Friday, September 29, 2006

Pasta al forno con pomodori e mozzarella

Following on from the success of Young Sarah's Cake, I decided to give another recipe from Jamie’s Italy another go – the baked pasta with tomatoes and mozzarella.

Cooked, salad, piglets

We had lunch al fresco, with a bottle of wine and a salad. I also broke in my new Nigella Lawson’s Living Kitchen salt & pepper piglets! I don’t think they’re available in Australia – I picked them up at Breeze in Cambridge. I’m not really a fan of pre-ground, sneeze-inducing pepper, so I’ve filled one piglet with salt, and the other with dried chilli flakes. (Essential for any pasta!)

This dish is extremely simple, but very very tasty. You layer cooked orechiette with a simmered tomato sauce (tinned tomatoes, onion, garlic, dried chillies), fresh basil leaves, parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

Ready for Oven

Then it just needs to be baked for 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.

While it was cooking, I made a salad. The first thing I did was to leave some tomatoes in the sun to make them delicious and intensify their tomato-iness.

tomatoes sunning

I tried to recreate that fabulous salad that I ate in Rome - thinly sliced fennel, mixed salad leaves, grated carrot and tomatoes. Mine wasn’t exactly the same, but it was still pretty good!


This pasta is absolutely delicious! All the flavours just compliment each other so perfectly. It's great hot, straight from the oven, and any leftovers are fabulous eaten cold or microwaved. I think making this pasta is definitely the way forward when entertaining for large groups.

Table on porch

I am so glad that Spring is here!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Cheese and Champers

On Sunday, I took a tour of 3 Yarra Valley wineries, organised by the social club at my cousin's work. This meant that it was subsidised (only $60!), including lunch, a cheese platter, 2 full glasses of wine and unlimited tastings.

It was a big day - our coach met us at 9:20am on Sunday morning (what a crazy hour of the morning to be out and about!) outside the Arts Centre, and drove us down to the Yarra Valley.

First was Domaine Chandon... famous for sparkling wine!

Here's the delicious cheese platter, including Domaine Chandon's own chutney and a fab glass of cuvée riche. I picked up a bottle of it as well.

Here are the lovely grounds of Domaine Chandon. Apparently they do lots of weddings.

Surreal Greenness

This is the wine cave, where the bottles are rotated to disperse the sediment. Or something like that.

Wine Cave

Next stop was Helen's Hill. We started with more tastings...

Helen's Hill

Spitoon - You can spit out your excess wine in here, or just drink it all.

We had a fabulous lunch at Vines Restaurant at Helen's Hill. It was a choice of 2 courses, including a glass of wine. I liked their shiraz so much that I convinced the table to buy an extra bottle to have with lunch. There was a really big selection of meals; I think I got about half on camera.

Sweet potato gnocchi, tossed with Yarra Valley venison kabana, mushrooms, cream and wilted brussel sprout leaves

Vines' Yarra Valley Platter - a taste of the Yarra Valley with a selection fresh (sic) seasonal produce, including meats and fish, marinated vegetables and cheese.

Pumpkin Pastie - Filo pastie filled with pumpkin and burghul, baked then served on sliced pickeld tomatoes and fetta cheese.

Shrimp Vindaloo - Mild shrimp Vinadloo curry, served with a traditional tomato cucumber salad and streamed (sic) rice.

Poreterhouse Steak - Black Angus steak grilled, served with a mashed potato and pea patty, napped with Bourguignonne mushroom sauce

My lunch - Classic 'Gamekeeper' rabbit and bacon casserole, served with mashed potato and witlof. Divine!

Wattleseed and quandong cake topped with a "Kennedy and Wilson" chocolate glaze icing and clotted cream

Warm saffron rice pudding with yogurt and quince granita served with a dipping biscuit

Strawberry custard cream brulee (sic) with a carmelise (sic) sugar top, served with a passionfruit and strawberry salad, accompanied by Yarra Valley strawberry ice-cream

So, very full and a little bit tipsy (some moreso than others!), we stumbled along to the next winery, Yering Farm. Their port was delicious, so I got a bottle.

View from 3rd winery

We were driven back to the Arts Centre at about 6pm. What a great day!!

Friday, September 22, 2006


This is going to be the last post from my trip to Europe. Split was the last city we visited before coming home, and it was a great place in which to relax after a whirlwind of a trip! We ate, we tanned… and that’s about it. Fabulous.

Split is a very pleasant tourist city, and is also a good base from which to visit the nearby islands of Hvar, Brac and Vis. We only had time to visit Hvar and Brac, although I’m told that Vis is awesome too.


We stayed at another pension, Ana & Miki Guesthouse, which was a 10 minute walk from the harbour.

View of Split from the Balcony of our room

Houses in Split

On the street from the house to the town, we came across an almost totally hidden bakery, run by a really friendly lady, which sold yummy yummy baked goods. We came here pretty much every morning to get breakfast and provisions for the day.

Ivan Ivac Pekara

Ivan Bakery

Baked Donut – filled with fig jam

Milk Bun

Cheese pastry – Now, unlike the one from the dodgy bus stop servo, this was a quality cheese pastry.

Brac island is a ferry-ride away from Split harbour, and is famous for Bol beach – a unique pebble beach that extends 500 metres out from the shore, which changes shape depending on the winds and tides. It does get ridiculously crowded in summer, but don’t let that stop you. It has the clearest, most beautiful water I’ve ever seen, and is a perfect spot for last-minute, about-to-return-home-to-winter tanning.

Bol Beach

Of course, we made the time to stop off at a cafe before hitting the beach.

Pastry from cafe on Brac

Clarice with massive piece of cake

There are lots of restaurants in Split and on the islands, and I think that Lonely Planet and Time Out both do really good recommendations, so they’re a good point to start from.

Dalmatian Prosciutto

Pag Cheese

More Cheese


There’s a market in Split, near the Diolectian’s palace, which sells all manner of touristy goods (I got a fab black & white Panama-style hat!) and food.


Market 2

Market 3

Market 4

Market 5

I got a beautiful peach, which I ate later that day on the beach in Hvar.

Fresh Peach

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Here are some photos from Dubrovnik...

If you thought we left gelato behind in Italy, you were wrong! Croatia is a beautiful sunny tourist paradise. That means ice-cream is EVERYWHERE!

This is the entrance to the old town through the massive city walls.

Croatian beer rocks!


The following is what we had for dinner one night at another portside restaurant whose name slips my memory. The prices weren't too bad, and they had a jazz pianist playing too. Sheesh, we're SO not backpackers!

Fish soup!

Grilled prawns on blue cheese risotto

The following photos are of these "hole in the wall" type joints that they have in Dubrovnik. They're built into the cliff face, and you can get to them by climbing some stairs on the edge of town and following the signs that say "Cold Drinks". I'm told that it's perfectly acceptable to strip off and jump into the clear blue ocean whilst you drink, but we abstained.

Hole in the wall drinking place at sunset

Hole in the Wall drink joint during the day

This is a small market that was located in the centre of town, selling lots of local produce.

Market in Dubrovnik

Clarice bought the biggest jar of honey I'd ever seen.

Clarice with a ridiculous jar of honey - how happy does she look?

You may remember that in my last post, I mentioned that our accommodation was a mere 5 minute walk from the beach. Here's the street that takes you to the beach.

And here's the beach itself. How convenient!

Lapad Beach