Traditional meals in Prague

Much like Estonia, food in the Czech Republic was quite heavy. Basically, meat with carbs and sauce. Also, plenty of beer.

The list of food I wanted to try was extensive, but it wasn’t just sweets. Here are a few of the traditional savoury dishes we tried while travelling around Prague.

Dumplings

On our first day in the city, we walked around what felt like half the city before deciding on a random place we found. We both ended up taking a lunch special – smoked bacon dumplings (pictured above).

Svíčková na smetaně

Beef sirloin in a cream sauce, topped with cranberry and whipped cream. It’s a typical dish that we saw on most menus. I was surprised to find that the sauce was sweet and was made sweeter again with the addition of cranberry. The beef is marinated and slow-cooked, so it’s flavoursome and tender. It’s a heavy dish that will fill you up.

Prague
Svíčková na smetaně + roasted Prague ham with horseradish sauce and potato purée

 

Prague
Roast pork with dumplings and greens + one of the stunning old buildings in the Old Town Square
Pickled sausages

One dish I wasn’t too keen to try was pickled sausage. We got the sausage below at Restaurant U Karla – served with pickled onion and some chilli for a kick. Based on my research, they are considered a ‘pub snack’ of sorts and that would make sense because the acidity works really well with beer.

Prague pickled sausages
Pickled sausages + beer (of course)
Guláš

As you can imagine, goulash is common in this part of the world. It’s another heavy dish, designed to fill you up. I can’t give you any specific recommendations, but we tried it at both Cafe Savoy and Restaurant U Karla and enjoyed both.

Prague goulash
Guláš (goulash) + beer (of course)
Smažený sýr

When fried cheese is an option, you’d be mad not to try it. Plus, it’s everything you imagine it is – crunchy, stretchy, cheesey. A thick slice of cheese (often Edam) is breaded and then fried. In the two cases we tried it, it was served with amazing hand cut chips, and some tartare sauce. I can definitely recommend trying this dish – it’s probably best as a main or shared for a starter.

Prague Smažený sýr
Smažený sýr (fried cheese) + the main entrance at Prague Castle

Prague is a beautiful city and I look forward to going back one day. I can definitely recommend at least a 3-day trip so you can see and eat as much as you can.

Prague Charles Bridge
View of Charles Bridge from the river + view of Prague on the way back down the hill from Strahov Monastery

Thanks for sharing in our Prague adventure, here’s to the next one!

White Christmas: an Aussie tradition

It’s been a while since I’ve made White Christmas. To be honest, I really don’t like raisins and sultanas or fruit peel, so I’ve never made it traditionally anyway. However, this year, I’m doing Christmas in a new country with new people and I wanted to take something to work that was uniquely Australian. The only thing I could think of was White Christmas.

I had to search for a Copha equivalent and then scoured Tesco for milk powder. Eventually, I got everything I needed and made a batch.

Recipe:

  • 250gms vegetable shortening such as Copha or Trex
  • 2 cups rice puffs
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1 cup milk powder
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup dried fruit
  • Glace cherries for the top (though I like to chop some up and put them in the mixture too)

Method:

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl
  2. Melt the vegetable shortening
  3. Add the shortening to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix it well (carefully)
  4. Transfer the mixture to a lined tin/tray
  5. Top with glace cherries
  6. Let it sit in the fridge until set
  7. Cut up and enjoy

When I’ve made this in the past I’ve used dried apricots and cherries instead of raisins/sultanas and glace cherries. I figure this is far more Australian anyway given they are summer fruits. I think you could put dried mango in there too, just to make it even more ‘summery’.

I think my colleagues enjoyed this uniquely Australian sweet and I might make my version for them next year!

What do you put in your White Christmas?

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for… Swoon Gelato

Do you know the difference between ice cream and gelato? I didn’t until recently when I was lucky to attend a bloggers’ evening at Swoon Gelato for a sneak peek of their Christmas treats.

If you were wondering, the answer to that question: gelato contains less fat (win!) because the recipes use less cream. It’s also churned slower than ice cream which means it contains less air and has a super creamy texture. Swoon likes to say that all of this essentially means you can eat twice as much (and I think they make an excellent point).

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Swoon treated us to some absolutely stunning gelato and gelato-focused desserts, all made here in Bristol.

Pat and her team got things started with mango gelato Bellinis! Genius! I’ve tried putting mango sorbet in lemonade before and it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. But, prosecco and mango gelato worked really well – I can definitely recommend it for your next shindig!

Swoon Gelato - welcome
Swoon Gelato mango Bellini + Pam’s welcome + what you don’t see from a blogger event

Next, we were treated to Swoon’s core range of gelato and sorbetto. As always, I used the salted caramel flavour as a benchmark to compare against other gelato and ice cream I’ve tried. It was perfect – just the right amount of salt, plenty of caramel, and as mentioned previously, super creamy. While I really enjoyed everything I tried, their core flavours that I highly recommend are: salted caramel (obviously), chocolate and chilli sorbetto (which is a must-try if you love rich chocolate with a little kick, plus from memory I believe it’s vegan), and pistachio (the best version of pistachio I’ve ever tried).

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The dessert cabinet at Swoon.

As a little twist, Pam gave us the chance to make some gelato with the chef (who has trained extensively to make the best gelato at an actual gelato school – though, in Italian it sounded so much better). While I was helping with a batch of creamy vanilla gelato, everyone else crowded around the cabinet and tried some of the Christmas specials, including a mince pie flavour!

Swoon Gelato
Making gelato.

After successfully creating a batch vanilla gelato it was time to test Swoon’s Christmas dessert range. They have a lot on offer, and we tried: the Italian version of buche de Noel – a sponge roulade filled with, you guessed it, gelato; pannetone filled with gelato; and some stunning macarons filled with gelato (it’s hard to find a good macaron, but these were chewy and crunchy – perfect with the creamy gelato).

Swoon Gelato
Some of the desserts at Swoon.

By this point, I think it’s fair to say we were all in sugared out, but content. I can honestly say I adored everything I tried and I’m looking forward to taking hubby to test it all out in the very near future.

Thank you so much to Pat and the Swoon team for looking after us and sharing your delicious gelato and sorbetto.

The details:
Swoon Gelato
31a College Green, Bristol BS1 5TB
Open: Every day, 10am – 10:30pm
Web: www.swoononaspoon.co.uk

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Christmas gift guide for the foodie in your life

Every Christmas people ask, ‘what do you want for Christmas?’ and every year I don’t know what to say. I can imagine I’m not the only person who goes through this, so I’ve put together this Christmas Gift Guide to make things easy!

If you’re buying for a foodie friend (or for yourself) here are some great gift options:

COOKING CLASSES

Brisbane: Experience Sunnybank cooking school
A three-hour hands-on class where you’ll learn from a master. You’ll prepare five recipes from either Banquet style, Chinese peasant or Yum cha (and get to eat is obviously!).
Cost: I believe the class is around $80 per person, but give the organisation a call on 3345 7500 to check or make a booking.

Bristol: Little Kitchen Cookery School
Classes range from seasonal goodies (i.e. Christmas) to breadmaking, sugarcraft and vegetarian cookery.  You can buy vouchers as gift or just making the booking for your foodie friend.
Cost: £40-60 per person

 

FOOD TOURS

Brisbane: Foodi Chocolate Walking Tour
A three-hour tour encompassing four of Brisbane’s best chocolatiers. Not only will you learn about chocolate production, you’ll get to sample plenty.
Cost: $49 per person

Bristol: The Bristol Food Tour
This three-hour tour aims to showcase the best independent food and drink vendors in the Bristol. I’ve seen nothing but excellent reviews and I’m looking forward to going myself.
Cost: £35 per person

 

HIGH TEA

Brisbane: Matcha High Tea at Sinmei Tea Rooms at Scrumptious Reads
Matcha is super popular right now and you’ll find it in liquid and food form all over the place. Sinmei has amazing matcha and you’ll get to try some of their matcha sweets (which change regularly) along with something green to wash it all down.
Cost: $35 per person

PS. Scrumptious Reads is a brilliant place to find cook books!

Bristol: Classic Afternoon Tea for two at Chin! Chin!
A selection of delicious finger sandwiches, scones, cakes & treats, and tea or coffee. You can buy vouchers if you’re giving it as a gift to another couple.
Cost: £29.90 (PS. Keep an eye on Wriggle for deals!)

 

FINE DINING

Brisbane: Friday Night Supper Club at Montrachet
Chef Shannon Kellam puts together a seasonal, regional and creative 5-course menu that changes every two weeks. This is outside their main menu and is only available on Friday nights. Seating is always limited, so I recommend making a reservation well in advance.
Cost: $110 per person

Bristol: Lunch or dinner at Casamia
Recently awarded ‘Best Restaurant’ and ‘Best Fine Dining Wine List’, this is the perfect place to take a special foodie someone.
Cost: £98 per person

 

FOOD/DRINKS

Brisbane: Dello Mano brownies
A box of Australia’s best brownies will make anyone’s day, even if they aren’t a foodie! If you don’t want to get them brownies (one would ask why!), they make amazing cakes too.
Cost: From $16

Bristol: Swoon Gelato voucher
Obviously gelato melts, so the best way to get your foodie friend some Swoon gelato is by getting them a voucher. They do a stunning range of flavours which can be bought in various sizes, plus cakes and other gelato based goodies.
Cost: As much as you want to spend!

Bristol: Bluebird Tea Co. gift boxes
Bluebird not only have divine tea, they are mixologists and come up with some stunning blends (both seasonal and regular), like Christmas cake, Mulled cider, gingerbread chai, dark choc chilli chai and Dozy Girl Chamomile (one of the ones I have). They have a range of tea gifts available, such as tea cocktail kits.
Cost: £5-27

 

GADGETS
4-in-1 Polygon measuring spoon
Even though this is still on Kickstarter, I think these spoons are ingenious! For the price you get a set of spoons – one tablespoon and one teaspoon. Expected delivery is January 2017 and I think any foodie would appreciate such an innovative gift.
Cost: $8 USD

The Whisk Wiper
Sadly, the whisk wiper isn’t yet available for purchase as the designers need to fill Kickstarter orders first. However, you can sign up for updates. In this case, print out a picture and put it in a card for your foodie friend so they know your plan!
Cost: TBC

Custom embossed rolling pins
If your foodie friend is a keen baker, they will love these rolling pins. While there are quite a few etsy stores selling them, you can get them from Valek too. They have a big range available.
Cost: €20-40

 

BOOKS

River Cottage A-Z
I won’t lie, I’m looking forward to owning this book. I went to the Bristol launch and hearing Hugh talk about the recipes made it sound even better.
Cost: £26.00 in the UK on Amazon | $59.95 in Aus at Booktopia

Chocolate by Kirsten Tibballs
I went to one of the launches for this book and really enjoyed seeing Kirsten talk about chocolate and make chocolate goodies (for us to try). The book has stunning images and recipes for all experience levels.
Cost: $44.50 in Aus  at Savour School | £16.59 on Amazon

Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cook Book
As a big fan of Jamie, Mel is super keen to get her hands on this one.
Cost: £11.99 on Amazon | $29.99 in Aus at QBD

We hope you’ll find something you’ll love here! We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below too!

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The first Bristol pizza festival

Yesterday, we went to the first event Bristol pizza festival, organised by Foozie. Five of the region’s pizza vendors plus craft beers, and Prosecco. Honestly, with that combination it’s hard to go wrong!

It’s exciting to be part of something that is happening for the first time. Especially if it involves food!

Tickets were only £14 and included four pizza tokens (which could get you a whole pizza or four quarters). Thankfully, there were only 500 tickets available. Gosh, in Australia you’d pay $20 and you’d get nothing, plus you’d spend the day lining up and go home cranky because you only managed to get once slice.

On top of a good range of pizza options, each pizza vendor developed a Bristol themed pizza for the event and attendees could get a quarter as part of their ticket. I thought this was a stroke of brilliance because I’m a big fan of having a bit of everything so you don’t have to decide on just one thing!

I really liked the venue too – The Station on Silver Street! The beauty of being new in town means so many of these places are new to me and we often have nothing like them in Brisbane.

As a fussy pizza eater, I decided before I went in that I would judge each of the themed pizzas, so here goes:

Pizzarova
Bristol Temple Meats – Fior Di Latte mozzarella, pancetta, ‘nduja sausage and salami Milano topped with chilli or garlic oil
I really enjoyed the flavour and texture of the dough and as far as ‘meatlovers’ pizzas go, it was pretty good! I’m a big fan of ‘nduja, so I enjoyed its firey punch.

Bristol Pizza Festival - Pizzarova

Mission Pizza
Massive Cheese Attack – cream, fire-roasted pear, Cornish Blue cheese, Fior di Latte mozzarella, Fontina, cracked black pepper, a drizzle of honey
This pizza was my number 2. The base was well-cooked and I loved the combination of flavours – the stand outs, of course, being the sweet pear and sharp blue cheese – strong but surprisingly smooth (and I’m not usually a lover of blue cheese!).

Bristol Pizza Festival - Mission Pizzas

Woodchop Pizza
PeSSto Great Britain – pesto, salami from Somerset Charcuterie and sun-dried tomatoes
Unfortunately, I think they were too busy at the time we got our PeSSto Great Britain because the base just wasn’t cooked enough. Toppings-wise, I felt the sundried tomatoes didn’t add to the overall flavour and we couldn’t taste any pesto. The Somerset Charcuterie salami was really nice though.

Bristol Pizza Festival - Woodchop Pizza

Pizza Bike
Drizzle in Brizzle – sourdough base, tomato sauce, Cheddar cheese, fresh herbs, pesto, oils
Pizza Bike had my favourite tomato base – tangy and flavourful. Unfortunately, the pizza was really difficult to eat because the base was quite soggy or undercooked, I couldn’t tell which. I really like flavour of the base though. As a sourdough lover, I’m keen to buy some of their bases to make pizza at home without the mess!

Bristol Pizza Festival - Pizza Bike

Winner – Baz & Fred
The Young Mucker – tomato, mozzarella, fennel sausage and tenderstem broccoli
For me this pizza was the winner. The based was cooked perfectly, making it easy to eat (I could eat it one-handed without the topping going everywhere). I also loved the combination and taste of the toppings – aromatic fennel always goes well with pork, and the broccoli was perfectly cooked.

Bristol Pizza Festival - Baz and Fred

Thanks for putting together Bristol’s first pizza festival, Foozie; I’m looking forward to the next one!

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My new home – Bristol

If you’ve been following our Instagram feed and even our Facebook page, you’ll have noticed by now that I’m no longer travelling per se. We arrived in Bristol on 3 October and have been living in AirBnBs while job hunting and being tourists.

When I tell people we’ve relocated here they usually ask why. But not just, ‘why did you move to Bristol?’, it’s more like, ‘why the hell would you choose to move to the UK? It’s so much nicer in Australia!’. Obviously I then have to explain that a lot of Australians do it because it’s cheaper to travel all over Europe while living in the UK. Most people nod in understanding, but their faces say otherwise haha.

Bristol food
Eat a pitta falafels from St Nicholas markets + Moroccan from St Nicholas markets + salad from The Stable, Bristol

Once past the moving to the UK question, they ask why we chose Bristol over London. It’s probably a fair question because London is effectively the centre of everywhere. And that’s exactly why we didn’t want to live there – too big, takes too long to get anywhere, too expensive, too many people vying for the same jobs…you get the idea. Coming from Brisbane, I wasn’t sure we could handle something so massive. When I researched, Bristol popped up in a lot of ‘great places to live’ lists and it seemed like it had a really great cultural feel. I say ‘we’ a lot, but Husband didn’t really have a lot to do with it, he was happy for me to choose.

Bristol food
A lane near our first AirBnB + eating a locally made sausage roll at Bristol’s harbourside market

So far, we’ve loving it here. Even Husband is keen to stay (though finding a job has been a tough task for him). The food scene is so vibrant – there are pop ups, new restaurants (and the old ones), markets and events. I know Brisbane had all of those things, but it’s on a smaller scale here. For example, we’re going to a pizza festival on Saturday and they only sold 500 tickets. In Brisbane, an event like that would be open to thousands of people; making it a crowded experience with more time spent in queues than actually enjoying the atmosphere and food.

Bristol
Blaise Castle + picnic in the park

Regardless of the food, every day feels like an adventure as we walk around finding new and interesting things. We’re yet to make new friends, but I’m sure we will. I went to a food blogging event on Monday night and there’s so much camaraderie within the blogging scene here – it’s lovely to see. There will be plenty of posts on here about Bristol, Bath and beyond, as well as the places farther afield (we’re still trying to work out what to do for Christmas at this point!).

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The Georgian kitchen at Bristol’s Georgian House Museum + breakfast at a new ‘Melbourne-style’ cafe in Stokes Croft where we are staying now

My favourite adventure to date was meeting Hugh from River Cottage. As many of your know, I’m a big fan! We went to the launch lunch of his new book, The River Cottage A-Z, at River Cottage Canteen and I basically gushed at him (poor guy). The food was really amazing too – simple, full of flavour and very very British. I’m looking forward to going back there for a celebratory meal once I’ve been offered a job.

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Me and Hugh + Hugh’s autograph + one of the taster platters from the lunch at River Cottage Canteen

Expect to see more of our adventures in the English West Country!

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The pastries and breadbased goodies of Prague – Part 2

As promised in part one of this post, I wanted to write more about the delicious things we ate while in Prague. By no means is this is a complete guide, but it might help you make some decisions when there are so many things to choose from.

Medovník

One of the sweets I enjoyed the most was medovník – Czech honey cake. It’s layers of biscuit and caramelised condensed milk that create a sweet treat with a unique texture and flavour. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too rich and we didn’t walk away feeling sorry for ourselves. We got it at Artisan Cafe & Bistrot next door to where we stayed. They make all their cakes, which is a definite plus!

Medovník at Artisan Cafe and Bistrot Prague
Medovník at Artisan Cafe and Bistrot
Vetrnik

This particular pastry sent us on bit of an adventure. I googled to find the best in Prague and the results showed that the vetrnik at Cafe Savoy was heads above the rest – thankfully Taste of Prague did the work for me, so it didn’t take me long to decide where to go. Vetrniks are made from a choux pastry, filled with cream and topped with a caramel sauce/glaze. It’s very much like a profiterole, but certainly richer. I can recommend sharing one if you buy the size in the photo below, otherwise just buy a small one and enjoy it slowly.

Cafe Savoy in Prague
Vetrnik (and a strawberry cake) at the Cafe Savoy
Czech fruit dumplings

Fruit dumplings are exactly what they sound like – fruit inside a flour-based dumpling, and served with ‘dry’ cottage cheese (or curd cheese) and sugar. If we were in Australia or the UK, I’m sure there would have been cream or ice cream involved too. It’s simple fare, but homely and you could just imagine someone’s grandmother making these lovingly for a big family feast. The dumplings in the image below had plums in the middle, but they can be made from any fruit (I’m keen to have a go making apricot ones myself). I really enjoyed these and I was a bit disappointed that I waited until our last night in Prague to try them. I’ve read that Cafe Savoy has excellent fruit dumplings, but we got these at Restaurant U Karla.

From my understanding, these dumplings can be served as the main meal or as dessert – my kind of food!

Honourable mention: Kofola is a cola soft drink produced in the Czech Republic. Apparently it was created when other cola brands weren’t available. I’d been on the look out for it at most places but never saw it until we walked into Restaurant U Karla, where they had it on tap. It’s got nice flavour and definitely worth a try.

 

Sweet tooth in Prague
Fruit dumplings + Kofola at Restaurant U Karla
Kremrole

A light (weight-wise, not calorie-wise) pastry filled with cream. While not in the shape of a horn, it’s very similar to cream horns you’ve probably seen. I usually don’t go for pastries full of cream, but these were small (and quite cheap!) and they had made it on to my list. It was light and the cream was quite tangy, which I wasn’t expecting. We found the bakery we bought them from while wandering back to the Old Town Square from the Jewish Quarter – it’s on Dlouhá.

Tredlnik

This was our end-of-trip treat (let’s be honest, we didn’t actually need any more treats, you’ve seen the rest of the list!). We had seen 90% of the tourists in prague walking around with them, so FOMO got the best of us. Plus, our next stop was London and we thought we should use our Euros. While they looked really nice, the tredlnik itself seemed stale, but perhaps the ice cream in the middle of it changed the texture. I don’t want to give you any recommendations on where to go for one of these, but if you want something super naughty, I think this would be the way to go and you can find them pretty much anywhere in the city.

Sweet tooth in Prague
Tredlnik + Kremrole

I hope my posts have given you bit of an idea of the treats you can find in Prague. I’m currently in the middle of writing about the savoury dishes so you don’t think we lived on sugar for five days.

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The pastries and bread based goodies of Prague – Part 1

Our next stop on our recent travels was Prague in the Czech Republic. We booked an apartment in Staré Město – or the Old Town – which was very central.

Much like Tallinn in Estonia, the Old Town is made up of old buildings and cobbled streets – if you’re a history buff like me, there is so much to see you won’t know where to start.

Of course, checking out a few historical aspects of every place we stop is important, but so is the food. When I did my pre-travel research on Prague (read: looked at the food I could try), I noticed a number of delicious-looking pastries and bread items. On the list they went! I got through a few of them, but I’m sure there are many more I could try if I went back.

Kolach

On our first morning in Prague, we set out from our apartment with a random walk in mind – we decided to see where the day would take us. It wasn’t long before we came across a bakery. We grabbed a couple of things, but the tastiest was the makovy kolacek (or kolach). I guess we would compare this to a danish of sorts in Australia, though not as sweet – it’s a brioche-style dough, shaped into a circle and filled with various ingredients (jam, fruit, poppy seeds). As with my dishes in this part of the world, many neighbouring countries have their own versions too.

Kolach in Prague
A makovy kolacek (or kolach) + the view over the Charles Bridge
Honey bread

Later, we found ourselves in a little shop (part of someone’s home) near Prague Castle called Sweet Prague – where they make and sell honey bread. The lady in the shop informed us (rather strongly) that we shouldn’t ever confuse honey bread with ginger bread as they are two very different beasts. The honey bread – in various shapes and sizes – is used as gifts and many people give them for a range of events from marriages to Christmas, and they last for twenty years (as decorations). It has a very different flavour to ginger bread, so if you’re in Prague make sure you try both.

Sweet Prague

Hořické trubičky

Something neither of us enjoyed were hořické trubičky – or horice rolls – thin sweet wafers rolled and filled with sickly sweet cream (to me, it tasted like eating a piece of cardboard filled with very very sweet buttercream). We found these in a gingerbread shop and asked the lady what they were, in response we received “they are traditional Czech food”. Not knowing what we were getting ourselves into, we each chose one and left. I ended up eating only half because it was too sweet for me. When I googled them later, I found that people really enjoyed them and I wondered if maybe we’d just had bad ones. Maybe we’ll try again next time we visit!

Horice rolls in Prague
A hořické trubičky + the Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square

EDIT: Here’s part two of Prague for sugar lovers.

What’s your favourite pastry?

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What on Earth is ‘Australian Crunch’?

….I asked myself while grabbing a quick lunch in a bakery.

The description said: cornflakes, golden syrup, coconut and chocolate.

Nope. Still doesn’t ring a bell. So, of course, I had to buy one.

After I’d asked for the pork and apple pasty, I said, “and we’d like to try to the Australian Crunch please”.

The lady behind the counter gave me a funny look and asked, “is it like anything you have in Australia?”

I looked at the slice again and responded, “well no, that’s why we’d like to try it”.

She laughed and half muttered under her breath, “that’s what most Australians say”.

I just smiled awkwardly.

Once seated, I was adult enough to get through the savoury part of my lunch first. It was the nicest pasty I’d ever had actually. Although, I think there is supposed to be a traditional pasty and the rest are just fakes. Then again, I don’t know a lot about pasties. I’ve had pasties before, but I don’t like the potato in them – always seem to be undercooked.

Anywho, that’s not what this post is about. I’m here to talk about Australian Crunch.

The Australian Crunch was….well, it was bland and not all that crunchy to be honest. I struggled to taste coconut or golden syrup. It didn’t remind me of anything I’d ever eaten as a kid, but it reminded me of a really bad version of chocolate crackles.

Given this odd slice has ‘Australian’ in its name and neither Husband or I had ever heard of it, I wanted to find out a bit more.

I put the slice on Facebook, and then I googled.

Turns out, it might very well be a slice unique to the UK. Plenty of British bloggers and forum participants ate Australian Crunch growing up; often saying they had it a lot at school.

Australian forum participants and friends on Facebook said they had never heard of such a slice. Mel thought her aunt may have made something similar when she was a kid, but wasn’t too sure. I’m wondering if the ‘Australian’ part of the name comes from the cornflakes?

During my search I also found number of recipes – all different of course!

I’m currently staying in a studio apartment with a very small kitchen and not much in the way of baking utensils (yes, it was hard not to pack some and it’s even harder not to buy things whenever I go to the shop), but I’m really keen to give this slice a go. So from my search, here are a few recipes of this strange slice if you’d like to make it and tell me how it goes:

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PS. I regret not taking a photo before I bit into it…sorry about that.

Helsinki food adventures – part 1

Helsinki isn’t the most ‘touristy’ town, certainly a far cry from what we experienced in Tallinn and would later experience in Prague. Yet, we felt we saw (and ate) a lot during the few days we were there.

My food experiences started with a trip to the supermarket, Prisma. I love going to supermarkets for the first time in a new country. There’s always something different to try (and sometimes you find yourself shaking your head because you have no idea why anyone would want to eat whatever that strange looking thing is). In this case, it was mostly awe that I felt while walking around. So many products I’d never seen before, so many drinks I wanted to try. Not to mention we were pretty hungry; it’s definitely true – you shouldn’t shop while hungry!

My trip to this supermarket reminded me that we have so much growing to do in Australia!

A traditional platter of sorts…

Jess, my friend and tour guide, decided we should start our first day in Finland with some traditional fare. We had quite the spread: pickles (which you buy ‘fresh’ from vats in the vegetable section) with a sour cream and honey ‘dip’; bread cheese (a bit like haloumi in texture) with peach jam – usually this would have been cloudberries, but we couldn’t get any; and Karelian pies (a thin rye crust with a filling of rice) with egg butter (egg, salt, pepper, butter).

They aren’t combinations I’d have thought of back home, I love trying something new! My favourite was the Karelian pie, it was a little like eating an egg sandwich. The pies are also Jess’ favourite and many people obviously enjoy eating them for lunch because they were available with the ‘egg butter’ at most cafes.

Helsinki fun
Karelian pie with egg butter + pickle with sour cream and honey dip + buying pickles at Prisma
Reindeer games…

For dinner that same night, Jess’ husband Juho, cooked us something even more traditional – sauteed reindeer with mashed potato, lingonberries and a pickle for good measure. Juho informed us that Finnish cuisine didn’t tend to use a lot of spices or herbs in the dishes they ate most regularly, so this dish involved thinly sliced reindeer cooked in butter and seasoned simply with salt and pepper. The lingonberries were cooked with a bit of sugar. A note: lingonberries are very tart, even with the addition of sugar, so it does take some getting used to when you put it in your mouth.

Helsinki reindeer
Reindeer with mashed potato, lingonberry compote and a pickle.
It wouldn’t be a holiday without traditional pastries…

We tried a traditional Finnish ‘pastry’, korvapuusti – a cinnamon scroll of sorts. Korvapuusti translates to ‘slapped ears’ because of their shape. They were tasty at room temperature, but even better straight from the oven. Yum!

Helsinki and Korvapuusti
Korvapuusti + some funny little men I found on a walk.
Pour some sugar on me…

Jess had mentioned she wanted to take me to a ‘heavy metal bar’ with great cocktails and I was keen. You can’t say no to cocktails and a venue that didn’t play dance music. While our husbands went to the sauna, we took the opportunity to relax at Sling In bar + cafe; they have a cocktail list so big, it’s stored on a computer and you can search based on name, ingredient or style. Tucked away in what seemed like an odd location (inside a shopping centre), we each took ten minutes to decide on the cocktails we would try. I went with Jess’ recommendation – a blueberry cheese cake cocktail (with actual creamy cheese in it). It was divine and you wouldn’t know you were drinking anything alcoholic….is that good or bad? I don’t know. I guess if you’re in town, you should test it out for yourself.

Helsinki fun
The Sibelius Monument + magnificent blueberry cheesecake cocktail from SlingIn.

 

A little foraging…

One of my favourite outings was to the aptly nicknamed, Squirrel Island (Seurasaari). Not only did we get up close and personal with squirrels and tiny birds, we did some late season berry foraging, finding both blueberries and raspberries. I’d definitely recommend picking up some sunflower seeds and heading over to the island for a couple of hours. You can see one of the squirrels I fed here…so cute!

Foraging in Helsinki
Foraged late-season blueberries and raspberries. Delicious!

We also went to Michelin Starred restaurant, Chef & Sommelier, but that’s a story for another day.

We’ll likely head back to Finland again in the future – apparently it’s better during the summer months. I’d also like to see the Northern Lights in Lapland. Any recommendations for touristy attractions?

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