Category Archives: Miscellaneous

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. 

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.

June Favourites + Winter school holidays

A fabulous new month is here and we are freezing Down Under!

Bone chillin cold days, huddled inside layers of clothing….I have never been a winter person at all. But opposed to my earlier years here, I am now better equipped to handle it now which has actually made this winter season rather interesting.

Earlier in the month, we visited the Van Gogh and the Seasons Exhibition at NGV. Curated by Sjraar van Heugten, independent art historian and former Head of Collections at the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, this event is exclusive to Melbourne and is the largest collection of Van Gogh artworks to ever travel to Australia.

The exhibition was a profoundly emotional and overwhelming one. Never has an artist moved me so much…each painting spoke to me deeply as if Van Gogh was trying to tell me something personally. It’s a beautiful experience, one the whole family can cherish. So make sure you don’t miss this opportunity since the exhibition ends by 12th July, 2017.

Van Gogh and the Seasons Exhibition - thespiceadventuress.com

Another iconic place I visited last month was the State Library of Victoria. It was my first time and I wonder what took me so long to visit this place, given the fact I am a book nerd. But better late than never! It’s a massive space with so much history, architecture, rare artefacts, books that one visit simply wouldn’t do. This time, I visited with my bunch of friends who are book lovers too and we did our first book swap meet. Next time, I am planning on taking a guided tour to understand more about this iconic library.

My photographs don’t do any justice, but still a few clicks from that visit….

State Library of Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

State Library of Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

Our winter school hols began with the Skate, Slide and Chill at Common Man, South Wharf. Melbourne has been transformed into a winter wonderland this year with plenty of activities to get the kids outdoors during the holidays.

It was so much fun to chill out at Common Man, where the boys had a session on the ice rink followed by loads of toboggan sliding. And all that skating left us hungry and famished, so the little fella warmed himself with some hot chocolate, while we sipped on Absolut cocktails and a plate of steaming hot dimsims.

Get more details about the event here.

Skate, Slide and Chill at Common Man - thespiceadventuress.com

Absolut Cosmo Spritz, Skate, Slide and Chill at Common Man - thespiceadventuress.com

And finally, these salmon kebabs were a huge hit on the blog last month. Have you tried it out?

Salmon Kebabs - thespiceadventuress.com

Also leaving you guys with my favourites from other creatives in the digital space…..

This lady knows fashion and she has some great tips for those who are seeking to break into the industry.

Mental Load and Gender Wars! Finally an article that has spoken the woman’s mind when it comes to household chores.

Her food photographs have always inspired me, especially this one.

Another inspiring food photographer with this fabulous recipe.

Need to learn how to make gnocchi just to make this plate of deliciousness!

Another goal for the year is to learn to bake these gorgeous dinner rolls.

Do you love bulgogi?

This soup has a chilli chia seed tempering. Fabulous, isn’t it?

Drooling big time over this spicy mutton curry.

This pickle has a deep emotional connect with me and my childhood.

This Mojito and this Martini.

And for my friends who are basking in the sun at the moment; this summer salad.

I am definitely making this when summer arrives here again…

May Favourites

Another fabulous month has gone by and once again it’s time to share with all of you the highlights of my month and all that tickled my fancy in May.

The world seems to be in much turmoil these days, most of which are beyond reason and comprehension. Which makes me all the more grateful for all that I have. In spite of the dark days, I continue to remind myself of all the goodness in this world, glimpses of which cross my life almost everyday and I continue to celebrate the simple joys that come my way.

Mother’s Day this year was a very special one for me. The little fellow showered me with quite a few gifts that he had bought from the Mother’s Day stall at his school. There was a also a special handmade Lego gift for me, a small house with our little family inside but, I was placed in the centre and he gave it to me saying, ‘you are the heart of this house, Mama’ which pretty much had me teary eyed. He is such a thoughtful boy and these simple joys make life so worthwhile.

The other surprise for Mother’s Day was from Pottery Barn, Australia. Earlier that month, they had run a competition on Instagram asking to post a special photograph of you with your mom or with your children. I had posted one with my little boy and we turned out to be one of the lucky winners. So we were sent a $100 gift voucher and also featured on the special Mother’s Day wall inside all their stores. It was a really beautiful thing to do which completed our special day on a high.

At Pottery Barn, Chadstone - thespiceadventuress.com

That’s us at Pottery Barn, Chadstone pointing to our photograph on the wall.

Coming back to the Lego bit, Adi is a Lego freak and a visit to the newly opened Legoland, Chadstone was on the cards for a long time. If you haven’t visited yet, then please do…..it’s amazing and the perfect place for some indoor play.

At legoland - thespiceadventuress.com

Stir fries have featured a lot on my dinner table last month, due to a lot of work commitments. Just a few ingredients and hardly any cooking time, that’s why stir fries are so popular these days. One of my favourites and one I have been making a lot recently is the Stir Fried Chicken with Sichuan Peppercorns, Chillies and Cashews. Its delicious guys, do give it a try.

Stir Fried Chicken with Sichuan Peppercorns, Chillies and Cashews - thespiceadventuress.com

And this has been my favourite drink of the month. A tad bit expensive, but totally worth it.

Dalmore single malt whisky - thespiceadventuress.com

Everything else that has inspired and wowed me last month;

Let’s start with this quote.

Quote of the month - thespiceadventuress.com

This Spanish chicken stew with cumin flavoured Cauliflower broccoli rice; healthy and absolute deliciousness.

One sheet pan shrimp fajitas; yet another quick weekday dinner.

More stir fry inspiration.

We are crazy about olives in our home; so the puttanesca is also much loved.

Pork belly rolls! Need I say more?

Have you ever wondered why the restaurant salsa tastes so good? Then here is how you make it.

This would make an interesting starter at your next party.

The most delicious thing I have seen all month.

This pineapple chutney is so interesting; would make an excellent addition to my cheese platter.

What a delicious way to finish off the sambal paste in my fridge.

Learning to incorporate more farro into my diet with this salad

Such a beautiful cocktail and delicious too.

Cocktails and sun signs! Apparently I am the champagne girl…hmmm, really interesting. What’s yours?

Lusting after this beautiful Staub dutch oven. Sigh!

April Favourites + a Giveaway!

Usually I always start by saying the month has gone by pretty fast but that’s not the case with April. It was a heavily packed month in terms of social commitments but it felt like a long month too. Perhaps, it was the weather transition or just a feeling but April seemed to go on forever.

The month began with an impromptu trip to Lorne for an office party at one of Sam’s colleague’s holiday home. Now I have never been to Great Ocean Road before (I know, not yet seen the Twelve Apostles) so it was quite exciting even if it was just a day trip. Their holiday home is set on a beautiful property which has the rolling hills on one side and the ocean on the other, with breathtaking and stunning views. A truly spectacular place to retreat….

Lorne - travel photography - thespiceadventuress.com

I also discovered a new Mexican restaurant El Sabor, which serves really good food and drinks. I was actually invited for some photography work but it turned out to be such a delicious affair so thought of doing a proper review as I really enjoyed the food. Read more of the review here.

Fajitas - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Coming to the giveaway, I would like to introduce you to my latest spice obsession – Fuegorita, the dried hot pepper flake blend. Crafted in California from some of the hottest chili peppers of the world, Fuegorita is a flavourful alternative to the regular dried chilli flakes. Trust me, this blend is really hot but I wanted to create a dish that won’t blow your socks off so I came up with these delicious grilled chicken skewers marinated with a mixture of parsley, coriander, basil, garlic and Fuegorita in lots of olive oil. Pair with some flat breads and hummus for a thoroughly satisfying meal.

The folks at Fuegorita have been kind to sponsor one bottle of this hot pepper blend to one lucky reader of mine. So to take part, visit my Instagram page for more details. Content open worldwide!

Fuegorita - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, so I decided to do a guest post for the website ‘Stuff Mums Like’ which featured a delicious brunch perfect for treating your mom. So forget all the expensive gifts this year and treat the special woman in your life by letting her sleep in followed by this delicious Toasted Bread with Mushrooms, Avocado Smash, Poached Egg and Grilled Tomatoes,  served with her favourite cup of tea and ofcourse, the bubbles!

Mother's Day brunch - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

And with the weather transition, it was time to bring out my favourite J.Elliot Ellis Pom Pom throw in the most beautiful deep grey colour. It has an amazing cozy weave yet lightweight and resilient. And the contemporary finish adds the perfect hint of winter glam to my living space.

J. Elliott throw - product photography - thespiceadventuress.com

The Indian parathas have carved a name for themselves in the culinary world but I have not been the biggest fan till these delicious Stuffed Prawn Parathas happened. Fabulous, and hence you need the recipe.

Prawn Paratha - thespiceadventuress.com

And now time to dive into my top picks and favourites from around the world;

Let’s start with the drinks. This floral cocktail, in spite of its name, is quite apt for autumn and so simple to make.

Our family is all about sleep-ins and weekend brunches. And these baked beans are so flavourful and fit right in!

This lamb salad is just freaking awesome.

Here’s more salad inspo, this one with prawns in it.

Is there something called ‘dumpling porn’? Because these are just making me swoon….

Anything with sriracha in it wins my heart, like these devilled eggs.

I have never made a hollandaise sauce before. Have you?

Time management is a skill and as a creative, I constantly need to re-work my strategies. This was an extremely helpful read.

Whenever I tell people (especially working women) that I am self-employed and work from home, I always get this line…..’oh, life is so easy for you. It’s super hard for us to go to office, manage children, home etc…’ Self-employed is like being unemployed to them and this article is my answer to them.

What you need to know about life; this lady’s advice is spot on.

Are you an Instagram fledgling? Then this article will be of mighty help.

And this Gold opulent floral charm is truly after my heart!

March Favourites

March…..the birthday month!

With so many birthdays in the family, March sped by at rocket speed. Little Adi (growing up way too fast) turned 8 and I turned 37 (ahem, age is just a number folks!!). We are pretty low key on birthdays usually but this year turned out to be a lavish celebration.

Adi wanted to celebrate with his buddies and lots of Pokemon, so that’s what we did. Lots of handmade decorations, party bags and a fabulous birthday cake from Vanilla Cakes, Oakleigh (Melbourne). A big shout out to them for taking my order at the last minute and doing such a fabulous job. Do check them out for customized cakes and the Vanilla Lounge is also a great place to dine out.

Pokemon theme cake - thespiceadventuress.com

On my birthday, I was treated to a special surprise dinner at Fedele’s Ristorante Italiano, Glen Waverley. No photographs though because it was a special intimate dinner for the three of us, one just for our memories. But do check out the restaurant…..it has a beautiful ambience, great food and wine which makes it a good option for celebratory dining.

A feature on Dandenong Market had always been a dream, but now it’s a reality. For those who missed out, here is the article and my top picks on where to shop, what to eat and drink while at the Market. I also conducted two successful giveaways, the third one coming soon. If you are interested, make sure you follow me on Instagram.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Snippets from my Easter party was the most read post last month with lots of you writing to me about these delicious Moroccan Lamb Chops.

Moroccan lamb chops - thespiceadventuress.com

Wine of the month – Yering Pinot Noir 2015; a really balanced wine on the palate with hints of cherries, dark berries and savoury forest floor spice. I loved the fact that the tannins are not overpowering and has a delicate finish, thus pairing beautifully with grilled Moroccan lamb chops

Yering Station Pinot Noir 2015 - thespiceadventuress.com

I was quite lucky to get introduced to Chef Anshul Chandna and do a feature on his gastronomic and culinary journey for Indian Link. With a wealth of experience working with the who’s who of the culinary world, he is all set to return to Australia to start work on his dream venture. More of the write up here.

Masala Roast Baby Barramundi, a signature dish by Chef Anshul Chandna - thespiceadventuress.com

Been digging into this bowl of Burmese style Prawn Tomato Curry, an absolute fave of ours.

Prawns with Tomatoes - a Burmese style prawn curry with chillies, aromatics and tomatoes - thespiceadventuress.com

Slowly getting my wardrobe ready for the colder months ahead and absolutely loving the knitted top from H&M and the 100% Australian merino wool coat from Marcs.

Winter fashion - thespiceadventuress.com

I have been ignoring my skincare for the last year or so which has begun to show in the form of dull and dehydrated skin. So picked out this Seaweed Toner and Vitamin C glow boosting moisturizer from Body Shop which has proven really beneficial to my skin. Loved the fact that they do a detailed analysis and then recommend products most suited to my needs; I can already notice the difference.

Seaweed Toner and Vitamin C glow boosting moisturizer, The Body Shop - thespiceadventuress.com

And now it’s time for all those amazing stuff I found on the Internet; loads of delicious stuff last month.

Let’s start with this drink. I am gonna try it even though it’s autumn here already.

A Devilled eggs party……now that’s more like my entertaining style.

Chickpeas and spinach. This dish is just fabulous, taste and health in a single bowl.

Vegetarian Nachos. You need this in your life.

This pork roast is just insanely delicious.

This chili is gonna be perfect for the colder months.

Turkish kebabs! Need I say more?

This laddu and this laddu! (For the uninitiated, laddu is an Indian sweet.)

Desserts like these are a lifesaver. And it’s so pretty…..

Eggless brownies; needed a good recipe desperately for school bakes.

Latin Food in Melbourne; need to check out this place for sure.

Little Joys, Breaking the Trance of Busyness…..so apt for our lives.

Dandenong Market – A Slice of History in your Shopping Bag + a Giveaway ($200 Market Voucher)

 

Established in 1866, Dandenong Market is the second oldest and largest market of Melbourne. Often referred to as the Cook’s Market, it has always played a central role in the community – farmers, small business owners and public alike.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

My association with Dandenong Market began in 2013, the year I migrated with my family to Melbourne. Living a stone’s throw away, the market soon became my shopping haven. The vibrant and bustling scenes, fresh produce, spices, friendly vendors calling out their wares were all a reminder of my home in India. And those initial days of newness in a foreign land seemed to diminish away, instead replaced with a sense of belonging.

It’s my weekly trips to the market that has provided a lot of inspiration for the blog in those early days. Even today, a trip to Dandenong Market is enough for me to come back home feeling inspired and bursting with ideas. And that’s largely because of the amazing variety of produce that can be encountered here.

The bustling multicultural community lends a unique charm to the market making it a utopia for food lovers!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The market also conducts free Food Discovery Tours, a perfect way to go behind-the-scenes and get an exclusive glimpse into the everyday workings of a busy market. It also provides a deeper understanding of the produce, sustainability and interesting stories of the traders who runs these businesses.

With over 200 traders, the market is a bustling expanse and private tours like these can be of great help especially when you want to buy the best on offer. There are also different kinds of tours of offer and booking is essential even though the tours operate free of cost. Learn all about the tours and make a booking here.

I was lucky to be taken on a tour by Chef Tim Hollands, who is extremely passionate about Australian produce. In fact Chef Hollands is a well known food consultant and owner of Tim’s Foods and Tim Hollands Catering who is on a mission to introduce fresh Australian produce to the outside world. Food provenance and sustainability are very important to Chef Hollands and I could not have asked for a better tour guide.

Now as I mentioned, the Dandenong Market is huge and bustling with more than 200 traders and it would be impossible to write about each of them. So here is a photographic tribute to some of my favourite traders, shops and cafes to share with you.

(I have provided information regarding each place beneath the photograph, but you can also find more information about the traders here.)

Details of the giveaway for a $200 market voucher at the end of this post.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Let’s start the tour with a cup of coffee, shall we? Café Valentina by Melba Coffee is a great place to stop by for a cuppa of your choice. I especially loved the cold drip coffee and you may also like to take home some of their award winning roasted beans.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Hart’s Honey is another favourite of mine and I often stop by to replenish and stock up the honey section of my pantry. Owned by Joza Hart, the stall is very famous for the different varieties of honey like Iron Bark, Mixed Blossom, Red Gum, Leatherwood (from Tasmania) and Manuka (from New Zealand). Hart also stocks creamed honey and honey comb but my favourite is the Orange blossom honey for its citrusy undertones. Do stop by for a chat; Hart is great company and loves to talk about his products.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

It’s a given that you will be shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables at the market. Do wander around the different stalls like Luppino Fresh (the oldest trader in the market), S&G Fresh, Alexander Produce etc… to see what’s in season and score a bargain. Markets are all about exploring so refrain from buying all the produce from just one place and rushing out unless you are in a hurry. For me, these braided shallots were the highlight of the day!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Sam’s Spice and Grocery….the most inspiring space for me in the market. I can easily spend hours here pondering over rows and rows of spices from all around the globe. In fact, most of my spice education happens here. A trip to Dandenong Market is worth it just to visit this store.

All of you know how crazy I am about seafood and Dandenong Market is one of my absolute favourite places to buy fresh seafood. Recommending two shops;

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The first is Hellenic Seafood, owned and operated by the Ganotis family. This is the place for sustainably sourced seafood, extremely high quality produce and my go to store for salmon, red snapper, oysters, mussels, clams etc….

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The second is Schwarze Seafoods, my next favourite because of the sheer variety of seafood available. Especially the place to visit if you are sourcing seafood for traditional dishes from other cuisines like Indian, Asian etc… And to all those who have asked me so many times, I get fresh sardines and mackerel from here most of the time.

There is a great selection of bakeries inside the market and my top two picks would be Baker Boys and Melina’s Bakery & Larder.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Baker Boys is managed by Jawad Zada who fled Afghanistan to escape the Taliban rule and arrived as a refugee here in 2001. Since he was a baker there, he continued in the same profession here, taking courses and doing apprenticeships to establish himself as a baker here. While you will find all sorts of baked goods in his shop, my absolute favourite are the Afghan style flatbreads with herbs and chilli flakes……a stunning combination with a delicious lamb curry.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Melina’s is my go to shop for sourdough and rye bread. There are so many different styles available especially for those who are interested in artisan breads and European styles. My favourite would be the plain sourdough which makes an excellent base for a rustic and delicious Bruschetta.

Apart from all the fresh produce, deli, meat and seafood traders, Dandenong Market is also home to other shops, a space often referred to as The Bazaar. This place can indeed be a treasure house if you are willing to spend a little time and walk through the rows of clothing, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, toys etc…..

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

One such store is Linda’s Workshop which specializes in fine pearl jewellery. Rows and rows of beautiful pearl jewellery that won’t break your bank!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

The Afghan bazaar is actually located in the meat and deli hall because they also stock a huge variety of Middle Eastern groceries but I would recommend looking at the ornate traditional homewares , tea sets and other kitchenware for such bargain prices.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

If you are a book lover, then you must pay a visit to Volkan Books. Owned by Mustafa, this is a very popular space not just to buy books but also to swap and sell books. And if you bump into me there, do come and say hello.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And even though I have not personally used their services, I was drawn to the beautiful ambience at Christalignment. The staff is trained in supernatural healing, presence therapy, dream interpretations etc…..

If all that shopping and walking around has left you tired, then it’s time to indulge your tastebuds at the Market Square.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Let’s start with Saccha for a refreshing glass of cold sugarcane juice. Lez is a veteran of the hospitality industry and he definitely knows to mix his drinks. Opt for the plain freshly squeezed juice or try one of his signature drinks. Highly recommended!

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Food from all around the globe is on offer here and some of my favourites include The Grill (for delicious burgers and kransky sausages), Sansan’s Dumpling House (for handmade traditional dumplings, golden pies and soft Chinese buns), Andy’s Mauritian Hut (for dhal puri, curries and vadai/chilli cakes) and Fat Kebabs (for kebabs, Middle Eastern pizzas and the best lahmacun I have ever had).

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And if you like spicy, rich and bold flavours, then it is PiqNiq Hut that you must head to for delicious Srilankan food. All the traditional favourites like Kothu roti, devilled chicken, goat curry etc…. are available.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Finish off your meal with delicious freshly made doughnuts from the much loved Dandee Donuts, perhaps the most famous of all eateries at the market.

I also had some very interesting conversations, all thanks to the DSLR around my neck.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

Like this gentleman from Cairns who is visiting Melbourne and loves the Dandenong Market.

Dandenong Market - thespiceadventuress.com

And these two gentlemen who came here 30 years ago from Iran and now call themselves proud Melbournians. It was a joy to see the pride they had in their eyes while speaking of what a welcoming nation Australia is. Let’s keep it that way folks!

I can write forever about Dandenong Market but all good things must come to an end. And we have the giveaway to talk about too;

The folks at Dandenong Market would love to have you and so they are giving away a $200 market voucher to one lucky subscriber.

To enter;

  • Subscribe to my blog using your email id (the subscription box can be found at the top right hand corner on the home page)
  • Sign up to Dandenong Market newsletter here.
  • Leave a comment below stating you have done both.

The competition will run from 15th to 29th March, 2017 and the winner will be drawn on 30th.  Open only to residents of Victoria; the winner will be announced on my social media channels so make sure you are following me.

Good luck folks!

This giveaway is now closed and a winner has been drawn. 

February Favourites

The short and sweet month of the year!

February is a rather charming month, isn’t it? Kicks off with the much anticipated Valentine’s Day which might be the cheesiest and most overrated day but one that makes most of us happy and mushy within. The month is short and I always feel the weekends arrive faster (which is awesome!!). And March is not far behind, which for our household means, celebration time with birthdays galore. But I will talk more of that later….

For now, it’s time to reflect and share the happenings of February!

The month started with a feature and interview for the series, ‘The Foodie Files’. Liz is the creative force behind I Spy Plum Pie and her blog is all about delicious vegetarian recipes, sustainable living, eco friendly products, spice conversations etc…. And if these are the topics that interest you, then you need to head over to her space for sure. Also check out my interview for the series here.

Interview, The Spice Adventuress

We attended ‘White Night Melbourne’ this year, our first in four years. It was a tad bit tricky to be out so late into the night with a little boy but we survived and managed to have quite a gala time too. If you would like to see my photographs from the night, visit my Facebook page.

White Night Melbourne'17

I also got the opportunity to attend one of the Dandenong Food Tours, which is highly recommended to all those who love to experience the vast multicultural cuisine of Australia. These food and cultural tours are a real eye opener and is a great way to sample amazing food and also get an insight into the heart and soul of this suburb. Visit here for more photographs from the tour!

Polish Bakery, Dandenong - thespiceadventuress.com

This Asian style Prawn Omelette is my lunch time indulgence!

Asian style Prawn Omelette - simple and delicious - thespiceadventuress.com

And my current favourite drink is the Bonamy’s Cider. Made from 100% whole pressed Tasmanian apples and fermented with white wine yeast, which makes it a refreshing, sweet, clean and crisp cider which to me, tastes like a really good sparkling white!

Bonamy's Cider - thespiceadventuress.com

Speaking of drinks, let me introduce you to The ‘Mojito’ Candle from Ariel’s World.

Ariel, The Mojito Candle - thespiceadventuress.com

This scented candle is absolutely delicious; fresh, herby, minty, lemony…..it’s a very light scent that does not overpower but gently adds a whiff of fragrance to your room. I am not a big fan of heavy scents and so this candle is just perfect.

And it’s not just the scent that makes this candle special. It’s Ariel’s story.

Created by Raylene Barton, Ariel’s world is the journey of her little daughter (Ariel) who happens to have Down’s syndrome. And all her namesake scented products raise money for Down syndrome charities; Down syndrome NSW and LifeStart NSW.

Apart from candles, Ariel’s World also has lip balms and scented diffusers, all of which are individually handcrafted in Australia from eco-friendly products. The quality of the products is amazing and I can talk especially about this ‘Mojito’ candle which comes in a beautifully stylish silver container that adds style to your home décor.

Do check out their page and lend your support to this amazing mother-daughter duo making a real difference to the society.

Other faves of the month:

My skin loves this….

Kiehl's Pure Vitality - thespiceadventuress.com

My favourite sunscreen; because it is light, not oily and works as the perfect base for makeup apart from offering good protection.

I needed this nail paint hack, especially for the bright reds.

I wear a lot of Veronika Maine and I have been eyeing this top for autumn.

A big fan of dainty rings like these.

Travel Porn!

9 things your children need but won’t tell you.

Enchiladas, we all love it but check out this one. Major drooling happening!

This Korean fried chicken burger! Fingerlickin good!

Chocolate doughnuts. Need I say more?

Food Photography with a DSLR and why you need to go beyond the auto mode. Taught by none other than Simi of Turmeric n’ Spice…she hardly needs any introduction.

Mac n’ Cheese with a lot of oomph.

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