Whims and Wine | Merricks Creek, Mornington Peninsula

The drive is never so long as I think it will be. It always feels as though we’ve barely even shrugged off the city, when the Peninsula Link suddenly slings us out at some glorious stretch of sand or eucalypt or grapevine. 

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I’m still finding my way when it comes to food blogger gifts and invitations. Truth be told I don’t really know where, or even if they fit in with whatever it is I’ve got going on here. I’m hardly flooded with requests but I have been along to some very lovely events and I can’t deny it’s all very nice. Exploring those experiences through photography on Instagram is easy. Writing is the tricky part, and so far I haven’t quite figured out how to incorporate my blog into that. 

So when I was sitting at a table out there on the Mornington Peninsula swirling my wine in its beautiful bubble glass and sinking into the warm touch of afternoon sunshine, and realised – ‘My god, I need to capture this gorgeous moment in words’ – well, it was a welcome feeling. Continue Reading

A Melbourne Cafe Care Package

John (a resident Chicagoan) and I have been exchanging care packages for a few years now. Receiving a big ol’ parcel from the other side of the world that’s brimming with (mostly edible) goodies is very good for the soul, and I highly recommend you find someone with which to take part in such trade. In previous correspondence, I’ve sent the likes of Arnott’s Tim Tams, Mint Slice and Shapes, Milo, Cadbury chocolate and Allen’s lollies. In return – Lucky Charms, Reese’s everything and Ghirardelli Squares abound. The Ghirardelli Squares, especially; I think John has found that these serve as a far more interesting alternative to packing peanuts. I’m very much inclined to support this notion.

This particular care package, however, has been quite a while in the making. For this one, I wanted to get a little more local than the same old ‘Aussie stuff’. I freakin’ love Melbourne, and that’s what I wanted to show off in this parcel. It’s no surprise that the care package very naturally took on a ‘Melbourne cafe’ theme. Cafes are the cogs of this city. An influx of Italian migrants after World War II sparked a passionate, inner-city coffee culture – and coincided rather nicely with the proliferation of the modern-day espresso machine. We’ve been working on a seriously good thing for decades. Heck – we’re one of the few places in the world to give Starbucks the boot.

And so, this little gift is my ode to the Melbourne cafe. John – enjoy! 

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Market Lane | Seasonal Espresso, 250g

Obviously, I had to provide the means for a good cup of Melbourne grade coffee. I’ve been a little infatuated with Market Lane coffee lately; over the past few weeks I’ve found myself sipping at both the Therry St and Prahran Market cafes. The coffee is smooth and delicious. I feel myself in the midst of my first true allegiance to a particular coffee roaster. Their cups brandish a simple philosophy: “We love to make coffee for the city that loves to drink it.” For you, John – I’ve included a bag of Market Lane’s Seasonal Espresso beans (Uh, yeah. You’re gonna need to buy yourself a coffee bean grinder. Merry Christmas!). As I meticulously bubble-wrapped every item in this parcel, the aroma of these beans almost drove me mad. I mean, listen to this – ‘Notes of ripe cherry, orange and chocolate fudge.’ Seriously. 

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 T2 | Melbourne Breakfast, Teabags 25pk

‘A deep and warming tea with a hint of sweetness, reminiscent of Melbourne. Full bodied with a touch of vanilla. An essential tea.’ Yes, Melbourne is a city of coffee drinkers – but we’re pretty damn solid on the tea front too. T2’s Melbourne Breakfast was the obvious choice here. I’m not sure if it’s just my Melbourne bias here, but this is one of my favourite T2 teas (there are over 200!). T2 popped up on Brunswick Street in Melbourne’s Fitzroy back in 1996, and is now a bit of a giant in the boutique tea world. The first U.S. store even opened in New York just a couple of months ago. So whether Melbourne or New York is next on your (extensive) travel list, John, definitely drop in to T2. So much to smell, sip and savour! 

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MörkMörk Original Dark 70%, 250g

This. Really, this is where John’s little Melbourne cafe care package sprouted from. The duo behind Mörk – one part Melbourne specialty coffee scene, one part Swedish chocolatier – combine to create the best powdered hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. The pair take their hot chocolate seriously, using only the finest and purest ingredients: ‘cocoa powder, 100% cacao liquor from Sur del Lago in Venezuela and sweetened only with unrefined coconut blossom sugar’. It’s pretty sensational. Nothing like the sickly sweet stuff that’s usually the norm on cafe menus. My usual Mörk dealers are the lovely folks at Twenty & Six Espresso, though I picked up this sexy cardboard canister at the very cool Melbournalia on Bourke Street. 

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KeepCup | ‘Brew’ Glass Coffee Cup, Medium (12oz/340ml)

With all of these wonderful Melbourne beverages, it seemed pertinent to provide something from which to drink them. KeepCup is a pretty nifty little Melbourne invention, kickstarting a revolution of the reusable coffee cup. For one, they’re stylish; this positive aesthetic has played a huge part in KeepCup’s success and people’s desire to, you know, actually keep using them. And then there’s the design: they’re made to seamlessly fit in with standard volumes at cafes, plus fit right under the brew head of an espresso machine. Barista-friendly! The new ‘Brew’ series with a glass cup design is absolutely gorgeous, and I knew as soon as I saw it that John would be receiving one. I’m so jealous of this KeepCup, in fact, that I’ve decided I must absolutely buy one for myself. 

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Gânache Chocolate | Cafe Latte Pralines

What would a steaming hot cuppa be without a little something to nibble on? I stretched my mind far and wide trying to think of the perfect little sweet treat to include in this parcel – when suddenly it came to me. I’d seen these beautiful Gânache pralines photographed on blogger Iron Chef Shellie‘s Instagram account months back. What could be more perfect than handmade chocolates (cafe latte flavour, no less!) stamped with our iconic W-Class trams? 

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Make Me Iconic | Iconic Mini Tram

And lastly, a little extra dose of the W-Class tram for good measure. It’s the most Melbourne way to get to all of those excellent Melbourne cafes, after all.

I’ve received word that this care package made it safely to its destination on Christmas Eve. May these tasty tidbits from Melbourne keep you warm this Chicago winter, John! Those who follow me on Instagram will know that John, the scoundrel that he is, has already gone and one-upped me in the parcel exchange. Guess it’s time to start plotting again!

Raspberry & Innocent Bystander Moscato Sorbet

Last summer Mat introduced me to the wonderful world of homemade ice-cream. With the help of his little Sunbeam ice-cream machine, we happily snacked our way through flavours like chai choc-chip, peppermint, espresso choc-flake and cinnamon frozen yoghurt. Despite the soaring temperatures this year, however, we’ve been very lax in pulling out the ol’ Sunbeam bowl from the freezer. Well, no more! I’ve decided I’m determined to churn out some delicious new creations before the season ends. To kick-start it all off, Mat suggested a delicious twist on a Raspberry-Rosé Sorbet favourite from last summer – and so it was. Introducing: the Raspberry-Moscato Sorbet, using our much-beloved Innocent Bystander Moscato.

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David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop is a veritable bible for home-made ice-cream makers, and his Raspberry-Rosé Sorbet was a smash hit in our line-up last summer. The whole thing became particularly memorable when I Instagrammed the latest batch one night and the man himself chipped in with his endorsement:

 

 

On the other hand, this year Innocent Bystander’s famous moscato has become a delightfully refreshing go-to for hot summer nights. If you’re ever in Healesville in the Yarra Valley, you seriously must go to the Innocent Bystander winery and restaurant. It’s a big, beautiful warehouse-style dining hall that feels industrial yet wonderfully warm and cosy – and most importantly, the food and wine is stunning. We visited again over the New Year’s period and finished off a night of indulgence with a glass of the signature moscato – and so the love affair began. It’s sweet (but not so much to set the teeth on edge) and smooth and packs a candy pink punch – and incorporating it into a favourite sorbet recipe was an exciting prospect indeed.

I actually ended up using Lebovitz’s Raspberry-Champagne recipe – it’s very similar, but makes a smaller batch and includes a little water. Being a bubbly wine, I thought the usage of moscato might need to follow this method too. I could be wrong, but I was very happy with the results – so I suppose that’s all that matters! Lebovitz actually encourages experimentation with the sparkling wine used in this recipe – so definitely have a go at subbing in your own favourite bubbly!

This Raspberry-Moscato Sorbet is an excellent expression of Innocent Bystander Moscato – wonderfully fresh and sweet, with a little hint of tartness that tickles the whole mouth.

Raspberry & Innocent Bystander Moscato Sorbet
Adapted from: David Lebovitz’s ‘Raspberry-Champagne Sorbet’, The Perfect Scoop

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Makes approx. 500ml (about 3 little bowls of sorbet). Cup measurements according to American standards.

  • 310ml (1 1/4 cups) Innocent Bystander Moscato
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) water
  • 100g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 220g (2 cups) raspberries, fresh or frozen (I used frozen!)
  1. Add the moscato, water and sugar to a medium, nonreactive saucepan (I used a stainless steel Scanpan saucepan; anything made of stainless steel or lined with stainless steel is fine!). Bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and add the raspberries to the mixture. Cover saucepan with lid and let sit for at least 10 minutes. This allows the raspberries to soften so that you can…
  3. Pour the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl. Use a flexible spatula to press the raspberries through the sieve. This is my favourite part! Keep at it until you’ve pressed through as much juice as you can. Discard the pink lumpy mass of seeds left behind. Give the mixture a little stir to make sure everything is combined well.
  4. Cover the mixture and pop into the fridge until chilled. I left mine for a couple of hours.
  5. Freeze the chilled mixture in your ice-cream machine as per instructions. I use a basic freezer-bowl Sunbeam Snowy machine, and churned the mixture for a good 20 minutes. Because of the alcohol content, it takes on more of a slushie-like consistency – so don’t be too worried if it doesn’t look like it’s freezing enough in this type of machine! It will firm up in the freezer.
  6. Pour sorbet into a container, close and pop into the freezer. I left mine to freeze overnight – though if you’re super keen I’m sure a few hours would do!
  7. Before serving, take out of freezer and let stand for 5-10 minutes (depending on how long it’s been in freezer). Home-made ice-cream and sorbet generally appears to set quite hard, but it softens up quickly and still has an amazing texture.
  8. Enjoy!

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