*raises her glass* "A toast: while most people eat to live, I live to eat. There's nothing like enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal with a fine bottle of wine in the company of fantastic friends. To life!"
We started with lunch sitting outside in the lovely warm sunshine. The flies were annoying though!
Cameron had the Salmon with Potatoes & Asparagus
Lisa and I shard the Chicken Pizza with BBQ Sauce - $22.5
After lunch we hit a few wineries! The first one that caught our attention (or at least mine!) was one called the Ugly Duckling. Just as I thought, they are a new winery that opened recently and the couple running the place were very welcoming and friendly.
Lancaster is a favourite of ours!
When I go wine tasting, I am greatly influenced by how friendly the staff are. When we come across rude owners we usual do not stay long, nor buy anything. We have even walked straight back out once when we were rudely ignored and then told we must pay a fee to taste their wines.
We were not impressed with Houghton. The guy pouring us the wine to taste was aloof and not very keen to interest us in purchasing anything. We wandered into the restaurant area and I would love to return to have a light lunch and stay for the live entertainment, but we were not impressed today with that guy's attitude.
Suffice it to say, I am more willing to buying wine from someone who treats me with respect, warmth and friendliness. I'm not going to waste my money at a winery where the staff act like all you're wanting is a free drink.
The heritage gallery at Houghton.
With the afternoon really heating up, we sleepily wound our way to Guildford and we found somewhere to have some afternoon tea.
RIVERSIDE at WOODBRIDGE 8254 Ford Street, Woodbridge
The afternoon heat must have deterred other people from venturing out as there were only a few other tables occupied when we got there. This was fine as we were able to enjoy the tranquility of the river view in a sleepy trance without the usual hustle and bustle.
I love to watch people prepare food. It's great to watch the process from start to finish. I think it makes the food much more enjoyable and it also is nice to keep the chef company while they slave away in the kitchen.
Lisa used some gluten-free beef sausages (skins removed) and puff pastry.
She sprinkled paprika and parmesan over them.
I have never seen anyone crimp the edges of sausage rolls like this before!
The smelt gorgeous! They look like little lamb chops!
We took our drinks outside to enjoy the sunshine.
In the early evening we set out on a walk to the river and enjoyed the weather as it cooled down. It would be lovely to live so close to the river! So many people were out and about taking their evening strolls or taking their dogs for walks. It's too bad that being so close to the river also means mosquitos!
Back at home, Lisa got back to work in the kitchen to prepare my dinner. I mean - our dinner.
Pork Steak Burgers with Onion Relish with oven baked Chips
Oh my gosh - I really did not think that I was hungry enough to eat this even though Lisa and I shared one. It was amazing! The onion relish (the recipe called it jam but it was more like a relish) completed the burger perfectly. Awesome!
One of the scientists brought in these little mini tarts to celebrate her birthday today. As per the instructions, we thawed them out and they were really nice! Not too sweet. A scoop of vanilla ice cream would have been perfect with them!
Nanna's 'Premium Tarts' - Custard with Peach & Passionfruit Tarts
Dinner Seafood Linguine with Garlic, Shallots, Leek & Tomato
Lunch at Work Steamed Corn, gourmet Italian Baked Beans, slivers of Brown Onion & Sardines in Hot Sauce
Oh yeah, I had onion and fish breath big time when I returned to work after my break! But a few mints took care of that. I love sardines! I would prefer a can of sardines in a salad over a can of tuna. Sardines are just much tastier and since I was young, I have always loved nibbling on the edible spine bones!
I bought some fresh artichokes when I was at the Malaga markets on the weekend. I've made soup using Jerusalem artichokes but not the Globe artichoke.
I googled how to prepare the artichokes the other day and didn't have enough time since it is quite involved. So today I made sure to set aside a few hours!
I found this online tutorial on How to Trim an Artichoke very helpful. There are gorgeous photos and step by step instructinos. My artichoke looked a bit different to the ones pictured though but I managed ok.
I had four artichokes so I trimmed two of them and put them in the steamer while I prepared the remaining two to make soup.
The 'fuzzy choke'. It looks really pretty!
Here is my artichoke heart after the fuzzy choke has been removed. Despite using wedges of fresh lemon to try to stop the discolouring, it just oxidised pretty much immediately after I made any cuts into it.
Starter Creamy Artichoke Soup
For the soup I cooked some garlic, onion, leek and potatoes in a bit of butter. I added some Vegeta stock, a few pinches of thyme and two bay leaves. It didn't look like much after it had all cooked down, but after I blended it with my mixmaster, it looked much more appetizing.
Meanwhile, I enjoyed eating the fleshy parts off the petals with a glass of wine. As has been suggested online, I dipped the base of each petal into some butter and scraped the fleshy parts off with my teeth. Yum! When I got to the hearts, I sliced them up and added them to the soup.
So, my verdict with artichokes?
It's a lot of work so I wouldn't recommend them unless you've got some time on your hands to waste. But they do taste so good when you've spent the time to prepare them yourself!
Mains Leggo's Spinach & Ricotta Agnolotti in a rich Tomato Sauce with Basil
I couldn't go past buying a bag of this agnolotti when I saw it was reduced to only $2! I made a simple sauce using a can of crushed tomatoes, crushed garlic, diced onion, chopped fresh basil from the garden and cracked black pepper. Serve with some fresh grated pecorino, pour another glass of red and all set!
Yes, here is another salad that I created by throwing together what I could find at home. I steamed the corn that I bought from Woolworths and it was just oh so so sweet! In the bowl I threw the steamed corn (cut off the cob), sliced hot cacciatore, rocket, semi sundried tomatoes and gourmet Italian baked beans. Yum! I loved the contrast of textures - the crunchiness of the corn kernels, the chewiness of the cacciatore and the delicious tomato sauce that the baked beans were in.
Who says lunch at work has to be boring!?
Afternoon Snack Wholemeal Roll with Lettuce, Tomato & Mayonnaise
I seem to have a strange collection of things in my fridge at the moment. Last night it took me a while to throw together a salad to bring to work for lunch today. This is what I came up with:
Lunch at Work Fig, Blueberry & Rocket Salad with Almonds and a White Balsamic Dressing
Yes, it was more like a fruit salad! It's been difficult to find nice, fresh figs while they've been in season. Either they're too expensive or affordable but over ripe and split open or growing mold. I finally found a couple that I thought were nice but one was good (the one you see in the photo) and the other was bad when I cut it in half.
For dinner, I thawed some fish fillets. I layered slices of fresh tomato, coriander, a generous spoon of sambal belachan and the fish on some baking paper and baked it for about fifteen minutes all wrapped up.
Dinner Baked Fish with Sambal, Coriander & Tomato with a side of steamed Baby Corn Spears & Asparagus
I met with some girlfriends for coffee after dinner - it was too hot for a coffee so I had something cold instead.
I bought this pair of wooden chopsticks a while ago when I was at Shimizu Grand at Harbourtown for lunch. The chopsticks are in a little wooden case and I thought they'd be perfect to keep in my locker at work. I used them for the first today to eat some noodles for lunch.
After work I headed over to Lisa's place for a long awaited catch up. We started on some rosé and Lisa put together a plate of nibblies I brought.
Fresh asparagus, Ham, Italian prosciutto, Mexican chilli salami, Pecorino and pane di casa.
Tonight's dinner was mostly Thai inspired cuisine, courtesy of Lisa!
Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Prawns
Pan Fried Thai Fish & Prawn Cakes
Fresh Mango & Prawn Salad
Oh my gosh - it was all so so soooo good! I continued eating through the night until I passed out from exhaustion!
I bought some chicken 'lovely legs' from the supermarket yesterday. They're basically just the drumstick piece but with the skin and lower part of the bone removed. They're great for casseroles but I would only buy them if they're on special because you can trim the skin off yourself.
Lunch Chicken & Pasta Soup with garlic, onion, celery, leek, carrots and rosemary.
Bowl food does not get better than this! I love to melt lots of grated pecorino into the soup. And lots of chillies - bring on the endorphins rush!
Supper Hokkien Noodles with sliced Fish Cake & Vegetables