to the salmon; rub well all over and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Heat a pan and pan fry the salmon fillets in batches. Since you have already added oil to the marinade, extra oil is not needed but you can add more depending on the type of pan you are using. Also fry skin side first to get really crispy skin.

Butter sauce:

  1. Add the butter, garlic cloves and chillies to a cold pan and place on low heat. Let the flavours infuse into the butter slowly so make sure it’s on the lowest heat.
  2. Remove when the butter starts to take on a light brown colour.

Couscous salad:

Prepare the couscous as per packet instructions or you can follow this method which works for me every single time.

  1. For 1 cup couscous, use 1 ½ cups water. Bring the water to boil, season lightly with salt and add a drizzle of olive oil. When the water starts to boil, add the couscous, mix well and take off heat. Keep covered for 5 minutes. Open the lid and gently fluff the couscous using a fork. Transfer to a flat plate or container to cool the couscous faster or the ambient heat can overcook.
  2. Once cooled, add all the veggies to the couscous and refrigerate till it’s time to serve.
  3. Just before serving, add the lemon juice, parsley; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Toss well.

To serve, spoon a portion of the salad on the plate, place a salmon fillet and drizzle with a little butter sauce on top. Tuck in!

Pan Fried Salmon (with Olive Salt), Garlic Butter Sauce and Couscous Salad - thespiceadventuress.com

Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail

I do not follow seasons when it comes to cocktails. And whenever we make at home, it’s usually based on the stash that’s available in the bar cabinet. When I dine out at restaurants, then I would pick a cocktail that sounds interesting or different, something I have never tried before.

Tea based cocktails are really amazing and I have tried out quite a few different ones over the last couple of years. One of the best I have had was at Monkey King; wish I could get the bartender to share that recipe with me.

Inspired by all my past experiences with tea cocktails, I thought it’s time I did one too. And that’s how this Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail happened.

Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail - thespiceadventuress.com

Sweet Tea cocktails are very famous, especially in the Southern regions of US because it is essentially, a summer drink. It is light, refreshing and very simple to make in large batches, hence very popular for summer backyard parties.

There are many variations but essentially the drink contains tea, citrus, sweetener and good quality bourbon.

But for today’s drink, I tweaked it slightly by using an iced tea recipe (from this cookbook) that I use often which has spices like cinnamon and star anise for that extra punch. And both these spices work like magic with both tea and bourbon.

The Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail is extremely simple to make. The tea infusion can be prepared ahead and chilled, a time saver if you are making large batches for a party. Good quality bourbon…don’t compromise on that because it does make a difference to the flavour.

Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 5 cups water
  2. 2 tbsp black tea leaves (or 2-3 tea bags)
  3. 1 inch cinnamon stick
  4. 1 star anise
  5. Peel of 1 medium lemon
  6. Sugar, to taste
  7. Orange juice
  8. Bourbon
  9. Star anise, for garnish
  10. Orange slices; for garnish
  11. Ice cubes

Method:

  1. Bring the water to a boil and take it off the heat.
  2. Add the tea leaves to the water along with the lemon peel (remove using a peeler), cinnamon and star anise. Allow to steep for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Strain the tea and allow to cool. Refrigerate in a closed bottle until use.
  4. To make the cocktail, add a few cubes to the glass and fill half of the glass with the tea infusion. Add 15 ml orange juice and 40ml bourbon. Stir and taste; add more orange juice or bourbon to suit personal taste.
  5. Garnish with a star anise.
  6. Cheers!!!

Note: If you want a non alcoholic version, mix the orange juice with the tea infusion to taste. Serve in a glass filled with crushed ice.

Citrusy Sweet Tea Cocktail - thespiceadventuress.com

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review

It’s hard to miss The Public’s Corner because of its strategic location, right on Lonsdale Street near the stairs leading up to the council office and library. It’s probably one of the busiest and vibrant areas of Dandenong.

There was another restaurant operating at the same location earlier, which I have been to so I was a bit curious when I saw the new signboard. So decided to try out the place for a weekend brunch, to find out if it was just rebranding or has the menu/food changed.

The décor and ambience of the restaurant has not changed much, but the menu has gone through some changes definitely. While many of the dishes from the old menu remains, there were quite a few new ones added. And there’s also a revamped drinks menu which was great to see.

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

So for drinks, I got a glass of the Leopardwood Shiraz (Heathcote, VIC) and Sam got the classic Mojito. Nothing much to write about the wine except that it was a pretty decent one. Sam felt that the Mojito lacked balance in terms of sweetness and the staff said that she could provide with some sugar syrup but he opted to have it as such.

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For starters, we got the Saganaki with sautéed figs and pita. I have had Saganaki before, prepared it a couple of times too so there were high expectations. But this one didn’t match up, found it a bit too salty and hard. The pairing with figs was delicious but the best part of the dish was the pita….so fluffy and soft. I would order the pita again, perhaps with some dips.

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, I got the Lamb Loin Chops served with mixed grains, chat potatoes, roquette, roasted capsicum and feta. Before I get onto the taste, let me tell you that the portions offered here are huge so account for that when you place the order. Getting back to the dish, I enjoyed the chops a lot; the meat was cooked well and the sides tasted delicious. I would have preferred some sort of jus or sauce though or perhaps mashed potatoes instead of chat for that creamy element to the dish. Otherwise a really nice one….

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The second mains we ordered was the 12 hour slow cooked lamb shoulder served with mashed potatoes, topped with greens, feta and jus. The meat was so tender, juicy and fall off the bone and the accompaniments matched perfectly. I felt that the meat could have been seasoned more but then that’s a personal preference. This was the perfect weekend indulgence!

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Overall, The Public’s Corner is a nice place to meet up whether it’s for a working lunch, quick coffee date or a relaxed dinner. The food is not the best you will have, but it’s good, value for money with great service on offer.

 The Public’s Corner
Shop 1, 225 Lonsdale Street
Dandenong. VIC 3175

Phone no: 03 9794 6697

Timings:

Monday: 7am – 3pm
Tuesday: 7am – 3pm
Wednesday: 7am – 10pm
Thursday: 7am – 10pm
Friday: 7am – 10pm
Saturday: 8am – 10pm
Sunday: 8am – 10pm

The Public's Corner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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