It is my dream to be a cat vet, not just any ordinary vet, but one that just deals with cats. So when a locum job came up at the Hobart Cat Clinic I jumped at the opportunity. Not only would I get a fortnight of feline exclusivity, but I would get to visit one of the most beautiful parts of our country; Tasmania. For the first week I was solo as the Boy was only flying over for the second week. As is often the case when I’m on my own, I find myself gravitating toward food as my comfort. To my delight I found out that Hobart loves night markets too.
Hobart Twilight Markets runs fortnightly from October through to March every year in the coastal suburb of Sandy Bay. Fortunately for me this was directly on route home from work and so I thought I would just drop in and check it out. Along with most of Hobart it seemed. Parking was a challenge and after driving around for nearly half an hour I manage to find a somewhat legal park on a verge.
Finding gluten free options wasn’t exactly easy as there were large queues at every food stall and I had to line up just to be able to ask as there weren’t any indications made on their chalkboard menus. Needless to say what I did try was worth the wait. Hobart Oyster House’s freshly shucked oysters were out of this world and came in a number of size options. A simple dash of Tabasco and a squeeze of lemon and I was in heaven.
After slurping my way through a half dozen oysters, I checked out what the Vietnamese stall from Chikko Café had to offer. They were serving a number of fresh Banh Mi which were selling like hot cakes in addition to some prawn rice paper rolls. They were happy to serve my rolls without the hoisin sauce and replaced it with a gluten free sweet chilli sauce instead.
The vegetarian stall Makan Lagi had a number of international dishes available including some gluten free inari filled with vegetarian contents.
My favourite snack of the evening was Pav-Lova’s amazing single serve Pavlovas. All gluten free friendly with flavours like brown sugar and lime, lemon and coconut and espresso it was very hard to choose which one to try. Times like these I really miss the Boy as I know his presence means I can order two! I eventually settled for the brown sugar and lime.
It had all the right elements of pavlova textures, an air-light crisp shell with a centre of softer mallow. The crystallised lime gave a mouthwatering tang to cut through all the sweetness. I didn’t think I would finish it all, but before I knew it the whole pav was gone.
Satisfied with a full belly I found my way back to the car to return to my house sit companion, Ozi the Cornish Rex. He is such a lovely old man who loves the simple things in life, sunshine, cuddles and smoked salmon 😉
Hobart Twilight Markets | Facebook
17 Sandy Beach Road, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7005
Every second Friday from 4 pm to 8 pm, October to March.
The Boqueria Markets in Barcelona date all the way back to the 1400s when a pig market existed on the same site where the markets exist today. It wasn’t until hundreds of years later in 1826 that these markets were legally recognised and shortly later an official undercover structure was built. Unlikely most things in Spain, the Boqueria markets get well under way by mid-morning and so I advise you to get there well before 12 pm. I made the mistake of fueling up at my hotel’s breakfast buffet and arrived at the markets with a full belly. Definite fail. Next time I am in Barcelona, I will be sure to arrive at Boqueria Markets hungry. Very hungry.
These markets are filled will all sorts of fresh local produce and if your accommodation has kitchen facilities I suggest you do your food shopping here! Or better still grab yourself some provisions and head to Park Guell for a picnic in the Spanish sunshine.
I spent several hours wandering the market aisles taking it all in; sights, smells and bustling atmosphere. Here’s a taste of the excitement.
La Boqueria is located just off La Ramblas and is open from 8am until 8.30 pm Monday to Saturday.
The Kalamunda Farmers Markets located in the centre of Kalamunda seemed like the most logical place for us to start our tour of the Hills for the Bickley Harvest Festival. These markets are on every Sunday from 8am until noon and include a number of local growers and producers selling their wares with many stall owners offering free tastings.
We nearly bought one of each of everything from the Ringwould Dairy stall as everything tasted so fresh. We settled for some Caillot (quark with added herbs and garlic), Moroccan marinated cheese and a strawberry lassi to share. The lassi was not overlying sweet and was very refreshing.
Moving on from Kalamunda we commenced our self-drive tour of the picturesque Bickley Valley. Gentle slopping hills, fruit filled orchards and brilliant green vineyards decorated the countryside like a holiday post card. We both wistfully dreamed of ditching city life for a tree-change. Our first stop was Aldersyde Estate which is the oldest commercially operated winery in the Perth Hills. This is a lovely spot to grab a few beautiful reds; we enjoyed their Merlot the best. I love how their pet Border Collies have made it onto their wine labels too.
Our second stop was Ashley Estate where they had set up a sausage sizzle which sent wafts of barbecued onions and sizzling dogs downwind into the car park triggering your senses immediately upon arrival. This winery is still run by the original owner and their speciality is Pinot Noir. They offered a fabulous vertical tasting journey of their Pinots ranging from 2005 through to 2010. It was fascinating to taste the change in each year’s vintage and the effects of cellaring and different seasons. We bought some of their 2008 and the popular 2009 vintages.
Brookside Winery was absolutely packed with a fully booked restaurant and I regret not planning ahead and reserving a table here! Their restaurant The Vineyard Kitchen focuses on using the freshest local produce, free range meats and line-caught fish and the meals I saw heading out of the kitchen looked worth coming back for. Although we missed out on trying their food we did hang around to sample their wines. The wine of most notable merit is their Petit Verdot; a grape that thrives on dry climates and has floral notes with fruity berry like flavours.
Sad that we had missed out on lunch at Brookside, we stopped in at Hainault Vineyard for a bite to eat to soak up all the wine. Their café was also fully booked however they also sold some take away plates to eat on the grass in front of a live band. We selected a vegetarian platter to share which cost us a scorching $18! What made the high price hurt even more was that the bread roll was stale (according to the Boy) and I tasted a distinctly horrible mouldy flavour in the hummus. Ugh. Inedible.
Hungry and disappointed we pushed on to our last stop for the day; the Core Cider House. This joint was a hive of activity with a live band playing, a bustling gourmet BBQ selling hot dogs and burgers and face painting for the little ones. You could even buy an apple tree to take home! The pork sausage was gluten free and they kindly had gluten free bread available too. Feeling much happier with some edible food to devour, we both sat back in the sun on the grass and soaked up the atmosphere.
I was shocked to learn today that apparently the Bickley Harvest Festival has run for over ten years yet this is the first time I have even heard of it! After chatting to a few wine makers it appears I’m not the only one as there are some people living in the region that have only learnt of it in recent times. It was a wonderful well organised day out and the drive showcased the Bickley Valley region beautifully. I really look forward to returning again next year.Elmars in the Valley The Vineyard Kitchen, Brookside Winery Hainault Vineyard Cafe Core Cider House
One of the best ways to get a taste of the local street food in Thailand is to head to one of their night markets. Most towns in Phuket have their own markets held on specific days once or twice a week but the biggest night markets are the Phuket Town Night Markets (Talad Tai Rot to the locals). These markets are open on the weekends from 4pm until around 9pm. Unlike a lot of the smaller markets in Phuket, most of the ground surface at these markets is cemented meaning you don’t have to pick your way through the mud. My advice is to get there fairly early as it gets very busy from around 5pm as the sun sets and the weather cools.
I arranged two minibuses to transport our wedding party of over 30 people to the markets. The trip took around 45 minutes one way from Kamala Beach. Once we arrived we set a time and meeting point and then split off into groups. As the Boy and I entered into the markets with Dad and my Stepmum, he had to duck down under the tarpaulin roof as he was too tall! Thai markets are not designed for 6 foot 3 Dutchmen!
The Phuket night markets have a vast array of new and second-hand clothes, wood carvings, toys, DVDs, souvenirs and more. There even is a “petshop” section selling live little rabbits and kittens; this was an area my step mum and I trotted past as quickly as possible. Despite trying not to look I couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of rows of small cages stacked on top of each other all jammed packed with poor little creatures. If only I could save them all!
The best part of these markets is the local street food. The four of us purposely bypassed all the trinkets, clothing and electronics to follow our noses to the heart of the aromas. The Boy was once again attracted to the fried insect stall. I cannot understand why he likes these snacks so much, I think part of his enjoyment is seeing the shock value he creates when everyone sees him munching on a big bug. However even when no one is watching I noticed he continued to happily crunch away whilst picking legs and wings out from between his teeth.
Meanwhile my attention was directed at the plethora of Thai desserts on offer. It was like an Eastern version of a candy store. I found it hard to decide what to try so I ended up trying a little of most things on offer provided I knew they were gluten free. Fortunately the vast majority of Thai dessert are made with gluten free flours such as mung bean flour and rice flour so I was spoilt for choice. Just a little tip, make sure you bring your Thai eating card with you to the markets so you can check with the vendors before purchasing anything.
After a few hours at the markets, we all regrouped and made the short journey up the scarp to Tunk Ka Cafe; a Thai restaurant recommended to me by a friend that lives in Phuket. The restaurant is located on top of Khao Rang Hill and gives practically 180 degree panoramic views across the city from their terraced open styled dining room. Although it is worth visiting just for the views, the food at Tunk Ka can hold its own. The menu is all Thai and is very extensive offering over 100 dishes.
Now seeing as I was on my wedding holiday I have to confess my usual dogged determination to photograph and review all the dishes on show was taken down a number of notches. It was the first night that we were lucky enough to be joined by all our wedding guests and my attention was much more focused on enjoying these precious moments with those I love dearly.
Thanks to my Thai eating card and some very obliging staff, a number of special order dishes were brought out for me specifically made gluten free and onion free. I was touched by the care and attention they gave me to ensure I had enough to eat. I highly recommend the soft shelled crab and the tamarind prawns. All our dishes contained ultra-fresh ingredients with all the elements of Thai food sweet, sour, salty and bitter balanced elegantly. A big thank you to my dear friend Carole for such a fabulous recommendation.Phuket Town Night Market (Talad Tai Rot) Opening Hours: Saturday & Sunday from 16:00 til 21:00
Location: Talad Tai Rot is located along Chao Fa West Road, Phuket’s main thoroughfare, one kilometre south of Central Festival shopping mall and is opposite Wat Naka, a Buddhist temple. Take a left at the first set of traffic lights. Tunk Ka Café Opening Hours: 10:30 – 22:30
Location: At the top of Rang Hill, Phuket Town
Eat Drink Blog 2012: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
As much as I would love to be spending more of my time eating and blogging like most food bloggers I have a day job. I am a veterinarian who is as passionate about my career as I am about food. In order to stay abreast of this ever evolving field I regularly attend veterinary conferences and congresses. Forever thirsty for new information and ways to better practice medicine, these conferences are often quite intense for me and I have been known to go through a whole biro pen from furiously scribbling down extra notes in the margins of our proceedings.
While I have been a vet for over ten years I have only been blogging for just over a year and my abilities to write and take photos still have a long way to go before I would consider myself “good”. Keen to improve my skills as an amateur I was over the moon to be invited to join 80 fellow bloggers to attend the third annual Eat Drink Blog Conference (EDB) this year. Better still the conference was to be held in Adelaide, the city I grew up in and where my darling mother still lives.
Vets are not unsociable folk by any means; however the extroverts are few and far between meaning at a conference I would be lucky if I managed to network with a small handful of colleagues each time. In stark contrast, the energy and excitement amongst the Eat Drink Blog delegates was infectious. Being more isolated in Perth, there were many bloggers that I had never met. Yet over the past twelve months together we have shared life’s ups and downs via our blogs and social media. Such a warm and welcoming bunch of people filled the room and I sensed a strong sense of community amongst us from the outset.
This year was to be the first year that the conference spanned over two days and I cannot sing enough praise to the dedicated team of people responsible for making Eat Drink Blog such a successful weekend.
I spent much of my adolescent years in Adelaide and the Adelaide Central Markets holds a very dear place in my heart. In the early stages of coping with a broken home, my Mum and I always found solace visiting the markets together. Not only did our scant food budget thrive on the cheaper produce, the atmosphere and buzz was always enough for us to temporarily forget our pains and absorb the vitality. Returning to the markets some twenty years later conjured up a mix of emotions as this was one of the highlights of one of the darker times of my younger years.
Our tour included visits to a number of South Australian owned businesses and many of these were family run having been in the Central Markets for generations.
After the market tour, delegates had the option of joining a winery tour in the Barossa or McLaren Vale, or to participate in a food writing workshop by acclaimed writer Dianne Jacob. As much as the imagery of a road trip with a bunch of food obsessed bloggers sounded like a dream come true, I genuinely want to improve my writing abilities and thus opted for the workshop.
Coming over from wet weather and storms in Perth I wasn’t prepared for the stifling hot day in Adelaide and prickled with sweat as I peeled off my layers walking in the sunshine. Killing time before the workshop we fortunately stumbled upon Dessert Story; a Taiwanese dessert restaurant. Desperate for something refreshing I ordered the Kiwifruit crushed ice. To my surprise out came a towering pyramid of syrupy bright green ice with chunks of kiwifruit tumbling down the sides like cartoon lava. I was unable to finish it partly due to its gargantuan size and partly due to its sickening sweetness.
For anyone interested in becoming a food writer, be it a professional journalist or an unschooled blogger, I can highly recommend attending one of Dianne Jacob’s food writing workshops or at least reading her book “Will Write for Food”. She made us all reflect critically on our writing styles and gave us lots of techniques to improve our style and find our “voice”. Throughout her three hour workshop, she made us all participate in exercises which although hard to do on the spot were effective at illustrating her points.
This is my description of eating a sweet potato chip using adjectives, simile and some emotional significance. Bear in mind this had to be written on the spot!
“The crown of my tooth nearly shatters like glass under the impact of the snap. I start to salivate as I anticipate a piquant brininess only to be left underwhelmed by the subtlety, wimpy aftermath. I breathe a deep sigh of relief as memories of my recurrent nightmares of rotting teeth fade back to the distant cobwebs of my mind. “
The other big take home point for me was the fact that gushing is boring. It’s easy to write a review about a fantastic meal and a terrible one. But most meals are neither of these and fit into somewhat of a grey area. What distinguishes the more talented writers is their ability to write about these grey areas and still manage to capture their readers.
I have my new challenge. Mark my words; there will be no more “delicious”, “yummy” or “cooked to perfection” on Chompchomp from here forth!