Summer Salad In A Jar

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It’s Summer and we are in 2017! Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2016 has been good for you, but I hope even more that 2017 will be an amazing year with lots of opportunities for you to strive on, lots of love, happiness and that everyone will be in the best of health!

To start the year on the right note, I decided to change the way we eat, and steer it towards eating as healthy as possible! So when Croud Australia contacted me to send me a WW Freshbox that’s completely vegetarian by the Aussie Farmers Direct, I couldn’t say no!

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 It’s a box filled with fresh vegetables and beautiful produce! What’s great about each box is they come with recipes that you could follow too! How easy is that? I love the convenience!

When I saw what I had in my box ( 3 meals for 2 people, $64) a few ingredients jumped out at me and I really wanted to make a vibrant salad that we would be able to even have it on the go and with a salad “dressing” that would be exciting for the taste buds too.

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So I decided to make a kale & basil toasted walnut pesto and it absolutely binds all the ingredients together! The perfect dressing (and healthy too with a superfood in it!) for the salad and if you have people you’re making for that loves and needs meat (like the mr), you could easily grill some meat and pop it on as well! It’s a really versatile recipe, and you can add your favourite ingredients too!

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Don’t you just love the colour? It tastes absolutely amazing too!

So here’s the recipe for the perfect Summer salad!

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Summer Salad in A Jar (An original Food Made With Love recipe)

For the kale & toasted walnut pesto:

40g toasted walnut

80g kale leaves, stem removed

35g basil leaves

2 large garlic cloves

80g grated parmesan

1 tsp salt

150ml olive oil

Steps:

  1. Add the kale, basil, garlic cloves and salt in a food processor and pulse for 10 to 12 times, till you get a fine chop.
  2. With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl. Scrap the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the walnuts, garlic cloves & parmesan, continue to pulse until the mixture is well combined. Set aside.

Note: I used this as a dressing for my salad, but you could use this in your pastas, or coat it with some grilled chicken!

For the salad:

350g butternut pumpkin, cut into cubes

1 red capsicum, sliced length-wise

1 can of chickpeas, drained

1 large handful of rocket leaves

1 large handful of baby spinach leaves

30g Greek style feta, crumbled

3 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp salt, and extra for seasoning

ground black pepper

2 tbs olive oil

Steps :

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line the baking tray with some aluminium foil, drizzle with 1 tbs of olive oil, and place the butternut pumpkin and red capsicum onto the tray. Season the butternut pumpkin with the smoked paprika and season with some salt. Bake for 20 mins or until the pumpkin is tender. Set aside to let it cool down.img_1784-1
  2. In a small nonstick pan, heat 1 tbs of oil over medium heat. Add ground coriander, cumin & salt, and cook for a minute. Remember to keep stirring, so that it doesn’t burn. Add the drained chickpeas and stir for 5 minutes or until lightly toasted and the chickpeas are well coated with the spices. Set aside.
  3. To plate : In a large jar, place the rocket and baby spinach leaves into the base. Add the butternut pumpkin and the red capsicum then sprinkle with the crumbled greek feta. Top with the spiced chickpeas and finally the kale & toasted walnut pesto.
  4. You could shake it gently to coat the contents with the pesto dressing, or if you have access to a plate, pour it out and mix it gently. Enjoy on its own or with some grilled meats!

           ENJOY!

Remember to always cook and bake with love!

xx

PS: Thank you Croud and Aussie Farmers Direct for this opportunity to try and love the Freshbox! Will be trying some of the recipes that are on the website too! Stay tuned, more recipes to come!

Raspberry & Lemon Shortcakes

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Baking has always been something I love doing. Especially to bake for people I love and just being able to see the smiles on their faces after they take a bite, warms my heart. So I try to bake something whenever I have the time and especially when there are special occasions or during the festive seasons! The house always smells the best during festive seasons, right? hehe

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I am always excited to try new products in the market, and when I was asked to try the new Anchor Cream range, I immediately said yes! The new Anchor Cream range is made with 100% Australian dairy (only the best across 34 dairy farms across Victoria) and have a few innovative features that would be helpful when cooking.

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It comes with a screw top lid which would help with easy storage and less messy drips & leaks! Also, the side of the bottle has measurement markers  that would help you with more precise pouring and easy measurements! Less wastage as you don’t have to pour into a measuring cup and also less to wash! WIN!

There’s 3 types of creams in this range which would suit every occasion of cooking or baking – thickened cream, thickened light cream and pure cream! They come in unique size bottles, with exact one cup (250ml) or 2 cups (500ml) which would help when following a recipe, hassle free!

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Walking the aisles of the supermarket, I was thinking about what I could make with these beautiful creams and found these huge, fresh and beautiful raspberries! So I decided to make some raspberry and lemon shortcakes!

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This recipe uses the pure cream in the shortcake and also the whipped thickened cream sandwiched in the middle. So it was a perfect recipe in my books! Hope you will enjoy it too!

Raspberry & Lemon Shortcake (Adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes)

2 cups plain flour

1 tbs baking powder

2 tbs packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

115g cold butter, cubed

3/4 cup pure cream

1 lemon

2 punnets of fresh raspberries

1/2 tbs packed brown sugar

1 tbs honey

1/2 cup thickened cream

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Steps :

1) Preheat the oven to 210 degrees celcius. In a large bowl, add the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cold butter. Using the tip of your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until a sandy mixture is achieved. Don’t worry if there are still a few lumps of butter.

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2) Slowly add the pure cream into the mixture and using a spatula, mix the cream until the dry mixture is just moistened.

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3) Zest the lemon. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and add the lemon zest. Lightly knead the dough till it comes together.

4) Pat the dough till about 1 1/2cm thick and using a 6cm scone cutter, cut the dough into the 7/8 portions. Place them on a lined baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the tops are browned.

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5) Transfer them to a wired rack to cool.

I made the shortcakes two different ways. One with just the fresh raspberry as it is, and one with a tangy raspberry coolie almost. I liked both, but the coolie gave it a very refreshing touch and the tanginess made you go back for more! So try both, or either (whichever you prefer!) and would love to hear what you think about them!

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6) To make the raspberry coolie : In a small pot, place 1 punnet of raspberries, brown sugar, juice of 1/2 lemon and honey. On a low heat, stir the mixture till the raspberries are about to break down. Remove from heat and sit it in a bowl of ice water (to cool it completely before platting). This could be done a day before, keeping it in a jar in the fridge.

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7) In a medium bowl, place the thickened cream and vanilla bean paste and whisk till stiff.

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8) To serve : Cut the shortcake into half and place the whipped vanilla cream onto the top and place the fresh raspberries or raspberry coolie, serving with the other half placed on top. Best served immediately!

Enjoy! (:

Have a great week ahead everyone! It’s the season to be jolly, so go grab yourself some of the Anchor Cream and make this for the festive season! hehe

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Remember to always bake and cook with love! xx

PS: Do note that the Anchor Cream range is only exclusively available at Woolworths Nationwide!

PPS : Thank you KeepLeft PR for the opportunity to try out the Anchor Cream range. All thoughts and opinions are based on my own experience. Thank you again for this wonderfully opportunity!

Chicken Tagine – MealDish

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Good evening dear readers! So sorry for the hiatus! It’s been a busy few months with Baby Ho’s grandparents (both paternal and maternal) and uncle & aunty coming to visit him consecutively! So I haven’t had the chance to sit down and churn posts out! But I will be doing it whenever I can, I promise!

So a few months back, I was introduced to MealDish. A website that aims to help people eat healthier, eat fresh, whilst minimising food waste and saving them time and money. This was absolutely perfect for me, especially since I can only get down to cooking with Baby Ho is asleep!

So off I went to the website and it’s so simple to use and follow!

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You just have to choose what you like, the number of recipes you want and then click the number of people you’re cooking for and get a meal plan! As easy as that!

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If you have any particular cuisine you would like to try, or specific ingredients to exclude or you have intolerances, there are options for you to tick too! So it’s really for everyone. I did different options and there are heaps of recipes to choose from. They even suggests side dishes that would go perfectly with the recipe you decide to cook that day. Sounds good, no?

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So I decided to just go with the quick option and choose the type of protein I wanted to cook with – Chicken! These were the 5 options I was given, and straight away I was drawn to the chicken tagine recipe, especially cause my beautiful tagine has been sitting on the shelf ever since I made my Moroccan meatballs one and half year ago! haha So it was time to get it on the stove again.

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If you’re a person who loves order and likes to get everything ready before you cook, Mealdish is definitely for you. The recipe comes with ‘Preparation Steps’ so that you have everything ready to go when you start cooking, missing nothing out! This cuts your cooking time and dinner will be on the table, pipping hot, in no time!

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Of course, there’s ‘Cooking Steps’ which are clear and easy to follow. What’s best about this website is that they have a ‘Shopping List’ tailored to the number of people you are cooking for. So there’s no waste and you just buy what is needed!

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Chicken Tagine

The results were as good as I thought it would be! The Mr loved it and even though I made enough for 4 people, we only had a serve left! What’s best is, this recipe had both protein and vegetables rolled into one! So we only needed that one dish for dinner. Paired with toasted Turkish bread – Dinner was ready within an hour!

So if you are looking for inspirations to cook your family or even just yourself something delicious, and want something quick and easy, hop onto the MealDish website and you will definitely find something you fancy!

Here’s the ingredients used for this dish. The steps are as described in the ‘Cooking Steps’ above! Or you could always just head to the website and search for the recipe to get the ingredient amounts tailored to the number of people you are cooking for!

Ingredients :

(For 4 people)

3/4 Onion whole

4 Garlic cloves

1 1/4 Celery stick

3/4 can tinned tomato

200g Pumpkin

2 tsp Coriander

3/4 tsp Ground Ginger

3/4 Cinnamon Stick

1/4 Lemon

1/4 cup apricot (I used raisins)

3/4 cup Chicken stock

8 Chicken drumstick

3/4 cup couscous

2 tbs fresh coriander

Chicken Tagine

Have a great rest of the day and hope you all will have an awesome hot dinner tonight since it’s freezing here in Melbourne!

Till the next post, remember to always cook and bake with love! xx

Ratatouille & A Good Food and Wine Tickets Giveaway!

Ratatouille

I’ve always wanted to give this a try. Ever since I watched the little rat who could cook this dish perfectly in Ratatouille! The vibrant colours just catches my eye instantly, and I think it’s such a celebratory dish – A celebration of colours!

Also, it was my brother’s birthday and I just wanted to cook him something special! Of course, I didn’t only cook him one dish, I made 4! haha This dish pairs perfectly with seafood, so I made some white wine and cream mussels, homemade garlic bread and mushroom risotto! Mmmm!

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mushroom risotto

Don’t you love just cooking for people you love? It’s seriously something I love to do. And seeing their reaction when they take the first bite, it’s worth all the time and effort!

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Making the ratatouille was so much fun! One reason was that I got to play with the mandolin. Slicing those vegetables into the same thickness couldn’t be any easier! Fastest prep ever! haha So if you would like to impress your guest the next time u cook for them, I highly recommend making them ratatouille! My family loved how it looked, and enjoyed every single bite!

Ratatouille

Ratatouille (Adapted from The Walsh Cookbook)

Ingredients : 

1 medium green zucchini

1 medium yellow zucchini

1 eggplant (preferably the thin ones)

1 red capsicum

1 yellow/green capsicum

3 tomatoes

1 red onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 can of tomato puree

1 tsp red chilli flakes

1 tsp italian herbs/ mixed herbs

1 tsp salt

2 tbs olive oil

Parmesan cheese

Steps :

1) Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius. Try to get the vegetables around the same size, so that they would look neater in your dish! Slice all the vegetables using a mandolin and set aside.

2) Heat a cast iron pot (or any pot that can be used in an oven) over a medium-high flame. Add the olive oil, garlic and onion and sauté till fragrant, careful not to burn them, as they will have a bitter after taste. Add in the tomato puree, salt, herbs & chilli flakes, and allow it to simmer for 5 mins.

3) Carefully arrange the vegetables, alternating the slices of zucchini, eggplant, capsicum and tomato. Continue laying them till you fill your dish and cover with a baking paper to allow it to steam and cook, keeping all the juices in. Bake for 45 mins.

Covered with baking paper

4) Remove the baking paper and sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top and serve!

How easy is that? And I can promise you that everyone will definitely enjoy this! So definitely give it a try when you can!

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Okie. So now… time for the GIVEAWAY!

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So everyone knows the one event I look forward to every year is no doubt the Melbourne Good Food and Wine Show. Endless food & wine, beautiful produce and you get to meet your favourite chefs!

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This year, I am lucky enough to be given 2 double passes to giveaway to my readers! Whoopeedoo! What’s more exciting is that this year, Ainsley Harriott will be there for all 4 days of the show (5-8 June), along with Miguel Maestre & Alastair McLeod! So you definitely don’t want to miss the show this year! I can still remember when the Mr bought me tickets to a Private Dining session with Manu Feildel 3 years ago! Definitely a dream come true and an experience I will never forget!

How do you win those tickets? Easy!

  • Leave a comment and share with me the favourite dish you love to cook for your loved ones for a special occasion!
  • This giveaway is only open to Australian residents! (Sorry international readers!)
  • Please join me on my journey! Follow me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter! Let me know once you have followed me!
  • You may re-enter daily! One entry a day! (Oh yeah!)
  • Winners will be announced on the 29th of April, 10pm.
  • Winners will be picked via random.org and notified on this blog post and via email.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s go!

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WINNERS!

Congratulations to Good Food Good Karma and Ross! Here’s what they said :


Comment Number 8 Winner 1 - Number 8

Comment number 6 Winner 2 - Number 6

Salmon and roast! Two delicious things I too would cook for loved ones at a special occasion! Congrats again and I will be in contact with you soon, through email! Thanks everyone for participating!

Disclaimer : The tickets were given in compliments of Red Agency and I wasn’t paid to run this giveaway. 

Eclair Affair

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High tea. Something I love but I don’t do it too often. Nothing beats sitting around a table of delicious sweets and savouries, sipping on champagne or tea, chatting with a group of your closest girlfriends! I was lucky enough to be invited by Q Strategies to the Lobby Lounge at The Westin for their Eclair Affair with Daisy & Agnes!

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There are two options available for this delicious high tea. $49 per person is served with Vittoria coffee, hot chocolate or a selection of Jing Tea. $59 per person includes 1 glass of Domaine Chandon and also with coffee, tea or hot chocolate!

Jing tea

As I couldn’t have the champagne, I decided to order a fruit tea to accompany the 3 tiered spread we were having! I love the different selection of teas there are. There’s black, green, white and fruity! (:

Eclair Affair

And what’s special about this high tea you ask? It’s served with a range of both savoury and sweet eclairs and also some scones! Choux pastry is something I love, especially when it’s thin and buttery. I actually prefer the savoury eclairs more than the sweet ones!

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The savoury eclairs include :

Mushroom pate with pickled shemiji

Hame, comte cheese, confit tomato and grainy Dijon aioli

Smoked duck, gorgonzola, pear, caramelised walnut and rocket

Prawn, avocado and sweet chilli jam

Goat cheese with pesto

My favourite was the prawn and avocado with the slight kick of the sweet chilli jam. A really good balance of sweet, salty and creamy! YUMMO!

Sweet eclairs

The sweet eclairs include :

Strawberry & Lime

Passionfruit and White Chocolate

Pistachio and Fig

Chocolate & Caramel

I was really excited when I heard about the pistachio and fig, but sadly the one I had wasn’t filled! But I did enjoy the chocolate and caramel one the most! hehe It’s one of my favourite combinations, so definitely can’t go wrong! hehe

Scones

Last but definitely not the least, scones! It wouldn’t be high tea without scones, in my opinion! There’s a serve of vanilla scones and fruit scones! I actually love vanilla scones more with a dollop of cream and jam! Till now, I’m not sure what the right way of having scones. Cream first or jam first? hehe I mix them around and is different every time I have it! hehe

Eclair Affair

So if you’re looking for something different from the usual high tea, so head to the Westin to give this a go! With really comfy sofa seats and a beautiful ambience, it’s definitely somewhere you can consider going with your girlfriends or loved ones! But be quick cause this is only till the 30th of June!

Eclairs are definitely the new cupcakes and macarons! So get in quick! hehe

Disclaimer : I was invited to the Eclair Affair by the Westin and Q Strategies. All thoughts and opinions are based on my experience at the time of the visit. Thank you so much for this wonderful experience and opportunity!

 

New Autumn Menu : No. 8 By John Lawson

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I was so lucky and excited to be invited to taste the new autumn menu at No. 8 by John Lawson a few weeks back. Don’t know if you can remember my first tasting done there and I absolutely loved it! So when another opportunity came to dine back at No. 8, I couldn’t say no hehe If you don’t remember John Lawson, his dishes are driven & inspired by the fresh produce he has around him. In fact, his cooking revolves around sustainably produced ingredients that he can find around locally from Victorian farmers. 

Before I share with you the new menu, I just want to thank John Lawson, the chefs and the staff for accommodating to this expectant woman. hehe Cannot be more thankful that I am still able to dine comfortably and have delicious food! (:

Whole wheat and beer sourdough

So like always, the night starts with beautiful slices of bread made by Eds Breads! If you follow me on instagram, you would know that I often buy my breads from him and have them for my breakfast! Unfortunately, I was late due to work, so I didn’t get to try the newly created – whole wheat and beer sourdough. But lucky for me, we were all given a loaf to bring home! YAY! hehe Love the crunchy outer crust and a soft centre. There isn’t one loaf of his I could fault!

Wheat berry and baby carrot salad

The first course was the salad course : wheat berry and baby carrot salad ! I absolutely love the wheat berries. They have a nutty flavour to them and really good bite too! This was also served with jerusalem artichokes turnips and sunflower shoots! A really colourful and refreshing start to the night! This was paired with a gin & tonic, which I didn’t have, of course. But I can imagine what a good match it would be! hehe

Mildura yabbies, hervey bay scallops and pine mushrooms

The next dish was a show-stopper in my opinion! When it arrived in front of me, I could feel my jaw drop! How pretty is that? Perfectly cooked Mildura yabbies, that were so fresh and sweet with Hervey Bay scallops and pine mushrooms! What a great entree! Every seafood I love on a plate! Actually on a gorgeous scallop shell! Absolutely loved this dish.

Slippery Jack mushroom risotto

And the dishes just gets better and better! When I looked through the menu before dinner started, this was the dish I was really looking forward to! Risotto, when cooked perfectly, is my weakness. I could have a huge plate of it and still want more. hehe This, my dear readers, was absolutely delish! Every mouthful I had was bursting with mushroomy flavours, and the rice was creamy and cheesy! SO GOOD! Ticked all the right boxes! Hands down my favourite dish of the night! NOMS!

Milawa duck breast

The main for the new autumn menu was Milawa duck breast! As it was cooked medium rare to medium, I couldn’t have it. But from the sounds made by everyone sitting around me, I knew it was as good as the first time I had it! This time it was served with pear, brussel sprouts and foie gras sauce. How good does that sound? hehe Have to head back another time to try it! hehe

Flat iron steak

Lucky me though, a special dish was cooked for me – flat iron steak! I’ve not had this cut of steak before, but it was so tender and though it looked like it hasn’t been cooked through, it was! Every piece just melts in my mouth and goes so well with the slices of beet root! AMAZEBALLS! I was trying to savour it slowly, but I found myself finishing it before I knew it! haha

baked potato with cheddar and crispy pig

We were also served a side of baked potato with cheddar and crispy pig! Holy moly! This was everything I was craving for in my pregnancy! Lucky thing we shared among the 4 of us, or else I would have smothered my face in it! Don’t worry there was also a side of cosberg, kale and mustard leaf, but I was so engrossed in eating the potato and steak, I forgot to snap it! hehe

72% Cocoa and coffee fondant

Now, time for the sweets! Though I was already quite stuffed, but there is always room for dessert right? hehe There were two on offer again tonight, and this was the one I didn’t have cause they were worried the chocolate wasn’t pasteurised. 72% Cocoa & coffee fondant! Let me tell you though, the smell of the chocolate filled the table as they were being served! So delicately plated too!

Gooey middle

Of course, when you are served a fondant, the money shot would be when you cut it open! Sorry the photo is a tad dark, but can you see the shiny bit of chocolate oozing out? Definitely a perfectly cooked fondant!

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I had the slow poached quince, spiced crumb and yoghurt! The last time I was at No. 8 I had a yoghurt dessert too! Such a good way to end the night though. Light, refreshing with the sweetness of the poached quince! I definitely wanted more! Mmmm (:

Occelli testun in foglie di castagno

Something new was a fromage course : Occeelli Testun in Foglie di Castagno! haha The name was a tongue twister and I have to admit I googled just to see what it was! hehe It’s a cow and sheep milk cheese that is wrapped in chestnut leaves for 18 months! My constant craving has always been cheese this whole pregnancy, but sadly I couldn’t have this cause it was soft cheese! The smell was divine though! It was matched with a Grey Box honey from Castlemaine. Sweet and salty – match made in heaven I’m sure!

Chocolate and passionfruit truffle

Last but definitely not the least, we were given beautiful chocolate and passionfruit truffles to end the night (: Dark chocolate that is subtly bitter contrasting with a sweet passionfruit filling!

Once again, the food was outstanding and I highly recommend you to head down to No. 8 at Crown Melbourne to give the new menu a go! You definitely won’t regret it! (:

Disclaimer : I was invited to the launch  by Hatch Communications and No. 8 By John Lawson. All thoughts and opinions are based on my experience at the time of the visit. Thank you so much for this wonderful experience and opportunity yet again!

No. 8 by John Lawson (number 8) on Urbanspoon

New Found Gem : Mr. Brightside

Mr. Brightside

Brunch. Something I truly truly adore and look forward to on weekends! It was the long weekend last week, and the Mr and I were looking for a place nearby to have brunch. We usually head to our usuals favourites in Bentleigh (Merchants Guild & Little Tommy Tucker), but we really wanted to find something different, and still close by!

Thank goodness for Eat Fresh Eat Local (twitter: @FreshBestLocal) l who introduced me to The Homemaker Report, I found a place that was just 10 minutes away from our place – Mr Brightside !

Mr Brightside

A cosy cafe tucked in the corner, it was just filled with locals who knew one another. We were greeted with warm smiles by the staff and as it was pretty packed, we sat outside. But no fear, there were heaters right above us to keep us warm and toasty!

Our usual drinks

We also ordered our usual drinks to keep our tummies warm! The mr had a latte, I had Calmer Sutra soy chai latte and Melissa had her favourite hot chocolate! I pretty much knew what I wanted to have when I saw the menu online before heading there, but I knew they had specials for the day too, and asked the Mr to help me check the board. One of the staff (wish I got his name!) joked with the Mr and said now we aren’t able to hear him say it in his special voice! haha Too funny! He came out shortly after to explain what the specials were. SO FRIENDLY! Seriously love the service at Mr. Brightside! Made brunch a lot more enjoyable!

Challah French Toast

I still decided on the challah french toes with maple syrup and mascarpone! There’s an option of adding bacon, and how could I not?? Maple syrup and bacon is the best combination! This was my kind of heaven. The challah toast was crispy on the outside and still soft in the middle. Together with the mascarpone, absolutely delish!!! If you want a good french toast, this is it!

Potato hash brown

Whenever there is a potato hash on the menu, the mr would definitely order it, and this was no different! He loves his hash, and this hash he absolutely loved! In fact, he said he might have found the best hash he’s had! Super golden and crispy, with a moist and tender centre! Can’t get better can it? It is served with beef brisket and he added a side of mushrooms!

Perfectly poached eggs

When the Mr cut into the poached egg, liquid gold was spilling out! I have to admit, poached egg is one thing I do miss to have for breakfast!

Big Breakfast

Melissa ordered the Big Breakfast and boy, they weren’t joking about it being big! 2 sausages, bacon, roasted tomatoes, scrambled eggs, potato hash and toasts! She could hardly finish it and was filled all the way till dinner!

Mr. Brightside

We were all so happy to find Mr. Brightside, with delicious food and super friendly staff, there’s no doubt that we will be back again and very very soon! I bet you want to head down for that plate of french toast now! hehe

Happy weekend everyone! x

Mr Brightside on Urbanspoon